Tweets of the Week
If you had to pick between Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold, how much would you trade up for Darnold?— Grant Baker (@Grantbaker34) September 6, 2017
If I were a GM picking at the top of the 2018 NFL Draft and in need of a QB the clear options are either USC’s Sam Darnold or Wyoming’s Josh Allen. But if a team is drafting in a spot outside of the Darnold and Allen range that leaves Josh Rosen as the next option. The draft capital needed to make a move from likely the seven to ten range (Rosen range) up to the one to three range (Darnold range) will be huge, specifically because of the league wide obsession with Darnold. Although, Rosen has many flaws I seem to be higher on him than most and rather than give up important draft picks to move up and get Darnold, I think the better option would be to stay put. Rosen at the very least has superior mechanics to every QB in the class. He also possesses better arm strength than Darnold and more consistent accuracy on short to intermediate throws. Where Darnold has him beat is pocket poise, touch, mobility, and deep accuracy, but he has the major throwing motion flaw. The more I see of Darnold the more I begin to doubt him because of the throwing motion. As a GM I would feel more comfortable sitting and taking Rosen than trading a king’s ransom to take Darnold.
In the News
UCLA’s quarterback Josh “Chosen” Rosen led a 34-point comeback against Texas A&M on Sunday night, the second largest comeback in college football history. Yes, Kevin Sumlin should be fire, but I’m not here to talk about that. Oh, and well we’re at it TEXAS IS BACK! One last thing before I get to my point, Liberty beat Baylor. UCLA was down 44-10 deep into the third quarter when Rosen led them to five straight touchdown drives to win the game 45-44. The best part was, with 20 seconds left to take the lead UCLA ran a fake spike, A FAKE SPIKE, and Rosen threw the game-winning TD. I’ve never been more proud of a pro comparison in my life as this game concluded. I have Rosen’s pro comp as Eli Manning because of the nearly perfect mechanics and arm strength as well as the short memory, almost to a fault, when it comes to throwing interceptions. BUT on this day Rosen added the ability to lead legendary comebacks to his repertoire something Manning will go down in NFL history for doing. Rosen completed 35 of 59 passes (59%) for 491 yards (8.3YPA) and four touchdowns in the game. But 292 of those yards and all four touchdowns came in the fourth quarter. The box score makes Rosen seem better than he was though, one of his touchdowns went right through an A&M safeties hands and another pass should have been intercepted by a defender. It’s still just one game into the season so when twitter blows up claiming Rosen is the best, Darnold is overrated, and Josh Allen is trash, don’t listen.
Josh Rosen Fake Spike TD! What a comeback!! pic.twitter.com/jYMYw4TQXH— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 4, 2017
Rookie Awards Predictions-
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Dark horse contender: Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Reuben Foster, LB, San Francisco 49ers
Dark horse contender: Alex Anzalone, LB, New Orleans Saints
Rookie Stat Predictions-
*The majority of the stat leader predictions are based on sheer volume of the rookies playing time.
Rookie QB leaders:
|DeShone Kizer||Cleveland Browns||54%||2,800||21:15||7.0||77.9|
|Mitch Trubisky||Chicago Bears||65%||1,360||11:5||6.8||92.5|
|Deshaun Watson||Houston Texans||51%||992||8:5||6.2||74.2|
|Nathan Peterman||Buffalo Bills||60%||610||4:3||6.1||78.3|
|Patrick Mahomes II||Kansas City Chiefs||71%||450||5:3||6.4||94.3|
Rookie RB leaders:
|RB||Team||Rushing yards||YPA||Receiving Yards||Total TDs|
|Leonard Fournette||Jacksonville Jaguars||1,140||3.8||192||12|
|Dalvin Cook||Minnesota Vikings||1,050||4.2||480||8|
|Joe Mixon||Cincinnati Bengals||960||4.8||550||10|
|Kareem Hunt||Kansas City Chiefs||774||4.3||450||7|
|Christian McCaffrey||Carolina Panthers||650||5.2||620||6|
Rookie WR leaders:
|Corey Davis||Tennessee Titans||64||832||13.0||5|
|Cooper Kupp||Los Angeles Rams||80||816||10.2||4|
|Zay Jones||Buffalo Bills||48||600||12.5||3|
|Kenny Golladay||Detroit Lions||40||560||14.0||6|
|John Ross||Cincinnati Bengals||30||450||15.0||3|
Rookie TE Leaders:
|Evan Engram||New York Giants||45||600||13.3||4|
|Gerald Everett||Los Angeles Rams||38||450||11.8||2|
|George Kittle||San Francisco 49ers||35||420||12.0||2|
|O.J. Howard||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||30||400||13.3||5|
|Jonnu Smith||Tennessee Titans||20||280||14.0||2|
Rookie ID leaders:
|Dalvin Tomlinson||New York Giants||45||2||8|
|Eddie Vanderdoes||Oakland Raiders||35||2||6|
|Jaleel Johnson||Minnesota Vikings||32||1||5|
|Davon Godchaux||Miami Dolphins||30||3||5|
Rookie ED leaders:
|Derek Barnett||Philadelphia Eagles||40||9||11|
|Myles Garrett||Cleveland Browns||55||8||14|
|Solomon Thomas||San Francisco 49ers||60||7||12|
|Charles Harris||Miami Dolphins||30||6||8|
|T.J. Watt||Pittsburgh Steelers||45||5.5||8|
Rookie LB leaders:
|Reuben Foster||San Francisco 49ers||120||5||3||2|
|Jarrad Davis||Detroit Lions||110||4||1||1|
|Alex Anzalone||New Orleans Saints||95||3||2||3|
|Haason Reddick||Arizona Cardinals||80||5||4||2|
|Marquel Lee||Oakland Raiders||75||4||3||0|
Rookie DB leaders:
|Marshon Lattimore||New Orleans Saints||40||4||10||0|
|Budda Baker||Arizona Cardinals||60||3||7||2|
|Jamal Adams||New York Jets||85||2||6||2|
|Damontae Kazee||Atlanta Falcons||45||2||8||1|
|Josh Jones||Green Bay Packers||58||2||5||1|
Bold Rookie Predictions-
- Joe Mixon will be a top five NFL running back by seasons end.
- Mixon is the best running back on the Bengals roster whether they’re willing to admit it or not. For whatever reason he’s currently listed as their third-string running back despite blowing up the preseason. He does far more than Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard, he takes the best of both players and adds superior vision and explosiveness. Mixon is the perfect modern day running back and has more talent than every running back not named David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott. I’m confident that if Mixon is given the keys to the car he’ll be a top five running back as a rookie.
- Six rookie quarterbacks start at least two games.
- One quarterback is an easy lock for this with DeShone Kizer being named the Browns starting QB. As for the other five QBs I have in mind it’s going to take poor performances from entrenched starters, injuries, and pointless games at the end of the year. Mitch Trubisky out performed Mike Glennon all preseason and it’s just a matter of time before he takes over as the starter this season. The Bears bye week is in week 9 and likely by week 10 he’ll be starting. As for Patrick Mahomes II, he looks about two years away from being an NFL starting quarterback, but by seasons end if the Chiefs aren’t in playoff position they’ll want to see him play. On the other hand, if they’ve locked up a playoff spot with games left, they’ll likely want to see him play. Tom Savage outperformed Deshaun Watson in the preseason, but the rookie brings a lot more excitement to the table. He can also make up for a lackluster offensive line. The Texans bye week is in week 7 and by then I’m sure the push for Watson to start will be on. The other two rookie QBs I can see making two starts this season are the 49ers C.J. Beathard and the Bills Nathan Peterman. Both are on teams that won’t win more than six games and both play behind quarterbacks with injury history. At some point in these teams lost season they’ll want to see what they have in these rookies.
- Both the second and third-round produce more rookie production than the first round.
- With how deep the 2017 NFL Draft was a lot of talent fell to rounds two and three allowing teams to pick up potential rookie starters. With the first-round being full of best player available picks due to the depth a lot of the players aren’t going to make an instant impact. In the second and third rounds teams began to address need with the talent leftover and found players that will play out of necessity. Factor in that all three first-round quarterbacks aren’t slated to start and the injuries that have overcome many first-round picks already, this may not be as bold as it seems.
- Five running backs picked in the sixth-round or later play meaningful snaps as rookies.
- The 2017 NFL Draft class was touted as one of the best ever for running backs, because of that it running backs were going a round or even two later than they would in most years. That forced some pretty talented backs down the board as far as the sixth-round. A combination of talent falling and teams lacking stud runners will cause late round backs to play meaningful snaps as rookies. Sixth-round rookie Elijah McGuire is on the tanking Jets with an ageing Matt Forte and inconsistent Bilal Powell in front of him. De’Angelo Henderson, the sixth-round pick for Coastal Carolina, was the Broncos most productive runner in the preseason. He has Jamaal Charles, Devontae Booker and CJ Anderson in front of him, but each has struggled with injuries and on field consistency. Seventh-round rookies Chris Carson, (Seahawks) and Matthew Dayes (Browns) both looked like productive change of pace backs in the preseason and should see time throughout the season. Lastly everyones favorite undrafted rookie running back Matt Breida of the 49ers might see more time than any other of these runners. After a solid preseason where he showed a tough running style he made the team and is currently the often injured Carlos Hyde’s top backup.
- The San Francisco 49ers have the most productive rookie class with 6 major contributors.
- Part of this is because the 49ers lack talent and depth and will be forced to play their rookies early and often. Another part of this is they had one of the best drafts, if not the best. Rookie first-round picks Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster will be major contributors from day one. Thomas is a one man wrecking crew at defensive end and has the luxury of playing on the same line as DeForest Buckner. Foster looks like he’ll continue the 49ers history of great linebackers. He’s the closest prospect I’ve seen to former 49ers and Ole Miss product Patrick Willis. He’s got sideline-to-sideline speed and plays with uncontrollable aggression. With the lack of experienced cornerbacks on the roster it would be no surprise to see Ahkello Witherspoon, the third-round rookie from Colorado, start opposite Rashard Robinson quickly. They would give the 49ers two 22-year-old 6’1” plus cornerbacks. On offense the 49ers made two recent moves, likely because of the talent that emerged with their rookies. Trading tight end Vance McDonald to the Steelers made sense with what they’ve found in fifth-round pick George Kittle. Although, slightly undersized Kittle is the best blocking tight end among rookies and he blew up the combine with his athletic testing. San Francisco also made another move and cut wide receiver Jeremy Kerley who played primarily in the slot. Another fifth-round pick in wide receiver Trent Taylor showed some starting ability in the preseason. Taylor is undersized, but extremely quick with fantastic route-running ability, a prototypical slot. Finally, the aforementioned Matt Breida is their number two running back despite being an undrafted rookie. He’s going to play a role in this offense especially with Kyle Shanahan calling the plays, he’s known to use two running backs. It’s worth mentioning they also have rookies in top backup roles with center Erik Magnuson, quarterback C.J. Beathard, defensive tackle DJ Jones, and safety Lorenzo Jerome.
Star: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Anyone that tries to tell you Lamar Jackson isn’t a quarterback at the next level has not watched the tape. This narrative that he’ll have to be an NFL wide receiver could not be more false. It’s almost embarrassing that people think that. Okay my rant is over now I’ll tell you why Lamar is an NFL quarterback. In a week where every top quarterback prospect struggled to some extent, Lamar Jackson took a step forward even if it was against Purdue. Jackson was 30 for 46 (65%) for 378 yards (8.2YPA) and two touchdowns while adding 107 more yards on the ground. Jackson isn’t any old athletic college QB succeeding because of system and lack of talent, he’s the real deal. He has a whippy arm and can flick the ball deep downfield with ease, as of right now I think he has the second strongest arm in the class behind Josh Allen. Add his elite mobility and natural running skills with the arm strength, Jackson can be a dangerous weapon in the mould of Michael Vick at the next level. Jackson plays with a poor offensive line in front of him and often makes up for it with his legs while remaining a passer. A lot of his runs are on designed plays and he understands that he needs to be a quarterback first and run only when necessary. He struggles with accuracy and touch on deeper routes, but is fairly consistent on short throws. Jackson has all the traits of an NFL starting caliber quarterback, but adds the dynamic ability to outrun almost everyone on the field. His ability to run is so natural that in the right system in the NFL he could be an 800 yards or more rushing threat. Maybe, the biggest worry is his frame and if it can hold up in the pros. He’s a very wiry 6’3”, 205lbs, but looks like he can add weight to his frame. Right now I have a second-round grade on him, but he has the potential to be a first-round pick.
Sleeper: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
Washington made it all the way to the College Football Playoff last year before falling to Alabama. A lot of that had to do with their defense and John Ross, but their second-wide receiver Dante Pettis was one of the best number two’s in the country. Now it’s his prove it year for the Huskies taking over as the lead pass catcher. As a junior in 2016 Pettis caught 53 passes for 822 yards (15.5AVG) and 15 touchdowns. Pettis did not disappoint in Washington’s season opener at Rutgers. He helped carry the team when they were struggling to score. He had three receptions for 85 yards and returned two punts for 80 yards and a touchdown. Pettis doesn’t have special size at 6’1”, 188lbs and he certainly isn’t the burner John Ross was at Washington, but he has some of the best hands in the draft. His hands and ability to adjust to the ball on the fly allows him to make plays when he’s covered. Pettis adds solid route running to his good enough speed and willingness to compete for the ball in traffic. He does everything well enough to be an impactful NFL player. He also adds a ton of value as a punt return, for his career he’s returned 73 punts for 926 yards (12.7AVG) and six touchdowns. Currently I have a second-round grade on Pettis with Tyler Boyd being his pro comparison.
Overrated: Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
It feels like Royce Freeman has been playing at Oregon for years. Somewhat of the Pac-12’s Perry Ellis if you will. The production Freeman has had for the Ducks can’t be questioned, but the tape sure as hell can be. Freeman is 5’11”, 231lbs with the power you’d expect from a back of his size and more burst then most bigger backs. A big part of the statistical superiority Freeman has is the system he comes from at Oregon. He’s played primarily in their spread option attack which has given him big holes and a lot of space to run free. He’s taken advantage of poor Pac-12 defenses, the system, and his above average skillset to thrive. In 40 games at Oregon Freeman has rushed for 4,296 yards on 5.9 yards per attempt and 48 touchdowns. Those are big time numbers, but Freeman’s biggest flaw is his lack of vision. Of the 12 running back’s I’ve scouted extensively Freeman has the worst vision and it isn’t close. He just doesn’t play with any vision or natural instincts which is scary. He reminds me a lot of Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill. They both have a ton of physical talent to be NFL backs, but without the vision and feel for the position they can’t thrive. Freeman has a big name and a lot of numbers, but I don’t see him as anything more than a backup NFL running back and my fourth-round grade on him reflects that.
Game to Watch: #5 Oklahoma at #2 Ohio State
Well, last weeks’ game to watch disappointed from an enjoyment of the game perspective as the lack of offense and Alabama dominance led to a 24-7 defeat of Florida State. But we did see plenty of flash from potential NFL talent specifically in Derwin James, Calvin Ridley, and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Hopefully this week’s game will be a little more exciting from a fan aspect as Oklahoma looks to get revenge on Ohio State for last years’ loss. Again there’s a ton of NFL talent on both these teams, but the most intriguing battle will be OU offensive tackle Orlando Brown vs the dominant Ohio State defensive line. These are the players of note with the 2018 NFL Draft in mind in this game:
|Orlando Brown, OT||Billy Price, OG/C|
|Steven Parker, S||Jerome Baker, LB|
|Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, ED||Denzel Ward, CB|
|Jordan Thomas, CB||Dre’Mont Jones, ID|
|Baker Mayfield, QB||Sam Hubbard, ED|
|Mark Andrews, TE||Damon Arnette, CB|
|Dimitri Flowers, FB||Kendall Sheffield, CB|
|Jeff Badet, WR||Tyquan Lewis, ED|
|Parris Campbell, WR|
|Jamarco Jones, OT|
|Mike Weber, RB|
|Marcus Baugh, TE|
|Chris Worley, LB|
|Dante Booker, LB|
|Michael Hill, ID|
|Tracy Sprinkle, ID|
|Jalyn Holmes, ED|
|Damon Webb, S|
|J.T. Barrett, QB|
Top prospect in each conference:
|1.||Saquon Barkley||RB||Penn State||Big Ten||Ezekiel Elliott|
|2.||Sam Darnold||QB||USC||Pac-12||Tony Romo|
|3.||Connor Williams||OT||Texas||Big-12||Joe Thomas|
|4.||Josh Allen||QB||Wyoming||Mountain West||Andrew Luck|
|5.||Derwin James||S||Florida State||ACC||Kam Chancellor|
|6.||Derrius Guice||RB||LSU||SEC||Devonta Freeman|
|7.||Courtland Sutton||WR||SMU||AAC||Brandon Marshall|
|8.||Quenton Nelson||OG||Notre Dame||Independent||Richie Incognito|
|9.||Chukwuma Okorafor||OT||Western Michigan||MAC||Terron Armstead|
|10.||Jaylon Ferguson||ED||Louisiana Tech||C-USA||Vinny Curry|
|11.||Ja’Von Rolland-Jones||ED||Arkansas State||Sun Belt||Yannick Ngakoue|
Underclassmen on the Radar
Frosh: JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
No freshman in the country showed up as big as JK Dobbins did for Ohio State when they took on Indiana in week 1. With starting running back Mike Weber out, Dobbins carried the load for the Buckeyes and broke the Ohio State record for rushing yards in a debut. Behind Dobbins 181 rushing yards Ohio State ran away with the game, but early on he was their only productive offensive player. His freshman debut was more impressive than any game Mike Weber has put together while at Ohio State. To put that in perspective I have a third-round grade on Weber. Dobbins will again start this week in Ohio States huge game against Oklahoma, even with Weber set to return to the field. Dobbins showed terrific burst and a perfect low center of gravity in his debut. He’s a true freshman and is already built like an NFL back at 5’10”, 208lbs. Dobbins is a long time away from the NFL, but he’s already on the radar.
JK Dobbins pic.twitter.com/1JnEzVyOly— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) September 5, 2017
Sophomore: Marquez Callaway, WR, Tennessee
Before I get into Marquez Callaway’s terrific game against Georgia Tech, can we take in how bizarre that game was for both teams. There was a trashcan being hoisted up in the air all game on the Tennessee sideline as their inspiring prop. Georgia Tech ran nearly double the plays the Volunteers did and still lost in double overtime. The Yellow Jackets triple option offense put 535 rushing yards up with their QB TaQuon Marshall carrying the ball 44 times for 249 yards and five touchdowns and THEY STILL LOST 42-41. It ended on an awful two-point conversion play and Paul Johnson didn’t even seam fazed. Tennessee continually threw the ball even though their running back John Kelly was fantastic and QB Quinten Dormady was all kinds of terrible. The lone bright spot in the Tennessee passing game with wide receiver Jauan Jennings out was Callaway. Every time Dormady threw it to Callaway he would make a play. He caught all four of his targets for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He showed a knack for climbing the ladder and high pointing the ball. Callaway was fantastic in the red zone and on deep passing plays. With Jennings out for the season Callaway is a name to watch as a sophomore building hype for the 2019 NFL Draft.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]