NFL Offseason

NFL players in a 2020 make-or-break season:

We have talked a lot about breakout NFL players, most improved position groups and all that kind of stuff. Now I want to shift the focus more towards players, who aren’t in a position where they are locked in as long-time contributors for their respective teams and will be entering a crucial season in their careers.

Those can be young players not living up to their draft status, guys in a contract year wanting to earn another lucrative deal or long-time veterans trying to stick around. I called this a make-or-break season for these players because they aren’t at a point, where people recognize them as some of the best players at their position. So you won’t see necessarily see players on the franchise tag, trying to earn that long-term contract for big money, but rather guys who could also be labelled as draft busts or washed up veterans.

Here is the list:

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Power Rankings

Top 10 offensive lines in the NFL heading into 2020:

Talking about the most improved position groups in the NFL last week inspired me to look at one of those in particular and list my top ten units. For this exercise I tried to look at all these offensive lines in a vacuum – how well they execute certain run schemes, how diverse they can be or how great they are with their bread-and-butter and of course how well they protect the quarterback. While I support my case with certain statistics and advanced numbers in particular, solely going by the stats would be a huge mistake, since that would mean the Rams allowing the fewest amount of sacks qualifies them as the top pass-blocking line or the Giants almost had a top five run-blocking unit, even though Saquon Barkley routinely had to make people miss in the backfield and Daniel Jones averaging over six yards a carry certainly helped.

Instead, I’m trying to go through the starting five individually, then talk about their strengths and weaknesses and just some of the plays they run routinely. I have to project the starting lineups a little here and there will be some battles for specific spots during whatever we will have from training camp. That’s why I mention the key backups as well, which could feature guys who will be in the starting lineup week one. Under the new CBA, teams are now allowed to dress at least two more players on gamedays and another one if the active roster includes at least offensive linemen. So the strategy teams are going to choose will be interesting to me and I would expect a lot more groups carrying eight linemen on Sundays.

And just to make this clear – this is a projection of what I think will be the top ten O-lines in 2020, even though I will often reference to what they did last season and beyond.

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NFL Draft, NFL Free Agency, NFL Offseason

Most improved position groups in the NFL for 2020:

As I’ve been working through every NFL roster to point out their biggest remaining need(s) and which players could break out for them in 2020, I wanted to look at this from a different angle. Therefore, I compared the rosters from a year to the ones heading into this upcoming season and tried to figure out who has improved the most at every single position.

For this piece, I am considering top-end play a depth. Players that are simply coming back from injury will be weighed to a smaller degree, but that can obviously vary depending on how much or if that guy actually played for them last season.

With that being said, here is my list:

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NFL Predictions, Power Rankings

NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020:

We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them.

Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now.

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NFL Offseason, NFL Predictions

Breakout candidates for 2020 – Defense edition:

I started this exercise of choosing second- and third-year players in the NFL I expect to take the next step in their development, based on being in a better situation due schematic changes, the respective team not re-signing certain veterans and allowing their young guys to play a bigger role or just my evaluation of them coming out of college.

Once again, my criteria was – they were not allowed to have a Pro Bowl so far, reached a major statistical milestone (1000 yard season, double-digit sacks, etc.) or are just looked at generally as one of the better players at their position already. I didn’t include guys that made my list already last year (Kemoko Turay, Justin Reid, etc.) or haven’t seen the field at all yet (Jonah Williams, Hakeem Butler, etc.). Across my two articles on these breakout players, you will only find one top ten pick, since I believe those are obvious choices anyway, if those guys just haven’t been healthy or whatever it may be.

In this version, we are looking at eight more defensive players ready to break out in 2020 after talking about offense last week already:

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NFL Offseason, NFL Predictions

Breakout candidates for 2020 – Offense edition:

After going through the rosters of all 32 teams and talking about their biggest remaining need, I now want to talk about some young players around the league, who I think will take the next step in their development this upcoming season. Specifically I’m looking at second- and third-year players who haven’t been a Pro Bowl selection, reached a major milestone (1000 yard season, double-digit sacks, etc.) or are just looked at generally as one of the better players at the position already. I also didn’t want to talk about guys I already had on my list last year, like Kemoko Turay for Indianapolis or Justin Reid for Houston – who I believe already is one of the best young safeties in the game – and I ended up with only one former top ten pick, since the few I considered mostly haven’t broken out because they simply haven’t been on the field enough. At the same time I made it a requirement to have played at a least a little. So that excludes guy like Bengals offensive tackle Jonah Williams and a receiver I really liked, who is now on the Cardinals named Hakeem Butler.

For this exercise I considered what my evaluation of them was coming out of college, in terms of the development they still needed to make to be effective at the next level, situations they are now, whether it’s a change of scheme on their team or veterans that were let go in order to allow them to take on a bigger role, or just how high I was on them as draft prospects. I’m going to analyze their skill-set, how they fit with their respective teams and why I believe they are bound to break out in 2020.

In this version, we are looking at eight offensive players:

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NFL Offseason

Biggest remaining needs for each team in the AFC for 2020:

We are at the second part of my “biggest remaining needs for each NFL team” breakdown and today we look at the AFC side of things. Once again, at this rather eventless point of the offseason, I get to break down the rosters of all 32 teams and watch some tape to pin-point the one area each squad should still improve at to be their best.

That can be an impact player at a certain position, a contributor in a specific role or just a backup at a spot, where the team doesn’t have great depth. Of course scheme fit and available ressources have to be considered individually, but looking at this from a more general perspective, these are the one spots each team should still be looking to upgrade at.

Also check out my NFC version of this write-up and you can listen to my breakdowns on Youtube as well.

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NFL Offseason

Biggest remaining needs for each team in the NFC for 2020:

The big free agency period and draft are now in the books, so we have reached what I like to call the “dark hole” of the offseason. You don’t have a lot of trades or signings going on and the biggest news are about teams changing their uniforms. However, what this part of the year allows me to do, is watch the film of some players I wasn’t really able to during the regular season and evaluate how teams are built.

I looked through the rosters of all 32 NFL organizations and tried to pin-point the one spot they could still use an upgrade at. That can be a very specific fit for their scheme, a true impact starter, depth at a certain position group or whatever. I tried to go through some of the areas of improvement I looked at, how they might have addressed some of them already and how I got to the conclusion of what their biggest need is.

You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube and I will put out my AFC version of this next week.

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NFL game rankings, NFL games

My ten favorite games on the 2020 NFL schedule:

The NFL schedule finally came out and it is time to discuss it. To be honest, this kind of came at me as a bit of surprise until a few days before it happened, just because of how COVID-19 threw the timeline off, but it is here now. We don’t know for sure how everything will look like – if we even seen all 16 games, if some of them may be postponed or whatever, but I tried to look at the schedule as it is set right now and point out my favorite matchups to watch.

I look at certain coaching staffs facing each other, rematches from last season, historic significance to some degree and of course individual players going up against each other. There are so many great quarterback matchups this year and I don’t want to hear any of that bullcrap about how quarterbacks don’t play versus each other, but rather against the respective defenses – you see them go back and forth trying to put points on the board and their play simply is the biggest factor in the outcome of the game. I tried to pick ten out of 256 total games that stick out to me the most and I already have circled on my calendar, plus I have quite a few honorable mentions before I get into the actual list.

You can also listen to my breakdown of all the games on Youtube!

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NFL Draft, NFL Free Agency, NFL Offseason

Undrafted free agents from 2020 who could make an early impact:

Like I mentioned in my big draft recap last week – this was a very unique version of the NFL draft with its positives and negatives. So much talent fell down the board and several prospects I really liked didn’t even hear the name called at all. That includes six of my top 120 overall players available. A lot of that was certainly due to the circumstances, where teams weren’t able to conduct personal meetings or let their doctors take a look at these athletes. Some prospects may have fallen for good reason, which we aren’t necessarily aware of, but every year there are a bunch of guys who didn’t get selected, but turn out to make an impact with the teams they sign with shortly after.

Those are the type of names I want to point out in this article. Since I don’t have information on all the medical reports or off-field concerns, this is purely based on my evaluations of these prospects and the situations they find themselves in.

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