Report claims Todd Gurley was Seattle’s #1

September 10th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

There was never any chance of Todd Gurley landing in Seattle, but the Seahawks still ranked him as the #1 prospect in the draft.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen are reporting Gurley was highly rated by the Seahawks as the top player available in the 2015 class.

It won’t be a surprise. Despite picking up a serious knee injury Gurley was still taken in the top-10 picks. There was talk pre-draft he could’ve gone even earlier. We’ll never know what a team like the Jets would’ve done had Leonard Williams been taken before the #6 pick. Teams loved Gurley’s rare combination of speed, power and size.

It does make you wonder though — had Seattle not recovered from a 3-3 start in 2014 and ended up picking in the middle of the first round — would the aggressive move be a trade up for Gurley instead of a deal for Jimmy Graham?

Replacing Marshawn Lynch will be the toughest thing John Schneider and Pete Carroll ever have to do in Seattle. The way they rated Gurley suggests if they see a fantastic back available in a future draft — they might not shy away from yet another bold move to fill that need.

Looking ahead to the 2016 draft — and it’s still way too early to make a firm judgement — there isn’t a Gurley-level talent preparing to enter the league.

Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott has fair size and speed but he plays with a lot of power. He’ll often fall forward after contact. He’s also capable of making the big play. There’s nothing overtly special about Elliott or unique but he has every chance of going in round one with a big season for a Championship caliber team. The question is can he play the way he did in the playoffs last season for long stretches during the current regular season? A legitimate Heisman candidate — but it was interesting to see the Buckeyes come out throwing against Virginia Tech.

Arkansas’ Alex Collins is a terrific player with a nice 5-11 frame with good mass and power. Like Elliott he always seems to get yards after contact — but he has a home-run hitting ability too. It’ll be very interesting to see how he and Elliott test for speed. He flashes plenty of power and might be a cheaper — and possibly more effective — alternative to Elliott. A very interesting player with a pro-future as a day one or two pick.

Derrick Henry is enormous at around 6-3 and 240lbs. He doesn’t play with a mean streak though — he’s positively finesse at times and doesn’t always dominate the way he should. Eddie Lacy was a wrecking machine for Alabama and you kind of feel like Henry should be more like that with his size. Even so — he’s deceptively quick running in a straight line and a natural athlete. It gives him a level of uniqueness the other two players above lack. Is he a bell-cow at the next level? Probably not. He could be a nice compliment to a back of a different style working in a committee system.

2017 could be very interesting for running backs. Nick Chubb, Leonard Fournette, Samaje Perrine and Royce Freeman will all be eligible. If Lynch is prepared to continue next year — the Seahawks might be able to delay this search at least in terms of the early rounds.


It’s time for Kam Chancellor to end the madness

September 9th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Kam Chancellor cannot win this one — so what’s the end game?

Kam Chancellor’s hold out is dumb.

Enough is enough. Amid all the walking on egg shells, quietly questioning his end game and trying to understand a player going after what he deserves — the reality is he simply cannot win.

He can’t.

And for that reason, continuing to hold out is dumb. A fantastic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

He already owes the Seahawks over a million dollars in fines. Every game he misses is going to cost him a quarter of a million bucks. If he waits until week 10 to return in order to accrue a season on his contract — he will lose money this year. And he’ll be no closer to a new deal. He’ll have two more years to go. He’ll be out of pocket and his reputation with the fans in Seattle — and possibly some of the players — will be forever tarnished.

Forget the ring of honor. Forget the glory. Forget seeing 12’s wearing #31.

Sadly for Chancellor his biggest mistake was to sign a contract that he clearly believes undervalues his contribution to the team. There’s not much he can do about it now. Nobody forced him to sign that contract. Nobody will force the Seahawks to rip it up.

To test the team, see if it works and then return would be understandable to an extent. To start missing games, lose game-cheques and let your teammates down is quite another thing. And where does he go from here?

If the Seahawks start 0-2 they aren’t going to cave. At that point does he come back into a locker room no richer and with possible resentment that he wasn’t out on the field trying to win two tough road games?

If they go 2-0 does he creep back into the VMAC with his tail between his legs?

What is the end game here? Where is he going?

Is he going to retire?

Pride is a good thing sometimes. It can make you feel responsible. It encourages leadership and support. It can drive you to succeed.

It also gets in the way when you’ve lost and need to concede. When you need to take a step back. When you need to admit you aren’t going to win and there’s nothing you can do about it.

We’d all love to go back in time and change the outcome of the last Super Bowl. It’s impossible. Chancellor equally can’t go back in time and un-sign that contract extension.

We’d all like to earn more money. Who wouldn’t? Not all of us play a punishing pro-sport. Not all of us put our bodies on the line. A lot of us do have families to support though — and the thought of not turning up to work to prove a point is simply out of the question. You’d be fired.

Kam Chancellor’s average salary is $7,000,502 per year. He’s among the highest paid safeties in the league. There are thousands of Seahawks fans who won’t make that amount of money in a lifetime, let alone one year.

Life is tough sometimes. Yet some people would argue Chancellor’s situation isn’t remotely ‘tough’ or ‘unfair’. He doesn’t get paid exactly what he wants. Welcome to the club. He earns enough money to not need to work ever again the moment he retires from his short career in football.

How many other people in the world are underpaid, can’t hold-out and need to work decades before they can even consider retiring? How many of those people will be at Century Link screaming for this team in week three against the Bears?

Right now the Seahawks need Kam Chancellor. The players need him on the field. The coaches need him in the locker room. The fans need #31 out there against the Rams and the Packers helping to launch another tilt at the Super Bowl.

He’s tried to make a point to get more money. And he’s failed. He failed.

Clearly that’s something Chancellor is struggling to deal with. He’s blocking fans on Twitter for no logical reason. It’s quite sad actually to see fans Tweet that they’ve been blocked by their favourite player. Does that not bother him at all?

Clearly his teammates are ready to move on. One player told ESPN’s Ed Werner: “We will win without him, and it will hit him.”

That player is right. They will win without him. Perhaps not both of the first two games but over the course of the season they will win. The Seahawks will not feel compelled to change their stance. Nothing is going to change their stance.

Come back. Get on the field. Do your job. Yes, that’s right. Your job. It’s what you’re paid to do. It’s what’s expected of you. You agreed this contract.

You either play for the Seahawks or nobody — at your expense. What are you gaining from sitting out any games during the regular season? The team is not going to budge.

Chancellor won’t be richer in the wallet and he’ll lose a lot of the good feeling he’s worked hard to develop since 2010.

It’s dumb. And it’s time this madness stopped right now.


Perhaps sensing he’s losing the battle for hearts and minds, Chancellor has talked to the NFL Network in the last few moments. He says he could be at practise tomorrow if the Seahawks meet him halfway.

If this is an attempt to portray the Seahawks as the issue, it won’t work. If, as Chancellor claims, this is all over 2017 money being pushed into 2016 for a grand total of an extra million bucks — why is he even holding out? Is all the drama, all the distraction really worth it for one seventh extra of his current annual salary?

The funny thing is — who’d bet against the Seahawks adjusting the contract of a loyal, dedicated player if he was — you know — leading the team out against St. Louis this weekend? They’re probably less inclined to give him a small raise after this hold-out.

Look at Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh. He got an extra $2m out of the Steelers this off-season. Chancellor must rue the day he went down this road instead of following Brown’s example.

It’s simply unrealistic to expect the Seahawks to push a heap of 2017 salary into 2016 meaning he’d earn around $9m next season. If that’s what he expects, it isn’t going to happen. Again — he signed this contract.

It just further emphasises what a thoroughly pointless episode this is. An exercise in time-wasting. A fruitless encounter. A wild goose chase.

Time to play football Kam.


Braxton Miller impressive in Ohio State opener

September 8th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Braxton Miller can make a name for himself as a WR/RB

A few thoughts on last night’s game…

— Braxton Miller might be the most intriguing prospect on a loaded roster. This was his first game at receiver after converting from quarterback. Urban Meyer had him do a bit of everything — not dissimilar to the way he used Percy Harvin at Florida. He ran for 62 yards and a touchdown and added 78 yards receiving and another score. He looks smaller than the listed 6-2 and 215lbs but he’s sturdy and looks like a solid 4.4 runner. There’s a bit of Golden Tate to his play. He could develop into a genuine X-factor for the Buckeyes and propel his stock as an all-round playmaker. He could be a big-time riser. Look at the fluidity with which he pulls off the spin move below. It’s sharp, smooth and explosive. His first catch of the night was a difficult low grab off the turf and he had no trouble running routes.

— Note the block by Ezekiel Elliott in the video above. He had an 80-yard touchdown run and 42 yards on his other ten carries. I’m not convinced by his listed size either (6-1, 225lbs) and whether he’s quite as good as some will have you believe — again I’m not sure. He’s not a freak of nature like Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon had incredible production to go with an infectious work rate and personality. Elliott isn’t a unique athlete with incredible size or speed — but he’s a very good compliment of both. It was interesting to see Ohio State come out throwing rather than using the run-game. Elliott didn’t feature as much as you’d expect in this game but he still had an impact.

— Receiver Michael Thomas pulled Kendall Fuller’s pants down on one touchdown reception (see below). A simple stop-and-go move had Fuller biting and stumbling. Thomas broke free for an impressive score. Fuller is talented and could easily go in round one — with this play Thomas showed he has early-round-pick potential and the ability to get open against the best in college football. Don’t sleep on Thomas on this star-studded roster. He’s a legit NFL prospect with size (6-3).

— Cardale Jones started and had some really good moments and a few head scratching ones too. He played well under pressure, made some difficult throws and it’s not even a question that he has the best arm talent of any quarterback in college football right now. He runs the ball surprisingly well for a man of his size. He also made one or two mental mistakes and still has some maturing to do. Holding his finger to his lips at the Virginia Tech fans from the sideline after a late touchdown by relief-quarterback J.T. Barrett isn’t going to cut it. His challenge isn’t to convince NFL teams he can play at the next level. It’s convincing them he’ll be a man about it when he gets there.

— Cornerback Eli Apple had a couple of nice break-ups but was juked out of his shoes by the Virginia Tech full back during a long catch-and-run (leading to a touchdown). It was an ugly whiffed tackle to spoil an otherwise excellent night. First round pick.

— Other likely first round players also excelled. Linebacker Darron Lee had a big start to the game with some early pressure and never let up. Taylor Decker had a holding call but otherwise locked onto his targets, sealed the edge and helped make some big gains on the quarterback-keepers. Joey Bosa didn’t feature as he’s serving a team-imposed one-game suspension.

— Ohio State trailed at half time but came out flying to start the second half and just kicked up through the gears. It’s hard to imagine any team stopping them in the Big-10 and they have every shot at an unbeaten season and a second successive National Title. It’ll be interesting to see if any team can ever tempt Urban Meyer to take a shot at the NFL.


3000 NFL mock draft: Episode #2

September 7th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Episode #2 with Rob & Kenneth, reflecting on the first week of college football and looking at the 2016 NFL Draft…


Seahawks trade Christine Michael to Dallas

September 6th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Albert Breer says the pick is a conditional seventh rounder, so it’s a no-risk gamble on Dallas’ behalf. The Seahawks gave him away.

Some will see it as a risk on Seattle’s behalf — aiding a supposed NFC rival for a pittance in return. Just yesterday they gave Kansas City a 5th rounder for what hopefully ends up being a backup safety and special teamer.

Ask yourself — would they make this move if they had any faith at all in Christine Michael?

He was called out for poor technique by his running back coach and who’ll forget the picture of him nodding off during a team meeting in his rookie season? He reportedly did the same at the combine and also found himself in Kevin Sumlin’s dog-house at Texas A&M.

In his two stops so far (College, NFL) he’s promised so much and thoroughly underwhelmed.

Even so, there are few players in the NFL with his level of extreme athleticism and potential. Now he gets to play with the best offensive line in football. The Cowboys have a murky running back situation after DeMarco Murray departed for Philadelphia. Even if Michael carries the ball the wrong way and has a tendency to fumble — it’s intriguing to see him run behind that line.

The Seahawks go to Dallas mid-season. It says a lot about Seattle’s opinion of Michael that they were willing to deal him to this particular team.


Seahawks name roster, might trade Kam Chancellor?

September 5th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Interesting news today. Firstly, the Seahawks named a somewhat surprising 53-man roster. Both Kevin Smith and Kasen Williams were cut with B.J. Daniels surviving. Will Blackmon and Anthony McCoy were both cut. Eric Pinkins didn’t make it — and neither did T.Y. McGill. Mo Seisay and Robert Turbin were placed on I.R. and Jesse Williams on Reserve/Non-football illness.

The list will need to be further trimmed when Fred Jackson officially signs his contract with the Seahawks. Reports yesterday suggested terms have been agreed.

Two full backs were kept (Coleman, Tukuafu) and only six linebackers. Seattle kept an extra defensive back despite cutting Blackmon.

Then this happened:

It’s quite a high price to pay. Kansas City is deep at safety — but a 5th rounder means Seattle wanted this guy badly. He’s known to be a key special teamer which helps. He might be thrown right into the mix against St. Louis next week.

Perhaps he’ll even become a regular starter…

Talk of a trade has been flat out dismissed so far, partly due to the fact it’d cost Seattle nearly $2m extra in dead money to move Chancellor. Then there’s the leadership qualities and Chancellor’s on-field play you’d be losing right in the middle of a Championship window.

Even so, the Seahawks are entrenched and insist they won’t be making major changes to a contract agreed in 2013. Chancellor equally is digging his heels in. The impasse shows no sign of ending.

What would tempt Seattle to concede $2m in dead money charges? Presumably an extra first round pick in 2016 plus change. That’d be a handsome price to pay for a strong safety. However good Chancellor is — you’d have to listen to that kind of offer.

The Giants are the team being linked today. They owned the #9 overall pick in this years draft and the #12 pick in 2014. If you move Chancellor for New York’s first round pick — there’s a decent possibility it’ll turn into a top-15 pick.

A trade remains highly unlikely. A lot of teams are up against the cap. It’s unusual to see a major, unpredictable trade either just before or early into a new season. Trent Richardson’s move to Indianapolis from Cleveland shows it isn’t impossible — but it’s still rare. Chancellor is 28 next year and he’s been banged up. It’d be a risk for any team to cough up a first round pick — let alone work out a big new contract.

The Kelcie McCray trade is a statement that the Seahawks aren’t going to budge and that they’re going to make contingency plans. Pete Carroll’s tone has changed on the Chancellor hold-out recently. As Brian Nemhauser points out, the supportive message early in camp has been replaced with a short, to-the-point declaration of zero progress. Carroll looks and sounds like a disappointed parent.

In terms of the college football, I’ve just finished watching Louisville lose to Auburn. Expect some thoughts on a few of today’s games over the next couple of days and of course in Monday’s 3000 NFL Mock Draft Podcast. You can watch Episode #1 by clicking here.


Seahawks 53-man roster projection

September 4th, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Is there room for B.J. Daniels on the roster?

Key positions battles

Running back
If Robert Turbin’s injury is serious it seems fairly obvious to IR him. Is it worth losing your one allotted ‘IR with a designation to return’ card on a backup running back? It’s a tough break for Turbin in a contract year — but the Seahawks might need that IR spot later in the season for a starter.

Fred Jackson would be the ideal replacement after week one when his contract won’t be guaranteed. For now I think you run with both Christine Michael and Thomas Rawls as your running backs. If/when Jackson signs — I’d favour Michael over Rawls. There’s no doubt Rawls played well against Oakland’s second and third stringers yesterday — but running backs like him are available most years in the later rounds or UDFA pool. Michael showed flashes last season in limited action and is the only back on the roster who can find the edge with pure speed. I just don’t think Rawls has done enough to give up on Michael’s upside — even if he is on a shorter leash these days.

Wide receiver
Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett are the locks. Paul Richardson is on the PUP list. Then it gets complicated. Ricardo Lockette is a key special teamer and that might be enough to secure a spot. However, he’s never progressed as a receiver and offers barely anything to the offense. He’s 29 and offers little in terms of long term potential. Chris Matthews remains a one-game wonder for now but also has some special teams value and provides the bid-bodied receiver Seattle has lacked.

Thinking about the future is important here. Baldwin is only contracted until the end of 2016. Kearse is a free agent after this season. Richardson has to prove he can come back from a second serious knee injury and stay healthy. The Seahawks need to start developing players as possible replacements — particularly for Kearse who might be difficult to keep.

Kevin Smith and Kalen Williams have both looked good enough to consider as possible Kearse replacements. However, neither is likely to feature in a run-heavy offense with Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett, Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson receiving most of the attention. That’s the attractive thing about Lockette and Matthews. They will find a way to contribute — even if it’s just on special teams. Smith and Williams are mainly developmental projects for now. Ideally they’d both land on the practise squad, as Kearse did originally. They might be able to stash one for now and retain the other until Richardson returns.

B.J. Daniels also comes into the equation. He can act as the #3 quarterback and feature on a trick play or two. He hasn’t really shown enough, however, to warrant consideration as a full-time receiver. If this is about getting as many active and contributing players on the roster (it is if you keep Lockette over Smith/Williams) — Daniels probably misses out unless his special teams value is incredibly high.

Defensive tackle
This is an interesting one because both T.Y. McGill and Jesse Williams impressed against Oakland. When asked about McGill, Pete Carroll was surprisingly lukewarm after the game. Carroll doesn’t play too many games when he talks — if there’s something he doesn’t want to say he just doesn’t say it. When he talks you can pretty much take it to the bank. With McGill they see potential that needs refining.

Williams took a knee at the end of the game in what looked like a really emotional moment. It was an opportunity to reflect on his battle with cancer, return to the game and how much he’s achieved to get this far. It was also perhaps a reflection on the possibility that it could be his last time on a NFL field. In many ways he offers something different — size, strength and run-stuffing quality. McGill’s skill set is very similar to the superior Jordan Hill. That could be a factor that works in Williams’ favour. They might be able to keep both anyway.

Having shown so much grit and determination to return to football — and with the tape proving he’s still a capable player — you have to wonder if one way or another they find a way to keep Jesse Williams on this team. Plus if you’re cutting Will Tukuafu let’s not forget Williams played some short-yardage full back for Alabama.

There’s some clarity at the cornerback position today. Richard Sherman (duh), Cary Williams, Will Blackmon and Tharold Simon look like the top four. Tye Smith has been neat and tidy and offers long term potential. Marcus Burley is more experienced and is perhaps a better fit working the slot. It makes sense to keep both and at least have some corner depth, even if DeShawn Shead can fit in too. They could still go out and add another CB currently on another roster.

Roster projection

QB — Wilson, Jackson
RB — Lynch, Michael, Rawls (Turbin IR)
FB — Coleman
WR — Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett, Lockette, Matthews, Smith (Williams PS)
TE — Graham, Willson, McCoy
OL — Okung, Britt, Nowak, Sweezy, Gilliam, Bailey, Lewis, Glowinski, Sokoli, Poole

DE — Bennett, Avril, Clarke, Marsh
DT — Mebane, Rubin, Hill, Williams, McGill
LB — Wright, Wagner, Irvin, Pierre-Louis, Coyle, Pinkins (Morgan injured)
CB — Sherman, Williams, Blackmon, Simon, Smith, Burley
S — Thomas, Chancellor (eventually), Bailey, Shead

ST — Ryan, Hauschka, Gresham


Flashback to opening day 2009

September 3rd, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

The first post on the old blog ahead of the 2009 season

The college football season kicks off today, as does the long road ahead to the 2010 draft. I’ll be watching South Carolina at North Carolina State today, with Saturday viewing coming in the form of Navy/Ohio State and Georgia/Oklahoma State. Going back to tonight’s game, I’ll be particularly interested to see N.C. State’s QB Russell Wilson. Ranked by the Sporting News as the best signal caller in the ACC, the sophomore QB threw 17 TD’s and only one interception last year after recovering from injury.

Back in the day.

Tonight North Carolina takes on South Carolina. Enjoy the new football season.


2015 NFL season predictions

September 2nd, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

Tyrod Taylor might just be good enough to guide the Bills to the playoffs

NFC Seedings

#1 Seahawks
#2 Packers
#3 Eagles
#4 Falcons
#5 Cowboys
#6 Giants

AFC Seedings

#1 Colts
#2 Chargers
#3 Ravens
#4 Bills
#5 Broncos
#6 Patriots

NFC Notes

— The NFC East could be the most competitive division in football in 2015, with the exception of Washington. When you look at the respective schedules there’s no reason why the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys can’t all post 9-11 wins. Can they all make the playoffs? Possibly. I gave the Eagles the nod for the division. Chip Kelly has had two 10-6 seasons in Philly with Nick Foles and Foles/Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Sam Bradford is an upgrade, DeMarco Murray is close to being underrated (big loss for Dallas) and Nelson Agholor was an inspired first round pick. In a tough division — if Bradford stays healthy (big if) — they can win the East. Washington ends the season hoping they’ll get the #1 pick. Odell Beckham Jr. continues his rise to become one of the game’s truly elite players. Dallas misses Murray more than they imagined.

— Minnesota and Detroit are trendy picks to make the post season but I’m not sure. The Vikings welcome back Adrian Peterson and it’s a huge boost — Matt Asiata’s 570 rushing yards was a team high in 2014. Combined with another year of experience for Teddy Bridgewater things are looking up. However, they finished 24th in DVOA for 2014 and their seven victories came against St. Louis, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Washington, Carolina, the Jets and Chicago. All of those teams had a losing record (Carolina finished 7-8-1). This year they face the NFC West and AFC West and have a chance to start 0-4 or 1-3 against San Francisco (A), Detroit (H), San Diego (H) and Denver (A). They will improve, but will it necessarily show in the win column? As for Detroit, they’re clearly much weaker without Ndamukong Suh and Lions fans will be asking for years why they took Eric Ebron over Aaron Donald or Odell Beckham Jr. in last years draft. While they will take a step back on defense — expect some offensive improvement after a surprisingly average year for the passing game in 2014. I still think the NFC East teams have a chance to edge these two out of the post-season.

— 12 wins could secure the #1 seed in the NFC again this year and it looks like another battle between Green Bay and Seattle. Both teams will be tough to beat at home. The Seahawks always have a shot to go 8-0 or 7-1 in Seattle, meaning a 4-4 split on the road sets up 11-12 wins. They’re capable of that, even if they have to go to Dallas, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Minnesota and Green Bay outside of the NFC West. The Packers do not travel well and even had a couple of close calls at Lambeau against the Jets and Atlanta in 2014. There’s a decent chance both teams finish with equal records — making their week two encounter especially important if both end up competing for the #1 seed.

— I went with the Falcons in the NFC South. Dan Quinn gives them a physical edge they’ve lacked on defense, Matt Ryan is still a good quarterback and Julio Jones a perfect #1 target. In 2012 they went 13-3 with a similar core. I’m not sure they get back to those heights in 2015 — but they certainly could be favourites for the NFC South title and a playoff berth. Carolina will play tough to the tune of 7-9 wins and the Buccs will improve with Jameis Winston after some early teething problems. The Saints are in a bizarre state of flux — wanting to win now with an ageing Drew Brees while cutting or trading key players to save money for a rebuilding process. Brandin Cooks is going to see a ton of targets following the Jimmy Graham trade.

AFC Notes

— The Colts still look like a bit of a paper tiger because they rely so much on Andrew Luck. They’ve put numerous weapons around him on offense but don’t appear to have addressed several needs on defense with anything more than stop-gap options. Even so, they play in the awful AFC South and with the Patriots weakened (Brady suspension, Revis/Browner departure), Peyton Manning looking his age in pre-season and the AFC North teams beating each other up — they look like a shoe-in for the #1 seed. They’ll need it to make the Super Bowl — they won’t want another trip to New England that’s for sure.

— The Chargers have been consistently good and tough to beat in the Philip Rivers era. Yet somehow they always end up playing the role of plucky outsiders, before falling after a surprise or two in the playoffs. This year they look poised to make a run for the AFC West title. Rivers has a new contract, they have weapons on offense and the defense looks better than it has been for a while. Their running attack will be better when Melvin Gordon hits his stride. Mike McCoy is an astute offensive coach. They could be an 11-5 team and that might be enough for a first round bye in the post-season. Denver, on the other hand, have looked great on defense in pre-season and struggling on offense. Manning just doesn’t look the same — not surprising aged 39. He can’t even feel the fingertips in his throwing hand any more because of all the nerve damage he’s suffered. There’s also a bit of an issue with a new offensive coach trying to put his mark on the team and Manning essentially running ‘his’ offense as usual. They can lean on the defense and win enough for the post-season — but winning on the road in the playoffs will be tough.

— The Patriots will be pushed in the AFC East and it looks like a much more open division this year. Rex Ryan and the Bills will cause a stir — and Tyrod Taylor has played at an extremely high level in pre-season. The Jets could be better with Ryan Fitzpatrick running the offense instead of Geno Smith and they’ll be solid defensively under Todd Bowles. Miami now has Suh up the middle — he’ll give Cameron Wake a shot to push for 15-20 sacks. Ryan Tannehill is still a thoroughly underwhelming quarterback though. The thing is, when Tom Brady is backed into a corner he plays his best football. He was being written off after a loss in Kansas City last season and came back to win the Super Bowl. This four game suspension, if upheld, is going to tick him off on a whole new level. If they start 1-3 — they can still finish 10-6 or 11-5 to make the playoffs. I gave the Bills the East though. Ryan had an early impact in New York, including an 11-5 season in 2010, before the act became tired with the Jets. He can have the same early success here too. Taylor has looked very sharp at quarterback, they have an assortment of weapons and an elite defense. They face Indianapolis (H), New England (H), Miami (A), the Giants (H), Tennessee (A), Cincinnati (H) and Jacksonville (A) before a bye week. Then it’s Miami (H) and the Jets (A). They could build a strong advantage in the East — and even the return of Brady might not be enough for the Patriots to catch them.


3000 NFL mock draft: Episode #1

August 31st, 2015 | Written by Rob Staton

With the start of the college football season days away… Rob and Kenneth look at some of the players to keep an eye on for the 2016 NFL Draft…