2022 Finding ‘The Next Deebo’ (Tennessee vs. Jacksonville) -- March Madness Tourney
Same Intro each day: We all know what the phrase ‘next Deebo’ means – a player who works at one position primarily but takes on a second position (in-game) beyond just a random 1-2-3 carries or targets…that they become a real dual-threat option for their team, and thus a great producer for Fantasy Football.
Before there was ‘Deebo’ (midway through the 2021 season), there was ‘Cordarrelle’ as the breakout WR who started also taking a good workload at RB…so much so he became the team’s lead RB, but then got all but dropped on his WR aspect.
Before ‘Cordarrelle’ there was Curtis Samuel trying to breakthrough as a ‘nails’ WR in 2020, but also a guy taking 3-5 carries a game in CMC’s absence and looking like he might make the turn – but then he went to Washington in free agency, got hurt, and barely played/impacted in 2021.
Before Samuel there was everyone looking for the ‘next Tyreek’. We might forget that Tyreek started out as a low target WR taking 1-2 carries a game, and then taking every carry for a 50+ yard TD…then he was converted over from random WR/RB to main WR, and they stopped pushing him in the running game the past two years (definitely don’t get that guy the ball more, whatever you do).
We’ve had some promising guys try to breakdown this ‘Deebo’ wall, but Cordarrelle really was the one who kicked in that door to start 2021 season (then ATL went away from it)…after the door was kicked in, then Deebo ran right through it 2nd-half of 2021 and became the ultimate/best dual threat of our lifetimes – so much so every analyst is running around saying certain players ‘can be their Deebo’, and you’re going to get sick of hearing about it they say it so much now. But credit to Deebo (really, credit to Kyle Shanahan) the ‘Deebo’ role is a thing now…I think some teams are going to copy because of its success, as they should…as they should’ve created it years ago. It’s the evolution of the game – players/weapons who you don’t know where they’re gonna lineup or what they’re going to do, and they’ll draw plenty of mismatches to expose.
With that in mind, we’re going to have a ‘next Deebo’ tournament/FFM daily series for the next few weeks during March Madness time.
I am going to nominate one player from each NFL team to be the possible ‘next Deebo’…the ‘their Deebo’ hopeful. I’ll explain why I choose that player, and why not others if there was a close option – and then like March Madness, we’ll pit two of them against each other/state the case and I’ll choose a winner…the one most likely to be used as ‘the next Deebo’ for the 2022 season.
We’ll go by division, matchups by 2021 record (so #1 v. #4, #2 v. #3 in the division), one matchup/winner declared each day into April until we have one AFC rep and one NFC rep and then we’ll declare a final ‘Super Bowl of Deebo’ winner.
Now, San Francisco has their own Deebo already…so he is not in this tournament. For the SF slot, there will be a play-in game between two current draft prospect options. Unsigned free agents will be an option for the team they were last on in 2021, so like a heavy Final Four favorite, but current free agent (as of this writing), Cordarrelle Patterson, will be an option for Atlanta. Got it? Good. Let’s go…
Today’s Matchup = AFC South: TEN vs. JAX
WR A.J. Brown, TEN
TE Evan Engram, JAX
A.J. Brown is built like a power running back…6’1”/226 and chiseled in stone. He’s one of the most difficult WRs to bring down after the catch in the NFL. He’s a terrific ‘next Deebo’ profile.
Brown has seen a few carries in his Titans career…five total carries for 70 yards, a whopping 14.0 ypc…the bulk of which came off a 49-yard TD run his rookie season. I remember seeing that run and marveling and having ‘next Deebo’ thoughts before ‘Deebo’ was invented. But, in typical NFL fashion…the play was so successful that it meant you can’t run it ever again or any variation. Three weeks later, AJB got his next carry (for 9 yards in the playoffs). Then, with an entire 2020 offseason to ruminate on that long TD run play from the season prior, with time to dream up and install more looks…Brown never carried the ball one time in 2020 season or in the playoffs (the brilliance of Arthur Smith, the worst offensive mind in football). Brown did get two carries (for 12 yards) in the 2021 season under the new O-C.
Brown has all the makings of a great ‘next Deebo’ but no one in Tennessee seems to see it…even when it’s right in front of their face.
Evan Engram is ‘next Deebo’ gold waiting to happen, and at the very unique/opportunistic position of tight end. An O-C could be a real trailblazer here, but…
Engram is faster (4.42 v. 4.46) than A.J. Brown at 15+ pounds thicker size. Engram has run the ball every season he’s been in the NFL…14 carries total for 80 yards (5.7 ypc) and 1 TD in the NFL. He was a behemoth running occasional jet sweeps for the Giants, but a combination of terrible blocking and ever-rotating dolts at O-C during his NYG tenure saw Engram pretty much wasted, as a weapon, across the board…run game and pass game.
Both Brown and Engram are excellent candidates as ‘next Deebo’s’, really the question to decide here is – which NFL staff is less stupid/which one will pursue the obvious opportunity? I fear both coaching staffs are old school, stuck-in-the-mud on any radical offensive design…but using Brown, the WR, is much simpler to copy the ‘Deebo’ guideline than using a tight end in a radical way.
WINNER = A.J. Brown, who goes on to the Sweet 16 to face the winner of the HOU-IND matchup taking place tomorrow.