Happy New Year to all! Let me say this, thank goodness for no more 70-hour weeks (those of you in retail should understand). For this week, we are doing things differently. I will review each position as a whole, then I will dole out the year-end rankings. Thank you all for reading again this season, and I hope I helped many of you during the course of the season to championships.
The position was dominated by the first two overall choices from the NFL Draft (and why wouldn’t it be?). At times both struggled, but at times both shined and look to have solid NFL careers. It is a shame that Marcus Mariota got injured because it looked like he was getting his running game into gear. I look forward to seeing him with a full complement of wide receivers who are healthy next season. It would also help if Tennessee could obtain a running back to help take some pressure off of him.
Jameis Winston seemed to grow each week (for the most part) and looks every bit like a future star. He seemed to mature and grow in confidence each week and become a more composed NFL quarterback. The loss of Vincent Jackson to injury at the end of the season hurt some, but he was able to make plays anyway. With youth at several positions on offense, Tampa Bay could be a team to watch in the future. I expect Tampa Bay to cut Vincent Jackson and get some offensive line help in exchange with his salary off of the books.
I was surprised that St. Louis picked Todd Gurley in the draft, especially when Tre Mason played so well for them last season as a rookie. Well, St. Louis may have been smarter than we think. Once Gurley was healthy from his knee problems, he became a beast. As much as I was impressed with Gurley, the other running back taken early, Melvin Gordon, turned out to be a big disappointment for San Diego. He was the odds-on-favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year honors prior to the season (me included), but he never took off like we all thought.
Of course, in between Gurley and Gordon are several other runners with mixed results, both good and bad. Pleasant surprises were found in Thomas Rawls, David Johnson and Jeremy Langford. In fact, I expect Matt Forte not re-sign with Chicago and we will see Langford’s stock skyrocket. I also expect that Marshawn Lynch will not be back in Seattle and Rawls could end up a Top 10 pick next season. Remember, you read both of those predictions here first!
It was a tough year for this year’s rookie crop to begin with, as they were being compared to the stellar class of 2014. Needless to say, injuries hurt this bunch in a major way with four of the top six missing significant playing time (if not the whole season). They always say that the cream rises to the top; well that was the case again this season. Amari Cooper for Oakland looks like a star for years to come. I want to see the growth and confidence grow between him and Derek Carr.
The single biggest disappointment for me with the rookies this season has to be Nelson Agholor. He is almost a mirror image of the departed Jeremy Maclin and looked to be in an ideal situation to have a very productive season. It did not turn out that way as the entire Philadelphia offense disappointed. A very nice surprise was found in this year’s wide receiver class in Stefon Diggs. He was a later-round pick who ending up leading Minnesota in receiving yards. Can he build on his surprising rookie season? I expect him to be taken in the top 6 or 7 rounds next year.
Tight ends traditionally don’t put up big numbers in their first season, it seems like the learning curve takes longer to process. The top overall pick at the position was Maxx Williams and he had a mixed season. He was a disappointment at first, but started showing some progress only to get hurt. He still has a ton of potential. Clive Walford of Oakland played well and should thrive in that offense once all gets settled. The rest of the class didn’t do very much except for undrafted free agent Will Tye of the New York Giants. He came on at the end of the year and was a top-10 tight end down the stretch.