Props to Marquise Goodwin for even placing in the Olympic Trials at age 30. The average age between the top six qualifiers for the event was 25.
2. 49ers: Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt.
If Ward and Tartt stay healthy, they could rise to No. 1 on this list, because they’re two of the most versatile safeties in the division. Both can play each other’s position. Both can cover man to man and in zone. Both can pretty much do it all. The only drawback is their healthy and availability. Jaquiski Tartt never has stayed healthy for a full 16-game season, and Ward has accomplished that feat just once back in 2015. And the NFL just added a 17th game to the schedule, so durability is more important than ever.
After making his way onto the team for the 2012 games in London, he failed to qualify for 2016. His second attempt at becoming a two-time Olympian was squandered during the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. when he managed to jump 24-feet-10-inches and finish in 19th place, which is well shy of his personal best 27-feet-7-inches.
Goodwin opted to sit out the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and actually reverted back to the 49ers’ roster in 2021 because of stipulations in the trade between San Francisco and Philadelphia during the 2020 draft that sent the receiver to the Eagles in exchange for a sixth-round pick. He was later released by the 49ers, and eventually signed by the Bears.
Warner has quickly become one of the best linebackers in the league. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus’ recently released rankings, Warner is the 20th best player in the league.
Warner slots in right behind Kansas City Chiefs interior defensive lineman Chris Jones and ahead of Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa. Warner already topped PFF’s list of the top 25 players under 25 and remains among the league’s elite regardless of his age. Seattle’s Bobby Wagner is the only linebacker who ranks higher than Warner on the list.
The player I believe everyone should be excited about is the addition of Maurice Hurst. I think he can carve himself out a serious role on the defensive line. Massively underutilized with the Raiders, Hurst can find himself dominant in every game. Not only because of the surrounding talent he has never had, but the tutelage of Kris Kocurek. You mix all of these players along with the coaching and the expected blitzes from DeMeco Ryans, and you have yourself a defense that is built to explode at the interior.
That is not to say the edge will be measly. I just think the best bet right now of where the 49ers’ dominance will be is at the interior. Just imagine a blitzing Fred Warner through the A- or B-gap with any pairing of those names I have mentioned lurking for the quarterback. And if Bosa can get close to form, then the defensive line will be unfair.
The Seahawks’ players and coaches are on break until the start of training camp. The front office, though, still has work to do on the business side with regard to the expiring deals of three key veterans: strong safety Jamal Adams, left tackle Duane Brown and free safety Quandre Diggs.
And Dugar writes this about Diggs, specifically:
Diggs changed the complexion of Seattle’s defense when he arrived midway through the 2019 season. Then in 2020, his first full year with the Seahawks, he made his first career Pro Bowl and finished second among safeties in interceptions (5) and sixth in total passes defensed (10), according to Sportradar.
Surprisingly, the LA Rams are no longer in financial peril for 2021, so would they consider adding DeCastro as the new starter at right guard instead of Bobby Evans?
That probably depends most of all on how high the coaching staff is on Evans and what they’ve noticed thus far during the 2021 offseason as far as his development. Virtually nothing outside of the building is known about how Sean McVay and the staff felt about the current offensive line — Andrew Whitworth-David Edwards-Austin Corbett-Evans-Rob Havenstein — during OTAs and whether or not they open discussions with DeCastro will say a lot about how they felt about the group so far.
I believe that the Cardinals have a stronger chance to win in the NFC West this season because of their commitment this off-season to re-define the veteran leadership, to get more physical across the board and to add speed at key positions.
They key to the Cardinals’ success is to keep improving their division record:
Of course, one of the most auspicious signs of the Cardinals’ improvement would be to beat the Rams who are 8-0 versus the Cardinals under Sean McVay.
Would you consider this season a positive step forward if the Cardinals split with each team in the NFC West and went 3-3?