My head is spinning with the amount of new data to process from the NFL Draft. I love the draft. I’m that nerd that keeps his own spreadsheet to track picks, and you bet I’m looking at it right now for this article. New players mean new competitions for playing time, so let’s take a little spin around the league to figure out who might be looking over their shoulders at the new kids in town.
5. John Schneider
I’m cheating, but I’m doing it anyways. Schneider should be fired on-sight for drafting wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge, a 24-year-old undersized wide receiver out of Western Michigan University (I bet you didn’t know that school existed) with the team’s first pick of the draft in the SECOND ROUND when the team only had three draft picks to work with. No, it’s cool, Schneider — take the diminutive wide receiver who will be third or fourth on the depth chart, instead of addressing the offensive line, pass rush, or the glaring hole at corner after the starter Shaquill Griffin left in free agency. Brilliant.
4. Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Legend will have the green light to play as long as he wants to play, 37 years old or not. He has been a franchise cornerstone of the Arizona Cardinals for 17 years, and is second all-time in career receptions behind only Jerry Rice. When he does take his jersey off, he’ll immediately put on a gold jacket. That said, the Cardinals drafted the small but explosive wide receiver Rondale Moore in the second round, while also adding veteran A.J. Green in free agency. Fitzgerald’s tenure is inching toward a close.
3. Melvin Gordon
Gordon is another running back who finds himself with a young bull behind him. The Denver Broncos traded up in the second round to take Javonte Williams out of UNC. If you’re not familiar with him, I personally think he’s the best running back in this draft class — better than Najee Harris and Travis Etienne. He’s a bruising yet agile running back, very similar in some ways to a young Gordon. With the 28-year-old entering the last year of his contract with the Broncos, he could be passing the baton to Denver’s new running back as this season goes on.
2. James Robinson
Last year’s undrafted free-agent Cinderella story, who burst onto the scene with a 1,070 rushing yards and seven touchdowns and an additional 49 receptions for 344 yards and three scores, was quickly given an “oh no” moment when Jacksonville selected RB Travis Etienne with the No. 25 overall pick. Robinson has to be feeling like a total cast-off right now, since new quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Etienne were teammates and close friends at Clemson. Robinson will have to fight for every rep in this offense.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo/Andy Dalton/Cam Newton
Move aside, old-timers. There’s a new wave of quarterbacks ready to make their mark. Jimmy G, Dalton (now on the Bears), and Cam are all in a lot of trouble with their respective teams’ rookie acquisitions. Trey Lance and Justin Fields possess physical abilities that the Niners’ and Bears’ incumbents simply do not have, while Newton is fighting for his life on a one-year deal that is clearly designed for him to be a transition QB to Mac Jones. All three of these veterans are on a ticking clock.