Written By- Team Blitz
Stephen Anderson (TE)
Stephen Anderson is poised to have a big breakout year. With the retirement of CJ Fiedorowicz, the Texans are going to rely on Anderson a whole lot more this year. Coming off of his second season, where he only had 25 catches, look for him to push his receptions closer to 50. He should be getting a majority of the snaps, though the team did draft rookie Jordan Akins in the 3rd Round. Anderson, a converted wide receiver in college, has improved each of the first two seasons. If he can continue to improve as a blocker, he will continue to see his time on the field increase. His explosiveness has shown up, averaging 13.7 yards per catch in his career. With the possibility of playing time presenting itself, look for Anderson to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Marlon Mack (RB)
Mack was selected in the 4th round last year’s draft, and played a complimentary role behind future Hall of Fame running back, Frank Gore. During his rookie season, he showed flashes on brilliance, making plays all over the field. Mack was effective catching the ball out of the backfield, averaging 10.7 yards per reception. He was used mainly in passing situations, but he also had a chance to run the ball totalling 358 yards on the ground. Although the numbers weren’t the greatest, I see them as a positive. By only having a total of 93 carries and 21 catches, I see a player who was drastically under used. He was kept healthy and now has a lot less miles on his legs than some other second year running backs. He missed 2 games due to injury during the season, and he dealt with a lingering shoulder issue. The previous coaching regime favored Gore in most situations, and it’s hard to blame them because of Gore’s versatility and effectiveness.
Mack should have starting role in Indy next fall. The Colts had a very effective 2018 draft, selecting 2 physical offensive guards and 2 running backs. I still expect Mack to lead the backfield, and he will be effective. Mack will shine as an all around back. With a full rookie season of experience and training behind him, Mack will be both physically and mentally prepared to make the jump to being a very good running back. I believe that this new regime will use Mack in the running and passing game. The return of Andrew Luck will also help Mack and give him more running room. Expect Mack to come out fast and quick, shredding through defenses behind their new and improved offensive line.
Dede Westbrook (WR)
After missing the first ten weeks of his rookie season due to a core injury, the former Oklahoma Sooner played in the Jaguars’ final 7 games. He recorded 27 receptions for 339 yards and 1 TD, per Pro Football Reference. In fact, despite only playing less than half the season, Westbrook finished fourth on the team in targets (51), while Allen Hurns (56), Mercedes Lewis (48), and Allen Robinson are no longer with the team. Additions of WR Donte Moncrief, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and rookie DJ Chark will offset some of those free targets. Moncrief has missed games the past two seasons and his productivity has been underwhelming (26 rec, 391 yds, 2 TDs in 12 games last season). In addition, Blake Bortles threw to Westbrook more than anyone else in the Jaguars’ three playoff games last season. Bortles clearly likes to try to get the ball into the hands of the explosive Westbrook, which should provide him with plenty of opportunities in 2018 to build off last year and his 12.96 yards-per-catch. With the ability to line up on the outside and in the slot, Westbrook should be a nice complement to the Jaguars’ ground and pound offense. Westbrook fills the need for an explosive playmaker that stretches the field and create chunk plays with the ball in his hands.
Harold Landry (OLB/EDGE)
In my opinion, the Titans came away with one of the biggest steals in this year’s draft. They selected Landry with the 41st pick in the 2018 draft. Landry’s size (6’3” 250 lbs) and athleticism were on display at the Combine where he ran a 4.64 second forty-yard-dash. He also had a 119” broad jump. Landry was projected to be a top 5 player coming into the 2017 season, but he struggled with injuries and inconsistencies on the field. After watching his film from Boston College, I was sold on his abilities and talent. His speed and bend was the best in the draft, and if given the right chance and some coaching, he could be a nightmare rushing the passer.
The Titans were one of the most talented teams that caught a lot of people by surprise last season. One of their most dire needs was rushing the passer. Their top pass rusher was Brian Orakpo who is now 31 years old. Adding Landry will add a new, younger, athletic presence coming off the edge. They used their first round draft pick on ILB Rashaan Evans, and adding both of these young athletic backers will do wonders for their pass rush. Even though I believe both of these top defensive playmakers will be good, I think Landry has a chance to prove to everyone in the league that they made a mistake when passing on him in the draft. I believe he can come away from his rookie season with 9 or 10 sacks this year. He will be an effective edge defender for this up and coming Titans defense.