Sometimes you get a feeling that everything needs to be blown up.
Like how Panthers ownership felt with Matt Rhule. Well, in that case, there was plenty of evidence suggesting Carolina should explode it all to smithereens.
As the man behind the curtain of the Practice Squad Power Rankings, I got a sense that stagnancy was imminent. Heck, we only had one call-up -- Ravens defensive back Ar'Darius Washington -- ahead of Week 6, and many of the members had sat patiently on the PSPR for weeks without even a rumor floating around the internet about them potentially getting The Call.
So I've essentially hit the "detonate" button on the PSPR from where they've stood over the past few weeks. I'm never complacent with the PSPR. Now, those lost in the wreckage of the detonation will forever be honored. They're PSPR alumni for life, and heck, they can always revert back to the PSPR at a later date. Not ruling it out.
But for now, there's almost an entirely new PSPR from a week ago. Fresh faces. A fresh start. And the overarching theme for these selections -- explosive athleticism. In the NFL, if nothing else, a player better be a damn dynamic athlete to catch the attention of a GM, head coach, or coordinator, you know, those who decide whether or not said player gets an opportunity.
The PSPR Call-Up Tally (The CUT) is at 13 call-ups after six weeks of regular-season action. I never settle. We need more. Here's to a BIG Practice Squad Elevation on Saturday. Remember don't be shy to hit me up on Twitter @ChrisTrapasso to alert me about any PSPR members getting the glorious call. I have my niece's first birthday party Saturday, so I won't be scanning Twitter as feverishly as normal.
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The expanded, 16-man practice squads are about the only good thing to come out of the pandemic, and they're here to stay in the NFL. Because of this, I run the Practice Squad Power Rankings parallel to the league. I write about 16 individuals every Friday, 10 officially in the rankings and six honorable mentions.
But I'll always stay true to the origins of the PSPR, which were to highlight young players. That means I won't be featuring "veterans" this season. Selecting someone like Nickell Robey-Coleman -- currently on the Raiders practice squad -- would not embody the fundamental intention of the PSPR. So for the sake of the Practice Squad Power Rankings' dignity, I'll only be including practice-squaders who are rookies, second-year players, third-year players, or fourth-year pros. Players drafted from 2019 on. That's it.
Here's to the Practice Squad Power Rankings flourishing this season, emerging as a legitimate superstar, earning a massive payday and starting to cement its legacy in the hallowed halls of the internet's football-media industry.
10. Verone McKinley, S, Dolphins
The Dolphins are 31st in pass defense DVOA -- 31st! That's not good, particularly for a team with playoff aspirations. Given all the healthy-related issues the club has had in its last three games at quarterback, Miami has needed its defense to hold its own, and it hasn't.
McKinley's film at Oregon wasn't quite as good as his tremendous production -- 11 interceptions and 10 pass breakups in his final three seasons for the Ducks -- yet clearly he has a knack to find the football down the field, and the Dolphins have one interception on the year entering Week 7. Now, he's not especially explosive, which is why he's at No. 10 this week.
9. Ar'Darius Washington, DB, Ravens
Washington can be the Ravens multi-dimensional weapon in the secondary, and Baltimore's scheme asks a lot of its defensive backs. Cover the slot one play, range deep down the field the next. He can do it. Baltimore gave Washington his shot in Week 6, and he looked like he belonged, with an assisted tackle and no big plays allowed in coverage. Do it again, Ravens.
8. Jeremiah Moon, OLB, Ravens
Moon is a 6-5, 250-pound edge rusher who had a 41-inch vertical at the combine in March. FREAK. The former Florida Gator doesn't have a loaded arsenal of pass-rush moves, yet that burst will grab the attention of every offensive tackle in the league, and Moon is bendy when flying around the corner. The Ravens have the league's fifth-lowest pressure-creation rate entering Week 7. It's time to give Moon an opportunity.
7. Kevin Austin, WR, Jaguars
Austin made waves with an out-of-nowhere, super-explosive combine workout at nearly 6-3 and 200 pounds. He ran 4.43 with a 39-inch vertical and a broad jump in the 94th percentile among receivers at the combine since 1999. Watching him at Notre Dame, Austin was the vertical-ball specialist, not someone necessarily getting open regularly with stop-start quickness or route salesmanship.
And for what the Jaguars need, Austin's skill set is perfect. They have five completions on throws made 20 or more yards downfield to date. That has to change.
6. Zyon Gilbert, CB, Giants
Gilbert hummed under the radar at around 6-0 and 193 pounds with 4.49 speed, a 40-inch vertical and a spectacular 138-inch broad jump. He was good at Florida Atlantic, too, with five interceptions and 23 pass breakups in his final three seasons with the Owls. The Giants, despite starting 5-1, are 30th in Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA, the site's all-encompassing efficiency metric. They're 21st in pass defensive DVOA. Gilbert can provide the explosive jolt the secondary needs.
5. Chase Allen, TE, Bears
The Bears haven't utilized many two-tight end sets to start the season, and given how much the receiver group struggles to separate, maybe offensive coordinator Luke Getsy should deploy more heavy looks. Allen was a secondary option at tight end at Iowa State due to the steady presence of Charlie Kolar, yet Allen proved to be more than capable of carrying out TE2 duties, and at 6-6 and 251 pounds, he had a combine workout that showcased impressive change-of-direction skills. Given how pedestrian the Bears offense has been to date, giving Allen an opportunity should be welcomed.
4. Cameron Goode, EDGE/LB, Dolphins
All Goode did to pop squarely onto the draft radar after his productive career at Cal was jump 39 inches in the vertical along with a 6.91 three-cone time at his pro-day workout. In 2021 for the Bears, as a hybrid, kind of old school stand-up outside linebacker, Goode had 6.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss along with 45 tackles and four pass breakups. The Dolphins are currently in 31st in pass defense DVOA entering Week 7. That unit needs an explosive boost up front to help the secondary.
3. Solomon Kindley, OG, Giants
The Giants have allowed the second-highest pressure rate in the NFL through six weeks of action, which makes it even more impressive that they're 5-1 right now. Andrew Thomas has been phenomenal, like All-Pro good. No one else's job should be safe up front, maybe except Evan Neal, who the Giants aren't just going to bench after selecting him in the top 10 in April.
Kindley is a compact, no-nonsense masher inside who plays with a low center of gravity that allows him to withstand bull-rushes, and his time at Georgia gave him ample experience blocking for the run. To keep this hot start going, the Giants should make a move on the inside of their offensive line -- and yes, I know cohesion is valuable there -- to upgrade the play of the blocking unit in front of Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.
2. Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Browns
Late addition here with Graham. He's back on the Browns practice squad. Cleveland has to call up him. Immediately. They're 16th in pass defense DVOA and have two interceptions through five contests. Graham is a former PSPR cover guy who had the best debut performance from a PSPR alum, when he defended three passes in late December against the Vikings.
1. Deven Thompkins, WR, Buccaneers
What more can I tell you about Thompkins? How about that he had five catches for 53 yards -- including two contested-catch wins! -- during the 2022 preseason. He's also a Brady-type too in that he was a 0-star recruit when he joined the Utah State program in 2018. Brady loves an underdog's underdog, and that's precisely what Thompkins is. Lastly, Tampa Bay could use more juice at receiver. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are studs. Adding a pure downfield specialist wouldn't hurt. And yeah, Thompkins is an explosive athlete. He has 4.44 speed, had a 38.5-inch vertical and a 132-inch broad jump at his pro day.
Nazeeh Johnson, DB, Chiefs
Johnson was a stat-sheet filler at Marshall with 302 tackles, seven picks, and 19 pass breakups in five seasons. He can man the nickel corner spot. Free safety. Strong safety. He tackles well and plays with authority on every snap.
ZaQuandre White, RB, Dolphins
White was the No. 1 junior-college running back recruit in the class of 2020. On 88 totes for South Carolina last season, he averaged 6.6 yards per. And, on film, his juice jumps off the screen. Dynamic cuts, Tesla-like acceleration, power through contact. It's still a shock he went undrafted. I guess teams like to see more of a workload in college for a runner? I love the minimal wear on his body. The Dolphins have Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds in their backfield. White can step in and contribute in Year 1. He's very talented.
We have Mercer on the PSPR board! Poe, a Mercer alum, was a wrecking ball in college, and he tested like a high-caliber athlete at the Georgia Pro Day. Yeah, the Bulldogs gave him the opportunity to showcase his skills, and he thoroughly impressed. Poe feels like an athletic brawler of a guard Kyle Shanahan will eventually get the most out of in San Francisco.
Jaret Patterson, RB, Commanders
The Commanders are averaging 4.0 yards per carry through six contests. No idea is a bad idea when it comes to how to fix the run game. Now, of course, a running back himself cannot single-handedly fix an NFL team's rushing attack. But it won't hurt to incorporate the small, ultra-shifty Patterson into this offense, although the inspiring return of Brian Robinson Jr. to the lineup has certainly helped boost the run game.
Curtis Brooks, DT, Colts
Brooks was a late-bloomer at Cincinnati but may have been the most dynamic purely pass-rushing three technique in the 2022 class. I mean that. On just 304 pass-rushing snaps, Brooks registered 43 pressures thanks to an awesome blend of first-step quickness, leverage, and power at the point of attack.
Easop Winston, WR, Seahawks
Winston was a stud in Seattle's neck of the woods at Washington State, where he caught 137 passes for 1,624 yards and 19 touchdowns in two seasons for the Cougars. His speciality is route suddenness on intricate, underneath routes. He'd be a fun addition to this fun offense in Seattle.