It’s a very special Christmas mailbag, with one hell of a showing by you guys. It’s the longest mailbag yet, so let’s not waste any more time getting to your questions!
1) Why is Ian Book in the Top 10 of Heisman voting?
2) Why are ND in the CFP?
3) How many points do ND get beaten by the Tide?
— Neil Hornsby (@PFF_Neil) December 25, 2020
- Notre Dame’s brand and QB wins.
- Because no one else deserved the fourth spot either.
- It is with great shame that I think Bama will not only win but likely cover what’s grown to a 19.5-point spread. No one is stopping this Alabama offense — teams are going to have to outscore them, and that’s not this Notre Dame team.
why did you cry at the bar when notre dame lost?
they’ll bounce back, just a game man
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) December 25, 2020
Tears of joy, Austin. I knew Notre Dame was still going to the playoffs. Such a special moment for me, and I’m not afraid to be vulnerable.
Unless your drafting a top tackle is it better to get a veteran in FA instead of a project that might only to ready to play at the end of the rookie deal?
— Ben Tickle (@BenjiTic) December 25, 2020
This one depends on a number of factors, but if your goal is to win next year, relying on a rookie tackle is a scary proposition. Just ask the Dolphins, who are in the no man’s land of hoping that their young tackles develop to protect Tua. For as good as Mekhi Becton and Jedrick Wills Jr. have been as rookies, Rick Wagner and his $4.8 million cap hit has graded out higher this year.
Who is the most likely prospect the Raiders over draft by at least 30 picks for this year? Could see them over draft a 1 tech like Alim McNeill in the first
— Griff&Co (@griffinglover) December 25, 2020
After defensive line and safety in 2019 and then cornerback this past year, the only answer is either at defensive tackle or linebacker. Mayock obviously values toughness with his picks. The linebackers that personify that the most, Missouri’s Nick Bolton and Tulsa’s Zaven Collins, thankfully wouldn’t qualify as “reaches” for the Raiders. The defensive tackles who tick that box, LSU’s Tyler Shelvin and Florida State’s Marvin Wilson, qualify as reaches. With how consistently poor their run defense has been, I’ll go with Shelvin.
If you’re the Giants GM and are picking in the top 10 – free agency not being a factor – would you prefer to draft a QB or give DJ receiving help in the first round?
— Savonn (@Savonn_Ean) December 25, 2020
There are likely going to be six quarterbacks in this draft class that I’ll have a higher grade on coming out than Jones. In the NFL, Jones hasn’t particularly shown anything to prove that wrong. At that point, any significant upgrade at that position is worth more than a quality starter elsewhere.
20 personnel. Underused or Twitter fetish?
— Austin (@oscarvanger11) December 25, 2020
There’s no real magic personnel grouping, but rather what you do with it. Innovation and creativity are almost universally rewarded in the NFL. Now, 20 personnel is no cheat code on its own. Only six teams have run at more than 10 snaps of 20 personnel, and only two teams — the Bills and Ravens — have generated positive expanded points added (EPA) on those snaps.
Do you think small school players will have a much harder time being drafted this year as scouting is even harder and many colleges didn't play this year?
— Grant Ritchie (@GrantJRitchie) December 25, 2020
As with pretty much anything in this pandemic, it’s the fringe that’s getting screwed. Not only the guys who got their season canceled altogether, but also even big names like Zach Wilson who got their chances of proving themselves against Power 5 competition zapped. Teams are likely to lean toward players they’ve seen play against other players who will be playing in the NFL. Simple as that.
Rank the top 10 qb prospects starting from 2018-2021 please. Is burrow ahead of wilson and fields? Wb baker?
— Cameron Levy (@levy_cameron) December 25, 2020
- Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
- Joe Burrow, LSU
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
- Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
- Zach Wilson, BYU
- Justin Fields, Ohio State
- Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
- Trey Lance, North Dakota State
- Sam Darnold, USC
- Mac Jones, Alabama
Who’s a NFL player in danger of being out of the league but you still believe in
— idk (@SoAhmazinDFS) December 25, 2020
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has been a healthy scratch in one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL. That blows my mind, as he seemed at least one of the higher-floor receivers in the draft with his ball skills. I don’t know what’s going on out in Philly, but I still think he can produce with an actual opportunity.
Which junior prospects stand the most to gain by staying in college another year?
— DC Defenders (@ForgedByDC) December 25, 2020
I’ll go with Penn State’s Jayson Oweh. He could solidify himself as a top-five pick if he returns and balls out with his physical tools. Offensively, Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder could end up in the first round next year with a more consistent 2021, but he could also risk losing the allure of “upside” if he doesn’t take a meaningful next step.
Vikings fan curious about how PFF values kickers. Where (if at all) would you draft a kicker? Would you give up draft capital to trade for a consistently good kicker?
— Matthew Blunt (@Matt_Blunt7) December 25, 2020
Timo Riske’s study on kickers is a must-read on this topic. The TL;DR is that it’s extremely difficult to evaluate based on how they kick in college and that it's not worth spending the draft capital. A team is better off getting multiple guys in the building for an extended period of time and evaluating from there.
How good is Kolton Miller? And which Raider defense pieces do you think are worth them building around?
— Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel) December 25, 2020
Miller has quietly developed into one of the better pass-protecting tackles in the league and is likely the best draft pick under Jon Gruden. The Raiders' draft picks defensively have been a little more of a minefield. The only surefire building blocks, in my opinion, are Maurice Hurst and Clelin Ferrell. From there, Maxx Crosby and Trayvon Mullen have also shown enough flashes to not worry about upgrading at the moment. Obviously, they are tied into Johnathan Abram and Damon Arnette, but neither has shown enough for me to be confident in.
How many guys at PFF have a stronger arm than Drew Brees? For the record I have a stronger arm than Brees, a 42 year old dad.
— Antoninus 3.14159us (@HouseSacco) December 25, 2020
I think Bruce Gradkowski (former NFL quarterback who’s younger than Brees) and Steve Palazzolo (former minor league pitcher) are shoe-ins. After that, it’s iffy. I don’t want to sound like a hardo and say I could throw farther, but…I can get into the 50s, and Brees' farthest throw this year went only around 53 yards from release to catch point.
What is Zack Wilson cieling and floor as a prospect in your eyes compared to Justin fields
— michael christopher (@Bigdogz1318) December 25, 2020
Boy, have I got the article for you.
If someone like myself from Australia wanted to join PFF, what path would you recommend?
— gramwhitton (@grammw12) December 25, 2020
The advice I give to anyone asking how to break into the industry is this:
- Learn as much about the Xs and Os of football as possible. There are a lot of great resources nowadays. It really sets you apart when you know what you’re looking at/talking about.
- Do the work and do it somewhere public, whether it’s a personal blog, a public google sheet, whatever.
Having something to point to is a tremendous leg up over someone who’s just “passionate.” Everyone is passionate about sports. Are you competent, though, is the question people who will be hiring you want to answer.
What’s your hot take on what could happen in the playoffs this year? College or NFL
— Zack Moore (@zacklemoore32) December 25, 2020
The Chiefs are wholly beatable. They seem to have an air of invincibility around them, but I think any of the top contenders in the AFC have at least a chance to take them down.
Give us 1 player that you think could go in the first round that nobody is paying attention to?
— Andy Nelson (@acnelson93) December 25, 2020
Attention policing is difficult. I always say that no matter how high you are on a player, someone, somewhere, will inevitably tweet at you that they are higher. I’ll say Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto. He’s a twitchy, undersized edge rusher who leads the country with a 93.3 pass-rushing grade.
Sleeper player from this upcoming draft you feel strongly about? Sleeper QB out of the top-6?
— Tanner James (@PatriotsDisect) December 25, 2020
I don’t have a sleeper QB that I like for you just yet, but my sleeper for a couple of years has been San Jose State wide receiver Tre Walker. He’s a sudden route-runner with a shiftiness that I believe will translate to the NFL. He's not necessarily a No. 1 type of wideout, at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, but he could develop into a nice No. 2.
Where would Stingley get drafted if he came out this year?
— New me (@BarratSmh) December 25, 2020
He didn’t have a great 2020, but he’d still be the No. 1 corner in this draft and lock top-10 pick. He ran a 4.3 coming out of high school and was the highest-graded corner in the country as a freshman.
Which WR from this years draft would be perfect for @packers ?
— vandalisaMMM (@VandalisaMmm) December 25, 2020
Pipe Dream: Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
More Realistic: Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
If they aren’t going to get some game-breaking speed, they at least need another receiver they can rely on to win one-on-one. That’s Bateman.
What would it take for Denver to trade up for Zach Wilson? Odds of it actually happening?
— Mike (@Burt_Macklin_70) December 25, 2020
We’ll know more when the daft order dust settles, but the problem for Denver is how far they have to trade up for him and how many QB-needy teams they’ll have to jump. Slated at Pick 13 right now, they have to leap the Panthers, Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Lions and 49ers, who could all be in the quarterback market. Not many teams in the top five want to move all the way back to the teens without getting multiple other firsts and seconds in return. When the Rams moved from Pick 15 to 1 in 2016 to draft Jared Goff, they gave up a first, two seconds and a third in 2016 along with a first and third in 2017.
Who is the best RT coming out in this years draft
— Manfred of Hanover (@manfredhanover) December 25, 2020
Obviously, I’d take my chances of switching Oregon’s Penei Sewell to the right side before anyone playing right tackle right now. But, to take a more literal reading of the question: Texas’ Sam Cosmi is the highest-ranked tackle on our board with experience at right tackle, while Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins is the highest-ranked currently playing right tackle.
Who do you view as your biggest miss as a prospect? Like youd hang a picture of them on your wall and say “Never again”
— Dylan Taylor (@DylanT501) December 25, 2020
I talked about linebacker Paul Dawson back in 2015 and how much it changed how I felt about athleticism at coverage positions in a past mailbag. He and subsequently Deion Jones are easily two of my biggest misses on the opposite ends of the spectrum for precisely that reason.
What QB is a better fit for the Panthers and Matt Rhule–Wilson or Fields?
— Yung Kitten (@AfricaDougyas) December 25, 2020
I have a feeling that this is a decision that will be made for them. My conclusion in this article was that I’d rather have Wilson unless I’m going very run-heavy. I would trust Matt Rhule to play to Fields’ strengths and use him in that manner if that’s where he ends up.
Which NFL mascot would win in a fight to the death tournament?
— send it (@Ytse_Ham) December 25, 2020
There are only two mascots in the NFL that aren’t normal people dressed up in fuzzy costumes but rather real live horses: Thunder for the Broncos and Warpaint for the Chiefs. I’ll have to lean warpaint solely for the badass name alone.
What is your prediction of Jordan Love's career?
— Tom (@fieser_fuchs) December 25, 2020
That he doesn’t ever take over as the Packers' full-time starter unless Aaron Rodgers gets hurt.
Is it too soon for the Broncos to move on from Lock?
— Carlin Fuerst (@carlinfuerst) December 25, 2020
I do think it’s too soon to move on. I don’t think he’s been too good to waltz into 2021 with the starter job as a given. They absolutely need to bring in another option either through the draft or free agency this offseason.
Who is the most overrated QB in NFL history?
— Lucas Robins (@RobinsLucas) December 25, 2020
I’ll go with John Elway. He had a big arm and the draft hype, but his stats aren’t anything special for his era, and he got propped up by the league’s best rushing attack for two super bowls late in his career.
On a scale from 1-10, how screwed are the Jets now?
— Jonathan Benton (@Jonathan32200) December 25, 2020
They’re not “screwed,” per se. If Trevor Lawrence didn’t exist, one of Wilson or Fields would still be going first overall. It’s just going to make Joe Douglas work a little harder to build a winner. I’d put it at a 3/10 on the screwed scale.
What is your prediction of Jordan Love's career?
— Tom (@fieser_fuchs) December 25, 2020
I try not to read too much into small sample sizes, and one player’s development would qualify as such. The one biggest thing I’ve taken away is how valuable it is to have a quarterback who can open up an entire playbook with their athleticism and arm strength. Any area of the field you want to attack or quarterback-run concept you want to dream up as an NFL offensive coordinator, Allen can execute. That gives defenses so much more to prepare for and makes quarterbacking easier.
College football fastest faller in the draft and why?
— Andrew Bortnick (@IAmBortnick) December 25, 2020
I don’t know what was going on with Florida State this fall, but defensive tackle Marvin Wilson looked like a shell of the guy we saw in 2019. He went from a 90.7 overall grade last year to a 67.7 this season. He was hoping for a Derrick Brown-esque rise returning for his senior year, but he may fall to Day 3 now.
What should the Browns do with obj?
— DavidT216 (@DaveGT5) December 25, 2020
Odell is a special talent at receiver. Odell has not worked well with Baker Mayfield at all. Both of these things can be true. His ~$15 million cap hits the next three years are very reasonable, given the current receiver market, and the odds are they’ll have trade suitors. That’s the route I’d take.
Who’s going first jamarr chase or devonta smith?
— Recovering parlay addict (@barlito26) December 25, 2020
Ja’Marr Chase outproduced the league’s best rookie wide receiver in a more difficult role in the same offense back in 2019. He’s also got more prototypical size than Smith. Chase easily here.
wtf happened to Dylan Moses?
— B-Lite (@Bleiterman) December 25, 2020
He was always a physical projection and not a terribly productive linebacker. However, when that doesn’t change by Year 4 of college, it starts to take the perceived “upside” away.
2011 Rodgers or 2020 Mahomes?
— Straight Cash (@lakersmoneyline) December 25, 2020
2011 Rodgers is still the best I’ve seen in terms of quality of throws from hand to landing spot. This season's Mahomes is right up there with prime Manning in terms of mastery of offense. I’ll take the Rodgers season, though, because it was before the creative offensive boom of late and didn’t have much in the way of schematic advantage that Mahomes has.
Trask or Jones?
— Matt McIntyre (@ChiBearz_Matt6) December 25, 2020
This is going to be the debate for a lot of teams drafting in the middle of the first round. I’m going to punt on this one for now, as the playoff and the fact that he'll likely be facing two of college football’s best defenses will be massive for Jones’ evaluation. It’s just hard to really put a firm stamp of approval on him with how easy his job has been in that offense.
I know this question is hard to answer until they hire a GM / coach, but is it absolutely insane to think that the Texans can trade Watson and his contract to a team with a top-5 pick in order to reset with a young cheap QB??
— Mikeytroi65 (@mikeytroi65) December 25, 2020
Besides the fact that they quite literally can’t trade him until 2022 because of cap implications, yes you would still be insane to trade Watson. He is the goal everyone strives for at the position. You’ll just have to suffer for a couple of years with a rough roster, but as soon as Bill O’Brien’s absurd deals are off the books, you’ll still have a decade with Watson.
Why’d you cut the flow?
— #TwittterToughGuy (@metatalk1) December 25, 2020
Honestly … laziness. Do you know how long showers take when you have long hair?
If you were looking for the perfect beer to pair with Christmas Dinner, what would it be?
— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) December 25, 2020
I, myself, will be pairing a Miller Lite with my prime rib on Christmas because I prefer to taste my meat and not my beer. You really can’t go wrong with any alcohol on Christmas, though.
What’s the biggest difference between Pat Freiermuth and Kyle Pitts?
— RINOHunter23???????? (@RyanVolkman1) December 25, 2020
Route-running. Pitts has special suddenness and flexibility in his routes for a man that size.
What is the most important trait you look for in an IOL prospect?
— Pangzo (@Pangzo) December 25, 2020
Balance — You can’t block well flat on your face. Oftentimes blocking on the interior is not going to be pretty. It’s going to be like riding a rodeo bronco. Being able to stay on balance is a necessity to maintain blocks.
The Packers win the SB this year, but you have to keep Rodgers as your starter no matter what happens to his skills for the next 10 years. Would you do it? #GoPackGo
— Chase Bahr (@CBahr25) December 25, 2020
While a Super Bowl is great, I disagree with the fetishizing of it. Just because a team doesn’t win a Super Bowl doesn’t mean the season wasn’t worthwhile as a fan. Seasons with no hope — which would essentially be the final five or so in this proposition — suck the life out of you. I’ll take my chances over the next few years with Rodgers instead of getting one guaranteed.
Thoughts on Tua so far and if I should optimistic for him going into 2021?
— Anonymous (@GreekFreek35) December 25, 2020
I shared my early thoughts on him here. He’s not in a particularly great situation to succeed. He’s also not overcome it in any meaningful way. There’s more than enough plays to be optimistic about on tape, and I think he’s looked more than enough like he belongs already.
Why did Joe Burrow become the consensus #1 pick last year while Mac Jones isn’t getting any top 10 consideration with a similar season? Are his tools that much weaker?
— Jake (#ForTheH) (@FeelSurgical) December 25, 2020
The biggest reason is NFL-translateable things; throwing to guys not wide open, specifically. The stats of both when throwing into tight windows are particularly telling:
|Stat||Burrow 2019||Jones 2020|
|Yards per attempt||7.9||7.6|
Throwing into tight windows is a must in the NFL.