Grading the Winners and Losers in NFL Free agency and Trades

In This piece Rob will grade each NFL Team and take a look at Key additions and Departures in free agency as well as trades.
The teams will be listed in alphabetic Order

Arizona Cardinals- Grade A
Key additions: WR DeAndre Hopkins (trade), DT Jordan Phillips, OLB Devon Kennard, LB De’Vondre Campbell
Key losses: RB David Johnson (traded), DE Rodney Gunter
Notable re-signings/tags: RB Kenyan Drake (transition tag), WR Larry Fitzgerald
The Big trade netting DeAndre Hopkins headlines the off season and gives 2nd Year Qb Murray a big time target. Arizona made some solid moves on the defensive side of the ball while also dumping some bad contracts. Solid off season thus far.
Atlanta Falcons- Grade C-

Key additions: DE Dante Fowler Jr., RB Todd Gurley III, TE Hayden Hurst (trade)
Key losses: TE Austin Hooper, RB Devonta Freeman (released), CB Desmond Trufant, DE Vic Beasley, LB De’Vondre Campbell
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Falcons made some nice upgrades and did so efficiently  Fowler is better at his point than Beasley and taking a chance on Todd Gurley at a nice price while saying good bye to D. Freeman. Atlanta over paid  to obtain  Hurst while letting go ofHooper, they also lost Campbell and Trufant and now are without a round 2 draft pick. Atlanta could struggle this season

Baltimore Ravens- Grade B-

Key additions: DE Calais Campbell (trade), DT Michael Brockers
Key losses: DT Michael Pierce, S Tony Jefferson (released), G Marshal Yanda (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: OLB Matt Judon (franchise tag), CB Jimmy Smith.

Baltimore can move ahead by bringing back more of their own guys.They should be a handful after getting Brockers and Cambell, good luck running the ball on this team. They did lose Guard Yanda to retirement and that could hurt as they like to run the ball. However we may see the offense open up a bit this season anyway as Baltimore wont want to become too predictable.

Buffalo Bills- Grade A

Key additions: WR Stefon Diggs (trade), OLB Mario Addison, LB A.J. Klein, DT Vernon Butler, DT Quinton Jefferson, CB Josh Norman
Key losses: DT Jordan Phillips, DE Shaq Lawson
Notable re-signings/tags: G Quinton Spain
The Bills made a statement here picking up Diggs which is the game breaking Wiedout that has been missing for them. They did give up a lot to get him but they are looking to seize control of the AFC East and upgraded what is already a top 3 defense.

Carolina Panthers- Grade C+

Key additions: QB Teddy Bridgewater, DE Steven Weatherly, WR Robby Anderson
Key losses: LB Luke Kuechly (retired), CB James Bradberry, OLB Mario Addison, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Vernon Butler, S Eric Reid (released), TE Greg Olsen (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: S Tre Boston
Carolina gets the C+ grade just for Getting Bridgewater who should make the fan base quickly for get about Cam Newton.They also big up big play threat Robby Anderson. However losing Kuechly who is retiring and a pair of defensive tackles will hurt. They need to draft well this year.

Chicago Bears- Grade D-
Key additions: DE Robert Quinn, TE Jimmy Graham, QB Nick Foles (trade)
Key losses: LB Nick Kwiatkoski, OLB Leonard Floyd, S Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, QB Chase Daniel, WR Taylor Gabriel (released), CB Prince Amukamara (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: LB Danny Trevathan
Chicago is taking a big chance on Quinn here who was solid last year but not so much in years past. Jimmy Graham and Nick Foles may not have much left. The Bears lost a lot of depth on defense and look to be headed in the wrong direction.

Cincinnati Bengals- Grade A
Key additions: DT D.J. Reader, CB Trae Waynes
Key losses: OT Cordy Glenn (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: WR A.J. Green (franchise tag)
The Bengals Went balls to the wall this off season obtaining Waynes and Reader to upgrade the defense. They tagged Green and are likely to take Heisman winner J. Burrows number 1 overall later this month. This would make for a solid off season.

Cleveland Browns- Grade B+

Key additions: TE Austin Hooper, OT Jack Conklin, QB Case Keenum, CB
Kevin Johnson, S Karl Joseph
Key losses: LB Joe Schobert, LB Christian Kirksey, S Eric Murray
Notable re-signings/tags: None
Cleveland did well here landing two of the top free agents in Hooper who is the best tight end available and Top offensive lineman Conklin, both will support an offense which is likely to improve as Mayfield enters his 3rd year at the helm. Cleveland did lose sone quality on the defense. If they upgrade their line backers this grade can easily go to an A.

Dallas Cowboys- Grade D-

Key additions: DT Gerald McCoy, S Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
Key losses: CB Byron Jones, DE Robert Quinn, WR Randall Cobb, S Jeff Heath, DT Maliek Collins, TE Jason Witten, C Travis Frederick (retirement)
Notable re-signings/tags: WR Amari Cooper, QB Dak Prescott (franchise tag), TE Blake Jarwin
Dallas decided to bring back Cooper which they almost had to do and after that tagged Dak Prescott. However they did lose Jones and Quinn and that will be a severe blow to the defense.Another big loss on the offensive line is Center Travis Fredrick as he decides to call it quits. Also departing is Cobb and Witten. This was a rough off season.

Denver Broncos- Grade B+

Key additions: G/C Graham Glasgow, RB Melvin Gordon, CB A.J. Bouye (trade), DT Jurrell Casey (trade)
Key losses: C Connor McGovern, CB Chris Harris, QB Joe Flacco (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: S Justin Simmons (franchise tag)
Denver brings in Melvin Gordon to change the pace with Lindsay in the back field to take the pressure off Drew Lock. They scored getting Casey for a 7th round pick to upgrade the D-line. The Broncos also tagged safety Simmons and did not lose too much other than Bouye. A very Productive off season so far be Denver who looked good late last year.

Detroit Lions- Grade D-
Key additions: OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, LB Jamie Collins, DT Danny Shelton, QB Chase Daniel, S Duron Harmon (trade)
Key losses: CB Darius Slay (trade), G/C Graham Glasgow, LB Devon Kennard, OT Rick Wagner
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Lions have not done much and lost Darius Slay. They panicked and over paid Vaitai who hasnt been a full time starter. This looks like a long year for Detroit and probably spells the end for coach Patricia who looks in over his head with this roster in the tough NFC North.

Green Bay Packers- Grade C-
Key additions: LB Christian Kirksey, OT Rick Wagner
Key losses: LB Blake Martinez, OT Bryan Bulaga, TE Jimmy Graham, OLB Kyler Fackrell
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Packers have not done much and wont be as good as last season. They have Kirksey replacing Martinez. Other than that Rick Wagner takes over for Bulage and that will hurt them. The Packers really need to make a splash and we havent seen it yet.

Houston Texans- Grade F
Key additions: RB David Johnson (trade), WR Randall Cobb, S Eric Murray
Key losses: WR DeAndre Hopkins (traded), DT D.J. Reader
Notable re-signings/tags: K Ka’imi Fairbairn, CB Bradley Roby
When the best move you make is bringing back your kicker that shows what a poor job of upgrading your team. David Johnson is no longer the back he was a few years ago and he makes a ton of money, they also  lost one of the best wide outs in the game in Hopkins. They made things worse by over paying Cobb to replace him. This could be one of the worst off seasons for any team in recent history. Yikes.

Indianapolis Colts- Grade B+
Key additions: DL DeForest Buckner (trade), QB Philip Rivers
Key losses: TE Eric Ebron, CB Pierre Desir
Notable re-signings/tags: OT Anthony Castonzo
The Colts bring in Philip Rivers here and this will be a significant upgrade. They also made a big slash trading for one of the best Defensive Lineman in Buckner who will bolster the line and cause havoc. They should be able to replace Ebron without much difficulty. We like their chances in this division and they have had a nice off season.
Jacksonville Jaguars- Grade D
Key additions: LB Joe Schobert, DE Rodney Gunter, CB Darqueze Dennard
Key losses: QB Nick Foles (trade), CB A.J. Bouye (trade), DE Calais Campbell (trade)
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Yannick Ngakoue (franchise tag)
The Jaguars will need a big draft to better this grade as they have not done much to upgrade this team. Their trades have given them some back end draft picks and defensive end Ngakoue isn’t happy with the tag. Schobert is a nice player, but a five-year, $53.75 million deal was simply not worth it and would have been allocated better somewhere else. Be a long year in the AFC South for the Jags.
Kansas City Chiefs- Grade C+
Key additions: OT. Remmers, CB Hamilton, QB Henne, TE Seals- Jones
Key losses: CB Kendall Fuller, DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Chris Jones (franchise tag) WR Robinson
The Chiefs have been mostly dormant this off season and as seen above have just made some marginal moves. Offensive lineman Remmers may wind up starting but this looks like a team that knows it has to pay Mahomes and wont do too much this off season.
Los Angeles Chargers- Grade C- Perhaps a B
Key additions: G Trai Turner (trade), OT Bryan Bulaga, DT Linval Joseph, CB Chris Harris
Key losses: QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, OT Russell Okung (traded), FB Derek Watt, OLB Thomas Davis, LB Jatavis Brown, S Adrian Phillip
Notable re-signings/tags: RB Austin Ekeler, TE Hunter Henry (franchise tag)
The Chargers have been very busy this off season. They bring back  Ekeler and Henry as they start life without Rivers. The offensive line should be solid with the Turner and Bulaga as upgrades. The Chargers will have to make a move as Tyrod Taylor is not the answer.  Cam Newton or even Jameis Winston might wind up here. Should they obtain either one of these two the grade would go up to a B.
Los Angeles Rams- Grade D
Key additions: DT A’Shawn Robinson, OLB Leonard Floyd
Key losses: OLB/DE Dante Fowler Jr., LB Cory Littleton, DT Michael Brockers, RB Todd Gurley III (released), CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (released), OLB Clay Matthews (released), S Eric Weddle (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: OT Andrew Whitworth
The Rams have had the second worst off season with only Houston ahead of them. Should they move Brandin Cooks the grading will be even worse.T he losses of Weddle to retirement and releasing of Mathews, Gurley and Coleman will hurt they pick up 2 decent defenders but this team is a shell of what is was just 2 years ago
Miami Dolphins- Grade A
Key additions: CB Byron Jones, LB Kyle Van Noy, DE Shaq Lawson, G Ereck Flowers, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, RB Jordan Howard, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill
Key losses: None
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Dolphins spent a ton of money adding 6 potential starters and were one of the busiest teams in the off season, They did not lose anyone note worthy and have improved their team in what suddenly looks like a wide open AFC East. The feeling is they will do even more. Right now they are having a solid off season.
Minnesota Vikings- Grade C+
Key additions: DT Michael Pierce
Key losses: WR Stefon Diggs (trade), CB Xavier Rhodes (released), DE Everson Griffen, CB Trae Waynes, DT Linval Joseph, DE Steven Weatherly
Notable re-signings/tags: S Anthony Harris (franchise tag), K Dan Bailey
Minnesota loses one of the top wide outs in the game in Diggs and really the move was predicated on a bad cap situation as they did release some quality players particularly on the defensive side of the ball. They did get an above average return for Diggs but the feeling is that the team lost a lot of depth.
New England Patriots- Grade D
Key additions: DT Beau Allen, S Adrian Phillips, QB Brian Hoyer
Key losses: QB Tom Brady, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Jamie Collins, DT Danny Shelton, K Stephen Gostkowski (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: S Devin McCourty, G Joe Thuney (franchise tag)
The Patriots start life without Brady and Brian Hoyer is clearly not the answer. There is a newton and or Winston out there but this team looks like it may wait a year and draft a new franchise guy. They still have sone talent mostly on defense and will always be better than we think. But this was a dismal off season unless they get a better QB.
New Orleans Saints- Grade B+
Key additions: S Malcolm Jenkins, WR Emmanuel Sanders
Key losses: QB Teddy Bridgewater, CB Eli Apple
Notable re-signings/tags: QB Drew Brees, G Andrus Peat, DT David Onyemata
The Saints look like they want to take one more big shot at things as they Bring back Brees. The loss of Bridgewater only hurts if Brees goes down. We should see nice production from Sanders and the Jenkins move at Safety will help as well. Quality over quantity in what should be a solid season for New Orleans.
New York Giants- Grade C+
Key additions: CB James Bradberry, LB Blake Martinez, OLB Kyler Fackrell
Key losses: LB Alec Ogletree (released), QB Eli Manning (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Leonard Williams (franchise tag)
The Giants may have over paid a bit but they did need to defensive help and bringing in Martinez and Bradberry will surely help. They had no choice but to tag Williams after giving the Jets a third rounder for him. If the Giants draft well and can get a solid offensive lineman this C+ goes to a B.
New York Jets- Grade A
Key additions: WR Perriman OT George Fant, C Connor McGovern, CB Pierre Desir, OT Lewis, G Van Roten, CB Poole, CB Maulet
Key losses: CB Trumaine Johnson (released) WR Anderson
Notable re-signings/tags: LB Jenkins, LB Burgess
The Jets swooped in and had one of the best albeit quietest off seasons of any teams. GM Douglas retooled the offensive line led by Fant and saved money replacing WR Anderson with Perriman from Tampa. The Jets bring back two solid line backers and a slew of much needed defensive back help. New York gets a solid A Grading no matter what they do in the draft.
Oakland Raiders- Grade B
Key additions: LB Cory Littleton, DE Carl Nassib, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, CB Eli Apple, S Jeff Heath, DT Maliek Collins, TE Jason Witten, WR Nelson Agholor, QB Marcus Mariota
Key losses: LB Tahir Whitehead
The Raiders did well here getting Mariota and Nassib as well as picking up Agholor who we think can flourish here. Witten comes over to add depth and experience from Dallas and Eli Apple will be a big help in the defensive back field. The Raiders have been very busy thus far and will be much improved this year especially on defense.
Philadelphia Eagles- Grade B
Key additions: CB Darius Slay (trade), DT Javon Hargrave, LB Jatavis Brown
Key losses: OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, S Malcolm Jenkins (released), RB Jordan Howard, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, WR Nelson Agholor, OT Jason Peters
Notable re-signings/tags: S Rodney McLeod
The Eagles plucked Darius Slay and Hargrave both of whom are expected to start as the Eagles retool on defense.  Philly lost some key pieces as they did not want to over pay. Most of what they lost is replaceable. Philadelphia spent wisely and did well this off season.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Grade C+
Key additions: TE Eric Ebron, FB Derek Watt, OL Stefen Wisniewski
Key losses: DT Javon Hargrave,G Ramon Foster (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: LB Bud Dupree (franchise tag)
The Steelers did not do a whole lot to really improve. They get some tight end help with Ebron and shore up the offensive line. The loss of  Hargrave who was coming off a big year will hurt. However tagging Dupree was the right move. All in all though this off season was average at best.
San Francisco 49ers- Grade C+
Key additions: Gurard Compton, DE Hyder, WR Benjamin
Key losses: DL DeForest Buckner, WR Emmanuel Sanders
Notable re-signings/tags: DL Arik Armstead, S Jimmie Ward
San Francisco gets a C Grade as they were mostly looking to resign their own players and they did a decent job of it. However the loss of Buckner on the defensive line will hurt as they decided to stick with Armstead. Most of the players they are bringing in are depth deals on 1 year contracts. Nothing exciting thats for sure.
Seattle Seahawks- Grade C
Key additions: OT Brandon Shell, TE Greg Olsen, CB Quinton Dunbar (trade)
Key losses: OT George Fant, DT Quinton Jefferson
Notable re-signings/tags: DT Jarran Reed- Clowney ?
The Seattle off season is basically going to be graded on their ability to bring back Clowney. Bringing back Reed back was a nice move. They lost Fant to the Jets but were able to get Shell and Carolina long time tight end Greg Olsen which gives them a C. Should they get Clowney We will grade them as an A. Yes he is that important.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Grade A+
Key additions: QB Tom Brady, OT Haeg, LB Pieree Paul, DT Suh
Key losses: QB Jameis Winston, DE Carl Nassib, WR Perriman
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Shaquil Barrett (franchise tag), DE Jason Pierre-Paul
The biggest free agent splash this year is Brady to the Bucs. Winston and his picks will be a mere after thought. The Bucs bring in OT Haeg from Indy to protect him and Pierre Paul on defense as well as Suh. The Bucs have had a sensational off season and get our highest grade A+
Tennessee Titans- Grade B
Key additions: DE Vic Beasley, OT Kelly
Key losses: OT Jack Conklin, QB Marcus Mariota
Notable re-signings/tags: QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry (franchise tag), OL Dennis Kelly
The Titans Bring back Tanneyhill and wave good bye to Mariota. The key loss in Conklin on the offensive line though. On defense Beasley is a solid pass rushing pick up and they saved some nice change with offensive linemen Kelly who will replace Conklin. The rest of their moves were one year deals on guys who can add some depth.
Washington Redskins- Grade C-
Key additions: CB Kendall Fuller, S Sean Davis, OLB Thomas Davis, RB Barber, TE Rodgers
Key losses: G Ereck Flowers, QB Case Keenum, CB Josh Norman
(released), TE Vernon Davis (retirement), CB Quinton Dunbar (traded)
Washington has had an average off season thus far as they bargain shopped with Running back Barber and tight end Rodgers. They were smart to tag Guard Scherf and decided to bring back Fuller on defense. they did lose Flowers on the defensive line and he will be hard to replace. They did have a lot of cap space and the feeling is that they would make a bigger splash.
In closing we hope you enjoyed our NFL off season free agency and team activity report. Please stay safe and hopefully we will be able to overcome this pandemic and be able to at some point enjoy one of our favorite sports.

The Raiders need big changes to get in the mix

The Oakland Raiders were just 7-9 this last season with a 24th ranked offense and a bottom feeding 24th ranking in defense. They have their share of issues going on in their team dynamics. They were 4-12 in 2018 – and 6-10 back in 2017. Now, the AFC West has the champions of the NFL in it, with the KC Chiefs – it is obvious, they need to try something new to challenge and move into at least a solid 2nd slot in the division.

Derek Carr at QB has been up and down – he is a solid pocket passer, without a ton of mobility. He isn’t a “running QB” – but he is a QB who can move around – and pick up needed yards with his feet, if he has to. Carr is pretty solidified in his pocket, nothing more, nothing less. Oakland bringing in 26 year old Marcus Mariota, I think was a slick move – it gives him someone to compete with to get his game back up to what many saw as his potential career going to – back in 2015 and 2016.

I think if their management actually gave him someone to throw the ball to – I think a lot of people’s tunes might change about him. He isn’t the worst passer with his steady completion ability – and he is pretty good moving around back there, as his ability to avoid sacks verifies. His TD% ratio has not been great, and he has struggled to push the ball downfield for several seasons. But, it seems he has become lazy and almost complacent as their QB. So although he has had problems – I think he is just one of the issues that needs tightening up on, but the problems go elsewhere as well.

They are also a very poorly disciplined team almost every year – and that falls directly on Head Coach, Jon Gruden. I thought signing him back in 2018 was a good move, but after 2 years, he is 11-21 since then, which is starting to make me feel maybe he is a bit overrated. He came in with a career 6 above .500 seasons out of 11 seasons coaching – which is solid – but they threw piles of cash at him to come back and be the savior for the organization, I would say 11 wins later, the team hasn’t looked so “saved.” They have looked better than from 2018, but this is the year for him to prove something.

Jon Gruden also doesn’t have the team just as he wants it, yet now in Vegas. Their biggest problem on offense has been their receiving corps – they need better WRs. Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow were middling to say it best – with just 1256 YDs and 10 TDs between them, it wasn’t spectacular to watch. Williams can be a great WR2 who should be able to get 800+ yards and 8 TDs on his own – I just think they need that WR1 that is a great pass catcher to bring the best out in him. Oakland has had more than their share of problems stopping the opposition from putting up points, with 26.2 oppg. But, their offense is anemic. They scored 25 or more points in just 3 games in 2019 – a season average of 19.6 /game. They need to concentrate on offense for this team.

With the RB they have in Josh Jacobs – they should be calling 55% percent run to throw – I know Carr wants to chuck the ball, but Jacobs can move the chains on the ground – he is the future for this team. In 2019, the Raiders were 54% throwing the ball to running, which should be flipped. Jacobs should be the offensive leader – they have a 220lb back who can plow through or juke almost everything that comes at him. Jacobs gave them 4.8 YPC, 1150 YDs, and 7 TDs on a team that gave him more than 20 carries in less than half of his games. Imagine if he got 20 or more carries /game in 75% of the games? I think he could be a 12 TD and 1600 YD guy.

Oakland soon to be Las Vegas Raiders has more than their amount of problems to try and clean up for the next season. Gruden needs to keep building, this is a vital year 3. Carr has to push the ball downfield with confidence – and Jacobs must get more carries. I think if Jacobs starts to be the offensive cog and they can get WRs for Carr to move the ball to, this team can potentially be a 10 win team quickly, and at least be in the playoff conversation in their conference.

All the pressure on Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes played another excellent game vs Tennessee with 294 in the air and 3 TDs, Mahomes has already built a legend for himself, after throwing 50TD passes last season, and throwing for 300 or more YDs/game in 55% of the games he has played in. His numbers are something that we really have never seen before, not with Montana, Peyton or even with Tom Brady. He brings poise and awesome arm skills to the QB position, and we are all waiting to see what he does on every snap of the ball.
Jimmy Garoppolo and the Niners are built completely different. The Niners are built on running the ball and holding it down with defense – Garoppolo has been the manager-type guy and media has had more than their share of negativity with him as well. He is 100% completely different as a QB – with the fact that he isn’t expected to throw for 300+ YDs, carrying a season average of 248 YDs/game. JimmyG is playing on house money – fans are not expecting Garoppolo to throw for 350 and 4TDs. There is much more expected from Mahomes and the Chiefs. Garoppolo can throw for the yards, as he did when he played vs the Saints and Seattle this season, it is just that San Fran doesn’t need him to throw for massive yards to get the win.
Mahomes has been able to take the torch from Tom Brady and hold off an improving Lamar Jackson to get to the big game. Jimmy Garoppolo went through the uber tough NFC conference – we are watching a battle between 2 of the absolute best teams in the NFL right now. Both teams are the correct teams to be fighting for the trophy. Coach Andy Reid is getting his chance to hold his trophy after 207 regular season wins and 14 seasons with 10 or more wins, and the 40 year old Kyle Shanahan is getting his chance to stand alongside his father, Mike – with the honor and legacy that comes with the name.
A game like this can make many fans question which one of these QBs has the most amount of pressure on their shoulders?
Mahomes is looking, as long as he stays healthy – like he will end his career as a first ballot Hall of Famer. He should have the upper hand at QB, and if he fails it won’t look good for his legend. Mahomes has a chance to further his very special legacy.
Mahomes is not going to torch the Niners defense, not a team that gives up just 169 /game in the air, he will have to play one of the best games of his career, against one of the best defenses that’s taken the field in years. He is gonna have to be accurate, while getting the ball out fast, buying some time when the pocket collapses, and it will. Mahomes has an incredible amount of pressure on his shoulders, as all eyes are on Mahomes to perform well, JimmyG really has nothing to lose. Mahomes has all the skills as a passer and he lacks very little, if we are being honest, as the Chiefs have all the pieces in place if they don’t win…its all on Mahomes.
Kansas City has a different style QB with the 24 year old Mahomes but he has a subpar running game that gets him just 98 /game from the backfield. Wicked defense has been the backbone of the Niners team all season, the dominating pass rush is there. Not to mention Andy Reid never tends to get conservative, preferring to roll the dice with his big armed stud, who is expected to make the big plays when needed.
Jimmy Garoppolo has time, and has no pressure, he’s going into his 3rd start in a playoff game – and he isn’t the legendary QB yet like Mahomes already has on his head. Let’s be honest, no one expected San Fran and Jimmy Garoppolo to make it this far – nobody bought into Garoppolo carrying this team. Garoppolo has been able to get away with handing the ball off and watch his defense play, he needs just to keep doing what he’s been doing, just trust his RBs, trust his monstrous defense, make the smart plays when he needs to and convert the key 3rd down and short throws.
Simple.
Most preseason predictions had San Fran finishing around 3rd in the West. Coming off a 4-12 season in 2018, and only one caliber pass catcher in Deebo Samuel, and he was coming into his 1st season, and he wasn’t looked at, as being a dominant WR. The Niners having the dominating season they had, was great for the fanbase, then making the playoffs as a top seed was the topping.
Jimmy Garoppolo has a great chance to lead a team to a Superbowl win. This is his 3rd season with the team and just his first season starting 16 or more games in a year – they likely have many years of competing. Unfortunately for Garoppolo is if he doesn’t win this game – expect the media-wolves to come out and start banging on him, with the over-tired “Can he can get the job done” narrative.

Tyreek Hill was a huge steal for the Chiefs

At a height of just 5-10 Tyreek Hill was a former WR for West Alabama – and in 2016 – Hill went into the NFL draft, where the Kansas City Chiefs picked him deep into the 5th round at 165th overall. He was a natural “raw” talent coming out in 2016 in the draft and was nowhere near seen as being as big a grab as he has been. The Chiefs did not whiff on their WR pick – like they did in 2015, with their Chris Conley pick in the 3rd round the year prior with a very unremarkable 1806 career receiving YDs and just 8 TDs in 64 games. Through his 1st 54 games, Hill is having an impact that even Hall of Famer WR, Marvin Harrison didn’t quite have at this age and stage. He has put up 3798 YDs and 30 TDs – and Harrison put up 3187 YDs and 29 TDs during the similar period in his career. There’s something to look at there, and now here we are – 4 years later, and Kansas City is reaping the great benefits of the 25 year old Tyreek Hill – while he is leading Kansas City to a 7-4 record, and a potential Super Bowl favorite.
A big reason for Kansas City’s success – has been the fantastic play of Tyreek Hill – Hill and his explosive game for Kansas City has been very impressive to watch every game. With many bigtime games in his 4 years in the league, he has already had 12 games of 100 YDs or more, and 23 games with a 17+ YPC or more as well. He has been far more than just a gimmick guy, but an incredibly valuable weapon that has the instinctual ability to take a 3 yard slant 90 yards in a flash – which has been his calling card. His electric speed is something more than the Chiefs expected in the game. WRs rarely develop such a quick adaptation of the game from college to the pro game – much less before their 26th birthday.
Hill is built for the big stage, and playing for Kansas City – he is always dealing with the big stage. A team that has been battling for the top spot in its division for years, and the ever dangerous QB, Patrick Mahomes. The speedy wideout has put up a huge 215 YDs vs the LA Rams and 169 YDs and 2 TDs vs division rival LA Chargers last year, with games like this under his belt, Hill has made a monstrous difference for Kansas City. He has been beyond just serviceable for the Chiefs – and I’m convinced that Hill is as good as he appears – with his big play ability and breaking speed. He has shown the eye popping ability to blow teams away deep and that he is a special weapon. He is more sure handed than many other WRs – with just around a 3% drop ratio – which also puts him ahead of star WRs, Odell Beckham and Keenan Allen currently.
Hill is something super special and easily one of the top WRs in the league. As always, with any great player – as long as the 5-10 WR stays healthy he will go down as one of the greats, and will very possibly end up in the HOF himself, someday. He will help lead his team to great places. This guy is only going to get better – he can already create immediate space – which is huge for any WRs. The Chiefs have to be beyond ecstatic they have him – because his brightest days are still ahead. We’ll see where things go for Hill and Kansas City – but I think the Chiefs should be very encouraged by the game Tyreek Hill has brought to their team.

Monday Night Football Doubleheader Betting Previews

Week one of the 2019 NFL season will wrap up on Monday night, and will feature a pair of games. Playing two games on Monday Night Football in week one has been the tradition of late, and that won’t change this season. The New Orleans Saints host the Houston Texans in the first game, and the Oakland Raiders are hosting the Denver Broncos in the finale. Game one will feature a pair of playoff teams from a season ago, and the night cap will have a few teams who are looking to improve greatly in 2019. Let’s take a quick look at each of these games, with a betting prediction and pick for each of them.

Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints:

The first game of the night should be the best one of the two. Both of these teams reached the playoffs a season ago, and they are both heavily favored to win their division this season. The Saints want to play fast, and score a ton of points, and the Houston Texans have one of the most feared defenses in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints are -7.0 point favorites over the Texans in this game.

The Saints have one of the all-time great quarterbacks in Drew Brees, and a pair of talented weapons in Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Kamara is a terrific dual-threat on offense, and he should have the ball in his hands a ton in this game. Thomas is the top receiving target, and has been putting up eye popping numbers. New Orleans gave up a ton of passing yards a season ago, but their rush defense was one of the best in the league. The Saints will give up some points, but their offense will score as well.

Houston also has a talented offense led by quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Texans suffered a tough blow in the preseason when running back Lamar Miller went down with a knee injury. The Texans still have a great defense led by JJ Watt, but they will need to put up plenty of points in this one. Bet the Saints -7.0 over the Texans in the series opener. When betting the Saints; check out our favorite pay per head bookie site at https://www.a1pph.com/.

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders:

The second game of the doubleheader is likely to be a lot sloppier in the first, but it should be every bit as competitive. Neither of these teams is expected to make the playoffs this season, but crazier things have happened in the National Football League. The Oakland Raiders are slim -1.0 point favorites over the Denver Broncos in this game.

Denver has had all kinds of trouble finding a quarterback in the last few seasons, and so they changed their strategy. The Broncos brought in veteran Joe Flacco from the Baltimore Ravens, and he should have an impact on the offensive side of the ball. The Broncos will also have a new head coach in Vic Fangio, and he is known as being a great defensive mind. Denver has the talent and personnel to really put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and Derek Carr better keep his head on a swivel in this game.

The Oakland Raiders were a mess on both sides of the ball a season ago, and weren’t even able to manage one sack per game. Oakland let Khalil Mack go before the start of the 2018 season, and it killed their chances of being a solid team. The Raiders also struggled mightily on offense, averaging just 18.1 points per game. Bringing in Antonio Brown should help out a ton, but they still have several roster spots that are question marks. Oakland playing at home will make all the difference in the world in this game, and betting the Raiders -1.0 over the Broncos is the smart play here. 

Bet the Raiders -1 over the Broncos at our favorite pay per head bookie site at https://www.a1pph.com/.

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The NFL MVP Race

There are 3 real front-runners in the NFL for league MVP right now. There is Patrick Mahomes, and his ridiculous ability on the field, Todd Gurley getting an incredible amount of touches and scoring ability out of the backfield. And, of course, Drew Brees and his mind blowing play so far are the elite top players playing right now in the league. Let’s take a snapshot of where these players stand in the race. VTD’s big-3 in the NFL MVP race. This is a fun time to examine who the top leaders for the MVP award are, and then see if they can maintain their daunting play throughout to hold onto that prestigious award.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
This season, Mahomes has gone beyond nuclear putting up 41 TDs, and a whopping 327 YDs per game. And the 23 year old QB has also not been afraid to push the ball with a 9.3 YPA. The Mahomes-led Chiefs are in strong position right now looking at the playoffs, at 10-2, and tops in the AFC West division. Last year, they fought through the season and ended up with a 10-6 record. The cannon armed slinger has gripped the reigns and led the Chiefs to a top spot at this point in the season, making them a potential favorite in the AFC. Their team has been ravaged by off the field issues and they have below average production from their defense, as they have had almost no positive contribution from their D – yet here they are, still fully in charge. And that is on Mahomes’ shoulders.
Mahomes has been shining like a diamond in every aspect of the passing game. If you think about what Mahomes could be going forward, after having a full season under his belt, you realize it’s not crazy to think he has a chance to become one of the best QBs in the league for many, many years to come. It looks like Mahomes is going to crush KC records with ease, but he could become the first Chief to win the MVP award.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
The consistent brilliance of Drew Brees sticks out like a sore thumb. His passing performances this 2018 season have been nothing but spectacular to watch play out. The competition for the MVP award includes fellow QB, Patrick Mahomes, of Kansas City, who is by far the most outstanding QB under 24, so far this season. And he too, easily, belongs in the MVP discussion, in the constant, age old battle of young vs old, past vs present.
But, here we are, 12 games in, and the guy who started the season white hot, by not throwing a pick over the first 6 games – has continued his dominance, and has pushed the Saints to the next level this year leading them to a 10-2 record. Brees leads the NFL in QB rating, and while having thrown just 3 ints, and is the genuine centerpiece of the unstoppable Saints offense. And for the 39 year old QB, Drew Brees, what else is new?  Brees has taken the Saints and has carried the lions share of the load of the teams offense – that hasn’t put up a bad version of offense, except for their recent 13-10 loss to Dallas. It’s just astounding to think about Drew Brees ending the NFL season with possibly 34-35 TDs along with a 75%+ completion percentage – but I think he is going to do it. Brees can pass the ball with the best, and always has been able to with his ability to never panic and his quick arm.
Todd Gurley, RB, LA Rams
The talent and high ceiling for Gurley have never been in question. The arguments for Gurley includes his athletic skills and also how incredibly valuable he’s been to the Rams with his ability to slice open an opponent pretty much anywhere from the field. And the Rams feel comfortable putting him anywhere on the field for them, behind the QB, split him out, toss him in the slot. He is a devastating weapon for HC Sean McVay.
Gurley is chasing some bigtime goals, his on field ability is never in question, so a 25 total TD, or another 2000+ total yard season is not out of the question. Gurley has had 8 games running for a TD for the Rams and that’s his mastery, including 5 games of 2 TDs or more – but he has a ton of skills away from just running the ball – his pass catching is awesome as well, as he is 3rd on the team, as a RB. It opens up the teams method of attack, and uses his speed and his vision for him to use his football IQ on how to attack what he sees in front of him. His individual brilliance running the ball is even better with his partnership with the Rams WRs, who have been nothing but astounding, as well. Gurley is hands down, one of the best players who also happens to be on one of the best teams in the league.
Drew Brees is still showing the rest of the NFL who is the top of the crop and DBs have been on high alert all season. He’s kept the Saints alive with his cunning eyes and QB trickery, he has been phenomenal. Drew Brees is just amazing, as he precisely demolishes teams weekly, giving the Saints constant hope, keeping teams never feeling safe on the field when he is out there. He almost has come out of nowhere, after last seasons pedestrian season, when some were thinking he was starting to fade – he came back this year, and has played out of his mind, with heart and precision. Oh, and he also has 30 TD passes with just 3 interceptions.
There are some big games to go in this season still, of course, but seasons like this, when such great individual play, reminds us, as fans, of just how entertaining and unpredictable the NFL can be. No one thought Drew Brees would still be slinging the ball quite the way he has…still.
But, here we are, with Drew as the likely NFL MVP.

Betting the NFL Preseason in 2018

Betting the NFL Preseason in 2018

by Jeff Hochman (JH-Sportsline)

The Hall of Fame Game is the first NFL preseason game of the year, which closes the annual Hall of Fame enshrinement festivities. On August 2nd, 2018, the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will kick-off the preseason at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. The game starts at 8:00 PM E and can be viewed on NBC. The Ravens will be making their first Hall of Fame game appearance ever, while the Chicago Bears have played in this game five times. Chicago is a perfect 4-0 SU in their previous four Hall of Fame game appearances.

You will hear people say “Don’t bet on NFL Preseason Football”. Big Mistake! It’s actually easier than capping the regular season. In most cases you can read ahead of time the exact game plan for each team. I feel the NFL preseason is a great opportunity to start and build a nice bankroll for the upcoming regular season. Many handicappers have the opinion that the preseason games should be left alone and not bet on. I feel just the opposite. If you do your homework–the preseason offers sharps and squares a tremendous chance to make a lot of money. Here are my personal keys, stats, systems, angles, reasons, and teams to consider when betting NFL Preseason football in 2018. I started in 1998. This is my 14th edition of this annual NFL article. WOW! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. Enjoy!

1) Depth

 

This one is obvious. Jo public gets so worked up about the starters and skill position players on certain teams during the regular season. But they’re the same in the preseason. Teams that can go two-and three-deep (sometimes four-deep) at the skill positions have a decided advantage over a club that has a few stars that will be sitting after the first or second series. A perfect example of a team like that this season, is none other than the Green Bay Packers. They have the best arm talent in the league and future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers. Brett Hundley showed flashes in extending playing time. He’s ahead of schedule. DeShone Kizer fits their offense well and should play a lot this preseason. Tim Boyle is a big kid from Eastern Kentucky who should have success going against third and fourth-string defenses. On the flip side, The New York Giants have Eli Manning who is on the back nine of his career. Davis Webb, Kyle Lauletta, and Alex Taney are unproven at this level. While I think the Giants will be improved this season, they could struggle in August with this current QB rotation.

Quarterbacks and continuity are key. NFL Preseason wagers, just like those during the Regular Season, often come down to the last eight minutes of a game. So find teams that have solid depth at QB and/or has some experience or success in the league. They’ll have a tremendous advantage in the closing moments of a game against a third and/or fourth-string defense. The New Orleans Saints have a 4-headed monster under center. Drew Brees is a top 10 all-time QB. Tom Savage is above average as the second guy. J.T. Barrett will be a handful with his arm and legs against young defenders. Taysom Hill completed 14 of his 20 attempts with two passing TD’s and one running TD for the Packers last preseason. All four can run the same offense without restrictions. The system/culture has been in place since 2006. I think the Saints will have a winning preseason in 2018.

 

2) Experience

 

I don’t necessarily mean which team has the most grizzled veterans on it. In fact, experience can be a detriment. Most older players hate preseason games. And teams that have established players in certain positions or roles will often see those guys mail it in during the preseason because they know the games are “meaningless” and already have their “jobs” locked up.

However, experience is a key factor when it comes to handicapping coaches/systems. Organizations that haven’t experienced much turnaround have a significant advantage over those that are easing in a new brain trust. For example, New England has been running Josh McDaniels system since 2012. The Patriots are going to be much sharper than a team that is going through changes. Take the Indianapolis Colts for example. They are breaking in a new head coach (Frank Reich) and new offensive coordinator in Nick Sirianni. Both guys have never been in their current roles. Keying on clubs that have familiarity & continuity, and finding teams that are much less comfortable with their new system is a big key when wagering on preseason games.

 

3) First-Year Head Coaches with new team (Full Season)

 

We have seven for the 2018-19 season in alphabetical order by team. First year head coaches can be tricky, but generally perform very well in their first August home game.They went 6-1 ATS in their first home game three years ago, 5-2 ATS two years ago, and 4-1 ATS last season. That adds up to a a bankrolling 15-4 ATS mark the last three preseasons combined! Lets keep it rolling. A lot of expectations are put on these guys coming in. They all want to show the Owner, General Manager, players, and fans that he is the right man for the job. Setting the tone early means playing to win in the preseason. I would not just blindly play all these teams in their first home game. Pick your spots or sign up for my NFL Preseason package. Here we go!

Steve Wilks (Arizona Cardinals)

Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears)

Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions)

Frank Reich (Indy Colts)

Pat Shurmer (NY Giants)

Jon Gruden (Oakland Raiders)

Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans)

4) Competition/Philosophy

 

If you know how head coaches were raised and what their philosophies are than you will have a big advantage this August. I know all the personalities/traits of every single HC in the NFL which helps me beat the books in August. I will give you one HC that preaches competition from his players down to the ball boy. That would be Pete Carroll of the Seahawks. His philosophy at USC was to create competition along with a winning attitude. That has continued since moving to the NFL. Pete Carroll is 34-14 ATS in his career when playing in August, including 4-0 SU & 4-0 ATS last season. On the flip side, Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys clearly hates the preseason. He uses August basically to scout his younger guys and it shows. Garrett’s 10-20 ATS record in the NFL preseason is the worst active record in August with at least 20 games played. Keep an eye on the Seahawks‘ spreads as the odds makers might inflate their lines after going 4-0 last preseason.

 

5) Motivation

If you watched the NFL for any number of years you should know that not every Head Coach cares about winning in the NFL Preseason. Different HC’s have different agendas when playing August Football and they all pretty much stick to their beliefs. I gave you two very good examples above that should hold true once again this upcoming season.

Each coach handles the preseason differently. Some put a premium on the second game. For some it’s the third or even the fourth. Some coaches just mess around and tinker with their lineups during the preseason and use it to evaluate their younger guys. But here’s the key – and this is a big difference between the regular season and preseason football – most coaches are forthright about what the game plan will be. All you have to do is a little research from the local beat writers.

 

6) Scheduling

 

The NFL preseason schedule generally isn’t too taxing on the teams and players. But there are quirks. The two teams that play the Hall of Fame Game are a good bet to fade in their next game. If some key players are a bit banged up then you can expect those guys to be watching in street clothes. Keep a close eye on how the players from the Ravens and Bears come out of the Hall of Fame game. Also, NFL teams who play on the West Coast (with little to no humidity), and than travel to play a high humidity East Coast game. It would be wise to fade those West Coast teams, especially if installed as a favorite. This has worked extremely well over the last few years with the new OTA rules in place.

#7) Jeff’s NFL Preseason system to consider

If you are looking for a very solid system/angle in the NFL preseason here is one to consider this year. Teams that begin 0-2 straight up over the last 11 years are 63-41 ATS in their very next game. Head Coaches, GM’s, and owners tend to get very nervous when they get off to a bad start, even in the preseason, and they have their team ready for that third game. Most undefeated teams will take that 0-2 team lightly, thus making those winless teams a smart play by the “Wise Guys”. If two 0-2 teams are playing each other, its a NO PLAY and that’s reflected in the record above.

#8) Jeff’s #1 NFL Preseason Team to “Play On” in 2018

Cleveland Browns. I think this team will play with a “chip” on its shoulder after going 0-16 last year. Look at the QB rotation. It’s got to be one of the most improved groups in the entire league. Tyrod Taylor is a two-way (arm/legs) threat with playoff experience. Drew Stanton is better than average. Baker Mayfield has something to prove and should have success against vanilla defenses. Joel Stave is really good and might be elsewhere as as solid backup when the regular season arrives. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley will bring fire and experience to the offense. And while the Browns might be learning a new offense, there are mitigating factors that suggest the Browns will have success this August. I love them in week two against the Buffalo Bills as a 3-point home favorite. The Browns could be a solid ATS sleeper team this Fall/Winter as well.

Look for more Football articles in the coming weeks. Jeff was ranked No. 3 in the 2017-18 NFL regular season and No. 1 (tied) in the postseason. Jeff was ranked No. 2 in the 2014-15 NFL regular season at The Sports Monitor of OK, cashing just under 70%. Jeff has shown a profit in eight of the past nine years in football, fully documented. Early Bird Football and season packages are now available.

Good Luck this Football Season!

Follow me on Twitter @jhsportsline

NFL Season Win Totals

Win totals on the board at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as of Sunday, April 29th 2018:

  • Patriots 11
  • Steelers 10.5
  • Eagles 10.5
  • Packers 10
  • Vikings 10
  • Rams 9.5
  • Saints 9.5
  • Panthers 9
  • Falcons 9
  • 49ers 9
  • Chargers 9
  • Jaguars 9
  • Texans 8.5
  • Cowboys 8.5
  • Chiefs 8.5
  • Seahawks 8
  • Raiders 8
  • Ravens 8
  • Titans 8
  • Lions 8
  • Redskins 7
  • Bengals 7
  • Broncos 7
  • Giants 6.5
  • Buccaneers 6.5
  • Bills 6.5
  • Bears 6.5
  • Colts 6.5
  • Dolphins 6
  • Jets 6
  • Browns 5.5
  • Cardinals 5.5

It looks like the Arizona Cardinals and the Cleveland Browns are going to be the worst teams in the NFL this season.  A couple of early leans we like are the LA Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars OVER the number for season wins.  We’ll have much more in the NFL as the season gets closer this summer.

 

 

​Which NFL team has the best WR tandem in 2017

In Green Bay – when healthy, anyone with eyes and common sense could say Adams & Jordy can easily be called the best when they are on the field. 26 TDs and 2254 YDs between them in 2016 certainly makes a strong case for them to be called the best WR tandem. But, this season, under some extenuating circumstances, they have just an avg of around 48 YD/game between them and only a handful of combined big plays so far, for Green Bay takes them quickly out of the discussion for this season.
In 2016 everyone was all about Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. A couple of players who have both shown their awesome skills when playing. In 2017 – Crabtree has put up only 601 yards receiving and Cooper is adding just 42 YDs/game. Not great numbers to me. TE Jared Cook is leading the team in receiving yards, 1st downs, and YDs/catch for any player with 25 or more for the team.
What happened? The Oakland OC Todd Downing – messed up the Raiders offense up in a strange way this year. Cooper can play like a man against boys, at times on the field, with his skills and speed. For fans who don’t like Crabtree – will always find a low end flaw – but honestly they are ignoring his skillset. Solid, it is not even close how steady he has been, and you can’t ignore the 30 year old’s career numbers.
How about mentioning DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller? Hopkins is getting 94 YDs/game.  And Fuller is chipping in with 16/YPC. The huge advantage that Hopkins has over many top WRs is really very obvious to me. As we all have seen this WR play with 10+ different QBs in 5 seasons, and continue to put up 1000 YD seasons and produce TDs. One genuinely could argue the case that Hopkins isnt truly one of the top 3 WRs in the league. He is the biggest and the most serious difference maker on a Houston team when it comes to wide receivers. Hopkins always makes his QBs better, and Fuller is that 15+ YPC guy that every team needs.
Philly has a pretty nasty combo in Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Yes – it was just 1 year ago, no one cared about Agholor. When he came out of USC, he was watched with very lofty expectations, including by myself. After only 36 receptions and just a pitiful 10.1 YD/catch – along with a huge dropsy problem – it was getting easy to toss him by the wayside thinking he was just yet another WR bust. Not so fast. In 2017 – Agholor has gotten the Eagles a 52 YDs /game, and Jeffery has been nothing but excellent with his nose for the end zone. And if we are being honest – no team has really stopped them. Maybe not the biggest numerical WRs in the game, but they have been unstoppable as a tandem so far. Alshon is one of the strongest WRs in the league, at 6-4 and 230lbs, he seems to find a way to catch the ball at the 10 and can drag it along another 3-4 more yards, with DBs draped on him.
But, Minnesota has some special things going on up North, in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. They have a few guys who have been nothing but a blessing for OC Pat Shurmur. With 9 games of 90 YDs receiving or more between them, they both have awesome and precise route running and loading up a hefty total average of about 145 YPG – how can it be possible to look passed these deadly Minnesota WRs?
Thielen has been more productive in yards than the high priced Jeffery, and Diggs has been far more productive than big prospect Cooper this season. We are looking about play production. On a back to the wall situation, 3rd and long, :05 seconds left – your going to want Diggs and Thielen getting open for your team. No disrespect to any of the other WRs listed and many other excellent players, but I am going with these 2 based on their ability to split DBs, and find the pockets to get the ball. They are also really good blockers. They are guys that are playing with a QB in Case Keenum who before this 2017 season, was averaging just 6.7 YPA and around 205 YDs passing/game. One could argue he has turned the game around and the game has finally slowed down for him after 6 seasons, yes. But, for the sake of argument, lets also consider the fact that in 2017 – Keenum is throwing for 20 TDs and around 248 YPG, based on his WR threats.
When Diggs is in the game – it allows Adam to get more one on one coverage – which means more opportunity. Thielen is a true student of the game (which is always a great respectful thing to see) and seems to also be very well liked by his teammates. Which says a lot for his personality to go along with the “Great Adam Thielen story”.Thielen has the best hands in the league, in my opinion – and he is an unbelievable route runner and clutch performer.  With 12 games with 5 or more catches and 7 games of 10+ targets this season for the Vikes. As well as Diggs running great routes, which are always crisp and clean. When Diggs came out of Maryland – he was not seen as a genuine WR1 but he has shown with hard work and determination, a player can succeed. No one has been able to really shut down this combination. As they have stacked up a total of 10 games of averaging 15+ YDs/catch between them.
After so many recent years of 2 yard swing passes and running the ball for what seemed like 40 carries/game – Minnesota has something very special going on Diggs and Thielen have arrived, at just 24 and 27 years old, their assault on DBs should stay around for many, many seasons to come, bringing many happy seasons to Minnesota fans. As long as they stay healthy, and the Vikes keep the play calling as good as it has been, these guys are the beast of the NFL.

Is Trent Richardson the biggest RB bust we’ve ever seen

trent
   We, as football fans have all watched and waited for the next big thing to come out of college to join the ranks of the NFL. Many are good, few are great, even less are legends. But then we run into the word, we all know, and loathe.
Bust.
The word instantly brings a player or two (or two dozen) to mind in a flash. Faster than a pass from Dan Marino, we go into a debate on who was the worst. Who had the big upsides, who was expected to be the star QB, the legendary play making WR, or the bulldozer TD machine RB. It is a word that we never hope our team has labeled next to their draft pick.
But here we are. And there is a player that deserves recognition in being the biggest bust conversation. Trent Richardson from Alabama. We can ask if he could possibly be the biggest disappointment as a running back in NFL history. I think that statement is a very accurate assessment.
When Richardson came out of college the vast majority of people felt he was going to be pretty darn good. He was strong and quick, he went to a big name SEC school in Alabama. He crushed his opponents for 35 rushing TDs and 3130 yards in his 3 year career there. He scoured the gridiron for 5.8 YPC. He was going to be “that guy.” The Browns drafted him in 2012, at the number 3 spot, before Michael Floyd, Alshon Jeffery, and All-Pro RB Doug Martin as well.
Then 3 YPC happened. And missing holes happened. And finally the trade happened. And suddenly, Richardson was on the outside looking in. Recently, the Ravens signed the journeyman RB to a deal. With a below average offensive line, that pushed their backfield to only 92 YDs/ game, they are fortunate to have a big armed QB in Joe Flacco, that always keeps teams on their toes, for the big play. But Richardson hasn’t given any teams a reason to worry about him regardless of who is throwing the ball for his team.
The first thing we have to consider, if we are to discuss about the worst bust as a running back in the NFL, we have to really look at it all. What kind of time frame are we going to give a player to considered a bust? 10 games, a 3 YD rushing average, a 3 year time-frame?
When he first went to the Browns, I fell for it, and genuinely thought this kid was going to be a beast on the field, like the majority of others did.
Trent Richardson looked like he had so much potential. And so much skill to become a 1300-1400 YD back. Richardson wasn’t worn down, after 8-9 seasons of punishment, like many veterans do after some time. He simply never got off to make it to the next level. When he was playing as a rookie in 2012, he wasn’t horrendous, he had 6 games of 80+ yards on the ground. Which isn’t terrible. He ended his rookie season with 11 TDs on the ground. Which was good for 7th in the NFL on a whole. He had promise.
Obviously, we know, he didn’t have a great opportunity from the start of his career, when he was drafted by the Browns. But, no player that is grabbed that high in a draft, is going to a good team. There is a reason that the team is drafting in that spot. They are expecting the player they draft to be the guy who comes in and changes the mindset of the organization, to be the guy who makes them excitable for the fans, the player that gives them hope of a successful season and possibly become a guy for years to come to lead them in the playoffs and further.
The running back position, opposed to many other skilled positions, is typically the position to adjust the quickest at. If a player doesn’t continue to find his holes, or hit his speed pretty fast in the NFL, then they likely are going to not succeed at the next level. Of course we know the usual situations, that all running backs wear down as they get older. Which has been seen over and over in the annals of NFL history. But 29 games, and only 25 years old?  Trent Richardson had become a 3.1 yd/carry rusher?
No, he’s just a bad RB. End of story.
Now, 4 years later, after 614 carries and just 17 TDs, he has already played poorly for the Browns, Colts, and never even took the field for the Raiders, and now he is going to play with the Ravens. Maybe now that he has a chance to play with team like Ravens, who are a team that has been usually more RB friendly, he could be a better RB. But after this disastrous start to his young career, it is going to be very trying to come back from that. He was fully at fault for his poor career, he cannot point a finger at anyone. There are no more excuses for him as a RB in the NFL. This should be the last time he is given an opportunity to be a starting back in the league.
When the Browns, who have had their fair share of bad RBs over the last several years. Then the Raiders, who have been winning just an average of 4.5 games/year since 2012, have decided that a player doesn’t fit their teams, there has to be a reason. These are franchises that have had plenty of struggles and they still decided, that having almost anything else is better.
As a RB, he lacks the true RB vision that is needed. He was able to make a few catches in the flats, but that is where it ends for him. He never panned out anywhere close to where he was expected to be for his draft slot. We could line him up with the Ryan Leafs, Jamarcus Russells, as some of the all-time biggest busts in NFL history. He was a great college player, there is no question to that. But he never made the big adjustment to playing in the NFL, and at the highest standard of play. He always had the excellent physical strength and ability to bounce off tackles. It was his complete lack of vision. He misses holes seemingly all of the time.
This is a guy who went at the #3 slot in the 2012 draft. Behind only QB Andrew Luck and RGIII, who both had the world on a silver platter at that time. The world couldn’t get enough of either of those guys. So to be drafted that high, you really better be much, much more than a 400 YD runner. As stated, Doug Martin and Alshon Jeffery were picked after him, and we could easily say, they were far and away better picks than Richardson. Let’s not forget what makes this even more ridiculous. Being that he was drafted so high in the extremely important 1st round, but then was also then dealt off to the Colts for a 1st rounder in 2014, makes him a double bust.
There obviously, were several other RBs that fell apart and ended up in the slush pile of RB busts. The Jets had Blair Thomas, who was drafted 2nd overall in 1990 and his career as a player never panned out. Lawrence Phillips, from Nebraska, was a huge bust, and Karim Abdul Jabar, was a very low yardage gainer in the Miami run he had.
We can question, how does one judge a players worth? Their entire career, what they’ve done most recently, the value that they brought to the team, or how they were acquired? If Richardson was drafted in the 4-6 round range, I’d think nothing at all of his dismal career. It, for me, is the fact of his high draft spot and what he only produced from being taken that high in the 2012 draft class.
We need to remember, just because a player has excellent speed and is a great player in college, doesn’t mean they can make it to the elite level. The NFL is a league made of really amazing players, to stick around and hang with them, is very hard. Trent Richardson has been just bad at the professional level of football, and that is a fact. Considering his expectations, when he came into the league, I think this is true.
According to NFL Network, Richardson has the 2nd-worst career rushing average of any player with at least 500 carries since all the way back to the 1960s.
Simply put, Richardson, has been the worst high picked RB of all time according to VegasTopDogs experts..