I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open!
Draft Classes Making an Impact
You've heard it a million times but building through the NFL Draft is the best way to construct a roster and it's exciting to consider how many teams have been rewarded with terrific returns already from the 2018 class.
This week, Kyle Crabbs wrote about the best 2018 rookie classes and it forced me to evaluate the impact each team's rookie class has made and the roles carved out. Let's take a birds eye view on the net of some of the hauls that are yielding big early returns:
- Bears: LB Roquon Smith (high upside starter), WR Anthony Miller (explosive weapon), James Daniels (starting OL), DL Bilal Nichols (quality rotational piece)
- Browns: QB Baker Mayfield (franchise player), CB Denzel Ward (lockdown corner), RB Nick Chubb (workhorse back), LB Genard Avery (versatile defender), WR Antonio Callaway (flashy playmaker)
- Colts: G Quenton Nelson (high upside starter), LB Darius Leonard (high upside starter), OT Braden Smith (quality starter), EDGE Kemoko Turay (productive pass rusher), RB Nyheim Hines (x-factor back), RB Jordan Wilkins (rotational back)
- Giants: RB Saquon Barkley (high upside playmaker), G Will Hernandez (quality starter), DT BJ Hill (quality rotational player), LB Lorenzo Carter (high upside rotational player)
- Packers: CB Jaire Alexander (lockdown corner), CB Josh Jackson (contributor/potential starter), WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (emerging playmaker), WR Equanimeous St. Brown (flashy playmaker), P JK Scott (quality specialist)
- Lions: OL Frank Ragnow (quality starter), RB Kerry Johnson (high upside starter), DL Da'Shawn Hand (standout starter)
The Draft is about collecting talent and solidifying your roster and these teams have to be pleased with how things are panning out early on.
Teddy Bridgewater's Free Agency
Monitoring the market for Bridgewater this coming offseason will be fascinating. Yes, the Saints parted with a third-round pick to acquire his services which feels pricey for a one-year stint as a backup, but I think Bridgewater's market will be rich. Oh, and I know Drew Brees will be 40 in January but he might be the best performing QB in the NFL right now.
In what projects as an underwhelming quarterback class, fixing the most important position in sports for teams will have to come via different means and signing a free agent like Bridgewater will come at a premium.
Remember in 2017 when Mike Glennon signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Bears? How about Brock Osweiler inking a four-year, $72 million contract with the Texans in 2016?
I wouldn't be surprised to see Bridgewater sign a multi-year deal with an average base salary of $20+ million per season. Giants? Dolphins? Jaguars? Raiders? Bucs?
Coaching Carousel Spinning for Rookie QBs
Just seven months ago we were listening to press conferences hearing all about the grand plans for the five 2018 rookie first round quarterbacks and how the coaching staffs that drafted them were going to groom them to be the franchise quarterback. There was so much optimism.
Fast-forward and Baker Mayfield's head coach and offensive coordinator have been fired, Sam Darnold's head coach appears good as gone, Josh Rosen's offensive coordinator has been fired and rumors of Lamar Jackson's head coach parting with the franchise get hotter every week.
In all likelihood, four of the five 2018 first round QBs will start their second season in the league learning a new system. It's disappointing to think about this much turnover. Team's enter a draft thinking about which QB is the best fit and half a season later the plan changes.
The NFL is and always will be a cutthroat league that is results-driven but I can't help but think the lack of continuity is to the detriment of development. The pressure on the staffs to produce immediate results at an extremely difficult position for prospects to transition into is unbelievable.
It's that time folks. The film resume's of the rising draft class is near complete and our staff is turning its attention to formalized film assessments that are far more extensive than the profiles you've been able to read to this point. Jon Ledyard, Kyle Crabbs and I will be writing over 300 scouting reports each and covering likely 400-500 prospects.
We've already started filing them, with new reports added daily. Here are some links you are going to want to bookmark for the coming months.
TDN just turned 100 days old yesterday and we are elated with how things are going. In our first 100 days, we produced over 1,100 pieces of unique content and the response has been incredible. Just wait until you see what we have planned for Phase 2...
Can Trevor Lawrence Beat Bama?
I'm really excited about Lawrence and his upside. He has a sturdy frame, good mobility and a rocket of a right arm. He makes dazzling throws to every level of the field and keeps the Clemson offense moving.
With that said, his performance against Boston College revealed some concerns I have with him in terms of how it affects Clemson's ability to compete with Alabama. I would be shocked to see any other teams in the National Championship Game so my mind is already on the Clemson-Alabama matchup.
Specifically against BC, we saw Lawrence struggle with his processing against exotic defensive looks. BC did a fairly good job of mixing things up and disguising both coverage and pressure. As a result, Lawrence looked uncomfortable and either failed to adjust his progressions or relied on his physical ability to force some throws. Bama presents those issues at an accelerated rate with superior talent on the field.
Something we don't talk about much is that Clemson's offensive line is average at best and I really don't like how it stacks up with the Tide's defensive front. That exacerbates some of the concerns I have with Lawrence dealing with pressure and forcing throws.
What does all of this mean? Go ahead and crown Bama.
Best Football Player I Saw This Week: Daniel Jones
Normally this choice comes very easy to me on a weekly basis but so many different players made strong cases which made the choice difficult. That said, I settled on Daniel Jones who had a record-breaking outing in Duke's 42-35 win over rival UNC.
Jones accounted for a school-record 547 total yards and four touchdowns. He threw for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns while also adding 186 rushing yards and a touchdown.
His 547 yards of total offense was also the most ever surrendered by UNC, surpassing Lamar Jackson's previous record of 525 set last season against the Heels.
In a weak QB class, Jones is making a strong push to be the first selected. Next up for Jones and the Blue Devils? A road date with the Clemson Tigers on Saturday Night. If Jones performs well on that stage, things will escalate very quickly.