NFL

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HOF

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Atlanta Falcon franchise is no stranger to having Hall of Fame players.

In fact, some of the best players at their position have spent time in the ATL- Tony Gonzalez, Deion Sanders, Eric Dickerson, Brett Favre.

It’s just that when you think of those guys, their time in Atlanta isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, unless you happen to be a Falcons fan. (Gonzalez might be the one exception, although I believe most NFL fans think of him more as Kansas City Chief than a Falcon.)

The two Hall of Famers you could associate most with the franchise is Charles Humphrey and Morten Anderson. It’s obviously impressive and an honor to be elected to the Hall, but neither of those two names are going to win you a best in show prize.

There’s a good bet that ten years from now Atlanta will have at least one player, if not two, being inducted into the Hall of Fame that will drastically improve their profile in Canton.

The first player, Julio Jones, is basically a given. The All-Decade Team member has been one of the best wideouts since entering the league and as long as he stays healthy, should be productive for the next few years.

Even if he were to leave Atlanta in search of a title, or because both decided to part ways, the sure to be first ballot inductee will likely be the greatest player in franchise history, who has spent a majority of his professional career with them.

And unless Deion entered the Hall as Falcon, Jones will undoubtedly be their best to put on the golden jacket.

The other player, Matt Ryan, isn’t such a sure thing, but he isn’t far off either. Ryan is in that unenviable position where even though his individual stats and wins aren’t bad, neither category is great enough to justify his inclusion.

A perfect example is the comparison between Ryan and Eli Manning. For all intents and purposes Ryan has better individual stats than Eli in almost every category, including actual winning percentage.

But, those two Super Bowl rings Manning has given him a better chance, currently, at making the Hall because both those wins trump his more mediocre stats.

Marino is another example where he only appeared in one Super Bowl but his play and stats were so other worldly, there was no way he wasn’t going to be a Hall of Famer.

Either Ryan is going to have to win more games and at least make another Super Bowl in order to see his bust enshrined, or he’s going to have to have a couple great seasons that really pad his stats.

The good thing for Ryan is much like Jones, as long as he can stay healthy, he’ll have enough time to do what’s necessary to achieve a player’s ultimate individual honor.

Of course, I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention that Julio Jones will certainly play a big part.

It’s like having a team’s quarterback and wideout on your fantasy football; it’s a win/win situation.

Making it into the Hall of Fame is an honor and I’m not trying to demean that accomplishment for anyone.

The inductees entering as an Atlanta Falcon may not bring the most notoriety with them, but that’s about to change within the next year’s or so. Only question is, will there be more than one?

Tip It Off

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Well, after months of watching old games, listening to pundits regurgitate the same storylines, and reading enough Top Ten articles that even David Letterman would roll his eyes, the return of sports is now on the periphery…in a limited capacity…at the end of the summer…for only a select number of teams.

The first domino to fall was hockey, which came up with a creative approach to the remainder of their season, consisting of qualifying rounds and round robin seeding games, to determine the 16 playoff teams.

With an expected start date sometime in late July, I imagine Gary Bettman must have been optimistic- if you’re starving for fan attention being the only game in town has its’ advantages.

It’s like being stranded on a deserted island for six months before realizing there’s someone of the opposite sex on the island with you. That person may not be your ideal mate, but after a certain amount of time, you’re not going to be picky.

Then, of course, the NBA announced their plans to finish their season with qualifying games among a select group of teams to narrow the field down to their playoff participants.

One of the aspects included in each league’s proposal I can easily get behind is they are only including teams that were in playoff contention at the time their respective leagues shut down. If we’re truly trying to be safe, there’s no reason to put players at risk by making them play meaningless games.

The main difference between the hockey and basketball plans is hockey is scheduling their games in at least two different hub cities, while the NBA will hold all their games at Disney World, requiring everyone to stay in a designated area throughout their time there.

The current NBA schedule has them resuming games in late July also, and running through October.

Besides the encouraging signs the sports world may be starting to open back up, the timeline of when everything takes place means September and October have the potential to be two of the most exciting months in recent memory.

Even if college football and the NFL delay their starts by a few weeks, there’s a very realistic possibility you could have multiple weekends consisting of NHL and NBA playoff games, to go along with football.

As much as people are tired of being stuck at home now, with all those options to choose from, I bet many of those same people would be staying indoors, deciding they needed to “self-quarantine”.

As much as I think most of us are looking forward to watching again, we may want to temper our expectations.  We’re still weeks away before the first game will be played, and as positive Covid cases continue to rapidly increase in almost half the states across the country (many college programs are now announcing outbreaks among their players), it may be delayed even more.

Regardless of what you read into that, even the most skeptical critic would have a difficult time arguing an increase of positive test results would cause any league to speed up their return date.

If both leagues are able to resume their seasons in July it will have been a long four months in sports purgatory. And even though we won’t have technically been deserted on a desert island during that time, we’ll welcome the first puck drop, or opening tip, as if we had been.

Down Here

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Free agency and the NFL Draft have already taken place so we have an idea of what each roster will look like.

The NFC South has received a lot of attention with the arrival of Tom Brady to Tampa. Let’s take a look around the division and make some predictions.

Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers made the biggest splash in free agency by signing Tom Brady. They also traded for his former retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.

They drafted Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first round. Wirfs played 10 games at right tackle and three at left tackle last season. He was named an All-American and he should be able to help protect Brady.

Tampa Bay ranked 25th in total defense and they probably will struggle again in 2020.

The Bucs have received a lot of hype this off season. I don’t think they can live up to it. Brady will turn 43 in August and he’s going in to his 20th season.

Think back to Peyton Manning’s final season when his play drastically deteriorated. I think age and attrition will hamper Brady. The Bucs will win 8-9 games, but they will not be legitimate contenders.

Carolina: The Panthers got rid of their franchise quarterback Cam Newton and signed Teddy Bridgewater.

They are led by All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. He’s really the only weapon on offense and they lack a talented wide receiver.

Carolina used all seven draft picks on defensive players. They did struggle defensively in 2019, ranking 31st in total defense. They gave up 28.8 points per game.

The best-case scenario would be for three or four of the players they drafted to step in and contribute immediately. That would mean they have young players making mistakes but gaining experience. The Panthers will win 4-5 games.

Atlanta: They were a tough team to figure out last season. The Falcons were bad, but they beat New Orleans and San Francisco, two of the best teams in the NFC.

They drafted two offensive linemen in the first round of the 2019 draft but they both dealt with injuries. Protecting Matt Ryan has been a recurring issue. If that can get solved, they might have one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. They still were fifth in total offense.

The running game struggled last year, and it was addressed by signing running back Todd Gurley. Gurley has dealt with a knee injury that has decreased his play significantly.

They ranked 20th in total defense. Dan Quinn’s job is on the line and I think he will be fired. Atlanta should win 7-8 games.

New Orleans: The Saints were 13-3 in 2019. They were one of the best teams in the league and they return many players from that team.

Future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees sustained a torn ligament to his right thumb that caused him to miss five weeks. He’s also 41 years old so his window to win another Super Bowl is closing.

The offense has playmakers like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas that defenses have to plan for. They ranked ninth in total offense and 15th in total defense.

They will win 10-11 games. New Orleans has to hope they don’t play the Vikings in the playoffs and they will have a chance to get to the Super Bowl.

Divisional

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As shelter in place rules begin to ease up our country is more sports starved than ever. Football is still king in this country and especially in the South. Let’s rank the all the divisions from worst to first in the NFL this week.

  1. NFC East: Dallas, Philadelphia, NY Giants, and Washington. This is a division where every member has won a Super Bowl. The division has 13 Super Bowl titles, but currently is the worst division in the NFL.

The Eagles won the NFC East with a 9-7 record in 2019 which speaks volumes. Who does less with more than the Dallas Cowboys? The Giants are rebuilding, and who the hell knows what the Redskins are doing.

  1. AFC East: Buffalo, Miami, NY Jets, and New England.

New England is the premier franchise in the NFL, but with Tom Brady in Tampa the decline seems real. Buffalo is a solid team, but do they have what it takes to win a playoff game? The Jets could be a dark horse for most improved team, and Miami is a total rebuild at the moment.

  1. AFC South: Houston, Indy, Jacksonville, and Tennessee.

I’m just not very high on the division simply because the brand of football is boring.

Tennessee is solid, but watching the Titans is the equivalent of watching paint dry.

Houston has internal issues, Indy is on the rebound, and the Jaguars are trying to revamp the defense.

If you want to catch up on lost sleep then tune into the AFC South this fall.

  1. NFC South: Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay.

All of the hype this offseason is with the Bucs with Tom Brady taking over, but this is a bad division.

New Orleans is clearly the class of the division. Atlanta has been searching for a defense since the Super Bowl meltdown against the Patriots. Carolina is a mess at the moment, and Tampa with a 43-year-old Brady, will be a disappointment in my opinion.

  1. AFC West: Denver, Kansas City, Las Vegas, and LA Chargers.

The Chiefs are the best team in football with the best QB on the planet in Patrick Mahomes, but the rest of the division is weak.

The Raiders move to Vegas and the city is excited. The Broncos can’t seem to gain any traction as of late, and the Chargers have no fan base in Los Angeles. Build a stadium in San Diego and go back home Chargers.

  1. AFC North: Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh.

Lamar Jackson is the reigning MVP for the Ravens; Pittsburgh will come back strong in 2020. Cleveland could be a surprise team, and the Bengals with Joe Burrow may be an exciting team this fall.

This is an underrated division.

  1. NFC North: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, and Minnesota.

If Detroit could pull its weight this would be the best division in football.

Green Bay and Minnesota are solid playoff teams and the Bears are a QB away from being a contender with that defense.

Why didn’t the Bears trade for Cam Newton?

  1. NFC West: Arizona, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco and Seattle.

This is the toughest and best division from top to bottom in football.

Let’s start with the Cardinals. Write this down, this could be a division where all four teams finish with a winning record.

The Cardinals are building around Kyler Murray, and look out for them. The Rams were just in the Super Bowl two years ago, and just missed the playoffs in 2019. The 49ers and Seahawks rank in the top 5 best teams in the NFL. This division could produce three playoff teams in 2020.

2021 Super Bowl will be Kansas City vs Seattle and former Glynn Academy star Dee Jay Dallas will play in the Super Bowl as a rookie for the Seattle Seahawks.

Place Your Bets

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

One of the things fans love about the Super Bowl are all the prop bets taking place.

Whether it’s who wins the coin toss, which song the halftime musician will play first, or which player will score the first touchdown, almost all the bets are just good-natured fun.

Why wait until the Super Bowl though, when an entire season of prop bets can be made?

Here are some prop bets for each team in the NFC South- some serious, some not so much- you can follow throughout the year in the NFC South.

How long until everyone gets tired of all the inevitable Tom Brady storylines coming out of Tampa? For most of you, I imagine the answer ranges somewhere between “Since the day he was born” and “Well, I’m a Tampa fan, so I’ve always liked him.” (I’m calling out anyone who claims the latter as a liar.)

Regardless of where you do fall on that spectrum, prepare for an onslaught of stories that may make even the most ardent NFL fan wish they had cancelled the season.

Number of games until the “Panthers are better without Cam Newton” argument begins to appear? There’s a slight (very, very, very, slight) possibility the Panthers could win 3 of their first 4 games, which would trigger the above statement, so I’ll go with four.

If that were to take place, those making the argument would likely pull a hamstring during the following weeks due to backpedaling from that statement; I just can’t bring myself to think the Panthers will be at all formidable this year.

Anything more than 5 wins and it should be viewed as a successful season.

What’s more likely to happen, Todd Gurley rushes for 1,000 yards or finishes the season on the Injured Reserve? Gurley is the only known entity in a backfield full of “I think that guy was my waiter at TGI Friday’s” names at running back.

If Gurley can stay healthy, he’s going to get 15-20 carries a game, which should be enough to get him over 1,000 yards for the season, even if he averages the same anemic yards per carry (3.8) that he did last year.

Of course, all this is predicated on Gurley making it through the season, which I’m not sure he’ll be able to do. I have no idea which of these two will happen, but it feels like it’ll be a feast or famine type of season for the Tarboro native.

Will Alvin Kamara finish the season with more yards rushing or receiving? A few years ago this question would’ve been as absurd as asking who the worst Batman is (George Clooney, obviously), but with players like Le’Veon Bell, Christian McCaffery, and Kamara it’s more relevant than ever.

After logging more receiving yards than rushing during his rookie campaign, the 3-time Pro Bowler saw those numbers flipped over the last two years; he also saw a decrease in production this past season, due to the addition of Latavius Murray. Because of the Saints array of weapons, Kamara’s overall numbers may mirror last seasons, but how they utilize him will be telling.

There may be other prop bets that will play a greater factor in the outcome of the season, but they’re all just a warmup to the most important one- what color will the Gatorade shower be in the Super Bowl? I have green as the early favorite.

On The Prowl

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2020 NFL Schedule has been released. Let’s take a look and predict how the season will play out for Jacksonville Jaguars.

 

Week 1: September 13, Indianapolis Colts: The Jags open up the season at home against a much improved Colts team with Philip Rivers at QB.

Colts will have a very good defense, and with Rivers at QB Indy feels like they are the favorites in the AFC South. At home in the Jacksonville heat I’m going with Jacksonville 24-20. Jacksonville is 1-0 on the season.

Week 2: September 20, at Tennessee Titans: Jacksonville cannot beat Tennessee and will not in Nashville.

Derrick Henry chews up the Jags run defense and the Titans roll to a 31-13 win.

Tennessee is a sleeper team in the AFC. Jacksonville is 1-1 on the season.

Week 3: September 24, Miami Dolphins: Tua rolls into the River City and gets pressured all day by an inspired Jags defense. Jacksonville beats the Dolphins 28-13 to go to 2-1 on the season.

Week 4: October 4, at Cincinnati Bengals: Jacksonville travels to Cincy to take on Joe Burrow and the Bengals.

I’m not sure how much the Bengals improve in 2020.

Let’s go with Jacksonville as Gardner Minshew will out play the 2019 Heisman winner and the Jags win 27-17 on the road to go to 3-1.

Week 5: October 11, at Houston Texans: The Texans seem to be a train wreck, but it won’t matter when Jacksonville comes to town.

Jags will find a way to lose in Houston. Texans win 24-21. Jags go to 3-2

Week 6: October 18, Detroit Lions: I will be in attendance when my Detroit Lions roll into Jacksonville and leave with a victory over the Jaguars.

Matt Stafford leads a game winning drive with less than 2 minutes left in the contest to pull out a road win 31-28. Jags fall to 3-3 on the season.

Week 7: Bye Week

Week 8: November 1, at Los Angeles Chargers: Chargers will beat the Jags in LA 34-13.

This will be one of those head scratcher games for the Jags as they drop to 3-4 on the season.

Week 9: November 8, Houston Texans: The Jags split the season series with the Texans with a nice home win 34-23 to go to 4-4 on the season.

Week 10: November 15, at Green Bay Packers: Don’t even think about it. Packers drill the Jags at Lambeau 38-13. Jags go to 4-5 on the season.

Week 11: November 22, Pittsburgh Steelers: Jacksonville seems to have Big Ben’s number. Jags win a huge home game 27-24 to go 5-5 on the season.

Week 12: November 29, Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield is a bust repeat after me Baker Mayfield is a bust.

Jags win 33-21 to go to 6-5 on the season.

Week 13: December 6, at Minnesota Vikings: Not happening. The Vikings are a very good football team. Minnesota wins 35-17. Jags fall to 6-6.

Week 14: December 13, Tennessee Titans: Nope the Jags are not physical enough for the Titans. Titans win 31-10. Jags fall to 6-7 on the season.

Week 15: December 20, at Baltimore Ravens: I’m not wasting my time on this one. Ravens 41-13. Jags drop to 6-8.

Week 16: December 27, Chicago Bears: Will Nick Foles come in and put it to the Jaguars? The answer is yes 24-20.

Jaguars fall to 6-9. Jags go 0-4 against the NFC North.

Week 17: January 3: at Indianapolis Colts: Playoff bound Colts rest starters and Jacksonville wins 35-19 to finish 7-9 on the 2020 season.

Best case scenario is 10-6 with wins over Detroit, San Diego, and Chicago.

Worst case scenario is 4-12 with a loss at home to Pittsburgh, Houston, and Indy.

The First Mate

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

In case you’ve been under a rock, you know Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.

The Buccaneers also traded for his favorite target, Rob Gronkowski. They have not made the playoffs since 2007, but they are a preseason favorite to win the Super Bowl. I’m going to take a look and see who the best player in franchise history is.

The first pick in franchise history was defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, No. 1 overall in 1976. Selmon was one of the NFL’s most dominant pass rushers and the first Tampa Bay player elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played for the Bucs for nine years (1976-84) and he was selected to six Pro Bowls.

Selmon was Defensive Player of the Year in 1979. He was First-team All-Pro three times and second team twice. In his career he had 742 tackles, 78.5 sacks and 28.5 forced fumbles. His number 63 was retired in 1986.

Warren Sapp was drafted by Tampa Bay in 1995 as the 12th pick overall. The defensive tackle had 77 sacks, which is second-most in franchise history. He made seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 1997-2003. He was NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1999.

Sapp was a four-time First Team All-Pro and two-time Second Team All-Pro. He’s First-team on the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and Second-team on the 1990s All-Decade Team.

He was pivotal in leading the 2002 Bucs to win Super Bowl XXXVII. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Derrick Brooks was also drafted in the first round in 1995 (28th). He played in Tampa his entire career, 1995-2008.

Brooks had 1,715 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 25 interceptions, 24 forced fumbles and 7 touchdowns. He was selected to 11 Pro Bowls, Five-time First-team All-Pro, Four-time Second-team All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. He is also on the 2000s All-Decade Team. He was selected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.

Warrick Dunn was drafted by the Bucs in 1997. He’s the first offensive player on this list.

In his first stint with Tampa Bay he played from 1997-2001. He was AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. He went to two Pro Bowls.

Jimmie Giles played for four teams but was with the Bucs from 1978-86. The tight end went to four Pro Bowls during that time. He holds the team record for touchdowns in a game with four.

Hardy Nickerson (1993-99) was selected to 5 Pro Bowls during that time. He was also a Four-time All-Pro and a member of the 1990s All-Decade team.

John Lynch was known as a hard-hitting safety. He went to 5 Pro Bowls as a member of the Buccaneers. He had three seasons with at least one hundred tackles.

Ronde Barber spent his entire career in Tampa (1997-2012). He is one of two players with 40+ interceptions and 20+ sacks alongside Charles Woodson. He led the league in interceptions in 2001 with 10. He went to 5 Pro Bowls and 5 All-Pro teams.

Simeon Rice is another defensive standout from the early 2000’s. He signed with the team in 2001 and went to 2 Pro Bowls. He recorded double digit sacks in his first three seasons.

There have been several great players to choose from.

I believe Lee Roy Selmon has to be chosen as the best Buc ever.

You’re Fired

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I was asked the other day to name my favorite Duke basketball player of all time, as well as my least favorite. It was easy to name my favorite (Grant Hill) because it’s one of those things I’ve actually spent time thinking about.

It took me a while to think about my least favorite though, since I tend to try and forget them much like I do with the name of my 11th grade English teacher.

So, with that in mind, I figured instead of writing about the best head coach each NFC South team has hired, I’d go with the ones they couldn’t get rid of fast enough.

To start with, Atlanta’s may have been the easiest. Regardless of what criteria you’re looking at- overall record, handling of the team, how the coach represented the team- Bobby Petrino makes it a clean sweep in all categories.

Petrino’s .231 winning percentage is the worst in franchise history, not counting interim coaches, and the way he left the team by leaving a note in every player’s locker is just the sugar free icing on the gluten free cake that was his coaching tenure.

Not only is he the worst coach in Falcons history, he’s worse than any of the other coaches I’m about to mention, making him the worst hire in the division’s history. (And just think, he became even more of an embarrassment at his subsequent stops.)

Choosing Carolina’s coach was almost just as easy, but for entirely different reasons. Before the Panthers brought in new head coach Matt Rhule, there had only been four coaches in their short history.

Of those four, two made it to a Super Bowl (John Fox, Ron Rivera) and another (Dom Capers) was coach of the year in 1996 and helped the franchise get off to a strong start.

The only coach left is George Seifert, who couldn’t repeat the same type of success in Charlotte that he had achieved in San Francisco. He is also the only coach of the four to have never led the team to a winning season or a playoff appearance.

New Orleans is where the task got a little more difficult because they’ve always had decent coaches since I started following football, beginning with Jim Mora.

There are a few coaches back in the 70’s who didn’t do well, record wise, but I can’t really speak to what they did beyond that. Therefore, I’m going with Mike Ditka as the franchise worst.

As great as Ditka was for Chicago, he was equally as bad for the Saints. He won six games in each of his first two seasons and only three in his third and final one. Plus, there was that year he traded all their draft picks, including their first round pick the following year, to draft Ricky Williams.

Tampa Bay’s coaches are similar to New Orleans, it would’ve been easier to go with an earlier coach based on records. But, like with the Saints, I decided to go with a more recent coach, Greg Schiano.

The current Rutgers head coach will be remembered in Tampa more for having his team rush the quarterback on a kneel down play than anything they accomplished on the field. His tenure was the perfect example of round peg, square hole.

Not all coaching hires can be winners, but these are a few that fan bases would like to forget, all together.

The Fall Of Fromm

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Jake Fromm’s career at the University of Georgia ended when he declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. Fromm was a three-year starter at Georgia. He took over for Jacob Eason early in his Freshman season and led Georgia to a National Championship Game.

His 8,224 career passing yards is fourth all-time in Georgia history. He’s second all-time in passing touchdowns with 78, fourth in completions with 621 and 5th in attempts with 982.

Those numbers are, honestly, not all that flashy; however, Fromm was 36-7, led Georgia to three straight SEC Championship Games, a playoff appearance, and national title appearance. Fromm is the greatest quarterback in modern Georgia’s football history.

Let’s go back to 2019. At this time ESPN was predicting Fromm to be the number 1 pick in the draft. So why did Jake slip so far in the NFL draft?

Fromm’s slide became the hot topic during the final day of the 2020 NFL Draft. Fromm looked visibly uncomfortable every time ESPN panned in his home.

The reason for his stock to drop is the pre-draft process did not go well for Jake.  At the combine, he ran a horrible 40-yard dash (5.01). In the passing drills, he showed a lack of arm strength. His physical measurements were also in the low decile.

Due to Covid-19, Fromm was not able to have a pro day and was unable to meet face to face with teams.

To me, getting picked by the Buffalo Bills in the 5th round with the 167th pick was a surprise. Buffalo already has a young starting quarterback in Josh Allen.

Jake Fromm’s fall in the draft highlights a flaw in Kirby Smart’s four seasons at Georgia. Smart’s offense is on its third offensive coordinator in three years. That does decline a player’s stock, no matter how many people say it doesn’t.

Smart’s quarterback room in 2018 included Justin Fields but Fields transferred to Ohio State. In his first season with the Buckeyes, Fields threw for 3,273 yards, 41 touchdowns, rushed for 484 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Georgia could not find a way to maximize Fields’ skills but somehow Ryan Day figured it out immediately in Columbus. Kirby had a couple of top quarterbacks in his program, but somehow ended up utilizing them poorly.

Why didn’t Fromm return to Georgia? Fromm left Georgia because the offense was not highlighting his skills. He escaped an offense that was sick with talent deficiency in the wide receiver department, as well as inexperience at coordinator positions and lack of creativity.

Jake Fromm’s numbers spoke for why he entered the draft.  His completion percentage dipped by seven points, he threw six less touchdowns, and attempted 78 fewer passes.

Combine Jake’s poor showing at the NFL combine with Kirby Smart’s inept offense and now you see why Jake dropped to the 5th round.

The big question for Georgia fans: Was it more gut-wrenching watching Jake Fromm end up being picked in the fifth round? Or, watching former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields go top 10 in next year’s NFL Draft?

Varied Winds

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Trying to get a community of sports fans to come to a consensus of how the draft went for their favorite team is like asking coffee connoisseurs what their favorite brand is- everyone has an opinion and almost no two will be alike.

Even if you find a majority that agrees, it’s mostly determined on the first few rounds only; outside of an NFL scout, who has time to read up on every available player.

So, instead of grading the Falcons picks here are few observations that came to mind regarding Atlanta and the draft.

Because of Atlanta’s draft position, especially in the first few rounds, the end result was almost predetermined to be underwhelming. The main talking points after almost any pick revolve around “value” and “need vs. talent”.

Early in the round you’re more likely to find a player that meets all those criteria, and you know you won’t find one towards the end of the round, so you basically pick a lane and stick with it; the middle of the round can get tricky though.

Do you do what Atlanta did and pick a player like A.J. Terrell, whom most people believe fills a need, fits the system well, and was the best available at that position with the most upside, but is considered to be a reach at that spot, especially when there was better talent available?

What makes the decision tough is that while all five draft recap articles I read unanimously agreed with what I just wrote, every single one listed a different player Atlanta should’ve drafted. So even had Atlanta drafted someone else, the same articles still would’ve been written, just with a different name.

The same issue rears its head in subsequent rounds, albeit on a much lesser scale. Point being, no matter who Atlanta picked, people were going to have issues, and it’s not entirely their fault.

Atlanta will need to hand out “Hello, my name is…” stickers at their first defensive meeting. Most of the Falcon’s biggest needs entering this season are on the defensive side of the ball and their draft reflected that. (When your lone offensive pick is a lineman that probably won’t play much for another year or two, you must feel ok with the side of the ball.)

Regardless of how people feel about those picks, the team will need some of them to contribute quickly, especially Terrell and 2nd round pick Marlon Davidson. I mean, that is why those guys were drafted where they were, right?

Is Atlanta fielding a second, secret team full of undrafted free agents? I realize the number of undrafted players a team signs after the draft has finished varies, but Atlanta almost signed enough to field an entire team before Tae Crowder could be crowned Mr. Irrelevant.

I know they’re making up for only having six draft picks, but it’s almost as if the Falcons front office wasn’t even wild about their draft.

Matt Ryan’s arm just may fall off after attempting his 10,000th pass of the year. Seriously, you’re good entering the season with one viable running back whose knee is one wrong cut away from ending his career? Good luck with that.

Obviously, I have no idea how these picks will pan out, and neither does anyone else. I just hope we all get a chance this fall to see for ourselves. I feel like that’s something we can all agree on.

 

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