Day 2 (Round 2 and 3) Live Grades

33. Cleveland Browns: Austin Corbett, G, Nevada

Grade: B-

I love adding to the offensive line and Corbett was a fast riser in the process leading up to the draft. However, Will Hernandez was still on the board, so I have to question the move a bit. I’m expecting a running back next for the Browns.

 

34. New York Giants: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

Grade: A

Fantastic. A road grader to open big-time holes for Saquon Barkley. Gettleman has a solid draft plan to this point and I’m quite impressed. I always had Hernandez in the first round, so this is excellent value. He’s no slouch in pass protection either.

 

35: Cleveland Browns: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Grade: B

There’s that running back, and this is a fine value for the player at this spot. The Browns apparently loved Rashaad Penny, so they’re clearly trying to build a power running game. Chubb was better earlier in his college career, but a knee injury ultimately cost him a lot of his burst. We’ll see if he can regain that in his pro career. Right position, but I would have expected Guice here, who I think is a better value.

 

36: Indianapolis Colts: Darius Leonard, LB, SC State

Grade: B-

I’ve heard some seriously good things about this player, and he could develop brilliantly, but it’s strange that the Colts passed on some of the players that are inexplicably sliding. Linebacker was undoubtedly a need.

 

37. Indianapolis Colts: Braden Smith, G, Auburn

Grade: A-

Wow, the Colts are very serious about building a pocket for Luck to step into. Smith fits the range here, though he has limitations in his game that could cause him to struggle with the best pass rushers. I like the idea of doubling up on interior lineman in this very strong class.

 

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

Grade: B-

I’m cool with this pick, though I like Guice a little better as a player. This was certainly a position of need, but I think the Bucs really overlooked an opportunity to improve their awful secondary by taking a player like Justin Reid or Josh Jackson here.

 

39. Chicago Bears: James Daniels, C, Iowa

Grade: A

I’ve been critical of Ryan Pace’s drafts and free agency management in the past, but I love the offseason he’s putting together and Daniels here is a steal. Certainly the best interior lineman available and was a borderline first rounder. Heck of a draft so far and an upgrade at C that allows Cody Whitehair to kick out to guard, where he looks much better as a player.

 

40. Denver Broncos: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Grade: A

I love the Broncos being proactive with refueling their secondary, and giving Case Keenum another big bodied, highly talented target. Sutton was a first round talent, so this is a steal. The Broncos have needs elsewhere, but this was definitely also a need, so I have no problem at all with it. Great pick.

 

41. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, BC

Grade: A

Regardless of Vince Young’s absolute botching of the pick (Shazier did better), Landry is an excellent choice, as I had him going to the Titans in the first round. Well worth the trade up. This guy is one year removed from a 16.5 sack season, and his drop in production for 2017 could be due to lingering injuries. He’s an outstanding talent here in the second.

 

42: Miami Dolphins: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

Grade: B-

Gesicki was not the best tight end available, that honor belongs to Dallas Goedert, who inexplicably still hasn’t gone. Gesicki is, however, an athlete on the level of Evan Engram from last year’s draft. We’ll see if he has the same type of production as a rookie, but I like this pick pretty well regardless. Gesicki’s also not much of a blocker, so the Dolphins can’t keep him on the field for every down.

 

43. Detroit Lions: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

Grade: C+

Kerryon Johnson is a fine player, and at a huge need position, but the Lions had a chance to grab Derrius Guice here, which would have been a massive steal. Strange choice.

 

44. San Francisco 49ers: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

Grade: C

Yikes. I like Pettis, but Anthony Miller and Christian Kirk are still on the board and both are better values here. This is even worse because they traded up. Do not like this pick much.

 

45. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

Grade: A+

This is the first major steal of the draft. Jackson is a one year starter at Iowa, but in that one year he had eight interceptions and caused an opposing QB rating lower than if all QBs had thrown at the dirt instead of him on every play. Another player that had one year starting from last year’s draft? Marshon Lattimore. Jackson is a stud, and the Packers were very smart to double up on corner. By the way, I had the Packers taking Jackson in the first round, so obviously I love the value.

 

46. Kansas City Chiefs: Breeland Speaks, OLB, Ole Miss

Grade: C

This dude is a tweener and those guys tend to struggle at the next level. He has some serious talent, but there is just as serious a question mark for where he fits in this, or any, NFL defense.

 

47. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Grade: A+

This is the second major steal of the draft. I love what Kirk brings as a runner after the catch and he brings a dynamic element to this Cardinals offense that it’s been lacking. He’s also a capable player in kick and punt returns. He was a first round talent, so I love the value.

 

48. Los Angeles Chargers: Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC

Grade: B-

I understand this pick more than I like it. Linebacker was a huge need, but this is a bit of  a reach. Nwosu struggles in pass coverage, which limits his ceiling as a pro. The Chargers were kind of bullied into this pick by the board, but should have waited and taken a better prospect here, maybe an O-lineman

 

49. Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

Grade: A+

This is probably the biggest steal of the draft so far. The Eagles jumped ahead of the Cowboys to steal a tight end that has fallen way too far. Witten just retired, so Goedert would have made sense for them. The Eagles had bigger needs, but Goedert was too good to pass up.

 

50. Dallas Cowboys: Connor Williams, G/T, Texas

Grade: A

Williams has all the potential to develop into a stalwart. His 2017 tape is rough, but his 2016 was that of a future all-pro at the position. Excellent value here, and tackle was a big area of need for the Cowboys. Love it.

 

51. Chicago Bears: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

Grade: A

Ryan Pace’s coming out party continues with another outstanding addition to a fully revamped receiving core. The commitment to surrounding Trubisky with talent is clear and this draft has already made the Bears significantly better. That’s the job, and Pace is doing it like a master.

 

52. Indianapolis Colts: Kemoko Turay, DE/OLB, Rutgers

Grade: B

This is a slight reach at a position of need, so I understand it. I like Turay as a prospect, but think he fits better in a 3-4, which the Colts are moving away from under new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Turay has the potential to be a sack specialist, which would be welcome in Indy, so I’m totally fine with this pick overall.

 

53. Tampa Bay Bucanneers: MJ Stewart, CB, North Carolina

Grade: B

He’s a first round talent with off-the-field issues. Hardly the sure thing the Bucs needed in the secondary. He could work out, but he could also flame out, so I don’t love it despite the solid player at the position of need.

 

54. Cincinnati Bengals: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest

Grade: A

This is a true center fielding safety, and a great replacement for Reggie Nelson (though 1 season late). I like Bates a lot and expect him to start immediately. Obviously, that’s great value in the second round.

 

55. Carolina Panthers: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

Grade: A

Great value for this speed demon of a corner. His game is a bit unrefined, but his potential is through the roof, and he’s more polished than Jalen Collins was a few years ago. This was a position of need after the departure of Daryl Worley.

 

56. New England Patriots: Duke Dawson, CB, Florida

Grade: C-

There are many better corners still available in this draft, and Dawson is considered a borderline third round pick. I’m sure he’ll work for the Patriots because they’re the Patriots, but this is early for a physical intimidator in the slot without significant playmaking ability.

 

57. Oakland Raiders: PJ Hall, DT, Sam Houston State

Grade: B+

I’m big into this player, who’s a small school gem with pass rush ability from the interior of the defensive line. That’s a rare breed, so the pick makes sense, but this might be like 10 picks too early, so it’s not a slam dunk for me. This was a big time area of need though.

 

58. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Oliver, CB, West Virginia

Grade: A

Wow, great pick. Oliver was definitely a first round talent, though he has scheme limitations due to his struggles in zone coverage. For the Falcons, he’s excellent depth and might be a starter this year. Not at all shabby in round 2.

 

59. Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

Grade: A

This is a big-time steal for a team that desperately needed more talent at the position. Wonderful pick, and far too long of a tumble for Guice. Guice does everything well, and he’s a seriously feisty runner.

 

60. Pittsburgh Steelers: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Grade: B-

This makes too much sense as a replacement for Martavis Bryant, but the Steelers still have some big-time holes on their roster, and I view Washington as a third round prospect. This is a great situation for him to come to, so he might maximize his value, much like Juju Smith-Schuster did last year.

 

61. Jacksonville Jaguars: DJ Chark, WR, LSU

Grade: A

To me, Chark is a first round talent, and he showed it by destroying the competition at the Senior Bowl. He’s a burner, but he’s more than that with great hands and natural route running. This is an outstanding selection for the Jags and fills one of their few remaining needs as a redzone threat with his size.

 

62. Minnesota Vikings: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

Grade: A-

This feels like a perfect fit for the range, and I love the idea of the Vikings bolstering their oline. O’Neill is also extremely athletic, so his upside is tremendous. This isn’t a steal, so it gets marked down a half grade. Make no mistake though, this pick is excellent.

 

63. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Grade: A+

The MJ Stewart pick makes more sense now, and Davis is a big-time steal here. He’s a borderline first round talent, and we’re nearing the end of the second round. Heck of a player, at a position which was their biggest need going into the draft.

 

64. Indianapolis Colts: Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State

Grade: C-

Wow, this isn’t Sam Hubbard? That’s pretty shocking. Lewis is the slightly inferior prospect and there are much better ends available. Lewis flashes ability, but has little upside.

 

Gone to see Avengers: Infinity War. I will return.

Draft Night Eve Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Josh Allen

In no way do I agree with this pick. If I were GM of the Browns, Allen would not be on my draft board at all. I am of the camp that believe accuracy is innate, and Allen is not accurate. His career completion percentage in college, against Mountain West competition primarily, hovers around 56%.

I understand how scouts and executives can fall in love with Allen’s rocket arm, demeanor, and ideal quarterback size. I don’t understand how they could overlook such poor tape as Allen put up in 2017. The fact, though, is that Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plains Dealer indicated Allen would be the pick. I trust that source, and Allen has been in the running since the Senior Bowl anyway.

 

2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Saquon Barkley

To me, this is GM Dave Gettleman’s mark on this team. Jonathan Stewart is not the answer and he knows that. He knew he was in optimal position to come away with as good a running back as one could hope to find at the college level. Barkley doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses as a prospect, and his combine numbers are absolutely insane. The Giants need help on the offensive line, but Barkley should be able to help mask those weaknesses.

 

3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Sam Darnold

The Jets love Baker Mayfield, but I’m sure they never imagined Darnold would be available. He has less question marks to his game than Mayfield and represents the lowest risk in the draft. The Jets take the layup here, and are ecstatic about it.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Bradley Chubb

Chubb is a premium player at a premium position, easily the best available at this spot. Everyone seems to forget that Emmanuel Ogbah is a pretty solid option opposite Myles Garrett, but Chubb’s value here makes too much sense, as does bolstering a strength position which could help improve the defense as a whole.

 

5. TRADE Arizona Cardinals: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (Broncos receive Cardinals 2018 1st, 2nd (40), 3rd (71), 2019 2nd, 5th)

Rose Bowl Game - Oklahoma v Georgia

PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners throws a pass during the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal Game against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Cardinals covet Mayfield more than any QB in this draft, make no mistake, and the trade makes sense for a team that can afford to let Mayfield learn at his own pace and take over the franchise whenever he’s ready. As for the Broncos, they also like Mayfield a lot, but the value of the trade is too good to pass up, and the middle of the first round is an excellent value spot in this draft.

 

6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Quenton Nelson

While Nelson might be the most impressive and safest prospect in this class, he plays guard so I don’t see a way he makes it into the top 5 where he belongs. A dominator on the interior of the line, with the nasty demeanor, incredible play strength and technical proficiency of an NFL veteran, Nelson should line up next to Ryan Kelly and give Andrew Luck a clean pocket to step into for the first time in his career.

 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (29) during the NCAA college football game against the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 in Atlanta. (Ric Tapia via AP)

The Buccaneers have a plethora of needs, a big reason they’re picking in the top 10, but secondary may just be their most dire, with 35-year-old Brent Grimes once again grading out as their best corner. 2016 1st rounder Vernon Hargreaves took a step back last season and there’s no guarantee he’ll improve going forward, and the Bucs safety position has been a black hole for years. Fitzpatrick will fit somewhere and brings the kind of talent they haven’t seen since Aqib Talib.

 

8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Denzel Ward

This is a fit between player and team that I’ve liked since very early in the process. Ward is the best corner in the draft, with the kind of mirroring skills that define the top corners in the NFL. He’s a perfect long-term running mate for Kyle Fuller and should help mask some of the deficiencies on a talented-yet-incomplete Bears defense.

 

9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Roquan Smith

Word is, the 49ers view Roquan Smith as a player that can replace Reuben Foster if the allegations against him prove true. Even if they’re proven false, he would be a perfect complement to Foster as an adept pass coverage specialist where Foster is an instinctive penetrator in the run game. This pick just makes sense.

 

10. Oakland Raiders: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Tremaine Edmunds

Edmunds is the type of dynamic athlete that the Raiders seem to favor in their defensive rebuild, and could grow into a player that’s far and away the best player at the second level of their defense in the last decade. At worst, he’ll be pretty good, and that’s better than what they had last year.

 

11. Miami Dolphins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

NCAA Football: Washington State at Washington

Nov 25, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies defensive lineman Vita Vea (50) pressures Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) during the second quarter at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Ndamokung Suh is gone, and the Dolphins have to be ecstatic to find such an imposing presence to replace him on a rookie salary. Vea has all the potential to become a top 5 defensive tackle in this league with his unique blend of size, speed and pass rush ability.

 

12. Buffalo Bills: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

NCAA Football: California at UCLA

Nov 24, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) throws a pass under pressure from California Golden Bears guard Tony Mekari (97) in the second quarter during an NCAA football game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rosen is widely considered the most polished passer and pro ready QB in this draft. His medical causes him a tumble, as do questions about his leadership and love for the game, but I can’t think of a better landing spot

 

13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Da'Ron Payne

A perfect running mate for last year’s pick Jonathan Allen, Payne brings an imposing force to the middle of the Redskins defensive line, as a run-stopper with attitude. He has the potential to develop as a pass rusher after an impressive showing in the college football playoffs.

 

14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

Josh Jackson

Jackson brings something the Packers secondary distinctly lacks, playmaking ability. With eight interceptions in his one season as a starter in college, and boasting ideal size for a press man corner, Jackson can be the retcon for the Packers biggest mistake of the last 5 years: letting Casey Hayward walk in free agency.

 

15. Denver Broncos: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Mike McGlinchey

With years of impressive tape, NFL bloodlines, a polished game and ideal size, McGlinchey is the top tackle in a weak class for the position. The Broncos need a replacement for the departed Russel Okung, and (more accurately) Ryan Clady. Case Keenum should be given every opportunity to succeed on a relatively cheap contract for the next couple of years and McGlinchey is a good step in that direction.

 

16. Baltimore Ravens: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan

Sep 24, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes on Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (73) in the second half at Michigan Stadium. Michigan 49-10. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the Ravens have Brandon Williams, and need help on the offensive line, but Pro Football Focus grades Hurst as the third best player in the draft, and while some teams have downgraded him for various reasons, his game compares favorably to Aaron Donald. The Ravens will not pass up on such staggering value at this stage.

 

17. TRADE Dallas Cowboys: Derwin James, S, Florida State (Chargers receive 2018 1st, 3rd (81))

Derwin James

In the wake of injury and a slightly less impressive 2017 season, coupled with the dwindling value on safeties at the NFL level that I’ve outlined in previous mocks, I think James is the most logical player to tumble. He is, however, a top ten talent in this draft at a position of dire need for the Cowboys after allowing Barry Church to walk in free agency last offseason and the talk of Byron Jones converting back to corner. The Chargers move down makes sense as most evaluators agree that the strength of value in this draft is on day 2.

 

18. Seattle Seahawks: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

Will Hernandez

A big, athletic mauler, Hernandez is exactly the type of player that can help the Seahawks convert back to the power running scheme that worked so well for them between 2012 and 14.

 

19. TRADE New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA (Chargers receive S Vonn Bell, 2019 2nd)

Marcus Davenport

To bolster one of the few weak spots on the roster, the Saints unload a promising young player at a position where they paid Kurt Coleman starter money to play alongside Marcus Williams. Vonn Bell is a fantastic addition for the Chargers and should thrive in a role that should include more man-to-man coverage opportunities in an aggressive defensive scheme. Davenport is the perfect complement to Cam Jordan as an ultra-athletic, big bodied edge player and fits the type of player the Saints covet at the position. There is a big dropoff in talent at the position after the first round, so the Saints felt the need to be aggressive here and get their man.

 

20. Detroit Lions: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Leighton Vander Esch

2017 first rounder Jarrad Davis needs a running mate, and Davenport is off the board, so Vander Esch perfectly fits a need with the best player available. In two years, the Lions turn a position of extreme weakness to one of strength.

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

Frank Ragnow

Ragnow has been compared to Max Unger, the Bengals need that type of player desperately as their talented offensive line from the early 2010’s has been completely gutted through free agency.

 

22. Buffalo Bills: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland

DJ Moore

Moore is a physical intimidator that can add an edge to a receiving corps that seriously lacks intensity (not to mention talent). Pairing Rosen with Moore should bring noticeable added points per game to this Bills offense.

 

23. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

Mike Hughes

Hughes is a complete corner, and an excellent replacement for the departed Malcom Butler. The Patriots have plenty of needs, but Hughes maintains one of their biggest strengths, boasting one of the most impressive secondaries in the NFL.

 

24. Carolina Panthers: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

Harold Landry

Some evaluators suggest ignoring Landry’s injury-riddled 2017 campaign, and focus on a seriously impressive 12 sack season in 2016. I don’t believe in ignoring entire years, but I do believe in anomalies, and I think the upside for Landry causes the Panthers to jump on a potential outstanding pass rusher to pair with Mario Addison.

 

25. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

Sam Hubbard

With NFL veteran hand usage, and ideal edge setting size, Hubbard makes a ton of sense opposite Brian Orakpo for a team that believes it’s on the cusp of a deep playoff run.

 

26. TRADE Pittsburgh Steelers: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (Falcons receive Steelers 2018 1st, 3rd (92))

Lamar Jackson

Jackson is a player that needs time with NFL coaches to tap his enormous potential, and the Steelers give him an ideal opportunity. The Falcons aren’t in ideal position for their needs, so a move down the board makes sense, as does the Steelers jumping the Chargers who might have pounced on the tumbling Jackson.

 

27. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

AllState Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Alabama

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Rashaan Evans #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide breaks up a pass intended for Hunter Renfrow #13 of the Clemson Tigers in the first quarter of the AllState Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

A player of Evans caliber is an excellent find at a position of dire need (where Hayes Pullard is their starter), and it’s even better with all the draft capitol and players the Chargers have picked up as they slid down the board. Evans is just scratching the surface as a player, and has the downhill motor that makes sense in the speedy, aggressive Chargers defense.

 

28. TRADE Denver Broncos: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State (Falcons receive 2018 2nd (40), 3rd (99), 2019 6th)

Mason Rudolph

The Broncos see extreme value in the fifth year option for a player that has ideal size and excellent college production to go with solid intangibles. Rudolph has more upside than Case Keenum, so it makes sense to snag him here, but I don’t love how much they had to give up to do it since they have numerous positional needs. The Falcons don’t love the players they’ve found available in the late first round and stockpile for better value. They can afford to, with a highly talented roster across the board that needs depth.

 

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

courtland sutton

An ideal replacement to the departed Allen Robinson, and a much-needed redzone threat for a team that will likely become too predictable trying to cram it up the middle with Leonard Fournette.

 

30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State

Billy Price

After a pectoral injury at the combine, Price tumbles a bit, and the Vikings aren’t complaining as they go back to the Ohio State well they plumbed so effectively last year with excellent rookie Pat Elflein. Price has familiarity with the aforementioned Elflein, which should only help solidify an offensive line that was one of the few weaknesses on a hugely talented roster.

 

31. New England Patriots: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Calvin Ridley

After a weak-ish combine, Ridley has tumbled quite a bit, but he is widely considered the best route runner in this draft and represents outstanding value as a perfect fit for Josh McDaniels’ system.

 

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Connor Williams, T/G, Texas

Connor Williams 1

Much like Landry, Williams drops because of a disappointing 2017 season, unlike Landry, Williams is being selected as the final pick in the first round and won’t be asked to start right away. This is the perfect spot for the Eagles to take a risk that could pay off brilliantly as Williams has all the potential to be the perfect bookend for Lane Johnson.

 

Scouting Report: Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold, USC

6’4 225 lbs

Tape Viewed: 2016 v. Cal, 2017 v. Washington State, 2017 v. Ohio State

 

OVERVIEW

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California

Make no mistake, Sam Darnold is a very good quarterback prospect coming out of USC, despite a fall-off in production and some very poor tape at times in 2017.

What sets Darnold apart from most is his willingness and ability to consistently try to place balls in the tightest of windows. He throws his receivers open, and threads the needle with the best of them. While this is an ideal mindset for a franchise quarterback, it has led to a significant uptick in turnovers in 2017. To take his game to an elite level, he must learn situational aggressiveness and read the field better from the pocket.

While Darnold is outstanding in much of the macro elements of playing quarterback, the devil is often in the details. He needs serious help on his footwork and windup. The long windup in particular directly led to a strip sack against Cal in 2016. There have been incremental improvements in both areas this past season, but he also stands to improve in manipulating the defense with his eyes, more subtle pocket movement, and identifying blitzes and hot routes.

Essentially, Darnold is a college quarterback. He’s raw, and will need time to develop before potentially becoming an above average NFL starter. It’s hard to envision Darnold becoming a top 5 quarterback at the next level, but he could turn in a decade’s worth of competent signal calling and, in the right situation, win a ring or two.

 

PASSING

Accuracy: 12 out of 15

When he misses, Darnold tends to miss high, regardless of where he is throwing on the field. That is mainly due to his below average footwork, clean that up, and he has the arm talent to make every throw on the field.

 

Power: 4 out of 5

While Darnold’s power is competent to make NFL throws and hit on deep balls, his velocity is not blistering, and he might struggle in the NFL trying to get the ball downfield beyond 45 yards.

 

On the run: 5 out of 5

Darnold is a natural passer on the run, this points to his outstanding arm talent. He can drive it in the tightest windows when on the run, as his footwork doesn’t get in the way. He’s also clearly more comfortable outside the pocket.

 

Consistency: 8 out of 10

Usually, what you see is what you get with Darnold, and that’s a healthy dose of good and bad. He’s got all of the passing prowess in the world, but struggles to manipulate defenses and can sometimes press and make bad decisions. Against better defenses, he tends to play a little worse, which is nothing out of the ordinary.

 

Field General: 16 out of 20

While Darnold shows flashes of ability in this area, it’s definitely not at an elite level. He’s ahead of spread offenses, or one read and runs, but it’s clear that he sometimes doesn’t see the field and locks in on his first read, as evidenced by the pick six he threw in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl against Ohio State.

 

Athleticism: 3 out of 5

Darnold will never be considered a plus athlete and likely won’t run many (if any) designed runs at the next level, but when asked of him, he runs with authority and determination and has decent enough balance.

 

Pocket awareness: 9 out of 10

Clearly, he has that innate sense of pressure, and makes adjustments, my main gripe is in the nuance, sometimes he runs himself out of trouble to get himself in more trouble. He’ll need to learn how to use micro-movements like side steps and shoulder turns to throw off defenders in the pocket or he’ll make some bad plays worse at the next level.

 

Poise: 8 out of 10

As referenced before, Darnold seems to be very comfortable when a play breaks down, and actually seems to thrive when throwing off-platform. The main concern is his ability to diagnose the blitz presnap, identify the hot read or adjust protection accordingly.

 

Clutch: 4 out of 5

Anyone who watched the Rose Bowl in 2016 against Penn State knows what Darnold is all about. The guy is a gamer and often takes his game to the next level under the brightest lights and in the biggest moments. There are some high profile letdowns on tape in crunch-time however. The entirety of the Ohio State and Notre Dame games, as well as the game-losing strip sack against Washington State spring to mind.

 

Size: 5 out of 5

Darnold looks rock solid as a player, with the ideal frame for a quarterback.

 

Reliability: 10 out of 10

No off-field issues to speak of, seems to genuinely love football, and hasn’t missed a game to injury yet in his career. He will be available on Sundays should his team need him.

 

Total Prospect Rating: 84 out of 100

 

Pro Comparison: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions

Sam Darnold

The more I watched of Darnold’s tape, the more I saw the pure grit and determination that exemplifies Stafford’s game. While not considered consistently among the elite, Stafford’s arm talent is second to none, and Darnold has similar ability. Like Stafford, Darnold has all the intangibles one could hope for from a franchise quarterback, but both are also prone to bone-headed mistakes when trying to rally their teams.

Mock Draft 1.0

  1. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

6′ 233 lbs

Saquon Barkley

It’s time for the Browns to add a dynamic athlete to the backfield, one that teams will be forced to gameplan against, regardless if it’s Tyrod Taylor, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield or some other quarterback taking snaps. Barkley has a similar all-around skillset to Ezekiel Elliott, who brought an entirely different dimension to the Cowboys two years ago. Barkley will not make it to the Browns next pick, so jumping on him here makes the most sense in a draft where there is no consensus top player.

Team Needs:

  • Running back
  • Safety
  • Cornerback
  • Linebacker
  • Quarterback
  1. New York Giants: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

6’5 329 lbs.

Quenton Nelson

Do I think the Giants will be this intelligent? Not necessarily, but new GM David Gettleman is known to build a running game first, as opposed to Jerry Reese who built a running game never. The word out of New York is that Eli will remain the quarterback this year which, while a mistake, eliminates the likelihood of a player like Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen here.

Nelson himself is an outstanding prospect, perhaps the best guard prospect I’ve ever seen. Watching his tape, it just looks easy for him, and I can’t point out a single flaw in his game. He’s a technician, has ideal size, and outstanding athleticism. He’s just as good in pass-blocking as run-blocking. Putting Nelson on this line will immediately improve a mediocre Giants offense and it is the right move. Will Gettleman make the right move? I’m betting on it, albeit accidentally.

Team Needs:

  • Offensive Tackle
  • Offensive Guard
  • Quarterback
  • Linebacker
  • Cornerback
  1. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

6’4 269 lbs

Bradley Chubb

The way people are talking about Chubb, he reminds me of when Khalil Mack came out a few years ago. If that’s the kind of player he is, the Colts should jump on him immediately regardless of greater needs on the offensive line. It’s likely that Nelson would be the pick here if he were available, but Chubb is arguably the best defensive player in the draft and fits the MO of second year GM Chris Ballard.

Team Needs:

  • Offensive Tackle
  • Offensive Guard
  • Wide Receiver
  • Defensive End
  • Cornerback
  1. Cleveland Browns from Houston Texans: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

5’10 191 lbs.

Denzel Ward

Denzel Ward is the top corner available after he blazed a 4.32 at the combine and already had outstanding tape. He reminds me of Chris Harris and that type of impact could mean the world for a Browns defense loaded with talent and on the cusp of contention.

I view Minkah Fitzpatrick as more of a safety, and I’ve noticed a decline in the market of safeties in both free agency and the draft in recent years (Jamal Adams notwithstanding) so I would be extremely surprised if Fitzpatrick or James were the pick here, even with their outstanding potential.

Team Needs:

  • Running back
  • Safety
  • Cornerback
  • Linebacker
  • Quarterback
  1. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

6’5 233 lbs.

Josh Allen

This is a case where fit trumps who’s actually on the board at this point. Josh Allen is not the best QB in this class, and he may not be the fifth best, but John Elway has been trying to draft himself for years. To me, this is just another at-bat.

Allen has serious potential, an outstanding arm, and moxie to compete against higher competition which he displayed in the senior bowl. Case Keenum is a nice bridge quarterback, but the Broncos would be smart to start developing a future starter.

Team Needs:

  • Quarterback
  • Tight End
  • Runningback
  • Defensive Tackle
  • Cornerback
  1. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

6’3 220 lbs.

Sam Darnold

Here’s another team with a massive need at the game’s most valuable position even after resigning Josh McCown. Darnold has the potential to be a solid starter at the next level, which would be a massive upgrade at the postion for a Jets team mired in mediocrity for years. More importantly, Darnold can be a symbol of hope for a success-starved fanbase and a catalyst for a team that should continue to play hard for its coach.

Team Needs:

  • Quarterback
  • Cornerback
  • Running back
  • Wide Receiver
  • Defensive End
  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

6’6 265 lbs.

Marcus Davenport

The Bucanneers really need a running back, as I don’t buy Peyton Barber as a starter, but their defense was so disappointingly poor last year, that the opportunity of adding a dynamic athlete like Davenport to an already promising pass rush featuring Noah Spence and Robert Ayers can’t be passed up. Davenport is the best player at a position of need, and may be the best available player period at this juncture.

Team Needs:

  • Running back
  • Defensive End
  • Safety
  • Cornerback
  • Offensive Tackle
  1. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

6’0 189 lbs.

Calvin Ridley

The Bears also have serious deficiencies at each level of their defense, despite a bevy of promising young playmakers on that side of the ball. What they really need is to support the growth of their young quarterback by providing him with NFL-level talent to throw to. Even after signing Allen Robinson, they could still use more talent. Forget the combine, Calvin Ridley is a polished route runner with great hands and adequate NFL speed. He’s exactly the kind of quarterback friendly target Trubisky needs, and reminds me a lot of Michael Crabtree, who was integral to Derek Carr’s development.

Team Needs:

  • Defensive End
  • Cornerback
  • Linebacker
  • Wide Receiver
  • Tight End
  1. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia

6’5 250 lbs.

Tremaine Edmunds

Wow, the word from this kid is wow. 19 years old. 6’5 250 lbs, with the ability to excel in both pass coverage and run defense. The sky really is the limit for this kid, though having said that, he may not look brilliant on the field in his first year and whoever drafts him is drafting him on talent and potential and will have to be patient. The 49ers have a serious problem on their hands in the middle of the defense if Reuben Foster can’t get out of his own way with his off-the-field problems. Edmunds can be a worthy insurance policy if it doesn’t work out with Foster, and form an awesome tandem with him if it does.

Team Needs:

  • Wide receiver
  • Linebacker
  • Cornerback
  • Defensive End
  • Offensive Tackle
  1. Oakland Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

6’8 312 lbs.

Mike McGlinchey

This pick is based on the idea that the Raiders never value their need at linebacker as highly as they should (although it is dire). I believe the weakness of that offensive line has always lied on the right side, where a move like this will allow them flexibility to move around their assets. Donald Penn may not be the option at left tackle he once was, but this could be a perfect transition whenever McGlinchey and Penn are ready to switch spots. As for McGlinchey himself, playing next to Kelechi Osemele should mask nearly all of his minor issues.

Team Needs:

  • Linebacker
  • Wide receiver
  • Defensive tackle
  • Cornerback
  • Right tackle
  1. Miami Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

6’4 226 lbs.

NCAA Football: California at UCLA

Do I think Rosen lasts this long? Maybe. I definitely think two of the top four should survive the top ten, whoever they are. This isn’t a premium QB class by any stretch, although I do expect the usual trading frenzy to affect the top half of this first round. Because this is a non-trading mock draft, we’ll stick with the current order and in this scenario, I think the Dolphins jump at the chance to reset their quarterback position with a promising (and more pro-ready than Ryan Tannehill is now) talent in Josh Rosen.

Team Needs:

  • Quarterback
  • Right tackle
  • Linebacker
  • Tight End
  • Running back
  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

6’0 230 lbs.

Roquan Smith

Smith could fall, due to the medical red flag that popped up during the combine. We don’t have extensive details on the issue, but a similar injury (paired with concerns about his ability to diagnose offenses) caused Reuben Foster to fall last year. I view Roquan Smith as perhaps the surest thing in the draft not named Quenton Nelson, and worthy of a top 5 pick if fully healthy. I’m splitting the difference here, and the Bengals would be ecstatic to add a playmaker of his caliber after getting by with journeymen like Emmanuel Lamur and Vincent Rey in recent years.

Team Needs:

  • Tight End
  • Left tackle
  • Right Tackle
  • Left Guard
  • Linebacker
  1. Washington Redskins: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

6’3 218 lbs.

courtland sutton

The Redskins swung and missed bringing Terrele Pryor in to help compensate for the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. They need to keep swinging, because Alex Smith has virtually no one to throw to right now. I’m honestly quite surprised about the lack of excitement surrounding Courtland Sutton. His height weight speed combination is ideal and he was highly productive in college. There are questions about his ability to separate, but I think an accurate thrower like Alex Smith is just what Sutton needs to maximize his potential early in his career.

Team Needs:

  • Wide receive
  • Offensive line
  • Linebacker
  • Safety
  • Cornerback
  1. Green Bay Packers: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

5’10 189 lbs.

Mike Hughes.jpg

Even before the Packers dealt Damarious Randall to the Browns, this move made a ton of sense. This is an opportunity to infuse a stale as day-old-pizza secondary with some young playmaking talent for new GM Brian Gutekunst. Hughes was a big reason why UCF was able to complete an undefeated season last year. He’s an ascending player that should only get better with NFL coaching and already has all the athletic gifts one could want in a corner.

Team Needs:

  • Pass rusher
  • Center
  • Tight End
  • Cornerback
  • Safety
  1. Arizona Cardinals: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

6’1 215 lbs.

Rose Bowl Game - Oklahoma v Georgia

I think Mayfield has all the potential to be the best in this class. He reminds me a bit of Sam Bradford (who incidentally just signed a one-year deal here) coming out with his outstanding completion percentage and the fact that they’re both from Oklahoma. Mayfield has the added bonus of not being made of glass and having plus athleticism to boot. Forget his height, and forget the long list of quarterbacks that haven’t made it at 6 foot and under, Mayfield, like Brees, Wilson, Doug Flutie and Fran Tarkenton before him, is the exception to the rule.

Team Needs:

  • Quarterback
  • Offensive tackle
  • Wide Receiver
  • Linebacker
  • Safety
  1. Baltimore Ravens: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

5’10 200 lbs.

Christian Kirk

I love me a true polished route runner. You can see just how much a player like that can transcend an offense by looking no further than Adam Thielen in Minnesota. Kirk has that kind of ability, though I think he compares a bit more to Jarvis Landry. He’s what Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense has been missing for years.

Team Needs:

  • Wide Receiver
  • Right tackle
  • Offensive guard
  • Linebacker
  • Cornerback
  1. Los Angeles Chargers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

6’1 215 lbs.

Minkah Fitzpatrick

If you’re curious why Minkah Fitzpatrick would fall this far, you’re right to be because he probably won’t. I’ve explained earlier that I believe the safety position is being devalued, and Fitzpatrick has very little game experience as a corner. Some team will fall in love with his potential and combine numbers, and he’ll probably end up with a team in some kind of trading scenario. With no trades and as the board falls, I couldn’t find a place where fit met need until here with the Chargers. Fitzpatrick, if he does make it this far, could transcend a defense that’s already threatening to be one of the most exciting units in the NFL headlined by the pass-rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

Team Needs:

  • Right tackle
  • Center
  • Linebacker
  • Safety
  • Defensive tackle
  1. Seattle Seahawks: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

6’1 192 lbs.

Josh Jackson

After jettisoning Richard Sherman (finally), and with the secondary rebuild already begun last season, pairing the ultra-athletic Shaq Griffin with a true ball-hawk like Jackson would be a coup. The Seahawks will need to find some answers at safety as the Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor connection seems destined to be broken, but with this pick, they will complete an impressive two year reset at one of the game’s most important positions.

Team Needs:

  • Tight end
  • Right tackle
  • Guard
  • Defensive end
  • Cornerback
  1. Dallas Cowboys: Derwin James, S, Florida State

6’3 215 lbs.

Derwin James

The Cowboys haven’t had an elite athlete at the safety spot since Darren Woodson, and it’s time to remedy that situation with a player whose stock fell just enough from last season for the Cowboys to reap all the benefits. Without his heart condition, Maurice Hurst would have been the pick, but the Cowboys can’t afford to pass on another elite secondary player after Choosing Ezekiel Elliott over Jalen Ramsey in the 2016 draft.

Team Needs:

  • Safety
  • Defensive tackle
  • Wide receiver
  • Left guard
  • Tight end
  1. Detroit Lions: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

6’4 347 lbs.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Washington

The ideal cut-and-paste replacement for Haloti Ngata, who will likely share a rotation with him for the next couple of years. Vea will help Ziggy Ansah maximize his massive potential and free up lanes for last year’s top pick Jarrad Davis to attack the running game. In short, he’ll make the whole defense better with his impressive athleticism and even more impressive size.

Team Needs

  • Linebacker
  • Defensive Tackle
  • Wide Receiver
  • Tight End
  • Guard
  1. Buffalo Bills: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

6’2 282 lbs.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan

Hurst doesn’t fall too far due to the heart condition, since I believe he’ll be ready to contribute for a defense immediately and should play at least through his first contract. It’s the team that wants to sign him in free agency five years from now and make the highest paid defensive player that will need to worry. Hurst’s ability can’t be overstated and he’s an ideal replacement for the departed Marcel Dareus precisely because they’re not the same type of player. Hurst is a penetrator and will add a pass-rushing edge to the middle of the Bills defense that they’ve been needing for years to disrupt Tom Brady’s rhythm.

Team Needs:

  • Quarterback
  • Defensive Tackle
  • Cornerback
  • Linebacker
  • Tackle
  1. Buffalo Bills from Kansas City Chiefs: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

6’5 235 lbs.

Mason Rudolph

And for their second pick, a quarterback who has been underrated throughout the process. Few quarterbacks are as natural with the deep ball as Rudolph is, but his massive production in the Oklahoma State offense suggests he gets it to all areas of the field effectively. Rudolph also has ideal NFL size, and that makes for a welcome change for Brandon Beane, Sean McDermott and company who struggled with the limits of their offense with Tyrod Taylor as a starter.

Team Needs:

  • Quarterback
  • Defensive Tackle
  • Cornerback
  • Linebacker
  • Tackle
  1. Los Angeles Rams: Arden Key, OLB, LSU

6’6 238 lbs.

Arden Key

This is perhaps the most natural fit for me of any of the first round picks. Wade Philips gets his true 3-4 OLB and elite pass rusher in Arden Key, who (if he keeps his nose clean) should be able to benefit from the elite talent around him. The defense the Rams are building is starting to look scary, and adding a top 10 talent like Key without having to trade up following a playoff season has to be considered a serious win for GM Les Snead.

Team Needs:

  • Inside Linebacker
  • Outside Linebacker
  • Tackle
  • Wide Receiver
  • Running back
  1. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia

6’2 300 lbs.

Isaiah Wynn

The Panthers simply have to replace Andrew Norwell to keep that running game moving forward. It won’t go otherwise, and a roadgrader like Wynn should pair with the rest of the Panthers interior line nicely to form an intimidating power running game. Of course, they’ll also need to consider adding an every down runner at some point this offseason, as I don’t think McCaffrey is a true workhorse.

Team Needs:

  • Guard
  • Tackle
  • Wide Receiver
  • Defensive tackle
  • Cornerback

 

  1. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

6’3 252 lbs.

Harold Landry

It’s been far too long since the Titans had a high-impact pass rusher at the end spot. Brian Orakpo was past his prime by the time he arrived. Landry may not have the best tape in 2017, but it’s worth the chance late in the first round that he can regain his 2016 form.

Team Needs:

  • Defensive end
  • Linebacker
  • Cornerback
  • Guard
  • Tight End
  1. Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

6’2 311 lbs.

Da'Ron Payne

Don’t get me wrong, I like the talent at defensive tackle in this year’s draft. There are some excellent players, but the needs and fits caused some highly talented players to slide and the Falcons are happy to grab a cheap, young replacement for Dontari Poe as Dan Quinn continues to build a talented and exciting young defense to compete with some challenging and complex offenses in the NFC.

Team Needs:

  • Guard
  • Defensive tackle
  • Free Safety
  1. New Orleans Saints: Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa

6’1 235 lbs.

Josey Jewell

I think I might be onto something here, as I feel New Orleans likes to throw curve balls and the end of the first round is where lines start to get blurred. I believe the Saints are candidates to trade up for defensive talent, but Josey Jewell perfectly fits the high football IQ, competitiveness and desire the Saints have come to all-but-require in their players. I believe he’s a highly underrated prospect and the Saints, should they choose to go this direction, will be rewarded handsomely.

Team Needs:

  • Defensive End
  • Tight end
  • Linebacker
  • Defensive Tackle
  • Wide Receiver
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

6’4 256 lbs.

Leighton Vander Esch

This is a case of perfect fit after the devastating, and very unfortunate, injury to Ryan Shazier (among the most exciting young linebackers in the game prior to his injury). Vander Esch may not have played against the strongest competition in the mountain west, but he was a production machine and flashed elite traits, which combined with his ideal size make him a highly enticing gamble at the end of the first round.

Team Needs:

  • Linebacker
  • Wide Receiver
  • Defensive Tackle
  • Cornerback
  • Quarterback
  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

6’6 250 lbs.

Dallas Goedert

The Jags offense needs more sure-handed targets for Blake Bortles to throw to. With plenty of talent on the defensive side, the Jags find a player here at the bottom half of the first round that has the potential to be one of the best playmakers coming out of this class.

Team Needs:

  • Wide Receiver
  • Tight End
  • Quarterback
  • Tackle
  • Linebacker
  1. Minnesota Vikings: Conor Williams, OT, Texas

6’5 320 lbs.

Connor Williams

The Vikings fully revamped their offensive line after mighty struggles in 2016, now it’s time to start building on that foundation with a young stud like Conor Williams. Adept in both pass protection and run blocking, and with ideal size, I expect to see the more dominant 2016 Williams than the 2017 variety which struggled at times.

Team Needs:

  • Tackle
  • Guard
  • Cornerback
  • Strong Safety
  • Running back
  1. New England Patriots: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

6’4 291 lbs.

Taven Bryan

Make no mistake, somebody will be trading up to get Lamar Jackson, and I expect that to happen with this pick. Stay tuned for my trade-filled post free agency mock for all of that action. As it stands now, Taven Bryan looks like he could be a physical stud in the mold of Dominique Easley (who the Patriots drafted in about this spot a few years ago). The Patriots need more talent in the front 7 to continue to maximize their Super Bowl window.

Team Needs:

  • Tackle
  • Defensive End
  • Linebacker
  • Cornerback
  • Wide Receiver
  1. Philadelphia Eagles: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

6’3 234 lbs.

AllState Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Alabama

Evans falling this far seems surprising, but guess what? Surprising things always happen on draft day. Evans is rough around the edges and may not be quite ready to contribute from a technique standpoint as a starter. He is, however, a good pickup for a team with two established starters in Hicks and Kendricks, and represents very good value.

Team Needs:

  • Linebacker
  • Tackle
  • Defensive End
  • Cornerback
  • Wide Receiver

2017 Free Agency Grades

Welcome back to my personal favorite time of the year, the offseason! A time of hope and wonder where we can even pretend that the Browns might improve to a four-win team if we just give them that extra 20 million in cap space.

Here, I will be covering what I feel to be the most interesting moves of the offseason, providing grades and insight as to potential fit and contract worthiness.

 

Drop your slant in the comment section below by clicking on the “Leave a comment” button just above and to the right of this post, leave a like and find us on Twitter and Facebook:

https://twitter.com/sportsslants

https://www.facebook.com/sportsslants/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Brandon Marshall, WR: 2 years, $12 million

Grade: B+

Marshall

After the absurd spending spree that kicked off last offseason for the Giants, which I roundly abused in last year’s edition, I’m digging the more under-the-radar approach, at least to start with here.

Marshall is not the player he once was, but there was no stability at quarterback for the Jets, and we saw similar decline in production in similar less-than-ideal quarterback situations for much younger guys in DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson.

This, at least, should give the Giants brass hopes that a merely adequate starting quarterback in Eli Manning can help Marshall in the twilight of his career.

Scouting Report: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

6’1 196 lbs.

 

humphrey-1

 

Tape Viewed: 2015 vs. Clemson, 2016 vs. USC, 2016 vs. Auburn, 2016 vs. Texas A&M

 

OVERVIEW

Humphrey is an absolute pleasure to watch at the cornerback position. He may not have taken a pro snap yet, but professional may be the best way to describe how he plays the game of football. He combines sound technique with natural instincts and a tenacity that stretches right to the whistle on every play.

The first thing you notice about Humphrey is his NFL-ready stature. He has the height and weight teams crave at number one corner. Humphrey possesses a good balance of man and zone coverage abilities, looking comfortable at any position, during any point of the game.

Humphrey boasts an all-around skill set as both a coverage player and eager run-supporter. He brings a nasty streak to his tackles, especially in swarm tackles when the play is stalled. Humphrey will contribute as a starter from day one on an NFL field, and will flourish into an elite player at his position within three years.

 

COVERAGE

 

Play Recognition: 9 out of 10

 

Against A&M, they were trying this bubble screen out of a stack two-receiver set, they tried the screen twice, then had receiver Josh Reynolds go downfield out of the same set, followed by another screen. Result of those four plays? -6 yards, a forced fumble, and an interception. Humphrey can absolutely dial in on his diagnose and shows that ability regularly.

 

Speed: 4 out of 5

 

Auburn tested Humphrey’s downfield coverage early and often, with fly patterns against his press coverage, he allowed zero receptions, but slight downfield separation. No other issues with speed show up on tape, and he showed exceptional functional speed in chasing down USC running back Ronald Jones from behind to limit a big gain.

 

Mirroring: 10 out of 10

 

Time and again on tape, Humphrey shows impressive ability to run with receivers all over the field.

 

Pursuit: 5 out of 5

 

Humphrey constantly uses his plus athleticism to disrupt plays, even those where his receiver isn’t targeted. In the 2015 National Championship against Clemson, Humphrey was forced to cover roughly 45 yards between two receivers, the moment QB DeShaun Watson unloaded the ball, Humphrey sprinted back to help the safety in coverage, covering about 20 of those yards to force an incomplete pass in the endzone.

 

Man: 14 out of 15

 

The best way to describe him in man is sticky. He likes to use his hands to feel the receiver’s directional changes, and may draw flags at the next level because of that. That’s really the only knock I could find.

 

Zone: 13 out of 15

 

While he’s clearly a man corner first, Humphrey looks like he can flourish in a Cover 2 scheme just as well. He understands the spacing concepts and uses anticipation well while reading the eyes of the quarterback.

 

Press: 4 out of 5

 

He looks like he loves to get physical at the line of scrimmage, but sometimes fails to get his bump, which has caused issues. That issue is scarce, however, and can be cleaned up with slightly better technique.

 

Tackle: 4 out of 5

 

Has a couple of missed tackles on tape, but is typically very reliable in this area, highlighted by those aforementioned screen plays against the Aggies.

 

Ball Skills: 4 out of 5

 

On tape, Humphrey did not drop any interceptable balls, which is exciting for his pro prospects, he has 8 career turnovers in 29 games in college (5 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles. The only slight knock is a relative lack of pass deflections.

 

RUN SUPPORT

 

Tackle: 3 out of 5

 

While Humphrey is an aggressor when the play is stalled on runs to the outside, he doesn’t like to mix it up on the inside runs, which could help in the long run in terms of his health.

 

Play Recognition: 4 out of 5

 

He’s so smart with the way he positions himself, regardless of the situation, when the play is moving forward, he places himself in the best angle to limit the gain, when the play is moving backward, he sprints upfield to help with the tackle, and when the play is moving outside, he’s a capable edge setter, but has slight leverage issues as shown by a punishing pancake block against Clemson.

 

Willingness: 4 out of 5

 

He shows a clear eagerness to help whenever a run gets out of hand, but as previously mentioned, doesn’t like to get involved on inside runs.

 

GENERAL

 

Injury: 8 out of 10

 

A hamstring injury that limited him in practice before the college football playoffs in 2016 could be a concern going forward.

 

Total Prospect Rating: 86/100

 

Pro Comparison: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota Vikings

humphrey

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills

A little thicker than Humphrey but the same height, Rhodes is coming off a career year in which his stingy pass coverage and physical brand of play galvanized the third best pass defense in the NFL. Both Rhodes and Humphrey possess this physical nature and mean streak in both coverage and run support. Both also possess excellent ball skills to turn solid coverage into interceptions. Rhodes was solid from the get-go and has entered his prime relatively early, expect Humphrey to develop similarly.

Free Agency Tracker 2016

Drop your slant in the comment section below by clicking on the “Leave a comment” button just above and to the right of this post, leave a like and find us on Twitter and Facebook:

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NOTE: FOR A TEAM-BY-TEAM BREAKDOWN ON FREE AGENCY VISIT YOUR TEAM’S PAGE VIA THE NFL TEAMS PAGE AND CLICK ON THE ICON OF YOUR TEAM.

YOU CAN ALSO SIMPLY CLICK THE TEAM NAME ABOVE EACH FREE AGENT SIGNING TO GO TO THE TEAM’S FREE AGENCY PAGE.

 

RE-SIGNINGS ARE NOW ON A DIFFERENT PAGE. LINK HERE.

 

LATEST BUZZ:

For the latest in Free Agent rumors check out the Rumors page by clicking the link. The Rumors page can also be found under the NFL Free Agency tab on the home page.

 

NEW HOMES:

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Chris Long, DE: 1 year, $2 million

Grade: A

This is a pretty incredible deal for the former pro-bowler. Long has regressed a bit as a player and pass-rusher since his glory days with the Rams.

He’s still a very smart, physical player and a great short-term solution at the defensive end spot vacated yesterday by Chandler Jones. I love the numbers on this deal, as I was certain somebody was going to overpay Long on past performance.

This deal is, in fact, under market value and he should immediately step in and improve the defensive rotation for the Patriots while minimizing the loss of Jones

 

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

Tom Compton, G: no contract details

Grade: TBD

 

 

LaRoy Reynolds, ILB: no contract details

Grade: TBD

 

 

BUFFALO BILLS

Jim Dray, TE: no contract details

Grade: TBD

 

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

Antonio Allen, S: no contract details

Grade: TBD

 

 

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Brynden Trawick, S: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

 

 

CHICAGO BEARS

Aaron Brewer, LS: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

 

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Chris Givens, WR: 1 year, $840,000

Grade: A-

Givens never became the receiver the Rams hoped he would when they drafted the speedster in the fourth round of the 2012 draft.

He’s got inconsistent hands and gets bullied by the press, he’s also not a great catcher in traffic which has led to his low career touchdown totals. He’s a fairly dynamic athlete, having starred in track and field in college but never polished his game enough as a receiver.

He’s still a project, and at this point in his career, there’s not much hope he can be much more than what he’s shown. He’s likely just a camp body and there’s no financial risk by the Eagles here, so I like it pretty well, bringing experience into a very young wide receiver room.

 

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

James Laurinaitis, LB: no contract details

Grade: TBD

 

 

Nate Stupar, LB: 3 years, unknown amoung

Grade: TBD

 

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Evan Mathis, G: 1 year, $6 million

Grade: A+

Mathis is still one of the best guards in the NFL. He was that in the stretch run for the Broncos, and he’ll continue to be that for the Cardinals I expect.

Protecting Carson Palmer is paramount to the Cardinals continued Super Bowl aspirations. Mathis will help in that regard and should also provide some juice to the screen and run games.

At just 6 mil, he’s being paid far under market value, and it’s only for one  year, so there’s no risk even if he somehow drastically regresses. This one’s pretty easy for me.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

Steve McLendon, NT: 3 years, $12 million

Grade: C-

He’s getting older, and he wasn’t very good last season. I mention often how I feel that 3-4 nose tackle is one of the toughest positions to find good players at. This is the proof.

I can’t imagine why the Jets couldn’t figure a way to hold onto Harrison, but this is a major downgrade. McLendon is already 30 and exiting his prime. Soon his strength will begin to wane and he’ll likely get pushed around in the pocket.

His market value at this moment may be something like 3 mil a year, but by the end of this contract, I don’t see it being much more than the vet. minimum. This looks pretty bad to me. I won’t judge too harshly since I don’t know the Jets draft plans.

 

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

Sean Spence, ILB: 1 year, $2.5 million

Grade: B-

Spence is a young player, and has never really proven that he can be much more than fairly quality depth. He’s getting paid a little over half of what some starters are getting paid, which may be a little much.

Spence has some pass-rush ability from the middle but struggles in run-support, especially with tackling. This may be due to his smaller size. He gets washed out of plays fairly easily. He’s honestly fairly similar to a LB they just let go in free agency, Zach Brown.

I’m not totally sure what the Titans see in this guy, but it’s not the worst contract in the world.

 

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS

DeMario Davis, ILB: 2 years, $8 million

Grade: B-

Davis’ play regressed last year after peaking in 2014, but I have to assume there were other factors at play since he’s only 27. Either way, Davis is a rangy linebacker with good instincts and should fill in well for the departed Karlos Dansby.

I think the money being paid could end up being a bargain, but there’s also the possibility that Davis needs talent around him to thrive, and he’s not going to an upswing in talent with Cleveland, that’s for sure. I’m cautiously optimistic with this one.

 

 

Rahim Moore, S: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

 

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Quinton Coples, DE: 2 years, $9.75 million

Grade: B

I’ve always liked Coples. He’s just the sort of physical specimen that I feel should be playing on the outside of a defensive line. He was cut last year by the Dolphins, but didn’t play poorly by any means.

Of course we all know that being cut by the Dolphins doesn’t mean much since their personnel decisions are clearly run by a 12-year-old Madden player. Anyway, Coples has never become the elite pass rusher many had hoped for, but he’s an excellent rotational player on the first two downs, and may provide some juice from a pass-rushing standpoint yet.

He’s 28 so he likely won’t regress through the life of this deal, so paying him almost 5 mil a year isn’t as bad as it might sound. This is a solid signing in my eyes. Coples could be part of a very strong rotation in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

MARCH 15, 2016

TRADE PATRIOTS AND CARDINALS

Patriots receive: G Jonathan Cooper, 2nd Round Pick

Grade: B+

Cardinals receive: DE Chandler Jones

Grade: B+

Cooper                           Jones

This trade is interesting because it really depends on who you ask when trying to determine the value of these two players.

The book on Cooper is he’s immensely talented (makes sense as he was a pure guard taken in the top 10) but that he doesn’t have the work ethic to thrive. The Patriots will find out quickly either way, the Patriot way has no time for slackers.

Chandler Jones, on the other hand, has proven to be an above-average pass rusher in this league and may just be entering his prime at 26. If it were just a player-for-player swap, the Cardinals clearly win, but the second round pick makes this trade feel very fair.

The defensive line talent goes about three rounds deep in this draft but there should still be some really solid options late in the second where the Patriots will be picking. The extra second rounder also gives them fire power to move up in case there’s a prospect they have serious convictions about.

Overall, this feels like a solid swap for both sides with the caveat that Cooper could turn into the player that he’s billed to be, or he could bust out quickly. I see it as a worthy risk for a an offensive line starved of talent.

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LOS ANGELES RAMS

Coty Sensabaugh, CB: 3 years, $19 million

Grade: C

Sensabaugh

At first glance, this signing isn’t awful. Going into the season, Sensabaugh was pretty highly thought of, at least in Tennessee. He’s a nickel corner, but a good one at that.

The Rams have a hole after letting Janoris Jenkins walk in free agency so it makes sense. And this pick will probably make more sense when the Rams select a corner in either of the first two rounds of the draft.

Ultimately though, Sensabaugh majorly regressed amidst nagging injuries last season and his market value was pretty low as a result, so I can’t really imagine why the Rams felt the need to pay him as much as they did.

The going rate for good nickel corners is probably around 2-4 mil per year, this is quite a bit above that, but I imagine he’ll be playing outside, so it’s a little tougher to grade. I’m going to settle on an optimistic C.

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WASHINGTON REDSKINS

David Bruton, S: 3 years, $9 million

Grade: A

Bruton

Bruton has quietly developed into one of the most reliable reserve safeties in the NFL after Starring at Notre Dame.

Bruton combines good instincts with reliable tackling to be a very solid tackling presence in the box.He’s no slouch in coverage though, and if forced against tight ends, he can win those one-on-ones against most.

He’ll step in immediately as the best Redskins safety, a position they’ve been devoid of talent at for years. At just 3 million a year, the Redskins are getting a solid starter. This seems like pretty incredible value to me.

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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

J’Marcus Webb, OT: 2 years, $6 million, $2.5 million guaranteed

Grade: D

Webb

Webb graded out as one of the worst tackles available in free agency on 1089 graded snaps. He’s always been massive and physically imposing but has never been able to use that size to dominate at the point of attack.

Webb is a slightly better pass-blocker than run-blocker but is average to below average at both. There’s the slightest possibility he puts it all together with the Seahawks, but it isn’t likely and he certainly hasn’t earned a contract over the veteran minimum with his play.

Not to mention, this seems to be their contingency plan if Russel Okung indeed signs somewhere else and all indications say he will. To say Webb is a step down is a large understatement.

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ATLANTA FALCONS

DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Van Dyke

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Aldrick Robinson, WR: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Robinson

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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Robert Turbin, RB: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Turbin

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PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Ryan Harris, OT: 2 years, $3.9 miillion

Grade: B+

Harris

Harris was seen as a 1b option for Denver in 2015 before Ryan Clady went down with a season-ending injury. In his place, Harris was somewhat of a liability on the blind side.

For the Steelers, it’s likely Harris will man the right tackle slot, and in that role, he should be better, since he’ll naturally see worse pass rushers typically, and will also often have extra blocking help.

Harris is a smart guy with a lot of starter experience, so adding him for just under 2 mil per year seems like a really solid move to me. He easily could have been overpaid.

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BALTIMORE RAVENS

Mike Wallace, WR: 2 years, $11.5 million

Grade: C+

Wallace

I’m surprised Wallace’s market value hasn’t gotten lower by now, considering he’s proven to be a malcontent almost everywhere he’s been in the league.

Certainly, this could all be circumstancial, but patterned behavior like this usually isn’t, so he comes with strong character concerns. It’s clear that Flacco represents the best quarterback matchup for Wallace since Roethlisberger and should be able to toss some deep balls to him.

At just under 6 mil per season, the Ravens are investing a lot in the hope that Wallace suddenly becomes a team player and hasn’t at all regressed or lost a step as he gets older. Typically for these speed guys, speed is the first thing to go. I’m weary of this trade.

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MARCH 14, 2016

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Ray Drew, DE: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Drew

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OAKLAND RAIDERS

Daren Bates, LB: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Bates

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CAROLINA PANTHERS

Paul Soliai, DT: 2 years, $7 million

Grade: B+

Soliai

Clearly a regressing player, Soliai is not worth starter money, but he’s ideal as depth, where the Panthers can play him behind a dominant duo of Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short.

I often like the idea of a team with few needs investing in strong depth and continuing to bolster the defense makes sense. However, I have concerns with the Panthers offensive capabilities.

They just let G Amini Silatolu walk, he may yet be re-signed but that leaves a hole at guard, and the receiver position is also lacking in depth. Still, Soliai didn’t break the bank and should continue playing at or near his current level  through the life of this contract.

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TENNESSEE TITANS

Matt Cassel, QB: 1 year, $2 million

Grade: B

Cassel

Cassel showed that he can still play at a somewhat competent level in the NFL. He wasn’t winning games, but he was competing.

I believe he’s a veteran option to potentially push Zack Mettenberger, who played very poorly in relief of Marcus Mariota last year.

I worry about the Titans if Mariota goes down, since they don’t really have a special offense or defense. They don’t have quite the supporting cast Cassel had with Dallas.

I understand the deal, but giving him over the veteran minimum may be overpaying a bit.

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BALTIMORE RAVENS

Eric Weddle, S: 4 years, $26 million

Grade: B

Weddle

Weddle is getting on in age and isn’t quite the league’s best safety like he was a couple years ago. Still, he hasn’t majorly regressed either and was a bright spot in San Diego’s secondary last year.

The Ravens are buying high here to fill a need. I think that right now, Weddle is a bargain at a little over 6 million a year, but he won’t be for much longer. By the end of this contract he should be in full regression at age 35.

He’s a very smart, instinctive player so any loss in athleticism should be masked for awhile. Overall, this was a huge area of need for the Ravens and I see them getting at or near full value for this contract. It’s solid.

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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Prince Amukamara, CB: 1 year, $6 million, $3.5 million guaranteed

Grade: A-

Amukamara

Amukamara just had his best season as a pro corner, so it makes sense that he gets paid.

I was actually expecting a longer term contract, but it’s clear the Jags are all-in for this season, they know they have to show major improvements. I’m concerned with the idea of building a defense in free agency: it takes time if it works at all.

The 2012 Eagles are the cautionary tale, while Elway’s Broncos show a successful implementation of that strategy. Regardless of whether it works, this is a steal of a deal for a top-flight free agent corner and the Jaguars have endless money to spend this year anyway.

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Scott Tolzien, QB: 2 years, $3.5 million

Grade: B-

Tolzien

Tolzien is another guy that sat behind Aaron Rodgers. Presumably, these guys have a golden opportunity to learn and develop, but there’s not a great history of success for these understudies in the NFL.

In preseason, Tolzien has shown solid decision-making, but an underwhelming NFL arm in terms of both accuracy and power. There’s not much more to glean from this.

I understand what the Colts envision with Tolzien, but I don’t see him being much of an upgrade over Ryan Lindley and Josh Freeman as a backup to Luck now that Hasselbeck has retired.

 

 

CHICAGO BEARS

Akiem Hicks, DE: 2 years, $10 million

Grade: B

Hicks

A deal like this is surprising for a guy that’s always been “on the cusp” but never really lived up to expectations in New Orleans.

Traded to New England mid-season for TE Michael Hoomanawanui, Hicks found his footing in the stretch run and started to play like the inside dominator he was always billed to be, so perhaps the Bears could be getting a steal.

The pickup makes sense when you consider that current Bears GM Ryan Pace was formerly Director of player personnel with the Saints. He’s familiar with Hicks’ abilities. I question Hicks’ effort and motor more than anything. There’s no doubting he can be dominant when he wants to be.

Because of this, I neither love, nor hate the deal, but the upside boosts the  value a bit. He doesn’t have any real injury history or character concerns either. It’s a worthy risk.

 

 

 

 

MARCH 13, 2016

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Casey Hayward, CB: 3 years, $15.3 million

Grade: B+

Hayward

Hayward has really come on in recent years as a coverage specialist. He’s somewhat of a liability in run-support but likely won’t be asked to do that much in San Diego.

This is a solid job by the Chargers to be proactive in cycling their talent since Brandon Flowers is getting older and slowing down.

At a little over 5 mil per year, the Chargers aren’t paying Hayward a crazy contract or anything. This is pretty reasonable, especially considering what his running mate Davon House made last year.

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MARCH 12, 2016

CHICAGO BEARS

Jerrell Freeman, ILB: 3 years, $12 million, $6 million guaranteed

Grade: A+

Freeman

The Bears clearly have made it a point to improve this dismal area of their defense. Now instead of toting out Christian Jones and Jon Bostic, they boast an incredibly talent rich and versatile duo in Freeman and Trevathan.

Freeman is excellent in coverage and pretty good against the run. Trevathan is obviously the younger and more well-rounded player, but this contract is structured accordingly.

Being 31 now, Freeman will be 34 at the end of this contract, since he’s probably at the end of his prime, the Bears should expect him to regress, but at least this year, they should get quality starter snaps from him on a consistent basis. It will help having such a talented running mate.

At just $4 million per season, Freeman will be a steal this year, and the value of the contract should even out accordingly if Freeman begins to decline. I love this deal.

 

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Rod Streater, WR: 1 year, $4.8 million

Grade: B-

Streater

In a market where guys who haven’t proven a thing are getting paid fringe-starter money, we have this strange deal.

For one, it’s a one-year pact so it seems the Chiefs want to kick the tires on this guy and see if he can put his impressive skill-set together, recapturing the magic of a 60-catch 2013 season. On the other hand though, they’re paying him almost $5 million on what seems to be little more than a hunch.

While I think that’s a little too much, the Chiefs have already done a great job keeping their fearsome defense together, so they should certainly be investing in improving their offense, which held them back in the playoffs.

Streater may or may not be the answer, I believe he could potentially unseat Albert Wilson as a slot guy. If that ends up being the case, this is a steal. If not though, he plays maybe 15 snaps a game for $5 million. So it’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

 

 

DETROIT LIONS

Rafael Bush, S: 1 year, $2.4 million

Grade: B

Bush

I never fully understood why the Falcons came after him so hard in the 2014 off-season or why he’s thought of as much more than a solid backup and special teamer (which can be found for cheaper)

He had his best pro season in 2013 (along with the rest of that Saints defense) and has been battling injuries and inconsistency ever since.

I suppose the Lions just want an injury insurance policy, and in that role, perhaps Bush could thrive. He was asked to play too often for an injured Jairus Byrd in New Orleans.

The price isn’t too bad either considering how much playing experience and solid snaps he has to his name. He just can’t be relied upon to start for any stretch of time.

 

 

 

 

MARCH 11, 2016

EAGLES AND BRONCOS TRADE

Eagles Receive: Conditional Late Round Pick

Grade: A

Broncos Receive: QB Mark Sanchez

Grade: C

Sanchez

I understand what fueled this trade: necessity. The Broncos simply have no options at QB. Sanchez isn’t a great one, especially going to a new system.

He’ll still be the same inconsistent, inaccurate player he’s always been. It’s not the worst move, but there’s nothing really inspiring about it.

For the Eagles though, this is a coup. Sanchez had no place left on this team, and they actually might get something out of him. Brilliant trades by the Eagles this offseason.

 

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Justin Tuggle, OLB: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Tuggle

 

 

Alvin Bailey, OT: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Bailey

 

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Robert Ayers, DE: 3 years, $21 million

Grade: B+

Ayers

This is the exact contract I felt Ayers deserved.

He’s not getting paid like a premium pass rusher, because he isn’t one on every down. He consistently grades out as a dominant rotational end, so he was a prize in this free agency period.

The Bucs have had some awful contracts, but I like this one. Ayers had 9.5 sacks in 12 games as a part-time guy with the Giants in 2015. He also doesn’t have much tread for a 31-year-old. He could regress, but it’s not too likely he’ll fall off completely through the life of this contract.

 

 

Mackenzy Bernadeau, OG: 2 years, $4 million

Grade: B

Bernadeau

Bernadeu is solid depth on the interior of any line. He’s getting paid for just a bit more than that on the open market, which is to be expected.

As long as he’s not counted on to start, I like this move pretty well.

 

 

Brad Nortman, P: 4 years, $8.8 million

Grade: C

Nortman

Nortman is a fine punter, and the Jaguars needed one since Bryan Anger is a free agent.

I don’t much understand paying more than the veteran minimum for Nortman though. He’s nothing special.

And locking him up on a 4 year deal? It’s just kind of strange.

 

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Jermon Bushrod, OT: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

Bushrod

 

 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Kendall Reyes, DE/DT: 1 years, $2.5 million

Grade: C+

Reyes

Reyes had a pretty bad season in 2015 and has generally never lived up to his potential.

He’s 26 so if he still has time to get better, but he’s entering his prime years, so the jump should come very soon if it ever does.

That in mind, the Redskins are buying low on potential but high on lack of production. Because of this, I don’t love the deal.

 

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Frank Kearse, DE: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Kearse

 

 

Chris Hogan, WR: 3 years, $12 million

Grade: B-

Hogan

Hogan has been on the cusp of a good season for years and he has the skill-set.

The Patriots are a good landing spot for him to potentially realize his potential since their corps is thin and he’s a smart tough receiver who runs good routes.

He fits the mold of an Edelman or Amendola and is a little bigger and faster to boot. 4 mil a year is fairly steep for a guy that hasn’t produced yet, but I imagine the Patriots will likely get the most out of this. I like it, I don’t love it.

 

 

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Sean Smith, CB: 4 years, $40 million, $20 million guaranteed

Grade: C+

Smith

It’s becoming clear that Raiders brass recognizes their needs, which is encouraging.

They’re also finding some really solid options to fill their holes. The main issue I have is paying a corner $10 million a year. It reminds me of a few years ago when the Cowboys did the same thing with an ascending Brandon Carr.

That move helped get them into a cap mess they’re still working out of and Carr in no way lived up to the contract. I’m not saying that will happen, but it’s tough for a corner to earn $10 million a year, especially one without a penchant for turnovers like Smith.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

Jarvis Jenkins, DE: 3 years, $6 million

Grade: C-

Jenkins

Jenkins has been a disappointment since he came into the league. He’s got all of the physical tools to dominate but can’t put it together.

He’s 28 now so he probably won’t get much better, and right now he’s just an ok backup.

I question the Jets for signing a guy like that for 3 years, especially when it’s above the veteran minimum.

 

 

 

 

MARCH 10, 2016

CHICAGO BEARS

Bobby Massie, OT: 3 years, $18 million

Grade: BAALKE AND TORREY SMITH IN A CLOSET GRADE

Massie

 

Massie has been fairly dreadful for most of his time as a pro, he’s been mostly below average, even on the right side of the line, which is where tackles who can’t pass block go.

The problem is Massie doesn’t offer much in the run block either. He certainly doesn’t have starter qualities. Still, he has some utility as a swing tackle.

I have some qualms with paying $6  million per year to a swing tackle. That’s the kind of idiotic move a guy who thinks Torrey Smith can be a WR1 would make… oh yeah. So this is definitely a Baalke (F) grade.

 

 

Danny Trevathan, LB: 4 years, $28 million

Grade: A+

Trevathan

For a player with a complete skill set like Trevathan (he can cover, run-stuff and rush the passer on occasion) I would have expected somewhere in the realm of $10 million a year.

This deal is absolutely fantastic for the Bears as Trevathan is just entering his prime and has gotten better every year he’s been in the league.

Reuniting with coach John Fox just sweetens the deal. Top marks to the Bears for this move.

 

 

DETROIT LIONS

Johnson Bademosi, CB: 2 years, $4.5 million

Grade: C-

Bademosi

This is a tough one since literally everywhere I look, I see Bademosi referred to as a “special teams ace”.

While that is a seriously undervalued talent in the NFL today, I think teams can find contributors on special teams for the veteran minimum.

Bademosi was pretty bad as a corner for the Browns so he likely won’t help the Lions’ secondary too much. I like the idea here, I just don’t think he’s worth the contract.

 

 

Stefan Charles, DT: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

Charles

 

 

Tavon Wilson, CB/S: 2 years, $2.2 million, $500,000 guaranteed

Grade: B+

Wilson

While Wilson has just average athleticism, he excels in coverage and is a strong tackler. He offers solid special teams snaps to go with decent defensive snaps.

He’s not a player to be counted on to start, and shouldn’t be expected to for this amount. He’s ideal as a reserve player, especially in light of the recent Rafael Bush signing. The money is actually pretty good here.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

Khiry Robinson, RB: 1 year, $1.175 million

Grade: A+

Robinson

In a market for running backs that’s seen mediocre players like C.J. Anderson getting paid $4 million, it blows my mind to see a contract like this.

I’ve seen quite a bit of Robinson, and he has a punishing running style, reminds me of  a poor man’s Chris Ivory. That fits since he’s helping replace Ivory for the Jets, and for significantly less.

This is a coup for the Jets who have refueled their running back corps very well.

 

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Brent Grimes, CB: 2 years, $16.5 million

Grade: BAALKE EVIL GRIN GRADE

Grimes

Wow. Just wow. Grimes was awful last season and has starkly regressed.

He was playing at a high level as recently as 2014 and granted, this deal is fairly heavily incentivized, but the base is still over 6 mil a year.

He’s old, slowing down, not a viable starter anymore, and it’s kind of unbelievable that he got more than $2 million a year to be honest. Baalke (F) Grade material.

 

 

J.R. Sweezy, G: 5 years, $32.5 million

Grade: B

Sweezy

Sweezy is a solid road-grader, so it makes sense that they follow up the Doug Martin signing with some help for the offensive line.

However, Sweezy is not a great pass-protector and will be asked to do that with Jameis Winston behind center.

He’s getting paid a little less than the other guards that have signed today, which makes sense because he’s a little worse than the rest of them.

 

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Tashaun Gipson, S: 5 years, $35.5 million

Grade: B

Gipson

I really like Gipson but it has to concern the Jags whether or not last year was an anomaly.

He had a brilliant 2014 and he’s still young and likely entering his prime, so there’s upside, but it remains to be seen whether he can be the lynchpin to hold together a poor secondary, which is what the Jags have right now.

At 7 mil per year, the Jags are betting a fair amount that he is.

 

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

Sean Weatherspoon, LB: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: TBD

Weatherspoon

 

 

Mohamed Sanu, WR: 5 years, $32.5 million, $14 million

Grade: BAALKE FIRES JIM HARBAUGH GRADE

Sanu

I saw the buzz that the Falcons were going to throw 7 mil a year at Sanu. I honestly still can’t believe it happened.

This is an egregious overpayment for a player that would generously be worth $4 million a year. Don’t get me wrong, Sanu has a solid skill set and some versatility (he can run and throw as well).

But he hasn’t proven that he can consistently be a threat. Especially not to the point of getting paid fringe-starter money. Reminds me of the idiot that fired Jim Harbaugh, a Baalke (F) Grade if ever there was one.

 

 

Derrick Shelby, DE: 4 years, $21 million

Grade: A

Shelby

Shelby graded out as the fifth best edge player in a talent-rich free agent pool in 871 graded snaps last season according to Pro Football Focus.

He’s also 27 and will not be expected to save the defense since the Falcons already invested in Vic Beasley a year ago. This is a brilliant signing with a ton of upside for a solid rate.

Teams tend to pay for the pass rush, but in this case, the Falcons got a steal.

 

 

Matt Schaub, QB: 1 year, $1.25 million

Grade: B

Schaub

Schaub was a solid starter for years with the Texans after backing up Michael Vick to start his career. In fact, he had three consecutive 4,000+ yard seasons.

He’s fallen off quite a bit since then and developed an absurd penchant for pick sixes. He gives them out like they’re going out of style.

Still, he’s a savvy veteran that could potentially recapture his above-average ability in short bursts. It’s not the worst Matt Ryan insurance policy, especially considering Ryan simply doesn’t miss time.

 

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

C.J. Anderson, RB: 4 years, $18 million

Grade: D-

Anderson

This is an offer sheet so the Broncos will have an opportunity to match, they should not.

Anderson is bad at the beginning of the season. He gets decent when everyone else is hurt because he’s sturdy. There are better runners four rounds deep in this draft so I have no idea why the Dolphins would pay for him.

For that matter, Jay Ajayi, who they drafted last year, has a far superior skill-set overall. This deal sucks. But at least they’re not paying him Martin money. I hate Anderson. He sucks.

 

 

Sam Young, OT: 1 year, veteran minimum

Grade: B-

Young

Sam Young is barely rosterable, so this is barely better than average. That’s it. Good night.

 

 

Isa Abdul-Quddus, S: 3 years, $12.75 million

Grade: C

Quddus

Quddus is an adequate backup at safety who should not be relied upon to start. He might be a possibility as a nickel safety.

At a little over 4 mil a year, it’s a little steep for a guy that probably won’t offer meaningful starter snaps.

Still, he’s fairly young and likely in the midst of his prime, so I like the length of the contract.

 

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Travis Lewis, LB: 1 year, $810,000

Grade: A-

Lewis

Lewis is a special teamer primarily, and a good one at that. He also had some solid experience playing as a reserve linebacker in 2015 for the Lions.

He’s still young so there’s potential to grow, but he’s likely already entered his prime so he’s probably pretty close to his peak as a pro.

For the vet. minimum, I like this deal quite a bit.

 

 

Emmanuel Lamur, LB: 2 years, $6 million

Grade: BEEF WITH BAALKE GRADE

Lamur

Lamur was absolutely dreadful in limited snaps in 2015. He’s shown potential before, which is why Zimmer brought him in.

What makes no sense at all is why he paid anything more than bottom dollar for him. Three mil per year is absolutely absurd for a guy who’s never even kind of proven it.  He likely had virtually no market.

This one is pretty bad, worthy of a Baalke (F) grade.

 

 

Michael Griffin, S: 1 year, $2.5 million, $750k guaranteed

Grade: B

Griffin

Griffin is over the hill. No doubt about that. He is, however, still all right.

He’s being paid a little bit over veteran minimum with hardly any guaranteed money at all, so the signing makes sense for depth purposes.

Griffin cannot start any longer.

 

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Gino Gradkowski, C: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Gradkowski

 

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

Rishard Matthews, WR: 3 years, $15 million

Grade: B-

Matthews

As expected, Rishard Matthews was going to be the best value of the “top-flight” free agent options.

The Titans did a nice job buying fairly low on a guy who graded out very well last year and showed some play-making ability out of the slot.

It’s still a little too much since Matthews really hasn’t shown the ability to consistently produce yet. Still, I think he’s the best receiver deal so far.

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Keenan Robinson, LB: 1 year, $3 million

Grade: C-

Robinson

Robinson was an ok rotational linebacker for the Redskins but I don’t see much upside here. He probably shouldn’t have earned much more than the vet. minimum.

Still, there’s no risk here. It’s just another case of the Giants overpaying. They’ve been pretty incompetent this off-season.

 

 

Olivier Vernon, DE: 5 years, $85 million, $52.5 million guaranteed

Grade: BAALKE BLAINE COLIN MENAGE A TROIS

Vernon

Holy Crap. This is one of the most egregious over-payments to a defensive player I’ve ever seen.

The Giants must think they’re a couple of players away from a Super Bowl. They aren’t. This is going to cripple them. Vernon is not the best pass rusher in the league. He may not be in the top ten.

And yet, the Giants are paying him the largest deal in history for a defensive end. He’s getting paid almost as much per year as Osweiller. That is outrageous, and a definite Baalke (F) Grade.

 

 

Damon Harrison, DT: 5 years, $46.25 million, $24 million guaranteed

Grade: B

Harrison

Harrison is one of the last great nose tackles left in the NFL. He’s a brilliant run-stuffer that can get after the passer from time-to-time.

A presence like his is desperately needed on a Giants defense that was devoid of talent in 2015 and he should come in and produce up to expectation. The concern is obviously how much talent he had around him in New York, but I expect his skills to translate.

A little over $9 million per year is overpaying, but not egregiously. This was just a small amount over the expected going rate of a top free agent like Harrison.

 

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

Cedric Thornton, DT: 4 years, $18 million

Grade: B

Thornton

Here’s what I like about this: the Cowboys are addressing their needs so they can take the BPA at 4 overall.

Here’s what concerns me: Thornton hasn’t really ever produced at a high volume and he’s 29. Paying over $4 million a year is a little much, but it makes sense considering he’d easily become the most talented d-tackle on the roster.

It’s not close. It’s also smart to take him away from a division rival.

 

 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Dwight Lowery, S: 3 years, $7.2 million

Grade: B

Lowery

He was in the middle of the pack of available free agents according to Pro Football Focus on 11oo graded snaps.

He’s 30 so he figures to regress by the end of this contract, still if they don’t expect him to start, this deal should be fine for depth purposes.

Ideally, he won’t see the field often, so over $3 million per year might be a bit much.

 

 

Brandon Mebane, DT: 3 years, $13.5 million, $5.5 million

Grade: B+

Mebane

I love this signing. Evaluators say he still has the ability to wreck a game plan and his play on the field backs that up.

He’s good against the run and has pass rush ability, and since he’s already out of his prime, his regression shouldn’t be too stark until he’s done.

Basically, he should play at a fairly above-average level for the life of this contract and the Chargers are paying him average starter money.

 

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Ladarius Green, TE: 5 years, $20 million

Grade: A

Green

Green is an ascending player who never really got a chance to show off his insane skill-set.

He’s a scary height-weight-speed combination that should thrive as a starter for the Steelers who needed it after the retirement of Heath Miller.

My one worry is that he hasn’t had that breakout season yet, but other teams paid more for less potential.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Ron Brooks, CB: 3 years, $8.7 million

Grade: B

R Brooks

This is a tough one to grade since Brooks didn’t get meaningful snaps last year.

He is, however, familiar with Schwartz and I’m a big fan of good coaches bringing in their guys since there’s almost certainly a proper scheme fit.

The Eagles needed to find better depth at corner, which they have. Now they need a true number 1.

 

 

Nigel Bradham, LB: 2 years, $7 million

Grade: A

Bradham

Bradham was among my favorite players available in free agency since I know someone was going to buy low on him and get a massive bargain. I also correctly predicted he would land in Philadelphia with his former coordinator.

Bradham should enjoy a resurgence, being back in a system that fits his skill-set best. He’s an absolutely solid tackler whose good both in coverage and against the run. He has solid instincts to go with good-enough athleticism.

He should be a high-volume tackler for the Eagles next year. Likely their tackles leader if he stays healthy. At a little over 3 mil per year, it’s an absolute steal.

 

 

Brandon Brooks, OG: 5 years, $40 million

Grade: C+

B Brooks

Brooks is a solid guard and only 27 so on the surface, this seems like a solid deal.

This move was, however, clearly dictated by need in a thin market and so the Eagles were forced to grossly overpay for his services.

That much, I do not love. It is good that the Eagles recognize their needs and are continuing to allow themselves more draft flexibility with so many picks.

They are in line to develop a talented roster in the next couple of years.

 

 

Chase Daniel, QB: 3 years, $21 million, $12 million

Grade: B-

Daniel

Daniel is an excellent option at backup for the Doug Pederson-led Eagles.

He represents a major upgrade over Mark Sanchez, who struggles with consistent accuracy and poise. Daniel has all of those in spades and can immediately step in and run the offense effectively.

However, the Eagles overpaid just a bit for his services. 7 mil per year is certainly a premium for a guy that doesn’t have extensive starting experience. Word is he’ll have a chance to compete for the starting job and will likely see time anyway since Bradford is so injury-prone.

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Thad Lewis, QB: 1 year, $760,000

Grade: A

Lewis

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Thad Lewis has played fairly well as a starter in his young career and reminds me of a young Tarvaris Jackson.

He hasn’t yet entered his prime and is an ideal candidate as a reserve quarterback. He’ll get to compete for a backup spot, and at the vet. minimum that’s an ideal scenario.

 

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Tyvon Branch, S: 2 years, $10 million, $5 million

Grade: A

Branch

I loved Tyvon Branch’s level of play for the Chiefs when he was on the field last season.

He’s a fringe starter that was stuck behind some really solid safeties in Kansas City. He should add some juice to the Cardinals safety corps.

The Cardinals defense loves its play-makers.

 

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

Jeff Allen: 4 years, $28 million

Grade: B+

Allen

Allen is a slight upgrade over the departed Brooks and is getting one million a year less.

He’s 27 years old so he could potentially grow as a player, either way he’s just entering his prime and is well-rounded as a pass and run-blocker.

I still think 7 mil per year is a little bit too much for an above-average starting guard. But it’s very close to correct market value.

 

 

Tony Bergstrom, C: 2 years, $5.75 million, $1.5 million guaranteed

Grade: B

Bergstrom

Bergstrom was an above-average player when called upon for the Raiders in 2015. He excels as a run-blocker, while not being quite as strong in the pass.

This is probably an ideal landing spot for Bergstrom as the Texans want to rely on their strong zone-block running game, with the passing game as more of a supplement.

If Bergstrom is asked to start, he should be up to the task. In a full-season, some of his weaknesses would be revealed so the value is pretty much right, at a little under $3 million per season.

 

 

 

 

MARCH 9, 2016

EAGLES AND TITANS TRADE

Eagles Receive: Titans 4th Round Pick

Grade: B

Titans Receive: Eagles 4th Round Pick, RB DeMarco Murray

Grade: B

Murray

For the Eagles, this is another great job of getting rid of an undesirable contract, only swapping fourths is a little disappointing considering Murray was the league’s top rusher just two years ago and one year into a 5 year $40 million contract.

Still, Murray was a malcontent, so it’s good for both parties to move on. The Titans receive a back who is likely motivated to prove his detractors wrong so I could see this working out fairly well for them, and they only dropped 13 spots in the 4th to do it.

There is the possibility that Murray really isn’t the same back, considering his injury issues, heavy wear from the 2014 season and the fact he won’t be running behind  an incredible offensive line like Dallas, but Tennessee will scheme their running game for Murray, so he’ll be in the best possible position to recapture the magic.

 

 

EAGLES AND DOLPHINS TRADE

Eagles Receive: Round 1 Pick 8

Grade: B+

Dolphins Receive: Kiko Alonso, Byron Maxwell, Round 1 Pick 13

Grade: B-

Alonso                         Maxwell

For me, this is a deal that could pay off greatly for both sides.

I imagine there wasn’t anyone at 8 the Dolphins had strong convictions of, so they’re ok to move back and pick up some pieces. Kiko Alonso, when healthy, is an excellent young inside linebacker, he reminds me of Sean Lee. The Dolphins had nothing close to that at linebacker before.

Byron Maxwell also came on for the Eagles last year late and ended up with a decent season overall. He’ll certainly be an improvement over old, bad Grimes.

The Eagles, meanwhile, dump a fairly insane salary with Maxwell and the regime further cleans their hands of the Chip Kelly era, for better or worse.

Moving up in the draft a bit just sweetens the deal. It’s better compensation than I was expecting, but it definitely opened up some holes on the roster which is why I’m not giving it an A.

 

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Mitchell Schwartz, OT: 5 years, $33 million, $15 million guaranteed

Grade: B

Schwartz

Schwartz was one of the top right tackles in the NFL last year.

This was, however, one year removed from being a complete liability on the Browns offensive line. There’s always the question of a player playing for a contract.

But there is the possibility, especially considering he’s still young, that he’s turned a corner and about to enter his prime. If that’s the case, less than $7 million per year is a very solid price to pay. Still, there’s a bit of risk here so I don’t love it.

 

 

Jonathan Massaquoi, DE: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Massaquoi

 

 

Efe Obada, DE: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Obada

 

 

DETROIT LIONS

Marvin Jones, WR: 5 years, $40 million, 17 million guaranteed

Grade: B-

Ma Jones

Don’t get me wrong, this is too much for Jones. He’s an excellent WR2 getting paid like a borderline WR1 which I am not a fan of.

He cannot, and should not be expected, to headline a wide receiving corps, and will not replace the production Calvin Johnson provided, even in Johnson’s later years.

However, he was easily the best available receiver with the most potential, he’s 26 and just had his best season as a pro, and probably will get a bit better before he peaks.

If the Lions draft a receiver high, they could potentially have one of the best young corps in the league, immediately. They just have to understand Jones is not a number 1 guy.

 

NEW YORK JETS

Matt Forte, RB: 3 years, $12 million, $8 million

Grade: A

Forte

What’s kind of tough to grade about this is the running back market is clearly different this season than it was last offseason.

Last offseason, premium running back numbers (Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller) received $4 million a year. Those two guys in this market would probably get 5-6 mil.

My main point here is Forte is still an excellent all-around back who should still be a viable starter through the life of his deal and the Jets are getting him for less than the current going rate.

So it’s a win.

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Malik Jackson, DL: 6 years, $85.5 million, $31.5 million guaranteed

Grade: C

Jackson

Malik Jackson was the best available player on the market at the time. That doesn’t mean he is worth the nearly $13 million per year the Jags are handing him.

He will not live up to this contract, for many reasons. The biggest thing to consider is the talent around him on the defensive line: there is none. Dante Fowler Jr. is an unknown commodity and Jared Odrick is an average starter. There’s not much else to get excited about.

Jackson is a good player, but he will not change that defense without some help.

 

Chris Ivory, RB: 5 years, $32.5 million, $10-15 million guaranteed

Grade: D

Ivory

Running backs are not worth almost $7 million per season. They are not.

Consider also that Ivory is expected to be in a timeshare with T.J. Yeldon and you see why this deal feels a bit egregious.

I can at least admit I understand it. When healthy, Ivory was one of the most dominant backs in the NFL last season and Gus Bradley, David Caldwell and company have one year left to show the results of their master plan.

With $90 million to spend in free agency, they have the flexibility to buy the pieces they need and they clearly feel Ivory could be a missing piece on their offense.

I don’t necessarily agree, as I think they should probably be looking more toward their offensive and defensive lines (even after the Malik Jackson signing), but to each his own.

 

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

Alex Mack, C: 5 years, $45 million, $28.5 million

Grade: B-

Mack

Mack is just reaching the end of his prime, and will not get any better.

In fact, with inferior talent around him on the Falcons line as opposed to a talent-rich Browns line, he might get worse.

The other side of that coin, though: he’ll make everyone else’s job on the line easier. That’s an exciting prospect for the Falcons, as they have not had a premiere lineman since Matt Ryan arrived.

It’s just a bit too much to pay, $9 million a year, for a guy that has clearly left his prime, so I’m not in love with the signing. It’s all right.

 

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Mario Williams: 2 years, $16 million

Grade: C-

Williams

I still think Williams has a lot to offer as a player, my concern is pairing him up with a bad influence like Suh, who could bring out the worst in him.

From what I understand, Williams’ main beef was being played out of position by Coach Rex Ryan, and it’s a reasonable frustration when it’s clear where a player best fits. That’s essentially Ryan screwing with Williams’ value by not putting him in the best position to succeed and produce at a high volume.

The Dolphins will likely slide Williams in as a replacement to Olivier Vernon and the production should not see much of a dip.

$8 million per year is a little steep for an older player like Williams, but he likely has a few good years left and it’s a short contract, so it’s not like they’ve shackled themselves for years to a player that could majorly regress.

This could go bad, but I find it a somewhat reasonably calculated risk.

 

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Ramon Humber, LB: 1 year, unknown amount

Grade: B-

Humber

I have nearly no doubt this is a veteran minimum deal.

Humber is ok depth at linebacker and a very good special teamer. He just should never be asked to take signifcant snaps.

The Patriots have a solid history of acquiring Saints castoffs like Rob Ninkovich, Donte Stallworth and Akiem Hicks to name a few, so I expect them to maximize Humber’s skill set.

 

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Alex Boone, G: 4 years, $26.8 million, $10 million guaranteed

Grade: A-

Boone

This is probably the best offensive lineman signing of the season so far.

Boone is an excellent mauler run-blocker that should bust open plenty of holes for Adrian Peterson through the life of his contract.

To get a top-flight free agent guard at a little over 6 mil per year is an excellent signing. It’s a bit under market value.

 

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

Ben Jones, C: four years, $17.5 million, $7.5 million guaranteed

Grade: B-

B Jones

N0t much to see here.

Ben Jones is 27, and he probably won’t get too much better. He’s an average starter getting paid slightly more than he should on the open market.

The Titans did address a need here and it opens up more draft possibilities for them, which is why I’m giving this higher than a C.

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Janoris Jenkins, CB:5 years, $62.5 million, $29 million guaranteed

Grade: C+

Jenkins

I love Janoris Jenkins’ potential. I do not love paying him premium starter money just because it’s a thin market.

Inevitably, some team was going to overpay for his services so I can’t knock the Giants too hard. They desperately need help everywhere on the defense, but the departure of Amukamara made corner a big concern.

Jenkins should come in and provide solid starter snaps, but I feel like this might end up very similar to the Maxwell deal last year. Hint: Maxwell is no longer on the team that overpaid for his services.

 

 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Travis Benjamin, WR: 4 years, $24 million, $13 million guaranteed

Grade: D

Benjamin

I like the idea of getting Rivers more weapons, and with Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson already in the fold, San Diego is building itself a nice little corps.

Benjamin should be able to step into the slot and provide meaningful snaps fairly quickly.

Unfortunately, the Chargers paid him WR2 money, 6 mil per year is just too much for a guy that should not be seeing the field on every offensive snap. If they expect to make a jump, fine. I just don’t see it.

 

 

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Bruce Irvin, OLB: 4 years, $37 million, 12.5 million guaranteed

Grade: C+

Irvin

Irvin is not a game-changing linebacker, and although this was a position of need, the Raiders overpaid here.

There is very little chance Irvin lives up to over $9 million per year. The saving grace on this one is the low guarantee number which would allow the Raiders to essentially opt out after the 2016 season since the guarantee is completely front loaded.

That’s a good plan by Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie. Still, as it stands, this is too much for a marginal starter.

 

 

Kelechi Osemele, OL: 5 years, $58.5.million, 25.4 million guaranteed

Grade: C-

Osemele

This is another case of the Raiders overpaying, big-time.

The key here is that the buzz says the Raiders see Osemele’s value at tackle. That is not where his value lies, as he is just an above-average left tackle.

He is a dominant guard, however, and it’s possible Raiders brass will recognize that and play him accordingly.

Unfortunately, paying $11 million a year to a fringe starter at tackle or a dominant guard, regardless, is too much money. Like the player, but the numbers don’t work for me.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Rodney McLeod, S: 5 years, $37 million, $17 million guaranteed

Grade: B+

McLeod

I actually really like this move. The need at safety was pretty large next to Malcolm Jenkins. McLeod is a legitimate starter, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ third best available safety in 1180 snaps last season.

He’s 26 years old, so he should just be entering his prime. This is actually a lot like the Malcolm Jenkins signing from a couple years ago. The Eagles are getting a player that may ascend, and is very unlikely to regress.

The money is a bit too much for him though, I see his value more in the $6 million per year range, but the Eagles did a nice job not getting pushed around by the market. They got their guy and now they have more draft flexibility.

 

 

Leodis McKelvin: 2 years, $6 million

Grade: B

McKelvin

McKelvin may not be an above-average starter anymore, but he can be what Byron Maxwell was for the Eagles in 2015. He’s also coming at a hugely discounted rate.

The main reason for this is that he’s getting up there in age and has some injury concerns, but this is a good move for the Eagles, buying low on a guy who probably has a few good years left.

This should in no way preclude them from drafting a corner, however.

 

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Coby Fleener, TE: 5 years, $36 million

Grade: B

Fleener

This is reportedly a back-loaded contract, which I’m not a fan of.

However, the Saints are clearly attempting to still make a run with the couple of years Brees has left, so the deal makes sense.

Fleener is a smart guy, and should pick up the complicated Saints offense quickly. The Saints just turned Ben Watson into a highly productive tight end at 35 so I expect Fleener should be able to produce similar numbers and for a longer amount of time.

A little over 7 mil is a lot. But it’s likely the going rate for top tight ends in a starved market. Fleener is almost certain to live up to the contract due to the way Brees and Payton use tight ends.

 

 

Josh Scobee, K: 1 year, veteran minimum

Grade: A-

Scobee

There is no risk in signing Scobee, who had a very solid career with the Jags before stinking it up in Pittsburgh.

Word is he was dealing with a hip issue and that could have contributed to his poor performance.

Obviously Saints are hoping he returns to form, and if he does they’re set at kicker for years. If not? Dump him for no money down.

 

 

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

Lamar Miller, RB: 4 years, 26 million, $14 million guaranteed.

Grade: C

Miller

The Texans clearly needed to find an answer as they’re moving on from Arian Foster.

Miller represents a downgrade, however, and at a little over $5 million per season, he’s getting paid more than a very comparable running back in New Orlean’s Mark Ingram.

This is another case of overpaying in a thin market, and these teams are going to regret these deals.

 

 

Brock Osweiler, QB: 4 years, $72 million

Grade: OH BOY CHEF BOYAR-BAALKE GRADE

Osweiler

Osweiler was only a viable starter because he was such a scheme fit for the Broncos.

He will not be better than Brian Hoyer and if the Texans expect him to be their quarterback of the future, they’re delusional.

This deal is warm, like some good Chef Boyardee, because it does my heart good to see dumb teams overpaying mediocre quarterbacks. $18 million a year? Really? He’s a backup. Oh man, this one is funny. The definition of a Baalke (F) grade.

 

 

DENVER BRONCOS

Donald Stephenson, OT: 3 years, $14 million, $10 million guaranteed

Grade: D-

Stephenson

Word was if the Broncos lost Jackson, they’d be in the market for a serious O-lineman.

Stephenson is an upgrade over Michael Schofield, who started at right tackle, and provides a solid backup option if Clady can’t go or if Sambrailo isn’t ready.

The Broncos overpaid by quite a bit on this contract. A little under $5 million for a guy that still has potential, but was dreadful last year is a concerning signing for a team that had hardly any cap flexibility.

 

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Ben Watson: 2 years, $8 million

Grade: C-

Watson

The Ravens are paying for Watson’s 2015 production in a Payton scheme with Brees throwing him the football.

Baltimore represents a downgrade in both scheme and quarterback play. Pair that with the natural regression the 35-year-old Watson is sure to have and you can start to see why I’m not crazy about this move.

However, Watson is still a good blocker and should provide some solid depth behind Crockett Gilmore and Maxx Williams.

He’s also a wonderful presence both on and off the field as a leader and humanitarian. It’s always smart to add a guy like that to a young locker room. They’re just paying too much of a premium for it for my taste.

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Forrest Hill, LS: no contract details

Grade: TBD

Hill