NFL Draft Podcast – College Football opt outs and player demands

Chris is finally back recording the show! He breaks down the decisions of Caleb Farley, Rashod Bateman, Rondale Moore, Gregory Rousseau and Micah Parsons to opt out of the 2020 season. He also discusses the impact of the Pac-12’s player demands and how the Big Ten followed suit. Plus, catch up on the latest regarding the Power 5 conference schedules for the upcoming season. Listen to the latest episode now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
https://anchor.fm/theaftermath

MLB’s struggles with COVID-19 are a bad sign for football

Commissioner Rob Manfred conducts his annual #ASG Town Hall at #FanFest.
Rob Manfred has already warned teams that the season is in jeopardy due to coronavirus outbreaks. (Wikimedia Commons)

If you have been keeping tabs on the MLB’s delayed season so far, you no doubt know that it is not going too well from a player safety stand point. The league has already had to postpone or cancel a number of games due to coronavirus outbreaks within two separate clubs. 21 members of the Miami Marlins organization tested positive for the virus. At least 13 members of the St. Louis Cardinals have tested positive and that number is still rising. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has already started to discuss potentially shutting down the season.

It is at this point that I’m sure the league and potentially many of its players wish they had opted for a bubble format like other professional sports leagues. The NWSL ran it’s Challenge Cup tournament without a hitch. MLS had some hiccups at the very beginning of it’s tournament, but things have been smooth sailing since teams entered the bubble. The WNBA and NBA have gotten off to strong starts. The NHL has no positive tests inside its bubble so far.

Baseball clearly looks to be in trouble. MLB seems to be at a loss for how to isolate and prevent these outbreaks from spreading through teams like wildfire. Red flags are going up all over the place for college football and the NFL as a result.

Despite the warning signs, Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL’s league office are resistant to forming a bubble for the 2020 season. The league is plowing ahead with restrictions and safety protocols in place at training camps.

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Bill Belichick has a unique challenge ahead of him with eight Patriots players opting out of the 2020 season so far. (Wikimedia Commons)

There are not even plans in place to build a potential bubble. As a result, dozens of players are opting out and even more find themselves on the newly created COVID-19/Reserve list to open training camp.

With fans not allowed to attend games in many states and percentage caps implemented at stadiums in others, it is hard to understand why the NFL is not at least attempting to create a bubble plan. It seems like many traditional revenue streams for teams will be interrupted this season, so I would imagine cutting costs would be a priority. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the league’s finances, but eliminating weekly travel would likely cut down on a huge expense for each franchise.

There would be plenty of costs that come with securing a bubble site large enough to accommodate all the players, coaches, trainers, medical staff, referees and more that go into staging an NFL season. You can’t do this for free, but the league has the finances to make it happen.

I understand it also might be a bit of a tough sell for players to commit to leaving their families to live in a bubble for the next four to six months, but that is the price of playing football in 2020. I totally respect players opting out for their own safety or for the safety of their families. I know that creating a bubble puts some strain on these athletes, but it is clear based on what is happening in baseball that without the bubble, the risk of spreading the virus is much higher. Let me reiterate it from before: the bubble works!

From a player and public safety perspective, the bubble set up seems to be the only way the 2020 season will be able to take place. MLB’s early blunders underlines how difficult it is to limit the spread of the virus with larger rosters traveling across the country.

For college football, it is much easier said than done to craft a bubble scenario. Universities have taken some larger steps to account for the concerns that come with playing the sport during the pandemic. All the Power 5 conferences have announced plans to play conference-only schedules this season. The ACC and Big 12 did throw in the added wrinkle of one non-conference game to be included in the 2020 schedule.

Cutting down or eliminating non-conference games limits travel to some degree, but not as much as would be considered the safest measure possible. These teams still will be traveling to multiple states across the country, the travel will simply be more regionalized. Emphasis on more here because conferences like the ACC still have travel involving Massachusetts, Indiana and Georgia.

memorial_stadium_pano
Texas is holding out hope for fans to attend games this fall, announcing plans for 50 percent capacity at home games. (Wikimedia Commons)

Unfortunately, due to the massive number of teams in Division I, it would be impossible to create a bubble setting for all of college football. The potential for a conference-only bubble to work is much higher, but there are still hurdles that would need to be cleared, including many the NFL would not face given the makeup of the player pool.

Even if these conferences found appropriate sites to host these bubble seasons, student-athletes would still need to attend classes. While some would undoubtedly be able to take classes online, it is unlikely every athlete would be able to take every class virtually.

It also feels like a lot more to ask of athletes who technically hold amateur status to isolate in a bubble for three or so months.

Look, I am not pretending this is an easy issue to solve. In fact, I am acknowledging that it is very difficult. However, I think it is pretty easy to connect the dots here regarding which formula works and which one does not. It is time to start taking the appropriate steps to suitably prepare for the season.

Let’s not kid ourselves. This virus has killed over 150 thousand people in the U.S. alone. It is disproportionately affecting communities of color. People of color make up the majority of NFL and college football rosters. If we really want to place high priority on bringing back sports, we need to do so in the safest way possible, recognizing the impact potential missteps could have on local communities. That is clearly establishing a bubble format. It’s time for the NFL to change its tune and for college football to start getting as creative as possible.

10 Best WNBA games to watch this season

Basketball is back! The WNBA season is underway at the IMG Academy in Florida, with the first week of action now in the books. It won’t be a typical season because of the coronavirus, but the league has established a double round robin regular season, meaning each team will have 22 games before moving to its traditional playoff format.

I am really excited to watch this 2020 season, so I thought I would share my favorite matchups for the shortened league year. There are two reasons for this. One, to highlight the best games on the schedule. Two, to draw attention to the lack of access for fans to watch their favorite teams and television coverage devoted to the WNBA as whole.

2020 will be the first season the Minnesota Lynx have all of their games broadcast on television. We will see if that remains true next year when the league resumes its traditional 34-game season. It is ridiculous that Lynx games are not regularly available on TV. The franchise has won four WNBA titles, with the latest coming in 2017. For it to be this difficult to watch one of the league’s premier franchises is embarrassing and provides a pretty clear picture of how little the media pays attention to women’s sports.

In the interest of making sure everyone can watch all of the games listed, I only picked matchups that are scheduled to be nationally televised. Fortunately, this season will feature the most nationally televised games in WNBA history. ESPN announced Monday that it will be adding 13 more games to it’s slate for the season.

Unfortunately, that rules out both 2019 finals rematches between the Mystics and Sun. For a point of reference, both games between Warriors and Raptors, last year’s NBA Finals participants, were nationally televised. Just another indication of the disparity between men’s sports and women’s sports coverage. ESPN/ABC and CBSSN are the national broadcast partners for the league.

Here are my top 10 games to watch for the rest of the season.

 

Sabrina Ionescu
Ionescu is college basketball’s all-time leader in triple-doubles. (Wikimedia Commons)

10. Las Vegas Aces vs. New York Liberty
August 9, 3 pm ET, ESPN
The headliner here will be watching the previous two No. 1 picks face off in Jackie Young and Sabrina Ionescu. We might get a pretty good glimpse at the future of the WNBA in this matchup as well. The Las Vegas Aces represent what the New York Liberty could be in a few years, but there are some very young players with star potential on both sides. For Vegas, A’ja Wilson might already be at that point. Kelsey Plum is still just 25 and looking to get back to her 2018 form. New York boasts seven rookies and most of the roster is 25 and under. The Aces were semifinalists last season. They should be one of the most exciting teams to watch all season.

 

9. Atlanta Dream vs. Dallas Wings
August 8, 12 pm, ESPN2
For many reasons, this should be an interesting showdown. The first matchup between these two teams proved to be the most high-scoring game of opening weekend. Atlanta and Dallas combined for an even 200 points in a 105-95 victory for the Dream. Both teams are really young and feature some exciting prospects. Atlanta has rookie Chennedy Carter, who averaged 22.5 points per game at Texas A&M and dropped 18 points in her debut, and 2019 first-round selection Kalani Brown, who struggled to get minutes as a rookie in Los Angeles. Dallas’ entire roster is under the age of 28. They have a ridiculous collection of young talent, including Arike Ogunbowale, Katie Lou Samuelson, Megan Gustafson, Satou Sabally, Tyasha Harris, Allisha Gray, Marina Mabrey and Bella Alaire. I’m buying lots of futures in Wings stock. Expect this to be an entertaining contest.

8. Dallas Wings vs. Chicago Sky
September 11, 8 PM, CBSSN
We see it all the time with UConn players, but now we get a chance to see two former Oregon stars battle it out to close out the season. Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard both put together stellar careers in Eugene, translating that success into first-round selections in the WNBA draft. Chicago should be looking to strengthen it’s playoff position come season’s end. For Dallas, the playoffs might be a bit of a long shot, but it will be really interesting to see how much this young team develops and bonds over the course of the season. This should be a game of contrasting styles as well. The Sky had the fastest-paced offense in the league last season while the Wings were notorious for slowing it down.

 

Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart (30) takes a free throw.
Stewart missed the 2019 season with a ruptured Achilles. (Wikimedia Commons)

7. Seattle Storm vs. New York Liberty
August 18, 9 pm, ESPN
If you had high expectations for Sabrina Ionescu’s WNBA debut like I did, you were probably a little disappointed. It turns out she saved the fireworks for her second game. We should probably expect some streaky performances from the 2020 No. 1 pick as she gets acclimated into the league, but she showed her immense potential. That makes a rematch with Breanna Stewart and the Storm even more exciting. This game should feature plenty of three-point shooting and big names. Given a few more weeks to gel, New York’s young core could start to click as well. The season opener between these two teams was close until the fourth quarter. I think the next one could be tight all the way to the end.

 

6. Los Angeles Sparks vs. Washington Mystics
September 10, 10 pm, CBSSN
Even without Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles, the Washington Mystics are showing they mean business in 2020. Myisha Hines-Allen, Ariel Powers and 2019 WNBA Final MVP Emma Meesseman have all shared the scoring load in the early stages of the season. The team made a statement on Thursday by knocking off the title-favorite Storm. Los Angeles would also like to have a word with anyone looking to crown Seattle in August. Nneka Ogwumike, Brittany Sykes and Candace Parker form a formidable trio with Chelsea Gray facilitating the offense. This late-season contest should be an important one when it comes to playoff seeding and a potential preview of a playoff matchup in the semis or finals.

5. Phoenix Mercury vs. Connecticut Sun
August 26, 10 pm, CBSSN
On it’s own merits, this would be a really fun game to watch. Add in that Dewanna Bonner will be facing the Phoenix Mercury on national television. Bonner has already looked like a staple of the Connecticut offense, especially with Jonquel Jones opting out for this season. I am eager to see her going head-to-head with Brittney Griner as the heat turns up on the playoff push. Neither team has gotten off to a great start, but expectations of a playoff appearance are the minimum for both sides. If that wasn’t enough for you, just go watch Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith ball out for a few hours. It will make your day better.

 

800px-a27ja_wilson_shoots_a_foul_shot_284809277864229
Former No. 1 pick A’ja Wilson earned all-star status in each of her first two seasons. (Wikimedia Commons)

4. Washington Mystics vs. Las Vegas Aces
August 15, 12 pm, ESPN
A rematch of the WNBA semifinals from 2019 is looking like another top-end showdown for 2020. Washington was supposed to take a step back without Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles, but the depth of this roster has stepped up. Through three games, the Mystics are the only undefeated team left in the league. Las Vegas has not been quite as prolific out of the gate, but it flashed its immense potential in a 30-point drubbing of Atlanta. The Aces added Angel McCoughtry to a roster already featuring A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage. That group has championship potential, but Ariel Powers and company are proving that the road to a title still runs through D.C.

 

3. Dallas Wings vs. Phoenix Mercury
August 10, 7 pm ET, ESPN2
Dallas hit the reset button on the franchise this offseason, trading its star player, Skylar Diggins-Smith, to Phoenix for three first-round picks. The Wings used the first two of those picks on Bella Alaire and Tyasha Harris. We won’t know the full haul of this trade until after the 2021 draft, but it will be really interesting to see how Diggins-Smith handles playing her former club and the progress we can assess in the Wings’ rebuild. This matchup would have been a lot more exciting if not for COVID-19 and fans would be able to welcome Diggins-Smith back to Dallas, but this will have to do for now. We can look forward to that reunion next season.

 

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Fowles is a two-time WNBA Finals MVP and hasn’t missed a game since 2015. (Wikimedia Commons)

2. Los Angeles Sparks vs. Minnesota Lynx
August 26, 8 PM ET, CBSSN
Rivalry renewed. The Lynx and Sparks met in back-to-back WNBA Finals in 2016 and 2017, with each of them winning one title. Seimone Augustus switched sides this offseason, which only adds fuel to the fire. Both rosters look a bit different than the last time they met with a championship on the line, but you can always count on star power. WNBA all-time leading rebounder Sylvia Fowles is still getting it done on the interior for Minnesota. Napheesa Collier looks like she is on her way to stardom after collecting the 2019 Rookie of the Year award. Candace Parker is still one of the league’s best and fellow veteran Kristi Tolliver is back after a stint with Washington. If you are looking for some bad blood in a regular season matchup, this is your best bet to find it.

 

1. Chicago Sky vs. Seattle Storm
August 10, 9 pm, ESPN2
This is shaping up to be the game of the year, at least in the regular season. Last season, Courtney Vandersloot led the WNBA in assists. Natasha Howard led the league in steals. Both are off to strong starts already and Howard gets one of the best defensive players in the league back to help her in Breanna Stewart. Expect this matchup to be a chess match wrapped inside a heavyweight fight. There is an incredible level of talent of both sides and a lot of veteran superstars. Chicago and Seattle seem to be on a collision course for a meeting in the playoffs. If you are a fan of three-point shooting, great one-on-one matchups and lockdown defense, this is the game for you.

2020 NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings

Welcome to Year 5 of the NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings! The more things change, the more things stay the same at the top. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Florida are all still part of the top five. However, we are starting to see the on-the-field struggles for Florida State and Stanford catch up to them. Both have fallen outside the top 20 and could potentially drop out of the rankings altogether if things don’t get turned around.

I love doing these rankings every year because it shows you which schools are the best at preparing players for the NFL draft. Obviously, it should be taken into account that usually these schools are also the ones that excel in recruiting, but there is a lot more to it than that. Receiving the right exposure, playing in a specific system or especially competing against the best talent all play a role in shaping a prospects draft stock as well. This is not a predictive measurement of how well players from these schools will do in the pros. For high school prospects with dreams of playing on Sundays, these are the best programs to get you there.

Previous rankings: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016

The scoring system is as follows:
1st round-10 points
2nd round-7 points
3rd round-5 points
4th round-4 points
5th round- 3 points
6th round- 2 points
7th round- 1 points

Alabama Logo1. Alabama Crimson Tide- 315 points
Previous: 1 (281 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Quinnen Williams, 3rd Overall, 2019
This is just unbelievable. The Crimson Tide have led these rankings every single year I have made them. Their point total has reached a staggering 315, becoming the first school to eclipse the 300-mark. For the fourth straight year, Alabama had four players selected in the first round. That doesn’t include the countless players selected in the second round, third round and beyond. Ohio State closed the gap significantly, but ‘Bama is still the king.

Ohio State Logo2. Ohio State Buckeyes- 285 points
Previous: 2 (229 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Nick Bosa/Chase Young, 2nd Overall, 2019/2020
While Alabama is clearly the best football factory in the country, there is no question Ohio State belongs in the conversation. Ryan Day sent a huge batch of players to the NFL in 2020, including two players in the top three picks. And as if you haven’t heard already, Joe Burrow started his college career in Columbus as well. There is still a long ways to go to catch the Tide, but for the first time ever, it feels possible for the Buckeyes to take the top spot in the future.

Louisiana State University logo3. LSU Tigers- 202 points
Previous: 6 (132 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Joe Burrow, 1st Overall, 2020
This will go down as one of the greatest draft classes in NFL history. Five first-rounders and 14 players drafted in total, the latter of which was a record. Joe Burrow became just the second LSU player to go first overall in program history. I am a little skeptical that the Tigers will continue to dominate like this in the draft with so much turnover, but they became the only school other than Ohio State and Alabama to eclipse the 200-point threshold.

Clemson Logo4. Clemson Tigers- 171 points
Previous: 4 (158 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Clelin Ferrell, 4th Overall, 2019
Another team regularly producing NFL talent, it feels like Clemson is just ramping up for a special run in these rankings. The Tigers had two more first rounders this year from a draft class of seven players selected in total. Given the expectations surrounding the Tigers in 2020 and the continued pipeline of elite recruits, Clemson should be a regular in the top five and make a real run at climbing higher.

Florida logo.jpg5. Florida Gators- 161 points
Previous: 3 (166 points)
Highest Drafted Player- CJ Henderson, 9th overall, 2020
The on-field success is steadily building and the draft success is staying steady. Florida is consistently turning out players going in the first three rounds. With the Gators seemingly on the verge of breaking into college football elite, it would be a surprise to see them drop much further than this. If they could get a few more players going in the first round, they should solidify their spot in the top 5.

MichiganWolverines6. Michigan Wolverines- 144 points
Previous: 8 (127 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Devin Bush, 10th Overall, 2019
Jim Harbaugh might not be able to knock off Ohio State, but he is still ending boatloads of players to the NFL. For the second time in four years, Michigan saw its number of players drafted reach double digits. They have been a little streaky, with two years with just two players drafted in the past five drafts. While there are plenty of questions surrounding Harbaugh, he continues to prepare players for the next level.

Notre Dame Logo7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish- 136 points
Previous: 14 (110 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Ronnie Stanley, 6th Overall, 2016
Tied for the biggest riser in these rankings this season, it was a nice bounce back for the Fighting Irish. Even though they didn’t reach the College Football Playoff this season, Notre Dame still put together another really impressive draft class. With six players taken in the 2020 draft, including three in the first three rounds, the Irish continue to make waves. Brian Kelly continues to do a great job putting players in position to make the jump to the pros.

Oklahoma Logo8. Oklahoma Sooners- 133 points
Previous: 9 (125 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Baker Mayfield/Kyler Murray, 1st Overall, 2018/2019
With two more first-round picks, Oklahoma continues to rise up the rankings under Lincoln Riley. The Sooners seem to be on verge of becoming a football factory once again. However, after a three-year run of transfer quarterbacks either winning the Heisman or finishing as the runner up from OU, there is some uncertainty at the position. Now that won’t diminish any of the talent still existing elsewhere on this roster, but it could rob a number of players of the same big stage to showcase that talent.

Georgia Logo9. Georgia Bulldogs- 131 points
Previous: 10 (122 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Roquon Smith, 8th Overall, 2018
Another strong year for Georgia turned into another great draft class. What is impressive is that this class could have been even deeper if a few defensive stars had entered the draft and not returned to school. That sets up the Bulldogs well for continued success next year. I don’t expect them to leave the top 10 any time soon. Count on Kirby Smart to continue cultivating NFL talent.

Washington Huskies logo.jpg10. Washington Huskies- 110 points
Previous: 5 (140 points)
Highest Drafted Player- John Ross, 9th Overall, 2017
After years of dominating the draft, the Huskies took a massive hit. Dropping 30 points of value is pretty steep. Washington only had two players selected in 2020 this was definitely a down year. It doesn’t help either that Jacob Eason was the first Husky taken this year in the fourth round. With a very small 2016 draft class, Washington should not fall much next year, but could be in danger in the future.

USC logo11. USC Trojans- 104 points
Previous: 13 (114 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Sam Darnold, 3rd Overall, 2018
This is not your grandfather’s or even your father’s USC. The Trojans have fallen from college football’s elite, but still seem capable of sending some top-tier talent to the NFL. Having two players drafted in the first 33 selection is a really nice start, but Austin Jackson and Michael Pittman ended up being the only Trojans taken. More depth would be nice going forward considering USC dropped points, but still moved up.

Auburn_Tigers_logo12. Auburn Tigers- 101 points
Previous: 19 (82 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Derrick Brown, 7th Overall, 2020
Derrick Brown and Noah Igbinoghene were Auburn’s first first-round selections since 2014. This class had depth beyond those two as well, which led to a nice jump up this list. The Tigers have not been at the same level as they were at the beginning of last decade, but these are the type of years that make you believe Auburn still has it when it comes to producing NFL prospects.

Penn_State_text_logo13. Penn State Nittany Lions- 100 points
Previous: 17 (93 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Saquon Barkley, 2nd Overall, 2018
Saquon Barkley still stands alone as the only Penn State player selected in the first round since 2010. However, a pair of second rounders and a few late-round selections still created a solid class. James Franklin is still a step behind Ohio State and Michigan, both on the field and in these rankings. Given that the Nittany Lions have clawed their way into the top 15, I think its fair to say they are trending in the right direction when it comes to preparing players for the next level.

UCLA logo.jpg14. UCLA Bruins- 98 points
Previous: 15 (100 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Josh Rosen, 10th Overall, 2018
The on-field product has been rocky so far in the Chip Kelly era, but Oregon became a pipeline to the NFL under his tutelage. The Bruins have been a constant in these rankings, even in some of their leaner years. If Kelly can put his stamp on the program, I have a feeling that will continue and we could possibly see UCLA climb back up the ranks.

Ole_Miss_Rebels_logo15. Ole Miss Rebels- 93 points
Previous: 15 (100 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Laremy Tunsil, 13th Overall, 2016
Trouble is on the horizon. While Ole Miss didn’t slide, this team is trending in the wrong direction. Not a single player from the program heard his name called in the 2020 draft. The Rebels produced a monster class in 2016, featuring three first-round picks. With this being the last year that class will be included in these rankings, I think it is fair to expect a huge drop off in the 2021 rankings. However, Lane Kiffin is in charge now and could very well turn this around. While a dip is coming, Kiffin is the type of recruiter that could have Ole Miss surging back soon after.

1000px-mississippi_state_bulldogs_logo.svg_16. Mississippi State Bulldogs- 91 points
Previous: 18 (86 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Jeffery Simmons, 19th Overall, 2019
It might not be a star-studded group, but the 2020 draft class looks pretty solid for Mississippi State. On one side of things, the Bulldogs continue to send players to the NFL with consistency. However, there are a number of players who have slipped into the middle rounds of the draft that have had a lot of success. It begs questions about Mississippi State ability to elevate their player’s stock the same way other top programs have. It will be really interesting to see how this develops with Mike Leach taking over in Starkville.

Texas A&M logo17. Texas A&M Aggies- 90 points
Previous: 16 (95 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Myles Garrett, 1st Overall, 2017
Jimbo Fisher has yet to reach the same heights he hit at Florida State. He hasn’t quite hit the same level at producing NFL talent yet since taking over at Texas A&M either. However, we could see that change pretty soon. Fisher’s first full recruiting class will be draft eligible this year, which could see them start to climb in these rankings. They are a team to watch with interest over the next few seasons.

Utah_Utes_logo17. Utah Utes- 90 points
Previous: 20 (81 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Garrett Bolles, 20th Overall, 2017
For the third time in four years, Utah has filled the middle rounds of the NFL draft. 2018 was a bit of a dud, with only one player taken. Outside of that, the Utes have sent eight, five and now seven players respectively to league. Utah has been knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff. If they can break through, we could start to see a few of these players start to go in the big money rounds.

iowa_wordmark19. Iowa Hawkeyes – 86 points
Previous: 20 (81 points)
Highest Drafted Player- T.J. Hockenson, 8th Overall, 2019
When you think of old-school NFL factories, Iowa definitely comes to mind. While the Hawkeyes might not be the best, they certainly have a knack for sending at least a few players to the next level. Iowa has had at least three players taken in each of the past four drafts. Given that the team’s 2016 group consisted of just one seventh-round pick, there is plenty of potential for a rise in next year’s rankings with another good class.

Miami logo19. Miami Hurricanes- 86 points
Previous: 11 (117 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Artie Burns, 25th Overall, 2016
The U isn’t quite back yet. They are definitely getting close though. Miami had a respectable four players selected, but none went before the fourth round. With a few potential first-round prospects for 2021, the Hurricanes could be in line for a quick bounce back, but this has been a disappointing stretch for Miami’s NFL production.

Stanford Cardinal21. Stanford Cardinal- 85 points
Previous: 12 (116 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Solomon Thomas, 3rd Overall, 2017
When I started these rankings back in 2016, Stanford ranked seventh and was still riding the Andrew Luck years. While there have been a handful of top prospects to emerge since then, this has to be a disappointment to fall outside the top 20. The Cardinal had only two players selected in 2020, one in the fourth and one in the seventh. David Shaw has his work cut out for him to get Stanford back to national relevance and seeing more players take the next step in their football careers.

1000px-north_carolina_state_university_athletic_logo.svg_22. North Carolina State Wolfpack- 83 points
Previous: 22 (79 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Bradley Chubb, 5th Overall, 2018
It was a quiet year for the Wolfpack, but they are mostly surviving off a great 2018 draft class. They did have Garrett Bradbury go in the 2019 first round as well. Just two draft picks in 2020, one in the fifth and one in the seventh, isn’t too impressive though. It will be interesting to see which direction NC State is heading by next year.

Florida State Logo23. Florida State Seminoles- 80 points
Previous: 6 (132 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Jalen Ramsey, 5th Overall, 2016
Talk about the bottom falling out. Florida State started out at No. 2 in these rankings back in 2016. The program has been a mess in recent years and it was only a matter of time before these rankings began to reflect that. With just a single player selected in 2020, the fall might not be over for the Seminoles.

1280px-TCU_Horned_Frogs_logo24. TCU Horned Frogs- 79 points
Previous: Not ranked (55 points)
Highest Draft Player- Jalen Reagor, 21st Overall, 2020
For the first time in school history, TCU had two players selected in the first round as both Jalen Reagor and Jeff Gladney heard their names called. This is also the first time the Horned Frogs have entered these rankings. With five draft picks in 2020 and at least three players selected in four of the past five drafts, TCU has potential to stick around. Hopefully, Gary Patterson is up to the task.

Wisconsin logo25. Wisconsin Badgers- 73 points
Previous: 25 (74 points)
Highest Drafted Player- T.J. Watt, 30th Overall, 2017
The Badgers had a solid if unspectacular 2020 draft class. They failed to land a player in the first round, but they did have four players come off the board and all before the sixth round. Wisconsin debuted in these rankings at 15 back in 2016 so dropping to the edge is definitely disappointing. That being said, you can count on a few Badgers being selected in the middle rounds of the draft just about every year like clockwork.

Others Receiving Votes: West Virginia (63 points), Boston College (56 points), Temple (56 points)

Note: All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

8 teams that should sign Colin Kaepernick

If the 2019 NFL season taught us anything, it’s that there are a lot of teams who have neglected the backup quarterback position. The teams that sufficiently addressed it (Kansas City, Tennessee) weathered the storm when their starter was ineffective or hurt. Meanwhile, teams that clearly had no real succession plan (Detroit, New York Jets) saw their seasons unravel with sudden, er, absences at the position. Does mononucleosis count as an injury?

 

colin-kaepernick
Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since 2016 after he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality in America. (Wikimedia Commons)

Finding a backup quarterback is important and there aren’t many players more qualified for the job than Colin Kaepernick. With the NFL admitting it mishandled the national anthem protests in 2016 and commissioner Roger Goodell even going as far as encouraging teams to sign Kaepernick, the door finally seems to be for the former 49ers quarterback to return to the league. Sure, he has been out of the league for a few years, but Kaepernick has the experience and talent to be a spot starter.

Don’t believe me? Let’s compare Kapernick to the league’s average backup quarterback. I compiled every backup quarterback’s stats into this Google Sheet.

On average, the NFL backup completes around 61.1 percent of his passes and averages roughly 6.95 yards per attempt. Additionally, they throw a touchdown on 3.8 percent of their throws while 2.7 percent of their attempts result in an interception. The average backup also has a career winning percentage of 46 percent in the regular season. These numbers look much worse if you remove some of the long-time former starters currently in backup roles like Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub. 

Kaepernick by comparison completed 59.8 percent of his passes for an average of 7.3 yards per attempt. He threw a touchdown on 4.3 percent of his passes and an interception on just 1.8 percent of them. His career regular season win percentage sits at 48 percent. Additionally, Kaepernick has playoff experience, including a Super Bowl appearance. Flacco and Nick Foles are the only current backup quarterbacks who have started a Super Bowl.

The biggest knock anyone could possibly have on Kaepernick is his ability to hold onto the ball. He averaged almost eight fumbles per season over his five years as a mostly full-time starter.

If you want to put a label on what Kaepernick represents to the NFL right now in terms of position value, it is a high-end backup. Those averages, which he mostly matches or beats, don’t factor in his running ability either. His mobility is a plus for any team evaluating him. 

Without a doubt, Kap could still cut it in the NFL. Let me make this clear though. I don’t think Kaepernick has what it takes to be a starter in this league anymore. He is 32 and has some mechanical flaws he is not going to fix now. However, he is still good enough to win a game if his number is called. From his workout in 2019, he clearly still has the arm strength and the zip on his throws to make plays. Kaepernick should be no team’s first option, but there are much worse plan B’s. Here are the eight teams that should consider signing Kaepernick for the 2020 season.

Denver_BroncosDenver Broncos
With Drew Lock sufficiently entrenched as the starter for the Broncos, this could be an ideal situation for Kaepernick to work his way back into the league. Denver’s current quarterback room outside of Lock includes Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien and Neal Riley. Driskel is far from a reliable backup having struggled in stints filling in for Andy Dalton and Matthew Stafford over the past two seasons. He is 1-7 as a starter and has completed under 60 percent of his passes in his career. It helps that Denver’s current running backs coach Curtis Modkins was the 49ers offensive coordinator during Kaepernick’s final season in San Francisco.

Titans logoTennessee Titans
Few teams had a better quarterback situation last year than the Titans. When Marcus Mariota proved to be ineffective as the starter, Ryan Tannehill came in and worked wonders all the way to the AFC Championship game. With Mariota now in Las Vegas, Tennessee is left with Logan Woodside and undrafted rookie Cole McDonald on the roster. Neither one of them has attempted an NFL pass. The front office made a wise move last year to find a stable backup plan. Kaepernick would give the Titans the same assurances that Tannehill provided for them last year.

Bengals LogoCincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow is undoubtedly the future in Cincinnati, but with Andy Dalton now in Dallas, the solution to a Burrow injury is unclear. Ryan Finley tanked in two appearances last season. Jake Dolegala is a fellow second year player who did attempt a pass last season. If Burrow were to go down, there is no one reliable to step in for the Bengals at quarterback. My biggest hang up with Kaepernick joining Cincinnati is I think they need someone who can start this season to ease Burrow into the NFL. I’m not sure Kaepernick quite fits the bill after so much time off.

Patriots Logo

New England Patriots
The Patriots have clearly latched their wagon to the Jarrett Stidham train. I’m not sold on him as the long term answer after only four career passes, but the rest of the quarterback situation in New England is nothing to trust either. Brian Hoyer is back for another stint, but the Pats actually cut Hoyer last season after the preseason, and he struggled in relief of Jacoby Brissett after signing with the Colts. New England’s other two options at the position are Brian Lewerke and J’Mar Smith, two undrafted free agents from the 2020 class. Rumor has it the team is interested Cam Newton, but Kaepernick could also make a ton of sense.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)

Arizona Cardinals
No one will be replacing Kyler Murray any time soon. However, when you have a mobile quarterback, particularly one with as slight of a build as Murray, there is always the risk of an injury arising. Arizona’s current backup plan is Brett Hundley. He has more interceptions than touchdowns in his career and a completion percentage south of 60. The only other options on the roster include Drew Anderson and Chris Streveler, both of whom have never attempted an NFL pass. Kaepernick has a similar play style to Murray, even if he cannot replicate the level of production. I could see him being a good fit in Kliff Kingsbury’s modified Air Raid system.

Los Angeles Rams logoLos Angeles Rams
Who is currently backing up Jared Goff? John Wolford, Bryce Perkins and Josh Love are all undrafted free agents L.A. signed over the past two years. None of them have taken an NFL snap. Goff might be one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the league, but the Rams certainly need a better replacement plan if he were to get hurt. Kaepernick might not be the most seamless fit in the Rams system given his struggles as a play-action passer, but I trust Sean McVay to find some creative uses for his arm and legs. Even four years removed from football, he would provide a much more reliable solution if Goff were to suffer an injury. 

Seahawks logo

Seattle Seahawks
Don’t even begin to argue with me that Kaepernick would not be an upgrade over Geno Smith as a backup quarterback. As a Jets fan, I watched him struggle wildly to perform on a consistent basis and regularly commit back-breaking errors in important moments. Luckily for Seattle, Russell Wilson is one of the most durable quarterbacks in the league. Still, finding a better replacement than Smith would be smart. Pete Carroll has been open in his support of Kaepernick, admitting he regrets not signing him previously. The team met with Kap prior to the 2017 season. His ability to extend plays with his legs is not on the same level as Wilson, but he could help Seattle avoid a massive fall off if Wilson were to go down injured. 

Ravens logo

Baltimore Ravens
This last one is less about the team’s need at the position and more about the offensive scheme. Baltimore has the league’s reigning MVP in Lamar Jackson. Though Jackson has proven to be durable and smart about avoiding unnecessary hits, they have a clear backup plan in Robert Griffin III. They even have two young, dual-threat college quarterbacks on the roster behind RGIII. Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley are definitely both project players, but this has the feel of a very sound quarterback room. However, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers while Kaepernick dazzled the football world with two deep playoff runs. I’m not saying Roman would be able rekindle that kind of magic, but given what Jackson has been able to do in this system, I think Kaepernick could find some level of success in a backup role.