Not many players can fill running lanes like Seahawks Linebacker Bobby Wagner can. He’ll be tasked with carrying the torch after the departures of Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks might have had a lot of roster turnover this off-season but that just opens the door for other players to step up. One guy who is going to assume a leadership position in Seattle is Middle Linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner has been absolutely sensational since entering the NFL back in 2012. The former Utah State defender can diagnose running plays quickly and then Wagner has the speed / instincts to blow plays up in the offensive backfield. The stats prove that, Wagner has recorded 778 tackles over his first six seasons of professional action. With an average of 129 tackles per year there’s no doubt that Bobby Wagner will be the alpha dog in Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman’s absence. It will be interesting to see how Earl Thomas responds to that? There’s been reports out of Washington that Thomas and Wagner have clashed at times. Therefore it’s something that has to be observed carefully and hopefully those two guys can work everything out. The last thing you ever want to see is friendly fire happening between two teammates. At the same time though it’s a passionate sport and when the game starts going emotions tend to run wild. If the Seahawks truly want to get things back on track not only do Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner have to play their best football. They also have to find a way to coexist so the team’s overall morale isn’t brought down. To make things even more complicated there’s going to be a lot of new players around these two guys who will all be trying to establish themselves. Which makes it clear that the Seahawks have a lot on their plate heading into the 2018 season and it’s not going to be easy by any means. Especially since the Los Angels Rams are the the front-runner to win the NFC West and look like the best team in all football.

Charity of the day: Food Bank For New York City

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Patrick Mahomes is going to burst onto the scene in 2018 and It’s only a matter of time before the Chiefs quarterback is a household name:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Patrick Mahomes is taking over the reins as the Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterback and that’s going to really take Andy Reid’s offense to the next level. Mahomes has been known for being a game changing quarterback throughout his high school and collegiate days. Now Mahomes will fill the vacancy Alex Smith left behind with the Chiefs and if you followed Mahomes you know that’s going to be a huge boost for guys like Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Sammy Watkins. Really that’s going to be a potent attack and expect Kansas City to put a lot of points on the board in 2018. As far as the quarterback position goes Mahomes is going to light it up with his big play capabilities. Patrick Mahomes threw for 50 touchdowns his senior of high school and then 41 touchdowns in his final year with Texas Tech. At every step of the way Patrick Mahomes has put together gaudy numbers and don’t expect that to change in the NFL. The former Red Raider auditioned for the Chiefs starting job in week 17 last season against the Broncos. While Alex Smith was resting for the playoffs Mahomes threw for 284 yards in his first start against Denver’s defense. That was enough for Andy Reid to believe in his up and coming signal caller. It’s not easy to step right in as a rookie and throw for almost 300 yards so it was clear the 22 year old could handle the weight on his shoulders. Obviously there will be moments when Mahomes is going to be tested but overall it should be smooth sailing. The natural competence the Tyler Texas native brings to the table could soon end up being the standard of the league. There’s no doubt Patrick Mahomes will be star in the NFL and it’s only a matter of time before that happens.

Charity of the day: Food Bank For New York

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Jalen Ramsey is going to takeover in his third professional season. You can already tell the Jaguars cornerback is ready to set the league on fire:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Jalen Ramsey has had quite an impressive start to his NFL career. After being selected 5th overall in 2016 NFL Draft the Jacksonville cornerback has recorded 6 interceptions over his first two years in the league. Ramsey’s numbers should be even better in his third season because he will be much more aware and confident. That’s going to help the former Seminole create a lot more plays in the secondary and that will be a big factor in whether or not the Jaguars can repeat the success they had last season? The things Jalen Ramsey does well are really centered around his abilities in press coverage. Ramsey is physical at the line of scrimmage and often reroutes receivers. By taking away opposing players initial release that automatically puts Ramsey in a favorable position because it screws with the offense’s rhythm and timing. When a pass catcher does beat the young defender downfield Ramsey has enough closing speed to make up for it. Then there’s Jalen Ramsey’s jumping ability and most people who followed his track career know Ramsey was a champion long jumper at the collegiate level. Ramsey also has 41.5 inch vertical jump so really this guy is just the total package. Obviously that’s why Jacksonville had no problem taking him in the top 5 selections of the draft. There’s so many different facets that make up Ramsey’s game and together they combine to make a hell of a football player. The final trait that must be discussed though is Jalen Ramsey’s clutch factor. When it’s crunch time in the fourth quarter nobody rises to the occasion more and the bigger the stage and the brighter the lights it doesn’t matter Jalen Ramsey is going thrive in those conditions. At the end of the day the Jaguars will have to find a way to knock off New England to make it out of the AFC. If Ramsey can rattle Tom Brady that would go a long way in getting Jacksonville over the hump.

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The Patriots should go defense with their two first round draft picks. That would help New England avoid another Super Bowl collapse:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Bill Belichick has two first round picks to work with in this upcoming draft and New’s England’s head coach should use both of those selections on defensive players. A great combination would be Taven Bryan at the 23 spot and Maurice Hurst at 31. Both of those players are defensive tackles and while it might seem like New England would be overloading the position. Pro Football is won at the defensive line of scrimmage and the Patriots can’t afford to have another Super Bowl letdown. The truth is Belichick already has a talented defensive front with players like Trey Flowers, Malcolm Brown, and Adrian Clayborn. However due to the physicality of the position defensive lineman will always need to rotate. Having Bryan and Hurst as interchangeable parts would ensure New England can compete with the Rams and Eagles who have two of the top defensive fronts in the league. The pass rush has almost become like an arms race in the fact that if you don’t have a talented group upfront your team tends to become obsolete. It’s rare that you see a team double down and draft the same position twice. Although it would be a very smart move for the Patriots because ultimately that’s going to help this team change their tenacity in the trenches. Suddenly this organization would have enough talent to impose their will on teams every single snap. Last season this defense was on their heels a lot and that was obvious with their 29th ranking in yards surrendered per game. Bryan is going to come in as the top pick and bring a little nastiness with his quick initial step. The funny thing is Maruice Hurst is the same way and it’s going to be extremely tough to block these young bulls. Really that’s too much to pass up on and Belichick should have this tandem on his radar.

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SMU’s Courtland Sutton would be a great fit for the Carolina Panthers. Devin Funchess and Sutton could do some serious damage:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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All off-season we’ve been talking about which receiver in the draft is going to end up being the best? Really that comes down to three players (Calvin Ridley, D.J Moore, and Courtland Sutton) and out of those three it feels like Sutton would be the ideal fit for the Panthers at the number 24 spot. Sutton is a big framed receiver at 6 feet 4 inches and 216 pounds. When you pair Sutton up with Devin Funchess who is 6’5 236 pounds himself that’s a duo that can simply overpower smaller defensive backs. While Ridley and Moore might be a little bit more explosive, Sutton is going to be very good in the red zone. Carolina was 21st in the league at converting from 20 yards and in so adding Courtland Sutton will immediately improve that ranking. In fact when you plug in Sutton’s SMU game films it becomes obvious that scoring touchdowns is what he does best. Especially when the Mustangs offense was down by the goal line trying to find a way to punch it in. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Sutton’s body is big enough to naturally box out defenders. It’s very similar to what Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates have been able to do over their careers. From there Carolina can let Torrey Smith work the deep passing game and then suddenly the Panthers weakness at receiver will be turned into a strength. That’s so important because it’s going to keep Cam Newton motivated to perform well and we all know how much this offense ticks when that guy is on. Sutton is the answer to a lot of Ron Rivera’s problems and they shouldn’t think too deeply about this selection. Make it easy in the first round by picking the talented possession receiver (Sutton) and then focus on the offensive line and defense later on in the draft.

Charity of the day: Habitat for Humanity

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The Baltimore Ravens will have a whole new set of receivers to uplift their passing game. That group is headlined by Michael Crabtree:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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For the past couple of seasons the Baltimore Ravens have struggled to get anything done through the air. Ravens General Manger Ozzie Newsome was adamant that he change that in 2018 and now we know a group of new players are coming in at the wide receiver position. Michael Crabtree is going to be top dog out of those pass catchers. Crabtree was recently released by the Oakland Raiders but is still coming off a good year recording 8 touchdowns. Baltimore will benefit big time from having an elite talent like the former Texas Tech stand out. Michael Crabtree is 30 years old so he should still have at least three solid seasons left in the tank. Newsome also brought in a CFL superstar to pair up next to Crabtree. Former Toronto Argonauts Wide Out Devier Posey signed a one year deal with the Ravens just a couple of months ago. Posey put up 744 yards and 7 touchdowns during his 2017 season in Canada. There’s a lot of potential there and don’t be surprised if Posey comes back stateside and starts making some plays. Crabtree and Posey are both over 6 feet tall and more than 200 pounds too. Which means Joe Flacco is going to have some decent sized targets out wide which can help create opportunities in the passing game. The final piece of the puzzle was the addition of John Brown from the Arizona Cardinals. Brown is a speed demon who turned in a blistering 4.34 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine (2014). Posey and Crabtree are going to be more of possession receivers, while Brown is going to work the vertical passing game. Together all three players have a chance to be a pretty formidable trio of receivers. It was a smart strategy by the Ravens finding a group of guys who can mesh and produce optimal results.

Charity of the day: World Vision

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DeForest Buckner is starting to become everything the 49ers envisioned when they drafted him in the first round back in 2016:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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DeForest Buckner was a highly coveted player back in the 2016 NFL Draft. Everybody wanted the star defensive end coming out of Oregon and the 49ers were fortunate enough to draft Buckner with the 7th overall selection a couple of drafts ago. Since then Buckner has shown glimpses of the player he can be at the professional level but one thing that must happen is DeForest Buckner must stay healthy. In two seasons as a pro the Former Pac 12 Player of the Year (2012) has already missed six games. That hurts Buckner’s ability to put up significant stats but the young defender did manage to record 9sacks over his first twenty five games. Another thing that most be noted is Deforest Bucker always seems to get pressure and be in the offensive backfield. Whether he’s actually finishing plays or not that’s still stirring up a lot of chaos. So It’s obvious Buckner can be a disruptive force and that’s going to yield good results for the San Francisco defense. Believe it or not there’s a lot of up and coming talent in that group. Arik Armstead and DeForest Bucker are both around 6 feet 7 inches and in the 280 to 300 pounds range. Those are two big guys that can get their hands up and bat down a lot of balls. Solomon Thomas should be even better in his second season as well so the 49ers have some defensive lineman that can really get after the quarterback. Buckner has been the best out of those guys so he has to assume the alpha dog role and set the tone for those other pass rushers. Keep in mind Reuben Foster is facing a lengthy suspension too which means it’s even more imperative that the trio of Buckner, Armstead, and Thomas produce big results. One thing is for certain opposing quarterbacks definitely need to keep their head on a swivel when they play the 49ers.

Charity of the day: World Vision

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The pressure might end up being too much for Kirk Cousins. He has lofty expectations to fulfill and Keenum’s miracle run needs to be acknowledged:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Minnesota Vikings signed Case Keenum to be a back up last season and what a year Keenum ended up having in Sam Bradford’s absence. Keenum took the Vikings on a miracle run all the way to the NFC Championship Game and lets be honest it’s not going to be easy to achieve those expectations again. There’s even a saying in the book 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene “Never Fill A Great Man’s Shoes.” While Case Keenum isn’t great by any means last year he clearly was for Minnesota. Without Keenum stepping in and raising the bar there’s no way Mike Zimmer’s team goes on a deep playoff run. So for Kirk Cousins to come this ball club and really believe he can put all that weight on his shoulders is a very risky move. Not only will Cousins have to be absolutely amazing he’ll need everyone around him stay healthy too. If Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs get banged up suddenly that purple team from up North is going to be pointing fingers at someone. We all know the quarterback position will always be the guy that takes all the heat during tough times. While Minnesota will be a winning team and should go back to the playoffs. It’s very questionable whether they will make it as far as they did with Keenum leading the charge? Cousins has it easy right now but sooner or later he’s going to have to face some true adversity. The last couple years Kirk Cousins crumbled when similar pressure was on him with the Redskins. To be honest Minnesota’s circumstances are even tougher than that too. It’s Super Bowl or bust for the Vikings and Cousins might have been better off signing somewhere else. That way Kirk Cousins could have built his own regime and been solely responsible for uplifting an organization.

Charity of the day: World Vision

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If things don’t change quickly it’s going to be a rough season for Arizona, Cincinnati, and Miami:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Every year there’s a few teams that fall behind in the talent category. This season the Cardinals, Bengals, and Dolphins seem the most depleted. None of these organizations really did what they had to do in order to be competitive. Arizona and Miami in particular made some poor moves that will actually hinder their performance on Sundays. The Dolphins decided to part ways some key players (most notably Suh and Landry). While the Cardinals spent $20 million dollars to pick up Sam Bradford, then inked Mike Glennon to be his back up. Each team’s General Manager should have their head checked after those decisions and you have to be frustrated if you follow these ball clubs. Cincinnati at least has made some decent acquisitions most notably the Cordy Glenn move. Glenn came over from Buffalo and will at least help solidify things upfront for the Bengals. The problem with Marvin Lewis’ roster is the fact that their players are collectively past their prime. Geno Atkins and Adam Pacman Jones are starting to get up there in age. On top of that Vontaze Burfict can’t stay on the field and it’s gotten to the point where Cincinnati has to seriously reevaluate the talented but troubled linebacker. All of these circumstances spell disaster for these three teams and it will be interesting to see where they all finish? It feels like the Bengals are the best of these three squads on paper but sometimes that doesn’t always add up on game day. Meanwhile Arizona might end up being the worst because they really got it wrong at the QB spot. Miami seems like they will tank also. They pushed too many good players out the door and Adam Gase could find himself on the hot seat while the Phins try to rebuild.

Charity of the day: JDRF International

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It’s hard to believe Von Miller has already been in the National Football League for seven seasons. Miller’s been consistently dominant since becoming a pro:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller has made a living with his spectacular plays on the football field. Miller’s been so good over the course of his career that he has recorded 83.5 sacks over his first sevens seasons of action. That’s big time production and most players don’t have an immediate impact the way Miller has. When you average just under 12 sacks per seasons that’s when you start to transcend beyond a football player. Miller has gained a lot of recognition as not just a great linebacker but also for being someone with a big personality. Whether it’s the Old Spice commercials or video segments about Miller’s chicken farm. Everyone likes to follow Von Miller because he brings a lot of energy to life. It’s that same mindset that makes Miller such a great player on game day. You can tell the star defender truly loves playing the game and that’s why he produces week in and week out. John Elway realized he has a player he can build his entire defense around and that’s why the Broncos pay Miller $19 million dollars annually. Now Denver needs to find a talented defender in the draft to pair up next to Von Miller. Really there’s three option to choose from if you’re this organization. Those choices will be Bradley Chubb, Tremaine Edmunds, or Roquan Smith. Obviously Chubb would be the top priority but if he’s not there the Broncos should seriously consider Edmunds or Smith. Edmunds is very highly coveted because of his size and speed. He’s a 6’5 253 pound guy who runs a 4.54 40 yard dash and that could really help Denver opposite of Miller. Either that or this franchise could go with Roquan Smith who was the Dick Butkus Award winner. Really it’s about whoever Elway feels will mesh the best with Miller. If the Broncos get that tandem right those two players alone could completely change this team’s luck.

Charity of the day: JDRF International

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