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.