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Studs & Duds is back for another go around. My Monday weekly column is one of the highlights of my week, where we get to sift through the ups and downs of the football world. There’s ample Studs & Duds to pick from this week, given the NFL preseason being in full force.

It’s a great opportunity to see where player development is relative to expectations. So as a draft analyst, you’ll be hard pressed to find me complaining about a perceived “lack of quality play”.

Without any further delay, welcome back to Studs & Duds. 

Stud – Broncos QB Chad Kelly

Well I’ll be! 2017’s Mr. Irrelevant has taken a redshirt season last year with the Broncos and promptly parlayed that into snatching the back-up quarterback gig from 1st-round bust Paxton Lynch.

Chad has had a rough and bumpy road to this point. His career has been marred with bad decisions, injuries, character questions and the unfair expectations that come with Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly being your uncle. Through it all, media outlets have been hoping Kelly makes this thing stick, for all of the juicy storylines it would provide as he tries to follow in Jim’s footsteps.

They might get their wish. Kelly has lit the field aflame through the first two games of the preseason, having thrown for 267 yards (70 percent completion), and three touchdowns. That includes this beauty to my 2018 WR1 (by one spot on the big board over Chicago’s Anthony Miller) Courtland Sutton.

Now before the cart gets put before the horse, Case Keenum is the starter. I’d expect him to remain the starter, unless the wheels fall off the bus all together or if Case gets injured.

For now, let’s just enjoy Chad Kelly getting himself together and seemingly making the most of a second (or…uh, third) chance to play the game.

Dud – Preseason injuries

Why are you the way you are, NFL preseason? We’ve been starving so desperately for football, yet when you arrive you bring with you carnage. Here are just some of the injuries we’ve seen thus far through two weeks of preseason play:

  • High profile players like Dallas guard Zack Martin and Buffalo defensive lineman Kyle Williams had near misses with leg injuries
  • Buffalo QB A.J. McCarron’s fractured collar bone
  • Los Angeles Chargers CB Jason Verrett’s torn Achilles (and Jaylen Watkins’ torn ACL)
  • Buffalo punter Cory Carter tore his ACL while competing for a starting job
  • Chicago TE Adam Shaheen dodged severe injury with a low ankle sprain
  • Houston CB Kevin Johnson suffered a concussion
  • New England rookie OT Isaiah Wynn tore his Achilles
  • Washington RB Derrius Guice tore his ACL

The list goes on and on from here. Football being back is glorious. Football being gone before it every truly came back for some of these athletes, whose seasons are now over? That sucks.

Stud – Titans WR Taywan Taylor

Taywan was Tay-gone on Week 2 of the NFL’s preseason slate. Taylor caught four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. The Titans’ social media team was kind enough to queue them all up for your viewing pleasure.

Was some of this easy comings? Yes. But the long touchdown is an exciting play because that’s exactly where Taylor can shine on this offense. Taylor isn’t likely to be a volume receiver, with Corey Davis and TE Delanie Walker on the squad. But quick strike plays that Taylor can get up the field with and use that long speed to his advantage?

Yes. More of this, please. I was a huge fan of Taylor’s game coming out of Western Kentucky, so of course I’m also rooting on a strong season for the sake of the #brand. For context, my 2017 NFL Draft report on Taylor can be read below:

Dud – Wisconsin WR Quintez Cephus

There’s a whole lot of questions surrounding Quintez Cephus, who I had rated as the 3rd best draft eligible WR in the Big Ten this summer. Cephus announced over the weekend that he was taking a “leave of absence” from the Badgers to address an unspecified legal issue.

What is known is this: the Dane County District Attorney’s office plans to pursue charges against Cephus for an incident that took place in April. And Cephus claims he’s innocent.

That’s about the extent of the public information. We don’t know what the incident in question was. We don’t know how serious the allegations are.

I am not here to pass judgement on Cephus and his guilt or innocence. I, for one, am simply disappointed to hear about the circumstances that are resulting in his time away from the team.

More clarity will tell us who it is we need to be disappointed with. Until that clarity comes, please hold….

Stud – The Draft Network team

I promise it isn’t hyperbole when I tell you this group of guys is doing something special. From the top down, each and every member of this company has pooled together in an effort to change the way you, our audience, views the NFL Draft.

The draft serves football fans at a unique intersection: it’s the communal pool for both college football and pro football diehards. And because of this overlap, there really is no legitimate “offseason” for us here at the Draft Network.

Our website launched two weeks ago today and we have nearly 500 individual articles on the website currently available. Over 300 of those are player profiles for the 2019 NFL Draft, meaning you’re primed to know the vast majority of the major players in this upcoming fall before kickoff of the season comes on September 1st.

But the true magic of this place is still happening behind the scenes. Whether it’s Jon Ledyard’s efforts aligning content and ensuring we are all prepared for the coming weeks, Jonathan Cornell’s willingness to provide this team with whatever resources we need, or anyone else, The Draft Network is going to be something really great.

Thanks for checking in with us as we’re still in our infant stages and believe me when I tell you this is only the beginning of what we’ve got planned.