The Las Vegas Raiders have traded wide receiver Bryan Edwards and a seventh-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for a 2023 fifth-round pick. In 2021, Edwards caught 34 passes for 571 yards and three touchdowns per Pro Football Reference.
Edwards is entering his third year in the league after being drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft. His big plays have been few and far between, but he is a reliable and hard-working player with a lot of potential. Last season, Raiders coaches even went so far as to say Edwards reminded them of Hall of Fame player, Terrell Owens. While he didn’t live up to those high standards, he did make some game-changing plays for the Raiders.
The 23-year-old receiver’s biggest impact as a Raider came during a must-win game in Week 15. The Silver and Black were visiting the Browns in Cleveland. Las Vegas sat at 6-7 with their playoff hopes on the line. Both teams had been dealing with COVID-19 breakouts, and the Raiders needed everyone to stand out. Edwards took it to heart the most as he made the play of the game in the first quarter, catching a touchdown pass over the head of the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback, Denzel Ward.
For the Raiders, they are now one step closer to finalizing their wide receivers room after a big shakeup this off-season.
Edwards will now join his former teammate, quarterback Marcus Mariota, in Atlanta. A receiving corps including Edwards, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London is sure to turn some heads in 2022.
The Miami Dolphins have signed running back Sony Michel, and his role is one the team was desperately looking for.
The Miami Dolphins signed former Patriots running back Sony Michel on Monday. Following a brief stint in Los Angeles, the Broward Native will be coming back to play in his home state.
Following a solid first couple seasons in New England, 2020 was a rough year for Michel. Battling injury, he only played in nine games, racking up just over 200 yards.
However, when Rams running back Cam Akers went down, Los Angeles called about the struggling back, whose job was being taken over by Damien Harris. Michel was thus dealt for a pair of day three picks, and began to revitalize his career in Los Angeles.
Under offensive mastermind Sean McVay, Michel saw his role expanded. While he was mainly seen as a power back in New England, there were several skills that were uncovered in his game.
Outside Zone and Pass Protection
Rather than running between the tackles, McVay’s system (very similarly to Mike McDaniel’s), calls for more outside zone run. This put more emphasis on his ability to make quick cuts and find cutback lanes, which was rarely seen during his tenure in New England.
Michel appeared to have regained some burst following his injury, and it showed in his speed. He was more decisive than ever, and was making quick moves, turning big holes into bigger gains.
This is crucial for a Dolphins offense that, under the aforementioned McDaniel, is basing their offense in the inside zone. They signed running backs Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds in free agency, but they both fit more niche roles, and Miami still needed an early down back.
Michel can bring exactly that. His mixture of power and a newfound knack for hitting the hole is a match made in heaven for McDaniel. Running behind a left side of new additions in Terron Armstead and Connor Williams should open up several lanes that Michel has shown the ability to hit.
Michel’s collaboration with Miami’s linemen won’t stop there. Coming from a New England scheme that emphasizes the little things, Miami’s new addition takes pride in his pass protection. He has shown an aggressiveness and, just as importantly, a willingness to take a hit to protect his quarterback. The Miami Dolphins struggled to protect Tua last year, and that could soon change with Sony Michel in his backfield.
The Bottom Line on the Sony Michel and the Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are clearly committed to the “running back by committee” approach, and they now have the backs to do it. The three newcomers join Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed, who have both shown spurts of starting-caliber production.
However, this doesn’t mean that the Michel pickup isn’t significant. While Edmonds and Mostert are talented, Miami was lacking an early-down back. With this signing, they now have someone who can run between the tackles and take the tough hits, while also being able to perform on outside-zone concepts.
Michel’s versatility and willingness to do the little things will come in handy for a Dolphins team that looks to be in win-now mode this season.
The Las Vegas Raiders have come a long way this off-season. They have found their new head coach, new general manager, next elite wide receiver, and made many more franchise-changing moves. Now, it’s been one week since the 2022 NFL Draft, and training camp is just around the corner. Las Vegas has made some big moves since February, but the Raiders concerns are becoming increasingly more clear ahead of off-season programs.
Front office stability
More than an improved defense or red-zone offense, the 2022 Raiders need stability. They pushed through the most unpredictable NFL season ever in 2021, dealing with challenges in every sense of the word. And while the playoff loss was disappointing, it also served as a reminder that stability and personnel improvement were finally on their way.
The hiring of Josh McDaniels, Dave Ziegler, and Champ Kelly was a massive step in the right direction. They brought on primarily their own staff and now have executed extensive change in the scouting department as well. All seemed to be looking brighter in Sin City, until this week when it was announced that the Raiders have parted ways with both their vice president of human resources and their team president. It is unclear what lead to the departure of both parties, but new information suggests it may be due to a hostile work environment.
In a newly released statement former president, Dan Vantrelle, suggests he was met with hostility when he brought up concerns regarding the female staff. Vantrelle made clear he stands by his actions and intends to get legal representation regarding his termination.
The Raiders have been involved in many lawsuits over the last year, which makes the latest even more disappointing.
The Raiders added a lot of talent in free agency and the draft this year, but one group they hardly addressed was the secondary. Outside of trading for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, Las Vegas only signed three other players to their secondary, and none of them are known to be game-changing players. For the most part, Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler have hung on the pieces that were already there for them.
While some of the pieces they have in place are solid, like Nate Hobbs, most of the pieces could use an upgrade. Starting cornerback Trayvon Mullen and safety Jonathan Abram are both coming off season-ending injuries and surgeries, making their play in 2022 relatively unpredictable.
Despite these injuries and questions, the new front office tandem decided against drafting a rookie cornerback or safety, in hopes that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham can upgrade the players he has on the payroll already, or they can find a steal in the remaining free agents.
That free agent steal may come in the form of Giants’ cornerback James Bradberry, who is rumored to be released from New York in the coming weeks. The former Pro-Bowler is coming off a season with four interceptions, more than any one player had for the Raiders in 2021. If Mullen is out for the beginning of the season, Bradberry gives the Silver and Black a fighting chance and will be a wildly dependable piece of the puzzle upon Mullen’s return.
The offensive line
Unlike the secondary, the Raiders did choose to address the offensive line during the draft. With their first pick, they took Memphis offensive guard, Dylan Parham. Parham’s skill set is unique because he brings the ability to play both center and guard. Prior to the draft, the widespread assumption was that Andre James would remain at center this season, thanks to a somewhat convincing campaign in 2021. Now, it’s less clear than ever what the starting five will look like in September.
Second-year veteran Alex Leatherwood brings his own set of questions, as he was incredibly undependable his rookie season. After playing at both right tackle and right guard, he came away without much success in either. Head coach Josh McDaniels told the media he is unsure where Leatherwood will play next season, but sees him as a “contributor”.
The questions at center come with equal questions at both guard and tackle. The only solidified position on the front line seems to be left tackle, Kolton Miller. Thankfully, with a new offensive line coach comes new hope for an improved line.
The Raiders live in the hardest division in football, inside the hardest conference in football. Their successes and downfalls next season will come at the hands of the problems still unsolved. If they can choose to make smart decisions and do the right thing, these Raiders’ concerns should be mitigated by September.
It is time to look at the 2023 NFL Draft quarterbacks. There is a lot of hype on the internet because of how lackluster the 2022 class was, with some big name analysts saying we could see 7 first round quarterbacks. Now, I’m not going to talk about C.J Stroud or Bryce Young. We all know they are good and we all buy the hype with them. But there are five other quarterbacks that are getting crazy amounts of hype. First up in this series looking at 2023 NFL Draft QBs, Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke.
Who is Van Dyke?
Tyler Van Dyke was a 4-star recruit from Connecticut. He ripped up New England in high school, and not just on the football field. Van Dyke was the New England Pitcher of the Year, with a 6-0 record and a 1.08 ERA.
At Miami, Van Dyke took over for D’Eriq King when he went out with a season-ending injury. From there, Van Dyke had six games in a row with 300 yards and three touchdowns.
What is Van Dyke’s Skill set?
Tyler Van Dyke has a lot of talent, and he doesn’t lose his cool very often. Van Dyke’s arm is NFL level. The Miami offense last year was not very quarterback friendly. Van Dyke constantly had to hop on his horse and run, which led to him having to create more than he probably should have as a first-year quarterback. By no means did this throw off Van Dyke (which is good to see), however it did lead to a few mistakes.
Van Dyke does have some weaknesses. He occasionally holds onto the ball for too long, however this could have been because of what I mentioned before about Miami’s offense. His load time and release speed could also use some improvement.
Should You Buy the Hype?
In my opinion: buy with caution. I think he is going to have a great year in Miami, but is he in the quarterback three range? I don’t know just yet. With the shortage of first round quarterbacks in 2022, I think Van Dyke could sneak into the first. Who knows, if Mario Cristobal can get him a legitimate offense, Tyler Van Dyke might just climb his way to the top 15 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Finally, my thoughts on the Green Bay Packers day 3 picks from the NFL draft are here! The Packers had two picks in the 4th, one in the 5th (that they traded down), and four in the 7th. Below are my thoughts on every day 3 pick. If you haven’t already, check out my thoughts on the teams day one and day two picks. Now, let’s get to the show!
Packers NFL Draft Day 3: Picks and Analysis
Romeo Doubs is a player who I had as a fit for the Packers way back on October. He has the size, physicality, and speed they like. He also showed flashes of the blocker that he could be at Nevada, occasionally burying defenders while blocking. Other times he would look either unsure of his assignment or unengaged. While he ran mostly deep routes at Nevada, when he was given a chance to run other routes he showed that he could and the potential was there for him to get better.
I had Doubs projected as a 3rd round pick, but he wasn’t able to work out at the combine or Nevada’s pro day due to an illness. He did have a private workout later where he reportedly ran in the 4.47-4.52 range. On film he looks closer to 4.47 — maybe even faster. He has speed and he knows how to get deep. An underrated part of his game is his ability to get YAC, or yards after the catch. He may not be a YAC monster, but he can get yards with physicality and his sneaky agility.
As far as a rookie, he projects to be the #4 or #5 receiver. He should also compete for the punt return job and maybe the kick return job, too. He also helps bring speed to the offense that has been lacking. Even Matt LaFleur mentioned this in his pre-draft press conference. Doubs also brings the big, strong body type the Packers like. If he improves his short and intermediate routes, he has #2 receiver potential. You could even consider him more pro-ready today than Watson.
Zach Tom was one of the most Packers offensive linemen in the draft. He brings versatility to the field, having started two seasons at center and two seasons at left tackle — something you rarely see. He doesn’t have the greatest size at 6’4 304 with 33 1/4″ arms, but that has never been something to scare off the Packers.
The most important thing to them is movement skills; especially agility drills. Tom tested out elite in those categories. He does lack a bit of an anchor, and his body looks mostly filled out. That shows up on film where you can see him getting bull rushed at times. However, his feet and his ability to mirror are on another level. He held down Jermaine Johnson, who was destroying every one.
I would expect Tom to get a shot pretty much everywhere, maybe even left tackle. I do expect him to settle in at guard and center. Kind of like Lucas Patrick, but a better athlete on the field and he could back up at tackle as well. He reminds me a little of former Packer center Mike Flanagan.
Flanagan was 6’5″ 295-ish and was long, with a thin frame and not much of an anchor. He would get bull rushed on occasion, but was so quick and technical that he gave defensive linemen fits. He also was able to kick out to left tackle for a few games with Chad Clifton was injured. That is the kind of role Tom could have on the roster.
Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare:
Kingsley or “JJ” Enagbare is a player who never produced big sacks numbers , but always produced pressures. He had 45 pressures in 2021 alone. Enagbare also had 24 in a shortened eight-game season in 2020.
He has good size at 6’4″ 258 pounds with long 34 3/4″ arms. While his 40 speed is on the slow side, his short area burst or explosion is very good on film. JJ, as he is known, also shows very heavy hands on film. He will knock back blockers with his strong hands. He still has some rawness to him. His pass rush moves and counters need improvement. Kingsley does set a good edge, though.
As as rookie, I would expect him to man the #3 edge rusher spot to give Rashan Gary and Preston Smith a break. He will probably also end up on some special teams. If he can hone his craft and work hard at it, he could develop into a starter down the road. He will probably never be a big sack guy, but should be a good all-around edge defender.
Tariq Carpenter is an interesting study. He played only safety at Georgia Tech, but has the size of a linebacker. He has the speed of a safety, but not the agility. Carpenter is kind of in middle. Even though his agility testing wasn’t great, because his speed and explosion testing were so good he still tested out as a elite athlete. Carpenter did give up 12 touchdown passes and allowed a completion percentage of 71 in his career at Georgia Tech. So it is probably best he moves to linebacker, which LaFleur has seemed to indicate.
This pick was a pure Rich Bisaccia pick. He will be a special teamer, and that’s about it. He is just a big, fast, strong athlete. The former Yellow Jacket may be able to develop into a decent #3 linebacker. If so, that’s just a bonus to what they expect out of him. Carpenter may even be able to develop into a nickel backer.
Jonathan Ford is a pure nose tackle. 6’5″ 335 pounds plus with poor athletic testing. He is big and strong, and can clog up the middle. Career wise he was a disappointment at Miami. He started for three seasons but had little impact. He has three sacks in 2019 and none the rest of his career.
There were whispers of him being lazy and unmotivated. His poor testing points to that to an extent, because he doesn’t look sloppy. Maybe going so late in the draft will motivate him to work hard? We will see.
He doesn’t fit on this roster as a rookie. Even if he works his butt off, there is almost no room for him on the roster. The Packers already have three guys who can play nose tackle in Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed, and TJ Slaton. Plus, there’s Dean Lowry, Jack Heflin, and the recently drafted Devante Wyatt. The Packers use a lot of two DL packages, so there is not a need for four nose tackles. Especially not one who offers nothing as a pass rusher.
They usually keep either five or six defensive linemen. If they keep a sixth, it will be someone who can play some 4i or even 5-tech, not a 0-tech/nose tackle. He will be stashed on the practice squad with the hopes he can develop and make the roster in 2023.
Early on in the process, Rasheed Walker was looking like a mid-round pick with some developmental potential. However, he didn’t play well in 2021, and also had an injury that hampered him and that didn’t allow him to work out at the combine or Penn State’s pro day.
Walker started three seasons at left tackle for Penn State. He gave up 26 pressures this past season, and seems to really struggle with speedy/bendy edge rushers. But in 2020 he only gave up 14. So, the knee injury probably did affect him some in 2021. He has great size at almost 6’6 313 pounds with 33 5/8″ arms.
The former Nittany Lion seems to have some similarities to Yosh Nijman. He was a multi-season starter at tackle for a major program. He has great size and good athleticism, with a lot of potential — but his technique is a mess. Walker is probably going to need a year or two on the practice squad to clean it up. But, due to Green Bays lack of depth at tackle, he probably makes the roster as a “redshirt”. He could back up right tackle and could be cross-trained for guard. I don’t see him being able to play left tackle long-term or as a starter in the NFL.
Samori Toure was a transfer from Montana where he had 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2019. His 2020 season was lost due to COVID. He transferred to Nebraska for the 2021 season. Toure put up 896 yards and five touchdowns, which doesn’t sound like a lot but Nebraska is still a very run oriented offense, so the fact that he was able to put up those numbers in that offense — with not a very good quarterback — speaks to his skill level.
Toure also averaged 19.5 yards per catch. 80% of his snaps he lined up in the slot, but he can play outside. He has average size at 6’1″, 191 and looks like he could maybe add a few pounds to his frame. He has struggled some with getting off press coverage. That is something he will have to work on, along with getting stronger in the upper body. Athletically overall, he is average to slightly above average. The former Husker also has some special teams experience, which is a plus.
Toure probably doesn’t make the roster as long as everyone ahead of him can stay relatively healthy. He has kind of a redundant skill set right now, with there already being two slot receivers on the roster and Allen Lazard who sees snaps there as well. Until he can get stronger I don’t think they can trust him outside.
Toure has Sammy Watkins, Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Christian Watson, and Doubs ahead of him on the depth chart. LaFleur rarely keeps more than six receivers on the roster. He would need to show he could come in and play special teams and possibly be a returner. Even still, it’s more likely he spends a season on the practice squad. Eventually, though, he could develop into a solid #3/slot receiver.