Each NFL Team's Most Dangerous New Weapon

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2019

Each NFL Team's Most Dangerous New Weapon

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    In the offseason, NFL teams have one objective: infuse the roster with dynamic talent through free agency and the draft. 

    Front-office executives seek playmakers who can become matchup nightmares in the passing game, versatile running backs and defenders capable of disrupting offenses with penetration and ball-hawking tendencies. 

    Typically, first-round selections and high-priced free-agent additions are marquee pickups. At times, an under-the-radar acquisition garners buzz during the offseason program and carries that momentum into the regular season. 

    Last year, new faces made immediate impacts on their teams and should continue to do so for years.

    Running back Saquon Barkley became the focal point in the New York Giants offense. Tailback Phillip Lindsay went undrafted but led the Denver Broncos in yards from scrimmage (1,278). Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul elevated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rush, which ranked last in sacks in 2017. 

    We'll highlight the most dangerous asset to join each team in the offseason. The selections feature players who have versatile skill sets or display top-notch abilities in a specific area of their games.


Arizona Cardinals: WR Andy Isabella

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    It's an understatement to say the Arizona Cardinals simply improved the wide receiver group. First-year quarterback Kyler Murray will have three potential rookie playmakers at the position, but the team's second-round acquisition stands out because of the state of the game.

    In today's NFL, offensive coordinators isolate their pass-catchers in space and allow them to eat up yards after the catch. We've witnessed this with running backs hauling in targets out of the backfield. And there are athletic tight ends and wideouts who are capable of winning one-on-one matchups.

    Andy Isabella knows how to create separation and leave defenders in the dust with his 4.31-second 40-yard speed. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury underscored those aspects to his game, per Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic.

    "He had a lot of production inside and outside, and that's what is exciting to us, his ability to play on the outside and separate and create space," Kingsbury said. "He's dangerous on the inside as well, but he's a guy who showed he could do it both on a high level."

    At times, Isabella uses his body more than his hands to catch the ball, but he's a scorcher on the field with possession. Murray can hit him in stride and watch the receiver do the rest to move the chains.

Atlanta Falcons: OT Kaleb McGary

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    Tami Chappell/Associated Press

    What's so dangerous about an offensive tackle? At 6'7", 317 pounds, Kaleb McGary will flatten defenders into the ground—that applies to edge-rushers attacking the pocket or 5-technique defensive ends in a two-gap scheme.

    William McFadden, a contributor to the Atlanta Falcons' official website, captured McGary in action on the perimeter for the Washington Huskies. In one instance, the first-round rookie cleared an outside lane for running back Myles Gaskin. He moved the defender against his will and put him on the ground. The second highlight shows McGary taking an Auburn defensive player to IHOP with a pancake. 

    How does this translate to the Falcons offense? If McGary wins the starting right tackle job over Ty Sambrailo, he'll significantly improve the ground attack, specifically on outside-zone runs. Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith will be able to hit the corner, like Gaskin, and find space to pick up extra yards.

    As a pass protector, McGary's massive frame will form a wall on the right side. He can use his 10⅛-inch hands to lock on to smaller edge-rushers and drive them away from the pocket. It's going to feel like shedding a block from a shark's locked jaws.

Baltimore Ravens: RB Mark Ingram

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    Bryan Woolston/Associated Press

    Even though there's excitement surrounding Baltimore Ravens rookie wideouts Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, the front office acquired dynamic veteran running back Mark Ingram in free agency.

    Ingram split the rushing workload with running back Alvin Kamara over the last two campaigns with the New Orleans Saints. He'll probably handle the featured role with the Ravens. Last year, Gus Edwards led the team in rushing yards (718), but he didn't show much versatility out of the backfield, catching just two passes for 20 yards. 

    Ingram could rush for 1,000 yards and add another 300-400 receiving yards with 15-18 touches per game, as he did during the 2016-17 terms. The 29-year-old is a physical player who consistently moves the ball in traffic, averaging 4.5 yards per carry for his career, and he shows soft hands out of the backfield with a 79.7 percent catch rate

    The Ravens won't have to tip their hand by using specific backs for certain pass or run situations. Ingram can do it all at the position and understands pass-protection schemes, which bodes well for second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Buffalo Bills: DT Ed Oliver

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    Ed Oliver lined up as a nose tackle at Houston and accumulated 13.5 sacks and 53 tackles for a loss in three years. At 6'1", 287 pounds, he's going to play a different role with the Buffalo Bills, according to general manager Brandon Beane

    "He plays from the snap to the echo of the whistle," Beane said, per Matt Parrino of NYup.com. "They used him in Houston a little different than how we'll use him. ... I think Sean will slide him in as a three tech in our defense, which is a very important piece for what we're doing." 

    It's important to point out Oliver's prospective position on the defensive line because the 3-technique role will allow him to focus on the quarterback on passing downs. Furthermore, in a one-gap assignment, offensive guards may struggle to handle his explosiveness.

    Oliver ran a 4.73-second 40-yard time at Houston's pro day. He also logged 36.0 inches and 120.0 inches in the vertical and broad jumps, respectively, at the combine. Now, primed for a role that allows him to use that athleticism, expect to see an uptick in his production on the interior.

Carolina Panthers: EDGE Brian Burns

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    In 2018, the Carolina Panthers ranked 27th in sacks with 35. Back in March, the front office signed Bruce Irvin to help in that area, but rookie first-rounder Brian Burns comes into the league with a high ceiling and the physical tools to excel within a defensive scheme that will use more 3-4 looks.

    During the predraft process, analysts pointed to Burns' ability to bend around the corner as a major strength. He used burst out of his stance, speed and a spin move to beat the guy in front of him. The Florida State product logged 23 sacks and 38.5 tackles for a loss at the collegiate level. 

    Burns played with his hand in the dirt and stood up within the Seminoles defense. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera took note and referenced the rookie's ability to affect the opponent's passing attack in another fashion, per Bryan Strickland of the team's official website. 

    "You see him not just on the right side. You see him on the left side. You see in the two-point [stance]. You see him in the three-point [stance]," Rivera said. "A couple of times you see him back off the ball and drop into coverage, which I know Marty [Hurney] isn't a big fan of but that he'll have to get used to." 

    The Panthers picked up a three-down defender to replace Julius Peppers, who retired this offseason, and Burns should provide an immediate impact in even- and odd-man fronts. 

Chicago Bears: RB David Montgomery

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    David Montgomery isn't the most explosive weapon; he ran a 4.63 40-yard time at the combine, but the 5'10", 222-pound tailback makes up for that with a physical running style.

    According to NBC Sports Chicago's Cam Ellis, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy referred to Montgomery as a three-down ball-carrier, which puts him in the mix with Mike Davis to handle the majority of the workload in the ground attack. The team's lead skipper also compared the rookie's on-field skill set to Kareem Hunt's. 

    "Yeah there are some similarities for sure," Nagy said. "You look at him and the size of them and you see how they run between the tackles. They're physical - they run angry, both of them, and I think the other connection is just the background of the coaches they both had too." 

    As a rookie, Hunt led the league in rushing yards (1,327) during the 2017 campaign. He also hauled in 53 receptions for 455 yards and three touchdowns. Montgomery displayed his pass-catching skills at Iowa State, registering 71 receptions for 582 yards through three terms. 

    If Montgomery sees 15-20 touches per contest, defenders will have a tough time taking him down on the run out of the backfield and after receptions in the short passing game.

Cincinnati Bengals: LB Germaine Pratt

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    The Cincinnati Bengals are in need of depth at linebacker.

    They cut ties with Vontaze Burfict in the offseason. Preston Brown didn't miss a game until last season, when he suffered ankle and knee injuries that cost him nine contests. In 2017, Nick Vigil suffered an ankle injury, and he sprained his MCL last season. Both ailments forced him to miss significant time on the field. 

    With the notable subtraction and injuries plaguing the linebacker unit, Cincinnati needs an emerging talent on the second level of its defense. Bengals linebackers coach Tem Lukabu thinks rookie Germaine Pratt could see the field in a prominent role in the upcoming season, per Geoff Hobson of the team's official website.

    "Lukabu says Pratt is right on schedule for a third-rounder expected to contribute heavily, if not start," Hobson reported.

    At North Carolina State, Pratt played safety for two seasons before transitioning to linebacker. He finished his collegiate career with six sacks, four interceptions and nine pass breakups. The versatile defender could become a key asset in nickel coverage, which is a valuable role against an increasing number of spread offenses. 

    While some defenders take on the hybrid linebacker-safety role because of their size or skill set, Pratt has actually played both positions. He's also shown the production to prove he's capable of lining up in different spots on the field.

Cleveland Browns: WR Odell Beckham Jr.

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    When healthy, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. plays at an elite level, but he's missed 16 games over the last two seasons. However, look no further than his strong start with the Giants between 2014 and 2016 to remind yourself of his talent.

    Beckham logged the second-most receiving yards (4,122) for any player in his first three years in the league—trailing only Randy Moss (4,163), who played five more games. 

    Beyond the spectacular one-handed grabs and slant patterns that can go for 30 yards because of his speed, the three-time Pro Bowler produces at a high level when he's fit to play. As a rookie, Beckham led the league in receiving yards per game (108.8). 

    Quarterback Baker Mayfield will have a No. 1 wide receiver option with explosive playmaking ability to challenge defenses on the back end.

Dallas Cowboys: DE Robert Quinn

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    Defensive end Robert Quinn doesn't jump off the page as the flashiest weapon, but he's still a danger to quarterbacks and running backs.

    Last year, Quinn led the Miami Dolphins in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (nine) in his first year with the club. Miami traded him to the Dallas Cowboys for a 2020 sixth-rounder during the offseason, but that's not a knock on him considering the Dolphins are in a transition period with a new coaching staff. Quinn is not short on production or losing his legs. 

    Assuming defensive end Demarcus Lawrence fully recovers from shoulder surgery, Quinn should be able to win one-on-one matchups on the other side with his raw power. 

    The coaching staff can unleash Quinn on passing downs, but last season with Miami, he also showed the ability to break through the line of scrimmage and accumulate stops against the run. The ninth-year veteran registered 25 solo tackles in addition to providing constant pressure on the end of the Dolphins defensive line.

Denver Broncos: TE Noah Fant

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    At the combine, Noah Fant stood out among the tight end group because of his athleticism. He ran a 4.5-second 40-yard time, clocked 6.81 seconds in the three-cone drill and pushed 20 reps on the bench press.

    Over his last two seasons at Iowa, Fant registered 18 touchdown receptions. Oftentimes, he seemed unstoppable once the offense ventured into the red zone. The 6'4", 249-pounder escaped linebackers with his speed and high-pointed contested balls against smaller defensive backs—that's a true matchup nightmare. 

    Fant's potential receives a bump because of quarterback Joe Flacco's strong history with tight ends.

    In Baltimore, Dennis Pitta, Todd Heap, Ed Dickson, Owen Daniels and Ben Watson all had at least one strong campaign, eclipsing 500 receiving yards, with Flacco under center. None of them have an athletic profile comparable to Fant, who possesses a unique blend of speed, agility and soft hands at the position.

    Flacco to Fant could become a popular touchdown call in the next couple of seasons.

Detroit Lions: DE Trey Flowers

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    The Detroit Lions acquired one of the most coveted free agents on this year's market when they signed defensive end Trey Flowers to a five-year, $90 million deal in March. The club needed pass-rush help along the front line after Ezekiel Ansah left for Seattle. 

    Flowers reunites with Detroit head coach Matt Patricia, who served as his defensive coordinator for three seasons with the New England Patriots. He's recorded 21 sacks since 2016, but it's important to look at when the 25-year-old flashes in the trenches. 

    According to Mark Chichester of Pro Football Focus, Flowers has come up huge in critical moments: "Among the 49 edge defenders with at least 200 third-down pass-rushing snaps since 2017, Trey Flowers' pass-rush win rate of 23.2% ranks third, while his pressure rate of 20.1% ranks second."

    The Patriots have built a reputation on playing effective situational football. Flowers epitomizes that with his strong pass-rush production on third downs. He isn't able to just line up inside and outside; in both spots, the versatile defensive end is a closer able to stop drives and force fourth downs.

Green Bay Packers: OLB Preston Smith

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    Za'Darius Smith will draw attention because of his pass-rushing prowess, especially after logging a career high in sacks (8.5) last year. Preston Smith's numbers in that category didn't look as impressive with only four in 2018, but he brings a little more to the defense.

    Through four seasons, Smith has 24.5 sacks, 13 pass breakups and four interceptions. In 2018, he took on more coverage duties, which lowered his sack count after logging eight in both 2015 and 2017. 

    If defensive coordinator Mike Pettine wants to unleash Smith on quarterbacks, he's capable of contributing double-digit sacks. The coaching staff may instruct him to drop back in shallow zones to cover tight ends or redirect pass-catching running backs, which isn't outside of his capabilities. 

    Smith could play all three downs in run or pass scenarios because of his competence in coverage and proven production going downhill. A high number of sacks, a handful of pass breakups and a couple of interceptions may lead him to the Pro Bowl for years to come in Green Bay.

Houston Texans: DE Charles Omenihu

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    The Houston Texans found their most dangerous weapon on Day 3 of this year's draft. Defensive end Charles Omenihu doesn't come into the league with polish, but his physical tools translated to production during his senior year at Texas. He led the Longhorns defense in tackles for a loss (18) and sacks (9.5) in 2018.

    Omenihu could flash immediately with an opportunity to play a decent role. At 6'5", 280 pounds with 36-inch arms, he brings a power push that will allow him to break through blocks to thwart the run or pressure quarterbacks. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Omenihu logged the highest run-stop percentage among edge defenders in the Big 12 at 8 percent. He could see an uptick in snaps later in the upcoming season if the team curtails D.J. Reader's role in a contract year—a pivot from the 2016 fifth-rounder to this year's fifth-rounder. 

    Because of his proven track record against the run and the pass-rush potential he showed last year, Omenihu could become a late-round gem.

Indianapolis Colts: EDGE Justin Houston

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard signed Justin Houston to a two-year, $24 million deal primarily for his pass-rushing ability, but he could provide more than situational pocket pressure.

    Through eight seasons, Houston has 32 pass breakups and four interceptions in addition to 78.5 sacks. Because the Colts have young talent in the front seven with second-year linebacker Kemoko Turay and rookie second-rounder Ben Banogu, Houston may see a reduced role. However, the battle-tested veteran can still finish with big sack numbers.

    In 2018 with the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston recorded nine sacks playing 61.0 percent of the defensive snaps. He doesn't need an every-down role to impact the game in a significant way. His tendency to tip passes and attack the football should allow him to see the field just as much in Indianapolis.

    And Houston feels there's still a lot of football ahead of him, per Joel Erickson and Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. "I have plenty left in the tank," he said. "I think some people don't believe that."

    Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus will likely have a rotation at defensive end and coming off the edge in nickel alignments, which keeps Houston's legs fresh. He's a double-digit sack candidate for the next couple of years.

Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Josh Allen

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    During the predraft evaluation process, linebacker Josh Allen generated buzz for his sack numbers at Kentucky after he totaled 31.5 in four seasons. But his developing coverage skills flew under the radar.

    Over the last two years, Allen had seven pass breakups and secured an interception. According to John Reid of the Florida Times-Union, the Jacksonville coaching staff will attempt to optimize the totality of his skill set.

    "Rookie Josh Allen, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2018, is expected to play opposite of Yannick Ngakoue on passing downs when Calais Campbell shifts to the inside," Reid wrote. "He's also likely going to get reps at outside linebacker because of his speed and ability to drop into coverage on tight ends."

    Myles Jack expects to remain in the middle of the defense. Telvin Smith's decision to step away from the team could put rookie third-rounder Quincy Williams in line for a bigger role than anticipated. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash can also experiment with Allen's short-area coverage capacity on the strong side in base alignment to round out the second level of the defense.

    Allen's steady improvement in coverage could propel him into the discussion of unique playmakers in the league. Quarterbacks may have to evade his rush off the edge and account for the versatile defender in the short passing game.

Kansas City Chiefs: DE Frank Clark

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    Chiefs general manager Brett Veach parted ways with his top two edge-rushers from last season, Justin Houston and Dee Ford, amid a schematic shift to a 4-3 alignment. Finances likely factored into those decisions.

    On his last deal, Houston was set to make $32.3 million in the next two seasons. The Chiefs franchise-tagged Ford, which was worth $15.6 million. After parting ways with both, Veach inked defensive end Frank Clark to a five-year, $104 million contract. 

    Clark can't replace two edge-rushers, but he's going to create opportunities for his teammates along the defensive line while generating pocket pressure on one end. Since 2016, he's ninth in total sacks (32) and logged at least 10 tackles for a loss in each of the last three campaigns. 

    With that level of production, offensive coordinators will attempt to seal Clark off from the action with double-teams. As a result, the Chiefs' 2018 sack leader, Chris Jones, may have more one-on-one opportunities on the interior.

    As a lone pass-rusher, Clark wreaks havoc up front, but his presence could become the key to unlock a collective attack-style defensive front.

Los Angeles Chargers: S Nasir Adderley

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    The Los Angeles Chargers have landed a safety early in the draft in consecutive years. In 2018, Derwin James fell to the club at No. 17. Now, the front office may have acquired a complement to the All-Pro with the 60th overall pick this year.

    At Delaware, Nasir Adderley transitioned from cornerback to safety for his junior year and became a ball hawk, registering nine interceptions over the last two seasons. He also listed second on the team in solo tackles (48). 

    After Day 2 of the draft, general manager Tom Telesco outlined the possibilities for Adderley in the secondary. 

    "He probably fits at free safety, but he's played corner earlier in his career," Telesco said. "He played some corner at the Senior Bowl as well as more as kind of a nickel corner. So nickel corner, free safety. But just has a lot of range, a lot of ball skills, instincts, runs well. Very athletic." 

    Since 2017, Desmond King has been the primary slot defender and has solid performances. He made strides between his rookie and sophomore years, finishing with three interceptions and 10 pass breakups last year. Assuming he remains in that spot, Adderley would have a chance to carry over his ball-tracking skills at safety.

    If Adderley wins the starting safety job over Rayshawn Jenkins and Adrian Phillips, he's going to erase drives with game-changing takeaways in pass defense.

Los Angeles Rams: S Taylor Rapp

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    The Los Angeles Rams signed safety Eric Weddle, but he may yield snaps to rookie second-rounder Taylor Rapp in the upcoming campaign.

    Rapp's versatility will allow him to see the field early in his career. He talked to Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus about his do-it-all capabilities. 

    "I think I'm very versatile, the most versatile safety in this draft," Rapp said. "I think I can do it all. I think I can play in the deep third. I can run the alley. I can tackle. I have a high football IQ. I can rush the passer. I can blitz. I can cover. I think I'm the full package. I can do everything." 

    Rapp's collegiate production backs up his self-assessment. As a true freshman, he snagged four interceptions, returned one for a touchdown and broke up two passes, which shows his coverage skills and field awareness. The former Husky recorded four sacks and five tackles for a loss last year, displaying the strength needed to battle closer to the line of scrimmage.

    In all three of his seasons at Washington, Rapp logged at least 51 combined tackles. The coaching staff could utilize him as a small linebacker in nickel or dime sub-packages, but wherever Rapp lines up, he's capable of making a play.

Miami Dolphins: DT Christian Wilkins

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    The Dolphins went into the offseason with two major defensive issues: a poor pass rush that totaled 31 sacks (ranked 29th) last year and the 31st-ranked run defense. The front office dug a deeper hole in those areas by allowing Cameron Wake to walk in free agency and trading Robert Quinn. Those two combined for 12.5 sacks and 46 solo tackles.

    But during the draft, Dolphins swapped out the old and expensive for a versatile rookie. Christian Wilkins can strengthen the run support and penetrate the pocket to pressure quarterbacks, and he amassed 16 sacks and 40.5 tackles for a loss through four years at Clemson. 

    More impressively, Wilkins can drop back in short areas to disrupt quick throws to the running backs. During his sophomore season, he broke up nine passes and finished with 15 in total at the collegiate level.

    Head coach Brian Flores came to Miami from New England, where the coaches focus on building systems around player strengths as opposed to fitting talent into a fixed scheme. Wilkins brings an array of qualities that allow the Dolphins staff to implement creativity in the play-calling. But even more importantly, he addresses the team's two major weaknesses up front.

Minnesota Vikings: TE Irv Smith Jr.

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    At 6'2", 242 pounds, tight end Irv Smith Jr. provided a mismatch downfield within Alabama's aerial attack. He used his body frame to establish position in the red zone and found holes in zone coverage to accumulate chunk yardage.

    Alabama's coaching staff moved Smith to various spots on offense. At times, he came out of the backfield or lined up on the perimeter in addition to his seam routes, which tested opposing linebackers and safeties. 

    During his junior season, Smith recorded 44 catches for 710 yards and seven touchdowns. He frequently flashed his pass-catching prowess, and that skill set will translate to production on the pro level. Don't overlook his blocking ability, though.

    Draft Network's Brad Kelly captured a play in which Smith held up in a blocking assignment against Clemson product Clelin Ferrell, who went fourth overall to the Oakland Raiders. On film, Smith had moments that showed his ability to match strength with power edge-rushers. 

    The Minnesota Vikings and tight end Kyle Rudolph are currently at a contract impasse. If the two sides come to an agreement, Smith would join the ninth-year veteran in two-tight end sets. The front office may also trade Rudolph, creating ample opportunities for the rookie to exploit defenses with weak coverage in the middle of the field.

New England Patriots: WR N'Keal Harry

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    Quarterback Tom Brady won't have a safe option in the passing game at tight end for the upcoming season after Rob Gronkowski decided to hang up his cleats. Since entering the league in 2010, he recorded the most touchdown receptions (79).

    The Patriots didn't draft a direct replacement for Gronkowski. However, they signed tight ends Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Ben Watson and Matt LaCosse.

    Seferian-Jenkins has put together decent years, but he's notched fewer than 400 receiving yards and five touchdowns in each of his five campaigns. LaCosse has just 27 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown through three terms. Watson will be playing his age-39 season. They're all average to low-tier receiving options.

    As a result, Brady may find a new favorite target in wideout N'Keal Harry. He's a 6'4", 213-pounder who's equipped to outmuscle defenders at the top of his routes and haul in contested catches. The Arizona State product can also line up on the inside as a mismatch against small slot defenders or beat less physical perimeter cornerbacks.

    Though Harry ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the combine, he's capable of escaping defenders after the catch with a mean stiff-arm. The rookie will expose defensive backs who have issues wrapping up on takedowns.

New Orleans Saints: TE Jared Cook

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    Tight end Jared Cook isn't new to the league; he's been a consistent pass-catcher with the Tennessee Titans, Rams, Packers and Raiders. The 32-year-old has 425 receptions for 5,464 yards and 25 touchdowns through a decade of play.

    Cook earned his first Pro Bowl invite after logging career highs in catches (68), yards (896) and touchdowns (six) with the Raiders last year. He can still move the chains and win matchups against linebackers and safeties. The Saints can also split him out wide against cornerbacks.

    New Orleans didn't have a strong No. 2 option among its wideouts and tight ends last year. As a rookie, Tre'Quan Smith finished third in receiving yards (427), and the 38-year-old Ben Watson ranked third in receptions (35). Running back Alvin Kamara finished second in both categories with 81 catches for 709 yards.

    Since Michael Thomas will draw most of the attention in the passing game, Cook should have opportunities to take advantage of one-on-one matchups. Coming off his best statistical season, he'll be a significant threat to defenses for the foreseeable future.

New York Giants: EDGE Oshane Ximines

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    Oshane Ximines became the first player drafted into the league from Old Dominion. He holds program records in sacks (33.0), tackles for loss (51.5) and forced fumbles (11).

    Ximines has the athleticism paired with the technical skill to excel at a high level. He caught defensive coordinator James Bettcher's attention with those qualities (h/t Big Blue View's Chris Pflum).

    "Saw a guy that could flip and had athleticism to move in space," Bettcher said. "If you are picking a prototypical outside linebacker, he has some of both of those skills. He has the rush skills and has skills in his hips to open, change in space and change who the rusher is."

    There's no question about Ximines' pass-rushing capability. It's his movement in space that will help him to reach another level of production. If Bettcher can keep offenses guessing as to which outside linebacker goes downhill and who's dropping into coverage, the rookie can neutralize receiving tight ends.

    Ximines could push to be the team's sack leader and force opposing quarterbacks to think twice about throwing short out routes.

New York Jets: RB Le'Veon Bell

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    Former New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan had one of the best free-agent hauls, a group that included premier players like linebacker C.J. Mosley and running back Le'Veon Bell.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, head coach Adam Gase wasn't thrilled about the price tag for Mosley or Bell, and 710 ESPN Seattle's John Clayton noted the possibility of a trade for the running back (h/t Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan).

    "If there's a suitor, I could absolutely see the Jets trading him before the start of the season," Clayton said.

    It's just speculation. If Bell remains on the roster, he can elevate the Jets offense on two levels. First and foremost, the 27-year-old would improve last year's 26th-ranked ground attack with his patient style. Gang Green acquired All-Pro left guard Kelechi Osemele to help in that area as well.

    Secondly, Bell ranked first among running backs in receiving yards (2,660) from 2013 to 2017—before he sat out the 2018 campaign because of a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Gase would do a disservice to quarterback Sam Darnold if he traded a top running back who's also the ideal playmaker to create mismatches in the passing game.

Oakland Raiders: WR Antonio Brown

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    This was an easy choice. General manager Mike Mayock landed arguably the biggest acquisition of the offseason, sending third- and fifth-round picks to the Steelers for wideout Antonio Brown.

    Since his 2010 rookie campaign, Brown leads the league in receiving yards (11,207) and ranks second in touchdown receptions (74). He hasn't lost a step going into the 2019 term; the four-time All-Pro had the most receiving scores (15) in 2018.

    In Pittsburgh, Brown faced constant double-teams. That won't change with the Raiders, but he could see a boost in catch rate with his new squad.

    Head coach Jon Gruden's West Coast-influenced offense places an emphasis on short completions. Quarterback Derek Carr will find Brown on high-percentage throws and allow him to rack up yards after the catch.

    Additionally, the wide receiver's top-notch route running should set up deep-ball opportunities to challenge defenses with inexperienced outside cornerbacks or slow-footed safeties in center field.

    Brown's quickness, field awareness and toe-tapping skills paired with Carr's second-year knowledge of Gruden's system should lead to a ton of productivity in the passing game.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR DeSean Jackson

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    We've watched wide receiver DeSean Jackson produce at a high level with the Philadelphia Eagles in years past.

    He spent his first six seasons in Philadelphia before signing with Washington as a free agent during the 2014 offseason. After a two-year stint in Tampa, the 32-year-old returned to the city of Brotherly Love via trade.

    Despite his age, Jackson hasn't lost his explosive playmaking ability. In 2018, he led the league in yards per reception (18.9) with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for the Buccaneers.

    Jackson will pair with quarterback Carson Wentz, who's participated in organized team activities without limitations after fracturing a vertebra in December.

    It's fair to say Wentz is an upgrade over Winston, who's been turnover-prone throughout his career, and Fitzpatrick—a journeyman quarterback who built some chemistry with Jackson last year. The Eagles signal-caller throws an accurate deep ball, and he'll make the most of the veteran wideout's ability to stretch the field.

    Expect Jackson to take the top off defenses like he used to do for the Eagles.

Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Devin Bush

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The Steelers may have found an inside linebacker replacement for Ryan Shazier, who's still recovering from a spinal injury. The front office traded up to select Devin Bush with the 10th pick in this year's draft.

    Bush's play recognition allows him to become a wreaking ball on the field. He's a high-IQ playmaker, and the Steelers have shown confidence in his processing early in the offseason program. The Michigan product called plays during rookie minicamp, per ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler.

    That wouldn't come as a surprise to Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown, who holds Bush in high regards, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo.

    "This guy is a machine," Brown said. "He's really on top of his craft. He's a role model for other guys. He's always responsible for the game plan. He makes all the checks. The guy just has unbelievable attention to detail."

    Elite-level defenders can see plays develop before the action unfolds; Bush has that quality when he's sniffing out the run, sticking his hand between the ball and a receiver or darting toward the quarterback on a blitz. He registered 18.5 tackles for loss, 10.0 sacks, 11 pass breakups and an interception over the last two years.

    Bush's smarts should lead him to the right spots on the field, and his physical tools will allow him to execute game plans. As a result, he'll likely have a productive career with multiple Pro Bowls.

San Francisco 49ers: WR Jalen Hurd

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    Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    The San Francisco 49ers acquired two wide receivers on Day 2 of the draft in Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, but the latter is more intriguing because of his versatility.

    Hurd logged 589 carries for 2,635 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns at Tennessee before he transferred to Baylor and transitioned to wide receiver. At his new position, the 6'4", 227-pounder hauled in 69 receptions for 946 yards and four touchdowns.

    Head coach Kyle Shanahan suggested Hurd may see looks at a third position in his offense:

    "He can do about everything. I think if he would have stayed a running back, I believe he would have gotten drafted as an NFL running back. Today he got drafted as an NFL receiver, kind of. I believe if he tried to play tight end, I think he could have gotten drafted as an NFL tight end. That's a pretty neat thing to have. I don't remember being able to say that about any player I've studied before."

    When asked if Hurd could separate, Shanahan said, "You've got to to be able to play receiver or tight end."

    The 49ers have a crowded wide receiver unit with Marquise Goodwin, Jordan Matthews, Dante Pettis and Trent Taylor likely to get looks in the passing game as well. If Samuel takes on a sizeable role, Hurd could use his athleticism to beat defenders in two-tight end sets with George Kittle.

Seattle Seahawks: WR DK Metcalf

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll saw what everyone else did at the combine: a unique athlete in a 6'3", 229-pound frame. Wide receiver DK Metcalf ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, repped 27 times on the bench press and recorded a 40.5" vertical jump and 134" broad jump.

    Carroll acknowledged Metcalf's impressive workout performances, per John Boyle of the team's official website.

    "There's never been a guy that ran any faster that was that big and strong at the combine, so he's got all those things behind him," Carroll said. "He's got to go fight and figure out how to play football now."

    Beyond that, Metcalf must stay healthy. He appeared in 21 contests at Ole Miss, missing significant time because of a broken foot during his true freshman term and a neck injury last year.

    Nevertheless, when Metcalf took the field, he performed at an exceptional level. Despite the disruptions because of injuries, he averaged 18.3 yards per catch and racked up 14 touchdowns through three terms.

    Metcalf can beat press coverage with strong hands to maintain a clean release off the line of scrimmage. Once he accelerates, defensive backs will have difficulty keeping stride with him downfield. His hands trap the football, which may lead to some highlight-reel receptions on deep balls.

    If Metcalf stays on the field, he'll be a tough matchup for any defender. The former Rebel's size-speed combination will require frequent bracket coverage with a cornerback up front and a safety over the top. The Seahawks need him to contribute early following wideout Doug Baldwin's retirement.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB Devin White

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Buccaneers allowed linebacker Kwon Alexander to walk during free agency and replaced him with an impact prospect out of LSU. Devin White has a penchant for blowing up plays when he's moving toward the line of scrimmage.

    Between his sophomore and junior seasons, White registered 25.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. General manager Jason Licht expounded on what the team saw in him, per Carmen Vitali of the team's official website.

    "He's a physical guy," Licht said. "He can pressure with his ability to blitz. He's one of the better blitzing linebackers we've seen in a long time. He can also cover, and last but not least, he's a tremendous person, leader, very smart and you'll feel his energy right away."

    The Buccaneers may struggle to generate pocket pressure because of Jason Pierre-Paul's expected absence following a car accident; he won't undergo surgery but will likely start the 2019 campaign on the physically unable to perform list. Moreover, the team released defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. The two defenders combined for 18.5 sacks last year.

    Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will likely use White's aggressive style if the defense is unable to make quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket. White could push to be the team's sack leader. If not, he's certainly in the conversation to lead this defense in takedowns and tackles for loss.

    During his last collegiate season, White broke up six passes. If he continues to develop in that area, he should be able to handle coverage duties on an island in the middle of the field.

Tennessee Titans: WR A.J. Brown

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Rookie defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons would've been the standout acquisition, but he could miss the 2019 campaign because of a torn ACL. Though he's only 21 years old, it's not a given the Mississippi State product will return to pre-injury form as a 301-pound penetrator on the interior.

    Wide receiver A.J. Brown could bring an immediate spark to the Titans' aerial attack. He lined up on the outside and in the slot as a collegian. Though the Ole Miss product ran a 4.49-second 40-yard time at the combine, defenders must account for his game speed.

    Brown can beat his assignment in a foot race if he stacks on top of the defender with the ball in the air. Don't expect him to let many well-placed throws fall to the ground; the former Rebel didn't have issues with focus drops. In fact, quarterback Marcus Mariota may be able to confidently toss 50-50 targets to the rookie wideout.

    Erik Bacharach of the Tennessean recalled a moment when Brown snagged an impressive catch during rookie minicamp: Listed at 6'0", 226 pounds, "Brown was responsible for the biggest highlight of the open portion: a one-handed grab that he secured right before stepping out of bounds."

    Brown is also a refined route-runner who can create space regardless of the play design. The rookie wideout has the ability to extend short receptions into long gains and gash defenses downfield.

Washington Redskins: S Landon Collins

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Washington Redskins drew criticism for their lucrative investment in Landon Collins: a six-year, $84 million deal. On the flip side, he's a do-it-all safety who can shore up the back end of the defense and provide run support.

    Collins looks comfortable on the strong side of a defensive formation and in the box, and he's capable of shadowing tight ends in the seam areas. The versatile safety can also line up deep if necessary. The four-year veteran put together an All-Pro 2016 season with five interceptions and 13 pass breakups, which showed his coverage range.

    Patrolling sideline to sideline, Collins is in seek-and-destroy mode. He's a reliable open-field tackler who takes effective angles to stop the run. The 25-year-old led the Giants in solo takedowns in each of his years with the club.

    Because of Collins' pay, he's not going to become a restricted box safety who racks up tackles. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will likely use him in various roles, including in center field, closer to the line of scrimmage, as a linebacker in sub-packages and in blitz schemes.


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