2017 Fantasy Football Sleepers

By Alexander C. Lawrence

August is a beautiful month for football fans because football is finally back in our lives! Even if it is only preseason football we still get to watch our teams and see how they project for the regular season. Some people, such as myself, use it to scout potential fantasy football players that are strong sleeper candidates. Here’s my list for some of the best sleepers for the 2017 Fantasy Football season!

Green Bay Packers: RB, Jamaal Williams

Ty Montgomery has moved full time to running back but that doesn’t mean he’ll start. I’m not sold that Montgomery can handle a full work-load. Jamaal Williams, the eager fourth-round pick, will step in and make an immediate impact on that high powered offense. We’re not talking Zeke Elliott, but he could wind up being a very productive RB2. Taking a chance on him isn’t even costly- in most drafts he’ll be a late round pick.

Philadelphia Eagles: TE, Zach Ertz

I know most people may think Ertz isn’t an ideal late round sleeper given the fact that he simply hasn’t lived up to his real life expectations let alone fantasy owner’s, but that may not be as true as you think. Since 2013 Ertz has improved each fantasy season from a positional standpoint. 2013: TE-26, 2014: TE-13, 2015: TE-9 and 2016: TE-6. Have faith in Ertz this year!

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR, Marquise Lee

Lee showed off his WR2 type ability last season and you better believe that if Allen Hurns doesn’t produce early on, Lee can take his #2 WR spot and run with it. Bortles or Henne should get the ball to Lee, who will see a healthy chunk of targets. Lee, drafted as a late round pick, could be a fantasy breakout star in 2017.

New York Jets: TE, Jordan Leggett

The Jets don’t have a clear cut QB just yet, but one thing is clear. Whether it’s Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg, or Bryce Petty under center, Jordan Leggett will see a lot of targets just because he is talented and healthy. He can stretch the field for a Jets’ team that is lacking many offensive weapons. Five of the eight first teams the Jets face gave up the most fantasy points to TEs in 2016.  Don’t get me wrong the Jets will be bad, but Leggett will be one of the few bright spots so, for owners who want to take a late-round chance on him, go for it.

Houston Texans: WR, DeAndre Hopkins

He had a down season last year and left fantasy owners with a lot more to be desired, thanks in large part to the Texan’s horrible QB play. Hopkins believes in Tom Savage and I think with Savage, or even Watson, he can get back to his dominant self. He’ll cost a bit, but he’ll be a top 10 Wide Receiver this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB, Doug Martin

It’s no secret Doug Martin wasn’t the same guy last fantasy season, so I very much expect a bounce-back season for him once he serves his 3-game suspension for substance abuse. The team has praised him this offseason and competition with Charles Sims and Jeremy McNichols will bring out the best in him. The potential to be an RB1 again is too great to pass up.

Pittsburgh Steelers: WR, Martavis Bryant

There’s no secret that Bryant’s return should get him on most fantasy owner’s radars because his upside potential is so great. He should get back to being the no. 2 WR for the Steelers and help both himself and Antonio Brown. You can’t double everyone there. He’s a steal and I think a strong candidate for double-digit touchdowns in that Pittsburgh offense.

Detroit Lions: QB, Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford had what most would say was a normal season for the eighth-year QB out of Georgia. At least until you see his low number of TDs in 2016 (24). With the weapons at his arsenal this season that number should surely increase and I highly expect Stafford to be a QB1 this season. Detroit has a proven leader who can help that offense be elite this season.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR, Alshon Jeffery

Jeffery, just like Hopkins, is due for a bounce-back after injuries and a suspension derailed last season. He should thrive under young gun Carson Wentz throwing the ball his way as the clear no. 1 target with Jordan Mathews gone. The change of scenery will not only help him get a big pay day soon, but should improve his fantasy stock as well.

Los Angeles Rams: WR, Sammy Watkins

A lot of experts say Sammy Watkins is on their “Do not draft list” for 2017. I like to think otherwise since he was on IR last year and  seems fully healthy this year and primed to live up to the second-round hype to be a WR1. I believe this is the year we see Watkins haul in 80+ receptions and produce a 1,200+ yard season. It’s a contract year for him so, he has every reason to make sure his body is in the best condition and perform his best. Don’t be shocked if Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans who is currently being drafted 3-4 rounds ahead Watkins is ranked below him at season’s end.

Indianapolis Colts: RB, Marlon Mack

I know a lot of Frank Gore owners will probably hate me for this, but the way I see it is Frank Gore can’t continue to perform this well forever. At age 34, father-time figures to catch-up to him and I think this may be the year it finally happens. Mack excites me and I can’t wait to see how he is used in the Colts offense that will hopefully feature Andrew Luck earlier rather then later in the season. His speed and agility gives them a valuable asset they haven’t had since Joseph Addai.

Good luck, grab your sleepers, avoid the busts, and happy drafting!

Old Faces, New Places

By Jack Drapkin

Inspired by seeing Victor Cruz salsa after scoring his first (preseason) touchdown for the Chicago Bears. I figured it was a good time to take a look at some familiar players donning new jerseys for the first time in their careers.

The criteria for this list was as follows: The player had to have played with only one team in his career previously and needed at least five seasons in the league. He also needed to be notable enough for you to care.

Jamaal Charles

Charles will be in his 9th career season and first outside Kansas City. He’s currently expected to be a part of a three-headed backfield with veteran CJ Anderson and young Devontae Booker. Charles will be looking to prove he still has ‘it’ after spending much of the last two seasons on IR.

Victor Cruz

Cruz will be playing in his first season outside of the Big Apple. In this instance, I think a fresh start is exactly what Cruz needed. After missing much of 2014 and all of 2015 with devasting knee and Achilles injuries, Cruz rebounded to post a respectable 586 receiving yards last year.

Lawrence Timmons

Timmons joining the Dolphins on a 10-million a year salary was shocking for many around the league. With the recent injury to 2nd-round linebacker Raekwon McMillan, Timmon’s role and importance to this team becomes even more significant.

Andrew Whitworth

Embarking on his 11th season, Whitworth will be hoping to solidify a Rams offensive line that has been a weak spot for many years now. A stalwart on the Bengals offensive line and 3x Pro Bowler expect Whitworth to still have a few good seasons left in him, especially with the warm weather in Los Angeles.

David Harris

After 10 seasons with the New York Jets, Harris will play for the rival Patriots in 2017. With over 700 tackles and 35 career sacks, Harris has nothing left to prove but would like to add a Super Bowl ring after all these years in the trenches.

Adrian Peterson

Arguably the greatest running back of his generation, Peterson will hope to have a career resurgence with Drew Brees and the Saints. With nearly 12,000 career rushing yards in his 10 seasons in the league, Peterson has put up some truly impressive numbers. However, after missing significant time in two of the past three seasons Peterson will have to show he still has that burst in his age-32 season.

Who Is Sam Darnold?

By Alexander C. Lawrence

By now just about everyone knows who Sam Darnold is and how he led the turnaround for USC as all hope for a successful season seemed lost with a record of 1-3. In comes the calm, cool, collected quarterback to save the day. No one saw them winning the Rose Bowl in dramatic fashion against Penn State, but regardless he impressed and raised a lot of eyebrows. The question remains who exactly is Sam Darnold?

A lot of people may think Darnold must’ve been groomed for the NFL level, but that simply isn’t the case. His parents made sure their son, Sam knew he wasn’t going to be forced to focus on one sport and that he had the choice of what his future sport would be. Growing up Sam played Football, Basketball, and Baseball so his parents let him get exposed to various sports.

He has showed a humbleness not many of us are familiar with. His tone doesn’t change; he just talks with a cool and calm sense whether it be about Josh Rosen or the Rose Bowl win that was the best college football game of 2017, if not this decade. He doesn’t have a big ego when reporters talk to him.

The only time I’ve seen Darnold give off a wrong impression was when he publicly told the Jets to not tank for him. Even that was not an overly huge deal, but still this young gun doesn’t lose a beat on or off the field and you love to see that in a young QB. He doesn’t care for the expectations placed on him, he just goes out and performs. He isn’t on social media so there is never the issue of the dramas and criticisms that it brings.

Sam Darnold is the popular top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and experts project the New York Jets to have the worst record, making them likely candidates to draft the USC product. With Quincy Enunwa out for the season and preparing for neck surgery and no clear cut answer at QB with McCown or Hackenberg primed to be the QB1 this season, the potential to grab Darnold is there.

The case to draft Darnold is strong, especially since the Jets’ defense has already started it’s rebuild there with LB Darron Lee and DL Leonard Williams (also a USC product). The offense is at a point where it needs a complete do-over and they have cleaned house already so now it’s time to develop that side of the ball through the draft and free agency in the coming years. And let’s be real why not root for the Jets to “Stink for Sam.” It won’t be pretty, but let’s prepare for the future of the Jets and let them grow the right way.

I don’t want to hear about the talk of the USC QB curse and will Darnold be next in line to endure it. Carson Palmer has been a fine QB for the Bengals and Cardinals over the course of his NFL career.  Let’s not even bother bringing up Mark Sanchez as the first three seasons there was reason to believe he was the answer for the Jets even though he came out of USC. Sure he didn’t pan out well, but Sanchez still played some exciting football early on.

Sam Darnold has already been praised as one of the best QBs USC has ever produced. Big title, but nothing Darnold can’t handle with his calm approach to the game. He is a true leader and that is what the Jets need and really any QB needy team would want.

For the time being Darnold is the favorite to win the Heisman award and looks to pick right back up from where he left off after that outstanding 52-49 Rose Bowl win against Penn State. He will be fun to watch and looks primed to make the leap from a great college QB to an elite one. Don’t worry about pressure getting to Sam’s head because he’s already mastered being under pressure and handled it smoothly thus far in his young career.

Time will tell if Darnold will be better than past QBs who have proven to be nothing more than average (talking about you Cody Keesler and Matt Barkley) but my guess is he will be the NFL’s next big star.

Training Camp Roundup: QB Edition

By Aaron Weiss

With the NFL training camp season well underway, and our first preseason football game in the books, it seems apt to check in on several player situations across the league, and today we’re starting with the quarterback. We’re not going to look at all 32 teams, but rather focus on where there are developing stories, good, bad, or weird. So, without further ado:

Miami: Perhaps the hottest story in the NFL, Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill injured his left knee on Thursday during a scrimmage, and is potentially looking at a season ending surgery. I say potentially, because nothing about his diagnosis is concrete; not his actual diagnosis, his plan of action, or his timetable.

What does seem to be the case is that he injured this knee back in December, and rather than go under the knife Tannehill opted to let the knee heal naturally, a decision that parallel’s baseball’s Masahiro Tanaka’s choice last year to let a partially torn UCL heal naturally, as opposed to undergoing Tommy John. This may have just come back to haunt Tannehill, but if he can let the knee heal naturally again he could be ready to go in 6-8 weeks, as opposed to missing the 2017 season.

Yet it isn’t the actual injury that makes this the hot story of the week, but rather Miami’s first and final target for a fill in: Jay Cutler. While Miami head coach Adam Gase originally downplayed the legitimacy of this option, saying “I don’t think it’s close to anything,” the final word came this afternoon, with Cutler coming out of retirement to sign a 1 year, $10 million dollar deal with the ‘Fins.

The number of ways in which this is distressing is hard to count. Gase will say that Cutler was the top choice due to his starting experience and his familiarity with the Dolphins’ system (Cutler played for Gase in both Denver and Chicago), but Cutler isn’t close to being a quality quarterback at this point in his career. Last year Cutler threw 1 more pick and 12 less touchdowns than fellow modicum of mediocrity, Colin Kaepernick, who was a hot name thrown into the conversation to cover for Tannehill (Cutler played 7 less games than Kaep in 2016, but depending on the stat that’s only more troubling).

While this signing continues Kaepernick’s apparent blacklisting from the NFL, the real victim here is the one who has been Miami’s Mr. Reliable for years: Matt Moore. Moore is one of the premier backup QBs in the league, and in a 4 game showing in 2016 he had a higher completion percentage (63.2%) and PFF grade (67.9) than either Kaepernick (59.2% and 61.6) or Cutler (59.1% and 41.9), not to mention Moore averaged 2 TDs per game, as opposed to Kaep’s 1.3 and Cutler’s 0.8 per game. Miami should never had gotten into the PR disaster of picking Cutler over Kaepernick when Moore is the obvious choice ahead of either of them.

Moore has the system familiarity that Cutler provides while, at a minimum, being Kaepernick’s equal in terms of skill (although their skill sets vary drastically; Kaep being more of a runner and a little more wild, and Moore is a more prototypical pocket passer), not to mention Moore counts $2.1 million against the cap, as opposed to Cutler’s $10 million, with another $3 mil in incentives.

But Adam Gase “simply would not take no for an answer,” from Jay Cutler, so here we are with the 2-month retiree taking the helm in Miami. Gase is known to be a QB whisperer, and Cutler’s transition to the Miami offense should be quick, but it still remains to be seen if this offense can get off the ground without Tannehill running the show.

Still, for the overlooked Matt Moore, this has to be beyond disheartening, and after being with Miami for 6 years, and gracefully accepting a demotion from the starting job during that time, don’t be surprised if Moore looks to get out of dodge, either this upcoming offseason, or with a midseason trade, particularly with starting opportunities with teams like the Jets, the 49ers, and the Browns

New England: The same day Tanny messed up his knee, division rival Tom Terrific entered his 4th decade on this earth. Not even 48 hours into the decade, and Brady already got himself into hot water, saying “I really don’t think that’s anybody’s business” when asked if he had a concussion in 2016. Now, granted, the question is hard to answer directly, when saying yes throws your team under the bus (and sets you or your team up for severe repercussions from the NFL), and saying no throws your wife under the bus, since she claimed he did have one.

His situation is such that you can almost sympathize for the world’s greatest quarterback. But the crassness of his response is surprising, confusing, and very disconcerting. Mere days after the release of a study on CTE (a brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head) that left a slew of retirements in it’s wake (Andrew Hawkins, Chris Watt, John Urschel, Rob Ninkovich, Jadar Johnson, Tony Hills, and Ryan Clady have all retired in the 8 days since the study was released; that’s more retirements than in the entirely of May and June combined. It is worth caveating that only Urschel specifically mentioned the report as a factor for his retirement, so the timing could just be coincidence), the NFL’s poster boy is not only reluctant to talk about concussions, he is adamant that it isn’t anyone’s business to even ask. The staunchness of his statement both blows the door wide open that he probably did have a concussion in 2016, while also projecting a disregard for player health and safety that will impact anyone who either looks up to the greatest QB of all time, or anyone trying to make it in the NFL.

If Roger Goodell has any fight in him after effectively losing the battle over something as ridiculous as Deflategate, he should be gearing up to prepare a significant investigation into the Patriots’ reporting on player injuries, with the intention of punishing the Patriots to the fullest extent of the rules should any wrongdoing be found.

Houston: The QB battle between the NFL’s top player by name to skill disproportion, Tom Savage, and first round pick Deshaun Watson, was an easy pick for one of the top training camp battles to watch going into the season. Head Coach Bill O’Brien had stated that “Tom’s No. 1,” but even then he caveated that statement, saying “He knows, like I said from day one, he’s got to earn it every day.” Watson has recently been making strides in camp, and O’Brien praised him, saying that Watson “is really way ahead of any rookie quarterback I’ve been around.”

But the battle took an interesting twist when superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins took a side, saying “I put the stamp on Savage, and I think that’s all that needs to be said about that.” Reminiscent of when wide receiver Brandon Marshall was an avid defender of Harvard grad and semi-pro quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, this is another scenario where a playing created something out of nothing. Hopkins has to know that, whether this season or next, this team belongs to Watson, and putting his chips on Savage may end up alienating his future QB.

While Savage played respectably in his 3 games last season, he’s never shown that his hasn’t come close to his ceiling, whereas Watson’s ceiling is massive. Generally a star WR wants to back the franchise QB, not throw him under the bus. One has to wonder if Hopkins is backing Savage because he truly believes he’s the better quarterback, or because he averaged 84 yards per game with Savage at the helm in 2016, as opposed to 54 yards with Osweiler leading the offense.

The sad truth is that Savage probably will be the starting QB come week 1 no matter what, and so Hopkins’ endorsement did nothing to benefit anyone, while potentially tarnishing the relationship with what should be his QB for the foreseeable future. It’s this sort of action that makes you question Hopkins as a team player, and asks how invested he is in resigning with the team long term.

Indianapolis/Baltimore: Two scenarios where starting QBs are recovering from injury, neither Joe Flacco or Andrew Luck have any guarantee of necessarily being ready for week one of the regular season. The vibe out of Baltimore seems to be more optimistic, with doctors saying Flacco’s back injury is “minor”, but in the meantime the face taking the reins in practice, and potentially the preseason and regular season after that, is former Patriot heartthrob Ryan Mallett. So far his training camp has been a mixed bag, with some good performances at the end of last week that are juxtaposed by a 5 interception performance that prompted Terrell Suggs to question whether Mallett knew who he was supposed to throw to. The Ravens are one of the top names to potentially sign the aforementioned blacklisted Colin Kaepernick, and if nothing else he’d be a good camp body with Flacco on the shelf.

Meanwhile, the story in Indianapolis is slightly more grim. GM Chris Ballard insists Luck will be off of the PUP list by week 1, fully recovered from his shoulder surgery, but just three days prior Luck himself was noncommittal about playing by then (although he could be held out without being on the PUP list). Should he not be able to play to start the season, the Colts are looking to “not Aaron Rodgers”, aka Scott Tolzien, to push this team beyond .500 mediocrity. More grim than the Baltimore situation, and not remotely as entertaining, look to the Colts to try and find a higher upside QB should it seem that Luck may miss more than one game.

Arizona: Our final stop, we come not to look at a first string QB, nor a 2nd string QB. We’re hear to celebrate the beauty that is 3rd string QB Blaine Gabbert, who played the entire first half and schooled a Dallas team that spent a good chuck of that time playing 1st stringers. Gabbert went 11 for 14 with 185 yards and a Passer Rating of 118.8. Now, we grant that this was a preseason game, and even if it wasn’t, the Dallas defense is ridiculously porous (even more so when half the squad is suspended).

I don’t legitimately think that Blaine Gabbert is back. Then again, ask the team that drafted him if they’d swap their current disaster of a quarterback (Blake Bortles) for Yo Gabba Gabbert, and I bet that discussion takes well longer than it should. Realistically though, with a performance like this, the spot for backup QB should definitely be up in the air between Gabbert and the incumbent backup Drew Stanton. And with 1st stringer Carson Palmer being prone to injury (he’s 37, and he missed 1 game last year and 10 three years ago), there’s actually a legitimate path for former top 10 pick Blaine Gabbert to salvage his career. In the meantime, we’ll just have to celebrate that he’s escaped the disaster that is San Francisco.

So that’s the round up for now! There’s other interesting QB notes around the league, from Pittsburgh to Cleveland to New York, but perhaps we’ll cover those another time, or maybe another position! Let us know what we should cover next, and what you think of these stories across the league. Until next time, I’m signing off!

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bye Week

By John Camera

As a beginner in fantasy football, and even into a few years where I had garnered success playing it, it’s easy to look at bye weeks and fear them. The thought of having several players, especially your elite ones, all gone for the same week can be daunting. So you carefully scout the best way to avoid it and sometimes, bypass good players for slightly less good players just so you don’t have a bye week conflict. I was very much the same type of player until a break through happened; I stopped caring.

Yes, it sounds extreme to many who still sculpt their team with bye week clutter as a concern. That could lead to one or even two weeks of massive bye-week fill-ins that could leave me susceptible to a big defeat, you may think. While that is a very appropriate concern the truth is that the positives far out-way the negatives.

One week with a blowout loss is very possible in this strategy but unless you play a league that tallies point totals instead of head-to-head wins, this won’t present a big problem. One loss in a 12 game regular season is not a big concern if it means your team will be better than your peers, who drop value picks in your lap in favor of avoiding bye week problems. Embrace the bye week by not even considering it in your drafting.

Imagine the following team, all with players on a Week 8 bye; Marcus Mariota, Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley, Odell Beckham, Larry Fitzgerald, Martellus Bennett. That’s a pretty great team right? With Beckham as your lead dog, Gurley and Fournette undisputed RB1s in offenses that will feature them, and Bennett and Fitz solid vets in pass-centric offenses, you could dominate week in and week out. A loss in Week 8, and say one or two other weeks, is not a big deal if you are vying for fantasy supremacy in the playoffs.

So in short, the best way to deal with bye weeks are to not worry about them. Draft the best players on your board and worry about replacing them in the lineup when it comes time to. And losing 110-65 is nothing if it means you finish 11-1 or 10-2. So go ahead, draft to your hearts content, and embrace the bye week as something that is not to be feared but instead conquered.


Time’s Tickin’ for Young BALT Weapons

By Jack Drapkin

It’s time for the young skill position talent of the Ravens to step up. General Manager Ozzie Newsome sent a clear message to the young players he drafted in the previous two drafts. Time to step up.

Maxx Williams, Crockett Gillmore, and Breshad Perriman. are on the clock this year. When Newsome, didn’t select a single skill position player in the 2017 NFL Draft many fans were concerned. However, Newsome is relying on his young crop of skill guys to step up. Call his decision to not draft anyone at these positions a vote of confidence.

The problem for all three of these young players in their early careers has been injuries.

Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a prolonged knee injury but rebounded to play in all 16 games last year recording 33 receptions and nearly 500 receiving yards. His return in 2016 and blazing speed make him the best bet to produce for the Ravens next season.

The pair of tight ends, Maxx Williams and Crockett Gilmore are the biggest enigmas to me to start the season.

Let’s start with Gilmore who’s a favorite of mine. In theory, he has the rare combination of receiving and blocking ability to be a top-10 tight end in the league. However, a litany of injuries has caused him to struggle to establish himself as a premier target for Joe Flacco.

Williams, on the other hand, was drafted to be a receiving threat. After posting only 268 receiving yards in his rookie year and recording no stats this past season it’s time to prove he belongs in this league in 2017.

With Dennis Pitta’s hip forcing him to retirement someone needs to step up at tight end for the Ravens and I am not betting that it’s going to be the 36 – year old Ben Watson coming off an Achilles injury.

With the recent injuries of Kenneth Dixon and Joe Flacco, the health of these players and their performance becomes critical for a Ravens team looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

5 NFL Vets Who Could Lose Their Jobs to Rookies

By John Camera

With rookies adjusting to the complexities of the NFL, some new-guys are not just treading water but excelling and looking to take jobs from their more experienced teammates. These are five NFL veterans who could see themselves passed on their squad’s depth chart in favor of a rookie:

1. Mike Glennon, Chicago Bears

There’s no surprise or drama with this one. Despite Glennon getting a massive deal on a very small sample size, the Bears were willing to give him the reigns of their offense up until April 27th. Then they traded up to get UNC QB Mitchell Trubisky, who should be expected to start sooner rather than later. Although he would be a very expensive back-up, the Bears could turn to their future now with Trubisky if he proves to be as good, if not better, than Glennon. While Glennon has the requisite arm and body of a pocket passer at Quarterback, his accuracy and ability under pressure may not measure up to Trubisky’s.

2. Latavius Murray, Vikings

After moving on from future Hall of Famer Runningback Adrian Peterson, the Vikings invested in former Raider Latavius Murray, coming off a career year for Oakland. But with FSU’s star tailback Dalvin Cook on the clock when Minnesota made their first selection of the 2017 draft, they didn’t resist selecting a player who could very well be their next historically-great back. While Cook isn’t quite as powerful as Peterson was in his prime, he does bring the same level of home-run hitting and explosion in his speed and agility that Murray doesn’t measure up to. Cook should be the starter by Week 1 and leave Murray in a complimentary role.

3. Jeremy Hill, Bengals

Jeremy Hill surpassed all expectations in his breakout rookie season of 2014, rushing for over 1,100 yards and 9 Touchdowns. Since then he has failed to find consistency in his game and capture the role of the Bengals backfield’s lead man. Enter Joe Mixon, the talented yet troubled RB from Oklahoma. Mixon’s on-field gifts are unquestionable and Marvin Lewis and company have shown a willingness to gamble on players with less than clean off-the-field records and get great results. With Gio Bernard an effective threat on third down and Mixon possessing the speed, size, and strength to be a bellcow, Hill could slide all the way to the bottom of the lineup or even out of Cincy altogether.

4. Chris Long, Eagles

Chris Long joined the Eagles after a solid year with the Super Bowl champion Patriots, looking to grab the starting job from the overpaid and disappointing Vinny Curry. But with star Tennessee pass-rusher Derek Barnett on the board at pick 14, the Eagles snatched him up to complete a nightmare-inducing D-Line; Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, and Barnett. Long will likely slide into a rotational role but with Barnett’s excellence as a QB disrupter and run stuffer, Long may find fewer snaps than initially anticipated.

5. Sean Smith, Raiders

While Sean Smith was not especially bad last season as a free agent pick-up, he had a rough start with his new team and had several other bumps along the way. To add to the pressure on the highly-paid Cornerback, the Raiders selected one half of Ohio State’s talented CB tandem in the 22-year-old Gareon Conley. Conley’s combination of size and ball skills, and with slightly better speed than Smith, could get him into the starting lineup next to David Amerson sooner rather than later, especially if Smith continues to play inconsistently on the outside.