Finishing up on my top five positional rankings for this upcoming NCAA football season, we switch over to the defensive side of the ball. Once again, these lists are about where those guys stack up as college players – not as eventual draft prospects. So the criteria I base them on is the tape I watched on them the last couple of seasons and the jump I project them to make this year. With that being said, I can’t help but look ahead to some degree, since I could easily see eight defensive players drafted in the top ten next April and most of them should be on the D-line.
After revealing my most intriguing storylines heading into the 2018 college football season, I wanted to release my top five positional rankings, like I did a year ago as well. To make the criteria clear – this list is about the actual college players, as a combination of what they showed me last season and what I expect them to be in 2018. So this is not a look forward to these young men as draft prospects in 2019. Therefore, you might find some names that won’t be discussed a lot from next February to April. With that being said, I want to start with the offensive side of the ball and I will get back to defense next week.
It’s been a while since I last talked about the college game, since I consider the draft as more of an NFL topic. But don’t misjudge me – I’m extremely thrilled for this upcoming year. With that in mind, I thought about the topics I believe could rule the college football season. To some degree even more so than in the pros, conferences and the success of individual teams can vary on a yearly basis. Of course there are those juggernauts we expect to be back at the top in December, but some players and different programs come out of nowhere every single year and with homefield advantages, upsets are a fixture on the schedule.
In the NFL there is constant competition at pretty much every position. Front offices try to find replacements for aging players or those, who will soon demand contracts they can’t afford. That creates an environment, where every man is working as hard as they can to earn a starting spot. Only competition gets the best out of football players and it is vital for a team’s success. I picked out the eight positional battles that will be most interesting to watch through training camps and beyond. So here they are:
Now that we’ve talked about the top overall players in the NFL, I want to shift my focus more towards the young up-an-coming stars of the game. Specifically, I will look at players coming into their second and third seasons, who are not looked at like that quite yet. So you won’t see any names like Alvin Kamara or Carson Wentz. This list includes those who have already seen the field a lot, had their last year cut short by injuries or just didn’t get the opportunities to shine quite yet. But what combines them all for me – I think they could break through this upcoming season.
Like I do every year once the official player’s countdown is fully released, I wanted to make my own top 100 list. There is a serious misconception about the voting process. While opinions are heavily based on last year, this list is about the 2018 NFL season. It’s not about grading what they did last year alone, but rather what to expect from them this upcoming campaign. That’s why it is the top 100 players of 2018. I mean only 12 teams even played this year so far. Of course you should have recency bias to some degree, but you also have to look at the body of work and what you believe they are capable of. Without any further ado, here’s what I came up with:
After talking about the biggest remaining needs for each team in the NFL at this stage of the offseason, I decided to look at the squads that I believe could make a serious improvement and surprise some people in 2018. With that I mean they should exceed expectations despite not being looked at as contenders right now. Therefore I didn’t mention the obvious candidates such as the Packers, who get their franchise QB back, or the Texans, who are everybody’s offseason darling right now. All but one of the upcoming teams missed the postseason by multiple games, with the final one not really being looked at as a playoff team for some reason.
The game of football has evolved over the last decade plus. Fullbacks have disappeared, wide receivers are getting paid big bucks, teams use a variety of guys in the backfield and everything is just so much more about getting your playmakers the ball in space. While all these things might be true and everybody knows the names of the superstars with the ball in their hands, to me there’s no doubt that the game is still won and lost in the trenches. If you can dictate the pace of the game and set the tone up front, you put yourself in a very good position to succeed. Therefore I wanted to take a look at which teams have the most dominants fronts on both sides of the ball. I expect about eight of these ten teams to make the playoffs in 2018.
Continuing my series on the biggest needs for every NFL team after the main phase of free agency and the draft, I’m jumping to the opposite conference. Once again, this could be starters, backups or in one case even a strategic change necessary. Not only is it the lesser accomplished teams that need some help, even the powerhouses could use some serious upgrades. Here we go: