By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and late in the evening, news surfaced surrounding an armed robbery involving a pair of NFL players. Cornerback Deandre Baker, the first-round selection of the New York Giants last month, and cornerback Quinton Dunbar, acquired by the Seahawks this offseason following a breakout 2019 season, have had warrants issued for their arrest. The details surrounding the situation are layered. These are incredibly serious charges that will likely have massive effects on the pair’s future in the NFL and within society at large. This situation is ongoing.
On the field, Seattle’s defense has been remade this offseason to incorporate Dunbar, who was acquired in a bargain deal with Washington. Dunbar had a breakout year in 2019, emerging as one of the more overlooked star-level cornerbacks in the NFL. Now, Seattle’s secondary will be forced to replace Dunbar without notice, as it seems incredibly unlikely that he’ll be suiting up for the Seahawks in 2020. The allegations and chargers are a rather shocking development considering Dunbar was set to cash in as a free agent following this season.
Wednesday, Arizona’s reluctance to embrace first-round pick Isaiah Simmons’ incredible defensive versatility was admonished. Today, the team’s seeming acknowledgment that it boasts a few talented receivers poised for breakout second years deserves praise. Hakeem Butler, who missed his entire rookie season due to injury, and Andy Isabella, an excellent athlete with a lengthy record of college production, will both be looking to capitalize on the presence of veteran DeAndre Hopkins. With Hopkins likely to garner the bulk of the defense’s attention, the second-year duo will find life in the NFL much easier as second-year players. Arizona has been among the best in the NFL at identifying unique and exciting talents in the draft the past two years. Now it is time for the franchise to prove it can maximize them.
Miami’s selection of Tua Tagovailoa generated the headlines—and deservedly so—but the Dolphins also boasted two other first-round selections, and by the stroke of good fortune, added a first-round talent in the fifth round. Edge rusher Curtis Weaver inexplicably slid to selection 164 due to concerns surrounding his lack of size. Still, there is no questioning his high-end production as a pass rusher in college. Weaver has a talent for getting into the backfield, and he should provide solid depth as a rookie for the rebuilt Miami pass rush. In the long-term, however, Weaver has a chance to be a long-term building block for the Dolphins.
Likewise, the Detroit Lions added a potential difference-making pass rusher in the third round, netting Julian Okwara. Unlike Weaver, no concerns are surrounding Okwara’s measurables. He has incredible speed and elite strength, and his drop in the draft is attributable to a lack of production during college. However, the tools are present for Okwara to develop into a pass-rushing force with proper development. He will likely be utilized as a situational pass rusher early in 2020, but long-term Okwara’s potential is much greater. Paired with first-round pick cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, the Lions added some high-end talent to its defense.
Injuries, a lack of talent along the offensive line, and low-end receiving targets have marred the first two seasons of Jets quarterback Sam Darnold’s career. Now healthy, 2020 is shaping up to be a make-or-break season for Darnold in the wide-open AFC East. The Jets have added multiple pieces to its offensive line this offseason, including first-round pick Mekhi Becton in an effort to protect Darnold. The franchise also signed free agent Breshad Perriman, who produced like a superstar during the final month of 2019, and drafted Denzel Mims in the second round. Mims easily could have been a top-20 pick, and his field-stretching ability pairs perfectly with incumbent veteran Jamison Crowder’s ability to dominate underneath and in the middle of the field. In 2018, Darnold was tagged as the future of the Jets. It is time for him to live up to the billing.