Now that last week’s NFL Draft is in the book most teams are carrying some combination of the guys that will form their team for the 2014 season on their roster. Every team is 0-0 and with a few notable exceptions each team has to think that they have the potential to make the playoffs and possibly even the Superbowl. That being said every team has to answer questions about their roster and plans for the future 7 of which we’ll look at here.
1. Will Michael Sam actually make the Rams roster?
Probably the biggest story not to occur in the first round of the draft was the Saint Louis Rams selection of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam. The initial reason this was newsworthy of course is the historical significance as Sam became to the NFL what Jason Collins was to the NBA, its first openly gay player. The issue here is not that the Rams front office or the city of Saint Louis won’t welcome Sam, but more so if a good but not great defensive end can make a team that has an all first round draft pick front four. With their first round selection of defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the Rams now can trot out a front line consisting of Donald, fellow DT Michael Brockers, defensive end Chris Long, and possibly the best defensive end in football Robert Quinn. There are established starters in the league who would have trouble cracking that lineup let alone a rookie with question marks. Sam may end up needing to make his mark on special teams if he intends to stick around.
2. Who will Johnny throw footballs to?
With the news that last year’s hottest receiver, Josh Gordon, intends (much to my Brown and Orange heart’s chagrin) to smoke himself out of millions of dollars, coupled with Nate Burleson’s unfortunate second broken arm in two years, the Cleveland Browns are left with a depleted receiving corps. There are a few notable free agent wide receivers left out there one of which will now surely end up on the shores of Lake Erie, but make no mistake this is a big question for an offense that needs to take a big step forward soon if they plan to make this year’s critically acclaimed draft pay dividends.
3. Why play running back?
This is a question I’ll find myself asking my future first round draft pick babies. The NFL has become a passing league and also it has become largely a running-back-by-committee league. This has affected the value of what once was one of the most prized positions in the NFL. The first running back came off the board this year in the back half of the second round with Bishop Sankey going to the embattled Tennessee Titans. While he seems to be in line for carries right away the next two backs taken, Jeremy Hill and Carlos Hyde land in situations with multiple viable options already in Cincinnati and San Francisco respectively. Add to that the positions seemingly league mandated short shelf life and it doesn’t seem to be the wisest career path for prospective NFLers.
4. When will the Dolphins learn?
One of last year’s biggest stories was the alleged bullying in the Miami Dolphin culture with Richie Incognito seemingly being amongst the leaders of a group that tortured Jonathan Martin out of the league for a time. One would think that any remaining Dolphins would learn to keep their mouths shut and just play ball. Such was not the case as during the draft Mike Pouncey thought it would be a good idea to tweet “Great pick! I can’t wait for our gifts he’s getting us lol.” In response to Ja’Wuan James being selected to offensive line. This was thought to be the worst of it as Pouncey’s joke led to a public apology and his deactivation of twitter. Not so fast, as in the wake of the aforementioned Michael Sam choice, Don Jones chose to say “OMG” , “horrible” seemingly in response to Sam’s inclusion in the league. It’s clear now that something is wrong in Miami and it goes a lot further than X’s and O’s
5. Which QB is the future of the franchise?
Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles. These were the big three names at QB on everyone’s draft board. They went to the Browns, Vikings and Jaguars respectively which means that each will likely take the field at some point this season though in each situation a veteran looms large as the likely day one starter. The second tier of the draft is where things got a little more interesting however, Derek Carr is looking to salvage the family name in Oakland, Jimmy Garoppolo is behind future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady, Logan Thomas is behind the sometimes shaky Carson Palmer, Tom Savage could possibly take the reins of a much-better-than-you-think Texans team and lastly Aj McCarron was selected as a not so ringing endorsement of the Cincinatti Bengals’ faith in one Andy Dalton. Look for one of these guys to make a splash early on in a big game and captivate the rookie of the year discussion.
6. Who will be the next “Legion of Boom”
The phrase “it’s a passing league” has become so popular that until last year’s thrashing of the Denver Broncos by the Seattle Seahawks, led by their ball hawking, hard hitting, outspoken secondary that it seemed like a while since the old adage that “defense wins championships” had reared its head. No longer as with recent deals for Joe Haden, Richard Sherman, Darelle Revis, and Jarius Byrd can attest the hottest market right now is the one focusing on the defensive secondary. Teams went after cornerbacks early and often as the arms race escalated. Will the Patrick Peterson-led Cardinals with new addition Deone Bucannon be the new force to be reckoned with out West? Will the Browns pairing of the aforementioned Haden along with Rookie Justin Gilbert be the bane of the AFC North QBs? Time will tell but one things for sure, there has never been a better time to play in the secondary.
7. Who will be this year’s Zack Stacy?
It seems like a yearly tradition, some undersized/underappreciated/unknown takes the league (and fantasy football waiver wires) by storm with a “Wait, where did he go to school?” type of performance that only their newly appreciated General Manager can claim to have seen coming. The safe bet is usually a skill position player who may have slipped due to a so-so workout or small school anonymity. Keep your eyes peeled at the late rounds of your fantasy drafts for guys like Josh Huff of the Eagles, Donte Moncrief of the Colts and Andre Williams of the Giants.
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Jason Collins: 5 biggest ways his signing with the Nets impacts sports
Michael Sam: Best Tweets about his draft to NFL’s St. Louis Rams
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