1. The NFL isn’t exactly known for getting out in front of things. For instance, back in 1920, it wasn’t the “National Football League.” It was known as the “Football America’s Regional Touring-Organization.” And for decades, league owners listened as folks around this great nation made fun of them for naming the league “FART-O.” But until the number of critics rose to every man, woman and child in the United States that they finally scrapped the old name, and changed it to the “National Football League” in 1922.
True story. Well, except for all the nouns and verbs. But the important part is, it could have been true, because the NFL is reactive, but only reactive when it’s already too late. For the better part of a decade, there was a universal call—always increasing in volume—to fix the catch rule. Now, after literally anyone who’s ever looked at a football has pointed out how dumb the written rule is and how foolishly it’s being implemented, they’re finally going to do it. This offseason the competition committee had a chance to fix the unrecovered-fumble-out-of-the-end-zone rule, which has any number of better solutions, from offense retaining possession at the goal line or at the point of the fumble, to the “reverse touchback,” an Andy Benoit Original Idea™. They opted not to take action, saying, essentially, not enough people were complaining about it because not enough people have noticed. So they’ll wait until it happens in the fourth quarter of a close Super Bowl, and then change the rule.
But right now, the biggest threat looming on the horizon for the NFL is tanking. Aggressive tanking. At this moment, there’s a front office exec looking at the rising cost of veteran quarterbacks (whether on the free-agent market or your own), then looking at what teams at the top of the draft are paying QBs thanks to the rookie wage scale, and, finally, thoughtfully rubbing his chin and making mmm-hmm noises as he stares into the middle distance.
The Eagles had the cap room to build a team good enough to win the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback, because their franchise QB cost $6 million against the cap last year, about 25-30% of what a typical franchise QB costs. The Rams are currently doing the same thing with Jared Goff, who carries a cap hit of $7.6 million in 2018. Literally half the starting quarterbacks in the NFL will carry a cap hit of $18 million or more. Purely from a roster-building standpoint, there’s little incentive for rebuilding teams to not tear the whole thing down, lose 14-16 games in what would have been a lost season anyway, then go out and get a cheap quarterback, build around him with the cap space created by his artificially low deal, and get a winner. (Or at least a winning roster.)
The best way to prevent tanking would be to eliminate the draft. Let prospects enter the league in a free market (well, as free as the salary cap allows), in which case 32 teams are in the running, and winning a lot of games in the previous season would be positive, not prohibitive, as far as getting a top rookie signed. (The draft also happens to be woefully anti-labor.) But for many reasons, most notably because the third day of the draft just drew bigger ratings than the M*A*S*H series finale , that won’t happen. (And also, the draft is fun, and it’s in place to promote competitive balance, which in theory is a good thing.)
The second-best—and most realistic—way to prevent tanking would be this: When it’s time to negotiate the next CBA, eliminate the rookie wage scale. That’s fantastic if your team gets a pick at the top of the draft, but you have to recognize the market and pay that player like a pick at the top of the draft. What would Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold have gotten on the open market this offseason? Maybe it wouldn’t have been Jimmy Garoppolo money (who, as an impossibly handsome man, probably deserves to make more money than everyone in the league anyway). But, even if you want to emphasize how flawed these quarterbacks might be, we’d at least be talking something in the low-20s annually, probably with a minimum three- or four-year commitment (so that you’re not negotiating a deal for twice that if they’re budding stars hitting free agency in two years). You get your chance to add a franchise savior, but you have to pay him like a franchise savior too.
The rookie wage scale hasn’t delivered on the main benefit that was sold to the union anyway: That the money from those mega-contracts for the top rookies would now be devoted to the grizzled veterans who had paid their dues and earned it. In reality, it’s been distributed to a select few free agents every winter in the form of huge second contracts, and those are more often players who haven’t lost too much tread on the tires. Most of the guys who toil and sacrifice themselves on lower-than-market deals end up settling for the same scraps they used to get before the rookie wage scale was in place.
I’m sure neither side will champion the idea, but it should appeal to everyone. From the union side: Yes, these guys are rookies, but putting a cap on their earning power just as they’re joining your union isn’t the most pro-labor move. And for ownership, tanking is coming. It runs rampant in the NBA to the point that people are now (unironically, I recently learned to my amazement) praising former 76ers GM Sam Hinkie for his work on a roster that won less than 20% of its games over his three-year tenure (even though his first year including trading one of the top 50 players in the NBA, passing the opportunity to draft one of the top 10 players in the NBA, and only selecting one franchise-changing player over three drafts, and only because Joel Embiid had an injured foot that caused two teams to pass him over, but I digress…). And now tanking is happening in baseball; and the biggest culprit is Derek Jeter! The very man who invented the sport of baseball, or as is my understanding based on what I’ve read from the New York press over the years! (I’ve even been told it’s happening in hockey too, though I haven’t been able to find any news on my Hartford Whalers in a couple decades, so I couldn’t say for sure.)
Aggressive tanking is coming. We can all live with some illogical rules that ruin a game or two per season. But for a league that stages fewer than 300 games every year, they can’t afford to let a couple teams start running a race to the bottom.
And now some stuff about the thing you just spent three days watching…
2. You might remember December 2017, when Baltimore Ravens team president Dick Cass penned what I described then (and would still describe now) as an “unwise” letter to season-ticket holders, in which a portion of the letter blamed the poor attendance at M&T Bank Stadium on players demonstrating during the playing of the national anthem.
But while the demonstrations during the anthem likely caused some fans to no-show, the real reason why a large number of people stopped showing up to Ravens games last season was the dreadful product on the field. The Ravens weren’t just bad, they were boring, and they lacked any kind of identity for fans to get excited about.
A quick recap of Baltimore’s attendance drop: The Ravens went to London and lost 44-7 in a game where franchise quarterback Joe Flacco threw for fewer yards (28) than opposing QB Blake Bortles did on two individual plays. They came home a week later and were uncompetitive with the rival Steelers—the only marquee game on their 2017 home schedule—falling behind 19-0 by halftime and losing 26-9. Baltimore’s other home games were a Thursday nighter against the Dolphins, a Monday nighter against the Tom Savage-led (and J.J. Watt-less) Texans, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. The Ravens’ MVP for a second straight year was their kicker. Their second-best player might have been the punter. The two most recognizable faces on the roster were Joe Flacco—a slightly improved but still second consecutive disappointing season since his ACL tear—and 35-year-old edge rusher Terrell Suggs. The offense’s best player, Alex Collins, was added off the practice squad in Week 2.
And that, in short but probably not short enough, is why Lamar Jackson is so important to this franchise. I’m not sure if Jackson will end up being a good NFL quarterback—that will depend on a number of variables that will play out over the next four or five seasons—but his potential as a franchise quarterback is enormous, and as soon as he steps on the field there will be a buzz and excitement that this team has lacked for years. It would mean something for Baltimore, a majority black city, to have a black quarterback as the face of the team and an ambassador for the franchise and the city. On the national stage, Jackson makes the Ravens relevant again, really for the first time since Ray Lewis retired after Super Bowl XLVII. Aside from the catastrophic violence promised by a Ravens-Steelers matchup, no one’s tuning in to a prime time game to watch Joe Flacco and Nick Boyle play pass-and-catch. They would if they thought they might see stuff like this:
I think it would be better for Jackson’s development to be eased in. He has the arm, he has the mind, he has the work ethic, and he seems to have the determination to become more comfortable in the pocket. That’s a requirement if you want to have a decade-plus run as a franchise QB, due to the fundamental geometry of the NFL (created by faster, smarter defenders and tighter hashmarks that limit space). Jackson's value as a runner would then supplement his work in the pocket. At times last year I got the sense he was almost making himself stay in the pocket rather than use his legs—sometimes you just gotta go! I think he can get a better feel for it, but the speed and pressure of live action could cause him to slide back. Joe Flacco is around for at least one more year and is capable of keeping this team competitive. The Ravens have needed to find someone like Lamar Jackson for a good five years; if they have to, they can wait one more.
3. That Dave Goettelmann sure ruffled some feathers this week while defending the Saquon Barkley pick—analytics guys, keyboard manufacturers, maybe even Pat Shurmur from the looks of this GIF.
I’m still of the mind that the Giants should have traded out of the second spot and gotten themselves a pass-rusher and a second-tier running back. But a lot of people are missing the point when they box Barkley in as simply a running back. He’s a talented runner, perhaps a very talented runner, which obviously has some value. But more importantly, he’s cut from the Le’Veon Bell/David Johnson mold as a receiver. That’s what makes him a difference maker. You could probably count on one hand the number of wide receivers in this draft who will have a bigger impact as pass-catchers than Barkley will.
So here’s what you’re looking at if you’re an opposing defense facing the Giants. The Ben McAdoo, “we’re gonna line up in 11 personnel and run a bunch of iso routes so we can play faster” offense is gone. The Giants now have a rushing threat you have to respect. But on top of that, you have a Shurmur-designed passing game that will have Odell Beckham Jr. on the field at the same time as Barkley and Evan Engram, not to mention Sterling Shepard (who didn’t win often enough in McAdoo’s system but could thrive with Shurmur’s route combinations) and blocking specialist Rhett Ellison.
As a defensive coordinator, what are you going to do? You have to devote a corner and safety help to Beckham, and you have a corner on Shepard. Then you have your other safety matched up on Engram. That leaves a linebacker trying to cover Barkley, and that’s not going to go well. Or go light with a fifth DB, then you risk having Will Hernandez pulling around and barreling into the second level with Barkley behind him.
Shurmur made that Vikings offense go last year with a fraction of the talent he’ll have with the Giants this year (and that Vikings offense had talent!). Adding Barkley to this roster creates huge advantages, even before you start factoring in Shurmur’s talent as a play designer.
4. There are approximately 10,000 awesome things about the Seahawks drafting Shaquem Griffin, but one underrated aspect: It didn’t feel forced or staged. If he was drafted on Day 2, it would have been.
Griffin is not a guy who’s going to push for a starting job in 2018, but he might in two or three years. This fall he’ll be a core special teamer in Seattle—and I wonder if the Seahawks might have him keep his weight down and use him as a third safety (since they already have two really good cover linebackers in Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright). The Seahawks got a warm and fuzzy moment, but they didn’t have to sacrifice a pick to do it. Griffin is an NFL-caliber player who has a chance to become a good NFL player, and that’s a great use of a fifth-round pick.
Hi. Hey. Before we move on, do you know where I first heard about Shaquem Griffin? From Andy Staples’ piece on SI TV. So let me make a quick sales pitch: We at SI create a lot of stuff on the internet that we give you for free. And we love doing it! But we’re also investing in some new ways of presenting our stories, and our interviews, and our analysis, that takes more than just one writer getting on a plane. There are cameras and microphones and makeup (sometimes) and all sorts of stuff. And the end product is phenomenal: a documentary on Saquon Barkley, behind the scenes with Malcolm Butler during his free-agent journey, Robert Klemko’s interview with Baker Mayfield (you didn’t see a whole lot of access to Baker Mayfield this weekend, did you?).
So yes, there is a subscription fee for SI TV. But there’s also a free seven-day trial, so what do you have to lose? And I just want to make one more point, then I promise, more poop jokes: That subscription fee goes to funding more SI TV features. But it also goes to funding more of the big, engaging, memorable written pieces you’ve seen online. It will help us send Jenny Vrentas to Tuscaloosa and Annapolis to get the story of the Belichick/Saban friendship. Robert Klemko to hear what the Mexican government thought about having to track down Tom Brady’s stolen shirt, and Andy Benoit to the Idaho mountains because sometimes it’s just fun to send Andy to some place where there are very few people (and also Leighton Vander Esch is from there).
So if you’re excited about high-end video stories, you have to sign up for SI TV. And if you’re only mildly excited by high-end video stories but you really love good sports journalism and story-telling, support that by signing up for SI TV. I won’t bother you about it again, at least not until the fall.
5. I don’t know how the Baker Mayfield/Hue Jackson marriage is going to work out, but I do think (a) For an undersized quarterback, interior offensive line is huge in terms of creating throwing lanes, and Mayfield has a very good trio in front of him in Cleveland; (b) In theory, Mayfield-to-Jarvis Landry is a perfect fit, with Landry’s tendency to freelance and play-by-feel a bit, and Mayfield’s natural playmaking skills and ability do the same; (c) Mayfield is apparently fueled by negativity, and they have some of that in Cleveland; and (d) If Mayfield, considering his ability to learn fast and his devotion to football, can’t beat out the ultra-conservative Tyrod Taylor for the start against the Steelers in Week 1, something has gone very wrong.
And, after editing Robert Klemko on his Baker Mayfield series for the past three months, I noticed something about Browns GM John Dorsey and his feelings for Mayfield.
Dorsey at the combine: Right off the bat, before the handshakes and intros, and before the Heisman trophy winner sat down, Dorsey in his booming Southern Maryland drawl fired one across the bow. “So you like food trucks?”
Dorsey a few weeks later: Sitting at the Red Rock restaurant in Norman, Okla., during a meal with Mayfield earlier this month, Browns general manager John Dorsey looked upon the landscape outside and quipped, “Here’s what we’re gonna do: Open up restaurants right here, all lined up, and they’re all gonna be food trucks.”
That’s right, I suspect that Dorsey has yet to exhaust his inventory of jokes referring to Mayfield’s arrest last year (near food trucks, you see). A couple ideas Dorsey might be cooking up:
[Rookie minicamp, as Mayfield walks off the field, Dorsey sidles up to him.] “Good practice, where are you gonna grab lunch? A food truck, I bet. Right? Right?”
[Training camp, team cafeteria, Mayfield sits, eating quietly, when Dorsey sneaks up from behind and whispers.] “Where is that food from? A food truck?” [Dorsey pushes plate onto the floor, walks away.]
[Wednesday, Oct. 24, 3 a.m., a smoke grenade rolls through Baker Mayfield’s bedroom and goes off. An air horn blares. A disoriented Mayfield is tackled by Dorsey, in full fatigues, who is now on top of him, shaking him violently and shouting] “Food trucks! Food trucks! Remember that time you got arrested and it was near food trucks!” [Dorsey exits by crashing through a glass patio door. The two never speak of it again.]
6a. I was never fond of the idea of the draft moving around the country, mostly because back in the Radio City Music Hall days it was right across the street from The MMQB offices. That meant I could get in on all the draft action without even having to put on pants. Those were the days.
It’s really a moot point now since our offices were moved to Lower Manhattan and I’ve received numerous warnings from Human Resources that, despite the lack of a formal dress code, I am required to wear pants in the workplace. But the rotating draft have actually been a lot of fun. And, from all reports, Dallas was a tremendous host this weekend.
It must have warmed the heart of reclusive Dallas Cowboys owner Jerral Wayne Jones. If I had to guess, he was probably at home all weekend. But hopefully he took a moment to put on his favorite earth-tone cardigan, step out onto the porch while he takes sips of tea from the mug he’s using to warm both hands on a cool Texas evening, and look down upon AT&T Stadium to see all those excited fans. Then, of course, he'd retire back inside, pop in a VHS tape of JAG (or is it NCIS? No one’s quite sure), settle into his recliner and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of a military-police procedural.
6b. As for his team’s actual draft? Oh, that was a goddam disaster.
The Cowboys might have invited some of this karma for stringing Dez Bryant along and letting him go after the other 31 teams were done spending. Jason Witten retired after Round 1 was done, so the Cowboys missed out on Hayden Hurst, the closest approximation to Witten available in this draft (though, really, that’s not a very close approximation at this point in time). Then they were surely set up to grab second-tier TE Dallas Goedert—he’s named after the city because his dad’s a Cowboys fan, a storybook ending to a very short storybook!—when the Eagles go with an outright troll, trade up to jump the Cowboys and scoop up Goedert one pick earlier (announced by David Akers, who rubbed it in by pointing out that none of the draftees had been born yet the last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl … then setting the podium on fire so the Cowboys wouldn’t be able to announce their pick next, you should’ve seen it).
So the Cowboys snagged Connor Williams (O.K., a potential steal) to shore up their O-line. And Leighton Vander Esch is going to be very good and possibly great, and makes up for the mistake of taking an injured Jaylon Smith with the 36th pick of the 2016 draft when he probably wasn’t going top 100. Colorado State WR Michael Gallup has some physical skills, but spent last year picking on physically overmatched opponents in the Mountain West and doesn’t show the kind of nuanced route running or late-separation ability that would make you think he’s ready to contribute Day 1.
The Cowboys have two years left of Dak Prescott making next to nothing (cap hits in 2018 and ’19: $725,000 and $815,000, respectively), then they’ll have to give him a franchise QB contract that will hamstring their ability to build around him. And at the moment, they might have the worst group of pass catchers in the NFL. Their receivers are all No. 3s and 4s (Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Gallup). New starting tight end Dalton Schultz, the last pick of the fourth round, is a plus blocker with some athleticism, but the fact that a Stanford program that knows how to use and develop tight ends barely used him as a receiver should tell you what to expect of him at the next level. There is no one in that group who tips an opposing defense’s coverage in any way. The offensive line is still great, and Ezekiel Elliott is fantastic. But how good will they be when they look across the line of scrimmage and see the population of a small island nation lining up in the box.
7. I’m not sure if Mike Vrabel is going to break out the “diamond” defense he used to make the Texans pass rush into a beast (before they were ravaged by injuries), and I’m not claiming this trio is Watt-Mercilus-Clowney. But the Titans just nabbed the best blitzing linebacker in the draft in Rashaan Evans, and the… edge-burniest… edge burner in the draft in Harold Landry (who shouldn’t have escaped the top half of the first round, let alone the entire first round in a league where you can’t find edge rushers). And if they go five across on passing downs, and three of the five are those two and Jurrell Casey, and they have one of the best cover-corner trios and Kevin Byard on the back end, that’s a proposition that should worry opponents.
8. As a 30-something white guy from the suburbs, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that my thoughts on how people should feel about the n-word probably don’t carry a lot of weight. But just two quick things about the Josh Allen tweets:
a. I think there’s a path to forgiveness for most of the awful things people do, and I think there’s a path for Allen on this. He’s got some work to do with his new teammates.
b. I will never, ever, ever understand why people who don’t have to tweet insist on tweeting. I understand having a Twitter account and using it to follow along with the news and all, or even tweeting among friends on a locked account (though, really, just text), but other than that, there’s no upside to actually putting something out on Twitter. There are actual, honest-to-God humans who devote their professional careers to the “journalism” of combing through years-old tweets of people who have just become famous or might soon become famous.
c. Anyways, my understanding is that my career depends on my Twitter popularity. So please follow me on Twitter so I can feed my children. You wont’ regret it. It’s just a bunch of retweets of local radio appearances.
9. There’s nothing I can say about this year’s draft hats that hasn’t already been said by that jerk dog (guy, could you just humor the poor lady dog who has so many hats and just wants your approval?) in the 1961 children’s classic Go, Dog. Go!.
This is what was so disappointing: If it was a lesser company, you’d shrug your shoulders and move on. But I’d argue that New Era does hats better than any other company does anything. Their products are impeccable. I’d pay them to come on as a sponsor of this column. (Though not with money.) So I’m shocked they violated such a simple tenet: The draft hat has either the team logo, the team name (not just the city name), or both.
Remember the NCAA tournament a couple year ago, when they outfitted everyone in “ALWAYS REPPIN’” shooting shirts that, almost immediately, were the equivalent of walking around in a shirt that read “IS THAT YOUR FINAL ANSWER?” or “COWBUNGA BEACH PARTY SURF’S UP RADICAL!” or “GOD THIS SHIRT SLOGAN IS THE WORST.”
These hats weren’t that bad, but they’re not going to age well because these team slogans come and go (or, in many cases, are not established enough to be considered slogan). Logo or team name next year. Please. I’ll buy one of every team if you do that. (Though, again, not with money.)
10. There are some 4,500 words above, so I’m going to wrap this up by dumping a bunch of half-thought-out observations from the weekend in what we’ll call “Potpourri” in honor of Jeopardy (and in honor of SI’s own Jeopardy champion, Jack Dickey, who will hopefully soon be buying a sponsorship in this column with his winnings):
a. Among the various shouters across media and social media this draft season, it was choose your side, Team Josh Allen vs. Team Lamar Jackson. It was all pretty inane, though it did give birth to draftjoshallen.com, the URL tweeted out by every 40- and 50-something who covers football at least 74 times over a two-month span. It was like a “Naming of the B-Sharps” playing out in the internet age:
Either or both could be spectacular failures at the next level. But both are physically and mentally capable of becoming franchise quarterbacks. Allen has unbelievable arm talent and plus athleticism. Jackson has unbelievable athleticism and plus arm talent. Both take risks and will probably make their share of mistakes on the field, but have the ability to make up for it by doing things other quarterbacks are physically incapable of doing. They both might end up career sub-60% passers because their talent will allow coaches to ask them to make some low-percentage throws (in which case you can pat yourself on the back for calling that they’d be busts, while continuing to ignore that a sub-60% passer won MVP three seasons ago).
But if you ever find yourself thinking, Well, I’m not excited about Josh Allen/Lamar Jackson, get a Game Pass account and watch last year’s Bills-Chiefs game in which Alex Smith and Tyrod Taylor took turns trying to not score points for three hours. Then, if you haven’t gouged out both eyes, take a look at these two with a fresh perspective.
b. Public schools need to be teaching our children that “dropped pass percentage” is not a definitive measure of a quarterback’s supporting cast. (For instance, tough for your receivers to drop a pass when they can't get open.)
c. My podcast co-host and aspiring orchestra conductor Andy Benoit and I have noted this on our show, but because of how teams can make up for poor pass protection in a variety of ways (quick-strike passing, chip blocks, etc.), offensive tackle has almost become a position where “good enough” is the goal, rather than looking for the next Walter Jones. So with that in mind, it’s not particularly surprising that Isaiah Wynn (Patriots first-rounder) and Austin Corbett (top pick of the second round for the Browns) are the odds-on favorites to start at left tackle for their new teams, despite having less than ideal length for the position. Both figure to be good enough to allow an offense to function.
d. I dunno. Antonio Callaway, Desmond Harrison and Josh Gordon in the same locker room? Good luck to you, Hue Jackson.
e. Callaway was the most talented receiver in this draft, and I’m not sure that’s even a mildly warm take. Once he came off the board, and with Arden Key already taken by Oakland, I thought for sure Harrison, the West Georgia (and one-time Texas) OT, and Texas CB Holton Hill, the other early-round talents with character concerns, would be drafted soon after. They weren't. Ergo, I’m surprised. (Hill signed with the Vikings, by the way.)
f. Josh Sweat can sometimes looks like he forgets he’s in a football game at the snap (he's too often the 22nd guy to start moving), but there’s no doubting the raw physical ability. It was clearly medicals that knocked him all the way down to the end of the fourth round (130th overall, to the Eagles). I’m not going to second-guess team doctors seeing as all of my medical knowledge was gathered from that one episode of House that I saw, but it made me think of Jay Ajayi and Myles Jack, two guys who slipped in recent drafts because of medicals and who, at least so far, have been just fine.
g. I know Andy was on the verge of calling for government intervention when it came to the Colts draft, and I wasn’t quite as worked up. But I took their investment in the interior O-line, and their failure to add much NFL-ready talent to the defense, to mean two things: First, they’re not going to change the way Andrew Luck plays, insisting that he get the ball out of his hands quicker. Instead, they’re going to try to make sure he doesn’t get touched. And second, to be clear: I really like LB Darius Leonard (36th overall) in the long-term, I’m not crazy about him but I understand the excitement over the potential of EDGE Kemoko Turay (52nd overall), and LB Zaire Franklin (235th overall) was one of my favorite draft sleepers. But none of those three guys are going to do much in 2018. I’m not sure if I think the Colts or the Pacers will allow more points per game next season.
h. It was the old chicken and the egg debate: Can the egg not block anyone because the chicken couldn’t coach, or could the chicken not get anything out of the egg because the egg just wasn’t talented. And that brings us to Tom Cable, much maligned in the Pacific Northwest for his work with the Seahawks’ offensive line. Did he really ever have the talent to work with in Seattle? We’ll get a better read on Cable over the next couple years, as the Raiders used a first-rounder on OT Kolton Miller, then took one of the more interesting developmental prospects in OT Brandon Parker to start Round 3.
i. Last year, Mike Glennon signed with the Bears to be their starter, only to have them draft Mitchell Trubisky and knock him into a backup role. This year, Mike Glennon signed with the Cardinals to be their No. 2 behind Sam Bradford, only to have them draft Josh Rosen and knock him down to third on the depth chart. Mike Glennon must hate draft day. And the film, Draft Day, in part because it reminds him of draft days, but also because it's dreadful.
j. The steal of the draft was P.J. Hall, Sam Houston State defensive tackle, to the Raiders 57th overall. He’s quick, he’s flexible, he’s strong and he had the on-field production (39.5 career sacks) to match his otherworldly pro day workout (dude ran a 4.73 forty and had a 38-inch vertical at 308 pounds!). He’ll make multiple Pro Bowls in his career. And if he doesn’t, I’ll come back to this article, delete this item and deny it ever existed.
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