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Playing a GM – Patriots offseason moves 2021

First time in the last decade the Patriots didn`t get into the playoffs. Ok, it is what it is. We didn’t have Brady, we had league high opt-outs before the season, we lost some key players in FA and we had some additional injuries.

The team has problems on both sides of the line of scrimmage, which wouldn’t be easy to solve in one offseason, but I try at least to fill the gaps and start some kind of rebuilding. I am sure with Belichick as HC/GM the team can manage to be in the playoff again within a year or 2 (maybe I am too optimistic, but I don’t think we are so deep as it sometimes looks). We still have some key players, some of the opt-outs will come back, we have the 15th pick on the draft and have almost $69M cap space.

In this post I try to put myself into the position of a GM‘s (let’s say now I will play Belichick the GM). Right, we all know that nobody can project what BB will do, but since I have nothing to lose, I can show you my thoughts. For the financial parts I used numbers from @patscap, overthecap.com and from spotrac.com. Ok, let’s start!

Basics:

Everything starts with the cap situation. We still don’t know what will be the exact cap number for the 2021 season, the only sure thing is, that it can’t be lower than $175M. Since @patscap uses this number as basic, I planned to do the same, but the latest news suggest that the final cap number could be a little bit higher, around $180M. Because I want to be optimistic and I hope owners will accept that extra $5M, I will calculate with this amount.

Every team has some numbers which can increase or decrease their cap space (cap space is the net amount of money which they can use to sign old or new players). Most of the time teams have carryovers from the previous season which we have to add to the cap number. In our case this number is an additional $19,57M. The next category we have to check is the stand of the LTBE/NLTBE incentives in the contracts. LTBE = Likely to be earn, NLTBE = Not likely to be earn. All LTBE incentives count for the actual year (means in our case, those were counted for 2020), but if a player misses some time (or even goes to IR) it can happen, that those LTBE levels won’t be reached. After those not reached LTBE incentives the team will get a credit in the next year (in our case credit will come for 2021). Every NLTBE incentives will be counted for the next season if they are reached during the actual season. Let’s show you a simple example. Julian Edelman had $500k incentives after every 10 catches counts from catch 60th. If we say the incentives after the 60th, 70th and 80th catches were LTBE incentives, then it means $1,5M were counted againts the 2020 cap. Yes, unfortunately Edelman got injured and had only 21 catches during the 2020 season. So we have 3 levels of LTBE incentives which were not reached. This means the Patriots will get back $1,5M in the 2021 season. So we have to check the stand of those LTBE/NLTBE incentives, because they could give the team extra cap space or they can lower it if some NLTBE were reached. In our case (based on @patscap´s numbers) the Patriots will get $5,51M back. Next category is the PPE (Proven Performance Escalator), which is for players who enter into their 4th season. There are three levels of qualifications (Article 7, Section 4 of the 2020 CBA governs the PPS), what I won’t explain long in this post, but I might write about it in the future. Short: it depends on the played snaps (percentage) during the season. What is important for us, that we have nobody in 2021 who will be eligible for extra money from the PPE (last year we had Deatrich Wise). There is usually some amount of dead money too. These dead money amounts are cap commitments after players who are not anymore with the team. Based on the data from spotrac.com, Patriots will have $863.689 in dead money. The last part of the basic numbers is the amount of salaries (this number contains the salaries of the 8 opt-out players as well). This number is – based again on @patscap´s estimations – $135.377.000. Ok, Miguel´s actual number is higher, but only because he counted a 1st round RFA tender ($4.873.000) for JC Jackson and an ERFA tender ($850.000) for Jacob Johnson, which I will bring in later. That’s all. Very easy, isn’t it? Ok, I am just joking. Let’s see the numbers in spreadsheets:

Ok, so this will be our starting point, before we make any trade/cut/restructure/etc. We have bit more than $68M, which is a very good amount compared to last year, when the team had at this point $37M less. Yes, Patriots had $31,8M at the same period of last year.

Let’s see a spreadsheet about the dead money:

Last year we had $7,7M dead money without Tom Brady´s $13,5M, which is another huge difference. Yes, the team got back money from the AB and Hernandez grievances, but even with those money they had far worse cap situation than they have now.

Estimated cap space 2021   $ 68.839.311,00

That is great, I am happy, because theoretically the team has a lot to spend. At the moment – based on the numbers from Spotrac.com – the Patriots has the 4th highest cap space after Jacksonville ($74,6M), Indianapolis ($73,7M) and Jets ($70,5M). But! We have to see every direction where this money should go. This $68M is not only for the rookies or the new signings, but we have lot of free agents as well. Some are more important, some are not so important, but a chunk of the money will and have to go to resign few of our own free agents.

Not a short list I have to admit, but this is how business is working. At the end of the list we have J.C. Jackson who will be a restricted free agent (RFA), which means the team can put a tender on him. It can be a first- or a second- or an original round tender. If another team wants the player they will offer him a contract, the Patriots has the opportunity to match that offer and retain the player for the same (or higher) money what the other team offered him. Or the team won´t match the offer and they will get a first or second round pick from the other team (in Jackson´s case there is no original round pick, since he was an UDFA). If no other team makes an offer for the player, the Patriots has to pay for an exact amount of money (see below). In Jacob Johnson´s situation, he is ERFA (exclusive restricted free agent). The team can offer him a new contract which has to reach the veteran minimum salary, which is $850.000 for Johnson because of the two years in the NFL.

As we can see the free agency could hit our Oline and Dline quite hard. Andrews and Thuney are cornerstone pieces in our Oline. Butler and Guy were the heart of the Dline. Additionally Wise could leave town as well, who was this year a valuable rotational player and in Simon and Calhoun the team could loose two of their rotational edge players too. Justin Bethel is an interesting name to watch, because our (I hope) future HOF special team captain, Slater made no decision if he will come back for one more year. He has actually one year left from his contract, but he won´t be younger and his body could already show problems after 13 seasons. So in a bad situation we could loose not just one but two Pro Bowler ST players.

We will come back to this names soon. Let’s roll. If a team wants to increase their cap space, they can cut or trade players. You cut/trade someone who won´t fit in your system anymore or because he is too expensive. There are other possibilities to lower the cap hit, since the team can extend or restructure a contract. Of course only if the player is ok with it. Take a look on the most expensive players in 2021:

Well, as we can see the 10 most expensive players would take more than 60% of the actual salary commitments. For some players I would pay the money without any hesitation, but there are few players where we should try to come to an agreement to lower those numbers. Cannon and Hightower might retire, so there would be no need to talk, the team could save there quite an amount of money. The other big question is what Edelman is planning. There were speculations about Edelman might follow Brady to the Bucs, but he posted some promising words on IG few days earlier, in which he mentioned, he is ready for the next year. If there is one player in our offense whose salary is untouchable, then it is Julian Edelman´s (ok, and Slater´s). McCourty wants to play one more year and at the moment I don´t see other player in the back end who can lead them on such a high level, than Devin does. Gilmore is still one of the top10 corners in the League, but I would try to lower his numbers.

If you cut or trade a player there would stay some amount of dead money, but usually you will have net saving at the end. In our next spreadsheet we will go through the list of the biggest net savings. I will decrease the net savings with $780.000 each, because I am presuming a player to takes their place on the top51 list.

Players with stars after their names are – based on overthecap.com´s database – players outside of the top51 list, so those numbers should not be lowered with $780.000. According – again – overthecap.com, Patriots has at the moment 62 players under contract for 2021.

We have one more thing to do, before we start our wannabe GM activity. Patriots has some draft picks, which will need a rookie pool. Every draft pick has an own cap number, so this is easy to calculate. After this step we will be able to determine our cap space and we will be set to launch our journey.

So ladies and gentlemans congratulations, you’ve reached the end of the first part of my post. Thank you that you are still with me here. Before we move on, let´s take a look on our cap space after we decreased it with the rookie pool.

Estimated cap space 2021 after rookie pool   $ 59.871.320,00

Let’s roll

This cap space is just temporary, because – as I mentioned before – we have some other opportunities to increase it before we start to spend money. I have a 7 points list about our to do´s.

1. Decide who has to be cut and cut them!

2. Are there any opportunities to resctructure some contracts?

3. Check who could be traded and trade them!

4. Decide whom to bring back from our own free agents!

5. Make clear at which positions do we need new players!

6. Decide if you want to fill the holes from FA or from Draft!

7. Make the calls!

1. Cuts (retirements):

It is never easy to cut players, but nobody told being a GM is always a pleasure job. Altough before we start with the cuts, unfortunately we will have 2 retirements.

  • Marcus Cannon, RT: His career start wasn’t the easiest because of his medical history, but then he became a reliable starter RT. His opt-out was 100% understandable, but that 1 year away from football was enough for him to make the decision to hang up his cleaths. His retirement means almost $6,3M plus.
  • Dont’a Hightower, LB: I don’t say it will happen for sure, but now I think he will retire as well. His absence was a sensible loss for the defense this year. He and Devin McCourty are the two leaders of the Patriots defense. He opted-out as well and he won´t return for 2021. With this move he will free up more than $9,1M in the cap.
  • Beau Allen, NT: He was the next NT plan for the Patriots, but he was injured and the team will be looking for another player who can fill the hole in the middle of the Dline. $2M extra to the cap space.
  • Matt LaCosse, TE: I must admit, I didn’t understand why BB signed him and why some people had high hopes for him (they might knew much more about him than I did), but he wasn’t really great and since we have Izzo and the two rookies (and actually we still need someone better than LaCosse) cutting him is an easy choice to make. Plus $1,3M.
  • Dan Vitale, FB: He came here to replace James Develin, but he opted-out and a German guy just stole the show this year. Additionally the team drafted Dalton Keene last year who could play FB as well. We don’t need more players for that position, the cut means extra $1,2M.
  • Akeem Spence, DL: Spence didn’t play too much this year and I think the team can replace him from FA or draft, so with this move we free up $1,1M.
  • Jacob Dolegala, QB: He is just a PS player, but we can find someone to replace him and there is time to reshuffle the QB room. Adds another $780.000 to the cap space.
  • Justin Rohrwasser, K: After his draft there were some waives around him and maybe these waives flushed him away. Unfortunately he didn’t live up with the 5th round expectations, which we could see when the team signed Robert Aguayo late in the year. His release will give us $660.000 plus.
  • Brandon Bolden, RB: First I wanted to keep him, but we have a good group and 4+1 RB would be enough for the final roster. Hard decision, because he is a valuable ST player too, but his cut will give us another $707,500.

That’s it. I won’t cut more people. You can argue with me if those players were the right ones or I might forgot to cut someone you wouldn´t want to see anymore, but cutting too many people would generate more holes and we already have some holes to fill. With these cuts/retirements we created $23,3M extra cap space.

2. Contract restructure:

I was thinking a lot who could be here a potential target, but I have only one name: Stephon Gilmore.

It is actually a contract extension, where we can lower the cap number for 2021. Gilmore wasn’t the same player like last year, but he is still an animal on the field. Yes he is over 30, but he still plays on a very high level. With him on the field plays J.C. Jackson better as well and with this two guys on the field we could have one of the best CB tandems in the NFL in 2021 again. It is not easy to predict what kind of money Gilmore is looking for, especially if he is rating himself higher than the team does. I would say Gilmore is not a top5 cornerback at the moment (yes, some of you want to kill me now), but he is in the top10 of his position. Why is it so important? Because this little difference could mean millions per year. The average yearly salary of the top5 is $17,9M. This number is a little different for the 5-10th place, $14,3M per year. Everybody in the top10 is younger than Gilmore except Patrick Peterson, who is at the same age and he is a free agent, so his numbers could help us to find Gilmore’s level. Unfortunately we can’t wait for Peterson. I would add 2 extra years to Gilmore’s contract and at the end it would be a 3 years / $42M deal, with $20M guaranteed. This move will lower Gilmore’s cap hit from $16,2M to $13,5M, so we can add $2,7M to our cap space.

3. Trade:

This will be very short. If Gilmore accepts our offer then I wouldn’t trade anyone. If he is not accepting it, then we can make a draft day trade, for example pairing him with our 15th pick and we can jump into the top 10. Or just trade him somewhere for a 2nd round pick. However I hope it won’t happen and he will sign the extension.

Ok, we reached the point where we have the most cap space. We made the cuts, restructured a contract, did everything to increase our space to sign new/old players. But before we start to spend our money, let’t take a look on our actual cap space:

Estimated cap space after cuts, retirements and contract restructure: $ 85.927.467,00

4. Sign back our own free agents:

If cutting players was hard, then deciding which players we should bring back is even harder. There could be players who are very important or playing really good, but they could be so good, that they find themself out of our price range. This will be the case at some of our players now. On the other hand there are players who don´t play such a role in the team to keep them or we could have an upgrade for the same amount of money. Although we have more than $85M cap space we can´t bring back everyone, because we still need to sign some guy from FA, but we have a really strong starting point.

Players I won´t bring back:

  • Joe Thuney, LG: Let’s start with the biggest name on our list. I love Thuney, as mentioned earlier he is one of our cornerstones in the offense. Playing great, durable, great teammate. But he will probably be looking for the big money and this means $14-15M per year. I know offense starts at the Oline, but this is too high and actually the Patriots is famous about OL developement and talent scouting. We already have Onwenu who could switch back to his original, college spot or we could let Wynn play LG, or we just bring someone on the board. Last year he didn’t want to sign the offers the Patriots gave him. I don’t know what kind of money was in those offers but I guess it should be at least $11-12M/year. I don’t think he will change his mind, even if in 2021 will be a bigger drop in the cap number and therefore less teams could afford his services. This is the hardest decision for me, I really tried to push him under the cap.
  • Rex Burkhead, RB: I really liked him, he played effective and gaves us some really nice moments, but I think our RB group is quite good without him. The Harris – Michel duo has potential, J.J. Taylor showed flashes and hopefully – spoiler alert – White will sign a new contract with us. I like this group enough, not to bring Burkhead back. In real life I can imagine that for a lower salary he will be back.
  • Cam Newton, QB: Altough he was not good in passing, he still made a good impression in me. He was a leader, he was committed to bring Pats as far as he can. The reason I won’t bring him back is the direction where the Patriots in this case will go on with the position. If Belichick would target Trey Lance from NDSU on the draft, I would bring back Newton for a one year contract as starter and mentor. They have similar style and it could be a great match. I personally am not so high on Lance and I will go on a different way, where not Cam is the ideal mentor. Anyway if he would come back in real life, I wouldn´t be sad, he earned one more year with better skill players around him.
  • Brian Hoyer, QB: It is a consensus, that he won’t come back. He was several times inactive and he is not the youngest. Some analysts see him as a coaching canditate. Stidham is still here, but we need a redo in the QB room.
  • John Simon, Edge: This wasn’t Simons‘ year, he was not the presence as in 2019. I would bring someone else instead of him.
  • Adam Butler, DT: Yes, he was the other hard decision to make, because he really showed his potential. He is not on the top DT level, but he could still grow and could be better. Unfortunately because of his ceiling he will get more money from other teams. Malcolm Brown was too expensive for Belichick with his 3year/$15M contract what he signed with the Saints and Butler is better than Brown (I know they are different type of players). I would say he could get around $7-9M per year somewhere else.
  • Jermaine Eluemunor, T: He saw some action during the season, but he didn’t left such an impression in me, that I want to resign him.
  • Damiere Byrd, WR: He had some flashes through the season (he was also well known for Newton, since they spent time together at the Panthers), but we already have few nr. 2-3 receivers on the roster. It can be that Belichick will bring him back for another year with a lower contract, but I won’t.
  • I will let the following 4 players go as well: Terrence Brooks, S; Brandon Copeland, LB; Donte Moncrief, WR; Quincy Adeboyejo, WR

Players I will bring back:

  • Jason McCourty, CB: My favourite player is his brother, Devin, who already declared he wants to be back next year. So I guess Jason will be ready to play one more year with his twin brother together. He lost a step, but he is still a valuable rotational player. I would give him a 1 year contract and $4M ($2M guaranteed).
  • James White, RB: He is in the same category for me like Edelman, I can’t imagine he is in a different jersey. Because of personal tragedy during the year he wasn’t the same like he usually is, but he is still the best third down/receiving back on the roster. I would like to see him back. 2 year/$6M ($2M guaranteed), where in the first year the cap number would be $2,5M.
  • Lawrence Guy, DL: I guess you already knew I will bring him back, when I let Butler go. Guy is just a perfect match fot our team. In the last 4 years he became the leader of our Dline. He is not the youngest, but still very important piece of the defense. I give him a 2 year contract for $7,5M ($2,5M guaranteed). Cap number for the first year is $3,5M.
  • David Andrews, C: There will be some other good centers available in free agency, but Andrews is our center and he will stay in Foxborough. We can’t let both starters go and Andrews is the cheaper choice. We will have new QB or QBs and I guess they will be very happy with a center who already knows the system. He will be only 29 when the season starts, which is not much for an Oliner. I will give him a 4 year contract for $28M ($14M guaranteed) and with a cap number of $6M for 2021.
  • Cody Davis, S: I will bring back Davis for one more year, because he was quite active in our special team (70%+ in 8 games) and he got few snaps in the defense too. His cap number is $1,4M.
  • Justin Bethel, CB: Another ST team member, the second best after Slater. I hope Slater will come back for his last year, but we still need leaders in this unit. I will keep him for two more years for $3M, cap hit for 2021 $1,5M.
  • Shilique Calhoun, DE: 2020 was his better year in New England, he got snaps during special team plays and registered 2 sacks in the defense. We could use him as rotational player two more years for $3M ($500.000 guaranteed), with a cap hit of $1,5M in 2021.
  • Nick Folk, K: I know some people have concerns with his kick power, but 2020 was his best year when he kicked field goals (28/26 = 92,9%) and he made 90% of his extra points (which was worse than his 100% in 2019). The competiton is already there (Aguayo), but I would retain him for the next two seasons for $5M ($1M guaranteed), with a cap hit of $2,5M in 2021.
  • Carl Davis, DT: Despite the fact Davis didn’t get much time in the defense I would keep him for one more year. He could be at least a safety option in the middle of the Dline. With a very little pay rise, I would give him $950.000.
  • James Ferentz, OL: Ferentz is not near to a starter level, but with 3 years already in New England he has the system knowledge and could be an option for the interior Oline if something happens. 1 year $850.000.
  • Deatrich Wise Jr, DL: Personally I am a fan of him since he was drafted or at least I am crossing my fingers for him. In 2020 he found some success, which was necessary for me to keep him around. He is a reliable rotational player as 3-4 DE or a 4-3 DT. I will give him a 3 years contract for $9M ($3M guaranteed), with a cap hit of $2,5M in 2021.
  • Jacob Johnson, FB: Since I live and coach in Germany, I am a big supporter of him. It was really nice to see him growing into his role as a starter. He still has lot to learn, but he made key blocks during the year, he made his first TD as well. There is no question he will get the a new contract for $850.000.
  • J.C. Jackson, CB: Many of the analysts are arguing if he should get a first or a second round RFA tender. I am not on their side. If we are talking about young talents, there is always a risk that extending one year later could costs millions. Of course there is a possibility that Jackson won’t be so good again and he can’t repeat this 9 INT season, but I think he could be our future nr.1 corner. If we can keep Gilmore too, we will have one of the best cornerback tandem in the league, with one of the best slot corner (Jones). I am not sure what will happen after next year with our safety group, since McCourty and Chung are near to the end of their respected carrier, so we should keep at least the corner room together. I will be extatic with this scenario, so I am pulling the trigger. I give Jackson a 4 year contract for $52M ($25M guaranteed), with a cap hit of $12M for 2021. With this contract he will have a top10 yearly salary, even when I don’t think he is already there (rather top15). I would put my faith in him and hope he will be even better and he will prove me right.

That’s it ladies and gentleman, we signed 13 contracts which have a sum for the 2021 season of $40,05M. I don’t say we couldn’t bring back more of our own guys, but I tried to find the balance. We left some better guys go (Thuney, Butler), but we could retain Guy, Andrews, Jackson, therefore we still have a strong group of core players and young talents.

Estimated cap space after signing our own free agents back: $ 45.877.467,00

5. Defining the holes on our current roster:

With more than $45M cap space we have some luxury, because that number is higher than the starting point was one year ago. You are right, we have holes to fill, but with this amount we can look around more open minded than during the last few offseasons. We have 66 players under contract, check the spreadsheets:

Is our roster strong enough? Definitely not. Despite the fact we have 64 players under contract for the next season, there are several positions where we need more or less upgrade.

  • QB: Need for major upgrade. We have only Stidham under contract, which is not an ideal situation. Stidham was back up, saw only few snaps during the season and he didn’t do anything why we could think he is the future. FA or Draft? Some people say we need to sign a top tier QB or trade for someone. My concern with this is, that there is only one top tier QB who might be able to test the market, Dak Prescott from the Cowboys. I am not sure he will, because Jerry Jones can tag him or they could sign him with a long term contract before FA starts.  Even if he is available, his price tag would be way over $30M per year, which is too high for the Patriots. We could trade for Stafford (not anymore since he was traded to the Rams few hours ago) or Watson, but those trades would take away a lot of picks and/or salary wouldn’t be very low either. I won’t trade for middle class QB. From free agency we have some options. Cam could come back (but as I wrote earlier he won’t be my target), Fitzmagic could be a mentor type player, who could fulfill his destiny playing for every AFC East team. Brissett would be an ok signing too, since he knows the team and has a strong backup level. If we would go wild, there is Trubisky, who could turn his career in New England. I stay with the draft, pairing it with a mentor type veteran signing.
  • WR: Upgrade needed. We need a nr.1 wide receiver, who is reliable and can be a real treath for the opposing defenses. We have a very good group of nr. 2-3 receivers. Edelman hopefully will come back for one more season, Meyers proved he is a capable nr.2 guy and Harry will get one more chance to show his abilities. I don’t think he will be a nr.1, but he might be a good nr.2. After this group we have some role players, but nothing special. Signing a nr.1 from FA would take a lot of money (at least $15-17M per year), so we need to see where else we need veteran help. Drafting someone in the early rounds gives us another problem. Patriots playbook is not easy, we could see during the years that it is very challenging for young players. Do we want to risk another first or second round failure or are we ready to spend top dollars on FA?
  • RB (FB): One position where I have no worry. I will go with the guys we have.
  • TE: That is tricky. After Belichick drafted two TEs last year in the third round, I am not sure he would spend another 1st or 2nd day pick on this position. If yes, that should be Pitts in the first round or Freiermuth in the second. They could provide immediate help and could give the other guys some time to develope. Signing a TE from FA is not simple either. We would need a splash signing, someone from the top tier. I am just not sure if we have top tier tight end this year. Please, don’t kill me because of my opinion. Hunter Henry is the top dog this year, but he should play a full season first before I would give him $11-13M per year. Additionally he should have better numbers, than he has now. The other often mentioned player is Jonnu Smith from the Titans. His 2020 season was quite good. 8 TD, good YAC skill, but he is the same type of player what Asiasi could be. Same height, same weight, I guess Belichick wanted to have his own Smith. We could have Gerald Everett, who is the same again like Asiasi. We all know that TE is one of the hardest positions to learn, so we might see a second year jump from our two young tight ends.
  • OL: We will need a starter at LG or RT position, which depends on where Onwenu will play. We have some in house backup options, but we will try to find gems during the draft. This is one position where I am confident with the Patriots development program.
  • DL: Guy is a fantastic player for the Patriots (that is why we signed him back), but he won’t be younger. Wise is rather rotational player than starter, but still valuable piece. Our nr.1 NT now is … well we don’t have starter at NT position, which is a very important spot in Belichick´s 3-4 plays. I can see some addition here.
  • Edge: Winovich and Uche could give us two good edge players. Uche will be only in his second year (lot to learn), but Wino is quite good as rusher (he still needs to improve to be a 3 down option). There is room for upgrade, but with an offseason the youngsters could give us a good group here.
  • LB: Because Hightower´s retirement in this scenario, we need here veteran presence. This group is ok at the moment, but I am definitely expecting here 1-2 moves.
  • CB: Another group where I am satisfide whit the pool we have.
  • S: Chung and McCourty might play their last year in the league. The Patriots drafted Dugger, who could be a potential replacement for Chung or even for McCourty. Williams could play more safety, since he is not in a good position on the cornerback depth chart. Adrian Phillips another good player for the year. I won’t move big dollars for this position, maybe on the draft in the 4-5. round I would pick a project player if there is someone good.
  • K: We have Foles, no reason to worry.
  • P: If you have a Pro Bowler punter, you are in good hands.
  • LS: Cardona is good. Period.

As you can see the team has many spots to fill up with better players, but we have some groups which don’t really need upgrade. There will be positions where I would prefer experience over draft, but you will see some opposit cases as well. This could change from analyst to analyst. My first thought here is, that we have now too many holes to make really big money signings. I think the team should try to sign better players with mid range salary, which can give strong support for the new QB or QBs on the offense. In the defense the team should and I am sure they will upgrade the front 7.

6 & 7. Decide and pull the trigger:

First there is the free agency, the place to spend money in big way. Again, we have almost $46M, but please don’t forget, from this amount we should keep $4-5M for the in season moves. This will give us $41-42M to spend:

  • Jacoby Brissett, QB: Ooooh yess, I hear some of you are mad as hell. As I wrote earlier, I want to draft a QB and I want to sign a mentor type backup, who could be a starter for the first half of the season if this is necessary. Brissett is a well known name in New England, since the Patriots drafted him in the 3rd round in 2016. After just one season he was traded to the Colts in 2017, where he immediately played in 16 games. He didn’t do any top tier things, but he was a servicable starter and a good backup. Another thing which speaks for him, is how much the teammates loved him in Indianapolis, his attitude and his leadership. This is what the Patriots needs at the moment. I really hope his second stint will be better than his first in Foxborough and both sides will be happy about the signing. He will get a 2 years contract for $15M ($7,5M guaranteed), with a cap number of $7M in 2021.
  • Marvin Jones Jr, WR: He might not be the sexiest pick, but he could give the WR room veteran leadership and experience. The soon to be 31 year old receiver can play from the slot or outside, he will be a valuable piece in the offense. During the last two seasons he made 31 20+ yards plays and had 18 TDs. In 2020 he almost reached the 1.000 receiving yards, so he will get a 3 year $30M ($15M guaranteed) with a cap number of $9M for 2021.
  • Curtis Samuel, WR: Yes, another WR from free agency. This signing gives Belichick and McDaniels a swiss army knife type of a player. Samuel can run, he can catch, you can use him in different ways. He is a big play guy too, in 2020 he had 13 20+ yards plays. He isn’t a number 1 type guy, but he has so much to offer in a good system. He will be only 25 years old, which means he has many years left. We give him a long, 5 year contract with a value of $50M ($30M guaranteed) with a cap number of $8M in 2021.
  • Matt Feiler, RT: Feiler played as RT and LG, just as Onwenu, but Feilers best season came as right tackle, so we can move Onwenu back to his original spot and he can replace the departing Thuney. We give him a 2 year contract with $12M value ($6M guaranteed) with a cap number of $5M in 2021.
  • Avery Williamson, LB: As I mentioned earlier, the team needs a veteran ILB who can solidify the group. I took Williamson, because he is good against run, but he is able to play against the pass too. In 2019 he tore his ACL, but in 2020 he came back with a 100+ tackle season. Williamson is 6´1, 245 which is good for ILBs. In 2018 and 2019 he was part of the Jets, so Belichick could get an extended look on him. He will be 29 this year, we give him a 3 year $23M ($12M guaranteed) contract, which will count $7M against the cap in 2021.
  • DaQuan Jones, NT: We need someone who can fix the middle of the Dline, Jones can be that player. During the last 5 years he missed games only in 2017, every other year he had no major injuries, which makes this pick even better. Rushing the passer is not his best ability, he had 3 sacks in the last 3 years, but he is good against the run, he can eat up space and that is what we need now. He will get a 3 year $23M contract too, but with $15M guaranteed. For the 2021 season we can count with $7M cap number.

Hopefully after all these signings we still have some money for the season. The cap number of this 6 contracts in 2021 will be $43M, which will gives us almost $3M cap space remaining. That is an ok amount, since we will have more money after the final roster cuts, so we can concentrate on the Draft.

We still need a QB, a TE wouldn´t be bad either and an Edge/DE position is one to watch. Please don´t forget, if the team will make any trade with the picks, it will change the rookie pool and therefore our cap space too.

The draft is always full with questionmarks, you really don’t know if your pick will live up to your expectations. Good, the first few picks are usually really good, but we saw some 1/1 busts. And you can find real gems later (199th for example), but you need to evaluate the players and you hope those evaluations are correct. You buy the past success on free agency and you „buy“ the future success on draft. Neither is a sure thing.

  • 1/15, Mac Jones, QB, Alabama: I know it is quite unusual that the Patriots are not trading down or up in the first round, but I will stay put and will take Jones. Why him? The best 3 will be long gone and me personally am not so high on Lance. Yes he is very athletic and he didn’t throw an INT in 2019, but he has only one season experience on FCS level, so I am not sold on him. His predecessor, Wentz could be a good example for us, because he was picked high, but something is broken with him now. The level of competition and that one season didn’t convince me. Jones on the other hand is absolutely my type of player. First and foremost he stayed at Alabama and waited until his time was coming. He didn’t transfer to another college to get more reps, he waited and learned and when he got his chance after Tua´s injury in 2019 he grabbed his chance and never let it go. That is an A+++ thing for me, that shows me his mental thoughness and willingness. Beside he was extreme efficient with the throws, over 70% completion and he has skills which could be really good in the Pats system. Is he only a product of the system in Alabama? Man, come on. Tua had even better supporting cast, but Jones beat him in almost every statistical number. Were you high last year on Burrow? Jones matched him in almost every category. If Tua was a 1/1 candidate before his injury, then I can’t understand why Jones would be overdrafted at 15? Especially after the last few days at the Senior Bowl, where Jones was one of the best players on the field and therefore his status is even stronger than before. I think taking our future franchise player at 15 is not a bad thing.
  • 2/14, Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State: As I wrote earlier I am absolutely ok taking Freiermuth here. Asiasi and Keene showed us very little, even if the TE position is very hard to learn, but we need here someone who could give us a boost. We have a move TE in Asiasi, so we need a good big, bodied TE. Freiermuth is a Massachusetts guy, who played in nr. 87, he is 6´5 and 258. He won’t outrun every linebacker, but has the potential to be a Gronk-light. I’ve read some early mock draft and there were 1 or 2 where he was drafted in the late first round. I think because of his shoulder injury and surgery he will be available in the middle of the second round (or at least I hope) and the Patriots will jump on him.
  • 3/33: I won´‘t do any trades, just pick where the team has picks. Additionally at this early stage I will pick only for positions from now on. I guess BB will do some magic here to move up on the draft board, because there is a huge gap between 2/14 and 3/33. My target would be a defense line or edge player here.
  • 4/15: Edge, Dline or Oline
  • 1st 4th comp pick: one of the above mentioned positions or linebacker
  • 2nd 4th comp pick: safety (no draft without a safety) or cornerback
  • 5/14: safety, running back, cornerback, wide receiver
  • 6/2: safety, wide receiver
  • 6/11: offense line, linebacker
  • 7/15: bpa

Wow, we did it. Applause for everyone of us. As you can see I tried to fix the Oline, brought two veteran WR on the board and got another young TE. This whole package should help Jones to arrive into the NFL. This offense is now better than one year ago. In defense I took only two players from FA, but these two will bring us a lot of experience and I am sure with them in the team we could see some development on this side of the LOS too. For me this scenario would be a good path back to the playoffs. Let´s see how Belichick and the Patriots front office is thinking.

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Trey Lance vs other non-FBS QBs in the NFL

If you followed my writings in the last couple of weeks or months, you could realize that I am not a big fan of Trey Lance. Not because I think he can’t be good in the NFL, but because I think the hype is too big around him. People want their teams to trade up in the top5 and pick him, which would be very risky in my opinion.

I hear you, he has very high ceiling, he didn’t throw a single INT in the 2019 season, he ran over 1,000 yards, he can make any throws, etc. That is great and I really like those points, but would have he been able to have the same success in a stronger FBS conference as well? We will never know. He might be the best QB from this class, he might not. We won’t see it immediately, maybe in 3-4 years.

So I’ve decided to take a look on the non-FBS QBs, who were drafted, what did they do in the NFL so far. Originally, I wanted to compare QBs taken in the first 2 days of the draft in the last 5 years, but after I saw how few there were, I expanded my search and I collected every non-FBS QBs, who were drafted since the 2010 draft. What do you think, how many QBs were drafted and how many of them came outside the FBS level?

So, in the last 11 drafts, there were 130 QB picks and only 8 QBs were non-FBS QBs. To be exact, they all were coming from the FCS level, which is the Division 1-AA. These 8 picks are 6.2% of the whole QB selections. This is a very low amount and speaks for the big difference in the competition level. There could be a very valid question, why does this make so much sense regarding QBs, but not by other prospects? We can see every year safeties (Jeremy Chinn, Kyle Dugger) or Oline men (J.C. Tretter, Terron Armstead), etc, being drafted from lower level, but we have less than 1 QB per year. Why so? I can’t tell you exactly the reason, you should ask evaluators, scouting people. I guess things are progressing slower on lower level on the field, the schemes are not so complicated (of course there are complicated schemes on every level, but I mean the average is not so high), the opponents are not on the same level than players from the FBS, etc. Everybody could tell positive examples, but I am talking now about the average level of competition. Taking a non-FBS QB is risky and often not needed, since there are more than enough QBs from the FBS level every year, who could offer a slightly higher quality. In 2020 there were 141 former FCS players on NFL season-opening rosters and there are several others from Division II or Division III or even from NAIA level. You can find gems on every level, but you have to dig deep. There are two great opportunities for those lower level players to show themselves. One is the East-West Shrine Game and the other is the Senior Bowl week. Jim Nagy and his staff working every year hard to discover good players from lower levels and give them the opportunity to show their value for the NFL teams on the Senior Bowl.

Ok, but enough from theory, let’s see those 8 guys who were drafted in the last 11 drafts. I put Trey Lance in my spreadsheet too.

Really sorry, that is so small, but there is lot of information. We can see, that only one QB was drafted in the first round (Carson Wentz in 2016 as, #2) one in the second round (Jimmy G in 2014 at #62), every other QB was drafted on the 3rd day. Other interesting thing is, that two of the 8 drafted FCS QBs came from the North Dakota State University (NDSU), which was Trey Lance’s college as well. Only 3 of the 8 had more than three appearances (Wentz, Garoppolo, Skelton), but 2 of those 3 won Super Bowls (or at least they were in the winning team). Four QBs didn’t even have a single throw in the NFL.

As we can see, non-FBS QBs (who were drafted) had not too much success in the NFL, but Lance has a very high ceiling and he is better than most of the top FBS QBs. Or at least people say so. Let’s see, some scouting reports about the above mentioned QBs.

„There’s a lot to like about Wentz, but still so many question marks. The size and big arm stand out, and it’s not just aesthetics – his velocity is an asset at the short and intermediate range at the next level. The concern is whether or not the big arm loses accuracy beyond 20 yards to be effective. He’ll flash some touch on the deep ball, but it’s far too inconsistent at this point. Wentz would fit well into a vertical passing offense that will allow him to zip throws into the 15-25 yard range while moving the ball in chunks. His lack of timing in the passing game is a major concern, but if he can iron it out, the upside is immense. Any team drafting Wentz is banking on huge improvement in a number of areas, but given his relative lack of experience, the gamble may just be worthwhile.“ (PFF, 2016)

„Now that the quarterback position is in play with the No. 1 pick, it’s entirely valid to ask if Wentz is worth that kind of capital. Based on what I’ve seen, and given his developmental curve, I think the answer is yes—based on the proviso that if you see your franchise quarterback in the draft, you move heaven and earth to get him. I think Wentz has more of those top characteristics than Jared Goff—he’s more pro-ready, his flaws are entirely correctable and the upside laps any other quarterback in this class.“ (Sports Illustrated, 2016)

Two things jump out for me from these two scouting reports. 1. The last sentence in the PFF report says something about Wentz’s lack of experience. Although he played in 43 games compared to Lance’s 19. The other point is from the SI report, which says „the upside laps any other QB in this class.“ What does that mean? Was Wentz so good or the other QBs were so bad? Anyway, no words about generational talent or so, but at least he was pro-ready.

Garoppolo shined at Eastern Illinois as a quick-rhythm passer with exceptional accuracy, ball placement and timing. In addition, he displayed outstanding arm talent and a high football IQ while directing the Panthers’ warp-speed attack against FCS competition. He quickly got the ball out of his hands on an assortment of catch-and-throw plays designed to distribute the ball to his playmakers at short and intermediate ranges. Although the dink-and-dunk nature of Eastern Illinois’ offense led to questions about Garoppolo’s arm strength and range, the small-school standout eliminated these concerns with a pair of strong performances at the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl” (Bucky Brooks, 2014)

„You cannot put Garoppolo’s statistical exploits into any proper context, because most all of his action is coming against lower-level FCS teams. You want to see a possible FCS breakthrough QB prospect dominate that lower-level—and Garoppolo did just that. He broke all the EIU records held by former QBs Sean Payton and Tony Romo. Garoppolo completed 62.3% of his passes in his career with 116 TD passes and 51 INTs. He averaged over 300+ yards a game in his last two seasons with 82 TD passes in 25 games (3.3 per game) in that span as well. Size wise he is OK, not great for a QB, but safe/fine. Garoppolo is coming in a little over 6’2” and 220+ pounds. He has a chiseled body with muscular arms. He is a decent, not great runner—he’s NFL adequate with his feet. Scouts have made mention that he has smaller hands, but no record exists of what the measurement is, so we have to wait. That could be a minor issue for our computer models as well…so we’ll have to wait and see. What makes Garoppolo great, to me, is beyond what you see in numbers. It is the incredibly quick release, accuracy, and ability to decoy defenses. Visually, you think you are watching Aaron Rodgers— current day.“ (College Football Metrics, 2014)

The one thing, I want to repeat, is the first sentence of the second report about Jimmy G, which mentiones the lower level of competition and how tricky it can be, so be careful with the evaluation and don’t forget, his success comes against – mostly – FCS opponents.

Last but not least let’s read some scouting reports about this year’s top FCS QB prospect, Trey Lance.

„The stuff he does in the pocket is so unique, a Dan Marino-type guy. Either everything comes so naturally for him or he has the best coach in college football.“

„He’s so young physically and mentally at the position. But his upside is tremendous.“

„He’s not going to be ready to play. He has to get in early, stay late and take a ton of notes just so he can learn the NFL position.“

„When all is said and done, he can be as good or better than (Trevor) Lawrence. He’s going to be a big, physical quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger.”

„He’s more of a thrower than a passer. He’s like a pitcher who’s only throwing 95 mph fastballs.“

He hasn’t played much football so he’s not where (Carson) Wentz was when he was coming out (of NDSU), but he’s talented and very smart. He needs an offense tailored to what he does best and you have to be really patient with him.” – Personnel executive for AFC team

Everything I can read, is that he shows lot of potential, but he is young and inexperienced and he will need time. On one hand it is very good, that he is mentioned as a top5 QB this year (some say he is the 3rd best behind Lawrence and Wilson) along with QBs from (mostly) top college programs, on the other hand he is not an immediate answer and he will need a year or two. If he won’t be a QB, I am sure analysts would talk about him as just a potential first rounder, but definitely not as a top10 or even top5 pick. Usually top10 guys are all on the „immediate starter“ level and Lance is not there at the moment.

I want to show you one last spreadsheet, where I put together the best years of every above mentioned QBs.

What we can see, is that 3 QBs dominated this list. I marked with red the best numbers from every category. Lance had the best completion percentage, the lowest INT number (zero) and he was the best in rushing attempts and rushing yards. His predecessor, Easton Stick had more rushing TDs and a higher yards per passing attempts number. Jimmy G had more than 550 passing attempts in his senior year, with a brutal number of TDs (53) and over 5,000 passing yards. His 53-to-9 TD/INT ration is very impressive, so in this category I can’t say Lance is the winner, because he had lower passing numbers, than Jimmy. All in all, I can say, that Lance had nice numbers, but those are not outstanding. If he would have played on East-West Shrine game or on the Senior Bowl game (I know he was not a senior, so he wasn’t able to participate on it), where he could have shown us, that all his traits are still there against higher competition as well, I would be ok with the „trade up into the top5 for him“ theory. Unfortunately without those extra proofs, I still think it would be risky.

As I always said, if he would fall out of the top10, maybe until 15, I wouldn’t have any problem to take him and let him sitting one year behind Cam Newton. But trading up for him to #4 or #5 would be very risky, which could pay out, but still he is not a day1 starter. In case coach Belichick pulls the trigger and trades up for him, I will cross my fingers for him and will hope he could be the QB everyone is expecting.

Thank you again your time to read my article. If you liked it, please help me to reach more people and share my writing or leave a comment, I would love to hear your opinion.

Thoughts on Jimmy G, rookie QBs, medical problems

We are in the middle of the Pro Day season, some of the big schools already had their Pro Days (Alabama had even 2) and we could take a look on some highly talented kids. On the second Pro Day of Alabama, we saw the big men from the 49ers and the Patriots talking to each other. Has this something to do with Jimmy Garoppolo or was it only a normal discussion between NFL GMs and coaches? We saw throws from Wilson, Fields, Mond, Jones, Trask and we were able to see some very serious 40-yard dash times from players. Let’s see my thoughts on those topics from the last few days.

Jimmy G: As I see, this will be the most popular topic this offseason. Jimmy G is coming back to New England or not? Everybody is talking about this and I can’t understand why this is such a popular thing. I don’t think he will come back. This year at least. Why? There are many reasons and I try to summarize those for you. Trading for Garoppolo – from „financial“ standpoint – would be a „do it now“ thing for the Patriots, because Jimmy G has a no-trade clause for this year, which means, he first has to agree with the team. Without this support, the 49ers won’t be able to move him anywhere. This fact pushes Jimmy’s asking price lower this year, which could be a good thing for the Pats. The problem here is the other side. I am not sure this is what John Lynch wants. Few days ago the 49ers had over $20M cap space, even with Jimmy’s $26.4M cap hit, which is a very healthy amount after the FA first and second wave. So again. If you have enough cap space for this year, would you get a maybe 2nd round (or 3rd) pick for Garoppolo next year or do you want to get rid of him and get a maybe 4th rounder? If Jimmy is gone, who will be your starter? Yes, I know, the Frisco has the 3rd overall pick, but are they sure that this guy (Wilson, Field, Jones) is an immediate starter? Garoppolo is not a bad QB, despite the fact he has flaws, but he brought the team into the Super Bowl two years ago. A trade now would cause $2.8M dead money for the 49ers, next year this amount would be only $1.4M. He has still a relative high cap hit (2021: $26.4M; 2022: $27M) which could scare away teams, but without the no-trade clause, John Lynch could get more offers for him. Beside that, if the Pats wants to have him, they should negotiate first on a contract restructure, because this $26.4M is way over the Patriots cap space now.

Another reason, why the Pats won’t bring Garoppolo on board, is Cam Newton. I know football is a business, but I think being fair is very important (I know, often this is not the case) and in this case BB and crew will stick with Cam as the veteran presence. Belichick talked very supportive about Cam and he wants to give him another shot with the team. I don’t think the team would have better chances with Jimmy G than with Cam. Cam knows the current team better as Jimmy would. He has better on the field connection with the players than Garoppolo has. Jimmy played in 31 games during the last 4 years, while Cam played in 47 games. Cam threw 54 TDs and ran another 22, while Jimmy threw 46 TDs and ran for 2. The INT number is 26/40 for Jimmy, but Cam has almost 10k passing yards (1.800+ yards rushing) and Jimmy threw little more than 7.300 yards (120 yards rushing). So it is safe to say, Cam is more durable and was more productive during the last 4 years, than Jimmy G was.

Another layer is, Stidham. Yes, even if you don’t like the idea. Stidham may get a shot to prove his value, if the Pats won’t be able to get a first round QB in this year’s draft. Robert Kraft told in an interview this week, that he doesn’t think, Stidham got his shot from the coaches. The young QB organized a team activity in California last week, where he threw passes for TEs and WRs. Cam Newton was there as well. So for me, this year is a „prove it“ year for Newton. The offense got lot of new, good players and – unless Cam will get another injury – it should be way better than last year.

Team needs after FA: After a very busy FA, the team still has some positions to work on. Not for this year, but in mid-term, there are definitely some. But let’s start with one of the hot topics for now. The WR-room. I can’t talk about this group without the TE- and RB-units. The team signed Bourne and Agholor and has returning players, such as Edelman (if his knee will be ok), Meyers, Harry, Olszewski. They have the new TE-tandem of Henry and Smith, which is huge and signed back White for the third down role. If you put Agholor-Bourne-Meyers/White-Smith-Henry on the field, you can be very creative and you could cause big difficulty for the opposing DCs. I do think, a WR pick will come, but earliest on day2 and I would put it in the 3rd round. The other 4 positions where I have some concerns are OT, RB, CB, S.

OT: Trent Brown has only a one year contract, Wynn is in the last year of his rookie contract (the team can opt to use his 5th year option next year) and he has some injury concerns. Those are our starters for 2021. Who else is there? Justin „Hero“ Herron,Yodny Cajuste, Korey Cunningham and Onwenu can play here as well. Herron could be a future starter if he could grow, Cajuste is a big question mark, who could use a healthy year and Cunningham is not really a strong starter quality. Usually coach Belichick drafts one year earlier for important positions, so in case the team misses a top QB in the first round, they could pick one of the top OTs at 15 or a good prospect in the later rounds. I think the team wants to see what the Herron-Cajuste duo is capable of and this will determine the next year’s draft for this position.

RB: Sony Michel has the potential, but he had injury problems down the way, additionally he – just like Wynn – is in his final (4th) year. I would be surprised if the team would choose to take the 5th year option. White signed only for one year, which is not so great and Damien Harris was injured as well. For me Harris could be the future for the team and JJ Taylor could be a White replacement, but he has to prove his value. This year’s draft has some exciting RB prospects all around the board, so I think the team will pick one on the second or third day.

CB: If Gilmore or Jackson will leave before the draft, this position would be in need for upgrade. If not QB, then – in this scenario – I would say, the team will take a corner in the first round. We have 3-4 first rounder corners and another 3-4 for the second round. This year, the cornerbacks are not just long, but very fast as well. This year offers much talent in this group. If both starter corners stay for this year, we still don’t know what will happen after the season. Without an extension, both Gilmore and Jackson would be free agents, which would be a scary situation for me. Our second tier players (Williams, Virgin, Jackson, Bryant, Ross) are not on that level, which doesn’t mean they will not be able to develop into that role, but to make sure, there won’t be a problem with the talent level, wouldn’t be bad to draft someone in first or second round this year.

S: I think Kyle Dugger is a jackpot. His jersey will be my next one. Adrian Phillips had a very good year in 2020, but he will be a FA after the season. Chung retired already (although as I know it is still not official) and this might be Devin McCourty’s last year. This means 3 of our top4 options could be gone after this year. The team signed Jalen Mills, who could jump into Chung’s role, but that doesn’t mean we won’t need 1 or 2 new bodies here.

Rookie QBs: If you read my earlier articles, you already know, that my favourite QB is Mac Jones, who would fit into the system very well. Although I won’t trade up for him into the top5, but from skill-fit standpoint, he could be great. My other favourite is Fields, who would fit into the Cam-system. They have a stronger connection, so this would be a very ideal mentor-pupil relationship. I watched almost every top QB prospect’s Pro Day and I must say, after Jones overthrow his receivers few times, I don’t believe his arm is not strong enough. The first big splash in Pro Days was Wilson, who made an interesting throw. He rolled out to the left side and made a long throw deep, down the field. This wasn’t an easy throw and everybody saw this moment as a proof of his status as the real nr.2 QB this year. The funny thing is, after Wilson we saw almost the same throw from Fields and Mond too or even there was a short video about Sam Darnold, who made the same throw in an NFL game. What I just want to say, is that please don’t go with the hype. It is like Mahomes no-look throw. He was the star, but before him, others (Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, etc) already made some no-look throws.

After the Pro-Days, my list didn’t change. I would trade up for Fields, Jones, Wilson, but won’t trade up for Lance, whom I would take at 15. In the second day I would take Trask and Mond.

Why is Lance only on the 5th place (I didn’t write Lawrence in the list, because he is the 1st pick) on my list? The guy is good, no question. He has very high ceiling as well, which is very good. My problems with him are for example the level of competition (FCS) he had or the limited experience (combine with the level of competition). He was QB at NDSU, which won 7 of the last 8 FCS championships, so the school is a powerhouse on the FCS level. One of his predecessors was Carson Wentz, who had one very good year, but then nothing special, despite the fact he was a very highly regarded prospect. I am not saying he won’t be a good starter, but he is the first QB where I say, I won’t trade up for him.

Medical evaluations: I often read about the Combine, that the most importan part of it, is the medical evaluation part. We saw several times, that doctors found some hidden illnesses. Unfortunately this year’s combine was canceled due to covid and teams don’t have so much opportunity to test the prospects as in normal years. I think that will push back some players on the boards. I have two names in my mind, who could fall out from the first round because of their medical conditions. First player is Caleb Farley. The young corner from Virginia Tech, who had a microdiscectomy. Was told, that this surgery is not major, so he will be ok, but if you have problems with your spine, this could be a red flag for teams. Especially when team doctors don’t have much time and opportunity to check your status. Farley was a top3 CB prospect, but he will slide (a bit?). Some say he still will find a team in the second half of the first round, while others say he could fall out of the first round. The other name is another first rounder, Jaelen Phillips, from Miami. The Edge player considered as a top5 rusher prospect this year, but he had concussion problems in college. After the 2018 season he retired once, he had 3 serious concussions. I don’t care about the PR of CTE, I care about the health of the players and this factor is very strong. Do you want to spend a first round pick on someone who might be only one wrong tackle away from retiring again? Not nice what I am telling now, but I wouldn’t pick him not even in the first round, but in general. If someone already decided to let football behind him, because of health concerns, then I wouldn‘t risk to go into the highest level. I hope he won’t have any serious injury in his career in the NFL and he won’t have any long-term problems, but I guess other teams will have the same thoughts like me now.

That was for today. Thank you for your support and time. If you like my articles please help me to reach more people and share my writings. Have a nice day/evening.

Full 1st round, post FA mock draft

After the two trades from the Dolphins last week, the draft order was shaken up. It is interesting who the 49ers wants, but for me even more interesting who else will try to trade up, to be able to select their most coveted player.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: This is a no brainer. The only questionmark with Lawrence is the situation of his non-throwing shoulder which was fixed few weeks ago. Actually this is a minor issue, would be a bigger one if it would be the throwing shoulder, but Trevor is expected to be ready for training camps. He is the clear cut, best QB in this draft. Has leadership, success and all the needed tools for a QB who will get the opportunity to turn a franchise. It would be shocking if the Jaguars would select someone else.

2. New York Jets – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: Reports tell, the 49ers offered the same package to the Jets what they offered to the Dolphins, but the Jets wasn’t open for it, which tells me, they will go for a QB. Robert Saleh’s OC will be Mike LaFleur, who comes from San Francisco as well and he is part of the Shanahan group. I don’t think LaFleur will exactly copy the 49ers offense, but he could use a mobile QB with arm strenght and experience in stronger competition. I know, there is a Wilson hype in the last few months and his Pro Day was great, but the Jets will go with the more experienced player, who can start right away. Yes, Darnold will be traded.

3. San Francisco 49ers (trade with Miami) – Zack Wilson, QB, BYU: I guess, this is exactly the dream scenario for Shanahan. Wilson is good, but he needs more experinece against higher level teams and with a year behind Jimmy G, he will have a smooth transition. Wilson fits in Shanahan’s system which was built on Jimmy’s strenght. The young QB is a rich man’s Garoppolo for me, the team won’t need to adjust much for Wilson, so the transition from one QB to the other will be easy. Frisco can and I think will trade Jimmy after the season, when there won’t be a no-trade clause anymore in his contract.

4. Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts, TE, Miami: Ok, that would be really early for a TE, but hey, he is a very rare talent at his position and he is even considered as the best pass catcher this year. The Falcons made sure, Ryan wouldn’t go anywhere this season and maybe not even in 2022, so they will upgrade Ryan’s supporting cast. Jones won’t be younger, but still very productive and the offense has Calvin Ridley too, but the TE group is not very strong. With Pitts on the field, they could have a three-headed monster, good luck for the DCs.

5. Carolina Panthers (trade with Cincinnati) – Trey Lance, QB, NDSU: I am not so high on Lance as many analysts and fans, because of the level of competition he had and his overall experience, but he could be a perfect fit in Charlotte with Matt Rhule (HC) and Joe Brady (OC). These two coaches just came from the college world, they understand the latest trends and Brady is a young and bright mind. Bridgewater shouldn’t be traded this year, he could give a year to Lance to learn and grow. Their styles fit together. Cincinnati has no problem with this trade, since the teams are in different conference and they still will be able to select in the top10.

6. Miami Dolphins (trade with Philadelphia) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama: Maybe Chase would be a sexier pick, but how else would you help your starter QB, if not bringing for him one of his ex-playmakers from his college? Smith is the latest Heisman Trophy winner, had a brutal year and he shouldn’t be the immediate star in the unit, which already has DeVante Parker and Will Fuller. This trio will be a terror on the field.

7. New England Patriots (trade with Detroit) – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama: I think, this is the last possible spot to get Jones, before other teams (for example Denver) would jump ahead of the Pats. I wrote it in my last article, that after such a free agency, this is the year when the Patriots will trade up and take their future franchise face. Since Fields is out (who could be a good fit with Cam), I turned back to my favourite QB in this draft class, who has everything what is needed in the Pats system. Additionally, his ex-HC is a good friend of his next HC, so he won’t have any problem with the culture he arrives in. Before the big trades on Friday I said, the Pats won’t need to involve any first round pick for this trade, but now it will be necessary, so the Lions will move back 8 spots and will get the Pats‘ first rounder next year and their 4th round comp pick from this year.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (trade with Carolina) – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon: One of the biggest winner in this early stage of the draft is definitely the Bengals, which moved back 3 spots, got additional pick(s), but still has every opportunity to draft the best OT or Ja’Marr Chase. Reports say, that Burrow tries to convince the GM to draft his buddy, Chase, but after the injury he had last season, the main focus should be on his long-term health. Jonah Williams and Sewell could form a good OT-tandem in the future.

9. Denver Broncos – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State: Every top QBs are out and with the Ronald Darby signing, the CB position is not that huge need. Von Miller won’t be a Bronco too long, so why not bring in his successor, who almost has the same size like Miller. It might be a luxury pick here, but the Miller-Chubb-Parsons trio looks dangerous on paper and defitnitely will look dangerous on the field as well.

10. Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama: It is no secret, that the Cowboys secondary is screaming for help and upgrade. Last year second round pick, Trevon Diggs and Surtain will form one of the best young corner tandem in the league for the upcoming years. Surtain is not slow (4.40 40-yard dash), he is long (6‘2) and played under Nick Saban, wich is a guarantee, that he is technically sound.

11. New York Giants – Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State: The Giants wasn’t really a treath in the category „pass-rush“, so they will take the player, who had extremely good Pro Day (4.36 – 40-yard dash, 39.5“ vertical jump and 6.83 3-cone) and be a force on the field. He is a prospect, who needs time to be a complete player, so you might wonder why he is the first rusher off the board. His athleticism is off the charts, he has huge upside, he is long. He brings a very good package, which could be way better with some coaching.

12. Philadelphia Eagles – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU: In this scenario Chase falls out of the top10 and the Eagles will bring him to Philly to give Hurts a true nr.1 receiver for the future years. The team traded back 6 spots, got an extra first rounder for next year and still could have the arguably best receiver of the draft. His presence will give a big boost to this group.

13. Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern: Keeping the young QB healthy should be the nr.1 priority and because of the QB rush in the top10, a real gem is falling into the Chargers hands. Slater is the second best LT prospect this year, who is really fast (4.88 40-yard dash) for his size (304 pounds). He might be too short (6‘4) for some evaluator for the LT position, but I think he will fit there. With the FA signings this year, the team will have now a very strong Oline, which can support and protect Justin Herbert.

14. Minnesota Vikings – Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan: Danielle Hunter wants out of the town and we saw last year what happened without him. The pass-rush was weak, so there is a big need for upgrade. Paye will bring versatility around the Dline, speed (4.52 40-yard dash), strenght (benched 36 times the 225) and big motor.

15. Detroit Lions (trade with New England) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama: The Lions lost Golladay, Jones and Amendola in free agency, so drafting a WR early is not a surprise. This trade down with the Patriots is a win for the Detroit front office, since they could inquire an extra first round pick for next year and they can pick one of the top3 wide receivers this year. Waddle will be a true playmaker for Jared Goff and pair him with Perriman will give a very fast duo for the team.

16. Arizona Cardinals – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina: There is no nr.1 corner on the roster at the moment. Robert Alford is on the wrong side of 30 and he didn’t play since 2018. Malcolm Butler is younger, but since he left New England, he is not the same player anymore, additionally he got only a 1 year contract. This unit needs help and fortunately for the Cardinals, Horn is still available. Great speed, great athleticism, good man-cover corner. He can be a day 1 starter in the team.

17. Las Vegas Raiders – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech: After trading more than half of the starting OL from last year, I can’t see other option, than drafting a first round tackle prospect. Darrisaw is a very athletic, young man, who was the highest graded OT in the Power 5. Franchise LT for a team, which still looking for their true identity.

18. Miami Dolphins – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama: We can say the Dolphins pull an all in for Tua and signs not just one of his ex-receivers earlier, but the best RB of this draft class as well, who comes from Alabama. Miami’s offense is well equipped for the success, but Harris will give them another layer. He is a great runner, who can catchest he ball as well. I see, this offense will make headache for the coordinators on the other side.

19. Washington Football Team – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC: I am not so convinced, that WFT’s Oline is good enough for the future, so the team picks Vera-Tucker, who can play both on LG and LT positions. I see him more as a tackle, but wouldn’t surprise me, if the team would use him as guard. Anyway, he is a good first round pick.

20. Chicago Bears – Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State: If you’re looking for your long term QB, but nobody is there at the moment (on the draft), then draft someone who will make his life easier. Signing Jenkins will give a boost for the not so strong Bears Oline and some security for Andy Dalton (and maybe for the rookie QB). He can play both on the left and the right side, so gives the team some flexibility. Bears can find their next QB in the second round.

21. Indianapolis Colts – Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami: After loosing both Justin Houston and Denico Autry in free agency, the Colts will bring some help for their Dline. Rousseau is a long pass-rusher, who has great athleticism and success (15.5 sacks in 2019) and can play on multiple positions. He has only one full year of experience in college, but he showed enough to be taken at this point.

22. Tennessee Titans – Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern: The team lost 3 corners in free agency, but signed only Janoris Jenkins (33 years old for 1 year) and Kevin Johnson (1 year), so they need a long term nr.1 player for this position. Newsome was still on the board, so they pull the trigger and took the fast (4.37/4.40 40-yard dash) corner, who can play in man- and zone-coverage as well. He will fit into the Mike Vrabel culture.

23. New York Jets – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia: The Jets CB room is quite a mess, so an immediate help is necessary here. Stokes is a very fast (4.25 unofficial 40-yard dash), often very underrated. He still needs learn a lot, since his skills are littlebit raw, but he was a second-team All-SEC selection last year. Stokes will be able to keep up the speed with any receiver in the league.

24. Green Bay Packers (trade with Pittsburgh) – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota: Aaron Rodgers likes to throw the ball to different targets, so give him another very good receiver and he will love game days even better. Pairing Bateman with Adams, plus Tonyan as TE, will give Matt LaFleur’s team a scary trio. Good luck to defend all the three.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas: After selecting Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick, the Jaguars will opt to keep him healthy as much as possible, so they are selecting the very experienced tackle out of Texas. Cosmi played both at right tackle and left tackle positions, had more than 1,500 pass-blocking snaps. He has quite good athleticism and good technique for the position.

26. Cleveland Browns – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa: The team signed Malik Jackson and Takkarist McKinley in free agency, which pushed the Dline need to day2, but drafting the second best linebacker of this class is something where the Browns can’t say no. Collins is very versatile, he can rush, he can be used is space, will be a lethal weapon in Kevin Stefanski’s defense.

27. Baltimore Ravens – Dillon Radunz, OT, NDSU: It could be a little high for the young FCS star, but the Ravens needs a new RT after they try to trade Orlando Brown Jr. Radunz had a great Senior Bowl and showed he is able to compete against NFL ready players. Although he played on the left side in North Dakota State, he will switch sides and be the RT of the future for the Ravens.

28. New Orleans Saints – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame: JOK would fit in the 4-3 system as OLB, who can rush the passer, but is good in coverage as well. He is a smaller LB, but plays much bigger. If the team wants to run a nickel defense, he is perfect for it as well. The team must find him the perfect role, but Sean Payton is a very good coach, who will put him where he can make plays.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (trade with Green Bay) – Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia: He will fit is Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme as an edge player. He can form a dangerous tandem with T.J. Watt. His 4.63 40-yard dash time showes, how fast he is and he is even more explosive. He still has room to grow, but he will be in a good place at the Steelers.

30. Buffalo Bills – Joe Tryon, Edge, Washington: The Bills doesn’t have many weak spots, maybe Dline is one of them. Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison are over 30 and won’t be long with the team, so the team can start to think about a succession plan. Tryon opted-out because of covid, but was a force in 2019, when he had 12.5 TFL and 8 sacks. He still needs time to develope, but behind the two veterans, he has all the opportunity to learn and be ready, when the time is coming.

31. Kansas City Chiefs – Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan: Cutting both starting (but injured) tackles creates some problems and those problems must be solved. So the Chiefs selects a tackle prospect out of Michigan. Mayfield can play on the left or the right side. He had limited playing time under his belt, but the competition was strong enough (Gross-Matos, Chase Young, etc) to showcase his skills.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Carlos Basham Jr, DE, Wake Forest: After the champioship run, the Bucs was able to bring back every bigger name from last year, but some of those players will stay only one year. Basham would be rather a 4i or 5-tech player in early downs and could play inside in passing plays. He is strong, but not really fast, he will win with his technique not with speed. He had 11 sacks in 2019 and 5.5 in 2020, despite the fact, he missed games due to covid and didn’t participate in the team’s bowl game.

Just to summarize my mock, I took 5 QB, 1 TE, 1 RB, 4 WR, 8 OL, 5 DL/edge, 4 LB and 4 CB in the first round. Some player who were projected in the first round, slipped out, because of injury concerns. Thank you for your time and support again. I would love to see your opinion about my mock, so please leave a comment. If you liked it, please help me to reach more people and share it.

Is there a Belichick-masterplan in Foxboro?

On the first day of the legal tampering period I started to write my latest article, but then the news came so fast about the Patriots signings, that I decided to wait until the dust settles. After the last few days it looks like the Patriots is more or less done with actions and we can begin to concetrate on the next steps.

For Patriots fans this FA is something what we never saw before, yes the circumstances are different as well, but still, Belichick spent ton of money on new signings and with it he just set a new record (another one). No team before, spent so much as the Patriots. The team made big splashes, they – it looks like – overpaid few players, but all in all, there is a feeling, that Belichick’s moves follow a bigger plan, which is not just be again in the Playoffs and win the Super Bowl, but there might be another big splash to come. Let’s go through the moves from the last 2 weeks and see what could be this last big splash.

Position weaknesses:

During the last weeks, I wrote several articles where I was discussing this topic. The team had only very few groups (P, LS) where things were ok and there is no need (this is only my opinion) of new players. There were few position (QB, WR; TE, DL) which were in critical condition and some others (LB/Edge, secondary, RB, OL) where the team could look for replacements for the longer term continuity.

QB: This was a must fix territory, since the QBs under contract (Stidham, Dolegala) were not really promising. Additionally, if the team planned to make bigger signings on the offensive side, they needed a better QB, who could draw interest from players on the market. Reports tell us, that Stidham is working very hard to be better, but it is still room for him in the team?

WR: Another group which needed new faces, but this one is a tricky group. I will write about later. So, this group was below average during the 2020 season. Meyer was the best in term of catches and yards, let’s say so, he was the most reliable target. Harry looks like a first-round bust. Sorry, but he is far from the expectations what people have, after he was taken in the first round. We still don’t know what’s going on with Edelman and if he would be able to play when the season starts, although we still have months to figure it out. Byrd is no more with the team, Olszewski is a depth player as WR, but a Pro Bowler ST guy.

TE: Again, we had higher expectations regarding the two 3rd rounder rookie, but that production was almost nothing. Izzo was the best, which says a lot. I wasn’t a big fan of LaCosse, so yes this position was screaming for some upgrade as well.

OL: Generally, the OL was ok last year, but two of the five starters became FA after the season, Wynn had health issues every year. The only two, healthy starters were Mason and now 2nd year Onwenu. I am very confident the OL coaches can make magic, if it is necessary, but fixing the line is another important task for the front office.

RB: Burkhead and White are free agents as well, but the core group is very talented. Harris, Michel, Taylor and Bolden is a solid group, with some versatility, but I can see here one more player from FA or draft.

DL: Our run defense was dead last (defense DVOA) last year and two core guys (Butler, Guy) became free agents, plus Wise was heading to the open market as well. Not the best starting point for a weak group. I don’t say there are no talents, but a bad group lost its best guys, so there was need for big changes.

LB/Edge: This group was part of the bad run defense, which wasn’t a big surprise here, after the departure of van Noy and Collins, plus the opt-out of Hightower. We have here a good young core with lot of upside, but they still have lot to learn. The good news that Hightower is coming back, which will elevate the whole group to a higher level, but 1 or 2 addition was expected here. The other thing what we have to consider, that both Hightower and Bentley will be free agents after the 2021 season, so there is a need for a succession plan.

CB: On paper, this is (one of) the best group in the team. Jackson is there (the expectation was always that he will get an RFA tender) so as Gilmore. And the depth behind them wasn’t bad either. Jason McCourty is the only notable name who left the team for FA. But, what if Jackson will depart to another team because the Pats won’t match their offer or they won’t pay him after the season? What if Gilmore doesn’t want to stay for the money he would get in 2021? Is the team ready to trade him or will he go after the season? These are important questions to consider.

S: Devin McCourty is coming back, there is Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger from last year, plus Chung who seemed to come back after the opt-out year. Additionally there were some depth, but bigger questionmarks too, what comes after the season? Dugger is a safe bet, he was very good in his rookie season, so he will be a core player in this group, but that is not enough to replace the departing  veterans.

ST: We have a Pro Bowl punter, this position is in great hands…. I mean legs. The long snapper position is ok as well. Kicker was a position to be filled.

That was our basic point before everything started. As I wrote earlier in my other articles, the team had holes to fill. That is why I was not a big fan of trading up for a rookie QB and give away early round picks.

Moves before the FA:

There were four notable moves before the legal tampering period started last Tuesday.

Trade for Trent Brown: This was a good move, which could fix one position in the Oline and create some flexibility as well. The team gave up a 5th round pick in 2022 for Brown and an additional 7th rounder in 2022. As reported, Brown was ok with a contract restructure and lowered his max number to $11M. His cap hit will be $7.625M in 2021 according to @patscap. Brown was immediately inked to be the starting RT, with an option for LT, if something happens with Wynn.

Re-signing of Cam Newton: I was ok with this move, I can support it as well. Cam wasn’t too good last year, but not all the failures were on him. He came in a system which was designed for Brady in the last 15-20 years. He had no offseason, which could have helped him and he got an offense, which wasn’t good enough to win a playoff game with Brady in 2019. Additionally he got covid, etc. I am not saying he still has his MVP talent, but he deserved another shot with better targets to prove his value. The one year contract has a max value of $14M and a cap hit of $5.5M (according to Miguel Benzan aka @patscap). That move gave me the impression, that the team won’t sign another QB in FA.

Re-signing of Justin Bethel: It was a bit under the radar move, but very important as well. Bethel is a special team ace and we all know how important this unit is for Bill Blichick. Bethel made a very good impression during his 1.5 season with the Patriots. With the fact, that Slater didn’t make his decision if he would come back for another year, the team made sure the ST won’t be without a respected leader. Bethel got a three year contract with the max value of $6M. The guaranteed part will be $2.75M and the cap hit is $1.9M for 2021.

Trading Marcus Cannon to Houston: After signing Trent Brown, many thought it is just matter of time until Cannon will be traded. Belichick made the trade with a well known person, Nick Caserio and made a good deal. According to the first reports the two teams swaped pics in the 4-5-6th rounds in 2021, but later came a correction and we learned, that the Patriots got a 4th and a 6th round pick in 2021 in exchange of Cannon + a 5th and a 6th rounder in 2021. With this move the Pats gave around $6.2M to the cap space.

Re-signings during FA:

Free agency doesn’t mean, the team will sign new players, they can re-sign some own players as well. The Patriots re-signed 7 own players this year.

The latest, but the most important, re-signing from this group was, David Andrews. Although he is not a top5 center in the league, he is one of the most important peaces in the Patriots offense. He gives the unit a form, he leads the Oline and he has huge experience in the system. Additionally he already played with Cam Newton, so they won’t need to start to build chemistry, which give them a better starting opportunity. Deatrich Wise’s contract shows us, that he might get a higher volume of workload. He is in his prime and he was a valuable rotational player, who can play as DE but is able to switch inside as pass rusher DT as well. Nick Folk was good last year and the team was able to sign him cheaper than I thought it would be possible, it is only a one year contract, so we have to wait what is  the plan here. Cody Davis is another nice addition to the special team. We don’t know what will happen with Slater and with Bolden, so the team made sure there will be continuity in this group. Jakob Johnson’s tender is a sign that the team wants to retain him, but shows, that he has no long term job security. He was good as a FB last year, but there is Dalton Keene on the roster, who could be the new guy and he brings more versatility, since he can play TE as well, not just FB. Johnson has to show his value if he wants to stay with the team.

J.C. Jackson is an interesting story. He is the latest UDFA miracle at the DB position. He had a very good 2020 season, showed nr.1 potential, but he is not on the that level yet. Many (including me) expected he will get a first round tender from the team, instead he got a 2nd rounder. With this move the Patriots could save almost $1.4M for the season and they could see what is Jackson’s value on the market. How? For me, Jackson is a top15-top20 corner at the moment, but I doubt teams would give up a first round pick for him, if he would have got a 1st round tender. With this move the Pats could have been sure, Jackson stays with the team at least for one more year. With a 2nd round tender, the situation is different. There are CB needy teams (Dallas, 49ers, etc) which could be ready to give up their picks in the second round, but before that they need to offer Jackson a contract, which could be matched by the Patriots. And this is exactly the point. I guess Belichick wants to see those numbers, he wants to be sure what Jackson’s market value is at the moment and if it is not too high he can match it and secure a good, young player for longer term. In case the numbers are high for him (which I doubt, since the cap is significant lower than last year), he could take the pick and put the money into Gilmore’s extension.

Signing back ex-Patriots players in FA:

Actually this is not so hard, considering how many player had shorter or longer stint with the Patriots. The team had a history to bringing back players after they tried their luck with another teams. Jamie Collins or Patrick Chung could be the most recent examples for this.

Karras was signed before Andrews came back. I guess the team didn’t see the opportunity any more to bring back the starter C, so they signed someone who has experience in the system and was a full time starter last year in Miami. Karras is an ok starter, who brings some versatility as well. Even after the Andrews signing, it is not bad to have him for the next season. If Wynn would have another injury, then the team can move Brown to LT, Onwenu to RT and Karras could jump in as LG. Hopefully Andrews won’t need a backup, as he stays healthy during the year.

Van Noy was an expected move few days back, when the rumors came out, he will be released from Miami. I wrote an article about him, so I won’t repeat myself. I was very happy when the news came out he will re-sign with the team. He will bring system knowledge, leadership and versatility to the unit. I am very fired up how the look of our new (old) defense will be next season.

New players from FA:

This is maybe the most interesting part of the free agency signings. I never expected so many top signings from the team, but once it was getting started we couldn’t rest. One signing after another.

The Patriots didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger and with the first selection in 2021 FA, they signed:

Jonnu Smith, TE: TE was a huge need, many discussed about the possible targets and both top2 TE got some love from the analysts and fans. Smith is a versatile player, who can play inline and from slot as well, he is very good after catch and he is only 25 years old. Ha played in 60 games and had 114 catches, 1,302 yards with 16 TD catches. Last year he was the best TE in receiving grade (88.5 PFF) and the second best in TD catches (8). I am very excited to see him in Pats jersey.

Matt Judon, LB: We knew that pass rusher is a position where the team needed an upgrade. When Judon was signed we didn’t know Kyle van Noy will be back as well. Judon is on the better side of 30, he played 5 years in the league and didn’t miss a game because of injury. He will be an important part of the organisation and that is what we can see in his 4 years contract. Ok, after two years the team can cut him with positive cap result, but I assume they plan to keep him. Judon can rush, can hold the edge against run, fits in the system. Last year he had 46 total pressures (which is only 1 less than Wino’s number).

Jalen Mills, DB: This signing made me thinking, why was it necessary, but Jason McCourty is a free agent and as we all know now, Patrick Chung retired, so he is some kind of a successor. Mills is a versatile kid, he played as OLB/nickel (both sides), slot CB, outside CB and free safety in 2020. These kind of players will always find their place on the roster. His contract structure is the same as Judon’s, after two years the team can cut the player with creating a bigger amount of cap space.

Hunter Henry, TE: He was a second day signing and not too many people thought this would happen. Even Henry told to riporters, that after Smith signing he didn’t think the Pats would be still in the picture. But the connection between Henry and coach Belichick is well documented, so it is not a big surprise, that Henry landed in Foxboro. With this move the Pats got the two best tight ends from the free agency and they will form – hopefully – a lethal tandem on the field.

Nelson Agholor, WR: He was the first (un)officially announced wide receiver signing of the first day. Many – including me – were surprised, Belichick picked him and not someone else (Samuel, Davis or even Golladay), but reading about him, makes clearer why was he the chosen one. Agholor was the „drop man“ in Philly, but during his one year tenure in Las Vegas he showed his potential. He is something what the Pats didn’t really have in long time, a reliable deep treath. He has 6 TD on 20+ yards throws, he led the NFL on vertical routes in yards (526), yards/route (2.8) and was second in TDs (8). His two year deal could be seen as overpayed, but in case he can bring his Raiders level of play to the Patriots, this will worth every penny.

Kendrick Bourne, WR: Before Agholor’s name came up in the reports, people wrote about Bourne as a possible signing. Not a big name, but has something BB loves, a really good 3-cone result (6.73) from the combine in 2017. He is not fast, rather quick and shifty. He had quite much (9) drops last season, but I guess the team hopes, that won’t be repeated in 2021. He could see more playing time in the slot. He could be cut after the season without big dead money, but still his 3 year $15M salary is not much.

Davon Godchaux, DT/NT: I guess the team brought him to play as a nose tackle in 0-tech and 1-tech, but he is not the typical NT, since he is „only“ 310 pounds. No problem, if he is good, then I don’t care about his weight. He came from Miami, so Belichick could see him enough to be sure he will fit in the system. Even Ted Karras told in an interview, he became a better man practicing against Godchaux. His $9M guaranteed part shows us, that he will have a bigger role, so don’t sleep on him.

Henry Anderson, DL: Another player from a division opponent. Anderson comes from the Jets, where he played during the last 3 seasons, so again, BB had time to observe him. He could be the Lawrence Guy replacement in the 3-5-tech area. He can play in multiple positions around the line and has some pass rush potential as well (7 sacks in 2018). In an interview he was very excited to play for the Pats, I hope the best for him. His 2 year contract can be terminated easily after this season.

Montravius Adams, DL: Another DL player, which don’t surpise me at all, since this position was in a bad shape earlier. He was a better college player, than a pro until now, so he has lot to prove and he is now in the best place to do so. He was drafted by the Packers in 2017 in the 3rd round, but didn’t made the boom. He will be a good depth/rotational option in the DT position. His son, Montravius Jr., was born on the same day he was drafted in 2017, so he got the call in the hospital.

Raekwon McMillan, LB: The latest additon to the team, was this young man, who played 2 years in Miami, but he came now from Las Vegas. His one year contract is a prove it type of agreement I guess. He was a second round pick in Miami and played as MLB/ILB.

Stand after those signings:

What we can see at the end of the day is, that the team tried to fill so many holes as possible both with quality and depth players. With the low first year cap hits, the Pats was able to sign more top players than we thought. Of course the high cap space and the new tv contracts helped the case to be creative, but still I don’t think we should be unsatisfied with the moves they made. Let’s re-check the positions.

QB: We have now Cam, which is good, but not enough. His one year contract gives me the feeling, that he is still viewed as a bridge QB. If he won’t perform better than last year (ok the bar is not high), he won’t get another chance here and in case he shows his greatness again, he could cash in somewhere else.

TE: I am almost sure (with BB as GM/HC you can’t be sure in anything) this position is done. Izzo was already traded and I think the team won’t keep 5 TEs on the roster. My feelings say, Asiasi’s place is safe as nr.3, but Keene is an interesting case. He has to fight for his roster spot with Jakob Johnson at the end. If he wins, he could have a Kyle Juszczyk type of a role as a hybrid FB/TE.

WR: We could say, there is still a need for a real nr.1 guy, but actually I won’t be mad if the team wouldn’t bring a top WR from the draft or so. Especially after the TE moves, the team is already versatile. Agholor can be the deep treath, while Bourne and Meyers are the short/mid-route receivers. That’s already 5 targets and we didn’t talk about running backs. I have my concerns with Edelman’s health. I would love to see him back healthy, but the latest news were not so promising. I can imagine he starts the season on PUP list, but that is a long way until then. Harry could be traded, which I think is a good idea for both sides. Anyway, this unit is better than the one from last year (again, the bar wasn’t too high).

RB: Here is still no action. White and Burkhead are still on the market and for the Patriots there is a need for a receiving 3rd down RB. JJ Taylor could be the man, but he has to prove it. I think 1 or 2 players will come to this group, since this will be Michel’s last year (and I would be surprised if the team would exercise his 5th year option), Harris has injury issues during his years in Foxboro and as I just wrote Taylor is not a proven player. Brandon Bolden could give some depth, but in sum, mid- and long term this unit is not ready. (read update at the end)

OL: In short term this line is ready to roll. We got our center back and with the arriving of Karras we have a very good backup, who can play in every IOL position. We have enough OT to start and hopefully the younger guys could develop enough to provide enough safety. Mid- and long term the picture is different. Brown and Karras are only 1 year long here, Wynn has to stay healthy and we still don’t know what the young backups could deliver. Belichick loves Oline, so I think he will pick a player or two in the draft.

DL: Not the burner group, but with the 5 signings/re-signings it shows some potential. Wise will get an increased role (based on his contract), Guy was replaced by Anderson (we still don’t know if he will be able to replace the production as well), we got a possible NT, which was a big hole last year and the Davis – Adams tandem gives us two extra rotational players. I won’t be surprised if the team would draft someone. This unit has quantity, but I am no sure what quality it has. (read update at the end)

LB/Edge: Boom. This group is so much better now than last year was, that I can’t even find the words. Alone Hightower would make the unit better, but he got van Noy back and Judon as well. With these three veteran players I expect with an elit level play. The young players now have enough options to learn from and be better and they won’t be forced to do more than they should be. Long term it is tricky again, since both Bentley and Hightower are in the last year of their contracts. If everything works ideally, the team will have replacement for both players. McMillan could be a long term answer here if he shows up this year.

CB: Short term, they are ok, but this group has lot of questionmarks. For example what will happen with the two top players? Will Gilmore’s contract restructured or he will be traded or he stays this year to leave the team after the season and try his luck on FA? Is Jackson the new, long term, nr.1 option or he will play under the tender to test the market next year or the team will let him go this year in exchange of a 2nd round pick? Jason McCourty is not here anymore, but he would be only a 1 year help again. Jon Jones has two more years, which is good. Mills was signed, but he is not really the pure CB. The Williams-Virgin-Bryant-Jackson-Ross group gives the team depth, but is there a future nr.1 or nr.2 option? My feelings say the team will secure Gilmore or Jackson for long term and might let go the other one. Of course I would be happy if they could extend Gilmore and give Jackson a 4-5 years contract, but is it really a possibility? I think they will draft someone on day2.

S: Chung is retired, McCourty might play his last year with the team. Dugger is an ascending player who could take over the leader role in the coming years, Adrian Phillips showed his value, but he will be a FA after the season. Cody Davis is more of a special team player and Joejuan Williams still has to prove his value. Mills could play here as well, but this is weak for long term. I usually say, there is no draft without a safety pick, don’t be surprised if BB will take someone again.

ST: Folk has a one year contract, but Aguayo is still here. Rohrwasser was waived last day. Here is a possibility that the team will bring another pair of legs in the locker room. Bailey has two more years.

After the roster moves yesterday (Rohrwasser, Maluia, Pinckney), the team has 77 players under contract. With 9 picks on the draft and another possible UDFA additions, the situation could be really tight for many players. I think playrs will be added to the following groups: QB, RB, OL, DL, CB, S.

Belichick’s masterplan?:

I know, I know, you opened this article mostly because of this part. But it is finally here. Let’s be honest. The Patriots filled almost every big holes in the roster. There are still groups with need for new players, but I don’t see any major issue now. There are positions (TE, LB) which improvements are huge and the team in sum is in a much better shape than it was last year. Newton has weapons now, the Oline is strong, so I tell you now, this team has to go into the playoffs this year.

The only BIG need is the QB. I cross my fingers for Cam, he deserves to have a great year, but he is not the long term answer. All these FA signings show us the path, what teams follow with a QB under rookie contract. Paying better players to be there and help the kid to be able to compete immediately. I have no problem with it, when was the last time our team was in this situation? Hm, I don’t know. Even with the young Brady, the situation was different. So this is a new thing to explore for the Patriots and as I see they wanted to make the best possible things. I am confident this team can compete for the playoff spot right now and this roster status gives the opportunity to be agressive on the draft, trade up and take the next – possible – franchise QB.

If we are talking about a rookie QB, we have to see who is on the roster already and in what style he is playing, what kind of playbook do the team has. This could narrow our target group. Cam Newton starts his second year with the team, which means the team already changed the playbook for him, compare to the one, Brady had. Cam runs much more, than Brady did, so the playbook could be more a dual-treath playbook, than a pocket passer playbook. Because of this fact I would say, Trask and co. are not really a good fit. Why? I don’t think it would make sense, if a team would bring together two QBs who have different skill sets. That would be bad for one of them. The veteran should play in an unfitting system, which would push the rookie on the field earlier than expected or the rookie should learn a system which doesn’t fit for him, which would be a waste of time.

As I wrote in my earlier articles, I think the best fit for the „old“ Pats system would be Mac Jones from Alabama. He had his (first) Pro Day yesterday and actually he ran better than expected. 4.76 on 40 yard or so. Which doesn’t mean he is a dual-treath QB, but he can move better than many reported. His playing style would be great in the Pats system. But hey, there is Cam Newton and that different playing style. I am sure Jones could learn a lot even in that system, but I wouldn‘t find it too efficient. So here are my top choices:

  • Nr. 1: Justin Fields
  • Nr. 2: (still) Mac Jones
  • Nr. 3: Zack Wilson
  • Nr. 4: Trey Lance
  • Nr. 5: Kellen Mond

I don’t think Trevor Lawrence would be available at any point. For me, Justin Fields is the best and most proven dual-treath QB this year. He played against strong teams, he led his team into the National Championship, he can throw, he can run and he would be a perfect fit with Cam Newton. I saw yesterday a video where Fields was still in high school and took part in some kind of camp. He gave an interview when Cam Newton jumped in and talked really high about Fields. What does that mean? The two has a great and long time connection. Cam could get a guy, who he advertised and now he could be his mentor. Fields could get a mentor who can teach him how to use his abilities even better and who plays like him (ok, maybe this is a bit too much, but we can see the similarities).

Mac Jones is Mac Jones, not a great fit with Newton, but I am very high on him and I think he could handle this difference. Zack Wilson is not the typical dual-treath QB, but he showed he can run, he has strong arms, so he would be ok as well. Additionally he likes the Pats. Lance would be another terrific fit in this new Cam-system, but for me he is overhyped. Yes, he played great, no INT in 2019 and the rushing yards and TDs, but for me he is very unexperienced. NDSU won championships without him, so the program is good with or without him. Tell the truth, Easton Stick had more rushing TDs (17) in 2018 than Lance had in 2019 (14), although Lance ran for 500 more yards (1.183 vs 677). Another comparison is Carlson Wentz, who was a Bison QB as well and his production is not good as a pro, despite the fact he was viewed as a great talent and was drafted with the second pick by the Eagles. I don’t have problem with smaller school players, but at the QB position I see things littlebit different. Kellen Mond is a second day target and I don’t thing he would be the target for the Belichick-masterplan, but still he could be a fit.

What is the biggest problem? The 1st and 3rd on my list will go out very early, possibly in the top5 pick. I saw mock drafts from experts, where Fields was picked at 12 or so, but I don’t see how could it be real. Until few weeks ago, the concensus was with Jones, that he will be available at 15 for sure or even the Pats could trade back few spots and still could get him. Now, the narrative changed, he had a good Pro Day, he will repeat it next week again, so his draft stock is rising. If necessary I would trade up for the top3 on my list, if the team stays put somehow and Lance is available at 15, then maybe I would take the risk, because in this case I shouldn‘t give up anything extra for that move.

But is there any real chance to trade up into the top10 or even into the top5? My short answer is yes. And this is the masterplan. Because there is no major roster need anymore and the team still has more than $10M cap space, this is the year when BB could sacrifice few high picks to move up.

The spreadshit shows us the team’s draft picks in this year with their values in Rich Hill’s (RH) and Jimmy Johnson’s (JJ) system.

Who could be our trade partner this year? 1/1 Jax, no way. They will take Trevor I guess. 1/2 Jets or 1/3 Dolphins won’t work out. Maybe in later rounds, but they would be crazy if they would help for a division opponent. So the earliest opportunity is the Falcons with the 4th pick.

Trade with Atlanta (1/4): This is the highest possible landing spot in my opinion and the question is, who will be on the board when this pick comes. We still don’t know what the Dophins and the Jets want to do with their QB situation. Reports say that the Miami plans with Tua (they signed Jacoby Brissett as backup) and Sam Darnold position is very uncertain. My guess is, that Darnold will be traded and the Jets will take their new QB. But who? It could be Fields or Wilson, one of the QBs on my list. If Miami will stick with the Tua/Brissett duo, the question is, if they want to take a WR with the 3rd pick or an OT or will they be open to trade down few spots (Panthers, Broncos, 49ers) and take the best player available? If they stay put and take for example Chase or one of the Alabama WRs, then there is an opportunity for the Falcons, or other team, to take Fields or Wilson. If Fields would be available, because the Jets took Wilson, then I would pull the trigger and would try to trade up.

The 4th pick has a value of 490.52 (RH) or 1,800 (JJ). The Pats has to give the 15th pick which has a value of 315.2 (RH) or 1,050 (JJ). That’s not enough of course. The Atlanta could use a CB help, so there is already an opportunity for discussion. I think both J.C. Jackson and Gilmore are worth an early second round pick, let’s say 2/5, that has a value of 161.67 (RH) or 530 (JJ). After this trade the package value would be 315.2+161.67=476.87 or 1,050+530=1,580. Quite close but still not enough. There is a 13.13 (RH) or 220 (JJ) points difference. That is equal with a mid-5th round (RH) or a top10 3rd round (JJ) pick. If we take the Rich Hill chart I would be happy to give away the 122nd (4/17) pick (13.24). In the Jimmy Johnson system this trade wouldn’t be so easy, since the gap is bigger than the team’s 96th pick (115). Here could be the following: 15+Gilmore/Jackson+46+177 for 4 + 68 (3/4). This would be in numbers: 1,580+440+27,2=2,047.2 vs 1800+250=2,050. This could be still less than the offers from other teams, but worth a try.

Another version could be, when the team gives up the first round pick from next year. Unfortunately these future picks are calculated as a one round later picks in the current year. So the 1st rounder in 2022 has a value of a 2nd rounder this year. So we are at the same amount like with Gilmore/Jackson. The problem with the Falcons is, they have around $5M cap space at the moment. So the Gilmore/Jackson trade is doubtful (of course we know cap space is only a myth and teams can be creativ with it). Let’s go back and replace Gilmore with the team 1st rounder from next year (which might be not so valuable). They would get the following package: 2021/1 + 2021/2 + 2021/5 + 2022/1. Would you make this trade for the 4th pick? Or just to be sure we can replace the 2021/5 with the comp pick from the 4th round. Would it be enough? Maybe yes, but in case the roster is in good shape, the team can give up one extra 1st rounder for the greater good.

Trade with the Bengals (1/5): The good thing with the Bengals, that they won’t draft a QB again, one year after the Burrow pick. The question, if they want to target a young OT (they could get the best in the class), another weapon for Joe or they want to get more picks? We will see soon, but in theory they could be trading partners. Could the Pats offer any player for them? Before the free agency, there was need for CB and WR for example. The Bengals signed Chidobe Awuzie for three years and Mike Hilton for four years, so it looks like it is not a major need anymore, although non of the mentioned CBs are on the same level as Gilmore or Jackson. WR could be something to offer and I think here on Harry, but he won’t have a second round value.

Let’s see the numbers. the 5th pick’s value is 467.81 (RH) or 1,700 (JJ). Little less than the Falcons pick. With the 15th pick (315.2/1,050) as sure component of the trade, the team should offer something or somebody in the value of 152.61/650 points. In Rich Hill’s system the 46th and 122nd pick could be enough compensation or Harry (and the 4th round pick stays in Foxboro). That package would have a value of 315.2+127.71+27=469,91. In Jimmy Johnson’s system the situation looks again littlebit more complicated. 1,050 (15th)+440 (46th)+68 (Harry)+115 (96th)+27,2 (177th)=1700.2

Trade with the Eagles (1/6): Another possible team, if they want to stick with Jalen Hurts. There is one name which always comes up when I think about the Eagles early pick if it is not a QB, Kyle Pitts, the tight end from Miami. Zack Ertz is not the youngest and the Eagles is trying to trade him, so a young, star TE could be a big help for Hurts. If they are open to trade that pick away, New England could be a potential trade partner. IF the targeted QB is still there. This is a big if, since it can happen that the Miami, the Jets, the Falcons and the Bengals will trade away their pick and with this in mind, no QB will be available so early.

The biggest problem with the Eagles is the cap situation which is worst than Atlanta’s, so a bigger player trade is not really possible. But maybe a Harry trade could happen. So the value of the 6th pick is 446.15/1,600. In Rich Hill’s system the team could offer the following: 315.2 (15th)+27 (Harry)+39.38 (96th)+69.82 (2022/2)=451,4. Or in Jimmy Johnson’s system 1,050 (15th)+440 (46th)+68 (Harry)+44 (139th)=1,602.

Trade with the Lions (1/7): This is the last trade option I will calculate. The Lions have more than $10M cap space, which is good for a possible player trade. Lions could have some corner need, so I will add Gilmore/Jackson to this scenario. The pick’s value is 425.5/1,500. The 15th pick+Gilmore/Jackson have a value of 315,2+161,67=476,87 or 1,050+530=1,580. In both cases the Patriots would give up more than the value of the 7th pick, so I would assume, that the Lions would put an extra pick in their package. The 112th (4/7) pick could be that extra pick, which value is 33.73/88. In Rich Hill’s system the Pats would still have a negative outcome, but in Jimmy Johnson’s system the Lions would give up little more.

In this case the Pats shouldn’t give up much, but big question who would be still on the board.

As you can see I tried to trade picks only from this year. That would be an ideal scenario, but it depends on how much the team wants to jump. That would be awesome if the Patriots make a big trade without using future picks. Many reports suggest, Jones will be available at 15, but after his Pro Day I am not convinced. I am expecting some trades before/during the draft. And again, this year is the year, when the Pats could trade up, because the roster looks quite good. I wasn’t so exited as I am now for a long time. I really belive, that coach Belichick will show the world, he ist he best coach ever.

Thank you very much for your time and for your trust. I hope you liked my writing. If so, please help me reach more people and share/retweet my article. Of course you can write your opinion in comment, I would love to read it. Go Pats!

Update: The world won’t wait for my article and it is moving without a break. According to multiple, official sources, James White re-signed with the Patriots. He got a one year contract which contains a fully guaranteed $2.5M salary. Because of this signing, I am very confident with our RB group, although mid- and long term there is a need for new players.

Update 2: Coach Belichick, really? Another move minutes before I put my article on the internet? So, another happy news. Lawrence Guy will sign a 4 year deal with the team, deatils are still unknown. This means, I would say the DLine is complete. The front7 will be brutal.

Update 3: The team also will sign LB/ST, LaRoy Reynolds. Details are unknown at the moment.

Life after the Cannon trade

About two hours ago came the news about the latest personal move from the Patriots, where they sent long time RT, Marcus Cannon, to the Houston Texans. The two teams swaped picks in the 4th, 5th and 6th round in 2021.

After the Trent Brown trade few days ago, many analysts and columnists were talking about Cannon as a possible trade candidate. They had right. The 32 years old right tackle out of TCU, was a 5th round pick (138th) in 2011. He is a 3-time SB champion (XLIX, LI, LIII) and Second-team All-Pro (2016) who sat out the 2020 season, because of the covid. Cannon was the starter right tackle for the team, but last year, the rookie, Onwenu showed, he is capable to replace him and as already mentioned, the arrival of Trent Brown made Cannon‘s return even harder.

Financial aspects:

 Trading him, gives the team more cap space. Before the trade the team had the following cap space:

My numbers based on the cap master’s cap numbers (Miguel Benzan aka @patscap), but differ a littlebit, since Miguel calculates with a possible 1st round RFA tender for J.C Jackson ($4.766.000) and with the ERFA tender for Jacob Johnson ($850.000), but I am not. Therefor I will have a higher number. I just wanted you to know why numbers are different.

So, Cannon’s cap hit for the 2021 season would be $9.622.918 (according to spotrac.com). Cutting or trading him would cause $2.566.668 dead money, additionally we have to decrease the number with $780.000, because of the top51 rule. At the end the Patriots gets $6.276.250 extra cap space.

This cap space doesn’t include the cap hit of Trent Brown and Justin Bethel, since we don’t know the details of those two contracts.

Another financial aspect is the changing rookie pool. After the trade the Patriots moved up 11 spots in 4th round, 11 spots in the 5th round and 9 spots in the 6th round (according to the draft order of the overthecap.com and Nick Korte). Let’s see the difference.

As you can see after the move ups, the Patriots has now a little higher rookie pool, means the 2021 rookie class will cost little more than $3M for the team, which is $27.074 more than few hours ago.

Roster aspect:

After the departure of Cannon, the team has the following group of OTs: Isaiah Wynn, Trent Brown, Justin Herron, Korey Cunningham, Yodny Cajuste, (Mike Onwenu).

This group of young men offers the Patriots some flexibility, since Onwenu can play at RT or LG positions, Wynn could play LT or LG and Trent Brown as RT or LT. My guess is that Wynn will play as LT, Onwenu as LG and Brown as RT. Of course we can’t be sure until the first whistle of the game, but this is my guess which could change after the FA and/or draft.

Usually the team has 8-9 OL players on the final roster, with 4 OT in the group. if this will be the case in 2021 again, then one OT should get cut or the team will move him to the PS. At the moment the team has only 2,5 guards (Mason, Ross Reynolds, Onwenu) and 2 centers (Marcus Martin, Najee Toran) under contract, with David Andrews (C), Joe Thuney (LG) and Jermaine Eluemunor (OT) hitting the free agency next week. I am expecting the team will retain Andrews and will add 1-2 extra Oline men to the roster before the trainings start.

I wish Cannon good luck in Houston and I hope he will have a good year in 2021 as a Texan. Thank you for the years in Foxboro.

Roster moves March 12th

Yesterday the Patriots made two very important personal moves. First, they signed Cam Newton for one more year, then shortly after, they signed Justin Bethel for 3 more years.

Cam Newton:

As Evan Lazar reported, the Patriots asked the 49ers front office about Jimmy G, but they didn’t want to trade him or just later and the Pats wanted to have a veteran QB on board before the FA starts next week, so they pulled the trigger and signed Cam Newton back. Why is it so important to have a better QB on the roster, when FA starts? The Patriots needs high end WR/TE players in the team, but the Stidham/Dolegala tandem wasn’t the most inviting enviroment for those players. Newton still brings lot of positive wibes with him, he is a leader, Belichick really liked his work ethic and as it looks, the coaches don’t think everything was Cam’s fault last year. Don’t forget one year before, even Tom Brady wasn’t able to bring the Patriots into the divisional round in the Playoffs, with almost the same receiving group and 20 years of experience in the system.

Playing with Cam Newton could be a good argument for many younger players, especially on the offensive side. Cam offers experience in the system, he knows it and the system knows him as well. He will have now a full offseason to be more familiar with the whole playbook, reads and expectations. He will be healthier now, than he was last year. Especially that covid period was really hard for him, as he explained it in a longer interview (I am an athlete) few weeks ago. I am 100% sure Bill Belichick and the crew will try to do everything they can, to make the supporting cast better. As many reports indicate it, the Patriots are about to spend top money on receiving targets. They made a big trade and brought Trent Brown back to the team, so the Oline will be there to help the QBs.

As first reported – and many were shocked – the contract value is up to $13,5M. But as Miguel Benzan aka @patscap always says, we should waiting for the details. Here are the details, as Ben Volin reported:

Cam has only $3,5M guaranteed money in his contract. Last year he played in more tha 80% of the offensive snaps, so the “60% of snaps played” incentive this year goes to the LTBE (likely to be earned) category. Cam will get $88.235,29 per games on the roster, which could bring him to another $1,5M bonus. These are the official numbers for him, which would hit the 2021 cap. Every other bonuses/incentives are NLTBE (not likely to be earned). If Cam reaches any NLTBE level, those amounts will hit the 2022 cap. I think Cam will play more than 70% of the snaps, but less than 80%, because of the other new QB will get playing time as well. Plus I believe (I am optimistic) the team will reach the Playoffs, so Cam will reach at least 2 more incentives (60% + PO, 70% + PO).

If he leads the team to a Super Bowl win, where he is the starter, his salary will go way over $10M, but I guess in this case, we won’t have any bad feelings to give him the money. Again, any LTBE parts will hit the 2021 cap, any NLTBE parts what he reached will hit the 2022 cap.

What’s next? As I mentioned above, I would be shocked if the team wouldn’t draft a young QB. This is the year, when I can see, BB picks a QB in the first round. Or maybe not. We could never know if we are talking about Bill Belichick. Does Cam’s return mean the return of Damiere Byrd or the signing of another ex-Cam team mate, Curtis Samuel? The WR gorup must be fixed. An additional TE is expected as well. I would bet the team will target Hunter Henry or Jonnu Smith, but maybe Kyle Rudolph could be the name here. Anyway, Cam (and the other new QB) needs new buddies on the receiving side.

Justin Bethel:

This signing goes under the radar, after the news about Cam came out, but for the Patriots this is a very important signing as well. Bethel was one of the best ST players during his 1,5 year in Foxboro. He will be 31 during the summer. His 3 years contract worth up to $6M as Mike Reiss reported, but we don’t know the details of it. Bethel is a Pro Bowl ST player, who was the second most important ST player behind Matthew Slater. His signing is a big one, because we still don’t know if Slater will come back for 2021 and if he comes back, this will be the last year of his contract, so there is a need for a leader in the ST for longer period. I hope Slater will be there, but with this signing now, the ST have a succession plan on place.

Going wild on FA and Draft

It is only few more days and we can welcome the new NFL league year on March 17th. On this day not just the new league year starts but the 2021 free agency as well. As we already know the Patriots has one of the biggest cap space this year, so we can expect on some notable moves. Yesterday was the last day, teams were able to use their franchise tags. Why is it so important for us? The Patriots is in glaring need to sign some WRs and/or TE and make their new QB’s life easier than it was in 2020. Unfortunately for us, 2 of the 3 top WRs (Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin) got franchise tagged, which left Kenny Golladay alone on the big stage and with that in mind we could expect his price tag will go even higher. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone would give him a $20M+ per year contract.

Since my first article in this topic (playing a GM) few weeks ago, we got some news about the opt-outs, etc and I decided to take a pre-FA shot and spend the money what the Pats has. My numbers in this article are based on the numbers from my GM-article. Although, I must confess, despite all my caution I‘ve made a mistake at the rookie pool part, which I will correct now. I don’t say, what you will read now, will be very realistic in general, but from financial standpoint it will be. I won’t be so detailed in the basics as I was in my previous article, so if you are interested in every detail please click on the link and read it.

1. Basics:

The financial numbers are based on @patscap‘s (Miguel Benzan) numbers, but will be little bit different, since he already calculated a 1st round tender ($4.873.000) for J.C. Jackson and an ERFA tender ($850.000) for Jacob Johnson. I didn’t do it at this stage, so my number will be higher. Additionally the latest news confirm, that the cap for the 2021 season will be $182,5M, which is different from that $180M, what I was calculating with last time.

Another difference compared to my last calculation I had, is the adjutments part. I had to lower the number from $5,5M to $3,7M. Nothing else has changed. You can see the dead money spreadsheet in my old article as well.

As I wrote above I had to correct myself regarding the rookie pool. Last time I forgot to decrease the cap hits according to the top51 rule or with the salary. I explain it littlebit, because I didn’t do it last time and I want to share the knowledge, what I’ve got from Miguel, with everyone who reads me. The top51 rule means the following: from the start of the new league year until the first week of the regular season, only the 51 most expensive contracts count against the cap. The next thing is the salary question: For players outside the top51 group, their salary ($660.000) won’t count against the cap, only the signing bonus prorations, roster bonuses and offseason workout bonuses. Those two things will lower the rookie pool with several millions of dollars.

Last time I was calculating with the full $8,9M, but I should calculate with only $2M. Great for the cap space. Please don’t forget this amount could change when the team makes trades which include picks. I will adjust accordingly the numbers if we will have a trade in this scenario. After we substract the rookie pool from our current cap space we will have the following amount:

Actual cap space: $67.641.839,00

2. Cuts:

Last time I retired Cannon and Hightower and cut Beau Allen (DT), Matt LaCosse (TE), Dan Vitale (FB), Akeem Spence (DL), Jacon Dolegala (QB), Justin Rohrwasser (K), Brandon Bolden (RB). I will change here one thing, Hightower won’t retire, he will come back and will be a terror for the opposing offenses and the young players will get a true leader back. With these cuts we will get another $14,2M

3. Contract restructures:

Last time I kept Stephon Gilmore and restructured his contract. My heart is bleeding but I will trade him this time (more about the trade soon). Instead I will work on Hightower’s contract. His cap number for 2021 now is $12.445.313. He will be 31 next week (March 12th), which doesn’t mean he is old, but he is on the wrong side of 30. Although he had 1 year off, so the team will get back a player who is in full health.

I restructured the contract so, that I built in a voidable year. Voidable year is an extra year, where the player is not supposed to play anymore, but with it the team can devide the numbers with one extra year. I tell you what does it mean in our case. Hghtower would get almost $12,5M for 2021. In the new structure his contract gets 2 extra years and he will get $24M, which would accounted $8M per year against the cap. That would be very low for a player and leader on Hightower’s level. In reality he will play only 2 years for that $24M, which is already a nice $12M per year salary. So despite his cap number would be at $12M level, it would count against the cap only $8M. In this case we won $4,4M.

4. Trade:

  • Stephon Gilmore, CB: In my GM article I didn’t make any trades, now I will trade Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys. I started to write this article before the „Dak Prescott stays in Dallas“ news came out. They were my top destination for Gilmore, but with this Prescott contract I doubt they would give Gilmore the money he wants. No problem, I started to look around and find a team, which is as well in need of veteran CB help. They lost their mentor in free agency (or at least Richard Sherman will test the market) and I would give them another top tier cornerback in exchange for their second round pick. Yes, this team is the 49ers. They have the cap space to give Gilmore what he needs and they have a higher second round pick a well. With the trade we saved $6.563.750,00.

And here comes the first change in our rookie pool. The basic cap hit for the 43rd pick is $1.153.956. As I wrote earlier, the rookie will replace someone from the top51 group, that is why I lower his cap hit number with $780.000 and we will get a final amount of $373.956.

  • Trent Brown, OT: This is another move, where I had to update my writing. I’ve never thought the team will bring back Brown and another interesting part is the one year stint. Brown restructured his contract to be able to come to Foxboro. Because of these changes (lenght and money), he won’t be part of the comp. pick formula. So he is a pure one year trade. What the team gave up for him is piece of cacke, a 5th rounder in 2022, but got back a 7th rounder in 2022. The contract is worth up to $11M, but I guess there will be incentives as well, so I will calculate with a lower number. We still don’t know the details, so I take my shot. I will take $10M for him.

Since we don’t have other trades until this minute, we can calculate our new cap space.

Actual cap space: $82.476.946,00

5. Resign the own free agents:

I will make here some changes as well. First of all, I will bring back Cam Newton (QB) and will bring back Jermaine Eluemunor (OT), but won’t bring back James White (RB) and James Ferentz (OL). Nick Folk will get little pay rise as well.

  • Cam Newton, QB: Since my GM article, I wrote one about the Brady-effect, where I checked Cam’s numbers as well. It showed, that despite all Cam’s mistakes and the missing power of the receiver/tight end groups, the team played on a level which could be developed to a playoff contender level with some more weapons and defense boost. Bringing back Cam would give the Patriots a known commodity and for Cam a full offseason and a season without covid, so he could show what he can do with more weapon and time. He is a good leader, so he could serve as a mentor for the rookie QB. I would give him a 2 years / $15M contract with another $5M in incentives.
  • Jermaine Eluemunor, OT: I was watching some of his plays again from 2020 and will say he wasn’t bad as a RT. He could be a good backup or an ok starter if we need him to jump in. He might give the team enough safety at the RT position, that Onwenu could switch to LG position.

If you are interested in my other own free agent signings, please read the GM article, where I explain all of my choices little bit.

So, after we signed back 13 players and we spent $46,2M, we still have plenty of money.

Cap space after own FA signings: $36.276.946,00

6. Find the week spots in the roster:

Finding the holes are key part of the whole offseason. Let’s go through our positions and see where should we concentrate.

  • QB: Very important to fix it. With the resign of Cam Newton it looks like the need here is not so high anymore, but the team still needs someone for the future. I believe Cam could be a good mentor and he is an immediate starter for the team. He knows the system and the coaches know him better than last season. I think the team would choose a veteran QB so, that he can teach the newby, therefor we should search for a QB with the same tools/style as Cam has. I still think Mac Jones fits very good to the Patriots, but not with Cam in pair. This is just a hint for you, in which direction I will go in the draft.
  • WR: Upgrade much needed. We need to add 1-2 WR to the group because this was one of the weak spots last year. We still don’t know when Edelman could come back, the news are not really promising. Harry didn’t show until now why he was picked at 32, but I would give him another year to prove. Jacoby Meyers is a lock, as the best WR from last season. Olszewski is someone who can be a good 3-4. WR, but he brings tremendous value in the special teams as returner. We need a true nr.1 guy and more.
  • TE: If your best TE is Izzo, then you have a problem. I don’t say he is bad, but in an ideal situation he would be your nr.2 or nr.3. Keene and Asiasi will might make the second year leap, but it is not sure, so upgrade needed. We will have plenty of options in FA and some interesting options in the Draft.
  • RB: We will need here someone who can replace White. In general the guys here are good, but we should fill up a group with depth.
  • OL: After I brought back Andrews and the team traded for Brown, I feel pretty confident here for short term. Long term we might need to look around a little bit. For me there are 3 people with huge question marks. What will happen with Wynn? The team has to make a decision soon about the 5th year option which could be around $10M for Wynn. If he is healthy it is a no brainer. The other two are Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste. If they could develope, than we have two good – at least strong back up level – OTs for the future.
  • DL: Guy is a fantastic player for the Patriots (that is why we signed him back), but he won’t be younger. Wise is rather rotational player than starter, but still valuable piece. Our nr.1 NT now is … well we don’t have starter at NT position, which is a very important spot in Belichick´s 3-4 plays. I can see some addition here.
  • Edge: Winovich and Uche could give us two good edge players. Uche will be only in his second year (lot to learn), but Wino is quite good as rusher (he still needs to improve to be a 3 down option). Hightower could be an option here too. Still there is room for upgrade.
  • LB: With Hightower returning, this position is already not so hot. Ok, outside of Hightower there is Bentley, Hall and Jennings maybe plus some depth guys. This is not so bad, alone Hightower will increase the potency of this group and the whole defense. I won’t mind to find here someone.
  • CB: With Gilmore’s departure we have a hole, what we have to fill. In this scenario J.C. Jackson will be our nr.1 corner, but we need a nr.2 CB who could be the nr.1 if Jackson won’t be able to take over that role.
  • S: Chung and McCourty might play their last year in the league. The Patriots drafted Dugger, who could be a potential replacement for Chung or even for McCourty. Williams could play more safety, since he is not in a good position on the cornerback depth chart. Adrian Phillips another good player for the year. I won’t move big dollars for this position, maybe on the draft in the 4-5. round I would pick a project player if there is someone good.
  • K: We have Foles, no reason to worry.
  • P: If you have a Pro Bowler punter, you are in good hands.
  • LS: Cardona is good. Period.

7. Free agency:

Well, let‘ start to fill the wholes. We already know what are our position needs. We just don’t know where the new players will come from, if it will be FA or Draft. First thing first, let‘s dig deep in FA, don’t forget, we have $36M to spend, minus some reserve for the season. I will go here sometimes in different directions as I did in my GM article.

  • DaQuan Jones, NT: We need someone who can fix the middle of the Dline, Jones can be that player. During the last 5 years he missed games only in 2017, every other year he had no major injuries, which makes this pick even better. Rushing the passer is not his best ability, he had 3 sacks in the last 3 years, but he is good against the run, he can eat up space, he can play in 2-gap scheme and that is what we need now. He will get a 3 year $23M contract too, but with $15M guaranteed. For the 2021 season we can count with $6M cap number.
  • Marvin Jones Jr, WR: He might not be the sexiest pick, but he could give the WR room veteran leadership and experience. The soon to be 31 year old receiver can play from the slot or outside, he will be a valuable piece in the offense. During the last two seasons he made 31 20+ yards plays and had 18 TDs. In 2020 he almost reached the 1.000 receiving yards, so he will get a 3 year $30M ($15M guaranteed) with a cap number of $8M for 2021.
  • Curtis Samuel, WR: Yes, another WR from free agency. This signing gives Belichick and McDaniels a swiss army knife type of a player. Samuel can run, he can catch, you can use him in different ways. He is a big play guy too, in 2020 he had 13 20+ yards plays. He isn’t a number 1 type guy, but he has so much to offer in a good system. He will be only 25 years old, which means he has many years left. We give him a long, 5 year contract with a value of $50M ($30M guaranteed) with a cap number of $7,5M in 2021.
  • Kyle van Noy, LB: He is still a Dolphin, the team wants to trade him first, but I don’t think it would happen, so at the end they will let him go. This signing would make such sense, I can’t ignore the opportunity to have him back. He knows the system, the system knows him, he is versatile, can play on the line, off the line, he can rush the passer. Belichick showed to the world what things he can do. Bringing him back, would give the Patriots the Hightower – van Noy tandem, which could make the defense great again (sorry for that) and give two great mentors for the younger guys. 2 year contract for $16M ($5M guaranteed) and a cap number of $7M for 2021.
  • Gareon Conley, CB: Let’s just go on the Belichick-way, with the former first round prospect. Conley is better suited for man coverage, which will fit for the Patriots defense.  He ran 4,44 at the Combine and had a very good 6,68 3-cone drill time, which is very important for great Coach Bill. Jason McCourty has a 1 year contract only and there might be another movements in the secondary, so bringing another promising young guy in the building won’t be bad. 1 year $2,5M.

We are done on free agency. The WR group got some much needed upgrade and we made the secondary little younger as well with a possible longer term solution. With Guy and DeQuan Jones, the middle of the Dline is stronger now and one level behind them, the van Noy – Hightower tandem will give us big boost. These 5 signings will cost us $31M. Let’s take a look on our cap situation.

Cap space after FA signings: $5,276,946

8. Draft:

The last part is here, the draft. But before I make my picks, I need to prove why I gave the title „Going wild on FA/Draft“ to this article. Maybe for some of you, signing back Cam was wild enough or passing on Kenny Golladay. I don’t know. But I have something left for you. I will do few trades before I pick my players. For the trades I am using now Rich Hill’s value chart, because I read often, that this chart fits better to the modern era.

Trades:

  • 1. Patriots gets: 1/7 (425 points); Lions gets: 1/15 + 2022/1 (440 points)
  • 2. Patriots gets: 2/1 + 3/1 + 4/25 (280 points); Jaguars gets: 2/11 + 2/14 + 2022/4 (279 points)
  • 3. Patriots gets: 3/14 (58 points); Chargers gets: 3/33 + N’Keal Harry (62 points)
  • 4. Patriots gets: 3/27 (44 points); Vikings gets: 4th comp pick + JoeJuan Williams (42 points)

Financial consequences:

Aftre the 4 trades, we have five picks in the first three rounds and another six picks on day 3. As you can see our rookie pool has changed as well, it will costs us $1,3M more. Additionally we have to see what influences the two players trade have. Harry’s trade would decrease our cap space with $700.000 (originally I wanted to trade here our second 4th round comp pick, but before putting my article online came the final information in this topic and had to react quickly), but at least Williams trade makes us $389.000 plus, so our cap space will be the following.

Final cap space: $3,570,543

Draft picks:

  • 1/7: Who will I pick here? A QB or someone else? There are two players on this year’s draft where I read the following: „generational talent“. One of these guys is long gone, Trevor Lawrence, but with a little luck the other one is still on the board. I came up for Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida. After I took two veteran WRs from FA and didn’t invest in TE, it was a must to do. Hunter Henry is a great possibility in real life, but for me he is too pricey and Jonnu Smith has the same profile as Devin Asiasi. In Asiasi we have a move TE, but we don’t have the bigger bodied player. Pitts is not Gronk when we are talking about blocking, but he has already experience as inline TE and he is a tremendous receiving TE and a missmatch and can be a terror for the opposing defenses.
  • 2/1: Bacause I traded Stephon Gilmore to the 49ers, the team needs a starter caliber cornerback. I took Greg Newsome II from Northwestern. The young, 6‘0 tall, player can play zone and man coverages as well. He recently ran an official 4,38 40-yard dash on his Pro Day, which showcases his speed. With McCourty and Conley on the board, he could have time to arrive into the NFL, but he has the potential to be a starter very quick.
  • 3/1:As we are going into the second half of day 2, I take here a WR and make our WR group ready for the season. His father was part of the Brady 6, played QB in the NFL. Let me introduce you the latest addition from Clemson, Amari Rodgers. He made himself big on Senior Bowl, I really loved what I saw from him. He fits very good to the Pats system. He will play mostly from the slot, but he is able to play outside as well. I see him as Edelman successor.
  • 3/14:Somewhere I have to pick a young QB prospect. The time is now. I’ve heard very different opinions about this young man, but I think he won’t last too long. He had a very good Senior Bowl week, he was the MVP as well. I picked Kellen Mond from Texas A&M. His style fits very good to Cam Newton, the two could build a strong relationship. Mond is not ready for the starting role, but behind Cam he have time to develop and the Pats has time to adjust the playbook to these two QBs.
  • 3/27:Time to strengthen the DL as well. My pick here is Cameron Sample from Tulane. Sample had a really good week on the Senior Bowl, he was named the Defensive MVP after the game. He offers the flexibilty to play at different positions in the defensive line. Sample was a DT in Tulane, but he can play DE in a 3-4 system as well. He is a fighter, he was only a two-star recruit out of high school and got only one FBS offer. That was Tulane, which he accepted. If you watch his production, you can see a straight line of development in his college career. He is able to rush the passer, to deflect the ball and to play against the run. One pick earlier we picked our nose tackle, now we pick our rush DT.
  • 4/15:I can’t wait any longer, because I am afraid the guy will be gone. Our first small school prospect arrives. Quinn Meinerz from Wisconsin-Whitewater, the D-III IOL who made a name during the Senior Bowl trainings. Unfortunately he broke a bone in his hand and Brian Flores didn’t let him play, but he made enough to rise on the boards. He is a center, but he can play guard too. Meinerz doesn’t stop, he has the fighter attitude which could bring him far in the NFL. He might not be the best technician, but the coaches at the Patriots could elevate him into another dimension.
  • 4/25: If we have some luck, we are able to get a very electrifying, young player, who will replace James White. Demetric Felton from UCLA was one of the biggest winner of the Senior Bowl week. He showed versatility to be able to play RB but he is a reliable receiver as well. He and Curtis Samuel will be pain in the a**es, Patriots is the perfect place for the 5’10 tall running back.
  • 5/14: The team still needs a defensive end, so I will pick another small school player, who showed his skills on the Senior Bowl. Elerson Smith, from University of Northern Iowa, is 6‘6 and 262 pounds. In 2019 Smith was one of the best defensive players on the FCS level, he earned first team All-American honor as well, which speaks for itself. He is a long edge player, who can play in multiple positions. At Northern Iowa he was used primary as a 7-tech, 9-tech DE, but he was put inside to 5-tech as well in passing downs. He is athletic but not elite, his first step could be quicker, but he can compensate those a littlebit with good football IQ.
  • 6/2: I was very happy when I signed DeQuan Jones, but one NT won’t be enough, so I took here Tedarrel Slaton from Florida. Slaton is a huge player, he is 6‘5 and 358 pounds. If we have luck he could be our new Vince Wilfork. He can play 2-gap and he is good against the run. Then why so late? Because he is inconsistent. But no problem, he has time to shine and be consistent enough to get more playing time.
  • 6/11: There is no draft without a safety pick. This year the new guy comes from Georgia and his name is Richard LeCounte III. He is more of a center field safety, who could pair up with Dugger in the future.  He made 7 INTs during his last two seasons and 3 in five games during his senior season. Unfortunately he injured and couldn’t finish the year. This late addition could be a steal if he could develop behind Devin McCourty.
  • 7/15: Another small school name, but he is really unknown. Unfortunately, because he deserves to be mentioned as a late round prospect. He comes from the FCS level, from the University of South Dakota. Jacob Matthew is 6‘3 and 250 pounds and plays as LB/Edge in the Coyotes‘ defense. He has positional versatility, since he plays usually as edge player, but has experience as LB in 4-3 system as well. In 2019 he made 53 tackles, 11,5 TFL, 5 sacks, 3 pass deflections. This year the season started few weeks ago only, the team played only two games until now, but Matthew had a sack and recovered 2 fumbles. He is a great man off the field as well, could be a culture fit.

This was my pre-FA edition of roster movings. Thank you very much for your attention. Please let me know your thoughts, write me a comment here or on Twitter. If you liked the article please share it and follow me on Twitter or subscribe on my blog to get the latest writings immediately.

Should the Patriots trade for Kyle van Noy?

I know, you can ask now, how could the Patriots trade for van Noy, when he will be released? We saw several times, that before the official release another team offered a later round pick for the player and the player wasn’t released but traded. Would it be a wise move from the Pats?

If we check what van Noy could bring to the team, then yes it would be a wise move. Between 2017-2019 he made in sum 160.5 disruption (sack, QB hit, pressures). With this he was every year in top3 within the team. He can play inside, outside, off the line and on the line. Belichcik used him always in very different ways. He and Hightower would give the team great boosts and two leaders for the young LB group.

But what about financially? This aspect is very different. Let’s see the details of van Noy’s original number in Miami:

Ok, that is one thing, but not every money will go to the new team:

These numbers come from the best of the bests, in case we are talking about cap related questions. Thank you @patscap for the detailed information.

With this numbers I would be very surprised if Kyle van Noy would be traded to the Pats. He is a good player, but that almost $12M per year salary is too much. From his 2021 money, $12.5M would be fully guaranteed on March 19th. In 2022 the fully guaranteed part would be only $2.5M and no guaranteed in 2023 (again, thank you Miguel).

So let’s see when Miami will release him and what will be his asking price. I really would love to have him back. He would solidify the group with the possible Hightower return the group would be very strong again. And with this move there won’t be any immediate need to draft early another, young LB and the team could concentrate on other positions.

Rookie QBs of 2021 (little different), Part 2

Mac Jones, Alabama

Numbers: Jones has only one full year (2020) of starting experience plus 4 games in 2019 as starter, which makes a total of 17 games as the leader of the Crimson Tide. During his two last years his yards/attempts were over 10 yards and the average completion percentage was 73,1%, which is great. During his Junior year he had a 10/1 TD/INT ratio. As you can see, he is not a running QB, he rather stays in the pocket and tries to avoid the pressure there. In 2020 he won all his games, including the biggest one, the Championship Game where he threw 464 yards and 5 TDs.

Opponents: In 2018 he was only the third string QB, behind Tua and Hurts, nothing to write about here. In 2019 he started 4 games, where he had a 3-record. Two of those games were against ranked opponents, on week 12 a very close lose (45-48) against the 16th ranked Auburn, but on week 13 a win (35-16) against the 17th ranked Michigan. They won (48-7) against the Arkansas on week 8 and had a blow out win (66-3) against the non-major Western Carolina. In 2020 Jones had 6 wins against ranked teams, on week 2 against the 13th ranked Texas A&M (52-24), on week 4 against the 3rd ranked Georgia (41-24), on week 8 against the 22nd ranked Auburn (42-13), on week 11 they had a hard game against the 11th ranked Florida (52-46), on week 12 – the Rose Bowl – against the 4th ranked Notre Dame (31-14) and a win against the 3rd ranked Ohio State (52-24) in the Final.

Supporting cast: This will be here the most interesting part, because almost everybody who criticize Jones, mentioned the supporting cast as a reason of his success. No question, there are always top guys at Alabama, because they are one of the best program in college football, but is the supporting cast really so incredible? In 2019 the Bama´s receiver group was full with first round talents, Jerry Jeudy (15th pick of the Broncos in 2020), Henry Ruggs III (12th pick of the Raiders in 2020) and the Jaylen Waddle – DeVonta Smit duo who will be first round picks in this year’s draft. The best running back was Najee Harris with his 1.224 yards and 13 TDs. But 2019 was rather Tua’s year. 2020 was a different year, Jeudy and Ruggs were not anymore with the team and Waddle suffered an injury after 4 weeks. He could come back for the Championship game, but he was still injured and had only 3 catches. Smith took his chance and made a Heisman-winner season (1.856/23) and Najee Harris had another monster year (1.891/30 – scrimmage numbers). John Metchie is another name worth to mention with his 916 yards and 6 TDs. Were those players great? Yes they were. Should we give credit to Jones for his succes or he has nothing to do with it? DeVonta Smith told few days ago, that for him Jones was a better QB, than Tua.

Kyle Trask, Florida

Numbers: In 2018 Trask was only one of the backups behind Feleipe Franks, but took over the leading role in 2019. As you can see the young QB developed from year 1 to year 2 as a starter in completion percentage, yards/attempt and the TD number jumped as well. He had a 5,4 TD/INT ratio, which is not top number, but still good. During his 3 years tenure he ran with a 0,4 yards/attempt average, which is somewhere on the Brady level.

Opponents: In 2019 he had 3 games against ranked opponents and they lost twice, against the 5th ranked LSU (28-42) on week 7 and against the 8th ranked Georgia (17-24) on week 9. On week 6 Trask could lead the Gators to a win against the 7th ranked Auburn (24-13). His season ended with a 10-2 record and a win (36-28) in the Orange Bowl against the unranked Virginia. 2020 the team didn’t have such a good record, since they closed a year with 8-4 and Trask lost 3 of his 4 games against ranked opponents. On week 3 against the 21st ranked Texas A&M (38-41), on week 11 against the 1st ranked Alabama (46-52) and on week 12 against the 8th ranked Oklahoma (20-55). The two losses against Texas A&M and Alabam were close, but against Oklahoma it was a clear loss. The most painful loss was the fourth, against the unranked LSU on week 10 and Trask´s best game (according the stats) was on week 6 against his former teammate Feleipe Franks and the Arkansas, where he threw for 356 yards and 6 TDs.

Supporting cast: Kyle Pitts was one of Trask´s most beloved receiver already in 2019 with 54 catches (649/5), but he had Van Jefferson (2nd round pick of the Rams in 2020) with 657 yards and 6 TDs, Freddie Swain (6th round pick of the Seahawks in 2020) with 517 yards and 7 TDs and the running back Lamical Perine (4th round pick of the Jets in 2020) had 5 receiving TD as well. On the running side, Trask had Perine (676/6) and the Dameon Pierce – Emory Joney duo (561/8). After most of his top targets from 2019 went to the NFL, other players had to step up and take over the roles. Pitts (770/12) played only 8 games because of injury, but the emerge of Kadarius Toney (984/10) and Trevon Grimes (589/9) gave Trask very good options down the road. Dameon Pierce (503/4) became the lead running back, but this year wasn’t about the big running numbers at the Gators.

Jamie Newman, Wake Forest

Numbers: After a very relaxed freshman year, Newman started the last 4 games in 2018 and played on additional 2 games during the season. He didn’t put up really good numbers. Under 60% completion, just little over 2/1 TD/INT ratio and just 7,7 yards per passing attempts. In 2019 he came back as starter and played in 12 of the possible 13 games. His numbers were slightly better than previous year, but still not elite.

Opponents: Let’s check only the last four games from 2018. Newman’s first game as a starter was against a ranked team on week 10. In a close game he beat (27-23) the 22nd ranked North Carolina State. After this game he lost against the unranked Pitts (13-34), but closed the season with another two wins against the unranked Duke (59-7) and Memphis (37-34). He closed the 2019 season with a personal record of 7-5. He had only one ranked opponent, on week 10, they played against the 3rd ranked Clemson and lost big way (3-52).

Supporting cast: Teams could dream about bigger names in their supporting cast than what Wake Forrest had in 2018. The top 3 receivers were Greg Dortch (Falcons PS), Sage Surrat and Alex Bachman (Giants), they had combined 167 catches, 2.200 yards and 18 TDs, which is not so bad. The two top running backs were Cade Carney (1.005, 8) and Matt Colburn (775/5). The names were not bigger in 2019 either, but the numbers were. Sage Surrat (1.001/11) made a jump forward, with Kendall Hinton (1.001/4) and Scotty Washington (607/7) on his side. Hinton played for the Broncos in 2020, Washington was on the Bengals roster. The best running back was Jamie Newman (574/6) himself, but Cade Carney (620/5) and Kenneth Walker III (579/4) were close behind.

Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

Numbers: Our only QB on the list who played 4 years in college. After Nick Starkel’s injury Mond became a starter on week 3, but after Starkel was able to come back, Mond fell back on the depth chart. Although he was the starter in the next three seasons. In completion percentage he developed year to year, but couldn’t break through the 65% level. His yards/attempts stayed under 8 yards. At least his TD/INT ratio was over 6 in his senior year, in 2020. He can run and he was using this ability, which shows the 1.600 rushing yards and 22 TDs.

Opponents: In 2017 he was the QB of the Aggies in a five week streak between week 3 and week 7. During this span he had a 4-1 record, the only loss came against the 1st ranked Alabama (19-27), which wasn’t even a huge loss. In 2018 he lost 4 games and won 9. From his 4 losses two were against top ranked teams, on week 2 a close game against the 2nd ranked Clemson (26-28) and on week 4 a bigger loss against the 1st ranked Alabama (23-45). In his 9 wins, was one against the 13th ranked Kentucky (20-14) on week 6 and a brutal game against the 8th ranked LSU (74-72) on week 12. In this LSU game he threw for 287 yards and 6 TDs without an INT. In 2019 he lost only against ranked teams, against top ranked teams. On week 2 against 1st ranked Clemson (10-24), on week 4 against the 8th ranked Auburn (20-28), on week 6 against the 1st ranked Alabama (28-47), on week 11 against the 4th ranked Georgia (13-19) and one week later against the 1st ranked LSU (7-50). 2020 was much better for the Aggies, since they finished as the 5th ranked team and were really close to go into the Playoffs. He lost against the 2nd ranked Alabama (24-52) on week 2, but won against the 4th ranked Florida (41-38) on week 3 and against the 14th ranked North Carolina (41-27) in the Orange Bowl.

Supporting cast: Let’s see who were Mond’s teammates during his tenure at Texas A&M. In 2017 the top receiver was Christian Kirk (2nd round pick of the Cardinals in 2018) who had 919 receiving yards and 10 TDs, the other two notable WRs were Jhamon Ausborn (571/3) and Damion Ratley (694/6) who was a 6th round pick of the Browns in 2018. On the running side played Trayveon Williams (6th round pick of the Bengals in 2019) and Keith Ford (UDFA of the Bills in 2018) who ran for 1.346 yards and 20 TDs. In 2018 Mond had brand new group of top receivers, including Jace Sternberger (3rd round pick of the Packers in 2019) as the go to guy (832/10), Quartney Davis (585/7) and Kendrick Rogers (336/5). At least he had continuity with Trayveon Williams (1.760/18) at runnung back position. One year later Jhamon Ausborn (872/5) was the best in the WR group. The only other receiver who reached the 500 yards was Quartney Davis (616/4). The new star running back was, the freshman, Isaiah Spiller (946/10), on the second place we can find Mond himself (501/8). In 2020 the senior QB had two second year receiver as top targets, Jalen Wydermyer (506/6) and Ainias Smith (564/6). Isaiah Spiller (1.036/9) was once again the team´s best runner and Mond (294/4) was again on the second place.

Short year-to-year comparison

After we saw every individual stats and talked about the opponents and supporting casts for every QBs, let’s take a quick look on their year-to-year comparison.

2017

This is actually easy, we have only Mond who played enough to be able to give us something.

2018

We have a full list of players. Yeah. Welcome everyone in the world of college football. Trey Lance was marvelous with 100% completion rate (do you see now the mistake of the summary spreadsheet?) This year was the year when Trevor Lawrence came in and won the National Cahmpionship. He was the best in yards and passing TDs too.

2019

More to watch, since this was the year were most of our players were in starter position through the whole year (the only exception is Mack Jones). Interesting to see Lawrence running numbers against the others. Only Newman and Lance had more rushing yards and only Field and Lance had more rushing TDs than the young Clemson QB. Mac Jones had the best completion percentage and yards/attempt, but the best TD/INT ratio belongs to Lance. Fields had a monster year, second most passing yards, most passing TD and second fewest INT.

2020

This year was a down year for Trevor Lawrence and for Justin Fields as well, but a very good year for Zack Wilson and Mac Jones. Both guys were over 70% completion, Jones had the most passing yards, Wilson was on the 3rd place. Only this two QBs had a yards/attempt average over 11 yards. Jones threw the second most TDs behind Trask, but had half of Trask´s INT number. Trey Lance played only one game that year and Jamie Newman opted out.

QB ranking

I won’t go with the consensus ranking, because I see things different. So this ranking could be a boom or bust for me. We can come back in 3 years to discuss it. Let’s not forget, how uncertain the outcome of the drafted players is. We saw „generational talents“ became a bust and we saw undervalued players became something special or even the GOAT. Very much depends on the coaching and team where these guys will arrive. I am very happy when a player has high ceiling, but I need some proof that he has more than this. I read it in a PFF article, that players whose biggest positive tool is their ceilings won’t go into the first half of the first round or they could be even second round picks. This is a very good thought. I know in a QB needy league players at this position will be picked earlier than other players, but try to stay realistic. I valued consistency higher than a break out year and I valued success against harder opponents, than success against weaker opponents. So, please:

1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson: For me this is no surprise, but for some people it could be. Lawrence is the dog in the last 3 years, everybody was talking about him as the biggest talent since Andrew Luck and to tell the truth he delivered every year of his college career. He had very good supporting cast, good coaching, so this was a perfect marriage. He is a leader, who has not many weaknesses. He is outside of Pats range, but he is the only one, where I basically wouldn’t mind a big trade up. One thing I have my doubts is, because the team has some holes to fill and therefore we need picks.

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State: Despite the fact, he had a down year too (from numbers side), he still managed to go into the CFB Championship Game with his team. What does it say to me? That he is a leader, who can bring his team through hard games and give every chance to his players to win. He runs better than Lawrence and he had a top 3 completion percentage from this group. Trading up for him into the top10 would be ok.

3. Mac Jones, Alabama: Oh yes, the first biggest surprise. If Jones would have played two seasons as starter he would be my second QB. I don’t buy this „he is not mobile enough“ thing. He is not a double-treath QB, but he has good awerness in the pocket and he is able to avoid the pressure. In his only full year as a starter he led Alabama into the Final and won it, without 3 of the top targets from 2019. For me he is the best match to the Patriots (not named Lawrence). He can go through his reads, he has high football IQ. He didn’t have exceptional supporting cast in 2020 and he has enough arm strength to throw the most deep TDs in the season. I wouldn’t mind a trade up for him into the top10, but as I see now, he could be available at 15.

4. Zack Wilson, BYU: He can make any type of throws, he was very good in 2020 and he likes the Patriots (we saw the picture with the jersey on him), but his schedule wasn’t so hard as for the above mentioned QBs and I see more leading quality in Jones than in Wilson. Picking him at 15 would be ok.

5. Trey Lance, NDSU: As I already wrote, I am not on the Lance hype-train. No way I would trade up for him and maybe the 15th would be high for me as well. I know he had good numbers in 2019 and he can throw the ball very good, but this was on FCS level in a program which one is almost every year in the FCS Championship Game, no matter who the QB is. If there would have been a season for the NDSU and Lance would have showed the same performance as in 2019, I would rank him higher, but not now. He can run very good, but I have my doubts with running QBs (maybe I am too old school).

6. Kyle Trask, Florida: Trask has his own limitations, but I like him. He will stay in the pocket, but he is a Roethlisberger type of a player with his physique. His ceiling is not so high as the others‘, but in the second round he would be worth a try.

7. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M: Mond was quite good in the Senior Bowl, he was the MVP of the Game as well, made a good impression on me. He has the most experience on the field and was able to end his career on college level as the QB of the 5th ranked team. He is inconsistent, but has high ceiling, if the Patriots want to give 1-2 years to the rookie QB to develop, than he could be a good choice in the second day.

8. Jamie Newman, Wake Forest: Actually he wouldn’t be my choice anyway. Rather pick someone else and try to pick another, better QB next year. He was one of the biggest disappointments during the Senior Bowl week and during his Wake Forest time he didn’t show enough. For me he is too much of a project and we already have one on the roster.

That’s it. Thank you for your attention. Please let me know your thoughts, I am always open for other opinions and for a good conversation. At the end of the day I will cheer for any QB the team will pick, no matter where they were on my list (or they were not on my list).

Rookie QBs of 2021 (little different), Part 1

Free agency and Draft are closer every day and we get tons of analyses, opinions about prospects of the coming Draft. Positional rankings, scouting infos, pros and cons. I love to read them, because I want to know as much as I can about the guys who could be the new members of my favourite team. There are some common opinions, let’s say sure things (f.e. the top3 WR in this year’s class, etc), but every time there are trends or statements where I am stopping to read the article and just scratching my head. I tell you two examples of this headscratching moments.

1. During the last days came up the information, that on some draft boards Zack Wilson is the nr.1 QB not Trevor Lawrence. Why is it so interesting to me? Because we have a QB who was the best QB talent since Andrew Luck 3 years long. He won the National Championship game in his freshman year, lost the National Championship game in his sophomore year and got into the CFP Semifinal in his junior year. On the other side there is a rising star, Zack Wilson, who had a break out season in 2020 and led the BYU football team to a 10-1 record. I personally can’t understand why people put him before Lawrence. If it is about the shoulder surgery what he had, sorry but this would be very weak. Is this about some weeknesses what Lawrence has? Everybody has weeknesses. We can read very often about DL or Edge players the expression, „one year wonder“. How often I saw that. There is a very athletic kid, with huge numbers, but analysts and scouting personal describe that guy as a one year wonder and because of this, the player will not be ranked so high or even will not be drafted as high as his 1 year production would let him. I can’t remember I read this expression about Wilson. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t say he is bad, just can’t understand why would you put a one year wonder ahead of a guy who shows his greatness for 3 years.

2. I would call it the „Mac Jones situation“. The kid won the National Championship game with the Alabama this year and had brutal numbers all over the statistics. Despite those things some analysts and scouting personal don’t see him in the first round or most of the people around the business don’t see him in top4 QBs this year. The two most heard reasons are a; he is not mobile, so he can’t throw outside the pocket and/or b; his success is because of his supporting cast. Ok I see. So if you have 3-4 really good guys around you, you can’t be good just because you are good. On the other side I rarely see reports about wide receivers which say „yes the kid has good potential, but be careful he is good only, because a very good QB throws to him“. If a WR has a good year and his next year is not so good, usually we can read, that it is because of the new system, new QB, new something. What? Is it so impossible to see every player through the same lenses? Mac Jones is good because he had Harris, Waddle, Smith, etc. But those guys can succeed, because they had Tua or Jones and great Olines.

I hope you see my points. Because of those headscratching moments of mine, I decided to check on the QB prospects from this year and see what they’ve accomplished during their college time and what kind of supporting casts they had down the road. At the end I will write you my ranking (which won’t be perfect and I could be wrong with high possibility). I will take the consensus top6 QB (Lawrence, Wilson, Fields, Lance, Jones, Trask) plus Jamie Newman and Kellen Mond. The latter two are possible Pats targets, that’s why they are here. I took the data from sports-reference.com.

Carreer summary

I would start with a summary spreadsheet, where we can see a direct comparison of the college years:

What this spreadsheet shows us, is the the sum result of the guys during their tenure at college. There are really interestig details, but please note, that information can mislead us. For example we have only one QB (Lance) with a completion percentage of over 70% and 4 additionally (Lawrence, Wilson, Fields and Trask) over 65%, but in his first year Lance had 1 pass attempt with 1 completion which 100% pulls up his overall result. Or Mac Jones should be in the over 70% group, but his first year completion was only 38,5%. We will have different comparisons down the road, where we can see the details, but let us go on with this one. We have only one QB (Lawrence) over 10.000 passing yards and two (Wilson, Trask) over 7.000 yards. There are only two guys (Lance and Jones) with over 10 yards per passing attempts. The best TD/INT ratio belongs to Lance (we will see the details later), the second best is Mac Jones with 8. Trey Lance can run, but I am not sure if we could call him a dual treath QB, because he had a very low passing yard number. Jamie Newman has the worst stats from this group and Kellen Mond was the only 4 year player. We can clearly see, that Jones and Trask are pocket passers and they won’t run too often with the ball. Actually if you are good in the pocket, you won’t need to run too much. There is proof for this, the name is Tom Brady. I know he is the GOAT, but he doesn’t run either and still he is a top QB.

Detailed stats:

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Numbers: First of all, we got the stats of the wunderkind. Trevor Lawrence is the story of the last 3 years. There was „suck for Trevor“ and many other opinions during the last season or two. He was a three years starter, won the National Championship in his first year and despite a non-throwing shoulder injury in 2020, he could deliver very good numbers and led the team into the Playoffs. His completion percentage was every year better and better and that over 10.000 passing yard is crazy in 40 games. That means he threw more than 250 yards per game in average during his 3 years at Clemson That could be even higher if he would be able to play more games. I am sure he has still room to grow, what makes him an even better prospect. Yes he can run, but he is not the runner QB. With his 90 TDs he is the best of the bunch, although only Kellen Mond played more games than Lawrence. Very impressive.

Opponents: In 2018 Lawrence had some big wins and some very close as well. He won all 15 games in this year, including wins against NC State (16th ranked that time) on week 7, Boston College (17th ranked) on week 10. He beat the 3rd ranked Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl and then the 1st ranked Alabama in the Championship Game. These were four ranked team, but Clemson had to play against Texas A&M (28-26 win), FSU (59-10), Louisville (77-16), South Carolina (56-35) and Pitt (42-10) as well, so the schedule wasn’t very easy, but he won out the season. The season in 2019 started the same way as was in 2018, win win win against everyone. On the second week, Lawrence met with the Texas A&M (12th ranked) and then no ranked team until the ACC Championship Game, where the opponent was the 22nd ranked Virginia, the result was a huge win, 62-17. At Fiesta Bowl came the Justin Fields led, 2nd ranked Ohio State and a close, 29-23, win. They finished the year against the 1st ranked LSU and lost the game against Joe Burrow & co. In 2020 Lawrence and the Clemson had 4 ranked opponents, week 4 against Florida (7th), week 8 Notre Dame (4th), in the ACC Championship Game came Notre Dame (2nd) again. There was only one L during the first 11 weeks, against Notre Dame on week 8, but they had their revenge on week 11 with a 34-10 win. In the Playoffs they lost against 3rd ranked Ohio State. ACC is not an conference, you have to be good, to be the champ, but Lawrence won 37 of his 40 games in college, which is very good.

Supporting cast: Was this success only because of Lawrence, or because of his supporting cast? I believe, you can have the best team mates in the world, if you have no talent they won’t help you win games. This is a two way street, you need a good QB and he needs good supporting cast. So Lawrence had Travis Etienne all the way down and he was brutal (he ran 4.100 yards, when Trevor was his QB), he could be a 1st round draft pick this year. On the receiving end he had Tee Higgins, Hunter Renfrow (5th round pick by the Raiders in 2019), Justyn Ross and Amari Rodgers in 2018. All of the four WR had at least 500 receiving yards each. One year later the core stayed together, Etienne was the leading rusher (and now two time ACC Player of the Year) and there was the receiving trio of Higgins (2nd round pick by Bengals in 2020), Ross and Rodgers. 2020 wasn‘t bad either, since he had Etienne, Amari Rodgers, Cornell Powell. Justyn Ross couldn’t play this year because of injury, but he will be drafted anyway this April. Clemson has to be smart with the successing plan, because they will lose all these guys, so the 2021 season will be fun to watch how Coach Swinney will come through this situation.

Zack Wilson, BYU

Numbers: Are Wilson’s numbers enough to be in the one year wonder category? I know, many people would hate me because of this opinion, but his first two years weren’t very impressive. During the 2020 season he made a huge jump and had some very very impressive numbers. For example his completion percentage is brutal and because of his accuracy his passing yards were more than 50% higher than last year. He had a 11/1 TD/INT ratio and ran 10 TDs. This shows you, that he is able to solve situations with his feet. Scouting personal are very high on his arm strength and his abilty to throw everywhere with good velocity.

Opponents: Wilson wasn’t the starter in his freshman year, but after a 3-3 start he got his chance against the non-ranked Hawaii and won (49-23). He lost twice right after against non-ranked team, Northern Illinois (6-7) and Boise State (16-21), but he could come back with a two win streak against Massachusetts (35-16) and New Mexico State (45-10). His lost against his first ranked opponent (18 th ranked Utah, 27-35), but closed the year with a win against Western Michigan (49-18). In 2019 Wilson had 3 games against ranked teams. He won against the 14th ranked USC (30-27) on week 3, but lost against the 14th ranked Utah (12-30) on week 1 and 22nd ranked Washington (19-45) on week 4. HE missed the next 4 games because of injury, including the win against 14th ranked Boise State (28-25) on week 7, but he was the starter on BYU’s last four games. He lost the last two against San Diego State (3-13) and Hawaii (34-38). In this two games he threw 4 INTs and missed to make any passing TD, at least he ran 2 TDs against Hawaii. He closed his season with 4 wins and 5 losses. In 2020 he started every 12 games and finished with a record of 11-1. He was 1-1 against ranked teams, won against the 21st ranked Boise State (51-17) on week 8 and lost against the 14th ranked Coastal Carolina (17-22) on week 10. At the end of the season they won the Boca Raton Bowl against UCF (49-23). The overall strenght of the opponent wasn’t high, 8 of the 12 teams‘ records were 50% or lower (win/lose).

Supporting cast: Let´s say so, in 2018 you won’t find any bigger name on the list. The best catcher was Matt Bushman, TE (511 yards) and the BYU QBs had Aleva Hifo, Dylan Collie and Talon Shumway as their top targets. The top running backs were Squally Canada (412/5) and Lopini Katoa (423/8). Not really strong. In 2019 the situation wasn’t too good either. Again Matt Bushman (688/4) was the best receiver of the team, followed by Micah Simon (616/2) and Talon Shumway (561/4). On the running side BYU had Lopini Katoa (358/4) and Sione Finau (359/2) plus five other players with at least 2 TDs (not included Wilson). In his only full season as a starter, Wilson had new buddies on the field. Dax Milne (1.188/8), Neil Pau’u (603/4), Gunner Romney (767/2) and Isaac Rex (429/12) were a much better group than the previous two. Isaac Rex was a redshirt freshman TE, who could have a good college career, if he can keep that performance. The other three WRs were all in their Junior year, so no unknown players for Wilson. Tyler Allgeier was the dog in the running back group (1.130/13) and Wilson ran for 254 yards and 10 TDs.

Justin Fields, Georgia/Ohio State

Numbers: Here is the guy, who was the clear cut nr.2 QB until few months ago. He transferred from Georgia to Ohio State, because Jake Fromm was the starter and Fields wanted to get a shot as the first string guy. Ohio State gave it to him and in his last year he led the Buckeyes into the National Championship game, where he lost against Alabama. He took a step back this year compared to his 2019 stats, but still had very good completion percentage and was a reliable runner with the ball. The biggest problem with him was his progression reads were too low. During the last days I read a tweet, where was showed that it wasn’t his fault, but the effect of the option routes, where he should have waited until his receivers made their decisions. He is a better runner than Wilson, but his 2020 season didn’t show so good numbers as Wilson’s.

Opponents: I won’t write about the 2018 season, because Fields rarely saw the field, so I will jump immediately to his first season with the Buckeyes. 2019 was a great year for Fields, the team was hot, their wins were usually with huge margin and not just against non-ranked opponents, but they won against the 25th ranked Michigan State (34-10 on week 6, against the 13th ranked Wisconsin (38-7) on week 8, against the 9th ranked Penn State (28-17) on week 11, against the 10th ranked Michigan (56-27) on week 12, against the 10th ranked Wisconsin (34-21) again in the Big Ten Championship game on week 13. They won 3 in a row against top 10 teams. Unfortunately they lost against the 3rd ranked Clemson (23-29) in the Fiesta Bowl, but the whole year was very nice. In 2020 Ohio State played 6 games less than the previous year, but 5 of those 8 games were against ranked teams. They won all but one, the most important game of the year, the Championship Game against the 1st ranked Alabama (24-52). On week 2 they beat the 18th ranked Penn State (38-25), on week 4 a close win against the 9th ranked Indiana (42-35), on week 6 came the 15th ranked Northwestern (22-10). In the Sugar Bowl the Trevor Lawrence led Clemson was the next opponent to beat and they made it, 49-28 win and the opportunity to play for the biggest win of the year. As you can see, Fields had two hard years at the Ohio State, with a load of ranked opponents.

Supporting cast: In 2019 Fields had K.J. Hill (7th round pick by the Chargers in 2020) and Chris Olave as top tandem at wide receiver position. The two totaled more than 1.740 yards and 22 TDs. After them, he had  Binjimen Victor (573/6), Garrett Wilson (432/5) and Austin Mack (361/3). Victor (Ravens) and Mack (Giants) are both on NFL rosters, Wilson was a freshman this year. As running back he had J.K. Dobbins (2nd round pick by the Ravens in 2020) and Master Teague (as a redshirt freshman). The two running backs totaled almost 2.800 yards on the ground and scored 25 TDs. In 2020 Chris Olave (729/7) and Garrett Wilson (723/6) were Fields‘ top targets. Although Dobbins was already in the NFL, the team got Trey Sermon from Oklahoma as a transfer player, who had better run/yards number than Dobbins had in the previous year. All in all, Fields had a very good back field in both years, but on the receiving end the situation wasn’t so bright. Olave is the best from the group and Hill still could show his potential in the NFL. Garrett Wilson has plenty of time on the college level and he is already taking steps forward each year.

Trey Lance, NDSU

Numbers: For me, he is the most overrated QB in this draft. I know he shows lot of potential and he had a great season in 2019, but he is THE one year wonder of this draft. His 66,9% completion is good and his 0 INT is amazing, additionally the 1.100 rushing yards are rare to be seen from a QB, but the level of competition and his limited experience are red flags for me. In 2018 Easton Stick was the starter, in 2020 the Bison played only one game because of the covid.

Opponents: Outside of the 2019 season there is not to much to talk about. Lance came into a winning program, the Bison won 8 of the last 9 seasons on the FCS level. They won with Carson Wentz, with Easton Stick and they won with Lance. It is hard to write about the opponents in case of a clear favourite in the league. In 12 of the 16 games Lance didn’t cross the 200 passing yard level and twice he didn’t even reach the 100 yards. The only over 300 passing yards games were on week 10 (313 yards) against Western Illinois. Lance was 4 times the best rusher of his team.

Supporting cast: As I mentioned already, the Bison was a running team in 2019 and Lance was thier best runner (1.100/14), but his complementary team was good as well. Ty Brooks (968/5), Adam Cofield (813/12) and Kobe Johnson (660/4) were a very reliable trio. Trey Lance had only 2 wide receivers who reached the 500 receiving yards mark, Christian Watson (732/6) and Phoenix Sproles (541/2). I have to write about the Bison´s TE trio, Ellefson-Babicz-Gindorff, who had 16 TDs combined.

This is the end of the part 1, the second part comes on Friday. I will write about Jones, Trask, Newman and Mond. Will make another (year to year) comparison and you can see my ranking. Hope you enjoyed the first part. In that case please share it and follow me on Twitter or subscribe on my webpage. Thank you for your attention.