Scout Picks Packers-Patriots Super Bowl, Breaks Down Every Team

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterJuly 31, 2015

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I asked an NFL scout to, well, scout.

Except this time he was doing it for Bleacher Report.

I asked him to give me a few thoughts on each team as camps begin, in earnest. Not an encyclopedia. Just the good stuff. And be honest. He was.

He essentially picked a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl, with the Packers winning.

The words below are all from extensive conversations with the scout over the past week or so. Key point: I only wanted big-picture thoughts from him, not who would win a battle for the No. 2 tight end spot. I also allowed the scout to evaluate his own team.

The penis jokes have been removed, but other than that, these thoughts are directly from the scout's brain to yours:

AFC East

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Buffalo Bills: "If I was the [AFC East], the Bills would scare me. Good running back, terrific defensive front, good coaching. All [quarterback] Matt Cassel has to do is not screw up. I think he's the guy, not EJ Manuel. Shady [LeSean McCoy] had better rest up, because he's getting a ton of carries. The concern for them is I'm not sure just how much Rex [Ryan] can control a locker room. I think he lost some control in New York with the players there."

Miami Dolphins: "It's all about [Ryan] Tannehill. I'm tired of hearing about his potential. I want to see him become great. I'm not so sure he can."

New England Patriots: "When you talk to other scouts about the Patriots, the main thing a lot of us are in awe [of] is: No matter the controversy, nothing penetrates that armor. [Tom] Brady deflates footballs, they lose [Darrelle] Revis, they lose [Vince] Wilfork and they will still get to the Super Bowl. Just watch. There has never been anything like them in the history of football."

New York Jets: "One of the worst quarterback situations in the league. Geno [Smith] is awful. What will save them is that defense. I think it could be the best in football. Better than Seattle's. That will keep them from going 3-13. But no more than five wins. Keep a close eye on Brandon [Marshall] blowing that locker room up."

AFC North

Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Baltimore Ravens: "I feel pretty strongly that Justin Forsett is going to lead the league in rushing. The Ravens are going all in with him. Some of it is necessity. The Ravens don't have great weapons at wide receiver. I know Steve [Smith] had a terrific season, but how long can that hold up? How old is that guy? [He's 36.] Let me see him do that again this year."

Cincinnati Bengals: "Great receivers. Solid running game. Top-10 or top-five defense. Good coaching staff. The only thing holding Cincinnati back is Andy Dalton. That's a fact. He's keeping them from a Super Bowl. We'll see the Bengals win their 10 or 11, and then Dalton will throw two or three picks in a playoff game."

Cleveland Browns: "Everyone in the league laughed at the Browns when they drafted [Johnny] Manziel that high [22nd overall]. They're paying the price for what was one of the dumbest moves of all time. ... I don't buy that there's a power struggle [between coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer]. I think if there was, Farmer would have been fired by now, because I know that owner really trusts Pettine. ... Gonna be 6-10."

Pittsburgh Steelers: "I have great respect for Mike [Tomlin]. One of the brightest guys I've ever known. But getting rid of Dick [LeBeau] was arrogant. That defense struggling last year wasn't Dick's fault. It wasn't scheme. It was personnel. They don't have great talent on defense. If the defense struggles this year, is that LeBeau's fault, too?"

AFC South 

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter of the 2015 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wick
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Houston Texans: "I would normally say a player like DeAndre Hopkins could have a huge year. He's got all the tools. The problem is he'll have Brian Hoyer throwing the football to him. That entire offense will again be limited by the quarterback. A couple of us [scouts] think [J.J.] Watt breaks the sack record this year."

Indianapolis Colts: "One of the most improved players is going to be [Frank] Gore. He'll look like he's 22 years old in that offense. It's so wide-open, and Gore will have lots of room to run. Andrew Luck will be Andrew Luck, and I think you'll see him cut down on the turnovers."

Jacksonville Jaguars: "I'm maybe the only scout in the NFL that thinks this team has a chance to get eight or nine wins. I'm also one of the few guys who thinks Blake Bortles can take about two steps forward. Watch T.J. Yeldon. Will surprise people."

Tennessee Titans: "[Marcus] Mariota will be a star one day. I scouted him pretty extensively and feel strongly about that. The problem he's going to have is defenses will be able to focus hard on him because they have no quality running backs. Bishop Sankey was terrible last year. No reason to think he'll take this dramatic step, and no other backs on their roster make you [excited].

AFC West

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 28: Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders in action against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 28, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Denver Broncos: "We are all watching to see how Peyton [Manning] handles Gary [Kubiak]'s offense. What I'm really interested to see is how Peyton handles a reduction in stats. He's always been a huge stats guy. Yeah, I know he wants to win, but I say again, he loves his big passing numbers. What Kubiak knows is that offense has to get physical. Far too soft last season. They'll be tougher this year."

Kansas City Chiefs: "Dumbest offense in football. The league is set up so offense can steal easy passing touchdowns, and the Chiefs don't take advantage of that. I get it. Great running back. But you will never win big in this league not throwing the ball downfield."

Oakland Raiders: "If there is one up-and-coming franchise that I would pick to be in the Super Bowl three years from now, it would be this one. Love that quarterback [Derek Carr]. You watch him on film and he can pretty much do everything. Excellent athlete. Amari Cooper might be in the next 10 Pro Bowls. A lot of promise on that franchise. Just not next year. Next year they go 6-10."

San Diego Chargers: "I'm not one of these guys who believes that losing [Antonio] Gates [four games for a performance-enhancing drug violation] is a huge problem. That team is stacked on offense. The problem is on defense. I still don't think it's good enough to stop the Broncos or Chiefs."


NFC East

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys: "The guy to watch here is [Darren] McFadden. I think he'll be the key to their season. Not [Joseph] Randle or even [Tony] Romo. Not [Greg] Hardy, either. McFadden has been hurt a lot, but he's still got plenty left, and that offensive line is so good, he could get 1,000 yards, even if the backs rotate. If he does that, gets 1,000 or 1,100 yards or so, they win the division."

New York Giants: "They could have the second- or third-best offense in football. Look for Eli Manning to be in the Offensive Player of the Year race or even the MVP race. The big question mark is that defense. Total unknown. Then the best player [Jason Pierre-Paul] blew off his finger."

Philadelphia Eagles: "I'm not a Chip Kelly hater. I'm the opposite. He's one of those guys where I look at what he does and I say, 'Wish I had thought of that.' The problem he's going to find is that as smart as he is, if you don't have a quarterback, you don't win. He doesn't have a quarterback. It's not Sam Bradford, that's for sure."

Washington: "I don't think Jay Gruden can fix [Robert Griffin III]. I think RGIII is done. My guess is he's benched after two or three games. I've been told by some people in that organization that Gruden and RGIII's relationship is still very distant."

NFC North

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Chicago Bears: "I've spoken to [head coach] John Fox often over the years. He's as smart a guy as there is in all of football. He's not a chest-thumping guy. He just gets the job done. He'll take that defense and make it slightly above average, which would be a miracle considering how bad it was last year. His biggest challenge is straightening out [Jay] Cutler. I don't think even John can do that. Look at film of Cutler two years ago or five years ago or longer. You see the same thing. Brilliant one play, careless the next. No coach has been able to break that cycle."

Detroit Lions: "Detroit is going to see just how much [Ndamukong Suh] meant to that team. Not just the defense but that team. I have the Lions winning eight or nine games, maybe. That offense will be solid, but the defense takes a huge step back. They have no shot at taking out the Packers."

Green Bay Packers: "You watch Aaron [Rodgers] on tape and…I've been doing this [a long time], and I've never seen anyone play the position as well as he's playing it now. Not [Joe] Montana, not even [Dan] Marino or [John] Elway. Look at that offense, and it's loaded. With Rodgers leading [the offense], the Packers have a chance to break the scoring record. They're my Super Bowl pick. I think they win it all." 

Minnesota Vikings: "Don't believe that everything is fine between [Adrian Peterson] and management. There is still a lot of hate there. Trust me on that. They've just decided that they need each other and will put that hate on the back burner. AP is motivated. He won't get 2,000 yards, because that offense will be more balanced, but he'll get 1,700, and that QB [Teddy Bridgewater] will take a big step forward. That's definitely a playoff team."

NFC South 

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Atlanta Falcons: "[Head coach and former Seahawks defensive coordinator] Dan Quinn has his work cut out for him. That defense last season had the worst fundamentals of any defense that I've seen in maybe the past four or five years. Nothing else matters really except fixing that defense."

Carolina Panthers: "I spend a lot of time watching tape of Cam [Newton]. I'm fascinated by this guy. There are very few players that I've ever scouted who do more for their offense than he does. Every play he gets hit hard then gets right back up. He's the toughest guy in the NFL. He alone puts the Panthers in playoff contention. The concern you have is that at some point he gets hurt really badly, because no one can take that kind of abuse for long and not have it destroy your body."

New Orleans Saints: "You lose Jimmy Graham, it changes your entire offense. He opened up so much for other players. I think Drew Brees struggles this year."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: "I'm projecting [Jameis] Winston ends up in the top 10 in completion percentage and yards. He's a good quarterback. On the field, his issues will be few. Off of it...that's his biggest challenge. Not the football."

NFC West

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Arizona Cardinals: "With Carson Palmer back, they have a really good shot at unseating the Seahawks in the division. They're the only team that can do it because of their quarterback play. They also have the defense to slow down that running game. But I think [there's a] good chance they win the division this year."

San Francisco 49ers: "I know Jim [Harbaugh] could be a pain in the ass. He's an odd guy. Really bright guy also. One of the smartest in all of football. The 49ers won't be [the] same without him. That whole situation could implode pretty quickly."

Seattle Seahawks: "I'm not convinced the addition of Jimmy Graham will transform that offense the way so many people seem to believe. The Saints always threw the football. The Seahawks won't do that. They'll still give it to Marshawn [Lynch]. They'll use Graham to loosen up things for Marshawn, not the other way around. I also think we're going to see just how good a coach Pete Carroll really is. He has [the] toughest job in the sport next year. Getting the team to recover from that Super Bowl loss will not be easy. I don't care how talented they are."

St. Louis Rams: "I think Nick Fairley will be good, if not really good. I know him. He has pride and doesn't want to be known as a bust. That's also a very professional locker room he's going to. I don't think the one in Detroit had as many true pros when Nick played there. Big problem for the Rams is that offense. It will be one of the bottom five in football."

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.


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