NFL Betting Trends at Sportsbook

NFL LIVE BETTING BLOG, ODDS & TRENDS

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Bullish Options Plays [2-4 Month Horizon]

Bullish Options Plays [2-4 Month Horizon]
This post covers 4 Bullish Option Plays across various industries.
Criteria for selecting Bullish Options Plays:
  • 500MM + Market Cap
  • Average Daily Volume 5MM +
  • Uptrend detected
Using these criteria, I have curated a basket of plays. The time frame of these options are 3-6 months out, to avoid Theta burn and maximize ITM potential. The beauty of these plays is that the stock only needs to move up a few % to be profitable, with a long time horizon as a hedge. Close the position within 2-4 months to minimize theta and maximize delta opportunity.
1) Wells Fargo $WFC [BANKING]
Wells just got hammered after an expected poor earnings. This makes it a prime candidate for upward movement.
Bullish Wells Fargo Case:
Wells has a history of prudent underwriting, and we are probably closer than not to a turn in the credit cycle.
Wells Fargo's retail branch structure, advisory network, product offerings, and share in small and medium-size enterprises is difficult to duplicate, ensuring that the company's competitive advantage is maintained.
Wells offers the scale advantages of a money center bank without the risks and volatility associated with extensive capital markets operations.
Wells Fargo Profile, from my personal research platform
Meets Criteria?

  • 500MM + Market Cap [99B]
  • Average Daily Volume 5MM + [46M]
  • Uptrend detected [Bounced off 52Wk Low as support]
  • **Within 10% of 52 Week Low [52 Week Low was $22, WFC is trading at $24.14]
$WFC Overlay with $JPM - The charts are nearly identical
As a big 4 bank, it is impossible for the Fed to allow WFC to go down. They have a good balance sheet, with a P/E ratio of 8.9, down from 11. The lower P/E ratio alone will bring in more long-term investors. If that isn't enough to make you comfortable, WFC offers a whopping 8% dividend yield, making it even more attractive.
This is an attractive investment for both options and stocks.
Let's take a look at options on $WFC, which I found using my unusual options scanner:
Big Bullish bets for October 16 2020, 2 days after their next earnings.
More Bullish Bets on WFC for October 16 2020
These huge bets range from $25 to $30, 3 months down the line. This averages to a $2.5, or 11% increase over the next 3 months. With this information, I propose:
WFC $27.50c Oct 16 2020, trading at $1.30 at time of writing. 24% Probability ITM.
WFC $30c Oct 16 2020, trading $0.79 at time of writing. 16% Probability ITM.
I am currently invested in $WFC stock, and hold the $30 Oct 16 Calls.
2) Twitter $TWTR [Technology]
Twitter is poised to dominate with its huge reach and rumored subscription platform for content creators. Source:
https://www.theverge.com/2020/7/8/21317266/twitter-subscription-platform-codename-gryphon-job-listing
This is a buy the rumor, sell the news play. I anticipate Twitter announcing this platform in the next 3 months.
Bullish Twitter Case:
Investments in product enhancements and video content could return the monthly active user growth rate to the double digits.
The deal with the NFL to live-stream Thursday night games and provide a platform for interaction and conversation about the games may attract more premium content providers to use the Twitter platform.
Growth in ad revenue per user remains strong at Twitter, more than offsetting the deceleration in user growth.
Twitter Profile, from my personal research platform
Meets Criteria?
  • 500MM + Market Cap [27B]
  • Average Daily Volume 5MM + [30M]
  • Uptrend detected [Strong upward trend since March]
$TWTR Overlay with $FB - the charts are nearly identical
The value that $TWTR and $FB lost due to lack of advertiser revenue has been recouped. The arrival of a subscription service is very bullish, because more and more people are looking to make money online since being laid off by COVID - Twitter's reach makes it incredibly well positioned to solve this problem. Subscriptions made $MSFT and $AAPL cash cows, expect the same for $TWTR.
This is an attractive investment for both options and stocks.
Let's take a look at options on $TWTR, which I found using my unusual options scanner:
Huge Bullish $TWTR bets for Jan 15, 2021
Huge Bullish $TWTR bets for Jan 15, 2021
Huge Bullish $TWTR bets for Jan 15, 2021
These bets were placed BEFORE COVID, and $TWTR is trading at the same price as when these were placed. The strikes range from $40 to $60, 6 months down the line. Taking a Strike of $40, that is 15% OTM of the current price. If they announce the platform within the next 6 months (I predict they will), the stock will explode.
With this information, I propose:
TWTR $40c Dec 18 2020, trading at $3.25 at time of writing. 28% Probability ITM.
TWTR $40c Jan 15 2020, trading $3.45 at time of writing. 29% Probability ITM.
Buying $40 Jan 15 2020 Calls are only $20 more for an extra month. Look to close these after their earnings next quarter, when they will likely announce the subscription platform.
I am currently invested in $TWTR stock, and hold the $40 Dec 18 Calls.
3) Southwest Airlines $LUV [AIRLINES]
Warren Buffet and COVID have caused investors to turn a nose up at airline stocks. I don't blame them - the uncertainty will affect airlines more than most other industries. That said, don't miss this opportunity to profit off Southwest Airlines, as they have the best balance sheet in the industry.
Bullish Southwest Airlines Case:
Southwest enjoys the strongest brand in the industry thanks to its simple fare prices, free checked bags, and solid customer service. This brand equity will enable it to continue growing faster than peers and support unit revenue.
Mergers among Southwest's competitors will engender pricing power for the airlines, and oil prices will remain low for longer, boosting Southwest's top and bottom lines.
Southwest's aggressive expansion will continue, driving growth at the carrier.
Southwest Airlines Profile, from my personal research platform
Meets Criteria?
  • 500MM + Market Cap [20B]
  • Average Daily Volume 5MM + [15M]
  • Uptrend detected [Strong upward trend since June]
$LUV Overlay with $AAL and $DAL - Delta and American have been hit worse than Southwest for a reason.
$LUV is performing better than its competitors, with higher lows and higher highs when comparing the charts. With the best balance sheet, its exposure to oil has been proven to be overcome since the whole oil futures fiasco. They have been prepped for the second wave and are most likely to weather the storm out of all the airlines.
My options scanner did not find any significant options data for $LUV.
I propose:
LUV $40c Dec 18 2020, trading at $3.05 at time of writing. 25% Probability ITM.
LUV $40c Jan 15 2020, trading $3.40 at time of writing. 26% Probability ITM.
I am currently invested in $LUV stock.
4) Ericsson $ERIC [Telecommunications Equipment]
With growing tensions between the US and China, it is unlikely Huawei will be allowed to provide 5G infrastructure. The UK just announced that Huawei will NOT be providing 5G infrastructure, so Ericsson is poised to seize a huge market share.
Bullish Ericsson case:
Income sources could diversify as licensing revenue from 5G patents may grow through applications outside of Ericsson's handset manufacturer agreements.
5G may afford Ericsson a longer spending cycle and higher equipment demand than previous wireless generations. Additionally, 5G should create more use cases for Ericsson's software and services within Internet of Things device networks.
Ericsson's turnaround measures are happening at an opportune time. Management's focused strategy should expand operating margins while 5G infrastructure spending increases top-line results.
Ericsson Profile, from my personal research platform
Meets Criteria?
  • 500MM + Market Cap [29B]
  • Average Daily Volume 5MM + [13M]
  • Uptrend detected [Strong upward trend since March, even stronger after UK Huawei announcement]
$ERIC Overlay with $NOK - Both stocks are strongly trending upward, with almost 100% gains since march.
$ERIC is poised to bank on 5G since Huawei is being punished in retaliation to Chinese handling of Hong Kong. Expect more growth as infrastructure expands and Apple announces their 5G line this fall. Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/apple-iphone-12-rumors-5g-release-camera-specs-2019-6
My options scanner did not find any significant options data for $ERIC.
I propose:
ERIC $11 Nov 20 2020, trading at $0.50 at time of writing. 25% Probability ITM.
I am no longer invested in $ERIC stock - truly kicking myself for selling, because I had a great cost basis a year ago. Regardless, I am picking up these calls.
Conclusion
Based on my research, $WFC, $TWTR, $LUV, and $ERIC are poised for big gains over the next 2 quarters. All the plays have a 25% chance of being ITM, but do not need to be ITM to be extremely profitable.
TL,DR:
WFC $27.50c Oct 16 2020, trading at $1.30 at time of writing. 24% Probability ITM.
WFC $30c Oct 16 2020, trading $0.79 at time of writing. 16% Probability ITM.
TWTR $40c Dec 18 2020, trading at $3.25 at time of writing. 28% Probability ITM.
TWTR $40c Jan 15 2020, trading $3.45 at time of writing. 29% Probability ITM.
LUV $40c Dec 18 2020, trading at $3.05 at time of writing. 25% Probability ITM.
LUV $40c Jan 15 2020, trading $3.40 at time of writing. 26% Probability ITM.
ERIC $11 Nov 20 2020, trading at $0.50 at time of writing. 25% Probability ITM.
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I Can Make You Hot!: The Supermodel Diet (by Kelly Killoren Bensimon) -- Part Two

I hope you all have taken full advantage of the past 48 hours or so to regain some sense of normalcy after our adventures through Part 1 of Kelly Killoren Bensimon's I Can Make You Hot! Without further ado, Part Two:
I resume my journey through the truly incomprehensible mind of Kelly Bensimon with a chapter entitled, "Thursday: Tricks of My Trade." Now that we've learned about the basic building blocks of hotness, Kelly promises to share even more hard-earned advice to help us really kick things up a notch. And, as she reassures us:
I'm actually glad for the mistakes I've made because anyone who doesn't make mistakes doesn't learn, and if you don't learn, you're boring!
And if you're boring, you're not HOT! I think I'm starting to get the hang of this!
One of Kelly's most important life lessons came at her first horse show, when she made an unbelievably devastating misstep: "I decided to have an egg on a bagel from the food-service van." What kind of unimaginable ripple effects did this poor decision set off? I continue on to learn that Kelly "did all right in the competition." And…that's literally the whole story. Kelly legitimately refers to this as "one of my biggest lessons," as it taught her "to never eat more than I normally would." If life-changing breakthroughs were this easily sparked in my own life, I can't even begin to imagine how self-actualized I would be at this point.
At this point in my reading, I have reached the book's first insert, which contains about a dozen glossy color photos from various phases of Kelly's life. Unfortunately, I am far too preoccupied by this picture, in which a carefree, wind-swept Kelly clenches her infant daughter under one arm with all the grace of an NFL wide receiver, to pay the rest of the spread much mind.
We continue on as Kelly introduces new dimensions to the basic tips she's previously introduced. For example, you may have had some vague idea that water was important, but Kelly -- always there to help us learn and improve -- digs into the specifics to make sure we're up to date on the HOTtest tricks of the trade:
Staying hydrated is important no matter what you're doing, so I always try to drink eight glasses or about a liter of water a day. Soda isn't water. Coffee isn't water. Water is water. Drink throughout the day; don't try to get it all down at once. You wouldn't drown an orchid, so don't drown yourself.
I am putting in my formal request for a Public Service Announcement in this format, but using the last line of that passage. Also, Kelly clearly does not know how poorly I tend to my houseplants.
The next page informs us that, "hot isn't just caliente; it's also spicy and sultry." Kelly promptly launches into yet another list of miscellaneous grocery items, this time focused specifically on "red-hot foods." Except it includes entries like "popcorn with sugar and cinnamon," and "Mike and Ike candy," so I'm not convinced Kelly didn't just lose track of the thread entirely by the time we got a few items in. However, this does seem like an appropriate time to introduce this picture, from the book's second photo insert, which clearly depicts the sleep paralysis demon that has haunted my dreams for the past several nights. We're also treated to this chapter's first "hot button issue" panel, in which Kelly pulls back the curtain on the shadowy, pro-salt cabal trying to control us all with their anti-sodium legislative agenda:
We keep reading about how bad sodium is for our health, but if you eat fresh foods that you prepare yourself, you can determine and control the amount of salt you want to use. I, Kelly Killoren Bensimon, am perfectly capable of deciding how much salt I want to put on my food. I don't need anyone else to salt my food for me. I know that the amount of salt I choose to sprinkle on my food is not going to hurt me.
I read on to find a two-page spread in which Kelly expounds, in rhapsodic praise to rival that of Song of Solomon, upon her ardor for her beloved dehydrator -- "I though I was in love with coffee, but now I think my dehydrator is my truest love." Most of the passage is taken up by an unstructured list of the various things Kelly has attempted to dehydrate ("cucumber," "mangoes," "avocado") but she does manage to squeeze in a few infomercial-ready lines -- "Really, you should buy one; I promise you won't be sorry."
Since repetition is the key to reinforcing new concepts, I appreciate that Kelly's next list (of "a few more lean tricks I've learned along the way") repeats a note she originally relayed to us just a few pages ago:
Drink water throughout the day (not all at one sitting).
She's also been thoughtful enough to provide a list of resources for us to use as we soldier on along the perilous journey to HOT. After all, as Kelly says, "I don’t expect you to carry this book wherever you go -- as much as I would love that." As someone who has never before ventured into the wild world of cyberspace, I really appreciated Kelly introducing me to so many fun, useful websites that I might want to check out! In case you, too, just haven't figured out how to navigate this whole Internet thing, I've included a few examples below:
www.amazon.com
One-stop shopping for just about any book, periodical, or product you might want to read or buy in order to get HOT.

www.espn.com
Everything you need to know to stay up to date on any sport.

www.webmd.com
Useful, up-to-date, trustworthy information on medical and health issues.

www.yummly.com
Claims to have "every recipe in the world"
Can't wait to check these out later! That Amazon one sounds super cool!
I'm reminded quickly just how inelegant the transitions in this book are as we move directly from that list into the following:
I suggest that you take a picture of yourself every day…Some days when you're feeling your fattest, you may be surprised to see that you really look great.
Okay, so fat is NOT HOT. Except being comfortable in your body is HOT. And trying to be skinny is NOT HOT. But being skinny is HOT. Thank goodness I still have a few more chapters to go -- I clearly still have a ways to go before I truly understand the logic of HOTness. As it stands, I must admit that I'm a bit baffled.
Of course, returning to the previous bit of advice, Kelly doesn't actually have to worry about taking her own pictures like us plebeians -- "Having been photographed so often has provided me with a permanent retrospective catalogue of my life." The chapter closes with these words of wisdom:
The best kind of vanity is being vain about what you put in your body.
Friday's chapter promises to introduce us to the world of "Hot Couture," and I am excited to see what tips and tricks Kelly has managed to accrue over her lifetime in the cutthroat world of modeling . But first, we abruptly transition to a story about Kelly meeting Madonna shortly after both women had given birth. Kelly had "gained a healthy fifty pounds," which I am led to believe, from the context of the anecdote, is NOT HOT. Madonna, on the other hand, was "flat-stomached" and therefore "HOT and cool." Of course, Kelly reassures us hurriedly that she lost all the weight within the following six weeks and was "actually thinner than I'd been prepregnancy." I am at an utter loss as to what the point of this story could possibly be, but -- blessedly -- Kelly is gracious enough to explain:
So what's the lesson here? That Madonna had personal trainers and chefs to whip her back into shape, and I didn't -- and still don’t. I shouldn't have been comparing myself to her in the first place. My advice to you is: don’t compare yourself to anyone else, only to your own personal best.
This is a perfect example of something Kelly does throughout this book, which is to present a completely reasonable piece of advice (don’t compare yourself to others), but couched within such a bizarre and logically disorganized narrative that by the time I reach the ultimate moral of the story, my brain feels like it's been run through a series of meat grinders, and I'm reduced to just nodding along in bemused acceptance.
We get a "Kelly's Cardinal Rule" reminding us to "let your body be what your body is and be happy with what you've got." I'm starting to wonder if there is some sort of Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde thing going on behind the scenes here, in which two versions of Kelly are frantically grappling over control of the book's body-positivity dial. I'm literally don't even have to flip the page to see Kelly commiserating with us that "we all have days or occasions when we feel fat" and quipping about her "go-to fat outfit." But also:
Stop praying for what you don't have and be grateful for what you've got.
This amount of cognitive dissonance is truly proof that Kelly contains multitudes. Or has recently acquired some sort of debilitating short-term amnesia. Nevertheless, we continue:
But whatever your shape, show it off. Don’t try to hide it. Hiding is not hot.
Kelly next walks us through figuring out which "season" we are, based on the wisdom extolled in "Color Me Beautiful, the groundbreaking book that was so wildly successful in the early 80s." It's no surprise to me that Kelly, who earlier encouraged us to make our lives easier by using our PDAs, finds this to be an exciting new trend to share. Also, in case you weren't aware, "hair color is also important. You can lighten it or darken it or cover the gray." Lighten it or darken it? The boundaries of my mental universe are truly expanding.
Some more fashion tidbits:
Scarves are hippie chic, cool, and always HOT.

If you're narrow, show off how narrow you are with a monochromatic palette.

Ankles are the new cleavage!
Narrow ankles only, I presume. Kelly's selfless, giving nature is highlighted yet again in the following passage, in which she explains:
All these celebrities have stylists who pull the clothes, accessories, and shoes that make them look the way they do. They charge a lot of money for what they do, so why not get some free advice based on my experience.
And what, pray tell, is this coveted advice that Kelly is so lovingly sharing with her readers, free of charge?
  1. Save sweatpants for the gym.
  2. Save PJs for the bedroom.
  3. Dress as if you were the boss.
  4. Remember what Carrie Bradshaw says: "Nothing is casual anymore, even when it says so on the invitation."
  5. Manolo Blahniks are a girl's best friend.
Okay, so far be it from me to complain about the quality of free advice. But. Out of the five pearls of wisdom that make up the "KKBStyle Rules," two of them are rudimentary instructions to wear somewhat-situationally-appropriate clothing, and the other three are the kind of cute sayings that you would find on a piece of poorly bedazzled wall art in the clearance aisle of your local TJMaxx. I'm not impressed.
Kelly next tells us how important it is to eat well and exercise, even "when you're premenstrual or having your period." That way, as she continues on, "you'll feel better because your endorphins will be flowing while your body is sloughing off unwanted endometrium and mucus." To be fair, Unwanted Endometrium does sound like a sick band name.
Thankfully, the mental image of Kelly's mucus slough is promptly booted from my mind by a careening diatribe about the color red (HOT!):
I even painted my nails red the minute I started writing this book. I wanted to see my short red nails tapping away on my Macbook Pro. Almost every red dress is smokin' HOT, and I've never met a guy who doesn't think a woman in a red dress isn't hot. He's a liar if he denies it.
To repeat, Kelly says she's "never met a guy who doesn’t think a woman in a red dress isn't hot." Poor dear got a bit carried away with her negatives, but I'm sure she'll redeem herself in no time:
When I was sitting in the front row of a Marc Jacobs fashion show a few years ago, I wore a full, red short skirt, a tight red sweater, and red open-toed shoes. One of the editors from The New York Times was sitting across from me, and as we were waiting for the show to begin I kept crossing and recrossing my legs to make him laugh.
Sure, Kelly. To make him laugh. I can only assume she must have written some kind of hilariously clever joke on the gusset of her underwear to have had this editor so tickled pink red.
It was a long wait and after a while some guy I didn't know who was at the other end of the row, leapt towards me and screamed that he was obsessed with my feet. How crazy is it that red open-toed shoes and red toenails could create such a reaction. Red is HOT, even stalker HOT. Yikes!
I'm not clear where "stalker HOT" fits into this whole complex web, but it's reassuring to know that a wise soul like Kelly has such a nuanced appreciation of all of the different ways to be hot. She also gives us some "HOT tips for heating up your image." Like,
Put on a pair of jeans and a white tee shirt.

Put your hair in a ponytail.

Put on a pair of hoop earrings.
And also
Wear your jeans a size smaller instead of a size larger.
For some reason not entirely clear to me at this moment, wearing jeans in your actual size does not seem to be an option.
The chapter continues with a reminder to "remember what's on top of your head!"
There's nothing hotter than a HOT head of hair (unless it's a hunky bald guy).
Kelly follows up by offering a list of what she calls "HOT healthy options." Based on the preceding paragraph, you might assume that these tips would have something to do with haircare and hair styling. However, you would be wrong. Instead, we're instructed to:
Enjoy as much watermelon as you like.

Pack a picnic lunch of dehydrated fruit, chamomile iced tea, and mini pizzas made with corn tortillas, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Eat your picnic in the park.

Come up with something fun you want to try and do it!
Personally, it seems like a bit of a cop-out to make one of the items on your list of fun things to do "make up your own fun thing to do." But who knows? Maybe cop-outs are HOT!
Before my faith in our fearless leader starts to waver, however, I read on through the end of the chapter, and my surety is promptly restored:
Besides my hair and my legs, the one thing people always ask me about the way I look is how I keep my teeth so white. And yes, that's also a matter of genetics. I'm blessed with the whitest teeth on the planet, and, no, I've never had them professionally bleached.
The weekend begins as I turn the page to the penultimate chapter -- "Saturday: Heat Up Your HOT Image with Healthy Options Today." Saturdays, as Kelly tells us, are for fun activities. For example:
If you're in the mall, go to different stores and figure out which looks will make you HOT. Ask other shoppers for advice.
Also:
Parks are great for people-watching. Who looks fit and healthy?
I sincerely hope that any and all of my friends would give me a stern talking-to if I informed them that my weekend plans consisted of going to a park and…pointing out people I think aren't healthy enough?
Kelly then warns us against overindulging on late-night snacks or alcoholic beverages, lest we wake up Sunday feeling "bloating, sluggish, and with deep regrets." Presumably, Kelly then proceeded to rail a massive line of cocaine and hammer out the following frenetic spiel:
You're not going to get fat from having a few drinks a week. You will get fat if your routine is to drink, eat late, and then lie around watching television the next day, eating and making bad food choices. Going out is fun, but when you sacrifice the next day, it's never fun enough. Don't have regrets; enjoy every day. This is a life plan, and yesterday isn't coming back ever again.
The chapter comes to a close with a reminder to "wrap up every day with a great big bow and be ready for your next adventure. But before we close out our week of HOT, we're provided with what I anticipate will be an incredibly useful reference material for us all, the "KKBfit HOT Quiz." If you'd like to take the quiz yourself, you can find it here. However, I'm not entirely sure I would classify it as a "quiz," since it seems to be mostly a set of questions followed by Kelly's feedback on various possible responses. For example:
  1. How Kelly Green are you?
I had a Kelly Green Juice -- Wasn't it yummy?
I had a smoothie from the health food store with a splash of spinach -- Great choice!
I had kale chips, spinach, and quinoa for dinner last night -- I bet you woke up feeling great this morning!
Other?
I presume that the lack of response after the "Other?" choice is supposed to represent Kelly staring at me in deranged disappointment for a few painfully protracted seconds. Some questions, like the one above, don't seem to have any wrong answers at all. In contrast, other questions have clear wrong answers, which Kelly wastes no time in making apparent:
  1. Are you getting enough protein? How many days did you eat chicken, fish, or meat for at least one meal?
I had a grilled chicken salad for dinner on three different days -- That's good, but I wish you'd get a little more adventurous in your choices.

  1. How KKBfit are you?
Haven't had a meal since last night, but I'm going to skip breakfast and go on a run. I won't eat anything until lunch. -- Sorry, but starving your body is not KKBfit.

  1. Are you drinking enough?
I drink when I'm exercising but that's about it -- Not good enough! Try harder next week.
The quiz ends, leaving me entirely unsure of whether or not I've actually made any forward progress towards my HOTness goals, but the next page does promise help for those who "still need more inspiration." Here, it seems that Kelly has compiled a loose assortment of quotes, most of which (I have a sneaking suspicion) were found by searching the keyword "hot" on BrainyQuote.com. Also, this masterpiece from Kelly's ex-husband, noted fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon:
HOT--
It is not about the look,
It is not only about the charm,
It is the perfect combination:
Sweet and tough,
Sexy and reserved,
Fragile and powerful,
And definitely smart.
-- Gilles Bensimon
Move over, Rupi Kaur! I hope with every fiber of my being that Gilles Bensimon has published his collected poetry in some kind of volume that I could purchase, read, and have, I'm sure, nothing but positive things to say about. After about a dozen similar quotations, Kelly continues:
Now, as you get ready for Sunday Funday, take a few minutes to think about how you define HOT. Has your definition changed or evolved since you started reading this book? If so, I'm doing my job.
In all honesty, my definition of HOT has definitely been…affected by this experience. So we'll call that a win! Kelly tells us a few stories about times when her friends and family members have come to her for guidance on how to be hot. She explains:
I'm not the food police, but I've made myself the Sven-arbiter (as opposed to Svengali) of what's HOT and what's not.
Case in point:
It's just not hot to belong to the clean plate club.
The chapter closes with a list titled "Why Don't You," which I believe is supposed to be a list of fun activities we can try during a Sunday Funday. Or possibly a list of terrible life hacks for stoned college freshmen:
Use an electric teapot as a clothing steamer.

Make grilled cheese sandwiches or press wraps using a hot clothes iron.
There are very few things sadder to me that imagining someone taking Kelly up on this last bit of advice as a fun way to liven up what must be the most preternaturally boring existence possible. If your idea of fun is white bread and Kraft Singles getting slowly warmed over on your clothing iron, I can only imagine the fit of hysterics that you'd be thrown into by a passable Minions meme.
And that brings us to the end of the week. But not -- lucky you! -- to the end of this book. Au contraire -- the remaining 100 pages or so of I Can Make You Hot! feature dozens of unique recipes from the culinary mind of none other than the indomitable Kelly Bensimon herself. In her intro, however, she makes it clear that
No one on earth would ever call me a chef.
Of course not, Kelly -- they'd call you a cook. Otherwise, it's creepy.
This portion of the book begins, reasonably enough, with Breakfasts. These include such thoughtfully named delicacies as "My Favorite Cereal" and "My Favorite Pancakes." The recipe for the latter begins with the following introduction:
I'm not the greatest pancake maker, and I probably never will be. But what I am very good at is thinking of unusual things and doing them.
Frankly, I can't argue with that. As she continues:
When in pancake doubt, have fun, add fruit, and see if pancakes can be a vehicle for creating great memories for your family.
Next time I'm in pancake doubt, I'll know just what to do! We move right along into the Soups and Salads section, and are promptly introduced to Kelly's "Jimmy Achoo's Chicken Soup." Which is apparently a play on Jimmy Choo and also described by Kelly as "filled with veggie exploitation," which sounds terrifying. Of the next recipe, "Rich and Skinny Cauliflower Soup with Kale Chips," Kelly reflects:
I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Internet. I wish I could tell you exactly where, but I can't.
The recipe calls for kale chips, which Kelly goes out of her way to inform us can be purchased "at health food stores and many well-stocked supermarkets." We also get a few general "HOT salad tips" that can be applied to many of the recipes throughout this book, such as
There are so many different types of lettuces available today! Try different ones to see which you like best
and
When you order a salad in a restaurant, ask for the dressing on the side. You're a grown-up and you should get to decide how much you want to use.
With that under our belts, the grown-ups among us move on to "Meat, Chicken, and Fish." In her recipe for "Grilled Rib Eye with Herbes de Provence", Kelly tells us about meeting the famous chef who inspired this dish:
When I met Eric, who was still in his thirties at the time, he still had dark hair. I was caught off guard because I thought all chefs were older, had gray hair, and smelled like garlic.
So perhaps Bethenny should have taken it as a compliment? Kelly continues,
He's since invited me many times to go into his kitchen and cook with him, but my fear of losing a finger by being overzealous has prohibited me from accepting.
It's unclear to me exactly what this means or why Kelly would even be particularly worried about this possibility. Does she have habit of excitedly snatching vegetables out from other people's knives? Does Eric have a reputation for slicing anyone who dares to get in his way? Before I make any headway with this particular mystery, we're introduced to the next recipe, the "Pencil-Thin Skirt Steak." As we learn, "Everyone looks slim in a pencil skirt, so it's only fitting that skirt steak is one of the leanest cuts of beef you can buy." We get a recipe for "Sultry Roast Chicken" in which Kelly shares with us that "in fact, chicken without ginger doesn't taste like chicken to me anymore." This would be more believable if we weren't, a mere two pages later, introduced to a notably ginger-free recipe for "Second-Chance Chicken." As Kelly explains,
I hate the idea of leftovers. To me, eating leftovers means you're too lazy to start over, and I've never wanted my girls to think that we weren't starting fresh.
In the introduction to the recipe for "Bad Girl Wings," Kelly gives us yet another poignant insight into her life as a mother:
These chicken wings are Sea's favorite. I'm sure she loves them because she knows I love wings (she's a cutie like that).
It would obviously be ludicrous to assume that Sea actually enjoys chicken wings authentically. Much more likely that she just loves them because Kelly does. HOT! In a segment labeled "hasta la vista taco bell," Kelly recounts a traumatic experience in which she "discovered that my favorite food choices [at Taco Bell] added up to 580 calories." To me, this seems like a perfectly reasonable amount of calories for one daily meal out of three, but according to Kelly, I am embarrassingly off the mark. Rather, she sighs, "I guess that means my Taco Bell days are over -- unless I decide to chance [sic] Sunday Funday into Fatso Food Day." Not HOT.
Kelly tells us about the creative process behind the development of the next recipe, "Spicy Sultry Shrimp and Mango Stir-Fry" (which, for the record, is the second recipe to have the word "sultry" in its title).
This was one of the first dishes I made when I started to cook -- as a science experiment. My "method" was to think of foods I loved and which ones I thought would go well together.
Fascinating! Think of ingredients you like and combine them into a dish that you will then likely also like! The next recipe, for "Kelly's Kalamari," features the following introduction:
I still love fried calamari, but it doesn't love me. Whenever I eat it, it goes right to my stomach and makes a little pooch -- eww!
As a reminder, this is the same Kelly Bensimon who told us that loving our bodies is HOT and dieting is die + t. But also, eww!
We trek along into the next portion of the recipe book, succinctly titled "Pizza, Pasta, Potatoes, Grains, Vegetables, and Sides." We get a recipe for "Pizzzzzzzza!," which instructs the reader to obtain pizza dough, pizza sauce, mozzerella cheese, salt and pepper. Spread out the dough, add sauce and cheese, and cook! This is yet another time I'm glad Kelly told us early on in this book to take detailed notes -- these kinds of nuanced culinary creations can only come from the mind of a true master.
The same kind of true master who would, as we soon learn, conceive of this particular travesty -- "Pink Pizza." Imagine with me, for a moment, that a dear friend invites you over to their house for dinner. I'm making pizza! they implore you. Come over -- we'll hang out, have a couple beers, catch up on old times! Excited for a chance to relive the glory days, you eagerly accept, only to be met -- upon your arrival -- with this abomination. I thought you said we were having pizza? you sputter nervously. This is pizza, your friend intones, as their eyes slowly fade to black and their hands reach out to wrap themselves around your throat.
Kelly goes on to share a recipe for an "Asian-flavored noodle dish" that she has christened (and it truly pains me to type this), "Me Love You Springtime Noodles." Somewhere, the last ember of hope for humanity quietly fizzles out.
The following recipe, for "Pasta with Oddkavodka Sauce" begins with a warning:
When you make this (especially for children) just be sure you cook off the alcohol so that you aren't serving vodka to minors or have to assign a designated driver for your guests.
This seems like reasonable and conscientious advice. Until I read on and learn that the recipe calls for 1/8 cup vodka, and makes four servings. If your guests need a designated driver after consuming a half-tablespoon of vodka each, I would strongly encourage them to seek medical advice forthwith.
I am reminded once again how different Kelly's and my worlds are with the following exclamation:
Try using quinoa in this recipe instead of the rice -- I call that having your cake and eating it too!
Oh, to live a life in which your most selfish indulgence was quinoa. I suppose this should have prepared me for a few pages later, when Kelly remarks:
Both hummus and guacamole make great toppings for steak or fish. They're my version of béarnaise sauce.
I love hummus. Hummus is great. But there is no possible existing parallel universe in which hummus and béarnaise sauce are interchangeable. One of the final recipes in this section is cryptically titled "Have an Impromptu Pepper Party" and instructs the reader to scoop out the insides of a bell pepper and stuff it with "whatever ingredients suit your fancy." Again, I feel like this fails to meet the definition of an actual recipe, per se, but it is supposedly "quick, fun, and satisfying."
We're nearing the book's end (for real this time) with a section on "Breads and Desserts." This includes an inspirational passage in which Kelly shares a personal anecdote:
On Season 4 of the Real Housewives of New York City, I made a mixed fruit pie for my kids with what was left over in the fruit bowl…Don't be afraid to try new things, make mistakes, and have fun doing it.
I can only hope to someday be brave enough and fearless enough to make a mixed fruit pie.
Blessedly, the final section , titled "Beverages", looks like it might have exactly what I need in the aftermath of finishing this book. The "GIN-Ginger Beertail," for example, which "was originally made with gin, but I don't like serving gin drinks because I think it makes people mean." We also get a recipe for something called "Babylove," which (thankfully) seems unrelated to another of my favorite reality TV cesspools.
It only seems appropriate to share the final recipe of I Can Make You Hot! with all of you. I will definitely be downing approximately seven of these tonight, and I hope some of you will be joining me in spirit. Cheers:
Gummi Bear Martini
If you don't have a paper umbrella handy, Gummi Bears are a great way to put more fun in your drink.
Makes 1 Drink
2 parts orange, grape, or other-flavored vodka
1 part Triple Sec
1 part white grape juice
Splash of cranberry juice
Gummi Bears, as many as you like
Combine the vodka, Triple Sec, grape juice, and cranberry juice in a tall glass. Add ice and fill the glass with Gummi Bears.
ETA: I am so disappointed in myself for forgetting to include that Kelly has a ceviche recipe that instructs you to marinate raw fish in lemon juice for exactly two minutes before serving. In the interest of food safety, perhaps it was for the best that this nugget momentarily slipped my mind, but sharing this information with you all is the burden I have been cursed to bear. 🙏🏼
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Bullish Option Plays for you [Various Industries]

Bullish Option Plays for you [Various Industries]
This post covers 4 Bullish Option Plays across various industries.
Criteria for selecting Bullish Options Plays:
  • 500MM + Market Cap
  • Average Daily Volume 5MM +
  • Uptrend detected
Using these criteria, I have curated a basket of plays. The time frame of these options are 3-6 months out, to avoid Theta burn and maximize ITM potential. The beauty of these plays is that the stock only needs to move up a few % to be profitable, with a long time horizon as a hedge. Close the position within 2-4 months to minimize theta and maximize delta opportunity.
1) Wells Fargo $WFC [BANKING]
Wells just got hammered after an expected poor earnings. This makes it a prime candidate for upward movement.
Bullish Wells Fargo Case:
Wells has a history of prudent underwriting, and we are probably closer than not to a turn in the credit cycle.
Wells Fargo's retail branch structure, advisory network, product offerings, and share in small and medium-size enterprises is difficult to duplicate, ensuring that the company's competitive advantage is maintained.
Wells offers the scale advantages of a money center bank without the risks and volatility associated with extensive capital markets operations.
Wells Fargo Profile, from my personal research platform
Meets Criteria?
  • 500MM + Market Cap [99B]
  • Average Daily Volume 5MM + [46M]
  • Uptrend detected [Bounced off 52Wk Low as support]
  • **Within 10% of 52 Week Low [52 Week Low was $22, WFC is trading at $24.14]
$WFC Overlay with $JPM - The charts are nearly identical
As a big 4 bank, it is impossible for the Fed to allow WFC to go down. They have a good balance sheet, with a P/E ratio of 8.9, down from 11. The lower P/E ratio alone will bring in more long-term investors. If that isn't enough to make you comfortable, WFC offers a whopping 8% dividend yield, making it even more attractive.
This is an attractive investment for both options and stocks.
Let's take a look at options on $WFC, which I found using my unusual options scanner:
Big Bullish bets for October 16 2020, 2 days after their next earnings.
More Bullish Bets on WFC for October 16 2020
These huge bets range from $25 to $30, 3 months down the line. This averages to a $2.5, or 11% increase over the next 3 months. With this information, I propose:
WFC $27.50c Oct 16 2020, trading at $1.30 at time of writing. 24% Probability ITM.
WFC $30c Oct 16 2020, trading $0.79 at time of writing. 16% Probability ITM.
I am currently invested in $WFC stock, and hold the $30 Oct 16 Calls.
2) Twitter $TWTR [Technology]
Twitter is poised to dominate with its huge reach and rumored subscription platform for content creators. Source:
https://www.theverge.com/2020/7/8/21317266/twitter-subscription-platform-codename-gryphon-job-listing
This is a buy the rumor, sell the news play. I anticipate Twitter announcing this platform in the next 3 months.
Bullish Twitter Case:
Investments in product enhancements and video content could return the monthly active user growth rate to the double digits.
The deal with the NFL to live-stream Thursday night games and provide a platform for interaction and conversation about the games may attract more premium content providers to use the Twitter platform.
Growth in ad revenue per user remains strong at Twitter, more than offsetting the deceleration in user growth.
Twitter Profile, from my personal research platform
Meets Criteria?
  • 500MM + Market Cap [27B]
  • Average Daily Volume 5MM + [30M]
  • Uptrend detected [Strong upward trend since March]
$TWTR Overlay with $FB - the charts are nearly identical
The value that $TWTR and $FB lost due to lack of advertiser revenue has been recouped. The arrival of a subscription service is very bullish, because more and more people are looking to make money online since being laid off by COVID - Twitter's reach makes it incredibly well positioned to solve this problem. Subscriptions made $MSFT and $AAPL cash cows, expect the same for $TWTR.
This is an attractive investment for both options and stocks.
Let's take a look at options on $TWTR, which I found using my unusual options scanner:
Huge Bullish $TWTR bets for Jan 15, 2021
Huge Bullish $TWTR bets for Jan 15, 2021
Huge Bullish $TWTR bets for Jan 15, 2021
These bets were placed BEFORE COVID, and $TWTR is trading at the same price as when these were placed. The strikes range from $40 to $60, 6 months down the line. Taking a Strike of $40, that is 15% OTM of the current price. If they announce the platform within the next 6 months (I predict they will), the stock will explode.
With this information, I propose:
TWTR $40c Dec 18 2020, trading at $3.25 at time of writing. 28% Probability ITM.
TWTR $40c Jan 15 2020, trading $3.45 at time of writing. 29% Probability ITM.
Buying $40 Jan 15 2020 Calls are only $20 more for an extra month. Look to close these after their earnings next quarter, when they will likely announce the subscription platform.
I am currently invested in $TWTR stock, and hold the $40 Dec 18 Calls.
3) Southwest Airlines $LUV [AIRLINES]
Warren Buffet and COVID have caused investors to turn a nose up at airline stocks. I don't blame them - the uncertainty will affect airlines more than most other industries. That said, don't miss this opportunity to profit off Southwest Airlines, as they have the best balance sheet in the industry.
Bullish Southwest Airlines Case:
Southwest enjoys the strongest brand in the industry thanks to its simple fare prices, free checked bags, and solid customer service. This brand equity will enable it to continue growing faster than peers and support unit revenue.
Mergers among Southwest's competitors will engender pricing power for the airlines, and oil prices will remain low for longer, boosting Southwest's top and bottom lines.
Southwest's aggressive expansion will continue, driving growth at the carrier.
Southwest Airlines Profile, from my personal research platform
Meets Criteria?
  • 500MM + Market Cap [20B]
  • Average Daily Volume 5MM + [15M]
  • Uptrend detected [Strong upward trend since June]
$LUV Overlay with $AAL and $DAL - Delta and American have been hit worse than Southwest for a reason.
$LUV is performing better than its competitors, with higher lows and higher highs when comparing the charts. With the best balance sheet, its exposure to oil has been proven to be overcome since the whole oil futures fiasco. They have been prepped for the second wave and are most likely to weather the storm out of all the airlines.
My options scanner did not find any significant options data for $LUV.
I propose:
LUV $40c Dec 18 2020, trading at $3.05 at time of writing. 25% Probability ITM.
LUV $40c Jan 15 2020, trading $3.40 at time of writing. 26% Probability ITM.
I am currently invested in $LUV stock.
4) Ericsson $ERIC [Telecommunications Equipment]
With growing tensions between the US and China, it is unlikely Huawei will be allowed to provide 5G infrastructure. The UK just announced that Huawei will NOT be providing 5G infrastructure, so Ericsson is poised to seize a huge market share.
Bullish Ericsson case:
Income sources could diversify as licensing revenue from 5G patents may grow through applications outside of Ericsson's handset manufacturer agreements.
5G may afford Ericsson a longer spending cycle and higher equipment demand than previous wireless generations. Additionally, 5G should create more use cases for Ericsson's software and services within Internet of Things device networks.
Ericsson's turnaround measures are happening at an opportune time. Management's focused strategy should expand operating margins while 5G infrastructure spending increases top-line results.
Ericsson Profile, from my personal research platform
Meets Criteria?
  • 500MM + Market Cap [29B]
  • Average Daily Volume 5MM + [13M]
  • Uptrend detected [Strong upward trend since March, even stronger after UK Huawei announcement]
$ERIC Overlay with $NOK - Both stocks are strongly trending upward, with almost 100% gains since march.
$ERIC is poised to bank on 5G since Huawei is being punished in retaliation to Chinese handling of Hong Kong. Expect more growth as infrastructure expands and Apple announces their 5G line this fall. Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/apple-iphone-12-rumors-5g-release-camera-specs-2019-6
My options scanner did not find any significant options data for $ERIC.
I propose:
ERIC $11 Nov 20 2020, trading at $0.50 at time of writing. 25% Probability ITM.
I am no longer invested in $ERIC stock - truly kicking myself for selling, because I had a great cost basis a year ago. Regardless, I am picking up these calls.
Conclusion
Based on my research, $WFC, $TWTR, $LUV, and $ERIC are poised for big gains over the next 2 quarters. All the plays have a 25% chance of being ITM, but do not need to be ITM to be extremely profitable.
TL,DR:
WFC $27.50c Oct 16 2020, trading at $1.30 at time of writing. 24% Probability ITM.
WFC $30c Oct 16 2020, trading $0.79 at time of writing. 16% Probability ITM.
TWTR $40c Dec 18 2020, trading at $3.25 at time of writing. 28% Probability ITM.
TWTR $40c Jan 15 2020, trading $3.45 at time of writing. 29% Probability ITM.
LUV $40c Dec 18 2020, trading at $3.05 at time of writing. 25% Probability ITM.
LUV $40c Jan 15 2020, trading $3.40 at time of writing. 26% Probability ITM.
ERIC $11 Nov 20 2020, trading at $0.50 at time of writing. 25% Probability ITM.
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Defending the Draft: New England Patriots

Preface
Going into the 2019 season, the Patriots held very high expectations. The defense that had just shut down the high-powered 2018 Rams offense had arguably gotten better. Although the offense had lost Rob Gronkowski, the addition of first-round WR N’Keal Harry and free agent Demaryius Thomas seemed to at least keep their offensive options. Combining this with Sony Michel coming off a successful rookie campaign and 4 of 5 starters of a strong offensive line, with Trent Brown being replaced by 2018 1st round selection Isaiah Wynn, the offensive situation looked optimistic for New England.
As the team progressed through the 2019 preseason and into the season itself, things began to look even better. Although N’Keal Harry injured himself in the first preseason game, the team was eventually informed that Josh Gordon would be reinstated, even being allowed to start Week 1. The defense showed its prowess throughout the preseason, especially against the Lions and Panthers, with the only bad game coming against the Giants, when the Patriots mainly played people at the bottom of the depth chart. To add to New England fans’ excitement, they saw their team sign WR Antonio Brown the night before the team’s debut against the Steelers. As New England embarrassed Brown’s former team 33-3, and then the Dolphins 43-0 it seemed almost inevitable that New England would become the first franchise to win 7 Super Bowls.
However, that was not how the season progressed. Brown couldn’t handle himself even under Belichick’s control, and his decision to threaten the children of one of his accusers of sexual assault found him released from the team. Josh Gordon was injured Week 6 against the Giants, eventually being medically released and later found to have relapsed when he was on the Seahawks. The rest of the offense was riddled with injuries: Julian Edelman had nagging rib injuries, Philip Dorsett hurt his foot early in the year and also sustained a concussion, Mohammed Sanu sustained an ankle injury in his first game, early kick/punt returner Gunner Olsewski was injured in Week 7, Brady himself reportedly struggled with his elbow. The worst effects of injury came against the Offensive Line, as 4 out of the 5 starters sustained some injury, and this is not including the fact that C David Andrews missed the whole season because of pulmonary embolism. The most impactful injury out of this bunch was LT Isaiah Wynn, as the team had to deploy Marshall Newhouse to replace him, a role that Newhouse did not fill adequately, to say the least. Blocking also suffered when FB James Devlin suffered a season ending injury, followed by his backup Jakob Johnson also being put on IR only a few games later. Matt LaCosse and Ben Watson both missed multiple games, forcing the team to only roll with Ryan Izzo at tight end at some times.
These many injuries, as well as a terrible TE corps, not only stunted the passing attack but also crippled the running game. Michel was often met and tackled in the backfield, resulting in a terrible YPC despite being the AFC East’s leading rusher. Despite these offense struggles, the team’s excellent defense performance, in combination with facing many subpar offenses, carried the team to a 12-4 record and the 3rd seed in the AFC. However, the offensive struggles were too great for the team; although the team’s defense held the red-hot Titans offense to 14 points and gave the offense multiple chances to pull ahead, the offense failed to perform when needed, unable to finish drives, even when on Tennessee’s 1-yard line. Sometimes you really do need an offense to win a championship.
Pre-draft
Notable Losses
QB Tom Brady, FA, Buccaneers: The one loss that seemed unthinkable until it really happened. Even though we knew that Brady’s contract voided after this year, many fans thought he was still going to re-sign and finish his career here. However, New England really did not have the cap space to do so and build a satisfactory team around him, causing Brady to decide to sign with the Buccaneers, a team with high offensive potential and has a shot at the super bowl. The Greatest QB of All Time will be missed here in New England, as the team experiences uncertainty at the position for the first time in nearly 20 years.
FB James Devlin, Retirement: When it was announced that it was a neck injury that sidelined Devlin for the rest of the season, his future with the team was in doubt. Once the team signed free agent Dan Vitale, it was almost certain that Devlin would announce his retirement sooner or later. James Devlin was an underrated part of the Pats’ success in the 2010s, where he proved to be a reliable lead blocker, bolstering the effectiveness of New England’s run game. His absence for most of 2019 was palpable as the team consistently struggled establishing a run game, and the Patriots have a tall task of finding an effective replacement for him.
K Stephen Gostkowski, Released: Gostkowski’s departure represented another long-time Patriot staple leaving the team, although the Patriots had started to live without him as his season ended very early due to an injury that required surgery. The Patriots missed Gostkowski’s leg last year, as the team could not reliably score field goals longer than 40 yards, causing the offense to attempt 4th down conversions deep into enemy territory.
LB Kyle Van Noy, FA, Dolphins: One of Belichick’s greatest successes in terms of correctly utilizing players that were previously viewed as ‘busts’ because their coaches could not use them correctly. Van Noy was acquired from the Lions for a measly swap of 6th and 7th picks midway through the 2016 season. Throughout his tenure with the Patriots, especially within the last two seasons, Van Noy became a staple piece in the team’s LB corps with his versatility and great fundamentals. Van Noy now joins his former LB coach Brian Flores in Miami, who will likely maximize Van Noy’s potential.
LB Elendon Roberts, FA, Miami: Elandon Roberts joined his teammate Van Noy in joining Miami to be coached under Brian Flores. Roberts was promoted to captain for his final season in New England, and primarily played most of his defensive snaps as a run-defending thumping linebacker. Roberts also filled in as an emergency FB when both Devlin and Johnson were injured, and played decently well for a third-string FB, I guess. Roberts represents another role that the Patriots had to fill through free agency and the draft.
LB Jamie Collins, FA, Lions: The Patriots added a familiar face in the athletic freak Jamie Collins heading into the 2019 season. Collins’ athleticism allowed him to flash in the early parts of the 2019 season, when he obtained a pick-six at Miami and almost blocked a Bills field goal attempt by broad jumping over the Bills’ line. Like Van Noy, Collins heads to a former Patriots defensive coach in Matt Patricia in Detroit. Unlike the Dolphins, the Lions front office did not watch the second half of the 2019 season, where Collins tended to lose discipline and become a liability in the defense, showing off some of his former issues. I highly doubt Lions fans will think Collins is worth his $10 million APY contract
DT Danny Shelton, FA, Lions: Patriots North scoops up another Patriots player, what a surprise. Going into the 2019 preseason, Shelton seemed like he might be on the outside looking in for the Patriots roster. It looked like other tackles such as Mike Pennel had the ability to replace Shelton. However, Shelton impressed and was able to earn his spot on the team. The nose tackle’s primary role throughout the season was to be a run defender, a role he played quite well. Shelton will help add some strength to a Lions defensive front that played badly last year.
DB Duron Harmon, Traded, Lions: Duron Harmon was a long-time player at the safety position, filling in the role of the third safety while working alongside McCourty and Chung. He earned the nickname of “the closer” due to his performances at the end of matches where he would end the game through obtaining an interception. The Patriots quickly found their replacement for Harmon, most notably adding DB/ST Adrian Phillips, so there really isn’t much worry for him leaving the team.
OL Coach Dante Scarnecchia, Retirement: Arguably the greatest loss that the Patriots suffered outside of Tom Brady, the OL guru has again decided to retire. Scarnecchia is responsible for the Patriots having great offensive lines throughout his tenure and is a sometimes underrated aspect of their wild success. Unlike Scar’s previous retirement in 2014 where he was replaced by Dave DeGuglielmo, both Cole Popovich and Carmen Briscillo have experience being an understudy of Scarnecchia, which will likely help to soften the blow of his retirement. There were also rumors that Scar was still advising New England on scouting the OL position for the draft, so perhaps you can never keep this man away from this team.
Additions, Extensions, Retentions,
C David Andrews, Returning from IR: Although this technically does not fit this category, Andrews deserves to be mentioned. Even though Ted Karras played decently as he was thrust into the starting role, the Patriots felt Andrews absence, especially in the run game. Losing Andrews also likely contributed to the rest of the IOL (especially Mason, who played a lot of the season with a foot injury) not performing as well as they could have. Andrews' return will improve Jarrett Stidham’s performance, both through his protection as well as increasing the effectiveness of the Patriots’ rushing attack.
OG Joe Thuney, Franchise Tag: Bringing back Thuney was a wise move for the Patriots. The star left guard will be instrumental to protecting young quarterback Jarrett Stidham as well as ensuring the run game operates smoothly. Although some consider IOL to be a low-value position, Thuney will help the team acclimate to the other changes that happened around the offense. Having a solid line is an important element of building a good offense, and Thuney will ensure that the left guard position will work reliably.
DBs Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung: With Brady leaving, the Patriots found it valuable to keep long-time veterans around the team to maintain their team morale and culture while acclimating to the personnel change. McCourty has been a captain and locker room leader of the Patriots for quite some time and will be an important leader as the team adjusts to 2020. Both McCourty and Chung will feature in what should be a very strong secondary unit throughout the 2020 season.
DB/ST Adrian Phillips, FA: Boy do the Patriots love versatility special teamers! Phillips has played well as a special teamer and also played in many positions in the Chargers secondary, and will bring his veteran experience to the Patriots secondary. He will likely play in the rotation of safeties with Chung and McCourty, filling in a similar role to Harmon, who was traded the day before Phillips was signed.
DT Beau Allen, FA: The former Buccaneers DT will likely fill in as a replacement for Danny Shelton, who left the team to play for Detroit. Allen projects to play as a run-stuffing nose tackle that will ensure the Patriots can control the run.
FB Danny Vitale, FA: Vitale is an interesting signing. While he is listed as a fullback, he probably will not be a straight replacement for the retired James Devlin. Devlin primarily filled in as a lead blocker and sometimes as a rusher, but very rarely was used as a downfield threat. Vitale has some decent athleticism and pass-catching experience that the Patriots will likely utilize. His versatility may mean the Patriots move him around a lot instead of just using him as a lead blocker, though he has decent experience at that position as well.
LB Brandon Copeland, FA: Copeland was a signing the Patriots made to help account for the losses they had in free agency. The veteran LB recently played for the division rival Jets, where he primarily performed off the ball under Gregg Williams. Copeland brings some versatility and leadership as he has had to adapt from playing from the defensive line to off the ball.
WRs Marqise Lee and Dameire Byrd, FA: Byrd’s main attribute is straight-line speed, though he really has never been able to convert it into a high amount of production, in part due to injuries. Perhaps it’s because Dorsett was on this team for three straight years, but I am not going to bet on Byrd producing just because he has speed. Lee is much more interesting, as he was able to produce solidly during 2016-17. However, Lee has not performed nearly at all in the last two years because of injuries. If Lee can return to his pre-injury form, (though not very likely), he could carve out a pretty decent role on this New England roster.
The Draft:
2.37 Kyle Dugger, DB, Lenoir-Rhyne:
It wasn’t a surprise to many Patriots fans that the team elected to trade out of their first round pick, though some that held up hope the Patriots would make a selection might have been disappointed. Many fans wondered where the team would go with their first pick, and when it was announced that the team chose a DB from a division II school, people were initially exasperated.
Belichick’s record with 2nd round defensive backs is quite well known such that it has become a meme within the fanbase and around the NFL. His main success with the position in the second round was with Patrick Chung, and even he wasn’t very successful until his second stint. Obviously, we can’t declare a player a success or failure just because of prior trends or draft position and instead should look at the player himself if we are to make a judgement upon him.
Coming out of high school, Dugger only received offers from DII schools because he was very undersized. As he eventually grew into his frame in Lenoir-Rhyne, he elected to commit to the school that recruited him. Dugger is a hard-hitting player who most likely will transition to playing in the box as a safety for the Patriots, likely eventually taking over for aging veteran Patrick Chung.
What separates Dugger from many other defensive backs the Patriots have selected over the recent years is his athleticism. Dugger running a 4.49s 40, jumping 42 inches in the vertical jump and 134 in the broad jump while being 6’1” and 217 pounds presents a mixture of speed, size, and athleticism that is rare for a safety. The main aspect of his game that the Patriots need to work on is his transition to playing against NFL-level competition. Generally, the jump from a DI school to the NFL is quite large, the difference from DII to the NFL is even larger. It will likely take a year or two for Dugger to be ready to be a significant contributor on the defense as he adjusts to his new system. Adapting to these circumstances, the Patriots have ensured that Dugger will not have a lot of pressure to perform on defense early on through extending Chung and signing Phillips. Interestingly, Dugger’s coaching throughout his years at Lenoir-Rhyne has been inconsistent, he had to play under three different coordinators during his four years at the school. Hopefully with some great coaching and system stability with Bill and Steve Belichick Dugger can carve out his role as a future player in the secondary.
Perhaps to the disappointment of some Patriots fans, Dugger’s contributions early in his career will most likely be on special teams. Dugger had experience being a returner in college, and I would not be surprised if that becomes his primary role early on in his tenure. Dugger’s athletic ability gives him the potential to become a future star on the team if he can adapt to the NFL. Only time will tell whether he works out or becomes another player too add to the list of failed second round picks.
2.60 Josh Uche, OLB, Michigan:
Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio remarked that prior to day two, the Patriots had three players they had a priority on acquiring: Dugger was one of them, and Uche was the other that the Patriots were able to draft with their selections.
Like Dugger, Uche is an explosive athlete with great speed as well as motor. Due to enduring an injury in the senior bowl, he was unable to participate in the combine. However, his athleticism shows up on film. Uche is a very versatile player, being able to play both on the line as well as off the ball and his efforts got him named the most versatile player by PFF in their 2020 draft guide. Michigan DC Don Brown said that he put Uche in nearly every position on the defense. I am sure Belichick was quite happy when he saw the 245 pound linebacker in coverage downfield against Penn State WR KJ Hamler. Amongst his versatility, his pass rush ability is what truly stands out. His 23.2% pressure rate and 28.2% pass rush win rate were second in both categories in the FBS. Uche achieved these great statistics through his incredible getoff off the line as well as good hand placement combined with his fantastic athleticism. Don Brown stated that Uche’s primary motivation was to become the best pass rusher in the country, and the dedication and work that Uche put in to be amongst the best in the country showed throughout the 2019 season. The primary aspect of Uche’s game that he needs to solidify in order to increase his role on the Patriots is increasing consistency with run defense.
Uche marked the first of five consecutive selections the Patriots made that addressed pressing needs. Considering the amount of LB talent that left over the offseason, it is possible that Uche will see a decent amount of playing time on the defense, perhaps in a similar role to former Wolverine Chase Winovich, whom Uche now rejoins in New England. I see Uche likely being the second-most impactful rookie to play for the Patriots this season, helping to strengthen the team’s pass rush, resulting in a more effective pass defense overall.
3.87 Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama:
Jennings’ selection serves as a nice complement to Uche’s. While Uche is this very athletic and undersized linebacker, Jennings better fits into the traditional, big, physical type of linebacker. Coming from Alabama, Jennings offers great fundamentals and football IQ that come from developing under Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. While he may not be the most athletic or flashy player, Jennings will likely cement his role in the Patriots defense as a solid and reliable player, especially against the run. Jennings registered great production during his time at Alabama, leading edge defenders in FBS for run-stop rate at 12.6%. The Alabama product has often been compared to former Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy due to his ability to be a versatile piece across the line.
Jennings is a very persevering player as well. In 2018 he suffered a worrying knee injury. Fortunately, the injury did not prevent him from returning to the field, but Jenninngs had to put in a lot of effort in order to return to his previous form. Saban also complimented Jennings’s dedication to improving himself in practice sessions. Jennings likely projects as an edge defender who will play very well against the run while also sometimes dropping into coverage. Jennings will likely see a fair amount of action as a rookie, especially on rushing downs. While he may not have a high ceiling, Jennings will likely be an anchor of the Pats’ defense as he progresses through his contract.
3.91 Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA:
On the offense, New England desperately needed to do something with their TE situation. Matt Lacosse may be a replacement level backup, but Ryan Izzo is not an NFL-caliber player. With very little cap space to address the position in free agency, the Patriots looked to the draft to fill their TE position. By selecting Asiasi in the third round, it is the first time the Patriots have spent a day two or higher pick on a tight end since 2010, when they selected Gronkowski.
Asiasi will likely become the Patriots number 1 option at the position. When looking at Bill Belichick’s 1991 scouting notes shared by Daniel Jeremiah, NBC analyst Phil Perry noted that Asiasi seems to fit the bill for the number one role. Devin Asiasi displayed great catching ability throughout his year starting at UCLA, only having one drop throughout the entire year. Asiasi also demonstrated great ability to run after the catch, averaging 5.6 yards in this category. Another ability that Asiasi brings as a TE that the Patriots sorely missed in 2019 is blocking. Even if Asiasi won’t perform as a great blocker (which is best reserved for #2 or #3 TEs anyway), it will most likely be better than the awfulness that was Patriot tight end blocking last year.
Asiasi was suspended for three games in the 2018 season for undisclosed reasons by Chip Kelly. However, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are on good terms with UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, meaning that they were able to confer with Kelly and confirm that Asiasi would be a good fit with the team and his suspensions were nothing to.worry about. Asiasi also possesses high football intelligence, being able to run complex concepts such as option routes in Kelly’s TE heavy offense. Even though Asiasi is undersized for what people normally think of a #1 TE , only being 6’3” and 257 lbs., his athletic ability and smooth movement should translate well into the NFL. Although Asiasi will likely be the starting Y-Tight End for the Patriots offense, I would not bet on him to break the trend of rookie TEs having low production, though Asiasi will definitely contribute in blocking.
3.101 Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech:
The Patriots also repeated something that they did 10 years ago, which was taking two tight ends in the draft. Dalton Keene is an interesting prospect to project for the Patriots. His playstyle resembles that of an F or move tight end. Even Belichick admitted after drafting Keene that they would have work to do in terms of finding him a role on this team, since the role that Keene played in the Virginia Tech offense is nothing like anything the Patriots run in their offense.
If Keene seems to be such a confusing fit for the Patriots, then what made the team trade back up into the third round in order to select him. The most defining feature that Keene exhibits through his play is toughness. He is a very dedicated and ruthless player, oftentimes toughing it out through injury and not playing with high regard to his health while on the field. The aggressiveness that Keene displayed both during practice and games caused his teammates to give him the nickname of “Rambo”. Keene’s offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen called him the toughest player he has ever seen. Keene has never produced that much in the receiving game, only racking up 341 yards in his most productive receiving season. Perhaps given his athletic talent it suggests that Virginia Tech underutilized his ability in the passing game, instead placing more focus upon his ability in the run game instead. Keene will be a versatile player and likely fill multiple roles as the Patriots’ second tight end, primarily being used as that F tight end, move tight end, or perhaps H-back. He may in fact share similar duties to FB Danny Vitale. I would be more than happy if Keene and Asiasi can combine for about 600-700 receiving yards and a few touchdowns in their rookie year.
5.159 Justin Rohrwasser, K, Marshall:
Another need that the Patriots needed to fill during the draft or free agency was the kicker position. Many people expected the Patriots to take someone like Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia Southern kicker Tyler Bass, or Chase Vinatieri from South Dakota. When the Patriots selected Rohrwasser, a kicker who was so unknown that he didn’t even have a profile on the NFL’s website many people were confused.
What caused the Patriots to select this unknown kicker from Marshall. Rohrwasser displayed great performance throughout the 2019 season, having a statistically better season compared to the other higher profile kickers in the draft. Rohrwasser made 18 of 21 field goals and 35 of 36 XPs. He was perfect on kicks greater than 50 yards out, even hitting a clutch field goal from 53 yards against Western Kentucky after being iced twice. Belichickj stated that the Patriots have watched over 250 kicks and were impressed by his ability to kick in clutch situations as well as poor conditions, something Rohrwasser will have to do often in the AFC East. It is unclear whether Rohrwasser will relieve punter Jake Bailey of his kickoff duties (thought I think it’s more likely than not). If there is any position I trust Bill to evaluate, it’ s the placekicker. Rohrwasser will likely be the most impactful rookie on the patriots, mainly because he is the only surefire starter out of all of them. If Rohrwasser succeeds, the Patriots will be able to not go for fourth downs deep in enemy territory again and have a good kicker on a cheap rookie deal.
6.182 Michael Onwenu, OG, Michigan:
After addressing many immediate needs, the Patriots decided to take some shots at reserve linemen. Considering what happened in 2019, it is smart for the Patriots to add some young talent to the Offensive Line in order to account for things not going according to plan.
The first thing that strikes people when they look at Onwenu is his size. This man is HUGE, especially for an interior lineman. Coming in at 6’3”, around 350 lbs (he actually weighed closer to 370 during the season at college), Onwenu is a very physically imposing presence. He is very good at doing his job of not letting defenders get by him. During his past two years at Michigan, Onwenu played 1198 snaps, Onwenu only allowed 13 pressures and 2 sacks. He plays with great power and if he is able to get his hands on the defender, then it is over. Onwenu also possesses decent movement ability for his size; he will be able to perhaps do downfield blocking a bit better than people expect him to. Also, according to Michigan’s OL coach Ed Warriner, Onenwu really doesn’t have the ability to go much lower than 345 lbs.
Onenwu will start out on the team as a backup in the iOL, though more likely in his natural position of RG. Onenwu is quite different compared to New England’s other iOLs, he is 50 pounds heavier than the rest of our starting interiors. It will be interesting to see how Onwenu is able to execute the Patriots’ offensive scheme considering how physically different he is compared to Thuney, Andrews, and Mason. Either way, Onenwu will be a reliable depth piece that can protect Stidham if any of the starters go down.
6.195 Justin Herron, OG/OT, Wake Forest:
The second lineman that the Patriots invested draft capital in was Justin Herron. Herron started 51 games for Wake Forest, exclusively at the LT position. Herron’s experience at the position will likely slot him in as the primary backup to Isaiah Wynn, who has spent a lot of time of his career injured. Herron did suffer an ACL tear in the first week of the 2018 season, but rebounded quite well in 2019. Herron, like Onwenu, is a great pass-blocker. In 2017, the season prior to tearing his ACL, Herron allowed zero sacks. In 2019, when he recovered from his ACL injury, he only allowed four sacks and 13 pressures.
Some analysts raise questions about Herron playing tackle at the next level, instead projecting him as a guard. Interestingly, analysts made similar remarks about now-starting LT Isaiah Wynn. Considering that he only played left tackle during his time in college, I think the Patriots evaluated him and will use him as a tackle. If New England wanted an interior lineman, they likely would have selected someone else. Another concern that some have about Herron is his athleticism, which showed up at the combine, especially in his 8.41s three-cone drill. Scarnecchia often said the Patriots don’t care too much about athleticism in the OL, saying that they only needed to be athletic-enough. If the Patriots were that concerned about his athletic ability, he likely wouldn’t have been selected. Even so, it’s a great idea to grab a tackle who played solidly in college and will spend most of his rookie deal as a reserve player. This pick will be a success if Herron makes the team and can competently back up Wynn if he finds himself injured again.
6.204 Cassh Maluia, LB, Wyoming:
In the midst of the Patriots grabbing multiple offensive lineman, the Patriots selected another linebacker to increase their depth. During the 2019 season, Maluia went relatively under the radar due to his fellow linebacker and 65th overall pick Logan Wilson. However, those who studied Wilson likely saw Maluia pop out on a few occasions and make great plays. Maluia is an athletic and undersized linebacker, weighing in at only 231 lbs. His athleticism showed up both on tape and on the field, where Maluia displayed versatility across the field being able to both be a thumper as well as a decent coverage player. Maluia’s biggest concern is probably his tackling form, as his aggressiveness caused him to miss a fair amount of times. If Maluia makes the 53 man, he will likely contribute mostly as a special teams player, though his athletic ability might allow him to play a few snaps at defense.
7.230 David Woodard, C, Memphis:
With their final selection in the 2020 NFL draft, the Patriots threw a dart at another reserve lineman. Woodard played all across his the iOL throughout his college career, displaying the versatility that is desired in a backup lineman. Woodard does not have athletic testing available, though some analysts expressed concern about his athletic ability and his size, as Woodard only weighs 291 lbs. As detailed earlier, the Patriots generally concern themself more with technique than pure size and athleticism, and Woodard displays great technique. He graded out as the best run-blocking and second best pass-blocking center in 2019 through PFFs metrics. The Patriots will likely have to still improve Woodard’s technique to make him a future part of the team. Woodard projects as a reserve interior guy, particularly backing up C David Andrews if he makes the team.
UDFAs
Considering that a UDFA has made the New England roster for 16 straight years, I think it is appropriate to talk about some of the more interesting prospects in short. These are not all of the FAs the Patriots signed but some that I think are the most interesting and have the greatest chance to make the team.
For the QB position, the Patriots signed Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke and Louisiana Tech QB J’Mar Smith. Lewerke initially showed promise but a shoulder injury he suffered in 2018 really derailed his career. Smith is more interesting, as he displayed his athleticism throughout his career, as well as possessing great arm strength and ability to make flash off-platform throws. He was suspended for a game, but in his 11 starts he went 10-1 and won C-USA offensive player of the year. Neither QB really poses much threat to Stidham, but if one of them shows promise (especially Smith, who reportedly had a few offers from other teams), don’t be surprised if Belichick makes space for them on the 53 man roster.
For the WR position, which many people were surprised the Patriots did not take a shot at in the draft, the most interesting players are Auburn WR Will Hastings and Miami WR Jeff Thomas. Hastings was Stidham’s former slot receiver in college, racking up 26 receptions and 525 yards with the QB in 2017. Hastings tore his ACL prior to 2018, and Stidham missed his reliable option during the season. Hastings ran a 4.49s 40 and a blistering 6.64s 3-cone during his pro-day. Hasting’s connection with Stidham may allow for him to sneak onto the team. Thomas, on the other hand, mostly specialized as a deep threat for the Hurricanes. Even though he is undersized at 5’9 and 170 lbs, many scouts said he displayed draftable talent throughout his career. The aspect of Thomas that was more influential in making him a UDFA is his character concerns. Thomas has had an issue with nearly every coaching staff that he has interacted with, and got kicked off the 2018 team for attitude issues. If Thomas can pull himself together and realize that there are no more chances, he could transform into a future weapon for the Patriots.
Arizona RB J.J. Taylor is another interesting pickup for the Patriots. He is very short, coming in at only 5’5” tall (never in my life did I think I would be taller than a Pats player), but still manages to pack 185 lbs. Despite his size, Taylor is quite talented, displaying some decent shiftiness as well as the ability to bounce through contact. Perhaps because of his size and elusive playstyle, he has drawn comparisons to former Patriots RB Dion Lewis. If Taylor can show enough ability throughout the offseason, he might be able to get the Patriots to replace a RB, primarily Rex Burkhead, who many Pats fans theorize the team will cut for a few years now.
Ohio State TE Rashod Berry is another interesting player the Patriots picked up. He reportedly may change his position to OLB. Berry had some experience playing defense for Ohio State early in his career, though he did some snaps along the defense for a few games in his senior year. Many Ohio State fans say that Berry is a very athletic player who was underutilized by the Ohio State system. Wherever he plays, it will be interesting to see how his skill translates to the next level.
On the defensive side of the ball the Patriots were able to sign Auburn EDGE Nick Coe after negotiations between him and the Bills fell through. Coe was one of the top ranked free agents after the draft talent-wise, as he produced well in his first few seasons at Auburn. He is a much more prototypical big edge player the Patriots generally use in their system, but also has the versatility to play off the ball. However, Coe seems happiest playing as an edge rusher off the line. Coe’s main issue is his off-the field issues, where he feuded with his coaching staff over his assignments on the team, and also did not put in as much effort as a result. Coe is a very high-potential signing, but he will have to accept whatever role New England gives him if he wants to succeed.
The signing that gave the most guaranteed money went to Arkansas LB De’Jon Harris. Harris primarily plays as a thumping linebacker, which will likely be his role if he manages the Patriots. He has been theorized to fill a similar role to Elandon Roberts did last year (though likely not as a FB on offense). As a thumper, Harris’ best ability is tracking down and meeting the ball carrier, except he does suffer from some tackling issues.
The Patriots somehow managed to convince Bill Murray to join the team, where he will slot in on the defensive line. The DT from William & Mary displays good ability to be disruptive along the defensive line, though keep in mind that this was against FCS competition. Murray also managed to block 10 kicks during his tenure, something that Belichick is surely proud of. He reportedly is also a guy who is great at making his teammates laugh, perhaps like his celebrity counterpart. Considering that DL is a weaker position on the Patriots, Murray has a real shot to get on the team with his talent.
If I am going to talk about UDFAs that have a great chance of making the team, I am not going to overlook the secondary. The DB that the patriots signed this year was Washington’s Myles Bryant. Bryant is another undersized player, only coming at 5’8” and 183 lbs.. and primarily played free safety in 2019 after playing slot corner for the previous two years. Bryant showed good short-area quickness on the field as well as in athletic testing, running a 6.81s 3-cone. His greatest weakness is tackling, likely worsened by his small size. Bryant will need to improve his tackling if he wants to make the team. I also wanted to shout out 2019 UDFA UNM DB D’Angelo Ross, another undersized corner that showed some promise in the preseason prior to suffering a season-ending injury. I still don’t fully understand why Belichick spends so many premier picks on DBs when he can just pull great ones out of his rear nearly every year in the UDFA market.
Roster Projection:
Projecting the Patriots roster is especially difficult due to the amount of bodies at many positions such as OL, LB, and DB. This problem is exacerbated by the fact I haven’t seen anyone play yet or have the most recent updates on everyone’s health. I am not confident that this roster will be that accurate to the final roster that appears week 1.
QB (2) - Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
RB (5) - Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, Damien Harris
FB (1) - Dan Vitale
WR (7) - N’Keal Harry, Mohammed Sanu, Julian Edelman, Marqise Lee, Jakobi Meyers, Matt Slater, Jeff Thomas
TE (2) - Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene
OL (9) - Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron, Hjalte Froholdt, Michael Onwenu
DL (4) - Adam Butler, Beau Allen, Lawrence Guy, Byron Cowart
EDGE/LB (9) - Deatrich Wise, Chase Winovich, John Simon, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Cassh Maluia, Brandon King
CB (6) - Stephon Gilmore, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Justin Bethel,
S (5) - Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Terrence Brooks
K - Justin Rohrwasser
P - Jake Bailey
LS - Joe Cardona
KR and PR - Dugger
Conclusion?
The Patriots enter a time of uncertainty that hasn’t existed in my lifetime. This 2020 squad is very hard to predict because of all the unknowns that exist all over the team, most notably at QB. It is possible that the Patriots perform better on the offense this year due to the sheer amount of players that are now healthy, especially alongside the offensive line. Although it is most likely the Patriots will not be a contender this year, depending on how well Stidham and the rest of the offense perform and develop, the team could bring itself into contention as early as 2021. I anxiously, but optimistically, await this team’s future.
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Offseason with Cidolfus: Pre-Draft Recap

Pre-Draft Recap

I said I might do another one of these, time permitting. Little did I know that I’d leave my house only four times in the past month to go to the grocery store. I’ve found quite a bit of time hunkered down in my apartment. I think my dog is getting sick of me.
I know my wife is getting sick of me.
The Dolphins were active early in free agency. They made a lot of expected moves (at least in terms of what positional needs we prioritized) and some more surprising ones. This leaves the team in an interesting place headed into the draft .
In various discussions we’ve had over the past few weeks, I’ve tackled a couple cap questions, particularly in regards to the effective cap cost of rookie contracts as well as cap flexibility in 2021. In this offseason entry, I plan to address those topics and others to contextualize the way I see the draft shaking out.
If you missed any of my previous posts, find the links below. A lot of it is out of date at this point, but if you’d like a good laugh you can see how often I was wrong (although, compared to previous years, I think I did pretty well this year), take a look.

Remaining Free Agency Moves

Earlier this year, I projected a much more aggressive roster culling ahead of free agency than we ended up actually receiving. Aside from getting the departure of Reshad Jones right (admittedly, that one was a bit of a gimme), I also thought that by now we would have moved on from Albert Wilson, Taco Charlton, and Jakeem Grant to free up additional cap space. Instead, we dropped Kilgore (a move I considered unlikely), and--so far at least--have kept the others.
There’s still plenty of time for things to change ahead of the 55-man roster cutdown. As currently constructed, our roster has a logjam of players at both the wide receiver and defensive end positions (never thought I’d be saying that second bit already). The Dolphins have 11 wide receivers under contract and eight defensive ends. Several of these players are minimum salary types filling out the offseason roster for camp, but there are plenty of locks at both to make the roster as well relative to the number of expected roster spots available at each position.
Wide Receiver
Player Cap Charge Savings
Albert Wilson $10,833,344 $9,500,000
DeVante Parker $6,100,000 -$6,000,000
Jakeem Grant $4,380,000 -$1,800,000
Allen Hurns $2.883,333 $2,016,666
Mack Hollins $825,000 $825,000
Isaiah Ford $750,000 $750,000
Andy Jones $750,000 $750,000
Ricardo Louis $750,000 $750,000
Preston Williams $675,000 $671,666
Gary Jennings $675,000 $675,000
Terry Wright $610,000 $610,000
It’s a reasonable bet that the Dolphins will carry five wide receivers on the final 53-man roster. That’s how many we’ve kept every year for the past three seasons. That likely means half of the names above will be cut. DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant (now that his base salary for the 2020 season has been guaranteed) are locks for the roste. Their contracts make them more expensive to cut than to keep. Preston Williams should also be expected to return for obvious reasons.
That leaves two spots for the remaining eight guys, and I have to imagine that Allen Hurns--who signed an extension in the middle of last season--has an edge to keep his spot despite the potential cap savings. Isaiah Ford also came along when injuries pushed him to the top of the depth chart at the end of the season last year, convincing the team to pick him up as an exclusive rights free agent.
Obviously Albert Wilson fills a niche on the roster that most of the other guys don’t--unless we expect to see Jakeem Grant take a larger role as the team’s slot receiver. There’s been discussion that the team plans to use Mike Gesicki in a big slot role, but that doesn’t rule out keeping Wilson. It’s not unthinkable that we carry six wide receivers in 2020, especially with Chan Gailey as our offensive coordinator and the extra two roster spots granted by the new CBA. His spread concepts figure to see more multiple-receiver sets, after all. This especially makes sense given that we should expect Grant and Ford (or whoever earns a roster spot over Ford) to see more use on special teams than offense. With the extra roster spots available, maybe this is one of the places we use one.
Even should we keep him, I would prefer to see Wilson’s cap figure altered. There’s almost no way that he can live up to his $10.8 million cap charge in such a crowded field. If we do decide to keep him, I hope it involves a restructure and extension similar to the deal that Parker took in place of his fifth year option last year. He’s performed well in limited snaps, but his injury history and slow return last season may hurt his value moving forward, giving the team leverage to flex his remaining cap figure into a two-year contract. I suspect, though, that if that was going to happen, it already would have given the other extensions we’ve offered the plenty of our other receivers.
I also expected him to be cut by no, though.
Defensive Ends
Player Cap Charge Savings
Shaq Lawson $10,833,333 -$10,066,667
Emmanuel Ogbah $7,500,000 $0
Charles Harris $3,450,356 $291,559
Taco Charlton $1,832,541 $1,374,541
Trent Harris $750,000 $750,000
Avery Moss $750,000 $750,000
Zach Sieler $750,000 $750,000
Jonathan Ledbetter $750,000 $750,000
Lawson and Ogbah are our starting defensive ends in 2020. Headed into free agency, I expected defensive end to be a big target in the draft as well. Now I’m less certain. As a first round selection, Harris’s 2020 salary is mostly guaranteed, so we save almost nothing other than a roster spot by moving on from him. Teams rarely cut players that don’t offer cap savings, so barring someone outperforming him in camp, I expect him to be on the roster. That still leaves a five or six way battle for what remains of only three or four defensive end spots.
Consider also how many linebackers the Dolphins are likely to carry into the 2020 season: Kyle Van Noy, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Vince Biegel, Elandon Roberts, Raekwon McMillan, and Jerome Baker are virtual locks to make the roster--and that’s already six linebackers before we get to guys like Andrew Van Ginkel and Sam Eguavoen who are cheap and look to earn a spot based on their performance last season and their special teams value.
Our 2019 roster structure looked a lot more like that of the Patriots last year: fewer defensive linemen and more linebackers. We used 3-4 looks more often than we have in years past, and that means that we’re getting edge rushers from the linebackers as well. Signing Kyle Van Noy likely signals that we’ll continue to see plenty of this.
Realistically, of the bottom five guys on the list above, the one most likely to make the roster is probably the one who can be moved around the most successfully. If one of those guys can find productivity flexing between 4-3 DE and 3-4 DE or 4-3 DE and 3-4 OLB and be productive at both positions, then they’ll have a leg up making the roster.
Remaining Free Agency
Although it’s already April and less than two weeks from the NFL Draft, there are still a handful of free agents remaining at what might be considered positions of need. Two of the biggest names are Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue, both of whom are finding their markets to be lower than they initially anticipated (although Ngakoue’s situation is complicated by his tag designation). As detailed above, though, I think it unlikely that we bring in another defensive end--much less one that we can barely afford. Clowney’s asking price has reportedly fallen to the $17-18 million per year range, but that’s still out of our price range at this point.
Trading with the Vikings for Anthony Harris would make more sense than trying to acquire either Clowney and Ngakoue, but even that’s unlikely. Trading for Harris would be cheaper than trading for Ngakoue in terms of both draft assets required and the cost of his new contract, but it’s unlikely we would spend top money on safety after paying Byron Jones. While free safety is arguably the position we stand most to benefit from upgrading on defense, I can’t imagine a scenario where we become suitors for Harris with our current cap commitments at the position. Such a move would likely signal an impending trade of Xavien Howard.
As always, the elephant in the room is the quarterback situation. It remains our biggest position of need headed into the draft, and both Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are available. We don’t need to rehash my thoughts on free agent quarterbacks from my first post in this series, but you can guess where I stand on signing either of them. Hint: don’t.
It should be abundantly clear by now that the Dolphins made their moves early in free agency and we’re unlikely to do much more ahead of the draft. We’re in a comfortable place with our cap space and already carry 78 players on our roster. With fourteen draft picks in our back pocket for later this month, we’re already going to have to drop two players to meet the maximum offseason roster size of 90 players, unless of course we draft fewer than fourteen players because we’re losing some picks to move up. There’s also undrafted free agents who will get signed.
We can safely ignore any discussion about the Dolphins bringing any free agents in other than minimum contract players for the rest of the offseason.

Cap Space

So where does that leave us? Over The Cap calculates the Dolphins as having $23,886,772 in salary cap space remaining. With the roster filled out well past the top 51 contracts that actually count, it’s time to recalculate the effective cap cost of our rookie contracts. OTC lists our total rookie pool cost at $18,096,615. They’re wrong. For whatever reason, they’re missing one of our fourteen picks--number 154--received from Jacksonville via Pittsburgh. Good news? It doesn’t actually change our calculation since it’s value ($690,227) is lower than our cheapest contract in the top 51 on our roster ($750,000), so it costs us effectively nothing for now.
In fact, the bottom eight of our fourteen picks (rounds four and later) are all below the lowest contract on our top 51, so they’re all effectively free in terms of cap commitment. That leaves our top six draft picks displacing six $750,000 contracts at the bottom of our roster, bringing our effective salary cap cost total to $8,946,548. That leaves us with $14,940,224 in salary cap space for 2020. Barring any extensions, expect nearly all of that to roll over into 2021.
Importantly, where does this leave us for 2021? Based on the bump in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Over the Cap projects a base salary cap of $215,000,000 in 2021. With our current cap commitments and anticipated rollover, we’re likely to enter the 2021 season with $48,480,196 in available cap space.
That number is much lower than you might be seeing listed elsewhere, because I’ve included the cost of our this year’s draft class not only against this year’s cap (which reduces our amount for rollover as detailed above) but next year’s as well (which comes out to a whopping $23,458,157). Sites like Spotrac and OTC typically won’t price that in until after the draft and the players actually sign, and not without reason. Any trades in the draft can shift this amount pretty substantially, especially if we package one of our firsts to move up. It’s a good working figure at this point, though.
How about the way-too-early look ahead? Aside from the obvious move to cut Albert Wilson this season and save $9.5 million (yes, I’m going to keep banging this drum) or moving on from Julie’n Davenport after drafting tackles ($2,133,000 in savings), there are several players who can become cap casualties in 2021.
Player Cap Hit Cap Savings
Kyle Van Noy $13,900,000 $9,775,000
Xavien Howard $13,500,000 $9,300,000
Emmanuel Ogbah $7,500,000 $7,500,000
Bobby McCain $7,140,400 $5,659,600
Eric Rowe $5,050,000 $4,000,000
Jordan Howard $5,000,000 $5,000,000
Jakeem Grant $4,750,000 $2,950,000
Jesse Davis $4,585,000 $2,585,000
Allen Hurns $3,608,334 $3,175,000
Clayton Fejedelem $2,525,000 $2,525,000
Unless something has gone terribly wrong, many of these names are safe for 2021 (Van Noy and Ogbah top that list). Others might find themselves on the wrong end of a team looking to shift its roster around. If Howard is injured yet again, his contract becomes easy to move on from, especially as we’d still have Byron Jones. I’d bet that one of either McCain or Rowe isn’t with the Dolphins for the 2021 season. Others might find themselves on the right end of a team looking to lock a player down long term. If Ogbah is healthy and shows out all season, he could be in line for an extension that increases his APY moving forward while decreasing his 2021 APY.
In brief, players like McCain, Rowe, Howard, and Davis could all find themselves as cap casualties because they play positions that we are likely to target in this draft to find long-term replacements. Similarly, the logjam at wide receiver could see departures for Grant or Hurns in 2021, freeing up additional cap space.
That cap flexibility--having nearly $50 million in available cap space already and the ability to free up even more--is impressive considering our spending spree in the past few weeks. It’s also doubly important because 2021’s free agent includes several players likely to play starting or key depth roles in 2020 who will be free agents in 2021 including Kamu Grugier-Hill, Ted Karras, Vince Biegel, Matt Haack, Elandon Roberts, Raekwon McMillan, and Davon Godchaux. Players set to hit free agency in 2022 who might be up for extensions at the same time include Emmanuel Ogbah, Mike Gesicki, and Jerome Baker.
We’re unlikely to be active in 2021 free agency the way we were this year, but we have the cap health to re-sign who we wish from our own players without mortgaging our future. We entered the 2020 free agency season with an enormous amount of cap space and managed to spend aggressively (more money in new contracts than any other NFL team) without putting ourselves into a cap crunch for the future.

Positional Spending

I didn’t expect to sign Byron Jones mostly because I never thought that we would be paying two of the three highest-paid cornerbacks in the league on the same team. It’s obviously a move we can afford (as detailed above), but I’m not used to the secondary being a position in which we’ve aggressively invested resources. I wanted to take a closer look at how we’re spending our cap space by position groups by active cap spending (a total of $173,655,544 at time of writing). Let’s break it down.
Offense
. QB OL RB WR TE
Cap Charge $10,919,796 $21,564,640 $7,222,295 $26,521,667 $2,711,310
Percentage 6.29% 12.42% 4.16% 15.27% 1.56%
Defense and Special Teams
. DL LB DB ST
Cap Charge $27,358,247 $26,284,817 $47,416,972 $3,655,800
Percentage 15.75% 15.14% 27.31% 2.11%
These numbers will fluctuate significantly by the time we wittle the roster down to the final 55, but even now it’s apparent how this front office plans to build this team. A total of 58.2% of our active cap spending is going to defense. Consider also that the Dolphins are carrying an additional $18,177,506 in dead cap for defensive players while only carrying a tenth of that ($1,862,740) in dead cap for offensive players.
Expect quarterback, running back, offensive line to see the largest increases to this figure after the draft. Barring something unexpected, we’ll be drafting a quarterback at fifth overall (or higher), and with multiple openings on the offensive line, it’s possible (likely?) that we draft two offensive linemen in our first five selections. There’s a gaping hole at running back as well. Those high draft selections will be enough to move the needle in a significant way.
The number that jumps to the most immediate attention, of course, is our spending on defensive backs at nearly $50 million in total cap commitments for a total of $27.31% of active cap spending. This may be our new normal for a while. In the past three seasons, the Patriots have allocated 23.61%, 21.63%, and 23.62% of their total cap spending to the secondary. They’ve also done that while spending much more heavily on quarterback even with Brady on “bargain” deals. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this number go up in the short term either, as I think it’s likely we target a safety in the first or second rounds this year.
We’ve allocated more of our resources to the defensive line and linebacker positions than the Patriots have the past few years, but not by much. Our spending in both groups is boosted dramatically by our new free agents at the positions (Ogbah, Van Noy, and Lawson) and has been fueled by our absolutely dire pass rush situation.
Due to Fizpatrick’s contract, 2020 is likely to be our most expensive year at the quarterback position until 2024 when whatever rookie we draft could be retained on the fifth year option. The defensive secondary cost will likely come down in the near future as I think it’s unlikely Bobby McCain and Eric Rowe play out their current contracts, but in general we’re probably looking at splits roughly along these lines over the next few seasons.

2020 Free Agency Signings

Having looked at the money, let’s examine what that money bought us. Obviously this section is very subjective. As I’m sure many of you have noticed in plenty of other discussions on this subreddit, I’m positive on our signings as a whole. I try to be optimistic about the moves we make because grousing about them isn’t much fun.
Clayton Fejedelem: Three Years, $8,550,000, $3,000,000 Guaranteed
It always makes me uncomfortable when a new coach tries too hard to be the head coach he learned under. This has especially proved a concern for Belichick disciples who often try to jump right into being a hard ass without having earned the respect. Fortunately, that does not appear to be too much of a concern with Flores so far.
I bring up coaches mimicking their mentors here because even though Fejedelem wasn’t a Patriot, this signing reeks of the type of player that Belichick covets. Fejedelem checks so many boxes. He provides much-needed depth at a positional weakness from last season, he’s been a core special teams guy for the Bengals, and he’s a former team captain.
He costs under three million per year to bring depth at a position our front office clearly values, provides good special teams value, and he should fit with the type of team culture Flores is building. All of his guaranteed money is in 2020, and his contract is front-loaded as well. It’s a rock solid deal for someone who figures to be a solid player for us both on the field and in the locker room.
Ereck Flowers: Three Years, $30,000,000, $19,950,000 Guaranteed
I wish I had as much optimism about Flowers as I did about Fejedelem, but I’m less comfortable with this contract. It clearly fills a position of need, as we badly needed to improve our offensive line. In my Building the Offense entry in this series, I referred to Flowers as a competent guy who wouldn’t break the bank. I stand by the assertion he’s an improvement over any of the guards currently on our roster, but the $10 million per year number is a little higher than I expected.
While I understand that offensive line talent is increasingly at a premium, making Ereck Flowers the 14th-highest paid guard in the NFL after only one good season at the position in Washington is not without risk, especially with nearly two thirds of his contract fully guaranteed. What hurts more is that for $14 million per year, the Browns landed Jack Conklin--probably my top offensive line target in free agency--and the Chargers signed Bryan Bulaga--the Conklin consolation prize--for only $6.75 million per year. I would have preferred either of those to Flowers.
That said, it’s only fair to acknowledge that Flowers quickly became one of the top guards in a thinning market when both Brandon Scherff and Joe Thuney were tagged. Graham Glasgow, a similar prospect converted from center to guard, went for $11 million APY and Andrus Peat coming off of two poor seasons signed at $11.5 million APY. There’s an argument to be made that the guard market has just really closed the gap on tackles and Flowers got market rate.
This move, and the lack of a tackle signed in free agency, signals that our front office is confident that we can either successfully address both left and right tackle in the draft this year or that Jesse Davis can be a long-term solution at right guard. This shouldn’t be too surprising given Davis’s contract extension, but I’m not 100% on board with it.
If we’ve overpaid for Flowers’s services as I suspect, at least it’s only a three-year deal and we can move on with only $1 million in dead cap ahead of the 2022 season. Optimistically, Flowers continues to play up to his 2019 standard at guard and proves himself worthy of the contract as he comes home to Miami.
Kamu Grugier-Hill: One Year, $3,000,000, $2,000,000 Guaranteed
Although this signing is likely to draw comparisons to Fejedelem for very transparent reasons (they’re both defensive depth who figure as core special teams contributors who were team captains for their previous team), Grugier-Hill carries greater risk. Fortunately, this is reflected in his short-term deal. His 2019 season ended early due to a lower lumbar disc herniation and also missed time for other injuries.
If healthy, though, he brings a lot of the same mojo to the team as Fejedelem, with the added benefit of being one of several new Dolphins to bring championship experience to the team. As with Fejedelem, Grugier-Hill is the kind of guy who checks a lot of boxes: he’s cheap, he provides key depth and special teams value, he’s familiar with our defensive system, and he figures to be an immediate leader in a very young locker room.
Jordan Howard: Two Years, $9,750,000, $4,750,000 Guaranteed
Shocking nobody, I’m not high on signing Jordan Howard. Mostly because I’m not high on spending money on running backs in general, and paying a running back coming off an injury-shortened season makes me more nervous than at most positions. The Dolphins had the worst rushing attack in the NFL in 2019, though, and before his injury this year, Howard was on track again for a solid season in line for previous years. He’s a big bodied back who figures to split the load with the rookie we inevitably draft.
As a personal consolation, I can remind myself that none of his 2021 salary is guaranteed., so it’s essentially a one-year, prove-it deal.
Byron Jones: Five Years, $82,500,000, $46,000,000 Guaranteed
In my offseason entry on Building the Defense I wrote, “Frankly, Jones and Howard likely immediately becomes the best corner tandem in the NFL for the next couple seasons, and we’ve all seen how you can build a defense from the secondary with a rookie quarterback and find a lot of success. That said, I don’t know that our front office could swallow objections to paying what would likely be $30 million APY between two corners.”
I badly misjudged our front office’s priorities. While I said that if we did decide to address cornerback in free agency, it would be Byron Jones or bust, I didn’t take the possibility seriously. Some will have concerns that Jones doesn’t get enough interceptions to be made a top-paid defensive back in the NFL, but I take the same opinion towards interceptions as I do to sacks--they’re the gaudy number that get the attention and they’re obviously impactful, but they’re the rare high points that don’t speak to a player’s actual impact on a per-snap basis.
Byron Jones finished fourth in coverage snaps per reception last year (17.9), tied for second in coverage snaps per target (10.1), and fourth in yards per coverage snap (0.62). Opposite a ball hawk like Xavien Howard, it figures that Jones might see more targets and more opportunities for interceptions himself. As discussed above, building a defense from the back forward is a clear priority of this team. It might not have been the strategy I’d have embraced, but I get it, and it’s hard not to be excited about the potential of our new cornerback tandem.
Most importantly, we’re not committed beyond the 2020 season to huge spending at cornerback. Byron Jones’s contract makes him a lock for the roster through the 2022 season (age 30), but Xavien Howard has an out next year. If Howard proves once again to be unable to remain healthy, we can move on from him and still have one of the top corners in the league in 2021 on the roster.
Ted Karras: One Year, $4,000,000, $4,000,000 Guaranteed
This is not-so-low-key one of my favorite signings. I didn’t give Karras much of a look in my previous entry evaluating offensive free agent targets, and I’m honestly not sure how he slipped through the cracks. Karras acquitted himself well as a back-up at both center and guard and stepped up as New England’s starting center in 2019. He had a rough stretch in the middle of the season, but from week 12 onward through the wildcard round, Karras didn’t allow a single pressure.
Karras’s contract is a one-year, prove-it deal that gives us flexibility to play him at guard or center depending on who we pick up in the draft. A starting offensive lineman at $4,000,000 is good value no matter how you slice it, and Karras has upside to be a long-term solution whereas Kilgore was clearly a stopgap. It’s a lateral move in terms of cap cost, but an upgrade on the offensive line. While it doesn’t solve our biggest problem on the line (tackle), it helps.
Shaq Lawson, Three Years, $30,000,000, $21,000,000 Guaranteed
Lawson’s a decent candidate for the kind of player we might offer a more modest, short-term contract and see if he can improve with a change of scenery. If we strike out on bigger names in free agency, picking up Lawson and maybe another cheaper guy on the list to round out or defensive end depth alongside another edge rusher with one of our first five picks in the draft isn’t the worst strategy.
At least I’m not always wrong. In my assessment of the options to improve our edge rush, I expected that many impending free agents would not actually make it to free agency. Shaquil Barrett, Bud Dupree, and Matt Judon never hit the market. Yannick Ngakoue and Leonard Williams were franchise-tagged. Even the 49ers made moves to keep Arik Armstead.
Instead of paying bigger money to try and sign Jadeveon Clowney or Dante Fowler Jr., we went the cheaper route to bring on both Lawson and Ogbah. The combined cost of both of them is only marginally more than the tag amount for Ngakoue and Williams and less than Clowney was initially seeking.
Lawson’s deal comes in at 18th among 4-3 Defensive Ends. It’s very high on guarantees as a percentage of the contract, but it’s essentially a two-year deal with only $1,333,334 in dead money in 2022 if we decide to move on. Lawson’s deal also includes additional incentives for sacks and team achievements, and I can’t be mad about incentives on a deal. If the player meets them, we obviously can’t say they didn’t earn it.
A staple of Belichick defenses has been to rely on the scheme to generate pressure. Our strategy is looking similar. Our defense is prioritizing lockdown coverage rather than relying on individual pass rushing performance to get to the quarterback. Hopefully Lawson is able to take advantage. If not, it’s a two-year investment at a relatively modest amount for the position that we can move on from without major consequence. If nothing else, he’s almost certainly an upgrade over anything we already had.
Kyle Van Noy, Four Years, $51,000,000, $15,000,000 Guaranteed
Despite the gaudy numbers on the contract, Van Noy’s deal is structured extremely favorably to the Dolphins. His full guarantees include only $5.5 million in signing bonus, $6.5 million in 2020 roster bonus, and $3 million in 2020 base salary. Because his 2021 and 2022 base salaries become fully guaranteed on the fifth day of each league year, that means that if he flames out we can move on with minimal dead money. Any time you can walk away from a four-year deal in year two with only $4,125,000 in dead cap and $9,775,000 in cap savings should be considered a major coup.
With how often I’ve mentioned the Patriots defensive scheme, the fit for Van Noy in Miami is braindead obvious. He brings flexibility that few of our current linebackers and none of our defensive ends have. He’s solid in run defense, as a pass rusher, and even dropping back into coverage. We have guys who can do one or two of those things very well, but none right now who are above average (and consistent) across the board.
Van Noy is expensive for his position and he’s on the older side of the free agents we’ve signed (having just turned 29 shortly after signing), but he should be expected to be a key piece for our defensive scheme with the flexibility he brings to the table. Last year, I thought that Trey Flowers would be a good fit for us given the Patriots. Instead, he rejoined Matt Patricia up north and had a really solid year (seven sacks, fourteen hits, and 41 hurries alongside 33 defensive stops). I’m optimistic that Van Noy can have a similarly smooth transition to working under Flores in Miami.
Emmanuel Ogbah, Two Years, $15,000,000, $7,500,000 Guaranteed
There’s not a lot to be said about Ogbah’s deal that hasn’t already been said about Lawson, except that it’s even less of a financial commitment. Coming off of a career-best, but injury-shortened season, we’re betting on Ogbah to take the next step. The contract is very favorable to the Dolphins: it’s 26th among 4-3 Defensive Ends in terms of APY and has no guaranteed money in year two. As a result, it’s essentially a one year prove-it deal.
If Ogbah plays to his potential and is able to pick up where he left off before injury with the Chiefs, he’s likely to see an extension next year that will keep him with the team long term. If not, we move on no worse for the wear. If he’s a middle-of-the-road kind of guy as he has been for much of his career? Well, $7.5 million isn’t a whole lot for a defensive end who we can still use in rotation.
Signing both Ogbah and Lawson takes immense pressure off of the front office to draft a defensive end high. Considering that we signed Van Noy at linebacker, who figures to have a significant role on passing downs as well, I’d argue that we may not draft a defensive end in the first few rounds at all. Again, more on that later.
Elandon Roberts, One Year, $2,000,000, $1,000,000 Guaranteed
The Patriots were hard up against the cap this year after tagging Thuney, and Roberts was a free agency casualty as a result. This isn’t a big contract, but it’s a good one. Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: he’s a defensive depth player who was a team captain who sees most of his impact on special teams and brings championship experience to our young roster.
Roberts saw a decreased workload at linebacker (where he saw a majority of his snaps as a run defender and in coverage) in 2019 because of his increased role on special teams, but he also saw work as a fullback (and even caught a touchdown against us in the final game of the regular season).
It’s pretty clear that Flores has a type.

Remaining Needs

Our most dire needs are obvious. We don’t have a long-term answer at quarterback. Aside from a gaping hole at left tackle, we could also stand to upgrade at right guard, right tackle, or even center depending on where we play Karras and Davis. After signing Jordan Howard, running back remains a priority as our depth at the position among the worst in the league. We only have two tight ends in the top 51 contracts on this team, and fans and the team alike really only have expectations for Gesicki.
It stands to reason based on positional spending alone that our biggest holes are on offense, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stand to improve on defense as well. If I had to rank needs?
Quarterback Offensive Tackle Guard or Center Free Safety Running Back Nose Tackle Tight End Linebacker
I expect that the most controversial part of this list will be the lack of defensive end. As I’ve suggested above, I don’t think we should be targeting the position as a priority following the signing of Ogbah and Lawson unless someone falls.
Both Ogbah and Lawson have excelled primarily as ends in 4-3 fronts, so expect that’s how we’ll use them most of the time. Ogbah has (at least to my knowledge) not seen much use as an outside linebacker in 4-3 looks and Lawson struggled with it early in his career in Buffalo. So while a pure 4-3 defensive end isn’t high on our list of needs, that doesn’t mean we won’t ignore pass rush entirely.
Van Noy figures to take snaps at one of our outside linebacker spots, exactly where he saw almost all of his snaps with the Patriots. Baker saw time both at the weak side and middle linebacker positions in 2019, and depending on our defensive front will likely continue that trend. These two are the only guys I see on our roster right now who figure as three-down backers unless McMillan makes a big step forward in coverage.
We also have a lot of depth at linebacker: Biegel saw a lot of snaps at outside linebacker last year and he’s returning; in the last two games Van Ginkel saw the majority of the games’ snaps at outside linebacker as well; McMillan and Eguavoen made up the majority of the rest of our snaps at middle linebacker. Except maybe Eguavoen, whose roster spot is the most tenuous of the group, these players all should expect to see continued rotational use.
There’s definitely a scenario where we look to improve our linebackers, and if there’s a guy who can be a three-down type of guy at middle linebacker or someone who flexes really outside in 4-3 and 3-4 looks, I could see us pulling the trigger in the right circumstances. Ultimately, though, I have both nose tackle and free safety listed higher on our list of needs because those are the positions where a major upgrade will bring us the biggest improvement.
For example, John Jenkins played the majority of our snaps at nose tackle in 2019 with Godchaux contributing some snaps there as well. We haven’t brought Jenkins back, and Godchaux’s probably better used at DE in 3-4 looks. Someone who can play rotationally at nose tackle would be a big boon for this defense, and fills a position where we really have no go-to guy. More importantly, that type of rotational player can be had outside of the first round entirely.
I don’t think many people would disagree about listed free safety as one of our top defensive needs. Bobby McCain is coming off of an injury shortened season. Before he was injured, he was having a rough transition to free safety. He got abused in coverage in five of his nine games played in 2019, allowing passer ratings of 139.6, 144.6, 104.2, 118.8, and 158.3.
At the time he signed his current contract, McCain was made the highest-paid slot corner in the NFL and he’s barely played the position since then. Not only would drafting a free safety likely improve upon McCain’s mediocre performance at the position last year, it would allow McCain to return to the position that earned him his contract. Given that the nickel defense is essentially the base defense these days, improving both free safety and nickel corner with one draft pick could improve our defense significantly.
The other needs listed above barely require commenting. Quarterback and offensive line lead our needs by a country mile, and both will almost certainly be addressed early. We need better running back talent to improve on our league-worst rushing in 2019. It’s not a question of if we will draft a running back, but rather when.
Many pundits and fans expect we’ll address the position in the first or second round. Much like my position on drafting a quarterback, I’ve talked to death (even by my standards) about how I feel about drafting running backs in the first round. Some will note the value of using the 26th pick to secure a fifth year option, but I’m not convinced. That fifth year option is just as valuable or more valuable at another position.
Moreover, when was the last time the Dolphins re-signed a running back? Not just a rookie--any running back? Frank Gore, Kenyan Drake, Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams, Lamar Miller, and Reggie Bush were all productive backs in the past decade who we let walk or actively traded away. You have to go all the way back to Ronnie Brown and Ricky Wiliams to find backs who received offers after their initial contracts with the Dolphins, and in both their cases we only gave them another year. Sure, this is a different front office, but that’s a trend that’s been true of this team through multiple front offices, and I’ve seen no indication that it’s likely to change.
Like with linebacker, I see tight end as a position where our depth could improve and wouldn’t be surprised to see us take a flyer late or jump on somebody we like in the middle rounds, but I don’t expect it to be a priority.
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[5/2/2020] Saturday's Off Topic Free Talk Thread

/LonghornNation Daily Off Topic Free Talk Thread

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Offseason with Cidolfus: Quarterbacks

Quarterbacks

There’s no way to discuss the Miami Dolphins looking ahead to the 2020 season without addressing the elephant in the room. Ever since Ryan Tannehill was shipped off to the Titans, a single question has loomed large over the future of this franchise: who is the long term answer under center? As we head into the 2020 draft with a top-five pick, it’s a question we’re going to be hearing an awful lot over the next few months.
I’ll be blunt from the outset: a great deal of this series this year is going to deal with that question. I understand that this is going to cause contentious debate, just as it has throughout the season and will continue to throughout the offseason. I understand also that some of my takes about our strategy this season are going to be controversial.
I’ve tried to stay out of the pro-/anti-tank arguments throughout the season as much as possible. I have not always been successful. Spoiler alert for those who hadn’t already caught on: Cidolfus was pro tank. I understand that this position makes many of you viscerally angry just as I understand that many who supported tanking were annoyed at those celebrating “meaningless” wins. So before we get going, I want to ask everyone to keep one thing in mind not only in regards to my own commentary to follow, but for any discussion in this series or in the many other posts that are sure to occur over the next several months:
Let people be fans in whatever manner makes them happy.
I understand that we have emotional reactions to this sport. Nevertheless, it bears reminding: football is a sport and watching is supposed to be fun. If someone wants to win every Sunday because it’s just more fun to win? Good for them. If someone is willing to trade losses now for a perceived advantage in the long term and is happy to see us lose now because they think it’ll be better later? Good for them. If someone wants to bandwagon a team because they just like to watch winning football on Sundays? Good for them. If someone wants to pick the Dolphins as their team for the future because they like the animal? Pity the poor fool, but good for them.
It’s not my job, your job, or anyone else’s job to tell someone else how to enjoy watching sports, so we should all just try and live and let live. That’s not to say that we can’t discuss these differing viewpoints. The whole point of this series is to generate discussion. Just keep it respectful.
Like last year, I plan on posting one of these each week throughout the postseason, and then when I can find time as appropriate through the offseason I’ll try to follow up with an additional free agency and draft discussion. I’m expecting a lot of real work to hit me beginning on March, though, so we’ll see what happens. As always, this series will be primarily geared towards team-building with a focus on contract management under the salary cap. I don’t pretend to be any great evaluator of NFL talent and instead rely pretty heavily on other sources for that type of analysis. This analysis is pretty statistics heavy, by which I mean the math part. Disclaimer: I’m not a statistician and I’m pretty far removed from what little stats I took in college at this point, so as far as the real math goes, it’s still going to be pretty rudimentary.
With all that said, let’s start The Offseason with Cidolfus III.

The Quarterback Conundrum

Whether you’re a believer or a skeptic of Flores as the coach to drag this franchise kicking and screaming out of mediocrity, I hope it is not too controversial to suggest that getting a quarterback should be our first priority from a roster-building standpoint.
But of course it is.
Especially due to the recent uncertainty regarding Tua Tagovailoa’s intentions to declare for the 2020 NFL draft, this subreddit has seen enthusiastic suggestions from using any of our three first round selections all the way to not even drafting a quarterback in the first three rounds at all and instead rolling into the 2020 season with Fitzpatrick and Rosen. Some suggest faith that Rosen can still develop into the heir apparent. Others recommend punting to the 2021 draft where we can try our chances at Lawrence or Fields. Still others suggest that first round quarterbacks are overrated and point to successes found in the middle and later rounds.
Those who have read these posts in previous years know that I’m a numbers guy. So I spent a good chunk of my holiday vacation this year compiling statistics on every quarterback drafted since 2000 to see what we can learn to inform a strategy as how to best find your future quarterback in the NFL. The data has mostly been culled from Pro Football Reference cross-referenced with Wikipedia for information on when players were rostered but did not play. Being a numbers guy, I would have liked to get into some more advanced metrics like ANY/A+ (which is useful for comparisons over a long period of time since it’s normalized to the league average over a three year period). Unfortunately, this information, and many other stats (like QBR) were not available going back the full twenty years, and I wanted to be as consistent as possible. Instead, I decided on 12 different values across three broader categories:
Activity: Availability is the best ability in the NFL. How many games did the player start? How many seasons was that player on an active roster? What percent of their possible games played did they start? What was the QB win percentage in starts?
Accolades: How many accolades did the quarterback acquire over their career? A lot of people will make appeals to these accolades when determining a player’s value, and while I find them the least helpful for this discussion, it’s good to know for argument’s sake. How many Pro Bowls, First Ballot All Pros, and MVPs did the player receive? How many Super Bowls did they win?
Stats: Nothing too fancy here. How did the player perform over their career? We’re looking mostly at career completion percentage, touchdown to interception ratio, adjusted net yards per attempt, and passer rating. These are some easily-digestible, high-level metrics on a quarterback’s general passing performance. I intentionally omitted rushing performance from this analysis because it’s so extremely skewed in favor of a small handful of quarterbacks that the data wouldn’t be particularly useful.

Some Caveats and Acknowledgments

I tracked total attempts initially as a metric to exclude or weight individual quarterback stats. For example, when calculating the average ANY/A, I wasn’t satisfied with simply taking the simple mean of the stat across all quarterbacks in a given round. After all, why should Tyrod Taylor’s 5.96 ANY/A on 1362 attempts be weighed just as heavily as Jordan Palmer’s -2.50 ANY/A on a mere 18 pass attempts?
On the other hand, weighing these stats would vastly overinflate the value of any single long-time player to skew the averages of any single round. Tom Brady’s 9959 career attempts, for example, account for more than 50% of passes thrown by sixth rounders drafted in the past 20 years. Tom Brady is obviously an outlier in the dataset: to weigh his 7.08 ANY/A as over 50% of the entire sixth round would dramatically skew the results even further.
As a result, I have not weighted any of the stat averages based on attempts or games player or any other metric of longevity. I admit that this skews the results the other way. Sticking with the sixth round, 26 of the 43 players drafted threw 50 or fewer attempts their entire career. Many of them never threw a pass in an NFL game, which I evaluated as straight 0s across the board. I decided that this is very much the point for this analysis: if a quarterback never throws an NFL pass, that is a completely unsuccessful draft pick.
I do not expect NFL drafting behaviors in general to change. Most sixth-round quarterback selections will never get a legitimate chance to start, so tracking averages in such a way that devalues a sixth-round quarterback by scoring them as straight 0s while allowing even bad first round selections to put up marginally better numbers is at least an acceptable reflection of a team’s actual attempts to draft quarterbacks.
There are going to be variables I can’t account for, at least not with the data available to me. Rules changes and general trends in the NFL have resulted in the bar moving pretty dramatically upwards especially in the past couple years.
With that all out in the open, let’s take a look at the past 20 years of drafting quarterbacks. As a quick note, I’ve made the assumption that Lamar Jackson wins the MVP this season (because obviously), but I’ve not projected a winner of the 2020 Super Bowl.

Round by Round

The quick and dirty: 242 quarterbacks were drafted between 2000 and 2019. Let’s start with a simple breakdown of the averages.

Means by Round

Round Players Drafted Games Started Seasons Rostered Start % Win % Pro Bowls All Pros MVPs Super Bowls Completion % TD:INT ANY/A Passer Rating
7 36 8.44 3.86 5.31% 6.39% 0 0 0 0 22.86% 0.28 1.06 24.87
6 43 15.53 4.58 8.86% 13.87% 0.39 0.14 0.08 0.17 36.67% 0.67 2.34 43.02
5 34 3.50 3.74 4.77% 15.27% 0 0 0 0 27.38% 0.35 1.81 31.80
4 26 16.08 5.35 14.57% 21.05% 0.12 0 0 0 50.07% 0.72 3.17 60.43
3 26 22.42 6.08 19.42% 22.41% 0.35 0 0 0.08 50.17% 0.98 3.64 62.03
2 21 41.38 7.29 30.83% 35.97% 0.48 0.19 0 0.05 53.18% 1.07 4.28 67.06
1 56 70.52 7.38 58.57% 46.68% 0.93 0.11 0.11 0.13 60.12% 1.59 5.50 82.68
ALL 242 28.16 5.41 23.02% 23.96% 0.36 0.06 0.04 0.07 43.10% 0.95 3.18 53.88

Medians by Round

Round Players Drafted Games Started Seasons Rostered Start % Win % Pro Bowls All Pros MVPs Super Bowls Completion % TD:INT ANY/A Passer Rating
7 36 0 3.00 0% 0% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
6 43 0 3.00 0% 0% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 34 0 3.00 0% 0% 0 0 0 0 35.80% 0 0.11 17.05
4 26 3.00 4.50 4.48% 5.00% 0 0 0 0 56.80% 0.59 4.37 63.95
3 26 10.00 5.00 13.28% 22.22% 0 0 0 0 59.00% 0.89 4.45 74.10
2 21 21.00 6.00 26.79% 38.71% 0 0 0 0 58.60% 0.86 4.68 72.70
1 56 50.00 7.00 63.54% 47.54% 0 0 0 0 60.30% 1.43 5.47 81.70
ALL 242 7.50 4.00 93.11% 20.00% 0 0 0 0 56.20% 0.71 4.11 69.00
A couple things to note looking at both of these tables in tandem: accolades are a poor metric by which to judge the worth of a quarterback pick in each round. This is easy enough to explain: the same few players have won the same awards multiple times in the past 20 years and there are also a limited number of each award per season. Only one quarterback can win MVP or win the Super Bowl, but multiple players can post a solid ANY/A over 6.00 each season. This scarcity is reflected by the median where the vast majority of players never win any of these awards. Case in point: Tom Brady accounts for 13.63% of all Pro Bowl nods, 33.33% of all First Team All Pros and MVPs, and 37.5% of all Super Bowl victories in the entire population examined. That doesn’t change that drafting a quarterback in the sixth round is functionally worthless.
Similarly, the number of seasons rostered and games rostered correlates very strongly to draft position. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, as even poorly performing players often get more opportunities to start draft position. The steadily increasing seasons rostered also indicates that the higher drafted a player is, the more likely they are to play a second contract. A median seasons rostered of 3.00 for rounds 5-7 indicates that quarterbacks drafted in those rounds are more often than not cut before completing a standard rookie contract.
At a glance, the data confirms what most probably suspected already: the higher a quarterback is drafted, the more likely it is that the team got it right and the quarterback in question was a successful pick. What can be observed from above is the general trend that all statistical measures trend positively with the round the player is selected. In general, from the data here it should be pretty obvious that a team is not likely to find their franchise quarterback after the third round as the means for nearly every category for all of those are lower than the means of all quarterbacks drafted. Shocker: quarterbacks in the back half of the draft are, on average, worse than the average of all quarterbacks drafted. So the question then becomes: how do the top three rounds stack up?

Completion Percentage

Round Mean St. Dev. St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of All
1 60.12% 3.82% 0.64
2 53.18% 17.81% 0.38
3 50.17% 21.73% 0.27

TD:INT

Round Mean St. Dev. St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of All
1 1.59 0.81 0.42
2 1.07 0.80 0.08
3 0.98 1.02 0.02

ANY/A

Round Mean St. Dev. St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of All
1 5.50 0.98 0.79
2 4.28 2.09 0.38
3 3.64 2.15 0.16

Passer Rating

Round Mean St. Dev. St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of All
1 82.68 9.89 0.79
2 67.06 27.33 0.36
3 62.03 29.78 0.22
Again as expected, the first round selection is, in aggregate, better. Importantly, though, first round selections are better not just because they have higher mean values for the stats we’re tracking here; they are better because they typically have less variance and also because they’re notably better relative to an average quarterback from the entire draft. Not only is the average ANY/A of a first round selection much higher than that of a second or third round, the standard deviation within its own population is dramatically lower. It’s a safer pick. The standard deviations of the mean from the mean of all draft selections also suggest that the average first round pick is, in general, better relative to the average of all picks than the second or third is. Again, that shouldn’t be a surprise given what we’ve already seen and the positive correlation between draft status and performance.
The takeaway from this should not be that you can only find success in the first round of the NFL draft for QBs or that top-selected quarterbacks are locks (more on that later). This is obviously and demonstrably not true. The takeaway should be that in the aggregate, quarterbacks in the first round are more successful than those drafted in any other round, and it’s not particularly close.
This brings me to the first of the draft suggestions proposed that I want to directly address.

But the best quarterback from the 2011 draft was a third rounder!

Look at Russell Wilson! Look at Dak Prescott! Drew Brees! Tom Brady! They are some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and they were all drafted outside of the first round. Tony Romo was a really good quarterback, and he even went undrafted! You don’t need to draft a quarterback in the first round to find your quarterback of the future.
Let’s look at all the teams in the NFL and who was projected as the team’s starting quarterback headed into the preseason and what round they were drafted in.
Team Quarterback Round
Arizona Cardinals Kyler Murray 1
Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan 1
Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson 1
Buffalo Bills Josh Allen 1
Carolina Panthers Cam Newton 1
Chicago Bears Mitch Trubisky 1
Cincinnati Bengals Andy Dalton 2
Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield 1
Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott 4
Denver Broncos Joe Flacco 1
Detroit Lions Matt Stafford 1
Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers 1
Houston Texans Deshaun Watson 1
Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck 1
Jacksonville Jaguars Nick Foles 3
Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes 1
Los Angeles Chargers Philip Rivers 1
Los Angeles Rams Jared Goff 1
Miami Dolphins Ryan Fitzpatrick 7
Minnesota Vikings Kirk Cousins 4
New England Patriots Tom Brady 6
New Orleans Saints Drew Brees 2
New York Giants Eli Manning 1
New York Jets Sam Darnold 1
Oakland Raiders Derek Carr 2
Philadelphia Eagles Carson Wentz 1
Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 1
San Francisco 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo 2
Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson 3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jameis Winston 1
Tennessee Titans Marcus Mariota 1
Washington Redskins Case Keenum Undrafted
Only 10 of 32 teams planned to start a quarterback drafted outside of the first round at the beginning of this season. Of those teams planning to start a quarterback drafted outside the first, three of them were rostering quarterbacks drafted in the first who were expected to start at some point of this season (Josh Rosen, Dwayne Haskins). A full 75% of NFL teams went into 2019 planning to start a first rounder at quarterback at some point.
Tom Brady is one of 43 sixth rounds who has amounted to anything. Minshew has a chance at being the second, but his head coach won’t even commit to him as the starter for next season despite his solid performance. What Brady and Minshew have in common is that both got their first opportunity to start because the guy ahead of them on the depth chart who had just inked a massive new deal got injured.
Drew Brees had an up-and-down start to his career in San Diego before he started lighting the world on fire in New Orleans. Dak Prescott, like Brady, got the nod to start because Tony Romo got injured. He looked good in pre-season and flashed there, but if Romo doesn’t go down, is Prescott still the heir apparent? Does he survive two seasons on the bench, or do the Cowboys bring in competition when Romo retires?
Even Russell Wilson wasn’t projected to be the starter when he was drafted. The Seahawks had just inked a deal with Matt Flynn and he was expected to be their starting quarterback. Nobody was betting on the undersized guy to beat him out for the starting gig. Wilson came in and started playing extremely efficient football, sure. But without Beastmode pounding away on the ground and the Legion of Boom keeping scores low, how does that story go?
To be clear, I’m playing devil’s advocate here. I’m not saying this to discredit these players, but rather to demonstrate the reality of the circumstances in which they were drafted. The Patriots and the Seahawks didn’t outsmart everyone by drafting Brady and Wilson late. They got lucky. If Bill Belichick really, truly believed that Tom Brady would lead the Patriots to six Super Bowls, he wouldn’t have waited to the sixth round to draft him.
Banking on getting lucky is not a valid team-building strategy.
Tom Brady, Gardner Minshew, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Drew Brees are the only quarterbacks drafted outside of the first round in twenty years to have a completion percentage of 60%, a TD:INT ratio over 2.00, and an ANY/A rating over 6.00. That’s a pretty low bar for franchise quarterbacks these days, and only eight out of 186 quarterbacks drafted outside of the first round qualify.
I’ll say it again for those in the back: banking on getting lucky is not a valid team-building strategy.

First Round Breakdown

So Cidolfus, you might say, what about within the first round? Top quarterback picks are overrated. Look at the past few seasons: the top QB drafted often isn’t the best QB in the draft. This is often true, so let’s take a look at the numbers here, too. I’ve broken down the quarterbacks selected in the first round by those taken in the top 5, those with picks 6-15, and those with picks 16-32.

Means by Pick

Picks Players Drafted Games Started Seasons Rostered Start % Win % Pro Bowls All Pros MVPs Super Bowls Completion % TD:INT ANY/A Passer Rating
16-32 17 50.76 7.41 38.59% 44.77% 0.59 0.18 0.18 0.12 58.99% 1.60 5.12 76.70
6-15 14 55.14 6.07 56.32% 45.94% 0.79 0.07 0.07 0.14 60.19% 1.59 5.45 82.87
1-5 25 92.56 8.08 73.42% 48.39% 1.24 0.08 0.08 0.12 60.85% 1.58 5.74 84.22

Medians by Pick

Picks Players Drafted Games Started Seasons Rostered Start % Win % Pro Bowls All Pros MVPs Super Bowls Completion % TD:INT ANY/A Passer Rating
16-32 17 33.00 7.00 32.64% 41.67% 0 0 0 0 58.10% 1.19 5.12 76.70
6-15 14 33.50 5.00 57.29% 46.22% 0 0 0 0 59.20% 1.40 5.38 78.95
1-5 25 73.00 7.00 76.79% 50.00% 0 0 0 0 61.50% 1.57 5.80 86.10
The first round plays out similarly to the entire draft. In general, quarterbacks taken in the top five (which, in this data set functionally means quarterbacks drafted in the top three, as only Philip Rivers and Mark Sanchez have been drafted at fourth and fifth overall respectively) are better in the aggregate than those selected elsewhere in the round.

Completion Percentage

Round Mean St. Dev. St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of First
1-5 61.50% 3.16 0.36
6-15 59.20% 4.00% -0.24
16-32 58.10% 5.00 -0.53

TD:INT

Round Mean St. Dev. St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of First
1-5 1.58 0.47 -0.01
6-15 1.59 0.91 0
16-32 1.60 1.14 0.01

ANY/A

Round Mean St. Dev. St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of First
1-5 5.80 0.78 0.31
6-15 5.38 1.32 -0.12
16-32 5.12 0.93 -0.39

Passer Rating

Round Mean St. Dev. St. Dev. of Mean From Mean of First
1-5 86.10 7.71 0.34
6-15 78.95 12.45 -0.37
16-32 76.70 10.85 -0.60
Like before, nothing too surprising here. We already knew that first round picks had relatively low variance, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see statistics clustered really heavily here. Only the touchdown to interception ratio doesn’t outright favor the top five picks, and even then the first five picks have the lowest standard deviation and a difference of 0.02 on a touchdown to interception ratio is only one extra touchdown for every fifty interceptions. That the standard deviation of the means for the 6-15 and 16-32 picks are below the mean of the entire first round in general also isn’t too surprising when considering that nearly half of the quarterbacks taken in the first round in the past twenty years have been taken in the first five picks.

What This Means About the Draft

So, to summarize so far: quarterbacks taken in the first round tend to be better than quarterbacks taken in any other round. They generally post better aggregate stats and there’s also a trend of decreasing variance among draft picks the higher you pick. The same applies to the first round itself but on a smaller scale. In the aggregate, a top five pick on an NFL quarterback not only typically yields the highest average performance, it is also the safest place to draft a quarterback as those who are drafted in that position exhibit the lowest variance of their performances. All of these numbers support what conventional wisdom already tells us.
What should definitely not be ignored in this conclusion, however, is that the data also tells us one other very important thing, and it’s yet another thing that conventional wisdom tells us: drafting a franchise quarterback is really, really hard. If we conclude that the average top five pick is the best chance we have in the aggregate, we also have to come to terms with the fact that the average top five pick also isn’t a great quarterback.
A career completion percentage of 60.19%, a touchdown to interception ratio of 1.59, an ANY/A of 5.45, and a passer rating of 82.87 for a player who wins 46.22% of their games and starts for not even three and a half seasons of games is not great. For some perspective: those numbers are worse than Tyrod Taylor’s career numbers.
A top five quarterback pick is obviously not a lock for a franchise quarterback, but it offers the best chance to find your guy.

What About Free Agents or Trades?

All right, so that’s the draft, but that’s only part of how you put together a roster in the modern NFL. What about our options in free agency or on the trade market? Historically speaking, starting quarterbacks who hit free agency or are traded do so for a reason. You don’t have to go back nearly as far as 2000 to demonstrate my point here. Just look at the last several seasons of transactions:
  • Josh Rosen traded to the Dolphins for a 2nd and a 5th
  • Ryan Tannehill and a 6th traded to the Titans for a 4th and a 7th
  • Nick Foles signed by the Jaguars, 4 years, $88 million
  • Joe Flacco traded to the Broncos for a 4th
  • Case Keenum and a 7th traded to the Redskins for a 6th
  • Case Keenum signed by the Broncos, 2 years, $36 million
  • Kirk Cousins signed by the Vikings, 3 years, $84 million
  • Alex Smith traded to the Redskins for Kendall Fuller and a 3rd
Hindsight on most of these has looked pretty bad for the team acquiring the quarterback. Cousins and Tannehill have been the most successful of the bunch, but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. Tennessee is obviously glad to have Tannehill this year (as are we all), but in 2019 Tannehill and Derrick Henry had a combined salary cap cost under $4 million. The Titans have $48 million in cap space in 2020 and Ryan Tannehill, Logan Ryan, Jack Conklin, and Derrick Henry are all unrestricted free agents. Cousins hasn’t lit the world on fire in Minnesota, and I don’t think anyone is rushing to call his fully-guaranteed contract the deal of the century, but it hasn't been the worst deal in the world.
Teams do not generally let good quarterbacks go unless they have a clear successor ready to roll in their absence. When you see names like Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, or Jameis Winston thrown around this offseason, take a look at who’s replacing him on that roster and ask why we would want to pay veteran quarterback money for someone another team is ready to walk away from.

Okay, So What?

That’s all great, but what does this tell us? There are three prime takeaways from this:
In the aggregate, quarterback performance appears to correspond with draft position. The higher the quarterback is drafted, the better the in general he is likely to be. Most quarterbacks drafted aren’t very good. Busts are common even at the top of the draft where a team has the best chance to find their guy. Free agents are free agents for a reason. If a team is willing to let a quarterback go, odds aren’t good that he’ll be someone substantially different with another team.
With all of this in mind, how should it inform our strategy moving forward? The first takeaway suggests that we shouldn’t bet on beating the system by passing on quarterbacks until later in the draft. It takes a special kind of hubris as a general manager to believe that you’re smarter than everyone else and will be able to find your guy that all the other teams slept on. In the hunt to find a quarterback, most teams will have to invest meaningful draft capital into the position. We have the fifth overall pick, and if a guy we think can be our franchise quarterback is available at that position, we’d be foolish to wait until one of our later firsts or even our seconds to draft him. The only reason that we should be passing on a quarterback in the first round this year is if we do not think that guy is there.
The second takeaway suggests that the single most important thing that we can do to maximize our chances to find our quarterback of the future: keep drafting them. Since Dan Marino left, the Dolphins have drafted six quarterbacks:
  • Josh Heupel (2000; Round 6, Pick 177)
  • Josh Beck (2007; Round 2, Pick 40)
  • Chad Henne (2008; Round 2, Pick 57)
  • Pat White (2009; Round 2, Pick 44)
  • Ryan Tannehill (2012; Round 1, Pick 8)
  • Brandon Doughty (2016; Round 7, Pick 223)
That’s fucking scandalous. In the twenty years since Dan Marino retired, the Dolphins have drafted only six quarterbacks, and only one of them in the first round. We’ve relied heavily on free agents and castoffs from other organizations trying to replace one of the greatest pure passers of all time.
Last year we spent a second round and fifth round selection to trade for Josh Rosen, a first round pick only a year removed from being selected 10th overall. He hasn’t been able to supplant the textbook definition of a journeyman quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick this season. There’s no indication beyond wishful thinking that we should be willing to allow Rosen to be the only young quarterback developing on our roster right now. I believe strongly that unless our front office truly, truly believes that our quarterback of the future isn’t in the 2020 draft, we should be spending our fifth overall pick drafting a quarterback. And even if we don’t love anyone enough to take them at five, we should still be open to drafting someone in the second or third if anyone falls.
As mentioned earlier, the hiring of Chan Gailey as our offensive coordinator probably suggests some level of commitment to Ryan Fitzpatrick as a starting quarterback for at least the beginning of the 2020 season, but no sane fan believes that the 37-year-old journeyman is our future. That said, keeping him on does allow us to avoid throwing a quarterback right into the fire. The reality is that quarterbacks drafted in the first round rarely sit for their rookie seasons anymore. Mahomes only played the last game of his rookie season after the Chiefs had already clinched and Rodgers obviously sat behind Favre, but they’re the two notable exceptions in more than a decade. Even though I expect Fitzpatrick to kick the season off, it’s a good bet that he won’t start the full season.
And then, until we are absolutely certain that our young starting quarterback is the future of our franchise, we should continue to draft quarterbacks. Obviously you don’t need to continue to invest high picks every single year, but until a team has committed to a quarterback on a long-term, veteran contract, it’s in the team’s best interest to continue to invest picks in rounds 2-4 on quarterbacks at least every other year.
One of the biggest mistakes the Dolphins made during Ryan Tannehill’s tenure was ignore the quarterback position after drafting him. The front office should have been drafting quarterbacks if not to push him then to have a young, cheap back-up quarterback with upside. When Tannehill went down with an ACL injury, it’s an absolute travesty that our front office made no effort to augment our QB room until Tannehill reinjured the ACL and missed the season and instead overpaid to bring Jay Cutler out of retirement.
Tannehill’s injury not progressing as expected or being reinjured should have been a scenario we planned for, and that we signed Cutler so late suggests that we never had a serious conversation about what a season of Matt Moore would look like. With Tannehill recovering from injury, we should have used that as an opportunity to add a young guy with upside to our quarterback room. Would it have worked out any better? Given the quarterbacks who came out of the later rounds of the 2017 draft, probably not, but that’s something we know in hindsight, and given the results of the 2017 season and the cap cost of Cutler, it’s a move we should have made.
This team shouldn’t make the same mistake again. The Miami Dolphins have pussyfooted around investing in finding a quarterback for the future through the draft for years, and it’s time that changes. I’ll address my specific thoughts on our options in the draft later in this series. Frankly, until Tua Tagovailoa makes an announcement tomorrow, it’s really too early to say anything for sure. Even if you’re skeptical of Tua for whatever reason, his availability likely shifts how other quarterback-needy teams act (including the possibility of jumping us as the Cardinals did to secure Rosen). In the meantime, to sum up my thoughts on general strategy:
We should almost certainly draft a quarterback in the first round of this year’s draft. Probably at fifth overall unless we really, truly, do not believe in any of the guys available. We should continue to spend middle-round selections on quarterbacks in subsequent seasons until we’re absolutely certain we have our quarterback of the future. Even after we have our quarterback of the future, we should continue to invest in selecting quarterbacks in the later rounds regularly (although not every year) to try to develop talent from within.
What are we looking to find? Based on the numbers, in order to meet what most people would expect of a starting quarterback in today’s NFL, expect the quarterback to hit the following benchmarks at minimum:
  • Completion percentage of at least 60%
  • TD:INT ratio of at least 2.0
  • An ANY/A of at least 6.0
Typically, if a player manages to hit all three of those benchmarks, he’s well on his way to being a winning quarterback, although not necessarily an elite one. And as we’ve just seen in the wildcard round, having a quarterback who’s good enough can sometimes be enough.
Next week, I'll be continuing with where I usually start with this series, the season review including thoughts on the coaching staff, player performance, and a review of in-season transactions. Enjoy the rest of wildcard weekend, all.
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