Oakland Raiders Mock Draft 2014

As you all now I am an Oakland Raiders fan. Thus I decided to publish my way too early mock draft ūüôā

Comp Picks (speculation)

Philip Wheeler-4th round pick

Desmond Bryant-4th round pick

Brandon Myers-6th round pick

Trades:

7th round pick from Arizona via Carson Palmer trade

Traded 5th round pick to Seahawks for Matt Flynn (SMH)

The Draft:

1st round

QB Derek Carr, 6’3/213, Fresno State

Carr has been a legitimate stud all year long. His TD/INT ratio is 39/4 and he has a cannon arm. He’s a good athlete who boasts a quick release and fluid movement in the pocket. He has some issues with his footwork and is at times to sensitive to pressure, but those are obviously fixable. Carr could easily be the¬†Raiders¬†franchise QB.

2nd round

RB Bishop Sankey, 5’10/203, Washington

Darren McFadden is as good as gone and while Rashad Jennins is worth retaining, here the Raiders would be getting their first every down work horse back in a while. Sankey can really do it all and the Raiders would have to jump on it if he was available at this juncture.

3rd Round

OG David Yankey, 6’5/311, Stanford

Yankey is a technician who has been a good run and pass blocker for Stanford. Lucas Nix, as pointed out in my most recent fan post, has been utterly terrible. Yankey could step in and man the spot at the LG position as early as his rookie year or at the very least provide competition. He also has experience at LT making him versatile. In most drafts, Yankey would be a top 50 pick making this choice a pipe dream, but the Raiders could take advantage of a very strong draft class.

If Yankey is gone another possibility could be Anthony Steen of Bama who specializes in run blocking.

4th Round

DE Cassius Marsh, 6’3/268, UCLA

Opposite of¬†Lamarr Houston, the Raiders haven’t been getting much at the DE position. In fact we’ve been starting DT Vance Walker there as a result. Marsh is having a poor senior season which will hurt his stock but he put together a great 2012 campaign with 40 tackles, eight sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and two forced fumbles. The talent is there making this a great value pick.

4th round (comp)

CB EJ Gaines, 5’11/195, Missouri

Gaines has been a big part of Mizzo’s defense registering 40 tackles, two passes broken up and four interceptions thus far. The senior has a nice mix of coverage ability and ball skills. Gaines had 74 tackles with 11 passes broken up and two interceptions last year. He also has the ability to return punts.

4th round (comp)

CB Jaylen Watkins, 6’0/187, Florida

I’m actually having us double dip at CB which is understandable in a division with the likes of¬†Peyton Manning¬†and Philip Rivers. Watkins serves as the nickle corner for Florida being overshadowed by Purifoy and Marcus Robertson but he’d undoubtedly be starting for most teams in the country. He did a nice job of filling in when Robertson was out.

6th round

C/OG Gabe Ikard, 6’3/298, Oklahoma

Ikard is smart, strong and versatile allowing him to play multiple positions along the OL. I don’t think¬†Andre Gurode¬†will be retained next season so here we become some nice OL depth.

6th round (comp)

FB Chad Abram, 6’0/229, Florida State

Abram showed great work ethic when he transitioned from FS to full back and he’s looked like a¬†Vonta Leach¬†2.0 thus far for FSU. He’s just as big as Leach and plays a similar role as well, as both a lead blocker and as a guy who can come out of the backfield and catch the ball. He has been key in helping that offense run successfully out of I-Form type packages. He’s shown he can blow up people too. With Abram lining up as the true FB,¬†Marcel Reece¬†can finally be utilized as the match up nightmare he ought to be.

7th round

Steve Hull, WR, Illinois (6’2/200)

Hull’s been really under the radar up until recently. He to is a converted safety this season, again showing the work ethic. He’s a fairly big bodied receiver with reliable hands who can be a match up nightmare against smaller defensive backs (check out his catch in traffic against Purdue, he had no right to get that ball). He’s also deceptively quick once he gets in his stride. His biggest skill is his route running. He’s been producing as over his last 3 games he has averaged 166 receiving yards. Against Indiana he had 224 yds and 2 TDs, against Ohio State he had 105 yds and 1 TD and against Purdue he had 169 yds and 2 TDs.

7th round via Arizona

Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois (5’11/192)

Ward is a legit play-maker, a tough hard nosed player who fights through injuries, and an emotional leader. His leadership and play making ability has been a big asset to Northern Illinois en route to a 12-0 record. If Woodson is retained he’d learn a lot from him. He has 74 tackles, 6 INTs, 1 sack, 5 pass deflections and a TD already this season. I wanted to draft a S earlier in case Woodson retires but Ward is the best they could do at this juncture and has a high motor and heart, exactly what Reggie and DA like.

49ers’ secondary: Now and Later Part 1

Hello Readers! Today I will be writing about the current 49ers’ Secondary as well as their secondary of the future.

Last year, if you told me that the 49ers’ secondary would feature Eric Reid (who at the time, was projected to go in the late first round to the late second round), Donte Whitner (who allowed 16 receiving touchdowns last year in his coverage, including playoffs, according to PFF), Carlos Rogers (who looked downright horrible at times last year, especially when faced up against true slot wide receivers like Danny Amendola and Victor Cruz), Tarell Brown (who looked very mediocre at best in the playoffs), and Tramaine Brock (4-year roster bubble player), I would have been alarmed. In fact, I would have been even further irritated at the fact that Chris Culliver, who many, myself included, believed was the 49ers’ best DB last year, was out for the season.

But this secondary is playing amazingly so far. In fact, the 49ers have the 6th best passing defense in the league, allowing 217 yards a game through the air and just a 55.9 completion percentage. And in terms of QB rating, we are 4th in the league, allowing a meager 73.6 QBR. And while not all of our opposing QBs have been worthy opponents (looking at you Matt Schaub), we have faced the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Andrew Luck. Heck, we even handed Jake Locker his first interception of the season. While credit goes to the front 7 as well, this secondary has been doing there job–and more, forcing 9 interceptions on the year, the same amount of touchdowns they have allowed. All 5 of the defensive backs used in the 49ers nickel formation–Eric Reid, Donte (W)hitner, Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers, and Tramaine Brock) each have PFF grade of +3.4 or higher on the season.

To start at the very top, Eric Reid has made Dashon Goldson proud, with his turnover-forcing ways and his extremely hard hits. But most 49er fans have already forgot that name by now, as Reid has so far been an upgrade over Goldson. He plays exactly like Goldson, with one major difference: He doesn’t take unnecessary risks. Reid is already playing like a true, experienced veteran, and while he is a great hitter, he has yet to be fined by the league for his viscous, yet legal, hits. But his partner in crime Donte (W)hitner has been doing amazing as well. In fact, he has yet to allow a single touchdown in his coverage so far this season. While his worst asset of his game last year was pass coverage, where he allowed a 128.5 QBR, he has only allowed a 44.5 QBR this year when he is targeted. The necessity of this safety tandem is well documented, and was shown this past Sunday. On the first play of the game that both Reid and Whitner were on the sidelines (viewed as minor injuries for both of them), the 49ers defense let up their first TD of the game, a 66 yard pass reception by Chris Johnson.

But the secondary group can’t be overlooked. Tramaine Brock has really come lit on fire in recent weeks. Ever since Nnamdi Asomugha was sidelined with injuries he has since recovered from, Brock has inspired the 49ers coaching staff and FO to keep Asomugha inactive. He had his coming out party against the Texans. In the Matt Schaub’s very first pass attempt, Brock made sure to give Schaub a favor and put Schaub’s name in the record books–by giving him the record for most games in a row with a pick six. But that wasn’t a one-play fluke– since that play he has added two more interceptions, giving him the team lead to share with Reid, although Brock has achieved 3 picks in much less PT. Carlos Rogers, on the other hand, has been a bit more on and off. Ever since his 6 interception effort in 2011, Rogers has only had 2 interceptions in 23 starts. But he has proven that he can be solid at times. The Arizona Cardinals game was one such example, a game where he had 2 passes defensed and one interception. And Tarell Brown, who most believe has been the 49ers’ best cornerback over the course of the season, has been nothing short of this. The only reason he doesn’t have an interception this season is because no sensible QB wants to pick on him. Despite this he still has an impressive 6 passes defended already this season. Games like the aforementioned 49ers-Texans week 5 matchup really shows this. That week he allowed just 25 yards in 7 passes intended in his direction, and graded out as PFF’s top corner of the week a +4.4 rating. Week 4 against the Rams wasn’t a bad game either, where he fell just one defensed pass short of his career high of 5 in a game.

In conclusion, the 49ers secondary has been stellar throughout the first 7 weeks of the season, and there is no indication as of yet that they won’t continue this trend. Every member of this 49ers’ secondary has played outstanding football and they are definetly outplaying their expectations. Please stay tuned. For Part 2, which will be released sometime later this week, ¬†I will break down the future of this secondary, what the 49ers should do with many of their CBs hitting free agency next year, and how the 49ers should address the secondary through next year’s draft.

By the way all statistics are from NFL.com and PFF

Please feel free to discuss your thoughts on this article in the comments. And please share this with friends if you enjoyed this

ProFootballFocus

Hey guys! Recently we have been cranking out quite a few articles, and in the coming weeks, expect us to be using ProFooballFocus, or PFF, as a source quite often. For those of you who aren’t familiar, PFF is a site with a dedicated staff that analyzes every game closely and “score” individual and team efforts on different areas of the game. In fact, these “scores” or often just as valued as actual stats by many professional sports writers. After all, they charge $27 a month for their full analysis for a reason. But a lot of their analysis is free as well. You can check them out here:

https://www.profootballfocus.com/

or through their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This is just a heads up so our readers don’t get confused when we cite PFF. Anyways, stay tuned for many more articles to come this week. Don’t be surprised if we add a few more staff members as well this week.

Should the Browns trade Josh Gordon?

Hi, I am Azane Massey the author of ZahiriSports blog. Today, I’m going to be talking about why the Browns should, and shouldn’t trade Josh Gordon. Obviously, Josh Gordon has been getting a ton of buzz lately, especially regarding trade talks. The Browns GM Michael Lombardi is looking to trade away players to get young, good talent in the 2014 NFL draft. He has already traded away Trent Richardson to the Colts for a 1st round pick ( Actually, a great deal). But, know he is looking to trade yet another young, talented asset. Josh Gordon, Gordon is a young, fast, big, and strong WR. In the 5 weeks that Josh has played he has had very good numbers. Josh Gordon has caught, 27 balls for 450 yards, and 2 touchdowns!!! This is very good for a guy who has no talent around him on the offensive side of the ball. Gordon has off-the field issues, but, can still play at a very high level. Gordon had a down week because, their quarterback Brandon Weeden, throws worse than JaMarcuss Russell. I have no idea why the Browns are not putting in Jason Campbell. Gordon will likely go to the Falcons, Lions, or 49ers, for a second round pick. The Browns would be in a good position if they get a second round pick. They can get Johnny Manziel in the first round, quarterback out of Texas a&m, and trade their other 1st rounder, with a third rounder, to move up in the draft, and pick up WR out of USC, Marqisse Lee. Then, with their second rounder, draft a RB like Bobby Rainey out of Washington. And then with their other second rounder ( If they trade Gordon), draft another talented WR. The Browns have a lot of options. Let me know your thoughts on my first article!!!! And make sure to check out my fantasy football sits and starts later in the week!!!!

Meet the Staff!

Hello followers,

You may have noticed I posted a Breaking News article on how I hired two new writers. You may have also noticed I just added a new tab, at the top titled The Staff. This is because since then, two new writers have joined. Expect a lot more articles coming up, and most importantly learn about all the new writers in the page!

Thanks,

Arteen Zahiri

Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota, should they stay or declare in the 2014 NFL Draft?

Excellent QB ¬†play has been a recurring theme this season in College Football. While Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel got all the hype coming into the season, Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota have been especially hot since. The two Pac 12 QBs have been impressing the scouts. Mariota has been leading Oregon to a powerful undefeated record, while Hundley has some scouts calling him the second best QB, behind Teddy Bridgewater. Both of these QBs face a glaring question, should they enter the 2014 NFL Drat or wait until 2015. ¬†Both QBs are redshirt sophomores. Let’s take a look at each QB individually and their situation:

Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Hundley amazed everyone in his first two games against Nevada (4 total TDs) and most notably Nebraska. It was after the Nebraska game where scouts fell in love with Hundley. He moved the ball well all night long and made plays both with his arm and feet. He threw a beautiful TD pass to Shaq Evans and looked flawless finishing with 294 yards passing, going 16 for 24 with 3 TDs and 1 INT. He also rushed for 61 yards. It was after this game scouts declared him NFL ready. However, he has been up and down since. His next game was against New Mexico State. He threw 2 INTs in the redzone and made many bad throws despite playing against a horrible team. Still, he managed to throw 3 TDs and 280 total yards while rushing for 33 and destroying his opponent. The next game was a lot more nerve wracking. Against, Utah Hundley threw an unbelievable errant pick six, which times the game at 24 a piece in the 4th quarter. Later, he led the team to field goal, giving them the lead. Then he has an incredibly clutch drive where he capped it off a 36 yard TD run to seal it. He finished with two total TDs and an INT on 211 yards passing and 85 running. Then, his next game was an open field practice against Cal where he thre for 410 yards, 3 pass TDs, and 0 INTs. His last game vs Stanford was a melt down however. Stanford smothered him and completely took away his poise. It wasn’t just that he was struggling to find hid rhythm or he was losing due to a banged up OL and team, his decision making was immature and his confidence looked gone. ¬†Looking at the New Mexico State, Utah, and Stanford games combined, one wonders if he is ready for the NFL. Hundley is incredibly talented and it’s no question why scouts are interested in¬†The 6-3, 227-pound quarterback, who is a smooth athlete with an easy throwing motion and a strong, accurate arm. The biggest knock on him and the basis of his struggles is simply inexperience. He has all the tools to be an elite franchise QB, but he may be better off staying another year and polishing his game before he goes into the NFL. Of course fans can always point at the Matt Barkley effect, but I think we can all agree this are two very different QBs, Hundley is much more talented.

My take: Stay

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Like Hundley, Mariota opened scouts eyes last season and has been completely dominant this season. He has been blowing out his opponents every game. Mariota recently stated that he’s going to wait until after the 2013 season to make his decision, and he wants to do what’s best for his family. Statistically, Mariota may be the best QB in the nation. So far this season he has 28 total TDs, 0 INTs, and¬†2544 total yards, while completing 63% of his passes. His QBR of 181.7 is good for fifth in the nation. However, it’s undeniable Oregon has an immense amount of talent outside of the QB position, specifically on offense, unlike UCLA. Sure, he hasn’t had De’Anthony Thomas for more than 3 games (he played damn well in those games though) or Colt Lyera this season, but Josh Huff has played great and Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner are really picking up the slack in the run game. Bralon Addison has been another weapon in the passing game and it seems Mariota always has someone open. Still, his talent is undeniable and it’s no fluke how he is shredding defense after defense. Oregon is currently ranked at #2, but if they manage to win the BCS game, Mariota has to declare. He’s currently mocked as a top 10 pick if he declares, however if he continues playing at this pace and wins the BCS game, he’d be a top 5 pick even with a QB stacked draft with guys like Boyd, Bridgewater, and Johnny Manziel. Mariota is most comparable to Colin Kaepernick, as is Hundley.

My Take: Declare

What is your opinion? Should they stay or declare? I find it very intriguing that both QBs are so similar and both come from the Pac 12. Next Saturday (10/26) is the date to save as Hundley and Mariota square up in a match up on ESPN. Leave discussion in the comments section!

Taking a Closer Look at the NFC North

say yaeah

Who will win the NFC North in 2013?

After publishing my article on the NFC West, my friend took a look and immediately disapprove. Why? his exact words were: “C’mon Arteen, the NFC West is the best? The NFC North is stacked beyond belief and the NFC North is way more competitive.” I still believe the NFC West is the best, but the NFC North may very well be second. After all, it did have two playoff teams last year. Let’s start off by taking a look at last year’s division champs.

Green Bay Packers

Key Additions:

Eddie Lacy, RB (via Draft)

Datone Jones, DT (via Draft)

David Bakhtiari, OT (Draft)

Matthew Mulligan, TE (via FA)

Vince Young, QB (via FA)

Key Losses:

Charles Woodson, DB (via FA)

Bryan Bulaga, LT (Injury)

Desmond Bishop, ILB (Released)

Greg Jennings, WR (via FA)

Donald Driver, WR (retired)

Jeff Saturday, C (retired)

Tom Crabtree, TE (via FA)

Erik Walden, LB (via FA)
Cedric Benson, RB (did not re-sign)

Let’s start things off by looking at Green Bay’s free agent signings. With Tom Crabtree (3 TDs last season) going to Tampa Bay, the Packers needed another reserve end zone TE target and they got that in Matthew Mulligan, formerly of the Rams. Mulligan and Crabtree are practically the exact same height and weight/size so it’s basically a complete replacement. Both had 8 receptions last year but Crabtree had more yards (203 compared to just 84) and 2 more TDs. Still, Mulligan started 9 games last year and actually specializes in run blocking, plus he can help out on special teams. In fact, he is a strong run blocker and although he may not bring the same receiving ability Crabtree did but they didn’t want to have to use their tender. Next, they brought in veteran Vince Young to man the clipboard duties. This was smart because VY is very talented and has something to prove, plus he is miles better than the guys behind Rodgers beforehand. Here are his highlights in his last NFL season:

He was cut last season by the Bills before the season starting. But for what it’s worth here are his pre season highlights:

Moving on, the Packers didn’t sign any big name free agents, but instead re-signed their current key players and built through the draft. Aaron Rodgers was re-signed, as was Clay Matthews. The Packers didn’t miss a beat in the passing game when Jennings left because they now have a solid trio of James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb. Jennings departure will lead to the development to these players. Most notably, Randall Cobb who is a dynamic slot receiver. Plus he has a reliable, big TE in Jermichael Finley. Now let’s look at their OL. They took a massive hit when LT Bryan Bulaga went down with injury. Rodgers is a great QB with a quick release but now he has suspect tackles. Trying to fill in at LT with the absence of Bulaga, is Iranian-American David Bakthiari. He is a fourth round selection (109 overall) of this year’s draft. Protecting Aaron Rodger’s blindside is a lot to ask from a rookie, but the Packers are putting their faith in him. So far, he has impressed in camp. At the other tackle position, it’s a battle between Marshall Newhouse and I expect Derek Sherrod to be in the mix when he comes back from injury. Sherrod is a 24 year old first round pick from 2011. Originally brought in to be the franchise OT, he has only played 5 games due to injuries. In the interior is Pro Bowler Josh Sitton who moved to the left side. At center, is Evan¬†Dietrich-Smith (EDS) , who is attempting to replace the duties of pro bowler Jeff Saturday (arguably the worst pro bowler ever, he had no right to be in the 2012 pro bowl game despite his great career). Yes EDS is the one who was stopped on by Ndamukong¬†Suh. With that being said, the Packers are high on him:¬†“Like last year, the steps he‚Äôs made from a professional standpoint are coming to the front for him: leadership, energy, very smart, understands everything,” OL coach James Campen said. Dietrich-Smith took over for a fading Jeff Saturday last season, starting the Packers’ final four games at center. The 2010 undrafted free agent also made four starts at left guard. He started four games last season. At RG is TJ Lang, who is transitioning from RT. These Packers line has it;s questions, but it could be worse. It helps that at RB they have the power back Eddie Lacy who has looked great thus far. Lacy, was once considered a first round pick, but fell due to a poor pro day allowing GB to snatch him up at the very end of the second round. After him they have a solid core of Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green, DuJuan Harris, and James Starks. GB can’t afford to keep all of them but whoever gets cut will most likely find a job somewhere else. I expect Franklin, who is a fourth round rookie, to make the team due to his potential and elusiveness. Looking at the defense, let’s take a quick look at their depth chart:

3-4 Defense

DE: Datone Jones (first round rookie, has a lot of potential and has impressed in camp. Can rush the passer and stuff run, will replace the role of Cullen Jenkins)

NT: BJ Raji (Elite run stuffer, brings penetration on every play)

DE: Ryan Pickett (great run stuffer with no pass rushing ability)

OLB: Nick Perry (first round rookie in 2012, suffered wrist injury his rookie year causing him to miss a lot of time, looks great so far, pass rusher)

Mike: AJ Hawk (took major pay cut, solid against run liability in pass coverage)

WIll: Brad Jones (re-signed as offseason priority, PFF graded out as top 10 ILB in NFL)

OLB: Clay Matthews (re-signed to mega contract, excellent pass rusher)

CB: Tramon Williams (was once one of the better CBs in the NFL, trying to revive his career after injury set backs)

CB: Sam Shields (great young CB)

NB: Casey Hayward (ditto)

FS: Morgan Burnett (Again re-signed as priority, 16th best safety in NFL via PFF)

SS: MD Jennings (trying to keep his job away from Jerron McMillan)

The defense that was massacred by Colin Kaepernick in the playoffs does’t look so bad anymore with the additions of Datone Jones and a returning Nick Perry. Not to mention Brad Jones, and the two young CBs are only going to get better. Outside of the SS spot this team is set. Even with the suspect OL this team will be great next season unless injuries or melt downs occur. I expect them to win the division and be contenders.

Record Prediction: 11-5, Division Champions

Now let’s look at their biggest competitors in my eye’s, a team that did everything in their power to get better this offseason.

Minnesota Vikings

Key Additions

Greg Jennings, WR (via FA)

Xavier Rhodes, CB (via Draft)*

Desmond Bishop, LB (via FA)

Matt Cassell, QB (via FA)

Sharrif Floyd, DT (via Draft)*

Jeff Locke, P (via Draft)

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (via Draft)*

Seth Olsen, OG (via FA)

Lawrence Jackson, DE (via FA)

Key Losses

Percy Harvin, WR (Trade)

Jasper Brinkley, ILB (Via FA)

Antoine Winfield, CB (released)

Chris Kluwe, P (released)

*=First Rounder

Three players who have played in Minny all their careers are gone. It’s time to say goodbye to Percy Harvin, Antoine Winfield, and Chris Kulwe; and say hell to Cordarrelle Patterson, Xavier Rhodes, and Jeff Locke. Add that to the additions of 2x Pro Bowler Greg Jennings and first round pick Sharrif Floyd and this team look pretty good. Their biggest weakness last year was the QB position but Christian Ponder has progressed and they brought in former pro bowler Matt Cassell to provide competition, although I think Ponder will maintain. Their OL is very solid as they have a great young LT in Matt Kalil, one of the best centers in the NFL in John Sullivan, and a great RT in Phil Loadholt. Their guards are the young Brandon Fusco (16 game starter last year) and the veteran Charlie Johnson who’s been an every game starter for a while. Taking a look at the defense, it isn’t easy seeing Antoine leave. Still, even though Harrison Smith will only get better and Xavier Rhodes looks promising, the secondary got worse. Jamarca Sanford is not ideal and neither is Chris Cook. On the DL you got all kinds of depth. Sharrif Floyd, Kevin Williams, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, Lawrence Jackson, Fred Evans and Letroy Guion are the notables. Their LB core is great with All Pro Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, and Marvin Mitchell. Former GB anchor Desmond Bishop was brought in to man the middle but he has been a flop thus far still dealing with injuries. This team has Adrian Peterson, the best RB in the NFL and the MVP, but that’s not all. They brought in Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kyle Rudolph will only get better. That plus a stud OL should mean Ponder will have no reason to fail. He has never had weapons like these before, as Harvin was always injured. Their front 7 is stout and makes up for their mediocre secondary. ¬†This team has talent everywhere but more importantly young talent.

Record Prediction: 10-6, Wild Card

I gave the Vikings the wild card but what about this team?

Chicago Bears

Key Additions

Martellus Bennett, TE (via FA)

Jermon Bushrod, OT (via FA)

Steve Maneri, TE (via FA)

Tom Zbikowski, S (via FA)

Matt Slauson, OG (via FA)

DJ WIlliams, LB (via FA)
Jon Bostic, LB (via Draft)

Jordan Mills, OT (via Draft)

Kyle Long, OL (via Draft)

Khaseem Greene, LB (via Draft)

James Anderson, LB (via FA)

Jordan Palmer, QB (via FA)

Klye Moore, DE (via FA)

Eben Britton, OL (via FA)

Tony Fiammetta, FB (via FA)

Key Losses:

Nick Roach, LB (via FA)

Sedrick Ellis, DT (retirement)

Brian Urlacher, LB(retired)

Johnny Knox, WR (Injury/retired)

Israel Idonije, DT (via FA)

Chilo Rachal, OG (via FA)

Gabe Carimi, OL (Trade)

Kellen Davis, TE (via FA)

Matt Spaeth, TE (via FA)

Chris Spencer, C (via FA)

Geno Hayes, LB (via FA)

Jason Campbell, QB (via FA)

Turk McBride, DL (injury/waived)

DJ Moore, CB (via FA)

Evan Rodriguez, FB (via FA)

Lance Louis, OG (via FA)

Just by looking at the additions/losses chart you can already tell the Bears had a busy offseason. It started when they controversially fired HC Lovie Smith after missing the playoffs despite a 10-6 season. They replaced him with CFL head coach Marc Trestman. This was a move I was against for many reasons. So the Bears are transitioning from being a defensive minded team to an offensive minded team (Trestman is an offensive coach, while Smith was defensive). Long time pro bowl LB and face of the Bears Brian Urlacher is leaving and the Bears have some nice offensive players to utilize with Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and Jay Cutler. I can respect their logic there but I still don’t agree with it. Even with Urlacher gone this is still a defensive team. Urlacher’s replacement was planned to be Nick Roach but he went to Oakland so the Bears brought in Jon Bostic through the draft and signed veteran DJ Williams. This is an obvious downgrade leadership wise, but actually an upgrade in terms of play making. Urlacher was pretty bad his last year, he simply had no gas left in the tank. Bostic on the other hand has looked great and layed this monster hit in his last night:

still not impressed? see what he did to Teddy Bridgewater:

DJ Williams has been limited thus far due to injury but solidified himself as an above average LB in Denver.

Back to the topic, the Bears are still a defensive team. They have a top 5 CB in Charles Tillman and a top 10 CB in Tim Jennings. In the LB core, they have Lance Briggs, who was ranked very highly by PFF last season and is a 3x All Pro and 7x Pro Bowler, they have Bostic manning the middle and James Anderson as the SLB. Anderson was a good player for the panthers before getting signed by Chicago this offseason. On the DL, you have one of the best DT duos in Henry Melton and Stephen Paea. At DE you have the elite Julius Peppers and Corey Wooton (the man who ended Brett Favre’s career). They also have Shea McClellin who was the 19th overall pick in 2012. He’s trying to redeem himself after a disappointing rookie season. At safety they have Major Wright who is a good player. Their only hole is at FS where they currently have Chris Conte. This is clearly a defensive team and Trestman will take away some of that identity. Pointing out the obvious, Trestman has no NFL head coaching experience and he has only had success in the Canadian Football League. Several teams gave him an offer as an OC and that would be his best position on the coaching staff. You can’t convince me he’s an upgrade over Lovie Smith. Let’s take a look at offense. Their biggest weakness is the OL. The front office recognized they needed a LT considering Jamarcus Webb was putrid, so they gave Jermon Bushrod a 5 year $36M contract. This deal made no sense. Cutler needs a great pass blocker and Bushrod is poor in that area. He’s a great run blocker but offers zilch in pass protection. The only reason Drew Brees wasn’t killed every play last year was due to his lightening quick release, a trait Cutler does not have. Still Matt Forte will benefit, so there is a plus. The Bears replaced Kyle Long and Gabe Carimi with Kyle Long (first round rookie) and Matt Slauson (veteran OG formerly of Jets). This were both wise moves. Long has looked great thus far and has a ton of potential. Slauson is a vet who can provide solid pass protection. Dumping Carmimi and Rachal needed to be done as both were terrible. Unfortunately, the Bears couldn’t get rid of Jamarcus Webb and instead moved him to RT. He’s looked terrible so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if fifth round rookie Jordan Mills wins the RT job. This OL improved but Cutler won’t have much time to throw as his tackles are horrible in pass protection. Lucky for Matt Forte (a great RB) he has a great new run blocker in Jermon Bushrod as well as Kyle Long. He should have a big year. Cutler was sacked twice vs the Chargers last game even though they have a bad pass rush. He also fumbled once. He was only sacked once vs Panthers the game before. The Bears made a smart move by signing Steve Maneri to a two year deal. He is one of the best blocking TEs in the NFL. He’ll open up lanes for Matt Forte. Helping out Jay Cutler, the Bears brought in Martellus Bennett who is a massive upgrade over Kellen Davis. For some reason Cutler has not been building chemistry with him this offseason in pre season games. He’s yet to have a target despite having a great season with the Giants last year. Brandon Marshall is a top 5 WR and a complete beast he’s shown that so far. Alshon Jeffery is a guy who I expect to get better, he was a pleasant surprise for the Bears last season as a second round pick. He will start opposite of Marshall. The Bears don’t have much depth and they lost a lot of leadership with Urlacher, Roach, and Lovie Smith all leaving. Still if Cutler can buy some time their offense will be deadly. Trestman is an offensive genius but I’m not sold on him as a HC.

Record Prediction: 8-8

Finally, we make our way to the Lions

Detroit Lions

Key Additions

Reggie Bush, RB (via FA)

Ezekiel Ansah, DE (via Draft)

Glover Quinn, S (via FA)

Israel Idonije, DL (via FA)

Rashean Mathis, CB (via FA)

Rocky McIntosh, LB (via FA)

David Akers, K (via FA)

Havard Rugland, K (via FA)

Jason Jones, DL (via FA)
CJ Mosley, DT (via FA)

Jake Scott, OG (via FA)

Larry Warford, OG (via FA)

Leroy Harris, OG (via FA)

Michael Spurlock, KR (via FA)

Darius Slay, CB (via Draft)

Key Losses

Cliff Avril, DE (via FA)

Corey WIlliams, DT (not re-signed)

Gosder Cherilus, OT (via FA)

Titus Young, WR (released)

Justin Durant, LB (via FA)

Jason Hanson, K (retired)

Jeff Backus, OT (retired)

Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE (not re-signed)

Lawrence Jackson, DE (via FA)

Jacob Lacey, CB (via FA)

Stephen Peterman, OG (via FA)

Sammie Lee Hill, DT (via FA)

Drayton Florence, CB (via FA)

Jahvid Best, RB (injury/retired)

This Lions team had to say goodbye to a great player in Jahvid Best. But life is more important than football and the Lions made the right choice. They replaced him with Reggie Bush who is a good running back and will be a weapon for Matt Stafford coming out of the backfield. Looking at their roster it starts at the QB. Matt Stafford is generally considered a good young quarterback by most, but I disagree and think he’s very overrated. Fans look at the high amount of yardage he throws but he throws more pass attempts than any other player in the NFL and plays recklessly. He is the quintessential “Lob” QB as his signature move is throwing a jump ball to Calvin Johnson. Johnson is one of the post dominant players in the NFL and he makes that offense. Stafford is also known for poor ball security (interceptions/turnovers) and that cost them some games last year. The Lions have another great weapon in Brandon Pettigrew. If Brandon was more focused he’d easily be one of the best TEs in the NFL even though he’s already pretty good. The Lions still lack a WR #2 but they are getting Nate Burleson (old) and Ryan Broyles (injury prone) back. The worst part of this offense is the OL. LT Jeff Backus retired and RT Gosder Cherilus signed a mega contract with Indy. Now the team is forced to start poor blindside protector Riley Reiff and the injury prone Jason Fox at RT (he’s played 5 career games). SCARY…in the wrong way. On the Defense, they made a great pick bringing in Ziggy Ansah and Darius Slay. Both will start their rookie years and have looked great. In his first game ever in the NFL, Ansah made his mark:

Next to him on the DL, is in my opinion the best DT duo in the NFL, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. They brought in Jason Jones from Seattle. Jones is extremely versatile,e being able to play any position on the DL. He is a three down DL and will be asked to play in an expanded role this season. This can be a breakout year for him even though he already has the reputation as a good DL. In the LB core they have Stephen Tulloch, the veteran leader. They lost a key piece in Justin Durant but their banking on youngsters DeAndre Levy and Ashlee Palmer to carry the load. In the secondary they have one of the most underrated safety tandems wit Glover Quinn and Louis Delmas. Their CBs are the talented Chris Houston and Darius Slay. Ron Bartell and Bill Bentley will battle it out for slot duties.

This team has a lot of talent but evidently a poor OL and a reckless QB just won’t get the job done.

Record Prediction: 5-11