Author Archives: Vincent Calderone

NFL 2020 Divisonal Predictions and Preview

On Thursday night, the 2020 season oficially kicks off in Kansas City as the Chiefs and Texans prepare to square off. It’s going to be a tough season to predict. So much time in the offseason was taken away by COVID-19, that teams have had to prepare for a season with less than a month of practice time and no preseason games.

A lot is different from the2019 offseason, from roster building to the way practice and training camp are run. It will be beneficial to the players to get back to the games as soon as possible to try and develop some sort of rythym. Although it isn’t a shortened season, you can’t relax through weeks 1-4 and get your legs back. Whoever has the hottest start in any division will end up in a great spot midway through the season.

The challenges that goal will bring are daunting, but it will be sure to level the playing field. I’m going to predict who I think will be winning each division with a short explanation why.

AFC East: Patriots

It’s just not logical to doubt HC Bill Belichick when things are murky. Signing Cam Newton will elevate the composure in which the Pat’s offense operates this season. If Cam gets back to his old ways, there’s no question the Patriots will run away with the division.

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) bobbles the ball as quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) looks on during an NFL football training camp practice, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)

AFC North: Ravens

QB Lamar Jackson proved to everyone why he’s the best mobile QB in the game right now. The changes on both sides of the ball could scare most people in a shortened offseason, but the addition of DT Calais Campbell on that already talented defense is sure to make a difference.

AFC South: Titans

It’s going to be interesting if the offsensive game plan continues to be smash mouth football. QB Ryan Tannehill proved last season that he’s willing to sling it and saving Derrick Henry for late season carries should be the main focus for the offense this season. This was a no-brainer picking the Titans after the Jadaveon Clowney signing. Adding an elite pass rusher a week before the season starts is a move only real contenders make. Titans GM Jon Robinson did a nice job addressing needs this offseason.

AFC West: Chiefs

I think the lack of Super Bowl parties this offseason has the Chiefs hungry for a repeat. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is fresh off of his new deal and there is a boat load of returning starters on both sides of the ball. If the Chiefs just continue to play their game, there’s no question they will repeat in the AFC West.

NFC East: Eagles

The biggest thing I liked about the Eagles offseason is the fact that they addressed the speed needs on the outside for QB Carson Wentz. They brought in WR’s Marquise Goodwin and Jalen Reagor and solidied the defense with CB Darius Slay and DT Javon Hargrave. HC Doug Pederson being the only retuning coach in the NFC East this season has me confident that he will lead the Eagles to the division title.


NFC North: Lions

Hear me out. QB Matthew Stafford is now the best quarterback in the NFC North after Packers QB Aaron Rodgers subpar season in 2020. Lions GM Bob Quinn and HC Matt Patricia have to win the division to keep their jobs. It’s all setting up for a story book season. Detroit will bring the division home.

NFC South: Buccaneers

It’s officially the TB12 show in Tampa. That offense is absolutely star studded and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. But the biggest thing thats stands out for me is that front 7 on defense. They can flat out ball and it will be a lot of fun to watch them next season, especially since they made that their early offseason priority.

NFC West: 49ers

Is it crazy to think the 49ers enter the 2020 season angry? They played great football last season and lost a thrilling Super Bowl in 2019 to the Chiefs. But we have only heard the Chiefs, Ravens, and Buccaneers in the Super Bowl conversation. San Francisco’s defense is as good as ever and expect QB Jimmy Garoppolo to take a big step forward in 2020.

Here's the crazy story behind 49ers running back Raheem Mostert's playoff  breakout

See you Thursday night.

NFL First 32 Mock Draft 2.0 – Chargers trade up, Kinlaw falls, Vikings replace Diggs, trades, and more

We’re almost there, folks. The 2020 NFL Draft is this week and we have surely seen our fair share of mock drafts. We released a previous mock draft by analyst Gianfranco Illiano and you can check that out here:

While preparing this NFL Mock Draft, I tried to avoid a lot of trades because it usually takes away from one of my favorite purposes of a first round mock draft, identifying team needs and best players. I enjoy trades with multiple trades, however, because it’s pure chaos.

There’s just so many questions with the NFL Draft this year. Not even counting the fact this is the first virtual draft in NFL history, this draft is uncrackable. I believe I saw a report that a GM said most mock drafts were completely wrong. I’m fairly confident in mine.

1. Cincinnati Bengals – LSU QB Joe Burrow

The 2019 Heisman winner and National Champion brings his superstardom to Cincy to help save the Bengals.

2. Washington Redskins – Ohio State DE Chase Young

Young is a generational talent going to a Washington squad that needs an influx of talent.

3. Chargers (via Lions) – Alabama QB Tua Tagliova

Tua has had just about the most up and down college career ever for a highly touted QB prospect. He’ll be expected to replace long time starter Phillip Rivers.

4. Miami Dolphins (via Giants) – Oregon QB Justin Herbert

The gunslinger from Oregon gets to go save Miami’s offense.

5. Giants (via Dolphins) – Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs

Offensive line has been a problem for the Giants for years now. And with a second year Daniel Jones at QB, it’s a good time to start protecting the pocket.

6. Lions (via Chargers) – Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah

Okudah is the best CB in the draft going to the worst secondary in the NFL.

7. Panthers – Clemons LB Isaiah Simmons

Simmons is just a human highlight tape. He doesn’t even have a position because he plays everything. Panthers have to somehow try and replace the playmaking abilities of recently retired LB Luke Keuchly.

8. Cardinals – Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb

Kyler Murray gets his wish to pair up with former college teammate CeeDee Lamb. Coach Kliff will certainly be pleased.

9. Jaguars – Florida CB CJ Henderson

The Jaguars need help at a lot of positions in the Front office. But they also need help at cornerback. Henderson adds to the first round talent at CB in this draft.

10. Browns – Louisville OT Mekhi Becton

Becton has the best name in the draft. And he was also the best tackle in the ACC last season. Baker needs protection. This should work.

11. Jets – Georgia OT Andrew Thomas

Tackles continue to fall. And notice the young QB trend. Jets QB Sam Darnold got beat up last season by DL’s and desperately needs help up front.

12. Raiders – Alabama WR Henry Ruggs

Who even knows who’s the best WR on that Alabama roster last season? They’re all good. Ruggs has tremendous feet and great hands. Good pick for the Raiders to help Carr/Mariota. Also, Las Vegas desperately needs stars and Ruggs has tons of star potential.

13. 49ers – LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson

Chaisson is one of my favorite players in the draft. He is quick but tough as nails. I’m excited to see how he can help the 49ers replace DeForest Buckner.

14. Buccaneers – Alabama OT Jedrick Wills

Brady gets some added protection.

15. Broncos – Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray

Murray is the best LB in the draft. The Broncos shouldn’t even blink with this pick.

16. Falcons – Auburn DT Derrick Brown

Brown is a unit. He also has NFL quickness. Should be fun to watch him develop in Atlanta.

17. Cowboys – Clemson CB A.J Terrell

Jerry Jones replaces Byron Jones with a far cheaper option.

18. Dolphins – Alabama EDGE Terrell Lewis

Lewis is a prototypical Alabama EDGE defender. I love this pick for the Dolphins who need upgrades on defense.

19. Eagles (via Raiders) – Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy

Jeudy provides speed and fine route running to an Eagles offense that desperately needs more of it.

20. Jaguars – Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos

Matos was really solid for Penn State all season. And with the Jag’s possibly trading Yannick Ngakoue, this is a no brainer.

21. Raiders (via Eagles) – Utah CB Jaylon Johnson

Johnson is such a solid CB. I know the Raiders will excited at his potential.

22. Vikings (via Bills) – LSU WR Justin Jefferson

Jefferson is a great receiver to put next to Adam Thielen. Give Kirk Cousins more weapons and see what happens.

23. Patriots – Wisconsin LB Zack Baun

Baun is a bull and the Patriots defense could be looking to add some youth.

24. Saints – Utah QB Jordan Love

Love might be an option to replace QB Drew Brees in a few years.

25. Vikings – TCU CB Jeff Gladney

Gladney will hopefully fill the shoes of CB Xavier Rhodes, who was released this offseason.

26. Dolphins (via Texans) – Baylor WR Denzel Mims

Mims has continued to shoot up draft boards since his impressive performance at the NFL Draft Combine. The Dolphins will look to add around Herbert.

27. Seahawks – South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw

I value Kinlaw much higher than this. But the Seahawks get a huge talent at DT if this happens.

28. Ravens – LSU LB Patrick Queen

Ravens added Derrick Wolfe and franchise tagged Matthew Judon, so I expect the Ravens to add to the defense even more and bring on Queen.

29. Titans – LSU CB Kristian Fulton

One of the many bright spots of LSU’s 2019 Championship team, Fulton gets added to an already elite Titans defense.

30. Packers – Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk

The loaded WR class continues to show in the first round.

31. 49ers – TCU DT Ross Blacklock

The 49ers will look to add to their already elite front seven.

32. Chiefs – Michigan C Cesar Ruiz

Ruiz is the best interior OL in the draft and Chiefs C Austin Reiter is 28 years old.

NFL Pre-Draft Notes, Analysis – Who is the best Quarterback, Biggest sleeper pick, top rated WR and more

It is officially the age of the digital draft. While the world moves to the internet, the NFL draft being held online is actually a bad thing. The pure chaos of the NFL Draft is the best part about it. Teams have no idea who they’ll end up with past round one, but even that’s never certain.

My favorite part of the draft has to be the last minute trades that alter franchises forever. For example, the Chiefs traded with the Buffalo Bills for the 10th pick in the 2017 draft, where Patrick Mahomes was then drafted and history writes itself.

The notes included in this article are notes I have taken while doing work for the 2020 draft. I kept the biggest ones and decided to write an article out of them.

Burrow Mania: It’s hard not to start draft notes off without Joe Burrow, who had arguably the single greatest season in college football history in 2019. What impresses me about Burrow is his pure competitive nature. He’s been quoted saying he simply doesn’t lose, and he’s not lying. He finished his college career with a 25-3 record, including a 15-0 season in 2019. I’m fully onboard with the Brady comparisons, I see it a lot. He has the arm to back it up. It looks like he’s going back to Ohio to play for the Cincinnati Bengals, and he seems to fit. They are desperate for a spark on offense after releasing QB Andy Dalton. Burrow is the best QB in this draft and we’ll see him be rewarded with that title going number one overall on Thursday night.

LSU-Clemson: Joe Burrow celebrated title with a cigar in the Superdome

SLEEPERS: I wrote a sleepers article about a month ago that was brutally shot down because it didn’t really contain actually sleeper picks. But, I am confident to say I have made some changes. I’m really impressed by Colby Parkinson, TE out of Stanford. He has great size for a TE and has big play ability. He reminds me of a bigger Zach Ertz, who also went to Stanford.

I think one of the big sleeper picks is Jonah Jackson, OG out of Ohio State. He’s a beast. I’ve seen him play at both Rutgers and OSU in person and he’s always the standout in the trenches. Jackson is powerful and packs a powerful punch. I think he’s a rookie starter for whoever he’s drafted to. It’s not often that you immediately see NFL potential when you watch college guard’s, but he looked ready for Sunday’s from the first game he played at Rutgers.

Lamb top rated WR: CeeDee Lamb is my WR1 for the draft. He’s just stood out to me the most out of the top 10 receivers. His frame allows him to play tall while his feet make him quick in and out of his routes. As a junior, he caught 62 passes for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns.

After declaring early, he certainly shot up many NFL GM’s boards. I don’t buy the criticisms of bad route running. He’ll learn to run near flawless routes in the NFL. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team trades up for Lamb on draft night.

OU football: CeeDee Lamb says legacy is 'still being written ...

I’m looking forward to the draft.

2020 NFL Draft – 5 Sleeper Picks to Watch

According to Bleacher Report, “Sleeper” is a euphemism for lesser-known prospects who are usually selected in the later rounds but have the potential to contribute. I think a draft sleeper is simply someone that will do way more than he’s expected to.

Draft season is almost upon us as April creeps up. There is a lot of talk about stars, busts, and surprise picks. I made a quick list of sleeper picks that I think will be productive NFL players, or even great ones.

  1. J.K. Dobbins – Ohio State – RB

Dobbins should be a consensus first round draft pick at this point. In 2019 alone, he rushed for 2,000 yards and 21 TD. To put that into perspective, Dobbins only rushed for a combined 17 TD’s in his freshman and sophomore years, respectively. Growth is the best word to describe Dobbins at this point in his career, and there is no signs that he won’t continue to get better. He’s as effective in the air as he is on the ground and I think a team will greatly benefit if he falls to the second round. The only downside of Dobbins game is his pass pro. He needs to do a much better job of protecting his QB, especially if he’s a potential third down back.

2. Javon Kinlaw – South Carolina – DT

By now, I’m sure even the casual football fan has heard of Kinlaw’s impressive Senior Bowl week. When I went back and watched his film, mostly from the SEC portion of SC’s schedule, I noticed that it’s been like that all season. Kinlaw measures at 6’5 and 324 LBS, which is a prototypical NFL DT, but the added bonus of height is something NFL GM’s can get excited over. Kinlaw’s strengths are his pure strength. He can get to the QB without using anything but a bull rush. The one downside to to Kinlaw’s game that needs improvement is his motor. He needs to be able to bring it on every down if he wants to be a starting DT in the NFL. I don’t think this kid makes it past day 2, and whoever drafts him is getting a raw athlete that can turn into a great DT.  This young man was once homeless, and in April his life will change forever. It’s extremely hard to not root for him.

3. Justin Herbert – Oregon – QB

I will probably get flack for putting a sure-fire first round pick on my sleeper board, but I don’t think Herbert is getting enough attention. When you talk rockets for an arm, you can look no further than Oregons gunslinger. Herbert can make any throw on the football field, and can do so with ease. He’s never thrown over 8 INT’s in a season, he’s thrown for over 3,000 yards twice, and his completion percentage was tremendous in the 2019 season, at 66.8%. Despite being known for his arm strength, Herbert is also extremely elusive in the pocket. He can avoid pass rushers with ease. I don’t think Herbert gets drafted anywhere except in the top 15, but if he does fall, I think he has the opportunity to be a great steal for a team with QB needs.

4. Denzel Mims – Oregon – WR

It’s hard to not love this kid’s game. Despite being limited to a small selection of routes to run at Baylor, Mims tore it up running every route at the combine. He also ran a 4.40 40 yard dash at the 2020 NFL combine, and it was even more impressive when you see his measurables. He stands at 6’3, 207 pounds, which makes him sound like a possession receiver, but he can run a go route like any receiver in college football. I want to compare him to Julio Jones, as he can be a little bit of everything a receiver needs to be. Rumors are circulating that Kyle Shanahan, the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, LOVES Mims and wants him at 31. Let the bidding war begin. In a world of Jeffersons, Jeudy’s, and Lamb’s, it’s time we start to talk about Mims.

5. Josh Uche – Michigan – DE

When you talk about impressive Senior Bowls, its tough to talk about anyone other than Uche. Josh Uche went the whole season making play after play, and his work was rewarded as he got lots of attention at the Senior Bowl. He’s as quick as any DE in the draft, besides maybe Chase Young, and he has the NFL measurables at 6’1, 245. Uche represents the very definition of sleeper, and I’m excited as hell to see him perform in the NFL. I expect him to be taken no later than Day 2 at the draft, as his tape and hype is sure to be noticed.

Super Bowl LIV Pick, Analysis

Super Bowl Sunday has arrived. The storyline’s are few, but the drama is certainly high. The 49ers and Chiefs get ready to kick off on Sunday night in Miami.

Pick: Chiefs ML

I’ve had high praises for the 49ers all season long. Their defense is lethal and constantly makes big plays, especially the front 7. But the Chiefs have just been so damn good offensively in the playoffs. Simply put, this Chiefs team is doing things offensively that will be talked about for years.

I don’t think the Chiefs defense getting enough love. Since their November 10th loss to the Titans, the defense hasn’t been talked about much at all, which is probably a good thing considering the only time we ever talked about Kansas City’s defense was when they were getting thrashed.

A few things to watch:

This is really interesting. I talked a little bit about the pre snap motion that San Francisco uses in my post last week. PSM can confuse defenses and offer something they possibly haven’t seen on film. Expect the 49ers to use a ton of PSM to confuse Kansas City on Sunday night.

The 49ers have got to run the ball well on first and second down. If they want to be run-oriented, it has to work more than 50% of the time if they want to win the Super Bowl. We haven’t seen Jimmy Garrappolo have to throw the ball while the 49ers are down and I’m interested to see what happens if the Chiefs get ahead early.

My post-game post will have much more analytical breakdowns and game film.

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