Cleat Geeks

LSU Tigers Team 2018 mid-Summer Outlook

Uncertainty continues to surface the LSU Tigers program after an up-and-down season last year in Coach Orgeron’ s first full year as Head Coach. The Tigers had high hopes with a strong roster and a challenging SEC West division but that all came crashing down after their embarrassing home loss to the Troy Trojans of the Sun Belt conference on September 30th. This was the first time ever that a ranked team like LSU (ranked #24 at the time) loss to a Sun Belt team. This season, there are more questions than answers revolving around the stability of the program from the players to the Head Coach. There are many problems and holes that the Tigers must solve in order for their season and their hopes to remain intact, not only for this season but for the future.

 

Tigers are facing severe lack of Running Back experience

For years, the LSU Tigers offense has been dictated by the efficiency of their run game. They have had many powerful, fast Running Backs that have gone to the NFL including Spencer Ware, Leonard Fournette, and Derrius Guice. Since the 2013 College Football season, their offense has either been ranked 29th or better in rushing yards per game. For the first time since the 1974 season that the LSU Tigers do not return a Running Back that accounted for a rushing touchdown from the previous season. This comes at a difficult time for the Tigers as they are still trying to figure out who will be their starting Quarterback when the regular season kicks off on September 2nd against the dreaded Miami Hurricanes defense.

The top returning rusher from last year was Nick Brossette, who only accounted for 96 rushing yards on 19 rushes. He was the 5th leading rusher of last season behind Darrius Guice’s 1,251 yards and Darrel Williams’s 820 yards. Quarterback Danny Etling rushed the ball 72 times for 128 yards during either Quarterback sneaks for escaping pressure. Last season, there were times where Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada would insert multiple schemes that have the Wide Receivers, primarily Russell Gage, would run jet plays. Gage accounted for 232 rushing yards and a touchdown on 28 rushes.Image result for steve ensminger lsu

With a new Offensive Coordinator in Steve Ensminger, the Tigers will likely run a more traditional style of run plays that the team is more accustomed to. The lack of experience from Brossette and sophomore Running Back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who accounted for 31 yards on 9 rushes last season, will make the main attack game of the offense more difficult to utilize. With the main offensive identity being in the run game as well as the fact that the Tigers are still deciding on a starting Quarterback, this may be a rough year for the Tigers to create a high-power offense. This remaining offseason will be focused on building off the potential and talent of Brossette, Edwards-Helaire, or a younger player ready to explode.

 

Will White, Lawrence, and newcomers continue success at the pass rush?

Image result for rashard lawrence lsuOne of the main attributes that make the LSU Tigers is how they have been a consistent developer of NFL talent. This year is no exception with the potential of CB Greedy Williams, S John Battle, and LB Devin White. Every year, the Tigers have a high-level talent in their pass rush with last year having DE/OLB Arden Key. This past season, the LSU Tigers were tied for 17th in the nation in total sacks accounted for with 35 sacks. This season, however, there seems to be a concern of the lack of players who can make a big impact in the pass rush game. White is the leading sacker from the previous season with 4.5 sacks (4th highest last season) as he spent time at the Middle Linebacker position. The Tigers lost Arden Key and DE Christian LaCouture, who were the Tigers main pass rushers.

DE Rashard Lawrence is the Tigers sole returning Defensive Lineman that started last season but he will need to create more of an impact in the pass rush as he accounted for 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Breiden Fehoko will be getting the start for the Tigers as he was sitting out last season as a transfer from the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The main position for the Tigers to address in the pass rush is the Buck Linebacker (hybrid Defensive End/Outside Linebacker). Last season, K’Lavon Chaisson accounted for 27 total tackles, 9 solo tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 2 pass deflections as a reserve for Arden Key. This position is important because much is demanded from the Buck as they must know the entire Defensive playbook, play multiple positions in formations, and be a leader on the defense. The defense was very efficient in every phase of the game as they were 14th in the nation in points allowed per game (18.9) and 12th in total yards allowed per game (316). The pass rush is the beginning of the success on defense, if Lawrence, Fehoko, and Chaisson are the trusted starters, the Tigers must train efficiently throughout the remainder of this offseason.

 

Coach Orgeron needs to take control of his team

There were high hopes for the Tigers last season with a highly-talented roster including a rare efficient Quarterback-Running Back combo in QB Danny Etling and Guice. Those dreams came crashing down when the Tigers suffered an embarrassing loss at the home to the Troy Trojans on September 30th to fall to a 3-2 record. Before that game, there was reported tensions and conflicts between Head Coach Ed Orgeron and Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada. The conflicts involved the systematics and philosophy of the offense that Matt Canada established in his offense from the offseason prior and how Orgeron wanted to run a more pro-style run setting.

Image result for ed orgeron lsu

Photo by; Sports Illustrated

This not only caused friction in the coaching staff but also with the players and divided the fans so early in the 2017 season. The loss to the Troy Trojans wasn’t the beginning of the problems with LSU but it was where the conflicts were the most vocal. Fans did not like the predictable of the season and how inefficient the Tigers were to get a drive going. On the other hand, fans were more upset about how Coach O was limiting Canada on his job of expanding his multiple formations offense.

Now that Coach O has Steve Ensminger as his Offensive Coordinator, there will be less tension with the coaching staff. The problem with Coach O and his style of coaching is that he does not give his coaching staff much freedom to expand on their philosophies. Ensminger is running a pro-style offense, mainly focused on the running game, the main focal point of Coach O. If the Tigers want any chance of success in the SEC West then he will need to trust his coaches and run their systematics that they have trained all offseason for.

 

Coach O might be under the hot seat already

This season is not a now or never for Coach O because of the problems of the offenses in the upcoming season. Tiger Nation, however, is starting have serious doubts that he will bring them back SEC West contention days with Les Miles as Head Coach. They are noticing the cracks that were brought on but Coach O had brought on. In the 2018 recruiting class, the LSU Tigers had the weakest recruiting class they have had in the past couple of seasons by being ranked 15th in the nation including the signing of only 1 five-star athlete. There may be a chance that recruits are looking at the recent downfalls of the LSU Tigers in regards to their coaching staff power struggles and the emergence of other teams and may sign with those teams.

One more 9-4 or 8-5 season may not get Orgeron the boot as Head Coach but he will certainly be further judged by the administration. He cannot control his team and get them to the National Championship title contention like he promised then this may be the last full season as Head Coach. Much like they did with Les in the middle of the 2016 College Football season.

I Don’t Understand Why The Jets Chose This Guy?

In 2015 the New York Jets picked Devin Smith in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft. He was a promising receiver from Ohio State. While at OSU Smith put up the following numbers in his 4 year collegian career, he had 121 receptions for a total of 2,503 and 30 touchdowns.

Image result for devin smith jets

Photo by; Maddie Meyer

Since joining the Jets, Smith was unable to stay healthy or even stay on the field. Since being drafted in the above mentioned 2015 draft, he had played in only 14 games and caught even a lower number of passes with 10. Smith has suffered a major knee injury twice since joining the Jets. I get the fact that because of those injuries Smith has kept him off the field and thus kept him from being a productive player for the Jets. The part I don’t get, is who they made the roster move for. They dropped Smith to sign Brandon Bryant, a safety from Mississippi State. My confusion has nothing to do with where he came from, Mississippi State is a fine program, but is Brandon a fine person?

I ask because of his track record. Bryant has struggled with football, and with life in general since the same year Smith joined the Jets, 2014. Bryant started his downward spiral when his father died in a car crash in 2015. Dealing with a death, especially the death of a parent can be life altering as a young impressionable college kid. I understand that. But the downward spiral continued. Later on, Bryant was arrested for driving under the influence. He then allowed himself to be academically ineligible the following year. Therefore, he declared for the NFL’s supplemental draft that happened last week. Not one NFL team took a chance on him, and they all had a shot. Doesn’t that raise a red flag?

Image result for brandon bryant mississippi state

So Bryant must have had eye-popping numbers for Mississippi State…right? Not really, he played in 37 games and had 157 tackles in three seasons. So no, nothing eye-popping, just average stats.

Here is my problem with this, the message it sends to our young people. You can become academically ineligible, have a drinking problem and still be chosen over an injured player. If the ceiling was out of site for the new person, then I might be able to buy what the Jet’s are selling, as purely a business decision, but it is not. The message it sends is wrong. Plus, the Jets used their top two picks in the 2017 draft on safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.

The Jet’s are essentially trading an injured good kid for kid who is healthy, yet makes bad decisions. I will literally take the bad with the good, and would have chosen Smith to stay on my roster. I am all for a second chance, but he must be remorseful in order to get that second chance.

Am I looking at this wrong? Do any of you see this decision from the Jet’s opinion? If you do tell me what I am missing in the comments below.

JJ Watt Continues To Show True Compassion

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has donated $10,000 to help the family of a Wisconsin firefighter killed in an explosion.

A natural gas leak in downtown Sun Prairie led to an explosion Tuesday evening that claimed the life of Sun Prairie Fire Department Capt. Cory Barr. He leaves behind a wife, Abby Barr and 3-year-old twin daughters, who, according to Abby Barr, would shout “Daddy’s home!” whenever he walked through the door.

Kate Cichy, a spokeswoman for GoFundMe, said in a news release Wednesday evening that Watt has donated $10,000 to the GoFundMe for Barr’s family. She added that the Sun Prairie community has already raised nearly $70,000 for the family.

Watt is not only a Wisconsin native but he also played college football for the University of Wisconsin. The explosion, which injured 15 and killed Barr, occurred on the corner of Main and Bristol streets after a gas main was struck by a contractor, which caused a leak. Sun Prairie is located near Madison, which is where the University of Wisconsin is located, and about 60 miles from Watt’s hometown of Pewaukee.

Barr had been a member of the Sun Prairie Fire Department for 15 years. He was also a realtor and owner of The Barr House tavern, which was one of the buildings destroyed in the explosion.

Watt’s donation is just one of over a thousand that have been made to support Barr’s family during this tragedy. But Watt’s donation also may have more of a personal connection as his father was also a firefighter. He did so after a woman tweeted him for his support.

In my opinion, the best part about this is that Watt has not yet made any public comments about the donation. He is gracious with his money, and does it for the absolute right reason. Not to be noticed, or to have people heap praises on his massive shoulders, but because it is the right thing to do. This is not the first time that Watt has donated money or time to a worthy cause. He helped raise over $37 million for those affected by Hurricane Harvey and he donated $10,000 to a Texas student who was injured during a football game.

I understand that he has made, is making and will continue to make much more money than most people reading this article. And before you criticize him because of that, we here at cleatgeeks will allow you to do a smaller part money wise, but no lesser part according to your financial means. Barr’s GoFundMe page has raised over $190,000, most of it by average people like you and I. Every little bit helps, and cleatgeeks would like to spread the word, and help all of the effected people in this tragedy that was brought to our attention by Watt’s generous donation. Therefore, GoFundMe has created a centralized page for all GoFundMe campaigns involving the Sun Prairie explosion. To donate click here.

What does Murray’s Retirement Say About The Current NFL?

Image result for demarco murray college

Photo by; NewsOK

DeMarco Murray is calling it a career after only seven seasons in the league. The former three team running back made his announcement during NFL Live on ESPN on Friday. While in the NFL he played for the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans as a running back.

“I think it’s time for me to hang it up, as hard as it is,” Murray said. “It’s bittersweet, but I think for me, it’s the right timing for myself and my family moving forward.”

Murray was a three-time Pro Bowl selection who began his career with the Cowboys as a third-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2011. He led the NFL in rushing in 2014 with 1,845 yards on 392 carries, the most attempts of any player since 2000. While playing for Dallas in 2014 he won both the NFL rushing title and Offensive Player of the Year honors. He was a dominant force that season for the Cowboys, who went 12-4 to win the NFC East.

He was then signed to a five-year, $42 million contract with the Eagles in 2015, but managed just 702 rushing yards on 193 carries (3.6 yards per carry) in an acrimonious year with then-coach Chip Kelly. Murray was subsequently traded to the Titans the following off-season and enjoyed a career resurgence in his first season in Tennessee, rushing for 1,287 yards on 293 carries.

The Titans couldn’t wait to add Murray as a running threat to help protect quarterback Marcus Mariota in the 2016 season. Behind a revamped offensive line, Murray proved very durable, playing through a torn plantar plate in his right foot. Murray led the AFC and was third in the entire NFL with 1,287 yards rushing on 293 carries. It was the second-most carries of his career and his second-best rushing season.

Image result for demarco murray titans

Photo by; SI.com

“I think you just wake up,” Murray said. “I’ve always heard the saying when you know, you know, and one day that day will come, and for me it was the last year or two. … I’ve been constantly thinking about this. Working out still, in great shape, feel great and it’s time.”

Murray, 30, lost his job to Derrick Henry last season and was due to make $6.25 million this season when the Titans let him go. He ran for 659 yards and six touchdowns last season. He dealt with a knee injury late in the year, and missed the Titans’ final regular-season game and two playoff contests.

“I just woke up a couple weeks ago and it started to burn and burn and trigger and it got deeper, so this morning I decided to call it a career.”

But last year was problematic and ended in injury. He was released by the Titans in March and did not sign with another team. And now, without a team or a job, Murray is leaving football.

“I’m very blessed to have had the coaching staff and the players and teammates that I’ve been fortunate to play with the last seven years of my career,” Murray said. “It’s been a long time thinking the last year or two physically, mentally, emotionally. I think it’s time for me to hang it out there. As hard as it is … the fans have been great. I had a lot of great games and a lot of great teammates. It’s bittersweet, but I think for me it’s the right timing for myself and my family moving forward.”

Image result for demarco murray Derrick Henry

Photo by; SB Nation

What Does This Say About The Current NFL?

1)      The running back position or virtually any other position on the football field is hard on a person’s body. It was not like he was not, at least at times, a successful running back. He led the league one of the seven years he was in the NFL.

2)      The NFL is a young man’s game. Thirty teams could have signed Murray, and all of them choose not to. And they basically had four months to do so. I am sure Murray saw the writing on the wall and decided to call it a career.

3)      The offensive lines are more important in the current state of football than the running backs. As long as the lines can make a hole for the back, almost anyone can run through it.

4)      The league is shifting to a pass heavy offense. Even running backs must be able to catch the football. And they must also be able to block defensive players not only protecting the quarterback, but also giving that same quarterback a few extra seconds for a play to develop downfield.

5) These players want to be tough, want to contribute and want to win. But in 2016 in the first year with the Titans he fought through an injury to prove himself to his new team. Did that fight lead to the other injuries that now caused the Titans to release him? We may never know, but playing through injuries for the Titans may have cost him millions of dollars.

Do you think the retirement of DeMarco Murray says something else about the current NFL product? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

With Dallas’ Top Two Targets Gone, Who Steps Up?

The Dallas Cowboys are headed into the 2018-2019 season without two of their best players from the past few years. Mr. Reliable, Jason Witten, who leads the team in all time receptions, yards, and is second in touchdowns, retired. Red zone target Dez Bryant, who is the all time touchdown reception leader, was cut from the team in the off-season. This brings up the question, who will step up for the Cowboys this season?

Image result for michael gallup cowboys

Photo by; The Show Guys

Many thought the Cowboys would address the need for Wide Receiver in the first round of the 2018 draft. Instead, they signed Wide Receiver Allen Hurns. They followed that signing up by drafting Colorado State receiver Michael Gallup. The easy answer would to say who steps up would be to say Hurns and Gallup cover the receptions lost, but I feel there will be one player, and a whole unit who make up the lack of Bryant and Witten.

First, I believe the return of Running Back Ezekiel Elliot will make up the majority of lost yards and touchdown. His presence in the back field will force defenses to stack the box more, freeing up receivers to have one on one battles. He will also open up play action, which Quarter Back Das Prescott excels in. With his blocking ability, I believe Prescott with flourish in both the run and pass game. I would not be surprised to see Elliot lead the league in rushing yards again, and have double digit touchdowns.

Image result for leighton vander esch dallas cowboys

Photo by; KTYB.com

My surprise take on who steps up in the absence of lost players, is the defensive unit. This Cowboys defense has done nothing but improve over the last few years. Dallas has hit the jackpot with draft picks, and I believe this years draft pick backs that up even more. Boise State Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was selected in the first round. Adding him to a defensive unit with a healthy Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Demarcus Lawrence will wreck havoc on defenses this year. This underrated defense will force turnovers and score points, and help win games. Give us your thoughts on who steps up in Big D this year.W

Dynasty Look Ahead: I Have a Bad Thielen About This…

I am sure you are all absolutely shocked that this article is about…you got it…Adam Thielen. Coming off of an incredible season where Adam Thielen came in as WR9 in PPR format with a target share of 27%, it would make sense that owners are more than happy having him as the anchor of their wide receiver corp going into the 2018 season. I am here to remove that feeling of comfort and to tell you “Now is the time to sell!” Why though? Adam Thielen is coming off of possibly one of the greatest seasons ever for an undrafted free agent wide receiver and he finally has a franchise quarterback that will be throwing him the ball next season. Throughout the beginning of this off-season, I had been acquiring him anywhere I could, whether via trade, startup draft, by any means necessary. However, like any crazy dynasty fantasy footballer, I decided to dive in and really look into the numbers.

In the information age that we live in, we are literally clicks away from finding just about any stat imaginable on any individual player. Lucky for me, as a result of spending way too much time on twitter discussing fantasy football (at least that’s what my fiancé tells me), I was fortunate enough to stumble upon www.ffstatistics.com. If you haven’t taken a quick peak at the information they are able to provide, do yourself a favor and go check it out. With their database, I was able to quickly access all the statistics and data I needed to do enough Adam Thielen research for a lifetime. Anyway, I digress. We often talk about breakout age when it comes to college players as being a key indicator as to whether or not a player will find success in the NFL. However, I haven’t seen much about breakout age (for the purpose of this article we will refer to breakout age as to when a receiver hits a target share of 20%) when it comes to the NFL. Looking at countless stats available, the first thing that popped out to me was that Adam Thielen did not hit a target share above 20% until the age of 27.

Not only did he hit 20%, he left that number in the rear view mirror and was able to reach a target share of 27%. There have only been 3 other receivers (minimum 10 games played in the year preceding breakout season) that began their career after the start of the 2005 season that had a higher percent increase from the previous year to put them over a 20% market share for the first time (Calvin Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, and…Brian Hartline). So is Adam Thielen the next Calvin Johnson? Well this is where the breakout age of 27 comes into play. There have been 66 other wide receivers that began their career after 2005 that have taken at least one season to hit a target share of 20% in a season, meaning they did not hit 20% during their rookie season. Of those 66, only 11 receivers had a breakout age of 27 or older. Below is a quick breakdown of the positional wide receiver rankings of the year immediately following their breakout season (again, breakout season being their first season in which they hit at least a 20% target share).

WR1 1
WR2 2
WR3 0
<WR3 8

Once again, I decided to dig a little deeper. I broke these numbers down even further (New Team vs. Same Team/Same OC vs. Same Team/New OC). With Pat Shurmur packing up and heading to the Meadowlands, I was interested in seeing if there is any data historically to support the fact that this could negatively impact Thielen in 2018. Below are the positional WR rankings one year after WRs had a breakout age of 27 or older. With this being such a small sample size, you guessed it, I got my shovel out and dug a little deeper again.

New Team Same OC Same Team/New OC
100 3 19
105 17 107
110 37
52
64
72

Image result for adam thielen minnesota vikings

 

Performance aside, other factors come into play when looking at a player’s ability to produce similar results as the previous season. Out of the sample size of 66 receivers previously mentioned, 25 of those players missed at least 2 games the following season (37.9%). When we look strictly at the 11 other receivers that had an NFL breakout age of 27 or older, 7 of them missed at least 2 games the following season (63.6%). While the sample size is fairly small, it’s certainly starting to look like there might be some correlation here and some telling signs that Adam Thielen might not be a player to hang on to from a dynasty aspect.

To increase the sample size a bit, I also looked at wide receivers that had a breakout year in their 4th NFL season or later (some information overlaps with the breakout age of 27 or older sample). That information is available in two quick snapshots below.

WR1 3
WR2 5
WR3 1
<WR3 12

 

New Team Same Team/Same OC Same Team/New OC
11 3 19
55 9 26
58 10 107
100 13 116
105 13
110 17
23
37
52
64
72

The first table shows that 12 of the 21 other receivers that had a breakout year in their 4th NFL season or later had a WR4 or worse season the year immediately following their breakout season. In the second table, we see that the positional wide receiver rankings significantly differ between these players that had the same offensive coordinator in the year immediately following their breakout season compared to players with a different offensive coordinator, a la Adam Thielen in 2018. Of these 21 receivers, 10 went on to miss at least 2 games during the season immediately following their breakout season (47.6%).

There is one other integral piece that will play a significant role in whether or not Adam Thielen has seen the best days of his career, that being the $84 million man, Kirk Cousins. While Kirk Cousins is widely viewed as a drastic improvement over everybody’s favorite journeyman quarterback, Case Keenum, this might not be the case (had to include one more pun) when it comes to Adam Thielen. I could ramble on for one more paragraph, but I will throw in one final table to drive the point home.

Kirk Cousins Case Keenum
2015 2016 2017 2017
Attempts 543 606 540 481
WR1 TS 18.65% 18.78% 19.07%* 27.44%
WR2 TS 15.28% 16.47%* 14.44% 17.46%*
WR3 TS 7.77%* 16.31% 12.04% 7.07%
TE1 TS 20.99%* 14.69%* 12.78% 16.22%
RB1 TS 8.84%* 10.23% 10%* 13.51%

*Indicates that position missed at least 1 game during season

 

In Adam Thielen’s epic 2017 season, he and Stefon Diggs accounted for ~45% of Case Keenum’s targets. In this situation, improved quarterback play is going to result in a more even pass distribution, as Kirk Cousins has never had a receiver account for a target share of 20% or greater.

While Adam Thielen was one of the feel good stories of 2017, going from an undrafted free agent to a hometown hero, now is the time to sell in all dynasty formats. For reasons including a breakout age of 27 years old, a new offensive coordinator, a perceived higher risk of injury, and throwing a new quarterback into the mix, a nice return on investment can still be had prior to the start of the 2018 season.

Expectations For The Dallas Cowboys 2018-2019 Season

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most loved, and most hated teams in the NFL. In 2016, thanks to the emergence of rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys jumped to a 13-3 record, and make it to the playoffs. In 2017, they dropped to 9-7, partly due to Zeke having a six game suspension. Many are curious as to how the Cowboys will fair in 2018.

Image result for dak prescott and ezekiel elliott

Photo by; Blogging the Boys

First off, let’s look at what they’ve done. Impactful players such as Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten, will not be back. But on the flip side, they have also added exiting players in Allen Hurns, Leighton Vander Esch, Connor Williams, Michael Gallup, and Dalton Schultz, among others. While they did lose important pieces, they have also gained talent in numerous places, and filled quite a few holes on both sides of the ball. They have gained depth at Wide Receiver and Linebacker, while replacing Jason Witten with rookie TE Schultz, and Rico Gathers, who is returning from injury. I believe talent wise, they have the ability to win games and compete with any NFL team, on any given day.

Image result for 2018-19 dallas cowboys schedule

A major factor in a team’s record is their strength of schedule. The Cowboys have the 15thranked SOS ( tied with the Dolphins and 49ers). You can always count on the “Boys” to win 3-4 divisional games, and I think they’ll pull out 4 wins this year. They match-up very well with opponents such as Carolina, Detroit, Tennessee, and Tampa Bay. With a healthy O-line, and Zeke available, I think they can come out of the season with a 10-6 record, missing out on the division, but grabbing one of the two wild cards. Realistic expectations for “Boys fans” should be playoffs expected, super bowl within reach.

 

Interview with Baltimore Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey

On July 7th, multiple former professional Football players, current NFL stars, and collegiate athletes were in Orange Beach, Alabama to help coach young athletes in a football camp led by former NFL star Running Back Bobby Humphrey. Among those in attendance to coach the younger athletes were his sons, Marlon Humphrey, a former Alabama Crimson Tide Cornerback and current Cornerback of the Baltimore Ravens and Maudrecus Humphrey, former Arkansas Razorback and UAB Blazers Wide Receiver. Marlon Humphrey was selected 16th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens from the University of Alabama. Humphrey was selected by the Ravens due to pass coverage support he would supply efficiently for the Ravens. In his first season in the league last year, he accounted for 34 total tackles, 11 pass deflections, and 2 interceptions. Marlon did not come into the league as a starter but he did come in and performed more efficiently than a typical role player of the 3rd press coverage Corner. In a defense looking for youth and high-velocity talent, Marlon Humphrey is already filling into his role as a future starter and star for the Baltimore Ravens defense once CB Brandon Carr either retires from the league or either (or Jimmy Smith) departs due to free agency.

Marlon was coaching the younger athletes in multiple drills including skills that pertain to Defensive Backs. After the camp, Marlon was gracious enough to be interviewed on multiple topics including the camp, his rookie season last year with Baltimore, the team’s current track record going into the 2018-2019 NFL season, and his teammates. Marlon was very open to the topics and was generous enough to give the time and details in the interview.

Photo by; Michael Hanich for cleatgeeks.com

What attributes are important for younger athletes to learn first when coming to these camps?

“The main thing about coming to these camps is technique. Once you kind of build a technique, you just build and build and build. Once you learn wrong, it’s a little bit tougher to change these things you learn at just a young age. You always mainly want to learn it right the first time whether you are going really slow or going really fast. Just go at your pace and learn the technique.”

 

What is your mindset going into the upcoming season?

“Just to build on last year, I felt like I got a little comfortable last year. I got adjusted to the quickness of the game and some of the Wide Receivers. I know or think we play some more powerful offenses this year. So, I know it will be a tougher job especially on the Secondary.”

 

What are some attributes you believe define you the most as a key Defensive Back for the Baltimore Ravens?

“The thing I would say that defines me the most is even-kill. You know either when you make a big play and then you make a bad play, you always want to stay at an even level. You want to stay mentally stable all the time, that’s one of the main things you can have at Defensive Back. You can never get too down on yourself and you can never get too high on yourself.”

 

You guys lose S Ladarius Webb in the offseason, how significant is his loss of leadership and playmaking ability?

“Ladarius Webb is actually one of the major guys that we lost, especially for me last year. I remember that as soon as I came in, he seemed like he was the guy that didn’t want to see me fail and wasn’t going to let me fail. There were a few times last year in the season when he would tell me “go tell coach, you wanna go in the game.” He would say things like that to me and he was also like “if you want to go into the game, show them you want to go into the game.” He would really let me know that he wanted to see me play and that he was always going to look out of for me and to make sure if I wasn’t doing right.”

 

Are you guys going to have a defensive structure this year?

“We have a new Defensive Coordinator (Don Martindale), who thinks we got some smart guys in Eric Weddle, Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, those are the kind of leaders of the different positions on the defense. Coaches can always coach but ultimately the players are out there playing, and our new Defensive Coordinator is kind of letting the players have a little input of what we can do on the field. So, I really like that he is being a player’s coach and really trying to utilize the best of our defense.”

Image result for anthony averett ravens

General Manager Ozzie Newsome added your former teammate at Alabama, CB Anthony Averett, in the 4th round of this Draft. How does it feel to be teammates again?

“It feels good, I remember that we actually had lockers right there next to each other at Bama. It’s always good when you can add another Bama guy. Coming from there, I know how (Nick) Saban teaches and how they are going to be groomed. Knowing how he is going to come in and add to the depth of how Secondary is good.”

 

What do you think he will contribute this upcoming season and what are the best attributes of his playmaking ability?

“D.B.s’ one of the key things is speed. I think speed will definitely be one of the better things that he’ll have this season. I remember him at Alabama, he was the fastest guy on the team so anytime you can add somebody that is that fast is always good.”

 

Terrell Suggs is entering his 16th season in the league, all with the Ravens, how does it feel having a veteran/future Hall of Famer as a leader on the team for so long?

“Really good. I didn’t watch much NFL football growing up so when he was on the team ending this year, I told him ‘man, you are the real deal. I didn’t come in here thinking of what you’ve done in the past. I just wanted to judge you off the now’ and he ultimately showed me something.”

 

Your team adds former Heisman Trophy winner in Quarterback Lamar Jackson in the 1st round, what does he bring to the Ravens’ organization right now?

“I think he just brings diversity, he can not only throw the ball, but he can also run the ball. So, when you Quarterback that can do all of that for your team, it’s a good feeling.”

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Photo by; Ravens Wire

What have you learned the most under the guidance of fellow Cornerback Brandon Carr?

“He is another guy, an older guy, that helped me with just learning the ropes, coming in as a rookie. He is just another great veteran that’s been really helping me out.”

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Special Teams Breakdown

Last season the Kansas City Chiefs had one of the most dynamic special team units in the NFL. Their performance was a key part of the Chiefs success last season. The Chiefs will need another good season from the special teams unit to make the playoffs again this season.

The Chiefs were led by pro bowl returner Tyreek Hill. He has made a pro bowl appearance in both of his first two seasons in the NFL. Hill was limited to punt returns because of his role on the offense as the Chiefs primary receiver. He averaged 8.2 yards per return and had one touchdown. Hill should be an elite returner for the Chiefs again in 2018.

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Rookie kicker Harrison Butker was one of the biggest surprises for the Chiefs last season. He was signed off of the Carolina Panthers practice squad in September after Cairo Santos was injured. He went 38 for 42 throughout the season. He was 4/5 in attempts of 50+ yards including his career long at 53 yards. Butker should have a lot of opportunities this season because of the Chiefs offense.

Punter Dustin Colquitt will return to the Chiefs for his 14th season with the team. He is the longest tenured Chief. Last season Colquitt averaged 45.2 yards per punt. It was his highest average since the 2013 season. Colquitt signed a three-year contract this off-season to stay with the team. He has been one of the most reliable players for the Chiefs throughout his career and should have another strong performance next season.

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Photo by; Arrowhead Pride

The Chiefs do not have a kick returner entering training camp. Tyreek Hill could fill the spot but this would likely be their last choice because of his impact on offense. De’Anthony Thomas had the role last season but he still has not practiced this off-season because of a leg injury. Rookie cornerback Tremon Smith was used a lot in mini camp but has not locked down the job. The Chiefs also signed rookie wide receiver Josh Crockett during mini camp, he could compete for the spot. Kick returner should be one of the biggest position battles to watch in training camp and in the preseason.

Overall, the Chiefs will return important pieces of their special teams unit. Their success will be important to the Chiefs. Special teams can provide the plays that make the difference in close games.

ADP Starting Line; Round 5

The 4th of July is now behind us and fantasy draft prep season is underway. Which means that mock drafts are being posted here, there, and everywhere that has anything to do with the NFL. This is the second ADP review of the season and many players are moving up and down based on nothing more than whispers in the wind. However, during the month of July, it’s important to refrain from getting psychologically married to a player based on something a beat writer said. It’s important to remember that there are few negative stories this time of the year and most player related “news” should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, let’s look at some 5th round ADP’s.

 

For the sake of being transparent, the scoring format I’m using is based on basic PPR scoring with 4pt passing TDs in a redraft style league. All ADP information is available on www.fantasyfootballcalculator.com. So, without further adieu, the 5th round….

 

The ADP on www.fantasyfootballcalculator.com, reflects the 5th round as follows:

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Photo by; AOL.com

5.01 Deshaun Watson-

Watson was on last week’s list too at 4.11. While his ADP is starting to come back down to earth a bit, this is still a little high for me.  However, if he shifts down to a late 5th or early 6th, I’d be all in. Coming off of an ACL injury that ended his 2017 campaign early, Watson is incredibly dynamic and the 5.01 is a better spot for DW4 than some other mocks I’ve seen.  He’s been going as early as the 3rd round which is ludicrous for a guy who hasn’t played a full season.

 

5.02 Mark Ingram-

The 5th round is still a point where you’re drafting starters. Ingram will miss the first 4 games due to suspension and thus he’s dead weight for those weeks. It’s hard to sign off on Ingram here, I’d only do it if one or both of the RBs I’ve drafted may not make it through the season (e.g. LeSean McCoy).  

 

5.03 Ronald Jones Jr-

RoJo is the most talented back on this team and barring an awful pre-season he should be in line for the lion’s share of the carries.

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5.04 Royce Freeman-

Like RoJo, the Rolls Royce should be in line for the bulk of the Broncos carries. They have about 250 of them up for grabs and the combination of both Booker and Henderson have done little to stake a reasonable claim to them. If I need an RB in RD5, I may go with Freeman over the likes of Mark Ingram and Ronald Jones.

 

5.05 Brandin Cooks-

In 2017, the Rams traded for Sammy Watkins and promptly planted him on the backside of passing patterns leaving his owners feeling mostly empty inside. Cooks is a far more versatile WR and will be more productive than Watkins. Unfortunately, the downside is that he still won’t be worth this draft slot.

5.06 Jimmy Graham-

After Gronk, Kelce, and Ertz the TE position is a total wasteland. I wouldn’t waste this pick on a TE at this spot let alone an aging TD dependent one. Also, Aaron Rodgers is not known for targeting his TEs which could be more bad news for Graham.     

 

5.07 Lamar Miller-

I believe Miller is this high by default. Second-year RB D’Onta Foreman is questionable for the start of the season as he recovers from a torn Achilles Tendon. He should see the needed volume to be a fantasy starter for at least the first half of the season. Once Foreman is good to go, all bets are off. I might be willing to go Dion Lewis here instead. Speaking of….

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5.08 Dion Lewis-  

This could be a really nice value pick here. We know that the Titans will have a split backfield but Dion is in position to see a share early-down work and most, if not all, of the receiving work. In a PPR I would love him as an RB3/Flex player.

 

5.09 Marvin Jones-

Despite my unhealthy affection for Jarvis Landry, Marvin Jones is the WR to target in the 5th rd. The new look Lions will still throw the ball all over the yard giving Jones and Golden Tate inherent value.   

5.10 Jarvis Landry-

Landry, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated players in the league and the Browns are not paying him $14M/Yr to funnel passes his way. Don’t expect his usual volume but he could easily be in the 85-90 catch category which is tremendous value for a 5th round WR.

5.11 Chris Hogan-

Hogan is the 3rd to 4th option in this offense. The 5th/6th round is entirely too early. At the end of the 5th, I would rather have Titans WR Corey Davis. Davis will at least be the #1 option for his team, he’s more athletically gifted and he’s not going into his age 30 season.   

 

5.12 Greg Olsen-

There is no denying that Olsen has been one Cam Newton’s favorite targets during his time in Carolina. Unfortunately, it’s time to let someone else draft Olsen here. I’m not saying avoid him, as I’d sign him up in Rd 7 but the 5th is too soon. You can grab George Kittle and/or Delanie Walker much later and get similar production in 2018.

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Photo by; Men’s Journal

Last week I said  the 4th round is where drafters start to make their money, construct their roster, and consider bye weeks as the starting line up fills out. This is even more true in weeks five, six, and seven. You’re still trying to get players that will be starters for the majority of the season and if the draft breaks your way those guys will all be useful parts of your team in 2018.  

 

Ideally, by round 5 you’re getting a good feel for how the owners are constructing their rosters and you can start to assess what players might be available later in the draft. Your roster likely has some balance which allows you to take the best player on the board in round 5. For my money, I really like Jarvis Landry, Royce Freeman, and Ronald Jones. If those guys are gone then Dion Lewis and Marvin Jones. Remember, if you don’t love a RB or WR here, don’t force it, especially if you have a QB or TE you do love. Don’t be afraid to reach a round or two early for a guy if he gives you a positional advantage.

 

The 5th round is the earliest I would consider a QB and I would need to be looking at an elite or a near elite guy like Aaron Rodgers (likely gone), Carson Wentz, or maybe (big maybe) Deshaun Watson. Some name brands like Brady and Brees may be over drafted here- avoid drafting based on what they’ve done in the past but rather what they’re likely to do moving forward.

 

As always, I hope this helps you build your draft plan and keeps you from being caught off guard when you’re on the clock.  Next week, we’ll cover the 6th round. Until then, happy drafting!

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