NFL Combine

NFL Combine

Analysts, scouts and GMs have different philosophies on how much stock to put in the NFL Combine. Some think the combine can accurately predict the future success of a player others put their faith only in what they see in game film. In any case it is a wonderful opportunity for future NFL players to put some numbers on the amazing athleticism they show on the field. These are Thuuz’s top impact performers of the 2015 NFL combine.

 

Jameis Winston:

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While Famous Jameis is almost a shoo-in for the first overall selection in the NFL Draft, however, his lackluster NFL Combine performance led to many wanting more. Winston, the Florida State Heisman winner, has won a national championship with his mobility and athleticism, yet that didn’t show up on Saturday. Winston ran a disappointing 4.97 second 40 yard dash, and put up only a 28.5’’ vertical leap. While Winston still is a fantastic quarterback, the Buccaneers are probably not pleased with his being out of shape.

 

Marcus Mariota:

Mariota

Mariota is a stud, it’s as simple as that. The fantastic pocket passer has proven his worth as a dual threat, as he has been able to display his athleticism at the Combine. The Oregon Heisman-winner ran a blazing 4.52 second 40 yard dash, and has an astonishing 36 inch vertical. Mariota’s athleticism and presence has improved his stock, and could possibly allow him to be taken number one overall.

Kevin White:

Kevin White

Most people didn’t know who the wide receiver from West Virginia even was before the Combine. Yet Kevin White has now proven that he should be taken seriously, and could even get drafted in the top five. White is the perfect wide receiver for the NFL—he has great speed, height and physicality. White ran a 4.35 second 40 yard dash, and had a 36.5 inch vertical. With his 6’3” frame, White could be unstoppable at the NFL.

 

Amari Cooper:

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If Amari Cooper can play wide receiver in the NFL like he did at Alabama, then he could be a future hall of famer. Cooper is the ideal athlete in the NFL. Size, speed, strength, awareness, Cooper has it all. This highly-touted prospect backed up his worth at the Combine, with a nice 4.42 second 40 yard dash and a 33” vertical. The 6’1” Cooper should be a top five pick, and if he isn’t, some lucky GM will be pinching themselves when they see that they get to draft him.

 

Chris Conley:

Chris Conley

This year, Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley led a devastating running attack for the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia’s success, however, also is in large part due to Chris Conley, their monstrous wide receiver. The 6’2” Conley has the ability to burn past his defenders and then rise up and snag down hail mary dimes from quarterbacks. Conley is not the biggest receiver, but he showed he can make up for his lack of size with his 45” vertical (the highest in the 2015 Combine). Additionally, scouts are still in awe over Conley’s 4.35 second 40 yard dash, and are now raising Conley on their draft boards.

 

Phillip Dorsett:

 

While the hot item this offseason has been giant wide receivers, every team has a use for a small, speedy slot receiver. Phillip Dorsett, the wide receiver out of Miami, fits this profile perfectly. Dorsett’s explosive 4.33 second 40 yard dash has made many GMs eager for a chance to grab this guy. Even though he is 5’10”, Dorsett’s 37” vertical makes him able to be a major asset in the deep ball game as well. NFL teams are alway looking for reliable players like Dorsett.

 

Danny Shelton:

 

Anyone who watched Danny Shelton play at University of Washington knew exactly what what to expect at the combine. The massive 6’2”, 339 lb nose tackle has used brute force and surprising agility to eviscerate offenses throughout his college career. Shelton’s strength was evident with a fantastic 34 reps at the bench press. Even though Shelton is big, his 5.64 second 40 yard dash showed that he is still in shape for his size. Shelton should be nabbed fairly early in the draft especially after such a strong showing at the Combine.

 

Vic Beasley:

 

Vic Beasley has all the makings of a great NFL player. The 6’3” Clemson Linebacker has a dazzling mix of size and speed, and can use his strength to stop and offensive player in their tracks. Beasley had one of the most impressive 40 yard dash times for defensive players, with 4.53 seconds. Beasley also added a strong 41 inch vertical and 35 reps at the bench press. This multi-tool player has GM’s chomping at the bit for the chance to draft him.

 

Trae Waynes:

 

As there is an influx of great wide receivers this draft, NFL teams need great cornerbacks to buff up their defenses. This means that Michigan State’s Trae Waynes is going to be a hot commodity at the NFL Draft. Waynes led cornerbacks with a 4.31 second 40 yard dash, and added a solid 38” vertical. Waynes can keep up with any deep threat, and is strong and big enough to break up passes. This is a prime example of a player’s Combine performance helping them greatly in the eyes of NFL GMs.

Fantasy Football Preview

With the NFL season right around the corner, millions of people worldwide are preparing for their Fantasy Football drafts. While these drafts can be hard to navigate, here is some position-by-position analysis to help show who to draft, and who not to draft.

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Quarterback:

Best: There is no surprise here, as the best quarterback in the NFL, Peyton Manning, will be the best quarterback in fantasy football. Manning’s monster year set the NFL touchdown record, yet he still has a chip on his shoulder for the Broncos’ Super Bowl performance. Watch Manning erupt again this year.

Bright: Perennial top-tier quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are the next best quarterbacks, as they both put up mass amounts of points. Rodgers’ mobility provides another option for point scoring, whereas Brees has receiving options aplenty, and will dissect even the best defenses. Both could lead any fantasy team to victory.

Sleepers: For sleepers this year, it is all about mobility. Robert Griffin III had a terrible season last year, due to recovering from a terrible injury as well as issues with the coach, Mike Shanahan. RGIII will bounce back and be on of the top fantasy quarterbacks due to his passing and running ability. Another great sleeper is Johnny Manziel. Manziel may not get start for the Browns in the beginning, but he will be the team’s quarterback by the end of the season. His running ability alone makes him a great backup quarterback, yet his passing ability only makes him even more dangerous.

Who to Avoid: Tom Brady had an awful season last year, and will look to keep up the lack of success this year. Yes, Rob Gronkowski will be healthy and will be a great target, but Brady doesn’t have any other good receivers, as Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman can get shut down easily. Stay away from Brady this year.

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Running Back:

Best: While ESPN has Adrian Peterson as their number one running back, they are sorely mistaken. The best running back, as well as the best overall fantasy football player, is Jamaal Charles. Charles carries the Chiefs every week, and puts up incredible stats. Watch Charles continue to dominate the entire league, and win your league.

Bright: The next best running backs are not hard to guess, they are Lesean McCoy and Adrian Peterson. McCoy is deadly due to his ability to run, but also his ability to get options for receiving options that other running backs don’t get. Adrian Peterson is still maybe the best athlete in the NFL, and he will definitely end up being picked in the top three, so don’t shy away.

Sleepers: Look out for Montee Ball next year, as he will be the main running back in Denver for the first time in his career. While the Broncos tend to only throw the ball, watch Ball vulture red zone touchdowns away from the Broncos’ receivers. Additionally, Bishop Sankey will be the main running back in Tennessee, and has already shown a strong performance in training camp. Watch Sankey come up huge this season, while still being available in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.

Who to Avoid: While Alfred Morris hasn’t put up bad rushing yards in his first two seasons, it is the receiving stats that worries many owners. In two years, Morris has had only twenty receptions, and this shows that the Redskins will be more likely to give Roy Helu the ball on third downs, which will diminish the value of Morris.

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Wide Receiver:

Best: Calvin Johnson is without a doubt the best wide receiver in the NFL, and may be the best ever by the end of his career. Watch Megatron continue to dominate defenses, and catch huge touchdown passes from Matthew Stafford. Get Megatron in the first round, as there are only a handful of players better than him.

Bright: Demaryius Thomas is a no-brainer, since he is Peyton Manning’s favorite target. Thomas gets deep looks several times a game, and is always the first choice for Manning in the red zone. A.J. Green has also proven himself as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and will continue to be the main part of Cincinnati’s offense. Get both of them early, as they will be gone in the blink of an eye.

Sleepers: Cordarrelle Patterson exploded into the NFL as a rookie this year, and will only continue his dominance. While he is the Vikings’ second receiver behind Greg Jennings, don’t wait too long to draft him, as he will be nabbed by your opponents for his ability to make get yards and touchdowns out of nothing. Additionally, look for the Brandin Cooks to be dynamic for the Saints. Drew Brees has Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston for big bodies, yet Cooks’ speed is unparalleled, even by Kenny Stills. Watch Cooks become a hot commodity, and it is even better that you can get him in the last round of your draft.

Who to Avoid: While Roddy White just got a fat new contract, he is aging rapidly, and can’t compete with Julio Jones, who will be Matt Ryan’s favorite target this year. Jones’ speed and skill outmatches White, and he will get most of the touches. Avoid White at all costs.

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Tight End:

Best: Although he may not want to be called a tight end, Jimmy Graham is the best tight end in the NFL. Graham is Drew Brees’ favorite receiver, and will get countless yards and touchdowns. Get Graham in the second round, as he is better than all receivers other than Calvin Johnson.

Bright: Julius Thomas is young, but has found a connection with Peyton Manning, and will be a sure target for touchdowns and important yardage situations. Rob Gronkowski may be slow to recover from a torn ACL, but he is Tom Brady’s only good target, and he will be sure to get abused by Brady.

Sleepers: With RGIII coming back, he has plenty of options to throw to, and Jordan Reed will continue his receiving success. Reed is young, quick and has great hands, and will surely be available late for a complete snipe. Eric Ebron has great size and athleticism and will be a great second option for Matthew Stafford to throw to after Calvin Johnson. Ebron will be available late in the draft, and should surely be picked up.

Who to Avoid: While Antonio Gates has had a great NFL career, he has seen his best days already. Youngster tight end Ladarius Green has formed a bond with Philip Rivers, and will be the main tight end threat for Rivers to throw to. Gates is obsolete, and should not be picked up.

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Defense/Special Teams:

Best: The Seahawks’ defense is what won the team the Super Bowl last year, so don’t miss out on the Legion of Boom this year. This team allows very few points, while forcing turnovers and scoring points on their own.

Bright: The 49ers and Panthers are both stellar defensively, and added key new players to further help them this year. Both teams limit their opponents to very few points, which is a very sought-after skill. Get these defenses if you can.

Sleepers: With the addition of Aaron Donald, the Rams defense will be dangerous this season. Look for the team to get tons of sacks and fumbles, generating points for fantasy teams. The Saints will have a deadly secondary this year, with the addition of Jairus Byrd. Watch them force lots of fumbles and make lots of interceptions for your fantasy team.

Who to Avoid: While the Browns added Karlos Dansby and Justin Gilbert, they and Joe Haden and Donte Whitner are not enough to make this defense good. Don’t be fooled, they have a weak defensive line, and will be ran over all day long, losing points for fantasy teams.

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Kicker:

Best: Last year Denver was the highest scoring team in the NFL, and they will absolutely be scoring as much if not more this season. With all those touchdowns, Matt Prater gets a point for every extra point. Also, in the instances that the Broncos don’t get a touchdown, Prater has a boot and can get tons of extra points for long distance points. Don’t wait until the last round to get a kicker, get Prater before it’s too late.

Bright: Stephen Gostkowski and Justin Tucker are in good offenses that just can’t seem to find the end zone. This means that the teams turn to them to make good fantasy points by kicking field goals. If Prater is not available, get these guys.

Sleepers: Robbie Gould and Dan Bailey may not be the best kickers, both of their teams were top five scoring teams in the NFL last year. These kickers will be getting field goals left and right, as well as adding extra points.

Who to Avoid: The Falcons have solid offensive threats now, and will be scoring more touchdowns than field goals. This means that Matt Bryant will only be earning one point, not three or more. Try to pick up somebody other than Bryant.

 

What to Watch for in the NFL Preseason

Many people take the NFL preseason lightly because most of the time the scrubs are battling it out. But the truth is, the preseason is important, because it gives teams the opportunity to set their depth charts. And also, with it being the first football in five months, you’ll probably watch it. Here are some key things to look for throughout the preseason.

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Week 1 Starting QB’s– It may not seem like a huge deal, but for teams that have QB battles, like Cleveland and the Jets, the Week 1 starter is who the coach views as the best possible choice. Lots of people are excited to watch Johnny Football, but he’ll start out playing with the second-stringers. Michael Vick vs Geno Smith (NYJ) will be interesting because both QBs play with similar styles, but Smith is said to have taken more first-team snaps than Vick. Make sure to note who starts on Sunday for the Browns, Jets, Vikings, Raiders, Jags, and Bucs.

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Who to Draft for Fantasy Football– The preseason may not be the best way to decide who to draft, but it’s a first glimpse of what each player will bring into the season. Of course there are hours and hours of preparation using last season’s stats and such, but preseason football gives you the chance to see who is ready to lead you to a championship this year. These four weeks may not help you decide to your starting QB should be, but it could certainly help you decide who some suitable backups are.

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The Rookies– With all the hype surrounding players like Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel, Sammy Watkins, and many more, the preseason is our first look at these rookies playing in an NFL game. The rookie quarterbacks should be given some attention too, even though none of them will probably start out with the first-stringers. These rookie QBs projects are a long process, because they will likely start out jittery, but should prove to be more NFL-ready as time wears on. Also, we’ll get the chance to see if Michael Sam is good enough to make it in the Rams organization and be the first openly gay player on an NFL 53-man roster.

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Top 10 NFL Position Battles

Believe it or not, NFL training camps will commence starting from the last week of July. With the kick-off of training camps comes training camp battles. Young, unproven players will compete with veterans; fallen stars will compete with rookies. Here are some training camp battles that are sure to be as hot in the upcoming months.

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New York Jets quarterback: Geno Smith vs. Michael Vick

Though Geno Smith was pretty terrible as the Jets quarterback in 2013, the job still remains his to lose. His competition is Michael Vick, who signed a one year deal with New York before the season. While Vick has obviously had more experience and past success, he hasn’t been good for several years. Expect the Jets to give their 2013 draft pick another year at the helm, barring a complete breakdown from Smith.

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Cleveland Browns backfield: Johnny Manziel vs. Brian Hoyer; Ben Tate vs. Isaiah Crowell vs. Terrance West

There is a lot to be won in the Cleveland backfield. Obviously, Hoyer vs. Manziel is the battle everyone is talking about. Manziel was the face of college football the past couple of years, and he was drafted to a team that needs hope and excitement as badly as anyone. However, Hoyer is the starter for now. Manziel still needs to learn to play within a system and Hoyer was actually fairly successful in his three starts for Cleveland. At running back, Ben Tate was signed to fill the void left at running back by Trent Richardson. However, the Browns drafted West and signed Crowell as an undrafted free agent. Nonetheless, expect Tate to get the starting role given his past success and experience carrying the rock.

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St. Louis Rams running back: Zac Stacy vs. Tre Mason

Zac Stacy had a great rookie season for a fifth round pick, rushing for 973 yards and seven touchdowns. However, his hold on the starting running back job for St. Louis is not as safe as one would expect. The Rams drafted Tre Mason, the SEC offensive player of the year, in the third round of this year’s draft. Mason is looking for the lion’s share of carries right out of the gate, but Stacy will likely retain the job because of his past success and knowledge of the playbook. However, Mason will receive plenty of touches as a change-of-pace guy.

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Green Bay Packers tight end: Andrew Quarless vs. Richard Rodgers vs. Brandon Bostick

After Jermichael Finley suffered a neck injury and had to undergo surgery, the Packers will probably not re-sign him. Andrew Quarless is entering his fifth year as a Packer, but his play-making ability is not as strong as younger Packer tight ends. Green Bay drafted Richard Rodgers, a big, athletic tight end who actually played receiver for Cal in 2013. Brandon Bostick is another young tight end who, like Rodgers, needs to improve his blocking in order to see the field. If the Packers struggle offensively, expect Rodgers and Bostick to see the field more as playmakers. If Aaron Rodgers can find other targets, Quarless will remain the starter as the more developed blocker.

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Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver: Marqise Lee vs. Ace Sanders vs. Mike Brown vs. Allen Robinson

Lee, Sanders, and Robinson have all come to the Jaguars via the draft in the past two years. With Justin Blackmon and his off-field problems gone, there is a starting job available aside Cecil Shorts at wide receiver. Lee and Robinson are both exceptional talents coming out of college, and their physical attributes should give the two of them the advantage over the diminutive Sanders and Brown.  Expect Lee, the more polished of the two, to get the starting job from the get-go. Sanders and Brown should see the field plenty out of the slot, as they can make plays in open space.

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback: Teddy Bridgewater vs. Matt Cassel vs. Christian Ponder

The Vikings have whiffed on quarterbacks in the post-Favre era. After being drafted in 2011, Christian Ponder has been a bust, and Matt Cassel took his starting role in 2013. Minnesota’s front office, however, doesn’t see Cassel as the long-term answer, drafting Louisville product Teddy Bridgewater in the first round of this year’s draft. Nonetheless, Cassel got the most reps at minicamp and looks to be the starter headed into the season. Expect Cassel to have a short leash under center, as Bridgewater could be tossed into the fire early.

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Miami Dolphins running back: Lamar Miller vs. Knowshon Moreno

These two running backs had opposite seasons in 2013, with Miller turning in a disappointing year for Miami while Moreno enjoyed a breakout year for the AFC-winning Broncos. Moreno was obviously aided by a potent Denver offense while Miller had to deal with the worst offensive line in football. Miller has the early advantage in terms of reps, but the significance of first team reps in May could be null and void by September. Moreno is reportedly overweight and has been bogged down by a knee injury. Give the slight edge to Miller now, but Moreno could easily catch him when the fall comes around.

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San Diego Chargers cornerback: Shareece Wright vs. Jason Verrett vs. Steve Williams

The Chargers filled one of their cornerback spots by signing ex-Chief Brandon Flowers. The other position is up for grabs. San Diego picked Jason Verrett out of TCU with the 14th pick in the 2014 draft. Shareece Wright struggled in 2013, so Verrett and Cal product Steve Williams will likely get long looks throughout training camp. Expect Verrett to emerge from training camp with the starting role.

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Oakland Raiders running back: Darren McFadden vs. Maurice Jones-Drew

Both Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew are both above-average, if not elite running backs when healthy. However, they haven’t been healthy for a while. Jones-Drew, who contemplated retirement this past offseason, will try to revive his career with his hometown Raiders. McFadden is coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons, and with another disappointing one, with likely have to find another team. Given Jones-Drew’s historical success and versatility., the UCLA product should win the job.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback: Mike Glennon vs. Josh McCown

Mike Glennon surprised everyone with a solid rookie campaign in 13 starts for the Bucs. But when Lovie Smith was hired as the new coach, he promptly named free-agent signee Josh McCown the starter. McCown was exceptional in 2013 for Chicago, so it makes sense for Tampa Bay to initially go with a quarterback who has lots of NFL experience and might bring more short term wins. However, if the Bucs aren’t competitive early on, McCown could be moved and Tampa Bay will look to the future and build around Glennon.

 

 

NFL Draft Winners and Losers

After the NFL Draft people like to judge. They like to judge the great picks, the not-so-great picks, and everything in between. Well, now it’s our turn to judge the best and the worst of the 2104 NFL Draft.

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Winners

San Francisco 49ers– One thing the 49ers do well in the draft is snag players who are talented but had a setback on the draft boards of many teams. This year was no exception. The Niners picked up Carlos Hyde, who many perceived as the best RB in the draft, in the late-second round, as well as WR Bruce Ellington, compared to first-rounder Brandin Cooks, in the fourth round. A player to keep an eye on was fifth-round pick DE Aaron Lynch, who has early-round ability, but his off the field issues plummeted his draft stock. Finally, the Niners utilized their “redshirt” program for injured prospects, drafting offensive linemen Brandon Thomas and Marcus Martin, as well as FB Trey Millard to develop this year.

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St. Louis Rams– In  the best division in the NFL, the Rams’ draft will probably let them compete in the competitive NFC West. Having two of the first thirteen picks doesn’t hurt, and the Rams used them to draft two solid players in T Greg Robinson and DT Aaron Donald. Also, the Rams allowed Michael Sam to become the first openly gay player in the NFL, which was met by some welcoming  tweets from Rams players, so that’s a good sign for Sam. The Rams also selected CB LaMarcus Joyner and RB Tre Mason, who both could make immediate impacts.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers– In a league that’s always looking for height to catch the ball (see Johnson, Calvin and Graham, Jimmy), the Bucs got their Lion’s share. The Bucs selected 6’5” WR Mike Evans seventh overall, who could instantly create a dynamic duo with Vincent Jackson. Additionally, Tampa drafted 6’5½” TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins who, with a little sculpting, could become a Jimmy Graham-type threat. These three will surely create matchup problems for many teams. The Bucs also chose a pair of offensive lineman in Kadeem Edwards and Kevin Pamphile to add depth to a somewhat thin O-line. Although Tampa Bay only had six picks, they made them count.

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Losers

Carolina Panthers– The Panthers lost multiple key players from last year’s playoff team, but didn’t do much to fill those holes. In need of a talented receiver, the Panthers went with 6’5” WR Kelvin Benjamin, a solid player in the college ranks. However, Benjamin’s route running and catching ability have been in question, and how is he going to make plays if he can’t get open or catch the ball? Additionally, Carolina’s offensive line depth has slimmed down since last year, and the Panthers only selected one offensive lineman. The Panthers also selected Tyler Gaffney, who brings a fifth member into Carolina’s backfield, which is more than enough. Unless Benjamin develops into a superstar, this draft will have been pretty disappointing for the Panthers.

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New England Patriots– Many analysts say the time for the Pats to win another title with Tom Brady, and the front office did basically nothing to address that. The only offensive weapon that could help is WR Jeremy Gallon, but he has low expectations being the last player the Pats drafted. New England drafted three offensive linemen, but the Patriots have a more than capable offensive line. Some say the selection of QB Jimmy Garappolo was questionable, but Brady does need a suitable backup. The pick that will make or break this year’s draft for the Pats is first-round DT Dominique Easley, who has tremendous athletic ability, as well as tremendous injury concern with two torn ACLs.

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Indianapolis Colts– Other than selecting WR Donte Moncrief, the Colts had quite a lousy draft. The Colts traded a their first-round pick to the Browns for Trent Richardson, but Richardson played well below expectations last year, so that’s a decision the Colt’s front office regrets. The Colts didn’t get their first pick until some teams already had three. Also, the Colts don’t possess a strong safety, and didn’t address their need in the draft. Albeit the Colts should be set for the next year or two, the draft is a great opportunity to build for the future, and their future didn’t get much help this year.

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