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NFL NFC West: Players Who Could Fall Short of Expectations
July 28, 2023
As the NFL season approaches, the fate of teams and NFL Lines rest on players’ abilities to exceed expectations or falter under pressure. Today, we examine worst-case scenarios for NFC West teams, where certain players may not live up to the demanding standards of the National Football League.
Elijah Mitchell’s Health Concerns May Impact His Role
There’s a dream scenario where Elijah Mitchell returns to his rookie form, carving out a significant rushing role alongside Christian McCaffrey and enabling Kyle Shanahan to unleash unstoppable offensive packages. However, this scenario hinges on Mitchell overcoming his injury woes from the 2022 season. Mitchell’s upright running style has raised concerns about his ability to stay healthy. Even in his rookie year, he battled shoulder, chest, and finger injuries that resulted in missed games. Last season, his injury troubles shifted to lower-body ailments, including a hamstring injury during training camp and an MCL sprain that ended his campaign in November. With other viable options in the San Francisco 49ers’ backfield, such as Tyrion Davis-Price and undrafted free agent Jordan Mason, Mitchell will need to prove his worth and earn his role in the offense.
Uchenna Nwosu’s Sack Total May Not Reflect True Pass-Rushing Impact
When evaluating edge defenders, sacks can be deceptive in determining their true effectiveness. The Seattle Seahawks might have trouble brewing in Nwosu. The film-based metric called True Pressure Rate is aimed at providing a more accurate assessment of pass-rushing skills and impact. According to this metric, Uchenna Nwosu’s performance raises concerns. Despite tying for the team lead with 9.5 sacks last season, the analysis categorized 38 of Nwosu’s 49 total pressures as “low-quality” pressures resulting from mistakes or poor blocking. This indicates that his sack total may have been somewhat inflated. As the new season unfolds, it remains to be seen if Nwosu can consistently generate high-quality pressures and demonstrate sustained effectiveness as a pass rusher.
Michael Hoecht’s Transition to Outside Linebacker Poses Challenges
The Los Angeles Rams‘ defense heavily relies on Aaron Donald, but the rest of the unit comprises players who are seeking to prove themselves. Among them, Michael Hoecht stands out as someone who may struggle. Standing at 6’4″ and weighing 310 pounds, Hoecht was shifted to outside linebacker midway through last season due to injuries on the roster. As the offseason progresses, he continues to train in this role. However, his build may not be ideally suited for playing in space, raising doubts about his ability to adapt effectively. While it would be intriguing to see Hoecht thrive alongside Donald as an interior pass rusher, the Rams’ current usage of him on the outside appears to rely more on hope than concrete evidence.
Marquise Brown’s Challenge to Prove Himself as a Top Receiver
Last year, the Arizona Cardinals traded a first-round pick for Marquise Brown, envisioning him as the successor to DeAndre Hopkins as the team’s WR1. However, when Hopkins served a six-game suspension, Brown failed to fully seize the opportunity and fell slightly short of his production with the Baltimore Ravens on a per-game basis. Upon Hopkins’ return, he quickly reclaimed his position as the top receiver, leading the team in receiving despite Brown playing in three more games. Now, Brown faces the task of fulfilling his potential without the presence of Hopkins and with uncertainty surrounding Kyler Murray’s return from an ACL tear. Standing at 5’9″ and weighing 180 pounds, Brown may continue to struggle to establish himself as a true elite receiving threat, especially if Colt McCoy starts games for the Cardinals.
While these predictions present worst-case scenarios, it remains to be seen how these players will perform in the competitive NFC West. The forthcoming NFL season will reveal whether these concerns become reality or if these players defy expectations and thrive on the field in a way that NFL Odds will be improved for their teams.