Before a game, we often hear NFL coaches talking about “putting the players in a position to make plays.”
After a game, we typically hear from the winning coach, “We made more plays than they did.” Then we hear the losing coach say, “We didn’t make enough plays.”
Playmaking is the art of winning football games.
Take for example, the Patriots’ last two Super Bowl MVPs----RB James White and slot WR Julian Edelman---both were the Patriots’ “go-to guys” in those wins. Both moved the chains when the Patriots needed it most.
Why then are playmakers consistently moved down the draft boards?
A couple of years ago, I was screaming for the Cardinals to take RB Alvin Kamara. Every time I watched his games at Tennessee, I was blown away by how often he jumped off the screen.
Dissenters said, “Are you crazy, we already have David Johnson, why would you need Kamara?”
For one, it turned out that Johnson was lost for the season in game one, Hello Kerwynn Williams.
The answer is---every team needs multiple playmakers---and the better they are, the better the teams will be.
Look at the Patriots---they stockpile RBs and TEs and WRs----
And this is what Kliff Kingsbury is going to do---he’s going to stockpile playmakers.
Let me ask you a question---what player on defense is more valuable---a defensive lineman who makes 3 splash plays a game, or a linebacker or defensive back who is all over the field making tackles, pass breakups and interceptions?
This is why I included three defensive playmakers in my top 11. In many ways, they are as important as offensive playmakers.
From the game tapes I have watched of the top prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, here are the top 11 playmakers that have jumped off the screen:
1. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma. What I love about Murray is that he has a Kurt Warner like sense of when and where to throw the ball and a Warner-like hunger for trying to score on every possible possession. Combine that with Murray’s uncanny success at converting 3rd downs (through superb passing accuracy and elite scrambling ability) with the fact that in the four years (high school and college) that he has been a full-time starter, he has led his team to championships in all 4 of those seasons. In all my years of studying game tapes, I have never seen a college player make as many big plays in one season. Thus, Kyler Murray gets my vote for #1 playmaker.
2. Devin White, LB, LSU. To me, he’s the top defensive playmaker in this draft. I loved S Jamal Adams coming out of LSU a couple of years ago, and now to watch Devin White attack the ball with such brilliant vision and speed, it felt like watching the linebacker version of Jamal Adams. I believe White is the most consistent playmaker on defense I have seen since Luke Kuechly. Man, does this kid get after the football.
3. Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa St. He is the closest WR to Larry Fitzgerald in this draft and a can’t-miss prospect because of his rare combination of size, catch radius and uncanny RAC ability. You can put him anywhere on the field and he will thrive. Butler blends the size of a TE, with a complete array of WR skills. He is matchup nightmare for DCs and is a flat-out baller. It usually take 2-3 players to tackle him.
4. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma. Has to be one of the most slippery, dynamic young WRs I have seen. He is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He can beat his man deep on the perimeter and then the next play shift into the slot and take a dig pass 25 yards. He has outstanding ball-in-the-air concentration. He takes a licking and keep on ticking, because he loves playing in big games under the big lights. Thus his nickname “Hollywood” is apt.
5. Andy Isabella, WR, UMass. I knew he plays fast and saw how play after play he got open at UMass despite being double teamed on virtually every play. But I didn’t know he would run a 4.3. Wow. He is an all-purpose WR who has the mentality of a workhorse RB. He not only wants the ball, he commands the ball. And he wants it over and over for double digit receptions and multiple TDs.
6. Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky. Talk about a splash player who jumps off the game film. He, in many ways, is like Mohammed Ali, he “floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.” The kid has a turbo gear---and when he slams it on, he is a heat seeking torpedo. Not only is he quick off the edge, he can use his strong hands and redirect on a dime. Some plays that are away from him he just coasts along, but then the next play he is blowing up the backfield. And at the end of the game, the number of splash plays he makes are consistently in double digits.
7. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa. He is a 6-5, 256 pound pass coverage mismatch who runs a 4.7 40 and 7.02 3 cone. Not only can be bust it up the seams and show off his quick feet in tight spaces, he uses his leverage as well as any college TE I have seen since Rob Gronkowski. Plus, the kid is a pretty darn good blocker. A real gamer.
8. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama. I like Jacobs in the same way I like Alvin Kamara. He’s a highly versatile RB who runs hard between the tackles, has excellent bounce out ability and an array of juke moves in the open field that make tacklers miss. Will give DCs matchup fits in the passing game, as he is a gifted RAC receiver.
9. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington. Whichever team gets their hands on this Arizona native and high school teammate of N’Keal Harry’s, is going to get one of the top playmaking CBs in years. Murphy’s football IQ, quick feet, balance and strong hands reminds me quite a bit of Aeneas Williams’. He wins matchups on the perimeter and in the slot, which in today’s NFL is a highly coveted combination. Plus, he’s a tough-nosed tackler when forcing the run.
10. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona St. When you look up baller in the dictionary, Harry’s picture is right next to it. He aims big and plays big. Plays whistle to whistle as hard as any player in this draft. He’s physical and relishes on making splash plays on 50/50 balls. Brings an Anquan Boldin type of fight for every inch attitude.
11. David Montgomery, RB, Iowa St. This kid is relentless. He just keeps coming and coming after a defense until he wears them out. He runs hard between the tackles and consistently falls forward on contact. Plus, he’s got a brilliant little side step where can make tacklers miss in the hole and in the open field. Montgomery is a skilled receiver who can win from the backfield and from the slot. Furthermore, he’s excellent in pass protection. I see him as a lunch pail version of David Johnson.
I am sure there are many other playmakers worth noting. Let ‘em rip! Give us what you got!