NFL is back! Oh yes, its felt a shorter off season this year, less bleak thanks to Gareth Southgate almost bringing football home but I am so glad to see a bit of gridiron on my telly again. It may just be pre-season but it still presents us with some really intriguing match ups and new young players striving for a place in the team, or just to move themselves on to elite status. With that, some players I am really looking forward to seeing this summer.
Baker Mayfield – Cleveland Browns
I am hoping Mayfield proves me wrong, and to some extend I already have my tail between my legs having dismissed him as ‘just another Johnny (football) Manziel’. He clearly isn’t, Johnny F had a huge reputation coming out of college, but it was shown that he was more a product of a college offense and did not suit the pro game, he was helped out by working with phenomenal talents like Mike Evans and Jake Matthews who in many ways made him look good.
Mayfield should be different, yes there were talented players to help him in Oklahoma such as Orlando Jones and James Washington, yet he seems more like the real deal and able to elevate his game to the pro level. Cleveland of course don’t have a great record in the first round of the draft, but I am going to watch him with a complete open mind, I hope for the Browns sake he succeeds.
Stacy Coley – Minnesota Vikings
Second year receiver Stacy Coley comes into year 2 on the back of zero receptions in 4 games from his first season, yet I can’t shake this expectation I have for his as an extremely talented player. In Miami College he ended fifth in their all-time list with 2216 yard and tied 4th for touchdowns with 20, he was no slouch, he was also an excellent kick returner.
He is listed as Vikings 5th/6th wide receiver on early depth charts though with the quite average and Kendall Wright and yet to prove himself Laquon Treadwell ahead of him we may see him get more snaps as the season goes on. If he succeeds a young threesome of Diggs, Thielen and Coley could dominate the NFC North for years.
Coley is just back in training after injury so we should see him towards the end of preseason.
John Ross/Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon and Ross had a disappointing rookie season compared to the hype that followed them into the league. Mixon was expected to be a first round talent had he not had some issues outside football causing his draft stock to decrease. John Ross entered the draft having just beaten the 40 yard dash record at the combine and though there may have been a touch of the Al Davis’ about his stock, he had still earned his first round status with some stella performances in Washington.
The Bengals offense has been simply AJ Green for some time now, Eifert has potential but can’t seem to stay fit. The quarterback Andy Dalton has a reputation for being the gauge for middle of the road quarterbacks in the league, is he a franchise back or not? No one can decide.
The Bengals however have seen enough from this pair to be able to move on from running back Jeremy Hill and wide receiver Brandon Lafell. If the pair succeed it will transform the team, if they fail they could well end up picking number 1 next year.
Quenton Nelson – Indianapolis Colts
Simply Nelson comes into the league with the reputation of one of the best rookies since Andrew Luck – the quarterback he will be protecting. Playing next to Ryan Kelly, another great young prospect, the pair could be the players Luck has needed all along to keep him upright and more importantly fit. O-line might not be the sexiest but I for one am really looking forward to see what he can do.
Evan Engram – New York Giants
If you haven’t cottoned on after his rookie season, get on board, Engram is the next star at tight end. Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates were tremendous, Jimmy Graham was the man for a while, and Gronk is the current superstar, and Engram is the next name about to make it big.
In an offense that already boasts one of the most entertaining and brilliant receiver talents, and also having added once of the most exciting rookie running backs in some years, the Giants offense is just a consistent Eli Manning away from being dominant this season, New York could be a really exciting team to watch this year.
Jamarco Jones – Seattle Seahawks
As I suggested in a recent article, Germain Ifedi is not good enough to be starting on the Seahawks offensive line. The team need to be better at identifying talent now they have moved on from Tom Cable, and at the same time need to be able to move on when they see something is not working, no matter what they invested.
It had been suggested that Geroge Fant could move over to the right side now that he is returning from injury, or new free agent signing DJ Fluker could return to his college position of tackle, but a player who has started taking 1st team reps at right tackle is 5th round rookie Jamarco Jones.
Jones has the length, timing and technique to be a starting tackle in the NFL yet he dropped down the draft due to concerns over being a little undersized, he weighed in at the combine at 299lbs. I would argue that you should forget the numbers and give the guy a go, they started a basketballer at tackle last year for goodness sake, Jamarco Jones was a 2 year started at Ohio State, he must have something about him.
Bo Scarborough – Dallas Cowboys
Last one, ex Alabama star Bo Scarborough is now RB3 in Dallas, I was excited by Scarborough since the 2016 CFP semi-final when he absolutely destroyed Washington. The following season he played second fiddle to Damian Harris yet I believe Scarborough to have what it takes at the pro level as a Derrick Henry type of bruising running back. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring with his style of play.