2018 NFL Draft Pre-Combine Rankings: Justin Holden vs Mel Kiper

Written By:  Justin Holden

Introduction:

The NFL Combine doesn’t start until February 27th, and the first day of the NFL Draft isn’t happening until April 26th, so I put this out as a disclaimer that there is still plenty of time for sports analysts to change their minds (and their rankings) as new information comes out.  However, I wanted to compare my pre-combine top prospects at each position to those of Mel Kiper Jr, the most recognizable (and perhaps most respected) NFL Draft analyst of all time.  As a reference, I am providing a link below this paragraph that will direct you to another article where you can review Mel Kiper Jr’s top 10 prospects at each position as of January 2018.

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/mel-kipers-top-10-prospects-position-2018-nfl/story?id=52263598

Quarterback – Baker Mayfield (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #4)NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Texas Christian vs Oklahoma

 There is quite a discrepancy when looking at my top ranked quarterback prospect compared to where Kiper has him ranked on his list.  Kiper seems to view Baker Mayfield in the same light as he did Johnny Manziel a few years back, which is a prospect that is a bit of a wildcard.  Someone that could end up being a good football player, but at the same time could be a bust.  Baker Mayfield is obviously getting knocked by the mainstream sports media for his infamous “crotch grab” and his height (just over 6 feet tall).  But in all honesty, it shouldn’t take a genius to realize that Baker Mayfield is a far superior NFL prospect than Johnny Manziel ever was, even before we knew about the partying and substance abuse that would ultimately derail Manziel’s career.  Let’s start this exercise by doing a 3 way comparison between the college career statistics of Baker Mayfield, Johnny Manziel, and Kiper’s top prospect for this category, Josh Rosen:

https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/baker-mayfield-1.html

https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/johnny-manziel-1.html

https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/josh-rosen-1.html

You’ll notice that Baker Mayfield outperforms the other two in every statistical category.  It is not close.  In defense of Josh Rosen, Johnny Manziel and Baker Mayfield both played their college careers with superior offensive lines, and that can only help a quarterback in terms of his on-field efficiency and production.  But even taking that into account, I don’t see how Mel Kiper Jr can list Josh Rosen higher on his rankings than Baker Mayfield for any reason other than size or character concerns.  But unlike Johnny Manziel, Baker Mayfield has strong work ethic and strong character.  Don’t let the crotch grab fool you.  This young man is viewed as the ultimate leader and professional by his teammates and coaches.  He puts in the time to improve his game, and it shows on the field.  At the end of the day, even if you just want to look at film and not care about the on-field production/statistics at all, there isn’t much to knock Baker Mayfield for.  He has the accuracy and can make all the throws.  He’s one of the most efficient passers in college football history.  To top it all off, he has the athleticism to make plays with his feet if necessary.  To me, Baker Mayfield is the only can’t miss quarterback prospect in this year’s draft class.  And his ceiling is a more mobile version of Drew Brees.

Running Back – Saquon Barkley (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #1)NCAA Football: Penn State at Iowa

I have no argument with Kiper on this position.  And you’ll be hard pressed to find a single person that disagrees with Saquon Barkley being the top ranked running back prospect for this year.  There are other quality running backs in this draft class that are effective in all phases of the game, and while I tend to see the use of early first round draft capital on a running back as a waste, there is no denying that whatever team picks Saquon Barkley will be getting a generational talent at the position.

Fullback – Nick Bawden (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #3)

Nick Bawden has great size for a fullback at 6’3 and 245 pounds.  But not only that, he’s an excellent lead blocker that contributed heavily to star running back Rashaad Penny’s on-field rushing production.  Bawden was First-Team All-American in 2016 according to Pro Football Focus.  Another reason he’s my top prospect at this position is that he used to play quarterback, and thus I project him to have an additional level of awareness and athleticism that other fullbacks wouldn’t typically have.  Kiper’s top prospect from this category is Jaylen Samuels.  Don’t get me wrong, Samuels was a great college football player who put up some nice stats, but I question his ability to be an elite blocker at the NFL level.  In a true fullback, the most important qualities you look for are strength and lead blocking ability, in my opinion.  Bawden has those qualities and fits the mold of a true fullback better than Samuels.

Wide Receiver – D.J. Moore (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #6)moore

Huge disparity in comparison to Kiper’s rankings on this one.  But hear me out as I make my case for D.J. Moore as the top wide receiver prospect in this year’s draft class.  First of all, the dude set a school record at Maryland for most receptions in a season (80) with four different quarterbacks throwing to him throughout that season.  Even more impressive than that, D.J. Moore accounted for 53.3% of his team’s receiving yards and touchdowns during his most productive college season.  That is good for a 97th percentile college dominator rating.  We rarely see that high of a dominator score for a wide receiver, especially at a division one program.  While we don’t have the combine measurements to back it up yet, studying tape would lead you to believe that D.J. Moore possesses excellent burst and speed.  If D.J. Moore has a weakness, it is his size.  He’s 5’11 and 215 pounds.  Ideally you want a receiver that is taller than this or can jump exceptionally high to challenge for 50/50 balls and be a redzone threat.  While D.J. Moore may lack that element to his game, he checks all other boxes and has the on-field production numbers to back it up.  I can understand why Kiper might prefer Calvin Ridley from Alabama as his top prospect, but having D.J. Moore ranked all the way down at #6 in his rankings, particularly in a year that has a weak wide receiver class overall, is straight up disrespectful to this Maryland product.  D.J. Moore remains my #1 wide receiver prospect with confidence.  And that won’t change no matter how far Kiper moves him down his draft board.

Tight End – C.J. Conrad (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #9)

To tell you the truth, I actually really like Kiper’s #1 prospect, Dallas Goedirt.  He was highly productive and efficient in the passing game at small school South Dakota State.  But just because Goedirt is a valid choice as a top tight end prospect in this year’s draft class, does not excuse a snubbing of the promising prospect that C.J. Conrad is.  I really don’t understand why Conrad is this far down on Kiper’s rankings.  Granted, Conrad is not the best blocking tight end in this class.  But, he’s even better than Goedirt when it comes to being productive in the passing game (which is increasingly becoming the more important thing for tight ends in today’s NFL), and Conrad actually played for a division one school against division one caliber defenders.  Conrad’s 2017 college receiving stats may not jump out at you (16 receptions for 286 yards and 4 touchdowns), but keep in mind that he accounted for 30.5% of his team’s receiving yards and touchdowns.  This equates to an 88th percentile college dominator score at the tight end position, which is phenomenal.  But here is a statistic that will really open up your eyes to the potential of C.J. Conrad.  In his most productive college season, Conrad had 17.9 yards per reception, which is 95th percentile historically among all tight end prospects.  It is Conrad’s big play ability that makes him my top prospect.  There is nothing wrong with Conrad’s size at 6’5 and 245 pounds.  I project Vernon Davis as his floor and Jimmy Graham as his ceiling, in terms of player quality.

Offensive Tackle – Orlando Brown (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #3) brown

Orlando Brown has the best size I have seen for an offensive linemen in a long time.  He is massive at 6’8 and 360 pounds.  Brown’s father played in the NFL for 11 seasons, so you know he has the pedigree.  In terms of what he did in college, Brown was responsible for protecting Baker Mayfield’s blindside at Oklahoma and was the best member of an exceptionally strong offensive line unit.  Brown won several awards throughout his college career including First-Team AP All-American.  Brown has exceptionally long arms, which should benefit him greatly in pass blocking but perhaps hurt him a bit in run blocking.  Fortunately, he’s a natural fit at left tackle, where pass blocking is much more important.  I have no issues with Kiper’s top prospect, Mike McGlinchey, who also has excellent size and blocking ability.  But Brown is my number one prospect at this point.

Offensive Guard – Quenton Nelson (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #1)

No debate here at all.  Nelson is far and away the best offensive line prospect in this year’s draft class.  I believe he’s a can’t miss prospect.  By all accounts, he is a shoe-in to be an early first round selection, which is all the more impressive when you consider how much offensive guard tends to get overlooked and devalued in drafts.  My best comparable player to Quenton Nelson is Zack Martin from the Dallas Cowboys.  I believe Quenton Nelson will bring that type of quality to the league.

Center – Billy Price (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #1) price

Kiper and I are both projecting Billy Price as the top center as of right now.  The Ohio State product is talented and durable (tied school record for most consecutive starts at 55).  I expect his combine numbers to be outstanding, particularly on bench press.  This guy is strong as an ox.  This is the kind of guy you want on your offensive line.  He brings grit and toughness to the center position.  His strength is off the charts.  He doesn’t have the best footwork and may take some time to develop beyond his raw physical talent.  But he’ll make a fine second round selection in this year’s draft.  He reminds me of Lane Johnson, but plays center instead of tackle.

Defensive End – Bradley Chubb (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #1)

Bradley Chubb is a consensus top 5 draft pick, so it is no surprise that I have him ranked exactly where Kiper does as the #1 defensive end prospect in the draft.  In his senior year, Chubb was named a First-Team All-American, but the accolades didn’t stop there.  He also won the Hendricks award (for best defensive end) and Nagurski award (best defensive player).  Chubb has great size at 6’4 and 275 pounds.  Overall, he is a prospect that checks many boxes including NFL size, great athleticism, and on-field production.  The few weaknesses that Chubb does have can be ironed out through experience and proper coaching at the next level.  There is no reason to believe that Chubb won’t be a multi-year pro bowler in his career, thus he is worthy of an early first round pick.

Defensive Tackle – Da’Ron Payne (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #3)

payne

It’s honestly a pretty close decision for the top defensive tackle in the draft.  I’m not particularly high on Kiper’s #1 ranked player at the position, Christian Wilkins, but Kiper’s #2 ranked player, Vita Vea, makes his own case for deserving to be a top selection.  Ultimately, the reason I chose to go with Payne over Vea for the #1 ranked spot had to do with consistency.  Vea has excellent size and physical attributes, but he goes on stretches of just looking like an average defensive linemen.  Payne’s performances are more consistent.  And while Payne doesn’t get a lot of sacks, he’s a very effective run stopper.  He’s going to be great at the next level, particularly if he gets to play as a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme.  For me, he’s comparable to Brandon Williams from the Baltimore Ravens.  So in essence I’m projecting Payne to be below average as a pass rusher at the next level, but develop into an elite run stuffer at the position.

Inside Linebacker – Roquan Smith (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #1)

It gets tricky when you breakdown linebacker prospects between “inside” and “outside”.  In the case of Roquan Smith, he has the versatility to play either position.  I’m agreeing with Mel Kiper’s top ranking on this one.  It will be interesting to see Smith’s combine measurables, because he used to play wide receiver in high school and when you watch him on tape you notice excellent speed for the linebacker position.  This high-end speed helps Smith in pass rushing and also in coverage.  Smith was productive in college, leading his team in tackles.  In terms of weaknesses, he’s a bit undersized for the position at 6’1 and 225 pounds.  Block shedding is an area where he needs to improve.  Too often you see him get sucked into a block and not be able to get out of it to make a play.  Overall though, Smith is a worthy first round selection and you can certainly make the case for him being the top linebacker prospect for this year’s draft class.

Outside Linebacker – Tremaine Edmunds (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #1)

edmunds

This one is a no-brainer really.  Edmunds is well deserving of being a top ranked prospect at the position.  He combines elite athleticism with NFL-caliber size (6’5 and 250 pounds).  In addition, he’s one of the youngest players in this year’s draft class, currently only 19 years of age.  Paradoxically, this is both a strength and a weakness for Edmunds.  On the plus side, it means he was an excellent age-adjusted producer at the college level, and in theory he should have a longer lifespan in the NFL.  A great investment for any NFL team in that sense.  But the downside is he relies too much on his athletic gifts and therefore lacks the insticts, awareness, and play recognition you’d like to see at the position.  As a result, I expect Edmunds to struggle early on as a rookie, but he has far and away the highest ceiling of any linebacker prospect in this year’s draft class.  Edmunds just needs the experience and to be coached up.  Over the long-term, I expect he will prove to be a great player.

Cornerback – Josh Jackson (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #2)

We could be seeing a deep cornerback class this year that is loaded with talented players.  On the top end of this spectrum, I’d go with Josh Jackson because I believe he has the highest ceiling.  Denzel Ward is a safe selection, so I understand why Kiper would mark him down as the top prospect here.  Josh Jackson is coming off of an incredible season where he recorded 27 PBU’s and 8 interceptions.  He will be entering this draft at 21 years of age.  It should be noted that Josh Jackson played wide receiver in high school before converting to cornerback in college.  This is another guy who appears to have amazing athleticism on tape.  I can’t wait to see his combine measurables.

Safety – Derwin James (Holden’s #1 and Kiper’s #2)

derwinjames

While Kiper makes the argument for Minkah Fitzpatrick being listed at the top prospect here, I will note that Minkah Fitzpatrick is a hybrid player who could play cornerback or safety at the next level.  My preference is for a prospect that is a pure-play at the safety position to be top ranked here, so I’m going with Derwin James.  James is 6’3 and 215 pounds.  James was the top recruit at DB out of high school due to his amazing production (94 tackles and 4 interceptions in eight games).  He went on to suffer a left lateral meniscus tear early on in his college career.  But James bounced back, producing 84 tackles and two interceptions in his most recent season.  By all accounts, James puts in extra time to study film on weekends and is a great leader in the locker room on game days.  He has the ability to do it all on the field, from making big hits to playing tight coverage.  For all these reasons, and because James was named a Freshman All-American in his first college season, he’s my top ranked prospect at safety.

 

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How the 2017-2018 LA Rams Have Returned the Franchise to Greatness

justin

 

 

 

By: Justin Holden

Introduction

If someone told you at the start of the 2017 NFL Preseason that the Jacksonville Jaguars and LA Rams would both be legitimate playoff (and possibly super bowl) contenders for this year, you likely would have laughed in their face and called that person an idiot. As a fan of the LA Rams myself, even I didn’t see such a quick turnaround coming for the franchise. Early on, I honestly thought this would be another rebuilding year…that the LA Rams would need an additional year or two for everything to come together and re-establish the quality of the franchise that hasn’t been seen since the “Greatest Show On Turf” days of Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce.
But now that I have seen everything come together this season for the LA Rams, I feel that I have a complete understanding of how and why it happened so quickly. I would like to share my thoughts on the matter with you, because they are so different from what many other people are thinking. By the way, I am writing this article during week 16 of the regular season, fresh off the LA Rams blowout victory over the rival Seahawks at Seattle. The LA Rams currently have a regular season record of 10-4 and sit atop of the division standings, guaranteed a playoff spot at this point.

img_8039Addressing Coach Worshippers – Sean McVay
The vast majority of people you ask about LA Rams success this year will be quick to throw all the praise on first year head coach Sean McVay. McVay is one of the youngest NFL head coaches ever at just 31 years old. He was actually only age 30 when first hired by the LA Rams in January 2017. Let me give you some background information on him.
McVay was a four year starter for his high school football team, playing quarterback and defensive back. He also played college ball as a wide receiver at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio but had just 39 receptions for 312 yards his entire college football career. After graduating from Miami University, McVay began his coaching career as an assistant wide receivers coach under head coach Jon Gruden in 2008 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. From there, McVay was hired onto the Washington Redskins coaching staff in 2010, starting as an assistant tight ends coach. Eventually, McVay was able to work his way up to offensive coordinator for the Redskins in 2014. Arguably, McVay’s greatest achievement as offensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins came in his first year, when he saw the team finish 10th in total offense, a remarkable improvement from 25th in total offense the previous year.
In my view, sports analysts and the general public alike tend to put the head coach on a pedestal. And I believe part of the reason why is because we can identify with coaches. They are the tacticians on the sidelines that come up with game plans and strategy. They orchestrate what the players accomplish on the field, or so we think. But most important in our identification with the coaches is that we view their role as intelligence/wisdom based, with perhaps a bit of charisma/motivation thrown into the mix for good measure. In our subconscious, we view the coach role as something that any of us could do, regardless of age and athleticism, as long as we took the time to learn all the nuances of the sport.
But at the end of the day, I am suggesting to you that it is mostly the talent of the players you put out on the field that wins your team games. Now sure, it is on the head coach to not completely screw things up by making dumb mistakes such as:
1. Consistently fielding players outside of their ideal position (i.e. prototypical slot receiver only lining up on the outside of the field, shut down corner only being played at safety, etc.)
2. Increasing your star players’ chance of injury unnecessarily (Keeping your franchise QB in the game while he is already hurt and you are down 30 points, having your best defender also play special teams, etc.)
3. Consistently making bone-headed play calls (Refusing to punt early on in a close game, attempting field goals well outside of your kicker’s range, playing prevent defense at a time that doesn’t make sense, etc.)
4. Failing to make the necessary game plan adjustments (Opposing running back goes off for 140 rush yards in first half and you still aren’t stacking the box in second half, opposing defense is consistently fielding a formation with one safety and you fail to call any deep pass plays, etc.)

In essence, there are plenty of things that a bad coach can do to ruin your team’s chances of winning games. But that doesn’t mean it takes a genius head coach to turn around a franchise, nor does it mean the head coach deserves the majority of credit for a winning team. Do you really think Mike McCarthy is why the Packers have been playoff contenders over the years, or is it because he has arguably the league’s best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers? How about Mike Tomlin from the Steelers? Oh, it couldn’t be the fact he has this generation’s Jerry Rice in Antonio Brown, plus arguably the best running back in the league, Le’Veon Bell. Plus a top five efficiency ranked offensive line and a respectable defense. You see what I’m getting at here?
So my point is, player personnel talent gets overlooked big time in these situations. And in the case of the LA Rams, Sean McVay’s hiring coincidentally happened in the same year as several key player personnel changes, plus the progression of a star young player, that I believe are the true driving factors in the LA Rams resurgence to dominance. So before you tune in to ESPN or Fox Sports to watch a continued rear kissing festival for first year head coach Sean McVay, read on as I will reveal the real reasons for the LA Rams success this season in the following sections.
No Longer A Team Of Only Slot Receivers
At first, I didn’t think the offseason acquisition of wide receiver Robert Woods would do much for the LA Rams. His NFL career statistics as the Buffalo Bills #2 wide receiver appear quite underwhelming on paper. His best stat line from Buffalo was in 2014 when he had 65 receptions for 699 yards and 5 touchdowns in 16 games played. In my view, this is a mediocre season stat line. Woods’ other years in Buffalo were substantially worse than that. So how does the addition of Robert Woods do anything for the LA Rams? Well, for starters he is having the best statistical season of his career this year even though he missed several weeks due to injury. According to playerprofiler.com, Woods is posting a +20.3 production premium and +16.3 target premium, both statistical indicators that he is doing more with his opportunities than other wideouts on the same team. Okay, so why is he playing well now all of a sudden?
Well, we actually had indicators all along of Robert Woods’ true talent going back to his college days. He posted a 55th percentile college dominator rating at USC, a major college football program. Even more telling, Woods posted a breakout age of 18.4, which puts him in the 97th percentile historically among all college wide receiver prospects. What a phenom! This means that Woods’ age adjusted production was completely off the charts in college. And for those of us in the know when it comes to evaluating true player talent in a vacuum, age adjusted production is the number one leading indicator of whether or not a college football player is going to end up being good in the NFL.
But Robert Woods wasn’t the only key addition to the receiving corps for this season, as the LA Rams traded a 2nd round draft pick and cornerback EJ Gaines to get wide receiver Sammy Watkins from the Buffalo Bills. Keep in mind, Sammy Watkins was a top college football prospect out of Clemson that the Buffalo Bills actually traded up to take with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. During Watkins tenure with the Buffalo Bills, he dealt with several nagging injuries that kept him off the field much more than the team would have liked. This is likely why the Buffalo Bills decided to trade him away. But the on-field talent of Sammy Watkins was never denied.
So let me get this straight. The LA Rams picked up in free agency an age adjusted college mega producer in Robert Woods, plus traded to acquire a former 4th overall pick in the 2014 draft? And both of these wideouts play well on the outside of the field? Booyah! These are exactly the type of player personnel moves that were needed to help get the team to the next level. Because if you think about it, the Rams franchise was really a wasteland for wide receivers ever since the departure of Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.
The best receiver the Rams had between the Holt/Bruce departure and the start of the 2017 NFL season was Kenny Britt. And don’t get me wrong, Kenny Britt has been an underrated receiver for virtually his entire career, but expecting an offense to be prolific with Kenny Britt as the number one option and literally no other receivers that are worth their weight in salt is a fool’s expectation. The rest of the wide receivers were guys like Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Pharoh Cooper, Bradley Marquez, Austin Hill, etc. Most of those guys prototype as only being able to play effectively from the slot position. Brian Quick was a decent outside receiver. But that’s pretty much it! The Rams were in desperate need of field stretchers that could consistently beat starting cornerbacks down the field and catch passes. The team has that now with Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins. Thanks Buffalo!
Don’t Discount Offensive Linemen – Andrew Whitworthimg_8041
Perhaps the most crucial offseason free agent signing was offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth to the LA Rams. High quality offensive linemen are the unsung heroes of the NFL. They make prolific running backs like Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell look that much better, they give their quarterbacks significantly more time to make decisions and throw the ball to the right player, and they provide a confidence boost to the offensive unit as a whole.
Andrew Whitworth is a seasoned veteran that previously played for the Cincinnati Bengals and signed a 3 year contract with the LA Rams in the offseason. At 36 years of age, Whitworth is still kicking ass and taking names in the trenches. He’s a clear upgrade to the Rams’ offensive line, and has helped open up the running game once again for Todd Gurley. He’s also been key in providing the necessary protection to second year quarterback Jared Goff, which leads me to my next point.

The “Second Year Leap” for QB Jared Goff
The second year leap is a real thing for young NFL players and for the quarterback position in particular. There is clear evidence and proof of this that I will cite for you. img_8038Dan Marino went from 2,210 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns in his rookie year to 5,084 passing yards and 48 passing touchdowns in his second year. His QB rating improved from 96 to 108.9. Peyton Manning saw his passing yards improve from 3,739 to 4,135 and his QB rating improve from 71.2 to 90.7. Andrew Luck had a significant decrease in interceptions thrown as he went from 18 as a rookie to just 9 in his second year, and also saw his passer rating go up from 76.5 to 87. The list goes on and on for this statistical improvement from the rookie year to a second season. And while it doesn’t happen 100% of the time, it is very common to see this statistical improvement from quarterbacks that make the majority of their plays passing from the pocket.
In the case of Jared Goff, a poor rookie season with a passer rating of just 63.6 has been followed up by what currently stands as a passer rating of 98.9 for the 2017-2018 NFL season. I would attribute some of this statistical progression to the additional offensive line protection and playmakers that have been put around him. But there is still something to be said for Jared Goff in and of himself.
Jared Goff was measured up against Carson Wentz for the 2016 NFL Draft class as both were viewed as consensus top quarterback prospects, but for different reasons. The argument for Carson Wentz over Jared Goff really came down to the fact that Wentz had the prototypical size you look for in an NFL quarterback (6’5 and 237 pounds) plus better athleticism (80th percentile SPARQ-x score compared to 22nd percentile for Jared Goff). So Wentz was the bigger, more athletic quarterback. Plus, Jared Goff was knocked for having small hands. But why do I believe Jared Goff over Carson Wentz was the right decision for the Rams from an analytical standpoint?
It goes back to what I referenced before. Age adjusted production. Goff’s breakout age at Cal was 18.9 (95th percentile) compared to Wentz’s 21.7 (25th percentile). You also have to take into account that Jared Goff actually played for a major college program and played exceptionally well, while Carson Wentz played for small school North Dakota State and trailed Goff’s production as a passer. They finished their respective college careers with the following stat lines:
Wentz: 64.1% completion/5,115 pass yds/45 TD/14 INT/153.9 QB rating
Goff: 62.3% completion, 12,195 pass yds, 96 TD, 30 INT, 144 QB rating
So, since Jared Goff checked all the boxes as a college quarterback prospect, with the exception of measured athleticism and having small hands, it is no surprise to me that he has taken the “second year leap”. Goff has been a big time age-adjusted producer his entire football life, with the exception of a crap rookie season in the NFL. But we can excuse rookie seasons because players are still getting acclimated to the big league. It is normal to struggle as a rookie. Now don’t go around saying that Jared Goff’s ascension is all because of first year head coach Sean McVay, or the LA Rams offensive coordinator, or their quarterbacks coach. Because coaching is not the reason. Jared Goff is what he is. And that is a franchise quarterback who just got additional offensive weapons around him and is set to tear it up for years to come, regardless of any additional coaching changes.
Conclusion
You’ve heard all the coach speak, coach worship, coach praise. I am submitting to you my alternative thesis. Which is that the player personnel changes from the offseason up to now are the primary drivers behind the LA Rams success in the 2017-2018 NFL season. I give Sean McVay and the coaching staff SOME credit, but nowhere near the amount that the rest of the general public and mainstream sports media are lavishing upon img_8040them.
At the end of the day, it’s the players on the field that win you games. The coaching staff just needs to be competent and professional, do their jobs correctly and not make critical mistakes. The players on the field will take care of the rest. Hopefully this article gave you some insight into why certain players on the team are making more of an impact this year. I know I didn’t touch on the defensive side of the football at all, but that’s because there weren’t really any key changes for the Rams in that area, other than hiring a new defensive coordinator. Let’s be honest, the big improvement this season from last has been the offense, and all the statistics show that. The Jacksonville Jaguars have seen the polar opposite happen to them, key defensive player personnel changes that have made the team a legit contender. If you have a reaction to my article, you may tweet me @goldenholden11 or @littubechannel. Feel free also to visit LitTube’s YouTube channel and leave a comment for me: https://youtube.com/LitTubeChannel