The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 4 Top Performances

Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 Players: Week 4

Another great NFL week is over. Week 4 is in the books and there are plenty of excellent Pac-12 NFL performances. Here are the best, broken down by college.


Reggie Gilbert – Tennessee Titans

Reggie Gilbert

After making his first appearance on Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 NFL Players list in Week 3, Reggie Gilbert improved. In his Week 3 performance, he managed to make the most of eight snaps. It clearly impressed coaches because he logged 48 (60-percent) snaps in Week 4

Against Atlanta, Gilbert was an impactful force on defense. His ability to make open field tackles and pressure the quarterback was needed. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons couldn’t get much going against the Titans.

Arizona State

Terrell Suggs – Arizona Cardinals


At 36 (soon to be 37), he’s still making big moves. Against the Seahawks, Suggs displayed power and presence. Yet again, he was able to make big plays. His best play of the night was his strip-sack of Russell Wilson. 

On the day, Suggs totaled 8 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hit and 1 forced fumble. Brushing off his advancing age, Suggs put in another quality performance. Games like this remind us that he will always be one of the best Pac-12 NFL players to ever play.

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Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers

For the first time this season, Aaron Rodgers surpassed 300 yards. In fact, he passed for 422 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rodgers also added 46 rushing yards, showing he’s still got athleticism. 

But, more important, Rodgers came through in the clutch. Down 27 to 34, he led his team to the opposing three-yard line. With just 28 seconds left. It was another classic Rodgers performance. 

However, Rodgers threw his first interception of the season. It was a heartbreaking throw, reminiscent to Russell Wilson’s interception in Super Bowl XLIX. Nonetheless, Rodgers showed us that he still should be regarded as one of the better Pac-12 NFL players.


Chidobe Awuzie – Dallas Cowboys

In a tight game against the Saints, Chidobe Awuzie played well. In addition to 6 tackles and defending a pass, Awuzie got his first interception of the season. And it was a beaut!

More than just the plays, Awuzie has an incredible attitude.

On how he expects Cowboys to respond to first loss: “There’s only one way. That’s the name of the game right there. Adversity, we’ve all been through it in this league and in our lives. I think we know what type of men we are in this room.”

Chidobe Awuzie


Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota is one of the more controversial picks on this Pac-12 NFL players list. Particularly because he’s been up and down this season.

Though Mariota has been inconsistent this season, he played quite well against the Atlanta Falcons. Many criticize Mariota for having a game-manger, safe-quarterback attitude. But, he showed Sunday that he can still make plays and carry a team.

On the season, Mariota has 933 passing yards, 7 passing touchdowns, 7 passing touchdowns and 112 yards. If he is able to maintain this pace, he will end the season with 

  • 28 touchdowns
  • 3,712 passing yards
  • Zero interceptions
  • 448 rushing yards

Here’s to hoping he can finish similar to this stat-line.

Oregon State

Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills

Keep Jordan Poyer on the best Pac-12 NFL players list! He continues to play well for the Buffalo Bills. Most recently, against the formidable New England Patriots, Poyer and the Bills made it a game. Poyer swung in for some key tackles, big hits and even forced a fumble.

And while he may disagree with the officiating, we can all agree that his play is exceptional.


Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

  • 27 Carries
  • 93 Rushing Yards
  • 1 Rushing Touchdown
  • 10 Targets
  • 10 Receptions
  • 86 Receiving Yards

Honestly, it’s impossible for football fans to not like Christian McCaffrey. He continues to be the best dual-threat running back in the NFL. It’s also in his range of outcomes to reach 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. He would join Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk in glory.

Bottom line, tune in to watch Christian McCaffrey every game.


Eric Kendricks – Minnesota Vikings

In their loss to the Chicago Bears, Eric Kendricks was all over the field for the Minnesota Vikings. He led the team with 12 combined tackles. For the few Vikings fans that are still watching, Kendricks is a bright spot in a dark chasm. He is a Pro-Bowl-caliber linebacker and needs to be recognized.


Everson Griffen – Minnesota Vikings

No, this isn’t a Minnesota Vikings fan page. But, Unafraidshow still has to give props when they are due for our favorite Pac-12 NFL players. Everson Griffen is a baller. In each game this season, he’s hit the opposing quarterback at least once. Among NFL players, he’s one of 11 players with at least 8 quarterback hits.

Against Mitchell Trubisky, he managed to pressure him consistently and hit him twice. No, they didn’t get the win. But, Griffen still managed to put in a solid outing for Week 4.


Marcus Williams – New Orleans Saints

For Utah, Marcus Williams is playing at a near-elite level. Per Pro-Football-Focus, Williams has an overall grade of 89.3. 2019 is his season. He’s yet another defensive Pac-12 NFL player on our list.

Not only did Williams seal the victory for the New Orlean Saints, but he played every defensive snap for the Saints. He was incredible against the Cowboys.

Lattimore may be disappointing Saints fans this year, but Marcus Williams shouldn’t.


Kevin King – Green Bay Packers

Should Kevin King have been on Unafraidshow’s Week 3 best Pac-12 NFL Players list? Certainly not. The Denver Broncos picked on his inconsistency.

But, even though Kevin King has been inconsistent for the Green Bay Packers this season, he shut Alshon Jeffrey down in Week 4. King was the Packers highest-graded PFF defender.

Unfortunately for the Packers, King went down with a groin injury. Along with Davante Adams’ injury, the Packers lost key contributors in their loss to the Eagles. However, if he can come back quickly, King can add to an impressive secondary.

Washington State University

Gardner Minshew – Jacksonville Jaguars

Can we, in our Pac-12 loving hearts, ever take Gardner Minshew off this list? Jock-Strap King (per Leonard Fournette), is playing out of his mind right now.

In four games (just three starts), Minshew has 905 yards, 7 touchdowns, and just 1 interception. Additionally, his pocket-movement is beautiful. How can anyone go against the mustache at this point?

Missed the Best Pac-12 NFL Players List from Week 3?

If you somehow missed last week’s edition of this, check it out here:

The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 3 Top Performers

Saints vs Seahawks 2019

Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 Players: Week 3

Another great NFL week is over. Week 3 is in the books and there are plenty of excellent Pac-12 NFL performances. Here are the best, broken down by college.


Reggie Gilbert – Tennessee Titans

Finally! We can take Will Parks off this list. Granted, it’s still a stretch to name Reggie Gilbert a top performer. He only got eight defensive snaps in Week 3. But, the Arizona list of Pac-12 NFL players is quite small.

It’s important to put his eight snaps in context. This was Gilbert’s first active game for the Titans. Also, in just 8 snaps, Gilbert managed to make two solo tackles. Not a bad debut.

Arizona State

Lawrence Guy – New England Patriots

Everyone saw it coming, but the New England Patriots still put in a solid performance against the New York Jets. Part of that win was Lawrence Guy. Guy continued to block the gaps, make tackles and take on double teams. He made Le’Veon Bell bounce the ball outside and didn’t let the offensive line get any push.


Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers

Against the Houston Texans, Keenan Allen had himself a game! 

  • 17 Targets
  • 13 Receptions
  • 183 Receiving Yards
  • 2 Touchdowns

Allen did everything possible to secure a win for his team. And even though the LA Chargers los the game, Allen had the best performance of his career. 183 yards was also a career best. The Cal product shed his injury-tag last season and continue to be one of the best Pac-12 NFL players.


Ahkello Witherspoon – San Francisco 49ers

Yet again, Ahkello Witherspoon kept doing his thing. He made it quite difficult for Mason Crosby.

Unfortunately for fans of the 49ers or defense, Ahkello Witherspoon is likely to miss a month. That’s a massive hit for the 49ers. Through three games, Witherspoon only allowed 13 targets, 5 receptions and 57 yards. His Passer Rating Allowed is only 32.9 (No. 5). Most of all, his plus-114.2 Coverage Rating is the league-best.

Witherspoon is the most important piece of the 49ers defense (or team) right now. Missing him is a big deal.

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DeForest Buckner – San Francisco 49ers

While his teammate and fellow Oregon-alum Arik Armstead was a top Pac-12 NFL player last week, DeForest Buckner got the glory in Week 4. He made defensive play after defensive play in a tight win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Buckner led his team with 8 tackles and also added a quarterback hit, a forced fumble and a clutch fumble recovery. 

Oregon State

Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills

As good as Steven Nelson played in Week 3, Jordan Poyer gets to sit above him on the best Pac-12 NFL players list once more. He’s just too dominant to leave out.

Against the Cincinnati Bengals, he racked up 11 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. It was an unbelievable game for him. Poyer is a big reason why the Bills continue to win.


Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

  • 24 Carries
  • 153 Rushing Yards
  • 1 Rushing Touchdown
  • 4 Targets
  • 3 Receptions
  • 35 Receiving Yards

Stanford fans! Look away from the college games and pay attention to Christian McCaffrey instead. His elite, NFL career continues to shine a bright spotlight on the Stanford name. Ignore the Stanford program freefall and watch the rise of Christian McCaffrey. He’s one of the greatest Pac-12 NFL players to step onto the field.


Kenny Clark – Green Bay Packers

Let’s keep Kenny Clark on the list. He’s one of the better Pac-12 NFL players and the best nose-tackle to come out of the Pac-12 in years. Against NFL centers, he continues to be a mismatch.

Clark is too strong and continues to overpower offensive linemen. Interior pressure is a huge advantage in NFL games. Clark brings that.


Tyron Smith – Dallas Cowboys

This will be obvious. But, the Dallas Cowboys obliterated the Miami Dolphins. The tanking Dolphins were no match for the Cowboys. Nonetheless, Tyron Smith showed well and displayed why he’s an NFL great. 

Against Miami, the Cowboys racked up 235 rushing yards on 34 carries. It was a piece of cake for the stellar offensive line. Leading the way, as usual, was Tyron Smith. It’s been another good year for him. On 206 snaps this season, he’s allowed zero sacks and only has one penalty.


Marcus Williams – New Orleans Saints

Not only is Marcus Williams getting his second spot on Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 NFL Players list, but he was the Saints best defender in Week 3. On 83 defensive snaps. Wow. Marcus Williams glued himself to the field and helped the New Orleans Saints beat the Seattle Seahawks. Even though they had Teddy Bridgewater as their quarterback, the Saints made too many plays.

In the secondary, Williams continues to cover well and make tackles. It’s turning out to be a career year for Williams and he’s making a name for himself. 


Vita Vea – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Although the Giants ultimately won the game, due to Daniel Jones’ heroics, Vita Vea played well. On just 65% of defensive snaps, he consistently gave the Giants offensive line trouble. In addition to accidentally stepping on Daniel Jones’ helmet, he totaled two quarterback hits.

After getting hit twice from the 350-pound Vea, Jones must be feeling it.

Washington State University

Gardner Minshew – Jacksonville Jaguars

If you haven’t already fallen in love with Gardner Minshew, better start now. Minshew must be in all Pac-12 hearts.

Against Tennessee in Week 3, Minshew put in a stellar game for his first NFL win. Buy in now to the Minshew hype because he’s going to be one of the great Pac-12 NFL players from WSU. 

Missed the Best Pac-12 NFL Players List from Week 1?

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The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 2 Top Performers

Will Dissly Seattle Seahawks Pittsburgh Steelers

Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 Players: Week 2

There were some incredible performances from the NFL in Week 2. While some colleges like Cal had a multitude of options for this Best Pac-12 NFL Players list, others like Arizona barely had one. Which alumni from your college had the best Week 2? Check out the list below!


Will Parks – Denver Broncos

While Will Parks isn’t great, he’s not bad either. Parks was on the field for 82-percent of defensive snaps for the Broncos. No, he didn’t record any counting stats. But, as a strong safety, he doesn’t have to record stats to have a positive impact. Denver held Chicago to just 16 points. More importantly, they held Mitchell Trubisky to 120 yards. It was a good game for the Denver defense. So, it also was a good day for Parks.

All in all, Will Parks is a good NFL player and gets consistent snaps for the Broncos. That’s more than the rest of the Arizona alumni can say. Yes, he was on this list last week. But until someone else from Arizona can step up, Parks will remain on the Best Pac-12 NFL Players list.

Arizona State

Vontaze Burfict – Oakland Raiders

Even though the Oakland Raiders lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 28-10, the defense actually played well. They held Mahomes and company scoreless three out of four quarters. Against KC, Vontaze Burfict played 97-percent of defensive snaps. Win, lose or tie, he was out there for the Raiders. Burfict is a consistent, albeit dirty, NFL player. The linebacker racked up 4 tackles and a pass defense, in addition to being sent after Mahomes. No, they didn’t win and no he didn’t get any sacks or turnovers. But, it was still a good game for Burfict in his new home and why Burfict is one of the best Pac-12 NFL players this year.

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Cameron Jordan – New Orleans Saints

Against the formidable Los Angeles Rams, Cameron Jordan returned a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown. Then, the refs blew it. Saints fans died a little more this week. Not only did they see their third straight game with officiating blunders. This time also came amidst a Drew Brees injury. It’s a bad time to be a Saints fan.

Nonetheless, Cameron Jordan is still a force to be reckoned with. His career makes a case for him to not only be one of the best Pac-12 NFL players this week, but all time. Even without the touchdown, Jordan accounted for:

  • 5 Tackles
  • 1 Tackle for a Loss
  • 2 QB Hits
  • 1 Sack
  • 1 Fumble Recovery

This was also his second game straight with at least 5 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 2 QB hits and 1 sack. He is unstoppable right now. Well, unless the refs get in his way.


Ahkello Witherspoon – San Francisco 49ers

Yet again, Witherspoon highlights Colorado with exceptional defense. However, it wasn’t all pretty.

While he didn’t get the pick-6 in this game, he still made up for it with impressive play. Witherspoon totaled 5 tackles and 2 passes defended. But, his overall quarterback rating when targeted speaks volumes on his play. Ahkello was one of the best Pac-12 NFL players of any school in Weeks 1 and 2 of the NFL season.

With play like this, Witherspoon is making a case to earn a big paycheck. The 49ers desperately needed playmakers on defense the past few seasons and it seems Ahkello Witherspoon is stepping up weekly.


Arik Armstead – San Francisco 49ers

In another dominant, defensive win, Arik Armstead helped the 49ers cruise past the Cincinnati Bengals. In their win, Armstead played 43 defensive snaps. During that time, he was able to make 3 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 1 QB hit and 1 sack. He constantly frustrated the Bengals. The 49ers have a plethora of defensive linemen to create pressure (a lot of them that could become some of the best Pac-12 NFL players). And it looks like Arik Armstead is taking advantage of his situation.

Oregon State

Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills

In Week 2, the Buffalo Bills comfortably beat the New York Giants 28-14. They held Eli Manning to 250 yards on 45 attempts. He tried his best to beat them through the air, but threw more interceptions than touchdowns. One of which went to Jordan Poyer. 

In their win, Jordan Poyer had 2 tackles, 1 interception and defended 1 pass. He’s had an excellent season so far. In 2019, Poyer is credited for 8 solo tackles, 1 interception, 1 sack and has only been targeted once. On top of that, the target didn’t succeed. So, he hasn’t even allowed a reception. It makes sense why his current PFF grade is 84.4. Jordan Poyer is the best Pac-12 NFL player on the Bills.


Harrison Phillips – Buffalo Bills

Harrison Phillips was an excellent interior defender against the New York Giants. He made plays on both Eli Manning and Saquon Barkely. Against Manning, Phillips finally got his first sack. Well, half sack. But still, that’s a big thing for an interior defender who’s job is to make defensive stops.

Against Barkely and the Giants run game, Phillips did what he does best: didn’t allow push and made defensive stops. But, as said above, Phillips also recorded 1 QB hit, 0.5 sacks and 2 passes defended It was quite the game for the big guy up front.


Kenny Clark – Green Bay Packers

Man. Kenny Clark had a game. He looked like an All-Pro against the Vikings. Clark consistently created havoc and pressured Kirk Cousins.

Keep in mind that Kenny Clark is a nose tackle. A nose tackle that pressured, frustrated and sacked the opposing quarterback. In their win, Clark hit Cousins twice, sacked him once and forced a fumble. He was a large part of their divisional win.


Nelson Agholor – Philadelphia Eagles

On Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles lost DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffrey and Dallas Goedert to injuries. Other players had to step up and fill the offensive void. That player was Nelson Agholor. Granted, it wasn’t a perfect night for Agholor.

But, other than the drops, Agholor played well. On 11 targets, he had 8 receptions for 107 yards and 1 touchdown. Of note are his two biggest plays. The first, and his only touchdown of the game, came on fourth and goal. His hands worked there.

The other, more impressive play, came on the same drive as his big drop seen earlier. Just look at this catch. On 4th and 14!

When the Eagles needed playmakers, Agholor made himself available. 


Eric Weddle – Los Angeles Rams

This just in. Eric Weddle can still lay a hit. He layed the hit on Jared Cook in their Week 2 matchup, causing Cook to lose the ball and the Rams to intercept it. Keep in mind that this is just one week after Weddle took a knee from Christian McCaffrey and bled all over.

He’s an experienced veteran and is still willing to lay his body on the line. Against the Saints, he played well and helped stifle the non-Brees offense. This season, he has a 79.3 PFF grade, 12 tackles and a pass defended in 2019. If he manages to stay healthy with the hits he’s taking/giving, the Rams have a menace in the secondary.


Will Dissly – Seattle Seahawks

Will Dissly had himself a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. 5 Targets

  • 5 Receptions
  • 2 Touchdowns
  • 2 First Downs
  • 1 Embarrassing Pancake Block on Devin Bush

Against Pittsburgh, Russell Wilson trusted Dissly to make big plays. It was Dissly’s best game in his short NFL career. Aside from his first two weeks in 2018, Will Dissly has either gone unnoticed or was injured. Perhaps this is his year to connect with Wilson in a sans-Baldwin offense.

Washington State

Joe Dahl – Detroit Lions

For a Detroit Lions team that is constantly rotating their offensive lineman, Joe Dahl is playing well. On 117 snaps at guard, he hasn’t allowed a sack and holds a 71.6 PFF grade. He isn’t dominant yet, but he’s made a significant jump in performance from 2018 to 2019. The Lions need to keep him in more regularly and commit to offensive line continuity.

Missed the Best Pac-12 NFL Players List from Week 1?

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Best Performances by Pac-12 Players in the NFL: Week 1


Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 NFL Players

With Week 1 of the NFL season officially done, it’s time to examine which Pac-12 alumni stood out. Each week, the Unafraid Show will review the stats, games and plays to determine the best Pac-12 NFL players. Without further adieu, here are the best Pac-12 NFL Players Week 1.

The Best Pac-12 NFL Players Week 1 List, Team by Team


Will Parks – Denver Broncos

For Arizona alumni, Will Parks stood out the most. The strong safety played 29 defensive snaps, 17 special teams snaps and recorded 2 tackles. Additionally, he earned a 69.2 PFF grade. While not incredible, he is on a short list of Arizona alumni to make it in the NFL.

Arizona State

Terrell Suggs – Arizona Cardinals

No one knows how, but Terrell Suggs still has it. The 36 (soon to be 37) year-old was a big reason for the Cardinals comeback. Even though his Pac-12 days are long behind him, Suggs continues to dominate the NFL. On a defense that has few playmakers, Suggs lifted the team. He recorded 5 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. The Ravens all-time sack leader had a great debut for the Arizona Cardinals. 


DeSean Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles

DeSean Jackson was born to play in Philly. Returning to his former team, Jackson torched the opposing defense. On 9 targets, he recorded 8 receptions for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. He couldn’t be caught. His 19.3 yards per reception may seem impressive, but what’s more impressive is Jackson’s 2 50-plus yard touchdowns. He now has 31 touchdowns of 50-plus yards in his NFL career. The Pac-12, NFL rocket from Cal is too fast to handle.


Ahkello Witherspoon – San Francisco 49ers

Facing the Buccaneers, Ahkello Witherspoon and the 49ers held Jameis Winston to just 194 yards, including 3 interceptions. Witherspoon was a major part of this defensive shutdown. When targeting players covered by Witherspoon, Winston had a 4.9 passer rating. On those 6 targets, Witherspoon allowed just 2 receptions, while recording 4 tackles, 3 passes defended, and 1 interception for a touchdown. It was a near-perfect game for Witherspoon.


Patrick Chung – New England Patriots

On Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers could not move the ball. New England’s held them to just 3 points and completely stifled Ben Roethlisberger and company. Against Pittsburgh, Patrick Chung racked up 6 tackles, broke-up one pass and earned an 82.1 PFF grade. For those watching, his speed and instincts were the key to his excellence. Chung consistently closed down Pittsburgh players and didn’t allow yards after the catch. He’s been one of the best Pac-12 NFL Players for years and remains such in 2019.

Oregon State

Isaac Seumalo – Philadelphia Eagles

At last, Isaac Seumalo claimed his position on the Eagles offensive line. Against the Washington Redskins, he played all 75 offensive snaps. During Week 1, Seumalo allowed zero sacks and was not penalized. He consistently made plays and helped push Philadelphia’s offense into successful positions. It was a strong game for him and he cemented his role on the league’s best and deepest offensive line.


Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

It is impossible to leave Christian McCaffrey off of this list. He lit up the Los Angeles Rams defense:

  • 19 carries for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • 10 receptions for 81 yards
  • 48 yards after the catch

His production accounted for 61-percent of Carolina’s net offense. McCaffrey is a special talent and his versatility is astonishing. It’s why he plays every offensive snap and is difficult to stop. If McCaffrey continues to do this, his name will be retired from this Pac-12 NFL Players list.


Eric Kendricks – Minnesota Vikings

Eric Kendricks and the Minnesota Vikings were a force. They held the Atlanta Falcons to just 12 points. In that game, Kendricks was a regular contributor to their defensive wins. He had 6 solo tackles, 1 quarterback hit and defended 2 passes. Kendricks is a great linebacker and makes name known to the opposing offense.


Rasheem Green – Seattle Seahawks

Somehow, there is a bright star on the Seattle Seahawks defense. After a solid preseason and an excellent Week 1, Rasheem Green should earn consistent reps. Even though he only made one big play in the game, it was the most important play for the Seahawks. His strip-sack of Andy Dalton stopped the Cincinnati Bengals from reaching field goal range. He sealed Seattle’s win.


Josh Gordon – New England Patriots

Please let Josh Gordon stay mentally strong. Lovers of the Pac-12, NFL and the New England Patriots need his talent and raw athleticism. Few players are as naturally gifted as Gordon. He makes difficult catches seem effortless and he bounces off defenders. In 2019, the Patriots needed a Rob Gronkowski replacement. Josh Gordon is that man. His size, power, speed and receiving ability will terrorize defenses. The way he played against the Steelers was definitely worthy of him being one of the top Pac-12 NFL Players Week 1.


Cory Littleton – Los Angeles Rams

Per PFF, Cory Littleton was their highest graded player in Week 1. Littleton made a show for Pac-12, NFL and sports fans alike. He certainly earned that title with his versatility and instincts. Littleton was everywhere and racked up 14 tackle against the Carolina Panthers. Of those, 4 were defensive stops. Additionally, he made big play after big play. Littleton defended 2 passes, forced and recovered a fumble against D.J. Moore and intercepted Cam Newton in the fourth quarter. He played out of his mind.

Washington State

Gardner Minshew – Jacksonville Jaguars

After losing Nick Foles to a broken clavicle, the Jacksonville Jaguars turned to rookie Gardner Minshew. And he didn’t disappoint. Playing three quarters, he completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. No, he didn’t lead the Jaguars to a win. Not even Nick Foles could do that against the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs. However, he played exceptionally well and displayed the marks of an NFL quarterback. Hopefully Minshew continues to earn starts and long-term dedication from the Jaguars. He could become a regular addition on this Pac-12 NFL list.

Pac-12 NFL Players Need to Perform Well

As many already know, the Pac-12 lacks praise and respect. Much of this is due to it’s commissioner, Larry Scott. Nonetheless, if the Pac-12 can account for a larger percentage of NFL talent, it will earn that respect. So, even though these players aren’t on collegiate programs anymore, it is important to root for their success.

The Melvin Gordon Holdout is One with Little Leverage

Melvin Gordon Holdout Chargers

Where have you heard this before? The NFL has a star running back sitting out training camp until he gets paid. In fact, two prominent running backs are holding out: Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys and Melvin Gordon of the Los Angeles Chargers. After a close review of situations, it’s clear that in the case of the Melvin Gordon holdout, he has little to no leverage.

Melvin Gordon is a Great NFL Running Back

Before getting to Melvin Gordon’s holdout, let’s talk numbers. Important to note is that Gordon had his best season in 2018, a performance earning him the number 34 spot on the NFL’s annual Top 100 list. In just 12 games, Melvin Gordon rushed for 885 yards, 5.1 yards-per-carry, and 10 touchdowns. Of note, this was his first season with a yards-per-carry above 3.9. In addition, he racked up 50 receptions for 490 yards and 4 more touchdowns.

14 touchdowns are nothing to dismiss, especially considering how the first-round back started his career. After missing the pay-dirt in his rookie season, Gordon amassed 38 touchdowns in his next three seasons. For many (Gordon himself included), it’s difficult to ignore that production.

Melvin Gordon Chargers Holdout

Efficiency wise, Gordon was also the highest-graded running back against stacked boxes, per PFF. PFF also ranked him 3rd overall for running backs in 2018 and 11th in PFF’s wins above replacement. Additionally, Melvin Gordon posted a staggering number of top efficiency stats on Player Profiler. His plus-34.6 (No.4 ) Production Premium, 34-percent (No. 5) Dominator Rating, 79 (No. 6) Evaded Tackles, 35.1-percent (No. 5) Juke Rate and 2.07 (No. 3) Yards Created Per Carry are elite.

As a player, Gordon has the ability to run inside, outside and is an effective receiver. He was good to great in most areas of production and efficiency in 2018. By most measures of production and efficiency in 2018, Gordon was at the top. It makes sense he would try and renegotiate his contract. He feels elite and wants to be paid as such.

Running Backs are Devalued. Sorry Melvin Gordon Holdout

Unfortunately for Melvin Gordon, he is a running back in the NFL. While running backs are the most important position in fantasy football, they aren’t as valuable to actual football teams. Let’s dissect this (If you would like to continue learning more about running back devaluation and replaceability, read in-depth analysis from PFF, Josh Hermsmeyer, JJ Zachariason, and Ben Baldwin).

Running Backs are Replaceable

Before injury in 2018, Todd Gurley was playing at another level. He had all the production to qualify his elite talent. Gurley was the bell-cow back that everyone loves, rushing for 98 yards and 1.25 rushing touchdowns per game in his first 12 games. Adding to that, Gurley had 3.83 receptions per game for 39.5 yards and 0.33 receiving touchdowns in that span. He was, by all means, an excellent form of offensive production before his injury slowed him down in December.

With that said, C.J. Anderson (a backup running back CUT by the Panthers after Week 9) replaced the injured Gurley and also played on an elite level. Prior to exploding with the Rams, Anderson had just 24 carries for 104 yards and 1 reception in 9 games with the Panthers. In his first three games with the Rams, Anderson rushed for 422 yards and 4 touchdowns.

A similar situation occurred in Kansas City. After Kareem Hunt was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, Damien Williams produced at a level similar to Hunt. Neither the Rams nor the Chiefs offenses halted. In fact, the Chiefs made it to the AFC Championship and the Rams made it to the Super Bowl.

As PFF’s Steve Palazzolo and Sam Monson point out, running backs are highly dependent on surrounding talent, offensive line, game script and offensive scheme. Unlike throwing in a backup quarterback, throwing a backup running back into a high-octane offense is almost seamless. After all, the Chargers had 4 wins and 0 losses without Melvin Gordon in 2018.

The Chargers have Two Quality Backup Running Backs

Austin Ekeler

Alongside Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler was an excellent complementary back. They were quite the one-two punch in 2018. Ekeler, while not as efficient or productive as Gordon, still posted a plus-25.9 (No 8) Production Premium, 4.9 (No. 8) True Yards Per Carry, 6.6 (No. 4) Yards Per Touch and a 9.4-percent (No. 1) Breakaway Run Rate. Ekeler, though he began his career undrafted, made a name for himself in the Chargers backfield. Because of both his talent and the replaceability of running backs, Austin Gayle believes that Ekeler can replace Gordon’s production in the case of a holdout. 

Justin Jackson – Razzle Dazzle

Behind Ekeler, the Chargers also have sophomore running back Justin Jackson. 

Aside from having a tremendous College Profile, Jackson also has that ‘razzle dazzle’.

“He’s a creative runner,” backfield mate Austin Ekeler said. “He’s a unique runner. There aren’t many people I’ve seen, in general, that run like he does. Like I tell him, he’s got that razzle-dazzle, some hocus-pocus [laughs] — I make up all these different things. That’s how he runs, and that’s how I’d describe his runs because you really don’t know what he’s going to do.”

Austin Ekeler

Running Back Decline, Injury Risk and the Melvin Gordon Holdout

The Age of Decline

According to both Pro Football Reference and Mike Taglier of Fantasy Pros, the average age of running back decline is at 28 years of age. Well, Melvin Gordon is entering his age-26 season. He’s only two years away from  If he holds out in 2019, he’s only one year away from the dreaded age-28 season. Why pay up for a running back just before his decline?

Injury Risk

Everyone would agree that football is a vicious sport. After all, the average NFL career only lasts 3.3 years. But, out of every position in football, none is riskier than running back. Running backs have the shortest careers, averaging only 2.57 years in the NFL. Due to the nature of the position and the number of regular collisions, it makes sense. This is another reason why many NFL teams avoid paying large contracts to aging running backs. 

Moreover, Melvin Gordon is not a picture of perfect health.

Melvin Gordon Injury Report

Gordon also accrued 1,079 touches in his four-year career. Because of injury risk and inevitable decline, it’s often easier for teams to just draft another running back than pay the current producer.

Teams Don’t Stop Everything for Running Backs

“I don’t find that happening any time soon. If his own team isn’t going to pay him, I don’t think there are other teams out there who will pay him what he’s looking for,” Quinn said. “I don’t see many teams knocking down the door to offer long-term extensions to running backs anymore.”

Brady Quinn

According to Over the Cap, teams spend just 3.33-percent of their overall cap towards running backs. That doesn’t mean that they spend 3.33-percent for their best running back, but all running backs combined. As noted in the paragraphs above, the running back position is replaceable in production and a constant flow of talent entering the draft. Teams opt to run their back to the ground and then just get another. Or, many teams like the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles deploy a committee of specialist running backs at value. 

Another reason that running backs don’t earn as much money is that the running back position is analytically worth less than other positions. Without getting too much into it, passing is simply more efficient and valuable than rushing. That’s why a 5-yard rush is considered good, while a 5-yard pass isn’t. To paraphrase a common analytical stance, the running back position is closer to punter in value than it is to quarterback. Instead of running backs setting up the pass, there’s more evidence that the pass sets up the run. Establishing the run has become more of a trope than a definitive. Because of this, analytics has popularized the phrase “running backs don’t matter.” While this is hyperbole, the statistical impact a running back has on a football field is smaller than many think.

If you want to read about this, read these articles by Josh Hermsmeyer, JJ Zachariason, or Ben Baldwin.

Even Ezekiel Elliott isn’t worth the money according to Josh Hermsmeyer of FiveThirtyEight. And behind Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott is regarded as the second-best running back in the league. So if Zeke doesn’t deserve it, then Gordon’s value also takes a hit. 

Fans, Quarterback and a Franchise Tag

Unfortunately for Melvin Gordon, he doesn’t have the fans and team completely behind him. In a fan poll on Bolts From the Blue, about 70-percent of respondents would rather trade Gordon away, while 8-percent voted to let Gordon sit out without pay. The fans certainly don’t have his back.

Also painful for Gordon is that Philip Rivers came out and said the Chargers would be fine without Gordon. Ouch.

Last, the Chargers hold the best cards in the case of a holdout. Let’s say that the Melvin Gordon holdout leads to him sitting the entire 2019 season. If he does this, he is subject to fines ($40,000 for each day of training camp) and loss of game checks. But worst of all, he doesn’t accrue his fifth-year with the Chargers and he is still under contract for 2020. Essentially, Gordon would just push his 5th-year option forward a year. So he gets another year older without anything changing. Then, if he accrues that fifth season by playing all or part of the 2020 season, the Chargers can just franchise tag him for 2021. They have all the leverage.


Us at the Unafraid Show are all for players getting paid. We’ve written extensively about it. See the articles below.

However, this article is about leverage and Melvin Gordon simply doesn’t have as much leverage as he thinks he does with this holdout. That’s because running backs are in a horrible cycle for sports. Draft them, run them to the ground and then dump them. Teams don’t need to pay up for them. Are there running backs that are more talented than others? Completely. Can an elite running back give a team an edge over other teams in different situations? Of course.

But, with the amount of talent available for drafts, teams can draft a player and own his rights for his five, best years. If running backs want to get paid, they need to change the NFL CBA. Instead of four-year contracts with a fifth-year option, perhaps it would benefit running backs more if they were drafted to two-year contracts with a third-year option. That would allow running backs to earn second contracts before their best years are behind them. So, instead of holding out for pay for himself, Melvin Gordon holdout should be advocating for change for the players yet to enter the draft.

The NFL Draft is Exciting, Captivating and Should Never Stop

NFL Draft Ratings is Exciting and should go on forever

The NFL Draft Proves that Football Remains the King

Each and every year, the NFL Draft wins over fans. In 2018, the NFL draft totaled 45.8 million people. This year, 11.01 million viewers tuned in for the first round. Football always wins in America. The NFL didn’t just grab fans, they dominated the night. Thursday brought four sporting events:

  • NFL Draft: First-Round Coverage (11.01 million viewers)
  • NBA Playoffs: Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs (1.8 million viewers)
  • NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Boston Bruins vs Columbus Blue Jackets (1.4 million viewers)
  • NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: St. Louis Blues vs Dallas Stars (>1 million viewers)

Unlike other sports, the NFL continue to reign as king of sporting television. Odd as it may be, a football draft is more appealing than NBA or NHL playoffs by a nine million margin. In fact, the first-round NFL draft coverage is over 2.5 times more than the sum of the three NBA/NHL game viewers. Even though many think of the NFL Draft as nothing more than a name-call or chance to boo Roger Goodell, the draft is full of heightened excitement and fun.

Reason One: Following Your Favorite College Athletes

In America, we love football. From high school to the NFL. So, when it comes to the NFL draft fans already have their favorite guys. They already watched their guys make highlight reel jukes, catches, hits or plays on the ball. Fame and prestige (though without the funds that should come with that) are bestowed upon collegiate athletes. Football players have swag and we love to see them on the field. But more than just their success on the field, fans love the stories behind the athletes. Watching collegiate sports is like watching cherry blossoms bloom in Washington D.C. Players are growing on a national platform. One blink and they are gone. These athletes overcome incredible adversity to get to the NFL draft. It’s easy to feel invested into their lives. Happiness and joy culminate when your favorite athlete gets that call.

Reason Two: Putting Hope in Your NFL Team

When it’s your team’s turn to pick, nothing else matters. You find yourself glued to the TV, staring at the computer or constantly refreshing your phone’s sports app. There is an overwhelming experience of anticipation. No, it’s not the same as watching a Hail Mary or final shot in basketball, but there is suspense nonetheless. Because this pick matters. It could matter for years. This player could elevate your team to new height. Maybe they could even be a future hall of famer. But, at the same time, that choice could also send your team into a downward spiral. Commit to the wrong quarterback and your team will wait 5-10 years before competing. The stress is real and it defines a fan.

Reason Three: Surveying the Competition

More important than your team’s choices, are the choices of the competition. Division rivalries are once again restoked. The draft is a time to cheer, and to jeer. Hopefully the enemies draft the biggest bust in the draft. It’s a beautiful feeling watching the opposition flair and falter. However, if the opposition is rising while your team is flailing and faltering, it can be maddening. Still, as odd as it may be, excitement can be heightened by that sense of disaster. It’s almost too bad to look away. Whatever success or failures happen, it is a certainty that the draft captivates fans of the game.

Reason Four: The Prep-Work

The NFL Draft is Exciting, Captivating and Should Never Stop

For the nerd and analyst, preparing for the NFL draft is an adventure in itself. We spend countless hours listening to podcast, reading articles and creating spreadsheets. Friends bet each other about their top picks. Fans fall in love with prospects and painstakingly hope for their team to make the “right” choice. Just as many hobbies are as much about the process as the results, the draft is no different. Pursuing data, opinion and knowledge is an incredible journey to those with passion.

Reason Five: Fulfilling the American Dream

The NFL Draft is Exciting, Captivating and Should Never Stop

In true American fashion, the NFL captivates us with stories of triumph. Players rising from poverty and heartbreak to national fame. Instantly, players like Christian Wilkins, Josh Jacobs and Kaleb McGary come to mind. They overcame poverty, violence, tragedy and homelessness. This happens again and again. Each round of the NFL is littered with athletes that grew up in foster-care, homeless or eating noodles for dinner. Watching athletes rise from nothing inspires each of us to greatness in our own lives.

2019 NFL Draft Sleepers and Triumphs Update: Athletes to Celebrate

Looking back at the NFL Draft

Day Three of the 2019 NFL Draft is in the books. After seven rounds, we can finally celebrate the UnAfraidShow favorites. Prior to the draft, our writers identified sleepers, hidden gems and adversity-driven athletes to watch for. Here are those players and where they were drafted or if they remain undrafted.

Stories of Triumph (Full stories here and here)

Kaleb McGary, OT

NFL Draft Status: Round 1, Pick 31, No. 31 Overall to Atlanta Falcons

At pick 31, the Falcons traded back into the first round to select McGary. They seem to like him enough to protect quarterback Matt Ryan. McGary landed himself on one of the better teams in the NFL. After living in an RV through high school, McGary can use his first-round paycheck to rent a nice apartment.

Christian Wilkins, DT

NFL Draft Status: Round 1, Pick 13, No. 13 Overall to Miami Dolphins

Wilkins, persevering through his grandfather’s death (accidentally by the hands of a SWAT team), earned a top-15 pick and is headed to Miami to play against the GOAT Tom Brady. Miami is in need of leadership. Scouts, coaches and fans are drawn to Wilkins’ character. Look for him to become the face of the franchise alongside Josh Rosen.

Chandler Brewer, OG

NFL Draft Status: UDFA to L.A. Rams

When it comes to adversity, Brewer knows it well. The Middle Tennessee State University lineman played through cancer in 2018. After undergoing radiation treatment, Chandler has been building back strength to win his NFL playing time. Signed by the Super Bowl-losing Rams, Brewer will add depth to an

Emanuel Hall, WR

NFL Draft Status: UDFA to Chicago Bears

Dubbed by many as a one-trick pony, Emanuel Hall still found his way onto the Chicago Bears roster because he is the best at that trick. Despite injuries and his father’s unexpected death in 2018, Hall displayed tremendous efficiency. His 4.39 (95th-percentile) 40-yard dash, 109.7 (89th-percentile) Speed Score and 144.5 (99th-percentile) Burst Score are good enough to earn a second look.

Will Grier, QB

NFL Draft Status: Round 3, Pick 37, No. 100 Overall to Carolina Panthers

Grier landed himself an offense led by Cam Newton. However, considering Newton’s injury history, Grier could have regular season snaps as early as 2019. With this draft pick, the Panthers believe that Grier is well beyond his PED-suspended past.

Gary Johnson, LB

NFL Draft Status: UDFA to Kansas City Chiefs

Life has never been easy for Johnson. He’s had to scape, claw and earn everything he has. From foster-care to community college football to playing for Texas, Johnson showed grit. Johnson now found his way to a Super Bowl contending team in need of defenders.

Kahzin Daniels, EDGE

NFL Draft Status: UDFA to Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Daniels may be the most interesting rookie in this class. He played without any vision in his right eye. Yes, Kahzin Daniels found success in college despite being completely blind in one eye. With that being said, he was able to total 31.5 sacks. Cross your fingers he can overcome this “disability” in the NFL.

Bonus: Josh Jacobs, RB

NFL Draft Status: Round 1, Pick 24, No. 24 Overall to Oakland Raiders

Coming from poverty, homelessness and even being chased by gunfire, Jacobs has come a long way. Because of his incredibly efficiency and highlight-reel production, Jacobs battled his way to the first round. After Marshawn Lynch retired, the Oakland Raiders were in need of another talented running back. They found a running back that will “run angry“.

Football is a Beautiful Game

In so many ways, football reminds us that anyone, no matter who they are, can make a big splash. Regardless of race, income, or neighborhood. This is what makes the NFL Draft and offseason so captivating.

NFL Draft 2019: Tears, Tragedy, and Triumph of Draft Picks Part 2

NFL Draft 2019: Tears, Tragedy, and Triumph of Draft Picks Part 2

Will Grier: Fleeing from PEDs

In 2014, after being declared a four-star recruit, Will Grier signed with Florida. After redshirting his first season, he took over the starting quarterback position in 2015. However, after starting just six games, Grier tested positive for Ligandrol and was suspended for one season. He then transferred to West Virginia, sat out the 2016 season, and lit the world on fire in 2017 and 2018. Grier accumulated over 7,300 passing yards and 71 passing touchdowns in 2017 and 2018. According to, his 9.7 yards-per-attempt is in the 92nd-percentile, while his 81.9 QBR is in the 79th-percentile. On the field, Grier played extremely well.

Off the field, Grier has to continue to prove he is past his Ligandrol impulses. As far as his West Virginia career is concerned, Grier reported no drug issues.

“Never had an issue,” he said. “It’s just not who I am. I would never let my teammates down again in any circumstance.”

After going through countless drug tests and letting his Florida team down before, Grier appears to have grown in maturity. Look for an NFL team to take a risk on his upside.

Gary Johnson: Foster Care, Community College and Texas

Texas Linebacker Gary Johnson came from an unstable, to say the least, childhood. His mother gave birth to him when she was 14 and lost him to foster care when he was just 4 years old. Johnson was moved around for most of his childhood and adolescence. Shifting from family members, state-supported guardians and group homes. His youth brings stories of a poverty, hunger, abuse and academic issues.

Thankfully, Johnson found a way out of that life. In his senior year of high school, Johnson triple-lettered in football, basketball and track. He won the state championship for the 100-meter dash and found his way onto the Dodge City Community College Football Team. After amassing an incredible 133 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries and 3 defensive touchdowns, Johnson garnered interest from universities.

Ultimately, Johnson settled on Texas and quickly rose up the depth chart. In 2018, he led the Longhorns with 90 tackles, including 8.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. This earned him an invite to the prestigious NFL Combine, where he caught scouts’ attention with his 4.43 40-yard dash. Now, he is projected by Lance Zierlein of to be drafted in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Johnson, though he passed around from house to house as a child, has found his home in football.

For more on Johnson’s story, read here.

Kahzin Daniels: Football’s Daredevil

In the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks drafted an athlete without a left hand, Shaquem Griffin. Day three of the NFL draft is generally when teams take chances on players. Hoping they might overcome a lack of production, unathletic measurables, injuries, or uncommon physical features like the lack of a hand, or in Kahzin Daniels case, the lack of sight in his right eye.

Daniels, the Charleston edge rusher, is completely blind in his right eye. Despite that, he totalled 31.5 sacks in his final three seasons for the Golden Eagles. He was a reliable source of pressure for Charleston. The fact that he is blind in his right eye is undoubtedly a cause of concern for NFL scouts. But, he still is ranked 61st by Sports Illustrated in this year’s draft class. That is a great feat for a Division II player, regardless of their eyesight.

“It did not limit his play at all. He played on both sides, left and right, and never used it as an excuse or crutch or anything like that.” –Coach Pat Kirkland

However, sight isn’t the largest concern for potential NFL suitors. Instead, his ability to move to linebacker will hold more value. Daniels, at 242 pounds, is a good 20 pounds less than other edge rushers like Nick Bosa or Josh Allen. Players in his size range either become linebackers or situational edge rushers. Both require the ability to cover receivers. But, Daniels didn’t do much coverage in college. His coaches didn’t ask him to. It remains to be seen if he can make the jump to the NFL. With that being said, he has already shown that he can overcome what would be detrimental to many. Look for a team to take a chance on him on day three of the NFL Draft.

“Even growing up, I never let anybody treat me different in any way,” he said. “I never used it as a disability, never got any checks for it or anything like that.

“I see through one eye and I live life to the best of my ability.”

For more on Daniels, read here.

Davion Taylor: A Player to Monitor for the 2020 NFL Draft

In the NFL, there are successful stories of athletes transitioning from one sport to another. Jimmy Graham is one of those players that comes to mind. A four-year Miami Hurricanes basketball player, he played only one year of collegiate football before making the jump to the NFL. But, Graham did play football in high school. Just like many other successful NFL athletes without the same collegiate experience. This is why Davion Taylor becomes so peculiar.

Shockingly, Taylor did not play any high school football. At all. He wasn’t allowed to. Because of his mother’s Seventh-Day Adventist faith, Taylor couldn’t perform in any sporting activities from Friday night until Sunday morning. Starting years behind other players, Taylor earned a walk-on spot at Coachoma Community College for both football and track. He then earned a scholarship to play football and run for Colorado. The linebacker racked up a modest 57 tackles (10 for a loss), 2 passes defended, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 defensive touchdown in 12 games. These aren’t mind-bending numbers, but looking at his journey to Colorado linebacker displays a unique player.

Although Davion Taylor may be a late-bloomer in football. If he shows more promise in his senior season, he will certainly gain the attention of NFL scouts for the 2020 NFL Draft.

For more on Taylor’s story, read here.

Is the Unafraid Show missing anyone?

If you know of anyone who should be on this list, please comment below. We would love to learn more about the stories and players that propel this game forward.

Read NFL Draft 2019: Tears, Tragedy, and Triumph of Draft Picks Part 1

NFL Draft 2019: Tears, Tragedy, and Triumph of Draft Picks Part 1

NFL Draft 2019 great stories of draftees Christian Wilkins Chandler Brewer Caleb Mcgary

In the wake of the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft, there are many heroic stories surfacing. Athletes coming out of poverty, disability, remorse or broken homes to find success on the gridiron. This is why we love sports. Anyone, regardless of where they grew up, has the chance to make their mark. In these two articles, the seven NFL draft hopefuls with the most inspiring stories will be discussed.

The Most Compelling Stories to Watch for in the 2019 NFL Draft

Kaleb McGary: Foreclosures, RV’s and House Fires

As Kaleb McGary stated himself, his life story is “basically a country song” (If you want to hear the short interview, listen here). During the 2008 recession, his family lost their farm to foreclosure. Following that, McGary’s father was involved in a work accident and diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Without good credit or income, his family resorted to living out of an RV on his grandparents yard. Living in his grandparents house was not an option. McGary explained that 60 years of hoarding made the home unlivable. So, there he was, spending his final years of high school living out of an RV with his siblings and his parents.

However, McGary has made the most of his opportunities. The Washington right-tackle earned first team All-Pac-12 honors in three consecutive years. He also tested extremely well athletically. McGary recorded a 5.05 (84th-percentile) 40-yard dash, a 97.5 (86th-percentile) Speed Score, a 112.5 (93rd-percentile) Burst Score, and a 12.24 (70th-percentile) Agility Score. Lance Zierlein of gave McGary a round one-two projection. Additionally, WalterFootball ranks Kaleb McGary as the sixth best offensive tackle entering the 2019 NFL Draft. Things have been looking up for McGary since his time living in an RV.

Unfortunately, there is more to his family’s living situation. After his parents had finally cleared out livable space for themselves in the house, one of the RVs caught fire, burned down, and took half of the house with it. Even with a GoFundMe to help pay for the costs, McGary said that labor and repairs are now at a stand still. Home projects are far more expensive than he would have thought. With McGary’s high draft odds, he could easily become another athlete that takes care of his parents and siblings. Look for him to raise his family out of poverty and into a stable home.

Chandler Brewer: Strength in the Face of Invasion

Cancer is nothing to mess with. Almost everyone either has gone through a battle with cancer or knows someone who has. Regardless of the treatment chosen, cancer has a way of taking the best parts away from the host. However, sometimes cancer uncovers warriors.

This is the case of Chandler Brewer, offensive lineman for Middle Tennessee State University. Just before his senior season, in July of 2018, Brewer was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The cancer surfaced in his left knee and he kept it secret, except from staff and family. Brewer was, according to ProFootballFocus, the University’s highest-graded returning player. His play would have been missed.

But, with permission from his doctor, he suited up to play. What’s impressive is that, despite six weeks of radiation mid-season, Brewer remained strong. He played all 14 games, averaged 67 snaps per game and only allowed two sacks on over 450 pass attempts. ProFootballFocus named Brewer on their Conference USA team of the week three times and their national team once. In addition, Brewer earned First-Team All Conference USA Honors.

After the season, Chandler came out to the public and he’s had to disclose his cancer to every NFL team or scout of interest.

Taking a chance on a player battling cancer is a bold move. But, the NFL’s offensive lines become depleted each and every season. Many teams look for depth by converting tight ends, defensive lineman or even athletes from other sports. So, taking a risk on a highly graded warrior like Brewer in the 2019 NFL Draft is a quality choice.

Christian Wilkins: Tragedy, Loss and Courage

The story of Christian Wilkins, Clemson defensive tackle, is one of great loss and greater courage. When Wilkins was just 15 years old, his grandfather, Eurie Stamps Sr. was tragically killed by a SWAT team on a raid. During the raid, in which SWAT were not after Stamps, he was killed by an accidental discharge of a weapon while he was lying face down on the ground. To all those opposing Colin Kaepernick’s ideals, remember that this is the kind of needless violence he is trying to prevent.

Anyway, Stamps was an incredible father-figure for Wilkins. He split time between his stepfather’s and Stamps’ house. Stamps was a local icon, involved in the community and beloved by many. For many, this would be an end to high aspirations. However, after a switch to Suffield Academy, Wilkins found joy and success in athletics and activities. He became well known for his affable and giving lifestyle at high school. Wilkins even acted as the junior-varsity’s “water guy”. It speaks volumes to his character.

Modeling his life around the example Stamps set for him, Wilkins chose the number 42 to honor Stamps at Clemson. Stamps was born in 1942 and Wilkins garnered plenty of honor to that number. Wilkins earned a degree from Clemson in two and a half years and was awarded the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy for outstanding community, academic and on-field performance. Lance Zierlein from gave Wilkins a round-one projection for the 2019 NFL Draft. Additionally, ProFootballFocus put their claim on his NFL success.

For more on Christian Wilkins and his life after Stamps, read here.

Emanuel Hall: Injuries, Death and Athleticism

2018 was not kind to Emanuel Hall. The Missouri wide receiver only played eight games in his senior season. A nagging groin injury sidelined him multiple times. For a “one-trick pony” speedster, a leg injury is quite serious. However, a much larger obstacle came on October 11th of 2018. While still rehabbing from his groin injury, Hall learned that his father had unexpectedly passed away.

“This has been the toughest year of my life,” Hall said.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “you’ve still got to take care of your business, because the world doesn’t stop.”

Hall’s words ring true to those that have lost a loved one and persevered through the pain. Through every battle and knockdown, every person had the chance to fight. Hall did just that. He returned to football after dealing with both his groin injury and his father’s funeral with four receptions, 77 yards and a touchdown. Through the pain and recoveries, Hall has shown that, when on the field, he makes splash plays.

Athletically, Emanuel Hall is special. According to, Hall’s profile includes:

  • 4.39 (95th-percentile) 40-yard dash
  • 109.7 (89th-percentile) Speed Score
  • 144.5 (99th-percentile) Burst Score
  • 35.7% (69th-percentile) College Dominator, 22.4 (97th-percentile) College YPR

In college, Hall used that elite athleticism to win on deep routes. In just 18 games his junior and senior season, Hall amassed 1,645 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on a mere 70 receptions. He has to overcome his perception as a “one-trick pony”, but Hall has a good chance to become an NFL starter. He showed perseverance and grit through his injury and tragedy-laden senior season. Now he must show that in gaining success in a league that is faster and more versatile.

For more, check out NFL Draft 2019: Tears, Tragedy, and Triumph of Draft Picks Part 2

Bridgewater Made the Right Move to Avoid Dolphins and Backup Brees

Bridgewater Avoids Miami Dolphins NFL

Miami Called and Bridgewater Refused to Answer

In one of the more odd offseason stories, Teddy Bridgewater turned down a starting quarterback job to remain a backup. That’s right. Bridgewater met with the Miami Dolphins, a team that just traded away Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans, and walked away from their offer. The move (or non-move) has left many football fans perplexed. However, Bridgewater’s decision to remain the backup to Drew Brees is one of the most intelligent choices. Here’s why:

Low Injury Risk

The gap between Miami and New Orleans is immense. According to footballoutsiders, Miami’s offensive line ranked 31st in pass protection. They gave up 52 sacks in 2018. On the other hand, New Orleans ranked 3rd in pass protection and only gave up 20 sacks in 2018. Considering that Bridgewater has already had a serious knee-injury in his young career, the decision to avoid Miami’s porous offensive line is safe.

Money Money Money

While Bridgewater turned down a starting job, he didn’t refuse Nick Foles level money.

Per Dianna Russini of ESPN, Bridgewater desired “life-changing money” to sign with Miami. Bridgewater sought 16-million dollars per year plus incentives. He wanted money and guarantees that he the team invested in him as the starter. Miami was not willing to pay-up for Bridgewater, so he decided to punt his contract another year.

Instead of signing with Miami for a middling contract, Bridgewater accepted a premium-contract for a backup quarterback. The one-year deal includes 7.5 million dollars, fully guaranteed, plus incentives. Bridgewater is taking a moderate discount to play for the Saints and still keep his opportunity available for a big contract in 2020.

The Quarterback Market in 2020

In addition to his current situation is the overall market for quarterbacks. There were not a significant amount of NFL teams searching for veteran quarterbacks this offseason. Considering Foles, Keenum, and Flacco already have new homes and the NFL draft is near, there were few suitors left for Bridgewater. Less suitors can easily translate to less money invested. But, in 2020, here are some notable free agents:

  • Russell Wilson
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Eli Manning
  • Phillip Rivers
  • Tom Brady
  • Jameis Winston
  • Marcus Mariota
  • Case Keenum

Roethlisberger, Manning, Rivers and Brady are over 37 years old. There is a significant chance they might retire, due to injury or diminished performance. Winston, Mariota and Keenum also each carry a chance of being traded or cut. They have not stood out enough to earn a franchise-quarterback status. So, by pushing his free agency to 2020, Bridgewater will be entering a potentially rich market for quarterbacks.

Tutelage Under Drew Brees and Sean Payton

Sean Payton, coach of Bridgewater, at training camp

In staying another year with the New Orleans Saints, Bridgewater gets more time with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees Sean Payton. Instead of going to the Miami Dolphins, a franchise that has been in turmoil for years, he gets to surround himself by positive influences and success. New Orleans has consistently been a top NFL offense in both points and yards. Sean Payton has been regarded as one of the most creative offensive minds in the NFL. In backing up Brees another year, Bridgewater will effectively be attending an Elite NFL University.

Drew Brees is 40 Years Old

Drew Brees, quarterback ahead of Bridgewater

Although Drew Brees has continued to perform at an elite level, we cannot ignore his age. He is 40 years old. Each year he risks dips in production, injury and retirement. In remaining the backup for Brees, Bridgewater is giving himself a great chance to play for a successful franchise. Remember that the NFL is incredibly random. On any given Sunday something could happen. If Brees is injured or simply loses his gift, Bridgewater will be there. Waiting for his opportunity. If misfortune falls on Drew Brees this season, if he retires before 2020 or if the Saints choose to not sign a 42-year-old quarterback to another contract in 2021, Bridgewater could be the Saints next franchise quarterback.

Bridgewater is Only 26 Years Old

Teddy Bridgewater is so young. If he is smart, his career could extend another decade. Many quarterbacks are playing well into their 30’s or even 40’s now. After the 2019 season, Bridgewater will still only be 27. Capable starting quarterbacks are difficult to find. Washington found this quite apparent last season. After Alex Smith broke his leg in week 11, Washington started a combination of Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson. Granted Washington could have signed Colin Kaepernick to their team, but we’ve already discussed that. Bottom line is that if Josh Johnson can get a starting job, even a temporary one, after not attempting an NFL pass in seven seasons, Bridgewater should certainly be able to secure a contract in the coming years.

The Nick Foles Hero’s Journey

Nick Foles has paved the way for Bridgewater’s success. Foles initially showed promise in Philadelphia, passing for 27 touchdowns and 2891 yards in 2013. However, he fell into obscurity after suffering a broken collarbone in the 2014 season. The Eagles traded him to the St. Louis Rams, then was benched for Case Keenum. In 2016, the Los Angeles Rams drafted Jared Goff with the first overall draft pick and Foles was released. It appeared that Foles was destined to be a backup quarterback for his career, so obviously he signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs to play behind Alex Smith in 2016.

Then, in 2017, Foles held a lottery-winning ticket. Carson Wentz tore his ACL in week 14 and Foles led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl winning season. After another year of play, and additional games started due to Wentz missing more time, Foles landed a monster contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even though the Eagles announced they would pick up Foles’ 20-million dollar option for the 2019 season, Foles refused it for a four-year contract worth 88-million dollars.

So why did this work for Nick Foles and could it work for Teddy Bridgewater? It worked because Foles put himself into the best situations. The Philadelphia Eagles had impressive coaching, offensive line play, offensive weapons, and a powerful defense. By random chance, Foles started for a playoff bound team and ended up becoming a Super Bowl MVP. Similarly, the New Orleans Saints are an elite NFL franchise that also has impressive coaching, offensive line play, offensive weapons and an improving defense. If Brees should fall, Bridgewater could see himself following the Foles path to playoffs and a subsequent four-year, 88-million dollar contract.

The Brilliance of Bridgewater

Although many will question and criticize Bridgewater’s stint with the New Orleans Saints, it is nonetheless a very intelligent decision. Bridgewater is young, playing behind a 40-year old quarterback in one of the league’s best offenses. He is surrounded by positive play, coaching and management.

“I was able to be a part of that last year for 18 weeks, and it was nothing but a positive thing,” Bridgewater said. “I told my agent every time that I’ve talked to him that I haven’t stopped smiling since I arrived. There’s so many positives in New Orleans, and I’m looking forward to many days ahead.”

“Teddy Bridewater: Saints a better situation for me” by Kevin Patra

There are so many pros for Bridgewater’s choice to remain a Saint. He is ensuring himself opportunity to take over for the Saints. In 2020, he enters a more lucrative quarterback market. Avoiding Miami also substantially lowers his risk of injury or poor play sparked by a mismanaged and untalented team. All the while, Bridgewater still makes 7.5-million dollars guaranteed with a chance to start for a playoff-caliber team if Drew Brees is injured. This is without a doubt one of the better decisions of the 2019 NFL offseason. Good for Teddy.