Jerry Jeudy & KJ Hamler: Broncos: WR: This young duo will be due for a breakout season for a few different reasons. At the moment, the Broncos are in the best spot to land Deshaun Watson. If you get a QB like that in a system with two wideouts like this, you can only expect growth. Even if Lock is still QB1 next season, it can only be assumed that they will get better. Jeudy finished with 113 targets but only 52 receptions and 3 touchdowns. Drops were a key factor that will have to be assessed this off-season. Hamler only had 30 receptions but still finished with 3 touchdowns as well. It must be assumed that if one is able to take a leap, the other will as well.
AJ Dillon. Packers: RB: With the expected departure of both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, this should be Dillon’s job to lose. While the young RB only had 46 attempts and 242 yards during the regular season, there were flashes that could excite even the average football fan. In a week 16 game against the Titans, Dillon had a career day, going for 124 yards on 21 carries and also getting 2 touchdowns. You would have to assume that this glimpse is what made the Packers comfortable enough to potentially let both Jones and Williams walk in free agency.
Darnell Mooney. Bears: WR: The young WR ran some of the best routes in football last season but the QB play did not match up with his efforts. Numerous times, Mooney was left stranded in the open field while balls were either overthrown or underthrown. Even with the inconsistent QB play, Mooney still pulled in 61 balls on 98 targets and racked up 4 touchdowns. While it’s still unknown what the Bears will do at QB next season, you would have to think that with a full off-season, Mooney will produce even more next season. The potential gap that will have to be filled if Allen Robinson is lost to free agency will have to be filled by Mooney. This could lead to a big rise in his production.
Jalen Hurts. Eagles: QB: At least for the moment, Hurts is QB1 in Philly. Now this may change once the draft rolls around if the Eagles choose to go after someone such as Trey Lance or Justin Fields. Now, if the Eagles decide to fix their receiving core and go grab someone such as Ja’Marr Chase or Devonta Smith, this offense could look very different in 2021. Pairing a young QB with a young WR is always a good move, as the two can grow together. The eagles could potentially move money around and also get a free agent such as Will Fuller. A vet who has shown flashes of greatness and a rookie wideout with Miles Sanders in the backfield could lead to a strong offense in a somewhat weak NFC East.
Xavier Mckinney. Giants: SS: The Giants second round pick only appeared in five games, but his impact was clear. During this stretch, he was a key factor in how the defense played. This should excite Giants fans for what is to come as a good safety is needed to be successful in today’s NFL. Mckinney’s key interception in the Giants week 17 game against the Cowboys was a showing of potential. Now that Mckinney will be fully healthy, it is exciting to see how he will fit into this Giants team that is trying to turn things around.
AJ Epenesa. Bills: DE: The young DE was a stud at Iowa and showed glimpses of potential with Buffalo this season, but there is still much to be desired. Espenesa appeared in 13 games for the Bills over both the regular and postseason but only recorded more than one tackle four times. The Bills d-line ranked as one of the worst in the league but an established vet could help revitalize them. Say JJ Watt signed with the Bills and Epenesa could learn behind him, it could be a monstrous step in his development.
Daniel Jones. Giants: QB: There is bias in this selection as I am a Giants fan but the year three leap is proving to be a real thing. Look at the steps that Josh Allen took this past season. If the Giants are able to sign and/or draft a top receiver and get a healthy Saquan back, this offense could be revitalized. Jones cutting down on turnovers and getting a competent o-line could completely change this offense. Now, while this isn’t a simple task, if the Giants spend their offseason correctly, they could be on the way to fixing these issues which would only help Jones.
Paris Campbell. Colts: WR: We have not seen Paris Campbell at 100% in some time but this season could change that. With Wentz being the guy in Indy, the offense could change substantially. While T.Y. Hilton is getting older and may be gone to free agency, Michael Pittman showed promise this season and could take on a lead role. Pair up this core with someone such as a Chris Gowdin and this offense could take off. Allowing Campbell to be the WR3 and have a role similar to that of a Mecole Hardman could be huge for him. I expect to see a jump in numbers this season.
Mike Gesicki TE-Dolphins Rd 2, 42nd pick (2018) Gesicki’s first two seasons have been met with inconsistent qb play. His potential breakout will rely heavily on who is playing QB for the Dolphins. If Tua Tagovailoa is back there, the offense should look and play much differently than if Fitz is leading the group. Tua will allow for a more fast paced offense which would suit Gesicki. With only 5 td’s through his first two years, a recharged offense could cause those numbers to double in one season alone.
N’keal Harry WR-Patriots Rd 1, 32nd Pick (2019) Harry only appeared in 7 games for the Patriots in his rookie season. His play left a lot to be desired as he finished the season with only 12 receptions for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is now fully healthy and will be playing in an offense that lacks any real big time threats at receiver besides Edelman. Coming out of college, Harry’s upside was both his speed and size. With a Pats offense that may see two QB’s on a regular basis, a big sized wideout who can come down with the ball will be necessary.
Drew Lock QB-Broncos Rd 2, 42nd pick (2019) The Drew Lock hype train took off around midway through last season and hasn’t slowed down yet. Even with the hype around him, he hasn’t necessarily “broken out” yet. He appeared in only 5 games and threw for 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The Broncos offense looked very different with him at the front but he left more to be desired. Lock might be in the best position for any young QB. The offense of the Broncos is full of playmakers and Lock should flourish in the system. All of the skill positions are full of young, promising players and the offensive line is built to last. The stock on Lock is high right now and there is a reason for that.
Chase Winovich LB-Patriots Rd 3, 77th pick (2019) Winovich showed flashes in his rookie season and is going to be put in a great position this season. There were times where he was lost in the shuffle in a crowded Pats linebacking core. The void left by Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins is clear and Winovich will be expected to help fill it. He was mainly used in passing situations last season but will be an every down player this upcoming season. The Pats lost 3 defensive starters, either due to free agency or covid opt-outs. All eyes will be on Winovich this season and a breakout is expected.
Hakeem Butler WR-Cardinals Rd 4, 103rd pick (2019) Hakeem Butler lost his rookie season due to injury but he has had a year with the playbook and will be in an electric cardinals offense that is strong at the wideout position. The main guy in Arizona will be D Hop but that second spot is up for grabs. Larry Fitz is on his way out and Christian Kirk was inconsistent at times last year. Butler has both size and speed and now that he’s fully healthy, should complement the Cardinals offense nicely. Teams will try to cover Shop and will have to play both Kirk and Fitz closely. The room this leads for Butler is very clear. I would buy in now.
Bryce Love RB-Washington Football Team Rd 4, 112th pick (2019) Most offenses are running a two RB system and the Washington Football team will be no different. Adrian Peterson has been in the league for what feels like a hundred years and a fall off could happen at any time. This leaves room for the rest of the guys in Washington. Love was a heisman finalist just a couple seasons ago. He would have gone higher in the draft in 2019 if it weren’t for a torn ACL. He will make his debut in 2020 and the spot is up for grabs. Washington did burn a 3rd round pick on Antonion Gibson, a running back out of Memphis in the 2020 draft so that may hurt Love somewhat. But considering how fast and aggressive he was in college, I wouldn’t count him out for 2020.
#1. Minnesota Timberwolves My pick- Lamelo Ball or Trade Trade the pick. Create a package and send it to the Phoenix Suns. Give the people what they want and get Dbook out of Phoenix so he can play with his boys. The Timberwolves know that the clock is expiring on both Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Rusell. They are one bad choice away from either one or both of them requesting a trade out of there. If the pick isn’t traded, Lamelo has to be the choice. A shooter that can stretch the floor and guard multiple positions is necessary in today’s NBA.
#2. Golden State Warriors My pick- James Wiseman Draft James Wiseman. I know it is tempting to trade the pick but you cannot ignore your future. Both Steph and Klay are only getting older and the rooster doesn’t have much depth past them. Young players are needed and Wiseman could be a great building block once the stars are gone. This would also be arguably the best place for Wiseman to go. He could use his size and rack up literally every rebound in his vicinity, especially with how most teams are shifting to a small ball line-up. Pairing him alongside Draymond could be a great duo down low. It may be tempting to take a guy like Anthony Edwards but the Warriors already have Andrew Wiggins. The fit would not make much sense to me.
#3. Charlotte Hornets My Pick- Anthony Edwards This pick could go two different ways. The Hornets will take a hard look at both Anthony Edwards and Deni Avdija. I see the Hornets leaning towards Edwards. His offensive talent won’t be a sure thing at the NBA level but the potential is clearly there. Miles Bridges and PJ Washington have both played very well at both the 2 and 3 spots but Edwards would give either of them a run for the spot. His shooting is somewhat worrisome as he shot less than 30% from 3 on a Georgia team where he was the primary ball handler. In all honesty, I could see the Hornets trade out of this spot. A team like the Knicks might offer a package that the Hornets would not possibly be able to ignore.
#4. Chicago Bulls My Pick- Deni Avdija The Bulls will most likely take a hard look at Obi Toppin here. They are already deep at both the 4 and 5 as they have taken Wendell Carter Jr, Lauri Markannan, and Daniel Gafford in just the past few years. Adding Toppin here might cause even more clutter and less room to flourish. Deni Avdija is my pick here. The success of overseas players in the NBA right now cannot be ignored. The fit here would make much more sense. Deni is a good shooter and would help stretch the floor. The Bulls have had a gap for multiple years now at SF and this could be what fixes the problem. This would also give both Coby White and Zach Lavine more room within the offense.
On Tuesday, Ronaldo and Messi met for maybe the last time ever as Barcelona faced off against Juventes. The 36th matchup, which soccer fans eagerly waited 947 days for, was not necessarily very exciting as Juventus won the match 3-0.
All eyes were on Ronaldo as he scored two goals, both being penalty kicks. Messi on the other hand, left the stat sheet empty for the day.
The game itself was important as it played a vital role in the Champions League, which is currently in full swing but the focus was not on that. For nearly 13 years, the match-up between Messi and Ronaldo has been must-see TV. Through all of these games, Messi has had the upper hand in goals, assists, and most importantly, wins with 16 to 11. There have also been nine draws between them.
While soccer fans have pitted Messi and Ronaldo against each other, the two of them do not necessarily see it as that. After the game, Ronaldo spoke of his long-time opponent. “I never saw him as a rival. He always tried the best for his team, and I tried the best for mine. I always got on well with him. I am sure he will say the same if you ask him.” Much like every other rivalry in sports, the players have a mutual respect for each other and much of the “rivalry” is pushed and created by the fans themselves. In October, Messi and Ronaldo were scheduled to play but due to Ronaldo contracting Covid-19, he was not available. Messi was asked about the relationship that the two of them shared back then. “The duel between me and Cristiano Ronaldo was very good on a personal level and I think people enjoyed it.” The answer was fitting for Messi as through the years, he has typically been the one to speak less on the subject.
The power of Messi and Ronaldo is arguably unmatched in sports. On a random Tuesday in December, two of the best soccer players of all time met on the pitch, for maybe one last time. The future of both players is very much unknown. Both players are dealing with problems with their clubs internally. It is public knowledge that Messi does not want to be in Barcelona any longer. There are also rumors that Ronaldo is not a part of the future in Juventus.
The beauty of Messi vs Ronaldo is nearly poetic. The battles that have come from them have brought soccer fans joy for years. While they have aged into the sport gracefully, it is unknown if this was their last duel. But if this truly was the last opportunity to see them play against each other, soccer fans are thankful for the journey that they have brought them on.
Rookie shooting guard Tyler Herro played a large role in the Miami Heats game 4 win over the Boston Celtics. The rookie erupted for a career high 37 points on 14/21 shooting while also going 4/4 from the free throw line. Herro also scored the second most points in a playoff game for somebody aged 20 or younger; only behind Magic Johnson for the most ever. The record is still well within reach for the young shooting guard as the Heat potentially still have a lot of playoffs to go.
Heat superstar Jimmy Butler spoke very highly of the rookie after the game. “But for him, it’s another day at the office. I think it makes all of us smile.” The poise of the 20-year old is unmatched and very rarely seen, especially from someone so young. This sort of play is normally reserved from the legends of the game. Players such as LeBron, Stephen Curry, or Kevib Durant are expected to score at high levels. They know that it is expected of them but for a 20-year old to do it, that is rarely seen.
After the game Brad Stevens, Head Coach of the Celtics, had a lot to say about the rookie. “Herro’s shot-making tonight was the difference in the game.” The praise from a coach of Steven’s stature, who has coached very good players and coached good teams, is nothing to ignore.
The emergence of Herro didnt come as a surprise to everyone. People that follow the NBA, especially things such as the NBA Draft, know the significance of the 13th overall pick. Notable players such as Donovan Mitchell, Zach Levine, Devin Booker, and Kobe Bryant were all taken 13th overall. Kobe is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and the rest of these players are currently at the forefront of the new wave of the NBA.
Herro knows that what he is doing is special but he does not let that get to his head. The 20-year old has faced criticism since high school, when he chose to decommit from The University of Wisconsin and instead attend the University of Kentucky. After his 37 point performance, Herro spoke about what led him to that moment. “At Kentucky, nobody thought I would survive there. Nobody thought I would survive here. At the end of the day, its just betting on myself. That’s what I do. Bet on myself.”
The Heat take on the Celtics in a decisive game 5 on Friday.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have parted ways with long-time Head Coach Billy Donovan. It must be assumed that Donovan won’t be avaliable for long as it has been less than six hours and teams such as the Chicago Bulls are already showing interest. Donovan coaching a young Bulls team with all of the pieces that they have, plus a the 4th overall pick might lead to something special.