Joe Flacco, QB- Baltimore Ravens
It’s no surprise really that when your team drafts a Heisman winning player in your position, you may start to feel a little worried. This is the case for Superbowl MVP Joe Flacco. Flacco has been the starter in Baltimore since 2008 and his team has seen considerable success along the way. He’s only missed 6 games in his 10 year span and has proven to be Mr. Consistent for Baltimore. However, Baltimore is looking for more than just consistency at the position. Despite the success Flacco and the Ravens have enjoyed, it has always been the Ravens stout defense that led them to a championship in Superbowl 47. At times its seemed like Flacco has held back the Ravens from having even more success. So with Flacco’s productivity decreasing the Ravens took a shot at the end of the first round on Lamar Jackson. Jackson brings a new style of QB to Baltimore and I’d expect him to be starting by at the least Week 7.
2. Frank Gore, RB- Miami Dolphins
Gore’s been a consistent pro bowl starter since taking over in 2006. Over his 12 year career as a starter, Gore has amassed just over 14,000 yards rushing which puts him 5th all time. Sadly Gores production has decreased since moving to Indianapolis in 2015. A bad O-line hasn’t helped Gore but he has passed 30 and in May he turned 35. So with one of the leagues worst O-lines, Gore looks unlikely to pass the 1,000 mark for what would be the 3rd time in 4 years. Miami stupidly got rid of Jay Ajayi last season and most thought their rush offense would crumble without him, and that’s exactly what happened. The Dolphins went from the 9th rushing offense in 2016 to 28th in 2017 without Ajayi. However, this struggle has come with one bright spark in Kenyan Drake. Drake started 6 games in 2017 and finished with 644 yards, averaging over 100 yards a game. Drake’s only 24 and while Miami are rebuilding, they will surely look to start Drake and see if he can become their consistent starter in the future.
3. Michael Bennett, DE- Philadelphia Eagles
After 6 years of success, it was definitely the right decision for Pete Carroll to disband some of the older pieces of the Legion of Boom. Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman were the two major defensive losses for the Hawks defense. Sherman went to division rivals the 49ers, and Bennett was traded for almost nothing to the Super-bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. Bennett has 54 sacks over his career and is consistently a worry for opposing QBs, thanks to his quick first step and explosive pass rushing moves. Sadly for Bennett however, his trade in the summer made little sense for the Eagles. Philadelphia did lose 5 years starter Vinny Curry who shouldn’t make much of a difference as Curry only contributed 22 sacks over 84 games played for Philadelphia. Despite this, Bennett was still a strange addition from the Eagles, due to their first round selection 2017. Derek Barnett became a bit of a hero to the people of Philadelphia thanks to him picking up Brandon Graham’s strip sack to end any chance of the Patriots winning, securing the city of Philadelphia their first Super-Bowl. Barnett showed his pass rushing talent at Tennessee, breaking Hall of Famer and possibly the greatest pass rusher of all time Reggie White’s record with 33 sacks in his 3 years. Brandon Graham is highly unlikely to move so that leaves one place left open for 2 outside rushers. I think with Bennett coming towards the end of his career, it’s likely Doug Pederson will want to play Barnett who could be a phenomenal partner to Brandon Graham for many years to come.
4. Sam Bradford, QB- Arizona Cardinals
It’s gotten to a point now where you can’t head into an NFL season without the conversation of whose going to replace Sam Bradford when he eventually gets injured. Bradford has missed 48 games since entering the league in 2010. He’s considered one of the more disappointing number 1 overall picks, especially with the next 6 picks in that draft all becoming pro-bowlers multiple times. The Cardinals completely revamped their QB position this off-season, after the retirement of Carson Palmer. Arizona signed Bradford and Mike Glennon after losing Palmer and backups Drew Stanton, Matt Barkley and Blaine Gabbert. They also of course traded up in the draft to select UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Rosen could be the most skilled in what is an excellent QB class. Rosen has a massive chip on his shoulder being the 4th QB chosen. I don’t see Bradford making it through an entire season and with Rosen taking over some point through the season, I don’t see Bradford being able to regain his starting job after Rosen takes over.
5. Jamie Collins, OLB- Cleveland Browns
The large majority of the NFL were surprised on Halloween 2016 when Bill Belichick played a cruel trick on Jamie Collins by trading him to the Browns for a third round pick. Collins had been a starter for a couple of years with the Pats and was a starter when they beat the Seahawks to win the Super-bowl, leading the Pats in tackles. Collins time with the Browns has been a disappointment, going from a pro-bowl calibre player to almost a liability. So the Browns jumped on the opportunity this off-season to sign Mychal Kendricks who was with the Eagles during their magical run to beat the Pats and win the Super-bowl. Kendricks was released after demanding a trade for the second season in a row. He’s been a great run stopper for the Eagles, racking up 459 tackles in his 85 games. Kendricks is likely to be one of the starters at outside linebackers. Which leaves Collins and Christian Kirksey fighting for the second OLB position. I believe that Kirksey will beat out Collins. Kirksey has been the more consistent tackler and I could see the Browns trying to offload Collins’ $50 million contract.
Joe Flacco, QB- Baltimore Ravens