NFL Offseason

Key position battles at 2020 NFL training camp:

We have finally reached NFL training camp and with the agreement between the league and the players association, there is a little more clarity about how the preparation for the 2020 season will look. With such a long time off, the early stages of this will involve a lot of lifting and running, before the players actually go out on the field and compete, but like I have done for several years, I want to look at some of the more interesting battles for starting positions.

Now that preseason has been cancelled, it will only enhance the importance of these competitions and even though I usually have a little bias towards rookies, since I studied them a lot since the Super Bowl ended, this whole situation should actually favor the more seasoned veterans. For this exercise, I tried to avoid a few of the really obvious ones, such as the Bears QB competition that has and will be talked to death by all the major networks, or the Dolphins entire offensive line pretty much, where you can’t point to one specific spot.

With that being said, here at the ten that I will follow the closest:

Continue reading

Standard
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:

Continue reading

Standard
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:

Continue reading

Standard
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:

Continue reading

Standard
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:

Continue reading

Standard
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.

Continue reading

Standard
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.

Continue reading

Standard
NFL Offseason, Storylines around the NFL

Position battles at 2019 NFL training camp for every single team:

With training camp in full swing for all 32 teams and just a week away from the Hall of Fame game between the Falcons and Broncos, I wanted to take a look at the biggest position battles going on for every team throughout practice and a lot of times most of the preseason. Some of these may be very close two-man races for a specific spot, others include several candidates looking to crack the starting lineup. Some of them may be sexier when it comes to quarterbacks, while others are about offensive guards putting in the work up front. However you want to turn it, these are what I think the toughest battles going on right now and only competition will determine the winners.

Continue reading

Standard
NFL Offseason, NFL Predictions

Boom-or-bust NFL teams for 2019:

As I am starting to project how teams might do in 2019, where they improved and which areas are still question marks for me, I came up with a few squads, who I think are tough to judge and could go a few different ways. I chose three teams from each conference that I think have the biggest volatility, meaning the differential I could see in terms of their win-loss ratio. Some of these might be due to uncertainty at specific positions, while others are about explosive personalities or injury concerns. Therefore, I did not include up-and-coming teams like the Browns and 49ers, who I think very highly of, and no teams that I expect to bounce back after bad 2018 seasons – like the Jaguars and Falcons.

Continue reading

Standard
NFL Offseason

Most improved units in the NFL heading into 2019:

A few weeks into the black hole of the offseason, which is filled with overblown reports from OTAs and media analysts coming up with crazy ideas for discussions, I had the time to go back and analyze which moves teams have made to improve a specific area of their football team. However, this is not about the most improved team overall, such as the Browns who added on several fronts, and I won’t name any teams that only added one superstar at a position and nothing else. This list is more about how these front offices made it a priority to invest into a unit that either needed to get better anyway or might have been solid to this point, but could be a true strength for them in 2019. These are the ten position groups I came up with and I added a few units at the bottom, who didn’t quite make the cut.

Continue reading

Standard