Top Quarterback Prospects 2018

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On April 26, 2018, each of the 32 NFL teams will gather in Arlington, Texas, at the Dallas Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium to kick off the 2018 draft. It’s a time when everyone – players, coaches, owners, fans – are filled with hope and a sense of belief that their team’s entire fortune can change with just one amazing pick. Often, it’s a quarterback that’s targeted with the No. 1 overall pick.

Since 1990, a quarterback was selected first 15 out of 27 times (nearly 56%), the next closest position being defensive end with 4 of 27 (roughly 15%). The 2018 NFL draft class is filled with multiple signal callers that are currently rising up the draft board, from 2017 Heisman Trophy Winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma to 2017 Rose Bowl victor Sam Darnold of USC. Teams in need of their franchise quarterback won’t be short of options this year. But how do some of this new crop of talented gunslingers compare to today’s greats – Brady, Brees, Rodgers?

Quarterbacks of the Future

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Five men stand out as the very best college quarterback prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft: Josh Allen, Wyoming; Sam Darnold, USC; Josh Rosen, UCLA; Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; and Lamar Jackson, Louisville. Each of them stand tall at 6 feet 1 inch or above, weigh between 200 and 225 pounds,  and should be drafted in the first round depending on what teams need.

#15

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While the Cleveland Browns haven’t been blessed when it comes to the quarterback position – Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, boasts the most wins in Believeland since 1999 with an 11-2 record – they can change course with the No. 1 pick overall. ESPN’s NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. suggests the Browns will go all-in on Josh Allen out of Wyoming, who the analyst says plays similar in style to Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford.

The New York Jets are another potential team in the running for a new quarterback in the first round of this year’s draft, especially after they traded up to the third overall pick. Could they be interested in adding Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield to their team to compete with Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater for the first-team position?

Combine Qualifiers

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When it comes to the fine art of splitting hairs between similar prospects, the NFL Scouting Combine is a primary tool employed to help evaluate a player’s physical abilities and mental acumen. Many don’t pay too much attention to the written component, known as the Wonderlic, but rather performance in several athletic examinations. Whatever the position, one of the most intriguing is the 40-yard dash.

This year saw Josh Allen deliver a quicker time than his peers in the top prospect pool at 4.75 seconds. This wasn’t as fast as Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, 4.56 seconds, or even Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, 4.59 seconds, who both transitioned strong college careers and Combine outings into a selection as the No. 1 overall pick. For those, like Josh Rosen, who finished with a 4.92, fear not! Even the greatest quarterback of all time, New England Patriots Tom Brady, delivered a slower time of 5.30 in his 40-yard dash.

Passing Grades

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If you just looked at the stat lines, it would be easy to question why Baker Mayfield isn’t in the pole position on every team’s draft board? With over 14,000 passing yards, over 130 touchdowns, an additional 1,000 yards on the ground, and 21 rushing touchdowns, he’d seem like a no-brainer for any team. But Baker is one of a few top prospects who had a full college career. Players have the option to declare for the NFL draft after completing their second season, which some of the players in this year’s draft elected to do.

While Mayfield played almost 50 games in his NCAA career, Lamar Jackson only played 38 and Josh Allen finished at 27 appearances. This allowed teams to put their career stats into better perspective. Although, Jackson’s performance as a dual-threat must have teams salivating. He racked up over 9,000 yards in the air and over 4,000 on the ground; with almost 120 touchdowns to his name. Despite these impressive college stats, it’s likely he’ll be the last of the top five quarterbacks off the board.

Mayfield, We Chose You!

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After we surveyed over 300 NFL fans, it seems some analysts’ top pick – Allen – didn’t match up with theirs – Mayfield. The former Oklahoma Sooner was favored by over a quarter of all respondents, followed closely by Darnold with 23 percent of the vote.

ESPN thinks it’ll go the other way – they project Darnold will be off the board earlier, as the fifth overall pick by the Denver Broncos, followed by Mayfield as the sixth overall pick by the New York Jets. Both teams are in dire need of a new quarterback, so it makes sense that each would be looking for a new face for the franchise in this draft.

The quarterback fans were least excited about, Rosen, still gets picked in the first round – by the Miami Dolphins – according to ESPN. The former UCLA player is projected to be the fourth quarterback selected in the first round. He would enter into competition with the veteran Ryan Tannehill, who returns to the roster after a season on injured reserve after tearing his ACL.

You’re on the Clock

Whether your team selects first overall or will keep you waiting until the thirty-second spot (sorry, Eagles fans, there is no sympathy for being made to wait when you just won the Big Game last season), there’s something magical about the draft. When your team does select that next franchise-shaping quarterback or fills that area of need on the defensive line, Fanatics will have their jerseys available quicker than Cam Newton can complete a 40-yard dash. Who do you hope your team picks in the 2018 NFL draft?

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Digging Into The NFL Draft

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10 Years of First-Round Picks

After 32 picks, the first round of the 2017 NFL draft was over. Teams had the chance to select the next big thing – from a new face for the franchise to a highly talented player in a position of need – from the most recently declared class college athletes. These picks may have represented the dreams of not just a team, but a city of fans, and the hope that success is on the horizon.

Just what has the history of first-round picks looked like over the past decade? What positions have been most coveted? Have any vindicated their draft position, or did the franchise that selected them ask for a redo? We profiled the last decade of NFL drafts to highlight the highs and lows across the 32 teams in the NFL.

Positions in Demand

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In nearly 350 picks made in the past ten years in the first round of the NFL draft, almost 100 were used on either a defensive end or defensive back. The Cleveland Browns and five other teams helped this cause by using their first-round picks this year on defensive ends. Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, Derek Barnett, Jonathan Allen, Takkarist McKinley, and Taco Charlton all joined the NFL in this year’s draft class as their team’s latest addition in this position.

The future is now.

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Only 6 players from the three safety positions – free safety, safety, and strong safety – have been drafted in a decade of first rounds. And over 30 percent came from the 2017 NFL draft, with Jamal Adams from Louisiana State University to the New York Jets, Malik Hooker from Ohio State to the Indianapolis Colts, and Jabrill Peppers from Michigan to the Cleveland Browns.

NFL’s Farm System

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While Alabama head coach Nick Saban couldn’t unlock a winning formula as the Miami Dolphins head coach, posting a 15-17 record over 32 games, he has proven to be a master of player development. The Crimson Tide accounted for 22 first-round draft picks in the last decade.

History made. #BuiltByBama #rolltide #nfldraft

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Four Alabama players were drafted in the first round this year: Marlon Humphrey by the Baltimore Ravens, Jonathan Allen by the Washington Redskins, O.J. Howard by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Reuben Foster by the San Francisco 49ers.

The Southeastern Conference is well-represented in regard to total first-round picks over the last 10 years, with two other schools in the top five: the University of Florida and Louisiana State University. One of the biggest picks from these prestigious programs was the 2010 NFL draft’s 25th pick, Tim Tebow. He’d post an 8-6 record as a starter for the Denver Broncos before he’d begin a new line of work, but not before uncorking a beautiful Hail Mary against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 AFC wild-card.

Adverse to First

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While some teams have had more picks in the first round, others have been less concerned about the glitz and glamour of those first 32. In fact, the New England Patriots have only had eight first-round picks in the last 10 years, but have had the league’s best record in the same period. With a 10-season record of 126-34, and 20 wins more than the second-place Green Bay Packers, the lack of first-round talent hasn’t hurt the five-time Super Bowl champions.

Only the Seattle Seahawks have had less draft picks in the first rounds – seven – and have made two trips to the Super Bowl, winning one. However, it wasn’t a first-round draft pick that came back to haunt them in their Super Bowl XLIX loss, but New England’s undrafted free agent cornerback, Malcolm Butler.

Who Goes Where?

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In seven of the last ten NFL drafts, a quarterback was selected as the number one overall pick, and four had a QB going in the second overall spot. In three drafts – 2012, 2015, 2016 – there were back-to-back quarterback selections in the top two positions.

If you’re looking for defenders to get drafted in the top 10, try and pay attention during the third and ninth picks. Defensive ends and linebackers have been picked most commonly over the past decade in these spots.

Stacking the Deck

While there’s plenty of roster moves that happen through free agency, many teams built their teams through their picks in the NFL draft. Just as there have been over-hyped players who never lived up to their potential, there were also stars who soared higher than anyone’s initial grades. Get all the best gear to represent your favorite NFL draft picks and team at Fanatics.com!

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The Super Bowl MVPs

Football is a team sport, but that doesn’t mean personal honors aren’t awarded. And while personal heroics are often awarded for the best performances over a season – All-Pro, Most Valuable Player, Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year – there’s one game that’s a little bit different.

The NFL championship game between the winners of the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) determines the best team of the season. However, the best individual player, whether offense or defense, is awarded MVP honors for his big plays on the big stage.

Do certain positions have a lock on this award? Does your team have to win the Big Game to earn the MVP? Here’s what you need to know about one of the greatest honors in professional football.

Positional Awareness

Fifty-one MVP awards have been issued after the final whistle, and over half of those were awarded to quarterbacks. While the belief is that defense wins championships, offensive players – quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers – have won the award over 75 percent of the time. However, 12 of the recipients played defense, and one was a special teams player.

Within this group of players, some individuals have won the award more than once. San Francisco 49ers Hall-of-Fame quarterback Joe Montana and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady have both won the award three times. If the New England Patriots can beat the Atlanta Falcons, Brady may be a large part of that victory – possibly earning him his fourth Big Game MVP honor.

Three other quarterbacks – Bart Starr, Eli Manning, and Terry Bradshaw – have all won the award twice. There’s only one special teams player, Green Bay’s Desmond Howard, who had an almost 100-yard kickoff return to propel The Pack past the Patriots.

The “I” in “Team”

Even though the Dallas Cowboys have only won five league championships, they have had seven players receive MVP honors. Defensive end Harvey Martin and defensive tackle Randy White share this honor as co-MVPs. Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley also received this honor during a game where his team lost, but he performed well with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Two of the last three awards have bucked the trend of quarterbacks winning. Linebackers Malcolm Smith, from the Seattle Seahawks, and Von Miller, of the Denver Broncos, have hoisted the trophy for playing a big part in their team’s victory. Smith made an interception and returned it for a touchdown, recovered a fumble, and completed 10 tackles. Miller completed six tackles, delivered two-and-a-half sacks, and defended one pass.

Body of Work

There are some average results players looking to receive an MVP trophy in 2017 should try to achieve. Quarterbacks who have received the Big Game MVP threw for over 270 yards and over two touchdowns. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young delivered an above-average performance when he earned this honor, throwing for 325 yards and six touchdowns. And Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach threw just shy of 120 yards and two touchdowns when he was awarded the MVP.

Running backs who earned the honor rushed, on average, for over 150 yards and over one-and-a-half touchdowns. The last running back to win this award was Terrell Davis of the Denver Broncos, who had 30 carries for over 150 yards and three touchdowns. There are a lot of powerful running backs on the Atlanta Falcons’ and the New England Patriots’ teams – Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Dion Lewis, and LeGarrette Blount – who might be looking to pick up an MVP award in February.

Perhaps the same can be said for the wide receivers heading to the Big Game in 2017. Whether it’s Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan for New England or Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu for Atlanta, these are explosive offensive wide receivers capable of reaching averages of 140 yards or close to a touchdown.

Big Game Glory

Will the Atlanta Falcons or the New England Patriots hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy and see one of their team’s players be recognized for being the biggest player in the biggest game? Regardless of who you’re rooting for, or against, get ready for the big day with the best officially licensed merchandise and apparel from Fanatics.com.

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The Evolution of the Denver Broncos Logo

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Though they are now the defending NFL Super Bowl champion, the Denver Broncos got their start, along with a handful of other teams, in the in the 1960s when being part of the NFL was just a dream. Bob Howsam was the owner of a minor league baseball team named the Denver Bears and expressed interest in bringing professional football to the Denver area. When Lamar Hunt went forward with his plans to establish a new football league to compete with the popular NFL, he rang Howsam’s phone, and the Broncos (along with the American Football League) were born.

Bucking Broncos

As with many sports teams that were established decades ago, the Broncos’ team moniker was selected via a fan contest, with “Broncos” leading the charge (perhaps alluding to Colorado’s Western heritage). The team didn’t have a lot of success during its AFL years but did notch its first winning season in 1973, three years after the AFL-NFL merger. Floyd Little was part of those early successes, working from the backfield, as well as in the punt and kick return game.

Domination in Denver

The team started to see more success after that, going to the playoffs 11 times from 1977 to 1996 – a run that included four Super Bowl losses. Things changed in 1997, however, when Hall of Famer John Elway led the team to back-to-back Super Bowl victories. Elway was a standout college player who was eyeballed by many teams before the 1983 draft, when he was selected No. 1 overall by the Baltimore Colts. He was promptly traded to Denver, where he played his entire professional career and is now regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Terrell Davis was also a huge part of those Super Bowl squads; he pounded the rock for 1,750 and 2,008 yards during the 1997 and 1998 seasons respectively.

Elway and Davis are not the only standout Broncos players, however. Peyton Manning, who had his own massive success as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, was traded to Denver before the 2012 season. His first year in Denver was successful, but an early exit from the playoffs didn’t give fans the Super Bowl win they craved. Manning orchestrated a Super Bowl appearance and loss during the 2013 season but led the team to its third victory in the 2015–2016 season.

The success of the team is not the only thing that has changed over time. The Denver Broncos logo has undergone some adjustments over the course of the franchise’s history, from its old-timey origins to the sleek horse we’re familiar with today.

Changes at Mile High

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1960–1961: The original Denver Broncos logo is quite a bit different than what fans are used to today. The colors match the uniforms of the time – mustard yellow paired with a retro shade of brown. They feature a football player riding a bucking bronco.

1962–1969: This era brings a significant color change. The yellow-and-brown uniforms are abandoned and orange and blue become the team colors, thanks to head coach Jack Faulkner and his desire to give the team a new image. 1962 welcomes a somewhat corresponding blue-and-orange version of the prior logo, featuring a football player riding an orange bucking bronco.

1970–1992: The ’70s ushers in a new Broncos logo. A large, orange “D” appears on a blue background, with a rearing white bronco exhaling steam in the center – the suggestion of fan and artist Edwin Taylor. This recognizable logo reminds many fans of the John Elway years and changes only slightly in the next version.

1993–1996: The 1993 version of the logo is moderately altered, refining the horse’s features and changing up the black outline.

1997–Present: The present-day logo is designed in 1996 when owner Pat Bowlen was hoping for a new design. Bowlen hits up the crew behind Nike’s characteristic swoop and asks for some logo magic to happen. The team designs a logo that is both simple and fierce and features a white stallion with an orange mane.

If you’re a Broncos fan, you’re likely hoping that the team heads back to the Super Bowl this season. Along the way, make sure you suit up properly by checking out Fanatics.com and their amazing lineup of Denver gear.

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Happiest NFL Teams

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Given that they’re playing football for a living, it might be hard to see many NFL players being unhappy tossing the pigskin around and collecting a paycheck for it. However, among those who are happy to put on the pads, some teams and individual positions are happier than others.

Are these the teams that win more than the rest of the league? Are these the players that play in prestigious positions like quarterback or wide receiver? To get to the bottom of this, we took photos from ESPN, ran them through Microsoft’s Cognitive Emotion Services API, and ranked the happiest teams and positions in the NFL based on their appearance.

Carefree Champions

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The most shocking thing about three of the five happiest teams based on our analysis? How poorly they performed last season. In second and with a 7-9 record, the Philadelphia Eagles ranked high for happiness. In third place and tied with the Cleveland Browns for the worst record in the league last season (3-13): the Tennessee Titans.

And stuck in at fourth with a 6-10 record was the Chicago Bears; they let the Windy City down with their subpar performances. With a combined record of 16-32 for these three teams, maybe winning isn’t the only thing that defines happiness.

Surrounding these plucky and oddly happy teams were two 2015 AFC starlets, the Denver Broncos and the Cincinnati Bengals. They found regular season success, ending the year with 12-4 records, but the Broncos continued their run all the way to a Super Bowl victory.

In Their Happy Place

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Is it any surprise that quarterbacks lead the list of happiest positions in the NFL? Quarterbacks, who are viewed by many players and officials as the most protected class,  command the biggest contracts for their on-the-field actions.

Fourteen of the top 15 largest salaries in 2016 are going to quarterbacks (Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens, and Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers are the top three). Their partners in crime – tight ends, running backs, and wide receivers – are all on the higher end of the happiness spectrum.

Landing at the bottom of our analysis were those playing at fullback. Referred to by ESPN as an “endangered species,” the fullback position has fallen victim to the league’s change to pass-heavy offenses, employing multiple tight-end sets. It might be hard to place a massive smile on your face if job security were a concern. In fact, last year 10 of the 32 NFL teams didn’t even place a fullback on their roster. Chin up, boys, that’s still 22 teams that are looking for a fullback to help pound the rock!

Happy (Touchdown) Dance

Winning should lead to happiness, and it did for the Denver Broncos and the Cincinnati Bengals. But some down-on-their-luck teams seemingly didn’t allow it to define their state of mind. It also would be more common for a quarterback to be happy than a fullback (two words: job security), and really any other offensive player.

You can be happier too when you’re sporting the best NFL licensed merchandise and apparel for your favorite teams, available right now at Fanatics.com.

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Become a Fanatic Overnight: NFL

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You see your friends swapping high-fives and smiling on Sundays as they talk about third and long, end routes, and pass interference. Now, you’re wishing you could just download all the football knowledge from their brains into yours so you could join in the fun! We’re here to help with the Guide to Becoming an NFL Fanatic. In this guide, you’ll get all the information you need to be an overnight fanatic who knows the difference between first downs and touchdowns.

The Football 411

The National Football League (NFL) features 32 teams and entertains millions of fans with every single game. These teams reside in cities throughout the United States, from Dallas to Kansas City to Buffalo to Los Angeles. Each team is either a member of the American Football Conference (AFC) or the National Football Conference (NFC), and in those conferences there are four divisions: North, South, East, and West. For example, the Seattle Seahawks play in the NFL as a member of the NFC West.

These conferences and divisions help determine schedules for which teams play each other over the course of a season.

It’s Game Time

Football games last 60 minutes, and they’re broken into 15-minute quarters and two halves. Before the teams start, the officials flip a coin and the visiting team calls either heads or tails. If they win, they can elect to either accept possession or defer receiving the ball until the second half. (They can also choose the direction the other team kicks the ball in, but that can backfire.)

After two quarters or the first half, teams (and fans!) receive a 12-minute break known as halftime. This is your chance to take a much-needed bathroom break, refill your beverage, or talk with a loved one while the teams refresh for the second half of the game.

You’ll want those breaks because football rarely stops. Once the game begins, the clock continues to run down from 15 minutes to zero in each quarter. It only stops when a player with the ball steps out of bounds, a quarterback throws an incomplete pass, a coach or player calls a timeout; or when the officials (referees) stop play to issue a penalty, review a prior ruling, or observe an on-field injury.

If at the end of the regulation the game is tied, overtime begins. If the team that receives the ball in overtime scores a touchdown, the game is over. If they score a field goal, the other team can continue play by scoring a field goal or end the game with a touchdown. If the receiving team either turns the ball over or fails to score, the other team can win with a field goal. If the game is headed to overtime, you want your team to score first.

Three Phases of the Game

During each play, both teams are engaged in either offense, defense, or special teams. What’s the difference? When a team is on offense, their objective is to score points by driving the ball down the field. Opposing them is the defense, who have the objective of stopping the other team from scoring. If one team scores, or is prevented from gaining the necessary number of yards, both teams take part in special teams. This is when a team kicks the ball to the other team, which receives the ball and begins their turn on offense.

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11 Best Friends

Whether they’re on offense or defense, each team has 11 active athletes on the field for every play. The names of the positions for these 11 players are different if they’re an offensive or defensive player. There are also a few special team–specific positions on each squad’s roster.

  • Offensive Position Titles: Quarterback, Running Back, Fullback, Wide Receiver, Tight End, Guard, Tackle, and Center
  • Defensive Position Titles: Tackle, End, Middle or Outside Linebacker, Cornerback, Safety, and Nickel or Dimeback
  • Special Team Position Titles: Kicker, Long Snapper, and Punter

What’s the Score?

The team that has the most points at the end of the game is the winner. They can score points by running or passing a touchdown into the opponent’s end zone, which results in earning six points.

Teams have the choice of electing to kick an extra point for one additional point or trying for a two-point conversion. That’s where the offense runs another play from the 2-yard line and must get the ball into the end zone on that play.

If they can’t get close enough to score a touchdown, teams may kick a field goal that is worth three points.

Defenses get in on the fun and earn points through intercepting a pass or recovering a fumble and running either into the end zone. They can also force a safety, where a quarterback or running back is tackled in the end zone while possessing the ball. Safeties are worth two points.

However the teams score, you just want the other team to have fewer points than yours when time runs out in regulation.

What Teams Should I Be Watching?

Out of the 32 teams, there are some you should be watching even if you don’t root for them. Beyond playing a great game, they have better narratives than most teams. Take the Denver Broncos, reigning Super Bowl Champions. They’re entering the season missing several key players that took them to their first title in 17 years. Then there’s the Carolina Panthers, beaten by Denver in the Super Bowl last season; they’re looking for a chance at redemption.

The Los Angeles Rams are returning football to the City of Angels, and no one is sure if their homecoming story will be a blockbuster sensation or box office bust. In the Northeast, the New England Patriots are hoping to continue their streak of postseason performances, but they’ve started the season with their franchise quarterback suspended for the first four games. And what about the Green Bay Packers? The Cheeseheads and their fans are craving another title in the state of Wisconsin.

Two-Minute Drill

If you were watching your first NFL game tomorrow, you’d want to remember these three things: (1) Your team needs to score points to win – either on offense or defense – and just needs one more than the opposition to win; (2) there are plenty of great teams, but look for the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, and Green Bay Packers to be challenging for top honors this year; (3) fans always come prepared in their team colors to root for their player, whether at home or at the stadium. And you can find the best official apparel and merchandise for your team at Fanatics.com.

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The Evolution of the Denver Broncos Jersey

The Evolution of the Denver Broncos Jersey

The Denver Broncos have one of the most unique home uniforms in the NFL. With hues of bright orange and navy blue, the team’s complementary colors create a memorable combination that is as much a part of Broncos mythology as Mile High Stadium, the “Orange Crush,” and former quarterback and current General Manager John Elway. This is why the decision to wear white – despite being the home team – at Super Bowl 50 has created fervent debate among the football community.

The team chose to wear their away uniform for superstitious reasons – and, perhaps, to unnerve the Panthers, as it was the Panthers’ right as the away team to wear white. Still, it created some condemnation among those who see the orange and blue as a link to a 56-year history. For many, the color combo represents a team that has only suffered six losing seasons in the last 40 seasons. They have won two Super Bowls, eight AFC Championships, and 15 division championships. Not to mention: They appeared in the playoffs 22 times and have seen four former players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In recognition of their 2015-2016 AFC Championship win and their berth into Super Bowl 50, Fanatics has decided to take a look at the Broncos uniform and how it has developed to the standard of today.

In the Beginning

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1960: The Denver Broncos start in 1960 as a charter member of the AFL, along with the New York Titans (now the New York Jets), the Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs), the Los Angeles Chargers (currently, the San Diego Chargers), the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans), the Boston Patriots (now the New England Patriots), the Buffalo Bills, and the Oakland Raiders. In a similar manner to older NFL teams, the Broncos take their name from a former Denver professional baseball team.

In the same vein, the founding owners of the new team opt to suit their players in second-hand uniforms to save money. The home uniform – a mustard-yellow jersey with brown numbers and no name block, brown pants with mustard-yellow double stripes, and brown and yellow vertically striped socks – is so hated that at a public bonfire held by the team to burn the uniforms, the crowd cheers. The away uniform is similar to the home uniform, but with a white jersey instead of yellow.

In 1961, the name block, with brown lettering, is added. The TV numbers, which were on the sleeves of both jerseys, are removed from the home jersey.

1962: After the 1960 uniforms met the flames, new coach Jack Faulkner purchases a different home jersey he assumed would be burnt orange, like the Cleveland Browns jersey. What he gets instead is a bright orange jersey with white chest and television numbers as well as three white sleeve cuff stripes. This is matched with white pants with a orange stripe trimmed in blue, a bright orange helmet with a white stripe and a bucking bronco logo, and bright orange socks. The bucking broncos logo switches from navy blue to white on October 14, 1962.

1965: In 1965, the AFL is arguably the dominant professional football league in the United States, despite being only 6 years old. Buoyed by very generous television contracts, the AFL is able to steal top talent from the NFL and draft the best college talent. To save face and to stop the “player raids” – where one league’s team seeks to top the contracts of another league’s team – the NFL convinces the AFL in 1966 to merge into a new organization: the modern NFL.  

This year also brings about changes to the Broncos’ jerseys: The home jersey sees a white collar added to the bright orange base, blue trim on the white chest and back numbers, a wide blue stripe that is trimmed with white on the sleeves, and white television numbers nested in the stripe. The away jersey features a blue collar with a white base, an orange outline on the blue chest and back numbers, an orange stripe trimmed in blue – mirroring that of the home jersey – and white television numbers trimmed with blue in the stripe. The bright orange is also reformulated to make it redder, and the socks go from orange to blue.

1967: The Broncos’ helmet loses its logo and changes from orange to blue with a white stripe flanked by orange pinstriping. The away jersey features black chest, back, and television numbers, trimmed in orange. The home jersey sees white numbers with a blue trim on an orange background, a white name on back, and a corresponding sleeve stripe pattern like the away jersey but with the orange stripe replaced with a white one. The stripes on the pants are the inverse of the jersey’s stripe pattern.

On August 5, 1967, the Broncos become the first AFL team to beat an NFL team, the Detroit Lions.

1968: Experimentation with the sleeve stripes continues. This time, the set of three stripes become just one thin stripe – white for the home jersey, blue for away – set below the television number. The capital-D/bronco helmet logo emerges on this iteration of the uniform.

1971: Now an NFL team in the newly formed AFC, the away jersey is also changed. The sleeve stripe patterns are inverted, so that there are now two blue stripes with a thin orange stripe between them. The jersey numbers are blue with an orange border and the collar white. In 1971, this is paired with orange pants, but by 1972, white pants are used with all Broncos uniforms.

1974: The reddish orange first introduced in 1965 is reverted back to the original formulation. In 1975, the Colorado Statehood Centennial patch is worn on the left shoulder of the home jersey for the last home game of the season.

1976 sees the introduction of the “Orange Crush,” a 3-4 defense that the Broncos use to dominate against the rush for the 13 years it is utilized. This defense helps the Broncos to make their first playoff appearance and – ultimately – their first Super Bowl in 1977.

1977: With the Broncos making it to the Super Bowl, the home jersey is changed once again. The jersey’s orange base is reformulated for a third time to create a darker orange, the sleeve stripes are changed again, and the collar is made white. The Broncos lose this Super Bowl to the Dallas Cowboys, 10-27.

Playing Mile High

1986: In 1983, John Elway is traded to the Broncos from the then Baltimore Colts. The Colts have been responsible for the Broncos receiving their two most popular quarterbacks to date: Elway and current starting quarterback Peyton Manning. Elway’s trade is engineered on the threat that Elway would play baseball instead of playing one game with the Colts – the worst team in the league at the time – or with Colts coach Frank Kush, which his father warns him about.

In 1987, Elway leads the Broncos to Super Bowl XXI, ultimately losing 20-39 to the New York Giants. He leads the Broncos to the Super Bowl in the succeeding year too, losing to the Washington Redskins 10-42, and again to the 1989-1990 Super Bowl, losing to the San Francisco 49ers 10-55. Despite these losses, Elway is instrumental in creating a culture of winning that has seen only six losing seasons in the last 40 years. 

There are two John Elway jerseys for sale from this period on SportsMemorabilia.com. Signed by Elway himself:

  1. John Elway Denver Broncos Autographed Navy Pro-Line Jersey With “SB XXXII-XXXIII CHAMPS” Inscription
  2. John Elway Denver Broncos Autographed Orange Throwback Pro-Line Jersey With “Captain Comeback” Inscription

Leading up to 1986, the Broncos wear two jersey patches: a memorial patch for assistant coach Rich McCabe for the first game of the 1983 season and an AFL 25th Season Patch in 1984.

1989: Once again, the sleeve stripes are changed on the jerseys. For the away jersey, an orange stripe with thin blue trim is substituted for the three separate stripes of the previous jersey. For the home jersey, a white stripe trimmed in blue is used.

1994: The sleeve stripes for both uniforms are changed again, and they become smaller. The name on the back receives an outline to match the number patches, the mini NFL Shield is added to the collar, and the NFL 75th-season patch is worn on the left collarbone. Additionally, the Broncos introduced a throwback uniform resembling their 1965-1966 reddish-orange uniform. The throwback is only worn once, despite there being both a home and away throwback uniform.

1997: In 1998, Elway finally gets his first Super Bowl win with the help of running back Terrell Davis. Beating the Green Bay Packers 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII, the win brings an end to 11 years of frustration in Denver.

The 1997 season also sees a radical redesign of the Broncos’ uniforms. The away jersey features a navy collar on a white base; navy front, back, and shoulder numbers trimmed in orange; navy name on the back; and Broncos wordmark below the NFL Shield. The jersey also has navy side panels with a thin orange outline that comes to a point outside the collar. The home jersey is a navy base with an orange collar, white numbers trimmed in orange, and white name on the back. The Broncos wordmark is white on this jersey and the side panels are orange and shaped similarly to the away jersey. The Super Bowl XXXII patch is worn on the left collarbone of the home jersey for the Super Bowl win. The Broncos wear a Super Bowl XXXIII patch the following year on the away jersey as the Broncos win their second league championship.

2001: A throwback to the 1980-1988 jersey is introduced, with the television numbers moved to the shoulder. An orange alternative with a navy collar and white numbers is added in 2002. The orange alternative sees a return in 2004.

2009: The Broncos wears a 50th-season patch on the left collarbone. The team also introduces a throwback to the infamous first uniform from 1960. In 2010, the addition of the “International Series” patch commemorates the team’s game against the 49ers in London. In 2012, the orange alternative becomes the primary home jersey.

The Orange and Blue

With Peyton Manning likely to retire at the end of this season, the Broncos are facing another transition into the unknown. However, considering the unorthodox start of this storied franchise and its many ups and downs, it is very likely that the next chapter of the Broncos legacy is waiting to begin. When it does, the devoted Broncos fans – those who have professed their “Orange Fever” louder and with more pride than any fans of any other franchise – will be waiting, eager to cheer on their beloved Orange and Blue.

Fanatics carries a full line of Broncos gear for the discriminating fan:

 

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Panthers Vs. Broncos Passing Touchdowns

NFL Touchdown Heatmap - Panthers vs Broncos Touchdown for the season

Two great NFL quarterbacks (Peyton Manning of the Broncos and Cam Newton, Panthers) will meet up for the Lombardi Trophy in Santa Clara. The league’s best offense will also face off against the league’s best defense. Carolina is an odds-favorite for a February 7 win – but with both teams being notable rush blockers, this match-up may be determined by passing alone.

To find out more, we examined the passing touchdowns of both the Broncos and the Panthers throughout their regular-season performance. We determined how Newton and Manning stack up to each other and what we can expect at the Super Bowl 50 based on the teams’ previous passing and receiving season performances.

Carolina Panthers – Passing

Carolina Panthers touchdowns 2015 season - Passing plays

The Curious Case of “Super Cam”

Cam Newton is known for favoring the rush; it’s a poorly kept secret that Newton prefers to run the ball into the end zone instead of throwing it in. One of the most notable touchdowns during the NFC Championship Game was his dive against the Arizona defensive line. At 6 feet 5 inches and 247 pounds, Newton is a difficult man to stop once he is in motion. However, his 28 pass attempts for 19 completions, 335 yards, and two touchdowns make “Super Cam” an all-purpose weapon.

For his season average, he made 495 attempts for 296 completions, 3,837 yards – including 1,007 yards of in-air action – and 35 touchdowns. The Panthers’ receptions averaged a mind-boggling 13 yards from the point of the catch to the end zone, compared to 21 yards for the Broncos. Only 4 percent of all of the Panthers’ regular season receptions were beyond 24 yards from the end zone, compared to 17 percent for the Broncos.

Newton’s two passing touchdowns in the conference championship matched his two rushing touchdowns, leaving an open question of how Denver can best contain him. Newton ran for 47 yards on 10 carries, with his longest run being 14 yards. He also rushed in the regular season for 636 yards in 132 attempts for 10 touchdowns.

To explore Newton’s passing touchdowns and more, check out our interactive map and build your own touchdown maps.

Denver Broncos – Passing

Denver Broncos touchdowns 2015 season - Passing plays

The Old School Strikes Back

While it hasn’t yet been confirmed, it is thought that this will likely be Peyton Manning’s last season as a Bronco. Manning was able to hold off Super Bowl perennial participant the New England Patriots and Tom Brady on the weight of 32 passing attempts, 17 completions, 176 yards thrown, and two touchdowns.

Compare this to his 198 completions in 331 attempts during the regular season for 2,249 yards, nine touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. This is his lowest annual production since joining the NFL.

Similar to Newton, Manning throws from the pocket between the hashes, buoyed by the strength of his offensive line. The majority of Manning’s passes were thrown in the red zone, which is similar to Newton as well. This translates to 11 yards averaged per throw, with Manning’s longest being 30 yards. However, unlike Newton, Manning only rushed for three carries in the conference championship, 11 total yards, and no scores. Compare this to a regular-season tally of six carries and negative-six rushing yards.

With Manning showing a clear preference toward the pass, the Super Bowl may be determined by Carolina’s ability to effectively counter Denver’s four-man pass rush, which is questionable considering Carolina’s tendency to go for maximum protection on their defensive lines.

Carolina Panthers – Receiving

Carolina Panthers touchdowns 2015 season - Receiving plays

An Explosive Offense

Leading the Panthers in receptions for the NFC Championship Game was tight end Greg Olsen, who made six completions for 113 yards with the longest being 54 yards. The Panthers’ two touchdown passes came from wide receiver Corey Brown, who had four receptions for 113 yards and one touchdown, and wide receiver Devin Funchess, who had two receptions, 21 yards, and one score.

Also making catches for the Panthers were Ted Ginn, Jr. (two for 52 yards), Jerricho Cotchery (two for 17 yards), Mike Tolbert (one for 14 yards), and Jonathan Stewart (two for 5 yards). Carolina was able to yield more productivity in its passing – 19 for 335 yards – than it was from its rushing; the team went for 37 carries and 152 yards.

Surprisingly, regular-season receiving yards leader Olsen did not make a catch during the championship game. Olsen led the regular season with 77 receptions, 1,104 yards, and seven touchdowns. Of note is the fact that almost all of the Panthers’ touchdown receptions were within the 25-yard line during the regular season. With the top six in the Panthers’ top receivers list for this season having receptions more than 35 yards and with Olsen having 20 receptions or passes thrown 20 yards or more for the regular season, it is likely that Newton will seek long-distance targets in Santa Clara.

Denver Broncos – Receiving

Denver Broncos touchdowns 2015 season - Receiving plays

Pushing Against a Wall

During the AFC title game, Denver faced one of the best pass-rush blocking teams in the league: New England. And the receiving stats show this. Leading the Broncos for receptions was wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who made five completions for 62 yards. Owen Daniels (two receptions, 33 yards, and two touchdowns), C.J. Anderson (three receptions for 18 yards), Jordan Norwood (two receptions for 16 yards), Andre Caldwell (one reception for 15 yards), Cody Latimer (one reception for 13 yards), Demaryius Thomas (two receptions for 12 yards), and Ronnie Hillman (one reception for seven yards) made catches as well.

Despite this muted performance, the Broncos receiving team has been efficient during the regular season. Out-catching their opponents – 368 receptions in 606 attempts compared with 344 receptions in 573 attempts and covering 4,216 yards to 3,544 opponent yards – the Broncos’ receiving performance actually slightly exceeds the Panthers, 60.73 percent to 59.88 percent. Leading the Broncos receiving team for the regular season is Greg Olsen, with 73 receptions, 1,104 yards, and seven touchdowns.

Manning’s short passing and a wide array of targets will make a successful defense against the Broncos’ pass rush difficult to pull off. While it is unclear if Manning can keep pace with Newton, who has been called this generation’s John Elway, Manning is likely to find a way around the Carolina’s defense, making the Super Bowl a probable high-scoring affair.

Conclusion

Super Bowl 50 will be a battle of two different types of quarterbacks. Manning, a student of the aerial game, is a pass-friendly classic quarterback who uses his arms more than his legs to make plays and get the ball downfield. Newton, a disciple of the ground game, is more at home running plays himself, but is not afraid to launch deep bombs.

However, with both teams having extremely effective blockers and tacklers, the question may not be how the quarterbacks will move the ball, but how will they avoid the sack.

So who will win the Super Bowl? Only time will tell. Until then, Fanatics has all you’ll need to not only watch the game but support your favorite team in style.

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