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. 

Re-grading the 2015 NFL Draft

I redraft pretty much every NFL draft about 5 years after they happen. In fact, I did the 2015 class two weeks ago. To me, that gives a really good window to evaluate all of the players selected. It is amazing how differently you may view a player after two years as opposed to after five years. For example, Vic Beasley looked like the best pick in the entire draft, Marcus Mariota was on his way to stardom and David Johnson was one of the best running backs in football in 2017. Now, Beasley joined the Titans on a one-year, “prove it deal,” Mariota is a backup for Derek Carr and Johnson was traded to the Texans. None have managed to live up to the early hype they built. It works the other way too. After two years, no one knew who Danielle Hunter, Frank Clark or Za’Darius Smith were. Now they are three of the best pass rushers in football.

Each draft always has a blend of superstars, a few great players who bloomed late and some who peaked early. And of course there are always a few outright busts. Now that we can see how these players turned out at the next level, I figure why not grade them all over again? This time these grades will be a lot more complete and less of flat out a guess.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona Cardinals
Grade: C+
If this group could have stayed healthy, the Cardinals might look back on it more fondly. David Johnson was the gem of this class. He was one of the top backs in the NFL for a few years, but injuries derailed his career and he was part of the package sent to Houston for DeAndre Hopkins. D.J. Humphries is still around and has locked down a starting role. Arizona just extended him on a lucrative deal. He has only managed 43 games in five year NFL career, but when healthy, he is fairly reliable. Markus Golden broke out in his second season with 12.5 sacks, but then could only stay on the field for 15 games over the next two seasons. He reached double-digit sacks again in 2019, but that was as a member of the New York Giants. Rodney Gunter is still in town, providing some depth along the defensive line. The rest of the class is no longer with the team. Shaquille Riddick never played in an NFL game. J.J. Nelson had a few solid seasons, but joined the Raiders last year. Gerald Christian caught one pass in his NFL career. Overall, production wasn’t too bad, but with only two players still on the roster, this group could have been much better.

Falcons logoAtlanta Falcons
Grade: B-
If you ignore the Falcons first two picks, this looks like a really impressive draft class. Unfortunately, Vic Beasley’s career ended up being a roller coaster ride and Jalen Collins last only two seasons in the league. Beasley led the NFL in sacks his second season in the league, but never got anywhere close to that level again. Still, he has the third-most sacks in this class. Atlanta let him walk though and now he is in Tennessee. The Falcons did find some great value in the middle rounds of the draft though. Grady Jarrett has developed into one of the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL. He has the most sacks by any defensive tackle in this class. Tevin Coleman formed a really solid duo with Devonta Freeman before following Kyle Shanahan to San Francisco. Justin Hardy still provides some receiver depth, but hasn’t produced that much with under 1,000 yards through five seasons. Jake Rodgers saw his first NFL action in 2019 as an injury fill-in for the Broncos and Akeem King is a backup in Seattle. Coleman and Jarrett were great selections, but only Jarrett and Hardy are still on the roster from this class.

Ravens logoBaltimore Ravens
Grade: C
This class really did not do well for the Ravens. Za’Darius Smith is the most notable player from this draft class, but he turned in his best season as a pro for the Packers in 2019. Darren Waller is up there as well, but after a tenure that featured a lot of suspensions in Baltimore, he blossomed as a tight end in Oakland. Breshad Perriman signed with his fourth NFL franchise and accounted for all of 576 receiving yards for Baltimore. That’s not exactly what you are looking for from a first-round selection. Maxx Williams never turned into the tight end the Ravens expected and spent last season with the Cardinals. Carl Davis is a career backup bouncing around the league. Javorius “Buck Allen was a decent complementary back, but he is now with the Giants. Tray Walker lasted one NFL season. Nick Boyle is the only player still on the roster from this class and he mostly just serves as depth. Robert Myers has still never played an NFL game. Had the Ravens managed to get the most out of this class, this would be a much better grade.

Bills logoBuffalo Bills
Grade: D+
It is much harder to put together a great draft class without a first-round pick, but not impossible. The Bills didn’t come anywhere close though. Ronald Darby has become a decent, but injury-prone starter for the Eagles. John Miller has started 28 games over the past two seasons for the Bengals. Karlos Williams and Tony Steward flamed out after just one year. Dezmin Lewis lasted two. Nick O’Leary is still in the league, but is bouncing around as a backup. When none of the players you drafted are still on your team and only two of them have had productive careers, that’s a poor job done by the front office.

Panthers logoCarolina Panthers
Grade: C+
The Panthers can feel good that they landed Shaq Thompson in this group and found two other solid players in Daryl Williams and Devin Funchess. Thompson has been a mainstay for the Carolina defense. He isn’t dominant, but he is a productive starter. Williams took a year to get up to speed and has struggled with injuries, but still contributes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move into more of a swing tackle backup though in the future. Funchess was reasonably successful when he could stay on the field, but the Panthers let him walk and he spent an injury-riddled season with the Colts in 2019. David Mayo ended up being a backup for four years before starting the majority of last year for the Giants. Cameron Artis-Payne put together a productive stretch before falling out of the league and landing with the XFL. This feels like a pretty average class for Carolina.

Bears logoChicago Bears
Grade: C-
This draft class will inevitably be remembered as a failure because of the team’s first round pick in Kevin White. While White was a bust, the rest of the draft was actually pretty solid. Adrian Amos turned out to be a steal in the fifth, but Chicago let him leave in free agency prior to 2019. Eddie Goldman has been productive as well. He is at least a replacement level starter along the defensive line. Hroniss Grasu is a backup in Baltimore now while Jeremy Langford and Tayo Fabuluje are both out of the league. The Bears should have held onto Amos, but his contributions prior to his departure and getting a decent player like Goldman saves this group from being a complete bust.

Bengals LogoCincinnati Bengals
Grade: D-
Absolutely brutal. That is the best way to describe this draft class. Cedric Ogbuehi lost his starting job after three years and now is on his third NFL team. Jake Fisher and Josh Shaw last played in 2018. Tyler Kroft only has 73 career receptions, which is slightly edged out by C.J. Uzomah’s 106. Neither one of those totals is great, but they are at least respectable. P.J. Dawson never made an NFL appearance. Neither did Marcus Hardison. Derron Smith lasted two seasons with the team, while Mario Alford managed one. They are both out of the NFL. When two backup tight ends is all you have to lean on, that is a bad year.

Browns logoCleveland Browns
Grade: D
Cleveland slightly edges out Cincinnati here, but no one deserves much credit here. Danny Shelton never really reached his potential, but he was at least a starter. He ended up in New England after a few seasons and just signed with the Lions. Cameron Erving was a disappoint, but he has managed 42 starts in his career. Only 17 were with the Browns though. He is actually a Super Bowl champion now. Duke Johnson was productive, but was traded to Houston last season. Nate Orchard never really caught on. Neither did Xavier Cooper or Vincent Mayle, who are both out of the league. Ibraheim Campbell is a decent backup, now with the Packers. No one else the Browns selected is still in the league. None of the 12 players Cleveland drafted is still with the team either, so I think we can say this was a terrible job by the front office.

Cowboys logoDallas Cowboys
Grade: C
The Cowboys hit on Byron Jones, but no one else in this group comes close to matching him. Randy Gregory recently filed for reinstatement to the league after an indefinite suspension last February for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Geoff Swain turned out to be a decent backup tight end. Chaz Green made a handful of starts for Dallas, but has spent the past three seasons bouncing around the league. Damien Wilson had four solid seasons as a rotational linebacker with the Cowboys and just won a Super Bowl in the same role with the Chiefs. Ryan Russell hasn’t played since 2017 after a shoulder injury cost him the entire 2018 season with the Bucs. Mark Nzeocha is a backup on the 49ers. Laurence Gibson never appeared in a game. Overall, the class is solid, even if Jones did just sign with the Dolphins.

Denver_BroncosDenver Broncos
Grade: D-
It proved to be a tough weekend for the Broncos, whose best pick from this draft was easily the seventh rounder they spent on Trevor Siemian. The former Northwestern quarterback actually started for a year in Denver, but since has bounced around as a backup. First-round selection Shane Ray was a bust. He only last four seasons in the league. Ty Sambrailo started all of seven games for the Broncos before ending up with the Falcons. Jeff Heuerman carved out a role as a backup tight end. Max Garcia got a chance as the starting center, but lost his job in 2018. He signed with the Cardinals last year. Lorenzo Doss didn’t play in 2019. Neither did Darius Kilgo. Taurean Nixon appeared in two games in 2016, but that was all. Josh Furman, who never took an NFL snap, rounds out the class. Getting a backup tight end and a semi-decent backup quarterback from one draft is not good enough.

Lions LogoDetroit Lions
Grade: C-
Hit or miss is probably the best way to categorize Detroit’s 2015 draft. They had a diamond in the rough, finding Quandre Diggs in the seventh round. Diggs turned into a solid starter, mostly in a nickle corner or safety role. He now starts for the Seahawks. Laken Tomlinson never managed to lock down a starting role, but found success with the 49ers. He has started all but one game over the past three seasons in San Francisco. Ameer Abdullah showed flashes, but ultimately could not find consistency. He has mop up duty now for the Vikings. Alex Carter only played one game for the Lions and was out of the league after 2018. Michael Burton is still around, but he only lasted two seasons in Detroit before bouncing to Chicago. Corey Robinson never caught on and hasn’t played since 2018. Finding two solid starters in a class is pretty good. What hurts the Lions’ grade is that they both start for other teams.

Packers logoGreen Bay Packers
Grade: C-
Early on, this looked like a really good draft class. Damorious Randall was a starter and Ty Mongomery was a Swiss army knife type player on offense. Aaron Ripkowski looked like a solid fullback, earning 34 carries in 2016, which is a lot in today’s game. By 2018, all three of those players were gone. Randall was traded to Cleveland. Montgomery to Baltimore and Ripkowski was cut. Linebacker Jake Ryan also left after three years of being a rotational option. The reason all of these players seemed to leave at once was general manager Ted Thompson was fired after the 2017 season. Neither of the Packers’ sixth-round picks did much. Christian Ringo and Kennard Backman are both out of the league. There were some decent players here and maybe a few of them would still be with the team if Thompson hadn’t been fired, but when no one is left five years later, that isn’t a great look.

Texans logoHouston Texans
Grade: D+
The Texans essentially went 1 for 7 in this NFL draft. Ask a baseball fan, that’s not too good. Thankfully, the one hit they managed was a good one. Benardrick McKinney is an above average starter for the defense and still with the team today. First-round pick Kevin Johnson was underwhelming though, managing just one interception in 18 starts. He was let go after 2018. Jaelen Strong was out of football after 2017. Keith Mumphery only lasted until 2016. Reshard Cliett and Kenny Hilliard have never taken an NFL snap. Christian Covington has made it as a backup. The one player the Texans still have is a good one, but you hoped for something, really anything, out of their other six picks.

Colts logoIndianapolis Colts
Grade: D+
Only one player from this draft class is still with the Colts. Clayton Geathers has turned into a reliable backup. The reason this grade isn’t lower is that the Colts did find some other talent in this draft, they just didn’t hang on to it. Phillip Dorsett was disappointing given his draft stock, but to call him an outright bust would be harsh. He was involved in the trade that brought in Jacoby Brissett, for whatever that is worth. Henry Anderson is now a decent starter for the Jets. Denzelle Good is the only other player still in football from this group and he is a backup on the Raiders. Overall, the Colts didn’t get a whole lot of value out of this class, but something can be said for them at least trading away a few of these players for future late-round picks. Beats letting them walk in free agency.

Jaguars logoJacksonville Jaguars
Grade: C
Believe it or not, two of these players are still members of the Jaguars. That counts for something. The biggest name of this group is undoubtedly Dante Fowler Jr. He never quite lived up to his draft slot and the Jags traded him to the Rams after two and a half years. Netting a third round pick three years later is not great return on investment. A.J. Cann has worked out nicely though. He has missed just two starts in the past four seasons. Ben Koyack is the other player still with Jacksonville, provided depth at tight end. No one else from this group is still on an NFL roster. Finding two starting-caliber players and a reliable backup isn’t too bad, but it would be better if Fowler was still finding ways to contribute in Jacksonville.

Chiefs LogoKansas City Chiefs
Grade: C+
It is really hard to grade the Chiefs on this one. On one hand, they grabbed an All-Pro corner, a starting guard, a fringe starting corner, a quality third or fourth option receiver and a good No. 2 tight end. All but one of their draft picks was on an NFL roster in 2019. That is almost unheard of. The problem is that none of the play for Kansas City anymore. Marcus Peters trash talked his way to L.A. Mitch Morse has had concussion problem and now suits up for Buffalo. Steven Nelson started 15 games for Pittsburgh in 2019. Chris Conley racked 775 yards and five touchdowns for Jacksonville alongside James O’Shaughnessy, who showed flashes of solid play before getting hurt. D.J. Alexander and Ramik Wilson are both backups still in the league as well. Obviously, the Chiefs don’t really care about this as they are coming off a Super Bowl win, but had they managed to keep Peters in house or gotten better production out of Nelson, they might be back-to-back champions right now.

Raiders logoOakland Raiders
Grade: B+
Over the first few years after this draft, it looked like the Raiders had crushed it. Amari Cooper turned into a star receiver. Mario Edwards was a rotational pass rusher. Clive Walford was a solid tight end. Jon Feliciano provided depth at guard. Now none of these guys are part of the team’s move to Las Vegas. Cooper was traded to the Cowboys. Edwards never took the next step and is now on his third team in three years. Walford battled injuries after leaving the team and is now not on a roster. Feliciano left last offseason as a free agent and actually started all 16 games for the Bills. There was some talent here, but Oakland did not maximize it. Had they managed to keep things going, this might have been the first A of the class.

Chargers logoSan Diego Chargers
Grade: C+

With only five picks in this class, the Chargers have a much smaller margin for error. The messy breakup with Melvin Gordon definitely comes into play here. If he had stay in town for the price the Broncos just paid him, that would probably bump this a little higher. The rest of the class is pretty underwhelming. Denzel Perryman is a solid player, but the team seems to run out of patience with him. He has also only managed to appear in 54 out a possible 80 games in his career. Craig Mager earned some starts in his second year, but the Chargers let him walk after 2018. Same with Kyle Emanuel and Darius Philon. Having every player in the class last at least four years in the NFL is fairly impressive, but with three of them never signing a second contract, that indicates that maybe this group failed to meet expectations.

Rams logoSt. Louis Rams
Grade: A-
In their last year in St. Louis, the Rams pulled in a pretty good haul. Say what you will about Todd Gurley, he was the best non-quarterback in football for back-to-back seasons. The Rams just made a mistake with his contract. Rob Havenstein has started 68 games, all with the franchise, since he was draft. Jamon Brown spent one full season as a starter in 2017 before he was traded to the Giants midway through the 2018 season. Sean Mannion has become a journeyman backup. Andrew Donnal is still a backup in the league even though he lasted only two years with the Rams. Cody Wichmann even started most his first two seasons, but has been a backup ever since. Bryce Hager spent the past five years providing linebacker depth before Los Angeles let his contract expire. I think finding a superstar running back and a starting right tackle makes this a pretty good group. Getting reasonable contributions elsewhere makes this the first A I have handed out.

Dolphins logoMiami Dolphins
Grade: B-
This is a really tricky group to grade. DeVante Parker finally seems to have figured it out, but it took him five years to be productive. The Dolphins traded Jordan Phillips to the Bills after four underwhelming seasons. He posted 9.5 sacks in 2019 and landed himself a nice deal with the Cardinals. Jamil Douglas has made a handful of starts in his career, now suiting up for the Titans. Bobby McCain has turned into a solid defensive back playing most in sub packages. Jay Ajayi got off to a great start, but after a trade to the Eagles killed his momentum, he is now not on an NFL roster. Tony Lippett started out at Michigan State as a defensive back before the Spartans switched him to receiver for his final three seasons. The Dolphins moved him back to defensive back and he had four interceptions in 2016. That proved to just be a flash in the pan though. He has only played in three NFL games since then after tearing his Achilles before the 2017 season. Miami got a solid amount of production of this draft class, but it has been far too uneven to consider it a big success.

Vikings logoMinnesota Vikings
Grade: A+
No one had a better 2015 draft than the Vikings. They landed Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs. Trae Waynes ended up being decent too even if he didn’t live up to his draft slot. Those first three formed a really solid core that has been essentially to the Vikings recent success. Kendricks was named 1st-team All-Pro in 2019. Hunter is a two-time Pro Bowler. Diggs has the most catches of any player in this draft and is one of the best route runners in the NFL. Obviously, Minnesota had a falling out with Diggs, which led to his trade to Buffalo. Netting a first round pick makes that a bit easier to swallow though and Diggs’ contributions over the past five years have been good enough that the grade should not change. The Vikings knocked this out of the park.

Patriots LogoNew England Patriots
Grade: B+
Like they do seemingly every year, the Patriots found a few gems late in this draft class. Trey Flowers produced 21 sacks over the course of his final three seasons with the team before landing a mega deal with the Lions. Shaq Mason is still around and has been a quality starting guard his whole career. Even Malcom Brown turned out to be a decent player, but he never quite reached the lofty expectations that come with being a first round pick. He is now with the Saints. Jordan Richards is a solid backup. Geneo Grissom never really caught on. Tre’ Jackson started nine games as a rookie, but then missed the whole 2016 seasons due to injury. The Pats cut him and he never landed anywhere else. This group was far from dominant. Only Mason and long snapper Joe Corona are still with the team. Still, New England found some excellent value in the later rounds and got enough production to win another Super Bowl in 2016.

Saints logoNew Orleans Saints
Grade: C
This wasn’t a great draft for the Saints, but they did get a few contributors out of it. Andrus Peat has been pretty reliable and just signed a long-term extension. P.J. Williams is out of a contract, but he has 23 games for New Orleans, including 15 over the past two seasons. Tyeler Davidson even had four solid years with the team, but left for the Falcons in free agency last offseason. On the flip side, the Saints got essentially nothing out of Stephone Anthony, but he did return last year after two seasons with the Dolphins. Hau’oli Kikaha was a bust. Garrett Grayson never developed either. It was an uneven return on investment for the Saints leaving them with an average grade.

Giants LogoNew York Giants
Grade: D
It was a rough draft for the Giants. They reached a bit to get Ereck Flowers, who never made it as a tackle. Weirdly enough, he did just sign a fairly large deal to play guard for the Dolphins. New York landed a really solid player in Landon Collins, but didn’t want to pay him, so they inexplicably lifted the franchise tag they used on him to let him walk to division rival Washington. The only thing that saves this from being an even lower grade is Bobby Hart. He was shaky in New York, but he has started every game of the past two seasons for the Bengals. He is far from a star, but finding an average offensive lineman in the seventh round is really good value. Overall, this class was a pretty big dud for the Giants, which probably had something to do with Jerry Reese being fired after 2017.

Jets logoNew York Jets
Grade: D+
The Jets earn a higher grade than the Giants! Barely. This was not a good draft for the Big Apple. New York landed what they thought was a superstar in the making in Leonard Williams, but he never reached those expectations. He actually got traded to the aforementioned Giants last season. Still, he was a solid player, just not worthy of a top-10 pick. The rest of the class was a joke. Devin Smith was a total bust, mostly because he couldn’t stay healthy. Lorenzo Maulden had a few seasons of decent pass-rush production. Bryce Petty was nothing more than a struggling backup quarterback. Deon Simon managed to feature for one season and Jarvis Harrison never made an NFL appearance. Williams did not net much return on the investment, but at least the Jets traded him for a third-round pick rather than let him leave for a team in the division for free.

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia Eagles
Grade: D+
Eagles fans have a history of being harsh, sometimes unfairly. Nelson “how is he back on the roster” Agholor never figured out how to catch the ball. Eric Rowe was traded to the Patriots after one season. Jordan Hicks spent four injury-riddled seasons in Philadelphia before having a breakout season with Arizona in 2019. No one else from this draft class played more than two seasons of football. Rowe and Hicks turned out to be solid players. Hicks might honestly be one of the best players from this class if he can stay healthy. Had they spent their best years with the Eagles, this grade could have been a lot higher. Agholor had his moments, but overall, this class was disappointing to say the least.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logoPittsburgh Steelers
Grade:
C
Pittsburgh found a good player early, and struggled after that. Bud Dupree has been as advertised as an edge rusher, even if he is not always one of the league’s elite. Jesse James was a decent find, operating mostly as a second-option tight end. Senquez Golden never played an NFL game as a second-round pick. Sammie Coates was gone by 2017. Doran Grant eventually ended up in the XFL. Anthony Chickillo was solid as a sixth-round pick. He spent five seasons as a backup and special teams contributor before getting cut this offseason. Dupree makes this group passable, but clear misses in the second and third round tank this draft grade.

49ers LogoSan Francisco 49ers
Grade: B+
This is actually a really impressive collection for the 49ers. Arik Armstead finally broke out in his fifth season. He had been solid previously, but he played at a Pro Bowl level in 2019. Jaquiski Tartt has, when healthy, has been the preferred starter at safety. Eli Harold was a decent rotational player for three years. Blake Bell has bounced around, but is still finding ways to stay on the field. Mike Davis had a good 2018 season with Seattle, but that was his only notable year. Bradley Pinion was the punter for four seasons before spending last year with Tampa Bay. The 49ers unearthed a gem as well in Trent Brown, but never got to see him realize his potential. He started all 16 games for San Francisco in 2016, but got injured in 2017, resulting in a trade to New England. He had an incredible year there and leveraged into a monster deal with the Raiders. This ended up being a quality draft for the 49ers, but it doesn’t quite reach the A level. Armstead took a while to catch on while Brown had his best seasons with other teams. Still, this is impressive haul.

Seahawks logoSeattle Seahawks
Grade: A
Seattle didn’t have a first-round pick in 2015, which makes this class even more impressive. They landed Frank Clark in the second and Tyler Lockett in the third. Clark is one of the best pass rushers from this draft and currently in the league. While he is no longer with the team, Seattle got a first, second and third-round pick swap for him. Quite the return on investment. Lockett is coming off his best season in the pros and has blossomed into Russell Wilson’s favorite weapon. The Seahawks added Mark Glowinski, who is now a starter for the Colts, in the fourth round as well. That’s three really solid players. If Lockett wasn’t the only player still with the team, this would be an A+, but when you consider the impact this group has had in the league and how much value it has generated for the Seahawks, the front office deserves a pat on the back.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay Buccaneers
Grade: B
So Jameis Winston was probably the wrong choice at first overall. He wasn’t a total bust either though. Tampa just could never seem to get him to take the next step. The rest of this draft was pretty impressive though. Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet are both starting offensive linemen for the Buccaneers. Both have been pretty reliable. Smith has started 79 out of 80 potential games and Marpet 72 of 80. Kwon Alexander struggled to stay healthy, but still turned out to be a really good linebacker. He started eight games for the 49ers this season before suffering another injury. Getting three quality starters and a slightly inconsistent starting quarterback is a nice group. If Winston had worked out, this would have been an easy A.

Titans logoTennessee Titans
Grade: F
It is hard to do much worse than the Titans did in the draft. Marcus Mariota was not the franchise quarterback they hoped for. He lost his job in 2019 and is now a backup to Derek Carr on the Raiders. Dorial Green-Beckham was a huge disappointment. Angelo Blackman is the only player other than Mariota still active, but he plays for the the divisional rival Texans now. Jeremiah Poutasi, Jalston Fowler, David Cobb, Deiontrez Mount, Andy Gallik and Tre McBride are all out of the league. Most of them didn’t make it past 2016. It is honestly hard to do much worse than that. This whole draft class was a bust.

Washington made up logoWashington
Grade: B+
This might not have been perfect, but on the whole this ended up being a pretty good group. Brandon Scherff is a quality starter set to play this season on the franchise tag. Preston Smith has the fourth-most sacks in this class, but his best season yet came with the Packers after he left in free agency. Jameison Crowder has become a solid slot receiver, but he also left last offseason. Washington also landed a reliable center in the seventh round, but gave up on him after a year. After two years in Cleveland, he joined Kansas City. He started all 16 games for the Super Bowl champs this past season. Finding four starting-caliber players is impressive. Only holding onto one of them is what prevents this from being a better grade.

Biggest reaches of the 2020 NFL Draft: Four first-round pick make the list

Our draft week coverage continues, but now it is time to dish out some hate for some of the teams that got a little over aggressive in their draft strategy. After reviewing the best value picks of this draft, I figured the next step would be to look at the biggest reaches. There are a number of teams that showed up on both lists. Now I understand that my rankings are specific to me. I am using them primarily as a reference point for where I had them. I tried to focus more on other players that were still available and the level of need the team had at that position. These are the players that I thought came off the board too early in the 2020 draft.

Falcons logo

A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson – Atlanta Falcons
Draft position: 16th overall (1st round)
My ranking: 63rd overall (2nd-round grade)
Atlanta desperately needed corner help, but they got a little too desperate here. There were reports the Falcons wanted to move up the 2nd pick to grab Chase Young or into the top 10 to draft CJ Henderson. Once they couldn’t trade up, it felt like they settled for A.J. Terrell. There were definitely better corners available, but Atlanta should have tried to trade back or taken the best player available and address corner in round two. K’Lavon Chaisson was still available at a major position of need for this team. Keep in mind the following corners were still on the board for the Falcons second-round pick: Jaylon Johnson, Trevon Diggs and Krisitan Fulton. I had them all ranked higher than Terrell to begin with and in the second round, they were much more valuable additions.

Raiders logo

Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State – Las Vegas Raiders
Draft position: 19th overall (1st round)
My ranking: 72nd overall (3rd-round grade)
Welcome to the reach of the first round and maybe the entire draft. Damon Arnette seems to have the makings of a solid second option in the secondary. He has some physical limitations though and was the third-best corner on Ohio State this year. There is no question the Raiders need help at the position, but this was way too early for Arnette to come off the board. All those same corners I just mentioned above for Terrell were available and I had higher draft grades on all of them as well. Arnette was 11th ranked corner, but he was the fourth one off the board. The Raiders definitely should have traded back. It is easier said than done, but without a second round pick, this felt like the perfect opportunity to do so.

Seahawks logo

Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech – Seattle Seahawks
Draft position: 27th overall (1st overall)
My rankings: 74th overall (3rd-round grade)
This was surprising at face value, but when you factor in how the Seahawks tend to draft, this is par for the course. Spoiler alert: Seattle shows up on here twice, which probably means this list is going to look really silly in about three years. Few franchises have as much success identifying and developing talent as the Seahawks. However, for every Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman or Bobby Wagner this team seems to find, it hard to ignore mistakes like Rashaad Penny, Malik McDowell and potentially L.J. Collier if he doesn’t take a big step in his second year. I liked Brooks as a prospect, but I didn’t think he was good enough to go in the first round. He is rangy and explosive, but definitely pretty raw. He has very limited experience in coverage. Most of his snaps on passing downs are spent spying on the quarterback. If he can become more comfortable dropping back, he will justify this draft slot, but that is a really big if.

Titans logo

Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia – Tennessee Titans
Draft position: 29th overall (1st round)
My ranking: 96th overall (3rd-round grade)
I actually really like this fit a lot, I just thought it was very early to see Isaiah Wilson come off the board. He has tons of potential given his size, but I think he would have really benefited from another year at Georgia. He just isn’t very technically sound yet as a prospect. He will likely be in contention to start at right tackle with the departure of Jack Conklin. Wilson will grow into the role eventually, I just think he has a decent amount of work to do. Given the coronavirus-impacted offseason, that could be a problem. If Tennessee is comfortable letting him learn on the job, that’s fine, but it could hurt them in the short term.

Dolphins logo

Robert Hunt, OL, Louisiana – Miami Dolphins
Draft position: 39th overall (2nd round)
My ranking: 79th overall (3rd-round grade)
This was not as significant of an overdraft as some of these others on this list, but still a surprise nonetheless. Robert Hunt is a really powerful blocker who can knock opponents back in the run game and punish them if they misstep as a pass rusher. However, he is not exactly pro ready and has lapses in his footwork and hand placement. I would consider him to be something of a project with decent upside as an interior lineman. My bigger issue with the selection was the list of interior linemen still on the board. I had Matt Hennessy, Tyler Biadasz, Lloyd Cushenberry and John Simpson all ranked ahead of Hunt. Simpson in particular feels like a more polished prospect that brings a lot of the same attributes to the table. Perhaps Miami liked how Hunt could fit in their scheme, but I still think there were some better options available.

Packers logo

A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College – Green Bay Packers
Draft position: 62nd overall (2nd round)
My ranking: 149th overall (5th-round grade)
I really did not see this pick coming. People have been slamming the Packers for not taking a receiver in this draft (I have been one of them), and this selection in particular made that even harder to swallow. When you already have Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams on your roster, finding a goal line back shouldn’t be super high on the priority list. Had the Packers made this selection in the fourth round, I would be all in favor, but this was simply too early for a player that had almost 850 career collegiate carries. At best, A.J. Dillon is a short-yardage specialist for this team. He has taken small steps as a receiver, but not to the point where you expect him to be a factor in the passing game. Even if you want to argue that Green Bay has enough developing options at receiver, this should have been a linebacker to help bolster the team’s poor run defense.

Washington made up logo

Antonio Gibson, RB/WR, Memphis – Washington
Draft position: 66th overall (3rd round)
My ranking: 161st overall (5th-round grade)
In terms of difference between draft slot and overall ranking, this was my biggest reach of the draft. Antonio Gibson certainly brings a unique skill set to the table. However, this feels like the type of selection a team looking to add a unique playmaker to an already established offense makes. Washington’s offense is anything but established. He could be an impact player in the next few years, but I think this team had much bigger holes to fill and honestly much better playmakers available. If you wanted that do-it-all weapon to install in your offense, Lynn Bowden Jr. was still on the board.

Seahawks logo

Damien Lewis, OL, LSU – Seattle Seahawks
Draft position: 69th overall (3rd round)
My ranking: 136th overall (4th-round grade)
Another new Seahawk makes the list. I appreciate the effort the front office made here to protect Russell Wilson, but this was a miss. Damien Lewis should help the Seattle run game as they continue to pound the rock, but he is limited in space and has some very uneven film as a pass blocker. Go watch how often Joe Burrow was running for his life in the College Football Playoff. I don’t think Lewis has a tremendously high ceiling to chase either. This feels like Seattle trying to force a need. On top of all of that, I had Ben Bredeson, Jonah Jackson, Logan Stenberg, and Solomon Kindley all ranked ahead of Lewis. That doesn’t even include Matt Hennessy, Lloyd Cushenberry or Tyler Biadasz, all of whom played center in college. Quick reminder, the Seahawks just released long-time center Justin Britt.

Jets logoJabari Zuniga, EDGE, Florida – New York Jets
Draft position: 79th overall (3rd round)
My ranking: 153rd overall (5th-round grade)
I’ve hated on some other teams’ draft picks. Now I get to question my favorite team for one of its selections. Jabari Zuniga has the potential to be a solid pass rusher, provided he can stay on the field. He works hard to generate pressure and displays good play strength. Unfortunately, he is not the most athletic player of all time, which I think caps his upside. He also missed a good chunk of his final season at Florida due to an ankle injury. With Curtis Weaver, Bradlee Anae, Kenny Willekes, Terrell Lewis, Jonathan Greenard, Alex Highsmith, Khalid Kareem, Alton Robinson and Nick Coe all still on the board, I just don’t love this pick at this spot. Maybe it is recency bias (or anti-recency bias, if that’s a thing) after watching former Gators pass rusher Jachai Polite fail to make it out of training camp, but I think Zuniga is going to max out as a situational pass rusher.

Best value picks from the 2020 NFL draft

The 2020 NFL draft is officially in the rear view mirror. It is hard to believe that the first round was already a week ago. That is partially because I almost never what day of the week it is now since social distancing measures have gone into place. While the first rounders gets the majority of the headlines, there were a lot of teams that found incredible value in the later rounds of the draft. Here are my favorite players that last way longer than they should have.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Josh Jones, OT, Houston – Arizona Cardinals
Draft position: No. 72 (3rd round)
My ranking: No. 21 (1st-round grade)
I don’t think I am the only one who was shocked Josh Jones slid all the way to the third round. I wrote about it as one of the biggest surprises of the first round, and then as one of the biggest surprises of Day 2. He is powerful and athletic. There are certainly areas for improvement when it comes to his base strength. He uses his hands well though, seeks out contact and finishes blocks at the second level. I think he has a real chance to start this season for Arizona.

Saints logoZack Baun, LB, Wisconsin – New Orleans Saints
Draft position: No. 74 (3rd round)
My ranking: No. 29 (1st round grade)
The reason Zack Baun dropped into the third round primarily has to do with his lack of experience as an off-ball linebacker. He showed he could transition to that role at the Senior Bowl. I really like his versatility. He is very comfortable rushing the passer, something he did with regularity at Wisconsin, and is a solid open-field tackler. I think he is also a great fit for this Saints defense. I think he should be in line for a lot of playing time.

Cowboys logoTyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin – Dallas Cowboys
Draft position: No. 146 (4th round)
My ranking: No. 52 (2nd-round grade)
I know I was a bit higher than the consensus on Tyler Biadasz, but there is no way he should have fallen to the end of the fourth round. Biadasz dealt with some injuries in 2019, but he is rock solid in pass protection and works very well as a head-on run blocker. He might struggle if asked to pull and block in space, but overall, I think he also has room for growth from a technical standpoint. He will be in consideration for the starting center role following Travis Frederick’s retirement.

Jets logoBryce Hall, CB, Virginia – New York Jets
Draft position: No. 158 (5th round)
My ranking: No. 24 (1st-round grade)
As a Jets fan, I was thrilled with this pick. Bryce Hall has the size and technique to excel in the NFL. He does not have elite speed, but he knows how to press his opponent to the sideline and tracks the ball very well in the air. Apparently, teams are still worried about the ankle injury that cut his 2019 season short. Once he is healthy, I think we will see him return to his 2018 form, where he led the country in pass breakups. He will likely top out as a serviceable No. 1 corner or a great No. 2 option.

Dolphins logoCurtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State – Miami Dolphins
Draft position: No. 164 (5th round)
My ranking: No. 55 (2nd-round grade)
There are few players in this year’s draft who had the level of production in college that Curtis Weaver had. He had 34 sacks and 43.5 tackles for loss during his three years at Boise State. He has the size to be a rotational pass rusher right away either as a 4-3 defense end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. I think he will fit really well with Miami, who needs a young edge rusher to develop. He does not have the explosive first step that makes you think he will turn into a game-wrecker, but his pass-rush moves and technique could see him develop into an eight-to-ten sack per year guy.

Cowboys logoBradlee Anae, EDGE, Utah – Dallas Cowboys
Draft position: No. 179 (5th round)
My ranking: No. 59 (2nd-round grade)
I still can’t wrap my head around this one. Bradlee Anae dominated the Senior Bowl and is at the very least a pro-ready rotational pass rusher. He does not have the desired bend some teams are looking for in edge players, but he brings plenty of experience and some very polished pass rush moves. For a team that really needed to find some help getting pressure on the quarterback, this is an absolute steal in the fifth round.

Browns logoDonovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan – Cleveland Browns
Draft position: No. 187 (6th round)
My ranking: No. 65 (2nd-round grade)
Donovan Peoples-Jones is definitely a project, but coming from a big program with poor quarterback play, I will be curious to see how he translates. He has all the physical traits you look for. He has long arms and tore up the combine when it came to testing. He ran a 4.48 40, which is really solid given his size (6’2″, 212 pounds). Peoples-Jones posted a combine-bests in the vertical jump (44.5 inches) and broad jump (139 inches). I get that combine stars don’t always translate and there are questions about his agility. However, I think spending a sixth-round pick on a player with that much athleticism is definitely worth it.

Eagles LogoPrince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn – Philadelphia Eagles
Draft position: No. 210 (6th round)
My ranking: No. 66 (2nd-round grade)
A medical red flag on his knee caused Prince Tega Wanogho to plummet. I can understand teams being wary to spend a high draft pick on a player with an injury history. That being said, I think by the 210th pick in the draft, finding a player who, when healthy, is probably worth spending an early third-round selection on is worth the risk. If Tega Wanogho can get on the field, he is a developmental tackle that moves well and has a lot of experience at left tackle in the SEC. In the short term, he can provide some depth for a team that saw veteran stalwart Jason Peters end his 11-season tenure with the franchise.

Chargers logoK.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State – Los Angeles Chargers
Draft position: No. 220 (7th round)
My ranking: No. 93 (3rd-round grade)
There were several players that should have gone in the third round that fell into the seventh. However, K.J. Hill is the most understandable of the group to drop. He did not test well at the combine and this was an incredibly deep receiver class. However, if you go back and watch his film at Ohio State and the Senior Bowl, you will see a crafty slot receiver with more than enough speed to make it at the next level. He definitely has his physical limitations, but I could see Hill developing into a Danny Amendola-type receiver in the right offense. I think the Chargers would be thrilled to get that out of a seventh-round pick.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State – Arizona Cardinals
Draft position: No. 222 (7th round)
My ranking: No. 91 (3rd-round grade)
I was a bit more surprised to Eno Benjamin slide this far. He did have a lot of touches in college, and his sophomore season was more impressive than his junior one, but the talent is still there. He caught 77 passes over the past two years, so he is definitely comfortable as a receiver. Benjamin has the makings of a great rotational back. Someone you can rely on to touch the ball 10-15 times a game and be productive with those touches. I think he will be a great fit in Arizona.

Vikings logoKenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State – Minnesota Vikings
Draft position: No. 225 (7th round)
My ranking: No. 87 (3rd-round grade)
How does a redshirt junior return to school and put up the same number of tackles and register more sacks and drop in the NFL draft? Beats me. Perhaps teams were not as high on Willekes because of his age. There also seems to be a misconception that he is not very athletic. Watch this video and tell me you still think that. I don’t expect Willekes to set the world on fire in the NFL, but he deserved to be drafted much higher than this. Minnesota found themselves someone who will likely compete for Everson Griffin’s spot at defensive end as a rookie.

Bills logoDane Jackson, CB, Pittsburgh – Buffalo Bills
Draft position: No. 239 (7th round)
My ranking: No. 148 (4th-round grade)
He was definitely a bit of a sleeper, but Dane Jackson was one of my favorite late-round grabs. He was the last player I gave a fourth-round grade to, so I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him slip into the fifth or even sixth round. The Bills getting him in the seventh makes this great value. Jackson looked really solid at the Senior Bowl. I was impressed with how he competed against the top receivers in this class. He was a three-year starter at Pittsburgh. He tackles well and is aggressive in closing to break up passes. I think he has a good shot to carve out a role on this Buffalo defense.

Check back in Friday for the biggest reaches of the 2020 draft.

Best 2020 Undrafted Free Agent Landing Spots

255 players were drafted into the NFL over the weekend. The draft process hardly ends there though. Dozens of players immediately sign with teams as undrafted free agents. While most fail to make a meaningful impact, there have been plenty that have gone on to be great players. Tony Romo, Priest Holmes, John Randle, Kurt Warner, Warren Moon, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates and many more went on to have great, and in some cases, Hall of Fame careers.

More recently, Austin Ekeler, Phillip Lindsay, Charvarius Ward, Corey Littleton, Taysom Hill and Matt Breida all never had their name called during the draft, but went on to carve out roles in the league. Lindsay reached the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Ward just won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. Every year, there is someone that slipped through the cracks and goes on to wow the league. Here are some of the players best positioned to achieve that kind of success from this year’s crop of undrafted free agents.

Washington made up logoThaddeus Moss, TE, LSU – Washington
Randy Moss’ son does not possess the same type of athletic ability as his father, but Thad Moss has the makings of a solid possession receiver. He caught 47 passes from Joe Burrow this season en route to a national title and showed his ability to make plays on the biggest stage with two touchdowns in the championship game against Clemson. He lacks elite speed, but he definitely has the chops to help out in the passing game. Given that Washington seems set to enter the season with Jeremy Sprinkle as their starting tight end, there is potential that Moss could earn playing time as early as this year.

Jets logoJavelin Guidry, CB, Utah – New York Jets
The Jets did take a corner in this draft in Bryce Hall, and I love that pick. However, there isn’t a ton of depth in this group that mostly just features Colts castoffs. Guidry is a track star who ran a 4.29 40 at the combine. Reminder that Henry Ruggs ran a 4.27. I’m surprised that no one decided to take a flier on him. He is a bit undersized at 5’9″, but he has a good shot to make the roster and compete for maybe a role as their dime corner or a special teams role.

Seahawks logoAaron Fuller, WR, Rhode Island – Seattle Seahawks
One of my favorite sleepers in this draft, I think Fuller could be the latest unheralded prospect to find success in Seattle. He has really impressive body control and there are some already comparing him to Doug Baldwin. There are definitely some things he will have to overcome from a traits perspective. He has smaller than average hands and slightly shorter arms. I think he could have some issues catching the ball away from his body at the next level, but he did it really well in college. If he can adjust to the game speed, I think he has a chance to make the roster and eventually become a contributor.

Browns logoA.J. Green, CB, Oklahoma State – Cleveland Browns
Picture this. The Browns are facing the Bengals. Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams are both out due to injury (something that happened a few times in 2019) and Cleveland needs someone to cover Cincinnati’s top receiving threat. And that is how we get our first A.J. Green vs. A.J. Green matchup. Fun scenario’s aside, the former Oklahoma State corner is big and physical. He didn’t always win his matchup at the Senior Bowl, but he did not back down from anyone. Green regularly battled with the best receivers in this class during that practice week and I liked what I saw. He is definitely a little underdeveloped from a technique standpoint, but I think his physical traits are good enough for him to make the roster and provide some important depth at the position.

Cowboys logoFrancis Bernard, LB, Utah – Dallas Cowboys
I like my Utah defensive players. Bernard has impressive lateral quickness and is very comfortable in coverage. He is also really good at shedding blocks and has the ability to contribute as a situational blitzer. His biggest knocks are his size and his tackling, the latter being something he will need to improve upon if he wants to make the roster. He should provide some really good depth though and might even be able to work his way into the lineup for some sub-packages in obvious passing situations. Given the injuries Dallas has had at the position in recent years, Bernard could end up being valuable.

Lions LogoHunter Bryant, TE, Washington – Detroit Lions
One year after drafting T.J. Hockenson in the first round and signing Jesse James in free agency, the Lions are set at the position for the time being. I still really like the move to grab a high-upside player like Bryant. He had 852 yards receiving this year at Washington and was a finalist for the Mackey Award. He is definitely a flex option rather than an inline blocker, but he gives the team some flexibility going forward. James’ contract has an out after this season if Detroit decides they want to save some money.

Packers logoStanford Samuels, CB, Florida State – Green Bay Packers
Not seeing Samuels drafted was a big surprise. I thought he would come off the board some time in round five. He doesn’t possess blazing speed, but he has good size at 6’1″ and looked very comfortable in coverage at Florida State. He was an All-ACC honorable mention his final year in school and had six interceptions over the past two seasons. I think he has a good shot to make the roster as a developmental corner.

Colts logoRodrigo Blakenship, K, Georgia – Indianapolis Colts
Yeah we can put kickers on here! One year after watching Father Time finally catch up with Adam Vinatieri, the Colts will be auditioning new kickers. Blakenship is something of a folk hero after his career at Georgia. He never missed an extra point in college and made 80 of 97 career field goal attempts during his four years as the starter. He has a powerful leg which will translate well to the next level. If he can find a way to get back to the level he was at during his sophomore year when he made 87 percent of his kicks, the Colts will have found themselves a great kicker.

Jaguars logoJames Robinson, RB, Illinois State – Jacksonville Jaguars
With rumors that Leonard Fournette is unsettled in Jacksonville and no clear succession plan in place, I think Robinson has a good chance to make the roster. He was one of the best backs in all of FCS last year. He is north-south runner who can catch the ball out of the backfield and pass block as well. Robinson tore up the East-West Shrine Bowl during the pre-draft process. Don’t be surprised if he is getting some touches this season if Fournette ends up elsewhere.

Eagles LogoAdrian Killins, RB, UCF – Philadelphia Eagles
Another East-West Bowl participant, I think Killins fits well in what the Eagles like to do offensively. He has a very slight build, but he has good vision and the speed to bounce any play to the outside and pick up extra yardage. I can see Philly using him as a third-down back similar to what they used to do with Darren Sproles. Killins needs to improve his hands if he really wants to lock down that role, but he has the agility and instincts to thrive in it if he does.