The Hall Of Fame Game And Toughest Rookies

Thursday night August 1st at 8:00 PM EST the unofficial start of the 2019 NFL season kicks off with the NFL Hall of Fame Game. The game is televised on NBC. It has the Atlanta Falcons versus the Denver Broncos. Today I highlight the  toughest rookies that we should see in the game from my article 2019 NFL Draft And Which Teams Became Tougher.

Quarterback Brett Rypien was a four year starter at Boise State where he went 40-13 and never had a losing season. He is in the Boise State record books for second most career passing yards (13,578) and passing touchdowns (89).  He is three times in the top ten Broncos record book for single season passing yards and for single game passing yards.  He is once in the top ten for single season passing touchdowns.

He was tenth in the NCAA in 2018 for passing touchdowns (30) and seventh for pass completions (301). Rypien was named the 2018 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. In 2018 Rypien was deadly on third downs He converted 49% of his passing 3rd down attempts to first down. That was second best among 2019 draft prospects and bested only by Kyler Murray with 54%. However  Rypien had 120 3rd down pass attempts to Murray’s 80.

Rypien had 46% of his career regular season games with a passer rating of 150 or better. That is sixth best among the eighteen signed quarterback rookies. He had 52% of his regular season games with a 65% or better completion percentage. That is fifth among the signed quarterbacks.  His career passing yards per game of 272 yards is fourth. He had 65% of his career games with 230+ passing yards which is second. His career passing touchdowns per game of 1.8 is sixth best. In 2018 Rypien was fifteenth in passing plays of 10+ yards and tenth in passing plays of 40+ yards.

Rypien made my list of the five toughest players at each position that were drafted or signed during or after the 2019 draft. He is one of nine quarterbacks in the 2019 class that met all seven of Bill Parcells’ rules for drafting a quarterback.

These are a few highlights and low-lights from his draft profile on nfl.com.

Strengths
  • Smooth drop and setup and works with good rhythm
  • Compact release
  • Plays with above average football intelligence Games defenders into showing their hand before snap
  • Feels pressure develop on the edge and climbs the pocket
  • Throws with timing and anticipation
  • Accurate passer on all three levels
Weaknesses
  • Falls below normal minimum standards for size
  • Too many fumbles from innocuous contact in the pocket
  • Small margin for error when making field side throws. Lacks arm strength to outpace ball-hawks around the field
  • Interceptions come from leaving touch throws short
  • Mobility is below average and unable to threaten with feet
  • Gets sacked by arm tackles

Here are some 2018 highlights for Rypien

Fullback George Aston is an“old school” football player. He bench pressed 29 reps at his pro day which would have been second among combine running backs. In 2016, Aston scored 5 receiving and 5 rushing touchdowns. Only 28 players over the last 10 years have scored at least 5 TDs in both phases. Aston is one of only two in this draft class to do so. Those 10 touchdowns in 2016 came on just 44 touches or a touchdown every 4.4 touches. In 2017 Aston was injured and contributed as a reserve in only two games. Granted a lot changes from year to year, but it is worth noting that Pittsburgh went from 86th in rushing yards /game (148) and 97th in average rush yards (3.87) in 2017 to 18th in rush yards/game (228) and 13th in average rush yards (5.6) in 2018. They had the same two running backs both years. The major differences were three new o-linemen and George Aston was now healthy and playing. One of the o-line changes was the loss of second round draft pick Brian O’Neill. Pittsburgh’s offensive line coach Dave Borbely called Aston the best fullback he’s ever been around. Borbely is in his 39th season as a college offensive linemen coach and run game coordinator.

At the high school level Aston was capable of bench pressing 440 pounds and squatting 700 pounds. To put that in perspective in the spring of 2018 DT Ed Oliver was reported to be capable of  a 650 squat and a 405 bench press. At his Pro Day Aston met fullback target goals for seven of the eight drills. “I live in the gym. I’m there every day. When I’m not lifting, I’m running sprint drills or doing cardiovascular work.” said George Aston coming out of high school.

Aston has been described as ‘hard-nosed’ and a ‘blue-collar warrior. “George is a monster in there,” Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi said this past season. Aston made my list of the five toughest players at each position for players drafted or signed as undrafted free agents in 2019.

The other toughest 2019 draft class players in this game are all offensive linemen. On the Falcons you have backup right tackle Kaleb McGary and starting right guard Chris Lindstrom. On Denver there is starting left guard Dalton Risner. Here are some bullets from their draft profile on nfl.com.

Kaleb McGary – Loves to finish with maximum force when opportunity calls.
Chris Lindstrom – Scrappy to ride the bull against power looking to toss him.
Dalton Risner – Finishes with a mean streak

Enjoy the Game!

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