Giants agree to terms with rookies Wan’Dale Robinson, Dane Belton

The New York Giants have agreed to terms with rookie safety Dane Belton and rookie wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson.

The New York Giants have agreed to terms with two new rookies from their 2022 NFL draft class.

The Giants have agreed to terms with both their second- and fourth-round draft picks to their rookie contracts. The entire Giants draft class (all 11 picks) will now soon be under contract.

Their second-round pick, Wan’Dale Robinson, adds another playmaker for Big Blue at the wideout position. He was an electric athlete in college and broke out his junior year as he totaled 1,445 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Pairing Robinson with another shifty receiver, Kadarius Toney, should give the Giants a lot of opportunities to diversify the game plan and spread defenses out.

As for the Giants’ fourth-round draft pick, Dane Belton should have an opportunity to get Week 1 reps at the safety position.

The team is paper thin in the defensive backfield. After Julian Love and Xavier McKinney, the Giants have no players on the roster that have played snaps at the safety position. Belton has had three years of experience as an Iowa Hawkeye where he was a star, even recording five interceptions in his final season.

This combination of skill and experience gives Belton the opportunity to play right away for New York.

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Packers CB Eric Stokes is the best 2021 NFL rookie you need to know

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick dives into Eric Stokes’ film to break down how the young cornerback elevates the Packers’ defense.

Packers cornerback Eric Stokes had one of the best rookie seasons that almost nobody is talking about. After being drafted by Green Bay Packers 29th overall in 2021, Stokes led his team in pass breakups (14) and also led all rookie defensive backs with the lowest completion rate allowed in coverage at 51.0%, per Pro Football Focus.

Stokes wasn’t just dominant among the rookies, though. He also had the lowest percent of open targets allowed among all NFL cornerbacks with 24%, and to put that into perspective, four-time pro bowler Marshon Lattimore finished the season with 24.5%.

There were only a handful of cornerbacks since 2015 to register a sub 80.0 passer rating in coverage their rookie seasons: Marcus Peters (2015), Jalen Ramsey (2016), Marshon Lattimore (2017), Marlon Humphrey (2017), Tre’Davious White (2017) and now, Stokes (2021); putting him in elite company.

Let’s not forget that this was also against the top No. 1 receivers in the league last year: Odell Beckham Jr., Justin Jefferson, Terry McLaurin, Ja’Marr Chase, Deebo Samuel, Allen Robinson. And Stokes still finished as a top cornerback statistically.

Despite all these numbers, Stokes really isn’t getting the early recognition he deserves. This could be due to the Packers’ defensive scheme overall. So, let’s dive into the film to see how he was able to perform at an elite level and why we should start giving him the love he deserves!

How the Packers’ defense could get Green Bay to Super Bowl LVII

Giants select DL Christian Barmore in 2021 NFL re-draft

In a 2021 NFL re-draft, the New York Giants pass on WR Kadarius Toney and select DL Christian Barmore.

The New York Giants held the 11th overall selection in the 2021 NFL draft and were eying a wide receiver to fill a huge need at the position.

They were reportedly honing in on Alabama’s Devonta Smith and it appeared they were going to get their man when the Dallas Cowboys, who held the 10th pick, traded back with the Philadelphia Eagles who would then steal Smith out from under New York.

That prompted a deal with a team looking to trade up for a quarterback. The Chicago Bears offered the Giants their first rounder (No. 20) plus their fifth rounder (No. 164), and first- and fourth-round selections in the 2022 draft.

Chicago selected Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at No. 11. The Giants took Florida wideout Kadarius Toney with the 20th pick and used the fifth rounder to move up to the take Central Florida cornerback Aaron Robinson.

With the two 2022 selections (Nos. 7 and 112), the Giants took Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal and tight end Daniel Bellinger of San Diego State.

Not a bad deal for the Giants in the end, huh? But the folks at Pro Football Focus believe they could have made better use of the first rounder they spent on Toney.

In a re-draft of the 2021 NFL draft, they have the Giants taking Alabama defensive lineman Christian Barmore, who was drafted in the second round by the New England Patriots.

Barmore was the best interior defensive lineman in this draft, but he slid to the second round for a reason that wasn’t obviously apparent from his tape. As a rookie, he had 48 total pressures — 11 more than any other first-year interior player. Barmore looks set to have a huge second season, and the Giants could have used a presence like him on their defensive line even with the talent they already have there.

Most Giant fans would have balked at the Barmore pick. But knowing now what wasn’t known then — that Toney would be so inconsistent and have a hard time staying on the field — they would likely agree this would have been a better pick here.

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Texans earn B-minus in 1-year later assessment of 2021 NFL draft class

The Houston Texans’ draft grade for the 2021 NFL draft class improved to a B-minus after a one-year evaluation.

The Houston Texans’ 2021 NFL draft class was paltry, and didn’t get started until the No. 67 overall pick in Round 3. The fact Houston earned C’s from general manager Nick Caserio’s first draft is understandable.

However, the Texans may have nailed their five picks after a one-year reassessment. Quarterback Davis Mills, receiver Nico Collins, tight end Brevin Jordan, linebacker Garret Wallow, and defensive tackle Roy Lopez may be better than initially realized.

According to Michael Renner from Pro Football Focus, the Texans’ 2021 class upgraded from a C-minus in their evaluations to a B-minus.

The Davis Mills pick saves the Texans to a degree, as he flashed in enough games that he’d go considerably higher in a re-draft today. He earned overall grades of 85.9, 76.3 and 78.0 in three separate starts last season despite finishing with a 58.8 overall grade. That was enough to make him the starter this season and bump this re-grade up a touch.

While the Mills’ pick may have saved the Texans’ grade, Lopez deserves credit. For Houston to take a sixth-round pick and he starts 15 of 16 games on the defensive line is a testament to what type of value the Texans found in Lopez.

The general agreement is the Texans at least had a B-plus grade when it came to the 2022 NFL draft class. If the Texans can similarly improve the grade of that draft class by a full grade point, then Houston should be primed to contend by the start of the 2023 season.

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4 Things to know about new Dallas Cowboys OL Tyler Smith

A walk through Tyler Smith’s journey to the NFL and he he’ll fit in with the Dallas Cowboys, from @TimLettiero

The addition of Tulsa offensive lineman Tyler Smith shocked the system of Dallas Cowboy fans across the nation. While some had strong opinions one way or the other about the selection, some were left asking who this player is, similar to the reaction of former All-Pro center Travis Frederick back in 2013.  The Cowboys’ brass can only hope Smith’s career has some measure of resemblance to what Frederick carved out.

While a collegiate tackle who will play guard at the next level is far from the sexiest pick, especially given the man-made holes Dallas has created for themselves this offseason, there is a lot know about Smith the person and the player. Here are some interesting background tidbits about the Ft. Worth native.

Poll: What draft selections outside of 2021 are Jags fans most excited about from past 5 years?

The Jags recent draft classes haven’t been great, but there are some players from them who could blossom. Excluding 2021’s class, what selections are you all the most excited about from recent drafts?

The Jacksonville Jaguars have selected 42 players over the last five drafts. Most of the high draft choices excluding the 2021 draft class haven’t panned out for the franchise. However, there are still a select few who have been successful and remain with the team.

For the sake of getting another fun post up, we wanted to poll the fanbase on the draft pick from the past five drafts who they are most excited to watch besides those from the 2021 class. The choices we’ll offer are cornerback Tyson Campbell, defensive end Josh Allen, defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, and defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot.

Finding four players for this poll was difficult because the Jaguars made so many stumbles in the 2020 and 2018 drafts that include busts like C.J. Henderson, K’Lavon Chaisson, and Taven Bryan. However, the four players we’ve centered this poll around have a chance to be key pieces for the defense.

Allen should be the runaway favorite because in three seasons he has compiled 20.5 sacks, 128 total tackles, 25 tackles for loss, and 48 quarterback hits. And while the team has yet to pick up his fifth-year option, it would be unwise for the Jags to not continue forward with Allen in 2023 as he’s been a standout on the defense.

But fans shouldn’t sleep on Campbell because of how much potential he flashes down the stretch last season. Last season, he was second among rookies in interceptions and incompletions caused (11).

Hamilton is an interesting player because he hasn’t had any standout seasons two years into his career. In his first two seasons, he only acquired grades of 53.9 (2021) and 52.8 (2020) according to Pro Football Focus, but an X-factor for his career could be new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner. Buckner, a former player in the NFL, is a highly respected coach in the NFL and has coached players like Chandler Jones, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Maxx Crosby.

As for Smoot, he’s mostly been a rotational player in his five seasons with the Jags and only has 17 starts. However, an argument could be made he’s one of the better rotational players in the NFL. He ended the 2021 season second on the team in sacks with six and led them the year before with 5.5. He also garnered a 73.9 pass-rush grade last season, which was the highest of any defensive lineman on the team with significant snaps.

Now, with all the cases we’ve made for each of these four players, we’d like to hear from our readers at home in terms of who excites the fanbase the most heading forward. Vote in the poll below.

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Titans select CB Eric Stokes in B/R’s 2021 NFL re-draft

The Titans would, at the very least least, consider going in a different direction if the 2021 NFL draft was re-done.

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The Tennessee Titans selected cornerback Caleb Farley in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft, but that pick has yet to pay dividends after Farley’s rookie campaign ended early due to a torn ACL.

With Farley now having knee and back concerns moving forward, and after not showing much last year, the Titans would probably, at the very least, consider doing things over if they could.

And that’s what Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox has them doing in his 2021 NFL re-draft. Knox picks cornerback Eric Stokes, who went to Green Bay at No. 29, at No. 22 overall for Tennessee. Here’s his take:

Stokes had a terrific rookie campaign, finishing with 14 passes defended and an opposing passer rating of just 71.3. While he might not possess the raw upside of a player such as Jaycee Horn—who went higher in the redraft despite his own season-ending injury—his dependability would be huge for the Titans.

Tennessee ranked just 25th in passing yards allowed last season and surrendered 348 passing yards in a three-point playoff loss to Cincinnati despite logging nine sacks. Having Stokes in that one might just have pushed Tennessee to the AFC Championship Game.

Ryan Tannehill not throwing three picks against the Cincinnati Bengals would have pushed Tennessee to the AFC Championship Game, but I digress…

After seeing the first-year impact Stokes made in Green Bay, it’s hard to argue with the logic behind this decision.

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Granted, Farley has a ton of upside if he can remain healthy, but Stokes is a more sure thing at the moment after having already proven he can hang at the next level following a successful rookie season. Farley, on the other hand, has not, and his injury issues remain a major concern.

Looking ahead to 2022, the Titans are depending on Farley to step into a starting role and will hope he can make the kind of second-year leap that teammate Kristian Fulton did.

Whether or not that happens in any form or fashion remains to be seen. As a result, Farley is arguably the biggest question mark Tennessee has on an otherwise set defense for 2022.

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Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth was expecting to be selected by the Jaguars in 2021 NFL Draft

Pittsburgh Steelers Pat Freiermuth was this close to becoming a Jaguar in the 2021 NFL draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth almost became a Jacksonville Jaguar in the 2021 NFL draft. He told Adam Breneman on his new podcast that Jacksonville called him on Day 2 of the draft, saying it would take him in the second round.

“I really thought I was gonna go to Jacksonville really with [my former tight ends coach Tyler Bowen],” Freiermuth said. “They called me and they were like, ‘Hey, we’re going to draft you at this spot (45).”

Freiermuth wasn’t the only one who thought the pairing would happen as many fans connected the dots and several mock drafts sent him to the Jags, too. After all, Bowen, who Urban Meyer hired last February, coached Freiermuth dating back to his time as a freshman at Penn State.

However, the Jags ultimately took former Stanford offensive tackle Walker Little with their pick in the second round.

Freiermuth added that he thought he was going to the Tennessee Titans after the Jags went in another direction. However, they also took a left tackle and selected Dillon Radunz of North Dakota State.

That allowed the Steelers to take him two picks later. He finished his rookie season, hauling in 60 catches for 497 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 8.3 yards per catch.

Freiermuth finally said that he’s thankful that he didn’t end up with the Jaguars.

It’s hard to not blame him after the dysfunctional season the franchise had under former head coach Urban Meyer. The Jaguars finished 3-14 and hold the No. 1 overall pick for the second straight draft.

However, it’s also a shame Jacksonville didn’t select him because Freiermuth was considered the second-best tight end in last year’s class behind former Florida star Kyle Pitts and the organization desperately needed a player like him.

Cardinals want to bring back Chandler Jones but not expected to use franchise tag

Chandler Jones, 32 years old and coming off a 10.5-sack season, could hit the open market next week.

Beginning Feb. 22, the Arizona Cardinals and the rest of the NFL were able to use the franchise or transition tags on one player scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when the new league begins March 16.

The deadline to place such a tag on a player is Tuesday, March 8. One particular candidate for the tag is outside linebacker Chandler Jones, whose five-year contract with the Cardinals is set to expire.

However, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, while they do with to sign Jones and have him return for at least another season, they are not expected to use the franchise tag on him like they did in 2017.

Jones had 10.5 sacks in 2021, but only 5.5 after Week 1, when he tied a franchise record with five sacks in a game. He is the Cardinals’ franchise record-holder for sacks in a career.

He made $15.5 million in salary last year but because his cap hit was over $20 million, his 2022 salary under the franchise tag would be nearly $25 million because of the rule that requires the player to get 20% more than their cap hit the previous year.

He is 32 years old and likely still wants a high-paying, multi-year deal. The Cardinals want him back but also know they need to get younger at the position.

He may begin to negotiate with other teams on Monday next week if he and the Cardinals fail to agree on anything before then.

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Giants nab two Day 1 starters in latest CBS Sports mock draft

The New York Giants end up with a new starting right tackle and new starting edge rusher in the latest CBS Sports mock draft.

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Now that the 2022 NFL Combine is coming to a close and we have seen the underbelly of this year’s draft class, we have a better idea now when it comes to all of these mock drafts.

The New York Giants hold the fifth and seventh overall selections in next month’s draft and is great position to address some of the many holes on their roster.

Kyle Stackpole of CBS Sports has them doing just that in his latest mock.

Round 1, Pick 5 – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Giants must do a much better job protecting Daniel Jones, and drafting Cross to complement Andrew Thomas on the edges would be a big step forward.

With Evan Neal and Ikem Ikwonu of the board, Cross is the next best lineman in the draft. The Giants almost have to take him here if they intend to beef up this flagging unit.

Cross should give them solid bookends at the tackle position and then there will be no more excuses for this offense to keep failing.

Round 1, Pick 7 – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Excellent haul for the Giants, who pair a potential cornerstone offensive tackle with a potential cornerstone edge rusher. Thibodeaux has all the physical tools to wreak havoc off the edge.

Strong, sleek, quick and confident, Thibodeaux is the perfect player to jumpstart the new Giants defense under coordinator Wink Martindale. Finally the Giants will have a player that offenses around the league will actually fear.

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