By: Lucas Kochevar
It is officially NFL draft season and the class at QB is causing controversy already. Outside of the first QB, Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, everyone seems to be divided on how to rank these guys. Zach Wilson shows unreal placement and makes many jaw-dropping plays. Justin Fields has been at the front of Ohio State's success and showed his tools during the College Football Playoffs. Trey Lance pops on film with his elite mobility and pro-ready tools. Mac Jones had an unforgettable year with Alabama and is highly regarded since the Senior Bowl a couple weeks ago. This article will be my ranking for the time. Circumstances change and with pro days coming up here in March, I can't say these will be my final rankings, but here we go.
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Well, duh. The explanation does not need to be long here. Trevor Lawrence has shown in his three years at Clemson that he is worth every bit of the hype. He will go number one to Jacksonville as one of the best QB prospects of all-time.
2. Zach Wilson, BYU
Wilson made football look easy this past year at BYU. He made a number of plays that were unreal and elevated his talent. He showed great anticipation on throws, especially deep throws. He also does a good job of throwing on the run and has traits that really pop. The knock on Wilson is that his competition was not very good. My concern is that he will play too reckless and depend on his talent instead of letting the game come to him. With decent mobility, Wilson looks to be the prototypical QB for today's NFL.
3. Trey Lance, NDSU
Lance did not get to play a full season with North Dakota State, but that should not take away from the film he put out two seasons ago. It is important to note that he was a redshirt freshman. The mechanics he showed were NFL ready and he made many throws that were placed perfectly. He is the most mobile QB in this class and runs with physicality, which is a slight concern as you would like to see him protect himself. Lance runs a pro-ready scheme with a ton of play-action. The concerns with Lance are similar to Wilson with the competition being low and he didn't play great in the strange showcase game that NDSU played this past year.
4. Justin Fields, OSU
Fields came into this season as the clear cut number two prospect, but concerns arose through the year. Fields showed great mobility and didn't turn the ball in his first year at Ohio State. This past season, he showed regression in his decision making. Fields does a good job at hitting the first read and throwing outside of the numbers. His arm strength is not a question. The best film of Justin Fields is definitely from the Clemson game this year in the CFP. In that game he showed all his strengths and outplayed Lawrence. My concern with Fields is the speed of the next level and the growth he will have to show reading the defenses. I also fear that once he is taken out of the OSU offense, he will look average or worse. I think his mobility puts him over Mac Jones, but it is buyers beware when drafting him.
5. Mac Jones, Alabama
Jones has come on very strong this past week. The buzz around him is loud and he is jumping up the draft board rapidly. The Alabama QB played nearly flawless as he lead them to the National Championship. Jones was very impressive with his accuracy, especially on the deep ball. During the Senior Bowl this year, Jones was applauded heavily by teammates and others in regards to his leadership. His teammates all seem to love him and this is one of those traits that separates prospects. The biggest concern with Jones is the level of talent he played with. He was throwing the ball to the Heisman winner, several more first round caliber players, and the best offensive line in the NCAA. Also, he is not as mobile as the other four ahead of him. His ceiling is the lowest as the four ahead of him too. All in all, Jones is a reliable pocket passer with a good arm. He could really shine if drafted to the right spot.
By: Lucas Kochevar
The 2020 season, despite a number of obstacles, has finally finished. I took my time thinking about the Super Bowl and how I could sit down and write something about this one. I am still struggling to find anything remotely interesting. Tom Brady has put himself far and away as the greatest of all time, but we already knew that. The Chiefs proved that the trenches matter, as they couldn't block a soul. This game overall was very blah, but to be fair, we have been spoiled with a number of good Super Bowls in past years. We were due for a dud one of these years. The real question is whether or not the Bucs can repeat. I am also curious to see if the Chiefs suffer the infamous Super Bowl hangover and fall off from the best seed in the AFC. That would be hard to imagine with Patrick Mahomes at QB, but you never know. I look forward to this off-season though, as now everyone is officially 0-0 and we start again. I am looking forward to getting my hopes up about the Falcons. Just to watch them get crushed week one. Lets have some fun.
By: Lucas Kochevar
The stage is set for Tampa Bay, Florida as Super Bowl 55 will take place on February 7th. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers survived a comeback from the Green Bay Packers as they controlled majority of the game. In Kansas City, the Chiefs handled their business and showed why they were the one seed. In the next two weeks leading up to Super Bowl 55, I will be doing more breakdowns of the big game. I would also like to do pieces on the coaching changes. For this article, I will be doing a similar style to last weeks article and talk about the teams that lost, starting off with the Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers lost the game to the Bucs, not the refs. They looked outmatched for most of the game and they were outcoached. The Packers forced Tom Brady to throw three INTs and only managed to put together points on one of those picks. Then, HC Matt LaFleur took the field goal for no good reason on 4th and 8 with the game seemingly on the line. Metrics suggest that the field goal attempt was one of the worst field goals attempts of all-time with the game on the line. The game ends and the hottest team in the NFC is no more and their future is very intriguing going forward. As Aaron Rodgers stated, "A lot of guys' futures, they're uncertain, myself included,"
A number of reporters speculated after this quote that perhaps Rodgers might force his way out of GB with a trade. I'm here to tell you, the MVP favorite is not going anywhere. People jumped the gun on this quote and took it the complete wrong way. The Packers are not about to trade one of, if not the best, QB talents in history. He mainly was alluding to C Corey Linsley and RB Aaron Jones. These two guys were critical in making GB one of the most explosive, versatile offenses in the league. Linsley played the best ball of his career and will surely get paid. Aaron Jones will also be commanding more than the Packers will be willing to pay for a RB. The defense should come back for the most part. It was also evident they were missing the best LT in the game, David Bakhitari, who will return next year fully healthy. The Packers don't seem to have any threats in their division yet, so they should be well-positioned to another division title and playoff run as long as they stay healthy. It will be intriguing to see the moves they make to replace key pieces they might lose.
The Buffalo Bills had the best season in their history since 1995. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs set new franchise records and look to be one of the leagues best duos moving forward. They ended up falling to the juggernaut that is the Kansas City Chiefs. Josh Allen didn't look nearly as impressive as he has all year and you could feel the energy in the air was different for the Chiefs, especially when Andy Reid would dial up a play that ran 60-50 yards. Many people thought the Bills might be able to beat the Chiefs, but soon that reality came crashing down. The Bills still had a very successful year and the best news they got was that OC Brain Daboll would be coming back for another year after not getting hired during this HC cycle. Daboll lead the Bills to having one of the best offenses in the league, but he needs to figure out how to find a complimentary run game so that Josh Allen doesn't have the burden of the world on his shoulders.
The Bills also have to address some deficiencies in their defense. The Buffalo defense wasn't horrible, but it felt like they just didn't have that edge to them that they had last season. They still have Tre'Davious White and company on the secondary so they should be good for next year. I would like them to address their D-Line with one of their edge rushers. The pressure just was never there when they needed it unless they brought someone on the blitz. Another solution could be to make sure A.J. Espenesa gets more reps and training over the offseason to improve his game. The offense should be good once again, they just have slight adjustments to make to the team and they should be in the running for next years AFC Championship.
By: Lucas Kochevar
The NFC Divisional round has officially concluded as the Packers, Bills, Chiefs, and Buccaneers all took care of business over the weekend. The match-ups are set for next Sunday with Tom Brady and the Bucs travelling to see MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau. The second match-up will include the electric Buffalo Bills and the reigning Super Bowl champions. These games should be a ton of fun to see who can stamp their ticket to Tampa Bay for Super Bowl LV. This article will cover the teams that won't get to see the field on Sunday and said goodbye to their seasons.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams had a fairly successful season in which they knocked off the division rival Seahawks with their QB having thumb surgery just about three weeks ago. Their defense was dominant majority of the season as they ranked first as the total defense. Aaron Donald was Aaron Donald. The season as a whole was very up and down. They lost to the Jets for crying out loud. Now there are reports coming out that McVay and Jared Goff are having trouble in their relationship. The offseason of QB vs HC continues. Reality is that these rumors should not be given that much attention as this sort of thing happens when the offense/QB doesn't play up to its potential. Goff just needs to get healthy and reflect on some of the issues that made his 2020 season harder than what it had to be. Cam Akers emerged towards the end to replace Todd Gurley's production. The defense should return its major starters but, DC Brandon Staley just got hired by the LA Chargers. It will be interesting to see who McVay hires to replace him and will they still have the same defensive production.
Baltimore travelled into Buffalo and fought hard with a great Bills team, however, a third quarter 102-yard pick six doomed the Ravens and essentially that's where everything came crashing down. Now, I am not here to bash Lamar Jackson. I am not sold on him as a passer and that is certainly an area where he has to improve over the offseason. He cannot keep coming into the season depending on his legs to carry the team to victory every time. He has to show some growth. To be fair, his weapons, outside of Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown, are very below average. They have to improve that area to try and relieve pressure off of the young QB. The defense is still in good shape, but they need to address the D-Line with names like Calais Campbell getting older. The Ravens have a great future if they stick with the plan of building around Lamar. Look for them to make him a very rich man with an extension. Their OC, Greg Roman, has to work on his variation in play-calling as they struggled mightily during the season until the last 5 games.
Don't look now, but the Cleveland Browns are back! After a dominant win over their bitter rival in the wild card, they ended up losing to the Chiefs. It wasn't the ending that they wanted but, they took a gigantic leap forward under first year HC Kevin Stefanski. The favorite to be Coach of the Year made the Browns offense into one of the stronger units in the league by adapting to Baker Mayfield's strength of play-action. He leaned on his two-headed RB monster of Chubb and Hunt. The defense has a few holes, but Myles Garrett played fantastic and Denzel Ward should improve with another offseason under his belt. This team had its up and downs mainly with player off and on the COVID list and they lost star WR Odell Beckham Jr., but they looked like they belong in the race for the AFC North for years to come. It will be fascinating to see the moves the Browns make. They often were held back by incompetent ownership. If the Jimmy Haslam steps back and lets the management do their job, the Browns should firmly be in the race next year with the Ravens and Steelers.
New Orleans Saints
The Drew Brees era is officially over. At least, it should be. The Saints played in their last game of the season when losing to the Bucs lead by a strong defensive performance. I cannot tell if the Saints offense was that bad with Brees or if the Bucs defense was flying around. I would believe the first verdict. Brees has lost all arm strength and went out truly sad. As a Falcons fan, I couldn't help but love every minute he stunk it up on the field with INTs. The Saints will go into the offseason losing three straight home playoff games to teams that they should have definitely beat. They will now likely turn to gadget player/QB Taysom Hill. Hill will be in his early thirties and does have some experience after playing some this season when Brees was out with his rib injury. The Saints will be losing Asst. HC Dan Campbell to the Lions and Director of Player Personnel Terry Fontenot, who is highly regarded, to the Falcons as the new GM. The biggest issue the Saints will be facing is the fact that they are $100M over the salary cap. They will be in for a franchise changing offseason by losing the best QB to put on the black and gold.
By: Lucas Kochevar
Jimmy "GQ" Garoppolo and the 49ers have started out the season 8-0 and it hasn't been because of his stellar play. It has been a very strong balanced attack with a brilliant offensive attack and a defense full of talent, but Jimmy G has been playing very well and should be one of the next great QB's. He has been very precise in the last couple games, especially after his last win on Thursday Night Football. He threw for 317 yards and 4 TD. The most impressive part of this was that he didn't turn the ball over. That has been an issue for him in the past games as he has thrown at least one interception in 6 out of their 8 games. The knock I would have on him is the fact that he can tend to be sloppy with the ball.
He has been the perfect QB for Kyle Shannahan with his execution of play action. George Kittle has also made his life very easy by being one of the best TE in the league. One move that will be looked back on as a big move will be the trade for WR Emmanuel Sanders. He has already made an impact in this offense. He tends to be a good go to guy whenever Jimmy G needs to get it to him. Sanders torched All-Pro CB Patrick Peterson.
Going back to Jimmy G, he has completed 70% of his passes this year and has made some really good throws in the medium section of the field. He has a really good release point and can fire it off quickly when he is under duress. He also throws a good deep ball and can execute those plays very well in his scheme. One thing he has that seems to be a cliche is that he has moxy. He has the "It" factor and a certain confidence where you can tell the team is behind him and is willing to do whatever with him. Jimmy G is still growing as a QB but he has displayed all the tools you want to see from a franchise QB.
By: Lucas Kochevar
The most shocking move the NFL has seen in years happened on Saturday night. MVP candidate Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts has retired. The 29 (!) year-old QB decided to retire after multiple injuries has taken away his love for the game. This story catches many off guard as the Colts were widely regarded as an underdog to compete for a Super Bowl. It makes sense though as Luck has had to battle his way back from injury after injury.
He stated that his injuries have taken a toll mentally on him. Luck is one of the smartest QBs in the league from Stanford and as this must have been a brutal decision, he understands that it is probably best for him to step away. He can always come back too if he decides to.
The Colts now turn to Jacoby Brissett to lead their offense. Brissett should get a chance to show what he can do as he goes into a contract year. He will take the reigns of an elite offensive line, young running back, and talented receiving core. It will be interesting to see if the Colts can make a push for a wildcard spot
By: Lucas Kochevar
Kevin Byard and the Titans agreed to a 5-year, $70.5 million deal that includes $31 million in guarantees. He becomes the highest paid safety in NFL history. This deal gets done as Byard enters his fourth year in the league. Tennessee keeps a key piece of their defense in the secondary with this move. He was selected to a pro bowl and a first team all-pro honor in 2017 after leading the league in interceptions. In 2018, he didn't have as good a season but still was impressive after recording 4 interceptions and 62 solo tackles.
Byard was in line for an extension and he truly deserves it. He has flown under the radar due to being on a quiet Titans team. He has been a ball hawk as he fly's around on that defense and provides leadership. He will be the one of core leaders on a Titans team that looks to make it back to the postseason under second year coach Mike Vrabel. Under Vrabel, expect to see a defense that relies on toughness and speed from the safety position. Byard fits the mold perfectly and that is why he earns himself a stay in Nashville. Best of luck to Byard and the Titans.
By: Lucas Kochevar
The NBA stole headlines on Thursday night with the news that Houston had a new sheriff in town. The Rockets traded for star PG Russell Westbrook. The Rockets sent away Chris Paul, two future first round picks, and two pick swaps for the future. The news comes about a week after the Thunder traded Paul George to the Clippers. Once that move was made it was clear that the Thunder and Westbrook were heading towards a divorce. This trade adds to an already crazy off-season where we have seen multiple superstars changing teams.
The analysis on this is that the Rockets offense will depend on if Russ and Harden can share the ball. Westbrook over the last three seasons has averaged a triple-double which is incredible, but that means he controls the ball an enormous amount of time. The problem with that is Harden controls the ball even more as he easily lead the NBA in isolation plays last year. It will be interesting to see what happens in their offense that depends on fast pace plays and shooting.
Westbrook has been plagued with the reputation as a ball hog and shot-chucker. He has often taken a number of jump shots at a high volume and low percentage. He has to realize that this is James Harden's team and he has to fit in there. He has to carve his role as a number two to Harden. Some might think this would be a hard concept, but I believe this transition will be easier than most as they are still good friends from their days together on the Thunder. It will be interesting to see how this duo will play together.
As for the Thunder, its simple. They are in rebuilding mode. They have officially left their glory days in the past and look forward to building their future. They have Chris Paul now, but do NOT get comfortable with him there. I would bet money that he does not start the season off with a Thunder uniform on. Different analysts have reported that Miami would most likely be the front runner for him.
By: Lucas Kochevar
That's right folks, I am back. I think so at least. On a real note, I am back to deliver analysis on certain players and their impact. I wish to highlight players as if I am a scout. The reason for this is because once I leave college or even intern, I want to be a professional scout for any sport. I believe that this site can help me acheive that goal. I hope to keep consistent post. I will be gone for the next week, however. Lets have a strong year!
By - Lucas Kochevar
1. New Orleans Saints
The Saints remain to be the team to beat even after and ugly win on the road at Carolina. They come even closer to clinching home field with the Rams losing to Philadelphia. If the Saints are in that dome come January, I expect them to have the easiest path to the Super Bowl. The Saints will have an interesting game coming up against Pittsburgh.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
The best team in LA is the Los Angeles Chargers led by Phillip Rivers. It is even more incredible that they are the least talked about team in LA. Even the Kings are getting more attention. Okay maybe not, but they are still flying under the radar as the postseason comes up. They even have a chance to steal that one seed if Kansas City slips up. The biggest concern for the Chargers should be getting Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon, and Austin Eckler healthy. Luckily they are all expected to play against a rising Baltimore team this Saturday.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs still hold the top spot in the AFC and the MVP favorite, but the Chiefs will remain questionable with a poor run game, a very average defense, and a shaky playoff history. I am a firm believer in the Chiefs and Pat Mahomes as I think he adds a new element to that team. He makes at least one incredible throw every week and I tend to look back at that game against the Ravens where it seemed they were destined to lose that similar to how the old Chiefs would, however, they overcame the adversity and made big plays when they needed it. The Chiefs face off against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks this Sunday night.
4. Chicago Bears
This Bears defense is full of playmakers and Trubisky is getting his shoulder back. The Bears may not pass the Rams, but they are surging right now and they are a fun team to watch. The Bears were not considered a threat at all in the NFC North, but Khalil Mack added an identity to this team and has lead them back to relevance. The funny part is that Mack has totaled around 12 sacks this season and the Raiders whole team has 11. He is showing that he was well worth those draft picks. On the offense, Tarik Cohen has been their explosive player and I believe that he is going to be crucial for that offense when they make it to the postseason.
5. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams were one of the most productive teams on offense through many weeks, but their defense floundered. Now, Jared Goff is struggling and he can't lean on his defense. Goff has thrown several picks dating back to their win against the Lions. They are still an elite team with elite talent. Todd Gurley has to have more runs though. It seems as if he isn't getting the ball nearly as much as he did early on. They need to find a way to control elite defensive lineman like Fletcher Cox and Khalol