PML 21 has officially started! PML kicked off the league with a free agency draft that allowed each team to select one player that they thought would make an impact on their team immediately or in time through on and off the field training. There were a lot of coaches that made solid selections that made sense and there were some coaches that skipped over a better overall player in order to fit a need. I’m going to break down each team’s free agent selection and give them a grade based on a few key categories; team fit, overall selection, and caliber of the player’s still available at their specific pick.
Cincinnati Bengals: B
The Bengals addressed a need when they drafted ROLB Tim Williams with the 15th pick and while the Bengals do lack talent at the position, Williams doesn’t offer a lot talent wise. Williams has solid speed (83) and acceleration (87) for his position but his tackling, hitpower, and awareness are all in the low 70s. His blockshed, zone coverage, and man coverage are in the low to mid 50s. Williams is also 26, so he’s on the slope of being difficult to develop due to the nature of his position. I do like the approach that coach Arod was taking, I just think he could have gotten a better bang for his buck in the other free agents that were available at the time of his pick. A veteran presence like Cameron Wake or Terrell Suggs may have given this team more of an edge threat than Williams. I think William’s long-term possibility on the team offers some upside, but time will tell just how Coach Arod plans to use Williams.
Week 1 Impact – N/A
Buffalo Bills: B+
I’m very high on CB Obi Melifonwu, I actually had him as one of the top tier corners out of all the free agency crop. He was the third corner drafted in the PML free agency draft but he brings speed to the position that the Bills are desperately lacking. Coach ImGeeked can use Obi in many different ways. He can use him as a typical corner, in the slot, at safety, or in the sub linebacker position. His speed, jumping, press, and tackle are all above average for the aforementioned positions. Melifonwu is 26 years old, but his development should excel for the next two seasons as long as he is able to perform on the field. The AFC East is going to be a division where every game is going to matter and with a guy like Melifonwu at your disposal, coach ImGeeked will have an advantage when trying to cover multiple receivers.
The Broncos decided to address the linebacker position when they took MLB Patrick Onwuasor with the 2nd overall pick. I like that coach FKNJP filled an area of need for the team, but Patrick’s age and overall doesn’t make a lot of sense to me this early in the draft. Earl Thomas, Darron Lee, or Sidney Jones are three players that would have provided the Broncos with a more impactful player on defense. Although, Onwuasor brings a level of intensity to the defense with his mid range speed, tackle, and hit power. The Broncos are set up in the first season to be able to defend the run extremely well. Regression will take its toll on Onwuasor, but he should still be an impactful player in season 2 if coach FKNJP decides to extend his contract.
Week 1 Impact – N/A
Cleveland Browns: B
Coach HD was seen describing the method for the PML free agency draft as rigged since he was randomly given pick 30, but I think that despite his low pick, his selection was very solid. He selected CB Anthony Averett and gave the Browns a trio of speedy corners capable of disrupting any opposing offense. Averett will have to improve on his coverage skills, but his youth and raw skills will be enough to land him in the slot position. The AFC North is full of speedy receivers and you cannot have enough fast defensive backs capable of covering downfield in an instant.
Week 1 Impact – N/A
Los Angeles Chargers: B+
I really would have liked to see CB Sidney Jones taken with this pick, but Coach HypeMike drafted FS Montae Nicholson with the 11th overall pick. Nicholson is a hybrid safety with the ability to cover slot receivers, tight ends, and running backs. The Chargers also have Nasir Adderley at the FS position but he’s a bit slower and not as explosive. Nicholson is only 24 years old, so I expect him to be on this Charger’s team for the entire PML M21 cycle. Nicholson’s normal development is the only knock against him. His in-game development will be slower, but with the addition of content points, Nicholson and Derwin James will challenge the league as a top safety tandem.
Week 1 Impact – N/A
Kansas City Chiefs: A
Darron Lee is a PML Chiefs regular it seems. He was a crucial part of the Chiefs defense in PML 20 and was developed into a superstar, so we are fully aware of his potential. Coach Vet added Lee with the third selection in the draft. Lee is actually the 2nd highest overall rated linebacker and the 2nd fastest linebacker on the team. Coach Vet struck gold with his selection fulfilling all of the important categories with the team fit/scheme, age, and development potential of the player. Lee signed with the team for $4M on a one year deal and Coach Vet should retain Lee after the season. The Chiefs have a lot of starpower on their roster and it will be difficult to pay them all, but Coach Vet should make it a priority to lock up Lee on a 4 year contract at minimum.
CB T.J. Green was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round in the 2016 NFL draft. Green played for two seasons with the Colts and was subsequently cut in 2018 where he then went to sign with the Seahawks. Coach Papagreeny wanted to reunite Green with the team and selected him with the 13th overall pick. Green has the raw talent that teams in PML really look for in a hybrid corner. The Colts have a lot of youth at the position already, but Green can be utilized as a corner, a safety, or in the sub linebacker position. Tavon Wilson is the Colts starting strong safety, so Papagreeny could permanently move Green to that position after season 1, if he decided to let Wilson go.
Week 1 Impact – 1 tackle and 14 downs played.
Miami Dolphins: B+
The Dolphin’s offensive line is absolutely atrocious. They do have a lot of younger guys that can be developed but Coach KingMike wanted to sign a veteran presence to lead this group. The second best offensive linemen in the free agency pool fell to the Dolphins. They selected LT Donald Penn whose 75 overall rating makes him their highest rated linemen. Penn is 37 years old, but he should still be able to protect the Dolphin’s new quarterback. Penn will be asked to mentor the entire offensive line group but it is reported that he is up for the opportunity. Penn’s strength (91) is still dominant but his pass and run blocking are subpar. It was reported that Penn wants to go out on top and win a championship before retiring, so he’s hopeful that KingMike can help him with his lifelong dream. The Dolphins have a lot of needs on the team and while the safer pick would have been to select a player that KingMike could develop, he decided that Penn would help him compete in season 1 and this Dolphins team is determined to succeed.
Week 1 Impact – 0 sacks given up and 33 downs played.
Jacksonville Jaguars: A
Coach Chefscoopa and the Jacksonville Jaguars found their QB of the foreseeable future in Colin Kaepernick. There is a lot of controversy with the high rating that Colin was given, but it will benefit this young Jaguars offense. Kaepernick’s $17M salary for this season is the highest that was given any free agent in the PML draft. His skill set will allow Chefscoopa to run an option style of offense or a traditional style. His accuracy is rated higher than most starting QBs in PML. I believe that Kaepernick will be the reason that this team wins a few close games whereas they’d be on the losing end of those if Minshew was the starter. I am excited to see if Kaepernick can get back into a rhythm and get back to his Superbowl form from 2013.
The Jets are an organization that seem to be in rebuild mode in the NFL. Coach Mole wanted to bring a fast element to his offense as he selected wide receiver Tavon Austin with the last pick in the draft. Tavon Austin is pushing 30 years old but he still has 93 speed and 81 catching. Coach Mole has an uphill battle with this Jets team but if anyone can turn around this organization, he can. The Jets drafted WR Denzel Mims in the year’s draft, so I expect him to be heavily involved in the offense. However, Tavon Austin can still be sprinkled in and work as a returner for the team. I don’t see Coach Mole extending Austin’s contract at the end of the season, but if Austin is able to contribute to a Superbowl run for Coach Mole, then this selection will have been worth it.
Week 1 Impact – N/A
New England Patriots: B+
Coach Natural selected the only special team player in the draft when he signed Kicker Aldrick Rosas. The Patriots lost future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady in the off-season, and with the addition of Cam Newton, it’s possible the team believes that they will need to rely on the kicking game more often. Rosas has a strong leg (95 Kick power) and his accuracy is on par with some of the best kickers in the game. Coach Natural will look to lock up Rosas with a long term contract at the end of the season. Rosas is only 25 years old, so this selection is one of better matches for long term success of the player and the franchise.
Coach Cammy missed his initial selection but was still able to pick up one of the higher rated free agents after the draft was over. Lamar Miller has starting caliber speed but Josh Jacobs is the king of this backfield. Jacob’s injury rating is a problem and by picking up Miller, coach Cammy has protected his team in having a one-two punch. The initial selection for coach Cammy was 12th overall and there were still a lot of great free agents left, but even with slim pickens, he was able to address a position that you can never have too many. I think that corner Sidney Jones would have been the selection here if Cammy was around to make his pick. Jones would have been a day one starter in Las Vegas, but the fans will have to settle for second best, or in this case 33rd best.
Coach Bacon drafted LE Jabaal Sheard with the 18th pick and moved his position to a ROLB. The Ravens are a team that has talent all over the place but with his transition to linebacker, Sheard became the second highest rated linebacker on the team. He is an absolute liability in coverage, but Sheard excels against the pass. The Raven’s interior line is one of the best in the league with Cambell and Brandon Williams. The addition of Sheard and with Matthew Judon rushing from the perimeter, the Raven’s will be a dominant force against teams that sit back in the pocket. Sheard’s age of 31 will force him to regress, but given the desire to take a paycut, coach Bacon could bring back Sheard on a cheap contract in season 2.
Week 1 Impact – N/A
Pittsburgh Steelers: B+
Derrius Guice’s professional football career has been plagued by injuries and allegations of criminal conduct, but Coach Dramaman decided to give the young star another chance. The Steelers’ HB group is very crowded, but they lack speed and explosiveness. Guice isn’t the flashiest player, but he provides the Steelers with a back that can do it all. I think that Guice will split carries with James Conner and rookie Anthony Mcfarland. Guice is 23 years old but out of all the running backs on the roster, he has the highest ceiling to become a superstar if he can stay healthy.
The Texans have a lot of overpaid players that are poorly rated on the defensive side of the ball. It was reported that they wanted to bring in a veteran safety if the right one fell to them in the PML free agency draft. FS Damarious Randall fell into their lap at pick 21. Coach Fallen immediately informed Randall that the team would be moving him to SS since they were in dire need of a coverage player for that position. Randall made it known to the coach that his specialty has never been to make flashy hits and force fumbles, but Coach Fallen assured Randall that they needed him to be a cover safety for them and that the team’s linebackers specialized in what Randall couldn’t do. Randall’s age, regression, and desired salary will be important to note when the off-season hits, but since the Texans do not have a 1st/2nd in this upcoming draft, it is expected that Randall is on the team for at least two seasons.
Devonta Freeman has had an up and down NFL career since being drafted by the Falcons. He had a couple successful seasons until injuries took their toll on him. It was rumoured that he may sit out this season, but coach Bubba wanted to take a chance on him. Freeman will sit behind superstar running back Derrick Henry this season and be a primary weapon on third downs and in the passing game. Freeman’s 74 catching is among the best for running backs. The Titans also drafted Darrynton Evans in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft, so I expect coach Bubba to incorporate him in the game plan too. I don’t think Freeman will have more than 500 yards rushing this season but I could see him having 60 catches. Freeman will be 29 in the off-season and that’s when running backs begin to regress, so with other talented backs on the team, I can’t see Freeman being with the Titans longer than just one season.