Which Team Will Sidney Jones Make Look Like Geniuses?

By Leo Silbert

After 3 seasons at the University of Washington, corner back Sidney Jones decided that it was the time for him to declare for the NFL draft.  He was one of the highest rated corners coming out this year which is also a year where corner back is one of, if not the, strongest position groups in years.  One NFC East scout said that Jones seemed to have taken all of the good qualities from fellow former Husky and off-season workout buddy Marcus Peters, with none of the behavioral issues.  He put up respectable numbers across the board at the combine and he seemed like a lock for the first round of the draft until he went to the ground during his pro day and had to be carted off the practice field.

Sidney Jones Injury

The diagnosis ended up being a ruptured left Achilles tendon, a devastating blow to his draft stock.  He went from being a potentially top half of the first round selection to being a mid-late round gamble on his ability to heal from this injury.  The worst part about this injury is that it might rob him of some of his speed and quickness and eventually shorten his career length, but if he is taken by a team in the right situation, he can end up living up to his potential for pennies on the dollar.  Now, he won’t be much use to a team that has an immediate need at the corner back position to make their defense improve since he may be unable to play until November, but he still has two types of teams that should be very interested in him.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

The first group of teams who should be interested in him are teams who have good corner back groups already, but with aging members.  As a Giants fan, the Giants were the first ones to come to mind to me here since they already have a very good trio of corner backs but with one member who is over the age of 30 and a contract that would save the team valuable cap space if it wasn’t on the books anymore with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.  DRC is a great corner still and had one of his best seasons ever this past year, but he has a few issues going against him.  Most importantly is that even though he will start just about every game, he is a player that can’t stay on the field for an entire game anymore.  This past season, he only played 736 snaps while he only missed one game.  His teammate Janoris Jenkins who missed most of 2 games on the other hand played 1,028 snaps.  This means that the 4th string corner has to end up picking up most of the extra 292 snaps missed by DRC.  Also, the Giants need to clear up some cap space in the upcoming off seasons so they can give second contracts to players such as Odell Beckham Jr, Landon Collins, Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg.  The Giants also fit with their fondness for gambling corners as seen with both DRC and Janoris Jenkins.  Other teams that also fit this type of mold are: The Denver Broncos with Aqib Talib, the Dolphins with Byron Maxwell, the Panthers with Captain Munnerlyn, the Patriots with Malcolm Butler if they decide not to pay him highly, the Raiders with Sean Smith, the Steelers with William Gay, the Texans with Jonathan Joseph and the Titans with Jason McCourty.

Joe Haden

The other type of team that should be interested in Jones is the group of teams that are so talent deficient that a highly graded player joining or being hurt won’t affect their record much this season anyway.  The team that leads this group is the Cleveland Browns.  The Browns need capable bodies at positions across the board except for along their offensive line, at nose tackle and at weak side linebacker.  They are a team no one expects to compete this season and is likely due for another top 5 draft pick next year.  They are a team that has nothing to lose by gambling on such a talent as Jones is and in a few years if they build their team up to respectability, they may have a mid-round steal of a corner on their team helping to lead their defense.  The list of teams here is a lot shorter since the league is at the closest level of competition across the board it has ever had so there are fewer teams that qualify for that, and one of the few teams that do qualify have a scheme where Sidney Jones’ lack of height and arm length make it so he doesn’t fit the scheme like how it is with the San Francisco 49ers.  Other teams where Jones would fit with under this stipulation though are the Bears and Jets.  If Jones is picked by any of these three teams, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if in 3 years he was helping to lead a great young defense.

Sidney Jones

Injuries suck in football, especially when they take away a player’s chance to get paid before they are even drafted.  They could rob careers from reaching as high as they could potentially go and they can shorten or even end them early.  Jones won’t have his career ended before it starts and with the proper attitude and system, he can end up as one of the best corner backs in the league, and his draft position will make whatever general manager pulled the trigger on drafting him look like a genius.

Each NFC East Team’s Biggest Draft Need

By Leo Silbert

It is getting to the point of the year that fans are trying to figure out who their team needs to draft or what position needs the most help.  Some teams like the Patriots don’t have a glaring need so they are able to pick for desire and are allowed greater risks.  Other teams like the Browns have needs all over the map so they are best suited to just take the best available player.  I’m going to sort this out by division and within the divisions I’ll sort them by 2016 records.

Next up, the NFC East:

  1. ezekiel-elliotDallas Cowboys- The Cowboys put together a season that seemed to have come right outside of a movie script.  The veteran qb goes down with an injury and it is up to a couple of hotshot rookies to keep the team afloat until the star veteran could return.  Except, the veteran never returned and not because of his injury being too severe, the hotshot rookies were on a roll and looked unstoppable.  They seemed to be taking the team over in the same kind of way that Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk took over the Rams in their first years starting on the team, except Zeke and Dak were true rookies.  That was all until the team got to the playoffs and lost to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in their first playoff game.  Now it is time for them to find their flaws and the biggest one is their ability to rush the passer consistently on defense.  They might not be in this position where their biggest need is at this position if Randy Gregory didn’t end up becoming a head case, but it is where they are now.  And this draft, besides just being a deep edge rusher draft is also a draft where a late first round prospect at edge rusher plays for a Lovie Smith in college who runs the same defense as Rod Marinelli with a lot of the same terminology in Dawuane Smoot out of Illinois.  Dallas really is building something special here, and once they get a consistent pass rush, they can potentially advance to the next round of the playoffs.
  2. landon-collinsNew York Giants- Going into the season, most Giants fans expected the Giants to have the most explosive offense in the NFC East and one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL while their defense would be improved from the worst ranked defense in the league but not being anything special.  And that right there is why the games are played.  The Giants’ defense turned into one of the very best units in the NFL with all 3 of their big free agent acquisitions proving their worth, a 2nd year pro at safety going from looking lost in coverage into arguably the best safety in the NFL, and strong showings from multiple rookies.  So yea, for now the Giants’ biggest need isn’t on that side of the ball.  Their offense on the other hand looked like it was a Ferrari parked in a garage and not moving because no one knew where the keys were.  There wasn’t a 100 yard rushing effort by a running back until week 17, Victor Cruz couldn’t get separation on the outside, Eli Manning was missing some throws, the tight ends looked like they had anchors strapped to their feet after the catch, but most importantly was that the Giants had some of, if not the very worst offensive tackle play on both sides of offensive line in the NFL.  Eli Manning threw the ball sooner after the snap than any other quarterback in the league yet he was still constantly under pressure.  Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart are not good enough to be starting tackles in the NFL, and their inability effected how every other person on the offense struggled.  Now, I have said before that this draft is a weak offensive tackle draft, but late in the first round is where a team can actually get value at the position in this year’s draft.  If the Giants can fix their offensive tackle problems, they may be able to find the keys to the Odell Beckham Jr lead Ferrari.
  3. trent-williamsWashington Redskins- Coming off their first playoff appearance since 2012, the Redskins had high expectations for this past season.  On offense, they had some of the most yards in the league behind Kirk Cousins throwing for over 4900 yards and a receiving corps that ran deep with 2 great receiving threats at tight end.  They had a very good offensive line and they had a developing running back in Robert Kelly who can stand to have a change of pace backfield mate.  Their defense on the other hand needs some help.  They were the worst team in the NFL in 3rd down defense, allowing 46.63% of all third downs to become first downs.  By comparison, the Buccaneers who were first in the NFL in that category allowed just 34..36% of third downs to be converted.  That big of a difference is unacceptable and something needs to be done to fix that.  One thing that would help them greatly is an inside linebacker who can go out in coverage and stop the run equally well.  Mason Foster was adequate at that, but he doesn’t have sideline to sideline speed and none of the other linebackers on the roster have that kind of skill since Su’a Cravens will be moved to strong safety which will help that position.  If the Redskins get a speedy linebacker to compliment Foster, they will be a lot closer to having a competitive defense.
  4. NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia EaglesPhiladelphia Eagles- The Eagles came into the year with a rookie qb pegged as the starter after they traded away Sam Bradford with little time before the start of the season.  Carson Wentz started out fast but slowed down as the season went on.  They also switched to a new scheme on defense, switching to a 4-3 wide nine scheme from a 3-4 two gap system and for the front 7 it worked out wonderfully.  Brandon Graham had a career year, Fletcher Cox lived up to his contract, Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham were great at linebacker, and in the secondary Malcolm Jenkins showed how he is a top 5 safety.  But both their offense and defense had an Achilles heel.  For the offense it was their wide receiving corps which was one of the worst in the league with only Jordan Matthews playing at a passable level on offense while on defense their best corner back  was Leodis McKelvin who isn’t good enough to be a top 2 corner on most teams in the NFL.  According to Pro Football Focus they had the lowest ranked receiver in the NFL in Nelson Agholar and the lowest ranked corner in the NFL in Jalen Mills.  Both of these positions are in dire need of help, but their receivers need to improve to help the development of Carson Wentz.  If they get a good wide receiver, they may be able to help Carson Wentz into not having a near 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio in his 2nd year and may make the Eagles’ offense into a more serious threat across the board.

Previous articles in this series:

AFC East- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-east-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC North- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-north-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC South- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC West- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need-2/

Giants Football Is Here!

By: Lawrence Edwards

It’s here folks! Football is back. All across the league training camps will be kicking off this week  and we get our first real taste of some football action starting this Friday. Hopefully this will provide us with somewhat of relief of our football withdrawal. I got you covered from now until seasons end on what’s going down in Big Blue. We get our fist look at the new defense on Friday when the Giants take on the Dolphins at MetLife stadium in preseason match up. So with that being said let’s get right into it.

The Giants are looking to hit the ground running and get off to a fast start. They come in the 2016 season sporting a new look expensive, but young, defense and a new face calling the shots. McAdoo is looking to turn the fortunes of the Giants organization around and get back to winning ways. This isn’t as easy as it sounds but it is truly in the realm of possibility for the Giants to make a complete turnaround this season.

Last year the Giants lost most of their games after having the lead going into the fourth quarter. That’s a heart breaking way to lose week in and week out and it didn’t sit right with the big boss. A lot of the blame can be shoveled onto the Giants Swiss cheese defense that marched onto the field in 2015. The Giants front featured names like Robert Ayers, Damontre Moore, George Selvie, Markus Kuhn, Mark Herzlich. I shouldn’t have to go on for you to realize this unit couldn’t get it done.

The pass rush was absolutely non-existent which caused for the secondary to be exposed outside of the play of DRC. The Giants had no true free safety that could roam the field and cover receivers efficiently. Landon Collins is at his best playing closer to the line of scrimmage so he couldn’t give them the type of ball hawk center fielder they were truly lacking.  With all of this holding true, Jerry Reese had to go through drastic measures to try and turn around the defense and get it back to at least respectable. Yes, it was expensive but bringing in young play makers in Olivier Vernon, Damion Harrison and Janoris Jenkins as well as drafting potential key contributors in ball hawking safety Darian Thompson and CB Eli Apple to pair with a healthy JPP, Jonathan Hankins and DRC, was a risk worth taking.

The Giants could not afford to let the defense continue to be the Achilles heel for this team again. With all the moves in FA and the draft, the Giants defense should see a huge improvement from last year. However, fans could only hope this comes to fruition because Jerry Reese job depends on it.

Although most of the blame can go onto the defense, the offense wasn’t without its faults. Even though the Giants offense was ranked in the top 10 overall in total team offense, there are things this unit could have done to help pull out some more games. There were times where the offense would be in a grove then hit a wall for the remainder of the game and there were also times where they just didn’t decide to show up until midway through the 3rd quarter.

Clock management was also an issue in at least 2 of those losses. Bottom line is, that can’t happen. If the Giants want their season and offense to truly take off, they need to hit the ground running at the start of every game and don’t let up. The G-Men know this and they have addressed it in the draft. Adding Sterling Shepard to the receiver mix and plucking Paul Perkins out of UCLA in the fifth round should pay huge dividends for the Giants this season. Shepard is basically a clone of Cruz with better hands. His route running is exceptional and he will cause defenders to play more one on one with Beckham which should lead to a pretty sick passing offense for big blue. Paul Perkins could be a steal in this draft. What he lacks in size he makes up for by constantly making people miss and being the most elusive back in the draft. He can pass block and catch the ball out of the field. He has the potential to be a 3 down back for the Giants and get their running game back to help open up the passing game even more.

I haven’t mentioned the major possibility of Cruz also coming back into the mix because we have to see if he can not only come back, but play to at least somewhat of the degree he used to. But, if he does, then the league should really keep its eyes open for the potential receiving core the Giants could boast this season.

If all the pieces come together, the Giants could be a team on mission and could very well be serious contenders this year. For the first time in 4 years the Giants actually have a real shot at turning things around. They fixed their offense with hiring of Ben McAdoo in 2014 and now he’s the head coach. Could he work his magic with the entire team and get the big FA spending spree to pay off? Those are big ifs but the potential is clearly there, now it’s just all about tapping into that potential and if they do, sky’s the limit for this year Giants.

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