Camryn Bynum: West Coast Finest

Not often do you see four-year starters anymore in college, but Cal’s Camryn Bynum is one of them. Due to the COVID postponement of the PAC 12 season, Bynum announced he would opt-out and prepare for the draft. However, due to the return of the fall season, Bynum reversed course and decided that he wants to make one last run at a Pac 12 crown. While the season has been a bumpy start for the Golden Bears, we know who Bynum is as a player. He may not be the flashiest name in the 2021 defensive back class, but he’s as steady as you can get and has a ton of game experience. While some may want guys with the athleticism, give me a guy like Bynum who knows the position inside and out.

Positives

Sticky in coverage

Bynum does a great job of staying right in the hip pocket of receivers. Part of the reason he is so good at staying so close in coverage is that he’s an aggressive corner, which enables him to stay on top of his opponent. He has good size (6-0, 200 pounds) which allows him to go toe-to-toe with bigger receivers. While he didn’t play much in the slot, I think he would be just fine there.

https://media.giphy.com/media/s63XOlUjRLqO9Ocdin/giphy.gif
Bynum is located on the top, aligned at right corner back
https://media.giphy.com/media/WkwIZzvxQ7mCBaD2ji/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/eGxaPfVy4PUnU70PNQ/giphy.gif
Bynum is located on the top, aligned at right corner back
https://media.giphy.com/media/X40HQxtvmiE11fs1zD/giphy.gif
Bynum is located on the top, aligned at left corner back

Sound tackler

I personally hold corners who are good tacklers in high regard. Many consider the position to be “soft” and not involved in the run game. However, if you have someone who can defend the outside run well and will stick their nose into some contact, that’s a huge boost to your defense. Bynum reads screens very well, rarely letting a receiver block him.

https://media.giphy.com/media/Fhc9jIM0oN165muPbU/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/JGJdVNVnixoLrnluQl/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/UaRaEgDTBB72SY9Gq5/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/grEQbgzUrJdZIwJqVI/giphy.gif

High IQ/ Experience

Bynum has started 38 career games for the Golden Bears. At a position where often players need a lot of coaching up, Bynum is a relatively mature prospect. He’s a guy who has played a lot of snaps and his in-game IQ is incredible. What he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes NFL teams will find peace in knowing who they have in a prospect rather than projecting as to what they can possibly be

https://media.giphy.com/media/TdSNs9jBxq7a4sleRC/giphy.gif
Bynum is located on the top, aligned at right corner back

Negatives

Will get beat deep

Since he plays aggressively in anticipation of shutting down the short and intermediate routes, he can get beat deep. Especially on double moves, he will be two or three steps behind the receiver and either has to make a miraculous effort or allows a big play to happen. His lack of long speed hurts him on this and if this is a problem that has not been fixed in three years as a college starter, I’m afraid it won’t be fixed in the NFL.

https://media.giphy.com/media/XwtvavsNuDAtJECnGp/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/KqSpvcIccEuX9fsmYJ/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/rOpuMq3MADhD0Q6Y8t/giphy.gif

Average athlete

Cornerbacks are typically one of the more athletic players on the field. Guarding another, usually excellent, athlete with them knowing the route and you having to guess or anticipate where they will go is one of the toughest things to do in any sport. Doing all of that as an average athlete is very tough. Of course, there have been success stories with average athletes like Richard Sherman, but Sherman has about three inches on Bynum. This isn’t a death sentence, but it pushes him down the board.

Conclusion

Even if he decided not to play this season, we know the player Bynum is. He’s solid in coverage and tough as nails as a tackler but lacks the desired athleticism you want in a cornerback. I think he’s a late second-round pick, but a guy that you can play right away. Many rookie corners don’t see much playing time as the quickness of NFL receivers takes a bit to get used to. Bynum is a smart player and plays the position well, so has a higher floor than the normal guy.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

2021 NFL Mock Draft: Midseason Edition

IT’S MOCK DRAFT SEASON!!!! Ok, maybe it’s not quite yet but we’re halfway through the season and we have an idea of how the draft order is going to look. In this exercise, we used Tankathon for the order and did not include any trades.

  1. New York Jets- Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson

The Jets need to rebuild this franchise BADLY. Luckily for them, they just so happen to have one of the best quarterback prospects of all time available to pick in Lawrence. I’m as big of a Sam Darnold fan as there is, but Adam Gase has ruined him completely and I think you can get a second-rounder in return if you decide to trade him. Not great, but good value. Let the new coach grow with Lawrence, who might just become a megastar with his talent and the fact he’s playing in New York. You can turn this team around quicker than many would anticipate. Now, an interesting hypothetical: Does Lawrence pull an Eli Manning and flat out refuse to play for the Jets? I say no because he seems like a high character guy, but if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/cj2ZN5GltsaMIGpICd/giphy.gif
  1. New York Giants- Penei Sewell, OT Oregon

If there’s anybody that’s going to be the second overall pick that is not a quarterback, it’ll be Penei Sewell. Sewell might be one of the best offensive line prospects in the last decade or so and immediately becomes a starter at left tackle. Yes, the Giants did just draft Andrew Thomas last year but you can move him to the right side and have two possible dominant linemen to build your team around. Now, there is a good chance they draft a quarterback here and move on from Daniel Jones. However, it seems that the organization is behind him as the starter of the future. If that’s the case, then he needs to be protected. Would I stick with Jones? No, but much smarter people than me are making these decisions.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars- Justin Fields, QB Ohio State

Many see Justin Fields as the consolation prize to Trevor Lawrence. Let’s just make it clear right now, Fields shouldn’t be seen as that as he is a bonafide stud. In most years, he’s the top overall pick. But, this isn’t most years. Fields still won’t drop out of the top three. A phenomenal athlete, Fields is a perfect quarterback for today’s NFL as he can move in the pocket and deliver an accurate ball. For the Jaguars, it seems like they aren’t sold on Gardner Minshew as their guy. He has the potential I think to carve out a Ryan Fitzpatrick role for himself so there might be some trade value for him based on his age and contract. Still, an easy decision to move on from him if needed. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/S73Zg83R4fCpIwt0la/giphy.gif
  1. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)- Ja’Marr Chase, WR LSU

Just like last year, this year’s wide receiver group is incredibly deep. There are probably seven or eight receivers who could possibly go in the first round, but Chase is by far the best in my opinion. Yes, both Alabama guys (Waddle and Smith) are impressing early, but they don’t have the all-around polished game like Chase. As a sophomore, he had over 1700 yards receiver and 20 touchdowns. Yes, those are right and aren’t from a video game. Anything you ask him to do, he can do it at a high level. Pair him with a young QB like Tua Tagovailoa and that’s a deadly duo for the next decade. This is one of those dream draft fits that if it happens, could totally change the future of a franchise. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/kHrkaIFAmxcavWyNbn/giphy.gif
  1. Dallas Cowboys- Patrick Surtain II, CB Alabama

The Dallas Cowboys have more problems than a math book right now, but a lot of those problems are on the defensive side. I don’t see any way that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan keeps his job and who knows if Mike McCarthy will be around next year. But, at this point, they could really use a strong cornerback with high upside like Patrick Surtain II. Surtain II is a very good cornerback prospect and actually went second overall in Todd McShay’s preseason mock draft. I don’t know if he’s a game-changer that’ll become the best corner in his first few seasons like Jalen Ramsey, but he has a high floor and should be a multiple-time pro bowler that gets better every year like Stephon Gilmore. Also, I’m assuming that the Cowboys re-sign Dak. There’s no reason to not lock him down, but knowing Jerry Jones, I guess anything is possible.

  1. Atlanta Falcons- Gregory Rosseau, EDGE Miami

The Falcons might be in for a rebuild or they might look to retool. They are a tough team to predict because whoever their next coach is will have so much power and get to pick how they want to address the future of the franchise. Regardless of what happens, this team needs help on defense. In particular, the pass defense. Currently, they are at the bottom in passing yards allowed per game and have some decent young talent in the secondary, but need some help. One big way to help that secondary is getting pressure on the quarterback and in an edge class that has a decent amount of depth, there is only one true star and that is former Miami Hurricane, Gregory Rosseau. Rousseau is quite raw, only playing one season of college football, but dominated with 15.5 sacks in 2019. He lined up in several positions across the line and has the body type (6-7, 265 lbs) to become a star. He may take a year or two to produce like a top ten pick, but there’s just too much upside at an important position to pass up.

  1. Washington Football Team- Trey Lance, QB North Dakota State

There is almost no chance Trey Lance makes it out of the top five or six in my opinion, but no trades here! Washington needs a quarterback badly after raising the white flag on Dwayne Haskins. Enter Trey Lance, the biggest question mark in this year’s draft. Blessed with all the talent and fortunate to have great success in a pro-style system, Lance comes from an FCS program and hasn’t played the elite talents like the other quarterbacks in this class. Despite this, Lance does everything well and is a quarterback coach’s dream. Washington might have to sit Lance out a season to develop but the long-term potential is there. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/XcG3opmvIU36j6Cv8E/giphy.gif
  1. LA Chargers- Wyatt Davis, OL Ohio State

Wyatt Davis is an ass-kicker. That’s the best way to describe him as every time you line up across from him, you know it’s going to be a war for all four quarters. While guards might not be seen as a position of high importance in the draft, Davis is going to become one of the league’s premier interior players very soon. The Chargers have their signal caller in Justin Herbert, great talent in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler, but need to find a quality offensive lineman or two. Davis is a positive step towards strengthening the trenches and finally getting some talent there for the Chargers. I considered a linebacker here, but getting an offensive lineman is a necessity. 

  1. New England Patriots- Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama

Waddle was absolutely dominating the SEC until a nasty leg injury ended his season. He claims to be faster than former Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs, who ran a 4.27 40 last year. If that’s true, then holy shit this guy might be the fastest guy in the NFL next year. Add that with good route running and strong hands and you have yourself a game-changer. I hope his leg injury doesn’t have any setbacks and he’s good to go for next season. The Patriots need offensive skill players, especially at receiver. Currently, they have Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and a bunch of replacement players. Whoever is your quarterback next year needs playmakers and Waddle is exactly that. 

  1. MInnesota Vikings- Alex Leatherwood, OL Alabama

The Vikings need young talent in the worst way. They are stuck with Cousins based on his contract and right now they are kind of just depending on Dalvin Cook to win them games. What’s one way to help their run game and also give time for Cousins to throw? Building a solid offensive line! Alex Leatherwood just so happens to be a tackle or guard prospect and plays in a premier conference in the SEC. While I think he can play tackle, which is where he plays at for Alabama, he’s better in the run game than he is a pass protector at this point which might make teams want to kick him inside. For me, it doesn’t matter. Just find a way to get him on the field. 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals- Samuel Cosmi, OT Texas

The Bengals need to find a way to protect Joe Burrow before he gets hurt. Seriously, you could argue they have the worst offensive line in the league. In a division that has elite pass rushers on every team, having good pass protection has to become a blueprint for your success. Cosmi does need some refinement, but he’s athletic and has experience as a starter. He shows a mean streak when he’s on the field and finishes every play he’s involved in. Might be a case where you play him on the right side for a year or two before flipping him to the left.

  1. Carolina Panthers- Dillon Radunz, OT North Dakota State

Matt Rhule seems to be building a contender in Carolina and have so far overachieved this season despite not having Christian McCaffrey for most of it. They took over what seemed like a massive rebuild and are remaining competitive this season, despite not having the talent like the other teams in their division. Right now they have Russell Okung lining up at left tackle and he’s more of a temporary solution rather than a long-term guy. Many of you may have never heard of Radunz, but whenever you watch Trey Lance, you’ll see how great his left tackle is. He’s a mature player for playing FCS and while he might not have the upside like the previous offensive linemen, he has a high floor. 

  1. Detroit Lions- Micah Parsons, LB Penn State

If Parsons is on the board at this point, the Lions would sprint to the podium. The Lions swung and missed on Jarrad Davis in the first round, but Parsons is as good of a prospect as you’ll find in this class. There’s nothing he can’t do and would immediately become one of the best players on this defense. Right now their defense ranks towards the bottom in passing and rushing yards with no immediate solution in sight. Parsons is a special athlete who can do just about everything. In reality, I don’t see how he drops out of the top ten, but in this scenario, he falls right into the laps of a team in need of star power. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/J1A2iXzJGBL6SpVB5M/giphy.gif
  1. Denver Broncos- Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech

Farley has all the physical tools but lacks some refinement which is why I have him slightly below Surtain II. Farley reminds me a lot of Miami Dolphins CB Byron Jones in the sense they both have great size and athleticism for the position. Farley is still a work in progress and is new to the position, so the Broncos can rely on A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan next season as Farley continues to hone his craft. With the dynamic pass rush of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, Vic Fangio’s defense just needs corners who can cover for a few seconds, making Farley’s job that much easier. 

  1. San Francisco 49ers- Shaun Wade, CB Ohio State

The next defensive star at Ohio State is Shaun Wade, who was once a top national recruit finally getting a chance to be “the guy” in Columbus. He was their slot corner last year and decided to come back for his junior year to prove he can play out on the boundary. As he continues to show that he can do that, teams can be patient with him knowing that that can put him in the slot year one and know he can do that at a high level. San Francisco has been decimated by injuries and will have a decent amount of free agents to try and lock down this offseason. Cornerback alone has three key guys (Richard Sherman, K’waun Williams, and Jason Verrett) and it’s very unlikely they keep all three. Wade will inject some youth and skill to that position that they can develop into a starter.

  1. Miami Dolphins- Creed Humphrey, IOL Oklahoma

Miami is trending in the right direction. For a team that at this point last season looked hopeless, they figure to be in the hunt for a wild card spot this year. Brian Flores is doing a good job of building that defense, mostly via free agency, and their offense looks solid despite not having the talent like other teams. One spot where I think they can help out a few facets of their game is an important but overlooked position, which is the center. The center is the quarterback of the offensive line and often the one making line audibles and calling out potential rushers. It just so happens that Creed Humphrey is an elite center prospect worthy of a high first-rounder selection. He’s a multiple-year starter that’s in a spread system, which is something we are seeing more of in the NFL. Help out Tua by giving him extra beef on the offensive line. 

  1. Las Vegas Raiders- Jay Tufele, DL USC

The Raiders are a tough team to predict here. Offensively, they are looking much improved and defensively have some young talent. Their secondary isn’t performing well but they spent a first-round pick on Damon Arnette, a cornerback, last year. So, what else can help a secondary? A strong pass rush. They have Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell, but need some pressure up the middle. Jay Tufele is a big fella in the middle of the defensive line and can wreak some havoc in a multiple ways. He doesn’t have eye-popping stats, but he moves very well for a guy over 300 pounds and holds his own against the run. This is a high floor pick that will give the Raiders another stud on the line.

  1. Chicago Bears- Kyle Trask, QB Florida

The Bears have one of the best defenses in the league, but right now their offense is just tough to watch. They’ve already given up on Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles is a replacement-level player. Are they a QB away from being legit Super Bowl contenders? Maybe. They need another lineman or skill player, but a good quarterback can elevate the rest of the offense. Trask has helped his stock tremendously this year and has taken a Burrow-esque leap. No, he’s not as good as Burrow but he has taken that leap to become a legit NFL prospect. I think he’s ready to start right away and may not have the crazy upside like the top three, but is a safe option here. 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles- Dylan Moses, LB Alabama

Dylan Moses was a Youtube superstar before stepping foot on campus and has been a key player for the Crimson Tide’s defense two of the last three years. He did tear his ACL in 2019 which may need extra medical pre-draft examination, but he looks to be back to full health this season. As of the Eagles, they are somehow on top of the awful NFC East and are picking this low for that reason despite their low win total. One of the main problems on this team is their linebackers, where I think they have the worst linebacker group in the NFL. Moses would come in as an immediate starter and provide a much-needed boost. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/WqF9IuJN6RCHi8stWp/giphy.gif
  1. Cleveland Browns- Kwity Paye, EDGE Michigan

The Browns defense is still a work in progress, but they do have one of the league’s best players in Myles Garrett. The other pass rushers for the Browns haven’t been as productive and starting edge rusher Olivier Vernon has zero sacks so far this season. I doubt he’s back in 2021. So, it’s time for the Browns to find Garrett a partner in crime and they do so here in freak athlete Kwity Paye. Paye hasn’t had the crazy stats you’d like to see, but his athleticism is unmatched. Bruce Felman of the Athletic lists Kwity Paye has the #1 freak athlete in college football with his times in all agility drills being elite for a guy his size. His 40, 3 cone, shuttle, and vertical would have all been tops in the 2020 class for edge rushers and he’s doing it at 275 pounds. That reminds me a lot of Ziggy Ansah as a prospect, a guy with immense talent that continues to learn how to be a football player. 

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)- Pat Friermuth, TE Penn State

Simply put, Pat Friermuth is a baller. His teammates have dubbed him “Baby Gronk” and the nickname fits him. He’s already built like an NFL player and excels as a blocker and receiver. He doesn’t have the crazy receiving yard totals due to the nature of the offense Penn State runs, but he has 16 career touchdowns to this point. The Jaguars grabbed Justin Fields as their QB of the future earlier and getting Friermuth would be a perfect compliment. D.J. Chark and James Robinson look like promising players and adding Friermuth to the mix would give Fields a safety blanket over the middle. 

  1. Indianapolis Colts- Zach Wilson, QB BYU

Philip Rivers obviously isn’t the long term starter for the Colts, but it’ll be interesting to see how they approach that position. Do they try to acquire Darnold or Haskins? Look to sign one as they have a ton of cap space? Or will they draft someone? I’m assuming the latter and the best QB on the board is Zach Wilson aka “The Mormon Manziel”. He’s exploded onto the national scene this season after struggling his first two seasons as a starter. He has the arm strength and athleticism that teams desire, plus excels when things break down around him. The Colts could bring back Rivers to mentor Wilson and help him learn the playbook. 

  1. Arizona Cardinals- Joseph Ossai, EDGE Texas

If you want to compete in the NFC West, you need to find ways to slow down the potent offenses. The Cardinals have one of the best sack artists in the league in Chandler Jones, but he tore his biceps and will be 31 next season. They need to continue to add to their talented defense, which is why they get Ossai here. Ossai is a workhorse who has a high motor, never giving up on a play. He’s athletic enough to play 3-4 outside linebacker but will need some pass coverage coaching. He won’t be drafted to play in coverage though, he’ll be drafted to get to the quarterback.

  1. Baltimore Ravens- Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota

The Ravens are a team that really doesn’t have a weakness. In fact, I think they have the league’s best roster, but that might change in the near future as a big Lamar Jackson contract extension is probably coming. So, if you want to help out your franchise player you need to find guys who will make plays. They drafted Hollywood Brown in 2019, but he’s a deep threat and to me doesn’t really fit into Lamar’s game. He wants guys who will get open in intermediate routes and can make plays after the catch. Bateman isn’t fast like Brown, but he is a physical receiver who makes his money on breaking tackles. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/UX4RCpuYi1CQ58ZSTu/giphy.gif
  1. Green Bay Packers- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB Notre Dame

I dream of a scenario where the Packers draft a wide receiver in the first round, but I also dream of winning the lotto. The Packers do have other needs though, in particular at middle linebacker. Their run defense is still weak and needs an athletic linebacker to play the run and still be able to cover tight ends. Owusu-Koramoah isn’t a thumper and is a bit skinny, but he has great instincts and makes plays all over the field. If you can add another twenty pounds of muscle to his frame while keeping his agility, he’ll be a steal at this spot for the Packers. A true three-down linebacker, he will make up with speed in what he lacks in size.  

  1. Tennessee Titans- Quincy Roche, EDGE Miami

The Titans went all in and got Jadeveon Clowney right before the season started, but he has zero sacks on the season. For the “But he gets pressures!” crowd, when you pay a guy thirteen million, you sure as hell better get some sacks. I don’t see a scenario where he’s back in Tennessee next year. Roche is a mature player, who is a bit undersized at 235 pounds, but uses that to his advantage with his quickness. He has experience with his hand in the dirt and standing up, which is perfect for the 3-4 defense the Titans run. I don’t think he’s the edge player with the most upside, but he’s a solid player who should get between 7-10 sacks every year.

  1. New Orleans Saints- Devonta Smith, WR Alabama

To be honest, I have NO idea what the Saints will do. They’ll be about 80 million dollars over the cap for 2021, so will have to dump a bunch of contracts. It also looks like Drew Brees will retire after the season, but Sean Payton seems to love Taysom Hill, for reasons unknown and has Jameis Winston also in the building. With a team in such cap hell, I think they’ll roll with one of those two or draft a young guy, but I think Payton favors a veteran as they want to win now. So, I’ll give them the best player on the board, which is Devonta Smith. Smith doesn’t wow you physically, but does the little things well. He’s a good compliment to Michael Thomas, assuming he’s still on the team next year, in the sense he is an excellent route runner and has strong hands. Smith may never become a star but will be a high-end WR2 for years.

  1. Buffalo Bills- Kyle Pitts, TE Florida

Kyle Pitts is more receiver than tight end, but if he develops some blocking skill then watch out NFL. He’s built kind of like New York Giants tight end Evan Engram but isn’t nearly as athletic and is taller. However, he’s a better all-around receiver than Engram was and is dangerous in the slot or split out wide. The Bills finally got Josh Allen a WR1 in Stefon Diggs, but a guy like Pitts can be used as a chess piece in what is become a great offense in Buffalo.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Marvin Wilson, DL Florida State

Marvin Wilson was a top-ten player coming into the year, but like most of the Florida State team, has been underwhelming so far in 2020. If you were a fan of Derrick Brown last year, you’ll enjoy Wilson. He’s a big-bodied defensive tackle who won’t rack up the sacks, but often take up two blockers. The Bucs defense is one of the league’s best, but Ndamukong Suh is a free agent and on the wrong side of 30. I think Wilson can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and bring the fight to offensive linemen every snap. Pairing him with Vita Vea would give Tampa two large and athletic bodies in the middle of the line.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs- Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina

The son of Joe Horn has made quite the name for himself this season. He has all the measurables you desire in a corner and has the same swagger that his dad possessed. My favorite type of corner is the guy who will get in your face and play mind games with the offense, which is what Horn is. The Chiefs lack stability at the corner position and that or linebacker is what I was expecting them to address in the first round last year. You know your offense can put up points, so it’s time to focus on building up the defense with your lack of cap space. 

  1. New York Jets (via Seattle)- Travis Etienne, RB Clemson

I’m sure Trevor Lawrence would love it if you could pair him with his college running back, who just so happens to be a first-round player. The Jets need talent so they could go almost in any direction and the pick would make sense. Etienne has developed into a pass catcher this year and has shown he can be a three-down player. He has the vision and wiggle you want in a runner, yet has shown he can carry the ball 20+ times a game with no problem. Rebuilding the Jets won’t happen overnight, but if you get high character athletes like Etienne and Lawrence, you’ll be in good shape. 

https://media.giphy.com/media/U7hOnB6DPLLfsA84MI/giphy.gif
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers- Trey Smith, IOL Tennessee

The Steelers have always been a team that prides themselves on being more physical than their opponent and that starts with the offensive line. DeCastro and Pouncey are two of the best in the league at their position, but the other three spots have some question marks. And while Trey Smith does have injury concerns, he is the prototypical Steelers player. A nasty interior lineman, who also has some experience at tackle. No one will out muscle him and he is built for the power run game. He did miss the 2018 season because of a blood clot issue in his lungs, which is very worrisome, so the team’s doctors will have to pay extra attention to him. 

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Kenneth Gainwell: The Swiss Army Knife

It’s quite the compliment when your coach calls you the best running back and best receiver on the team, as that’s exactly what Kenneth Gainwell was to the Memphis Tigers until he decided to opt-out of the 2020 season. While he hasn’t technically declared for the draft, it is expected that he will as his playstyle fits perfectly to what many offenses want, speed and versatility. He had over 2,000 rushing and passing yards as a redshirt freshman and was the featured guy in an offense that had current Washington Football Team running back, Antonio Gibson. The Memphis offense is designed to score points at a very high rate, but even with that, there were moments that Gainwell just made extraordinary plays.

Positives

Speed and vision

Anytime Gainwell touches the ball, he could take it to the end zone. He has elite level speed and when he hits the open field, not many can track him down. However, it is the way that he is able to create space for himself that makes him special. He has exceptional vision and sees open lanes in any direction. Memphis ran a lot of stretch plays for him, which perfectly utilized his skill set by going laterally before making one cut and heading upfield. What makes me so optimistic for his future as a running back is this skill that will be with him long after his speed starts to decline.

https://media.giphy.com/media/vU3B59gMnxBgFzmtwM/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/qIpmnNt2SCZ30gLCQ2/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/GweNkidW2uXcXe1DQO/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/yK6dDav0ob0Dm3t8IW/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/lW72oH4WSdn7u4GkBv/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/Mwfky49E79YcrZVvNZ/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/7YNqsL3aPfsbPEI8vc/giphy.gif

Weapon in the passing game

This is where he might make his biggest impact in the NFL. He is an excellent route runner for a running back and is a mismatch against linebackers when he lines up in the backfield. However, he has a lot of Alvin Kamara in his game in the sense where he can line up split out wide or operate from the slot. When most teams see a running back split outside or in the slot, they’ll put a linebacker or safety on them. With a dynamic threat like Gainwell, you can’t do that or he’ll burn you. To make himself an even stronger asset, he is solid in picking up blitzes and displays the effort needed to keep his quarterback clean.

https://media.giphy.com/media/8aahGzXNEl8ogfThaw/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/1eAKZEfK5gj0gyez1P/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/Ugwt1ljd2yoGyaHcrA/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/Po6ImTCRHQwPkZyCs8/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/AjJ2HXoPI6d7DsGt0A/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/vrRhssFaz9ARDxB70Q/giphy.gif

Offensive versatility

Whether he was lined up in the backfield, in the slot, out wide, or at quarterback, Gainwell was a playmaker. He’s not going to be the conventional bell-cow back, but he is an offensive weapon. If you can find a way to get him between 10-15 touches a game, in a variety of ways, you’ll be able to maximize his value. I think seeing the way that the Bears use Tarik Cohen or how the Saints use Kamara is how we’ll see Gainwell used. He can’t be used in a boring or standard offense, but needs to be used as a chess piece in a high-powered offensive attack.

https://media.giphy.com/media/2R5mjM6NJWRD8PJh6e/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/JzcdWwAu55uoFOIwVT/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/w3N22t3bGkghBTa47A/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/BOpR1xSzT9RREy3j95/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/5OUUJPsb1r3X2rc8u6/giphy.gif

Negatives

Not a traditional running back

If you’re looking for a guy to carry the ball 20+ times a game and used in 22 personnel in a power run offense, Gainwell isn’t what you want. He might be an acquired taste that has to fit a certain offensive identity, but that’s just how it works in the NFL. How a player fits in a system is important for every player, but with unique players like Gainwell it’s everything.

Running inside

Gainwell might not be too effective in short-yardage situations or running in between tackles. It’s just not really his strong suit and his body type (5-11, 195 pounds) doesn’t suggest he can take a lot of punishment. Can he be effective at times running up the gut? Yes, but it’s not something you can overly rely on.

https://media.giphy.com/media/AqCEaI8rV9g78Ys2kw/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/kpV3hyfZnmuJ5xYKhe/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/vtei9Jds86ZjzH9jsa/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/7117Xs9rMhcfT4ijjA/giphy.gif

Conclusion

Fit is everything for a player. But if we were to rank the importance of the right fight for players in the 2021 draft class, Gainwell would be at the top. If he’s in an offense that is vanilla that won’t use him creatively, he won’t live up to his potential. I think he’s a guy you find ways to get the ball too and let him tear up opposing defenses. Think of all the teams that have very creative offenses (49ers, Rams, Chiefs, etc) and that’s exactly where you want Gainwell to go. Jet sweeps, screens, end arounds will work for him, but him on the goal line asked to get two yards up the middle might not. Put him in the right spot, and he could just be the first or second most productive running back in this group.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Stock up for 2021 Draft Prospects

Stock Up

Kyle Trask

I start this list with who I believe has helped himself the most so far, and it’s Florida QB Kyle Trask. This season he’s completing 71% of his passes, with a TD/INT ratio of 14/1 and dominating SEC defenses. He’s gone from being an under the radar prospect to becoming QB4 in this class and making a strong push to be a first-round selection. He doesn’t have the strongest of arms, but he’s accurate and more cerebral in his approach this season. He’ll go through his progressions and deliver the ball quickly before the defense can get to him. I think he has to be one of the Heisman favorite (behind Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones at the moment) but the 11/7 game against Georgia, a phenomenal defense, will be his defining game of the season as a prospect.

https://media.giphy.com/media/UykyJ865dmRN1n6UCK/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/SuTYdNMExc7FbQaPQt/giphy.gif

Kyle Pitts

While Kyle Trask has been amazing, his life is made easier by the other Kyle, Kyle Pitts. Pitts is listed as a tight end, but acts more of a receiver and uses his 6-6 240 pound frame to his advantage. He has seven touchdowns in three games and leads the Gators in receiving yards. Now he isn’t much of a blocker and won’t be for every team because of that, but any team that wants to use him as a mismatch as a pass catcher will make him a star. At this point, he’s a mid to late first-rounder in my eyes, but his combine performance (particularly his 40 and 3 cone) will determine how high he goes.

https://media.giphy.com/media/8egqtuHywiUv1wsbTS/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/2dwR5g2OzGTGcotwGQ/giphy.gif

Shane Buechele

Buechele might play in an Air Raid system and be slightly undersized, but he might be one of the best deep-ball throwers in all of college. While he’s not a dangerous runner, he is mobile in the pocket and can make plays when things around him breakdown. I don’t think that he is a future starter in the NFL, but I think he’s worthy of a mid-round selection and has the chance to be a high-end back-up for a decade. Before the season, I saw him more as a practice squad caliber player who was questionable to be selected. Now, unless something unforeseen happens, he’s not only getting drafted but might carve out a nice role for himself.

https://media.giphy.com/media/utxJ1QCXHreDizvFw1/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/sebMHnz51lfDrjQsv1/giphy.gif

Patrick Jones II

All the hype coming into the season for the Pittsburgh Panthers was defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman, who ultimately decided to opt-out before the season began. Despite the loss of Twyman, the Panthers defensive line is outstanding and is lead by edge rusher Patrick Jones II. Jones II has seven sacks in six games so far, which is best in the country. He has a great motor and uses his pad level to get underneath tackles to push tackles into the lap of the quarterback. This season he also has done a better job of diversifying his pass rush moves and does an excellent job with counter moves if his go-to bull rush move doesn’t work. I think he’s a high second-round pick at this point, and if he continues to impress, he could get into the first-round in a weak edge rusher class.

https://media.giphy.com/media/kVOWLA35qNmvQgwpcJ/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/Scj5VzaVG662dIOHrY/giphy.gif

Asante Samuel Jr.

It has been a TERRIBLE season for the Florida State Seminoles (props to them for beating UNC though), but there has been one bright spot and that is junior cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. It wasn’t too long ago that his father, Asante Samuel Sr., was leading the NFL in interceptions and winning Superbowls with the New England Patriots, and it looks like his son will be next in line to make an impact of Sunday’s. Samuel Jr. already has three interceptions and two forced fumbles in four games and despite being part of a lackluster defense, he shuts down whoever he is guarding. One of the questions I had coming into the season was his ball-hawking abilities but that has been answered and then some. He might not become a lockdown corner in the NFL but has the makings of being a long-term starter, which makes him worthy of an early second-round selection.

https://media.giphy.com/media/6fnoxZ6nh6IedVuxMA/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/VqibGi3THtfJzUkg07/giphy.gif

Zach Wilson

The man people are calling “The Mormon Manziel” has come a long way from just a season ago, where he struggled as a starter on a mediocre team. Now, he’s completing 78% of his passes and has a TD/INT ratio of 12/1 to go along with 6 rushing touchdowns. He had shoulder surgery after the 2019 season and now is throwing the ball with a lot more zip, especially on throws outside the hashes. He has all the physical tools needed to be a successful pro, but his lack of competition this year will raise questions. Also, as a true junior, he still has a year of eligibility. Meaning, would he rather be QB5 in this year and probably a second-round pick, or continue to develop and gun for QB1 in the 2022 draft? Will be interesting to see how that pans out. Either way, what a rise from this preseason where he wasn’t being discussed as a prospect at all.

https://media.giphy.com/media/4QwwenXmZt53GDXMFP/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/3qkXccG91aowH9zIfc/giphy.gif

Honorable Mentioned: Mac Jones (Alabama), Jaycee Horn (South Carolina), Eric Stokes (Georgia), Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame)

Stock Down

Trey Lance

Trey Lance was put in a really tough spot with his only game in 2020. He would have had to play incredibly well to keep his stock where it’s at or, if he struggled, he would raise more questions than he had before. After a 15/30 2 TD 1 INT game, he surely gave the skeptics plenty of concerns moving forward. He looked rusty and not as smooth as last year and since he has no other game to show the scouts anything, he pushed his stock slightly down. Yes, he’s still going to be a top 10, probably top 5, pick but now I think the race for QB2 is Justin Field’s to lose. It was a tough situation for Lance, but hindsight is 20/20 and it says that he should have not played in NDSU’s only game this season.

https://media.giphy.com/media/pQ6MNTa9bDkgJHc26r/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/WiYYyoV31SPz7kb7dk/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/CbmumZwdmN8s3Kgsh8/giphy.gif

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Jaylen Twyman: Pitt Pride

Jaylen Twyman wears #97 to honor former Pittsburgh Panther and current Los Angeles Rams superstar Aaron Donald. When you look at them, they actually look very similar on the field. Both undersized but stout defensive tackles that became All-Americans. Twyman is an exceptional pass rusher who totaled 10.5 sacks as a sophomore before opting out of the season to prepare for the 2021 draft. While he could have used another season of film, it was smart to not take any risk of injury and instead work out for the next few months in preparation for the combine and team workouts.

Positives

Pass Rush

This is where Twyman will make his money. His 10.5 sacks in 2019 was amongst the nation’s leaders for interior linemen. Oftentimes he was downright unblockable. His go-to move is a devastating swim move and an effective push and pull technique that allows him to get in the chest of the offensive linemen then quickly disengage by using his quickness. He rushes almost exclusively from the inside and didn’t see many snaps lining up over the offensive tackle (4 or 5 technique). He is good at stunts as well, but Pitt didn’t utilize stunts in their defensive scheme as much as they should have. Forcing pressure in the middle can rattle a quarterback and force them into making bad decisions, something that we see the best interior rushers do well. Twyman will regularly get pressures and even if they don’t result in sacks, they’ll change the outcome of the game.

https://media.giphy.com/media/eM1wEFjzgomYKWYImH/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/ZazmuH47OeLnZ1FdPJ/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/kxlQmm512NnIg96ICZ/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/ZFQLRrwqF9bJPM2MML/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/WQZkr8cFUaysoarDkf/giphy.gif

Athleticism

If you’re an undersized defensive lineman, chances are you have above-average quickness. Twyman, however, has doesn’t havejust above-average quickness, he has elite quickness that he uses to beat much bigger opponents. He explodes off the snap and has good wiggle for a 290-pound guy, which makes him tough for an offensive lineman to keep in front of. In addition to being quick, he can quickly diagnose plays and rarely will make the wrong read. Teams in the NFL run a lot of play-action and RPO’s, so being mentally strong is almost as important as being physically strong.

https://media.giphy.com/media/IedXqGerRZSCbIQUtG/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/jncdzSW1arsWd3XeJv/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/hVxFV4Y6OZZNGakxZY/giphy.gif

High Motor

There’s one thing you can’t teach, and that is heart. Twyman has plenty of that and you see it every snap he’s on the field. He will give 100% on every play and hustle to the ball, never giving up on his teammates. This kind of behavior is infectious and will make him a role model on whatever team selects him.

Negatives

High Pad Level

Despite being on the shorter side, Twyman has a lot of issues with his pad level. Keeping your pads low helps you get leverage, which on the defensive line is very important. At times, Twyman would stand straight up after the ball was snapped, which makes it very difficult to gain any penetration. Some guys are very successful despite playing high, but they’re either much taller (thus more arm length to use for separation) or stronger than Twyman is. This can be fixed through repetition and coaching, but it’s something that has to be changed soon.

https://media.giphy.com/media/Vi06ro97bQdnDmSpyO/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/l4kL2230wYLgTxmewp/giphy.gif

Strength In Run Game

I don’t doubt that he’s a strong person, but he gets pushed around way too easily in the run game. Rarely does he push the offensive lineman into the backfield and he is usually either stood up or driven backwards. At this point, he’s more of a pass rush specialist because he would be a liability as a run stuffer. The high pad level is part of this problem, but he needs to build more strength if he wants to be an all-around lineman as a pro.

https://media.giphy.com/media/dwFagFaDj1bXDlTdJ5/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/cNTubPkQo8McCORl8m/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/kBTvCbQfIM4Q2SE0U5/giphy.gif
https://media.giphy.com/media/duAEvwTH58LsJtef8x/giphy.gif

Pass Rush Counter Moves

While a few of his moves are excellent, his counter moves at this point left a lot to be desired. When his swim or push/pull moves are stopped, he doesn’t have anything to counter that with. These moves may work most of the time, but if you want to be a high-level pass rusher at the pro level then you need to add more tools in your toolbox. He’ll try a spin move on occasion, but didn’t have much success. I think gaining more strength would also help with this as it could give him a better bull rush.

https://media.giphy.com/media/St3nN57ZEA4e0B5rwW/giphy.gif

Conclusion

Right now Twyman can do what teams covet, which is getting to the quarterback. He’s going to be an impactful rusher from day one, which is going to be very appealing. He still has a lot of work to round his game out which makes guessing where he will be selected at a tough one. I’d expect he’ll range anywhere from the mid-teens to the second round and his combine performance will play a huge factor in this. He’s probably best off as a traditional defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense, but could possibly fit as a 3-4 end despite not having the desired length.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Chuba Hubbard: Canada’s Cowboy

Not only is Chuba Hubbard the best name in college football, but he’s also the best running back in college football. After rushing for 2,000 yards as a sophomore, Hubbard figures to once again lead the Cowboys high-powered attack. The offense runs through him, which doesn’t happen too often for a running back at a major D1 school. Hubbard is an accomplished track star and he might be the biggest home run threat in the nation due to his incredible speed. As the running back position is losing value in terms of high draft selections, it’s tough to gauge where Hubbard will be selected. I do have him ranked as one of the top three running backs prospects heading into the year and hopefully he can continue to rise up boards.

Positives

Speed

It’s easy to see that Hubbard is a former sprinter when you watch him on the football field. There are very few players at any level that will be able to keep up with him, which makes him that much more dangerous. A three-time national champion 100 meter sprinter for his age group, Hubbard has that second gear once he sees green grass in front of him that enables him to take any carry all the way to the end zone. He will always have a place in the NFL as long as he has his elite speed, as the need for home run hitters are an offensive coaches dream.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Vision

For being such a speedy back, Hubbard displays great vision and feel for the game. Oklahoma State runs a lot of outside zone, which perfectly fits Hubbard’s style (more on this later). He lets his blockers dictate where he needs to run and rarely misses any open holes. You’ll never see an elite running back with poor vision as it’s such a crucial part to their success. However, this shows that Hubbard doesn’t rely on just his speed to win, rather he is a complete back.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Patience and Acceleration

Many runners think they’ll see an opening and try to run through it with reckless abandon despite it not being the proper read. Hubbard almost always allows his blockers to set the play up for him and then when he finally gets his opportunity, he goes from 0-100 quick. This is why I feel like he’s best suited for an outside zone blocking scheme, similar to what Shanahan runs in San Francisco. The system allows runners to get outside, gets their blockers on the move, and then allows them to make one cut to get up field. Runners in this system, like Hubbard, need to be patient and trust the guys in front of them. Hubbard also has moments where he reminds me of Le’Veon Bell, who is known as a very patient runner, where he will take his time behind the line of scrimmage before taking off upfield.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Negatives

Ability in the passing game

Anyone who is a football fan knows that the NFL is more reliant on the passing game now than ever before. While he is a prolific runner, Hubbard isn’t great in the pass game at this point in his career. He did have 23 catches this past year, but mostly on off dump-offs that required minimal route running. Then, as a pass-blocker, I’m not sure if he just doesn’t care or simply isn’t physical enough, but it was tough to watch at times. He just looks overall out of sync and uncomfortable when the ball isn’t in his hands. The pass catching part I’m not overly worried about, but the blocking needs to be coached up. No team will trust him on third down trying to protect their most valuable asset if he can’t pick up a blitzer.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Fumbles

While he does have a lot of carries over the past two years, he has nine fumbles which is way too many. He averages a fumble every other game and while only two of those nine have been recovered by the other team, he needs to work on this. Many running backs have overcome fumbling issues early in their careers and, like Tiki Barber claimed, it’s a small technical issue that is easily fixable.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Workload

Is this a negative or positive? Depends on who you ask. In my eyes, his 452 rushing attempts (and counting) could limit his longevity, as running backs careers are getting shorter and shorter. Does this affect him on his rookie contract? I would say no. But thinking for the future, it’s something to keep in the back of your head. This doesn’t affect his draft stock in my eyes, but if people were talking about it with Jonathan Taylor this past year, they’ll be saying the same with Hubbard.

Conclusion

Hubbard will be more valuable for teams that run a more balanced offense and don’t overly rely on the pass. I still think he would do best on an outside zone offense, but any team that runs a lot of stretch plays or tosses will still fit Hubbard’s skill. Teams like the Rams run a stretch based running game where they want their linemen to get out in space before the running back can find a hole. I would suspect he’s more than likely not going to be a first round pick unless he becomes more dynamic as a pass-catcher, but I think he will be a multiple time 1k rusher as long as he can get in the right system.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Fantasy 2020: Buyer Beware!

For every sleeper, there’s a player maybe people are overhyping. My list of those players doesn’t mean you should draft them, rather it’s just me making you thinking extra hard about their current projection. It’s not personal fellas, just business.

*ALL rankings are from ESPN

Todd Gurley II 16th PPR/17th Non-PPR

Many are expecting a career renaissance from Gurley now that he’s in Atlanta. Don’t count me as one of those people. Quite frankly, Gurley’s knees are worn down and he’s lost more than just a step, as evident last season. Arthritis is an injury that can’t be fixed with surgery and something that doesn’t go away. Gurley did play in fifteen games a season ago, but played in 80% of the snaps in just three of the fifteen games, whereas in 2018 he reached that milestone eleven times. Some may blame the Rams’ offensive line for his poor play but that was only one part of the pie. Gurley’s going to a Falcons team that isn’t built to run the ball and finished with the fewest attempts in the league in 2019. In fact, Dirk Koetter’s offenses have finished in the bottom ten in team rushing every season since 2016. You might say, well wouldn’t that boost up Gurley’s receptions? Not necessarily. He’s seen his catch percentage (receptions/targets) drop every season and hit a career low of 63% with seven drops in 2019. I still think that Gurley is an option as a low-end RB2/Flex option due to his goal-line ability and possible upside, but I just can’t see him playing a full season. Right now he’s looked at as a high-end RB2 (assuming you’re in a 12 person league) when the risk is just too great for that.

Aaron Jones 8th PPR/ 7th Non-PPR

Jones was a nice breakout fantasy star last year and his 19 touchdowns were the main factor behind that breakout. But, when you take away the touchdowns, you see that he finished 12th in rushing yards and 17th in yards per carry. He reached the 100-yard marker in five games, but when you take away those fives games, he’s only averaging 43 yards a contest. Despite this, he’s ranked as a fringe RB1 in ESPN fantasy. Are they predicting that he’s going to get close to 19 touchdowns again? Not going to happen. The team drafted A.J. Dillon, who weighed in at the combine at 247 pounds, in the second round and I would expect that he gets a lot of short-yardage work. He’s the same weight as Derrick Henry and might become the heaviest running back in the league. The team obviously has a plan for Dillon by drafting him so early and I think that plan includes a lot of work that used to be Jones’s responsibilities. Jones did have 49 receptions, which is an encouraging sign, but only had 15 of those receptions in the final eight games as Jamaal Williams began to take more of the receiving duties out of the backfield. I like Aaron Jones in between RB 12-17 based on him being the top back on a good running team, but buyer beware if you expect him to replicate last season’s results. 


Daniel Jones 13th

When I saw ESPN having Daniel Jones ranked at 13, I had to do a double-take. I actually think Jones is going to end up being a halfway decent quarterback, but I don’t see him being too valuable in fantasy in his second year. He led the league in fumbles at 18 (11 lost) in just 12 starts and had 19 in his college career. If you add the 12 interceptions he had a season ago, that’s 23 turnovers which was tied for third in the league. He has been working on cutting down on the fumbles, but I think it’s optimistic to believe that he cuts that down to just 6 lost fumbles, which still would have been near the top a season ago. Add that in with a 61.9% completion percentage, good for 25th in the league, and you’re banking on a lot of improvement to finish 13th in fantasy scoring. Also to note, every 300+ yard passing game he had a season ago came against a bottom half passing defense. For the crowd that says, “well his skill players were hurt”, I say you can’t expect his skill players that routinely get hurt to stay healthy consistently. He’ll have to get used to playing without those guys and that hurts his value. I’m a big Saquon guy, and as long as he’s in the lineup then he’ll be the focal point of the offense and the team will run through him. We can still see some improvement in Jones’s games this year, but this wouldn’t make him a starter in fantasy in my eyes. 

Lamar Jackson 1

If you listen to our podcast (which is great by the way, give it a listen), you’ll know I’m a Lamar Jackson skeptic. This time there’s substantial evidence that he’s not going to repeat as the top fantasy quarterback, which makes him slightly overvalued. First off, the last quarterback to finish in the top in back to back years was Drew Brees in 2012-2013. Is it likely that he leads the NFL again in passing touchdowns if he’s not even top 20 in passing attempts or yards? That’s tough to do once, let alone in back to back years. He’s still valuable in fantasy based on rushing yards alone, even though I would expect a decrease in yards as teams get adjusted to the Ravens offense and fewer rushing attempts for Jackson to keep him healthy. Quite simply, there’s never been a quarterback like what Jackson did last season but oddly nobody else is skeptical. There are even some mocks having Jackson go in the first round, but you could get more or at least comparable points from Mahomes, Murray, Watson, or Wilson who you can snag a few rounds later. He’ll still be valuable and still have a good season I don’t want to get that part twisted, but he’s not a ‘must-have’ for your team. Call me a hater, I’ll call myself a realist.


Cortland Sutton 16 PPR/ 12 Non-PPR

Courtland Sutton figures to be a key member in the renaissance of the Broncos offense, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a top 16 WR. The Broncos offense is now not entirely reliant on Sutton as Noah Fant, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler all figure to cut into Sutton’s targets. He saw 125 targets a season ago, yet with all of the new weapons in this offense, people apparently think that’ll increase. Not likely to happen. Fant will become a fantasy beast and I think Jeudy and Hamler see at least 160 targets split between them. A season ago Sutton finished 17th in non-PPR leagues (19th in PPR) and that’s with him being the only receiver after Emmanuel Sanders got traded. While he saw an increase in targets with Lock, he saw a 20 yards per game decrease. It could be a coincidence or could be that teams are taking away his deep routes. He ranked ahead of Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill, who missed time with injury, and also ahead of Odell Beckam Jr. and A.J. Brown who I both believe will excel past last year’s production. I don’t expect him to do better than those guys again. Sutton could still get around the same production as he did a season ago as he’s a very talented receiver, but that wouldn’t get him into the top 16 receivers in fantasy. 

Adam Thielen 11 PPR/ 10 Non-PPR

I like Thielen to be a nice bounce-back candidate, I don’t like him as a top eleven receiver. As he approaches age 30, it’s tough to envision him as a dependable WR1 that you can count on week in and week out. I think people are really taking the trade of Stefon Diggs and automatically assuming that a lion share of his targets will be going to Thielen. However, looking at how Gary Kubiak’s offense operates, he’s going to try to spread the ball around, particularly to tight ends. I suspect that the team will want to pound the rock and that was shown last year as the Kirk Cousins attempted 162 fewer passes than he did in 2018. Even when he was healthy, Thielen only saw 3.7 receptions a game last season. Also with no Diggs, opposing defenses will be focused on Thielen and he’ll be the one seeing double teams. In 2017 and 2018 without Diggs, Thielen averaged 53 yards a game and 1 total touchdown. It’s only three total games so you have to take that stat with a grain of salt, but it’s still something to look at.  

Dalvin Cook 3 PPR/ 4 Non-PPR

I made this list before Cook announcing that he’s not attending any team activities until he has a new contract. Yea, good luck with that one. Don’t get me wrong, Cook was a stud last season and IF he can replicate that, then yes he’s a top-four running back. However, Cook has yet to play a full 16 game season and if this hold out is true, why would the Vikings overpay for him when they have Alexander Mattison, a promising player, waiting in the wings? In the first eight weeks, Cook averaged 102 yards on the ground and 5.1 yards per rush. In the second half of the season, albeit missing two games, he only averaged 52 yards on the ground and 3.1 yards per rush. As you can probably tell by now, he’s way too much of a risk to be taken as early as he’s projected to go. The best ability is availability! Gary Kubiak’s offense will surely be near the top at rushing attempts so the volume should be there for Cook, assuming he can play most of the season. This still makes him an RB1 on your fantasy, but it’s a risk and one that I wouldn’t be willing to take. 

James White 30 PPR/ 37 Non-PPR

I saw White’s value tied with Brady. You take Brady out of the equation and White becomes a total wild card that you can’t rely on, even ranked in the 30’s. No one knows how the Patriots offense will look and for a running back that’s sole value is catching passes (never had a 500 yard rushing season), I like a more traditional back like Sony Michel over White or any other option on that team. With the lack of Patriots offensive weapons the past two seasons, White has seen 123 and 95 targets in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Now with two rookie tight ends and N’keal Harry and Mohammad Sanu presumably healthy, even assuming that he gets the playing time he has in the past, he won’t see the same amount of targets. A crowded backfield for any team is a turnoff, but one that’s role is undefined now with a new quarterback makes it tough for me to trust. Maybe take a chance on him in a PPR league as your 3rd/4th running back but if you’re in a non-PPR league he’s worth a late-round flier at best. 

Henry Ruggs 50 PPR/ 44 Non-PPR

I’ve written in the past about how I don’t think Ruggs is going to be a viable fantasy option for the upcoming season. Sure, he’s so fast that he can get up to turn the lights off and make it back in bed before it’s dark, but I don’t think the Raiders and Derek Carr will maximize his fantasy potential. Yes, Carr was third in completion percentage on deep throws, but a more telling stat is that Carr finished with the fifth-lowest average completion air yards in 2019 at 4.9 yards. Also to show how the Raiders offense operates, Carr finished second lowest in both QB aggressiveness and average intended yards. The offense relies on quick, high percentage throws and Ruggs will be used in a way that will send him deep to clear more room underneath for Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Sure, Ruggs will get some deep catches because he has no much speed and talent, but the targets won’t be there for the most part. Definitely keep your eye on him if he starts seeing a good amount of targets, but I wouldn’t advise drafting him as a top-four receiver. 

Ryan Tannehill 17th

Tannehill turned around his career last season and was rewarded with a new contract that makes him the guy in Tennessee, at least in the short term. So one of the major questions fantasy owners will have this season is, do you buy into the hype or do you go based on what you’ve seen in his career and also the run-first offensive approach the Titans have implemented? He ended up finishing 16th in touchdown passes, but 29th in attempts which gave him a 7.7 touchdown percentage, second in the league. With the team dedicated to feeding Tractorcito aka Derrick Henry, Tannehill’s fantasy value relies on a high touchdown total on a low number of pass attempts. Very similar to Lamar Jackson, but without the running ability. Currently, ESPN has him ranked over Jared Goff, who had double the attempts of Tannehill a season ago and figures to once again have a more attempts once again this upcoming season. Also, looking at Tannehill’s career, you’ll see that he’s only averaged 20 points a game once in his career before last season. It’s just tough for me to buy stock in a quarterback who’s turned around his disappointing career at age 31. Has it happened before? Yes, but not often which is why I’d rather go with a safe, high attempt volume quarterback rather than a guy like Tannehill. 

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

2020 Cardinals Draft Review: Heating Up In The Desert

After a terrible 2018 season, the Cardinals embarked on a new journey in 2019 that some would consider to be a major risk. An undersized quarterback and a new head coach that had little success at the college level left the team in uncharted waters. A 5-10-1 record may seem like a bad season, but they were better than their record indicated and have only improved this offseason with now many believing they will be one of the most improved teams this upcoming season. After a strong free agency/trade period, the draft was the cherry on top of a great few months. The Cardinals now have a direction and identity, next up is building a winning culture. 

1.8- Isaiah Simmons, LB/S Clemson

We’ve all heard about Isaiah Simmons at this point. He’s a player that is athletically off the charts for his size who is a true one of a kind type player, as he could be a high-level linebacker or safety. In addition to his freak athleticism, he has an incredibly high IQ and excels against the run and pass both. An incredibly underrated aspect of his game is his ability to use his length to his advantage. In pass defense, he uses his arms to jam up receivers and to defend passes. In the run, he engages with much bigger blockers and disengages them quickly to make the play. He covers so much ground that he may also be a spy against a quarterback, most notably Russell Wilson on the Seahawks. By himself, he eliminates the threat of a quarterback scramble. However, there are natural questions about the fit in this 3-4 defense. Personally, I don’t think Vance Joseph is an elite defensive coordinator and don’t think he’s creative enough to unlock Simmons’ potential. I could be very wrong and even if I am right, that would mean Joseph isn’t there for the long haul. What I think the Cardinals would, and should, do is become a true hybrid defense. Utilize Chandler Jones as an end with his hand in the dirt more often and try to play Simmons in a more traditional weakside linebacker. This would allow him to use his speed and quickness tracking down running backs and then when it comes down to third down, have him guard a tight end or someone out of the backfield. The NFC West has George Kittle, Tyler Higbee, and a zillion tight ends in Seattle, so when it comes to matching up against them, you’ll have the human eraser with Simmons. In this sense, Simmons becomes a safety and you could drop him in zone or creep him up in the box and man up in press coverage. Simmons was one of the most polarizing players in the draft, only because he’s nothing like we’ve seen before which is something that should excite a team. While it could take a season for Simmons to carve out his role, his upside is off the charts and I think he could be at the end of the day one of the two or three best players in this class. 

*2nd rounder for Hopkins

I won’t get too deep into this but just wanted to say… holy crap. What a trade. There’s close to no downside with this trade and if Hopkins continues to play as he has, this Cardinals offense will be one of the NFL’s best. 

3.72- Josh Jones, OT Houston

The Cardinals boasted one of the worst offensive lines a season ago, especially at tackle where they have D.J. Humphries on the left and a question mark on the right side. Kyler Murray can cover up a lot of the line’s deficiencies due to his speed, but we all know that he’s undersized and he’s not going to be able to run on every play. That makes the Josh Jones selection one of the best in the entire draft. Jones for being a fifth-year senior is still raw, his technique and footwork are a work in progress but his athleticism, length, and attitude will make him a starter immediately. In this offensive system which is predicated on speed and spreading the defense out, Jones will be able to play to his strengths and it’ll cover up his issues while he continues to progress. He would presumably become the starter at right tackle right away and then eventually progress to the left side. The Cardinals have a lot of faith in Humphries, but he’s an average tackle, and Jones has the potential to surpass his skill level. In order to get to the top of the division, you’ll have to go through the 49ers, who quite possibly have the best pass rush in the league. Keep beefing up that offensive line Arizona, this is a great first step. 

4.114- Leki Fotu, DL Utah

After a season of being one of the worst defenses across the board, changes had to be made. The first pick was Simmons, then the next two they decided to get some beef on that defensive line, and quite frankly they don’t get much beefier than Leki Fotu. At 6-5, 340 pounds, Fotu is a nose tackle but may not be implemented as a strict 0 technique (lined up over the center). He has shown in college that he has the athleticism to be effective lining up as a 1 or 2 technique (1 is between the guard and tackle and 2 is over the guard). He grew up as a rugby player and you can see it in the way he plays at times. He’s a human bowling ball, just dominating players with his strength and his explosiveness in short areas in special for someone his size. General Manager compared him to Buccaneers DL Vita Vea, which is high praise as Vea was one of the best nose tackles in the league last season. Fotu isn’t a great pass rusher and doesn’t show much technique on that end. However, when you’re bigger and stronger than everyone else, you usually never have to rely on anything else. The Cardinals did just sign nose tackle Jordan Phillips to a three-year deal, but Kliff Kingsbury did say they want to use Phillips all across the line and Vance Joseph has coached Phillips in the past and must trust his versatility across the line. With Seattle and San Francisco having two of the best rushing attacks in the league in your  division, Arizona couldn’t just sit around another season and rely solely on their offense out-scouring them. While Fotu isn’t the dynamic pass rusher so many teams covet now, he’s a space-eater who will carve out a solid role in a suddenly much deeper defensive line. 

4.131- Rashard Lawrence, DL LSU

The second big fella on the defensive line that the Cardinals picked to help their run defense was Rashard Lawrence, one of the team captains from the defending national champion LSU Tigers. Lawrence and Fotu share some similarities as good run-stuffers but go about it in much different ways. While Fotu is just a behemoth of a man and is more suited for a nose tackle role where he can use his sheer strength and athletic ability to bully you, Lawrence relies on his motor and low center of gravity to occupy blockers. He’s a tad short for a defensive lineman (6-2) but as previously mentioned, he uses that to his advantage because he’s able to keep his pad level lower and use his lower body strength to push offensive lineman back. He’s never going to fill up the box score but does the subtle things to be effective. He’s going to take on blockers and blow up blockers forcing the running back or quarterback to redirect. He’ll also never take a play off and give it everything he has on every play. Not many players can genuinely say that they give maximum effort, but Lawrence is one of them. Much like Fotu, he won’t offer you much as a pass rusher. He isn’t quick nor does he have the pass rush moves you’d like to see. Due to this, he might only become a two-down player and rotational piece across the line. He reminds me so much of former LSU Tiger, Ricky Jean-Francois. A positive member of the locker room who may never get the spotlight or attention, but plays for several years and does the dirty work that will go unnoticed in great defenses. I’d line him up as a two-gap tackle and a guy you’ll want to give twenty snaps a game too. Currently, the Cardinals don’t really have a lineman (not counting Chandler Jones) that has had a history of success in the league (Phillips has only had one big season). Because of this, the door is open for Lawrence to get playing time. And as a gambling man, I would never bet against a guy like Lawrence so I would expect him to be a fan favorite in no time. 

6.202- Evan Weaver, LB Cal

Continuing on the theme of needing to strengthen the defense, the Cardinals picked another stud run defender who faces limitations in his all-around game. Ten years ago, Weaver would have been a first-round pick. The Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-American is a stud against the run, accumulating over 300 tackles in his last two seasons combined. He takes great angles to take down the ball carriers and is able to read blockers as good as any college player. He’s never going to chase down a running back from behind and in many ways is the opposite in terms of athleticism to Simmons. However, he never quits on a play and if he’s not the one making the tackle, he’s going to be close to the ball. His main concern as a player is a lack of coverage ability, both in man and zone. He’s a poor athlete at the NFL level and while he’s a high IQ player, it still doesn’t make up for his slow first step and lack of top-end speed. Often he was beaten in coverage with one simple juke or cut against players who aren’t necessarily premier talents. Having a player of Simmons’s ability however, could make up for Weaver’s deficiencies as a player. Using Weaver as a 3-4 linebacker where he’s playing in tighter areas will allow him to not have to rely on his speed or quickness. Also, Simmons covers as much ground as any linebacker in the entire league possibly so that means Weaver won’t have to be used in coverage much and if he is, it’ll be more so in zone guarding a tighter area. Between Simmons, Jordan Hicks, and De’Vondre Campbell, I would not expect Weaver to see much playing time on defense in year one. Let him develop a bit in practice while he produces on special teams as a rookie. Eventually, you could see Weaver in the middle of a 4-3 defense or, probably the best case for him, add some weight, and utilize his run defending ability as a SAM linebacker. 

6.222- Eno Benjamin, RB Arizona State

When you have a quarterback who can run like Kyler Murray, it doesn’t matter how much you want to pass as a play-caller, you need to get creative on run designs. Because of this, a running back has an opportunity to get a lot of yards while the defense has to respect the other threats in a spread offense. We saw Kenyan Drake’s career take off after being traded to Arizona and averaged 5.2 yards a carry, by far the best he’s done. Despite this, Drake is a free agent after the season and if he performs well again, he could be in line for a bigger contract. Thus the Cardinals will have to explore their options. Chase Edmonds has done well as a backup the past two seasons in limited snaps and the team might want to give him more carries this season to see what they have. Now, they have the local product to round out the running back room in Eno Benjamin. Benjamin for a sixth-round pick is a pretty well-rounded player. He has a lot of success in college and displayed good athleticism and versatility in Tempe. The thing that held him back in college was his lack of patience. Too often he would just run into the backs of offensive lineman rather than let the play develop. This could be a combination of a few things: lack of awareness, poor vision, bad offensive line play, or over-aggressiveness. Whatever it might be, this won’t be a huge problem in the Cardinals scheme. In a shotgun spread system, he will have fewer bodies in the box and athletic lineman in front of him creating holes. Benjamin also has some receiving ability that makes him a three-down playmaker. Drake will undoubtedly be the lead back and primary ball carrier but Benjamin has a chance to carve out a small role that could develop into a starting spot at some point in the future. 

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

2020 Browns Draft Review: The Joke Is Over In Cleveland

For decades the Cleveland Browns were the laughing stock of the NFL. The 2019 season was supposed to change that, with the addition of Odell Beckham, Jr. and the emergence of Baker Mayfield, they were primed for a playoff appearance. However, like so many great jokes, the set up just helped create laughs when the joke was delivered. Now, with a new GM and head coach, it seems (maybe?) the Browns finally got things figured out. After a strong free agency period, they followed up with one of the best draft classes of the year. Rather than going for the splashy names like the previous regime, they found a middle ground between the best player available and need. They face stiff competition in their division, but Cleveland may soon have a winner, which would be in part to this draft class. 

1.10 Jedrick Wills, OT Alabama

It was no secret that one of the Browns biggest weaknesses on last year’s team was the offensive line, which acted more like swiss cheese than the brick wall it’s supposed to be. So, when one of, if not the best tackle prospect who should have been a top-five pick, dropped to ten it was a sign that the football Gods were smiling on Cleveland. While Wills played on the right side in college, he will more than likely take over the spot vacated by Cheech and Chong Greg Robinson who is no longer with the team and did a poor job last season, forcing Baker to be rushed into many throws or having to take a sack. With established right tackle Jack Conklin on the team, it makes more sense to keep him comfortable there and grow with your tackle of the future on the left side. While you may think it’s an easy transition moving from the right, it’s not as seamless as one would think, particularly in footwork, and with OTA’s not happening, so Wills might show some growing pains early. However, in short order, he will rise to the ranks of best blindside protectors in the league. He’s a physical, no-nonsense tone-setter that has the athletic and technical skills you look for. No other tackle in this year’s class, or the previous year’s class for that matter, has the ability to use his hands and feet better than Wills. Whether he’s exploding off the ball or using his hands to stabilize a bull rush, there’s really nothing he can’t do. Long-term he’s going to become a tackle you can trust in one on ones, no need for a tight end to stay in or help chip. That’s the best quality a team can ask for in a tackle, and the Browns now have that again. The team has quickly turned a weakness into a strength, following the recipe that wins are built in the trenches, and protecting your most valuable asset is of the utmost importance. 

2.44 Grant Delpit, S LSU

Drafting a top-ten player in terms of talent in the second round? That’s an absolute win. I’m a huge Delpit fan and think he’s going to be an impact player for many years. Yes, he wasn’t as good this past season as he was in 2018 but he was still good enough to win the Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best secondary player. Teams, sometimes rightfully, decide to overanalyze the faults in players rather than the things they do well. Delpit has great size and athleticism that enables him to play either safety spot in most schemes, however, the Browns are likely to play him at free safety which would better utilize his talents. He displays great range and football IQ that allows him to quickly diagnose plays and be in the right position more often than not. The safety position has been the Browns version of a revolving door the past few seasons, having no stability whatsoever. Currently, the team has Andrew Sendejo and Karl Joseph as presumed starters, but neither has shown any promise of being good NFL starters. Thus, Delpit becomes the new favorite to start. Both of the aforementioned veterans are more thumpers, while that’s Delpit’s weakness. His broken collarbone injury in 2018 had seemingly a physiological impact on his game as in 2019, he seemed to shy away from contact more and missed tackles due to poor tackling mechanics. Delpit’s strength though is his coverage ability and versatility in the back end. I would suspect that Delpit starts week one at safety and becomes a good starter immediately. When/if he can fix his tackling problems, he instantly becomes a secondary chess piece. Line him up at either spot, play center field or in the box, blitz, line him up in man against the tight ends, the possibilities are endless. 

3.88 Jordan Elliot, DL Missouri

After going with two accomplished players, Browns decided to get a lottery ticket with their third pick. Elliot has the look you want in a player, tall and muscular, but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of production. Right now he’s as raw as an uncooked steak and needs a lot of coaching up on simple things, all of which are fixable. He’ll get bullied way too often than he should be, which is more than likely because of poor functional strength. A way to improve this would be to keep your pad level lower and be stronger with your hands, both skills that could develop within a few years. The thing that Elliot does well is occupying blockers and keeping gap integrity, a vital quality that a defensive lineman needs. The Browns currently have Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi ahead of him, letting Elliot the ability to develop this season. However, both of the previously mentioned veterans could be gone after the season. Richardson is solid, but expensive, and might not be worth keeping around at eleven million dollars a year. Ogunjobi has been good but is a free agent after the season. Personally, I think Elliot will need more than just one season to become an NFL starter as he’s a project now, but the new regime in Cleveland feels like they can sculpt him into a solid player.

3.97 Jacob Phillips, LB LSU

The Browns linebacking corp is in a bit of transition with the loss of leading tackler and middle linebacker, Joe Schobert, and don’t have a surefire replacement. Mack Wilson started and performed well for a fifth-round rookie a season ago and are scheduled to roll with Sione Takitaki, a third-round pick from a season ago, at middle linebacker but still need some depth and competition at the position. Enter former LSU tiger, Jacob Phillips. He played a bit in Patrick Queen’s shadow but was the leading tackler on the national championship team. While he does struggle in pass coverage, due to the fact he has trouble reading quarterbacks eyes and processing opponents routes, he is a great run defender. Will be aggressive as he flows to the ball and not afraid of getting physical with blockers. His role early might be at SAM, where his focus will be to engage with tight ends and tackles trying to blow up a run play, but his speed and tackling abilities show he has the chance to be a long-term solution in the middle. In a division now where you have to face Lamar Jackson twice a year, you’re going to need athletic linebackers who will move sideline to sideline. This is an upside pick, but if Phillips can speed up his mental processing and become a better overall football player, he has the chance to carve out a role on this defense. At worst, he becomes a special team standout. 

4.115 Harrison Bryant, TE Florida Atlantic 

On paper, this pick was confusing. Yes, Bryant is a very talented player worthy of a fourth-round selection but the Browns already have a great one-two punch with Austin Hooper and David Njoku. One would figure that the Browns would run more two tight end sets, which perfectly suits their style of play. In a two tight end formation, you can’t focus on the run or pass, so a creative offensive mind will be able to keep the defense on their toes. Last season, with Stefanksi calling the plays, went two tight ends with Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith, and Hooper and Njoku are a major upgrade over that duo. There are rumors that Njoku is on the trade block which inserts Bryant into this scenario. If Njoku is moved, Bryant starts to see a lot more snaps. Bryant would be utilized as a more move tight end/h-back, even lining up at fullback at times. He’s not a great blocker and would struggle against defensive linemen and possibly even stronger linebackers. I would like to see him be used frequently moving in motion and as a field stretcher in the play-action game. Hopefully, the Browns keep Njoku for one more season to see that tight end duo play together, but if not then Bryant will see a good amount of playing time. 

5.160 Nick Harris, C Washington

Versatile? Check. Athletic? Check. Smart? Check. If a player has those three qualities, more likely than not they’ll be a pro in this league for a long time. Harris checks all those boxes and while he might not necessarily see the field right off the bat, he can fill in at any spot across the interior offensive line. The Browns are pretty good in the trenches with J.C. Tretter, Wyatt Teller, and Joel Bitonio but every team is always one injury away from a completely different outlook. While Harris may never be a consistent starter, he’s never going to be a detriment to his team. He’s quite small for a lineman, maybe one of the smallest in the league at 6-1 295 pounds, but makes up for it in quickness and IQ. At Washington, he was often used as a puller or in double teams before moving to the second level to block a linebacker. In short-yardage situations and it came to power running, he would get overwhelmed with speed and length of defensive tackles. His length and lack of strength will be the thing that holds him back, but that still doesn’t mean he can’t play. He has a high IQ which is displayed in making line changes and in almost always making the right block. At the worst, the Browns have a pretty cheap, high-level depth player at a position where injuries are unfortunately very common. While the plan may not be for Harris to see a lot of playing time, I’d bet over the next four seasons he will make more than a handful of starts and do a good job at it. 

6.187 Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR Michigan

As I mentioned previously, the Browns do not have a legit third receiver at the moment. Guys like Rashard Higgins, Taywan Taylor, KhaDarel Hodge, and Damion Ratley are in the running for it, but none have proven themselves to be consistent producers. Higgins and Taylor have had flashes of being good receivers, but both probably will never strike fear in the opposing team’s eye. Peoples-Jones, on the other hand, has the chance to have a good pro career. Out of high school, he was a highly-touted prospect and then fell flat at Michigan. The offense wasn’t a pass friendly one and struggled with poor quarterback play over his three seasons. Peoples-Jones does have a lot of things you look for in a receiver: size, athleticism, route running, and an alpha male attitude. He’s going to give full effort whether he’s blocking or showing toughness with the ball in his hands. The general consensus would be his future is working in the slot where he’s going to have a free release off the line then use his athletic ability to get open. I think he will have a relatively small role in the offense as a rookie and contribute on special teams, where he has experience as a punt returner. Let him spend some time learning about how to be a receiver and slowly work his way into getting snaps. The question that will soon be answered though is whether it was Michigan that held back Peoples-Jones from reaching his potential or is it that Peoples-Jones just isn’t a good receiver. The NFL seems to think it’s the latter, I believe it’s the former and that the Browns got a steal in the sixth round. 

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

2020 Dallas Cowboys Draft Review: Best Class Since 2016

The Dallas Cowboys, the league’s most polarizing team by a mile. Every move they make is overanalyzed and critiqued. So, when you hear the national media rave about something the Cowboys do, you know it was exceptionally good. And by golly, this draft class has to be the possibility of being one of the best in franchise history, full or cornerstone players. Here are my opinions of each pick and how they factor into America’s team.

1.17- CeeDee Lamb, WR Oklahoma

The best pick of the entire draft, regardless of any team, was Lamb. Lamb is easily the third-best receiver, maybe even second, right off the bat. The Cowboys were figured to target a receiver at some point as their current options for a third/slot receiver was Noah Brown, Devin Smith, and Cedrick Wilson, who combined for fifteen catches last season. Not ideal. While Lamb has a long and lanky frame and average speed, his footwork, body control, and hands make him an elite prospect. His college numbers were inflated due to being in a pass-first offense and in a conference with weak defenses that played mostly soft zone (I mean seriously if anyone played defense in the Big 12 they would be a contender), but anyone who’s watched football can tell that Lamb is bound for success at the next level. A reason why he dropped possibly is that he didn’t face much press coverage in college and when he did, he struggled. However because he’s on a team with two established starters, he will wreak havoc in the slot, where he won’t have to deal with much press coverage. New wide receivers coach, Adam Henry, helped develop Odell Beckam, Jr. and Jarvis Landry, so he knows what it takes to teach young receivers the nuances of the craft. Add that in with Mike McCarthy’s play-calling, which tends to favor a pass-first approach, Lamb will be one of the better slot receivers this season. When you have a quarterback like Dak Prescott, who’s due for a big contract, you need to find ways to make his life as easy as possible. And because Dak will soon be the highest-paid quarterback in the league, it will make it tough to pay both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Both are at a contractual crossroads after the 2021 season, with Gallup being a free agent and Cooper being able to get cut with minimal cap damage. The emergence of Lamb would make it easy for the Cowboys to let one of the two go and still maintain an elite receiving group. 

2.51- Trevon Diggs, CB Alabama

From a physical standpoint, Diggs was the third or fourth-best cornerback in this class, and getting him at 51 was tremendous value. While he’s skilled athletically, the reason why he dropped a bit was because he’s quite raw. There will be times where like many young defenders, he doesn’t turn his head around and locate the ball. He started his career as a receiver but moved to corner and oftentimes he shows his inexperience, which is ok. The most encouraging sign is that he’s performed well in the best collegiate conference despite not being anywhere near his ceiling. More likely than not, he’s going to see significant snaps early and will be forced to learn on the job. Thankfully, the Cowboys defensive line is one of the best in the league and if you ask any defensive coordinator, a good pass rush is a defensive backs best friend. Diggs will be able to get away with his pure athleticism by using a lot of press coverage to cover receivers for three to four seconds, which will be just enough time for the defensive line to apply pressure on the quarterback. The Diggs you see in the preseason, where he should be getting as many snaps as possible, will be completely different than the one you see in week 17. While Diggs didn’t participate at the combine, he favors comparably to former starter Bryon Jones. They share the same height, wingspan, and similar weight while they were both relatively new to playing cornerback. While Jones might be a bit more athletic, Diggs is ahead of the curve on playing time and playing competition which I feel like makes Jones a decent comparison for Diggs. 

3.82- Neville Gallimore, DL Oklahoma

Most teams don’t value the nose tackle position as they did ten years ago as the league is now pass-oriented, thus making the need for a run-stuffing, space-eater in the middle of the defensive line not a necessity. That being said, if you can get a nose tackle type player who can also provide value as a three-technique and play all three downs then you got yourself a player. Gallimore was a wrecking-ball at Oklahoma, disrupting and blowing up plays. Being a nose tackle and fighting off typically two blockers, Gallimore showed no fear and is tougher than a two-dollar steak. He most likely won’t be tasked with too many responsibilities early as veterans Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe are ahead of them on the depth chart. However, both have an out in the contracts after the season and neither are a long-term answer. You spend this season trying to coach up Gallimore as a pass rusher and make him a rotational player, getting roughly twenty snaps a game, especially in short-yardage situations. I see him as an immediate upgrade over Tysten Hill, a Rob Marinelli pick and possibly cut candidate and a starter in year two. He may never be a pro bowler, but he has the potential to be an elite nose tackle, which would be great value for a third-round pick.

4.123- Reggie Robinson, CB Tulsa

The Cowboys biggest weakness was secondary and after picking Diggs in the second, they doubled down and grabbed a player similar to Diggs in style in Robinson. Robinson is also a developmental corner who right now is more athlete than football player. At the combine, he ran a 4.40 at 6-1, 205 pounds, which is great for a player of that size.  At times he can get grabby, which resulted in penalties, and displayed poor footwork in press coverage which immediately puts the corner a step behind the receiver. What Robinson does possess is an alpha male attitude and the desired size for the position. Most great corners have that chip on their shoulder and will talk smack to opposing receivers, which is exactly what Robinson does. He’s not as far along as Diggs which doesn’t make him an immediate Day 1 starter, but both Jourdain Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie have not proven themselves to be legitimate starters. Both of those players could progress into that, but can’t bank on it. Robinson is a developmental piece that I would bet at some point sees meaningful snaps at boundry corner but will make a mark on special teams as a gunner on punt coverage. 

4.146- Tyler Biadasz, C Wisconsin

Now here’s a guy (Chris Collinsworth voice) that I felt like should have been a second-round player, but had some injury concerns that saw his stock tank like it was stuck in quicksand. Biadasz is one nasty mofo on the offensive line and is exactly the kind of guy you want to run behind. He’s not the best athlete and not the strongest guy, but his football IQ is off the charts and he won’t stop blocking his guy until they are on the ground. Every Saturday he brought his hard hat and lunch pale to the stadium and used that blue-collar mindset to make life miserable for whoever lined up in front of him. The big elephant in the room as previously mentioned is the injuries. He has had surgery on his hip and shoulder and both were considered to be relatively serious injuries. But, I’m no doctor so I can’t project how he’s going to be health-wise in five years. I can see that injuries affected his play this year but still played at a pretty high level. No one was better at center in college at calling line audibles and even if physically he wasn’t 100%, mentally he quickly diagnoses what’s going on, which is beneficial to the quarterback. If he were to redshirt this season, Joe Looney is capable of being a short-term starter at center who won’t kill you but won’t be one of the best at the position. At worst, you’re looking at Biadasz starting in year two and Dak handing the ball off to Zeke up the middle with some green grass in front of him. 

5.179- Bradlee Anae, EDGE Utah

Rarely do you see an edge prospect who’s a mature pass rusher and versatile player drop to the fifth round, but Jerry had the luck every gambler at a casino wishes for during draft weekend. Anae inexplicably dropped to the fifth round, when he has a third-round value based on skill. Yes, he did run a 4.9 40 at the combine but responded with a 4.7 40 at his pro day. Also, when you watch the tape, you’ll see that Anae wins based on technique and his motor and never relies on speed. He could probably play standing up in a 3-4 but fits what the Cowboys run which is a 4-3 where he can focus on setting the edge and providing pressure. He’s a very advanced prospect in terms of pass rush moves, specifically being able to disengage tackles by using his hands with a quick chop, rip, or swim move. He’ll be a consistent 6-8 sacks per year guy when given the appropriate playing time and while he could gain some more muscle, he’s ready to play now. The Cowboys are a strong but interesting edge group. You have the star in Demarcus Lawrence and then a few question marks. Tyrone Crawford is coming off of hip surgery and missed most of the last season. Then you have Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory, guys who are currently suspended by the league, but are hopeful and should be eligible for the season. Can you count on these guys though? Absolutely not. I doubt even the front office is relying on these two for the long-term, making the Anae selection even that much more valuable. 

7.231- Ben DiNucci, QB James Madison

Essentially a seventh-round pick is a player you can’t risk becoming an undrafted free agent where he has 32 options and have to get him on your team. That’s why many times fans will never have heard of their team’s seventh round selection because they have a trait or multiple traits that a team values so much that they are confident that another team will value them equally or even could outbid you if they were to go undrafted. DiNucci wasn’t a sexy name in this year’s quarterback class and struggled at the D1 level, but reinvented himself into a pinpoint accurate passer at 1AA James Madison. At the time many figured he’d compete with Cooper Rush for the backup spot. However, the Cowboys picked up veteran Andy Dalton on a one year deal to become the backup (probably the best back up in the league) thus pushing that aforementioned position battle into one that helps DiNucci. Now it looks like DiNucci will be destined for the practice squad and that’s exactly how the Cowboys want it to happen. Have him in the quarterback room all training camp and preseason, get a good amount of snaps, then become the leader in the clubhouse for the future back-up quarterback position. While some might question what’s the value of trying to develop a career back-up, look no further than the Eagles and Nick Foles. It became obvious that Cooper Rush would never be a good back-up, so spend the time working with a guy who has the potential down the line.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

Follow Weekly Spiral

[jetpack_subscription_form show_only_email_and_button=”true” custom_background_button_color=”undefined” custom_text_button_color=”undefined” submit_button_text=”Subscribe” submit_button_classes=”undefined” show_subscribers_total=”false” ]