Green Back Packers: Post Aaron Rodgers Trade Mock Draft

Now that the Aaron Rodgers trade has FINALLY gone done, here is my post-trade Packers mock draft. Since the trade just went down I decided to just stick and pick, but thought about trading down a few times, I might do one more with some trades.

Of course you can always read anything else I have written here. I used the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator. Now let’s open up a new era of Packers football with the first post-Aaron Rodgers mock draft.

Round 1, Pick 13: Myles Murphy – ED – Clemson
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I went with Murphy because Paris Johnson Jr. and Broderick Jones were already gone and I feel the wide receiver rumors are smoke screens. There isn’t a WR worth a top 15 pick in this class in my opinion. Murphy was the best player that fit the Packers left on the board. Murphy is in a similar boat that Gary was when the Packers drafted him, he will need time, but can be a pro bowler.

Round 2, Pick 42: Kendre Miller – RB – TCU
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Get Jordan Love some weapons. Miller can play in all phases and will give Green Bay the type of running back they have lacked since Ryan Grant; a workhorse who can be the lead guy. He would obviously be the #3 guy behind Jones and Dillion for his rookie year, but would take over after that.

Round 2, Pick 45: Jonathan Mingo – WR – Ole Miss
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Most everyone knows how I feel about Mingo’s fit in Green Bay. He has the size, speed, skills, and versatility they like. He obviously still needs some work, but coming in as the #3/4 receiver will give him time to develop and could be a dangerous trio with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs in a couple years, where all three can line up at any spot.

Round 3, Pick 78: Tucker Kraft – TE – South Dakota State
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This might be considered a little bit of a slip for Kraft, but it’s certainly possible. He fits the mold of the type of tight end that Green Bay usually goes for. Someone who can be an all-around tight end, can contribute as a receiver and red zone threat, and be a solid blocker. Like any other rookie tight end, he will need time to develop. I expect Gutekunst to bring in some vet tight end.

Round 4, Pick 116: John Ojukwu – OT – Boise State
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I have been singing Ojukwu’s praises for awhile, and I feel he would be a great future replacement for David Bahktiari. He has a few technical things he needs work on, and could add a little more core strength. He has experience at right tackle, so he could beat out Yosh Nijman at RT or be a swing tackle as a rookie, then take over at left tackle in 2024.

Round 5, Pick 149: Gervarrius Owens – S – Houston
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Owens fits the mold athletically of what the Packers look for: 6’0 almost 200 pounds and a 9.21 RAS score. Skill set wise, he was more of a box safety most of his career at Houston, but he really showed some development in coverage in 2022. If he develops and learns to play a little more in control, he could be a very solid all-around safety in the Adrian Amos mold.

Round 6, Pick 207: Jalen Redmond – DL – Oklahoma
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Redmond started two years at Oklahoma and was used all up and down the line, but he fits best as a 3-tech penetrating type of defensive lineman. He never quite developed as a pass rusher, but was always a solid run defender — despite being under 300. He could spend his rookie year as the #4/5 DL and bring solid depth to the trenches while he develops.

Round 7, Pick 232: Jason Taylor II – S – Oklahoma State
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This pick is another one that, in my opinion, probably isn’t there at this point, but I took him anyway and thought about taking him at 207. He has been a two-year starter and played well both seasons, with eight interceptions and six pass break-ups in that time, and has shown he can even be used as a blitzer. Taylor also has experience lining up all over, having played more strong safety in 2021, but more free in 2022. The former Cowboy has even taken over 400 career snaps in the slot. He really fits the mold of what the Packers like.

Round 7, Pick 235: Darrell Luter Jr. – CB – South Alabama
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Another guy who I picked a little later than I think he will end up going. He has been very good for South Alabama the last two seasons. He had 4 interceptions and 10 passes defensed in 2021. Luter is also a good tackler and run defender. He could even play some from the slot and has over 350 snaps played on special teams. He would be an improvement over Shermar Jean-Charles.

Round 7, Pick 242: Davis Allen – TE – Clemson
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Allen is another tight end in the typical Green Bay mold. He can do a bit of everything, but doesn’t excel at anything. He can play inline, detached, as a fullback or H-back, and has a lot of special teams experience. Allen is a solid receiver and can get some YAC. He does need to add some bulk and core strength to be a better blocker and more physical at the point of attack.

Round 7, Pick 256: Jake Moody – K – Michigan
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There were a lot of options I had here. I thought about getting a linebacker because I don’t feel great about the depth right now. I thought about a quarterback. I thought about an edge rusher. Ultimately, I finished our Packers mock draft with the guy sure to be contributor as a rookie. Moody has been a very good kick off specialist and really improved his field goal accuracy this past season. He doesn’t have prime Mason Crosby range, but he can hit 53 yards pretty comfortably.

Ravens vs Jets Week 1 Review

The Ravens travel to New York to battle the Jets in the season opener. Find out what happened as Around the Block breaks down the important action!

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The Baltimore Ravens kicked off the 2022 season with a trip to New York against the Jets. The stories around this game and the Ravens themselves abounded. Would the Lamar Jackson contract situation distract the team? Would the numerous starters out for Baltimore affect the team? Could this be Joe Flacco’s big revenge game? There were many questions but they could only be answered by playing the game. Follow along as we break down this Week 1 matchup of the Ravens vs Jets.

Ravens vs Jets Recap: First Half

FIRST QUARTER

Things got started the right way for Gang Green, as the first play went for 19 yards by running back Michael Carter on the outside edge. However, the Ravens would put pressure on Flacco on back-to-back plays, including forcing an intentional grounding to bring up the game’s first fourth down.

The Ravens didn’t fair much better on their first offensive drive. After a handful of short yardage gains, Kenyan Drake got stuffed on 3rd and 2, forcing the Ravens to punt. Rookie punter Jordan Stout booted a nice punt to put the Jets on their own 11.

The following Jets possession would create a spark for the Ravens. A deep pass by Flacco would be picked off by Baltimore’s big offseason acquisition, safety Marcus Williams, who would take the ball back to the New York 14.

Despite the positional advantage, the Ravens were unable to capitalize. Receiver Demarcus Robinson would shake a Jets defender for a gain of eight yards on 2nd down, but that’s as much offense as could be mustered by the Ravens. An incomplete pass on 3rd down would force the Ravens to take a field goal. One Justin Tucker attempt later and Baltimore would have the first lead of the game, 3-0, with 3:16 left in the 1st quarter.

SECOND QUARTER

The start of the 2nd quarter began with a pass to receiver Rashod Bateman that was dislodged by a Jets defender, forcing the Ravens to punt. The ensuing drive by the Jets looked promising for New York. The Jets would drive all the way to the Baltimore 27 before Greg Zuerlein missed a 45 yard field goal to keep the Ravens lead at 3-0.

Following a New York punt, Jackson would take a deep shot to Robinson that would fall incomplete. However, Robinson would draw a pass interference call that would move the Ravens up to the New York 30. The next play would see Jackson launch a 25-yard pass into the endzone to receiver Devin Duvernay for the first touchdown of the game. A Tucker extra point would give the Ravens a 10-0 lead with 3:45 left in the first half.

The Jets wouldn’t go quietly into the half. A 22-yard run by Michael Carter would put the Jets on Baltimore’s 48-yard line. The Jets would get down to Baltimore’s 28-yard line before a forced fumble on tight end Tyler Conklin, recovered by the Jets, would halt yet another promising drive. Greg Zuerlein would boot a 45-yard field goal to cut into Baltimore’s lead right before the half, 10-3.

“I feel like it was just us feeling it out, out there. We didn’t play in preseason. I didn’t play in six games last year. Not much really.” Jackson said of his play in the first half and the offense’s slow start during the post-game press conference. “We got back in the swing of things and came out better in the second half and started putting points on the board.”

Ravens vs Jets Recap: Second Half

THIRD QUARTER

Getting the ball to start the second half, the Ravens hoped to conjure up more offense than in the first. A shifty eight-yard run by Jackson on 3rd down would give the Ravens a first down. That would be as far as the offense would go. A run for no gain and two incomplete passes brought up a quick 4th down. A 65-yard punt by Stout would negate any hopes the Jets had of getting great field position.

A quick Jets possession followed by a short punt saw the Ravens with the ball at the New York 44 to start their next possession. A handful of chunk plays would put the Ravens in the redzone. On a 3rd and 10, Jackson would find Devin Duvernay yet again for their second scoring connection of the day. Halfway through the 3rd quarter, the Ravens found themselves up 17-3.

The next Ravens possession would be a whirlwind of emotions. Mike Davis would fumble the ball after a nice run for a first down. A lucky bounce would let the Ravens keep possession. The very next play, Lamar would throw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Rashod Bateman. That would give the Ravens a 24-3 lead.

FOURTH QUARTER

Starting the 4th quarter, the Jets conjured up their best drive of the day. A handful of plays that went for 10-plus yards would put the Jets at the Baltimore 22. That would be as far as the drive would go. Safety Chuck Clark would force a fumble on rookie running back Breece Hall, and corner Marlon Humphrey would quickly recover. Unfortunately, the Ravens would be unable to turn the gift into points and punted.

Joe Flacco and the Jets would not go quietly into the night. Converting on 4th down twice, the Jets would drive down to Baltimore’s 6 yard line. Needing a touchdown to have any hope of staying in the game, the Jets lined up for a third 4th down attempt on this drive. This would not be the charm, however, as Flacco’s pass fell incomplete and the possession would switch.

Though the outcome of the game was a forgone conclusion, it wasn’t without its fireworks. Jackson would throw an interception to give the Jets solid field position. Flacco would then again drive the Jets to the Ravens redzone. The Jets would finally cross the goal-line, as Flacco found Tyler Conklin for a late touchdown pass. The ensuing extra point would be no good. Those would be the final points of the game, as the Ravens take a Week 1 victory over the Jets 24-9.

Speaking on Jackson’s play during the Ravens post-game press conference, head coach John Harbaugh had this to say: “Lamar [Jackson] played outstanding. He played a patient, veteran quarterback game. He was in control of everything, he did a great job at the line, handled the clock really well…He played a really veteran, winning quarterback type of a game.”

The Ravens (1-0) have their home opener next week (09-18). They host the Miami Dolphins (1-0) in a pivotal early season tilt.

AFC East Preview: Offseason Recap and Predictions

The AFC East has gained a new look since Tom Brady left for Tampa. Four young quarterbacks look to be their teams answer for the next decade as they battle for the title: AFC East Champions. Big stars enter the division this year. Let’s see who joined and how it all will end in our AFC East preview.

AFC East Preview

4. New York Jets

Key loses – OT Morgan Moses, WR Jamison Crowder, DE Foley Fatukasi, FS Marcus Maye,

Key additions – OG Laken Tomlinson, CB D.J. Reed, TE C.J. Uzomah, TE Tyler Conklin, OT Duane Brown, S Jordan Whitehead, OLB Jake Martin, DE Solomon Thomas, K Greg Zuerlein, ILB Kwon Alexander, CB Ahmad Gardner, WR Garrett Wilson, RB Breece Hall, DE Jermaine Johnson II, TE Jeremy Ruckert

Re-signed – FB Nick Bawden (1-year)

Head coach Robert Saleh’s first season in East Rutherford wasn’t ideal. The team went 4-13 and got swept by the rest of the AFC East. They were one of the worst teams in the league, but added a lot of talent in the offseason. With a handful of high NFL draft picks, this Jets team could now be a somewhat competitive team.

Last season’s offense would end up having four different quarterbacks play for them due to injuries. Zach Wilson started a majority of them, and he comes into this season looking to prove he is the future in New York. The front office helped him out by getting some weapons. Rookie wideout Garrett Wilson will be trying to become Wilson’s top target, and tight end C.J. Uzomah is going to be a safety valve.

While Michael Carter is listed as the #1 running back, rookie Breece Hall should see plenty of snaps as he looks to take over the #1 spot. This offensive line is up-and-coming, and has the potential to become elite. It is still a young offense, so there will be some hiccups along the way, but the Jets should improve on their 26th ranked offense.

Jets fans had a tough time watching their offense last year, but the defense was even worse. They ranked dead last in the NFL in yards, points for, and first downs allowed. They did add some talent, though, with rookies Jermaine Johnson II and Ahmed “Sauce” Gardner. Johnson II helps to create a solid defensive front four with John Franklin-Myers and Quinnen Williams.

Gardner pairs up with newly acquired cornerback D.J. Reed, causing this secondary to have one of the most improved units in the NFL. However, the Jets still have one of the worst linebacker corps in the league with C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams, who both had one of the worst seasons of their careers last season.

Prediction

While the Jets improved a lot this offseason, they still have a ways to go. They still have to find out if Wilson is the answer, so I have them finishing 5-12, and 1-5 against the AFC East. They are heading in the right direction, and this season needs to be an improvement.

3. New England Patriots

Key loses – WR Gunner Olszewski, CB J.C. Jackson, ILB Kyle Van Noy, C Ted Karras, RB Brandon Bolden

Key additions – WR Ty Montgomery, S Jabrill Peppers, CB Terrance Mitchell, CB Malcolm Butler, OG Cole Strange, WR Tyquan Thornton, CB Marcus Jones, CB Jack Jones

Re-signed – OT Trent Brown (2-years), ILB Ja’whaun Bentley (2-years), K Nick Folk (2-years), WR/ST Matthew Slater (1-year)

Extensions – S Adrian Phillips (3-years, $14 million), P Jake Bailey (4-years, $13 million), DT Davon Godchaux (2-years, $20 million), RB James White (2-years, $5 million)

Year two without Tom Brady, and the Patriots ended up making the playoffs. With Mac Jones becoming the first rookie quarterback since 1993 to start for the Patriots, they went 10-7. They would go on to lose 47-17 in the playoffs to the Buffalo Bills in the worst postseason loss of head coach Bill Belichick’s tenure. It was an interesting offseason for the Patriots, as they hope to reach the postseason again.

Mac Jones and the Patriots offense finished 15th in total offense a year ago. Yet, they didn’t do much this offseason on that side of the ball. Drafting Cole Strange in the first round was definitely strange to fans, but he helps create a top ten offensive line. This should help out their running back committee, as they hope to lead the Patriots to a top ten finish in rushing again.

Wideouts Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne had solid seasons in 2021. They are hoping their chemistry with Jones causes another leap in their statistics. This offense still features below average weapons, and with questionable play calling, they might be one of the bottom ten offenses in the league.

Bill Belichick’s been known for his defensive mind, and last season showed another reason why. The Patriots finished fourth in total defense. However, they struggled against the run, finishing 22nd in yards against. It didn’t help to lose JC Jackson this offseason, but bringing back Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler is a decent consolation. The secondary has depth and a great safety duo, but might struggle against elite receivers.

The linebacker corps took a hit losing Kyle Van Noy, but has two guys that play hard in Bentley and Wilson. The young defensive line looks to make a jump next to veteran Matthew Judon. With Bill Belichick at the helm, I don’t see this defense being ranked lower than ten.

Prediction

One of the harder teams to predict in this league, I believe the Patriots will finish 7-10 after going 1-5 in the division. Mac Jones will need to take a big leap this season for them to reach the playoffs.

2. Miami Dolphins

Key loses – QB Jacoby Brissett, OG Jesse Davis, WR Albert Wilson, CB Justin Coleman

Key additions – OT Terron Armstead, WR Cedrick Wilson, C Connor Williams, RB Chase Edmonds, CB Keion Crossen, FB Alec Ingold, QB Teddy Bridgewater, OLB Melvin Ingram, RB Raheem Mostert, DE Trey Flowers, P Thomas Morstead, WR Tyreek Hill, LB Channing Tindall, WR Erik Ezukanma, QB Skylar Thompson

Re-signed – TE Durham Smythe (2-years)

Extensions – CB Xavien Howard (5-years, $50 million), WR Tyreek Hill (4-years, $120 million)

After starting 1-7, Miami would finish the season winning eight out of their last nine to finish with a record of 9-8. Despite the second-half success, they still decided to fire head coach Brian Flores and hire Mike McDaniel. They would make another big move this offseason, trading for superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill. It creates one of the fastest duos in NFL history, and the Dolphins are looking to challenge Buffalo for the division.

With Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa should have no issue getting the ball out fast. With this offensive line, Tua will need to get the ball out fast. Even with the upgrades made from last season, they still rank in the bottom ten in the league. Overall, the receiving corps will help boost this offense up from their 25th ranked offense last season.

The new running back committee will have a tough time between the tackles, but should get plenty of touches out of the backfield to make plays. The offensive line holds this offense back, but they should still rank in the middle of the league.

The defense last season was up-and-down. They ranked 15th in total yards while not exceling against either the run or the pass. They added some older veterans to help this defenses rise in the rankings. The secondary is a top five group, with cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Bryon Jones leading the way. That helps an average defensive line, as they are able to be an excellent blitzing team.

The only concern on this defense is the linebackers. Jerome Baker leads the group, and he has yet to show that he is an elite linebacker. Rookie Channing Tindall should get a chance to help this group out. This is a solid defense overall, and I expect them to be just outside the top ten this season.

Prediction

The Miami Dolphins will be fighting for the playoffs this season, as I believe they finish 10-7 after going 4-2 in the AFC East. It could come down to tiebreakers for Miami, as the loaded AFC will be close.

1. Buffalo Bills

Key loses – DE Mario Addison, DE Jerry Hughes, P Matt Haack, DT Harrison Phillips, C Jon Feliciano, CB Levi Wallace, WR Cole Beasley, OC Brian Daboll

Key additions – OLB Von Miller, DT DaQuan Jones, DT Tim Settle, OG Rodger Saffold, DE Jordan Phillips, WR Jamison Crowder, OT David Quessenberry, P Sam Martin, CB Kaiir Elam, RB James Cook, WR Khalil Shakir, LB Terrel Bernard, CB Christian Benford

Re-signed – RB/ST Taiwan Jones (1-year), OG Ike Boettger (1-year), CB Siran Neal (3-years), LB Tyrel Dodson (1-year)

Extensions – WR Stefon Diggs (4-years, $96 million), FB Reggie Gilliam (2-years, $5 million)

A gut-wrenching loss against the Chiefs last season ended the Bills season one game away from the AFC Championship. This season, they are looking to go the farthest they have since 1994, the Super Bowl. With the addition of two-time Super Bowl Champion Von Miller, they are primed and ready to win back-to-back AFC East titles — and maybe more. Will Buffalo be able to get the job done, or will they have another season that ends in heartbreak?

The Bills finished fifth in total offense last season while being effective in both the passing and rushing game. Josh Allen is back and is looking to have an MVP season with wideouts Stefon Diggs and breakout hopeful Gabe Davis. With Dawson Knox, the Bills have plenty of guys to throw to, and they added another in the draft. Running back James Cook is looking to provide that threat out of the backfield in the passing game, while we’ll see a lot of Devin Singletary in the run game.

All of these weapons make Allen’s, and the offensive line’s, job a lot easier. It’s an offensive line that ranks in the middle of the NFL, with the potential to be a top ten group. New offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will have some fun taking over.

The top defense in the NFL last season got even better. They went out and added future hall of famer Von Miller to help rush the passer. They are hoping he can finally bring an elite pass rush to Buffalo alongside Ed Oliver and Greg Rousseau. Elite depth at the position should help plug up the middle and get after the quarterback.

Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds hasn’t lived up to the hype yet, but is still solid. This creates a duo with Matt Milano that still has the potential to boost this group into the top ten. The secondary is getting corner Tre White back midseason, but in the meantime will have to rely on three young guys to step up. Their job will be easier in Buffalo with the help of the arguably the best safety duo in the league. This defense should be in the top three yet again this season.

Prediction

It’s Super Bowl or bust this season for the Bills, as the hype is the highest it’s been in two decades. I predict that the Bills will go 14-3 and 6-0 against the AFC East. They have the most talented roster in the NFL and, barring injuries, should compete for the Lombardi trophy.

Ranking All 13 NFL Alternate Helmets

This season, the NFL has allowed teams to have more than one colored helmet to wear. The rule change saw 13 NFL franchises introduce new helmets for their alternate uniforms.

Before I begin, I want to clarify what I ranked these helmets based on. There were three factors that went into my ranking: 1. Does the helmet itself look good? 2. Does the helmet fit with the rest of the uniform? 3. Could the team have done more with the helmet? With that in mind, here is my ranking for these new helmets.

The New NFL Alternate Helmets: 13-6

Chicago Bears alternate helmet for the 2022 NFL season
Photo Credit: Jacob Funk/Chicago Bears

13. Chicago Bears

I attend a school that wears orange helmets with its orange uniforms. It doesn’t work too well. Same thing goes for the Bears. The traditional navy helmet works so much better with any of Chicago’s jerseys, especially its orange one. This alternate helmet is a miss for one of the NFL’s most iconic teams.

12. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals messed up big time with their new helmets. Arizona plans to wear these with its color rush uniforms. The red pops out with the black real well with those, so why not do the same with the helmets? If these had a red face mask, this could’ve been one of the better helmets. But instead, they go with a bland, black design.

11. Washington Commanders

I’m glad that Washington didn’t leave the “numbers on the helmet” look behind when it rebranded. However, the execution this time around feels poor. The “W” in the front doesn’t sit well. Maybe a stripe, like the Commanders’ primary helmets, would’ve been better. This helmet isn’t bad by any means, but ten other teams did a better job than Washington.

10. Carolina Panthers

This one might have to grow on me a bit. I like the all black concept the Panthers created, but this helmet feels almost too dark. From the photos, it’s difficult to see the Panthers logo. The colors mesh well together, but nothing pops out to the eye.

9. Houston Texans

The helmet itself is one of the best that have been introduced. What’s upsetting is the Texans plan to wear these with their red uniforms, according to gridiron-uniforms.com. These would look significantly better with their blue-with-red-lettering color rush jerseys. The all-red look Houston plans to wear doesn’t sit with me well.

8. New Orleans Saints

The Saints introduced a new look this offseason, and it’s not bad. The fleur-de-lis down the middle helps this helmet represents New Orleans well, and black and gold go together like bread and butter. However, nothing about this helmet stands out; it’s a bit bland. Maybe a gold face mask would help?

7. New York Jets

Now we’re getting to the helmets I really like. The Jets’ nailed this one. New York’s black uniforms look even better with this helmet. The green on the logo and face mask (take note, Cardinals) pop out and give the uniform more vibrance.

6. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles kept their helmet change simple, and I’m all for it. They switched from an already-fresh midnight green and black look to a more fitting all black uniform. A slight change for the better.

NFL Alternate Helmets: The Top 5

Dallas Cowboys bring back the alternate uniforms and helmets for 2022
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Dallas Cowboys

The Thanksgiving uniforms worn in the late 2000s and early 2010s are iconic. Dallas finally gets the chance to bring them back this year. The simplicity of the helmet gives the Cowboys an old school look, something that somewhat resembles a cowboy. The white pops out with the rest of the uniform, and I love it.

4. New York Giants

The Giants’ white throwback uniform has been a staple amongst fans for a few years now. It’s about time they brought the blue back. The darker shade of blue on the helmet gives the uniform a more classic look. On top of that, the “GIANTS” along the side is significantly better than the block “NY”. A perfect helmet for a classic uniform.

3. New England Patriots

The Pat Patriot look is back! The red, white, and blue look has long been one of the best looks in football. The white stands out with the red jersey really well, giving New England a patriotic look. As someone who watched many Patriots games growing up, I’m so happy to see these back in action.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

Finally. Ever since the Bengals introduced their all-white uniforms, fans have been screaming for the Bengals to wear while helmets. Everyone’s wish came true, and this looks so clean. The new helmets put these uniforms in the conversation for the best in the NFL.

1. Atlanta Falcons

When the Falcons got new uniforms in 2020, I was disappointed they went with black helmets instead of red. Now you see why. The red and black look with a sliver of gold bring back ’80s nostalgia, a more authentic throwback, and one of the cleanest looks in the NFL. It’s about time Atlanta brought these back. These are, without a doubt, the best of the NFL alternate helmets

Senior Bowl Watchlist: National

Senior Bowl watchlist
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

This is the second part of the first Senior Bowl watchlist by the Around the Block scouting department — read the first part here. By this time next week, almost 150 prospects will be in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl is the most prestigious collegiate all-star game for draft prospects.

They will practice with NFL coaching staffs during the week then play in a game on Saturday, February 5th. The Senior Bowl provides a fantastic opportunity for prospects from diverse backgrounds to prove themselves on a level playing field.

This year, the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets will be coaching up the players. The scouting department for Around the Block put together a watchlist of players from each Senior Bowl team, the American and the National. This Senior Bowl watchlist will preview the players on the American team, coached by the Detroit Lions.

Quarterback – Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder was a near-unanimous choice among the scouting staff for the National team quarterbacks. Ridder has been the starter for Cincinnati for four seasons now and is among the winningest quarterbacks in college football history, boasting a 44-5 record as a starter. Three of those losses came at the hands of some of the best programs in college football: Alabama (in the College Football Playoff), Georgia (in the Peach Bowl), and Ohio State.

Despite this success, many questions surround Ridder. He’s a gifted athlete but is not an elite runner; his arm is good but not elite. Furthermore, he struggles with maintaining consistency in his accuracy in ball placement. In Mobile, Ridder will need to show he can distribute the ball accuracy to all levels of the field. 

Offense – Khalil Shakir, Boise State

Khalil Shakir might have the longest highlight reel of all the players in Mobile. He routinely makes incredible leaping, one-handed catches while keeping at least one of his feet in bounds. But Shakir is more than just a walking spectacular catch.

He’s a highly versatile playmaker who can return kicks, run the ball, and occasionally throw it. His teammates reportedly call him “Swiss”, referencing the versatility of the Swiss Army Knife. With that being said, Shakir struggled with drops during his career at Boise State. He will have to show consistent, reliable hands during the week of practice. 

Christian Watson, North Dakota State

Staying in the upper-middle part of the country, another player who was a favorite of the scouting staff was Christian Watson. A massive target (6’5”, 208), Watson led North Dakota State in receiving for the last three seasons. He also served as their primary kick returner, earning All-Missouri Valley Football Conference and FCS All-American honors at the position.

This shows that Watson is not your typical big receiver who only wins vertically; he’s a remarkable athlete in short areas, and the North Dakota State offense uses him in screens to take advantage of his run-after-the-catch skills. Like most smaller-school prospects, Watson will need to show he can hang with the best of the FBS; can he separate from faster, more athletic cornerbacks? Can he defeat press-jam technique at the line of scrimmage?

Offensive Line – Daniel Faalele, Minnesota

Daniel Faalele will be very hard to miss at the Senior bowl. At 6’9” and 380 pounds, “big” does not adequately describe the Australian offensive tackle. Faalele is relatively new to football, only playing competitively when he transferred to IMG Academy. He played at 400 pounds during his early years at Minnesota but slimmed down when he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID travel restrictions.

When he returned in 2021, he dropped at least 20 pounds and played the best season of his career. Faalele will need to show that he has the movement skills to keep up with NFL-caliber edge rushers. He’s also still pretty raw as a technician, but his physical gifts make him a rather intriguing ball of clay. 

Defensive Line – Logan Hall, Houston

Last year, Payton Turner exploded onto the scene at the Senior Bowl, which helped him become a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints. This year, another Houston Cougar will be looking to replicate Turner’s journey. Logan Hall came to Houston as a tall, lanky edge rusher. But he’s put on around 50 pounds to become a dominant interior defensive lineman. He’s remarkably explosive for someone of his size, especially considering the weight he’s added.

Hall will most likely take reps at defensive end and defensive tackle; he will need to show he has the play strength to hold up in run defense against larger, stronger offensive tackles. Furthermore, he will need to display a diverse arsenal of pass rush moves and counter, allowing him to win matchups in a variety of ways. 

Linebackers – Chad Muma, Wyoming

Chad Muma will also be following in the footsteps of an alumna from his school at the Senior Bowl. Two years ago, Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson parlayed his excellent time in Mobile to become a third-round selection by the Cincinnati Bengals. He is a vital part of their defense that helped carry them to the AFC Championship this weekend.

Muma is arguably an even better prospect than Wilson, so a strong showing at the Senior Bowl could cause his draft stock to skyrocket. He is a versatile player who plays well in coverage and when rushing the passer. Again, like most smaller-school prospects, Muma will need to show he has the speed and athletic ability to succeed in the NFL. As a former safety, this should not be a problem for him. 

Defensive Backs – Jalen Pitre, Baylor

The last player on our Senior Bowl watchlist is another hybrid player, Jalen Pitre from Baylor. Pitre is the reigning defensive MVP of the Big 12, contributing significantly toward Baylor’s turnaround that won them a Big 12 Championship. He played the Star position for Baylor this season, which is their designation for the slot/overhang defender. He filled a variety of roles for his defense, stopping the run, defending the pass, and even occasionally rushing the passer.

As the NFL modernizes its defenses, players like Pitre should be in much higher demand. In Mobile, the Jets’ coaching staff might try to see if Pitre can succeed in a more traditional safety role so that he can stay on the field for every down. He will need to display that he can succeed in deep zone assignments and prevent separation in man coverage.