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GawainB

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  1. 1.10 - JOSH ROSEN, ARZ What could go right? He gets the vets on his side, early. I can only imagine the litany of promises Arizona brass has to lay at Fitzgerald's feet in order to lure him back for another year. It seems as if the combo of going out to acquire Bradford, plus (presumably) the promise they'd grab a franchise guy in the draft was what did it. But now Rosen has to prove to those same guys that he's the better bet for IMMEDIATE success than Bradford is. This team isn't exactly, "win now." But it's probably, "we're going to win as much now as we're going to for a while, I'm afraid." If a returning DJ proves to be in form and ready to resume his OPOY type production, and Larry gives the kid the seal of approval early on, success could snowball. Great arm talent, great footwork, a couple legendarily talented offensive weapons...it's easy to imagine Rosen as a younger, brasher Carson Palmer in this O who can stay upright and bring a little swagger to the position. If that can happen, is it possible he can recreate the 2016 numbers Carson had (4200/24/16), while pushing the team over .500? I think so. What could go wrong? For all the Aaron Rodgers comparisons, it's easy to imagine even a brash, outspoken young QB with all the talent in the world accepting a bench role behind Brett Favre. But will Rosen go quietly into acquiescence if forced to back up Sam Bradford? Or will his millennial soundbyte-generation gene kick in and turn him into a media/social media/locker room cancer? Will that same, "Oh my God, I just need to be challenged," banter that talking heads were ready to excuse in the name of "just wanting it worse," suddenly bite the team in the ### while JR begins to half ### it on the practice field, resting on his financial laurels? This isn't a team built to allow a front office to strongarm the coaching staff into starting the shiny new draft pick. While DJ is back, and Fitz is still producing, this team absolutely has to stick with whoever is winning the performance derby. If that proves to be Bradford, Rosen's ego may not let him accept it, and chaos could ensue. 1.32 - LAMAR JACKSON, BAL What could go right? QB's that are able to create with their legs have a distinct advantage in the NFL. They get to throw against much simpler coverages. If defenses completely and utterly refuse to simplify coverages against them, they get to run against thin fronts. We keep seeing it from QB's who offer similar scouting profiles. Success early and often. When RG3 had his legendarily efficient rookie season, he was freezing safeties all over the league, who were so caught up containing his 800/7 on the ground, that they couldn't keep him from exploiting single coverage deep...single coverage that had time to develop and spread. That's not the only way good legs allow a QB to take advantage, but it's going to be huge for LJ, because in terms of mechanics and ball velocity, he simply doesn't have the tools to take the top off the defense any other way. And that's ok. Doing it by presenting a dual threat is a proven and absolutely excellent way to succeed over the top. And once you prove you can succeed over the top, the intermediate game opens as well. They've got both the speedsters and the good intermediate route-runners to allow Jackson to succeed at every level of depth, if he proves he's up to it. What could go wrong? Apart from remaining stuck behind Flacco (a definite possibility), you have to retreat to injury as the big worry. Of course, "predicting" injuries is just silly. And injury would obviously derail any of these guys. But you have to ratchet up the predictive likelihood when you have a player who has to create outside the pocket, for extended periods of time, with his legs, in order to succeed. Certain types of players have beaten that bugaboo. Cam Newton is a freak. He's bigger than most of the LB's attempting to lay him out, and has proven rugged enough to take punishment for a decade. (Jackson isn't.) Russ Wilson has proven to be super-heady and intelligent about picking his spots where he creates from the pocket, runs to create, and bails out. (Jackson could, but will he?) There's no reason any given QB with that skill COULDN'T learn to harness that Russ Wilson game reading ability and become kind of an RG3/Alex Smith hybrid. Crazy athleticism when you can; defensive game management when you can't. But in practice, few have done it. In large part because with athletes this size, at this speed, you often don't get many chances to get it wrong. Especially true if you've got the kind of long, lean build that's less likely to hold up to having 250 lb bowling balls shot into its knees. (Jackson does.) LJ has to learn that kind of moderation in a real hurry to succeed, while also walking the tightrope that allows him to continue to be a threat. He can't fall back on the 60 yard fastball to bail him out, because he doesn't have it in his arsenal, so his window for success becomes even narrower. High upside, but scary, and it might be a fool's errand to bet on whatever success he can find lasting very long unless he can segue into a successful pocket passer, too...and does he have the tools to do it? I have my doubts. 3.12 - MASON RUDOLPH, QB, PIT What could go right? He could find instant comfort with an assortment of such high-octane weapons that he's able to recreate the conditions that allowed him to succeed in college despite intermediate and deep balls that float, hang, and wobble way more frequently than you'd want them to. If he can fine tune his timing to such a degree that he can throw to grass and let Antonio, JuJu, Lev, et al run under things while minimizing risk, then he can step in and be a respectable backup QB for an offense that's not ill-suited to being run that way. That kind of success isn't common, or easy to come by, in the NFL with that set of shortcomings. But it's not unprecedented. Chad Pennington comes to mind (for brief stretches). Brad Johnson at his best was able to create this way without the athletic ability to buy any real amount of time outside the pocket. They both threw tighter balls than Rudolph, but neither had a real fastball, either. What could go wrong? Josh Dobbs could simply crush him in camp. Josh can throw like an NFL QB, even though he's not particularly smooth or savvy with it so far. Rudolph really can't. He arms his throws. Even the ones he can't really afford to. He could get away with that in the Big 12 by placing the ball well, even if it didn't have a ton of zip on it. He can't in the NFL, in all likelihood. Dobbs was no world beater as a rookie, but he had tools. And now he's had an entire year with nothing to do in his life except polish his skills as a pro QB. Did he? We'll see. But if he did, I have trouble seeing how the Mason Rudolph that OSU was trotting out onto the field on Saturdays is a better prospect at this point. You can't teach the kind of bottom-of-the-pyramid throwing fundamentals Rudolph is lacking at this level, and I fear it may seriously cap his upside. I don't like the Steelers' bench QB's, but I'm not sure Rudolph is better than any of them. He may be cheap enough, and in sync enough with James Washington that he's worth keeping around in the Landry Jones role for a year. But he might not.
  2. In order drafted. One scenario each way, just to get people thinking. 1.01 - BAKER MAYFIELD, CLE What could go right? Short answer: the skill position talent. Mayfield's crazy record of college level success had at least something to do with running a scheme, with a talent surplus, that allowed him to find mismatches all over the field against overwhelmed Big 12 D's. And he was an absolute master of it. He can process quickly down a decision tree, and usually makes a good choice. The downside is that that's a difficult situation to recreate in the NFL. But the Browns just may have the skill position talent to give it a run...if everything falls into place. Maybe the Josh Gordon renaissance is real, and with more weapons around, he draws less attention, and becomes even more dominant one-on-one. Maybe Antonio Callaway proves that he had a switch to flip, and now that he's a pro, his off-field shenanigans were just juvenile outbursts that he can move past. Maybe Coleman makes the second year leap. Maybe Njoku proves to be a down-the-seam weapon on the level of Kelce with a year of experience and a decent QB. Together, or in combinations, maybe they thin things out enough that uber-underneath weapons like Duke and Landry can operate to maximum effectiveness, making Baker an efficiency machine. Maybe they find enough protection for Mayfield, and he sits in the pocket and runs this whole thing like a video game commander, picking the mismatch or hitting the open window that almost has to appear if you can put an A+ talent against a defender at every level of depth down the field. That's what they had to envision when they drafted Mayfield, and that's what the moves they made suggest they're trying to enact as a way of life. What could go wrong? It may turn out that he simply can't create downfield. Doesn't prove to have the arm talent to thread small windows without ample time, and doesn't get the time to really unwind to make it happen behind a mishmash OL. Doesn't prove the athleticism to buy time with his feet, so the coaches hand the reins to someone who can, and Mayfield winds up carrying a clipboard for Tyrod most of the year. Grief and gnashing of teeth ensue. 1.03 - SAM DARNOLD, NYJ What could go right? Psychology and team dynamics. The golden-armed manchild who has always had everything come easy to him, and who because of it has been up and down in both intensity and effort, walks into camp on Day 1 and immediately finds himself third string behind two vets who (in very different ways) have had to bust their humps for everything they've ever earned. He falls behind early on, realizes that NOTHING is going to come easy in the pros, and the penny drops. Rocky music plays and he makes the decision that every pro game is as important as any Rose Bowl. McCown shows that he knows his role, and accepts a mentorship wherein he's not only willing but eager to prep the kid to take the wheel. Teddy pushes him in camp, because he still wants it so badly he can taste it, but ultimately he can't match the physical attributes Darnold can offer and loses the race. Sloppy reads, sloppy prep, and sloppy ball security all melt away, and an emboldened Darnold stops being a kid a year or two ahead of schedule because he got put in the perfect spot. Leadership ensues. What could go wrong? Jeremy Bates. Jeremy. Freaking. Bates. I have no idea how this guy has a job in the NFL, but putting him in position to be QB coach for a kid with ball security issues is borderline malpractice. He first took over as an assistant QB coach in 2004, and has been in and out of leadership roles with stints as a QB coach or OC since. Here are TD/INT, and QB FUM numbers for his offenses since... 2004 - 24/18, 11 2005 - 11/15, 19 2007 - 21/15, 13 2008 - 25/18, 5 2010 - 14/20, 9 2012 - 21/16, 10 2017 - 19/12, 12 Now, it would be true to say he hasn't exactly been in charge of a Murderer's Row of QB'ing talent. But it would also be true to say that pretty much every guy he coached has hit career nadirs in terms of ball security and productivity under his questionable tutelage. I don't think that you could hand select a worse developmental guide for a budding young star QB with effort issues. 1.07 - JOSH ALLEN, BUF What could go right? Josh is unprecedented. The word unicorn is overused in this day and age, but it applies, here. We've never seen a prospect with his particular combo of strengths and weaknesses. And both are very, very real. The good news is that Josh's strengths are all things that are practically (or totally) unteachable at the pro level. His throwing fundamentals are right out of the How To Throw Like A Greek God manual. You can't teach his size, or his athleticism. You can't make a QB smart, if he isn't already. And there are some pretty dark and freaky psychological pathologies that simply won't allow a player to submit his will to a coach or team, while simultaneously taking charge of it like a boss on gameday. Josh seems to have all the right boxes checked, here. His shortcomings, also very real, are happily also very coachable. The scaling down of the throwing mechanics for the short game. Continued improvement in his footwork. Timing on deep and complex patterns. And X's and O's. None of this will come quickly, but all of it should come if all goes well. No real hurdles are in the way. Kid's smart, attitude is good, fundamentals are on an otherworldly level, and the physical stuff is what you'd find under the encyclopedia entry: Pro QB. What has to go right, is that his scouting profile proves to line up with his "necessary improvements" profile as well as the scouting report suggests it should. If so, he should be only about a year of full time reps and tutelage away from being an Andrew Luck clone, right down to the "Aw shucks" attitude. What could go wrong? With that many boxes to check, obviously a lot of little things, any one of which could derail the experiment, even though in theory, none of them should. But the absolute worst thing for him would probably be getting forced into action too quickly. With that much catch-up work to do, the necessity of running reps full time to get the offensive machinery working for gameday would short circuit the learning process in, I believe, a tragic way. The offense would have to be grossly simplified, and success would be nearly impossible. Allen's ready to run certain downfield elements of an NFL playbook right now, but the vast majority of the short and intermediate route tree would be an unmitigated disaster. Winning would be nearly impossible. Turnovers and physical punishment, near certainties. That kind of early physical and psychological trampling can easily send a developmental prospect down the wrong road in such a way that it's difficult to get pointed the right way again. Can McCarron hold down the fort well enough to give Allen the time he needs, so he can follow the McNair path? If anything happens to McCarron, can the Bills find another solution so that they can even ALLOW Allen to to develop, or will the pressures of the high pick and fat contract force their hand? Could the front office or sidelines survive another heaping helping of Nathan Peterman, even if it's for the greater good?
  3. Right, especially with respect to Brees. Drew Brees is a mechanical freak. In college, he could stand in the pocket and generate enough pace and tight spin on a deep ball, without having to throw his entire body into it or buy time to maximize his weight transfer, that he could operate in very tight downfield windows like a Marino or a Luck despite shorter limbs. The primary advantage of height in football QB'ing isn't, "seeing over the line." It's leverage. All things being equal, taller players with longer limbs throw better. That deficiency can only be overcome with innate athleticism. Ever seen Billy Wagner in baseball? He was 5'10" in lifts, but could fire it over 100 mph. The combo of the way he uses his hip drive, the sheer fast-twitch athleticism with which he unwinds his core rotation, and his insane shoulder flexibility and resilience gave him the type of velocity you simply shouldn't expect out of anyone below six feet. It happens, but it's unicorn rare. That's Brees. You can draft a short pitcher who isn't a fireballer, and he can be good. But you can't draft a short pitcher with 80 mph heat and say, "It's okay, he can just add 20 mph in the pros." That pitcher, like Mayfield, will have to get it done in other ways.
  4. Something I didn't mention wherever else it was that I was ruminating on Chubb's chances this year... His outlook for 2018 turns a lot rosier IF Tyrod can hold off Mayfield for a while (or, if Mayfield "fails to push Tyrod" for a while). Mayfield is going to need his backfield to offer him a lot of help both in terms of pass outlets and blocking assistance. He's a rookie QB, without great arm strength, without great escapability, and without a stalwart at LT. Those things suggest to me very strongly that the Browns will be hesitant to put him out there very often with a back who's a net minus in the passing game. And right now, Chubb is. Tyrod has a lot more native escapability than Mayfield. He can create time for plays to develop downfield, even when pressured, and isn't going to be as reliant on his backs to keep him alive in the pocket. So they're more likely to excel on offense if they've got their best pure runner out there with him. Now, I don't know that Chubb will be their best pure runner, because Hyde is no slouch (except healthwise), but if you believe in his talent on that front, you probably want Tyrod in command for as much of 2018 as possible.
  5. Don't sell us deep-leaguers short. Viable 3rd down backs have fantasy relevance in all kinds of leagues! Plus, if he can hold down those duties, it frees the Steelers to stick Le'Veon out wide more often, which is potentially nice since they may be a little thin at WR heading into the season (depending, of course, on how quickly Washington proves to be snap-worthy).
  6. I had never heard of, nor looked at, UDFA signee Ola Adeniyi. Looks like an interesting player. Kind of a tweener, and a bit of a one trick pony, judging from the clips I can find. But the big concern for me, looking at him, would be whether or not he had NFL athleticism. That's a concern, but he also looks like he's a little soft in his conditioning, with room to improve both body and performance. He's got the kind of body structure that ought to respond well to an intelligently crafted pro-level fitness and explosiveness regimen. I like fixable stuff, and I think Ola has some. to upside out of the discount bin. If someone like that can turn into a special teamer who can soak up pass disruption snaps in an emergency, you get a win. Could he be the TylerMatakevich of the edge?
  7. I don't know if that punter will amount to much, but today, after UDFA's have been signed, there are still 100+ LB's I'd rather have on a team I root for than Cichy. LB limitations, in a safety body, with DL athleticism. No chance of making a roster. Be glad you got a decent punter instead. Time to stop rooting for college once pro time hits.
  8. Dorsey didn't take any of the guys he wanted. He took Haslam's guy. Had to be pushed to, since he's always been a good drafter before, and had an obvious and successful system and type. Dorsey wanted Darnold. Maybe Allen. Both would have been good picks. But Haslam is an activist owner who has no idea what he's doing, and forces his GMs' hands. You got a junk QB and paid a king's ransom, while passing on three QB's who may well be franchise guys. You'll be ok, because Tyrod is legitimately a mid-level NFL starter. But Mayfield's absolute ceiling is Tyrod without speed. The 1.01 set this franchise back a decade. Which is not good news for a franchise that was already a decade behind.
  9. He was never going to be an NFL TE. But he just might be Danny Woodhead in Le'Veon Bell's body.
  10. I sincerely think Mr. Irrelevant has a chance to be with this team breaking camp.
  11. Going deep has always run more against his mindset than his skillset. He takes what's there. Smith's always had elite tools. He's just not wired to be very exciting. It's both why fans and owners never want to seem to keep him around, and why he's got a career 60% win rate. I'd happily take him on any team I root for, no matter what kind of O they run.
  12. I'm hard pressed to find much to complain about. Well, I've got the Cubs, but still...
  13. You're right. The feelgood nature of getting a guy you've heard of in the second round should guarantee him playing time over a better RB who can also block and catch passes. His skill set and draft position make him pretty similar to Joe Mixon last year, or Derrick Henry the year before. It's not like he's not talented. But it's very much like he doesn't have an immediate path to relevance, since he's not a complete back, and finds himself on a team with a desperate need for one to be in there to provide security for their golden boy. Probably his best path to utility this year is if he happens to find himself in heavy use at as a goalline back. That's not a bad fit, since he's not prone to coughing up the rock. That, plus partial time sharing running downs could make him an RB 3 or something for 2018. Best case scenario.
  14. Chubb's major hurdle is the fact that he's now going to have a franchise rookie QB in front of him, two established RB's who are both MUCH better at helping a QB survive, and an as-yet-to-be-determined turnstyle at LT. Chubb will be able to share time with Hyde on run-only downs, but he can't catch or block like Hyde, and obviously isn't a tenth of the asset on true passing downs that Duke is. This is a team that's going to be absolutely desperate for the RB's to prove to be assets to Mayfield in the passing game. You're not going to want Chubb in there with Mayfield when the time comes to pick up NFL level blitzers. If they try to shoehorn Chubb into a feature back role as a rook, the Mayfield era is going to be awfully short. Chubb's a good runner, but in a terrible spot for a runner with his limited pass-game skillset. Cleveland's going to be a lot more interested in keeping players out there that help Mayfield than they are in developing second tier skill position talent, for the foreseeable future. He belongs in the discussion, but not as any kind of immediate impact player.
  15. Grabbed Sean Welsh in the UDFA derby. He was an offensive captain out here in Iowa. Good technician, and versatile. He was never gonna land on some team and seize a starter's gig, because he's just not that level of athlete. But he's got a career as a utility O lineman who can play any interior spot. And he blossomed early at Iowa under Brandon Scherff's wing, so there'll be a comfort zone there. Good pickup at a spot of need.