2012 NFL Postseason Award Predictions

Yesterday evening prior to kickoff I laid out where I believed each team would finish for the 2012-13 NFL Season.   Dallas impressed last night and only verified where I believe they are as a team and that they will move ahead of the Giants in the NFC East.  Today we look at individual players and see what the postseason award picture will look like.  While I knew all of these picks on Tuesday, this is my first chance to write them down.  Last night’s game solidified my belief in one of my picks.

Offensive Rookie of the Year – 

Doug Martin, RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

More often than not, the offensive rookie of the year has been a running back.  While we’ve had a few young quarterbacks receive the award in recent years, I foresee a return to the running back trend.   The Boise State product has great vision and is a threat running the ball as well as catching out of the backfield.  He has already secured a starting position on a talented roster that considers itself a playoff team this year.  While I don’t see Tampa making their playoff return quite yet, I’m expecting great things from Martin.

Others that will be considered: Andrew Luck, QB – Indianapolis Colts, Robert Griffin III, QB – Washington Redskins, Trent Richardson, RB – Cleveland Browns, Kendall Wright, WR – Tennessee Titans, Alshon Jeffrey, WR – Chicago Bears, Coby Fleener, TE – Indianapolis Colts, & Matt Kalil, OT – Minnesota Vikings

Defensive Rookie of the Year –

Luke Kuechly, LB – Carolina Panthers

Going into this year’s draft, I thought that – outside of Vikings OT Matt Kalil – Kuechly was the rookie most prepared for the NFL.  The young star from Boston College has great vision and leadership qualities and he has been thrust into a talented defense that fits his talents perfectly.  I am a big believer that linebacker is the easiest defensive position for a rookie to have success in and I believe that given his talent, situation, and position that Kuechly will be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year this season.
Others that will be considered: Morris Claiborne, CB – Dallas Cowboys; Harrison Smith, S – Minnesota Vikings; Stephon Gilmore, CB – Buffalo Bills;  Janorris Jenkins, CB – St. Louis Rams; Mychal Kendricks, LB – Philadelphia Eagles; Dont’a Hightower, LB – Houston Texans; & Fletcher Cox, DT – Philadelphia Eagles

Offensive Player of the Year –

Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans

There is a very good reason that most fantasy football experts listed Foster at the top of their draft boards this season.   It is because, in my opinion, the Houston Texans are the most talented and most complete team in the NFL.  On a team that I expect to have the NFL’s best regular season record in 2012, Foster is the best player.   He is a threat on the ground and in the receiving game.  If he can stay healthy, I fully expect Foster to eclipse the 2,000 all-purpose yards mark.

Others that will be considered: Calvin Johnson, WR – Detroit Lions; Ray Rice, RB – Baltimore Ravens; Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers; Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans; Tom Brady, QB – New England Patriots; & Matt Ryan, QB – Atlanta Falcons

Defensive Player of the Year –

DeMarcus Ware, LB – Dallas Cowboys

Last year I mentioned on multiple occasions that I believed 2011 would finally be the year that Jared Allen broke through and won his 1st NFL Defensive Player of the Year award after being such a force for so many years in the League (and let’s face it – not giving the award to Allen was a travesty).  Well this year I believe that Ware will finally get his due.  I see Ware getting a minimum of 15.5 sacks this year (and last night’s 2 sack performance making him the 2nd fastest player ever to record 100 sacks) doesn’t hurt matters.  I believe that Dallas wins the East this year and Ware is going to be a big part of that.
Others that will be considered: Jared Allen, DE – Minnesota Vikings;  Aldon Smith, OLB – San Francisco 49ers; Von Miller, LB – Denver Broncos; J.J. Watt, DL – Houston Texans; Patrick Willis, LB – San Francisco 49ers; Patrick Peterson, CB – Arizona Cardinals; & Mario Williams, OLB – Buffalo Bills

 NFL MVP –

Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers

Only two quarterbacks have ever won back-to-back MVP awards, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, but there is no reason to believe that Rodgers can’t duplicate this feat.   The Packers were far and away the best offense in the NFL last season but at the same time, if something were to happen to Rodgers, the Packers would fall off pretty drastically.  I really believe the Packers without Rodgers would be close to the 2011 Colts without Manning.  The Packers figure to be in the thick of things this year and it’s Aaron Rodgers who is going to get them there.

Others that will be considered: Tom Brady, QB – New England Patriots; Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans; Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans; Matt Ryan, QB – Atlanta Falcons; Tony Romo, QB – Dallas Cowboys; & Ray Rice, RB – Baltimore Ravens

Comeback Player of the Year –

Peyton Manning, QB – Denver Broncos

I’m more than aware that this is an extremely popular pick for this award and while I gave it a lot of thought I came to the conclusion (that like Brett Favre when he went to the Vikings) you can never count Peyton Manning out.   I find it so hard to pick against Peyton Manning that I chose the Broncos to get into the postseason over the Steelers, Bengals, Jets, Chargers, Titans, & Raiders.  There are concerns now but Peyton Manning is going to make Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker into household names.  After everything he has gone through if he can get the Broncos to the playoffs there is no doubt this award will belong to him.

Others that will be considered: Randy Moss, WR – San Francisco 49ers; Eric Berry, S – Kansas City Chiefs; Jamaal Charles, RB – Kansas City Chiefs; Adrian Peterson, RB – Minnesota Vikings; & Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans

Coach of the Year –

Romeo Crennel – Kansas City Chiefs

Now if the carousel of New Orleans Saints coaches can get that team to the playoffs they may be considered but let’s look at the facts: the NFL loves to give this award to rookie head coaches who have success.  Secondly, a team either has to be extremely dominant or go from worst to first (a la a San Francisco 49ers transformation) for a coach to get this award.  While this is Crennel’s 2nd go-around as a head coach, I believe that he will win.  His team finished in last place in the AFC West last year (though they only finished a game behind champion Denver) and the roster is much improved.  On top of that this team is getting Matt Cassel, Tony Moeak, Jamaal Charles, and Eric Berry all back from injury.  I believe that the Chiefs can make some noise in the AFC this year and when they do, Romeo will receive his first Coach of the Year award.

Others that will be considered: Gary Kubiak – Houston Texans; Chan Gailey – Buffalo Bills; Pete Carroll – Seattle Seahawks; Jason Garrett – Dallas Cowboys; Mike McCarthy – Green Bay Packers; & Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons

Executive of the Year –

John Elway, Executive VP of Football Operations – Denver Broncos

Let’s look at everything this guy has done in the last two years.  He took a team that had the #2 overall pick in last year’s draft and got them to the playoffs by playing a running back at QB.   That player started a media blitz that could fill the hole in ESPN programming left behind by Brett Favre’s 17th retirement.  In the process that running back turned QB became the most popular athlete in the Mile High City since well… John Elway.  And then Elway was actually cheered for shipping that QB off to New York (ask the Nuggets how hard it is to ship a beloved Denver athlete to New York) because he brought in the man who in my estimation will one day be, statistically, the best QB of all-time.   He had another great draft and surrounded Manning with young and veteran talent alike.  If the Broncos get back to the playoffs, there is no doubt that Elway should be the Executive of the Year.

Others that will be considered: Ryan Grigson, GM – Indianapolis Colts; John Schneider, GM – Seattle Seahawks; & Les Snead, GM – St. Louis Rams

Peyton’s Dozen: The Odds on Who Will Land Manning

Ever since the Colts landed the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, there has been speculation about if and where Peyton Manning would play again.  Yesterday, something I could’ve never imagined a year ago happened when the Colts decided to go into rebuilding mode and forgo paying Manning the bonus that was due to him today thus making him a free agent for the first time in his career.   And this is not just any free agent.  Peyton Manning has become the most coveted free agent in NFL history as the franchise he has been the face of for 14 years moves forward without him.   We are now aware that no Colts player will ever again wear #18 but the question is of course: which team will have a new #18 on their roster next season?

Multiple sources have mentioned that around 12 teams have been in contact with Manning’s representation and we know who some of those teams are, who some aren’t, and which teams remain a mystery.   We know that the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, and Kansas City Chiefs have contacted Manning’s representation.  We know that the Dallas Cowboys are not interested and neither are, clearly, the Indianapolis Colts.   It is also safe to assume that the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh Steelers.  I’m also fairly confident that the St. Louis Rams, Baltimore Ravens, and Chicago Bears will not go after Manning.  I also like to believe, that though there has been speculation, that the Texans will work to extend Schaub and develop Yates as opposed to cutting Schaub to bring in Manning.  So I do not believe the Texans are part of the twelve (but if they create the cap space and release Schaub they become a frontrunner).  However we can’t rule anyone out.   In my opinion, outside of a few, select teams that have elite NFL QBs, any team that does not at least ask itself the Peyton Manning question is doing themselves a great disservice.

So using what we know and what we don’t know I’ve broken down who I believe to be Manning’s dozen and their respective odds of landing the future Hall of Famer in descending order.

12. Jacksonville Jaguars

ODDS – 1:100

The Jacksonville Jaguars would love to sign their former rival for the next three years and develop the young Blaine Gabbert behind him.  I have no doubts about that.  It’s clear however that Peyton wants to win now because he only has somewhere between three and five years to win another ring.   The Jaguars definitely have the cap room and it could be attractive for Manning to play in Florida but the Jaguars have no personnel to put around Manning where he believes he could win right away.  A few years ago when the Vikings signed Brett Favre a lot of people referred to that team as a “ferrari without a driver” and I believe that’s exactly what Peyton is looking for.   The Jaguars can offer the contract but not much else.

11. Cleveland Browns

ODDS – 1:50

I give the Browns slightly higher odds than the Jaguars of landing Manning.   Once again this is a team in disarray but once that can afford Manning.  The reason I give them any kind of odds is because the Browns could potentially land one of Peyton’s former receivers in free agency (Garcon or Wayne), they have a stout and young offensive line and they have the draft picks to add playmakers to their roster now.  This is an AFC team in a smaller market which many say that Manning would prefer but I just do not see this happening.

10. Buffalo Bills

ODDS – 3:100

The Buffalo Bills are an interesting prospect.  This would put Peyton in the AFC in a small market with a passionate fan base and he would get the chance to play Tom Brady twice a year.  However, the Bills have made a huge commitment to Ryan Fitzpatrick.  This is a team that could make the playoffs with consistent quarterback play but I do not see the Bills making this happen nor do I see Manning wanting to play 7 home games a year in Buffalo and 1 every season in Toronto after 14 years of playing his home games in a dome.  They have the cap room, they have some playmakers, but I am pretty confident we will not see Manning in Buffalo.

9. Tennessee Titans

ODDS – 1:20

If the Titans have already called, I’m certain that Peyton Manning has listened.  He considers Tennessee a second home having played his college ball there.  He can look at Tennessee and see playmakers like Chris Johnson, Jared Cook,  and Kenny Britt.   They have a very athletic offensive line that Peyton would love.  This is a team that has some definite potential but once again I just do not see it.  Matt Hasselbeck had a really good year last year and I believe that the Titans are happy to play him another year and then move forward with Jake Locker who showed a lot of promise as a rookie.  I also do not know what Peyton’s feelings would be on playing the Colts twice a year after his ceremonious exit from the Colts but either way, I give the Titans a 5% chance but not much more than that.

8. New York Jets

ODDS – 1:19

The New York Jets have been linked to Peyton Manning for months and this is a team that is definitely talented and made it to back to back AFC Championships in spite of subpar quarterback play.  Manning is familiar with the Rex Ryan defense and would surely love to have that on his side.  He would play the Patriots twice a year and he would get to share a stadium with his brother.  He would have playmakers all around him but at the same time, there are a lot of issues with the New York Jets locker room.  New York is a large market and it’s his brother’s territory.   I personally think the Jets would be a great fit but I don’t see Peyton going to such an unstable situation or imposing on his brother’s turf.   Another big factor here is that the Jets would have to make some major moves to be able to even afford Manning.  They can’t afford him, it’s unstable, and I just don’t see it.

7. Washington Redskins

ODDS – 1:13

Alright, now we’re into the teams that I actually think have a shot.  A lot of people have the Redskins as an odds-on favorite to land Peyton Manning.  They like to cite that great offensive line the Redskins have and the presence of Roy Helu, Santana Moss, Fred Davis, Chris Cooley, and Jabar Gaffney.  It’s clear though that Washington will have to add a true #2 wide receiver to attract Peyton.  Washington does have the necessary cap room and they have an owner in Dan Snyder who loves to spend money.  However, Peyton’s preference is the AFC and I really don’t think he wants to play Eli twice a year.   Washington loves to bring in five star free agents and has the cap room to reunite Manning and Wayne as well as a high enough draft pick to bring in some young playmakers immediately.  While I believe the Redskins will be one of the most aggressive suitors for Manning but I don’t believe Peyton will bite.   This is a team that definitely has everything necessary to attract Manning with the largest drawbacks being the fact that they are a large market NFC team that would play the Giants twice a year.  Many don’t believe that Manning is interested in playing for Washington but on paper they have a pretty solid chance.

6. Arizona Cardinals

ODDS – 1:8

Everyone that follows Can of Corn on Twitter knows that for months I have been lobbying for Peyton Manning to team up with Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona.  This is a team that went .500 last season in spite of Kolb’s terrible play under center.   Manning has mentioned he would love to play on natural grass again but he does appreciate the advantages of a dome.  Good news – Arizona is the only place that can offer both.   Manning has never played with a wide receiver as talented as Larry Fitzgerald and if the Cardinals can re-sign Early Doucet or bring in another wideout (especially Wayne) then this could be a real possibility.  Combine that with tight end Todd Heap and Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams in the backfield and this becomes a very attractive offense.  Manning and Whisenhunt have long had a mutual respect and admiration for one another and so this relationship could definitely work.

The problem is that right now the Cardinals are projected to have, at most, $10.2 M in cap room.   Even if they release Levi Brown and free up $16M , move forward without Kolb and free up the necessary cap room, the Cardinals are left with an even more questionable offensive line.  I love this fit for Manning and like the idea of him throwing to Fitzgerald.  I think the Cardinals will be major players and they are a team that can compete right away with Manning but at the end of the day – I really don’t see Arizona being able to do what’s necessary to attract Manning.   If the Cardinals had the cap room to afford Manning, they would be in the top 3 without a doubt.  There’s a strong mutual interest here between Manning and the Cardinals.  Now it comes down to money.

5. San Francisco 49ers

ODDS – 2:9

What NFL fan does not want to see Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne keep playing together?  The 49ers offer the opportunity to do that.  This is a team that has the cap room necessary to sign Peyton Manning and then also tighten up their WR corps and with a deep WR draft could use their first round draft pick on a rookie wideout or exchange that pick for Mike Wallace.  This is a team that was a few muffed punts from going to the Super Bowl last season and if they were to bring in receivers they could easily attract Peyton there and on the flip side, the presence of Peyton Manning would attract free agent receivers.  This is a dynamic team and Peyton would only be required to put up 20 – 24 points a game with that stout defense.  Jim Harbaugh says he believes in Alex Smith and is trying to extend him but you have to believe the 49ers have at least reached out to Manning and that he would be interested in heading to the West Coast.  Both the 49ers and Peyton are well aware of what each could accomplish together and I think this will be a very attractive option.   I just do not know how hard Harbaugh will pursue this one.  Thus far the 49ers have denied interest in Manning but it’s hard to believe that giving Alex Smith a three year $27M contract is that much better of an option than giving Manning a 3 year $42M deal.

4. Denver Broncos

ODDS – 2:7

If John Elway really wants to move on from “Tebowmania” this is the only possible escape.  If Elway really wants a quarterback that reminds him of himself, then there’s nobody better.  After all, a number one overall draft pick by the Colts going on to lead the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl is not unheard of.   The Broncos have some great young receivers on offense with Demaryius Thomas, Eddie Royals, and Eric Decker and the necessary cap room to sign Manning.  They are a playoff team with the necessary cap room to sign Manning and this is something that could really happen.  The Broncos have reached out to Manning’s people and with the Broncos being the reigning champion of a wide-open division I think they are an attractive option to Manning.

3. Seattle Seahawks

ODDS – 1:3

I really do not know why more people aren’t talking about the possibility of Manning landing in Seattle.   This is a team that could be very good with a great quarterback.  Manning would have a dynamic receiving corps with Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Mike Williams, and Golden Tate as well as Jon Carlson and Zach Miller at tight end.  The Seahawks just recently extended running back Marshawn Lynch after a career year.  This is a team with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and with Manning could challenge the 49ers right away.  The Seahawks are considered a frontrunner to land Mario Williams but they could instead direct their focus to Manning especially considering their draft position would allow them a chance to land Melvin Ingram or another top tier rookie outside linebacker or defensive end.   There are some question marks on the offensive line but given the division they play in and the amount of playmakers, Seattle has to be considered a serious contender to land Peyton Manning.

2. Miami Dolphins

ODDS – 2:5

We’ve heard it all, the Dolphins have the cap room to sign Manning and bring in another wide receiver.  Reggie Wayne wants to play in Miami and this could give Manning a 1-2 punch of Wayne and Brandon Marshall with Davone Bess in the slot.  Reggie Bush just had the best year of his career and is one of the best pass-catching backs in the game.  Peyton Manning has a home in Miami and the team has an owner that wants a star to latch his team onto.  This is a warm weather AFC team that would give Peyton the chance to play in the stadium where he twice appeared in a Super Bowl.   The Dolphins seem to be a really attractive option for Manning but the biggest question has to be the offensive line.  Outside of Jake Long, this offensive line is suspect.  Of course the 9th overall draft pick could allow the Dolphins to draft Iowa’s Riley Reiff or Stanford’s Jonathan Martin who could bolster this line immediately.  I think that Miami has a lot of attractive options.  I think Manning’s admiration of and friendship with Dan Marino plays a role.  While Miami has a great combination of playmakers, salary cap, and overall fit, there’s one team that has an even better combination of these things.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

ODDS – 3:7

There are a lot of commentators who have begun to mention the Kansas City Chiefs as an underdog or a dark horse candidate to land Manning.  The Seahawks are a dark horse, the Titans and Jets are underdogs, the Chiefs should be considered the favorite.   Anyone who has the Chiefs ranked lower than two is only kidding themselves.   There are a number of factors that make the Chiefs the odds-on favorite to land Manning in spite of the fact that they are “committed to Matt Cassel”.

The Chiefs have been projected to have as much as $50M in cap room next season which would be the 2nd highest in the NFL so they definitely have the financial flexibility to sign Peyton Manning and then to bring in anotherfree agent such as Carl Nicks or Jeff Saturday to solidify their offensive line.  The Chiefs have the necessary weapons on the offensive side of the ball with running back Jamaal Charles, tight end Tony Moeaki, and receivers Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, and Jonathan Baldwin.  Then there’s always the threat of the very dynamic Dexter McCluster who can play in the backfield or line up in the slot.   They have a good young defense as well with playmakers like Tamba Hali, Glenn Dorsey, Derrick Johnson, and Eric Berry.    Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel are both extremely familiar with Peyton Manning and with the restructuring of the coaching staff, this is a team that would be very open to letting Peyton Manning bring in his own offense.  This is a talented AFC team in a small market with a very passionate fan base and distinct home field advantage.   They play in the most wide-open division in the NFL.  This is a team that came within a game of the playoffs despite multiple injuries and inconsistent QB play.   Joe Montana finished his career in KC and got his team to the AFC Championship maybe Peyton can do one better.  If Manning really wants to be on an AFC team and become the first QB to lead two different teams to a Super Bowl win, this is a team that definitely fits that mold and can actually afford him.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!

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2011 NFL Offseason Grades – AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON TEXANS

NFL DRAFT:

2011 DRAFT PICKS: J.J. Watt, DE (1-11); Brooks Reed, DE (2-42); Brandon Harris, CB (2-60); Rashad Michael, CB (4-127); Shiloh Keo, S (5-144); Taylor Yates, QB (5-152); Derek Newton, OT (7-214); Cheta Ozougwu, DE (7-254)

 

Selecting J.J. Watt in the first round was just the beginning of a defensive overhaul for the Texans.

Wade Phillips has to be excited about his new career on the other side of Texas after this draft.   The Texans put a strong emphasis on improving a defense that has some strong players but definitely needs improvement.  They started off with a great young pair of defensive ends.  Watt is definitely going to be more of a containment end meanwhile on the other end, Reed should be spending a lot of time behind the offensive line.   Keo and Michael could tighten up an ailing secondary.  I love this draft for the Texans, I really thought they would target the WR position at some point in this draft but at the same time,  I have a hard time looking at a single pick they made and thinking, “that was the wrong pick for them”.

 

 

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Johnathan Joseph, CB (Bengals); Danieal Manning, S (Bears); Mike Brisiel, G (Texans); Jacoby Jones, WR (Texans); Matt Leinart, QB (Texans)

KEY LOSSES: Vonta Leach, FB; Amobi Okoye, DT; Dan Orlovsky, QB; Bernard Pollard, S

While everyone was fighting for Asomugha, the Texans snuck in and grabbed the 2nd best cornerback in free agency

One thing is certain, the Houston Texans defense has been completely transformed in the offseason.  First they did an overhaul in the draft and then they went out and brought in some playmakers.  While everyone else was trying to land Asomugha, the Texans went out and signed the second best cornerback in free agency in Johnathan Joseph.  They strengthened that secondary even further with the addition of Danieal Manning as the safety position.  Bringing Jacoby Jones back was necessary and re-signing Matt Leinart was a big win for the Texans because he is one of the best back-ups in the NFL.   The biggest loss was, by far, Vonta Leach who is probably the best run-blocking fullback in the league.  Foster’s numbers could take a step back without Leach in that backfield.

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Anthony Costanzo, OT (1-22); Benjamin Injalana, OT (2-49); Drake Nevis, DT (3-87); Delone Carter, RB (4-119); Chris Rucker, CB (6-188)

 

Costanzo provides the big athletic tackle the Colts need to protect Manning's blind side

I can hardly remember a season when the Indianapolis Colts did not make the playoffs.   The reason is they find value as good as any team in the AFC.  Last season, Manning found himself constantly under pressure and Polian made the right move for the Colts in using his first two picks on offensive lineman.  Costanzo is a strong tackle who should fill in on the left side nicely and could be protecting Peyton’s blind side for the rest of Manning’s career.  Injalana is a lineman that could be plugged into either a tackle or guard position.  Drake Nevis was a good find for this team in the third and Rucker was a nice pick-up in the 6th.  The Colts probably did a better job of addressing all of their positional needs than any other team in this year’s draft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Peyton Manning, QB (Colts); Joseph Addai, RB (Colts); Melvin Bullitt, S (Colts); Jamaal Anderson, DE (Falcons); Antonio Johnson, DT (Colts); Eric Foster, DT (Colts); Ernie Sims, LB (Eagles); Tommie Harris, DT (Bears); Dan Orlovsky, QB (Texans)

KEY LOSSES: Clint Session, LB; Charlie Johnson, OT; Kelvin Hayden, CB; Daniel Muir, DT

The Colts made the biggest signing of the offseason by wrapping up their franchise quarterback.

The Colts did not have the free agent flurry that other Super Bowl contenders did but they did do what every team strives to do – keep their core guys.  In doing so they made perhaps the biggest signing of the free agency period in re-signing Peyton Manning to ensure that he retires with the Colts.  Charlie Johnson was a huge loss for a line that had it’s fair share of struggles last season but the Colts anticipated his departure when they drafted Costanzo.   They also re-signed Joseph Addai who is a solid running back that fits well with what the Colts are doing.  On the defensive side of the ball, many of these signings make a lot of sense because the Colts have always been more about speed on defense than anything.  I would not be surprised to see them use Anderson more like a D-Tackle as opposed to a defensive end.  Either way, I see Indy’s pass-rush and rushing defense being drastically improved from last year.

 

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS:Blaine Gabbert, QB (1-10); William Rackley, G (3-76); Cecil Shorts, WR (4-114); Chris Prosinski, S (4-121); Roderick Isaac, CB (5-147)

 

The Jaguars grabbed who I believe to be the best QB of the draft class with the 10th overall pick.

You’ve already heard me say it about the Vikings, and you’ve heard it about the Panthers and now you’re going to hear it about the Jaguars.  This draft’s grade is largely contingent on one thing – the success of the rookie quarterback the team selected.  I personally believe that Blaine Gabbert was the best quarterback of this year’s draft class and I believe he will be a pro-bowler.  He reminds me a lot of Ben Roethlisberger.   However, I do believe that Blaine Gabbert is rather raw.  Luckily the Jaguars have their quarterback of the present in David Garrard to play while Gabbert develops.  The rest of the draft was rather mediocre.  The real need the Jaguars needed to address was defensive end and for many the question will be – was it worth it to give up so much to land Gabbert or should they have stayed put and taken Adrian Claiborne? I believe the risk was worth taking in that they grabbed, who I believe to be, the best QB in the draft at the 10th spot making him the 3rd QB selected in the draft.

 

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Paul Posluszny, LB (Bills); Dawan Landry, S (Ravens); Jason Spitz, G (Packers); Clint Session, LB (Colts)

KEY LOSSES: Justin Smiley, G; Derrick Harvey, DE; Vince Manuwai, G; Justin Durant, LB; Clint Ingram, LB; Adam Podlesh, P; Trent Edwards, QB

Posluszny is a natural leader and is a nice addition to an otherwise weak Jaguars defense

Last year the Jaguars linebacker corps was awful but with the addition of Paul Posluszny and Clint Session, Jacksonville is all of a sudden fairly strong at this position.  Dawan Landry was a great pick-up for this team that was in desperate need of some help over the top.  Jason Spitz was also a good pickup for the line.  All in all, there were good pick-ups here but nothing great.  I feel like Jacksonville lost more than they gained.  I really expected Jacksonville to go after a defensive end (Charles Johnson or Ray Edwards anyone?), another cornerback, and a wide receiver in free agency but alas, they just didn’t pull it off.

 

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Jake Locker, QB (1-8); Akeem Ayers, OLB (2-39); Jurrell Casey, DT (3-77); Colin McCarthy, ILB (4-109); Jamie Harper, RB (4-130); Karl Klug, DE (5-142); Byron Stingily, OT (6-175); Zach Clayton, DT (7-212); Tommie Campbell, S (7-251)

 

Jake Locker has been most impressive in the preseason.

On draft night, I thought Jake Locker was a reach.  I was certain that when Blaine Gabbert fell past San Francisco, he’d be going to the Titans.  I thought Locker was a late 1st round pick at best, but so far into this preseason, Locker has been a very impressive rookie quarterback and I may be completely wrong about him.   Like the Jaguars, this draft will be graded based on Locker’s progress.   However, Titans fans should forgive the reach for Locker because the Titans then got a first round talent in the second round when they took Akeem Ayers.  My only complaints about the Titans draft would be that they waited too long before drafting a defensive tackle and the team really needed to address the wide receiver position in the draft.  I still think Locker was a reach but now with some time to develop behind Hasselbeck, I believe he could be the QB of the future for Tennessee.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Matt Hasselbeck, QB (Seahawks); Barrett Ruud, LB (Buccaneers); Jacob Ford, DE (Titans); Shaun Smith, DT (Chiefs); Leroy Harris, G (Titans); Dave Ball, DE (Titans); Ahmard Hall, FB (Titans); Daniel Graham, TE (Broncos); Mike Munchak, Head Coach (Titans Offensive Line Coach)

KEY LOSSES: Vince Young, QB; Jason Babin, DE; Stephen Tulloch, LB; Tony Brown, DT

Hasselbeck was a strong signing, but does not make sense given the difference between his and Locker's styles.

I like Matt Hasselbeck and think he is a very good quarterback but I am baffled by the addition of him in Tennessee.   With the exception that both Locker and he have lived in the same state the last four years, the two have nothing in common.   I believe Hasselbeck’s skill set is closer to that of Christian Ponder.  I do have to commend Tennessee for landing a top free agent QB but I still don’t think he was the right choice here.   I like the addition of Daniel Graham as a blocking tight end opposite of Jarrod Page and I think that Barrett Ruud is the perfect signing to help a pretty young defense in Nashville.  On the coaching side of things, it is strange to see the Titans without Jeff Fisher on the sidelines but I do believe that Munchak was a perfect fit for the Titans given his history with the team.

 

 

 

The only team in this division that I really feel took a significant step forward was the Houston Texans.  The Colts stayed about the same as did the Jaguars and Titans.  Years from now, this could be the draft that does, however, change the face of the AFC South as the Texans revamped their defense and the Titans and Jaguars believe they got their franchise quarterbacks.  This will be an interesting year in the AFC South.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!

 

 

 

 

 

The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Football Draft Prep

 

 

 

Kyle Stafford – @KStafford32 

FACT:

How you draft in your fantasy football league will be at least 75% responsible for how you finish.  The other 25% is based on lucky free agent pick-ups, trades in your favor, and staying focused on the goal.

Everyone in your league will be listening to this guy. Do your own homework.

You can sell out and get your Draft Prep from the popular talking heads, example: Matthew Berry. The problem with that is that you and nine other guys are sitting together on draft day with the same draft sheets and player evaluations. I am not selling that Matthew Berry doesn’t make a good point every once in a while, but I would like to think that you are smart enough to make your own fake football choices.

WHERE DOES IT BEGIN? 

Player Evaluations, Player Evaluations, Player Evaluations…. did I mention Player Evaluations??? My example would be the master mind in New England Bill Freaking Belichick. Only certain players and draft picks “fit” Belichick’s player standards. You need to have standards when it comes to who is on your team. If you don’t you might as well have your wife/girlfriend draft your team for you because of the color of the teams jersey look cool, or Tom Brady looks nice in spandex. I’m not saying… I’m just saying. Here are a few key areas I look at when I am drafting any player:

  • Injury History
  •  Age
  •  Team Success
  • Role in the Offense

There are also key areas to look at for each position

Quarterback:

Type of Offense, Completion %, Receiving Talent, Offensive Line

Running Back:

Does he split carries, Receiving Threat, over or under 30

Wide Out:

Targets, Quarterback, Offensive Scheme

A rookie like Mark Ingram could be a low-risk high reward pick late in your league's draft.

A few unknowns to look for are Rookies and Coaching Changes. For the most part Rookie Wide Receivers and Running Backs are safe bench picks. Rookies can turn out like Texans RB Adrian Foster, or the flip side Chargers RB Ryan Mathews. Coaching changes can change how many targets a wideout receives or how many handoffs a running back carries.

I hate to mention Herman Edwards, but when he took over the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006 he let RB Larry Johnson carry the ball for an NFL record 416 times. Previously Johnson had only carried the ball no more than 336 times in a season. Another great example is the Mad Scientist Mike Martz. Whatever offense he is reinventing, (Currently the Chicago Bears) you can expect his Quarterback to throw 40+ times, Wideouts to have their targets increase, and high paid running backs become glorified pass blockers.

WRITE IT DOWN… NOW!

Now is the time to set your teams formula. Here are a more few in-depth tips.

 

Injuries: I never draft a player that has a history of injuries or is coming back from a major injury. The risk/reward is not high enough. Let your competition draft Ronnie Brown with his 2nd Round pick and in week 4 he will be the one desperate for a lucky Free Agent or Trade.

Age: Age increases the chance of injuries. Running Backs are a no-brainer on this. They die off approaching age 30. Wideouts are productive in their 30’s but they tend to drop off in yardage and are more venerable to a rookie taking their job.  Quarterbacks with small injury history become safe with age. Be careful with Peyton Manning this season. If you are in a keeper league trade your aging players a year early instead of a year late.

Team Success:  Success is contagious. Players on top teams or high powered offenses have a higher rate of return. Tom Brady wears a ton of bling and he made fantasy studs out of guys like Deion Branch, David Patten, and David Givens?!?  Success is contagious.

These are the top 3 areas I look at when drafting any player. You would be wise to do the same.

THE GOLDEN RULE:

Never Fall In Love With Your Players. You should always be looking to upgrade your team. Nobody is untradeable and to a degree undropable. Just because you took a player in the first round doesn’t mean he has earned a spot to start on your team. Your goal is to beat your dumb friends at fake football, not harbor your man crush for Peyton Manning while he is on the IR all year….prediction?

Be on the lookout for my next FFB Draft Prep Article: The Perfect Draft Formula and Don’t Mess with It!

 

Questions? Comments?

Follow Me on Twitter @KStafford32

All views submitted in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Can of Corn.

Land of 10,000 Lattes

Like all stories from “The Funyun”, the post below is a work of satire, parody, and fiction.  While the names of famous people and actual events are referenced, this story should not be considered a valid news source.

Darrell Bevell joins the Seattle Seahawks after five years as Offensive Coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings and has already brought Sidney Rice (left), Tarvaris Jackson (center), and Frank Walker (unpictured) with him. Pete Carroll is currently courting Vikings LB Ben Leber (right) thinking this could yield 2005-type results.

After pulling off the biggest upset of the NFL postseason in 2010, the Seattle Seahawks and head coach Pete Carroll hope to build off that season in 2011.  Carroll was excited by making it to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs but feels his team can do better.  “It has always been our goal to play in an NFC Championship game.  We fell one game shy of that goal last season and I knew we had to make the right draft picks and bring in the right staff and players to make that possible.”  In pursuing the Halas Trophy, the Seahawks have made some major additions this offseason.

The Seahawks started by bringing in offensive guru Darrell Bevell who spent the last five years under Brad Childress and the Minnesota Vikings and parting ways with Pro-Bowl  quarterback Matt Hasslebeck.   While in Minneapolis, Bevell saw the Vikings win the NFC North twice and come within an interception of playing in Super Bowl XLIV.   In going to Seattle, Darrell Bevell brought two of his own offensive players, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, and the All-Pro young deep threat Sidney Rice.  In recent days, cornerback Frank Walker has followed his Vikings teammates to the Pacific Northwest and the Seahawks are currently in talks with the hard-hitting veteran linebacker, Ben Leber, also from the Minnesota Vikings.

Head coach Pete Carroll has long admired the Minnesota Vikings franchise.  He served as the defensive backs coach for Minnesota from 1985 – 1989 and even interviewed for the head coaching position in 1992 before losing out to Dennis Green.  “It was great being part of a franchise like the Vikings fresh off the departure of Bud [Grant].” Carroll said, ” He’s a Hall of Fame coach who led the Vikings to four Super Bowl appearances.  He was a great mentor to me in teaching me the importance of coming close to winning a championship.  I took that same philosophy to USC and brought it with me here.  In LA, we came close consistently and when we did win, we were fortunate the NCAA took that title away.”

When asked about the what Darrell Bevell brings to the Seahawks, Carroll remarked that, “Darrell has a great offense and knows better than anyone how to get a team in the NFC Championship.  A few years ago, Mike [Holmgren] was able to lead this team to a Super Bowl loss and we need to get back to that tradition here in Seattle.  Mike had a simple formula: bring in your old back-up for Brett Favre and fill the roster with capable wide receivers.  That’s the value of Darrell bringing in guys like Tarvaris and Sidney.  I really believe Tarvaris is a guy we can throw under center week 1 and he can help us almost win right now.  Both guys are going to help us to to come close to winning  a championship.”

Carroll went on to explain, “We aren’t Pittsburgh, Green Bay, or New England, but we’re definitely not a Cleveland, Detroit, or Houston either.  Seattle is a city that needs to have hope and see their team almost win but we know we can never truly compete.  For the last fifty years, nobody has walked that line better than the Minnesota Vikings.”  He went on to say, “Bud Grant taught me the value of almost winning and Mike brought that tradition here.  I think we’ve put ourselves in a position to appear in the NFC Championship game.”

Carroll has received a lot of attention for having a DJ on the field during practices and the locker room TVs show the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective at least once a day.  Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said, “There is just a lot we can learn from Ray Finkle and his ‘Kick heard ’round the World.”

Wide receiver Mike Williams was excited about the prospect of Sidney Rice being a part of the team saying, “Sidney is a guy who has been there and almost won.  To get a guy like that, like Randy Moss and Cris Carter, who has come so close  …. he’s going to help us get back to 2005 form.”   When asked about other free agent additions, Williams said, “It was great to get Leroy Hill back on board because he gives us a leader who has been on the cusp of winning a championship and now to see Coach Tom [Cable] bring guys in like [Robert] Gallery and [Zach] Miller who have not had a chance to be a playoff team.  They are going to be hungry to make it to the NFC Championship game.”

Since that Super Bowl berth, the Seattle Seahawks have lost grasp of a division they once dominated as the Arizona Cardinals took the division and even made it all the way to the Super Bowl a few years back.   The Rams have their quarterback of the future in Sam Bradford and new coach Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco promises to shake things up for the 49ers.  Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell feels that the Seahawks are primed to repeat in the NFC West this season.

Andre Reed played in and lost 4 straight Super Bowls, finished his career in 2000 with 951 receptions, and is waiting on the call from Canton. Would he consider one last "almost win" to solidify his HOF bid?

“It was a great feeling to play that game in New Orleans two years ago, and I only hope we can host a championship here.  I know Tarvaris and he’s been working in the offseason and the two years of mentoring from Brett Favre is only going to help.  Sidney has proven to be a guy that can almost win and should we ever set our expectations too high, I know that I can count on him to surprise us all with an unexpected surgery and bring us back down to Earth.”

Carroll also mentioned that while talks remain ongoing with the Viking’s Ben Leber they have also reached out to Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Bryant McKinnie, and even inquired about a possible trade for Bernard Berrian.  There is a lot of hope in Seattle these days with players feeling that they could play in the NFC Championship game this year and find themselves back in 2005 form so they can play in a Super Bowl.  Bevell even noted that the Seahawks had reached out to Andre Reed and Cris Carter in the last week just to see if they would like one last chance to almost win a Super Bowl and solidify their Hall of Fame bids by being on a Super Bowl runner-up.

“Just to get to go to Indianapolis or New Orleans and be on the field while Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, or Peyton Manning win another ring,” said quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, “that would be the experience of a lifetime.”

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!