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chris Johnson run2

Chris Johnson can be annoying. It’s annoying when he shuffles and scans in the backfield, blatantly missing an open running lane. It’s annoying when he slams into the hind regions of his offensive linemen, gaining something between little and nothing. And it’s annoying when he wastes his still game-busting speed.

But Chris Johnson can also give you — the viewer, the coach, or the general manager — a wide football smile. Even during a 2013 season when he averaged a career low 3.9 yards per carry, Johnson still sporadically found a way to go kaboom when given an opportunity in space, with two catches for 40 yards or more. That may sound meager and meh, but despite all the yardage he’s accumulated throughout his career and a 2009 season when he set the record for yards from scrimmage, two of Johnson’s five career +40 yard catches came in one year.

That’s an isolated example of his burst, and an intentional one. At this point in the career of a running back who turns 29 next September with 2,014 touches to his name, avoiding the annoying Johnson while harnessing the speedy Johnson is all about isolation. As a free agent he needed to land in a situation where the workload could be spread, and his legs would be kept fresh and optimized.

He needed to land with the New York Jets.

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eric ebron again2

Eric Ebron is the best tight end in the 2014 draft. That’s not an adventurous statement, or a particularly bold one. At this point, it’s been accepted as fact.

Ebron has all the numbers and measurables we typically associate with the modern day behemoth tight end, standing 6’4″ and weighing 245 pounds. Like the Jimmy Grahams and Rob Gronkowskis of the league, he’s also versatile. When speaking to reporters at the scouting combine Ebron said he lined up away from the line of scrimmage roughly 40-percent of the time during his final year at the University of North Carolina, and he sometimes shifted into the backfield as an H-back too.

All that resulted in 62 catches for 973 yards. Or visually, this…

But here’s the next question we’re set to wrestle with: is he really, honestly on the same level as Vernon Davis, or Jeremy Shockey in his Giants prime? Because that’s the draft territory Ebron could be preparing to enter.

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Joel Bitonio2

On the dark green grass, he blended in with all the other offensive linemen wearing white uniforms. He stepped forward, locked his arms out and sat in his stance, creasing his knees before driving the defensive end out of the pitch play. It was simple, but he was still supposed to stand out from his teammates. He was the potential first-round pick, the team’s best linemen, the team’s left tackle.

For one play, Joel Bitonio didn’t look any different than the left guard by his right side.

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charles2

The Kansas City Chiefs were a fun, scrappy team to watch in 2013. Under new head coach Andy Reid, his Kool-Aid wall busting ways, and a shiny new quarterback in Alex Smith, there was suddenly life in KC after only two wins the year before. And following nine straight wins to start the season there was hope for something far more than just franchise rejuvenation, however false it may have been with the five backup quarterbacks Chiefs pass rushers were able to chew up.

The source of that life was a west coast offense that didn’t ask Smith to do much, putting games almost entirely in the hands of Jamaal Charles who shattered his previous career touchdown high of eight while scoring 19 times. He also set career highs in total yards (1,980), receptions (70), and receiving yards (693).

He did all that on 329 touches, while the Chiefs averaged only 208.8 passing yards per game (24th) and 6.5 per attempt (27th). That formula for offensive success which ran through Charles with gashing runs and short passes needs a strong and stable offensive line to be successful.

That may not exist in Kansas City anymore, which is why the Chiefs are a leading drop-off candidate.

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cam newton celly2

During draft season we have a lot of time to think, a lot of time to talk, and a lot of time to listen as others talk. On the surface those aren’t bad things, because analysis is what we do around here, and thinking mixed with talking is what leads to the learning and evaluating. It’s a cycle, you see.

But sometimes that cycle can more so resemble a spiral of blinding, white nothingness, and the result is both comedy, and anonymous drivel.

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clay2

The headlining quarterback during the 2009 draft has been inconsistent at best, and the draft overall wasn’t nearly as strong as the two years that followed. But it did give us a long-haired man now beloved in frosty Wisconsin, and another linebacker who disregards normal football conventions. Like wearing a helmet.

Our draft nostalgia journey continues…

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Aldon smith2

Humans do stupid things daily, all ranging in severity and consequence. As I write this there’s probably at least one groggy individual who did the classic reverse through the garage door stunt. That’s dumb, but the harm is only to door, car, and pocket. Like so many others, it’s also an example of a private matter. A privately stupid matter, but you get the idea nonetheless.

Aldon Smith is a different sort of idiot. He’s the extreme and completely clueless kind, so much that as a football player his stay on any one team could be brief without a drastic course correction.

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