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10 Thoughts on the NFL

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NFL: Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
If the 2017 QB class like 2014, who’s the Blake Bortles character?
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The big dog is on vacation so we’re sending up a couple pinch hitters the next two weeks. My 10 thoughts are below, let’s hear yours in the comments.

1. Marshawn Lynch, aka Beastmode, appears to be coming back to the NFL, most likely for the Oakland Las Vegas Raiders. Lynch is one of the most interesting characters in the league and whether he just needed a year for his body to recover or there was a real fracture in his relationship with Seattle, it felt like he had more in the tank. Lynch is a smart guy – he helped his teammates set up 401k accounts and hasn’t spent a dime of his NFL salary – so there’s no doubt there’s a fascinating future ahead of him but I’m pleased he’s making his way back into the league. If the Raiders use him sparingly early on and build up his workload, I think he can help close out some late season games and be a force into the playoffs.

2. I think this QB class is shaping up a lot like the 2014 QB class. You’ll recall Blake Bortles went 3rd overall to the Jaguars, followed by Johnnie Manziel to the Browns (22nd), Teddy Bridgewater to the Vikings (32nd), and Derek Carr to the Raiders (36th). North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer generally make up the top four of most draft boards I’ve come across. All four are intriguing with some form of serious question marks. I predict this draft class produces a similar draft order – one early, one middle, and one at the end of the first with one sliding to the second – in the order I listed them above. Incidentally, if history repeats itself, the Bears have both the #3 and #36 picks that bookended the 2014 class.

3. Speaking of Bortles, reports out of Jacksonville have the new regime going back and “building Bortles’ foundation at the beginning.” I wouldn’t be shocked if the Jaguars take a QB at #35 ahead of the Bears second pick and I wouldn’t blame them for taking a swing at Trubisky at #4 overall, but I’m assuming they’re going to give him one more year…and pick in the top 5 next season for their QB of the future.

4. Staying with QBs, our old friend Jay Cutler is still out on the free agent market, looking for work. I said it a number of times last season and I still think it’s true – Cutler would be fascinating in Houston. Give him an incentive-laden deal that fines him for frowns on the sidelines and rewards him for tying the shoes of terrible offensive linemen and that should fix the non-football parts of his game that people hate so much. His play can’t possibly be worse than what the Texans have suffered through the previous season and I would imagine he’d unlock the force that is Nuk DeAndre Hopkins.

5. The market for Darrelle Revis did not materialize and has forced Revis to offer his services as a safety. A position change of this nature with a player of his caliber has precedent. Both Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson made a similar change and were able to prolong their careers. If you’re a competitive team with a need, why wouldn’t you take a chance?

6. The other big star still out of work is Adrian Peterson. There was a time in the not-too-distant past where AP looked like he would threaten the all-time rushing record. However, after the year-long suspension in 2014 and last year’s injury shortened campaign (averaging only 1.9 ypc), he might be hoping to just sneak into the top 10 past Jim Brown (565 yards behind). I think he has still done enough to make the Hall of Fame but it’s no longer the record-setting career trajectory that seemed possible as late as 2014.

7. Ryan Pace could endear himself to the Chicago fanbase by using the #3 pick on…trading down to gather more picks and apparently, the Chicago brass is signaling just that. It definitely seems like the higher we are in the draft, the louder the drum beats are for the trade-down-crew. The problem is that it takes 2 to tango and it may be that the talent level is flat after Myles Garrett and teams will be comfortable waiting it out. I’m not hopeful the Bears trade out of #3 but look for Pace to try and gain more picks by moving down on the second day.

8. Pro comparisons need to be taken with a grain of salt – or maybe an entire shaker – but they’re fun to get a sense of what a guy could be if it all went right. Daniel Jeremiah at NFL.com has Jamal Adams in the mold of Troy Polamalu, while Lance Zeirlien compares him to Darren Woodson. Polamalu is a Hall of Fame-caliber safety, who defined the Pittsburgh Steelers defense for 2 championships in 3 Super Bowls, made 4 First Team All-Pro squads along with 8 pro bowl selections. Woodson was the durable SS for the Cowboys during their last 3 Super Bowl championships and made 3 First Team All-Pro squads with 5 Pro Bowl selections. Given the need for a leader in the secondary, Adams is my favorite choice for the #3 overall pick if the Bears stay put and hopefully his career returns can live up to the pro comparisons.

9. Sticking with LSU, I’ll be watching where standout running back Leonard Fournette winds up. A lot of mock drafts have him landing in Jacksonville at #4 but I’m hoping he gets past them and finds himself in Carolina next to Cam Newton. That’s a power running game worth the price of admission.

10. After the 3rd pick, there are a number of players that would look good in Navy and Orange. If we’re looking to add a 3rd pass-rushing OLB, I’d love to see TJ Watt in the 2nd. He’s got the name, yes, but he’s a great athlete and gives a different look than Floyd or McPhee. Desmond King is the standout Iowa Hawkeye corner who is likely to convert to safety at the next level. If he’s there in round 3 and we haven’t addressed the safety position, I like his potential. The Michigan Tight End Jake Butt tore his ACL in the bowl game so his 2017 is going to be spent in rehab. Drafting an injured player is hardly a winning philosophy, but this team isn’t built to win in 2017 and Butt is a well-rounded, er, versatile athlete.