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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Robert Griffin III signs a one year contract with the Baltimore Ravens. Griffin III was out of football for the entire 2017 season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Robert Griffin III will be back on the football field this upcoming season. After Griffin III missed all of the 2017 season due to not being signed by any team. Eventually the Ravens emerged as a possible destination for Griffin III. We know now that deal actually materialized and it’s good to see the former Browns and Redskins quarterback doing what he loves most. Griffin III was actually the last Cleveland Browns quarterback to win a game and Baltimore is hoping he can provide a little insurance behind Joe Flacco. In order for Griffin III to be able to do that he’ll have to bring his “A game” to Maryland. When Robert Griffin III is playing at an optimal level he is throwing the ball well and using his feet to extend plays. Maybe the biggest tool the new Raven brings to the table is his deep throwing ability. When you plug in the tape on this guy it’s pretty obvious he is most comfortable working the vertical passing game. Most of Griffin’s throws came on fades up the right sideline. That’s the area where the former Baylor stand out feels most comfortable tossing the pigskin. Eventually Griffin has to become better at working the left side of the field though. The only plays Robert Griffin makes to the left are read option plays when he pulls the football and runs that way. It almost reminds you of the old QB vision Madden games except Griffin’s vision isn’t capable of scanning anywhere but the right. John Harbaugh’s coaching staff will have to do their best to correct those flaws but there’s no doubt Griffin deserves this shot. He was better than most of the QBs who were on NFL rosters last season so overall it’s awesome to see him get another chance. Griffin III will have to make the most of it and prove to everyone around the league he is ready to earn anything that comes his way.

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David Johnson has recovered from the wrist injury that ended his season a year ago. Will Johnson ever be the player he was back in 2016 though?

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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David Johnson had a rough 2017 season finishing the year on injured reserve after seriously damaging his wrist. That was such a huge setback for the Cardinals because Johnson scored 20 touchdowns the year before. Now Arizona hopes Johnson can shake those cobwebs and get back to being a dynamic force on the football field. If the new coaching staff understands how to utilize Johnson they should be able to bring out the best in one of top dual threat running backs in the league. Johnson is a player who can handle the entire workload in the running game and he’s also exceptional at catching passes out of the backfield. Cardinals Head Coach Steve Wilks has to put together a bunch of counters and misdirections to put Johnson in favorable situations. Then Arizona has to draw up swing passes, halfback fades, and screens to make sure Johnson’s pass catching abilities are optimized. If done correctly it’s amazing how much one player (Johnson) can bring to table. The birds will also score a lot more points this upcoming season than they did last year. David Johnson just has that kind of impact and the former 3rd round draft pick is heading into a contract year as well. No one knows for sure whether the Cardinals plan on extending Johnson? It feels like they most likely will but anything is possible. The bottom line is Johnson is going to have lofty goals for the season because he wants to make sure he’ll be paid well the next time he inks a deal. Le’Veon Bell is highest paid running back in the league at $14.5M annually. Johnson isn’t going to top that but he could be just below the second highest paid running back Devonta Freeman who earns $8.2 million per season. The only reason David Johnson shouldn’t top Freeman is because the Cardinals RB has some durability concerns. Still though to go from pulling in $1.2 million dollars each season to making $6M or $7M annually is going to be a huge jump for the prolific tailback.

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New England will have two first round picks in this upcoming draft after trading Brandin Cooks to the Rams:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Patriots are going all in on this NFL Draft and that was clear when the team traded away Brandin Cooks to the Rams. New England picked up an extra first round pick which is going to be huge when draft night rolls around. There’s a number different options the Patriots could go with those two selections. Either they can take two really good players on day one or use both of those picks to trade up to the early first round. There’s been rumors that the New England’s front office really likes Josh Rosen but what if Belichick was really chasing after Bradley Chubb. Belichick coached up North Carolina State’s pro day and it was clear he really likes the defensive end. Belichick even made a comment to Chubb that “there was no chance they would see him at the number 31 draft spot.” Well now Belichick has enough draft capital to move up into the top five and select the stand out pass rusher. Defense wins championships and there’s really no other players like the top defender coming out of college. Of course if the Patriots want to just keep those two picks they could pick up D.J Moore at 23 and Maurice Hurst at 31. That would be a great first round haul for New England and suddenly this organization might have enough firepower to get over the hump. Whatever choice Bill Belichick makes would be a nice boost for the Patriots roster. Ultimately it will come down to what the team feels is the best course of action for them? However it’s easy to believe that one of these two routes could be the path this franchise goes down just because it would give them a lot this upcoming season. Josh Rosen on the other hand would have to sit around on the bench for a couple of years which doesn’t seem like an ideal fit.

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