Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The Guys You Don't Know (But You Should) AFC West Edition
Peyton Manning wasn't the only one who had a season we did not expect. His receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker had star studded seasons thanks to their new quarterback. Carson Palmer and Brandon Myers became a connection people did not think would even happen, as Palmer looked pretty atrocious in 2011. Eric Weddle finally came out of the shadow of Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu to show he is one of the elite safeties in the NFL, while his teammate Danario Alexander made us forget that San Diego spent nearly 40 million dollars to bring in Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem. The AFC West clearly underperformed in 2012. If you take out the Broncos, this division finished the season with a record of 13-35. Three out of the four teams in the division have new head coaches in place. The new schemes make it near impossible to predict what is upcoming for the AFC West in 2013. Will Peyton be able to survive another season under center? Will Matt Flynn be able to finally lock down the Raiders quarterback position? What is the Chargers franchise going to look like in the first season beyond the AJ Smith/Norv Turner era? As always, the unknown players will have a large part in who ends up taking the division in 2013.
Denver Broncos - Wesley Woodyard LB
als process as we speak. Wesley
Kansas City Chiefs - Donnie Avery WR
Donnie Avery was one of the most under the radar signings of the offseason. The Chiefs desperately needed a second option beside Dwayne Bowe, and they went out and got Avery. His numbers don't look like he is anything but the bust he seemed like since being taken 33rd overall by the Rams in 2008. In five years in the league (one in which he missed the entire season due to a knee injury), he has 2,089 yards and 12 touchdowns. Not the kind of numbers that scream "going to break out". He made strides last season in helping Andrew Luck have a record setting rookie season. He was an asset both on and off the field for the Colts. The Chiefs have been trying for years to try and find a liable number two receiver to get some of the double teams off of Bowe. Avery has the break away speed to at least warrant a look, but I think he will be much more than this. Andy Reid comes into his first season as head coach of a team that isn't the Eagles. His passing attack is his biggest asset. He is known to sometimes forget about the running game to try and win with his passing attack. With new quarterback Alex Smith brings a viable player to sit behind center. Expect a ton of production from Donnie Avery in this new offense. He may finally shake that draft bust status he has been carrying around since his break out rookie year.
Oakland Raiders - Latavius Murray RB
Currently slated as the third running back on a team that's best offensive player plays the same position. Why is he here? Well, Darren McFadden is that star offensive player, and he did not seem like the guy we were used to last season. He has yet to put together a year with a full sixteen games without an injury that took away some games. It seemed to finally catch up to him last seasons as his yards per carry dropped more than two yards from the year before. Rashad Jennings was brought in to be his backup, but when he got the chance to be "the man" in Jacksonville when Maurice Jones-Drew went down, he laid an egg. Just because there is a good chance he will play, why will Murray be any good? He played against inferior competition at Central Florida, which is something that needs to be considered, but he is built like a brick house and ran 4.38 40 at Central Florida pro day. He has break away speed with the strength to play in between the tackles. He may end up being this season's version of Alfred Morris. He was taken in the sixth round and could end up taking the Raiders running back job for himself. He has all the skills of McFadden (big guy, can run outside or inside just as efficient, can catch the ball) he just doesn't have the pedigree. He is getting raved by the coaching staff and he showed at CFU that he can score (34 touchdowns in three seasons). Expect him to beat out Jennings in camp, and then the countdown to McFadden's injury begins.
San Diego Chargers - Marcus Gilchrist S
Gilchrist never seemed to get a real shot under Norv Turner. He was used as a backup corner when he had so much more talent than that. The new regime under Mike McCoy seems to want to see what this kid could do. They are trying him at both cornerback and safety to see where he best fits in the new system. As of right now, it seems that he will be lining up next to Eric Weddle. He could be the next Ryan Clark, causing a new debate as to who the best safety tandem in the league is. We may be getting ahead of ourselves with the predictions, but it just seems like Chargers fans have something to look forward to finally. Weddle will help with any hiccups Gilchrist might have in learning his new position. He will become dominant at the position by the eighth game of the season. Practicing against Antonio Gates will also help him when playing some of the best tight ends in the NFL. It may be a bumpy ride, but you will know who this man is by the end of the season.