3×3 Thursday: NFL and NFL Draft Notes following Week 9 of the NFL
Week by week, game by game there are new discussion points to be talked across the NFL and NFL Draft world. So buckle up, sit back, and enjoy the ride as we travel far and wide across the world of the NFL and explore all it’s glories and conversations to be had.
NFL 1: Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore”
Entering the game, the Patriots had made a mockery of every QB on their path and there was some doubt that Lamar Jackson would perform any differently. However, when the Patriots stepped onto the field against the Ravens on Sunday night the whole game was a different story. From missed assignments, to flustered defenders, and large plays by the Ravens as a result, for the first time all year the Patriots looked… messy.
Now let’s all be honest here, the Patriots are still very much a contender with a defense that is extremely talented and an offense lead by one of the greatest players to ever play the game, all managed by arguably the best coach ever. New England won’t be going anywhere, but the Ravens and the AFC got to witness that even the strongest looking units can be beaten. Harbaugh and company have done an excellent job putting together this offense and you can see the Patriots had no answer for Lamar Jackson as the dual threat QB could out maneuver any pressure he received and let the Patriots pick their poison on if he would scramble for a big play or throw for a first down.
The NFL now only has one remaining unbeaten team, the San Francisco 49ers, facing off against the strong Seattle Seahawks lead by MVP front runner, Russell Wilson. If I had to place money I’d bet the Seahawks end the chance of perfection for the 2019 NFL Season.
NFL 2: Hot Seat Check!
A wide array of coaches have found themselves in quite a sticky situation as their team expectations or lack thereof has resulted in a loss of job security. Whether it is the abomination of a young up and coming roster like the New York Jets losing to the tanking Dolphins and now sitting at 1-7 in a season that many, myself included expected to be a season where they stepped forward in the right direction and ever potentially made playoffs. Or it’s a team like the Atlanta Falcons where Dan Quinn just doesn’t seem to have it anymore and while the team is shredded with injuries, no one expected the Falcons to be playing to this low of a level.
Overall, there are plenty of coaches at risk of losing their job so lets put them in tiers (The higher the better):
- Doug Marrone (Jacksonville)
- Mike Vrabel (Tennessee)
- Pat Shurmur (New York Giants)
- Freddie Kitchens (Cleveland)
- Dan Quinn (Atlanta)
- Adam Gase (New York Jets)
NFL 3: Newton to the IR
The Carolina Panthers announced on Tuesday that Cam Newton will be placed on the injury reserve list effectively ending his season. The Panthers have been 5-1 in wake of Newton’s absence and due to his injuries, his last games played likely have left a poor taste in many fan’s mouth. In fact, there is even speculation that Cam Newton could have played his last games as a Panther this season, as cutting or dealing him could save Carolina $19.1 million against the cap. While the Panthers will hear out all options, I believe Cam brings this team to a higher level than Kyle Allen, and they just need to run a similar offense to now, as opposed to trying to center the gameplan around Newton.
However, if Newton is dealt, expect teams such as the Bears, Titans, and Broncos to reach out and potentially invest in bringing the 30 year old quarterback. His skill set is not like the ordinary pocket passer, but Newton is still easily in the top half of quarterbacks in the league and surrounding with a competitive roster he could likely provide a team with the push necessary to help them contend.
NFL Draft 1: No Room for Runners?
When it comes to talent, the 2020 RB class has more than you could ask for. Whether it’s top dogs like D’Andre Swift (Georgia) and Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) or later round sleepers like Rakeem Boyd (Arkansas) and Reggie Corbin (Illinois). However, when you take a look at NFL teams, will any squad go running back in the first round? This issue around the NFL is the field of running back talent is over-saturated because running back production hasn’t been hard to come by. In terms of the draft, it adds a weird shackle to rising prospects like Chubba Hubbard (Oklahoma State) who has put together a phenomenal season, yet likely won’t find himself in the first round due to lack of need.
When looking, there are only 5 teams who could be considered in major need for a starting RB: Buffalo, Miami, Houston, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay. Buffalo could believe in Singletary and pass on RB early or all together. Miami has a plethora of picks but a plethora of needs as well so they may wait on running back. Houston has no first round selection and seem to have a solid duo with Hyde and Duke Johnson, and Tampa will likely need to look to get help at other positions. That leaves the Chiefs, would they be willing to spend an early pick on a running back? While they have had success in mid round picks like Kareem Hunt in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft, I believe the Chiefs may be willing to pull the trigger on someone like D’Andre Swift if he offers enough impact to set him apart when Kansas City is on the clock.
NFL Draft 2: Senior Bowl Forecast
For many following the NFL Draft, the Senior Bowl is one of the largest events in the calendar. While some big name prospects like Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina) will go and undoubtedly impress scouts, this is a lot of seniors first chance to show scouts just how good they are up close and personal. Whether it is project prospects like the 6’9 offensive tackle out of South Carolina State with a 7’4 wingspan, Alex Taylor. Or whether it is big conference but underappreciated talents like Kalija Lipscomb out of Vanderbilt.
The Senior Bowl has official begun handing out and receiving acceptance on invites and most of the names you see will be names you’ll want to get to know as the draft process moves forward. It is certain that many players draft stock will fluctuate based on their performance in this week of drills, training, and playing, it’s best to keep an eye out for the talent now so you can get a feel for their game in live-action.
- Ashtyn Davis, S, California
- Evan Weaver, LB, California
- Kalija Lipcomb, WR, Vanderbilt
- Robert Hunt, OT, Louisiana
- Alex Taylor, OT, South Carolina State
- Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt
- Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt
- Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
- Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
- Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado
- Kyle Dugger, DB, Lenoir-Rhyne
- Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
- Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty
- K’Von Wallace, S, Clemson
- AJ Green, CB, Oklahoma State
- Carter Coughlin, LB, Minnesota
- Kamal Martin, LB, Minnesota
- Larrell Murchison, DL, NC State
- Ben Bartch, OL, St. John’s
- Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
- Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
- Terence Steele, OL, Texas Tech
- Kindle Vildor, CB, Georgia Southern
- Brian Cole II, DB, Mississippi State
NFL Draft 3: Joe vs Goliath
In a game with many layers of battles, there is no bigger NFL showcase this weekend than LSU vs Alabama. On the college level, this game is massive in terms of LSU being ranked number 2 and Alabama being ranked #3, both schools have a lot riding on the line as the winner will likely represent the SEC West in the conference championship for a chance to make the College Football Playoff. The loser will likely have to win out and will be in a toss up situation with the Pac-12 champion on who gets the 4 seed.
No doubt the biggest focus on the game will be the QB battle as both Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa are expected to be battling for the #1 QB slot in the upcoming draft. Burrow has had a meteoric rise on draft boards and is impressing scouts with his pinpoint accuracy and impressive ability to work around a pocket. While Tua is also extremely accurate with athletic upside and quite a bit of arm talent. The questions will be plenty and both QBs will get quite a test this Saturday, but I have a feeling regardless of who wins and/or plays better, the debate for QB1 will be far from over.
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