Archive for the ‘The List’ Category

It’s the holiday season. You’re stressed, and you’re frustrated, and that’s only because you have no idea what the hell you’re going to cook for dinner tonight. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of everything, and if you follow the ideas in this post that we’ll keeping rolling out until St. Nick boards his sleigh, you’ll have squiggly lines through the names on that list in no time.

When shopping for the perfect, thoughtful gift for the football fan in your life, it’s important to keep novelty in mind. Sure, team-oriented beer mugs and coffee cups are practical, but the true, Sunday couch-grooving football fan needs something unique, something that he can put in his hallowed sports den and mount it in a showcase.

It’s the kind of item that creates instant male jealousy, and is a looming symbol of a man’s Alpha status. We’re talking about more than just collectibles here–we want statues of supremacy that beam proudly in rooms or offices filled with testosterone.

We want Ryan Leaf.

5. The Ryan Leaf rookie card

Current eBay price: $1.00

The figurative price of failure is substantial, but the literal price is actually quite affordable. By comparison, the price of Peyton Manning’s rookie card varies, but some are valued at up to $2,000.

4. Own visual evidence that a kicker had a better career than Leaf

Current price: $5.50

This limited edition card celebrates three prominent and proud members of the Washington State alumni: Leaf, Drew Bledsoe, and current Lions kicker Jason Hanson. Sadly, the card’s value is significantly lowered by Leaf’s presence.

3. Proudly wear the pain of Leaf’s first crushing defeat

Current price: $45.00

The eBay price here is a little steeper than the rest of the items on this list, but we assume that’s because Leaf signed the brim of this hat for the 1998 Rose Bowl, a game Washington lost 21-16 to the Michigan Wolverines. It was Leafs’ last game as a Cougar, and it was also likely the last game in which he experienced any personal satisfaction while playing football.

So this is a piece of history in more ways than one. If nothing else, you can purchase a new hat for the fisherman on your list.

2. A high-class portrait for a high-class man

Current price: $8.00

Is your significant other’s office desk looking bare and bland? Get him/her (especially her) this 1996 portrait of Leaf during much happier times when he was an all-American at Washington State. It’ll be an instant conversation starter.

1. Everyone wants to cuddle with Ryan Leaf

Current price: $3.99

He’s cute, he’s fluffy, and he throws interceptions better than any other teddy bear on the market. Yes kids, it’s the limited edition Ryan Leaf teddy bear, and according to the eBay description, this gem is ideal for the young and blossoming Chargers fan hoping to learn about the team’s history, and relive its glory.

This bear was part of a collector series from 1998.  This great bear is about 10″ long and features the players name and number on the back.

These would be a great item for the Chargers Fan in your life, or maybe for the young new fan.

Don’t talk to the cute little bear, though. He doesn’t like that.

Last week’s Christmas wishlist: Tim Tebow shirts.

It’s the holiday season. You’re stressed, and you’re frustrated, and that’s only because you have no idea what the hell you’re going to cook for dinner tonight. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of everything, and if you follow the ideas in this weekly/sometimes weekly/maybe periodical post we’ll roll out until St. Nick boards his sleigh, you’ll have squiggly lines through the names on that list in no time.

Nothing says that you’re a cool and hip parent like a trendy gift with ties to pop culture. And you’re an even better parent if you can accomplish that while also pushing a religious deity on the growing minds of your fragile children.

So there’s only one answer: the Tim Tebow shirt.

But which one? That’s a terrible question, because you’re clearly getting more than one, and this is a gift that’s appropriate for more than just kids. The entire family needs to feel the insatiable passion of the Tebow through their garments. Grandma’s bones will grow stronger, and your wife’s really meaty meat loaf will become meatier.

But really, which one? Even if you’re buying several dozen Tebow shirts, there’s far too many available, making the decision difficult. We narrowed it down to our top 10, most of which pay homage to his current Bronco brilliance, but some vintage T-shirts give a nod to his Gator days, and they can all be purchased on eBay.

10. Tebow is Superman

Current price: $17.99

Does your child have a comic superhero infatuation? This shirt will quickly teach him that Superman doesn’t exist. There is only Tebow.

9. Tebow is the giver and taker of all human existence

Current price: $19.99

This could be a little too scary on Christmas morning, but you can’t hide your children from the truth.

8. Ideal for the rabid Tebower

Current price: $16

Has your son been Tebowing in family pictures? Make him an official member of an apparently international society dedicated to an Internet meme. Just make sure he’s not actually Peebowing when he’s kneeling under the tree.

7. A philosophical question: What would Tebow do?

Current price: $34.95

All the shirt-wearer can do is wonder. Only Tebow knows the answer.

6. Behold, the Tebow fish

Current price: $15.00

This one goes with No. 8, as only those who Tebow are permitted to wear the Tebow fish.

5. Tebow is the coolest cat in the hood

Current price: $17.99

Tebow is everything, from Messiah, to fish, and now…homeboy.

4. Tebow induces nightmares

Current price: $19.99

Just don’t go with this one if you’re buying for an actual defensive coordinator.

3. Wear your love everywhere

Current price: $7.99

Or is it “I pray for Tebow”? Or “I Tebow for Tebow”? My head hurts.

2. Always one step away from the promised land

Current price: $15.99

Who did we worship in December before Tebow?

1. The Mile High Messiah

Current price: $6.74

This one’s a hot seller, and it can be yours now for a bargain price. Somehow the selling of Jesus-related items at a discounted rate seems wrong and sacrilegious.

We’re 35 days away from Black Monday, the day after the regular season when coaches who’ve done a poor job of molding young, self-centered athletic minds are given pink pieces of paper. Some of the candidates to hit the unemployment line are blatantly obvious, while others are difficult to predict because of variables relating to their contracts and management situations.

It was only a few weeks ago when we didn’t even think Tony Sparano would make it to Black Monday. Now, after the Dolphins won three straight and nearly beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, there’s far more confidence that he’ll make it to the end of the season, and Matt Moore could even save Sparano’s job if he continues to look like a competent quarterback.

Everything’s fluid, with the outcome of each week influencing a coach’s future employment. So as we get set to watch the final game of November tonight, here’s our top five unemployment candidates.

1. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers

The refrain remains the same. Mistakes and mental errors in the fourth quarter have repeatedly sunk a team that’s playing far below it’s talent level.

2. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville’s results through 11 games reflect a team with little identity. The Jags were blown out in Week 2 by the far superior Jets, losing 32-3. But then they shocked the Ravens in Week 7, one week after nearly doing the same to the Steelers.

Now they’ve lost to the Browns, and then yesterday Del Rio’s team was defeated by the greatly depleted Texans.

3. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams

There was hope in St. Louis after Sam Bradford’s quick emergence in 2010, and with hope comes the weight of expectations. At 2-9, the Rams have dramatically failed to live up to those expectations, and they’ll now have to win the rest of their games to even equal last year’s 7-9 finish.

In fairness, key offensive figures like Bradford and Steven Jackson have missed time, and prior to acquiring Brandon Lloyd the Rams were ravaged by injuries on their wide receiver depth chart, most notably losing Danny Amendola in Week 1. But Spags is now past the halfway point of his third season in St. Louis, and he’s sporting a record of 10-33.

This team is filled with his draft picks and his players, and this season has been his failure.

4. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins

Sparano still makes the list, and the odds of him being doomed by the Dolphins’ early-season losing streak when they lost seven straight games are still high. But the fact that he’s not No. 1 is now a Herculean accomplishment given the intense pressure he was facing earlier in the year. We went through a stretch where if Sparano was a bit tardy for a press conference, the Interwebs were instantly set ablaze.

5. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles

It was between Reid and Jim Caldwell in Indianapolis for the final spot. Although the Colts’ shortcomings extend beyond the loss of Peyton Manning, team owner Jim Irsay could give Caldwell a grace period as he heads into the final year of his contract.

Reid, meanwhile, may not be given the same luxury in Philadelphia, where fans are doing more than just chanting for his dismissal. They left Sunday’s loss to New England about six minutes early in a mass exodus, an act fueled by both anger and apathy that should grab the attention of Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who’s been loyal to Reid.

Although Philly’s defense has recovered somewhat from it’s early-season crumble–and specifically, the run defense–Reid’s decision to put that star-studded unit in the hands of an inexperienced Juan Castillo could ultimately be his undoing.

A mustache serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, it’s a well-known fact that a mustachioed man is irresistible to the opposite sex. That can’t be argued. It’s science.

During the winter months it’s also a face warmer, and it can help keep a delicious meal alive for several days. Sadly, the mustache seems to be a dying breed, as I can’t think of one person I interact with regularly who’s under the age of 40 and rocks some upper lip facial forest. But that started to change in a hurry yesterday.

Yes, it’s Movember, the international November event in which men set their facial hair free, and unleash their inner 80′s wrestler to raise money for prostate cancer research and other cancers that specifically affect men. So in honor of a good cause, let’s take a brief look back at the experiments in mustachery that have brushed up against helmet grills around the NFL.

Our top five list is a mix of both current players and members of the league’s nose-tickler Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, the mustached football player is a scarce creature nearing its extinction.

5. Jared Allen

This is more than just a mustache. It’s very much a lifestyle for Allen, and his stache helps him hunt wild bears and organize charity golf tournaments that feature a slip-n-slide as punishment for not reaching a green in regulation.

Allen’s facial hair design has undergone several major renovations over the years, and it’s currently a jumbled, scraggly mess.

4. Aaron Rodgers

Every year during training camp Rodgers lets his growth crawl over his face, usually resulting in the classic handlebar look seen above. Then once the season starts he shaves or at least trims the wild brush, which seems like a ritual signifying the end of offseason play time, and the beginning of championship drive time.

That may be part of Rodgers’ reasoning, but when he spoke to the American Mustache Institute he revealed that the motivation behind his personal mustache policy runs much deeper…

“I live by a few credos, and one is that if you’re under 30 and without children and not married, it’s very risky to be a full-time mustache wearer.”

3. Joe Namath

Like Allen and Rodgers, Namath’s facial hair fluctuated while the bearer of our No. 1 NFL mustache went for longevity. So it’s disappointing that Namath’s handlebars didn’t help to sell any Beautymist pantyhose, a disappearance which surely hurt the company’s bottom line.

A mustached Namath would have had women flocking to stores…

2. Ben Davidson

The least known player on our short list also has one of the most creative entries, with the Raiders defensive end slowly inching towards the Yosemite Sam look during his prime in the late 60′s.

1. Mike Ditka

There may be larger staches in NFL history, or other wild facial creations with significantly more fur. But no stache is more iconic than Ditka’s. He hasn’t followed Keith Hernandez’s advice, and the glorious young stache seen in the vintage image above has now stepped aside for an aged gray look.

The colors may change, but the Ditka stache legend will never die.

Earlier today I mused briefly about the glee of Friday, and some of my favorite Friday activities, none of which involve signing a contract worth $40 million.

But there’s one Friday activity I truly cherish: forecasting when rich men paid to lead football teams will be fired. I do this every Friday, but just happened to write about it today. Last season 32 coaches started the NFL season–because that’s how many teams there are in the NFL–and eight didn’t finish.

That’s 25 percent of the league, which isn’t necessarily indicative of a trend we can expect to continue as losing seasons begin on Sunday. The coaching carousel is a fickle beast from year-to-year, so the rate of change after any one season is unpredictable.

But with patience thin and the window for winning brief, change is a comin’. Between 2007 and 2009 18 teams changed head coaches, giving the profession of coaching in the NFL only moderately more job security than a used car salesman.

So, who are the most likely candidates to join the ranks of the unemployed this year?

1. Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars

It doesn’t seem fair that the two coaches leading this list are also leading two of the shakiest quarterback situations in the league. But contrary to what Al Pacino would have you believe, winning or losing like a man isn’t all that matters. It’s mostly just winning that matters, and Del Rio’s success in Jacksonville has been fleeting. The Jaguars have made the playoffs twice during his eight-year tenure, and have a 20-28 record over the last three years.

Two years ago Del Rio was rumored to be considering the vacant head coaching gig at USC before he had a nice heart-to-heart with Jags owner Wayne Weaver. Del Rio was kept on board to continue a rebuilding process that’s now led to Luke McCown making his eighth career start Sunday. If the Jaguars don’t make the playoffs, and if the additions of Paul Posluszny and Dawan Landry aren’t enough to improve a poor run defense, then Del Rio will have the final two years of his contract ripped up.

2. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

Guns don’t hurt people, hollow promises hurt people. When a coach is given a two-year contract extension it’s like inviting the in-laws over, but making them sleep in the garage. Their presence is tolerated, but only from a distance.

After Mike Brown lingered over his 2011 coaching direction for several days Lewis was given a two-year deal worth $6.5 million last January. Now Lewis is left with Carson Palmer still playing Mr. Mom at home, inexperience at quarterback and wide receiver, and a running back who takes breaks from football to serve jail time.

But he’ll stick around despite this impending disaster and his recent record, because Brown is stubborn like that.

3. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins

Albert Haynesworth was a giant, sleeping, locker room mess, and now he’s gone elsewhere to wake up from his two-year slumber. But Shanahan’s mishandling of Haynesworth showed his willingness to allow a player conflict to grow into a very public squabble, an exercise that was repeated during Donovan McNabb’s exit.

Shanahan signed a five-year contract worth roughly $7 million annually before the 2010 season, and after making a poor decision to acquire McNabb and then later sign him to an extension, he’s now left with Rex Grossman leading his offense.

4. Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins

Sparano is another coach who’s been given the two-year hollow promise, a pact made last winter after Dolphins owner Stephen Ross missed out on the hot supermodel during the head coaching carousel, and settled for the moderately attractive girl he brought to the bar. Ross wanted Jim Harbaugh, and met with the eventual 49ers coach before re-signing his current bumbling sideline leader.

Sparano is woefully unorganized during games and during the offseason. His mistakes are glaring enough that he doesn’t deserve to be an NFL head coach, yet somehow he’s still employed under that title.

5. Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans

The Texans should make the playoffs, and they should have an improved secondary after the additions of Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning, and they should win the AFC South with Peyton Manning gone for likely the entire season.

If they’re not playing during the second weekend in January, Kubiak is gone.

6. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers

Firing a head coach who’s won his division in three out of his four seasons with a team seems like a ludicrous idea. But eventually a team that’s loaded with talent on both sides of the ball every year has to demonstrate the mental moxie to become elite and rise to a championship level.

The Chargers have come close and whiffed several times under Turner, and their habitual slow start (San Diego is 7-12 during the first seven weeks over the last three seasons) reflects a lack of preparedness. Last year Turner’s boys watched the playoffs from home despite having the top-rated offense and defense.

As part of the natural ebb and flow of the National Football League, a number of good players fall off cliffs annually, while a number of unknowns ascend to the mountaintop. We’ve already speculated on the former. Here are 11 candidates for the latter…

1. Cardinals cornerback A.J. Jefferson

Gagnon’s take: Despite going undrafted and spending much of 2010 on the practice squad, the Cards love him. With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie gone and Greg Toler hurt, a great preseason has sent Jefferson to the top of the cornerback depth chart in Arizona.

Tomlinson’s take: My only fear with Jefferson is that once games become meaningful this week, the hype machine could make teams shy away from Peterson, leaving an undrafted rookie exposed.

2. Jaguars running back Deji Karim

Tomlinson’s take: This one comes with the obvious caveat of Maurice Jones-Drew being slowed by his knee injury. Rashad Jennings was Jones-Drew’s backup, a role now inherited by Karim following Jennings’ own knee injury that ended his 2011 season before it began. With Luke McCown or possibly later Blaine Gabbert at quarterback in Jacksonville, the running game will be leaned on heavily. Fullback Montell Owens could also receive additional carries.

Gagnon’s take: And even if MoJo doesn’t suffer an injury, there have been murmurs out of Jacksonville that he’ll begin to receive a lighter load this season and beyond. Karim might be a surprise candidate to emerge in a very good run game.

3. Colts running back Delone Carter

Tomlinson’s take: Trying to gain some kind of insight from the Colts’ running back depth chart this year will be a fruitless task. Joseph Addai will be the lead man, but both Donald Brown and Carter will be the two smaller heads this three-headed monstrosity. Brown has done little to impress, so Carter should get the call and muddle things further after Addai’s inevitable injury (Addai has missed 12 games over the last three years).

Gagnon’s take: And again, even if Addai stays healthy Carter is expected to become a red-zone force in 2011. The offense will be less effective through the air and might take fewer chances with Peyton Manning out, and Carter will be the big body they want near the end zone. So expect him to score a lot in his rookie campaign.

4. Patriots safety Josh Barrett

Gagnon’s take: The Patriots must see something in Barrett, because his play in training camp and the preseason made New England comfortable enough to get rid of James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather while keeping just four starters. The former seventh-round pick will start with Patrick Chung. He has all of the physical attributes necessary to become a superstar safety.

Tomlinson’s take: There’s a lingering but mild injury concern after Barrett spent the last year on injured reserve while recovering from shoulder surgery. But he has indeed impressed in training camp, and the ability to earn Bill Belichick’s trust in the secondary shouldn’t be underestimated.

5. 49ers running back Kendall Hunter

Gagnon’s take: The rookie beat out Anthony Dixon to earn the backup job in San Francisco, but there’s a belief that Hunter could challenge an aging Frank Gore for carries. In an offense that lacks weapons, he could emerge quickly.

Tomlinson’s take: Gore was mentioned as one of elite players set to spiral yesterday. Glen Coffee was once next in line before he chose religion over football, which is sacrilegious. Now Hunter will benefit from Gore’s brittleness, and quickly accelerate his career.

6. Browns receiver Brian Robiskie

Tomlinson’s take: Mohammad Massaquoi has been officially moved to the top of the depth chart for an unpredictable position in Cleveland. The three-year rule for wide receivers may not apply to Robiskie since he’s entering a new system under Pat Shurmur, but he should still have plenty of opportunities to emerge as a prime target.

Gagnon’s take: I’ll give you Robiskie, who has the ability but has yet to make it happen at the professional level. But watch out for Evan Moore and Greg Little as well.

7. Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph

Tomlinson’s take: Even if a 31-year-old Visanthe Shiancoe remains healthy after struggling with a groin injury throughout the preseason, Rudolph will still be utilized in two tight end sets. In a league filled with imitators, many offenses are looking to duplicate what the Patriots did in 2010 with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Gagnon’s take: I’m still not comfortable with anyone but Adrian Peterson in the Minnesota offense.

8. Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton

Gagnon’s take: The versatile defensive lineman out of Texas takes over for Tommie Harris. He reportedly added a bunch of weight in the offseason and could be poised to become the team’s top run-stuffing presence in 2011.

Tomlinson’s take: Melton will have plenty of support with Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije drawing attention on the outside.

9. Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee

Gagnon’s take: Keith Brooking has no business starting alongside Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Lee, a sophomore out of Penn State, should overtake Brooking if he can stay healthy. The former second-round pick has the ability to become a star.

Tomlinson’s take: Lee was used sparingly during his first season last year, but his 138 tackles for Penn State in 2008 show his potential and upside.

 10. Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds

Gagnon’s take: The 52nd pick of the 2010 draft might earn a lot of extra snaps with James Harrison’s health a question mark headed into the season. He proved at Virginia Tech that he has the talent. In the Pittsburgh offense, he could bloom quickly.

Tomlinson’s take: Harrison was fatigued and sluggish throughout the preseason despite never playing in more than one half of any game. After back surgery he still has a lockout hangover, and Worilds should get plenty of opportunities.

11. Cardinals receiver Andre Roberts

Tomlinson’s take: This Kevin Kolb character sounds like he knows how to throw a football, and Steve Breaton is gone. Todd Heap will draw some looks, but we’re only about five games away from his first injury of 2011. Roberts beat out Early Doucet for the No. 2 receiver spot in the desert, and will now benefit from the double coverages drawn by Larry Fitzgerald.

Gagnon’s take: If he can do the kind of things he did against Dallas in Week 16 last year, he’ll become an ideal complement to Fitzgerald. The Cards could have kept Breaston — I think they let him walk because they’re confident that Roberts can become a legit starter.

Every year in the NFL, a bunch of great players fall off a cliff. These nosedives can be attributed to the aging process, injuries, personnel changes or simple bad luck. Here’s our pathetic attempt to predict who might fall off the face of the superstar planet in 2011:

1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

Tomlinson’s take: When and if he plays, it could be like watching the Michelin man take snaps. As long the offense is drawn up so that his receivers are directly in front of him and minimal neck movement is required, Manning should be just fine.

Gagnon’s take: And if he doesn’t play, the Colts will suck. Either way, our expectations are very low.

2. Eli Manning, New York Giants

Tomlinson’s take: From a fantasy standpoint Peyton’s little brother should still post serviceable numbers. But in the world of reality where winning games is all that matters, watching the Giants’ offense could be on par with being conscious during an appendectomy.

Gagnon’s take: That was really random, Sean. Too many losses on both sides of the ball in New York. Eli will have another tough year.

3. James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers

Gagnon’s take: The 2008 defensive player of the year is 33 years old and out of shape after undergoing dual back surgeries in the offseason. His time at the top was short and sweet, and it’s over.

Tomlinson’s take: In addition to Father Time beginning to be a jerk, life will continue to be tough as a highly physical and borderline hostile player adjusts to a league that’s increasingly discouraging barbaric behavior.

4. Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings

Gagnon’s take: Allen’s only 29, but you have to wonder if he’s fading from his prime as the Vikings’ defense (and Allen’s support system) gets older. It won’t help that his top complement, Ray Edwards, left as a free agent.

Tomlinson’s take: Whether it’s led by McNabb or later rookie Christian Ponder, the Vikings offense’ could put the defense in low leverage situations, possibly making Allen’s prime sack opportunities scarce.

5. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers

Gagnon’s take: The 28-year-old has the knees of a 68-year-old. It couldn’t be more obvious that the injury-prone Gore is about to hit a wall.

Tomlinson’s take: Age and brittleness are a lethal combination. Gore has played in a full 16-game season just once in his career, missing nine games over the last three years.

6. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts

Tomlinson’s take: I like Kerry Collins as a hopefully temporary Manning replacement, but I’d like him a lot more if it was 2002, 2005, or even 2008.

Gagnon’s take: Notwithstanding the Manning situation, Wayne isn’t a spring chicken either. He’ll turn 33 this season — maybe the decline would start regardless.

7. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers

Gagnon’s take: We haven’t been shy to criticize Williams and his monster contract. Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson might be better options in a bad offense. It’s hard to envision the 28-year-old Williams coming close to 16 starts in 2011.

Tomlinson’s take: Seeking to match Gore’s glass imitation, Williams has missed 13 games over the past two seasons. His feeble ways will only increase when he’s asked to shoulder a larger load while the Panthers’ backfield supports rookie quarterback Cam Newton.

8. Jason Babin, Philadelphia Eagles

Gagnon’s take: He was in the right place at the right time when he registered 12.5 sacks in 2010. In 2011, he joins a Philly defense that has several better pass-rushing options. And even if he does get plenty of opportunities to rush the quarterback, it’s possible his 2010 campaign was an anomaly.

Tomlinson’s take: Opposing offenses may quickly learn to exploit a weak linebacker corps after the departure of Stewart Bradley, which is the only glaring weak area for the Philadelphia defense on paper. Faced with a barrage of runs and screens to keep him honest, Babin’s sack numbers could take a sharp decline.

9. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams

Gagnon’s take: Here’s yet another 28-year-old running back who is about to fall off the cliff. He started the stumble toward the edge last year with an abysmal 3.8 yards per carry.

Tomlinson’s take: The motivation to bring in Cadillac Williams is clear, and he’ll quickly form a platoon with Jackson. Jerious Norwood’s explosive speed will also be utilized on screens and pass routes out of the backfield, providing the Rams with another insurance option against Jackson’s age.

10. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings

Tomlinson’s take: I throw a better spiral than Donovan McNabb, and in high school I was once sacked for a safety, only to get up and learn I was on an entirely different field than where the game originally started.

Gagnon’s take: And you weren’t even the quarterback…

11. Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos

Gagnon’s take: He might not be considered elite by most observers, but his numbers were elite in 2010. Was that a fluke? While it’s promising that Kyle Orton will continue to throw him passes, I think Lloyd’s stats will decrease considerably this year. John Fox will want to run the ball a lot more, just as he did in Carolina.

Tomlinson’s take: Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos’ first-round pick in 2009, will return early in the season after he tore his Achilles tendon during a workout in February. He had 22 catches for 283 yards–including a 97-yard performance in Week 2–while playing in just 10 games last year, and he’ll be ready to steal looks from Lloyd.