Todd Gurley II, RB
Prediction: signs one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs
Let’s finish up with Gurley, who is still somehow only 26 years old. The former two-time All-Pro averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and ranked 44th out of 47 backs in DVOA last season. At this point, Gurley will have to be realistic: He’s not going to get an opportunity to serve as a starting back. He hasn’t been an explosive receiver over the past couple of seasons, but his best role might be as a third-down back, where he can block and serve as a sure pair of hands on checkdowns.
Fresh off a 13-3 season and an AFC Championship Game appearance, Sean McDermott boasts the top squad of the league’s 23 coaches still seeking the elusive Lombardi. While several top teams face uncertainty at the quarterback position, the ever-evolving Josh Allen looks poised to take the Bills’ offense to even newer heights in 2021. The Bills also addressed their biggest weakness in their failure to dethrone the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs by selecting talented and versatile pass rushers (Gregory Rousseau and Boogie Basham) early in the draft. Add that to the stellar job McDermott has done in Buffalo over the years, and he is clearly the favorite.
17. ORLANDO BROWN JR., KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
After a dreadful offensive line performance cost Kansas City a shot at winning Super Bowl 55, the team made a power play for Orlando Brown Jr., trading away its 2021 first-round pick, among others. The Chiefs will eventually have to pay Brown handsomely, as he is still on a rookie contract. Was the juice really worth the squeeze for the Chiefs? Not really, but it does solve the problem to an extent, as Brown is a reliable and quality tackle.
Brown demanded a trade from the Ravens after filling in for Ronnie Stanley at left tackle and expressing his desire to stay there. Brown did have the best season of his short three-year NFL career in 2020. His grade at left tackle ranked 16th among those with at least 350 snaps at the position. He was consistent week after week throughout the season. In fact, Brown was the only tackle overall in 2020 to start all 16 games and not once record a single-game PFF grade below 60.0. Yet, he also never cracked a single-game PFF grade above 80.0.
Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe has long produced versatile draft prospects during his time at Duke. Some of that is due to the players recruited and some of that is a result of the coaching staff looking to find creative ways to maximize their most talented players’ abilities in as many ways as possible. For Gray that meant filling a number of roles during his time in Durham, something he’ll be asked to do at the processional level and something he feels well prepared to do.
“Duke used me in a lot of ways and I’m grateful for coach [David Cutcliffe] and all the other coaches who kind of got me to this point and helped me along the way.”
It’s unknown whether or not Ingram is ready to sign with someone or whether he’s doing his homework, but it would make sense for Ingram to find a home soon rthan later given the schedule for offseason workouts. He left Arrowhead without a deal, but it wasn’t clear if the Chiefs were just disinterested or whether they were kicking the tires on available players for a future signing after the draft.
Patrick Mahomes is still considered by most to be Fantasy’s safest and best quarterback, which is why he’ll be the first one from his position off the board on Draft Day. He actually tied MVP Aaron Rodgers last season with 29.1 Fantasy points per outing but played one fewer regular-season game. Nonetheless, he topped 22 points in 12 of 15 matchups and should at least be expected for that many points weekly with the upside to wreck your opponents a handful of times. Matchups against the AFC West and teams like the Bengals, Cowboys, Giants and Eagles should further help Mahomes’ chances of another big year. He’ll obviously be popular — Fantasy drafters who crave safe, studly quarterbacks may take Mahomes between 10th and 20th overall. But given the depth at quarterback and demand for studs at other positions, we’d prefer to not reach for him and only draft Mahomes if he comes with a Round 3 price tag. At that point he’d be a terrific value. There won’t be any value drafting Mahomes in two-QB/Superflex leagues — bank on him as a top-three overall choice in those formats.
Around the NFL
How much does Rodgers have left?
Before the allegations of sexual assault against Deshaun Watson surfaced, I ardently believed George Paton should move heaven and earth to acquire him, cost be damned. Elite quarterbacks hardly grow on trees and Watson is 25 years old, not even a full year older than the Broncos’ own Drew Lock. I believed he could step in as the heir to Peyton Manning and solve the QB conundrum for the next decade or more, which justified any price.
I cannot say the same for Aaron Rodgers, if for no reason beyond the fact he turns 38 in December. We joke about Tom Brady playing ‘til he’s 50, but no one believes he’ll really do it, right? Even if he does, the fact of the matter remains that the 2000 sixth-round pick is an outlier in just about every sense of the word.
Rodgers may say he wants to play until he’s 40 or even 45, but there’s no guarantee his body will hold up. Father Time caught Drew Brees at 41, Peyton Manning at 40, Ben Roethlisberger at 38. Manning looked like a zombie as he rode the Broncos’ historic No Fly Zone to the promised land. Brees and Roethlisberger spent 2020 looking like shells of their former selves; there’s little doubt both held their offenses back.
That came as no surprise to the team, given that Rodgers did not participate in phase 1, which the Packers held virtually for the previous four weeks, or phase 2, which was held in person last week. However, Rodgers has been a regular participant in the offseason program and OTAs throughout his career.
Phase 3, which includes 10 total days of work spread over four weeks, began Monday. The first session open to reporters is Tuesday.
The NFL is also currently investigating the accusations against Watson. The QB could face punishment under the league’s personal-conduct policy and could be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List.
Watson has not been around the team since the lawsuits against him piled up. He has not made any public comments since March 16 when he denied wrongdoing in response to the first lawsuits in a statement on social media. Last week, the QB posted videos to his Instagram Story of himself working out.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs defense allowed touchdowns on 77% of their regular season red-zone drives — the highest rate in the NFL
There’s important context for this one right out of the gate: the Chiefs’ defense allowed the sixth-fewest red-zone possessions in the league last year. Unlike the days of defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s “bend but don’t break in the red zone” tendency, this unit is more boom-or-bust.
Like any defense, it had the most success when they could get ahead in the downs and work the offense into a third down with more than five yards to go. However, the Chiefs’ are terrible in short-yardage run defense situations: in that same Power Success Rate metric referenced above, the Chiefs’ defense ranked last with an opposing success rate of 78% on qualified plays.
One way to improve in these areas is for the pass rush to be more effective in a four-man pressure — allowing there to be more coverage defenders on the red-zone plays and to keep themselves out of short-yardage, third-down situations.
The addition of Jarran Reed proves that the Chiefs’ are aware of the need to get better there.
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