NFL Draft quarterback chaos, power rankings, schedule and more

NFL


With mere days before the start of the NFL Draft, we know that five quarterbacks are likely first-round picks, but their destinations remain a mystery.

Four more days. Four more days and we finally have the answers to which teams draft which players in the first round. No more mock drafts. No more smoke screens. No more bull.

Yet, until then, we all continue to read the tea leaves and hope that what we hear is accurate, and not an elaborate plan to make somebody fall down the board.

The Cleveland Browns are the first team picking, readying for commissioner Roger Goodell to put them on the clock. Cleveland is going to take a quarterback with the first choice, but who remains to be seen. Smart money says general manager John Dorsey goes with Sam Darnold over Josh Allen, but it’s too close to call less than 100 hours out.

Should Allen end up getting the call, the New York Giants become evermore intriguing at No. 2. Do they take Saquon Barkley as so many believe they will? Does New York try and trade down for a king’s ransom, or does it nab Darnold and get Eli Manning’s successor in the building? Then again, Cleveland could snag the USC star, and then taking Barkley becomes even likelier.

At the third pick, the New York Jets are the simplest to predict. General manager Mike Maccagnan is taking a quarterback, and likely Baker Mayfield. Should Darnold slip to this pick, though, it would be awfully tough to pass him up. Imagine talk radio in New York over the next decade if the Jets take a franchise quarterback that the Giants could have had.

Cleveland holds the fourth choice, but one would imagine that Dorsey would trade out for the right price. In that vein, the Buffalo Bills are the team to watch. Buffalo has the 12th and 21st selections in the first round and needs a quarterback badly. Currently, the depth chart has AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman in the top spots. Not great news. Buffalo has multiple picks in each of the first three rounds, and must be willing to part with some of them for a ray of hope under center.

Then there are the Denver Broncos. Denver picks fifth and has a bevy of needs including offensive line, quarterback and running back. John Elway has talked openly about trading back, but will he find an attractive offer? If not, does Elway draft Allen, Mayfield or Josh Rosen if they remain on the board, or does Quenton Nelson find his home?

Lastly, who are the wild cards in this draft? The Miami Dolphins have Ryan Tannehill, but with seats to sell and an increasing thirst to replaceDan Marino once and for all, does a quarterback sign a Sirens song?

The Arizona Cardinals are also in desperate need of both a draw and an upgrade, specifically under center. With only Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon standing in the way, it stands to reason that a rookie quarterback would have a good chance of seeing action before the season is out.

Of course, the New England Patriots also loom over the proceedings, owning two first-round picks and a 41-year-old quarterback with little in the way of a future behind him.

Four days until we get answers. Four days until we put coaching staffs and cities to rookies. Four days.

Power rankings

Top 10 games on the 2018 NFL schedule

1. Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams, Week 15 (SNF)
2. New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings, Week 8 (SNF)
3. New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 15
4. Green Bay Packers at New England Patriots, Week 9 (SNF)
5. Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints, Week 12 (Thanksgiving)
6. Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Week 15 (TNF)
7. Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints, Week 16
8. Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams, Week 4 (SNF)
9. Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans, Week 17
10. San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, Week 13 (SNF)

Quotable

“As far as the Giants go,” Rapoport said, “my understanding is they are not at this point a team vying for his services.”

– NFL insider Ian Rapoport on the Giants having no interest in Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys released 29-year-old wide receiver Dez Bryant a few weeks back, and so far, no visits. The Giants were thought to be a logical destination, with Bryant spotted with Odell Beckham Jr. at a workout. However, New York seems to be out of the mix.

With Bryant still looking for a new home, a few scenarios stand out. The Baltimore Ravens are in desperate need for help on the outside. The Carolina Panthers have Torrey Smith and Devin Funchess, but that’s not exactly John Taylor and Jerry Rice.

All that said, don’t expect anything to play out until the draft is over.

Podcast

Matt Verderame and Josh Hill break down all the latest news and notes around the NFL every Monday, both on FanSided’s Facebook page (1 p.m. ET) and on iTunes. Make sure to subscribe and never miss a second!

Random stat

The 1991 Washington Redskins were incredibly dominant. That year, they set a record among Super Bowl champions with a 16.3-point average margin of victory.

Info learned this week

1. Eagles show good faith in Nick Foles

The Philadelphia Eagles did something you never see. They gave a player more money simply because he deserved it. Over the weekend, general manager Howie Roseman restructured the current deal of Nick Foles, adding $2 million and providing incentives, along with a mutual option for 2019.

Foles was pressed into duty over the final weeks of the regular season last year, and despite being counted out, improbably led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl win. Foles was brilliant in the postseason, throwing for 971 yards and six touchdowns over three playoff games. In the Super Bowl, Foles tossed three scores in a wild 41-33 win.

2. Aaron Rodgers becomes co-owner of NBA’s Bucks

The Green Bay Packers are hoping to hammer out a long-term extension with Aaron Rodgers. Apparently, Rodgers doesn’t have designs on getting out of Wisconsin. The future Hall of Famer purchased a minority stake in the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, deepening his ties to the state.

In this realm, Rodgers is a trailblazer. He is the first active NFL player to own a piece of another core-four sports team in North America. At 34 years old, Rodgers is looking to his next stage in athletics, staying involved as management.

3. NFL schedule reveal brings revelations

On Thursday night, the NFL released its 2018 regular-season schedule, and chaos reigned as it always does. The Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons will open the campaign on Sept. 6, one of the league-high six nationally televised games for the Eagles this year.

On the other end of the spectrum are the franchises that received only one game to showcase their talents to a larger audience. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins are the unfortunate six, apparently having little expected of them from the league.

Also of note is Jon Gruden’s return to the sideline with the Oakland Raiders, which comes under the Monday night spotlight at home against the revamped Los Angeles Rams.

4. League to continue discussions on kickoffs

The NFL is trying everything it can to be make the game safer, and eliminating kickoffs might be the next step. While no significant move on kickoffs is expected for the 2018 season, we could see a radical alteration — if not a flat-out removal — to the play in future campaigns.

Frankly, the removal of kickoffs seems inevitable. Both by eye test and statistics, it’s the most dangerous play in the sport. With the line of scrimmage moved up to the 35-yard line recently, touchbacks are up but injuries are still persisting. At some juncture, it’s simply easier to erase the opportunity altogether.

5. Chiefs believe Reggie Ragland will be star

Kansas City general manager Brett Veach spoke to local media on Friday, and talked up inside linebacker Reggie Ragland quite a bit. Speaking on the third-year thumper out of Alabama, Veach said he believes Ragland will become a star, playing alongside new addition Anthony Hitchens.

Ragland was drafted in 2016 in the second round, going to the Buffalo Bills. However, a torn ACL and a scheme change forced him out, and the Chiefs pounced with the trade of a 2019 fourth-round pick.

The former Crimson Tide star has huge shoes to fill, with Kansas City fans used to watching Derrick Johnson in the middle. Johnson and veteran outside linebacker Tamba Hali were both released this offseason, clearing cap space and creating a younger unit.

History lesson

George Halas spent most of his life’s work with the Chicago Bears. Halas, who was one of the NFL’s founding fathers, played 10 seasons with the Decatur Staleys/Chicago Bears from 1920-29.

During that time, Halas was also the coach and owner, the latter of which he remained as until his death in 1983. Following retirement as a player, Halas went to the sideline for 40 years over four stints, finally going to the owner’s suite for good in 1968.

Incredibly, Halas also fought in both World Wars and played for the New York Yankees in 1919, lasting two months.

Parting shot

 

On draft night, you’ll hear plenty about how every first-round choice has secured the spot on that team for the next 10 years. Understand that while hope is always great, it also comes with the facts that about half of all first-round picks end up being classified as busts.

While Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley, Sam Darold, Josh Rosen, Quenton Nelson and Denzel Ward all appear to be franchise-altering players, some of them will end up on rookie cards that get tossed in the trash a few years from now. They will have been befallen by the hype machine, or injuries, or laziness. Hard to imagine right now, but look into the past and you’ll see the truth.

So when your team makes it pick, get excited. Believe that you have solved the given problem. Hell, buy his jersey and wear it the second it gets delivered. Just remember that the draft is an inexact science, and the real answers begin coming in August.



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