Photo credit: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
With Melvin Gordon coming off a phenomenal collegiate year last fall in Madison, he seems like a sure lock for success in his first year of professional action. Many players must go through a transition period from the college level to the pro’s but Gordon is a rare specimen. A superior athlete Gordon accumulated 2587 rushing yards last fall, looking many times much like a man amongst boys. Gordon will give the Chargers a much needed boost on the ground while Phillip Rivers will brush opposing defenses back through the air. The combination will likely pay great dividends for the Chargers in 2015 as they look to compete for the AFC West title a division that the Denver Broncos have dominated of recent. One thing is for certain most football analyst have praised the Chargers in their move of drafting Gordon. With running backs being a little more accessible lately in the National Football League, many teams have opted to fill other positions come draft time. In fact in the past we have seen past running backs like Willy Parker go undrafted and then get picked up in free agency and have success. Yet when you have a talent like Melvin Gordon sitting there and you have a guy that is clearly the most promising running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. You take that chance, and in the end it is very likely that chance is going to be the right one for San Diego. The passing game will now be able to feed off the rushing game. Meaning opposing defenses will try to crouch up closer to the line after a few good Gordon rushes. Leaving the defense more vulnerable to the Rivers pass. At the same time after a few good passes from Rivers the defense will back off and leave more running spaces for Gordon on the ground. A win-win scenario for the Chargers which gives their offense a significant boost and also helped the team move up three spots in the power rankings now sitting at #13 overall. Football should be interesting in southern Cal this fall.
Football players; Melvin Gordon
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Photo credit: Rich Schultz / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
With all the moves going on in Philly it’s time to see how much substance there is in Philly? With Chip Kelly at the helm wheeling and dealing the Eagles have made some good moves in giving the team more cap space for the future. They also have made some bad moves like trading Nick Foles who at this time last year was coming off a pro bowl season. With Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, and Tim Tebow on roster for the Eagles, it seems most likely that Bradford or Sanchez will win the job. Coincidently Kelly’s success will be strapped to the success of likely those two players. While Bradford seems like the candidate at the forefront, his track record of questionable health is definitely a red flag for Eagles fans. When he is on Bradford could potentially be a very good player for the birds. Maybe a change of scenery and being placed in a high power system like Kelly’s is just what Bradford needs to live up to the reputation he earned at Oklahoma. Or maybe Sanchez’s continuous growth over his career will be enough to finally get him back to being a number 1 quarterback. Sanchez who was once the man for the New York Jets has been mostly a back up ever since. He has seen some success in the past two years as the back up for the Eagles and maybe his cumulative efforts help him supplant Bradford. Who ever wins the job will have to play at a high enough level to get the Eagles back to the playoffs and win them a playoff game. While that is possible, it will be tough to bet on one of these Quarterbacks rising to the challenge and leading the team there. If the Eagles do win a playoff game it will likely be due to the fact that the team collectively has improved. Maybe from moves like adding Kiko Alonzo and getting better on defensive. Maybe it will be because Demarco Murray fits phenomenally in the offense. Whatever it is that gets the Eagles there, one thing is for certain they need to get to the playoffs and they need to win a playoff game to give the Eagles higher ups more validation in their hire of Kelly. If he didn’t trade Foles the off-season drama and chaos wouldn’t have put as much pressure on Kelly. Yet by making that move Kelly will have to show results this year. This is a business where owners turn the page quickly on coaches. If the Eagles regress this year there will be many questions about Kelly and the moves he has chose to make. It’s safe to say it’s make or break time for Chip Kelly.
Football predictions: Eagles will regress this season. If the Eagles choose to keep backing Kelly they might have a bright future due to salary cap space they have added. Allowing them to bring better players into the fold in the future.
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Author: Jon Kuzma
When the Cleveland Browns drafted Johnny Football Manziel last season one thing was apparent from watching the process play out. The Browns organization seemed mixed on Manziel from the get go. Never have we seen a quarterback taken in the first round and not have the red carpet rolled out for him. It seemed like from day one head coach Mike Pettine was trying to put a limit on Manziel’s growth and that was the first time I’ve ever seen that happen to a first round pick personally. The right move was clearly to cut the chain off Manziel and let him take his lumps his rookie year and grow. Yet here we are in year two and coach Pettine is already stating that “it’s fair to say McCown is the favorite to be the starter”. Despite that if I were a betting man, I’d bet on Manziel this season. There has already been whispers around Browns training camp that Manziel’s performance thus far has been night and day compared to last years as one Brown put it. Manziel might not have all the tangibles that translate to a typical pocket passing quarterback in the NFL, but he is a fierce competitor and has the moxie to lead when he is on. While who knows if Manziel really needed help in his personal life or he just wanted to make a good public relations move. Going to rehab shows either way that he is willing to put in the effort to become a better man. That step could prove to be on the field, especially in terms of his focus. Often time last year it was said that Manziel was underachieving in terms of running and directing the offense. A Manziel with clarity will be a dangerous one for opposing offenses.
One question still remans though? Why did Cleveland draft Manziel in the first round if Pettine was never going to embrace him?
Football players: Johnny Manziel
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Photo Credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
The Seattle Seahawks were big winners this off-season landing a deal with the New Orleans Saints who sent arguably the best tight end in the game (outside Gronkowski) to the Hawks. With the acquisition Russell Wilson will have a superstar threat to throw to when things break down. Anyone who has been around the game of football knows that tight ends can be a quarterbacks best friend because the distance of throws to a tight end is relatively shorter than to a wide receiver. Making the pass to the tight end a much more high percentage play for success. Another thing that stands out when watching great tight ends is they have a bigger frame typically. Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzales, Jason Witten, Rob Gronkowski, and Kellen Winslow Sr. are all outstanding tight end’s in their own rights and all of them also come in around the 6’5 250 lbs range. Jimmy Graham has this same similar size, and he is exceptionally athletic despite that size. You could see that athleticism last year against the 49ers when he nearly stole the show completing a hail mary reception over Perrish Cox. The play would go on to eventually get over turned but it was scary to see how well Graham could elevate over defense backs. A position that is typically more athletic then tight ends.
The next thing that will be big for Graham is the system that he plays in. The Seahawks run many zone read concepts. Where Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch combine to really incorporate to plays in one. The run to Lynch and the quarterback keeper to Wilson. It will be interesting to see how the superstar tight end meshes into that whole process. With so much emphasize needed to be committed to the run, the middle of the field might be wide open where the linebackers just left from to fill the run. It seems to be an ideal situation for Graham and a betting man would bet on an up year from Jimmy Graham.
Projection: 12 touchdowns. Football players; Jimmy Graham.
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Author: Jon Kuzma
With the NFL combine finishing up and reviews of just about every big time college player taking place. I would like to state that I’m not a big fan of this years quarterback draft class. While it’s usually best to choose a quarterback who is slightly oversized, it’s hard to be convinced Jameis Winston is that guy. Yes has everything I want in a quarterback. Great size, a big arm, and played at a big time college program. However it’s his decision making on and off the field that worry me. If you could take away the bone headed mistakes Winston has made off the field, I would be a hundred percent a supporter of his and draft him without second thought number one overall. The fact is though Winston hasn’t shown the maturity to hand him the reigns of a whole NFL franchise. When looking at him it seems very much like the pick the Buccaneers used on Josh Freeman out of Kansas State. A very talented quarterback coming out of college standing similar in stature to Winston. Freeman was slightly bigger being 6’6 240 while Winston is 6’4 230. The difference there being Winston was a much more accomplished passer during his time in the colligate ranks. Putting up about twenty touchdowns more than Freeman in a year less of time at the helm. The good news for Winston is scouts were amped about his football I.Q at the combine many saying “he has the best football I.Q we have ever seen”. I wonder how Peyton Manning feels about that?
The Buc’s will undoubtedly have a tough decision to make with the number 1 pick. It’s always tough when you’re in the position that the Buc’s are in coming off a two win season. They need a franchise savior and usually when you have the number 1 pick a quarterback just makes sense. Every team can take a step in the right direction by landing a big name quarterback. I’m actually surprised more teams don’t move back(trade down), and honestly if I didn’t take a Q.B I would most likely draft a defensive tackle to solidify the defense. In the Buc’s case though they already have that piece in Gerald McCoy. Also with the emerging star wide receiver in Mike Williams it just makes sense to get a guy who can get him the ball. Don’t expect that to be anyone but Jameis Winston and truthfully that is the right pick for this franchise.
After that time will only tell if he is Jameis the savior or similar to the likes of Josh Freeman and Jamarcus Russell, NFL failures with a similar mold.
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