Baltimore Ravens: Promote J.K. Dobbins to RB1
Dobbins was my top-rated running back in this year’s draft class. I like his instinctive, quick-cut ability and speed. In his limited body of pro work so far, the rookie has proven to be the most explosive running back in the Ravens’ loaded backfield. Right now, he sits third on the current depth chart behind Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards, with Dobbins logging nine attempts to Ingram’s 19 and Edwards’ 14. But Dobbins’ fresh legs and excellent acceleration both through the hole and getting outside should warrant more carries, if not a promotion to RB1. I like what I’ve seen so far — and so do the Ravens — as Dobbins has turned minimal touches into big gains. Though he’s totaled just those nine totes in two games, Dobbins has racked up 70 yards for a whopping 7.8 yards per carry and two touchdowns. He hasn’t been all that involved in the pass game yet (one catch on one target for 13 yards), but he has the ability to be effective as a runner after the catch. Once he’s given the chance, he will show he is the most dangerous running back the Ravens have. It’s time to unleash the youngster as a key player in Greg Roman’s system.
Detroit Lions: Activate rookie Julian Okwara
The Lions can’t get a pass rush, so something must change. This season, they have allowed opposing quarterbacks the second-longest time to throw (2.96 seconds). Detroit drafted Okwara in the third round to help its ever-struggling pass rush, but he played just seven defensive snaps in Week 1 before being a healthy scratch last Sunday. Neither game was pretty in terms of a pass rush, and the Lions actually graded almost 10 points lower in Week 2 (58.4 grade) than in Week 1 (67.5), per Pro Football Focus. So why not give the young edge rusher another shot? I liked him at Notre Dame and thought he was athletic and quick off the ball, with good hand quickness and technique as a pass rusher. Given all the issues Matt Patricia is having with this group, he has to try something new. Keep it simple and get Okwara on the field to rush the passer.
Minnesota Vikings: Promote Justin Jefferson to WR2
The Vikings’ offense has struggled often in its first two games, and getting their first-round draft pick more opportunities could help turn this bad stint around. Jefferson has been targeted six times. That’s it. But he’s been effective when Kirk Cousins throws his way, hauling in five catches for 70 yards for an 83.3 catch percentage. Gary Kubiak must find ways to get the rookie wideout more involved to take some pressure off Adam Thielen, who’s a great player but doesn’t change the coverage like Stefon Diggs did. To me, the highly competitive Jefferson is the clear WR2 on this roster with the ability to run after the catch and win jump balls. The Vikings would benefit by moving him around and, more importantly, getting him the ball. According to Next Gen Stats, he has lined up in the slot on 85 percent of his 59 offensive plays, making three receptions for 56 yards (18.7 yards per catch). Jefferson’s been targeted twice when aligned outside for 14 yards, but the big positive here is that he’s averaged 5.11 yards of separation per target. The talent is there. Now, get this kid the ball.
San Francisco 49ers/Seattle Seahawks: Sign free agent Clay Matthews
Both of these teams have suffered significant losses in pass-rushing talent. Within the week, the 49ers lost Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas to season-ending injuries, while Dee Ford (back) is expected to miss this weekend’s contest versus the New York Giants. Then there are the Seahawks, who let Jadeveon Clowney walk in free agency and just lost Bruce Irvin (knee) for the year. Both of these defenses would benefit from adding a player like Matthews, a veteran who still showed the burst to get to the quarterback in 2019 with the Los Angeles Rams. In 13 games last season, Matthews racked up 8.0 sacks (his highest mark in five years), 11 QB hits and nine tackles for loss. Using Matthews as a nickel rusher could boost these two injury-riddled units.