News & Analysis

NFL Week 11 Mailbag: Answering questions on the upcoming QB class, Drew Lock's future in Denver and more

Nov 8, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) throws for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another mailbag answering anything you want to throw my way (except fantasy football questions). We've got a bunch of exciting matchups on the slate this weekend, so what better way to prepare than to jump right into it.

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The Ohio State guard is currently tops among interior offensive linemen on the PFF 2021 NFL Draft Board, but his seat is most certainly hot. The challenger? None other than USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker. Yes, it’s only been two games, but he’s been utterly dominant for the Trojans at tackle. After an excellent redshirt sophomore season that saw him play left guard and allow all of seven pressures, Vera-Tucker has kicked out to left tackle and hasn’t allowed a single pressure on 113 pass-blocking snaps. The race is tight right now.

This wasn’t actually a mailbag question, but I felt that it needed to be included after saying something nice about USC.

I would be hard-pressed to consider Coan even a draftable prospect at this point. He’s got a middling arm and conservative tendencies. Only 34.1% of his passes were thrown past the sticks last season. You’re going to need to perform better than a 77.0 passing grade to prove you can overcome those things.

I’m assuming this is for a while and not solely this season. In that case, here’s how I’d pick them:

  1. Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams
  2. Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers
  3. Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens
  4. Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills
  5. Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
  6. J.C. Jackson, New England Patriots
  7. Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
  8. Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens
  9. Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  10. Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals

This is an interesting problem that I’ve seen addressed before with star rankings and draft picks. We haven’t taken it on here at PFF because 1) It’s an enormous undertaking, and 2) There’s not much of a market for it. Maybe I’ll ask Anthony Treash to do it.

As much as we’d love to think we can freeze their stock, not playing in a year and a half is going to lower our perception of them compared to guys we saw this past fall. Now, the true blue-chip guys like Penei Sewell and Micah Parsons are fine, but the rest are in danger of getting overtaken by guys who maybe wouldn’t have if we saw everyone on the field this year.

I think we need to get words like “give up” or “move on” out of our vernacular when it comes to young quarterbacks. Is quarterback the only position immune from having competition? For example, if you had a below-average starting cornerback — and there’s no debating that Drew Lock has been a below-average starter — would you worry about hurting his growth or his feelings by drafting another cornerback? As it stands, the Broncos aren’t good at the most valuable position on the football field. They should do everything they possibly can to fix that.

Even though we saw Kyle Shanahan work some magic with a true rushing threat in RG3 back in Washington, I’ll have to lean Zach Wilson as a better fit for Shanny’s offense. That’s because it’s an offense far more predicated on accuracy and decision-making than it is big-time throws down the field. Wilson has handily been better at the former.

I’m glad you asked! I gave a primer on how I’d rebuild the Jets a few weeks back. I’d love for them to address the edge with the deep class, and the fact that edge talent is easy to identify means that the top players won’t last long.

After that, I’d follow the Bengals‘ blueprint (I might be the first person ever to utter that phrase) and give whomever they drafted at quarterback a young wide receiver to build rapport with early on. The 2021 class is loaded, and a number of quality options should be on the board.

Not even close, in my opinion. Firstly, as bad as the New York Giants‘ line has been, having too many quality linemen is a great problem to have. Secondly, offensive guards Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez are both free agents after the 2021 season, so it would only be one year on the bench for one of those guys if it comes to that.

I don’t even want to think about what life will be like if they don’t.

Here’s how I’d stack the first-rounders from last year combined with the possible ones from this year:

  1. Trevor Lawrence
  2. Joe Burrow
  3. Justin Fields
  4. Zach Wilson
  5. Tua Tagovailoa
  6. Trey Lance
  7. Justin Herbert
  8. Kyle Trask
  9. Mac Jones
  10. Jordan Love

The biggest debates for me are Wilson vs. Tua and Herbert vs. Trask. Wilson's arm is vastly superior to Tua’s, while Trask has balled out on such a small sample size compared to three years of quality — albeit never dominant — play for Herbert.

While I’m not going to go as far as some of my colleagues, anyone still touting the tired mantra of “defense wins championships” is greatly overrating that side of the ball. That’s because defense is mostly a weak-link problem that is far more susceptible to injuries and more variable on a weekly basis. Higher variance isn’t good when you have to win three or four straight games to win a Super Bowl.

It’s been around a month or so. I realize it’s got a high-backfire probability, for sure. It’s a good holiday for an introduction, though, because there will be football going on all day. It's an easy conversation starter and might make me not look like a dumbass.

Earlier in the season, I said no way. They can’t get rid of Wentz’s contract without an insane added cap hit until 2022. You have to give him every single chance to get back to the guy you gave that contract to. His performance hasn’t seen an uptick in any meaningful way since, however, and if they actually end up out of contention the last few weeks, I don’t see any reason for them not to see what they have in Jalen Hurts.

Newman really cost himself a golden opportunity to up his draft stock. He’s a distant third right now, with Trask first and Jones second. That wouldn’t have been close to the case to start the year.

Speed at the receiver position — especially Waddle's level of speed — does not last long, particularly when it’s led to elite production the way it did for Waddle at Alabama. He averaged 3.61 yards per route run for his career and 4.68 this season. The latter ranks second in all of college football.

Smith’s frame would worry me if he was a pure slot or gadget player in Alabama’s offense who never had to go toe-to-toe with corners on the outside. He’s been one of the best true “X” receivers in college football for the past year and a half, though. Since the start of 2019, he’s gone 13-for-24 in contested situations, as well.

You understand the company I work for, right?

The biggest positive I’ve seen from Mims is his ability to get off the line. That’s a good start for a young receiver, and with his speed, the vertical tree should be his bread and butter. Anything outside of that has been admittedly clunky, however. A good example of this was his dig route against the Pats — it was awfully lethargic out of the break, and the pass was almost picked off. Still, his vertical threat on the outside is much-needed in that New York Jets receiving corps.

Again, there’s no reason to “move on” from someone like Lock or Baker Mayfield, as if they’re an ex-girlfriend who you’re still drunk-texting. You can add another quarterback to the mix without discarding those guys completely. I think just about every team should address quarterback if given the choice of Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields (yes, even the Giants). The teams with young quarterbacks that 100% need to be in the quarterback market regardless are as follows:

Cordarrelle Patterson in the wildcat? In all seriousness, I’d roll with Trubisky if I had a choice between the two. If both are going to whiff constantly through the air, at least Turbo can make some plays with his legs.

I was born in Milwaukee. I lived in Brookfield before moving to just outside Champaign, Illinois.

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