The new NFL season has just started about a month ago and already, there’s a lot of talk and speculation going around. For starters, many are anxious to see if the new trial rule change regarding video review would be effective this season. This is particularly critical since the Los Angeles Rams won the National Football Conference championship game last season even after Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman went helmet-to-helmet with New Orleans Saints' Tommylee Lewis.
In addition, the NFL may also find itself plagued with controversy and legal issues this season as accusations of sexual and child allegations come to light further. Aside from this, activism has also been a common sight in the league in recent years. At the same time, new issues may also arise as more states enjoy legalized sports betting. In fact, CNBC reports that about 7 million people are expected to take part in legal betting in the NFL this season, which is about 1.2 million more than last year.
Meanwhile, there is also a lot of talk surrounding this season’s crop of rookies. And while some are instantly perceived as steals, others are believed to be busts. Check them out:
Damien Harris was the 24th pick during round 3 of the draft by the New England Patriots. For years, he has established himself as a reliable running back, having led Alabama Crimson Tide with 1,037 yards when he was just a sophomore. In recent weeks, however, it’s become clear that Harris isn’t factoring into the Patriot’s ground game quite well. In fact, he’s expected to remain inactive.
Dexter Lawrence was the 17th overall pick during the 2019 NFL Draft. That said, he is now a defensive tackle for the New York Giants. As far as reputation goes, Lawrence is as tough as they come, even tougher than most. In fact, his former Clemson coach, Todd Bates, told MassLive.com, “His play capacity is like 13 plays before he needs a blow.” However, Lawrence comes with a slight history of trouble. That’s because he was once suspended from the College Football Playoff due to a failed drug test.
Daniel Jones was the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft and almost instantly, the New York Giants had to defend including this quarterback in their roster. Fans heavily criticized this move as Jones was not even a top pick by most of the scouts. In fact, according to NFL’s analysis, “Jones has good football IQ and is relatively mobile, but he appears to be more of a game manager than "franchise" talent. He's more of a Day 2 draft pick than Day 1.”
Clemson pass-rusher Clelin Ferrell was picked by the Oakland Raiders during the first round of the NFL Draft. This definitely indicates that the team has high expectations. As Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit explained, “Ferrell may well live up to his high draft billing ... but when a team picks a guy fourth overall, the team generally expects him to become a superstar. And 99% of superstar defensive linemen have some sort of twitch, quickness or burst. Ferrell did not show a ton of that at Clemson, instead looking more like a “good at everything, great at nothing guy.”
Chris Lindstrom comes from a football legacy, being the son of Boston College Hall of Fame lineman Chris Lindstrom Sr. During the NFL Draft, Lindstrom was the 14th pick during the first round. He was picked up by the Atlanta Falcons, perhaps due to his ability to match anyone’s quickness. However, NFL analysis also notes that Lindstrom “lacks the length, mass, and strength some teams will want.” Only time will tell if he would disappoint the Falcons.
Tight end Drew Sample was picked by the Cincinnati Bengals during the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. As the season gets underway, there is hope that Sample would make a good receiver. However, an analyst report from The Draft Network also notes that Sample has a “vanilla skillset and he doesn't shine in any one area although he is functional in multiple usages.”
Linebacker Quincy Williams was drafted during the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. According to an NFL analysis, he is a “fast, explosive athlete who will be targeted as a run-and-hit outside linebacker with the ability to stalk from sideline to sideline.” Such a performance could mean a starring role. However, Williams was already injured and sidelined during the beginning of the season. If this keeps up, there is no way Williams would shine.
Tytus Howard was drafted by the Houston Texans during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The offensive tackle from Alabama State is known for his fluidity and quickness. However, many believe that Howard also still needs further development. For starters, he needs to learn to play using the correct technique.
Ben Banogu was the 49th overall pick during the 2019 NFL Draft. Today, he plays as a defensive end for the Indianapolis Colts. During a session with reporters, Colts general manager Chris Ballard explained that Banogu “has got all the explosive first step and movement that you want either as a rusher or linebacker.” However, NFL.com's Lance Zierlein points out, “His quickness created opportunities with inside moves and twists in college, but NFL tackles will shut and lock that interior door on him until he proves he can threaten them around the corner.”
Sione Takitaki was the 80th overall pick at the 2019 NFL Draft. Today, he is a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns. According to analysts, Takitaki is pretty versatile, allowing him to take up various roles in Browns’ defense. However, Takitaki can also be quite explosive off the field. During his time with Brigham Young University, Takitaki was kicked out of the team for a dorm fight. Later on, he was also suspended for skipping practice, allegedly stealing something and violating trouble. He may spell trouble for the Browns.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins was the 15th overall draft right out of Ohio State. He can be a strong asset to the Washington Redskins’ passing attack. However, as one NFL analysis notes, “The offensive line is too leaky, and he lacks the mobility to extend or create plays under heavy pressure. The dearth of consistent playmakers leads to numerous forced throws and turnovers.”
DeKaylin Metcalf was the 32nd overall pick during the 2019 NFL draft. Today, the wide receiver plays for the Seattle Seahawks. Overall, Metcalf is a promising NFL prospect. After all, he comes from a family of professional football players. However, it must also be noted that Metcalf is prone to injury. In the end, this may affect his ability to come through for the team when needed.
Kicker Matt Gay with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the 145th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. His drafting caught some controversy as fans argued that a kicker was the last thing the team probably needed. However, according to ESPN, the team’s general manager, Jason Licht, remarked, “Kicker's a very important position. It's one of the most important positions on the team.” For the record, NFL analysis points out that Gay had only blocked three kicks in 2018.
Running back Tony Pollard was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys when he became the 26th pick during the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. For the NFL, Pollard is the right size. He also makes for a good catch-and-run option. However, Pollard still needs to learn how to work back the ball much earlier. At the moment, he’s also having a hard time rescuing poor throws.
At the 2019 NFL Draft, Shareef Miller was the 138th overall pick who ended up as the defensive end of the Philadelphia Eagles. According to the NFL’s analysis, “His lack of instincts as a rusher is a concern, but improving his approach at the top of the rush should be coachable. He's a rangy edge defender with moldable traits, but until he'll be stuck in a holding pattern of "potential" until he develops his fundamentals.”
For a lot of people, Nick Bosa was easily the best prospect of the 2019 NFL Draft. And so, it comes as no surprise that Ohio State’s most regarded defender was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers very early in the draft. By all accounts, Bosa is more than ready for the demands of the NFL. In fact, people are not surprised if Bosa becomes a starter.
It can’t be denied that quarterback Kyler Murray is an NFL star in the making. And so, it’s no wonder that he’s the first overall pick who ended up with Arizona Cardinals. Following the Cardinals’ recent win against the Cincinnati Bengals, former NFL quarterback Michael Vick remarked, “Kyler Murray picking up some key first downs & using his abilities, that's the maturity & what I wanted to see. I didn't think he did it enough early, but now it's coming altogether. I was just impressed with the way he drove the team down the field.”
Sources - CNBC, NFL, MassLive.com & Sports Illustrated