Just like that, the offseason is upon us. Another football season has been wasted with the Patriots winning another super bowl. I’m just kidding, I’m not going to be that guy who hates a team for winning too many championships. I don’t need that karma in my life, after all I am a Cubs fan and I am hoping to celebrate the next five world series championships.
I am devastated by the results from a gambling point of view. After a fantastic 7-3 record against the spread throughout the postseason, I pushed all of my chips towards the Atlanta Falcons money line and it would have been very profitable. The result ended up being my most heartbreaking gambling loss of my so far, young life.
Now it’s time to put that in the past. The future is now. Zach and I are the future. My cohort and myself are going to grind week in and week out to bring you the most useful fantasy relevant draft coverage that we can. Non-fantasy relevant information will also be shared because we are going to do our best to cover every team. So, without further ado, let’s continue with a little preview. We are going to review the 2016 seasons of the 16 bottom finishers in the NFL last season. I will tell you of any GM or coaching changes that I am aware of and I will do my best to cover draft rumors and positional needs.
Cleveland Browns (1-15)
This past year couldn’t have gone much worse for the Browns. In a city that saw it’s two other major sports franchises in their respective championships, the Browns lost a heartbreaking week 17 game against Pittsburgh’s backups and failed to get that elusive two-win season. Robert Griffin III did his usual calling in sick most of the season, the defense and running attack flailed. The passing attack was pretty much just as horrendous as the other aspects of the team.
There was a bright spot to be found in quarterback turned receiver Terrelle Pryor, just in time for him to hit free agency this spring. The Browns should overpay to keep him around. As far as I remember, they have plenty of cap space. Pryor has great range and hands and he is a reliable piece to try and build something around.
If the Browns keep the first pick, instead of trading it for Jimmy Garappolo it will most likely be Myles Garrett, assuming he breaks some records at the combine (there’s a pretty good chance that he does.) The Browns also have the 12th pick in the first round which is great news, they obviously need it. They have been connected to a lot of different talent. Dalvin Cook, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes (that’s who I’d take, a lot of folks think he’s the best QB in the draft), and many others.
San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
Shockingly enough, the Chip Kelly experiment didn’t work (I’m a sarcasm guy). Over the past couple years, the 49ers have battled everything from injuries to arrests to surprise retirements. A franchise once on the rise, built around an elite defense, a fashionable coach, and a surprise steal at quarterback in the draft is now wondering what to build around.
The fresh start begins with head coaching hire, Kyle Shanahan, whom had a brilliant season with Matt Ryan until the 2nd half of the super bowl. The 49ers also brought in some fresh blood at GM, hiring John Lynch. Not sure why. San Francisco is projected to take Jonathan Allen, a great defensive tackle prospect from Alabama. If the 49ers don’t pick up a quarterback in free agency I can see them going quarterback here.
Chicago Bears (3-13)
This past season was worse than even bears fans thought was possible. This is the end of the Jay Cutler era in Chicago, barring a miracle. It is up in the air as to whether Alshon Jeffery will be franchised tagged, signed to a long-term deal, or tossed into free agency because of his injury concerns. The safest bet is probably the franchise tag. The bears have and are hiring a slew of new assistants to help out on the offensive side of the ball. One would assume they would like to have a weapon like Alshon around.
As for this draft pick, if Jonathan Allen doesn’t go to the 49ers, I think he gets scooped up here, and it would potentially be a good move. I say potentially because if you haven’t noticed, sometimes draft picks don’t work out (CC: Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf). If the Bears decide to go quarterback here, Deshaun Watson has been linked to the Bears in more than one mock draft that I’ve looked at. I would not blame the Bears at all for taking their chances on a quarterback with a winning pedigree despite previous turnover issues.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)
This team has playmakers on both sides of the ball. Maybe the disaster of the 2016 falls squarely on the shoulders of Gus Bradley, or maybe a lot of those pieces are still as raw as sushi. Blake Bortles is almost certainly going to have his make or break season this upcoming year and he’s going to need Allen Robinson to, frankly, be a lot better.
Doug Marrone is getting the second chance that he deserves at a head coaching job. There’s no telling what direction the Jaguars will go but I think the most interesting choice here would be Leonard Fournette. It would certainly give us a very interesting fantasy relevant discussion piece.
I don’t believe that I was the only one who didn’t think that Mike Mularky was going to have success at another head coaching gig but the Titans began to be noticeably more competitive in 2016. The addition of Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry really got the ground game going despite a subpar offensive line. The second best quarterback of the 2015 draft also made some strides towards future success.
It’s no secret that the Titans are a couple of pieces away from really being in the conversation. This team does not have a playmaker at receiver to complement their investment at quarterback. Rishard Matthews lead the team in both receptions (65) and yards (945) and you could argue that he’s no more valuable than a low-end WR2 or WR3 going forward. Delanie Walker certainly helps, but a passing attack needs more than just a tight end, ask Noodle Arm Smith. Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis seems like a great fit here. To be honest, I only watched him play once this year in the bowl game against Wisconsin and needless to say I was impressed. I look forward to profiling him further as the draft approaches.
New York Jets (5-11)
This offseason gifted the Jets an excuse to get out of the costly Darrelle Revis contract that daunts the salary cap. Once the best corner that we’ve seen this century, Revis started to show that his age has caught up with him the past 2 seasons. There are more issues for the Jets than just at corner. Quarterback is a problem that almost surely will be addressed in free agency because the Jets are horrible at drafting quarterbacks (actually developing them).
My best guess is that they will address the secondary with the 6th pick. I think this player will come from THE Ohio State University. Malik Hooker would have been my first guess before the Revis incident, but the recent events brought Marshon Lattimore into play here. 3rd year head coach Todd Bowles really needs to make a smart decision here.
Los Angeles Chargers (5-11)
The Chargers will finally have a stadium for the next two seasons that they might be able to fill every week. The move to Los Angeles won’t be the only interesting story line in 2017. If Keenan Allen can stay on the field it would certainly be a nice fit on the opposite side of the line of last year’s break out stud Tyrell Williams.
A couple of draft picks panned out quite nicely in their first season and the same thing will need to happen this year. Hunter Henry should see a bigger role these season and Joey Bosa should continue to be a force on the defensive line. I see the Chargers taking Malik Hooker here if he’s available or an offensive tackle that they desperately need.
Carolina Panthers (6-10)
The Panthers had the opposite season that a lot of experts and fans thought they were going to have. Coming off of a 2016 Super Bowl appearance, Cam Newton was much less efficient in every facet of his game and he definitely took some punishment he hasn’t taken in previous seasons. Kelvin Benjamin wasn’t as explosive as his rookie season, which is understandable coming off of a serious knee injury. Devin Funchess didn’t quite break out the way that a lot of hopeful fantasy football players had wished.
The failure to bring back Josh Norman really took a toll of the secondary and they got brutalized all season. The Panthers should address the issues in the secondary in the first couple of rounds but if Leonard Fournette is sitting in the eighth spot the Panthers should pull the trigger. Jon Stewart is getting older and has always had trouble staying on the field. I’m sure Cam would appreciate a dynamic weapon.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1)
Another year has passed and you can chalk up another season that the Bengals didn’t win a playoff game. After missing the playoffs, the Bengals decided to bring back Marvin Lewis for whatever reason. The Bengals most likely will address the defense in the first round. Solomon Thomas from Stanford is a strong possibility. They could also look for a more reliable linebacker than troublemaker Vontaze Burfict. Perhaps Reuben Foster might come off of the board here.
Buffalo Bills (7-9)
Rex Ryan is gone and Sean McDermott is in. Tyrod Taylor is due to make a lot of money if he is on the roster next month so as the Bills shift some pieces around it’s easy to imagine that they cut ties with their quarterback. I think that Buffalo most likely goes with a quarterback in the first round. Kizer and Trubisky seem to be decent bets.
New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger so I believe the Saints are going to want a player that can help them win games now. The Saint’s aren’t really desperate for anything on the offensive side of the ball, but the last few seasons, they have struggled mightily on defense. Although the pass rush got a little bit more effective later on in the season, Derek Barnett would be an awesome fit here and he could wreak havoc in the league from day one.
*See previous Browns section.
Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1)
Carson Palmer is another quarterback who is not aging backwards. Larry Fitzgerald is another player that is getting up there in years, but he already said he’s coming back for at least one more season. Not much went right in 2016 for Arizona. The Cardinals basically had the same roster with the addition of a couple of helpful pieces added on. Sometimes things just don’t work out and now the Cardinals need to think about the future while trying to bounce back and win now. The Cardinals should look for a stud receiver to build onto the passing game while David Johnson continues to strive in the running game (and also passing game).
Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
As we have talked about on the Razzcast, all you need to do if you are a bad football coach is to develop a treatable cancer for job security. It also bought George Karl a couple of extra seasons. In all seriousness, if Chris Ballard can’t turn things around as the GM and Pagano can’t take the Colts back to the playoffs this season, it’s almost certainly Pagano’s last year as coach of the Colts. Just like any other long tenured coach, he will get another opportunity elsewhere and most likely fail.
The Colts offensive line is still an atrocity and an absolute liability to the continued development of Andrew Luck. I hope that this is addressed in the draft and in free agency for Andrew’s sake. The Colts also need plenty of help getting to the quarterback themselves. I see them taking the best available edge rusher here.
Philadelphia Eagles (8-8) (From Minnesota)
Carson Wentz was able to help get Doug Pederson’s head coaching career off to a roaring start. The Eagles, along with their rookie quarterback faded away as the season went on. The Eagles have absolutely nothing at corner coming into next season so hopefully they address this in the first round and in free agency. If Teez Tabor is available, they should snag him up here.
Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
The Ravens had a boring season. Joe Flacco is a boring quarterback. He wins some games and he loses some games. In all seriousness, a fun playmaker like Dalvin Cook would be pretty cool to see here. I’d like to see the Ravens add a receiver in the draft to pick up some of the production that Steve Smith will be leaving behind.
That is it for the first half of our NFL Draft season in review. Zach will be back later this week with part two.