2011 NFL Draft

Could the Panthers trade the No. 1 pick?

If Andrew Luck enters the draft as expected, Panthers GM Marty Hurney has an incredible easy job… or so we think.

Obviously no one would fault the Panthers for taking Luck. He is the consensus top available player and arguably the best quarterback prospect to come along since Peyton Manning.

But what if they don’t want Luck?

Passing over Luck isn’t an option – it would be a public relations nightmare which could haunt them for years and ultimately could cost Hurney his job. Trading the pick, however, is a very real possibility.

The Panthers are starving for NFL talent, and aren’t going to get much from this draft. Remember, they inexplicably traded their 2011 2nd-round pick for a 3rd-round pick in last year’s draft which they used on Armanti Edwards. Hurney needs to find a way to add more picks in this year’s draft, and trading the top selection would net him a nice package.

Any trade for Luck would have to look a lot like the Eli Manning trade in 2004. In that deal the Giants gave up their 2004 and 2005 1st round picks (Phillip Rivers and Shawne Merriman) as well as their 2004 3rd-round pick (Nate Kaeding) and 2005 5th-round pick (traded to Tampa Bay).

Considering the fact that the Panthers wouldn’t be getting a franchise quarterback in return such as Rivers, I would expect the price tag for Luck to be even higher. The Bills have the best chance to work out a deal, which I expect would require their 2011 and 2012 1st-round picks, as well as 3rd round pick this year and possibly a 3rd in next year’s draft as well.

Additionally, the Panthers benefit from the fact that multiple teams will be in the bidding to trade up for Luck. The Bills are an obvious option, as well as the Cardinals, 49ers, Titans and Redskins. Anyone outside the top-10 probably doesn’t have the ability to move up, unless they throw in a proven NFL starter as well.

Don’t be fooled by the recent statements that the Panthers intend to draft Luck. All that does is help ensure that Luck enters the draft. In no way does it mean they have actually settled on him. They simply know that they want the option to either take him or trade him – either way, with Luck in the draft the Panthers are big winners.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Cardinals, Panthers, Redskins, Titans Comments Off

A quick “what if Luck stays in school” mock draft

It seems like every day a new reporter finds “sources” to tell him that Andrew Luck is leaning toward staying in school. I’m inclined to call “BS” on anyone who says Luck is leaning towards staying at Stanford, especially since it sounds as though Jim Harbaugh is as good as gone. But I’ll humor those who think he’s staying for a moment and throw together a quick mock draft based on the scenario that he stays. Here’s the top 10 of the “what if Luck stays” mock draft…

1. Panthers – Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson
The Panthers don’t need a quarterback, so they won’t take one unless Luck is there. Their pass rush was abysmal this season, and they missed Julius Peppers even more than anyone could have anticipated. Bowers is coming off a monster year and should be an instant-impact pass rusher at the next level.

2. Broncos – Patrick Peterson – CB – LSU
With Josh McDaniels gone, the Broncos may be ready to give up on Tim Tebow after just three games. However, I don’t think they’ll reach for someone like Newton or Mallett with the second pick. The safe bet is to take Peterson, the best available player. Champ Bailiey may not return, and even if he does he’s on the downswing of his career.

3. Bengals – A.J. Green – WR – Georgia
One of the biggest decisions any team has to make this offseason is the Bengals’ looming decision about Carson Palmer. They could cut him loose and draft a new franchise quarterback here. I don’t think they’re willing to give up yet, however. A.J. Green is an elite talent and could be the young receiver Palmer needs to get the offense back on track.

4. Bills – Ryan Mallett – QB – Arkansas
The Bills need a quarterback to build around and should be able to get one in this year’s draft. But who will it be? Mallett, Locker and Newton are all worth considering. It’s pure speculation at this point, but I think Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix will lean toward the strong-armed Mallett.

5. Cardinals – Prince Amukamara – CB – Nebraska
The Cardinals are another team in need of a quarterback, but I expect Ken Whisenhunt to push for them to bring in a veteran.  As a result, they’ll turn their attention to the defense in the draft, landing either Amukamara, Cameron Jordan or Nick Fairley here.

6. 49ers – Cam Newton – QB – Auburn
Until a GM and a coach are in place it’s tough to predict how the 49ers will handle the draft. But one thing is certain: they need a quarterback. If they need to make a decision between Newton and Locker, expect Newton to be their guy.

7. Cowboys – Cameron Jordan – DE – California
Jordan isn’t nearly the most well-known of the top 3-4 defensive ends, but I believe he is the best of the bunch. The Cowboys will be looking to improve the defense, making Jordan a strong possibility here.

8. Texans – Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn
The Texans need to address their secondary, but with Peterson and Amukamara off the board they must turn their attention to the defensive line. Fairley is an elite pass-rushing interior lineman who reminds me of Ndamukong Suh.

9. Lions – Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina
The Lions offense is progressing, but the defense still has some holes. Kyle Vanden Bosch hasn’t worked out and the Lions will likely look to upgrade their pass rush this offseason. Quinn may be the best pass-rushing end available in this draft class.

10. Browns – Julio Jones – WR – Alabama
The Browns are now committed to Colt McCoy, but now they need to supply him with some weapons. Jones, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Jon Baldwin and Torrey Smith could all be options depending on who leaves early for the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Cowboys, Lions, Panthers, Texans 1 Comment

32 reasons why no one in the NFL should want Moss

Cardinals – Need a lot more than one aging receiver to fix their quarterback situation.

Falcons – Why mess up a good thing between Matt Ryan and Roddy White?

Ravens – No room with Boldin, Mason and Housh. Moss would pout, ruin chemistry.

Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick has been pleasantly surprising. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Panthers – Think Moss will be a good soldier on a team competing for the No. 1 pick?

Bears – Lovie and Martz have their hands full already with Jay Cutler in the locker room.

Bengals – T.O.  and Moss in the same locker room? No thanks.

Browns – If Mangini can’t get along with Braylon Edwards, how would Moss fit in?

Cowboys – The last thing they need is another distraction.

Broncos – Do you really think McDaniels will get along with Moss better than Marshall?

Lions – Can you picture Moss accepting role as a No. 2 receiver on a 2-5 team?

Packers – Chemistry on offense seems to be great. Don’t mess it up.

Texans – See above.

Colts – Manning prefers his no-name receivers. And it works just fine for him.

Jaguars – Last place Jags aren’t going anywhere. Don’t waste the money.

Chiefs – Already hold a big lead in a weak division. Why mess with what’s working?

Dolphins – Marshall and Moss is too much ego for any coaching staff to handle.

Vikings – Been there. Done that.

Patriots – Been there. Done that.

Saints – Brees seems to be doing o.k. for himself without an elite receiver.

Giants – Can you picture Moss backing up Nicks and Smith?

Jets – I think they’ve learned their lesson with Braylon Edwards.

Raiders – Been there. Done that.

Eagles – Been there. Done that.

Steelers – After trading Holmes, adding Moss would be a step backwards.

Chargers – Vincent Jackson is back.

49ers – Can you picture Moss being happy in last place in the worst division?

Seahawks – The last thing Mike Williams needs right now is a bad influence.

Rams – Last thing this young, overachieving team needs is a bad influence like Moss.

Bucs – See above.

Titans – Kenny Britt has enough issues to overcome without Moss influencing him.

Redskins – McNabb and T.O. didn’t work. Why would it work with Moss?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bears, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans, Titans, Vikings 1 Comment

5 teams that could trade for Kevin Kolb

The Eagles announced that Michael Vick is their new starting quarterback, essentially ending the Kevin Kolb era after a quarter of football.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb throws a forward pass against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter of NFL football action in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 12, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Has Kolb thrown his last pass in Philly?

But Kolb is just 26 years old and has looked good in limited playing time – enough so that the Eagles traded away Donovan McNabb in the offseason. If Vick is now their starting quarterback for the long term, it would make sense for the Eagles to trade Kolb – and they should probably sooner rather than later to avoid any distractions.

So who might be in the market for a starting quarterback? Here are a few options…

5. Jaguars
The Jaguars likely won’t show an interest in Kolb before the trade deadline, but he could be an option if he is available next offseason. The coaching staff isn’t particularly fond of David Garrard and would likely entertain the idea of trading for a younger signal caller with more upside. That said, I wouldn’t rule them out as an immediate option. If the asking price is right it may be a good way to motivate Garrard while also giving them an insurance policy on the bench.

4. Vikings
The Vikings have every reason to be concerned about their 0-2 start considering the shaky play of Brett Favre. He isn’t the same quarterback from 2009 and he may have finally suffered one to many injuries. The Vikings aren’t going to bench Favre, but trading for Kolb may not be a bad idea if they want an insurance policy. Even if Kolb sat behind Favre for 2010, the job would be his next season.

3. Cardinals
The Cardinals are a logical choice because we know they’re capable of being a contender with the right quarterback. And Derek Anderson likely isn’t that guy. The reason they may not be interested is the fact that Kolb is still an unknown. We know from the 2007 season that Anderson can be a serviceable quarterback in the right system, and once Beanie Wells returns the Cardinals offense may be just fine. But Kolb has only played two full games in his career and the Cardinals may not want to take that risk.

2. Bills
The Bills have already given up on Trent Edwards and are handing the starting duties back to Ryan Fitzpatrick. In another couple weeks when the Bills are 0-6 or 0-7 Brian Brohm will likely get called upon to start. And then when he fails they’ll hand it back over to Edwards, and so on. It’s not a pretty picture in Buffalo, and Kolb could provide some much needed stability.

1. Browns
Cleveland makes the most sense because of their dreadful quarterback situation as well as GM Tom Heckert’s connection to Kolb (he came over from Philly this offseason). In fact, the Browns have already reportedly contacted the Eagles who said that Kolb was not available… at this time, anyway.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Eagles, Jaguars, Vikings Comments Off

10 observations from Week 2 in the NFL

1. Mike Martz is Jay Cutler’s savior. Through two weeks he has looked like the best quarterback in the league. If you’re not buying into the hype, consider this stat from ProFootballFocus.com: when Cutler was blitzed on Sunday, he completed 17 of 24 pass attempts for 198 yards and three touchdowns. That’s efficiency that you will rarely see against one of the more talented defenses in the league.

2. What’s up with all these quarterbacks being benched? If you’re sitting a guy midway through the second game of the season maybe you shouldn’t have started him in the first place. If your team has already made a quarterback switch before fall is officially here, you have every reason to panic.

3. At this rate, I don’t see how Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will survive the season in Cleveland. In each of their first two games the Browns offense has come out of the gate with reasonable success, only to be completely shut down in the 2nd half. It’s as if the Browns just go to the locker room and hang out at halftime while the other team adjusts.

4. Another issue with the Browns offense… how can you not get the ball in the hands of your playmakers? They had Jerome Harrison, Josh Cribbs and Seneca Wallace on the field at the same time for most of the game, and yet they failed to even fake any trick plays. They could have created some nightmare matches for the Chiefs defense with just a little creativity.

5. Derek Anderson did not look good on Sunday, but his offensive line didn’t do him any favors. The Cardinals offensive line allowed two sacks, six hits and 18 pressures! And they only dropped back to pass 33 times! And please, for the sake of Kurt Warner, don’t think that this offensive line got worse since last year. Warner was simply brilliant at avoiding pressure and getting rid of the football.

6. I’m excited to see Jimmy Clausen’s debut on Sunday, but I’m afraid it won’t be pretty. He faces two tough secondaries in each of his first two games – vs Cincinnati, at New Orleans. The Panthers might as well wave the white flag. They’re locked in a battle with the Browns and Bills for the No. 1 pick.

7. The Vikings have every reason to panic. They should add one in the win column this weekend against the Lions, but after that it’s at the Jets, home against the Cowboys, then at Green Bay and at New England. They could lose all four of those games. And they will if Brett Favre doesn’t stop playing like Sage Rosenfels. The Vikings could have gotten this performance for a lot less money if he had stayed retired.

8. The Steelers may be emerging as a favorite in the AFC. They’re 2-0 (two good wins, mind you) while essentially playing without a quarterback. As soon as Roethlisberger returns, this team will be very, very hard to beat.

9. Green Bay’s defense looked absolutely dominant on Sunday (with plenty of help from Trent Edwards). But here’s a fun stat for you courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com – the Bills didn’t target Charles Woodson once the entire game. Not a single pass thrown his direction. Now that’s respect.

10. And I’ll conclude with this… I hope someone in the NFL public relations department is paying close attention to the amount of media coverage being given today to Braylon Edwards and Kenny McKinley. The fact that most media outlets are spending more time talking about Edwards’ DWI and how the Jets will react, than to McKinley’s death is sad.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Browns, Cardinals, Packers, Panthers, Steelers, Vikings Comments Off

NFL players on the trade market: where might they land?

BOURBONNAIS, IL - JULY 30: Greg Olsen  of the Chicago Bears runs past Zack Bowman  after catching a pass during a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 30, 2010 in Bourbonnais, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Olsen may be done in Chicago

Greg Olsen
Mike Martz tried to embrace Olsen, essentially a wide receiver in a tight end’s body, but Martz just doesn’t have use for those guys in his system. As a result, he’s reportedly on the trade market. Here are a few teams that could use his services:
1. Panthers – Jeff King is an adequate starter, but offers very little as a receiver. Matt More would welcome the addition of another weapon in the passing game.
2. Chiefs – Leonard Pope and Tony Moeaki have battled for the starting job. Pope has been a disappointment throughout his career. Moeaki, a rookie, has plenty of upside but also has a long injury history. Olsen would provide some stability at the position.
3. Bills – With Shawn Nelson suspended four games, the Bills don’t really have any options at tight end for a quarter of their season. Olsen would provide some immediate help and potentially push Nelson for the starting job once he returns.

Vincent Jackson
1. Rams – This could be a golden opportunity for the Rams to add a true No. 1 receiver for Sam Bradford to work with. He would immediately improve one of the worst receiving corps in the league.
2. Browns – Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was unable to get his passing game to do much of anything last year – in part due to inept quarerbacks, in part due to inept receivers. Jackson would immediately become the best receiver in the AFC North and upgrade what might be the league’s worst passing offense.
3. Seahawks – Pete Carroll and staff are building the Seahawks in an effort to win immediately and the addition of Jackson would be an obvious step in that direction. However, they already have a decent amount of money wrapped up in the position (Branch, Houshmandzadeh).

Matt Leinart
We devoted a full post to Leinart’s possible destinations. Check it out here.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Panthers, Rams, Seahawks Comments Off

Potential landing spots for Matt Leinart

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart stretches during warmups before a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on August 28, 2010.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

It sounds like Leinart may be done in Arizona

Alright, maybe this is a little premature. The Cardinals haven’t cut Matt Leinart yet. Heck, they haven’t even announced who their starting quarterback will be. But its fun to look ahead and wonder where the former top-10 pick may end up. Here are the five most likely destinations:

5. Bills – They already have four incredibly mediocre quarterbacks on the roster, so why take on another? Well they’ve already seen Fitzpatrick, Brohm and Edwards in action and none of them have shown much upside. Perhaps bringing Leinart to Buffalo – the NFL’s Siberia – would get him out of the hot tub and into the film room.

4. Jaguars – Jack Del Rio isn’t particularly fond of David Garrard. Luke McCown is the current backup and appears to have played well enough this summer to make the Jaguars comfortable with him as an option if Garrard went down. But that doesn’t mean Del Rio wouldn’t make a push for the team to sign Leinart, a fellow USC alum, to add another body to the mix fighting Garrard for a starting spot.

3. Texans – Matt Schaub is on the verge of stardom, so Leinart wouldn’t be competing for playing time in Houston. However, Dan Orlovsky is the current backup and Schaub has a fairly extensive injury history. At worst Leinart would be a slight upgrade.

2. Giants – With Jim Sorgi headed to the IR, the Giants are left with Rhett Bomar as their backup. Bomar is a developmental prospect who likely isn’t ready to see an NFL field. Leinart would be a significant upgrade and give them adequate insurance behind Manning.

1. Bears – The Bears have asked (and begged) every available veteran quarterback to come replace Caleb Hanie as Jay Cutler’s backup. Perhaps Leinart will finally be the man for the job.

What? No Seahawks? Here’s my reasoning: who knows Leinart better than any coach other than Ken Whisenhunt? Pete Carroll. He is all too well aware of the lifestyle that Leinart leads and knows that that isn’t what it takes to win the NFL. He’s content with his combo of Hasselbeck and Whitehurst. It’s unlikely that they would bring Leinart aboard just to compete for a backup job which wouldn’t even be guaranteed.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Bills, Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Seahawks, Texans Comments Off

Ten guys who should be looking over their shoulder

10. Greg Olsen
Mike Martz says he’s committed to Olsen, but he shouldn’t get too comfortable. Martz traditionally doesn’t utilize the tight end and prefers to rely on them as blockers. Olsen is an adequate blocker but he’s no Brandon Manumaleuna, who’s waiting in the wings to take snaps away.

9. Matt Leinart
The Cardinals will be patient with Leinart, but if they’re in contention and he’s not getting the job done, Derek Anderson will be called upon. Leinart has all the skills necessary to be an elite quarterback, but the work ethic just hasn’t been there. Maybe this is the year it all clicks.

8. Nate Clements
Clements was benched briefly last season, less than three years into his monster contract in San Francisco. He’s firmly on the hot seat once again, but luckily for him the 49ers secondary is extremely thin. Given the size of his contract though, the 49ers may be quick to cut ties with him if he fails to perform up to expectations.

7. James Harrison
Two years removed from Defensive Player of the Year honors, the clock is ticking loudly for the 32 year old Harrison. His starting position may not be in jeopardy yet but he’ll likely start to lose snaps to rookie Jason Worilds, who is being groomed as his replacement.

6. Chad Clifton
The 34-year-old Clifton returns for another season in Green Bay, but 1st-round pick Byran Bulaga is breathing down his neck. The starting job belongs to Clifton for now, but at the first sign of struggles Bulaga could get the call.

5. Albert Haynesworth
Haynesworth and Mike Shanahan haven’t exactly gotten off on the right foot, making him an obvious addition to the list. The only reason he isn’t higher is the fact that an adequate replacement isn’t readily available. The decline in talent from Haynesworth to Jeremy Jarmon, Ma’ake Kemoeatu or Darrion Scott is significant.

4. Jake Delhomme
Since returning to the NFL in 1999, only one Browns quarterback has started 16 games (Tim Couch, 2001) and Delhomme isn’t likely to join the list. Browns fans will be calling for Seneca Wallace (or even Colt McCoy) after every interception.

3. Darren Sharper
For much of the offseason it looked as though the Saints weren’t even interested in bringing Sharper back for another season. It now looks as though he’ll be playing in New Orleans, but his job may not be safe. 2009 1st-round pick Malcolm Jenkins has switched over to free safety and should see significant playing time, even if it is in a reserve role.

Nov 1, 2009; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman (56) celebrates after a tackle in the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers defeated the Raiders 24-16. Photo via Newscom

If he doesn't return to form, it could be "lights out" for Merriman in San Diego

2. Brandon Jacobs
The Giants have become frustrated with Jacobs, who seems to have worn down faster than the average running back. He’s 28 years old and is coming off a disappointing season in which he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Ahmad Bradshaw, who has averaged 5.2 yards per carry for his career, could steal away a significant chuck of his carries this season.

1. Shawne Merriman
Health issues and a steroid suspension have derailed Merriman’s once promising career. After missing nearly the entire 2008 season, Merriman totaled just four sacks in 14 games in 2009. The Chargers expect to compete for a Super Bowl title this season, so they’ll waste no time turning over Merriman’s duties to 2009 1st-round pick Larry English if necessary.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bears, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Giants, Packers, Redskins, Saints, Steelers Comments Off

Training Camp Preview: Cardinals

Biggest Question Mark: Matt Leinart
Leinart has all the talent to be an elite quarterback. Since DraftAce launched in 2004, he remains the highest-rated quarterback I’ve scouted and I stand by everything I said about him at the time. But what I, nor anyone else, expected was his lack of work ethic. In hindsight it makes sense, he partied it up at USC and continued in Arizona. With Kurt Warner gone, it’s time for Leinart to grow up and finally live up to his potential.

TEMPE, AZ - MAY 2 :  Cody Brown #52 of the Arizona Cardinals participates in a drill during a team minicamp at the team training facility on May 2, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Willey/Getty Images)

Cody Brown could crack the Cards' starting lineup

Position Battle to Watch: Outside Linebacker
With Chike Okeafor and Bertrand Berry gone, the Cardinals defense will have a different look. Joey Porter and Clark Haggans enter training camp as the favorites, but 2009 2nd-round pick Cody Brown will be fighting for a job. He suffered a broken wrist in training camp last season and missed the entire year. If he can stay healthy, he’ll push Haggans for the starting role.

Impact Rookie: Dan Williams
Williams won’t win rookie of the year because nose tackles don’t generate much attention, but he may prove to be the most valuable rookie this season. He’ll be expected to start from day one. If he lives up to expectations, the Cardinals will have one of the most dominant defensive lines in the game with Williams, Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cardinals 2 Comments

10 Underachievers that must step up in 2010

10. Aaron Curry – LB – Seahawks
It’s tough to  say a rookie underachieved, but Curry entered the league as a can’t-miss prospect. His 2009 season was a disappointment from day one. He started 12 games for the Seahawks and played nearly every snap when he was healthy, but just never produced. Making the transition from the ACC to the NFL certainly wasn’t aided by the sinking ship that was the Seattle Seahawks in 2009. The new regime has no allegiances to him, meaning he’ll have to earn his job in 2010 and the expectations will be very high.

9. Charlie Johnson – OT – Colts
Maybe this isn’t the right list for Johnson, because no one has really ever expected much from him. But he remains the starting left tackle for one of the league’s best quarterbacks, and with that comes the expectation of success. Johnson was a liability last season, especially in the Super Bowl when he allowed one hit and three pressures. As Manning gets older, protecting him becomes more important and Johnson needs to prove he can step up the challenge.

8. Jonathan Vilma – LB – Saints
Vilma was the Saints best linebacker in 2009, but that’s not saying much. They’ve since parted ways with Scott Fujita and failed to find an adequate replacement. Vilma will need to continue to improve in order to make up for the deficiencies at outside linebacker in New Orleans.

7. Levi Brown – OT – Cardinals
Brown’s poor play was masked by Kurt Warner’s pocket presence the past few seasons, but his sloppy play must stop now that Matt Leinart is under center. He’ll be asked to anchor the Cardinals patchwork offensive line and finally live up to expectations.

6. Amobi Okoye – DT – Texans
Drafted as a 19-year-old in 2007, Okoye was supposed to be an instant terror on the Texans’ interior defensive line. Instead, Okoye has been a liability against the run and  rarely made an impact as a pass rusher. He registered just two sacks and five hits in 2009, numbers that much improve if he’s to avoid a bust label in his 4th season in the league.

5. LaRon Landry – S – Redskins
Landry was supposed to be the leader of the Redskins’ secondary in the post-Sean Taylor era. He’s made his presence felt in run support, but he’s struggled to adjust to the speed of the NFL passing game. He is stiff in coverage and is often caught out of position. The Redskins have remained committed to him, but his days could be numbered if he doesn’t impress the new regime early on.

4. Derrick Johnson – LB – Chiefs
Johnson was a college legend at Texas, but his transition to the NFL has been a tough one. He’s never lived up to expectations in Kansas City and he could be getting his last chance in 2010. Romeo Crennel will look to him to step up as a starter at inside linebacker and he’ll need to perform if the Chiefs have a chance to rebound from a miserable defensive performance in 2009.

3. Darren McFadden – RB – Raiders
McFadden was supposed to have an Adrian Peterson-like impact and help turn around the Raiders fortunes. Instead, he’s struggled to hold off Michael Bush and Justin Fargas for the starting job in Oakland. McFadden needs to finally live up expectations before the Raiders send him packing along with JaMarcus Russell.

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03: Quarterback Matt Leinart #7 of the  Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at  the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Glendale,  Arizona. The Packers defeated the Cardinals 33-7. (Photo by Christian  Petersen/Getty Images)
The bust label is ready to be slapped on Leinart if he doesn’t step up in 2010

2. Matt Forte – RB – Bears
After a memorable rookie season Forte suffered a brutal sophomore slump. Mike Martz likes to incorporate his running back into the passing game as much as any offensive coordinator, which could mean Forte is due for a breakout season. We should get a good idea for how much Martz trusts Forte based on how they use him in training camp and in preseason games.

1.Matt Leinart  – QB – Cardinals
All eyes will be on Leinart early this season. He has the physical tools to be an elite quarterback, but he just hasn’t put in the effort to live up to expectations. Perhaps the light bulb has finally gone off now that Warner is gone and he’s been given his last chance to succeed in Arizona. Derek Anderson will be breathing down his neck, pushing Leinart every step of the way.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Cardinals, Chiefs, Colts, Raiders, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Texans 1 Comment