NFL

Ranking quarterbacks, free agent rumors, Raiders projections and more

In this week’s mailbag, we talk quarterbacks to start a franchise with, whether you should believe in the Oakland Raiders and much more.

We had some great questions this week. Let’s jump right in!

By the premise of the question, I’m eliminating older quarterbacks. If you’re 30 years old or above, you’re out.

The easy choice at No. 1 is Patrick Mahomes. He’s 23 years old and coming off an MVP season that saw 5,097 passing yards and 50 touchdowns. The debate starts at the second spot.

Although there’s a nasty injury history, give me Andrew Luck. He’s healthy right now, he’s 29 years old and he’s a phenomenal talent. If the shoulder holds up, he could be great for another decade.

After that, Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has all the tools, he’s gutsy as hell and he cares. Only 24 years old, he’s the total package. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be elite for 10-15 years.

For me, the last two spots are between Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Sam Darnold and Deshaun Watson. I’ll take Watson and Goff, in that order. Both are in their mid-20s and should only get better. If Watson wasn’t saddled with the worst offensive line in the league, he’d be putting up absurd numbers. As for Goff, he has a bit of Jim Everett to him when pressure is in his face, but he throws a great ball and he’s a better athlete than people realize.

Darnold.

As a rookie, the former USC star threw for 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Don’t be shocked if you see something like 25 touchdowns and 12 picks with around 4,000 yards this season. The Jets added a ton of help around him in Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder, along with the return of Quincy Enunwa.

I believe Josh Allen takes a step or two this season, but the accuracy concerns are real. If you can’t complete passes in college, that’s not going to change when the windows are smaller and the defenders are faster.

Mayfield likely has the best year, but he’s already excellent. I don’t think there’s a big leap as much as a steady progression. With Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson, neither is going to notch great stats in those offenses.

This depends on your definition of big-name.

Eric Berry is a  big name, but he’s also 30 years old and has played four games in two years. Muhammad Wilkerson has some star power, but he hasn’t been dominant in a few seasons. Morris Claiborne is a good player at a premium position, but he’s not great by any stretch.

I think we’ll see a few more name players sign before late July. Injuries happen in OTAs and minicamps, and teams will be proactive in those instances. We’ll see some older stars remain free agents into August, but yes, there will be a smattering of signings.

I don’t see it.

The Oakland Raiders added talent, but they have a few things going against them. For starters, the schedule is absolutely brutal.

Oakland doesn’t play a home game between Sep. 15 and Nov. 3. Insane.

Also, the road slate: Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos, Jets, Colts, Texans, Packers and Vikings.

I’m also dubious to adding Vontaze Burfict and Richie Incognito to the locker room. Why do it? Both players are beyond their primes and significant character concerns.

The Raiders basically stole Antonio Brown away and the draft should add talent in many areas, but it’s hard to see Oakland being anything more than a third-place team in the AFC West.

Alright, let’s hit these in succession.

The Chiefs are certainly in the market for a corner. This is well-known across the league. Kansas City signed Bashaud Breeland to a one-year deal but could certainly use another piece on the boundary.

Looking at General Manager Brett Veach’s history, he swings big. While the Chiefs haven’t been seriously engaged to this point on the Patrick Peterson front, that could change. Peterson is serving a six-game suspension, but he’s an eight-time Pro Bowler in the prime of his career. The other name to watch is Xavier Rhodes. The Vikings have less than $1 million in cap space, so somebody will be jettisoned. It could be Kyle Rudolph. It could be Trae Waynes. It could be Rhodes.

As for the defense, I think it’s an average group. The secondary should be much-improved with the additions of safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill (one of the draft’s big steals) and Breeland. Up front, Justin Houston and Dee Ford are out, but the acquisitions of Frank Clark, Alex Okafor, Emmanuel Ogbah and rookie Khalen Saunders represent an overall upgrade.

Finally, Wilson. The Chiefs signed Wilson to a two-year deal, and he’ll compete for snaps with Reggie Ragland, Darron Lee and Dorian O’Daniel. The only surefire starter is Anthony Hitchens, whether it be as the MIKE or WILL.

For the sake of answering the question, let’s say Tyreek Hill gets suspended for six games. Last year, Hill caught 87 passes, averaging 5.44 receptions per game. In essence, we’re talking about 30 catches.

Assuming Sammy Watkins is healthy, he’s likely getting a good share of these, with rookie Mecole Hardman and Travis Kelce gobbling up the rest. The Chiefs have been vocal of Hardman being integrated from Week 1 on, but he’s still a rookie. It’s a challenge to learn Andy Reid’s complicated system.

Mahomes is going to feel the absence of Hill most when he breaks the pocket. Go back and watch Mahomes when he escapes and starts running along the line of scrimmage. So many of those plays — including the infamous left-handed throw and the 4th and 9 against Baltimore — ended up in Hill’s hands. It won’t be crippling, but it’ll matter.

Great question. What you’re asking about used to be legal. Former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver R.C. Owens was famous for the feat. In the 1970s, the Chiefs used 6-foot-10 tight end Morris Stroud to try and block kicks at the crossbar. A few other players were deployed similarly. However, the strategy has since been outlawed.

A player can stand under the crossbar and field a short field goal, but he can’t interfere with it’s flight path. If that happens, there’s a 15-yard penalty for goaltending.

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