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Will the Philadelphia Eagles win OVER/UNDER 9.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

The Eagles have been a good model of consistency. Over the past 20 years, they have had just four losing seasons.

It wasn’t always pretty, but Philly managed to secure the NFC East title with a 9-7 record last year. They closed out the regular season with a four-game winning streak to edge the Cowboys atop the division.

Unfortunately, Carson Wentz exited the wildcard playoff game early and the team couldn’t overcome his absence in a 17-9 home loss to the Seahawks.

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Carson Wentz needs to be applauded for his 2019 performance.

He had to deal with numerous injuries to his receiving corps and yet, he led the team to a playoff spot and he finished with a career-high in passing yards with 4,039. He threw 27 TD passes versus 7 interceptions, while playing all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season in 2016.

In the season finale, his top targets were Boston Scott, Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins, Deontay Burnett and Greg Ward. Outside of Goedert, none is an established starter in the NFL. The Eagles still secured the NFC East title with a 34-17 road win in New York.

Philadelphia selected Jalen Hurts late in the second round of this year’s draft. He transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma for his senior year since Tua Tagovailoa was projected to be the starter. Hurst was actually replacing Kyler Murray who had just been taken as the number one overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft by the Cards.

Hurts did not disappoint in his lone season with the Sooners. He completed 237-of-340 passes (69.7%) with 3,851 passing yards, along with 32 TD passes and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 1,298 yards with 20 TDs on the ground!

His weaknesses are an average accuracy, inconsistent decision-making and a tendency to take off as a runner too often (sometimes when a receiver was open). He is likely to be used as a gadget player by Doug Pederson this year.

Nate Sudfeld will compete for the backup job. He missed the entire 2019 season due to a wrist injury he suffered during preseason. He was a sixth-round pick out of Indiana in the 2016 draft. He has attempted just 25 passes in the NFL in four years, so it’s hard to tell what to expect from him.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Miles Sanders’ rookie season was a resounding success. He led all rookies with 1,327 yards from scrimmage.

He carried a heavier workload as the season went on. During the first eight games, he averaged 8.3 carries per game, as opposed to 14.1 over the last nine contests (including the playoff loss to the Seahawks).

Jordan Howard’s injury at midseason contributed to the increased usage of Sanders in the backfield. With Howard gone to Miami, the sky’s the limit for second-round pick out of Penn State.

Darren Sproles retired and Jay Ajayi was waived. That leaves the door wide open for third-year man Boston Scott. He flashed big time last year and unquestionably passed my eye test. The 5’6’’ back is very explosive.

Scott made a name for himself in Week #17 as he had to step in for Sanders who sprained an ankle in the first quarter against the Giants. Scott went on to rack up 138 total yards and three touchdowns.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

This unit was decimated by injuries last year. DeSean Jackson pretty much played just one game, while Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor missed six and five games, respectively.

Despite playing under his age-32 campaign, Jackson showed he still has field-stretching abilities in his lone meeting last year. He was spectacular with 8 catches for 154 yards and a couple of scores. He hasn’t played a full 16-game season very often in his career though.

Jeffery is another aging receiver coming off a significant injury. He underwent Lisfranc surgery, which requires a long rehab period. He’s questionable for the start of training camp.

Since two outstanding seasons in 2013 and 2014 with the Bears, Jeffery has missed four games per year on average, while showing signs of slowing down on the field as well. His 11.4 yards-per-catch average last year was a career low.

To be honest, I feel like Jeffery’s time in the league is coming to an end soon. Lisfranc injuries can be tricky for wide receivers, and full recovery is even more difficult for guys above 30 years of age.

Nelson Agholor was a younger WR who could have provided adequate depth, but he signed with the Raiders. The former first-rounder has not lived up to expectations, but he was still a decent pass catcher, albeit his drops were a big issue last year. Maybe a change of scenery will help rejuvenate his career.

Philly drafted Jalen Reagor with the #11 pick overall last April. He’s a smallish deep threat who is at his best on straight routes. He was good with contested catches, but will it still be the case in the NFL given his size? That’s a big question mark.

Reagor opened a lot of eyes by scoring eight touchdowns as a freshman with TCU after being a high recruit out of high school. He followed up with a great 72-1061-9 receiving line as a sophomore.

Reagor’s numbers dropped quite a bit as a junior (43-611-5), but you can attribute that to having a freshman QB at the helm. He’s an electrifying player who can take it to the house every time he touches the ball.

The competition for the number three role is also likely to involve Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. These two guys have had completely different paths before making it to the NFL.

Ward went undrafted before joining the AAF. He eventually was added to the Eagles’ practice squad, and later on promoted to the 53-man roster until a depleted receiving corps forced him onto the field.

Meanwhile, Arcega-Whiteside had more of a “conventional” journey by being drafted in the second-round of the 2019 draft.

Such resumes would suggest Arcega-Whiteside would be the superior wideout, but that’s not what we saw on the field. He only caught 10-of-22 targets for a disappointing 45% catch rate. He was rarely targeted down the stretch, despite the numerous injuries at the position.

On the other hand, Ward filled in admirably late in the season. Over the final four meetings, including the playoff game, he caught 20-of-25 targets (an 80% catch rate). He clearly deserves a shot as a top reserve for the upcoming season.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

The Eagles have a nice duo at the tight end position with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.

Ertz is a true warrior. He hasn’t missed more than two games in each of his first seven season in the league. Last year, he played with two rib fractures one week after lacerating his kidney. Talk about a tough guy.

His numbers are also staggering. His lowest figures in terms of receptions and receiving yards over the past five years are 74 and 816. That’s truly remarkable! Please note that he’ll be turning 30 years old during the season.

Just like Ertz, Goedert is also a former second-rounder. However, he is four years younger. He caught 58 passes for 607 yards and 5 TDs, all career-highs. He was targeted 4 times per game on average before the team’s bye week versus an average of 7.9 for the remainder of the year. Granted, injuries to other targets probably boosted his numbers, but he still developed nice chemistry with Wentz.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

The Eagles have a heck of an offensive line.

You cannot blame Jason Kelce for anything over the past five years. He hasn’t missed any start, while consistently being one of the top centers in the league. As a matter of fact, he was rated as the #1 center in the NFL according to PFF grades last year. He’s now 32 years old.

Left tackle Jason Peters has been just as good as Kelce. He was nominated to nine Pro Bowls in his career and he finished as the number 6 tackle in the league with his 83.4 PFF mark. Unfortunately, the team decided to let the 38-year old hit the free agency market. EDIT: he was re-signed three days ago (this article was written several weeks ago). He is projected to play guard instead of tackle.

Peters will be replaced with 2019 first-round pick, Andre Dillard. Is he ready to take on the full-time job? It remains to be seen, but it will be difficult to fill Peters’ shoes.

As for Lane Johnson, the right tackle finished as the 3rd-best tackle in the league based on the PFF grading system. He’s been very good throughout his seven-year career; the former #4 overall pick has not disappointed at all!

Brandon Brooks also had a huge 2019 season! He ended the year as the top guard in the NFL with a jaw-dropping 92.9 PFF mark. Much like Lane Johnson, Brooks is another player above 30 years old who’s been reliable his entire career.

Left guard Isaac Seumalo started all 16 games for the first time of his career. He’s the one that received the lowest grades on this OL, but finishing 17th out of 81 guards is nothing to be ashamed of! The former third-round pick from the 2016 draft is not as talented as his colleagues, but you could do worse than having him as one of your starters.

The team lost good depth with the departure of Halapoulivaati Vaitai to Detroit. The 2019 season was clearly his best year; it would have been nice to retain him but he signed a huge contract with the Lions.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

When comparing the upcoming 2020 season with last year, there are some positives and some negatives.

Let’s discuss the negative stuff first. I do expect a downgrade on the offensive line. They played at an extremely high level last year with four guys finishing among the 6 players at their respective position (based on PFF rankings). That’s unlikely to happen again, especially with three linemen aged 30 years or above.

Also, second-year man Andre Dillard has good potential, but it will be difficult to match Jason Peters’ 2019 performance. I do expect a drop-off here.

At quarterback and tight end, the situation remains stable.

At the running back position, losing Jordan Howard to free agency won’t hurt too much with the emergence of electrifying Boston Scott. Also, Miles Sanders is expected to take a leap in his sophomore season.

Finally, how could you not expect better production from the WR group? They were hit by the injury bug a lot last year. Agholor’s departure is a moderate blow; getting DeSean Jackson back is a bonus! Hopefully, speedy rookie Jalen Reagor can provide a spark to an offense that sorely missed game breakers last year.

The Eagles offense scored the 12th-highest number of points last year. My final conclusion, based on the arguments above, is that I expect similar production in 2020.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Stable

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

Fletcher Cox is an animal. Plain and simple.

Despite posting his second-lowest sack output of his illustrious eight-year career, he still graded as the 4th-best interior defenders in the NFL based on PFF rankings. On average, he has recorded 6 sacks per year (he only got 3.5 last year)

He has also been very durable; he’s missed just three games out 128. He still has good years to come at age 29.

Tim Jernigan was a decent starter next to Cox, but he clearly wasn’t needed on the team anymore after the Eagles signed stud DT Javon Hargrave. The former Steeler showed steady improvement in each of his first four years in the NFL. His 83.4 PFF mark last year put him in the 8th spot out of 114 DLs.

With Hargrave entering his prime years and Fletcher Cox being a perennial beast, good luck running the ball inside the tackles against the Eagles in 2020.

After playing three years in Indy, Hassan Ridgeway had a below-average season in his first year with the Eagles. He’s more of a rotational player, whom you hope won’t be needed as a starter.

3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED)

Brandon Graham is 32 years old, but he refuses to slow down. He led the team with 8.5 sacks last year, and he has averaged six sacks over an eight-year period!

The guy also finds a way to stay on the field. Can you believe he has missed a single game in eight years! He’s been consistently good and remains a force, both against the run and rushing the passer.

Derek Barnett is a former first-rounder coming off a career-high in sacks with 6.5. However, his 2019 PFF grade was the lowest of his three-year stint in the NFL and he finished as the number 83 edge defender out of 107 qualifiers. He’s an “okay” player.

Vinny Curry played 38% of the snaps last year, but it does not appear like he will be back with the team. At the time of writing, he was still a free agent. He did pick up five sacks last year, but teams seem reluctant to sign him because he’ll be playing his age-32 campaign. He actually played pretty well when called upon.

With Curry gone, the team must hope Josh Sweat will elevate his game. The 2018 fourth-round selection posted his first four sacks of his career last year, but his 62.5 overall PFF mark ranked him as the 76th-best edge defender out of 107 guys.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

After playing four years in Buffalo and four years in Philly, Nigel Bradham was cut by the Eagles, mainly for cap reasons. He provided average play at the LB position; he was good in coverage, but he was a liability defending the run.

The team also lost Kamu Grugier-Hill, who signed with the Dolphins. You could characterize him as a decent player, albeit far from being great.

That leaves the team pretty thin at the position.

Nathan Gerry is the lone 2019 starter that is still with the team. He ranked as the 34th-best linebacker out of 89 players. He does not offer much upside, though. It would be stunning to see him crack the top 25 someday.

Can Duke Riley and/or T.J Edwards crack the starting lineup? Neither seem to be an up-and-coming star. Riley was acquired for peanuts prior to last year and he played 35 snaps. As for Edwards, he was an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin that did well in limited time last year. He proved to be stout against the run.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

Philly’s back end has been revamped for the upcoming 2020 season.

The Eagles signed one of the best slot corners in the league: Nickell Robey-Coleman. He has received consistently good grades from ProFootballFocus over the past four years. At 5’8’’ he is pretty small, but you couldn’t tell from the quality of his game. He’s a nice addition.

Philly also acquired Darius “Big Play” Slay, who played the first seven years of his career with the Lions. He had a down year in 2019, but I’m not worried he can rebound in a new environment. He’s been covering opponent’s top receivers for a while in this league, and he’s done a good job at it. He has 19 career interceptions.

Ronald Darby’s career has been plagued with injuries recently and he was let go during the offseason. His PFF grade took an enormous drop last year, all the way from a respectable 70.6 in 2018 down to an abysmal 44.8 last year. He signed a one-year deal with the Redskins.

Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox are still on the team, but neither has proven to be an impactful contributor. Both graded as very below-average corners in 2019.

3.5 Safeties (S)

Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod both played the entire 2019 season. They ranked as the 32nd- and 52nd-best out of a bunch of 87 safeties.

The organization and Jenkins couldn’t agree on a deal, so the Eagles had to let him go after six very successful seasons. He picked off 11 passes during his six-year stint in Philly. He signed with the Saints, with which he spent the first five seasons of his career. Even though he wasn’t getting any younger, his present will be missed.

McLeod’s 2019 PFF grade was the lowest he had obtained over the past five years, but he still did a decent job.

Jalen Mills will be one piece of the puzzle in replacing Jenkins. But let’s face the reality: he has been pretty awful throughout his four-year career, except 2017 where he did better.

Another option will be newly acquired Will Parks, who is coming over from Denver. However, he’s clearly not a long-term solution either. He’s pretty versatile, but he’s a below-average player.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

This unit was upgraded quite a bit during the offseason at two positions, but it also suffered a severe downgrade at a couple others.

First, acquiring Javon Hargrave to team up with Fletcher Cox on the interior of the line was big! At CB, getting Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman will provide much needed help at a position that has caused headaches for years in Philly.

Unfortunately, the defense lost its best safety when Malcolm Jenkins signed with the Saints. Also, even though none of them was a true difference maker, losing linebackers Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill creates a hole.

Since the team acquired some big time players while losing good/average players, I envision a small improvement. In 2019, the Eagles finished in the middle of the pack in terms of points allowed per game (15th out of 32 teams). I envision Philly finishing around the #10-#13 spot this year.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small upgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Eagles are expected to win 9.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?

Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:

Here are the results:

Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 9.5 WINS 42.3% FanDuel -105 -17.4%
UNDER 9.5 WINS 57.7% Pinnacle -103 +13.7%
Tip: Bet UNDER 9.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +13.7%
Rank: 19th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -136

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Eagles’ 16 regular season games:

Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.

I invite you to take a look at my other 31 NFL team previews! Good information if you are involved in fantasy football and/or if you want to be up-to-date on player movement and teams' strengths and weaknesses (for betting purposes)!

Cheers,

Professor MJ
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Fantasy Opportunity Primer: San Francisco 49ers

With the draft complete and the bulk of the free agency rush over with, it's time to start looking ahead to the 2020 season! And with that, I'm back with year 2 of my Opportunity series.
For those who didn't see this series last year, I try to take a different approach to fantasy projections than your run-of-the-mill rankings. The basis of my process is that the number one indicator of fantasy success is opportunities to touch the ball. Obviously individual player skill can (and will) affect that, but at the end of the day players are at the mercy of playcalling and play design. Therefore, if we want to make accurate projections, we need to look at each coach's scheme and how they like to spread the ball around.
As a result, this series is very coach-centric. I'll touch on individual players, but only as they relate to their coaches' schemes. On a related note, this series will only aim to establish projections on how touches will be split up, not what individual players will be able to accomplish with those touches. That will come later once depth charts settle through training camp. Think of this series more as a basis for realistic expectations.
Make sense? Good. Let's dive in.
Most of my stats are pulled from Pro Football Reference. Please support them. They are awesome and are my primary source of statistical information.

San Francisco 49ers

Last Year's Accuracy
Total Plays Rush Attempts (Rush %) Passing Plays (Pass %) - includes sacks Sacks Allowed (Sack %) WR Targets (WR Target %) WR Receptions (WR Catch %) RB Targets (RB Target %) RB Receptions (RB Catch %) TE Targets (TE Target %) TE Receptions (TE Catch %)
2019 Projections 1015 425 (41.9%) 590 (58.1%) 40 (6.8%) 295 (53.6%) 165 (55.9%) 115 (20.9%) 85 (73.9%) 140 (25.5%) 95 (67.9%)
2019 Stats 1012 498 (49.2%) 514 (50.8%) 36 (7.0%) 233 (48.7%) 152 (65.2%) 103 (21.5%) 77 (74.8%) 131 (27.4%) 102 (77.9%)
Coaching Changes
Not much to say here. It's not like head coach Kyle Shanahan is on the hot seat after making the Super Bowl. He also doesn't have an offensive coordinator that can be poached as Shanahan is his own offensive coordinator. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was considered a head coaching candidate elsewhere, but wound up staying put.
Coaching History
Shanahan has progressively become more and more run-focused since coming to the Bay Area. When he first arrived, he ran a pass-heavy offense (61.4% pass rate) at a breakneck pace, resulting in an impressive 1058 total plays. The following year, he slowed down his offense considerably and started to lean a little more into his running game, reducing the pass rate to 57.8% and the total plays to 1003. Last year, his offense was actually one of the slowest in the NFL as he called the 2nd highest run rate in the NFL (49.2%), though an incredible jump in defensive efficiency still allowed the 49ers to run 1015 plays.
The slowdown in pace and increasing focus on the run hasn't changed the target share balances much, however. While the wide receivers were in better shape than they were in 2018, injuries and ineffectiveness continued to plague the unit. This resulted in the second consecutive year of a 48.7% target share for the group. The George Kittle-led tight end group lost all of 0.2% of their target share en route to a 27.4% mark on the season. This leaves the running backs with the biggest change at a "whopping" 1.4% increase in target share, fed by a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo being more adept at finding his checkdown target than a 2018 Nick Mullens.
Of course, all of this is also a far cry from the offense Shanahan led in Atlanta, or even from his first year in San Francisco. His offense in Atlanta was considerably more wide receiver focused, producing over a 60% target share for the unit both years Shanahan was there. This flip was primarily taken from the Falcons' tight end group as the running backs were targeted at a similar rate in the low 20% range. Meanwhile, in Shanahan's first year in charge of the 49ers, his tight ends were still targeted lightly like they had been in Atlanta but his running backs stole about 6% of the targets away from the wide receivers. The point here being that Shanahan is more than willing to make major changes to his scheme to feature whatever position group he feels is best.
Looking Ahead
While Shanahan is willing to make major changes to fit his personnel, he won't have to this year. The 49ers didn't make much noise in free agency and what little noise they did make in free agency and the draft was primarily aimed at replacing the small handful of players they lost. Heck, even the headline trade of their offseason was replacing one retiring offensive tackle with a comparable one.
With so little change in personnel (or at least very little change in talent level even where turnover did occur), there's no great reason to believe that Shanahan will operate his 2020 offense any differently than his 2019 one. The total plays and positional target shares should be more or less the same as the last two years. The run-pass ratio may slide to being slightly more pass heavy as QB Jimmy Garoppolo gets better settled in, but this will still very much be a run-heavy offense.
Not much else to say. When a team has been this consistent for two years running and doesn't do much to shake things up in the offseason, it's a good bet that they'll be consistent for a third straight year.
2020 Projections
Total Plays Rush Attempts (Rush %) Passing Plays (Pass %) - includes sacks Sacks Allowed (Sack %) WR Targets (WR Target %) WR Receptions (WR Catch %) RB Targets (RB Target %) RB Receptions (RB Catch %) TE Targets (TE Target %) TE Receptions (TE Catch %)
2019 Stats 1012 498 (49.2%) 514 (50.8%) 36 (7.0%) 233 (48.7%) 152 (65.2%) 103 (21.5%) 77 (74.8%) 131 (27.4%) 102 (77.9%)
2020 Projections 1010 485 (48.0%) 525 (52.0%) 35 (6.7%) 230 (46.9%) 150 (65.2%) 105 (21.4%) 75 (71.4%) 140 (28.6%) 100 (71.4%)
Previous Entry: Pittsburgh Steelers
Next Entry: Seattle Seahawks
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Fantasy Opportunity Primer: Green Bay Packers

With the draft complete and the bulk of the free agency rush over with, it's time to start looking ahead to the 2020 season! And with that, I'm back with year 2 of my Opportunity series.
For those who didn't see this series last year, I try to take a different approach to fantasy projections than your run-of-the-mill rankings. The basis of my process is that the number one indicator of fantasy success is opportunities to touch the ball. Obviously individual player skill can (and will) affect that, but at the end of the day players are at the mercy of playcalling and play design. Therefore, if we want to make accurate projections, we need to look at each coach's scheme and how they like to spread the ball around.
As a result, this series is very coach-centric. I'll touch on individual players, but only as they relate to their coaches' schemes. On a related note, this series will only aim to establish projections on how touches will be split up, not what individual players will be able to accomplish with those touches. That will come later once depth charts settle through training camp. Think of this series more as a basis for realistic expectations.
Make sense? Good. Let's dive in.
Most of my stats are pulled from Pro Football Reference. Please support them. They are awesome and are my primary source of statistical information.

Green Bay Packers

Last Year's Accuracy
Total Plays Rush Attempts (Rush %) Passing Plays (Pass %) - includes sacks Sacks Allowed (Sack %) WR Targets (WR Target %) WR Receptions (WR Catch %) RB Targets (RB Target %) RB Receptions (RB Catch %) TE Targets (TE Target %) TE Receptions (TE Catch %)
2019 Projections 1025 440 (42.9%) 585 (57.1%) 35 (6.0%) 330 (60.0%) 205 (62.1%) 110 (20.0%) 75 (68.2%) 110 (20.0%) 75 (68.2%)
2019 Stats 1020 411 (40.3%) 609 (59.7%) 36 (5.9%) 314 (54.8%) 192 (61.1%) 133 (23.2%) 101 (75.9%) 94 (16.4%) 63 (67.0%)
For league wide stats, see this spreadsheet.
Coaching Changes
Nothing to see here. After a two season playoff drought, Green Bay found itself back on top of the NFC North under the leadership of first year head coach Matt LaFleur. He retains right hand man Nathaniel Hackett as his offensive coordinator. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will also return after operating the bend-don't-break defense to perfection (18th in yards allowed, but 9th in scoring and T-5th in turnovers).
Coaching History
With how successful the Packers run game was in LaFleur's first year, it's really hard to believe that they only posted a 40% run rate in sharp contrast to LaFleur's first year calling plays in Tennessee. It's a testament to just how effective LaFleur was at bringing some semblance of balance back to this offense. Also impressive was how Green Bay was near the league average in plays run (1020 vs 1016) despite operating the 5th slowest offense in the NFL. Recording the 3rd highest turnover differential certainly helped that cause as well.
The re-emphasizing of running backs extended to the passing game too, where the Packers' backs posted the 8th highest target rate in the league. This success came at the expense of the wideouts and tight ends, though that shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Davante Adams was once again the only reliable wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers, and even then he missed a quarter of the year with turf toe. The tight ends, led by an aging Jimmy Graham, showed no spring in their step either. Not surprisingly, Rodgers tied for the second highest throwaway rate in the league (defined as throws without a target in this case).
Looking Ahead
Going into year 2, LaFleur made it abundantly clear that he intends to run the ball more. How else are we supposed to interpret a draft that included multiple offensive linemen, a punishing new running back, and the heir apparent to future HoFer Aaron Rodgers? Meanwhile the best weapon Green Bay added for Rodgers was journeyman WR Devin Funchess. The question isn't whether the Packers' run-pass ratio will lean further to the run side, it's how much? With Rodgers still at QB, LaFleur won't be calling a 48.5% run rate like he did with the Titans in 2018, but there's still a fair bit of space between that and the 40.3% run rate the Packers posted last year. A run rate around 42-43% seems to best strike a balance between taking advantage of Rodgers's skill while still shifting the offense toward Lafleur's preferred balance.
Along with a likely higher run rate limiting pass attempts, it's a good bet that the Packers offense won't run as many total plays this year. As mentioned above, Pettine's defense excelled at getting the ball back into the offense's hands which helped to boost what would otherwise have been a very low play total in LaFleur's clock-killing offense. It's true that there should be expected growth from the young secondary, but on the flip side the Packers lost multiple key linebackers to free agency. Yes, they had their deficiencies, but they were starters for a reason and Green Bay didn't really do much to replace them. The question then becomes whether the growth of the key players in the pass rush and secondary can overcome the deficit at linebacker. They'll also be fighting an uphill battle of turnovers being historically volatile from year to year. It's certainly possible that the Packers' defense could repeat especially given Pettine's history of success, but it won't be easy.
As for who the reduced passing volume goes to, there isn't much reason to assume any major change from last year. Losing TE Jimmy Graham might free up some targets, but then with all the tight ends Green Bay has collected it's possible that LaFleur will start running more 2TE sets as you would typically expect with a more run-focused team. Rookie A.J. Dillon might help the running backs to claim a larger share, but then he also could easily slide in to simply replace Jamaal Williams. Perhaps a healthy Davante Adams combined with Devin Funchess will lead to a larger share for the wideouts, but there was a sizable committee vying for time last year that Adams and Funchess will likely eat into first. All in all it's fair to expect a split very similar to last year.
2020 Projections
Total Plays Rush Attempts (Rush %) Passing Plays (Pass %) - includes sacks Sacks Allowed (Sack %) WR Targets (WR Target %) WR Receptions (WR Catch %) RB Targets (RB Target %) RB Receptions (RB Catch %) TE Targets (TE Target %) TE Receptions (TE Catch %)
2019 Stats 1020 411 (40.3%) 609 (59.7%) 36 (5.9%) 314 (54.8%) 192 (61.1%) 133 (23.2%) 101 (75.9%) 94 (16.4%) 63 (67.0%)
2020 Projections 1000 430 (43.0%) 570 (57.0%) 35 (6.1%) 290 (54.2%) 185 (63.8%) 125 (23.4%) 90 (72.0%) 95 (17.8%) 65 (68.4%)
Previous Entry: Detroit Lions
Next Entry: Houston Texans
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Defending the Draft: New England Patriots

Preface
Going into the 2019 season, the Patriots held very high expectations. The defense that had just shut down the high-powered 2018 Rams offense had arguably gotten better. Although the offense had lost Rob Gronkowski, the addition of first-round WR N’Keal Harry and free agent Demaryius Thomas seemed to at least keep their offensive options. Combining this with Sony Michel coming off a successful rookie campaign and 4 of 5 starters of a strong offensive line, with Trent Brown being replaced by 2018 1st round selection Isaiah Wynn, the offensive situation looked optimistic for New England.
As the team progressed through the 2019 preseason and into the season itself, things began to look even better. Although N’Keal Harry injured himself in the first preseason game, the team was eventually informed that Josh Gordon would be reinstated, even being allowed to start Week 1. The defense showed its prowess throughout the preseason, especially against the Lions and Panthers, with the only bad game coming against the Giants, when the Patriots mainly played people at the bottom of the depth chart. To add to New England fans’ excitement, they saw their team sign WR Antonio Brown the night before the team’s debut against the Steelers. As New England embarrassed Brown’s former team 33-3, and then the Dolphins 43-0 it seemed almost inevitable that New England would become the first franchise to win 7 Super Bowls.
However, that was not how the season progressed. Brown couldn’t handle himself even under Belichick’s control, and his decision to threaten the children of one of his accusers of sexual assault found him released from the team. Josh Gordon was injured Week 6 against the Giants, eventually being medically released and later found to have relapsed when he was on the Seahawks. The rest of the offense was riddled with injuries: Julian Edelman had nagging rib injuries, Philip Dorsett hurt his foot early in the year and also sustained a concussion, Mohammed Sanu sustained an ankle injury in his first game, early kick/punt returner Gunner Olsewski was injured in Week 7, Brady himself reportedly struggled with his elbow. The worst effects of injury came against the Offensive Line, as 4 out of the 5 starters sustained some injury, and this is not including the fact that C David Andrews missed the whole season because of pulmonary embolism. The most impactful injury out of this bunch was LT Isaiah Wynn, as the team had to deploy Marshall Newhouse to replace him, a role that Newhouse did not fill adequately, to say the least. Blocking also suffered when FB James Devlin suffered a season ending injury, followed by his backup Jakob Johnson also being put on IR only a few games later. Matt LaCosse and Ben Watson both missed multiple games, forcing the team to only roll with Ryan Izzo at tight end at some times.
These many injuries, as well as a terrible TE corps, not only stunted the passing attack but also crippled the running game. Michel was often met and tackled in the backfield, resulting in a terrible YPC despite being the AFC East’s leading rusher. Despite these offense struggles, the team’s excellent defense performance, in combination with facing many subpar offenses, carried the team to a 12-4 record and the 3rd seed in the AFC. However, the offensive struggles were too great for the team; although the team’s defense held the red-hot Titans offense to 14 points and gave the offense multiple chances to pull ahead, the offense failed to perform when needed, unable to finish drives, even when on Tennessee’s 1-yard line. Sometimes you really do need an offense to win a championship.
Pre-draft
Notable Losses
QB Tom Brady, FA, Buccaneers: The one loss that seemed unthinkable until it really happened. Even though we knew that Brady’s contract voided after this year, many fans thought he was still going to re-sign and finish his career here. However, New England really did not have the cap space to do so and build a satisfactory team around him, causing Brady to decide to sign with the Buccaneers, a team with high offensive potential and has a shot at the super bowl. The Greatest QB of All Time will be missed here in New England, as the team experiences uncertainty at the position for the first time in nearly 20 years.
FB James Devlin, Retirement: When it was announced that it was a neck injury that sidelined Devlin for the rest of the season, his future with the team was in doubt. Once the team signed free agent Dan Vitale, it was almost certain that Devlin would announce his retirement sooner or later. James Devlin was an underrated part of the Pats’ success in the 2010s, where he proved to be a reliable lead blocker, bolstering the effectiveness of New England’s run game. His absence for most of 2019 was palpable as the team consistently struggled establishing a run game, and the Patriots have a tall task of finding an effective replacement for him.
K Stephen Gostkowski, Released: Gostkowski’s departure represented another long-time Patriot staple leaving the team, although the Patriots had started to live without him as his season ended very early due to an injury that required surgery. The Patriots missed Gostkowski’s leg last year, as the team could not reliably score field goals longer than 40 yards, causing the offense to attempt 4th down conversions deep into enemy territory.
LB Kyle Van Noy, FA, Dolphins: One of Belichick’s greatest successes in terms of correctly utilizing players that were previously viewed as ‘busts’ because their coaches could not use them correctly. Van Noy was acquired from the Lions for a measly swap of 6th and 7th picks midway through the 2016 season. Throughout his tenure with the Patriots, especially within the last two seasons, Van Noy became a staple piece in the team’s LB corps with his versatility and great fundamentals. Van Noy now joins his former LB coach Brian Flores in Miami, who will likely maximize Van Noy’s potential.
LB Elendon Roberts, FA, Miami: Elandon Roberts joined his teammate Van Noy in joining Miami to be coached under Brian Flores. Roberts was promoted to captain for his final season in New England, and primarily played most of his defensive snaps as a run-defending thumping linebacker. Roberts also filled in as an emergency FB when both Devlin and Johnson were injured, and played decently well for a third-string FB, I guess. Roberts represents another role that the Patriots had to fill through free agency and the draft.
LB Jamie Collins, FA, Lions: The Patriots added a familiar face in the athletic freak Jamie Collins heading into the 2019 season. Collins’ athleticism allowed him to flash in the early parts of the 2019 season, when he obtained a pick-six at Miami and almost blocked a Bills field goal attempt by broad jumping over the Bills’ line. Like Van Noy, Collins heads to a former Patriots defensive coach in Matt Patricia in Detroit. Unlike the Dolphins, the Lions front office did not watch the second half of the 2019 season, where Collins tended to lose discipline and become a liability in the defense, showing off some of his former issues. I highly doubt Lions fans will think Collins is worth his $10 million APY contract
DT Danny Shelton, FA, Lions: Patriots North scoops up another Patriots player, what a surprise. Going into the 2019 preseason, Shelton seemed like he might be on the outside looking in for the Patriots roster. It looked like other tackles such as Mike Pennel had the ability to replace Shelton. However, Shelton impressed and was able to earn his spot on the team. The nose tackle’s primary role throughout the season was to be a run defender, a role he played quite well. Shelton will help add some strength to a Lions defensive front that played badly last year.
DB Duron Harmon, Traded, Lions: Duron Harmon was a long-time player at the safety position, filling in the role of the third safety while working alongside McCourty and Chung. He earned the nickname of “the closer” due to his performances at the end of matches where he would end the game through obtaining an interception. The Patriots quickly found their replacement for Harmon, most notably adding DB/ST Adrian Phillips, so there really isn’t much worry for him leaving the team.
OL Coach Dante Scarnecchia, Retirement: Arguably the greatest loss that the Patriots suffered outside of Tom Brady, the OL guru has again decided to retire. Scarnecchia is responsible for the Patriots having great offensive lines throughout his tenure and is a sometimes underrated aspect of their wild success. Unlike Scar’s previous retirement in 2014 where he was replaced by Dave DeGuglielmo, both Cole Popovich and Carmen Briscillo have experience being an understudy of Scarnecchia, which will likely help to soften the blow of his retirement. There were also rumors that Scar was still advising New England on scouting the OL position for the draft, so perhaps you can never keep this man away from this team.
Additions, Extensions, Retentions,
C David Andrews, Returning from IR: Although this technically does not fit this category, Andrews deserves to be mentioned. Even though Ted Karras played decently as he was thrust into the starting role, the Patriots felt Andrews absence, especially in the run game. Losing Andrews also likely contributed to the rest of the IOL (especially Mason, who played a lot of the season with a foot injury) not performing as well as they could have. Andrews' return will improve Jarrett Stidham’s performance, both through his protection as well as increasing the effectiveness of the Patriots’ rushing attack.
OG Joe Thuney, Franchise Tag: Bringing back Thuney was a wise move for the Patriots. The star left guard will be instrumental to protecting young quarterback Jarrett Stidham as well as ensuring the run game operates smoothly. Although some consider IOL to be a low-value position, Thuney will help the team acclimate to the other changes that happened around the offense. Having a solid line is an important element of building a good offense, and Thuney will ensure that the left guard position will work reliably.
DBs Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung: With Brady leaving, the Patriots found it valuable to keep long-time veterans around the team to maintain their team morale and culture while acclimating to the personnel change. McCourty has been a captain and locker room leader of the Patriots for quite some time and will be an important leader as the team adjusts to 2020. Both McCourty and Chung will feature in what should be a very strong secondary unit throughout the 2020 season.
DB/ST Adrian Phillips, FA: Boy do the Patriots love versatility special teamers! Phillips has played well as a special teamer and also played in many positions in the Chargers secondary, and will bring his veteran experience to the Patriots secondary. He will likely play in the rotation of safeties with Chung and McCourty, filling in a similar role to Harmon, who was traded the day before Phillips was signed.
DT Beau Allen, FA: The former Buccaneers DT will likely fill in as a replacement for Danny Shelton, who left the team to play for Detroit. Allen projects to play as a run-stuffing nose tackle that will ensure the Patriots can control the run.
FB Danny Vitale, FA: Vitale is an interesting signing. While he is listed as a fullback, he probably will not be a straight replacement for the retired James Devlin. Devlin primarily filled in as a lead blocker and sometimes as a rusher, but very rarely was used as a downfield threat. Vitale has some decent athleticism and pass-catching experience that the Patriots will likely utilize. His versatility may mean the Patriots move him around a lot instead of just using him as a lead blocker, though he has decent experience at that position as well.
LB Brandon Copeland, FA: Copeland was a signing the Patriots made to help account for the losses they had in free agency. The veteran LB recently played for the division rival Jets, where he primarily performed off the ball under Gregg Williams. Copeland brings some versatility and leadership as he has had to adapt from playing from the defensive line to off the ball.
WRs Marqise Lee and Dameire Byrd, FA: Byrd’s main attribute is straight-line speed, though he really has never been able to convert it into a high amount of production, in part due to injuries. Perhaps it’s because Dorsett was on this team for three straight years, but I am not going to bet on Byrd producing just because he has speed. Lee is much more interesting, as he was able to produce solidly during 2016-17. However, Lee has not performed nearly at all in the last two years because of injuries. If Lee can return to his pre-injury form, (though not very likely), he could carve out a pretty decent role on this New England roster.
The Draft:
2.37 Kyle Dugger, DB, Lenoir-Rhyne:
It wasn’t a surprise to many Patriots fans that the team elected to trade out of their first round pick, though some that held up hope the Patriots would make a selection might have been disappointed. Many fans wondered where the team would go with their first pick, and when it was announced that the team chose a DB from a division II school, people were initially exasperated.
Belichick’s record with 2nd round defensive backs is quite well known such that it has become a meme within the fanbase and around the NFL. His main success with the position in the second round was with Patrick Chung, and even he wasn’t very successful until his second stint. Obviously, we can’t declare a player a success or failure just because of prior trends or draft position and instead should look at the player himself if we are to make a judgement upon him.
Coming out of high school, Dugger only received offers from DII schools because he was very undersized. As he eventually grew into his frame in Lenoir-Rhyne, he elected to commit to the school that recruited him. Dugger is a hard-hitting player who most likely will transition to playing in the box as a safety for the Patriots, likely eventually taking over for aging veteran Patrick Chung.
What separates Dugger from many other defensive backs the Patriots have selected over the recent years is his athleticism. Dugger running a 4.49s 40, jumping 42 inches in the vertical jump and 134 in the broad jump while being 6’1” and 217 pounds presents a mixture of speed, size, and athleticism that is rare for a safety. The main aspect of his game that the Patriots need to work on is his transition to playing against NFL-level competition. Generally, the jump from a DI school to the NFL is quite large, the difference from DII to the NFL is even larger. It will likely take a year or two for Dugger to be ready to be a significant contributor on the defense as he adjusts to his new system. Adapting to these circumstances, the Patriots have ensured that Dugger will not have a lot of pressure to perform on defense early on through extending Chung and signing Phillips. Interestingly, Dugger’s coaching throughout his years at Lenoir-Rhyne has been inconsistent, he had to play under three different coordinators during his four years at the school. Hopefully with some great coaching and system stability with Bill and Steve Belichick Dugger can carve out his role as a future player in the secondary.
Perhaps to the disappointment of some Patriots fans, Dugger’s contributions early in his career will most likely be on special teams. Dugger had experience being a returner in college, and I would not be surprised if that becomes his primary role early on in his tenure. Dugger’s athletic ability gives him the potential to become a future star on the team if he can adapt to the NFL. Only time will tell whether he works out or becomes another player too add to the list of failed second round picks.
2.60 Josh Uche, OLB, Michigan:
Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio remarked that prior to day two, the Patriots had three players they had a priority on acquiring: Dugger was one of them, and Uche was the other that the Patriots were able to draft with their selections.
Like Dugger, Uche is an explosive athlete with great speed as well as motor. Due to enduring an injury in the senior bowl, he was unable to participate in the combine. However, his athleticism shows up on film. Uche is a very versatile player, being able to play both on the line as well as off the ball and his efforts got him named the most versatile player by PFF in their 2020 draft guide. Michigan DC Don Brown said that he put Uche in nearly every position on the defense. I am sure Belichick was quite happy when he saw the 245 pound linebacker in coverage downfield against Penn State WR KJ Hamler. Amongst his versatility, his pass rush ability is what truly stands out. His 23.2% pressure rate and 28.2% pass rush win rate were second in both categories in the FBS. Uche achieved these great statistics through his incredible getoff off the line as well as good hand placement combined with his fantastic athleticism. Don Brown stated that Uche’s primary motivation was to become the best pass rusher in the country, and the dedication and work that Uche put in to be amongst the best in the country showed throughout the 2019 season. The primary aspect of Uche’s game that he needs to solidify in order to increase his role on the Patriots is increasing consistency with run defense.
Uche marked the first of five consecutive selections the Patriots made that addressed pressing needs. Considering the amount of LB talent that left over the offseason, it is possible that Uche will see a decent amount of playing time on the defense, perhaps in a similar role to former Wolverine Chase Winovich, whom Uche now rejoins in New England. I see Uche likely being the second-most impactful rookie to play for the Patriots this season, helping to strengthen the team’s pass rush, resulting in a more effective pass defense overall.
3.87 Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama:
Jennings’ selection serves as a nice complement to Uche’s. While Uche is this very athletic and undersized linebacker, Jennings better fits into the traditional, big, physical type of linebacker. Coming from Alabama, Jennings offers great fundamentals and football IQ that come from developing under Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. While he may not be the most athletic or flashy player, Jennings will likely cement his role in the Patriots defense as a solid and reliable player, especially against the run. Jennings registered great production during his time at Alabama, leading edge defenders in FBS for run-stop rate at 12.6%. The Alabama product has often been compared to former Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy due to his ability to be a versatile piece across the line.
Jennings is a very persevering player as well. In 2018 he suffered a worrying knee injury. Fortunately, the injury did not prevent him from returning to the field, but Jenninngs had to put in a lot of effort in order to return to his previous form. Saban also complimented Jennings’s dedication to improving himself in practice sessions. Jennings likely projects as an edge defender who will play very well against the run while also sometimes dropping into coverage. Jennings will likely see a fair amount of action as a rookie, especially on rushing downs. While he may not have a high ceiling, Jennings will likely be an anchor of the Pats’ defense as he progresses through his contract.
3.91 Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA:
On the offense, New England desperately needed to do something with their TE situation. Matt Lacosse may be a replacement level backup, but Ryan Izzo is not an NFL-caliber player. With very little cap space to address the position in free agency, the Patriots looked to the draft to fill their TE position. By selecting Asiasi in the third round, it is the first time the Patriots have spent a day two or higher pick on a tight end since 2010, when they selected Gronkowski.
Asiasi will likely become the Patriots number 1 option at the position. When looking at Bill Belichick’s 1991 scouting notes shared by Daniel Jeremiah, NBC analyst Phil Perry noted that Asiasi seems to fit the bill for the number one role. Devin Asiasi displayed great catching ability throughout his year starting at UCLA, only having one drop throughout the entire year. Asiasi also demonstrated great ability to run after the catch, averaging 5.6 yards in this category. Another ability that Asiasi brings as a TE that the Patriots sorely missed in 2019 is blocking. Even if Asiasi won’t perform as a great blocker (which is best reserved for #2 or #3 TEs anyway), it will most likely be better than the awfulness that was Patriot tight end blocking last year.
Asiasi was suspended for three games in the 2018 season for undisclosed reasons by Chip Kelly. However, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are on good terms with UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, meaning that they were able to confer with Kelly and confirm that Asiasi would be a good fit with the team and his suspensions were nothing to.worry about. Asiasi also possesses high football intelligence, being able to run complex concepts such as option routes in Kelly’s TE heavy offense. Even though Asiasi is undersized for what people normally think of a #1 TE , only being 6’3” and 257 lbs., his athletic ability and smooth movement should translate well into the NFL. Although Asiasi will likely be the starting Y-Tight End for the Patriots offense, I would not bet on him to break the trend of rookie TEs having low production, though Asiasi will definitely contribute in blocking.
3.101 Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech:
The Patriots also repeated something that they did 10 years ago, which was taking two tight ends in the draft. Dalton Keene is an interesting prospect to project for the Patriots. His playstyle resembles that of an F or move tight end. Even Belichick admitted after drafting Keene that they would have work to do in terms of finding him a role on this team, since the role that Keene played in the Virginia Tech offense is nothing like anything the Patriots run in their offense.
If Keene seems to be such a confusing fit for the Patriots, then what made the team trade back up into the third round in order to select him. The most defining feature that Keene exhibits through his play is toughness. He is a very dedicated and ruthless player, oftentimes toughing it out through injury and not playing with high regard to his health while on the field. The aggressiveness that Keene displayed both during practice and games caused his teammates to give him the nickname of “Rambo”. Keene’s offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen called him the toughest player he has ever seen. Keene has never produced that much in the receiving game, only racking up 341 yards in his most productive receiving season. Perhaps given his athletic talent it suggests that Virginia Tech underutilized his ability in the passing game, instead placing more focus upon his ability in the run game instead. Keene will be a versatile player and likely fill multiple roles as the Patriots’ second tight end, primarily being used as that F tight end, move tight end, or perhaps H-back. He may in fact share similar duties to FB Danny Vitale. I would be more than happy if Keene and Asiasi can combine for about 600-700 receiving yards and a few touchdowns in their rookie year.
5.159 Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall:
Another need that the Patriots needed to fill during the draft or free agency was the kicker position. Many people expected the Patriots to take someone like Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia Southern kicker Tyler Bass, or Chase Vinatieri from South Dakota. When the Patriots selected Rohrwasser, a kicker who was so unknown that he didn’t even have a profile on the NFL’s website many people were confused.
What caused the Patriots to select this unknown kicker from Marshall. Rohrwasser displayed great performance throughout the 2019 season, having a statistically better season compared to the other higher profile kickers in the draft. Rohrwasser made 18 of 21 field goals and 35 of 36 XPs. He was perfect on kicks greater than 50 yards out, even hitting a clutch field goal from 53 yards against Western Kentucky after being iced twice. Belichickj stated that the Patriots have watched over 250 kicks and were impressed by his ability to kick in clutch situations as well as poor conditions, something Rohrwasser will have to do often in the AFC East. It is unclear whether Rohrwasser will relieve punter Jake Bailey of his kickoff duties (thought I think it’s more likely than not). If there is any position I trust Bill to evaluate, it’ s the placekicker. Rohrwasser will likely be the most impactful rookie on the patriots, mainly because he is the only surefire starter out of all of them. If Rohrwasser succeeds, the Patriots will be able to not go for fourth downs deep in enemy territory again and have a good kicker on a cheap rookie deal.
6.182 Michael Onwenu, OG, Michigan:
After addressing many immediate needs, the Patriots decided to take some shots at reserve linemen. Considering what happened in 2019, it is smart for the Patriots to add some young talent to the Offensive Line in order to account for things not going according to plan.
The first thing that strikes people when they look at Onwenu is his size. This man is HUGE, especially for an interior lineman. Coming in at 6’3”, around 350 lbs (he actually weighed closer to 370 during the season at college), Onwenu is a very physically imposing presence. He is very good at doing his job of not letting defenders get by him. During his past two years at Michigan, Onwenu played 1198 snaps, Onwenu only allowed 13 pressures and 2 sacks. He plays with great power and if he is able to get his hands on the defender, then it is over. Onwenu also possesses decent movement ability for his size; he will be able to perhaps do downfield blocking a bit better than people expect him to. Also, according to Michigan’s OL coach Ed Warriner, Onenwu really doesn’t have the ability to go much lower than 345 lbs.
Onenwu will start out on the team as a backup in the iOL, though more likely in his natural position of RG. Onenwu is quite different compared to New England’s other iOLs, he is 50 pounds heavier than the rest of our starting interiors. It will be interesting to see how Onwenu is able to execute the Patriots’ offensive scheme considering how physically different he is compared to Thuney, Andrews, and Mason. Either way, Onenwu will be a reliable depth piece that can protect Stidham if any of the starters go down.
6.195 Justin Herron, OG/OT, Wake Forest:
The second lineman that the Patriots invested draft capital in was Justin Herron. Herron started 51 games for Wake Forest, exclusively at the LT position. Herron’s experience at the position will likely slot him in as the primary backup to Isaiah Wynn, who has spent a lot of time of his career injured. Herron did suffer an ACL tear in the first week of the 2018 season, but rebounded quite well in 2019. Herron, like Onwenu, is a great pass-blocker. In 2017, the season prior to tearing his ACL, Herron allowed zero sacks. In 2019, when he recovered from his ACL injury, he only allowed four sacks and 13 pressures.
Some analysts raise questions about Herron playing tackle at the next level, instead projecting him as a guard. Interestingly, analysts made similar remarks about now-starting LT Isaiah Wynn. Considering that he only played left tackle during his time in college, I think the Patriots evaluated him and will use him as a tackle. If New England wanted an interior lineman, they likely would have selected someone else. Another concern that some have about Herron is his athleticism, which showed up at the combine, especially in his 8.41s three-cone drill. Scarnecchia often said the Patriots don’t care too much about athleticism in the OL, saying that they only needed to be athletic-enough. If the Patriots were that concerned about his athletic ability, he likely wouldn’t have been selected. Even so, it’s a great idea to grab a tackle who played solidly in college and will spend most of his rookie deal as a reserve player. This pick will be a success if Herron makes the team and can competently back up Wynn if he finds himself injured again.
6.204 Cassh Maluia, LB, Wyoming:
In the midst of the Patriots grabbing multiple offensive lineman, the Patriots selected another linebacker to increase their depth. During the 2019 season, Maluia went relatively under the radar due to his fellow linebacker and 65th overall pick Logan Wilson. However, those who studied Wilson likely saw Maluia pop out on a few occasions and make great plays. Maluia is an athletic and undersized linebacker, weighing in at only 231 lbs. His athleticism showed up both on tape and on the field, where Maluia displayed versatility across the field being able to both be a thumper as well as a decent coverage player. Maluia’s biggest concern is probably his tackling form, as his aggressiveness caused him to miss a fair amount of times. If Maluia makes the 53 man, he will likely contribute mostly as a special teams player, though his athletic ability might allow him to play a few snaps at defense.
7.230 David Woodard, C, Memphis:
With their final selection in the 2020 NFL draft, the Patriots threw a dart at another reserve lineman. Woodard played all across his the iOL throughout his college career, displaying the versatility that is desired in a backup lineman. Woodard does not have athletic testing available, though some analysts expressed concern about his athletic ability and his size, as Woodard only weighs 291 lbs. As detailed earlier, the Patriots generally concern themself more with technique than pure size and athleticism, and Woodard displays great technique. He graded out as the best run-blocking and second best pass-blocking center in 2019 through PFFs metrics. The Patriots will likely have to still improve Woodard’s technique to make him a future part of the team. Woodard projects as a reserve interior guy, particularly backing up C David Andrews if he makes the team.
UDFAs
Considering that a UDFA has made the New England roster for 16 straight years, I think it is appropriate to talk about some of the more interesting prospects in short. These are not all of the FAs the Patriots signed but some that I think are the most interesting and have the greatest chance to make the team.
For the QB position, the Patriots signed Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke and Louisiana Tech QB J’Mar Smith. Lewerke initially showed promise but a shoulder injury he suffered in 2018 really derailed his career. Smith is more interesting, as he displayed his athleticism throughout his career, as well as possessing great arm strength and ability to make flash off-platform throws. He was suspended for a game, but in his 11 starts he went 10-1 and won C-USA offensive player of the year. Neither QB really poses much threat to Stidham, but if one of them shows promise (especially Smith, who reportedly had a few offers from other teams), don’t be surprised if Belichick makes space for them on the 53 man roster.
For the WR position, which many people were surprised the Patriots did not take a shot at in the draft, the most interesting players are Auburn WR Will Hastings and Miami WR Jeff Thomas. Hastings was Stidham’s former slot receiver in college, racking up 26 receptions and 525 yards with the QB in 2017. Hastings tore his ACL prior to 2018, and Stidham missed his reliable option during the season. Hastings ran a 4.49s 40 and a blistering 6.64s 3-cone during his pro-day. Hasting’s connection with Stidham may allow for him to sneak onto the team. Thomas, on the other hand, mostly specialized as a deep threat for the Hurricanes. Even though he is undersized at 5’9 and 170 lbs, many scouts said he displayed draftable talent throughout his career. The aspect of Thomas that was more influential in making him a UDFA is his character concerns. Thomas has had an issue with nearly every coaching staff that he has interacted with, and got kicked off the 2018 team for attitude issues. If Thomas can pull himself together and realize that there are no more chances, he could transform into a future weapon for the Patriots.
Arizona RB J.J. Taylor is another interesting pickup for the Patriots. He is very short, coming in at only 5’5” tall (never in my life did I think I would be taller than a Pats player), but still manages to pack 185 lbs. Despite his size, Taylor is quite talented, displaying some decent shiftiness as well as the ability to bounce through contact. Perhaps because of his size and elusive playstyle, he has drawn comparisons to former Patriots RB Dion Lewis. If Taylor can show enough ability throughout the offseason, he might be able to get the Patriots to replace a RB, primarily Rex Burkhead, who many Pats fans theorize the team will cut for a few years now.
Ohio State TE Rashod Berry is another interesting player the Patriots picked up. He reportedly may change his position to OLB. Berry had some experience playing defense for Ohio State early in his career, though he did some snaps along the defense for a few games in his senior year. Many Ohio State fans say that Berry is a very athletic player who was underutilized by the Ohio State system. Wherever he plays, it will be interesting to see how his skill translates to the next level.
On the defensive side of the ball the Patriots were able to sign Auburn EDGE Nick Coe after negotiations between him and the Bills fell through. Coe was one of the top ranked free agents after the draft talent-wise, as he produced well in his first few seasons at Auburn. He is a much more prototypical big edge player the Patriots generally use in their system, but also has the versatility to play off the ball. However, Coe seems happiest playing as an edge rusher off the line. Coe’s main issue is his off-the field issues, where he feuded with his coaching staff over his assignments on the team, and also did not put in as much effort as a result. Coe is a very high-potential signing, but he will have to accept whatever role New England gives him if he wants to succeed.
The signing that gave the most guaranteed money went to Arkansas LB De’Jon Harris. Harris primarily plays as a thumping linebacker, which will likely be his role if he manages the Patriots. He has been theorized to fill a similar role to Elandon Roberts did last year (though likely not as a FB on offense). As a thumper, Harris’ best ability is tracking down and meeting the ball carrier, except he does suffer from some tackling issues.
The Patriots somehow managed to convince Bill Murray to join the team, where he will slot in on the defensive line. The DT from William & Mary displays good ability to be disruptive along the defensive line, though keep in mind that this was against FCS competition. Murray also managed to block 10 kicks during his tenure, something that Belichick is surely proud of. He reportedly is also a guy who is great at making his teammates laugh, perhaps like his celebrity counterpart. Considering that DL is a weaker position on the Patriots, Murray has a real shot to get on the team with his talent.
If I am going to talk about UDFAs that have a great chance of making the team, I am not going to overlook the secondary. The DB that the patriots signed this year was Washington’s Myles Bryant. Bryant is another undersized player, only coming at 5’8” and 183 lbs.. and primarily played free safety in 2019 after playing slot corner for the previous two years. Bryant showed good short-area quickness on the field as well as in athletic testing, running a 6.81s 3-cone. His greatest weakness is tackling, likely worsened by his small size. Bryant will need to improve his tackling if he wants to make the team. I also wanted to shout out 2019 UDFA UNM DB D’Angelo Ross, another undersized corner that showed some promise in the preseason prior to suffering a season-ending injury. I still don’t fully understand why Belichick spends so many premier picks on DBs when he can just pull great ones out of his rear nearly every year in the UDFA market.
Roster Projection:
Projecting the Patriots roster is especially difficult due to the amount of bodies at many positions such as OL, LB, and DB. This problem is exacerbated by the fact I haven’t seen anyone play yet or have the most recent updates on everyone’s health. I am not confident that this roster will be that accurate to the final roster that appears week 1.
QB (2) - Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
RB (5) - Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, Damien Harris
FB (1) - Dan Vitale
WR (7) - N’Keal Harry, Mohammed Sanu, Julian Edelman, Marqise Lee, Jakobi Meyers, Matt Slater, Jeff Thomas
TE (2) - Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene
OL (9) - Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron, Hjalte Froholdt, Michael Onwenu
DL (4) - Adam Butler, Beau Allen, Lawrence Guy, Byron Cowart
EDGE/LB (9) - Deatrich Wise, Chase Winovich, John Simon, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Cassh Maluia, Brandon King
CB (6) - Stephon Gilmore, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Justin Bethel,
S (5) - Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Terrence Brooks
K - Justin Rohrwasser
P - Jake Bailey
LS - Joe Cardona
KR and PR - Dugger
Conclusion?
The Patriots enter a time of uncertainty that hasn’t existed in my lifetime. This 2020 squad is very hard to predict because of all the unknowns that exist all over the team, most notably at QB. It is possible that the Patriots perform better on the offense this year due to the sheer amount of players that are now healthy, especially alongside the offensive line. Although it is most likely the Patriots will not be a contender this year, depending on how well Stidham and the rest of the offense perform and develop, the team could bring itself into contention as early as 2021. I anxiously, but optimistically, await this team’s future.
submitted by Woodennickel20 to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]

Will the New Orleans Saints win OVER/UNDER 10.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
  1. Introduction
The Saints secured the #2 seed in last year’s playoffs following a great 13-3 season, despite Drew Brees missing five games.
Unfortunately, for the third straight season, the Saints were eliminated in dramatic fashion. After suffering through the “Minneapolis Miracle” in 2018 and the non-call on a critical blatant interference penalty against the Rams in 2019, the Saints lost a 26-20 overtime thriller at home against the Vikings. Once again, officials were questioned when the replay showed Kyle Rudolph possibly pushed P.J. Williams on the game-winning touchdown.
Bad luck just continues to stick to this franchise. Will it be THE year where they shake it all off?

  1. Regular Season Wins
According to sportsbooks, the New Orleans Saints are expected to win 10.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?
Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:
Here are the results

Estimated probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 10.5 Wins 52% Fan Duel +100 +4.0%
UNDER 10.5 Wins 48% William Hill -110 -8.4%
Tip: Bet OVER 10.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +4.0%
Rank: 30th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -108
Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.

3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
QUARTERBACKS (QB)
Drew Brees is simply unbelievable on the field, and a wonderful human being. He donated $5 million to deliver meals to needy people in the Louisiana state. A great gesture from him and his wife.
Will he ever slow down or what? He is now 41 years old, but his numbers have kept impressing. He has completed at least 70% of his passes in each of his past four seasons, which is jaw-dropping! He led the league in that category last year.
His TD-to-INT ratio has also improved of late. Over the past two years, he has thrown 59 TD passes versus just 9 picks.
Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater left for Carolina during the offseason. Who can blame him? He deserved a chance to be a starter in this league once again. He’s joining a much weaker team, though. He did a very good job when Brees went down to a thumb injury.
For a moment, the backup QB became Taysom Hill, who has been the jack-of-all-trades in this offense. He can throw, he can run, he can catch.
However, it’s unclear who gets the #2 role following the signing of Jameis Winston, also known as “The Turnover Machine.”
Winston threw for 5,109 yards last year, which turned out to be the 8th-most in league history. However, the 30 interceptions (!!!) and five lost fumbles put a big blemish on his 2019 season. A 60.7% completion rate wasn’t all that great, either. He has great weapons to work with, including stud receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Playing for the Saints could end up being the best thing that has ever happened to Winston. He will get great tips from Drew Brees who, unlike Winston, doesn’t turn the ball over often. The former Buc has a great arm and he is in his mid-twenties; not all hope is lost for the former #1 overall pick out of Florida State.

RUNNING BACKS (RB)
Alvin Kamara’s numbers have been incredibly steady since entering the league in 2017. He has rushed for 728, 883 and 797 yards during that time frame, while catching exactly 81 balls (!!!) in each of these three seasons. His TD output was his lowest of his career though, as he only scored six total touchdowns in 2019.
It is worth noting, though, that he battled through injuries last year. He had more trouble breaking tackles down the stretch. He will be back at 100% when the 2020 season begins.
Latavius Murray is nice luxury as a backup running back. He picked up almost as many rushing yards as Kamara, while posting a nice 4.4 yards-per-carry average. This figure has never been lower than 3.9 in any of his six years in the NFL, which is remarkable.
Kamara missed two games last year; in those games, Murray racked up 150 and 157 total yards with a couple of touchdowns in each of those contests. The Saints will be in good hands if Kamara gets hurt.

WIDE RECEIVERS (WR)
Michael Thomas broke Marvin Harrison’s single-season record for receptions by catching 149 balls. He caught a minimum of four passes in all games and cleared the 100-receiving yard mark on 10 occasions.
Thomas was truly dominant. What’s even more incredible is he caught 149-of-185, which amounts to a mind-boggling 80.5% catch rate (an unbelievable percentage given the high volume).
With Thomas and Kamara catching so many passes, that didn’t leave many targets to the other receivers. Ted Ginn’s play seemed to drop off quite a bit, as he caught 30-of-56 balls thrown his way. He has his second-worst PFF grade over his 13-year career. At 35 years old, you have to wonder whether he has some gas left in the tank or not. I don’t believe he can rebound in 2020.
Meanwhile, Tre’Quan Smith was a disappointment last year. He did catch 5 TD passes for the second straight year after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, but catching 18 passes for 234 yards won’t be anyone very excited.
As if the team needed more playmakers, they went on to get Emmanuel Sanders who started the year in Denver before getting traded to San Francisco.
Sanders suffered a brutal Achilles injury in 2018, but that did not prevent him from having a very nice 2019 season. He totaled 66 receptions for 869 yards and 5 TDs. He’s a nice get considering Ginn is getting older and Smith has yet to pan out.

TIGHT ENDS (TE)
Jared Cook is another aging player who has done surprisingly well. He hauled in 43 passes for 705 yards, which was not that close from being career-highs. However, his 9 TD receptions and his 16.4 yards-per-catch average were his career best. He started the season slowly, but seemed to develop a great chemistry with Drew Brees down the stretch.
Josh Hill is not much of a receiver, but he does the job as a blocker. He’s been with the team for seven years and 2019 was his best season in terms of receptions (25) and receiving yards (226). He is not a threat to take away Cook’s number one role.
The team traded four picks in order to select Adam Trautman out of Dayton in the third round of this year’s draft. His receiving production increased in each of his four years in college; it culminated with a 70-916-14 receiving line in 11 starts. Wow, 14 TDs in 11 games?!?
The only question surrounding Trautman is: can he handle a much higher level of competition than what he faced with Dayton? He could become a starter in 2021, considering Jared Cook’s age.

OFFENSIVE LINE (OL)
This is an exceptional group and all players are returning for the 2020 season, which does not bode well for opposing defenses.
Center Erik McCoy was picked in the second round of the draft last year and he competed with Nick Easton and Cameron Tom during training camp. McCoy won the job and finished as the number 4 center out of 37 guys, based on PFF ratings. I think it’s fair to say it was a great season for him.
Left tackle Terron Armstead made it to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year. He has received good marks in each of his seven seasons with the Saints. Drew Brees can rest easy with his blindside being protected by Armstead.
At right tackle the Saints have Ryan Ramczyk. PFF made him the #1 tackle in the entire league with a 90.9 grade last year. He has improved in each of his three seasons and has started all games but one.
At guard, New Orleans has Larry Warford and Andrus Peat. Warford was the 8th-best guard in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus ratings, while Peat was the only guy to struggle on this offensive line. Indeed, he finished at spot #70.
We observe a weird tendency regarding Peat. His PFF grades in his first three seasons were 68.0, 71.5 and 68.3, which is decent. Then, his marks took a huge dip in 2018: an abysmal 39.8. He followed it up with a 48.5 grade last year. The team doesn’t seem too concern about his level of play since they re-signed him to a lucrative five-year, $57.5 million contract.
Taking center Cesar Ruiz in the first round last April was a bit surprising. New Orleans already has a great center with McCoy. Head coach Sean Payton already claimed that right guard Larry Warford will have to compete for his job with either Ruiz or McCoy. Even though Warford played well last year, he is entering the final year of his contract.
For your information, Ruiz did not allow a single sack as a junior with Michigan last year. He also does a good job run blocking.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE
My opinion won’t be popular, but I do see a downgrade here. Sure, returning pretty much the entire 2019 lineup is great, but I’m wary of a few things.
First, the age factor. Brees is 41 years old and your body gets hurt more easily when you reach your forties. You can’t deny he has a higher likelihood of getting injured this season. If that happens, losing Teddy Bridgewater is going to hurt the offense, although Winston might pick up the slack if he can cut down on the turnovers.
Jared Cook, Emmanuel Sanders and Ted Ginn are also getting up there in age. Also, how in the world could you expect Michael Thomas to play at a higher level than last year? He is much more likely to regress than to improve upon his 2019 performance.
Finally, the offensive line did not suffer many injuries last season, except Andrus Peat who missed six games, but he was the weakest link on the line anyway. I don’t wish them bad luck, but one of their top four guys could easily get hurt, due to the physical nature of the game.
The Saints scored the third-highest number of points last year, and I’ll cautiously put them in the #5 to #8 spot.
Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small Downgrade


4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (DL)
Signing a contract extension with David Onyemata was a priority for the organization. They did just that during the offseason. The team clearly likes him, despite a mediocre 55.3 PFF grade last year (he finished as the number 97 DL out of 114 qualifiers).
Sheldon Rankins is a former first-round pick who had a breakout 2018 campaign, which included a career-high 8 sacks. He was much quieter last year.
Rankins tore his Achilles’ in early 2019, and landed on injured reserve in December 2019 after coming close to tearing the other one. That’s a major question mark since such injuries are always tricky for football players.
Malcom Brown played close to 50% of the snaps last year. After spending four years in New England as a former first-rounder, he had a decent first year in New Orleans. He’s more effective defending the run than he is rushing the passer (he has recorded just two sacks in the past two years).
Shy Tuttle is more of a rotational player. His rookie season as an undrafted free agent exceeded expectations and he clearly deserves a shot to be back this year.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (DE) / EDGE (ED)
The Saints have a fantastic duo with Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, two former 1st round picks.
Jordan set a career-high with 15.5 sacks last year, after posting 12 and 13 sacks the previous two seasons. He’s an incredibly tough guy; can you believe he hasn’t missed a single game throughout his nine-year professional career? That’s phenomenal!
Davenport took a nice forward leap in his sophomore year. His PFF grade went up from 69.7 to 84.1. According to this grading system, Davenport was the 18th-best edge defender out of 107 guys.
Trey Hendrickson provides good depth for the Saints. He has shown improvement in each of his first three years in the league. He sacked opposing QBs on 4.5 occasions last year, after racking up just two in his first two years. The 25-year old is primed for another leap in 2020.
After a promising rookie season, Mario Edwards has been released a couple of times. He works as a rotational pass-rusher; he played 28% of the snaps last year. He’s been bothered by neck and hip injuries throughout his first five years in the league.

LINEBACKERS (LB)
Demario Davis was exceptional in all facets of the game last year. He played so well that he earned the #1 spot out of 89 LBs based on the PFF grading system.
He seems unlikely to repeat his 2019 performance, though. His PFF marks never exceeded 63 during his first five years. They went up to 73.7 and 75.1 in 2017 and 2018 before exploding to an astounding 90.4 last year. Entering his age-31 campaign, I find it hard to believe he could duplicate his success.
A.J. Klein’s career has been a roller-coaster ride. He’s had up-and-down years. Most recently, he had horrible 2016, 2017 and 2019 seasons, but above-average years in 2015 and 2018. He signed with Buffalo, so the Saints won’t need to deal with his inconsistencies anymore.
Is Kiko Alonso ready to embrace a bigger role in this defense? The answer is unclear. He played fairly well last year after two straight dreadful seasons in Miami, but his health is an issue. He tore his ACL during the playoff loss to the Vikings. That required the third ACL surgery of his career, which leaves some doubt about whether his quickness will be affected or not.
Considering the lack of depth at the position, drafting Zack Baun in the third round made sense. The former Badger has a high chance of starting right away. He collected 19.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks as a senior. He’s a bit undersized for the position, which means he could potentially struggle against the run but he’s a fierce pass rusher. Many mock drafts had him going in Round 2, so it seems like a good value pick that also fits a need.

CORNERBACKS (CB)
Eli Apple was let go during the offseason. He’s been nothing short of a disappointment since being selected as the No. 10 overall pick in 2016. He’s fine against the run, but his covering skills have been below standard.
Strangely enough, Marshon Lattimore’s PFF grades have decreased every year: 86.1 as a rookie first-round pick in 2017, 78.5 in his sophomore season and 65.6 last year. Granted, a hamstring injury limited him in 2019.
Lattimore picked off 5 passes in his rookie season, then just three over the past two years. He does have the potential to make it back among the best corners in the league.
P.J. Williams was primarily used as a slot corner last year, and things didn’t go so well. Just like Lattimore, his PFF grades have dipped every year. He finished as the 100th-bets CB out of 112 players.

SAFETIES (S)
Marcus Williams enjoyed a very successful rookie season before being the victim of the sophomore slump. However, he came back super strong last year. PFF ranked him as the third-best safety in the league, only behind Minnesota’s Anthony Harris and Denver’s Justin Simmons. He has a knack for big plays, as shown by his 10 career interceptions, one TD and two forced fumbles.
New Orleans lost its other starting safety, Vonn Bell, in the free agency market. His coverage skills were below-average, but he was one of the best in the business defending the run.
The team figures to replace him with Malcolm Jenkins, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles. He is seven years older than Bell, but he’s a proven veteran.
After five rocky seasons with the Saints during the 2009-2013 period, Jenkins had six consecutive good seasons in Philly. Now back with the team that drafted him 11 years ago, Saints fans are crossing their fingers he can keep up his nice level of play. Last year, Jenkins was the 32nd-best safety in the NFL based on PFF rankings.
I just don’t understand the length of Jenkins’ deal: a four-year deal with a 32-year old guy? Really?
The Saints traded up during the 2019 draft to secure the rights to Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the 4th round. He showed promise in his rookie season with very decent grades, especially against the run. He played 51% of the snaps and picked up his first interception and forced fumble of his career.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE
The Saints allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the league last year. That seems unlikely to happen again in 2020. Rankins’ health concerns me. I don’t believe Onyemata is that good. And Demario Davis’ play is extremely likely to regress after an unexpected phenomenal 2019 season.
As for the pass defense, I expect similar production as last year. Plugging Malcolm Jenkins instead of Vonn Bell at safety seems like an upgrade to me. However, losing Eli Apple is hardly good news. He was “okay” last season, but he had potential and he still needs to be replaced. Hopefully, plan B is not P.J. Williams because he does not appear to be the answer.
New Orleans finished 13th in points allowed last year. I expect a small drop, perhaps to a spot ranging between 15 and 19.
Final call (2020 vs 2019) : Small downgrade
submitted by David-MJ to sportsbook [link] [comments]

Will the New Orleans Saints win OVER/UNDER 10.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
1. Introduction
The Saints secured the #2 seed in last year’s playoffs following a great 13-3 season, despite Drew Brees missing five games.
Unfortunately, for the third straight season, the Saints were eliminated in dramatic fashion. After suffering through the “Minneapolis Miracle” in 2018 and the non-call on a critical blatant interference penalty against the Rams in 2019, the Saints lost a 26-20 overtime thriller at home against the Vikings. Once again, officials were questioned when the replay showed Kyle Rudolph possibly pushed P.J. Williams on the game-winning touchdown.
Bad luck just continues to stick to this franchise. Will it be THE year where they shake it all off?

2. Regular Season Wins
According to sportsbooks, the New Orleans Saints are expected to win 10.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?
Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:
- Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games.
- Convert those point spreads into win probabilities.
- Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software.
- Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons).
- Count the proportion of seasons where the Saints won more or less than 10.5 games.
Here are the results

Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 10.5 Wins 52% Fan Duel +100 +4.0%
UNDER 10.5 Wins 48% William Hill -110 -8.4%
Tip: Bet OVER 10.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +4.0%
Rank: 30th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -108
Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.

3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
QUARTERBACKS (QB)
Drew Brees is simply unbelievable on the field, and a wonderful human being. He donated $5 million to deliver meals to needy people in the Louisiana state. A great gesture from him and his wife.
Will he ever slow down or what? He is now 41 years old, but his numbers have kept impressing. He has completed at least 70% of his passes in each of his past four seasons, which is jaw-dropping! He led the league in that category last year.
His TD-to-INT ratio has also improved of late. Over the past two years, he has thrown 59 TD passes versus just 9 picks.
Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater left for Carolina during the offseason. Who can blame him? He deserved a chance to be a starter in this league once again. He’s joining a much weaker team, though. He did a very good job when Brees went down to a thumb injury.
For a moment, the backup QB became Taysom Hill, who has been the jack-of-all-trades in this offense. He can throw, he can run, he can catch.
However, it’s unclear who gets the #2 role following the signing of Jameis Winston, also known as “The Turnover Machine.”
Winston threw for 5,109 yards last year, which turned out to be the 8th-most in league history. However, the 30 interceptions (!!!) and five lost fumbles put a big blemish on his 2019 season. A 60.7% completion rate wasn’t all that great, either. He has great weapons to work with, including stud receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Playing for the Saints could end up being the best thing that has ever happened to Winston. He will get great tips from Drew Brees who, unlike Winston, doesn’t turn the ball over often. The former Buc has a great arm and he is in his mid-twenties; not all hope is lost for the former #1 overall pick out of Florida State.

RUNNING BACKS (RB)
Alvin Kamara’s numbers have been incredibly steady since entering the league in 2017. He has rushed for 728, 883 and 797 yards during that time frame, while catching exactly 81 balls (!!!) in each of these three seasons. His TD output was his lowest of his career though, as he only scored six total touchdowns in 2019.
It is worth noting, though, that he battled through injuries last year. He had more trouble breaking tackles down the stretch. He will be back at 100% when the 2020 season begins.
Latavius Murray is nice luxury as a backup running back. He picked up almost as many rushing yards as Kamara, while posting a nice 4.4 yards-per-carry average. This figure has never been lower than 3.9 in any of his six years in the NFL, which is remarkable.
Kamara missed two games last year; in those games, Murray racked up 150 and 157 total yards with a couple of touchdowns in each of those contests. The Saints will be in good hands if Kamara gets hurt.

WIDE RECEIVERS (WR)
Michael Thomas broke Marvin Harrison’s single-season record for receptions by catching 149 balls. He caught a minimum of four passes in all games and cleared the 100-receiving yard mark on 10 occasions.
Thomas was truly dominant. What’s even more incredible is he caught 149-of-185, which amounts to a mind-boggling 80.5% catch rate (an unbelievable percentage given the high volume).
With Thomas and Kamara catching so many passes, that didn’t leave many targets to the other receivers. Ted Ginn’s play seemed to drop off quite a bit, as he caught 30-of-56 balls thrown his way. He has his second-worst PFF grade over his 13-year career. At 35 years old, you have to wonder whether he has some gas left in the tank or not. I don’t believe he can rebound in 2020.
Meanwhile, Tre’Quan Smith was a disappointment last year. He did catch 5 TD passes for the second straight year after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, but catching 18 passes for 234 yards won’t be anyone very excited.
As if the team needed more playmakers, they went on to get Emmanuel Sanders who started the year in Denver before getting traded to San Francisco.
Sanders suffered a brutal Achilles injury in 2018, but that did not prevent him from having a very nice 2019 season. He totaled 66 receptions for 869 yards and 5 TDs. He’s a nice get considering Ginn is getting older and Smith has yet to pan out.

TIGHT ENDS (TE)
Jared Cook is another aging player who has done surprisingly well. He hauled in 43 passes for 705 yards, which was not that close from being career-highs. However, his 9 TD receptions and his 16.4 yards-per-catch average were his career best. He started the season slowly, but seemed to develop a great chemistry with Drew Brees down the stretch.
Josh Hill is not much of a receiver, but he does the job as a blocker. He’s been with the team for seven years and 2019 was his best season in terms of receptions (25) and receiving yards (226). He is not a threat to take away Cook’s number one role.
The team traded four picks in order to select Adam Trautman out of Dayton in the third round of this year’s draft. His receiving production increased in each of his four years in college; it culminated with a 70-916-14 receiving line in 11 starts. Wow, 14 TDs in 11 games?!?
The only question surrounding Trautman is: can he handle a much higher level of competition than what he faced with Dayton? He could become a starter in 2021, considering Jared Cook’s age.

OFFENSIVE LINE (OL)
This is an exceptional group and all players are returning for the 2020 season, which does not bode well for opposing defenses.
Center Erik McCoy was picked in the second round of the draft last year and he competed with Nick Easton and Cameron Tom during training camp. McCoy won the job and finished as the number 4 center out of 37 guys, based on PFF ratings. I think it’s fair to say it was a great season for him.
Left tackle Terron Armstead made it to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year. He has received good marks in each of his seven seasons with the Saints. Drew Brees can rest easy with his blindside being protected by Armstead.
At right tackle the Saints have Ryan Ramczyk. PFF made him the #1 tackle in the entire league with a 90.9 grade last year. He has improved in each of his three seasons and has started all games but one.
At guard, New Orleans has Larry Warford and Andrus Peat. Warford was the 8th-best guard in the NFL according to ProFootballFocus ratings, while Peat was the only guy to struggle on this offensive line. Indeed, he finished at spot #70.
We observe a weird tendency regarding Peat. His PFF grades in his first three seasons were 68.0, 71.5 and 68.3, which is decent. Then, his marks took a huge dip in 2018: an abysmal 39.8. He followed it up with a 48.5 grade last year. The team doesn’t seem too concern about his level of play since they re-signed him to a lucrative five-year, $57.5 million contract.
Taking center Cesar Ruiz in the first round last April was a bit surprising. New Orleans already has a great center with McCoy. Head coach Sean Payton already claimed that right guard Larry Warford will have to compete for his job with either Ruiz or McCoy. Even though Warford played well last year, he is entering the final year of his contract.
For your information, Ruiz did not allow a single sack as a junior with Michigan last year. He also does a good job run blocking.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE
My opinion won’t be popular, but I do see a downgrade here. Sure, returning pretty much the entire 2019 lineup is great, but I’m wary of a few things.
First, the age factor. Brees is 41 years old and your body gets hurt more easily when you reach your forties. You can’t deny he has a higher likelihood of getting injured this season. If that happens, losing Teddy Bridgewater is going to hurt the offense, although Winston might pick up the slack if he can cut down on the turnovers.
Jared Cook, Emmanuel Sanders and Ted Ginn are also getting up there in age. Also, how in the world could you expect Michael Thomas to play at a higher level than last year? He is much more likely to regress than to improve upon his 2019 performance.
Finally, the offensive line did not suffer many injuries last season, except Andrus Peat who missed six games, but he was the weakest link on the line anyway. I don’t wish them bad luck, but one of their top four guys could easily get hurt, due to the physical nature of the game.
The Saints scored the third-highest number of points last year, and I’ll cautiously put them in the #5 to #8 spot.
Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small Downgrade


4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (DL)
Signing a contract extension with David Onyemata was a priority for the organization. They did just that during the offseason. The team clearly likes him, despite a mediocre 55.3 PFF grade last year (he finished as the number 97 DL out of 114 qualifiers).
Sheldon Rankins is a former first-round pick who had a breakout 2018 campaign, which included a career-high 8 sacks. He was much quieter last year.
Rankins tore his Achilles’ in early 2019, and landed on injured reserve in December 2019 after coming close to tearing the other one. That’s a major question mark since such injuries are always tricky for football players.
Malcom Brown played close to 50% of the snaps last year. After spending four years in New England as a former first-rounder, he had a decent first year in New Orleans. He’s more effective defending the run than he is rushing the passer (he has recorded just two sacks in the past two years).
Shy Tuttle is more of a rotational player. His rookie season as an undrafted free agent exceeded expectations and he clearly deserves a shot to be back this year.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (DE) / EDGE (ED)
The Saints have a fantastic duo with Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, two former 1st round picks.
Jordan set a career-high with 15.5 sacks last year, after posting 12 and 13 sacks the previous two seasons. He’s an incredibly tough guy; can you believe he hasn’t missed a single game throughout his nine-year professional career? That’s phenomenal!
Davenport took a nice forward leap in his sophomore year. His PFF grade went up from 69.7 to 84.1. According to this grading system, Davenport was the 18th-best edge defender out of 107 guys.
Trey Hendrickson provides good depth for the Saints. He has shown improvement in each of his first three years in the league. He sacked opposing QBs on 4.5 occasions last year, after racking up just two in his first two years. The 25-year old is primed for another leap in 2020.
After a promising rookie season, Mario Edwards has been released a couple of times. He works as a rotational pass-rusher; he played 28% of the snaps last year. He’s been bothered by neck and hip injuries throughout his first five years in the league.

LINEBACKERS (LB)
Demario Davis was exceptional in all facets of the game last year. He played so well that he earned the #1 spot out of 89 LBs based on the PFF grading system.
He seems unlikely to repeat his 2019 performance, though. His PFF marks never exceeded 63 during his first five years. They went up to 73.7 and 75.1 in 2017 and 2018 before exploding to an astounding 90.4 last year. Entering his age-31 campaign, I find it hard to believe he could duplicate his success.
A.J. Klein’s career has been a roller-coaster ride. He’s had up-and-down years. Most recently, he had horrible 2016, 2017 and 2019 seasons, but above-average years in 2015 and 2018. He signed with Buffalo, so the Saints won’t need to deal with his inconsistencies anymore.
Is Kiko Alonso ready to embrace a bigger role in this defense? The answer is unclear. He played fairly well last year after two straight dreadful seasons in Miami, but his health is an issue. He tore his ACL during the playoff loss to the Vikings. That required the third ACL surgery of his career, which leaves some doubt about whether his quickness will be affected or not.
Considering the lack of depth at the position, drafting Zack Baun in the third round made sense. The former Badger has a high chance of starting right away. He collected 19.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks as a senior. He’s a bit undersized for the position, which means he could potentially struggle against the run but he’s a fierce pass rusher. Many mock drafts had him going in Round 2, so it seems like a good value pick that also fits a need.

CORNERBACKS (CB)
Eli Apple was let go during the offseason. He’s been nothing short of a disappointment since being selected as the No. 10 overall pick in 2016. He’s fine against the run, but his covering skills have been below standard.
Strangely enough, Marshon Lattimore’s PFF grades have decreased every year: 86.1 as a rookie first-round pick in 2017, 78.5 in his sophomore season and 65.6 last year. Granted, a hamstring injury limited him in 2019.
Lattimore picked off 5 passes in his rookie season, then just three over the past two years. He does have the potential to make it back among the best corners in the league.
P.J. Williams was primarily used as a slot corner last year, and things didn’t go so well. Just like Lattimore, his PFF grades have dipped every year. He finished as the 100th-bets CB out of 112 players.

SAFETIES (S)
Marcus Williams enjoyed a very successful rookie season before being the victim of the sophomore slump. However, he came back super strong last year. PFF ranked him as the third-best safety in the league, only behind Minnesota’s Anthony Harris and Denver’s Justin Simmons. He has a knack for big plays, as shown by his 10 career interceptions, one TD and two forced fumbles.
New Orleans lost its other starting safety, Vonn Bell, in the free agency market. His coverage skills were below-average, but he was one of the best in the business defending the run.
The team figures to replace him with Malcolm Jenkins, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles. He is seven years older than Bell, but he’s a proven veteran.
After five rocky seasons with the Saints during the 2009-2013 period, Jenkins had six consecutive good seasons in Philly. Now back with the team that drafted him 11 years ago, Saints fans are crossing their fingers he can keep up his nice level of play. Last year, Jenkins was the 32nd-best safety in the NFL based on PFF rankings.
I just don’t understand the length of Jenkins’ deal: a four-year deal with a 32-year old guy? Really?
The Saints traded up during the 2019 draft to secure the rights to Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the 4th round. He showed promise in his rookie season with very decent grades, especially against the run. He played 51% of the snaps and picked up his first interception and forced fumble of his career.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE
The Saints allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the league last year. That seems unlikely to happen again in 2020. Rankins’ health concerns me. I don’t believe Onyemata is that good. And Demario Davis’ play is extremely likely to regress after an unexpected phenomenal 2019 season.
As for the pass defense, I expect similar production as last year. Plugging Malcolm Jenkins instead of Vonn Bell at safety seems like an upgrade to me. However, losing Eli Apple is hardly good news. He was “okay” last season, but he had potential and he still needs to be replaced. Hopefully, plan B is not P.J. Williams because he does not appear to be the answer.
New Orleans finished 13th in points allowed last year. I expect a small drop, perhaps to a spot ranging between 15 and 19.
Final call (2020 vs 2019) : Small downgrade
submitted by David-MJ to sportsbetting [link] [comments]

2020 NFL Draft Review - Analysis and Career Predictions for Each Team's Draft Class - NFC North

Every year after the draft, I write a way-too-long review of each team’s draft. The purpose of this draft review is to give predictions for the careers of each team’s drafted players. I’ve watched film of each player I’m commenting on. Draft grades are overly optimistic and unrealistic. Unlike the majority of post-draft coverage out there, I will pick busts. Keep in mind that 23.4% of all first-round picks bust.
Let me preface this by saying: predicting the career of an NFL draft pick is a ridiculous exercise. There is so much unknown that goes into whether a player succeeds or fails at the next level. I can make educated guesses based on team situation, supporting cast, and research about the prospect’s character and work ethic, but there’s a reason teams make so many mistakes every year. You simply don’t know for sure how a player will react to being a pro. Injuries are also a huge factor in the fate of a player and impossible to predict accurately. I still write this long prediction article for three reasons:
1 - No one else does it. 2 - It’s more interesting than draft grades. 3 - It’s fun to try to get things right.
Overview
Like NFL teams, I’m going to get things wrong. The greatest football mind in history drafted Ryan Mallett and Chad Jackson. I also like to argue against the consensus when my evaluations allow me to. That has gotten me in trouble with some unpopular predictions that turned out to be hilariously wrong. On the flip side, I don’t think anyone else predicted Lamar Jackson would be the best quarterback of his draft class. All of my picks are rooted in comprehensive film study and a mathematical understanding of what drafts typically produce (spoiler: draft grades are unrealistically generous).
Before we start, here are some of my general thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft.
Quickly on the broadcast - they did a great job given the circumstances. The production quality was great and they did more actual analysis than usual. My main gripe with draft coverage every year is that they don’t show incredible highlights (they somehow didn’t show the Aaron Dobson catch in 2013). This year, they showed more footage of actual football and I appreciated that. The only two negatives for me were the constant tragic stories and Booger McFarland.
Oh, and if any poor soul bet on Justin Jefferson Under 21.5 draft position, ESPN should apologize to you. They showed him on the phone celebrating right before cutting to Goodell announcing the 21st pick - Jalen Reagor to the Eagles. Jefferson was of course on the phone with the Vikings, who took him at 22. Brutal beat.
As for the draft, remember this tweet about mock drafts being “wronger” than ever? Funny, this was probably the chalkiest first-round ever in the internet age. Nothing was truly shocking to me, including the Packers trading up for Jordan Love (more on that later). I had Damon Arnette in the first round in my first mock draft this draft season. I wrote an article lauding Jordyn Brooks as an undervalued commodity. Noah Ibinoghene going in the first was surprising, I suppose. But there was no Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 or Tyson Alualu at No. 10. It speaks to how the media and internet scouts might be catching up to, or God forbid actually influencing the teams.
So here is the first installment of my annual draft review. Each player will receive their career prediction in parentheses following their name. For example: Joe Burrow (5). Here's how the picks break down:
5 – All-Pro: Starter who has performed at an elite level at his position. 4 – Above-Average: Starter who has been among the best at his position. 3 – Solid: Starter or valuable back-up with significant positive production. 2 – Replacement Level: Below-average starter or back-up who made minor contributions. 1 – Bust: Player who didn’t amount to anything positive.
First up, the NFC North.

Green Bay Packers

Everyone is talking about the Packers, and rightfully so. They traded up for a quarterback and with a need at receiver, didn’t select any in arguably the best receiver class of all time. They are being widely mocked by football fans everywhere for bungling the draft and quite probably infuriating Aaron Rodgers. The Packers went to the NFC Championship game last year and Rodgers is 36 years old, so they are as win-now as it gets. So how can anyone defend them trading up for a quarterback? Very easily, actually.
If your stance is “I don’t believe Jordan Love will become a franchise quarterback” then you have every right to make fun of the pick. What I find humorous is how many people seem so sure Love will fail. Surely each person meme-ing and gif-ing on twitter has studied Love's film, right? Because to be clear - if Jordan Love develops into a franchise quarterback at any point for the Packers, then this pick will have been one of the best in the entire draft. It’s only fair to criticize the pick because of conviction about the player. It makes no sense to argue they don’t need a quarterback. There is nothing more valuable than a franchise quarterback, and again, Rodgers is 36.
So I don’t believe the Packers should be the laughingstock of the league for picking Love. It is fascinating that the overwhelming sentiment is that they screwed this up, which is funny considering how difficult and unpredictable the draft is. Jordan Love has tremendous potential, and the Packers took a shot that could result in 10+ years of being set at the most important position.
Having actually done the work on him, I begrudgingly have to agree with the negative feedback because I do not believe Jordan Love (2) will develop into a franchise quarterback. Love has Mahomes-ish arm talent and athleticism. He has a smooth delivery, good pocket awareness, and throws well on the move. The physical traits are there, as few human beings in the world can deliver missiles with a flick-of-the-wrist like Love. He also processes information quickly enough and shows flashes of progressing through reads quite well. It is reasonable for a team to watch his film and project that he can make NFL-level reads and decisions. When you mix that with his arm talent, all it takes is an interview that sells his intelligence (27 on the Wonderlic) and football character for a team to fall in love.
However, there is one glaring issue in his game that I just can’t get over - his ball placement. He too frequently misplaces easy throws - flats, bubbles, slants, stick routes - including a bad pick on a corner route against Wake Forest. He also ended that game with a pick, unable to place the ball over a linebacker. These missed placements re-occur frequently on his 2019 tape. His accuracy (think a pitcher’s control) isn’t poor, especially when his feet are right. But his placement (think a pitcher’s command) is substandard.
For what it’s worth, I had similar concerns with Patrick Mahomes’ inconsistent ball placement coming out. I just didn’t know he was a football savant. I don’t think Love is Mahomes but his traits-profile and style are similar. Any discussion about Love should include the disparity between his 2018 performance (64% comp. 9.4 YPA, 32/6 TD/INT) and 2019 performance (61.9% comp., 6.4 YPA, 20/17 TD/INT). Losing coaches and talent around him is the explanation, but the contrast is quite jarring. If I loved Love, I’d be happily defending this pick on all corners of the internet. I just don’t love Love. I wonder how fans would have reacted if this pick was Tua instead....
In the second round, the Packers passed on a myriad of talented receivers for a bruising two-down workhorse back. This pick is less defensible than taking a quarterback, but I try to understand what teams are thinking. Clearly, they believe A.J. Dillon can be an impact player. I had Dillon ranked 93rd overall, but I do recognize his skillset as valuable. He's a 97th percentile SPARQ athlete with home run speed (4.53 40) at 247 pounds. He has excellent vision and can be punishing in a four-minute offense. Fantasy players want Aaron Jones to play most snaps and get 25 touches a game, but it makes sense to keep him fresher, use him on passing downs, and sit the plodding Jamaal Williams on the bench.
This picks further fortifies a strong position group, an underrated strategy in the draft. The arguments against this pick are valid - positional value, lack of passing-game help, other Green Bay needs. However, it’s also fair to recognize A.J. Dillon (3) as an impact back. It wasn’t my favorite pick, but to me, the draft is more about player than position, and Dillon will be a solid pro. I’m also not fully on board with the vocal analytics folks who think running backs aren’t valuable at all.
In the third, the Packers again surprised by adding an H-back/tight end in Josiah Deguara (1) from Cincinnati. After investing a top-75 pick in Jace Sternberger last year, the Packers again looked towards the future. Deguara likely won’t do much in 2020, but this pick sets up their 12-personnel for the Jordan Love era. Deguara can block a bit and catches the ball well, but he wasn’t even in my top 200 players in a poor tight end class. Draft slot has me thinking a bit, but I’m going to pick him to be one of many non-factors in this draft.
The Packers did nothing to help Aaron Rodgers at wide receiver in a loaded receiver class. They also failed to improve a run defense that was shredded in the NFC Championship game by San Francisco. Instead, they chose to address their 2022 offense. I agree with the overall sentiment that this was a poor draft, but only because I predict Jordan Love will fail. If he lives up to his potential, then this draft class will go down as one of the best.

Minnesota Vikings

Manipulating the draft to make 16 picks was brilliant. There is so much uncertainty for the upcoming season so the Vikings opted to secure who they wanted rather than relying on the rat-race of remote undrafted free agency. Depending on when the season begins, adding veteran free agents and having try-outs may be more challenging this year. Minnesota made the smart move in adding 16 rookies that they can bring up to speed on their terms through potential virtual practices and meetings. Making 16 picks is also great work because of statistics. The vast majority of draft picks end up being worthless. Simply, the more you make, the better your chances of finding contributors.
I ranked Justin Jefferson (2) lower than most (9th-ranked receiver in this class), so I don’t view this pick as some outrageous value. I had Jefferson ranked as the 32nd-best player in this class, so I wouldn’t even call it a great pick. Jefferson has the traits of a very good pro receiver, but I fear he may be more Jordan Matthews than people realize. I consistently ranked Jalen Reagor over Jefferson, and knowing the Eagles did as well leads me to believe I may have been on to something.
Jefferson’s film was dominating at times, but scouting players is about projecting what translates rather than evaluating college performance. LSU put Jefferson in the slot and let him work the middle of the field on RPOs and embarrass less-athletic safeties, linebackers, and nickels on “be-better” routes like slot fades. He has good hands and athletic traits, but I don’t see his film translating into a dominant pro. His route-running needs work, reaching too much on breaks, and there’s little evidence of him beating press on the outside. 50% of all picks from 21-32 result in a replacement-level player or bust. I’ll go out on a limb and predict a guy I wasn’t super high on underperforms at the next level.
Jeff Gladney (3) was my third-ranked corner and 30th-ranked player overall. He’s feisty with quick feet and plays with tremendous competitiveness and physicality. I wrote “Jalen Ramsey” in my notes before looking up his measurables (5-10, 191). I obviously think he plays much bigger than his size. Or I need new glasses. I went back for a second look on Gladney and wasn’t nearly as impressed. He’s a little clumsy and not much of a technician. He has success just being a twitchy athlete and aggressive, which isn’t a great sign as he’ll lose that advantage in the NFL. He also dropped the ball before the end zone after a pick-six a la DeSean Jackson. Still, I believe he’ll be a solid starter and go to exactly two pro bowls.
Ezra Cleveland (3) was a steal. He’s glorious in pass protection and has unreal athleticism for his size. His ability to mirror is unmatched in this class. Cleveland’s biggest weakness is his lack of strength, but with the right strength program he can improve there. One of my favorite plays was watching him chase down and tackle a defender after an interception.
Cameron Dantzler (2) was my 8th-ranked corner. He ran a 4.64 at just 188 pounds and has messy hands, but I liked his film otherwise. He’s competitive and makes plays, including sacking both Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa for some reason. He’s thin but doesn’t care. I just don’t know if he has the recovery speed to start and there were too many missed tackles on film.
James Lynch (3) was a legitimate steal in the fourth round. He dominated overmatched Big 12 tackles but has the type of strength and power that plays in the league. He can contribute at five-technique as he puts on more weight. He’s obviously not a 10-plus sack-a-year type at the pro level. Troy Dye (2) wore a club in the Pac-12 championship game and is physical. He’s just not that explosive and is more try-hard than traits-rich.
The Vikings deserve a lot of credit for this haul. It will be extremely interesting to go back and look at how many of their 16 picks are still there in two years.

Chicago Bears

The biggest Bears news of the weekend was the report that they won't pick up Mitch Trubisky's fifth-year option. Chicago made two franchise-defining moves that used up a ton of draft capital over a four-year span - trading up for Trubisky and trading for Khalil Mack. Mack came back down to earth after a ferocious first year in Chicago, but should be a force for a couple more seasons. Trubisky, on the other hand, has regressed and given the team very little confidence. He'll compete with the enigmatic Nick Foles, who is as bipolar as players get.
The NFL Draft is the most important roster-building day on the NFL calendar, but this Bears class is probably the least consequential of all 32 teams. If they nailed it, so what? They get a starting tight end, starting corner, rotational edge player, and rotational deep threat? And if they bombed it, so what? What matters is their quarterback competition and head coach performance.
I used to believe prospects were destined to fail or succeed. I thought how lucky the Steelers were for having players like Big Ben and Heath Miller "fall" to them every year. The reality is that some programs develop players better. The Bears are at a crossroads with Matt Nagy, who last season saw his offense regress and defense unable to overcome the loss of Vic Fangio. Point is, these draft picks may be walking into a lame-duck situation, which isn't good for anyone.
To further annoy Bears fans, I have to be honest that I was much lower on their first three selections than the consensus. I thought Cole Kmet (2) was the single most overrated prospect in the entire draft. My notes include the words "weak" and "soft." He showed poorly as a blocker against Virginia with no pop in his hands, struggled to get off second-level collisions, and lacked great balance - arguably the most important trait for any player. Kmet is big with good hands but I really don't see his game translating to anything more than an average player. There's a reason this tight end class was universally knocked as weak.
In the second they went with Jaylon Johnson (1), who I had as my 10th-ranked cornerback. Johnson gained some steam as a potential first-round pick, but I just didn't like his film. He pretty much lost Utah the game against USC, giving up an early TD because he lost his balance and getting flagged for a game-sealing defensive pass interference because he couldn't get his head around. His film showed poor balance, late reactions, missed tackles, and worst of all - questionable effort, especially against BYU. He has the feet and length to stay with receivers, but I want him in cover three and that's it. Late eyes and questionable balance are deal-breakers for defensive backs.
As for their other picks, I will give Darnell Mooney (3) a shot to be a deep threat. He can't block and is probably too weak to do anything right now, but his speed absolutely plays. All he did at Tulane was run slants and go routes so it will take some time. Trevis Gipson (2) jars the ball loose frequently but everything just looks too difficult versus Oklahoma State and Texas. Hustle sacks are great in terms of college performance but provide no confidence in terms of translatable traits.
A few years ago, I correctly predicted the Bears would be a surprise playoff team. You'll be shocked to read that this year I won't.

Detroit Lions

The Lions draft class makes it pretty obvious Matt Patricia is fighting for his job this year. Their first two picks are ready to challenge for rookie of the year from day one, they added a 22-year old edge-rusher and two guards who can play right away. Help is here and Matthew Stafford is healthy - Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn will not survive another bottom-10 finish.
Jeff Okudah (5) is an NFL shutdown corner right now. He has it all, including the necessary swagger. What will separate him at the next level is his physicality and aggressiveness. He can "motor" (align pressed and stay with his man without making contact with his hands) or shoot his inside hand at the line to throw off timing. With his traits and instincts, I expect him to be a top-five corner in the league in his rookie year.
D'Andre Swift (3) is as fun as it gets. My favorite note is that he makes the game look easy. Certain players are able to be so comfortable at the college level that it is evident on film how slow the game is moving for them. Swift does some things with the ball that prove that point, like spin out of tackles for loss and cross up safeties in the open field like Allen Iverson. He's also awesome in the passing game as a receiver and blocker. The Lions haven't found a foundation back since Barry Sanders and they are hoping D'Andre Swift can be just that.
I think he has that upside, but his film concerns me as well. Swift is more comfortable in space, taking advantage of huge holes and perimeter stuff that simply won't be there in the NFL. He's more Sony Michel than Nick Chubb, and didn't show much creativity or tackle-breaking inside. He'll have no issue being a complementary back, but runners who are comfortable in space often struggle to transition to the pro game where there is none. No outcome would surprise me but I think a Reggie Bush-like pro career is where he settles in.
I did not love Julian Okwara (2) on film. He looked good against frumpy tackles, but my notes read "yikes vs UGA." He was frequently driven back in that game, including by a wide receiver. His pass-rushing wins were with pure athleticism rather than translatable moves.
Jonah Jackson (3) was good in pass protection and showed ideal aggressiveness. I didn't see him get enough movement in the run game for me to be excited but he's a possible starter. Logan Stenberg (4) on the other hand was one of my LINK five favorite prospects in the entire draft. He has an ugly body and below-average athleticism but his film is fun to watch. He'll struggle with quickness sometimes but he's tough and strong and showed well against Georgia on film. He's a huge reason Benny Snell and Lynn Bowden had so much success. I project him as a quality starter.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the other divisions in the coming days.
Link for the article: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-north/734932?src=cat_feat_9954
submitted by gpngc to NFL_Draft [link] [comments]

An old interview with Joe Kucan

An old interview with Joe Kucan
So, it's just a few days before the Release, and I'd like to share with you . In 2014 I’ve managed to make an interview with Joseph D. Kucan. The interview was in russian, and for Mail.ru — russian internet media giant. Here is english verson of the text (I've cutted some unrelated stuff). I know it's an old arcticle but I think you'll find some bits of information interesting. It's even mention Reddit AMA, so it's a recursion loop.
Young and happy Nod leader
Joe Kucan: Hello. I’m sorry for the delay; I’ve been extremely busy. My theatre company, A Public Fit, just closed our inaugural show, Foxfinder by Dawn King. By all accounts it was a tremendous success and I’m just now catching my breath after a hectic couple of months. I’ll do my best to answer all of your questions!
You are holding the Guinness Record as the longest recurring actor in any video game franchise to date, so we thought you’d never leave gaming industry — but you did. Why so? And what are you doing now?
I didn’t leave the gaming industry so much as IT left ME! As you know, Electronic Arts decided to end the Tiberian storyline in the Command & Conquer franchise, pretty much guaranteeing that Kane would no longer be making any of his trademarked resurrections. Since then, the gaming industry has not been exactly beating a path through the Las Vegas desert to my door. I spend my time these days with construction projects around my house and busying myself with A Public Fit, a theatre compnay I co-founded with my girlfriend. We stage monthly readings of plays we consider «overlooked» and have just recently closed our first full-scale production — a dystopian fable called Foxfinder by Dawn King.
We’ve stumbled upon your crowdfunding project at IndeieGoGo, A Public Fit. Could you explain the idea behind the project? How is it different from other theatres? Why did you choose to participate?
Stumbled upon it, did you? How much did you contribute? HOW MUCH?? A Public Fit started when my girlfriend and I were reading a play that we both found difficult to visualize. So we recruited a group of friends to read it out loud, hoping that hearing the text would help us to better evaluate the quality of the story. Afterwards, we had a spirited debate about the merits and shortcomings of the material and we realized pretty early on that it was the discussion following the reading that we most enjoyed. We decided to do it again the following month; our little group of 8 turned into 12 and the month after that it swelled to 20 and the month after that it grew again to, like, 35. We soon outgrew our living room as word spread among the Las Vegas theatre community that we were doing monthly readings. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to be involved and came to join in the ensuing debates.
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We moved the readings to a downtown Las Vegas arts venue called The Window and began publicizing them, opening them up to a wider audience. The readings were fun, free and feisty as we invited everyone who attended to stay for the moderated discussions following each performance. But we were hungry for more. So a number of months ago we committed our resources to producing a full-scale production of a play that would run for a couple weeks. And, true to our mandate to treat each performance as the beginning of an unending conversation, we invited the audience to stick around following each show to engage us in discussion about the themes, style and subtext of the play — a lively affair we took to calling «The Buzzz.» Audiences loved it and on average we had 60-80% of the crowd hang around to discuss the evening’s event. We are now regrouping, assessing our experience and deciding what our next full-scale project will be. Las Vegas has a number of community theatres but suffers from the lack of a truly professional acting company; we are trying to fill that gap. And through it all, we continue to do our free monthly readings!
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We know that your brother Daniel wrote a book on martial arts. We even saw your AMA session at Reddit, promoting the book. Did it help to boost the sales?
I can’t say whether or not it helped with sales; Daniel steadfastly refuses to let me audit his accounting ledgers! I will say that I’m a big fan of the books and encourage everyone to check them out at amazon. They are ridiculously well-written and tell a great story. But I wouldn’t say that they were strictly «on martial arts.» Instead, they’re the collected stories of an aging prize fighter, written in his unique voice and told with great panache. People get beat up, make no mistake. But they’re more poetic than martial, more stylized than titillating. If I were you, I would stop reading this interview RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND and head on over to Amazon and buy the whole set before they’re all sold out. THAT’S how good this book is — there’s a very real danger of all the electronic versions being COMPLETELY SOLD OUT!
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You’ve said that after the Westwood times you’ve become a pro in poker. What’s the biggest pot you’ve won in one night?
The biggest single pot I ever won was $3800.00. I was playing no-limit hold-em on the strip and was dealt pocket Aces. There was a lot of action pre-flop and I chose to slow play my hand, hoping that enough cash would build that the right flop would allow me to make a quick decision and push the table around a little bit. The flop comes 3S 6C 9D and there’s a bet and 2 raises. The button had folded so I’m last to act and I push all-in and am immediately called by a woman at the far end of the table. I honestly hadn’t realized she was in the hand because I felt that the real threats were in the blinds — maybe a couple of straight draws. Everyone else folds and she turns over pocket 9 for a set and I’m figuring it’s all over for me. The turn comes a QC and then, out of nowhere, the dealer spikes a red ace on the river. I win with a set of Aces and the woman hurls her busted 9s across the table at the dealer. The only thing I feel bad about is not paying attention to her in the first place and not seeing the flopped set in her eyes.

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How does it feel to live in the game, when everything depends on the hand and fate (and a little bit of mathematics & psychology, evidently)? Personally we imagine it being like in the movie Maverick with Mel Gibson. And in reality?
I haven’t played seriously in awhile. But it was never too dramatic for me. I never played with an enormous bankroll or got myself involved in a game that was bigger than my wallet. My margin was very low and and I didn’t need much of a win to push me away from the table.
Let’s talk about other games — for PC and consoles. Our main question on this: is it easier now to make acquaintance with girls since you are the main villain in the most famous RTS series? It’s a well-known fact, that ladies are somehow more attracted to bad guys.
Yes, I am near-constantly surrounded by super models; they’re pesky, like gnats. And I swat them away like gnats too, but this only seems to tantalize them more and more. I ear naught but caviar, I drink naught but champagne. I drive a solid gold motorcycle. It is a well-documented FACT that in between trips down the runway, Victoria’s Secret underwear models pass the time backstage with LAN parties of C&C tournaments, so of course I am their idealized man. Most of them, however, seem mysteriously loyal to GDI. Probably because of all the starving.
How the image of Kane was born? Since what age are you so cool, bald and bearded?
Well, I was bald at birth so it wasn’t really uncharted territory when I shaved my head at 28. The notion of the scary bald guy sprang, I assume, from the fact that in the 90’s Westwood was populated almost entirely by weaselly little computer nerds who jumped in terror at the whiff of even the slightest hint of testosterone, so pushing them around was really no challenge at all. I had been roughing up Ted Morris for lunch money almost from the first day I started working at the place and since Ted’s shrieks of compliance could be heard across the entire campus it wasn’t long before my reputation had solidified.
Imagine you had the budget for any movie star at the times of the first C&C — whom would you cast for Kane?
Pauley Shore. No question, and without hesitation: Pauley Shore.
It all started with Kane being the leader of terrorists. Then he entered Stalin HQ and helped poisoning him. Later on (in the dark times of EA) we’ve been told he’s some kind of an ancient being, who use tiberium to lure the aliens to the Earth, so they build teleport towers, so Kane could escape from our planet. So who is Mr. Kane, really? And what was the initial concept for him? How far did EA make you go from it?
When Eydie Laramore and I first envisioned the character back in the early 90’s, we purposely kept as many specifics about the origin, nature and goals of Kane as mysterious as possible. It seemed to us that a lot of the questions that the players had about Kane would either keep them invested in the storyline or else they’d just make up their own answers to satisfy themselves. I liked this approach because it seemed the most realistic — no one really knows much about the true nature of the larger-than-life people that exist in the world other than what we access through the filter of the media. A lot of the early images of Kane in the game are literally filtered through various media agents, as well as through the Seth character, and so I really like the ambiguity of the reality of Kane. Towards the end though, clearly EA felt the need to be much more specific…

The making of Red Alert
Kane said in C&C that he invented the word “tiberium”. And who is the actual author of it?
The way I remember it, I was. But i’m sure that Eydie remembers herself as the author. And I’ll bet that Brent W. Spiny believes he made it up himself.
Political propaganda can be very persuasive. We believe that both in the US and USSR everything was fine with it. When you worked on Red Alert, how strong did you believe in the possibility of event portrayed in the game? Could you even imagine the full-scale war between the SU and the US?
No, I never felt that the Cold War would lead to any full-blown military conflict. I try to be very sensitive as to when I’m being pushed in a certain direction through fear-mongering or jingoism. It’s probably naive of me but it never occurred to me that the threat of war was anything other than political opportunism to funnel money into absurd military budgets, a gimmick that continues in our country to this day.
Do you play video games? Can you name a couple of your favourites? Maybe there are good poker simulators?
I truly enjoyed the «Bioshock» games; the level of complexity in tone and story-telling was near-genius in my opinion and raised the bar for not just «games as art» but also, somehow, «games as literature.» I loved the atmosphere of «Dishonored» and spent a lot of time exploring its dystopian environment; it made me want to create a game based on «The Threepenny Opera.» These days, I spend a LOT of time playing «2048.» …
Kari Wuehrer as Tanya
Could you name your favourite game in C&C franchise? And tell why namely this one?
I am particularly proud of C&C’s first venture into true internet gameplay: «Sole Survivor.» This game was truly ahead of its time and I was sad to realize how few gamers appreciated its metaphoric symbolism and homage to Alfred Jarry’s 1896 revolutionary masterpiece «Ubu Roi.» Much as Jarry’s play is seen as a precursor to the Theatre of the Absurd, surely «Sole Survivor» is notable for it’s influence on such titles as» Grand Theft Auto: V» and «Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis.»
What about your favourite Westwood game outside C&C franchise (and tell us why it’s so)?
I have a soft-spot in my heart for «The Legend of Kyrandia.» It was the first Westwood game I was ever exposed to and honestly opened the door to my career at Westwood. I had played «King’s Quest» and «Police Quest» and really thought adventure games were just about the coolest things ever long before I’d ever even heard of Westwood Studios. «The Legend of Kyrandia» made me smile then and even now, when I think about it, it makes me smile to this day. I also happen to think «Blade Runner» is a hell of a game.
Do you think there’s any chance to resurrect those old bestselling Westwood franchises like Kyrandia via crowdfunding?
How funny — I mention Kyrandia and up it pops! I’m IN! Put me down for $50!
https://preview.redd.it/49yjncinuc151.jpg?width=900&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=f13695b0e97e88aa4a8fda97a67a352ca123446e
We know that you’ve been in Russia at Igromir Expo (2009) *. What surprised you the most this time in Russia?
I was most surprised by the remarkable ability of 5’11» Russian women to navigate ice-covered streets in 6″ heels and mini-skirts. Seriously. It was snowing so hard I couldn’t take a full breath without inhaling a pint of water and all around me these impossibly tall beauties with legs that seemed to start at their necks were charging across sheets of ice as if they were wearing football spikes. I’d never seen anything like it. And it seemed that the colder it got the fewer clothes they felt the need to wear. It was both arousing and terrifying! Russian women are FIERCE!
*Igromir Expo was Moscow game show like E3. Later it was merged with ComicCon Russia. I have a lame photo with J.Kucan from this show.
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