Looking around the league here in late May, Marc Sessler dishes on what's hot -- and what's not -- in the NFL:
- Super Bowl LIV feels like a memory pulled from Hesiod's Age of Heroes, but busy-as-a-bee front office types continue to churn rosters during a rugged stretch in human lore. Tough not to adore the prospects for Kliff Kingsbury's Cardinals, Year Two -- and it goes beyond the bank-heist-level acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins from Bill O'Brien Savings & Loan. Consider the value of offensive tackle Josh Jones at No. 72 overall in the draft. Pro Football Focus ranked Jones 14th overall on its big board after the front-door-sized human led all draft-eligible tackles with a 93.4 grade in his final season at Houston. Don't forget about first-round do-everything type Isaiah Simmons, who should boost a defense that allowed a league-worst 125.1 passer rating to tight ends and slot receivers in 2019. Coach Kingsbury confronts a thorny NFC West, but his players have bought in, with All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson calling Arizona's revamped roster the "best football team I've been a part of on paper."
- Can the Chiefs grow even more impossible to neutralize? Why not? They return 11 starters on offense while adding a backfield weapon in Clyde Edwards-Helaire who draws comparisons to both a young Devonta Freeman and ex-Eagles star Brian Westbrook -- but is "better than Brian," per coach Andy Reid. The mind wanders to uncharted gridiron dreamscapes when pondering what Reid accomplished with Westbrook, who averaged 995 yards on the ground, 75 catches and nearly 700 yards receiving per season from 2004 through 2007. Those Philly offenses were stout, but imagine Edwards-Helaire dipped into a Kansas City attack led by Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs already boasted a back in Damien Williams who was arguably robbed of MVP honors in February's Super Bowl.
- Staying in the AFC West, you can stick this on your little bulletin board: The suddenly stacked Broncos will make the playoffs as a wild card. Concerns over Drew Lock will puff into the ether as he peppers opponents weekly with on-target laser shots to Courtland Sutton and first-round wideout Jerry Jeudy while Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon play good cop/bad cop on the ground (assuming Denver's line can avoid tumbling into disaster).
- It's an easy time to drop word-bombs on the rebuilding Jaguars, but the new-look defense has a pair of exciting edge rushers in 2019 No. 7 overall pick Josh Allen and 2020 first-rounder K'Lavon Chaisson. (Throw in Pro Bowl edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue -- if he inks his franchise tag -- and we're cooking.) Jacksonville loyalists will fall for free-agent signee Joe Schobert at linebacker, too.
- Very impressed with paparazzi types and civilian journos putting the old college try into tracking Tom Brady's every movement in sweltering Tampa. After the newly minted Bucs passer was shooed out of a clamped-down park in late April, cameras on Tuesday caught the 42-year-old in shoulder pads as he trotted onto the field at Tampa's Berkeley Prep School to work with several teammates. Eyes still adjusting to the bright orange practice jersey donned by TB12. ... Speaking of the hype-drenched Bucs, I'm intrigued to see how rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn fits in after coach Bruce Arians called him a "guy that can play every down." It's enough to drop Ronald Jones II into the NOT portion of this anti-poem with Vaughn potentially stealing snaps as a James White-esque accessory inside Tampa Bay's Brady-Arians meshed playbook.
- I've already revealed Denver as an AFC playoff shoo-in. Here's another: Indianapolis. The re-imagined offense was fawned over in the draft with the addition of two saucy second-rounders in runner Jonathan Taylor and wideout Michael Pittman Jr. -- son of the Super Bowl-winning, ex-Bucs runner. Pittman's a 6-foot-4, 223-pound force drawing comparisons to Vincent Jackson and Courtland Sutton -- just the type of wideout Philip Rivers adores. Meanwhile, Taylor gives Indy a powerful runner whose 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine clocked as third-fastest by a back over 225 pounds since 2006. Airdrop this cast of characters behind Indy's eat-you-alive O-line and the Colts are ready to tangle.
- Dwayne Haskins deserves a do-over after spending seven rookie starts inside a clock-chewing, ground-obsessed Redskins offense determined to get everyone home in time for a full helping of 60 Minutes. I don't love his chances for a Year 2 breakout, though, with an uber-young receiving group that failed to put a ring on Amari Cooper. Still, Terry McLaurin gives you a chance.
- Decidedly un-hot to me is dealing with another offseason of hazy plot points surrounding the health of Todd Gurley. While Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff says he feels "very comfortable" with Gurley's knee, play-caller Dirk Koetter's ominous summary rings true to me: "The main question no one seems to know is, What's his health status?" How many vague news bulletins must we endure? Moratorium on this unknowable subject until Gurley takes a real-time snap, please.
- Also not hot: At age 46, realizing that a whopping 14 of the NFL's head coaches are younger -- many by significant chunks -- than the halfwit banging on this keyboard. Mathematics suggest I'm closer to Ron Rivera in age than wonderboy Sean McVay. Deflating.
- Perhaps that's how Kerryon Johnson felt when the Lions unplugged his on-field potential by grabbing Georgia star runner D'Andre Swift in the draft's second round. Armed with three-down potential, Swift can do it all after hauling in 73 passes as a Bulldog with just three drops, per PFF. He caught some of those passes lined out wide and ripped off a string of big runs last year. "Swift has a similar skill set to [Raiders runner] Josh Jacobs," said NFL Network draft expert Daniel Jeremiah, "and I expect comparable results at the next level." Arrow down on Johnson, coming off two straight seasons battling knee injuries.
- Final thought and growing chillier by the second: Everything related to Zoom. The calls with distant friend groups -- once akin to happy, cliquey evenings at a hidden speakeasy -- now feel methodical. Homeschooling parents are vastly over it. Work calls, too. Invariably some ham-and-egger, months into CoronaTime, still appears as a fleshy blob with choppy audio due to a WiFi connection fit for Ancient Bavaria. Even written complaints about how thunderously dull these Zoom outings have become are, unto themselves, painfully repetitive. So, I will leave you be. Good day.