The momentum for a possible reunion of the NFL and Colin Kaepernick is stronger than it's ever been, and current Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh loves it. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, and subsequent global protests that led to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitting the league made a mistake by not listening to players before 2020 regarding social injustice and police brutality issues, the once-locked door is seemingly cracked for Kaepernick to walk through. While Goodell didn't address Kaepernick by name, the thread tying it all together is rather obvious, and there's now reportedly interest from a handful of teams.
Harbaugh says one of those teams needs to make it happen.
"My personal opinion and really advice to NFL teams is, there's only one way to answer these questions, one way to find out, and that's Colin signs somewhere," he said in a recent talk with ESPN, via 247Sports. "My advice is he'd be worth your time and that NFL team will be very happy."
The added complication in signing a player who hasn't taken an NFL snap since 2016 is COVID-19 protocols that don't yet allow for free agents to work out for clubs, which makes it inherently difficult for general managers to get an up close and personal look at the quarterback. Of course, they had their chance to do so November 2019, but a waiver feud with the league led to a last-minute change of venue from the Atlanta Falcons facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia, to a local high school field; and several teams who had initially committed to attend instantly backed out.
It didn't stop Kaepernick from working out but, as he predicted, no team made him an offer.
It is now 2020 and Goodell is nudging teams to give the 32-year-old a look, with Kaepernick himself being in great physical shape and "more motivated than ever" to return to the field. With the changing of the landscape in the NFL, as it pertains to how team owners view silent player protests, Kaepernick hopes to find his way back into the league and when it comes to his abilities, few can champion them like Harbaugh -- the former coach of the San Francisco 49ers who witnessed Kaepernick lead the team to the brink of a sixth Lombardi trophy during the 2012 season.
"Colin Kaepernick is a friend," Harbaugh said. "He's a brother. He's a great teammate. I love Colin.
"I think he's an unbelievably talented football player."
Earlier this week, Pro Football Focus ranked New York Giants tight end Evan Engram among the very best at his position in football, which is something NFL executives, coaches and players agree with.
In an ongoing series by ESPN, Engram was ranked seventh overall at the tight end position, but many argued he’s really more of a wide receiver.
“Routes, breaks … he’s top three,” one veteran assistant coach said of the 25-year-old. “But he’s not really a tight end.”
Another offensive coordinator agreed wholeheartedly, and it’s really not a knock on Engram. Quite the contrary.
“Those who haven’t watched that dude need to,” one NFL offensive coordinator said. “He’s a true receiver. Polished releases, whole route tree, run after catch. He just plays in a bad offense.”
Although he’s substantially improved, one area where Engram drew some criticism was his blocking — specifically in pass protection. He also lost some points over his lack of durability, which has become a persistent hot topic when discussing Engram.
Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens barely edged out Engram for the No. 6 spot, while the top five rounded out with Darren Weller (No. 5), Rob Gronkowski (No. 4), Zach Ertz (No. 3), Travis Kelce (No. 2) and George Kittle (No. 1).
Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper and Jared Cook filled out the top 10.
Giants running back Saquon Barkley is No. 1.
That the opinion of a poll conducted by one of the NFL broadcast partners in their ranking of the league's top running backs last year.
For all Barkley has been able to accomplish—two straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and who has generated a whopping 68% of his rushing yardage after contact, NFL talent evaluators and personnel who participated in the network's poll ranked him as the league’s No. 1 running back ahead of Carolina’s Christian McCaffery (second), Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (third), and the Saints’ Alvin Kamara (fourth).
That ranking was despite Barkley having an “off” year last season due to a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3.
While there is no disputing that Barkley is a generational type of talent, that he would earn such a high ranking considering his use in the previous coaching staff’s offense is something of a surprise.
Former head coach Pat Shurmur seemed to love the inside zone runs, which, thanks mainly to the inconsistency of the Giants interior offensive line last year, resulted in 25 of Barkley’s rushing attempts (out of 137 runs in between the guards or 18.2%) for zero or negative yardage.
So imagine what kind of praise Barkley is going to get if new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, as many are expecting, includes some outside zone runs, and lines Barkley up around the formation as a receiver, where one NFC executive, in the poll, said the former Penn State star, "Can score from anywhere on the field."
We’ve been hoping that the Giants figure out a way to work Barkley smarter vs. harder to ensure he beats the projected 3.3-year average career length for a running back.
Sure, go ahead and give him the ball—to not do so is a waste of a valuable resource. Instead of having him pound and scratch and claw his way for yardage as he often had to do with inside zone plays, some more outside zone rushes combined with some more receiving opportunities could help the third-year running back have his most productive season yet.