Starting Jobs in Doubt for 10 NFL Players Following Draftby Andersen Pickard April 27, 2020 0 comments
The NFL Draft is an exciting series of days for so many people. Collegiate prospects hear their name called and land their first professional contract, NFL players get excited when they learn about the new weapons added to their team, executives and coaches breathe a sigh of relief when a player falls to them, and fans cheer with delight when a star is selected to their team.
However, there’s always a group of people who have a reason to be frustrated. For many starters, they land right back on the bench when a star is drafted.
These 10 players presumably took the biggest hit during the NFL Draft last week.
Each player will have a danger grade, which assesses how likely they are to be sent to the bench in exchange for their respective rookie replacement. (The higher the number, the more their job is in jeopardy.)
A future first-ballot Hall of Famer, Rodgers was certainly surprised when he heard Jordan Love‘s name called in the first round. While Rodgers isn’t getting any younger and his retirement should be coming within the next few years, he is still a star quarterback with a great arm and football mind. That made it all the more shocking when Green Bay turned in their pick to the commissioner, who announced the Utah State quarterback’s name at No. 26 overall.
Rodgers is safe for the time being because he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league. However, drafting Love suggests that the Packers have some doubts about Rodgers’s longevity and continued success.
Danger Grade: 2.5
This seemed inevitable, but the Jaguars selected a dominant pass-rusher by picking K’Lavon Chaisson out of LSU. Such a selection puts him in the backup role behind Yannick Ngakoue, but that only seems to be temporary. Ngakoue’s name has been mentioned numerous times in the trade market as he refuses to play under the franchise tag.
While Jacksonville won’t give in to Ngakoue’s antics just because the star pass-rusher wants them to, selecting Chaisson suggests they intend to follow through with moving Ngakoue and making Chaisson their starter.
Danger Grade: 8.5
The Jets signed Fant, a left tackle who previously played for the Seahawks, to a three-year, $30 million contract with $13.7 million guaranteed. While everyone knew the Jets needed to address the offensive line in this draft, it was still surprising to see them select Mekhi Becton, who is expected to convert to left tackle and force Fant to find a new position or sit on the bench.
Becton could hold down the fort at right tackle which would leave Fant out left, but current projections suggest Becton will be the starting left tackle. Following the draft, general manager Joe Douglas wouldn’t clarify or commit to a specific decision regarding the offensive line alignment.
Danger Grade: 7
Amari Cooper‘s job is safe after he signed a five-year, $100 million contract. However, Michael Gallup could see a demotion since the Cowboys surprisingly drafted Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb with the 17th overall pick. Lamb will likely fit the void caused by Randall Cobb‘s departure to Houston, but that could still push Gallup to No. 3 and take away many of his targets.
This will be an interesting position battle to watch. Lamb and Gallup are different types of receivers but they can’t both be No. 2. Only time will tell as Lamb and Gallup showcase their skills in training camp.
Danger Grade: 7.5
When he was on the field, Williams had a solid 2019 season for the Super Bowl-winning Chiefs. However, he wasn’t on the field often (due to injury) and neither was complementary running back LeSean McCoy (also injury). This led to touches for Darrel Williams and hard-to-root-against rookie Darwin Thompson. Selecting LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round proves the Chiefs were not confident in Williams or Thompson at No. 1. Kansas City also signed DeAndre Washington this offseason after he spent 2019 as Josh Jacobs’s backup in Oakland.
Williams losing his starting job is inevitable, although he could be bailed out by a trade. Thompson and Edwards-Helaire should be able to form a scary, young backfield in Kansas City, leaving Damien Williams‘s future in Kansas City in doubt.
Danger Grade: 9
The Chargers traded up to acquire the No. 23 pick, which they used to select Oklahoma linebacker, Kenneth Murray. While Los Angeles did need depth at the position, trading up and parting with additional assets to select Murray suggests this was more than a depth move. Murray was essentially a lock to be a first-round pick and the Chargers knew that, deciding to move up 14 slots to take a chance on him.
Murray will likely take over as a starter immediately, barring a poor performance during training camp. This could put Perryman on the trade market, although it is more likely that he slots into a backup role that allows him to take on some plays from varied positions because he deserves to be on the field.
Danger Grade: 8
Erik McCoy‘s days as the starting center in New Orleans are done, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be admitted to the bench. New Orleans selected the draft’s top center in Cesar Ruiz, who will slide into a starting role at his natural position immediately. This puts McCoy on the second level of the depth chart, but only temporarily. McCoy, a 2019 second-round pick who was one of PFF’s best linemen last season, will likely shift to guard.
So while McCoy is losing his job as the anchor at center, it’s still possible that he retains a starting job elsewhere in the trenches.
Danger Grade: 6
Johnson’s future in Detroit looked bleak last season after his injury allowed Bo Scarborough to take the stage. Johnson’s return saw him get limited touches and although that was partially due to his injury, it also suggested the team wasn’t sold on him. That theory was solidified on Friday when the Lions selected Georgia’s star running back, D’Andre Swift.
Swift should slot in as the immediate starter because youth and value are superior. After all, Detroit wouldn’t use a high pick on a flashy player just to stick him on the bench. Kerryon Johnson‘s days are numbered, and that number could be zero.
Danger Grade: 9.5
Saahdiq Charles was drafted by the Redskins in the fourth round and while his selection came in response to the Trent Williams trade, it could force Morgan Moses to take a demotion or switch positions. Charles is expected to be one of the few Day 3 picks who earns a starting spot when the 2020 season begins. Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Moses will be left without his normal job at right tackle.
In all likelihood, Moses will switch to left tackle, which is more challenging than right tackle. While he is quite literally being replaced, Moses would still be given a starting job as he would presumably beat out Geron Christian Sr. in camp. While his job is being given to a late-round rookie, Moses should still see time as a starter in 2020.
Danger Grade: 3.5
Two months ago, the Colts were trying to finalize a multi-year extension with Marlon Mack, who was supposedly their franchise running back. Fast forward to today as his job is in doubt and he never signed that contract extension. The Colts drafted Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor on Friday night and he will work to earn the starting job in Indianapolis, where he will secure handoffs and catch passes from Philip Rivers (probably).
While the selection of Taylor signifies the team’s faith in the Wisconsin product and the opposite in Mack, the latter is still the starter and it will be his job to lose. That would be one wild training camp story.
Danger Grade: 4