Season Predictions - Post Draft Edition
As the 2019 NFL Draft draws to a close in Nashville we start to see how the teams will shape up this season. I have decided to make five key predictions for the season ahead and revisit them at various points throughout the year to see how I’m doing. Drop a comment down below and let me know if you agree with my predictions and what your key predictions are for the 2019 season.
1) A Career Year For Derek Carr
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Derek Carr - that’s not to say he’s a bad QB - I’ve just never warmed to his play style but I think this will be the best year of his career. It seemed the Raiders were heading towards a complete rebuild not so long ago, especially after the oft-condemned Khalil Mack trade, but they have made major moves this offseason - most notably for star Wide Receiver Antonio Brown. You may disagree with some of his behaviour on and off the field but AB is a stud at that position - some would argue, the best in the league - and with talent like that on the field, it’s hard to see Derek Carr putting up poor numbers. I expect him to set personal bests in total yardage, completion percentage and passer rating.
2) Browns Win Division
This is a notion that seems to have NFL fans split down the middle with strong arguments on both sides. For me, it is simple; the Browns - like the Chargers last year - have, in my opinion, the strongest overall roster in the league. They are loaded top to bottom with stars all over the field and they have continued to add talent during the offseason (Hello OBJ!). The other teams in the AFC North are much more limited - the Steelers have lost several key players this offseason, the Ravens have a low ceiling (for now, at least) with Lamar Jackson at the helm of that offence, and the Bengals are just not good.
3) 49ers Make Playoffs
This one might be a tad ambitious but as a 49ers fan, I just can’t resist! John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have worked well over the offseason to address positions of need on both sides of the ball. They added Dee Ford in free agency and Nick Bosa in the draft to create a strong pass rush, and they also added LB Kwon Alexander to a defence that included DeForest Buckner and Richard Sherman among others. On the offensive side of the ball, they added free agent Tevin Coleman to an already loaded stable of running backs and added two wide receiver options in the draft including Deebo Samuel who was high on a lot of draft boards at the WR position. The return of franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo and similarly RB Jerrick McKinnon from ACL injuries will be a massive boost for a young team that is looking to win a first Super Bowl since 1994.
4) Daniel Jones to Start This Season
The New York Giants surprised everyone when they took QB Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft after GM Dave Gettleman had seemingly made it clear that they would not take a QB in the first round at all. Jones is definitely a talented QB prospect with significant upside potential but his production at the college level was curtailed by a sub-par supporting cast at Duke. He will have the benefit of starting his NFL career behind two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning with whom Jones already has connections and the similar play-styles of the two QBs will have a positive effect on his development. I am expecting the Giants to start Daniel Jones in the second half of the season, after the bye week, and that will finally mark the end of Eli Manning’s tenure as starting QB of the Giants, though I expect him to remain as a backup through this season and next.
5) Noah Fant to Win Offensive Rookie of the Year
In my mock draft, I had Noah Fant being selected ninth overall by the Detroit Lions through on the night they ended up going with fellow Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson instead. Noah Fant is a physically gifted and immensely talented tight end who The Draft Network said “runs like a receiver and leaps like a basketball pro”. The Broncos got an absolute steal - possibly the best of the first round - when they got Fant with the 20th pick after trading down with the Steelers and acquiring additional picks in later rounds. Fant gets the benefit of playing with an experienced Super Bowl-winning QB in Joe Flacco who traditionally loves throwing to tight ends, and eventually will get to play with newly-drafted QB Drew Lock who is generally regarded as a talented QB prospect with a high ceiling.
Those are my predictions for the upcoming season - watch out for updates at various points throughout the year.