Oklahoma · C
Drafted: Round 2, No. 63 overall
Linebacker Nick Bolton might have a splashier rookie season for the Chiefs, but Humphrey’s athleticism and leadership should not be slept on as it pertains to getting the offensive line (and running game) back on track. Humphrey was a starter for impressive Oklahoma offenses in each of the last three seasons and has the talent to block in space, which should help Clyde Edwards-Helaire show what he’s capable of in 2021.
Kansas City Chiefs
Juan Thornhill, S
PFF grade in 2020: 59.0
What went wrong: Thornhill looked like a rising star at the safety position during his 2019 rookie campaign before it was interrupted by a torn ACL in Week 17. His 71.5 PFF grade up until that point ranked 29th among 87 qualifying safeties, powered by a 78.0 grade in coverage. The latter mark ranked 18th at the position and was one of the 10 best by a rookie safety in the last decade. Thornhill made a swift recovery from the ACL injury and was back for Week 1, but it was clear he wasn’t the same player. He struggled to start the season, losing his starting job and ending up in a rotational role. — PFF
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Outlook for 2021: Thornhill has yet to oust veteran Daniel Sorensen from a starting spot at training camp and appears headed for a similar role as last season, when he played mostly when the Chiefs went to a three-safety look. Thornhill said early in camp that he finally is back at full strength after his 2019 injury and that should boost his play when he is on the field. — Adam Teicher
1 - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · QB · Age: 25
No one should be surprised to see Mahomes, who barely qualifies for this list with his 26th birthday falling just eight days after the NFL Kickoff Game, in this spot. He’s 37-8 since becoming the Chiefs’ starting quarterback in 2018 (most wins by a QB in the NFL over that span), and he ranks first in many passing metrics among QBs with a minimum of 100 pass attempts since ‘18. His production has resulted in two Super Bowl appearances (one win), a league MVP award in 2018 and a contract extension worth nearly half a billion dollars. The crazy thing is, it feels as if Mahomes is just getting started.
2. Andy Reid, Chiefs
Reid quieted the critics who said he couldn’t win a big game when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl two years ago, and they returned last year. He has a great 221-130-1 in 22 seasons as a head coach with the Eagles and Chiefs, and his track record in KC has been stunning. He inherited a two-win Chiefs team in 2013 and has since gone 91-37 with five division titles and eight winning seasons in eight years. His game management still receives criticism, but Reid is rightfully considered one of the best offensive and head coaches in the game’s history.
Byron Pringle, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: This one’s less about skills speculation than it is a potentially larger-than-expected role, as Pringle, who turns 28 in November, enters 2021 as a fourth-year undrafted rookie with 25 career NFL catches. The Chiefs, blessed with the game’s best passer in Patrick Mahomes, are sure to make more than two receivers (No. 1 wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce) fantasy-relevant, and while Mecole Hardman is getting all of the early preseason buzz, Pringle got more opportunity while Sammy Watkins was sidelined during the Super Bowl. Part of that is Pringle’s fit in the slot, which was Watkins’ former role, but it also speaks well of Pringle that he managed to be better than league average in yards after the catch, air yards and catch rate. It shouldn’t come as a complete shock that the Chiefs spoke so highly of him in the preseason’s early stages. Hardman is the receiver fantasy managers — and surely also the Chiefs — would like to see step up to be Mahomes’ No. 3 target, but Pringle isn’t a far cry behind.
Of course, the odds are great. BetMGM took two bets, each to win five figures, on the Chiefs having the fewest wins in the NFL.
$100 to win $50,000 on Chiefs +50000
$15 to win $37,500 on Chiefs +250000
It’s fun to look at those payoffs. There’s no chance those tickets will hit, but fun to dream.
Around the NFL
“He was a little sore, and Justin is the last one that’s gonna tell you that’s an excuse,” Nagy said. “He’s not going to use that excuse. He was pissed off with some of the throws and just the way in general yesterday we were all a little bit, I didn’t think offensively we had a very good day. We were able to watch the film last night, go through it and correct it and see why and stuff. For us, we’ve got to be smart. We want to be smart, and it doesn’t make sense right now to push the limits with him and take a chance of making it more sore.”
Nagy didn’t sound too concerned about Fields’ groin issue, particularly given the plan is for the rookie to play Saturday. If team doctors were worried it’d be a lingering issue, there is no way the Bears would put him on the field for a preseason game.
On the flip side, second-round offensive tackle Teven Jenkins will undergo back surgery, Nagy announced.
“The goal is to get him back this season,” Nagy said.
“I’m happy,” Gettleman said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Ya know? We got Dexter. Ximines has had his injury issues, but when he’s been out there, he’s shown promise. Jabrill has done a hell of a job for us, so I like that group.”
Peppers has been solid in two seasons in New York, flashing at times, en route to 167 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and an INT. Lawrence had a good second season in 2020 pushing the pocket, compiling four sacks from the interior, and could be poised for a Year 3 leap. Ximines played just four games last season due to injury after netting 4.5 sacks as a rookie.
After an offseason in which he stayed away while he tried to get the Packers to acquiesce to how he believes he should be involved — resulting in a restructured contract that makes it much easier for the quarterback to play somewhere else in 2022 — Rodgers is trying to make one thing clear.
“I don’t want a farewell tour,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “I don’t know what’s going to happen after the season, but I’m going to enjoy it with the right perspective, for sure, and not look at it as I’m getting through this. I’m going to enjoy the hell out of all of it.”
8 - Denver Broncos
2020 RANKINGS · Points: 25th | Yards: 21st
Don’t sleep on Denver. The Broncos significantly upgraded the cornerback position for head coach Vic Fangio. After adding Kyle Fuller (who earned first-team All-Pro honors while playing under Fangio in Chicago) and Ronald Darby in free agency, Denver selected Patrick Surtain II with the No. 9 overall pick. I had Surtain as the best defensive player in this draft class. Add those three to a secondary that already includes top-notch nickel corner Bryce Callahan and the spectacular safety duo of Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, and Fangio’s really cooking with gas. This could be the best defensive backfield in football.
The scary thing is that I haven’t even mentioned Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. With better health luck, this could be the best pass-rushing duo in football.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Bleymaier has been with the organization since 2016. He’s has gone from offensive quality control coach to pass-game analyst/assistant quarterbacks coach — and now has his first opportunity as an NFL position coach.
Reid has singled him out as one of the minds behind those memorable plays — but speaking with reporters after practice on Tuesday, Bleymaier claimed the head coach is just being modest.
“He’s deflecting,” maintained Bleymaier. “He’s the creative guru; he’s giving credit where credit isn’t due.”
But based on what he said about what they do to keep their offensive schemes innovative, Bleymaier might be the modest one.
“We do look and we try to find plays from anywhere in the country,” he explained. “When we find something that is being successful, if it’s not something we currently have in, we either copy it straight up or we see how it can fit. If something is working, we’re all about putting guys in the best position to succeed. If there’s a concept or a way to do [it] that we don’t currently have in, Coach isn’t afraid to add it.
“That’s the great thing about him, our offensive staff, our offense and the guys we have: they’re eager to get more and more and more — and get more on their plate in order to showcase their abilities.”
A tweet to make you think
You could hear a lot of commotion in the player parking lot during press availability and per @khalenNOTkaylen IG .. we now know why. Only question, how much $ did Byron Pringle have on the line? #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/wN0DKlV9s3— Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) August 18, 2021