Category Archives: AFC South

Posts about the American Football Conference South Division AFC-South

Texans starting Fitzpatrick leaves QB of the future behind

The Houston Texans signed Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency desperate for a veteran signal caller who could lead the team better than Case Keenum or rookie Tom Savage could. The Texans are starting Fitzpatrick and it may leave the quarterback of the future on the bench.

Head coach Bill O’Brien believes Fitzpatrick is the guy, “He earned it,” O’Brien said. “He earned it with his preparation. He earned it with his accuracy.” according to ESPN.com

Buffalo Bills v Miami DolphinsEver since Fitzpatrick was pushed aside by the Buffalo Bills he’s been searching for a chance to be the guy. Last season he started nine games for the Titans after Jake Locker was injured. He threw for 2,454 yards and 14 touchdowns and earned the shot he was searching for. “This is where I wanted to be,” Fitzpatrick said. “I wanted another shot at it. I wanted another chance to be the guy.

Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the long-term answer, but he does offer a stop gap solution.

By drafting QB Tom Savage from Pitt in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, they have a dark horse player who could surprise a few.

Tom SavageThe knock on Tom Savage was his inability to stay at one school. He started his career at Rutgers in 2009 and was named the Scarlet Knights’ most valuable player. After sitting out most of 2010 he would then transfer to Arizona in 2011, but would transfer again to Pitt in 2012.

The numbers speak for themselves in 2013 when he passed for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns, including a six-touchdown performance against Duke.

Savage is the ideal, big, tall and strong-arm quarterback who can make all the throws from the pocket. According to CBSSports.com “he could have the strongest arm in the 2014 class.”

The most important factor about quarterback Tom Savage is his experience in the pro-style offense. Along with his intelligence, hard work ethic, and leader mentality, he could be the future for the Texans.

Welcome to the future of the NFL quarterback

The future of the NFL is upon us with quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton as examples. Here’s a look at the future and the five franchise QB’s in the NFL.

5.  Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins : It’s no doubt why RG3 made this list with his spectacular play-making ability. His rookie season he put up 3,200 passing yards with 20 passing TD’s and only 5 int’s, and adding 815 rushing yards with 7 rushing TD’s as well. While he had a lackluster 2013 we will just chop that up to his injury at the end of 2012 season. We can fully expect him to bounce back to his peak form in 2014.

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick

4. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers : Next on the list is Colin Kaepernick. While he was not drafted highly like RG3 he is just as spectacular to watch drafted 36th overall in the 2011 NFL draft. He replaced the injured Alex Smith in 2012 and lead the 49ers to the playoffs and then to the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens. While his team came up short he had proven his place in the NFL. In his first full season as a starter in 2013 Kaepernick had 21 passing TD’s and 8 int’s to go along with 524 rushing yards and 4 rushing TD’s. One thing is for sure Kaepernick has brought the 49ers’ faithful back to their glory days and for that he deserves to be in the future five.

3. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers : Newton unlike all the previously mentioned, is not only an athletic freak, but also has a large frame which makes him even more impressive. Drafted 1st overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, Newton had the best rookie season of any QB in the history of the NFL. Throwing for 4,051 passing yards, 21 TD’s and 17 int’s with the addition of 706 rushing yards and 14 TD’s was astounding.  While not living up to the hype in his sophomore campaign, he bounced back in 2013 to lead the Panthers back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. It looks like the Carolina Panthers may have found their first franchise QB. Now all they need is to put the right pieces around him and that is when the real magic will happen.

Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson

2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks : Wilson, like Kaepernick, was not labeled great coming out of college as he was drafted in the 3rd round 75th overall. While the Seahawks just gave a huge pay-day to Matt Flynn, it was Wilson that would beat out him for the starting gig. After watching him play, it was easy to see why he was chosen. Even though Wilson has a small frame at 5’11 206 lbs he’s the shortest of the future 5, but he has the skills to get out of the pocket and make the big play. The highlight of Wilson’s young career is leading his Seahawks to a Lombardi trophy at the end of the 2013 season by beating Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts : Luck had a huge task being drafted by the Colts first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Following Peyton Manning was no easy job. Well, he has more than lived up to the hype and has already been named a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Much like Newton, Luck is big and athletic as well. Luck has already passed for 8,196 yards and had 46 TD’s with 27 int’s to go along with 632 rushing yards and 9 TD’s. The reason I have Luck first on my list of the future 5 is very simple he is the only one that has the complete package of size, speed, and smarts. While all the rest are great in their own right Luck is in a league of his own. The future of these NFL stars is bright as well as the NFL’s future to so just sit back and lets all enjoy the ride.

Final Grades for all 32 NFL teams in the 2014 NFL Draft

Look to your left. Now look to your right. One of the people next to you in your office will be a fan of a team that failed the 2014 NFL Draft.

Being married to a teacher, I know a thing or two about test scores. Meaning there’s a lot of correcting in the Beaudwin home. Mostly on my verbal responses and how well, or not, I clean the kitchen.

The NFL Draft, like the kitchen is for me, is a test for teams. A test for coaches, GM’s, and even owners on how well they know their team and the teams’ needs. Teams like the Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars and St. Louis Rams stayed up for weeks studying. Some copied the person next to them, and a few just wrote the answers on their arms the morning of.

Let’s take a look at the Final Grades for all 32 NFL teams in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals have the daunting task of playing in the NFC West, and San Fran and Seattle aren’t going away anytime soon. So, they went with the “let’s fight fire with fire” approach (though water beats fire, but fire beats paper, never mind) and aggregated more players. The secondary in Arizona was scary enough as it is, but now they have added Deone Bucannon (SS). He’s another physically dominating player to be paired next to Tryan Mathieu. Oh man, just got goose bumps. The team continues to turn a blind eye at the QB spot though. Test Score: 75  Grade: C

Ra’Shede Hegeman
Ra’Shede Hegeman

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons did a great job going out and getting Matt Ryan some protection.  They still don’t have a definitive pass-rusher, but defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hegeman and free-safety Dezmen Southward may be improvements on a defense lacking “pow.” The addition of running back Devonta Freeman gives Matt Ryan a weapon out of the backfield with decent hands. Test Score: 84  Grade: B

Baltimore Ravens: Both inside C.J. Mosely (OLB) and Terrence Brooks (FS) add youth and speed to the Ravens defense. They addressed all their needs on paper (WR, S, TE), but not with anyone that looks to be an immediate impact player. Luckily Jim Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome kind of know what they’re doing. Test Score: 89  Grade: B+

Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins

Buffalo Bills: The buried story in Buffalo was the selection of Ross Cockrell (CB) in the 4th round. Cockrell ranked fairly well in the draft and looks to have a lot of upside. OK, the addition of Sammy Watkins (WR) is good too, but at the cost of next year’s draft. Too many eggs in one receiver’s hands. Test Score: 82  Grade: B- 

Carolina Panthers: Going into the draft, Carolina had gaps in the offensive line and possibly the worst collection of receivers in the league. They didn’t really come out of the draft looking too much better. Kelvin Benjamin (WR) gives Cam Newton a huge target, but overall the Panthers had very conservative draft. Test Score: 69  Grade: D+   

Chicago Bears: The Bears needed help everywhere on defense and they started with Kyle Fuller (CB). Ego Ferguson (DT) and Will Sutton (DT) will give them a jump in the pass-rush department (Sutton before Ferguson). Chicago can be a playoff contender, but in a tough division that also got better, they may still be a year away from making a true run. Test Score: 81  Grade: B-

Cincinnati Bengals: I don’t think anyone expected Darqueze Dennard (CB) to fall to #24, especially the Bengals. Luckily, he did. Dennard is like “Carnation instant-improvement” (just add water) for their defense. However, they whiffed on a safety and didn’t draft another CB until the 7th round. The Bengals brought AJ McCarron on board to possibly be slightly more interesting than Andy Dalton (someday). Well, at least his tattoos will be. In the end, Cincy beefed up the d-line even more an added Marquis Flowers (OLB)at great value in the 6th round. Test Score: 79  Grade: C+

Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel

Cleveland Browns: Ray Farmer and his gang moved through the draft like jet-powered sharks. They gave their team a shot in the arm at just about every position of weakness (didn’t draft a WR on the heels of the Josh Gordon news though). Joe Haden with newly acquired Justin Gilbert (CB) looks to be the start of the AFC’s version of the “Legion of Boom.” Oh, and they drafted Johnny ManzielTest Score: 86  Grade: B

Dallas Cowboys: With a shot at the much talked about Manziel, the Cowboys drafted Zack Martin (OT). It’s not a bad pick, but when you think about how much they needed to improve on defense, it wasn’t the best one either. Demarcus Lewis (DE) may be the only day-1 starter. In true Cowboys fashion, they over valued several players. Test Score: 63  Grade: D-  -Stop talking during class

Denver Broncos: Denver got an absolute steal in Bradley Roby (CB). With some guidance, he can be one of the best from this draft. Cody Lattimore (WR) is also turn a nice fit into the rotation. Both are going to a great team in a soft division, with a chance to learn the ropes, and an almost guaranteed playoff spot. The situation couldn’t be better. Other than that though, Denver didn’t do much else other than add more depth to an already stacked team. Test Score: 70  Grade: C-

Eric Ebron
Eric Ebron

Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron (TE) gives Matt Stafford another offensive weapon, but the Lions’ problem wasn’t finding ways to score. Plus they added Golden Tate through free agency. The problems with their secondary were scantly taken care of. Bottom line, as stated with Chicago, the whole division got stronger over the weekend and Detroit will have to depend on outscoring opponents more than stopping them. Test Score: 74  Grade: C

Green Bay Packers: Have I mentioned that the NFC North has gotten better? Right. That all starts with Green Bay, who was already a heavy favorite to win the division. The Packers managed to address every need they had in the first three rounds (two picks in the 3rd round). Khyri Thornton (DT) and Ha Ha ClintonDix (FS) may both end up being defensive rookie of the year nominees. Test Score: 88  Grade: B+

Houston Texans: Obviously Clowney (DE) is the big win for the team, but Xavier Su’aFilo (OG) is nearly as big a win for their offensive line and for whomever ends up being quarterback. Newly acquired Tom Savage (QB) may get the job, but it’s hard to see him being their solution. C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE) gives the mystery QB a “new age” security net. The new regime in Houston did a great job drafting to strengths and filling in the holes where needed. Test Grade: 91  Grade: A-  -Way to improve this semester!

Indianapolis Colts: Seriously, this is what you guys turned in? A little surprised they didn’t go after a safety or cornerback with any of their five picks. The one guard they did draft seems to be more of run blocker, so not much help to Luck, again. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything to get excited about with their draft. However, fret not Colts fans, the team was frisky in free agency. Test Grade: 59  Grade: F

Blake Bortles
Blake Bortles

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags made things interesting right from the get-go: drafting Blake Bortles (QB) in the 1st round, finding great value with Marqise Lee (WR) in the 2nd, then both Allen Robinson (WR) and Brandon Liner (OG) in the 3rd. They also nabbed Aaron Colvin (high-value CB) in the 4th. Here’s the setup: Liner keeps Bortles protected while Lee and Robinson work as his security blankets. All of them will have to rely on each other. Jacksonville just got sneaky competitive. They’re still a year or two out, but they are definitely moving in the right direction. Test Score: 92  Grade: A-   -Great job!

Kansas City Chiefs: If the offense were a child, the Department of Social Services would have to be called on the franchise for how much it was neglected in this draft. It is almost like Kansas City didn’t want to get better. It’s a good thing they play in a cake-walk division…oh wait. Test Score: 58  Grade: F   -Unacceptable

Miami Dolphins: The Phins may have one of the worst…wait, they do have the worst offensive line in the league. So it’s a little surprising that they only used two picks to seal up those cracks. Meanwhile, they drafted three more potential targets for Tannehill, which won’t matter when he’s still on the ground for ¾ of the game. Test Score: 72  Grade: C-

Minnesota Vikings: Vikings got wily in the draft taking Anthony Barr (LB) off the board with their first pick and trading back into the 1st round to get Teddy Bridgewater (QB). Remember, before his “Pro Day”, Bridgewater was one of the top QB prospects. Regardless of what happened that day, nothing has changed about his skills. The Vikes used 10 picks to beef up various positions, three of which were cornerbacks. Looks like Adrian Peterson doesn’t have to do it by himself anymore. Test Score: 90  Grade: A-   -Excellent work!

New England Patriots: Well, they attempted to get a pass-rusher in the 1st round, but they did it with someone who tore his ACL back in September. Selecting Jimmy Garopolo (QB) in the 2nd round was a bold and somewhat surprising move in the 2nd round. Garopolo is in line to replace Brady. Mallett isn’t a lock, and he may be headed to Houston anyways. Guess we’ll see how it plays out in five years. The rest of their draft isn’t exactly filled with starters. Test Grade: 65  Grade: D

New Orleans Saints: The Saints may be one of the best when it comes to drafting. They moved up to bring home Brandin Cooks (top 5 WR). Their defense has been on a steady incline, and Stanley JeanBaptiste (CB) and Khairi Fortt (ILB) are shiny new toys for Rob Ryan to utilize. The Saints may have lost Darren Sproles, but they gained plenty of balance since then. Test Grade: 80  Grade: B

Odell Beckham Jr
Odell Beckham Jr

New York Giants: They were aggressive in free agency and illogically so in the draft. They drafted Odell Beckham (top 5 WR) with their first pick to likely drop him into a slot role. Considering the defensive talent at the time of this selection, their need outweighed Beckham’s talent. They did beef up the center position and added some strength to the defensive line in later rounds. Test Score: 74  Grade: C

New York Jets: Calvin Pryor (FS) makes the Jets more aggressive if you can believe it. In today’s NFL, he may end up getting more flags than interceptions, but he will certainly make opponents think twice about going over the middle. The Jets did a surprisingly good job of adding legitimate offensive weapons like Jace Amaro (TE), Jalen Saunders (WR), and Shaq Evans (WR) to their team. And with some development under the tutelage of Rex Ryan, Dexter McDougle could be a scary good cornerback. Plus he easily had the best name in the draft. Test Score: 88  Grade: B+

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders nearly turned their team around in the first four rounds of the draft. Khalil Mack (OLB) is the best core defensive player from the draft. The Raiders added a dynamic piece to their franchise puzzle. Derek Carr can give some competition at the QB position and be solution they have been waiting for, at least more than Matt Schaub. Gabe Jackson (OG) and Justin Ellis (DT) were outstanding picks and change the line on both sides of the ball. Test Score: 97  Grade: A+   -Keep up the good work!

Philadelphia Eagles: When you were a kid, do you remember that feeling you’d get about a month before your birthday? You’d have ideas in your head of all the things you wanted, and then on your actual day, your parents would give you clothes. Sure, you needed them, and you could use them, but you wanted that new Transformer. That’s what Philly’s 1st round was like. Fortunately, they saved themselves in rounds 2-5. Jordan Mathews (WR), Josh Huff (WR), Jaylen Watkins (CB), and Taylor Hart (DE) were all solid selections that give the Eagles needed depth. Test Score: 72  Grade: C-  -You can do better

Ryan Shazier
Ryan Shazier

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ryan Shazier (OLB) is an impressive pick and the perfect fit for the Steelers. Their later picks were equally as impressive. Jordan Zumwalt (ILB) and Daniel McCullers (DT) will be explosive, rotational defensive players, and Stephen Tuitt (DE) can be an instant starter. Test Score: 85  Grade: B

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers made a nice move picking up Jeremiah Attaochu (OLB) in the 2nd round. He is a versatile linebacker that can play both inside and outside. They addressed the need at cornerback early in the draft which was good, but they needed some offensive playmakers (mainly another receiver) and they didn’t go after any until the 6th and 7th rounds. Test Score: 79  Grade C+

San Francisco 49ers: They had 12 picks in the draft and really didn’t waste any of them. It’s a shame they had to go out and get a safety again this year, but Jimmie Ward (SS) will pair nicely with Eric Reid. The Niners know what division they play in, so they did what all of the NFC West did and added depth at nearly every position. Carlos Hyde (RB) was a slick pickup, though Frank Gore will retire before he is overtaken. Oh yeah, and they managed to acquire Stevie Johnson from Buffalo. Jim Harbaugh, you so crazy! Test Score: 81  Grade: B-

Seattle Seahawks: Before you Seattle fans flood my Twitter feed due to their score, keep in mind that you guys didn’t need much. Paul Richardson (WR) adds plenty of speed to a receiving corps that tends to play hooky. Look, this team is built upon a foundation of depth, and true to form, Pete Carroll traded away their top pick and went crazy with seven picks in rounds 4-7. Hey, it’s paid off before. Test Score: 70  Grade: C-

St. Louis Rams: Have you heard about the plan for the NFC West? Yeah, St. Louis did too. They went to town in rounds 1-6 with adding Greg Robinson (OT), Aaron Donald (DT), Lamarcus Joyner (CB), Tre Mason (RB), Mo Alexander (SS), and E.J. Gaines (CB), most of which will all be starters. Test Score: 95  Grade: A  – Gold star sticker!

NCAA Football: Alabama at Texas A&M
Mike Evans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Already having a strong defense, the Bucs made improving the offense their main objective. Add Mike Evans (WR), Austin SeferianJenkins (TE), and Charles Sims (RB). Mission completed. Evans is a “new age” receiver and has drawn comparisons to Vincent Jackson and/or Alshon Jeffery and wouldn’t ya know it, Tampa Bay already has Vincent Jackson. Double trouble! Josh McCown should feel right at home since his new situation is eerily similar to his old one. Test Score: 81  Grade: B-

Tennessee Titans: Since Jake Locker will get hurt, again, we will likely see new Zach Mettenberger (QB) in action by Week 4. Ken Whisenhunt has been known to be a “quarterback whisperer,” so there is a chance of seeing good things from both QBs. Bishop Sankey (RB) gives them a starting back, but he may be a year away from being effective. The Titans have a lot of holes, and minimal excitement on their team. They did their best to try and remedy both. Let’s put it like this: It’s July 1st and you just bought fireworks from one of those parking-lot vendors. You wait the rest of the week for the chance to send these sparkling beauties into the night sky. Low and behold, none of them are what you expect and some are duds. Even though the Titans had a solid draft, that’s how this team still feels. Test Score: 80  Grade: B-

Washington Redskins: The 3rd round was all about keeping RGIII protected by beefing up the o-line with Morgan Moses (OT) and Spencer Long (OG), both of which will be instant starters. Considering how dynamic the offense already is, it was odd that they still drafted another WR, TE, and RB, all areas that really didn’t need any help. Not this year anyways. Washington needed to focus on adding more defensive talent because DJax didn’t bring any with him. Trust me. Test Score: 78  Grade: C+

 Michael Beaudwin is a NFL writer for TPF and can be reached at MBeaudwin@thepenaltyflagblog.com

Follow him on Twitter @Michael_NerdFL