John Lynch upgraded the San Francisco 49ers defense in his first off-season as general manager:

Photo credit: Icon Sportswire

Author: Jon Kuzma

The San Francisco 49ers had the worst defense in all of football last year. The 49ers surrendered 480 points and an average of 406 yards per game. In order for San Francisco to improve, the defense was clearly the first thing that should have been addressed and that’s exactly what John Lynch did after taking over as general manager. Lynch added two solid defensive playmakers in the draft when he added Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster. Solomon Thomas should be able to come in and lead this team in the right direction. The former Stanford defensive end was an NFL Combine superstar after finishing in the top 5 in the bench press, broad jump, 3 cone drill, and 20 yard shuttle. Those outstanding performances catapulted Thomas to the top of this year’s first round and now the 49ers will benefit from Thomas’ skill set. Thomas recorded 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss as a member of the Cardinal defense, all of those abilities impressed Lynch and now Thomas will try to bring that same intensity to San Francisco. The 49ers needed more than just Thomas though if they wanted their defense to make significant strides. John Lynch knew this and that’s exactly why he also selected Reuben Foster in the first round. While Foster has some medical concerns and could miss the entire 2017 season, he was still too good of a prospect to pass up and Foster will tasked with solidifying the Niners linebacker corps. Foster was a star last season for Nick Saban’s defense at the University of Alabama, so he is widely recognized as an outstanding defender and if he can stay healthy this will be a great pick. Thomas and Foster almost guarantee that the 49ers won’t be ranked dead last defensively for much longer and that’s exactly what you aim for in the draft, to improve your team. John Lynch certainly did that in his first off-season at the helm, the 49ers enter 2017 much better defensively.

Charity of the day: Wilderness Society

Go donate! www.wilderness.org

The Panthers offense will be much more explosive after adding Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Carolina Panthers were ranked 19th in total offense for the 2016 season and the Panthers knew they had to be more explosive offensively in order to compete. In order to take a step in that direction Carolina drafted Christian McCaffrey with their first round draft pick and McCaffrey should be able to make some good plays for the Panthers this upcoming season. McCaffrey recorded 1,603 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns last year for Stanford. Those are big time stats and McCaffrey will certainly bring a positive impact to Carolina’s offensive backfield. Pairing McCaffrey along with Cam Newton will give the Panthers some excellent options when it comes to their offensive play calling and can you imagine a zone read style offense with those two players? Both of those guys can beat you running the ball and that will cause opposing defenses to creep up a little bit. That’s when windows start to open in the passing game so McCaffrey could play a huge role in opening up the Panthers offense. Carolina wasn’t content with just drafting Christian McCaffrey either, the Panthers also drafted Curtis Samuel out of Ohio State. Samuel is a very dynamic player and he has shades of Percy Harvin or Reggie Bush. That skill set will mesh well with what the Panthers are trying to accomplish and if you watched Samuel in college you’ll know he is an exceptional football player. Samuel rushed for 8 touchdowns and caught 7 touchdowns last season. That versatility makes Samuel an excellent addition to this offensive group and you know Dave Gettleman was thinking “speed” when he selected McCaffrey and Samuel early on. Those two selections will give Cam Newton a chance to put some points on the board and you have to praise the Panthers front office for trying to help their quarterback out. Drafting Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel was a huge win for this franchise and you can almost guarantee that the Panthers offensive will be ranked higher than 19th in 2017.

Charity of the day: Medical Teams International

Go donate! www.medicalteams.org

The New York Jets continue to make bad move after bad move, they botched the draft:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Jets have holes to fill at almost every single position on their roster and that’s why it was extremely awkward when the Jets chose to draft a safety with their first and second picks. Drafting two players that play 9 yards off of the line of scrimmage doesn’t seem like the right path for New York and you have to wonder what General Manager Mike Maccagnan and the Jets front office were thinking? Now drafting Jamal Adams wasn’t that bad of a selection but the Jets have so many positons to fill in order to be competitive. Truthfully a good General Manager would have traded down and acquired as many picks as possible however Maccagnan was adamant that the secondary needed to be addressed. It’s hard to get on board with those decisions because the Jets need a receiver, a running back, a couple of offensive lineman, a cornerback, and even a quarterback. In fact Marcus Gilchrist was one of the Jets best players last year and he is already occupying one of the starting safety positions. New York overloaded that positon and it’s a foolish move because safety is one of the least impactful positons in the sport of football. There wasn’t a single 1,000 yard rusher on the Jets roster last year and Maccagnan failed to address adding a player who can boost the Jets ground game. Not only that but with Brandon Marshall departing the Jets needed someone to downsize that loss at the receiver position. New York really could have used a guy they could have lined up next to Quincy Enunwa and a recovering Eric Decker. While New York did draft Ardarius Stewart out of Alabama in the 3rd round, the Jets really needed a marquee playmaker such as Mike Williams. That would have put Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg in a better position this upcoming season and it would have made the Jets a much more desirable destination for other players. With the Jets second round pick they should have brought in Dalvin Cook and that would have been a huge difference than the direction New York decided to go. Could you imagine Mike Williams and Dalvin Cook on the Jet right now? That would have been a much more successful draft and it’s hard to believe that Woody Johnson allows this mockery of franchise to keep spiraling out of control. The fans in New York deserve better and expect the Jets to clean house after the 2017 season. They just don’t have enough talent to compete with the other 31 teams in the league right now.

Charity of the day: Fisher House Foundation

Go donate! www.fisherhouse.org

The Buffalo Bills have decided not to pick up Sammy Watkins 5th year contract option:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Buffalo Bills felt like they haven’t got enough out of Sammy Watkins and now the Bills are declining to pick up Watkins’ 5th year option. As many football fans already know, Watkins has struggled to stay healthy and he has missed 11 games over the course of his first three professional seasons. That has made the Bills skeptical about how much Sammy Watkins can produce and now the 4th year receiver will likely play his final season in Buffalo. If Watkins has big 2017 season for the Bills he could essentially raise his value enough to be franchised tagged or signed by another franchise. That would be ideal for Sammy Watkins, so he definitely has a lot ridding on this upcoming season. A great year production wise could mean a huge payday for Watkins, while a poor year will likely lead to a low ball offer. Keep in mind Sammy Watkins best year came back in 2015 when he recorded 1,047 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. If Watkins can recapture that elite form there is no doubt he will receive a mega-contract and the Bills might even be compelled enough to re-sign him. Right now though that doesn’t seem to be the direction the Bills are heading and now Sammy Watkins finds himself playing for his career. We’ve seen quality players leave the National Football League far too soon and another bad year could really damage Watkins’ brand. It’s imperative that Sammy Watkins stays healthy in 2017 and it’s crazy to go all the way back to the 2014 NFL Draft when all the scouts were singing high praise for Watkins. Those same NFL insiders championed Sammy Watkins over Mike Evans and so far Evans has been a far better player. So Sammy Watkins needs to resurrect his career and he has to do it quickly or he will be labeled a bust by NFL standards.

Charity of the day: Fisher House Foundation

Go donate! www.fisherhouse.org

The Denver Broncos are interested in signing Jamaal Charles:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Denver Broncos have recently expressed interest in Jamaal Charles and it appears John Elway is evaluating the veteran running back’s health. Charles hasn’t played a full season since 2014 but when completely healthy he is easily one of the better backs in the entire league. That’s why teams are still interested in Jamaal Charles despite the fact he has only had 5 touchdowns over the past two years and Denver is looking to catch a big talent for a prorated price when they’re courting Jamaal Charles. With C.J Anderson getting injured last season that left the Broncos depleted at the running back position and now Denver is looking to avoid going through that situation again in 2017. If Jamaal Charles can recapture his top form, he could easily make a push for the Broncos starting gig and give Elway credit for exploring all options. Jamaal Charles started gaining interest after a video of him surfaced and Charles was moving more fluently than he has in a long time. That has led the Broncos to believe Jamaal Charles could be on the path to recovery and as a football fan we’d all like to see Charles back on the field and having success. Charles has posted seven seasons of at least 1,000 yards rushing and it’s uncharacteristic to see the former Chiefs running back struggling. Denver could offer Charles a chance to get back on track and it will be interesting to see if the Broncos do indeed submit an offer to 10th year running back? Jamaal Charles is 30 years old so he is getting up there in running back years, that could ultimately sway the Broncos away from signing him. So truthfully it will come down to how much Charles is willing to sign for and how healthy Charles knees are? If Denver can get a cheap price and Charles is cleared medically it’s very possible he could wind up in a Broncos jersey for the 2017 season.

Charity of the day: Jane Goodall Institute

Go donate! www.janegoodall.org

The Giants might have found Eli Manning’s successor in Davis Webb:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Giants knew they had to get a quarterback to eventually replace Eli Manning and the Giants selected Davis Webb in the 3rd round of the draft to be that guy. Webb was a good value pick in the 3rd round especially when you consider all the potential that the former Cal quarterback brings to the table. Webb threw for 4,295 passing yards and 37 touchdowns last year for the Golden Bears, that production is very impressive and now Manning has to be at his best to retain the starting job. The competition between both players will only help Eli Manning and Davis Webb in the end, which will ultimately raise the bar for New York as a whole. Manning will likely start for a couple more years for New York and that will give Webb enough time to learn the in’s and out’s of the pro game. However if Webb is further along than most rookies are he could challenge Manning for the starting spot. New York has a talented enough team where they want to compete for a Super Bowl, if Manning can’t get the job done than Webb certainly is another option for this football team. Make no mistake about it that’s why Jerry Reese drafted Webb and keep in mind Manning only threw 1 touchdowns pass in the Giants 38-13 playoff loss to the Packers last season. If Manning stalls out again and Webb has shown enough in practice that could lead Ben McAdoo to give Webb the nod. It’s not that Manning isn’t a competent quarterback it’s just that he is nearing the end of his career and Webb still has his best days ahead of him. Webb is a 6’5 230 pound quarterback who ran a 4.79 40 yard dash at the combine. Webb’s skill set could yield great results in the Giants high potent offense so we will see how far along Davis Webb is after getting NFL reps and getting acclimated to the Giants offensive system? At the end of the day though this was a great selection for New York, they get a guy who can improve their football team and Webb should be a starter in this league someday. That’s all you really can ask for when you draft a player.

Charity of the day: Jane Goodall Institute

Go donate! www.janegoodall.org

Chargers finally give Philip Rivers the help he needs by drafting Mike Williams and Forrest Lamp:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Los Angeles Chargers finally had an NFL Draft in which they kept Quarterback Philip Rivers in mind. After the Chargers failed to get Rivers adequate pass protection or receivers in a number of different drafts, Los Angeles finally got it right when they drafted Mike Williams and Forrest Lamp with their first two picks. Williams was a star for the Clemson Tigers and that National Champion swagger should bring an immediate impact to this Chargers receiving group. Mike Williams will pair up with Tyrell Willams who recorded 1,059 receiving yards in 2016. Those two guys will give Rivers the best group of receivers he has had in a long time and the Chargers will be even more dynamic if Keenan Allen can recapture his form. Give the Chargers front office credit for deciding to fill a team need and drafting Williams, that move will keep their quarterback happy and it gives the Chargers the best chance to succeed offensively. Los Angeles wasn’t content with just drafting Mike Williams either, they also took Forrest Lamp in the 2nd round who is easily one of the better lineman in the entire draft. Lamp was an absolute star at Western Kentucky and as long he stays healthy there’s a good chance Lamp will be a day 1 starter. Lamp started 51 games as a left tackle in Bowling Green (Kentucky) and that versatility to play inside at guard or outside at tackle makes Lamp a lock to start somewhere. Not only will Forrest Lamp help Philip Rivers get a little bit more time passing the football, he also should help Melvin Gordon in the running game. That was too good for the Chargers to pass up and now Los Angeles walks away with a couple of quality players with their first two picks. Rivers will have a chance to really make a splash this season because of the upgrades Tom Telesco has made. It’s safe to say the Chargers are heading in the right direction and that’s all you can ask for when you’re at the bottom of your division and looking to improve. The Chargers had a good draft.

Charity of the day: Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Go donate! www.plannedparenthood.org

Corey Davis was the first wide receiver taken in the 2017 NFL Draft and he will make a huge impact for the Tennessee Titans:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tennessee Titans drafted Corey Davis with the 5th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and it’s easy to see why when you take a deeper look at Davis’ stats. Corey Davis hauled in an impressive 5,278 receiving yards over the course of his collegiate career and he also amassed 52 career receiving touchdowns. Those 5,278 receiving yards are the most ever recorded by any wide receiver to play collegiate football and that stat alone tells you how productive Davis can be. Davis also had the 7th best single season of all time with the 1,500 yards he hauled in last year in Kalamazoo. So Corey Davis has clearly been one of the most prolific receivers we’ve ever seen at the collegiate level and that’s why Davis ultimately was the first receiver taken off the board. The Tennessee Titans got the wide receiver that they’ve been lacking in their offense for a number of years and now Marcus Mariota has one more weapon in his arsenal. Davis and Mariota’s chemistry will play a tremendous role in whether or not the Titans can get back to the postseason? It feels like the Titans have done enough this off-season to take the next step and Corey Davis is the cherry on top of a great off-season in Nashville. The Titans added talent at a number of positions through free agency and the draft, those players will give this team enough to push the Texans in the AFC South. In order for that to happen Corey Davis is going to have to have a big impact and now the bar is 1,000 yards receiving for Davis. If Corey Davis can record 1,000 yards receiving as a rookie that will be a great start to his career and Tennessee will get huge uplift from those efforts. Overall give Titans General Manage Jon Robinson credit, he believed Corey Davis was the best wide receiver available and he trusted his instincts with this pick. That’s the first step in effective leadership.

Charity of the day: Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Go donate! www.plannedparenthood.org

The Bears show their lack of direction by drafting Mitchell Trubisky just a month after signing Mike Glennon:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Chicago Bears have been a bad football team for some time now and they made an incongruent decision when they drafted Mitch Trubisky 2nd overall in the draft. Instead of using that 1st round draft pick to bring in a wide receiver or lineman to help Glennon succeed. The Bears drafted Trubisky and now Chicago is overloaded at the quarterback position. That’s unacceptable considering the Bears just signed Glennon to a 3 year $45 million dollar contract and the Bears really could have benefited from selecting Jamal Adams, Corey Davis, or Mike Williams. Any one of those three guys could have potentially started out of the gate for Chicago and that’s a better choice than drafting another quarterback who will wait behind Glennon to play. Truthfully the Bears could have traded back three or four spots and still landed Mike Williams (Chicago could have also added a draft pick in that trade as well). Ultimately Chicago decided that trading up with the 49ers was the best choice for their team and they also gave up three draft picks to do so (two 3rd round picks, and a 4th round pick). So it’s safe to say Chicago wasted three picks that could have turned into key players for their team and then they drafted a player who isn’t even going to start. Even drafting a tight end in the first round (which is rarely advisable) would have been a better option than what the Bears chose to do and Glennon to O.J Howard could have brought some joy to the Windy City. Chicago fans will have to settle for a promising young quarterback who will some day be the guy and it’s depressing considering the fact that the Bears really missed an opportunity to get better. To sum it up not only did Chicago draft the wrong player but they also agreed to a bad deal as well. Most of this failure has to fall on General Manager Ryan Pace, he didn’t put Chicago in a position to win in 2017. Pace will regret these decisions when Chicago fails to compete in the regular season.

Charity of the day: American Rivers

Go donate! www.americanrivers.org

The Houston Texans select DeShaun Watson 12th overall and now they have their franchise quarterback:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Houston Texans have had a hole to fill at the quarterback position all off-season and now it looks like Deshaun Watson will be the guy who leads Houston into the future. After overpaying for an underproducing Brock Osweiler last off-season, Watson should be able to raise the bar for the Texans and this was a great selection. Deshaun Watson has played in the last two college football National Championships and it’s clear the former Clemson Tiger knows how to lead a football team. Some scouts were very critical of Watson but keep in mind on game day there was no player in the country better than number 4 for Clemson. Watson made big play after big play in the 2017 National Champion to knock off Alabama. That moxy that Watson showed was enough to solidify him as a first round draft pick and the Texans significantly improved their football team when they drafted the 21 year old quarterback. Now this this team can feel comfortable with the QB’s that they have on their roster and it will be interesting to see if Deshaun Watson can be a day one starter? Tom Savage played in three games last year for the Texans but he doesn’t have as much upside as Watson and Savage is definitely not the long term answer for Houston. Savage might get the nod for week one but there is no way he makes through the entire season as the team’s starting quarterback. Eventually Bill O’Brien will want to start Watson because he gives Houston the best chance at winning a Super Bowl. DeAndre Hopkins should be much happier this season as well because he clearly wasn’t clicking with Osweiler. Watson gives Hopkins a chance to get back on track and the Texans took a step in the right direction when they decided to trade up and take a chance on Deshaun Watson. This guy could be the savior of the Houston Texans franchise when it’s all said and done because the Texans have never had a quarterback of Watson’s caliber at the helm.

Charity of the day: Waterkeeper Alliance

Go donate! www.waterkeeper.org

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