Custom Tennessee Titans Jerseys

How did Dane Brugler grade the Jon Robinson’s first draft with the Tennessee Titans?
It seems like forever ago, but the 2016 NFL Draft was Jon Robinson’s first with the Tennessee Titans.

Dane Brugler did posted a massive analysis of the 2016 NFL Draft, breaking down each team’s picks and grading the class as a whole.

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As much as we all scoff at immediate draft grades, they are an important part of the process. After the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft most thought the Miami Dolphins got a steal landing Laremy Tunsil and that he was the best player in that whole class.

Meanwhile, the former San Diego Chargers were ripped for drafting Joey Bosa when so many good offensive tackles were on the board.

Since then, Tunsil has been above average and the Chargers probably have a player on pace for a Hall of Fame career if he can stay healthy.

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Still, this snap shot shows us which teams are going with the flow and drafting by consensus and which teams are ready to stick to their evaluations and take the best player. Titans GM Jon Robinson is clearly in the second group.

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You can read Brugler’s full post here, but if you have been paying attention you probably can guess which player was the biggest bust and who was the best player in that class.

Ultimately, Brugler gave the Titans a “B-” and broke down why with the help of Titans beat writer Travis Haney.

Only 12 teams in the NFL got a better grade than the Titans did in this class, and it doesn’t seem to factor in the Corey Davis pick up in 2017. If you include Davis in this class I think you can at least bump it up to a “B” grade which would put the Titans with just 7 teams in front of them.

Either way, it should be noted that 6 of the Titans 10 picks from this draft are still on the roster three years later which is sort of rare. I would also throw in that the 3 of the Titans UDFA signing are on a roster now too.
–Austin Johnson, Karl Klug and Angelo Blackson, pushed out UDFA DT Antwaun Woods who has been a pretty darn good DT for the Dallas Cowboys.

-K Aldrick Rosas is now the kicker for the New York Giants.

-OT Tyler Marz (somehow pronounced Meritz) is actually still with the Titans as a player who has moved on and off of the practice squad throughout his career. He has been solid depth on that line.

While you can’t include the ones that moved on, it should be noted that Marz probably filled the role Tretola would have had as a utility OL.

For the majority of last year people were down on Jon Robinson because he brought a winning culture to the Titans…wait that doesn’t sound right, let me try again. Last year people were upset because he turned the Titans from a bottom-feeder to a playoff team in two years…that can’t be right.
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In 2018 people were mad at GM Jon Robinson because he didn’t spend a trade a 1st round pick for Amari Cooper just to pay him $13+ million in 2019 and then have him break the bank in 2020…

Ok, I keep checking my notes and this all is true but I’m just going to power through it. Jon Robinson took some flak last year despite all of his success, but this should show you that in retrospect Robinson has had above average classes every single year he has been with the Titans.

Looking at the depth chart, only 5 of the 22 starters on offense and defense were on this roster before Jon Robinson took over: Taylor Lewan, Marcus Mariota, Delanie Walker, DaQuan Jones, and Jurrell Casey.

The rebuild that Robinson has done on this team in three quick years is remarkable and it all started with this class. Even if it may not have been the best draft class of 2016 it did everything it needed to in terms of filling needs, while also setting the Titans up with a top-5 pick in 2017 to give Tennessee another foundational piece.

 

Custom Arizona Cardinals Jerseys

One of the area needing help in the offseason for the Arizona Cardinals was linebacker with Jordan Hicks helping fill that need
When the news broke the Arizona Cardinals were signing linebacker Jordan Hicks, it was good news but with some hesitation in excitement. Hicks signed as a free agent from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Here’s the issue. He has had to deal with injuries. He’s played in fewer than 10 games in two of his four seasons in the NFL.

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However last season was not one of them. He played in 12 games in 2018, starting them all. He started all 16 games as a middle linebacker for the Eagles in 2016.

Last season he had career-high’s in tackles, sacks, and quarterback hits. He had 91 tackles with three sacks and six quarterback hits. He also had five passes defensed and a fumble recovery.

There is definitely star potential for Hicks. The Cardinals must believe that as well judging by the four-year contract they gave him.

If you go by his career stats though, he only produces in even years. Now, just because that’s been the case over each of his four seasons, doesn’t mean that trend will repeat itself in 2019.

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Keep an eye on him though. He played in only eight games in 2015 and seven in 2017. The Cardinals clearly are counting on him now and in the near future.

If he can stay healthy, then he should produce. If Hicks played for the Cardinals last season producing those kind of numbers, the need certainly wouldn’t have been as great this offseason.

He should flourish in Vance Joseph‘s 3-4 defense. Hicks is a name we should expect to hear a lot. The former third round pick out of Texas is still young at 26, another plus for the Cardinals.

NEXT: Arizona Cardinals building an intriguing secondary
The only thing that will stop him will be injury. The talent is there but it just needs to be consistently present for it to be effective.

Custom New York Giants Jerseys

Following the NFL Draft, the New York Giants are set to have two very interesting positional battles on the defensive side of the ball.
Let’s take a look at these groups below!

Cornerback

After selecting three cornerbacks in April, this young group will arguably be the most competitive on the roster. Behind the veteran leader of the group Janoris Jenkins, the rookie trio of Deandre Baker, Julian Love, and Corey Ballentine are all fighting for snaps, along with second year corners Grant Haley and Sam Beal.

Beal did not play a snap in his rookie year due to season-ending shoulder surgery last offseason. The Western Michigan product was selected by Big Blue in the supplemental draft in 2018, which saw them give up this year’s third round pick for the defensive back. Beal was a highly touted prospect and is already making plays in OTAs. He is expected to heavily contribute in the Giants secondary this season.

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Haley played in 10 games for the New York Giants in 2018 and took over the starting slot corner position in the second half of the year. The undrafted rookie corner posted a solid 33 tackles, four of which came for a loss, along with two passes defended.

As for the rookies, both Baker and Love are two of the three candidates up for the Jim Thorpe award (best defensive back in college football). While Baker was lock down at Georgia only allowing one touchdown in his collegiate career, Love was right behind him. Playing at Notre Dame, Julian Love was a pass breakup machine recording 36 in the past two seasons alone. He also led the NCAA in this category in 2017 with 20 passes defended.

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Last but not least, Ballentine was selected by the Giants in the 6th round out of the Division II school Washburn College. Despite suffering a gunshot wound following the draft, Ballentine practiced for the first time on Thursday since the tragic incident. Ballentine ran an impressive 4.47 at the combine and collected five career interceptions as a three-year starter at Washburn.

Outside Linebacker

The other most intriguing competition on defense comes from the outside linebacker position. This group will be heavily relied upon to get after the quarterback this year, which was an aspect that was lacking on this unit a season ago.

The New York Giants selected Old Dominion pass rusher Oshane Ximines with their third round pick in the draft, who was known for getting after the quarterback in his college career. Ximines recorded a total of 32.5 sacks in four seasons at ODU, including 11.5 in his senior year.
Another young linebacker, who will be competing for a starting spot this offseason is second-year player Lorenzo Carter. Although he only started two games in 2018, Carter was second on the team with four sacks behind fellow rookie B.J. Hill. Carter also posted 30 tackles, seven for a loss, 10 QB hits, and four passes defended in 15 total games.

With these two young players knocking on the door for playing time, the Giants also have veterans Markus Golden and Kareem Martin. Both Golden and Martin come from Bettcher’s defense with the Arizona Cardinals.

Martin had an underwhelming first season as a Giant in 2018, which saw him only have one and a half sacks in 16 games. This number needs to improve if he wants to keep his starting spot over the youngsters, as previously mentioned.

As for Golden, he is coming off a torn ACL in 2017 that has limited him to only 15 games in the past two seasons combined. Despite this injury, he has still shown the ability to get after the quarterback and arguably had the best year of his career in 2016 under Bettcher, where he recorded 12.5 sacks with the Cardinals.

This unit must help increase the sack total for this defense in 2018. Now with a stronger secondary, this could allow them extra time to disrupt the pocket due to the fact that there will be better coverage behind them. The Giants are hoping Carter can take the next step and build off of his strong rookie campaign, along with Golden returning to his pre-ACL injury form that saw him record double digit sacks.
Stay tuned as we will without a doubt be very entertained throughout the summer watching these positional battles unfold!

Custom Baltimore Ravens Jerseys

The Baltimore Ravens once had the greatest ball hawk of all-time in Ed Reed. Before Reed, the Ravens had an incredible secondary that helped win Super Bowl XXXV. With such a rich history, the following statement is a bold one: The Ravens currently have the best secondary in franchise history:
The Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV on defense. While much of the credit surely goes to Ray Lewis and the defensive front, the secondary was incredibly good. Rod Woodson was the free safety, Kim Herring was the strong safety. At this point Woodson had already built a hall of fame career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Herring was a very good strong safety that people tend to forget about.

On one side the Ravens had Chris McAlister and the other starting cornerback was Duane Starks. Baltimore had top 10 picks at cornerback that lived up to their draft selection. Starks led the way with six interceptions and McAlister and Woodson both had four in the 2000 regular season. The secondary was as punishing and intimidating as the front seven was.

The Ravens have that kind of secondary once again. Earl Thomas is a ball hawking free safety. Tony Jefferson is a very good strong safety. The Ravens have four cornerbacks who are all players the team can highly count on. Marlon Humphrey is a cornerback entering the prime of his career. Jimmy Smith is a veteran cornerback whose best performance is still borderline elite. Brandon Carr has been in the NFL a long time and he’s never missed a game. Tavon Young is one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the league when he’s healthy.

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The Ravens depth is as impressive as the starting units. We’ve already had conversations about the Ravens having the best secondary in the NFL. It’s hard to dispute that on a talent basis the Ravens secondary is the supreme secondary on the NFL landscape. Thinking bigger, this could be the best secondary the Baltimore Ravens have ever had.

The Ravens have more depth in the back-end of their defense than they ever have before. They have a handful of safeties that can contribute in sub packages. Anthony Levine Sr. can be used as an extra linebacker or a hovering defensive back, for example. The Ravens depth isn’t just a plan B and a plan C. They have players that can contribute.

They also have players who they can stash for the future. Iman Marshal and Anthony Averett may not be asked to do a lot on defense this season. They both have incredible potential and could be future stars for the Ravens.

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Even when the Ravens had the 2000 defense, they didn’t have this much depth. Even when the Ravens had Ed Reed and Chris McAlister as Pro Bowl level talents, the Ravens never had this complete of a picture in the secondary.

This is the exact opposite of the 2014 defense. In 2014 the Ravens had an incredible pass rush and the secondary was thin and became the biggest weakness. In 2019 the Ravens have a crazy good secondary but the pass rush has become a question mark for them.

NEXT: 3 Baltimore Ravens who could disappoint in 2019
The Ravens have a chance to make history with this secondary. It’s a bold statement but it can happen. It has to come together, however there is no reason to think it won’t. The back end of the defense was a strength last season. It will be better this season. It may be as good as we’ve ever seen.

Custom Seattle Seahawks Jerseys

(Programming note: the Round-Up will be off through Memorial Day weekend, returning on Tuesday, May 28)

Good morning, 12s.

Here’s a look at what’s ‘out there’ for today – Friday, May 24 – about your Seattle Seahawks.

Offseason Adventures With D.J. Fluker
Seahawks offensive lineman D.J. Fluker was a guest on 710 ESPN Seattle’s ‘Danny, Dave and Moore’ earlier this week to offer his thoughts on Seattle’s transition to phase three of its offseason program, with organized team activities kicking off this past Monday.

“I think it’s been a lot easier transitioning to the offense,” said Fluker, who’s entering his second season with the Seahawks. “I think the offense is the same, everything’s been going a little bit quicker, but our tempo is a whole lot better. We’re connecting more as an offense. I think that’s the big thing from last year to this year, all the guys are behind you.”

Fluker’s physical play up front helped the Seahawks lead the league in rushing last season and his signature pancake blocks quickly made him a fan favorite in Seattle. But Fluker’s unique personality has also attracted fans to his corner, and back in early April, before the start of the Seahawks’ offseason workout program, Fluker shared a thought-provoking photo on social media of his 6-foot-5, 342-pound frame somehow sitting inside of a small smart car.

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View image on Twitter

Seattle Seahawks

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New whip, @DJTheWarrior76?

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“I kind of got talked into it,” Fluker said of the squishy situation. “I was actually coming from a workout, so I was leaving Destination Dallas in Texas, so he was like, ‘Man, I’m wondering can you fit into my smart car?’ I’m kind of like yeah, sure, why not.

“So I’m sitting here looking at this car. I’m looking like… this car’s about as big as my whole body. So I’m like how am I gonna to get into something that’s like a cocoon? Like a butterfly, he’s gonna get ready to split it open, you know? Finally I get in there — I had to go one foot at a time, I had to suck my stomach in a little bit, I’m like ‘God!’, my arm’s sitting on the passenger’s side.”

“I finally got in there and I tried to crank it up,” he continued. “But see what happened was, my knees were literally on the dashboard, so I can’t even touch the pedal. Then you talk about getting out of it? I closed the door and then I got stuck, so I took about 10 minutes to get out of it. I literally had to stick my head out of the sunroof to get under it and then lay out on the ground to get out of it. So yeah, big guys do not fit in tiny spaces. Does not work for me.”

In another entertaining online bit this offseason, Fluker joined receiver Tyler Lockett to spoof quarterback Russell Wilson’s announcement that he had signed a contract extension with the Seahawks, with Lockett posing as Wilson and Fluker imitating Wilson’s wife, Ciara, from the video.

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When ur teammates start re-enacting.. @TDLockett12 & @DJTheWarrior76 start making fun of me & @Ciara #Hilarious

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“I think that was more of a team effort there,” Fluker said. “One of our coach’s gave us a pep talk, ‘Guys, we’ve got to get him back for this.’ But we had fun with it, we had fun with it.”

For fans hoping to hang out with Fluker this Memorial Day weekend, he’s hosting a free football camp for youth age 7-14 in Oak Harbor.

Social Post Of The Day
Today’s ‘Social Post of the Day’ comes from Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald, who wishes fans a happy holiday weekend.
Bradley McDougald

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Have a Great weekend people #BM30

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Fridaaaayyyyy! #GoHawks | @BabyLead

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More From Around The Web
Seahawks.com’s John Boyle shares a Q&A with 12s heading into the extended weekend.

710Sports.com has a Seahawks roundtable discussion breaking down the first week of OTAs.

Custom Houston Texans Jerseys

@benitosupreme_: Dear Drew, Do you think TE Kahale Warring would be close to an Owen Daniels replacement? We been missing that TE threat since his departure.
DD: While I’m excited about Warring’s potential, let’s tap the breaks on the Daniels comparison. He certainly has an intriguing skillset and athleticism, but Daniels played in multiple Pro Bowls and is the greatest tight end in franchise history. However, I’m bullish on the tight ends group in 2019, as Warring, Jordan Thomas, Jordan Akins and Darren Fells are all capable of creating mismatches.

Mike Ledesma Dear Drew, Is training camp being held in West Virginia? Would love the Texans to hold it in Austin like the Cowboys did in the 90’s. Getting tired of Central Texas being Cowboy Country even though I see more Texans every year.
DD: No Mike, the Texans will be back in Houston this year for training camp. It’ll start in late July, and they’ll spend a part of a week in early August practicing with the Packers in Wisconsin before the preseason opener at Green Bay. There are no plans for the Texans to do camp in Austin, but that could certainly change in the future.

@DanielNunezRise Dear Drew, Will our offensive line protect Deshaun Watson this year?
DD: Yes. I think the combination of the linemen who played last year improving, along with the return of Seantrel Henderson and the addition of the Draft picks will raise the level of competition and in turn, the level of play. I also believe Fells will be a nice cushion, too. When I spoke with him last week, he jokingly referred to himself as a left, left tackle.

@briangrunt311 Dear Drew, Is a hotdog a sandwich?
DD: Of course not.
Clinton Polasek: Dear Drew, Who do you think will be the biggest standout of our rookie class?
DD: Lineman Max Scharping. He’s a very impressive guy, and I think he’ll find a way to get on the field and make an impact early. He’s massive, super-smart, and though he might not pancake guys, he almost always seems to get the block made.

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Samantha Hallas: Dear Drew, What’s a typical day like for you at this point in the offseason?
DD: Depends on the day of the week. But I typically write an article or two, do a podcast, interview some players, do a bit of television, and attend a few meetings. Plus I mix in some pushups, planking, and light reading.

Juan Garza: Dear Drew, What do you think the chances are Jadeveon Clowney signs his tender and plays for the Texans this year, or that they get a deal done long term and he stays with our favorite team?
DD: Not sure either way, but I’m fairly certain you’ll see him on the field, wrecking shop in Week 1 for the Texans.
@joelormsby Dear Drew, Sort me out with a Wembley ticket mate, I’ll buy you a pint. Thanks.
DD: Word.

Ian Cottle: Dear Drew, Outside of RB Karan Higdon, who’s an undrafted name we should know going into training camp?
DD: I’m guessing you’re talking about the undrafted rookies, so I’d say keep an eye on receiver Johnnie Dixon from Ohio State, defensive end Albert Huggins from Clemson and running back Damarea Crockett from Missouri.

Rafael Pelayo: Dear Drew, How do they determine when we wear our full Battle Red uniforms? What can we do to wear it more often?
DD: Rafael, the Battle Reds can only be worn at home, and only twice per season, max. The marketing staff and in union with the football operations side ultimately decides what dates the Texans will wear Battle Red.

@nanipenajr: Dear Drew, There has been a lot of talk about finding our 4th WR. Is there any reason we can’t go get Bruce Ellington back?
DD: He’s a free agent, so the Texans could get him if they wanted. But I doubt they’ll do that, as they have a pair of receivers in Keke Coutee and DeAndre Carter who sort of play the same spot as Ellington would.
@NiMoTX: Dear Drew, What’s more likely: Texans keep 4 tight ends or 12 defensive backs?
DD: I really think you’ll see four tight ends on this year’s 53-man roster. Darren Fells, Jordan Thomas, Jordan Akins and Kahale Warring all give you a creativity for the offense because of their skillsets. Like I’ve mentioned many times this offseason: they’re incredibly athletic. Fells and Akins were professionals in basketball and baseball, respectively. Thomas is enormous. Warring is an athletic freak.

@debbiethetexan: Dear Drew, what’s your favorite color of cotton candy?
DD: Pink!

@Martin_E18 Dear Drew, How do you think our secondary would look this year?
DD: Hey Martin, hope you’re doing great my friend. This year’s secondary, especially at the safety spot, has a lot of experience. Tashaun Gipson and Jahleel Addae each started all 16 games last season with the Jaguars and Chargers, while Justin Reid started 12 games here in Houston. Johnathan Joseph is back at corner, and he’ll be joined by free agent Bradley Roby, rookie Lonnie Johnson and a few others.

Custom Carolina Panthers Jerseys

Gaulden is turning the heads of some of the Carolina Panthers coaches.
With the starting safety position for the Carolina Panthers looking more like Rashaan Gaulden’s spot to lose rather than one he will have to compete for, it would be easy for him to feel a mix of emotions. For one, he could be nervous as he has never been in a role like this in the National Football League. On the other hand, he could be too relaxed, knowing that he will probably have an advantage over others who try to fill the safety position.

So far, it seems as though he is taking the right approach. This is what I like to hear. As a rookie last year, he didn’t get a ton of playing time and it would be very easy for him to feel discouraged and a little bit timid heading into his second year. However, that does not seem to be the case and that is a good sign for the Carolina Panthers. You want a player who is enthusiastic and ready to play the position, and it seems like Gaulden fills exactly those two traits.

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For those who follow college football, we all saw what he could do at Tennessee. Sometimes, a player’s skills don’t translate well over to the professional ranks. Now, it appears that we will get a good chance to see what Gaulden is made of. I’m excited, as his athleticism should be able to translate well to the Panthers defense. There are tons of playmakers on that side of the football, and if he can be one of them, he will fit right in.

Head coach Ron Rivera also seems very pleased with what he has seen from Gaulden. Anytime you have the head coach singing your praises, that is certainly a vote of confidence. With Rivera playing a much larger role in the defensive playcalling this year, that is especially a good sign for the player.

“Very enthusiastic. He’s working really hard. We’ve just got to be careful when we’re out there,” said Rivera of Gaulden. “He’s doing some really good things, and again, he’s showing us what we’re hoping we could see. And he’ll continue to work at both spots.”

When Rivera was referring to “both spots”, he meant the safety and nickel positions. Personally, I think he would be a better safety, as he has that physical element in his game. However, I could see him excelling at both spots. It will be interesting to see where the Carolina Panthers slot him and how well he adjusts to what will probably be his first continuous game action in the professional ranks. I am curious about what he brings to the table.

NEXT: Three offensive Panthers to watch
Whatever the case may be, it sounds like he is ready for it. The Carolina Panthers have a very raw but talented prospect on their hands in Gaulden. If all goes according to plan, he could be a major surprise (in a good way) for the Carolina Panthers.

Custom Atlanta Falcons Jerseys

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – With Phase III of Atlanta’s offseason workout program underway, this marks the first time the players and Atlanta’s coaching staff will take the fields together for 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work.

New wrinkles have been added on both sides of the ball with new coordinators in place as Dirk Koetter has now taken the reigns of the offense and coach Dan Quinn taking over the defense.

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Highlights: OTA Day 1
Best images from OTAs
The next few weeks of OTAs give players a chance to fine tune their skills and show the progress they’ve made this offseason. Although the offseason program is critical to the entire team as they gear up for the start of the 2019 season, here are five players who could really benefit from a strong offseason, in no particular order:

Vic Beasley
There’s no denying this is a prove-it year for Beasley, Atlanta’s former first-round draft pick heading into his fifth season with the team. The Falcons drafted Beasley to get to the quarterback and he’s been inconsistent at times in doing just that. He led the NFL in sacks with 15.5 in 2016 – when the Falcons earned a trip to Super Bowl LI – but since then, he’s totaled just 10 sacks in two seasons. He’s proven he can be an impact player and the Falcons will certainly need the best version of Beasley in 2019. Quinn believes he can get the best out of the defensive end and said that he plans to take a “hands-on” approach.
Devonta Freeman
The Falcons’ offense is at its best when Freeman is performing at a high level and there’s no doubt about it. Need proof? Go back to the 2016 season when Freeman rushed for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 54 passes for 462 yards and two touchdowns. Injuries have plagued the running back the last two seasons. Freeman will enter the season completely healthy and the Falcons are expecting a big year from the running back. The Falcons finished with the No. 27 rushing attack in 2018 and getting that part of their game back on track is an emphasis in 2019 and it starts with Freeman.

Takk McKinley
Atlanta’s defense feeds off McKinley’s energy and play. The defensive end is coming off an up-and-down 2018 season and, similar to Beasley, Quinn believes McKinley will be better in 2019. In two seasons, McKinley has 13 sacks. Atlanta finished the year with 37 sacks on the year which was 22nd in the league. Quinn will be working closer with the defensive ends this year and with two years under his belt, McKinley could be primed for his best season yet.

Isaiah Oliver
Oliver is expected to assume a starting role at cornerback this season. After a rookie year which included some of the “on-the-job” training Quinn often talks about, the belief is that Oliver is ready. He’ll start opposite of Desmond Trufant on the outside. The former second-round pick out of Colorado played in 14 games in his rookie season and started two of them. He recorded 23 tackles and made one interception. The hope for Oliver is with a year of experience under his belt, he’ll make the necessary jump from Year 1 to Year 2.

Damontae Kazee
Kazee caught the NFL by storm in 2018 when he became the Falcons’ starting free safety after Ricardo Allen went down early in the season. He finished the season tied for an NFL-best seven interceptions. Kazee proved why he needs to be on the field for the Falcons. But will he show last year wasn’t just a fluke? The Falcons will be featuring Kazee in a different role this year at the nickel cornerback spot. And if we learned one thing last year, regardless of where Kazee lines up, he has a knack for finding the football.

Custom Minnesota Vikings Jerseys

Xavier Rhodes struggled during the 2018 season but looks to bounce back to his Pro Bowl form for the upcoming year with the Minnesota Vikings.
Watching a top-tier defensive back going up against the best wide receivers in the league can be quite entertaining to watch and fans of the Minnesota Vikings have gotten to see that on a regular basis with Xavier Rhodes.

A first-round draft pick who needed to clean up his play to get to become one of the top players at his position (including wearing boxing gloves to stop holding), Rhodes has defended 67 passes in 89 games played and returned one interception 100 yards for a touchdown.

However, Rhodes didn’t look like his usual self in 2018. A quick look at Pro Football Focus shows that they agree that he struggled, as he earned the lowest grade of his career in coverage (55.1) as well as overall defense (58.2).

Even head coach Mike Zimmer spoke about his struggles according to the Star Tribune, being quite harsh with the defensive back:

“I just don’t think he played as well as he can play. He needs to play up to his ability level. We’re paying him a lot of money. He needs to play up to that contract.”

The money Zimmer is describing is the five-year deal Rhodes signed worth $70 million. He also carried a salary cap hit of over $13.3 million in 2018 and will have the same cap hit for the 2019 season.

Recently, Rhodes responded to this comment in a professional manner on the official website of the NFL, stating some observations he had about his play.

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“I mean, we had a bad year as a whole team, so everybody was messing up. We all need to come together as a team and correct our mistakes. I was one of those guys being a leader on the team, not making as many plays as I did in previous years.”

Rhodes accounted for some of his errors by pointing out that he gambled more often than he should have on plays and performed out of character at times. With those things in mind, he had nothing but praise for his coach.

“We appreciate him being hard on us, being tough on us,” Rhodes said. “He only wants greatness out of us.”

There is no question that Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff demand excellence from everyone around him (no matter what Matt Kalil might say). By being so frank with his players a level of respect can be earned and held. That respect is something which has helped keep key pieces of the team together despite issues with the salary cap.
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Xavier Rhodes is under contract through the 2022 season with the Minnesota Vikings and should continue to play at a high level for the team. And hopefully, that means he can return to play that made him one of the most feared cornerbacks in the NFL.

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In his second year with the Kansas City Chiefs, wide receiver Sammy Watkins needs to start living up to his contract in Andy Reid‘s offense.
The Kansas City Chiefs made a big splash in 2018 free agency as they inked former fourth overall pick Sammy Watkins to a lucrative deal. KC signed the wide receiver, who had previously spent three seasons with Buffalo and one with the Los Angeles Rams, to a three-year deal worth $48 million. Through the first year of the contract, though, Watkins’ hasn’t looked like a $16 million per year player.

Watkins missed six games for the Chiefs last season and, frankly, was not all that productive when he was on the field. The wideout notched just 40 receptions on 55 targets for 519 yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps even more curious, Watkins posted just a 13.0 yards per reception average, the worst mark of his career by more than two yards.

Despite how prolific the Chiefs offense was last season, Watkins was not a vital part of that, even when he was on the field. As he enters the second year of his deal in Kansas City, though, he needs to take a step forward.

Given the situation regarding Tyreek Hill and the fact that Kareem Hunt was already released last season, the Chiefs offense could be looking for guys to step up and replace a ton of production for their offense. In an ideal world, the wide receiver making $16 million per year would be the guy that could step up and do that.

The first step for Watkins doing that, though, is him staying healthy. Recently, in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Watkins spoke about his current status and how he’s feeling in the 2019 offseason, noting that he’s trying to essentially speak full, healthy season into existence:

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SiriusXM NFL Radio

@SiriusXMNFL
[email protected] WR Sammy Watkins believes he’s poised for a big 2019 season thanks to the K.C. training staff and a new attitude….

“I’m getting back to that kid again that’s just out there playing, having fun”#ChiefsKingdom

AUDIO⬇️⬇️⬇️

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9:36 AM – May 21, 2019
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While the fact that Watkins’ confidence has not waned isn’t negligible, it doesn’t lessen the fact that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense need him both on the field and taking a step forward in production. Without him, they could see some regression.

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It is worth noting that Watkins’ pedestrian production in 2018 when he was on the field could be, in part, due to learning his third offense in as many years. With a sense of stability and comfort in Reid’s system with Kansas City, perhaps that will help him to be a more consistent performer come the 2019 season.

This is a crucial year for Watkins to prove that he can still be a first-round caliber wide receiver, though. Not only do the Chiefs need him to keep their offense humming at the level that led them to the AFC Championship Game last year, but Kansas City can also get out of his deal next offseason while only incurring $7 million in dead cap (per Spotrac).

NEXT: Gerald McCoy: Free agency landing spots
Essentially, this is put up or shut up time for Sammy Watkins. The opportunity has now presented himself to rise to the occasion for a team that needs him and, if he fails to do so, the 2019 campaign could be his last with the Chiefs.