“I think overall tight ends are occasionally forgot about or not advertised enough,” George Kittle told 49ers reporters on Saturday, via Bleacher Report. “And I think the fact that guys are exploding through the ceiling that was set with me, Travis Kelce got a fantastic new deal, I know [Zach] Ertz is about to get one and the guys that are just blowing through that, it’s fun to see and I think tight ends will just continue to prove that we’re worth a lot to the team.”
This has certainly been a great year for tight ends, with Kittle getting a new five-year, $75 million deal and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce getting four years worth $57.25 million.
Our main aim is to get as many top players at as many top positions as possible in the early rounds. This means we are more open to selecting a QB or a tight end in the first five rounds than normal. Yet, before you start spending a third-round pick on Tom Brady, allow us to qualify this statement new strategy: It is almost exclusive to Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
If one or the other is available come Round 3, or even late Round 2, and we aren’t in love with other options — think choosing among, say, the tier with Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, Chris Carson, Kenny Golladay — then we would look at one of those two QBs or Travis Kelce.
The Best: Los Angeles Chargers
None of the teams in the division have particularly outstanding depth at the wide receiver position. The Chiefs have had a number of receivers beyond Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins that have done fine when called upon (DeMarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman come to mind), but it’s hard to tell sometimes if it’s actually good depth or just Mahomes doing Mahomes things with whoever he has out there. More importantly, the Chargers had two 1,000-yard wide receivers last year in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. So given that they have the best two starters and certainly the best starting duo, they get the distinction of “best” wide receiver corps in the West.
Kansas City Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire Is a Work in Progress
With Damien Williams opting out of the 2020 season, rookie first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire should be the Kansas City Chiefs’ starting tailback. He handled a sizable workload at LSU this past season—he racked up more than 1,800 combined rushing and receiving yards to go with 17 touchdowns—and could do the same in his first pro season.
However, Edwards-Helaire isn’t ready to take the NFL by storm just yet.
“Clyde, he’s been doing a lot of work with the first group,” head coach Andy Reid said, per Charles Goldman of Chiefs Wire. “That’s valuable work for him. Is everything perfect? No, not right now, but he’s working like crazy to get it there and he’s got a good attitude about it.”
The Chiefs are clearly pumped about what Edwards-Helaire can bring to an already potent offense, but as Reid pointed out, expecting early perfection from any rookie would be foolhardy.
Edwards-Helaire is still a work in progress, but he has the potential to be a tremendous offensive asset in 2020.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Defensive Backfield Takes a Step Back
Among the newly acquired: cornerback Antonio Hamilton, signed in free agency; corners L’Jarius Sneed and Thakarius Keyes, both drafted in April; and safety Tedric Thompson, signed in free agency.
Outside of Ward and Mathieu, this group looks primed for regression. Perhaps Thornhill’s return can smooth things over, but it may take him a while to right himself. Breeland’s return after four weeks will certainly help, too.
Of all the positional groups in Kansas City, this is the one to most worry about, especially in a division where the three other teams will be airing it out in efforts to keep up with the Chiefs’ own potent offensive attack.
Around the NFL
“He’s somebody whose name has come up quite a bit,” coach Adam Gase said of Hogan. “He’s a guy who can come in and pick up the offense very quickly. Obviously, we competed against him quite a bit. He’s a good fit for us.”
Because of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols, it will take a few days before Hogan is cleared to take the field. In the meantime, that leaves the Jets with only eight healthy wide receivers on the roster.
In terms of potential landing spots, two continue to stick out: The New York Jets and the Tennessee Titans. The Jets sent their best defensive player away to Clowney’s former team, the Seattle Seahawks, and a player who was sent to New York as part of the deal has tried to recruit Clowney to the AFC East as well. Bradley McDougald tweeted a few weeks ago that Clowney told him he wants New York to ”come get him.” In June, it was reported that the Jets did not have interest in Clowney despite having a comfortable amount of available cash, but maybe that has changed.
As for the Titans, we know that they are one of the teams that have made multiple offers to Clowney. While they signed former Atlanta Falcons pass-rusher Vic Beasley earlier this offseason, he was fined for being late to camp and still has yet to pass his physical. The Titans are always looking to add pieces that know how to get after the quarterback, and how they arranged Derrick Henry’s extension in July made it seem as though they were gearing up for another signing.
The Jets and Titans may be two of the favorites to land Clowney, but the reality is that his recruitment is totally open. As we inch closer to the regular season, however, it seems more and more unlikely Clowney will get the kind of cash he is looking for.
“My main goal is to fix the penalties I had last year,” Tunsil said, via the team website. “That was one of the main things I wanted to work on and work with Deshaun (Watson) this offseason.”
Tunsil solidified a Texans offensive line that made life easier for QB Deshaun Watson, allowing 44 sacks in 2019 compared to the 62 sustained the year prior. Only three of those sacks last year were allowed by Tunsil, who posted the fifth-best pass blocking grade of any O-lineman last year, according to Pro Football Focus. Tunsil went on to make his first Pro Bowl after one season in Houston.
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Fields transferred from Georgia and in 2019 immediately stepped in for Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State, where in his first season he threw for 3,273 yards and completed 67 percent of his throws, including 41 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Fields ran for another 484 yards and 10 scores. And while he’s a first-round talent, another year in the Buckeyes system would only enhance his draft stock; he has off-the-charts athleticism and plus-arm strength, but Fields needs to improve his accuracy on downfield throws and his ball security. There’s a lot to love about his game and the expectation is that he’ll only get better with more reps. The good news is that, from the perspective of August, Fields remains a likely first-round pick, but there’s virtually no chance he challenges Trevor Lawrence for first QB off the board now that Ohio State’s fall season has been cancelled.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Despite being only 26, Hill is among the older players in Kansas City’s wide receiver room. As he enters his fifth year, he acknowledged that comes with a whole new set of challenges.
“I feel like if I go out there every play and push myself and I become more of a vocal leader for those younger guys, they’ll see that, ‘Hey this guy is the fastest guy in the NFL, he works hard, so I want to be able to come into this offense and do the same thing,’” he explained. “You know, and all of it applies to the classroom too. When we’re watching one-on-ones, I’m helping them, telling them what I think they could have done better in this situation. I mean, I want everyone to be better, you know, because my job isn’t secured. I come out here every day working hard... trying to be that leader for everyone because I feel like our group makes this offense go, so I’m going to continue to work hard.”
A tweet to make you think
Patrick Mahomes on EB calling him a competitive prick: It's our nature, not just mine. ... I'm going to go out there and compete every single time and I'm gonna have that fire every play.— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) August 16, 2020
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