The July of Drafts – MLB, NBA, and NHL 2021 Draft day breakdown

Professional sports drafts consist of teams choosing athletes that they think are the best fit for their team. All drafts look different based upon the sports that are hosting them. The National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball conduct their drafts differently than others.

National Football League

The National Football league held its draft on April 29th and ended on May 1st, 2021. The selection of players is conducted by college athletes, players from other teams previously in the NFL, and free agents. The draft itself consists of seven rounds, the rounds are split between three days. The first day is only for the first-round draft picks, Friday is selected for second and third rounds and Saturday is for rounds four through seven.

 Each round has 32 picks and each round has a time limit for each team selecting players. On the first day, teams get ten minutes to pick their players, seven minutes in the second round, five minutes through rounds three through six, and four minutes for round seven. The order in which teams select players is based on the team’s success in the previous season. Whichever team did the worst in the season gets the first pick in every round and the Superbowl champions picks last. Slots 1-20 are assigned to teams how didn’t make the playoffs and the Superbowl champions have slot 32 and the last pick in each round.

Players coming out of high school are required to have completed three years and have used their college eligibility before the beginning of the upcoming college football season. Recent college graduates are eligible for the draft within the year of their last collegiate game.

For more information about the NFL Draft, click the link below to stay up to date with all news and schedules following the 2021 draft.

https://www.nfl.com/draft/

Major League Baseball

The Major League Baseball draft will be held on July 11th-13th 2021 in Denver, Colorado. This year’s draft will last 20 rounds as compared to the 2020 draft that was shortened due to COVID with five rounds. Recent high school graduates and or high school graduates who have completed one year of junior college are eligible for the draft. Athletes attending four-year colleges are eligible by their junior year or when they turn 21 years old.

The draft rounds are structured similarly to the NFL’s draft that being in reverse order by each team’s prior season standing. This year’s order will start with the Pittsburgh Pirates and will end with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the previous World Series Champions from the 2020 season. The Houston Astros were denied their first and second-round picks in 2020 and now in 2021 as punishment for sign stealing. The league also assigns value to each pick in the first ten rounds. The overall total of the salaries can’t go over the total amount for the slot values in the first 10 rounds.

Less than a week until the MLB 2021 draft and the top 100 prospects are being showcased.

The National Basketball Association

The NBA Draft 2021 takes place on July 29, 2021, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. There are two total rounds in the draft and within the 30 teams in the NBA each team gets a pick in each round, therefore 60 players get drafted each year. The NBA conducts the draft by having a Draft lottery, the purpose is so that the team that wins the lottery gets the first pick in the draft instead of the worst team choosing first. This means the first 14 picks are structured by the lottery and the remaining teams are picked similar to other professional sports leagues, by previous team standings in reverse order.

Teams can also trade draft picks before and during the draft process. Eligibility for the draft includes athletes being at least 19 years old and has been graduated from high school for at least one year. Player Eligibility is also guaranteed if the athlete has completed four years at a college/university. Teams have five minutes to choose their desired athlete in each round of the draft.

The top 14 picks for from the NBA draft lottery.

The National Hockey League

The National Hockey League’s 2021 draft begins July 23 and ends on July 24th and is set to be in Secaucus, New Jersey but the players will enter the draft through zoom. Since the draft will be held virtually, day one of the draft will only consist of round one, the following day will hold rounds two through seven. The NHL’s draft process is similar to other professional sports drafts by having draft picks based upon the lottery, previous season standings, and playoff results. Athletes entering the draft are considered if they are 18-20 years old when the draft begins.

The draft consists of 7 rounds and 31 picks are allowed throughout each round. In total players are coming from three different types of organizations to be considered for the draft which includes junior hockey leagues in the US and Canada, European junior and senior hockey leagues, and NCAA teams. Although the age requirements are between 18-20 years old, if players are over 20 years old they can join a team they choose as free agents. This year the draft will start with the Buffalo Sabres with the first pick and the second pick will go to the Seattle Kraken.

A quick guide that includes the top 2021 NHL Draft Prospects along with scouting reports and information about the upcoming draft.

Three Reasons Why Lamar Jackson Deserves Your Respect

The football’s media narrative of Lamar Jackson has been a rollercoaster as of late. Just one year ago, Jackson became the second unanimous MVP in NFL history after setting the single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback. He was on the cover of Madden. Every kid on the playground wanted to juke out defenders just like him.

Now, Jackson has fallen out of the ‘elite’ category in many minds. This week, Pro Football Focus (PFF) generated headlines by omitting him from a list of the 50 best players in the league. Why the sudden drop-off? Jackson did fall short of expectations last year, but improving on his historic 2020 season was almost impossible. Don’t let recency bias obscure the fact that Jackson remains one of the most dangerous passers in football today.

1. Even Legends Have Down Years

The NFL media has a habit of declaring that players have lost their touch after a single disappointing season. Just one year ago, the sports world had decided that Aaron Rodgers was entering the decline of his career and had “lost his timing.” He responded by setting career-highs in touchdown passes and completion percentage in his 2020 MVP season. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady also both won Super Bowls after being written off by the media.

Obviously Lamar Jackson has not quite reached the status of those legendary players, but the point still stands. The 16-game NFL season is incredibly short — making generalizations about a player after one bad year is like denouncing a baseball player after a couple of bad weeks. Jackson should be judged based on what we know he is capable of, not only what we have seen recently.

2. Baltimore’s Receiving Corps Is Among The League’s Worst

Ravens position review: Wide receivers take small steps forward, but  there's still a big need - Baltimore Sun

Nearly every quarterback ranked above Jackson on PFF’s top 50 players list has one thing in common: an elite wide receiver to throw to. Patrick Mahomes has Tyreek Hill; Josh Allen has Stefon Diggs; and Lamar Jackson has … Marquise Brown?

It is unreasonable to judge Jackson’s passing stats without taking into account the lack of talent around him. Allen did not become a star player until Diggs joined his team. Yes, he did take great strides as a passer last year, but there’s no denying that Diggs was at least partially responsible for the turnaround.

Jackson, however, has had no such luck. Baltimore’s wide receivers earned a combined 68.5 pass-catching grade from PFF last year, fourth-worst in the league. None of them had over 800 yards. The Ravens used a first-round pick on Rashod Bateman to try and turn things around, but it is unlikely that the group will be much better next year.

Despite that lack of talent, Jackson had the seventh-highest QBR in the league last year. He is the only quarterback in the top 10 without a Pro-Bowl-caliber receiver.

3. His Arm Talent Is Real

Analysis: Bills took away explosive runs, shut down Lamar Jackson | Buffalo  Bills News | NFL | buffalonews.com

Though Jackson’s passing ability is less impressive than his running, he is more than capable in the pocket.

Baltimore’s offense is built entirely around running the ball. They ranked first in the league in rushing yards last year and had 31 runs of over 20 yards. That explosiveness allows Jackson to focus more on short plays in the passing game, at which he is among the league’s best. He had a 73% completion percentage on short throws last year, one point behind Mahomes.

Even if Jackson never becomes an elite deep ball thrower, his accuracy and ability to move the chains will keep Baltimore in Super Bowl contention for years to come.

Demaryius Thomas: Career Retrospective

Demaryius Thomas announced his retirement from football after 10 seasons this Monday in a video statement released by the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos’ first-round pick in 2010, Thomas has the second-most receiving yards (9,055) and touchdown catches (60) in franchise history and was a key member of Denver’s 2016 Super Bowl roster. Let’s take a look back at his legendary career.

2010 NFL Draft

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  Demaryius Thomas from the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they hold up a Denver Broncos jersey after Thomas was drafted by the Broncos number 22 overall during the the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Demaryius Thomas;Roger Goodell Photo: Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images / 2010 Getty Images
Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images

The Broncos selected Thomas No. 22 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft as the first receiver off the board. Denver took a risk by passing on the more experienced Dez Bryant — Thomas was not a major part of the offense at Georgia Tech and never recorded more than 50 receptions in a season. It’s safe to say that risk paid off.

Early Career: 2010-2011

Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas’ inexperience limited him early on and kept him from a starting role in his first two seasons. He had only 22 catches for 283 yards as a rookie. He got more playing time in 2011 but struggled with consistency: he was targeted 70 times but only caught 32 passes. The Broncos offense as a whole was stagnant with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow behind center, but that would soon change.

The Peyton Manning Years: 2012-2016

Denver Broncos news: Peyton Manning works out with Demaryius Thomas

When the Broncos signed Peyton Manning before the 2012 season, they formed one of the most productive quarterback-receiver duos in the league. Thomas put up 1,434 receiving yards in their first year together and made his first of three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl.

In 2013, their chemistry helped produce one of the most prolific offensive season in NFL history. The Broncos as a whole totaled 7,317 yards, the second-most ever. Manning broke the records for passing yards and touchdown passes in a single season, and Thomas led the team with 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns. It all culminated in a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII. The Broncos came up short against Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom’ defense, but Thomas set a Super Bowl record with 13 receptions.

Thomas cemented his status as one of the league’s top playmakers with a career-high 1,619 yards in 2014, a franchise record. Denver, though, did not return to the Super Bowl until the 2015 season. Though Thomas was largely a nonfactor in those playoffs, he earned his first and only championship ring in a 24-10 defeat of the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

End of Career: 2016-2020

Texans WR Demaryius Thomas wants to keep playing
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Thomas was never quite the same after Manning’s retirement. 2016 was his fifth consecutive and final 1,000-yard season, He was traded to the Houston Texans for a fourth-round pick at the 2018 trade deadline, ending his days as a No. 1 receiver. The Texans released him after that season. He then signed with the Patriots, who traded him to the Jets before the season even began for a sixth-round pick. He found some success in New York, starting 10 games, but was third on the depth chart. The Jets released him and he sat out 2020 as an unsigned free agent.

Top 100 NFL Players of 2021: 80-71

Throughout the offseason, Baseline Times will be ranking the top 100 NFL players for the 2021 season.

Every Thursday night, 10 players will be released with a short discussion about what separates them from the rest of the pack. Rankings are based on both past performance and projections for next year.

Previous Top 100 NFL players:

80. Harrison Smith, S, Vikings

No team has done a better job in the past decade of keeping their defense intact than the Vikings, and Smith is their longest-tenured player. Though he was never truly game-changing, few active players have played at a high level for as long. Last year was his first Pro Bowl snub in six years, but he was just as impressive as always and shows no signs of slipping off.

79. Roquan Smith, LB, Bears

A bruising linebacker very much in line with the Chicago tradition, Smith broke out as a do-it-all player in his third season. He led the league with 18 tackles for loss and ranked second with 98 solo tackles. He was also the first Bear to rank top 10 in the league in tackles since Brian Urlacher.

Chicago’s defense was merely average last year despite tons of talent, but Smith was not part of the problem. He should have been an All-Pro, and likely will be this season.

78. Danielle Hunter, DE, Vikings

Once the unquestioned leader of Minnesota’s pass rush, Hunter missed all of last season with a neck injury. He racked up 29 sacks in the two years before that, earning Pro Bowl honors both times, and will rank much higher on this list next year if he proves he can return to form.

77. Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys

Amari Cooper has made four trips to the Pro Bowl in six NFL seasons. (Ron Jenkins/Associated Press)

It’s almost impossible for a wide receiver to live up to being the No. 4 overall pick, but Cooper has come pretty darn close. In two and a half seasons with Dallas he has scored 19 touchdowns and become Dak Prescott‘s favorite target.

His stats are not exactly eye-popping — he has yet to top 1,200 yards in a season — but he has the ability to make contested catches and make defenders miss in the open field.

76. Chandler Jones, DE, Cardinals

Chandler Jones has always been in someone else’s shadow. He never got the respect that contemporaries like J.J. Watt and Von Miller did, but statistically he is almost as impressive. Once those players saw a dip in production, his 19-sack 2019 season was obscured by Stephon Gilmore‘s Defensive Player of the Year Award.

But since entering the league in 2012, no one has more than Jones’ 97 sacks — even though he missed most of last year with an arm injury. He and Watt may not produce gaudy numbers together in Arizona, but it is going to be pleasure to watch them both try and cement their cases for the Hall of Fame.

75. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Ravens

Humphrey is one of only a few cornerbacks left who can truly match up with any receiver. Since 2018, he has earned a grade of 90.0 from Pro Football Focus in single coverage, second only to Stephon Gilmore.

His play took a small step back last year but his physical brand of coverage still helped him force eight fumbles, the second-most ever by a defensive back. As he enters his fifth year, he is only going to better.

74. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seahawks

Metcalf was one of the hardest players to rank on this list. On the one hand, just look at him. His 229-pound frame instantly makes him one of the league’s best deep threats, as evidenced by his 10 touchdowns last year. On the other hand, he lacks the polish so far to get open against elite defenders — Jalen Ramsey held him to 87 yards combined in two games last year.

But he is still much more than just the freak athlete who chased down Arizona’s Budda Baker. He is already the best wideout Russell Wilson has ever played with. If he can improve his quickness and route-running, he has the potential to be the best in the NFL.

73. Demario Davis, LB, Saints

Demario Davis produced 119 tackles last year and remains one of the league’s most disruptive players. (Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press)

The 32-year-old Davis still possesses the physicality of a player five years younger and was on the field for nearly every defensive snap in New Orleans last year. Now entering his tenth season, Davis stands out even on a defense filled with veteran leaders. His energizing prescience will be invaluable as the franchise tries to find its footing without Drew Brees.

72. Aaron Jones, RB, Packers

It’s easy to dismiss Jones’ 25 touchdowns over the past two years as a product of playing on the Packers. Reaching the end zone is not too hard when Davante Adams can make a 50-yard play on a whim.

But Jones is the rare workhorse back who also makes every rush count. He averaged 5.5 yards per attempt last year, second best in the league and almost unprecedented for a fifth-round pick.

With excellent vision, Jones weaves through gaps with ease and patience. It appears that he lacks explosiveness, but avoiding sharp cuts helps him maintain his speed and always gives him a chance at a big play.

71. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers

Is Keenan Allen the most underappreciated player in football? The sure-handed Chargers wideout made his fourth-straight Pro Bowl last year and was eight yards away from his fifth 1,000-yard season, but is rarely mentioned with the league’s best. He unsurprisingly emerged as Justin Herbert‘s favorite target and will be invaluable while Herbert grows more comfortable in the pocket.

Julio Jones trade grades: Titans and Falcons earn high marks for splashy move

The Tennessee Titans put the AFC on notice by trading for Julio Jones on Sunday, keeping their premium draft capital but taking on all of Jones’ onerous contract. He is guaranteed $15.3 million next year and is slated to earn $11.5 million in each of the next two years.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Titans receive:
  • Julio Jones
  • 2023 sixth-round draft pick
Falcons receive:
  • 2022 second-round draft pick
  • 2023 fourth-round draft pick
Titans grade: B+

Regardless of what team you root for, this is a great trade for football fans. Tennessee paired the most prolific wide receiver of the past decade with the best running back in football (Derrick Henry) and rising star A.J. Brown. With the efficient Ryan Tannehill running the show, the Titans will have the NFL’s most effortless offense next year.

Tennessee earns a high grade for keeping their first-round pick despite rumors that the Falcons had been offered one. They expect to make a deep playoff run next year, so the second-rounder they gave up will likely have little value.

But let’s make one thing clear: the trade has little, if any, impact on the Titans’ Super Bowl odds. Their offense was never the problem; they tied for second in the league last year in total offense but were 28th in defense. More pass attempts will simply mean fewer carries for Henry — not necessarily a more potent offense. For two years, Tennessee has been an edge rusher away from joining the upper echelon of NFL teams. Another offseason is about to pass without them changing that fact.

It’s impossible to know what the 32-year old Jones will bring to the table, especially because we only have nine injury-free games from last year to evaluate him with. We have already seen that quarterbacks’ ability can disappear without warning, but there is little precedent for someone who has been as good as Jones for so long.

However, recent greats like Antonio Brown and Randy Moss saw their play drop off sharply in their early 30s. Jones showed flashes of his former self last year in three games with over 130 yards but also struggled to create separation and often ended up with less than five targets.

Regardless of how he performs, Jones will make an absurd amount of money. Only DeAndre Hopkins has a higher annual value. The Titans earn a B+ simply for adding a future Hall of Famer, but his salary keeps them from a top grade.

Falcons grade: B+

Atlanta terribly mismanaged this trade. Even before Jones accidentally announced his desire to leave the team on live television, the Falcons made it painfully clear how desperate they were to dump his salary.

But even if things had gone perfectly, the Falcons were never going to get a first-round pick for Jones. The Texans couldn’t even get a first-rounder when they dealt Hopkins last year in the prime of his career.

All that mattered was finding someone to take on all of Jones’ salary so that Atlanta can focus on rebuilding their roster. There was no way to justify paying any receiver, let alone one in their thirties, $22 million when the Falcons are so far away from contention.

With two extra draft picks, they can afford to take a flyer at quarterback next year or put together a package to trade up in the first round. In the meanwhile, Ridley and Kyle Pitts can easily anchor their passing game.

Julio Jones was even more synonymous with the Falcons than Matt Ryan. By trading him, Atlanta signaled that they are ready to commit to a rebuild and finally escape their 2017 Super Bowl hangover.

Top 100 NFL Players of 2021: 90-81

Throughout the offseason, Baseline Times will be ranking the top 100 NFL players for the 2021 season.

Every Thursday night, 10 players will be released with a short discussion about what separates them from the rest of the pack. Rankings are based on both past performance and projections for next year.

This week’s list is filled with veterans who took a big step forward last year, as well as some unsung young heroes.

Previous Entries: 100-91

90. Derwin James, S, Chargers

So far, James has lived up to his pre-draft evaluation: if he can stay healthy, he is a game-changing safety. He fell to the Chargers at No. 17 in the 2018 draft because of a leg injury and was a first-team All-Pro that season. However, his leg sidelined him for all of 2020 and most of 2019. He is reportedly fully healthy, and a successful start to the season could quickly change the narrative surrounding him.

89. J.J. Watt, DE, Cardinals

No one has dropped down this list as quickly and as suddenly as Watt. Once the consensus best player of his generation, it feels like much longer than three years since he recorded 16 sacks and was named a first-team All-Pro. Last year, he had five sacks and 17 quarterback hits, both career-lows for a full season.

Now, Watt will suit up for a team besides Houston for the first time. Expectations are low, and Watt has punched his ticket to Canton regardless of how he performs. But he will need to regain at least some of his old form if he wants to be remembered as one of the greatest defensive players of all time.

88. Stephon Tuitt, DT, Steelers

Tuitt bounced back from a 2019 injury and finally made the jump from “good” to “elite” in his seventh NFL season. One of ten players to post double-digit sacks, Tuitt made offensive lines pay for focusing too much attention on T.J. Watt.

87. Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders

Making fun of the Raiders’ draft picks has become something of a national pastime, but Jacobs is no joke. He racked up 12 touchdowns and 1,303 yards from scrimmage in his sophomore campaign and made his first Pro Bowl. He lacks the explosiveness to compensate for a bad offensive line — his longest rush last year was 28 yards — but has emerged as a true every-down back in a time where that role is supposed to be dying out.

86. Leonard Williams, DT, Giants

Leonard Williams played the best football of his six-year career in 2020. (Adam Hunger/Associated Press)

Williams’ shaggy mane of hair and massive 6-foot-5 frame have become one of opposing linemen’s least favorite sights. He has been a true workhorse since entering the league in 2015, missing only one game in six years. But last year, he finally lived up to his status as the No. 6 overall pick.

He posted career-highs in sacks (11.5) and tackles for loss (14) while leading a rejuvenated Giants defensive line. His 62 quarterback pressures were more than double anyone else on the team. New York rewarded him in March with a $63 million dollar contract.

85. DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, Cowboys

Lawrence has not justified the five-year, $105 million contract he signed in 2019. However, he has been much better than his 11.5 sacks in the past two years suggest. Lawrence is disruptive and physical, two traits that were lacking in Dallas’ 28th-ranked defense last year. He could experience a resurgence if bruiser Micah Parsons draws enough attention from opposing offenses.

84. Allen Robinson, WR, Bears

While he has never matched the heights of his 2015 breakout season, Robinson’s quiet consistency has anchored the Bears’ offense with 200 receptions in the past two years. His 1,250 yards last year ranked ninth in the league, ahead of Pro Bowlers Keenan Allen and A.J. Brown.

Few players are better than Robinson at making contested catches, whose size and sure hands give him an edge over most cornerbacks. If Justin Fields meets expectations, Robinson could be in for a career year in 2021.

83. James Bradberry, CB, Giants

Bradberry hasn’t become a star quite yet, but New Yorkers know how intimidating he can be in pure man coverage. Bradberry is not an aggressive corner, but possesses elite instincts and keep up with the league’s best route runners. Don’t let that style fool you — he was instrumental in the Giants’ upset of the Seahawks last year, holding the 6-foot-4 D.K. Metcalf to five receptions.

The five-year veteran went to his first Pro Bowl last year. He also posted a 79.8 grade on Pro Football Focus — seventh-best among cornerbacks and better than stars like Stephon Gilmore and Tre’Davious White.

82. Joel Bitonio, G, Browns

Joel Bitonio is one of the most reliable players in the NFL. He has not missed a snap since 2016. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Browns’ offensive line was the biggest factor in their success last year. They have three lineman on this list, more than some entire teams. Their blockers are that good.

Bitonio is a head coach’s dream. He has not missed a snap at left guard in the past four years and has been a second-team All-Pro for three years straight. Guards rarely get credit for their team’s success, but Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield may not have become stars without Bitonio’s steady prescence.

81. Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals

Burrow’s Week 10 ACL injury remains the most enduring and tragic image of the 2020 NFL season. Before his season was cut short, Burrow put up over 300 passing yards five times and was immune to most of the growing pains young quarterbacks experience. He is unquestionably the Bengals’ quarterback of the future.

However, Cincinnati questionably passed on left tackle Penei Sewell in the draft. Their offensive line is virtually unchanged from the group that at one point allowed Burrow to be sacked 16 times over three weeks. If he can not stay on his feet, it won’t matter how talented he is.

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Is Adam Vinatieri the Greatest Kicker of All Time?

Legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri retired from football after 24 seasons this Wednesday, wrapping up the third-longest career in NFL history. The 48-year-old played 10 seasons with the Patriots and 14 with the Colts and is the NFL’s all-time leading scorer.

Vinatieri is the most beloved special teams player of his generation, but is he the greatest kicker in league history?

Morten Andersen and Jan Stenerud are the only two athletes in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played exclusively kicker. Assuming that Vinatieri joins them in five years — which he most certainly will — there will not be many kickers that can claim to be better than the New England icon.

Impact

Adam’s really, in my mind, the best of all time.

Bill Belichick

The Patriots’ success over the past two decades is usually credited only to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, but there would be no dynasty without Vinatieri. He is the only player to kick two Super-Bowl-winning field goals: a 48-yarder in 2002 and a 41-yarder in 2004.

The Patriots would not have even made it to the 2002 Super Bowl without Vinatieri. He kicked a 45-yard field goal to end that year’s AFC Divisional Round to overtime and booted in another to seal the win — with five inches of snow on the ground. At the time, Belichick called it “by far the greatest kick I have ever seen.”

Belichick doubled down on his praise this Thursday, noting how Vinatieri’s calmness in high-pressure situations helped set a tone for the entire Patriots dynasty.

“Adam’s really, in my mind, the best of all time,” Belichick said. “His consistency, his ability to handle clutch situations and make the biggest kicks and just the longevity of his career, I mean it was a quarter of a century and the consistency is just remarkable.”

Statistics

Adam Vinatieri retires with an impressive stat line that reflects his consistency and skill in addition to his longevity.

Points: 2,673 (1st all-time)

Field Goals Made: 599 (1st)

Extra Points Made: 874 (2nd)

Field Goal Percentage: 83.78% (25th)

The main argument against Vinatieri’s status as the best ever is his field goal percentage. While he was never as accurate as modern-day greats like Justin Tucker (90.65%) and Robbie Gould (86.58%), those players have yet to prove they can maintain their skill level as they age. Vinatieri’s 96.8 field goal percentage in 2014 led the league and was the best ever by a player over 40.

More importantly, Vinatieri unseated Andersen as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer while playing one fewer season. Though some active kickers (led by Stephen Gostkowski) are on pace to break the record again, they are playing in an era of high scoring and constant extra point attempts. It is unlikely that anyone will match Vinatieri’s sheer staying power and universal respect.

Image courtesy of Michael Conroy/Associated Press

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Top 100 NFL Players of 2021: 100-91

Throughout the offseason, Baseline Times will be ranking the top 100 NFL players for the 2021 season.

Every Thursday night, 10 players will be released with a short discussion about what separates them from the rest of the pack. Rankings are based on both past performance and projections for next year.

100. Brian Burns, DE, Carolina Panthers

First-round edge rushers typically take a few years to reach their potential, and Burns’ sophomore stat line suggests that he is in for a big 2021. With ten sacks and three forced fumbles in 14 starts, Burns quietly helped anchor a disappointing Carolina defense and will be a mainstay in a group that lacks an identity.

99. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Baltimore Ravens

Stanley had Pro Football Focus’s top pass-blocking grade when a Week 8 injury ended his season, and led all tackles in the stat in 2019. Lamar Jackson‘s mobility certainly helps in that area, but Stanley has proven more than capable of matching up with T.J. Watt and Myles Garrett twice a year. He has the tools to be truly elite, but will need to be on the field for more snaps before he enters that conversation.

98. Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos

After missing all of last year with an ankle injury, no one knows if Miller is still the perennial All-Pro that dictated opponents’ game plans. He was a shadow of his former self in 2019 when he posted career-lows in sacks (8) and quarterback hits (20). This year he might be upstaged by rising star Bradley Chubb. Still, the former Super Bowl MVP’s experience should help him finish within the top 100 NFL players.

97. Terron Armstead, OT, New Orleans Saints

Though a case of COVID-19 kept Armstead from starting all 16 games for the first time in his career, he has been a mainstay at left tackle in New Orleans for seven years. Last season, he reached his third-straight Pro Bowl, a level of consistency that will be invaluable as the Saints look for Drew Brees‘ successor.

96. Calais Campbell, DE, Baltimore Ravens

One of the most physically intimidating pass rushers of the last decade, the 300-pound Campbell is nearly 35 and looking to end his career with a Super Bowl ring. He was slightly disappointing last year with a career-low four sacks — three of which came in a monster performance against Philadelphia — but more than justified the fifth-round pick Baltimore traded away for him. There is no reason to believe Campbell won’t earn his fifth-straight Pro Bowl nod this year.

95. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

There are only two other tight ends on this list, both of whom will predictably rank much higher. But in a league obsessed with speedy wideouts, Waller made a name for himself in 2020 with nine touchdowns and nearly 1,196 yards. He essentially was the Raiders’ passing game, accounting for almost a quarter of the team’s total targets. That speaks more to the lack of talent in Las Vegas than to Waller’s ability, but he will still be all over highlight reels next year.

94. Richard Sherman, CB, Free Agent

Though a rumored reunion with the Seattle Seahawks is unlikely, Sherman will make an immediate impact wherever he ends up. His All-Pro days are behind him at age 33, but he remains perhaps one of the most intelligent corners in NFL history. Expect Sherman to emerge as a locker room leader on yet another Super Bowl contender before his Hall of Fame career is up.

93. John Johnson III, S, Cleveland Browns

Johnson had the league’s most unsung comeback story last year. After a horrific 2019 that ended in six games with a shoulder injury, Johnson played every defensive snap for the Browns in 2020. He allowed only 51 receptions, second-best among safeties. Despite lining up across from former No. 4 overall pick Denzel Ward, Johnson has emerged as the leader of Cleveland’s secondary and one of the top 100 NFL players.

92. Frank Ragnow, C, Detroit Lions

Ragnow is already the league’s highest-paid center. Now he needs to prove he’s worth $70 million. A second-team All-Pro in 2020, Ragnow did not allow any sacks and committed only three penalties. He will play alongside rookie Penei Sewell next year in what could suddenly be a top-caliber offensive line.

91. Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On a defense loaded with famous faces, White was lost in the crowd after being drafted at No. 5 in 2019. But in the final minutes of Super Bowl LIV, he intercepted Patrick Mahomes in the end zone to cap a stunning postseason performance. White had 38 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in three playoff starts. If he can carry that momentum into 2021, All-Pro status will not be out of the question.

NFL 2021 – Schedule Release

The NFL 2021 schedule was released on May 12, 2021.

Here are the schedule release games for Week 1 and top prime-time games to pay mark your calendars for!

Week 1 Schedule

2021 top prime-time games

Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 1: Thursday, Sept. 9 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Week 5: Thursday, Oct. 7 at 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals

Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 30 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NFL Network

Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 28 at 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon

See your team’s schedule

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NFL Draft: The Next Wave of Quarterback Prospects

2021 makes the fourth NFL Draft in a row that a quarterback has been selected with the number one overall pick and since 2001, 16 of the 21 first picks have been quarterbacks.

The quarterback position will always been the key target in the NFL Draft as, typically, it’s the difference in being a great team and a bad team.

Key to remember though that the top overall pick isn’t the only quarterback selected. In 2021 alone, there were five quarterbacks selected in the first 15 picks.

Usually, it’s the later-drafted quarterbacks who have the most success. Since 2001, the only number one overall selected quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl are Peyton and Eli Manning. The quarterback with the most Super Bowl wins? Tom Brady; a sixth-round selection in the 2000 NFL Draft.

We may spend a ton of time talking about names like Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, and Baker Mayfield, but based on recent history, it’s likely only one of those four, if any, ever make an appearance in the Super Bowl.

Speaking of Super Bowl quarterbacks, we are witnessing a “changing of the guard” in the NFL at the position. With players such as Drew Brees, Eli Manning, and Philip Rivers retiring in the last two seasons; Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan losing a battle with Father Time, and legends like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers still at the top of their game, but getting long in the tooth, the next wave of quarterbacks is upon us.

While the league is actually rather young at the quarterback position currently with the majority of teams set with their “Franchise” quarterback, or at least, a projected starter under the age of 30, we all now how quickly that can change.

Teams such as Atlanta, Carolina, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York Giants, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Washington all could be looking for quarterbacks in the next three draft classes according to future draft predictions by Walter Football’s website.

That doesn’t necessary mean that all these teams will draft a quarterback, or even need one as they could make trades, use free agency, or develop a quarterback that isn’t on anyone’s radar just yet.

Nonetheless, it’s a good sized list which makes it easy to look at the next crop of quarterbacks with the thought that many will be starters by 2024. Looking for the next Trevor Lawrence? As of now, there isn’t a “sure thing” guy like that on the watch list of now, but still some big names that’ll be available over the next two drafts.

Let’s start with the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.

We recently looked at the top 32 prospects on the Big Board and found a few quarterbacks that may go at the top of the draft and that list begins with North Carolina’s Sam Howell.

Howell is not a Trevor Lawrence-like prospect, but does remind a lot of scouts of Baker Mayfield. Standing at 6-1, 225-pounds, Howell has thrown for over 7,000 yards with 68 touchdowns at North Carolina under Mack Brown and as of now, seems like the top quarterback in the Class of 2022, but he has a bunch of guys right on his heels.

Speaking of Mayfield, another high quality Oklahoma prospect is projected as a first-round pick in Spencer Rattler. A redshirt freshman last season, Rattler had some ups and downs in his first season as a starter, but for my money, he’s the one must-see QB on the board for 2022.

Rattler is a playmaker and showed outstanding growth in the final few games of the 2020 season and plays in the same system that has created some outstanding NFL talent. Mayfield as well as Kyler Murray went from Oklahoma to the Heisman Trophy ceremony to the top pick in the NFL Draft; could Rattler be the next Sooner to do so?

Time will tell, but neither Rattler nor Howell is built like a prototypical quarterback which is where the name Kedon Slovis comes in.

Slovis, out of Southern Cal, is a classic quarterback that has thrown for nearly 50 touchdowns the last two seasons. Slovis will need to turnover the football much less, but if Slovis and USC get on the right track, there’s a good chance that teams looking for an accurate, polarizing quarterback prospect will select Slovis early.

The 2022 quarterback draft class isn’t nearly as top heavy as the 2021 class, but it is deeper as there is potential of eight quarterbacks to be drafted in the first two rounds.

Outside of Howell, Rattler, and Slovis; J.T. Daniels out of Georgia, Desmond Ridder out of Cincinnati, Tyler Shough out of Texas Tech, Carson Strong out of Nevada, and Matt Corral out of Ole Miss have shown potential to become NFL quarterbacks and all will have a great chance to climb up the draft board in 2022.

Plus, there’s always a name that’s not brought up much that makes a wild rise up draft boards. From Joe Burrow to Zach Wilson, quarterbacks are just a handful of great plays and wins away from going from unknown to potential first-round pick.

Jayden Daniels of Arizona State is a dark horse Heisman candidate that could gain some NFL attention while Malik Willis of Liberty already has some scouts trying to get a jump on what he could become at the next level.

2022 is a loaded defensive draft class, so if none of these quarterbacks grade high enough for some teams, this would be the draft to select a potential defensive superstar instead of reaching on a quarterback.

With players like Derek Stingley Jr., Kayvon Thibodeaux, Christian Harris, and Kyle Hamilton, it would make sense for a team that didn’t feel they were a QB-away from contending to reach with a top five pick with some future All-Pro defensive prospects available.

Feels like forever away, but hey, it’s the Draft after next and it doesn’t feature as large of a quarterback class, but features a class similar to 2021 with three big time players with high pro potential.

In 2023, the NFL Draft will be headline by a three quarterback battle for the top spot as Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei, Alabama’s Bryce Young, and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud all already look like pro prospects entering 2021.

Wait, quarterbacks from Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State?? Has this ever happen before?

Entering 2021, there will be other prospects that emerge this season that will be added to the 2023 Draft watch list, but as of now, it’s hard to imagine anyone passing up that trio.

The 2023 NFL Draft could be the next to feature three straight quarterbacks taken with the first three picks as we seen in this year’s draft. So, if your team didn’t get their “guy” this season, don’t sweat it: plenty of talent is on the way in the next two NFL Drafts at the quarterback position!

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