Super Bowl Odds, 2021 Current Super Bowl Betting | Vegas

NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020

We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them.
Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now.


https://preview.redd.it/rs90lt6ckf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3ddfc8945862472b52b5ef8c69076acde904c44c

1. Arizona Cardinals


Why they can win the division:
Let’s just start with the main point here – this Cardinals squad has all the ingredients to make a big jump in 2020. I expect Kyler Murray to enter the superstar conversation in year two, after impressing with his arm talent and ability to extend plays in a (somewhat controversial) Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steve Keim managed to unload a bad David Johnson contract and basically acquire an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick. Kenyan Drake now has a full offseason to learn this offense and make himself a major factor once again, following up an outstanding second half of the season once the Cardinals traded for him with Miami. He perfectly fits into this offense with a lot East-West based rushing from shotgun sets and his involvement in the pass game, including those quick throws as an extension of the rushing attack. Arizona’s defense should be a lot better with run-stoppers being added in the draft that fit their 3-4 base front with Utah’s Leki Fotu and LSU’s Rashard Lawrence, since they can stay in those packages against the other teams in their division running a lot of 12 and 21 personnel probably. Add to that a do-it-all player with ridiculous range and overall athleticism in Isaiah Simmons at eight overall, plus all the other guys being in their second year under DC Vance Joseph. I love Budda Baker as a missile from his safety spot and I think some of the other young guys on that unit will take a step forward, like second-year corner Byron Murphy, who I talked about last week. Now let’s get to rest of the West – every other team in that division has some issues. The 49ers are facing the objects of a potential Super Bowl hangover and some limitations with Jimmy G at the helm. The Seahawks have question marks on the edge on either side of the ball with Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell fighting for the starting gig at right tackle and Jadeveon Clowney still on the open market, with a bunch of draft picks these last couple of years having to step up. And the Rams had one of the worst O-lines in football last season and they lost some pieces on defense. The Cardinals already gave all these teams issues in 2019 and have now added pieces that were clearly missing when last matching up against each other.

Why they could finish last again:
Most importantly, I am still not completely sold on the Cardinals offensive line, with D.J. Humphries being signed to a rather expensive deal as a below-average left tackle, third-rounder Josh Jones – while earning a late first-round grade from me – still needing an overhaul on his footwork before he can slide in at right tackle and guard Justin Pugh finally having played a full 16 games for the first time since 2015 last season. NFL coaches had a lot of time to study Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense, which when you break it down is pretty simplistic in the amount of schemes they run. Yes, he diversified it a little as last season went along, going under center and running some pro-style rushing plays, but at its core, you can learn how to create some issues for all those mesh concepts and spread sets. As far as the Cardinals defense goes, it is more about pieces than proven commodities. Patrick Peterson is seemingly on the decline, they are thin in the secondary and could Chandler Jones follow soon, after he has been one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league for a while now? You are staring the reigning NFC champs in the eyes, a team that was a few inches away from earning a playoff bye and another squad that went to the Super Bowl just two years ago. This is probably the best division in the entire league.

Bottom line:
I still believe the 49ers have done enough to repeat as division champs, re-tooling for all the losses they have suffered this offseason. However, I’m feeling pretty good about the Cardinals earning a wildcard spot. While I believe in the Seahawks quarterback and the Rams head coach respectively to not allow their teams to not have throwaway seasons, I also see enough issues with those squads to make me believe the Cardinals could have the second-best year of anybody in the West. To me they are pretty clearly the best of these eight teams, because they have a young phenom at quarterback, stars at pretty much every position, a different type of system around them and what I’d like to call “juice” coming into 2020.


https://preview.redd.it/anrr9erfkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=5655b4452baff2691a0e060e8d70918d58801a4c

2. Detroit Lions


Why they can win the division:
Matt Stafford is back healthy and when he was in the lineup last season, this was a team that defeated the Eagles, Chargers and only didn’t finish the job against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs because of some crazy stuff going on late. The veteran QB stood at 19 touchdowns compared to five picks and was playing at a near-MVP type level. However, Detroit’s identity will be built on the run game with re-investments in the offensive line as well as adding D’Andre Swift to form a dynamic one-two punch with him and Kerryon Johnson. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones may be the most underrated receiving duo to go with Danny Amendola as a tough guy in the slot and T.J. Hockenson coming into year two as a top-ten pick a year ago, having shown flashes when he was healthy. The defense is finally starting to take shape with third-overall Jeffrey Okudah as an elite corner prospect being added to an underrated secondary, Jamie Collins being a chess piece in the front seven after already having worked well with Matt Patricia and some young guys up front trying to prove themselves to go with the versatile Trey Flowers. Maybe more importantly than the Lions themselves – Nobody else got that much better and none of the other three really stand out to me. Other than the Vikings probably – who had the advantage of making a record-breaking 15 selections – the Lions might have had the best draft within the division. Thanks to that last-place schedule, they get to face the Redskins in the East (instead of Eagles & Cowboys) and Cardinals in the West, who I just talked about taking a step forward, but are still a better draw than the reigning conference champions or possibly having to travel to Seattle. I believe that new regime in Detroit has finally built an identity on both sides of the ball with the heavy investments in the run game and back-seven on defense. Winning ten games might earn you a division title, if everybody plays each other tough.

Why they could finish last again:
Can these guys finally stay healthy? Matt Stafford to my surprise played a full 16 games in eight straight years before last season, but a lot of that had to do with his toughness to fight through pain and he had major issues with that shoulder early on in his career before basically breaking his back after putting the team on it for the last decade. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 of 32 possible starts and he has never carried the ball more than 118 times a season. Their receiving corp has been banged up quite a bit too. More glaring even – how will all these additions of former Patriots players work out? Can Matt Patricia build a New England 2.0 in Michigan or is he just bringing in players he knows will listen to him and the way he wants things to be done? Detroit could also rely on a lot of rookies to be immediate impact players – possibly two new starting guards on offense, running back D’Andre Swift probably sharing the load with Kerryon, Jeffrey Okudah having to immediately become their CB1 and Julian Okwara being asked to become a much more consistent player if they give him major snaps. And I recently talked about how their uncertainty at punter could be an issue for their ball-control, defense-minded style of play. They also have an early bye (week five), which I’m never a big fan of, after facing the Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Saints, which probably includes three playoff teams. If Chicago can get any competent QB play, all these teams should be highly competitive.

Bottom line:
I don’t think any team in this division wins more than ten games. Unfortunately I don’t see the Lions go over that mark themselves either. The Packers won’t come out victorious in so many close games (8-1 in one-possession affairs), the Vikings have lost a few proven commodities and look for young talent to immediately replace those and the Bears still have a quarterback competition going on. So if Detroit can do any better than just split the season series with those three teams, I see them finishing above .500, but ten wins is the ceiling for me. In terms of the competition inside the division, the Lions may be my number one team in this conversation, but I see a much clearer path to things crashing down for Matt Patricia and them having another disappointing season than I do with the Cardinals. No team in this division may finish below that 8-8 mark.


https://preview.redd.it/7ivo914ikf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=d029ddd274b78e78f5bc932d00086b8c697a466e

3. Miami Dolphins


Why they can win the division:
When you ask the general public, the Buffalo Bills right now are the favorites to win the AFC East, but they haven’t done so since 1995 and they still have to prove they really are that team. The Patriots lost several pieces on defense and Tom Brady of course, which probably leads them to starting a quarterback, who over his four career pass attempts has thrown more touchdowns to the opposing team than to his own. The Jets are still building up that roster, with GM Joe Douglas trying to plant seeds on burnt earth, and they face a BRUTAL schedule. So Miami has a lot of things going in their favor for an organization that I believe in what they are trying to build. Depending on what happens at quarterback, you could have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best inside the division in several key categories last season and/or Tua Tagovailoa, who had one of the most prolific careers we have seen from anybody in the SEC. They added at least two new starters on the O-line, they now have one of the premiere cornerback trios in the league with the all-time highest paid player at the position in Byron Jones and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to go with Xavien Howard and with some added beef up front, they are finally looking a lot like what Brian Flores had in New England. DeVante Parker really broke out over the second half of 2019 and Miami should have a much better rushing attack because of the additions up front and two quality committee backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida being added. They have two other young pass-catchers ready to break out this upcoming season in tight-end Mike Gesicki and a UDFA receiver from a year ago in Preston Williams. Whenever Tua’s name is called upon, he will be a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s horizontal passing game.

Why they could finish last again:
As much as I like what I see from this entire organization, it is probably just a year too early for Miami. So many young players could be thrown into the fire and a lot of them I look at as needing that experience – 18th overall pick Austin Jackson (USC) is more of a developmental tackle still with his footwork and hand-placement issues, 30th overall pick Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) has only played cornerback for two years and was bailed out by his athletic tools at times, third-rounder Brandon Jones has to develop more of a feel in deep coverage and at least one more rookie lineman will likely start for them. Even outside of this year’s draft class, they already had several players on their roster that are still moving towards their prime. Whether you look at last year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, a lot of second- and third-year pass-catchers or their young linebackers outside of Kyle Van Noy. The Bills are entering year four of that turn-around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, the Patriots still have the greatest coach of all time and will be a tough matchup solely based on that and the Jets at least have people playing for their jobs, plus a very talented young quarterback I still believe in. As much as I doubt Adam Gase, as long as Sam Darnold doesn’t get mono again, the offense should at least be competent, and the defense could potentially have a top-five player at every level with All-Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, an 85-million dollar linebacker in C.J. Mosley and my number one prospect in last year’s draft on the interior D-line with Quinnen Williams.

Bottom line:
As I mentioned before, the Bills are the front-runners in this division for me. As much respect as I have for Bill Belichick, I haven’t seen enough from Jarrett Stidham to make me a believer and he shrunk in some big moments at Auburn. The Jets to me could be a lot better than they were in 2019 and still go 6-10 just because of the type of schedule they are up against. So the Dolphins to me could easily finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how some of the players on that roster progress. I wouldn’t bet on them actually making the playoffs, but they could absolutely be a pain in the butt for some of the better teams in the AFC and in 2021 they might be the pick here.


https://preview.redd.it/nme3explkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=3998c6026125c1b9b48438e3fc9afaf9601b116e

4. Los Angeles Chargers


Why they can win the division:
First and foremost, this Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with no real hole that you can point to. Derwin James is back healthy after a first-team All-Pro rookie campaign, Chris Harris Jr. comes in to make this secondary one the elite units in the NFL to go with two more Pro Bowlers among it and they have some guys I expect to break out like Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill and Nasir Adderley. In terms of having matchup pieces and a versatile pass rush to challenge Kansas City, nobody in the league may be on the same level as these guys. Offensively, Ihave talked about how the left tackle spot is concern for L.A. with a battle between Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins for the starting job, but the other four spots are as good as they have been in a while, acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner via trade, signing a top five right tackle in Bryan Bulaga and getting Mike Pouncey back healthy. Tyrod Taylor can steer the ship and even if Justin Herbert is thrown into the fire – which I wouldn’t recommend – they have the skill-position players and willingness to run the ball to take pressure off those guys. While the Chiefs return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, this wouldn’t be the first time we saw a Super Bowl champion have some issues the following season and as much as we want to hype up the Broncos and Raiders, both their quarterbacks (and other players of course as well) have a lot to prove still. Outside of KC, the Chargers likely have the smallest changes to what they do other than moving on from Philip Rivers and we saw that formula work the year prior, when they challenged Kansas City until the very end for the division crown and the conference’s top seed potentially. While they probably would have liked to bring in Tom Brady over the offseason, the fact they decided against signing Cam Newton to a roster that is ready to win right now, shows you the confidence they have in that quarterback room.

Why they could finish last again:
I’m not a huge fan of Derek Carr, but the Chargers will probably have the worst quarterback in the division in 2020. And their starting left tackle could be the worst in the entire league. As good as their defense will probably be, you can not consistently win games in which your offense doesn’t put up 20+ points in the league today – especially when all these teams in their division have spent so much on acquiring offensive firepower these last couple of years. I believe all three of their division rivals got better this offseason and the Chargers spent their top draft pick (sixth overall) on a young quarterback, who might not even help them win games this season. As I already mentioned, Kansas City brings back almost their entire starting lineups and they went 12-4 despite Mahomes seemingly having his knee cap facing the sideline while laying on his back. I have uttered my thoughts on Denver several times now, which you can read up on later. As for Las Vegas’ new team, they did start last season 6-4 and just heavily invested into their two major issues – wide receiver and linebacker. And while I don’t like to talk about it – injuries have been a huge issue for this Chargers team in recent years and I don’t really know what it is even, but I can’t assume that they all of a sudden can stay healthy.

Bottom line:
In terms of talent on the roster outside of the quarterback position, you could make a pretty compelling argument that the Chargers are ahead of all the other teams on this list. That’s the reason they have a pretty high floor of finishing around .500 and if everything works out, they could absolutely be a playoff contender. However, for this exercise in particular, I believe their upside is capped by what they have under center. Tyrod Taylor can be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL this season and in terms of upside, Justin Herbert has all the tools to become a difference-maker once he steps on the field, but they don’t have the explosiveness the Chiefs or the Broncos have for that matter. With so much continuity on a team that has the best player in the entire league, I can’t go against the Chiefs and in the end we are evaluating the chances to actually win the division.


https://preview.redd.it/rywropjokf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=ed77a7303af810b862abb2100c4f0b86841a2d38

5. Washington Redskins


Why they can win the division:
These guys are very reminiscent of the 49ers with their defensive line, in terms of having invested a lot of high draft picks into the unit these last couple of years and now with that second overall pick bringing in a true stud from Ohio State – this time in Chase Young. When you look at all those guys up front – with the Bama boys patrolling the middle, Matt Ioannidis capable of moving around the front, Montez Sweat looking to break out in year two and Ryan Kerrigan still being there as a productive veteran – they will wreak some havoc this season. Ron Rivera could finally bring some structure to this organization and help them turn it around on defense with the addition of an old companion in Thomas Davis, plus some high-upside players like Reuben Foster and Fabian Moreau looking to prove themselves. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a very underwhelming rookie campaign, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be out there and found himself in a bad situation in terms of the support system around him. I like a lot of their young skill-position players the front office has surrounded him with, when you look at Terry McLaurin trying to become a young star in this league, who produced despite shaky quarterback play last season, Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden being two big-bodied targets I liked these last two drafts, Derrius Guice hopefully finally being able to stay healthy to lead this backfield and this year’s third-round pick Antonio Gibson being a chess piece that you can manufacture touches for. Somebody I forgot to mention in this discussion recently is Steven Sims Jr., who is a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner will implement a system that should make life easier on his second-year signal-caller as well, while relying heavily on the run game.

Why they could finish last again:
Haskins is by far the least proven QB of the bunch, with Daniel Jones even being head and shoulders above him in their respective rookie seasons. No pass-catcher outside of Terry McLaurin had any major production to speak. Counting on a 37-year old Thomas Davis to not only be a leader for them, but also make plays on the field, could create issues, and Washington lost some pieces in the secondary. This offseason is a challenge for any team, that is looking to implement a new system on each side of the ball, but I think especially for a motivator like Rivera, who can give his squad a heartbeat and push them to success, not being there in person with those guys will hurt. Most importantly however, this division to me will be a two-man race between the Eagles and Cowboys – as it has been for a while now. They both will likely have top ten quarterbacks, better receiving corps, better offensive lines and more experienced defenses. The Giants may not blow anybody away coming into 2020, but looking at the two matchups from last year between them and the Redskins, Big Blue beat them 24-3 the first time around, when Daniel Jones threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions and then he diced them up for five TDs and no picks in week 16. The one area Washington would have had the clear upper hand was with their front-four, but New York just invested a lot of draft capital into their O-line to prevent that. Just go through the Redskins’ schedule and show me more than six wins. I dare you.

Bottom line:
These last two sentences really say it all. Even if Philly and Dallas split the season series and Washington can get a game off either one of them, it will be tough to turn around this squad as quickly as this season – with reduced practice time and team activities – to a point where they can finish above both of them. Both of them could easily win double-digit games in 2020 and while I think the Redskins are on the right track if Haskins looks more like the Ohio State version of himself, other than their defensive line, no unit for them is ready to compete for the division quite yet. Just going through their schedule in an objective manner, it is tough to find any lay-ups and say Washington has some baseline of wins they count on. To not have them any lower than this is more due to the respect for Riverboat Ron and how high I was on a lot of the guys they drafted recently.


https://preview.redd.it/szpawv9rkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=62ca5fe882d8155d83eb3328e9bf1f1681a17384

6. Jacksonville Jaguars


Why they can win the division:
I was going back and forth between my number six and seven teams, because the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April for a reason – they did lose a lot of pieces. However, to me it came down to the fact that the AFC South might be won at 9-7 or 10-6 and this coaching staff actually has to win to keep their jobs. There is a lot noise about the Colts, but when you go back to last season, Philip Rivers was a turnover machine with serious questions about his arm strength. Bill O’Brien made some very questionable decisions for Houston and Tennessee is counting on a formula that is built on a 250-banger running the ball 25+ times and Ryan Tannehill finally repeating a career year, as they are coming off an AFC title game appearance. As far as Jacksonville goes, Gardner Minshew was the highest-graded rookie quarterback according to PFF and altogether I would have put him second only behind Kyler Murray. D.J. Chark broke out as one of the young star receivers and I had a first-round grade on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault if he can be healthy, because his talent is off the charts. I think the O-line would have benefitted from another tackle to kick Cam Robinson inside to guard, but those guys are some road-graders to make the run game work. Defensively the only real contributor from that Sacksonville group a couple of years ago who actually wants to be there is Myles Jack, but I really like their young duo off the edge in first-rounders Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU). There are some questions about the back-end, but they were built front-to-back with a lot of zone coverage behind it and depending on the development of ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson, they can roll away from him matching up with the opposing team’s number one receiver. Avoiding some of the better AFC squads altogether is pretty sweet as well, to go with facing no playoff team from last year outside their division until the middle of November.

Why they could finish last again:
I’m just not sure if all of these players are ready to fight for that coaching staff and organization. Two of their remaining veterans (Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue) have openly talked about how they want to be traded, they only have a few actually proven commodities on that entire roster and with the way they have unloaded big cap numbers, they have set themselves up for a true rebuild potentially, as they are expected to be in the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields sweepstakes come next April. Even if they can get a few breaks and the division is up for grabs, does this organization even want to win this season? If not for the injury to Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the season, all three other teams in that division would have almost certainly finished above .500 and the Colts are actually the team that improved by far the most among them. That Texans, who have actually won the South four of the last five years, including last season, may be the smallest challenge and still sweep Jacksonville. Vegas rarely misses completely and the Jaguars right now are the odds-on favorite to pick first overall come next April, with an NFL-low OveUnder of 4.5 wins on the season. And as favorable as the early portion of their schedule looks like right, check out this eight-game stretch after their week seven bye – at Chargers, vs. Texans, at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens. Ouch. They might go winless over that period.

Bottom line:
The Jaguars to me are a very interesting team, because I believe they have accumulated a bunch of young talent, which gets lost a little when you see all the names that aren’t there anymore. There is a lot to like about this roster, when you look at what these players could develop into, but that doesn’t mean they will have success this year already. The Colts have the best 53 currently in the division (or 55 now), the Texans have the best quarterback and the Titans are coming off an AFC Championship game appearance. Gardner Minshew could make this kind of a tough decision if they end up picking anywhere after first overall and I think some of those other kids will put up pretty good numbers, but they are still pretty clearly fourth in the South as for now.


https://preview.redd.it/5myv276vkf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=7fb25f47d0759e9b5a07876ea01787898c6cc817

7. Carolina Panthers

Why they can win the division:
Nobody knows for sure what Matt Rhule and his new coaching staff will throw at them. Joe Brady gets to work with Teddy Bridgewater once again, who he already coached in New Orleans – so there will be familiarity for him in this system and they already “speak the same language”. That young receiving corp with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, free agency addition Robby Anderson and even an up-and-coming tight-end in Ian Thomas is pretty underrated actually, plus of course they have one of the truly elite weapons out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is probably set to break his own RB reception record once again. The Panthers defense-only draft has brought them a monster in the middle in Derrick Brown (Auburn), a really talented edge rusher in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) on the opposite of last year’s rookie stud Brian Burns, a super-rangy safety with linebacker size in Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), what I think is a starting corner in Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame) and some other pieces in the secondary. The talent is clearly there and now you bring in a scheme that is probably going to be unique for the NFL level as well, when you look at that 3-3-5 Baylor ran under Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As much as we want to praise our legends of the game, the quarterbacks of the two front-runners in this division will be 41 and 43 years old respectively and let’s not forget that Atlanta started out last season 1-7.

Why they could finish last again:
Especially this offseason, without certainty if there will be anything like training camp or even a real preseason, that completely new staff with new systems they are trying to teach will certainly have some growing pains. Bridgewater has been a top-20 starting QB maybe one year of his career and even when he was applauded for the way he filled in for Drew Brees last season, he finished dead-last in intended air yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. How will that mesh with a lot of vertical targets around him? When he has those guys running free on slants and dig routes, the ball will get there, but will he be willing to throw that deep post or give his guys a chance on go-balls? Defensively they are counting on a lot of young players and they have nobody to even come close to replacing Luke Kuechly, as well as making the switch to an unproven scheme possibly, if they actually use some of those 3-3-5 looks coming over from Baylor. When you look at Rhule’s track-record, it always took him until year two to show improvement and then in that third season is when those teams can really make some noise. And that was in the AAC and Big 12 respectively. Now he is in the NFC South with a team that just went 13-3 in the Saints and a Bucs squad that already was 7-9 and lost six of those games by one score, only because despite finishing fifth in takeaways, they ranked in the bottom five in turnover differential due to easily leading the league with 41 giveaways. That should get a lot better with Tom Brady coming in, who has never even quite thrown half of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. Even the Falcons – for as poorly as they started last season – went 6-2 after really coming together and making some changes in their bye week last season.

Bottom line:
The Panthers are clearly the most unproven team in this division. While new systems that haven’t been scouted yet certainly have an advantage in terms of game-planning early on, especially in this offseason with heavily limited live reps most likely, that might equal a net minus. You have to root for a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and the way he has worked his way up to a starting spot again, but I just don’t look at him as a surefire franchise signal-caller. The other three teams in the South all have top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion and much more continuity around them. Until the Panthers finally get to their bye week at the start of December, I don’t see them winning more than four of those twelve games. At that point they may have their eyes on a different goal already, if Teddy B isn’t the clear answer under center.


https://preview.redd.it/y7agj2n2lf751.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=221af0a1f689d3b19d5e250fac0b58a35877edad

8. Cincinnati Bengals


Why they can win the division:
We’re not that far away from 2015, when the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record as the fifth year in a row making the playoffs. Since then this is the first time I feel like there really is change happening with this team. Marvin Lewis was replaced by a young Zac Taylor, trying to prove himself to the league, they drafted Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall to replace as average a quarterback as we have had over the last decade in Andy Dalton and the front office finally spent some money in free agency. While you would think a quarterback going first overall usually comes into a situation, where he is devoid of talent around him, Cincinnati suddenly has one of the better group of skill-position players in the entire league, assuming A.J. Green is back healthy. Tyler Boyd is a stud in the slot, who will be Burrow’s version of Justin Jefferson, a 50-50 ball specialist in second-round pick Tee Higgins (Clemson) matches perfectly with Burrow’s expertise of winning with ball-placement and if they get anything from former first-rounder John Ross at least as a decoy with his speed, that’s a plus. I expect Joe Mixon to be among the league leader’s in running back receptions and be more effective in space with those receivers around him as well. The signings the Bengals have made on defense gives them a lot more talent and complements very well what they already had. D.J. Reader is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league and frees everybody up along the front, they completely overhauled that linebacker group, which was a major issue these last couple of years, they brought in a starting CB2 and nickel from Minnesota to pair up with William Jackson III, who is ready to announce himself as one of the best corners in football, and Von Bell is a great match with the rangy free safety Jessie Bates.

Why they could finish last again:
As talented as all those guys throwing, catching and running the ball may be, it all starts with what’s happening up front and the Bengals offensive line is still in transition. They could have two of the worst starters in the league at both guard spots and right tackle once again, with the prior ones close to reaching that bust status and Bobby Hart still somehow having a starting job. As great as Joe Burrow was last year at LSU and how clean his evaluation was, how much better than Andy Dalton will he be right away, especially going up against those scary defensive fronts inside his division? Defensively they could easily have six new starters, which obviously can be looked at as a positive sign, considering they allowed 20+ points in all but two games last season, but there is also a lack of continuity and reduced time to fit all those pieces together. Cincinnati’s coaching staff hasn’t really proven anything yet and they will be facing a massacre of a schedule, with three occasions of back-to-back road games and while three of their final four games of the season are at home, they will face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, to go with a trip to Houston in-between. If they don’t beat the Chargers in the season-opener, they probably don’t get that first W until week four against the Jaguars and then they have to hope they can sneak out another one until their bye week. Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the highest projected win total with reigning MVP coming into just his third season, Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs with Big Ben back under center and Cleveland was the offseason favorite in 2019, while fielding an even better roster this year.

Bottom line:
I feel bad for putting this team last, because I thought Joe Burrow was the top quarterback and definitely worthy of that number one pick and the Bengals finally spent big money in free agency to retool the defense. To me this is less about them than the Ravens, who just were the number one overall seed in the playoffs at 14-2 and haven’t done anything other than get better themselves, a Steelers team that made a run at the playoffs with the worst quarterback play in the league now getting Ben back and a Browns roster that is among the top ten league-wide in most people’s opinion. Still, there is a lot to like about this team at the skill-positions, which is probably behind only Cleveland in terms all the weapons they have, some young standouts on defense and hope that all of this brings a fresh breath of air.


If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece (with video clips) - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/06/16/nfl-teams-most-likely-to-go-from-worst-to-first-in-2020/
You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9kCcuPobNU
submitted by hallach_halil to nfl [link] [comments]

Part 3/3 My Introduction to a Professional Sports Betting Syndicate

I appreciate you making it this far. I know nowadays reading isn’t the best form of consuming content but for detailed stories I don’t see any other feasible way. Plus I doubt many people want to look at my ugly face lol. Hope you enjoy the final part.

Part 3/3

“Okay here’s how it’s gonna go kid”, Mario said as we discussed how and where the information would flow. “I don’t need to know all that other bullshit about team, position or type of injury, less is more. Player name and injury status, that’s it”. Mario was a pit bull, he dealt with all the information sources and I was just one of many, but I'd like to imagine I was a valuable one. I was to deal with him and only him and the next few days we were to run test trials to work out any kinks.
I don’t remember the first injury ping I got during the test trial period but I do remember the first injury report sent when we went live for real money [Tony Parker] - Doubtful. It was a very weird feeling that I can’t really describe whenever a ping came through, a mixture between excitement, fear and anxiety. I eventually got used to it but it took about a month.
The biggest issue for me during the testing period seems simple but it was copying the text on the ping I received and pasting it and sending it from my personal phone from the messenger app. I was always concerned about leaving a trail on my work computer which was a desktop that other co-workers used when I wasn’t there. As easy as it sounds to copy and paste, at the beginning my hands would be shaky and any mis-clicks cost valuable seconds and remember I couldn’t do my job of posting it at work until 15 seconds after I sent it to Mario, so during the trial period it was taking me roughly 35 to 40 seconds to post reports for my job, that’s a considerable delay. I had to be quicker sending it to Mario because the faster I do that the faster I’m able to post it for my work.
Trial period over and now it’s for real. [Danny Green] - Out. [Wesley Mathews] - Questionable. One by one I was sending the reports. One time attempting to be quick I copied the ping something like this EM-[Marc Gasol]-Shoulder-OUT and I immediately got a call from Mario who was pissed. “I don’t care if the player sprained his dick, it’s player and status, that’s it! I remember thinking jeez wtf. I found out later it had something to do with how they programmed it on their end with the auto-bet software, so any extra characters or information other than player and status would mess it up and they would miss getting the bets down, even if it was an extra . Or - it would mess it up, or at least that’s what I was told. The reports I sent him would be automatically inputted into their system, it was all automated. Mario made it clear that any pings I sent that weren’t formatted correctly or if by game time the status didn’t hold up I wouldn’t be paid for. Him being pissed off made sense to me after awhile, a lot of money is on the line and this is their full-time job and missing out on even one report could potentially be the difference of a winning or losing week.
Writing this has brought back so many memories, like the time at work we were due for a schedule change, they like to change the schedule every 6 months. I had only been doing the pings for about a month and a half and a schedule change would fuck this all up if I was moved to mornings. I paid my co-worker $200 to tell management he prefers mornings and of course I told them nights work best for me. I was in the clear for another 6 months.
I remember checking my mail and seeing a yellow envelope, my first payment from George, close to $10,000 all cash, payments got sent out in the mail on the 14th monthly. What was also interesting is it came with a breakdown of each ping I sent. Ex; Based on 22 days / Total Reports 31 2- accurately reported players OUT 3- accurately reported players Probable etc etc Some weeks there would be no key players or starters with any breaking injury news, some weeks there would be several. It could only be breaking news so if a coach has a press conference and it’s revealed that a player would be out the next 3 games that didn’t help me. Or if news came out while I wasn’t at work it didn’t help me. It’s funny even now when I see breaking news for a player injury I think about the pings and how many points that player means to the line.
So I’m about 3 months in now and I’m basically hoping players get hurt. I’ve received about 4 payments because the first one was prorated because I started halfway through a month. Money was rolling in. I remember talking to my mom and she had just found out she had to pay $3,200 on her annual taxes. She was crying when I came over and handed her 32 100 dollar bills.
My sister wanted new furniture for his first apartment, I told her to pick it out and let me know how much. My oldest brother who had always disapproved of my lifestyle and would often say “you are going to hell in a handbasket”, (never knew what that meant, still don’t.) He was going through an ugly divorce and was saying how it kills him to write that bitch a check each month and that he wishes he could just pay it all at once for the year and not have to deal with her. I asked him how much. Christmas I gave my two brothers, my sister and mother 1K each, no card, no envelope. Looking back I did some really tacky shit lol Look everyone I made it! It’s cringeworthy now being older thinking about some of the shit.
If you were 26-27 years old and single and money wasn’t an issue what would you do? Well that’s what I did, anything and everything. I would book flights to Vegas 1 day in advance just because on a Thursday I felt like going the next day, I wouldn’t even bring clothes I would buy them when I landed. Having money wasn’t totally new to me because I had made a lot of money as a bookie but having this much money coming in was new and all I had to do was go to work and click some buttons. You know how the saying goes, “easy come, easy go” that’s what money was like to me.
Another saying is “All good things come to an end”. It’s been about 6 months into this arrangement and I was now not only reporting injuries to George and his team but on certain days and even some full weeks he had me sending the reports to other betting groups. I was now interacting with not just one betting syndicate but 3 of them. There are probably thousands of sports betting groups in the country but there are only a handful of consistently successful betting groups that are profitable year after year and I had their ears. The top groups tend to work together. Every source I currently have and use now originated in some way, shape or form from these groups that I sent pings too. I’m not saying I’m buddies with the heads of these groups but I know a lot of current and former employees that have come and gone with these groups and I’ve always made sure to stay in contact. None of the money I made is still with me but the people I met and still talk to once in a while is something I value. It's a two way street, I wouldn’t be much use to them if I just constantly asked for info. I have to return the favor as well, that’s why when I discovered the SuperBowl commercial prop edge, it was these people who were the first to get it, after I bet it of course. (SuperBowl Prop Story is in the #Betting-Strategy-Advice channel in The Betting Network). I’m constantly looking for ways I can help them even after all this time because you never know when or how it can come back to you.
In total I basically reported these injuries for about 8-9 months and had started reporting some NCAAB key players injuries. I managed this without any major backlash from my company. Dealt with a few issues here and there with the betting groups but nothing major. After a while I realized a big reason for my company not noticing anything was that 80% of all pings were reported right away as normal, although the 20% that got delayed were the key players and starters. A couple customer complaints were about all that happened and when that did I would make sure to promptly send out MIL-G-[Ramon Sessions]-Questionable with no delay.
The way this arrangement ended is anticlimactic and it was something out of any of our control. I managed to avoid schedule changes and even declined a small promotion within the company and a couple outside job opportunities that if I showed any type of interest I could’ve got, all in order to keep this $15.75 hr job. But everything happens for a reason, the company I worked for sold its majority ownership and merged with 2 other companies, this resulted in my department being dissolved and I ultimately ended up leaving the company altogether shortly after. Everyone involved was crushed when I told them it was over, especially one of the groups George affiliated with because they only got about 2 months out of it. The good news was the connections were made and we all continued to work together in different ways but nothing will probably be as lucrative as the ping arrangement.
I Hope you guys enjoyed this story because I enjoyed going down memory lane. I actually texted a few of the guys involved in it last night and we talked about how great it was and how it would be impossible these days to do what we did for many reasons. It was great while it lasted that’s for sure.
Fin
PS This was a little different from what I normally post which is more focused on sports betting education. I decided to share this story because of the overwhelming feedback I got with The Betting Network community. My focus is to help educate sports bettors, it’s important to know there are no shortcuts to being a successful sports bettor. I have over 25 lessons posted in TBN community on various topics, investing in yourself and learning as much as you can is the only way you stand a chance at becoming a successful sports bettor and even that alone isn’t enough, you must have some natural attributes like discipline and patience’s
if you are serious about learning and willing to put in the required work and invest in yourself DM me and I can tell you how to join The Betting Network community, I do a free 3 day trial and it’s only $7 a month after that. Weekly lessons, game previews, mentorship program and I share not only my opinions on games but also opinions from some of the many sources within my network. Hope to see some of y’all in the community.
Lefty
submitted by bettingnetwork to sportsbetting [link] [comments]

Indianapolis Colts Top 5: Quarterbacks

Indianapolis Colts Top 5: Quarterbacks
With the season (hopefully) on the way I thought I'd put together some lists for top 5 players at each position in Indianapolis (not Baltimore) Colts history. I'll start with QB, and work my way through. This list is purely my opinion as a die hard fan since the early Manning days, and if you think I have no clue what I'm talking about, please feel free to let me know.
Fun fact, out of the 26 QBs to start a game for the Indy Colts there are only 7 players that have a winning record. Three of them are Colts legends Josh Freeman, Gary Hogeboom, and Craig Erickson.

5. Jack Trudeau

https://preview.redd.it/a54mr7g9g3b51.jpg?width=361&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2d086a51719ff08e2c1a8cb651100c0a37f8458f
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
198-93 18-29 0-1 52.9 9,647 41 62 6.3 64.4

How He Got Here

After the complete disaster that was attempting to draft John Elway #1 in 1983, the then Baltimore Colts stuck with Mike Pagel at QB, who had just led them to a winless season in 1982. Team owner Robert Irsay decided to move the team to Indianapolis before the 1984 season the team stuck with Pagel as their main QB despite him clearly not being their future at the position. This led to 2 season with losing records and last place finishes in the AFC East. Entering the 1986 draft, the Colts were clearly looking for a franchise player at QB. The obvious choice was Jim Everett out of Purdue, but unfortunately he was selected #3 to the Houston Oilers when the Colts had the #4 pick. Instead of drafting the only other franchise QB in the draft, Mark Rypien, the Colts decided to select promising Illinois QB Jack Trudeau in the 2nd round. Trudeau had shown a lot of promise in his career, leading Illinois to a Rose Bowl in 1984 and finishing 2nd in the Davey O'Brien Award (Best College QB) to Doug Flutie. Unfortunately for him and the Colts, this talent would not translate well to the NFL

Colts Career

After trading Mike Pagel to the Browns the starting job was set for Trudeau entering the 1986 season. Unfortunately the Colts were still a very bad team overall and Trudeau was not set to overcome that. In 11 starts he had 8 TDs, 18 INTs, and a 48.9% completion rate for an 0-11 record. It was immediately clear he was not the savior the Colts needed to bring legitimate football to Indy.
Fortunately, a contract dispute between Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson allowed the Colts to trade for Dickerson midway through the 1987 season. Dickerson was an immediate breath of life to the fledgling Indianapolis Colts franchise and helped lead them to their first playoff berth. Trudeau shared starting duties with Gary Hogeboom, and both were successful in not screwing things up too bad, giving the ball to Dickerson, and staying out of the damn way. Trudeau started in his only playoff game and actually played decently well: 251 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, but it wasn't enough as the Colts lost 38-21 to the Bernie Kosar led Cleveland Browns who would eventually lose in via "The Drive" in the AFC Championship.
It was clear the Colts would need a better QB to compliment their new superstar in Dickerson, and thus they drafted future Pro Bowler Chris Chandler in the 3rd round in 1988. However, Chris Chandler was most definitely not a Pro Bowler for the Colts. Chandler didn't impress despite an 9-7 overall record, and was replaced by Trudeau following a bad start to the 1989 season. Trudeau had his best year as a pro in 1989: 2,317 yards, 15 TDs, 13 INTs, but the Colts still finished 8-8 and outside of the playoffs.
Trudeau was improving, but was still clearly not the QB of the future, which they hoped to get by trading All-Pro Tackle Chris Hinton, Future All-Pro WR Andre Rison, and the #3 Pick in 1991 for the #1 Pick in 1990 which they used to draft QB Jeff George (Wow). Trudeau was kept as the backup and was a spot starter for the Colts from 1990-93. Despite the horrific play of George, Trudeau couldn't muster much better in his limited playing time and was released in 1994.

My favorite highlight

https://youtu.be/kM0APJieAME?t=678

Legacy

Jack Trudeau was at best a mediocre QB you could somewhat rely on to manage the game and allow more talented players to make plays. Unfortunately the late 80s, early 90s Colts didn't have too many of those so his play suffered as well. His numbers aren't great and he wasn't much beloved by Colts fans, but he did help lead the Colts to their first playoff appearance which helped me put him on the list over Matt Hasselbeck and others. Trudeau has actually hung around Indy doing various radio and TV appearances talking about the Colts and even has a couple of DUIs as well.

4. Jacoby Brissett

https://preview.redd.it/96cmm0sag3b51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=4a578fcdd25c1a0830d6d6b7fc8b5dde43309455
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
2017- 11-19 0-0 59.8 6,042 31 13 6.6 84.6

How He Got Here

The Colts had their franchise QB in Andrew Luck, but leading up to the 2017 season it was revealed during the preseason Luck had a shoulder injury which would eventually lead to him missing the entire 2017 season. This left the Colts scrambling as they knew QB Scott Tolzien was not the answer at QB, so 8 days before the start of the season the new GM Chris Ballard traded 1st round bust Phillip Dorsett for 3rd string QB for the Patriots Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had looked at least competent spot starting for the suspended Tom Brady and hurt Jimmy Garoppolo in 2016, so he was the best option the Colts had available so close to the beginning of the season.

Colts Career

Bringing in a new QB for a team 8 days before the start of the season and asking him to play is like asking a train engineer to launch a rocket to the moon, so Tolzien started week 1 for Colts. He continued to not impress going into week 2, and was replaced for Brissett. Brissett was an improvement, but it was clear he was overwhelmed by the change of scenery and the rest of the Colts roster and staff was not talented enough to make up for it. He finished with competent numbers: 3,098 yards, 13 TDs, 7 INTs, 58.8% completion rate, 6.6 Y/A, but was merely a game manager for a bad team as the Colts finished 4-12.
Andrew Luck was ready to return in 2018 and the Colts were willing to give Brissett the benefit of the doubt and kept him on as the backup. The Colts saw a major resurgence with Luck and an incredible draft and free agent class by Chris Ballard, leading to their first playoff appearance since 2015, eventually losing to the Patrick Mahomes led Chiefs. The Colts were looking to improve going into 2019, but a now too familiar announcement led up to the season when it was revealed a calf injury was going to cause Andrew Luck to retire 2 weeks before the start of the regular season. The spotlight was once again shown on Jacoby Brissett, who was asked to take over Luck's team. Fortunately this time Brissett was able to get all the first team reps in the preseason leading up to week 1 and was much more familiar with the system.
That familiarity paid off as Brissett led the Colts to a 5-2 start, including wins over playoff teams like the Texans and Titans along with the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Brissett was not putting up All-Pro numbers, but had clearly improved from 2017 and was still not making game losing mistakes. Through week 9 he had 190 YPG, 11 TDs, and 6 INTs, and and the eye test had shown he was a good leader and could occasionally make big plays when needed. However, after a knee sprain in week 10 he was clearly not the same player. His injury either hampered his physical abilities or his confidence but his poor play for the rest of the season allowed the Colts to fall to 7-9, including an embarrassing 34-7 loss to the Saints that I made the trip over to New Orleans for and watched as Brissett sailed the ball over every receiver's head. Brissett will likely be the backup for the 2020 season behind free agent Phillip Rivers, but he's shown enough flashes of ability that his career is long from over, whether that ends up being on the Colts or somewhere else in the league.

My favorite highlight

https://youtu.be/Q1bFNE0CGXY?t=287

Legacy

I believe I'm with the majority of Colts fans in that when I see Jacoby Brissett I see somewhat of a tragic figure. He got thrown to the wolves in 2017 and did the best he could, but was basically set up to fail. It's honestly not too much of a stretch to say his play through week 9 of 2019 was the best QB play by an Indy Colts QB not named Manning, Luck, or Harbaugh. You could tell he was well-liked by both fans and teammates, especially through the first half of 2019, but his limitations as a player were clear. Colts fans have been spoiled in the 21st century by 2 all-time great QBs, so any deviation from that, especially when it's not by a QB we drafted #1 overall, will be seen as a major failure. I think people came down a little too hard on Jacoby by the end of 2019, and that he's still a solid pro capable of being the QB on a winning team in the right situation. However, he showed in the 2nd half of 2019 that situation is probably not in Indy going forward.

3. Jim Harbaugh

https://preview.redd.it/ka0f9imcg3b51.jpg?width=300&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=f34fa86258b0e403bfe000b84ba246bcf11dfc42
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
1994-97 20-26 2-2 60.7 8,705 49 26 7.1 86.6

How He Got Here

The Colts had come out of the Eric Dickerson/Jeff George era looking like an absolute dumpster fire. The Colts had been in Indy for 10 years and Indy was still very much a basketball town. The only signature player the Indy Colts had was Eric Dickerson, and he had a very sour exit in 1992 after 2 bad years. The Indianapolis Colts were still in the woods, searching for the player that could give their franchise hope that they would be treated as a legitimate threat in the NFL and generate significant interest from the fanbase. That hope came from an unlikely source in Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh had led the Chicago Bears to 2 playoff appearances in the late Mike Ditka-era, but his play had fallen off and by 1994 he looked somewhat washed. The desperate Colts made a surprisingly wise decision in not drafting QBs Heath Schuler or Trent Dilfer. Instead they drafted future Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to replace Eric Dickerson (this is the "Who the hell is Mel Kiper?" draft) and signing Jim Harbaugh.

Colts Career

Harbaugh didn't come out guns blazing in 1994 as he traded starting duties with Green Bay castoff Don Majkowski. Harbaugh put up decent numbers but the Colts finished 4-5 in games Harbaugh started, 8-8 overall. Harbaugh entered the 1995 season as no sure thing, the Colts actually traded their 1996 first round pick for young Tampa QB Craig Erickson in another baffling trade for an unproven QB. Erickson and Harbaugh competed for the starting position in training camp and Erickson was selected as the starter by head coach Ted Marchibroda.
Erickson played poorly the first 2 weeks, being replaced and outplayed by Harbaugh in both games. By week 3 Harbaugh was the full time starter and didn't look back. Harbaugh was showing that he meshed well with new Offensive Coordinator Lindy Infante as Harbaugh put up some of the most efficient passing numbers of any QB in the NFL in 1995: 2,575 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs, 63.7% completion rate, and a league leading passer rating of 100.7 (ahead of guys like Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Dan Marino). Even more importantly he was a becoming the tough effective leader to energize the entire team, leading the Colts to 4 game winning drives that season, including one over the 1994 Super Bowl champion 49ers. The Colts were just outside of the playoffs going into week 17, but Harbaugh led the Colts to a win over the Drew Bledsoe led Patriots in the RCA Dome to sneak the Colts into the playoffs at 9-7. Harbaugh earned his first Pro Bowl appearance along with NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
The Colts were going into the playoffs as 5.5 point underdogs against the San Diego Chargers, a team they had just lost to in week 16. However, thanks to 3 TDs from Harbaugh and an out-of-nowhere 147 yard, 2 TD performance from rookie FB Zach Crockett, the Colts overcame the odds. They were heading into a gauntlet of Arrowhead stadium against the best defense in the league and a Marcus Allen led 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs. In an ugly game where the wind chill was -15oF, luck worked in the Colts favor. Harbaugh didn't throw well, but picked up several key 1st down with his legs. He had 1 INT and 3 fumbles, but fortunately lost 0. Chiefs QB Steve Bono had 3 INTs and K Lin Elliot went 0/3 on field goals in a season where he made 80%. Colts K Cary Blanchard made 1/3, and that was enough to upset the heavily-favored Chiefs 10-7. Harbaugh's most defining moment as the Colts QB would come in the AFC Championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Harbaugh's cinderella story continued on against Bill Cowher and Neil O'Donnell's Steelers. The Colts and Steelers traded scores throughout the game. With 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Harbaugh threw a dime to WR Floyd Turner for a 47 yard touchdown to put the Colts up 16-13. Unfortunately the Colts couldn't run out enough clock on their next drive and the Steelers rushed down the field for the go-ahead score to put them up 20-16. Harbaugh wasn't done yet. With 88 seconds needing 84 yards, Harbaugh willed the Colts down the field to the Steelers' 29-yard line for a hail mary shot with 5 seconds left. Harbaugh tossed up a prayer that was very nearly caught by Colts WR Aaron Bailey, but he couldn't come up with it. The Cinderella story was over, but it was a defining moment for the Colts franchise. The 1995 Colts were within a hair of making the Super Bowl, and that 1995 playoff run led by Harbaugh created a real fanbase for them.
Harbaugh's stats regressed some in 1996, but he still led the Colts to a 9-7 record and the playoffs, this time getting whooped by the Steelers in the wild card. In 1997 his stats improved some but the wheels fell off of the team as they started off 0-10, eventually falling to 3-13. Fortunately their record would net them the #1 pick in the 1998 draft. After it was clear the Colts were using the pick on QB they traded Harbaugh to the Ravens.

My favorite highlight

https://youtu.be/FT4vF24WanE?t=155

Legacy

“A lot of people use (the word) ‘culture,’ but the attitude, everybody was team-first, from the front office, together with the coaches, together with the ownership, together with the players, the equipment staff, the training staff, I mean it felt like we were family.” - Jim Harbaugh on 1995
I don't think enough can be said about the effect of Harbaugh and that 1995 team had on the Colts. He gave us our first source of pride in the Colts and set the tone for the franchise to not be the laughingstock of the league. He paved the way for the decades of excellence that came after. Harbaugh will never be a HoF QB, but his effect on the Colts is severely underrated.
For more details on the 1995 Cinderella season, read this IndyStar article: https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2016/01/21/1995-indianapolis-colts-jim-harbaugh-aaron-bailey-afc-championship-game-ted-marchibroda/78291676/

2. Andrew Luck

https://preview.redd.it/8nh7p6pdg3b51.jpg?width=1800&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=bc67a67720b82f9294b9283924f61d9f261e4d85
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
2012-18 53.33 4-4 60.8 23,671 171 83 7.2 89.5

How He Got Here

After a serious neck injury to franchise stalwart Peyton Manning, the Colts went from perennial playoff contender to nearly winless in 2011. It was unknown if Manning would ever be the same QB again, so the Colts opted to release their most valuable player and use their #1 pick in 2012 on a QB. There was some debate on possibly drafting the Heisman winner out of Baylor, Robert Griffin III, but new GM Ryan Grigson made no doubt in the fact that he was drafting Andrew Luck. Son of former Oilers QB Oliver Luck, Andrew Luck blossomed under head coach Jim Harbaugh to revitalize the Stanford football program while also graduating with a bachelor's degree in architectural design. Luck was hailed by nearly every scout as a can't miss prospect, having nearly every physical tool you want from a QB along with a clear handle on the mental and intangible aspects of the game.

Colts Career

Expectations for Luck were high going into 2012, but not so for the team overall. Many experts put the Colts at or near the bottom of all power rankings. Not only had the team lost Peyton Manning that year, but also many key pieces from the Manning era such as Pierre Garçon, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, and Gary Brackett. To make matters worse, new head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and missed weeks 5-16. However, despite all odds, Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 record. Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians proved to be a diamond in the rough by helping Luck turn a 2-14 team that lost multiple starters into a playoff team. Luck's stats weren't always pretty: 23 TDs, 18 INTs, 54.1% completion rate, and a 76.5 rating, but he could clearly make plays happen with an absurd 7 game winning drives. The miracles came to an end with a shellacking by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, but this season proved Luck would be no bust, he was a force to be reckoned with.
Luck continued to grow in 2013 and 2014, improving in every category to crescendo in 2014 with a league-leading 40 TDs, 16 INTs, 61.7% completion rate, and a 96.5 rating. In 2013 he led the Colts to his first playoff victory in spectacular fashion. After being down 38-10 early in the 3rd quarter to the Alex Smith led Chiefs, Luck led a furious and unbelievable comeback 45-44 victory. Any Colts fan could tell you after seeing all the comeback victories Luck had led to never count him out, and he cemented that in this game. In 2014 Luck led the Colts past their old god of Peyton Manning in Denver in the divisional round, but were given a thorough ass-whooping in the AFC Championship by the soon-to-be Super Bowl champions New England Patriots in what is now infamously known as the "Deflategate Game."
Andrew Luck was a very physical player and was known to take many hits, sometimes making spectacular plays through those hits. However, that punishment started to pile up and wasn't helped by GM Ryan Grigson's poor draft classes and inability to build a competent offensive line to block for Luck. This culminated in the injury plagued 2015 and 2016 seasons. Luck only played 7 games in 2015 and severely regressed in every statistical category, clearly hampered by various injuries such as a lacerated kidney. Luck's stats improved in 2016, but the team did not as they finished 8-8, partially due to an astounding 7% sack of Luck. Either some of Luck's good fortune had finally run out or the team and culture built by GM Grigson had completely failed to support their superstar QB. Owner Jim Irsay bet on Luck and fired Grigson after 2016.
Hopes were high heading into 2017, but unfortunately an unknown snowboarding accident aggravated a previous shoulder injury for Luck. News was very slow to come out, but fans were shocked to find out he would likely miss the entire season 8 days before week 1. New GM Chris Ballard made a quick trade for Jacoby Brissett, but fans were worried after 3 years of being hampered by injuries Luck may never be the same player.
In 2018 we believed those doubts were proven wrong. Luck had an incredibly resurgent season, leading the new look Colts back into the playoffs for the first time since 2014 with a 10-6 record. Luck's numbers were back to form: 39 TDs, 15 INTs, and career bests of 67.3% completion rate and 98.7 rating. Fans were pleased to finally see Luck playing behind a solid offensive line that prevented which prevented him from being sacked for 5 weeks and giving him a career low 2.7% sack rate. Luck led the Colts to a Wild Card win over the Deshaun Watson's Texans, but were stopped in the cold in Arrowhead against Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs. However, hopes were high leading into 2019 that the structure given by GM Chris Ballard would protect Luck and allow him to lead us to our Super Bowl.
Sadly that did not work out as Luck appeared to have a calf injury leading up to the 2019 season. Fans held out hope he would be ready to go for the start of the season, but after the years of rehabbing Luck had finally had enough. 2 weeks before the season opener during a preseason game against the Chicago Bears it was leaked that Luck planned to retire. Fortunately his backup Jacoby Brissett was put in a better position to take his place as opposed to 2017, but the sudden and unexplained retirement of their franchise QB right before the season led to some fans to boo Luck as he left the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the last time.

My favorite highlight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teNLH0p6WHs
or
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBHhO2yWRMo
or

Legacy

Andrew Luck will forever be one of the greatest "what if?" stories in American sports history. Unlike many "what if?" stories, we got to see what we could have had with Luck. What the Colts had in Luck from 2012-14 along with 2018 was nothing short of incredible and it was clear he was improving to potentially become one of the greatest QBs in NFL history. Instead he's a tragic story where fans will forever be left to wonder what could have been with Andrew Luck. Would Luck have brought the Colts back to the Super Bowl if he he didn't play the majority of his career under the poor management of GM Ryan Grigson and HC Chuck Pagano? All we do know is that his sack rate under Grigson was 5.5%, and in one year on GM Chris Ballard's team it was 2.7%, coincidentally also one of his best statistical seasons. Peyton Manning's sack rate for his career? Tied for the NFL record with Dan Marino at 3.13%. Maybe if Luck had been better protected and coached better to avoid hits he could have made it up there with Manning, but as fans he'll forever be a "what if?" Luck seems like a smart and content man who's just starting a family, so I doubt he will ever return for any team. Even if he did we'll forever be robbed of what the best version of Andrew Luck could have been. However, in his short time here, he delivered enough incredible moments to give us hope and make us love the team. I, along with hopefully many other fans, will forever love Andrew Luck for his time with the Colts and am grateful for a helluva run.

1.Peyton Manning

https://preview.redd.it/5lr1v2heg3b51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=0b42edf31a7f2e4910e9adc0dcceb11b045a8630
Years Record Playoffs Comp % Yards TDs INTs Y/A Rating
1998-11 141-67 9-10 64.9 54,828 399 198 7.6 94.9

How He Got Here

The Indianapolis Colts under Jim Harbaugh had finally established themselves as a legitimate team, but the Colts knew Harbaugh wasn't the long-term answer at QB. He was 35 going into the 1998 season and had just led the Colts to a 3-13 season, bad enough for the #1 overall pick. There was some debate about drafting Heisman finalist out of Washington, Ryan Leaf, but new GM Bill Polian made no doubt in the fact that he was drafting Peyton Manning. Leaf had some incredible athletic abilities, but there were some doubts raised about his ability to handle the mental aspects of the game. He also basically made the decision for the Colts when he skipped their draft interview, a passive-aggressive declaration he wouldn't play for the Colts. Peyton Manning, son of former Saints QB Archie Manning, was also a Heisman finalist out of Tennessee. No scout doubted Manning's ability to become a franchise QB in the NFL, but some wondered about his potential ceiling due to a complete lack of running ability and some arm strength concerns. However, he was clearly one of the most mature and mentally ready players to ever come out of college for any position.
"I'll leave you with this thought. If you take me, I promise you we will win a championship. If you don't, I promise I'll come back and kick your ass" -Peyton Manning to Colts GM Bill Polian on the day before the 1998 draft

Colts Career

The 1998 Colts were still a pretty bad team overall, and the rookie Manning was not enough to overcome that. He had one of the best statistical rookie seasons ever: 3,739 yards, 26 TDs, 28 INTs, 6.5 Y/A, and a 56.7% completion rate, setting records for yards, TDs, and INTs (yards and TDs are currently held by Andrew Luck and Baker Mayfield respectively). However, the deficiencies of the team and Manning's record number of interceptions helped give the Colts a 3-13 record, including a week 5 win over Ryan Leaf's San Diego Chargers.
Fortunately Manning helped lead one of the biggest turnarounds in NFL history in 1999, turning the 3-13 Colts in 1998 into the 13-3 Colts in 1999. People weren't exactly ready to give up on Manning after 1998, but 1999 was critical for showing Manning could improve and be at the helm of a winning team. Partially this was helped by sending Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to St. Louis in exchange for the draft pick to select Hall of Fame RB Edgerrin James, who had a phenomenal rookie year. The Colts ended up losing to the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs, who had just completed the Music City Miracle the week before and would come within an ass hair of winning the Super Bowl against the Greatest Show on Turf St. Louis Rams.
Manning was up and down from 2000 to 2002, still posting good stats but missing the playoffs in 2001 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oSFYxDGKy8 ) and having first round exits in 2000 and 2002. Whispers started turning into legitimate arguments about how Peyton Manning was a good stats, dome team, regular season QB that just didn't have it in the playoffs. In 2003 Manning started his absurd streak of 12+ win seasons (7 years) and picked up his first MVP award, the first (and still only) Indy Colt to win it. He also got his first playoff wins in 2003, but was quickly put to shame in a 4 INT performance in the AFC Championship against the Patriots, now known by Colts fans as "The Ty Law Game."
The 2004 season is well known by Colts fans for cementing Manning among the all time greats. Manning was white hot all year, throwing for 4,557 yards 49 TDs, 10 INTs, and a 121.1 rating while only getting sacked 13 times. The 49 TDs was a record, which has since been broken by Tom Brady and Manning again while a member of the Broncos. Manning won MVP for the 2nd year in a row, but once again disappointed in the playoffs with a 0 TD, 1 INT performance against the Patriots in the divisional round, losing 20-3. Those arguments of Manning's postseason jitters were starting to feel more and more like reality for Colts fans. They knew they had their franchise QB, but his inability to perform in the playoffs continued to be baffling.
2005 was supposed to be the season that changed all that. Manning's numbers came back to earth somewhat, but he still posted a very efficient performance (104.1 rating) for a much improved overall team. GM Bill Polian had proved his days building the "Four Falls over Buffalo" Bills dynasty was no fluke, he now had a team with the #2 scoring offense and the #2 scoring defense. This was the year to break the Manning postseason curse. Unfortunately in one of the most upsetting games of my life, the Colts could not break that curse against the Steelers in the divisional round. Manning played relatively well: 58% completion rate, 290 yards, and 1 TD with no INTs, but watching the game the Colts struggled to maintain momentum and get stops against the rookie Ben Roethlisberger. Despite the inconsistent play, the Colts still had a shot. Steelers HoF RB Jerome Bettis attempted to ice the game with a goal line carry, but fumbled for the first time all year. With the entire Steelers offense stuffing the line, Colts CB Nick Harper was free to pick up the ball with a nearly open field ahead of him. Normally Nick Harper is one of the faster players on the field, however, as every Colts fan knows, Harper had been stabbed in the leg by his wife in a "supposedly accidental" altercation the night before. This possibly allowed the falling down Ben Roethlisberger to catch Harper by his shoe strings, preventing the nearly sure thing TD by Harper to put the Colts ahead. Instead Manning led the Colts into basically chip shot field goal position for one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history (Mike "Idiot Kicker" Vanderjagt) to tie the game. We all know what happened next. It was a shocking loss to say the least, and it was hard to blame it all on Manning, but it still felt like there was some sort of mystical VooDoo curse hanging over Manning and our franchise.
If the Colts couldn't win it all in 2005 it felt like they never would. 2006 wasn't looking like anything special compared to the past few seasons, especially considering the defense regressed from #2 in scoring in 2005 to #23 in 2006. Manning was still putting up great numbers, but those were starting to feel like an exercise in futility. Fortunately the Colts caught fire at the right time, with oft-injured All-Pro Safety Bob Sanders getting healthy towards the end of the season and the trade deadline addition of Buccaneers DT "Booger" McFarland. That momentum pushed them to an AFC Championship, where Manning would match up against the source of his ultimate playoff failures, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Fortunately, this time it was in the RCA Dome, not Foxborogh, MA. Manning and the Colts started off cold, being down 21-3 at one point after a Manning pick-6, but the Colts rallied behind some incredibly orchestrated drives by Manning to finally get the monkey off his back. On a last second drive, Manning drove the Colts down the field to put them ahead 38-34 with 1 minute to go. A Marlin Jackson interception of Tom Brady sealed it, Manning and the Colts were going to the Super Bowl for the first time in Indy history. Manning played well in the Super Bowl, winning the MVP against the league-best Chicago Bears defense.
Manning continued his solid play in 2007 and 2008, including his 3rd MVP in 2008. Both seasons ended with heartbreaking first round playoff exits to the San Diego Chargers, 2008's being the "Sproles and Scifres Game." 2008 also showed the first signs of physical weakness from Manning, having a knee surgery before the season that led to a slow start for the Colts. That was not the case in 2009, as Manning led the Colts to start the season 14-0. In a decision that's still derided today, new head coach Jim Caldwell decided to effectively bench Manning along with many other starters rather than go for the perfect season to prevent any injuries. Many had seen the Patriots in 2007 nearly complete the perfect season, but fall in heartbreaking fashion in the Super Bowl against a less talented Giants team. Caldwell, like many others, decided that any rust from not playing for nearly a month was worth the decreased risk of injury to his stars. That decision nearly backfired in spectacular fashion as the Colts were behind the New York Jets (a team they effectively let into the playoffs by letting them win in week 16) in the AFC Championship game until Manning led a furious comeback. It all ended poorly in the Super Bowl however as Manning threw a pick-6 to Tracy Porter that still haunts my dreams to Tracy Porter, allowing the Colts to lose to Drew Brees and his stupid baby and the New Orleans Saints.
2010 was one of the first signs of weakness from Manning. He had apparently injured his neck on this play in 2006 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gjdmww3vgM ) on a hit that would now be extremely illegal. Manning apparently aggravated that injury in the lead up to the 2010 season, and it showed in the stats as he had how lowest rating since 2002 (91.9). For most other QBs a rating of 91.9 is a pretty solid season but for Manning it was a massive fall. This led to a quick playoff exit to the Jets in the first round. In the lead up to the 2011 season, Manning had several surgeries to relieve the pain in his neck which led to him missing the entire season. It was unknown if he would ever be the same QB again, or even play again. Manning's absence showed how incredibly important he was to the franchise, the only major difference between the rosters in 2010 and 2011 is Manning, yet the Colts went 10-6 in 2010 and 2-14 in 2011. This poor record led to the Colts earning the #1 pick in the 2012 draft, which fueled their decision to release Manning and draft a QB in 2012 (Chandler Harnish...and Andrew Luck).

My favorite highlight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DttfyOeU3vw
or
https://youtu.be/al13DoOFp78
or
https://youtu.be/UE4UgMc2QqA?t=581

Legacy

"Fellas, if 18 goes down, we're fucked, and we don't practice fucked." -Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore on why the backup QBs don't get more reps
Nothing to me cements Peyton Manning's role in Indy as much as this quote. Even his first 5 years before he became an all-time great, that was still the best sustained stretch of QB play in Indy Colts history. Once he ascended to another level in 2003, it was clear we needed to put every egg we could find into his basket. Manning was the perfect franchise QB: a steady presence on and off the field, consistent delivery of either incredible numbers or game winning performances (usually both), and he made nearly everyone else on the team a better player. His drive and commitment to team victory made him the guy every franchise needs if they want to field a consistently great team. Peyton had somewhat of an authoritarian leadership style, my way or the highway, but you can do that when you show that you're willing and able to give every ounce of yourself to the team and deliver the kind of results that he can.
I think some people are disappointed in the Manning Era considering how historically great his stats are but he was 1-1 in Super Bowls in 12 years here. Honestly I think that's not too far off for any all-time QB. Drew Brees is 1-0, Brett Favre is 1-1, Aaron Rodgers is 1-0, Fran Tarkenton is 0-3, Jim Kelly is 0-4, Dan Marino is 0-1, all of these guys are all-time great franchise QBs but it's not abnormal for them to only win 1 or lose several. There are some exceptions: Tom Brady (6-3), Joe Montana (4-0), Terry Bradshaw (4-0), and Troy Aikman (3-0), but honestly you could trade any of the former QBs for Terry Bradshaw and they would also probably be 4-0. There's lots of luck in every playing career, and some get luckier than others. The only season I'd say the Colts were "robbed" of a Super Bowl is 2005, otherwise I think Manning's Colts career went about as good as it could have.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Hasselbeck (5-3 record, probably our best backup ever) and Dan Orlovsky (just for saving us from a completely defeated season).
Dishonorable Mentions: Jeff George and Kerry Collins (being very bad at QB isn't very uncommon for Indy Colts QBs, but these guys were so bad and toxic they dragged down the abilities of everyone on the team and are actively hated by most fans)
submitted by chadowan to Colts [link] [comments]

Way too early 55 man roster analysis/projection and Bucs needs post draft

The draft is over, and with it we have the bulk of a magical offseason for Tampa Bay completed. All the major moves are done at this point, and Bucs look to have one of the more complete rosters in the NFL. I wanted to take a quick look at what I think will be a fairly close approximation of the Bucs roster for this season and point out some spots where they might be able to shore up depth with a budget signing. After 4pm tomorrow, any free agent signings will no longer count toward the comp pick formula, so we may see a move or two before long. They could also wait until after week 1 of the season to avoid giving any vet signings a guaranteed deal. The NFL roster size has increased from 53 to 55 as per the new CBA. I'll be breaking down each position group and talking about starters and who might surprise from our UDFA and late round draft pick group. The Bucs are very tight up against the cap as it is right now, but restructuring the deals of core players like Marpet or Evans can free up additional space to make the small moves they may need to make.
Offense(26):
QB(3) - Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin
Pretty chalk group here. Brady is an older guy and Gabbert dealt with injuries last year, so I believe the Bucs may carry 3 QBs on the active roster this year. Using a spot on QB3 stings a bit less with the slight increase in roster space.
RB(4) - Ronald Jones, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Dare Ogunbowale, Raymond Calais
Rojo will lead this group and I think he will continue to improve. Vaughn has a chance to carve out a COP and 3rd down role, as something I like on his film was pass protection. I think Vaughn could push for 30-40 receptions in his offense. I think the coaching staff and locker room really like Dare after voting him as a captain last year, so he'll stick on the roster as a special teams player with sparing running game usage. The final spot likely comes out to 7th round pick Calais vs TJ Logan. Whichever ends up winning the returner job likely gets the nod.
WR(6) - Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, Justin Watson, Josh Pearson
I think the Bucs will keep 4 TEs this year, leading them to go lighter at WR and only keep 5 when they've kept 6 guys in the recent past. I loved the Tyler Johnson pick, one of the biggest steals in the entire draft. I will be posting some fim review on Johnson to the sub in the coming days. He's super polished and a good route runner, I believe he comes in ready to play right away and will immediately take over the WR3 position. Scotty Miller was inconsistent last year and dealt with injuries, but he did flash with his touchdown in the Lions game. I think he takes the WR4 spot and comes in for deep shots in the John Brown role for the team. For the 5th spot, I'm giving it to Watson despite not being impressed with him so far. I was informed by Greg Auman after posting this that Bobo Wilson is no longer on the Bucs, so I've adjusted this section to include UDFA Josh Pearson.
TE(4) - Rob Gronkowski, OJ Howard, Cameron Brate, Antony Auclair
If we can get 80% of peak Gronk, that's a massive win for this team. Even diminished Gronk is better than nearly every starting TE in he league. I'm personally glad the team kept Howard, he is still a huge talent and has made strides as a blocker over the years. I predict the team to keep Auclair on the roster because of his blocking as well. Last years preseason sensation Tanner Hudson falls off the roster because he can't block. This is the best TE room in the league.
OL(9) - Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa, Tristan Wirfs, Joe Haeg, Zack Bailey, Anthony Fabiano, John Molchon The left side of the line is set, and Wirfs immediately slots in at RT. Cappa will probably keep the RG job, but Haeg could end up challenging for that position in camp. Either way, Haeg has experience at both RG and RT and could probably also play LG if needed, making him a versatile 6th lineman. There's not much veteran depth behind these 6 guys, but I think they like Zack Bailey as developmental Guard depth. Anthony Fabiano is a super athletic Center that sign a reserve/future contract at the end of hte season. John Molchon is the first 2020 UDFA I have projected to make the roster. He's a versatile lineman from Boise State that played at every position but Center, with 42 games of starting experience and a lot of toughness. Last year the Bucs kept 9 OL on their 53, and I don't expect that number to decrease with the increased roster size, so this is a spot where a low cost depth addition could be made.
Defense(26):
DL(6) - Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, William Gholston, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Khalil Davis, Jeremiah Ledbetter
The starters are set, and Nacho showed pretty well last year. This is a position where you need to be able to rotate those big guys out every now and then, and I'm glad they looked to grab someone for depth in Khalil Davis late. He's raw and needs work in technique, right now his explosive get off can get negated because he doesn't really have a plan in pass rush. But just having such an explosive first step is something a lot of guys taken that late don't have, and it gives our coaches something to build off of. I liked that pick a lot and think that he's a good choice to develop. Ledbetter has hung around for a bit here and I think he sticks around as well, his experience in the system may lead to him getting in game reps over Davis at first.
OLB(4) - Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Anthony Nelson, Quinton Bell
It's weird to say that the Bucs biggest current need might be OLB when they have the 2019 NFL sack leader and a great EDGE2 in Pierre-Paul, but this is probably the thinnest position on the roster. Anthony Nelson was a 4th round pick that didn't play much due to injury, and if either of the top 2 guys gets hurt, he's playing starter snaps and someone even less proven is getting into the main rotation. This is the position that I'd be looking to add a vet more than any other. They don't current have anyone that's really ready to play significant snaps, so I just went with the highest upside guy current on the roster. Quinton Bell is a really intriguing depth piece. He was a small school guy that converted from receiver to EDGE in his last college season and picked up 7.5 sacks while learning the position, then posted monster pro day numbers and got drafted late but the Raiders, but he didn't stick as they drafted two other pass rushers much higher last year. I think he could possibly turn into something with more coaching and time in an NFL weight room to change his body type more for the position. His athleticism makes him worth keeping on the practice squad if a vet signing pushes him off the roster.
ILB(5) - Lavonte David, Devin White, Kevin Minter, Jack Cichy, Noah Dawkins
The Bucs will trot out an amazing 1-2 punch at ILB once again this year. David is one of the game's best, and him or White could push for All-Pro honors with the nationwide spotlight on this team in 2020. Minter filled in well early in the season and is an ideal backup with knowledge of Bowles' system. He's been hurt a lot, but I still believe in Cichy as a player and he's a good special teamer. The last spot here comes down to Noah Dawkins vs. 7th Rounder Chapelle Russell, and I went with Dawkins because he was a more productive college player, was on the active roster for 10 games last season, and is still only 22. Russell could win this spot too as the coaches may love his ability to battle through adversity, and we know Arians and Bowles are Temple guys. I want to watch some film of Russell soon but haven't had time yet. I don't have Kendell Beckwith on this projection because I genuinely think his career is unfortunately over.
CB(5) - Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Ryan Smith, Parnell Motley
I have the Bucs keeping 5 CBs as they like to put 3 Safeties on the field a decent amount. The top 3 is full of youth and potential, and I think Jamel Dean in particular makes a big jump this year. Carlton Davis is already pretty good but can further improve if his ball skills get better. The Bucs are betting big on their recent drafts with this group. Ryan Smith is a core special teamer but somewhat of a stretch to play meaningful snaps at CB at this point in his career. Parnell Motley is my second UDFA I project to make the team, I though he was held back most of his college career by poor coaching and improve a ton his last season. In my personal opinion, he should have been drafted and I think he can make this roster over Mazzi Wilkins and other CBs they have to compete for that spot. A low cost vet that's okay playing behind the top 3 and stepping in if needed might not be a bad addition to this room, just to inject some veteran savvy to this position group.
S(6) - Antoine Winfield Jr, Jordan Whitehead, Mike Edwards, Andrew Adams, D'Cota Dixon, Justin Evans
Winfield was a home run pick in the second round and brings playmaking pro bowl potential immediately to this position group. Whitehead is pretty much maxed out as a player at this point in my eyes, but he's still a useful guy to have down in the box. Edwards was a third round pick last year and didn't show all that much, but he was picked by this coaching staff and will be given at least one more shot to prove himself. I've liked Andrew Adams for a while now, he's a good player in this league and a nice veteran backup to have who won't kill you if you have to start him for a few games. D'Cota Dixon earned a ton of praise from Arians last training camp, if he stays healthy I bet he earns a spot this year. I kept Justin Evans on the roster because of Licht's comments during the draft saying he has a chance to return this summer. Before Winfield was drafted, Evans was the most exciting player the Bucs had at Safety, but injuries have messed him up big time for multiple seasons now. I'm not optimistic, but if Licht says he can be ready by the summer, Evans is a good enough player to keep around. A healthy Evans paired with Winfield would be a super rangy starting duo at the position. I've left MJ Stewart off the roster despite him being a 2nd round pick a couple years ago. He's bounced between positions so far and hasn't shown the athleticism needed to hang in the NFL.
Specialists(3) - Matt Gay, Bradley Pinion, Zach Triner
The Bucs brass has mentioned wanting to keep this group together multiple times. I wouldn't expect much in the way of changes barring injury here.
Some positions could go up or down 1 guy, but this is about what I expect the shape of the roster to be. I have 6 of 7 draft picks and 2 UDFA signings making the roster, and what amounts to a really complete team. That being said, all teams can still improve, and there are some areas where I think a low cost option would help round this roster into contender shape. The Bucs are short on cap space, but even veteran minimum players can help if they are the right guys, and they still have room for a couple of those types of signings either tomorrow after the comp pick window closes, or after week 1 when vested veteran salaries become guaranteed.
  1. EDGE Depth: I think this is the Bucs biggest current need. Their 2 starters are great, but their depth is young and unproven at best. If the coaching staff loves Anthony Nelson that's great, but he's already going to be in the main rotation playing snaps. If someone gets hurt, I'm not sure there's a 4th guy they can trust to play a significant role on this defense. The nice thing about having this as a need is that there's a multitude of low cost vets on the market right now that might be looking to latch on to a contender for one last shot at a ring. When Arians' Cardinals were contenders in 2015, they brought in Dwight Freeney for a base salary of less than $700,000 and he ended up giving them 8 sacks in 11 games. We could see something similar happen this season for the Bucs with a low cost rotational pass rusher. Some guys that would fit this mold: Cameron Wake, who is still in the league at 38 and played a small role for the Titans in 2019. Clay Matthews, who had 8 sacks in 55% of the defensive snaps but might be looking to start. Markus Golden, who had 10 sacks with the Giants last year and has had a very quiet free agency. Guys who are coming off down seasons like Pernell McPhee, Jabaal Sheard, or Ezekiel Ansah could also fill this role and come cheap too. There's a number of options they could go with if they see this as a need like I do. The pass rushing class in the draft this year wasn't very good outside of Chase Young at the top so I understand passing on it in the draft, but making on addition to this position group could help hedge against one of their high level players getting injured.
  2. Another depth piece at OL: Haeg was a good, low cost signing that can either unseat Cappa or back up multiple spots, but they might want another guy in case the line is struck with a rash of injuries, as there's very little experience behind him. Bringing back Watford is an option and would likely only cost the vet minimum. They could also look to bring back Demar Dotson for one more year at a cheap price as Tackle depth, or look outside of their recent guys for someone like Ronald Leary.
  3. Veteran CB4: The Bucs like their young trio of CBs and are counting on them to continue the form they showed during the back half of last season. If a couple of them are injured or regress rather than takes steps forward, their pass defense could be in trouble. Ryan Smith hasn't shown that he can be trusted to play significant snaps in coverage, so grabbing someone who is alright with playing a depth role but filing in if need be might be a good idea. There are a few reasonable unsigned options for this who would come cheap in Ross Cockrell, Daryl Worley, Morris Claiborne, etc.
  4. Kicker competition in camp: Matt Gay was decent as a rookie, but its inarguable that he partially cost the Bucs wins, with crucial misses against the Giants and Falcons. He could very easily continue to build on his first season, but every kick counts, especially in close games in the playoffs. Unless you're one of the top kickers in the league, you should have someone pushing you for the job in camp, and even the top kickers will kick against another guy just to keep them sharp. I fully expect Gay to be our guy in 2020, but he should not be handed the job on a platter. This doesn't need to be a veteran, they could grab a UDFA from this class and see what he's got.
That's about it for this writeup. As I've said, I see the Bucs as a largely complete roster ready to contend with the incredible offseason they've had. The few depth holes may not be something they look to immediately fill either. Even with how thin I think they are at EDGE, they might really like Anthony Nelson and may only sign a vet if someone gets hurt, which is okay. You can't rule out sudden declines in play from guys or breakouts from little known players, so it's hard to say how the the 2020 season will go, but needless to say this years squad will go into the season with the highest expectations they've had in a very long time.
I will be posting some film work on Tyler Johnson soon and will also be looking to do some work on the other Bucs day 3 picks. I looked at Davis a bit after his impressive combine but don't know very much about the 7th rounders and very little about the UDFA group besides Motley and a bit about Molchon, so I may be putting something up about those guys as well. This ended up being way too long, but let me know what you think if you managed to read the whole thing.
submitted by SilentSentinel to buccaneers [link] [comments]

Defending the Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers

Defending the Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers
Preface: 2019 was a strange season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as fans watched Ben Roethlisberger miss essentially the entire season for the first time in his 16-year career while simultaneously watching the defense emerge into one of the top units in the entire league. The return of Big Ben will patch the void at QB that capsized last season, and the only major departure was DT Javon Hargrave as he took his talents cross-state to Philadelphia. All things considered, the Steelers roster didn’t have a lot of pressing needs entering the offseason and most of the noticeable holes were patched during Free Agency. Among commonly cited needs heading into the draft were an IOL to add needed youth behind an aging core, a true NT to replace Hargrave, speedy offensive weapons to aid Ben in his return, EDGE depth, and (in the minds of some fans but not myself) a potential heir at the QB position. GM Kevin Colbert had a ton of options to work with and the name of the game this year was building up depth at thin positions while also finding some key contributors for a championship push.
Despite entering the offseason with very limited cap space, the Steelers restructured some veteran contracts to give themselves room to attack some weak spots. The big move of the offseason was placing the Franchise Tag on breakout star Bud Dupree, thus solidifying their pass rush. It remains to be seen if Dupree has truly turned the corner as a pass-rusher but the Steelers were not in a position to let him leave, so the tag allows for more evaluation time while keeping him in town. Regarding external acquisitions, the Steelers brought in four veterans on cheap deals to strengthen their roster: TE Eric Ebron, FB Derek Watt, OG Stefen Wisniewski, and DL Chris Wormley. Ebron is a big-bodied playmaker who will provide important aid as a red-zone threat, Watt replaces Roosevelt Nix and brings key special teams value (and also reunites with his brother TJ), Wisniewski will take over for the retired Ramon Foster at Left Guard, and Wormley, who was acquired in a rare intra-divisional trade with the Ravens, helps solidify the DL depth in wake of Hargrave’s departure. All four players will be important contributors for the upcoming season.
Draft-Related Trade: Steelers acquire SAF Minkah Fitzpatrick from Miami for 1.18
(Full Details: 2020 1st, 2020 5th, & 2021 6th for Minkah Fitzpatrick & 2020 4th)
While not particularly a draft-day acquisition, I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this section by talking about the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick. Back on Monday, September 16th, despite staring at an 0-2 start and the report that Big Ben was done for the season, the Steelers made the stunning decision to flip their 2020 first-rounder to the Dolphins in exchange for the talented young DB Minkah Fitzpatrick. This move was heavily criticized at the time, as many believed the Steelers just surrendered a valuable high draft pick, but that proved not to be the case and, instead, it ended up being a gargantuan pick-up for the Steelers. Minkah took over at Free Safety from the day he arrived in Pittsburgh and all the coverage lapses and miscommunications that plagued the secondary for years seemingly vanished overnight. Minkah stepped in and became the leader of the secondary, both solidifying the coverage communication and being a game-changing playmaker of his own who opposing offenses almost refused to throw at by year’s end. Fans watched as the secondary shot up the statistical rankings in every single coverage category, ending most notably in the third-least pass yards allowed and the second-most interceptions amongst all defenses. Simply put, Minkah was a sensation for the defense and his impact cannot be overstated. Given where the Steelers would’ve ended up in the draft order and who was on the board, I can confidently say that I’d rather have Minkah than anyone they could have had at pick 18, and Steelers fans will echo this sentiment.
Fun Fact: The Steelers trading away their first-round pick marked the first time since 1967 that the team would not make a pick on Day 1 of the NFL Draft. This should help put into perspective how shocking of a move this was for Steelers fans, especially when considering the timing of the trade.
Round 2, Pick 49: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
It took until the second day of the draft and 17 picks into the second round before the Steelers made their first selection, and with it they acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool out of Notre Dame. Without a first-round pick and no Pro Days to tell which players Colbert and Tomlin may have been interested in, this selection was always a bit of a mystery to Steelers fans, but I’d argue that it’s about as on-brand as it gets for the Steelers. Standing at an imposing 6’4 235, Claypool played like every bit of that size on film. At Notre Dame, Claypool routinely showcased his ability to overpower defenders with his size and win at the high point downfield. Despite some spotty downfield passing, Claypool proved to be a dangerous vertical threat that could create separation with both speed and size. While somewhat lacking in his change-of-direction skills and sharp cuts as a route-runner, Claypool makes up for it with his impressive straight-line speed, a massive catch radius, and physicality from start to finish during each route. He can win medium-to-long with his route tree which will add needed depth to the passing attack. Also worth noting, Claypool can only be described as a bully as a downfield blocker; routinely willing to get his hands on players and simply erasing them from the play with his strength. Downfield blocking is something the Steelers have placed an emphasis on in recent years, so he should have no problem fitting in.
It is safe to say, however, that Chase Claypool really made a name for himself at this year’s scouting combine. Many had him pinned as someone who could surprise people athletically given his size, but instead he simply blew the roof off Lucas Oil Stadium with his performance. Claypool clocked in a blazing 4.42 40-yard dash, the fastest time of any receiver his size since Calvin Johnson. Even more impressively in my eyes, Claypool put up a 40.5” Vertical and 126” Broad jump which points to a gifted level of explosiveness that few else could match. There were some glimpses of this freakish athleticism on tape, and the hope is that Claypool could use his capabilities to emerge as a mismatch waiting to happen. After leaving Indianapolis, I can only conclude that the Steelers Front Office became enamored with the idea of Chase Claypool as the Size-Speed vertical threat for the offense that they have been chasing for years. Many failed attempts at obtaining this archetype such as Martavis Bryant, Sammie Coates, and recently Donte Moncrief have come and gone, and the hope is that Claypool will finally be the answer in that role. Claypool was apparently on the Steelers radar for a couple of seasons, and after making the selection, GM Kevin Colbert was quoted as saying “We didn’t have that tall receiver that can just outrun coverage. We’ve always had that in the past with Nate Washington, Mike Wallace, or Martavis Bryant. Again, that was very attractive to us in the long term”. While not quite the same type of player as those names, it is clear that they view him as a big-bodied speed threat who will line up along the boundary and challenge defenses vertically. Claypool brings a skillset to the WR room that the Steelers do not have on their roster, and his fit alongside newly-acquired Eric Ebron will give Big Ben two sizable weapons that he has been lacking in recent seasons. Claypool will start his career as the WR4 behind JuJu, Diontae Johnson, and J-Wash, but given his unique role, I expect him to emerge as a big part of the offense sooner rather than later.
Round 3, Pick 102: Alex Highsmith, EDGE, Charlotte
There were very few media reports linking specific players to the Steelers, but one of those few ended up coming to fruition at the end of third with Alex Highsmith. Despite the decision to keep Bud Dupree around via the franchise tag, the depth behind him and Watt is close to non-existent. Finding a high-upside, rotational pass-rusher was a must for the Steelers defense, and they found just that in Highsmith. As a Senior at Charlotte, Highsmith posted 15 sacks, good for T-3rd in the country, and added 21.5 tackles for loss. What I liked most about Highsmith is that he had the most athletic upside of that Round 3 group of pass rushers, and most importantly it showed up on film. Highsmith can best be described as an explosive, quick-twitch pass-rusher who wins with speed around the edge and has the requisite hip flexibility to dip under tackles. The Steelers were likely impressed with his first-step quickness, relentless motor, and ability to be an athlete and make plays in open space along the edge; all of which are critical in the current AFC North. While I don’t quite think he is this calibre of player, Highsmith reminds me a lot of TJ Watt as a prospect, namely how both were able to win using their athletic traits in college but were still works-in-progress when it came to developing core strength and pass-rush counters. The Steelers have philosophically shifted from big and nasty OLBs like James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley to modern-day speed-to-bend guys such as TJ Watt in recent years, so this pick falls right in line with that effort. Highsmith will spend time developing more consistent hand usage behind the two starters, but he will get his opportunities to showcase his speed as the primary rotational pass-rusher. You can never have enough pass rushers, and this selection becomes especially important if the Steelers do not reach a long-term deal with Bud Dupree, making Highsmith a potential starter down the road.
For some added hype, Clemson HC Dabo Swinney had this to say about Highsmith before their game against Charlotte: “They probably have the best player that we’ve seen to this point in that #5. I kept watching him & going ‘holy cow.’”
Round 4, Pick 124: Anthony McFarland Jr., RB, Maryland
This was the first and only pick that came as a true surprise to me; not because they drafted a Running Back, but rather the type of RB they drafted. The Steelers have long preferred and targeted big, physical power-backs ever since I’ve been a fan, yet Colbert and Tomlin decided to flip the script and take a small speedster with Anthony McFarland Jr. out of Maryland. The best way I can describe him is as a big play waiting to happen; at Maryland he routinely broke off monster runs and house calls at any given time. Despite his small 5’9 stature, McFarland boasts true 4.4 speed alongside twitchy elusivity, great vision, and surprising contact balance. He wasn’t used an awful lot in Maryland’s receiving game, but there’s nothing that indicates to me that his open-field agility and breakaway speed can’t translate to the short passing game. When he lines up in the backfield, he is one of the most dangerous players on the field, and his skill set will be a welcomed addition to an RB room lacking big-play ability. Whether it’s with James Conner or Benny Snell, McFarland pairs well in a “thunder and lightning” type run scheme that Steelers fans haven’t seen since Mendenhall and Willie Parker. He may not get a ton of touches each game, but his ability to make those touches meaningful and catch defenses off guard will be a massive boost offensively.
By the way, do yourself a favor and watch McFarland vs. Ohio State 2018. Some of the most exciting film I’ve had the chance to watch.
Round 4, Pick 135: Kevin Dotson, OG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Adding youth behind an aging interior offensive line was one of the more universally agreed upon needs from Steelers fans, and in Round 4 they found said youth with ULL’s Kevin Dotson, the first non-combine invitee drafted. I remember reading this draft-day tweet about Doston; “[some] untidy elements to his game, but he controls the line of scrimmage and physically moves defenders around the field like a pissed off club bouncer”, and that description is as spot-on as it gets. Dotson is your prototypical mauler in the run game who keeps his pads low and shoots his hips to drive defenders forward. He is capable of paving running lanes on his own and also getting to the second level during double-teams. Despite being known more for his run-game prowess, there are some nice traits to work with in pass protection as well. He’s certainly a strong enough player to anchor down versus bull rushes, and I think he’s decent enough laterally, but he requires a lot of technical refinement (mainly footwork) as he makes the jump from the Sun Belt to the NFL. Dotson likely will not see the field for a season or two, barring injuries, but his long-term outlook as a staple in the run game is enticing.
Round 6, Pick 198: Antoine Brooks Jr., SAF, Maryland
On late Day 3, Pittsburgh decided to double-dip on Terrapins, this time with safety Antoine Brooks Jr. It’s worth noting that Tomlin’s son Dino is a WR at Maryland, so this is one of the schools Pittsburgh had the strongest connections with during a time of limitations. As for Brooks, he is your old-school, super physical box safety type who likes to shoot gaps and get in your face as a tackler. In coverage, athletic limitations will likely prevent him from being an every down player, especially in deep man coverage, but he has the anticipatory instincts and physicality to perform zone schemes and cover the underneath flats effectively. There has been immediate speculation that Antoine Brooks could move to LB in a $-Backer type role, similar to what Mark Barron did last season. GM Colbert has spoken extensively about Brooks as a sub-package player who will be deployed in and around the box and as a blitzer, with a clear emphasis on using his physicality in different matchups. Regardless of how he is used, Safety depth is bleak behind the two starters, so adding talent to the room was a necessity.
Round 7, Pick 232: Carlos Davis, DT, Nebraska
With their final selection, the Steelers brought in Nebraska DL Carlos Davis to add depth to their DL room. Many Steelers fans expected more of a true Nose Tackle, and for said need to be addressed earlier, but post-draft comments from Colbert suggest that they no longer put much emphasis on a traditional NT in their modern day scheme. Instead, the decision makers prefered versatility along the defensive line, and that is Davis’s calling card. He is a short and stout run-stuffer who brings surprising gap-penetration skills. He doesn’t have the lateral agility or the necessary hand usage to be more than a run clog or a gap shooter, but there is a strong enough anchor and some explosiveness to work with in those roles. Likely more of a practice squad pet project for DL coach Karl Dunbar, but he’ll have his opportunity to compete for a sub-package NT role.
Notable UDFAs:
CB Trajan Bandy: For my money, I think Bandy is the best bet to make the 53. Despite his small size, Bandy doesn’t back down from anything or anyone and plays with the physicality that coaches will love. There are five locks at CB and Pittsburgh usually carries six, and the two slot options (Hilton and Cam Sutton) are free agents at the end of the year. Bandy could have some important future value as a nickel corner and they may want to keep him around because of that.
DL Calvin Taylor: Taylor stands at a massive 6’8 310 and he plays exactly as you’d think. Very powerful and knows how to use his length to his advantage, but not super explosive. The DL room is a bit crowded but his size and versatility will undoubtedly grant him the opportunity to compete for a spot.
LB Leo Lewis: Inside linebacker is one of the thinnest position groups post-draft, so there are opportunities to be had for an undrafted player like Lewis. There are concerns about his mental drive as a player, but he has the requisite athleticism and closing speed to fight for a special teams/depth spot if he truly wants it.
Roster Prediction:
QB: (3) Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges
RB: (5) James Conner, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland Jr., Jaylen Samuels, Derek Watt (FB)
WR: (5) JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool, Ryan Switzer
TE: (3) Eric Ebron, Vance McDonald, Zach Gentry
OT: (4) Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner
IOL: (5) David DeCastro, Stefen Wisniewksi, Maurkice Pouncey, Kevin Dotson, Derwin Gray
IDL: (6) Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Isaiah Buggs, Dan McCullers
OLB: (4) TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, Alex Highsmith, Ola Adeniyi
ILB: (4) Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Ulysees Gilbert III, Robert Spillane
CB: (6) Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne, Trajan Bandy
SAF: (5) Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Antoine Brooks Jr., Tyree Kinnel
ST: (3) Chris Boswell (K), Jordan Berry (P), Kameron Canaday (LS)
Future Needs:
Quarterback: This will be an elephant in the room until Big Ben’s heir is found. The Steelers, wisely in my eyes, decided not to spend their limited capital on a mid-round project QB, instead preferring to address the position in a later year. By having their first round pick back next year, and if a player they believe has franchise QB upside falls into range, there’s a chance they may pounce. No guarantee they address this next draft, but Big Ben is 38 and the clock is ticking.
Offensive Tackle: LT Alejandro Villanueva is now on the wrong side of 30 and is a free agent at the end of the season, and he is one of the least likely to have their contracts renewed. Finding a young blindside blocker to be the future cornerstone of the line and to help keep Big Ben upright in his final years is critical, and will be especially important in aiding a young QBs development down the line.
Inside Linebacker: Devin Bush is an emerging star but Vince Williams could be a cap casualty next offseason and the depth behind those two is razor thin. Finding another athletic young star to pair with Bush, particularly an effective downhill run stopper to complement Bush’s skillset, could really solidify the middle of the defense for the next decade.
Final Thoughts:
With only six draft picks to work with and none on day one, this was never going to be the flashiest or most star-studded draft in the league. However, I believe I can safely characterize this draft class as an extremely logical one given the current timeline which accomplished the goals it set out to. Each player drafted either fills an important role that they didn’t have on roster or adds critical depth to a thin position group. Unlike some of the past few drafts, there were no picks I outright disliked and I can clearly see the logic behind each selection. I personally may have done a few things differently but I’m really excited about what this group could bring in both the short-term and the long-term. Ultimately this was an effective ‘bridge’ class that will contribute to the Super Bowl aspirations of the now while also preparing for the transitional years to come.
submitted by Astro63 to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]

Offseason with Cidolfus: Pre-Draft Recap

Pre-Draft Recap

I said I might do another one of these, time permitting. Little did I know that I’d leave my house only four times in the past month to go to the grocery store. I’ve found quite a bit of time hunkered down in my apartment. I think my dog is getting sick of me.
I know my wife is getting sick of me.
The Dolphins were active early in free agency. They made a lot of expected moves (at least in terms of what positional needs we prioritized) and some more surprising ones. This leaves the team in an interesting place headed into the draft .
In various discussions we’ve had over the past few weeks, I’ve tackled a couple cap questions, particularly in regards to the effective cap cost of rookie contracts as well as cap flexibility in 2021. In this offseason entry, I plan to address those topics and others to contextualize the way I see the draft shaking out.
If you missed any of my previous posts, find the links below. A lot of it is out of date at this point, but if you’d like a good laugh you can see how often I was wrong (although, compared to previous years, I think I did pretty well this year), take a look.

Remaining Free Agency Moves

Earlier this year, I projected a much more aggressive roster culling ahead of free agency than we ended up actually receiving. Aside from getting the departure of Reshad Jones right (admittedly, that one was a bit of a gimme), I also thought that by now we would have moved on from Albert Wilson, Taco Charlton, and Jakeem Grant to free up additional cap space. Instead, we dropped Kilgore (a move I considered unlikely), and--so far at least--have kept the others.
There’s still plenty of time for things to change ahead of the 55-man roster cutdown. As currently constructed, our roster has a logjam of players at both the wide receiver and defensive end positions (never thought I’d be saying that second bit already). The Dolphins have 11 wide receivers under contract and eight defensive ends. Several of these players are minimum salary types filling out the offseason roster for camp, but there are plenty of locks at both to make the roster as well relative to the number of expected roster spots available at each position.
Wide Receiver
Player Cap Charge Savings
Albert Wilson $10,833,344 $9,500,000
DeVante Parker $6,100,000 -$6,000,000
Jakeem Grant $4,380,000 -$1,800,000
Allen Hurns $2.883,333 $2,016,666
Mack Hollins $825,000 $825,000
Isaiah Ford $750,000 $750,000
Andy Jones $750,000 $750,000
Ricardo Louis $750,000 $750,000
Preston Williams $675,000 $671,666
Gary Jennings $675,000 $675,000
Terry Wright $610,000 $610,000
It’s a reasonable bet that the Dolphins will carry five wide receivers on the final 53-man roster. That’s how many we’ve kept every year for the past three seasons. That likely means half of the names above will be cut. DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant (now that his base salary for the 2020 season has been guaranteed) are locks for the roste. Their contracts make them more expensive to cut than to keep. Preston Williams should also be expected to return for obvious reasons.
That leaves two spots for the remaining eight guys, and I have to imagine that Allen Hurns--who signed an extension in the middle of last season--has an edge to keep his spot despite the potential cap savings. Isaiah Ford also came along when injuries pushed him to the top of the depth chart at the end of the season last year, convincing the team to pick him up as an exclusive rights free agent.
Obviously Albert Wilson fills a niche on the roster that most of the other guys don’t--unless we expect to see Jakeem Grant take a larger role as the team’s slot receiver. There’s been discussion that the team plans to use Mike Gesicki in a big slot role, but that doesn’t rule out keeping Wilson. It’s not unthinkable that we carry six wide receivers in 2020, especially with Chan Gailey as our offensive coordinator and the extra two roster spots granted by the new CBA. His spread concepts figure to see more multiple-receiver sets, after all. This especially makes sense given that we should expect Grant and Ford (or whoever earns a roster spot over Ford) to see more use on special teams than offense. With the extra roster spots available, maybe this is one of the places we use one.
Even should we keep him, I would prefer to see Wilson’s cap figure altered. There’s almost no way that he can live up to his $10.8 million cap charge in such a crowded field. If we do decide to keep him, I hope it involves a restructure and extension similar to the deal that Parker took in place of his fifth year option last year. He’s performed well in limited snaps, but his injury history and slow return last season may hurt his value moving forward, giving the team leverage to flex his remaining cap figure into a two-year contract. I suspect, though, that if that was going to happen, it already would have given the other extensions we’ve offered the plenty of our other receivers.
I also expected him to be cut by no, though.
Defensive Ends
Player Cap Charge Savings
Shaq Lawson $10,833,333 -$10,066,667
Emmanuel Ogbah $7,500,000 $0
Charles Harris $3,450,356 $291,559
Taco Charlton $1,832,541 $1,374,541
Trent Harris $750,000 $750,000
Avery Moss $750,000 $750,000
Zach Sieler $750,000 $750,000
Jonathan Ledbetter $750,000 $750,000
Lawson and Ogbah are our starting defensive ends in 2020. Headed into free agency, I expected defensive end to be a big target in the draft as well. Now I’m less certain. As a first round selection, Harris’s 2020 salary is mostly guaranteed, so we save almost nothing other than a roster spot by moving on from him. Teams rarely cut players that don’t offer cap savings, so barring someone outperforming him in camp, I expect him to be on the roster. That still leaves a five or six way battle for what remains of only three or four defensive end spots.
Consider also how many linebackers the Dolphins are likely to carry into the 2020 season: Kyle Van Noy, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Vince Biegel, Elandon Roberts, Raekwon McMillan, and Jerome Baker are virtual locks to make the roster--and that’s already six linebackers before we get to guys like Andrew Van Ginkel and Sam Eguavoen who are cheap and look to earn a spot based on their performance last season and their special teams value.
Our 2019 roster structure looked a lot more like that of the Patriots last year: fewer defensive linemen and more linebackers. We used 3-4 looks more often than we have in years past, and that means that we’re getting edge rushers from the linebackers as well. Signing Kyle Van Noy likely signals that we’ll continue to see plenty of this.
Realistically, of the bottom five guys on the list above, the one most likely to make the roster is probably the one who can be moved around the most successfully. If one of those guys can find productivity flexing between 4-3 DE and 3-4 DE or 4-3 DE and 3-4 OLB and be productive at both positions, then they’ll have a leg up making the roster.
Remaining Free Agency
Although it’s already April and less than two weeks from the NFL Draft, there are still a handful of free agents remaining at what might be considered positions of need. Two of the biggest names are Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue, both of whom are finding their markets to be lower than they initially anticipated (although Ngakoue’s situation is complicated by his tag designation). As detailed above, though, I think it unlikely that we bring in another defensive end--much less one that we can barely afford. Clowney’s asking price has reportedly fallen to the $17-18 million per year range, but that’s still out of our price range at this point.
Trading with the Vikings for Anthony Harris would make more sense than trying to acquire either Clowney and Ngakoue, but even that’s unlikely. Trading for Harris would be cheaper than trading for Ngakoue in terms of both draft assets required and the cost of his new contract, but it’s unlikely we would spend top money on safety after paying Byron Jones. While free safety is arguably the position we stand most to benefit from upgrading on defense, I can’t imagine a scenario where we become suitors for Harris with our current cap commitments at the position. Such a move would likely signal an impending trade of Xavien Howard.
As always, the elephant in the room is the quarterback situation. It remains our biggest position of need headed into the draft, and both Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are available. We don’t need to rehash my thoughts on free agent quarterbacks from my first post in this series, but you can guess where I stand on signing either of them. Hint: don’t.
It should be abundantly clear by now that the Dolphins made their moves early in free agency and we’re unlikely to do much more ahead of the draft. We’re in a comfortable place with our cap space and already carry 78 players on our roster. With fourteen draft picks in our back pocket for later this month, we’re already going to have to drop two players to meet the maximum offseason roster size of 90 players, unless of course we draft fewer than fourteen players because we’re losing some picks to move up. There’s also undrafted free agents who will get signed.
We can safely ignore any discussion about the Dolphins bringing any free agents in other than minimum contract players for the rest of the offseason.

Cap Space

So where does that leave us? Over The Cap calculates the Dolphins as having $23,886,772 in salary cap space remaining. With the roster filled out well past the top 51 contracts that actually count, it’s time to recalculate the effective cap cost of our rookie contracts. OTC lists our total rookie pool cost at $18,096,615. They’re wrong. For whatever reason, they’re missing one of our fourteen picks--number 154--received from Jacksonville via Pittsburgh. Good news? It doesn’t actually change our calculation since it’s value ($690,227) is lower than our cheapest contract in the top 51 on our roster ($750,000), so it costs us effectively nothing for now.
In fact, the bottom eight of our fourteen picks (rounds four and later) are all below the lowest contract on our top 51, so they’re all effectively free in terms of cap commitment. That leaves our top six draft picks displacing six $750,000 contracts at the bottom of our roster, bringing our effective salary cap cost total to $8,946,548. That leaves us with $14,940,224 in salary cap space for 2020. Barring any extensions, expect nearly all of that to roll over into 2021.
Importantly, where does this leave us for 2021? Based on the bump in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Over the Cap projects a base salary cap of $215,000,000 in 2021. With our current cap commitments and anticipated rollover, we’re likely to enter the 2021 season with $48,480,196 in available cap space.
That number is much lower than you might be seeing listed elsewhere, because I’ve included the cost of our this year’s draft class not only against this year’s cap (which reduces our amount for rollover as detailed above) but next year’s as well (which comes out to a whopping $23,458,157). Sites like Spotrac and OTC typically won’t price that in until after the draft and the players actually sign, and not without reason. Any trades in the draft can shift this amount pretty substantially, especially if we package one of our firsts to move up. It’s a good working figure at this point, though.
How about the way-too-early look ahead? Aside from the obvious move to cut Albert Wilson this season and save $9.5 million (yes, I’m going to keep banging this drum) or moving on from Julie’n Davenport after drafting tackles ($2,133,000 in savings), there are several players who can become cap casualties in 2021.
Player Cap Hit Cap Savings
Kyle Van Noy $13,900,000 $9,775,000
Xavien Howard $13,500,000 $9,300,000
Emmanuel Ogbah $7,500,000 $7,500,000
Bobby McCain $7,140,400 $5,659,600
Eric Rowe $5,050,000 $4,000,000
Jordan Howard $5,000,000 $5,000,000
Jakeem Grant $4,750,000 $2,950,000
Jesse Davis $4,585,000 $2,585,000
Allen Hurns $3,608,334 $3,175,000
Clayton Fejedelem $2,525,000 $2,525,000
Unless something has gone terribly wrong, many of these names are safe for 2021 (Van Noy and Ogbah top that list). Others might find themselves on the wrong end of a team looking to shift its roster around. If Howard is injured yet again, his contract becomes easy to move on from, especially as we’d still have Byron Jones. I’d bet that one of either McCain or Rowe isn’t with the Dolphins for the 2021 season. Others might find themselves on the right end of a team looking to lock a player down long term. If Ogbah is healthy and shows out all season, he could be in line for an extension that increases his APY moving forward while decreasing his 2021 APY.
In brief, players like McCain, Rowe, Howard, and Davis could all find themselves as cap casualties because they play positions that we are likely to target in this draft to find long-term replacements. Similarly, the logjam at wide receiver could see departures for Grant or Hurns in 2021, freeing up additional cap space.
That cap flexibility--having nearly $50 million in available cap space already and the ability to free up even more--is impressive considering our spending spree in the past few weeks. It’s also doubly important because 2021’s free agent includes several players likely to play starting or key depth roles in 2020 who will be free agents in 2021 including Kamu Grugier-Hill, Ted Karras, Vince Biegel, Matt Haack, Elandon Roberts, Raekwon McMillan, and Davon Godchaux. Players set to hit free agency in 2022 who might be up for extensions at the same time include Emmanuel Ogbah, Mike Gesicki, and Jerome Baker.
We’re unlikely to be active in 2021 free agency the way we were this year, but we have the cap health to re-sign who we wish from our own players without mortgaging our future. We entered the 2020 free agency season with an enormous amount of cap space and managed to spend aggressively (more money in new contracts than any other NFL team) without putting ourselves into a cap crunch for the future.

Positional Spending

I didn’t expect to sign Byron Jones mostly because I never thought that we would be paying two of the three highest-paid cornerbacks in the league on the same team. It’s obviously a move we can afford (as detailed above), but I’m not used to the secondary being a position in which we’ve aggressively invested resources. I wanted to take a closer look at how we’re spending our cap space by position groups by active cap spending (a total of $173,655,544 at time of writing). Let’s break it down.
Offense
. QB OL RB WR TE
Cap Charge $10,919,796 $21,564,640 $7,222,295 $26,521,667 $2,711,310
Percentage 6.29% 12.42% 4.16% 15.27% 1.56%
Defense and Special Teams
. DL LB DB ST
Cap Charge $27,358,247 $26,284,817 $47,416,972 $3,655,800
Percentage 15.75% 15.14% 27.31% 2.11%
These numbers will fluctuate significantly by the time we wittle the roster down to the final 55, but even now it’s apparent how this front office plans to build this team. A total of 58.2% of our active cap spending is going to defense. Consider also that the Dolphins are carrying an additional $18,177,506 in dead cap for defensive players while only carrying a tenth of that ($1,862,740) in dead cap for offensive players.
Expect quarterback, running back, offensive line to see the largest increases to this figure after the draft. Barring something unexpected, we’ll be drafting a quarterback at fifth overall (or higher), and with multiple openings on the offensive line, it’s possible (likely?) that we draft two offensive linemen in our first five selections. There’s a gaping hole at running back as well. Those high draft selections will be enough to move the needle in a significant way.
The number that jumps to the most immediate attention, of course, is our spending on defensive backs at nearly $50 million in total cap commitments for a total of $27.31% of active cap spending. This may be our new normal for a while. In the past three seasons, the Patriots have allocated 23.61%, 21.63%, and 23.62% of their total cap spending to the secondary. They’ve also done that while spending much more heavily on quarterback even with Brady on “bargain” deals. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this number go up in the short term either, as I think it’s likely we target a safety in the first or second rounds this year.
We’ve allocated more of our resources to the defensive line and linebacker positions than the Patriots have the past few years, but not by much. Our spending in both groups is boosted dramatically by our new free agents at the positions (Ogbah, Van Noy, and Lawson) and has been fueled by our absolutely dire pass rush situation.
Due to Fizpatrick’s contract, 2020 is likely to be our most expensive year at the quarterback position until 2024 when whatever rookie we draft could be retained on the fifth year option. The defensive secondary cost will likely come down in the near future as I think it’s unlikely Bobby McCain and Eric Rowe play out their current contracts, but in general we’re probably looking at splits roughly along these lines over the next few seasons.

2020 Free Agency Signings

Having looked at the money, let’s examine what that money bought us. Obviously this section is very subjective. As I’m sure many of you have noticed in plenty of other discussions on this subreddit, I’m positive on our signings as a whole. I try to be optimistic about the moves we make because grousing about them isn’t much fun.
Clayton Fejedelem: Three Years, $8,550,000, $3,000,000 Guaranteed
It always makes me uncomfortable when a new coach tries too hard to be the head coach he learned under. This has especially proved a concern for Belichick disciples who often try to jump right into being a hard ass without having earned the respect. Fortunately, that does not appear to be too much of a concern with Flores so far.
I bring up coaches mimicking their mentors here because even though Fejedelem wasn’t a Patriot, this signing reeks of the type of player that Belichick covets. Fejedelem checks so many boxes. He provides much-needed depth at a positional weakness from last season, he’s been a core special teams guy for the Bengals, and he’s a former team captain.
He costs under three million per year to bring depth at a position our front office clearly values, provides good special teams value, and he should fit with the type of team culture Flores is building. All of his guaranteed money is in 2020, and his contract is front-loaded as well. It’s a rock solid deal for someone who figures to be a solid player for us both on the field and in the locker room.
Ereck Flowers: Three Years, $30,000,000, $19,950,000 Guaranteed
I wish I had as much optimism about Flowers as I did about Fejedelem, but I’m less comfortable with this contract. It clearly fills a position of need, as we badly needed to improve our offensive line. In my Building the Offense entry in this series, I referred to Flowers as a competent guy who wouldn’t break the bank. I stand by the assertion he’s an improvement over any of the guards currently on our roster, but the $10 million per year number is a little higher than I expected.
While I understand that offensive line talent is increasingly at a premium, making Ereck Flowers the 14th-highest paid guard in the NFL after only one good season at the position in Washington is not without risk, especially with nearly two thirds of his contract fully guaranteed. What hurts more is that for $14 million per year, the Browns landed Jack Conklin--probably my top offensive line target in free agency--and the Chargers signed Bryan Bulaga--the Conklin consolation prize--for only $6.75 million per year. I would have preferred either of those to Flowers.
That said, it’s only fair to acknowledge that Flowers quickly became one of the top guards in a thinning market when both Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney were tagged. Graham Glasgow, a similar prospect converted from center to guard, went for $11 million APY and Andrus Peat coming off of two poor seasons signed at $11.5 million APY. There’s an argument to be made that the guard market has just really closed the gap on tackles and Flowers got market rate.
This move, and the lack of a tackle signed in free agency, signals that our front office is confident that we can either successfully address both left and right tackle in the draft this year or that Jesse Davis can be a long-term solution at right guard. This shouldn’t be too surprising given Davis’s contract extension, but I’m not 100% on board with it.
If we’ve overpaid for Flowers’s services as I suspect, at least it’s only a three-year deal and we can move on with only $1 million in dead cap ahead of the 2022 season. Optimistically, Flowers continues to play up to his 2019 standard at guard and proves himself worthy of the contract as he comes home to Miami.
Kamu Grugier-Hill: One Year, $3,000,000, $2,000,000 Guaranteed
Although this signing is likely to draw comparisons to Fejedelem for very transparent reasons (they’re both defensive depth who figure as core special teams contributors who were team captains for their previous team), Grugier-Hill carries greater risk. Fortunately, this is reflected in his short-term deal. His 2019 season ended early due to a lower lumbar disc herniation and also missed time for other injuries.
If healthy, though, he brings a lot of the same mojo to the team as Fejedelem, with the added benefit of being one of several new Dolphins to bring championship experience to the team. As with Fejedelem, Grugier-Hill is the kind of guy who checks a lot of boxes: he’s cheap, he provides key depth and special teams value, he’s familiar with our defensive system, and he figures to be an immediate leader in a very young locker room.
Jordan Howard: Two Years, $9,750,000, $4,750,000 Guaranteed
Shocking nobody, I’m not high on signing Jordan Howard. Mostly because I’m not high on spending money on running backs in general, and paying a running back coming off an injury-shortened season makes me more nervous than at most positions. The Dolphins had the worst rushing attack in the NFL in 2019, though, and before his injury this year, Howard was on track again for a solid season in line for previous years. He’s a big bodied back who figures to split the load with the rookie we inevitably draft.
As a personal consolation, I can remind myself that none of his 2021 salary is guaranteed., so it’s essentially a one-year, prove-it deal.
Byron Jones: Five Years, $82,500,000, $46,000,000 Guaranteed
In my offseason entry on Building the Defense I wrote, “Frankly, Jones and Howard likely immediately becomes the best corner tandem in the NFL for the next couple seasons, and we’ve all seen how you can build a defense from the secondary with a rookie quarterback and find a lot of success. That said, I don’t know that our front office could swallow objections to paying what would likely be $30 million APY between two corners.”
I badly misjudged our front office’s priorities. While I said that if we did decide to address cornerback in free agency, it would be Byron Jones or bust, I didn’t take the possibility seriously. Some will have concerns that Jones doesn’t get enough interceptions to be made a top-paid defensive back in the NFL, but I take the same opinion towards interceptions as I do to sacks--they’re the gaudy number that get the attention and they’re obviously impactful, but they’re the rare high points that don’t speak to a player’s actual impact on a per-snap basis.
Byron Jones finished fourth in coverage snaps per reception last year (17.9), tied for second in coverage snaps per target (10.1), and fourth in yards per coverage snap (0.62). Opposite a ball hawk like Xavien Howard, it figures that Jones might see more targets and more opportunities for interceptions himself. As discussed above, building a defense from the back forward is a clear priority of this team. It might not have been the strategy I’d have embraced, but I get it, and it’s hard not to be excited about the potential of our new cornerback tandem.
Most importantly, we’re not committed beyond the 2020 season to huge spending at cornerback. Byron Jones’s contract makes him a lock for the roster through the 2022 season (age 30), but Xavien Howard has an out next year. If Howard proves once again to be unable to remain healthy, we can move on from him and still have one of the top corners in the league in 2021 on the roster.
Ted Karras: One Year, $4,000,000, $4,000,000 Guaranteed
This is not-so-low-key one of my favorite signings. I didn’t give Karras much of a look in my previous entry evaluating offensive free agent targets, and I’m honestly not sure how he slipped through the cracks. Karras acquitted himself well as a back-up at both center and guard and stepped up as New England’s starting center in 2019. He had a rough stretch in the middle of the season, but from week 12 onward through the wildcard round, Karras didn’t allow a single pressure.
Karras’s contract is a one-year, prove-it deal that gives us flexibility to play him at guard or center depending on who we pick up in the draft. A starting offensive lineman at $4,000,000 is good value no matter how you slice it, and Karras has upside to be a long-term solution whereas Kilgore was clearly a stopgap. It’s a lateral move in terms of cap cost, but an upgrade on the offensive line. While it doesn’t solve our biggest problem on the line (tackle), it helps.
Shaq Lawson, Three Years, $30,000,000, $21,000,000 Guaranteed
Lawson’s a decent candidate for the kind of player we might offer a more modest, short-term contract and see if he can improve with a change of scenery. If we strike out on bigger names in free agency, picking up Lawson and maybe another cheaper guy on the list to round out or defensive end depth alongside another edge rusher with one of our first five picks in the draft isn’t the worst strategy.
At least I’m not always wrong. In my assessment of the options to improve our edge rush, I expected that many impending free agents would not actually make it to free agency. Shaquil Barrett, Bud Dupree, and Matt Judon never hit the market. Yannick Ngakoue and Leonard Williams were franchise-tagged. Even the 49ers made moves to keep Arik Armstead.
Instead of paying bigger money to try and sign Jadeveon Clowney or Dante Fowler Jr., we went the cheaper route to bring on both Lawson and Ogbah. The combined cost of both of them is only marginally more than the tag amount for Ngakoue and Williams and less than Clowney was initially seeking.
Lawson’s deal comes in at 18th among 4-3 Defensive Ends. It’s very high on guarantees as a percentage of the contract, but it’s essentially a two-year deal with only $1,333,334 in dead money in 2022 if we decide to move on. Lawson’s deal also includes additional incentives for sacks and team achievements, and I can’t be mad about incentives on a deal. If the player meets them, we obviously can’t say they didn’t earn it.
A staple of Belichick defenses has been to rely on the scheme to generate pressure. Our strategy is looking similar. Our defense is prioritizing lockdown coverage rather than relying on individual pass rushing performance to get to the quarterback. Hopefully Lawson is able to take advantage. If not, it’s a two-year investment at a relatively modest amount for the position that we can move on from without major consequence. If nothing else, he’s almost certainly an upgrade over anything we already had.
Kyle Van Noy, Four Years, $51,000,000, $15,000,000 Guaranteed
Despite the gaudy numbers on the contract, Van Noy’s deal is structured extremely favorably to the Dolphins. His full guarantees include only $5.5 million in signing bonus, $6.5 million in 2020 roster bonus, and $3 million in 2020 base salary. Because his 2021 and 2022 base salaries become fully guaranteed on the fifth day of each league year, that means that if he flames out we can move on with minimal dead money. Any time you can walk away from a four-year deal in year two with only $4,125,000 in dead cap and $9,775,000 in cap savings should be considered a major coup.
With how often I’ve mentioned the Patriots defensive scheme, the fit for Van Noy in Miami is braindead obvious. He brings flexibility that few of our current linebackers and none of our defensive ends have. He’s solid in run defense, as a pass rusher, and even dropping back into coverage. We have guys who can do one or two of those things very well, but none right now who are above average (and consistent) across the board.
Van Noy is expensive for his position and he’s on the older side of the free agents we’ve signed (having just turned 29 shortly after signing), but he should be expected to be a key piece for our defensive scheme with the flexibility he brings to the table. Last year, I thought that Trey Flowers would be a good fit for us given the Patriots. Instead, he rejoined Matt Patricia up north and had a really solid year (seven sacks, fourteen hits, and 41 hurries alongside 33 defensive stops). I’m optimistic that Van Noy can have a similarly smooth transition to working under Flores in Miami.
Emmanuel Ogbah, Two Years, $15,000,000, $7,500,000 Guaranteed
There’s not a lot to be said about Ogbah’s deal that hasn’t already been said about Lawson, except that it’s even less of a financial commitment. Coming off of a career-best, but injury-shortened season, we’re betting on Ogbah to take the next step. The contract is very favorable to the Dolphins: it’s 26th among 4-3 Defensive Ends in terms of APY and has no guaranteed money in year two. As a result, it’s essentially a one year prove-it deal.
If Ogbah plays to his potential and is able to pick up where he left off before injury with the Chiefs, he’s likely to see an extension next year that will keep him with the team long term. If not, we move on no worse for the wear. If he’s a middle-of-the-road kind of guy as he has been for much of his career? Well, $7.5 million isn’t a whole lot for a defensive end who we can still use in rotation.
Signing both Ogbah and Lawson takes immense pressure off of the front office to draft a defensive end high. Considering that we signed Van Noy at linebacker, who figures to have a significant role on passing downs as well, I’d argue that we may not draft a defensive end in the first few rounds at all. Again, more on that later.
Elandon Roberts, One Year, $2,000,000, $1,000,000 Guaranteed
The Patriots were hard up against the cap this year after tagging Thuney, and Roberts was a free agency casualty as a result. This isn’t a big contract, but it’s a good one. Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: he’s a defensive depth player who was a team captain who sees most of his impact on special teams and brings championship experience to our young roster.
Roberts saw a decreased workload at linebacker (where he saw a majority of his snaps as a run defender and in coverage) in 2019 because of his increased role on special teams, but he also saw work as a fullback (and even caught a touchdown against us in the final game of the regular season).
It’s pretty clear that Flores has a type.

Remaining Needs

Our most dire needs are obvious. We don’t have a long-term answer at quarterback. Aside from a gaping hole at left tackle, we could also stand to upgrade at right guard, right tackle, or even center depending on where we play Karras and Davis. After signing Jordan Howard, running back remains a priority as our depth at the position among the worst in the league. We only have two tight ends in the top 51 contracts on this team, and fans and the team alike really only have expectations for Gesicki.
It stands to reason based on positional spending alone that our biggest holes are on offense, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stand to improve on defense as well. If I had to rank needs?
Quarterback Offensive Tackle Guard or Center Free Safety Running Back Nose Tackle Tight End Linebacker
I expect that the most controversial part of this list will be the lack of defensive end. As I’ve suggested above, I don’t think we should be targeting the position as a priority following the signing of Ogbah and Lawson unless someone falls.
Both Ogbah and Lawson have excelled primarily as ends in 4-3 fronts, so expect that’s how we’ll use them most of the time. Ogbah has (at least to my knowledge) not seen much use as an outside linebacker in 4-3 looks and Lawson struggled with it early in his career in Buffalo. So while a pure 4-3 defensive end isn’t high on our list of needs, that doesn’t mean we won’t ignore pass rush entirely.
Van Noy figures to take snaps at one of our outside linebacker spots, exactly where he saw almost all of his snaps with the Patriots. Baker saw time both at the weak side and middle linebacker positions in 2019, and depending on our defensive front will likely continue that trend. These two are the only guys I see on our roster right now who figure as three-down backers unless McMillan makes a big step forward in coverage.
We also have a lot of depth at linebacker: Biegel saw a lot of snaps at outside linebacker last year and he’s returning; in the last two games Van Ginkel saw the majority of the games’ snaps at outside linebacker as well; McMillan and Eguavoen made up the majority of the rest of our snaps at middle linebacker. Except maybe Eguavoen, whose roster spot is the most tenuous of the group, these players all should expect to see continued rotational use.
There’s definitely a scenario where we look to improve our linebackers, and if there’s a guy who can be a three-down type of guy at middle linebacker or someone who flexes really outside in 4-3 and 3-4 looks, I could see us pulling the trigger in the right circumstances. Ultimately, though, I have both nose tackle and free safety listed higher on our list of needs because those are the positions where a major upgrade will bring us the biggest improvement.
For example, John Jenkins played the majority of our snaps at nose tackle in 2019 with Godchaux contributing some snaps there as well. We haven’t brought Jenkins back, and Godchaux’s probably better used at DE in 3-4 looks. Someone who can play rotationally at nose tackle would be a big boon for this defense, and fills a position where we really have no go-to guy. More importantly, that type of rotational player can be had outside of the first round entirely.
I don’t think many people would disagree about listed free safety as one of our top defensive needs. Bobby McCain is coming off of an injury shortened season. Before he was injured, he was having a rough transition to free safety. He got abused in coverage in five of his nine games played in 2019, allowing passer ratings of 139.6, 144.6, 104.2, 118.8, and 158.3.
At the time he signed his current contract, McCain was made the highest-paid slot corner in the NFL and he’s barely played the position since then. Not only would drafting a free safety likely improve upon McCain’s mediocre performance at the position last year, it would allow McCain to return to the position that earned him his contract. Given that the nickel defense is essentially the base defense these days, improving both free safety and nickel corner with one draft pick could improve our defense significantly.
The other needs listed above barely require commenting. Quarterback and offensive line lead our needs by a country mile, and both will almost certainly be addressed early. We need better running back talent to improve on our league-worst rushing in 2019. It’s not a question of if we will draft a running back, but rather when.
Many pundits and fans expect we’ll address the position in the first or second round. Much like my position on drafting a quarterback, I’ve talked to death (even by my standards) about how I feel about drafting running backs in the first round. Some will note the value of using the 26th pick to secure a fifth year option, but I’m not convinced. That fifth year option is just as valuable or more valuable at another position.
Moreover, when was the last time the Dolphins re-signed a running back? Not just a rookie--any running back? Frank Gore, Kenyan Drake, Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams, Lamar Miller, and Reggie Bush were all productive backs in the past decade who we let walk or actively traded away. You have to go all the way back to Ronnie Brown and Ricky Wiliams to find backs who received offers after their initial contracts with the Dolphins, and in both their cases we only gave them another year. Sure, this is a different front office, but that’s a trend that’s been true of this team through multiple front offices, and I’ve seen no indication that it’s likely to change.
Like with linebacker, I see tight end as a position where our depth could improve and wouldn’t be surprised to see us take a flyer late or jump on somebody we like in the middle rounds, but I don’t expect it to be a priority.
submitted by Cidolfus to miamidolphins [link] [comments]

Super Bowl 2020: Early betting line, point spread, over/under, odds for Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers | Super Bowl 54 Updated Jan 19, 2020; Posted Jan 19, 2020 The Super Bowl is on a level of its own when it comes to generating betting interest. As of Sunday morning, the BetMGM line for Super Bowl LIV has the Kansas City Chiefs favored by 1.5 points over The Chiefs remain the oddsmakers’ favorite to win Super Bowl 54, but the game is expected to be very, very close. The 1.5-spread is almost a toss-up. Latest 2020 Super Bowl odds. Betting odds via BetMGM Sportsbook; last updated Sunday at 10:00 a.m. ET. Super Bowl LIV Moneyline. Kansas City Chiefs -121; San Francisco 49ers +105; New to sports 2020 Super Bowl point spread, betting line, total, odds: 49ers vs. Chiefs expected to go down to the wire Looking to place your Super Bowl bet? Follow the latest Super Bowl odds with our regularly updated list of the best odds for betting on Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers. We provide the current Super Bowl 2020 odds from selected online sportsbooks, along with picks from our football betting experts.

[index] [14458] [665] [11929] [13866] [4585] [12698] [8149] [11313] [1344] [13692]