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NFL ultimate all-conference teams: ACC and SEC

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Just because sports is on hiatus doesn’t mean the competition needs to end. While we wait for the live action to return, ESPN has assembled a collection of “ultimate all-conference teams” that should intrigue college football and NFL fans alike.

Our panel of NFL analysts, college and NFL Nation reporters — Andrea Adelson, Matt Bowen, Courtney Cronin, Turron Davenport, Jeff Legwold, Adam Rittenberg, Mike Triplett, Jake Trotter and Field Yates — selected 22-man starting lineups of current NFL players based on their college conference. Notre Dame was paired with the ACC because of their affiliation.

The criteria: Choose rosters for the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and non-Power 5 that are best suited to win the next Super Bowl.

We then ranked the teams to determine which group deserves the ultimate bragging rights. We will roll out the all-star lineups by region Monday through Wednesday, then reveal the final rankings on Thursday. On Friday, we will rank the top three lineups from individual schools.

Each offense had to include a quarterback, running back, two receivers, tight end, two offensive tackles, two guards, center and a flex player from any of the skill positions. Each defense had to include two edge-rushers, two interior linemen, two linebackers, four defensive backs and a flex spot that could come from any spot of the defense.

It all kicks off Monday with the NFL’s ultimate all-conference teams for the ACC and SEC. Let the second-guessing begin.

SCHEDULE
June 1: ACC | SEC
June 2: Big Ten | Big 12
June 3: Pac-12 | Non-Power 5
June 4: Final rankings
June 5: Teams for top individual schools

NFL ultimate all-conference team: ACC

OFFENSE

QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
WR Larry Fitzgerald, Pitt
TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame
Flex DeVante Parker, Louisville
OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
C Rodney Hudson, Florida State
G Zack Martin, Notre Dame
OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

DEFENSE

Edge Chandler Jones, Syracuse
DT Aaron Donald, Pitt
DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson
Edge Bradley Chubb, NC State
LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
Flex Calais Campbell, Miami
CB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
S Derwin James, Florida State
S Harrison Smith, Notre Dame

Toughest choice: Quarterback. Jackson, the NFL’s reigning MVP, won comfortably with seven out of nine votes. But the ACC had plenty of notable candidates, including Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston. “It was a very difficult choice to make, but the jump Watson made from Year 2 to Year 3 and what I think he’s capable of in his fourth season led me to vote for him,” said Cronin, who was one of two panelists to go that route. “Watson is an MVP-caliber quarterback, too. I respect all that Jackson did in 2019 and think he’s a more dynamic all-around player. But I go back to last season and see moments where Watson single-handedly won or kept the Texans in games in spite of everything else that was going wrong for Houston.”

Biggest strength: Offensive line. There are plenty of good answers for this category in a star-studded lineup led by Jackson, Donald and Hopkins. But this offensive line deserves special mention because it might be the best of any conference once you add in that ridiculous amount of talent from the Irish.

“Hey, the scheduling partnership the ACC has with Notre Dame in football has its benefits!” Adelson said. “But in all seriousness, nobody thinks much about the ACC producing talent at offensive line because the default generally goes to the Big Ten. But the conference has consistently turned out good players, including three that received votes here in Anthony Castonzo, Joe Thuney and Brian O’Neill.”

Missing piece: Luke Kuechly. The linebacker’s retirement left the ACC without one of its biggest stars. Another area where the conference will have trouble measuring up is tight end, where Rudolph beat out young riser Darren Waller and aging stars Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham.

Player pitch from Broncos DE Bradley Chubb: “It’s crazy, I was just talking about this with somebody the other day. People look at the ACC now and maybe they say ‘they don’t have many great teams’ or whatever. But you look at it when I was in there, there was a whole bunch of players with NFL talent making impact plays. Derwin James and Jalen Ramsey and Jameis Winston and Lamar. When you look at the talent some of those teams had and look at what some of those guys are doing in the NFL right now, you have to give some respect to that. It’s right there for people to see. That team could play with anybody. You have the MVP at quarterback, two of the best pass-rushers in the league just to start in Chandler Jones and Aaron Donald. For me to even be in there somewhere is a blessing for sure.”

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DeAndre Hopkins joins Jalen & Jacoby to rank himself against the elite wide receivers in the NFL like Michael Thomas and Julio Jones.

NFL ultimate all-conference team: SEC

OFFENSE

QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama
WR Julio Jones, Alabama
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
TE Jared Cook, South Carolina
Flex Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
OT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
G Trai Turner, LSU
C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
G Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State
OT Andrew Whitworth, LSU

DEFENSE

Edge Von Miller, Texas A&M
DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
DT Chris Jones, Mississippi State
Edge Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama
LB Roquan Smith, Alabama
Flex Danielle Hunter, LSU
CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
CB Tre’Davious White, LSU
S Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
S Jamal Adams, LSU

Toughest choice: Running back and wide receiver. There was an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions, where we couldn’t find room for Alvin Kamara, Nick Chubb, Todd Gurley, Amari Cooper or A.J. Green among others. Jones was the only unanimous choice at receiver or running back.

“Henry received the most votes at running back, and I get it. He’s a volume back with the physical traits to take over games in the fourth quarter . But what about the dual-threat ability of Kamara?” said Bowen, who was one of five panelists to vote for Kamara at either running back or the flex spot. “He’s a three-down impact player at the position. And let’s not forget about Chubb, who can hammer the ball between the tackles and rip off explosive plays. I could have voted for all three.”

Biggest strength: Defensive back. If the SEC winds up winning this competition, the defense will be the reason — especially this loaded secondary. Because of tie-breakers, The Associated Press named seven defensive backs as first-team All-Pros last season. And a whopping six of them came from the SEC. This group is so stacked that we had to leave out Minkah Fitzpatrick, Eddie Jackson, Marlon Humphrey and Patrick Peterson.

“You could have told me to pick the starters for the SEC secondary and then said, ‘Actually, those players are not available to you,’ and I’d still feel great about my group!” Yates said. “Outstanding players were bound to miss the cut.”

Missing piece: Quarterback. No offense to Prescott (or runners-up Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton). But he is going to be measured against the likes of Patrick Mahomes from the Big-12; Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Russell Wilson from the Big Ten; Lamar Jackson from the ACC; and Aaron Rodgers from the Pac-12 when we vote for the ultimate champion. And that’s the one area that could hold back the mighty SEC.

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Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster surprises family with new house – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are snapping up real estate all over the country.

A day after running back James Conner posted a video of him surprising his mom with a house, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster did the same for his family.

Smith-Schuster posted a 20-minute video of the backstory and surprise to his YouTube channel Monday night, reminding viewers that he grew up in a house with 23 people, and he didn’t have his own bed until he got to college. That experience motivated him to buy a big house for his family.

“Now that I’m able to live my dream and play in the NFL, I think it’s everyone’s dream to take care of their family at some point in their life, especially when it’s their parents,” Smith-Schuster said on the vlog. “For me, myself, I’m buying my mom and dad a house. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.”

Smith-Schuster told his mom the news earlier this year on FaceTime, revealing that he bought them a six-bedroom, five-bathroom house with a pool in Yorba Linda, California — their favorite of three finalists.

He surprised his brothers and sisters a couple months later, flying from Pittsburgh to L.A on June 19.

He told his siblings they were coming over to his AirBnB for a swim, but in reality, they were coming over to pick their rooms and design them.

Smith-Schuster, 23, is in the final year of his rookie deal with the Steelers.



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Ten reasons for QB Patrick Mahomes’ 10-year megadeal with the Chiefs – Kansas City Chiefs Blog

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The Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a contract extension with quarterback Patrick Mahomes worth $450 million, the largest contract in American professional sports. Why did they take the plunge? Here are 10 reasons:

10. The 2017 10th overall pick is the fastest player in NFL history to 75 touchdown passes (30 games), surpassing Dan Marino (32 games). And he already has the most touchdown passes by a homegrown quarterback in Chiefs history.

9. Mahomes accounted for 12 touchdowns (passing and rushing) in the 2019 postseason — the most in a single postseason in NFL history.

8. He completed a 44-yard pass to Tyreek Hill on third-and-15 in the Super Bowl to help the Chiefs’ comeback to win. On third-and-15 or longer last year, he was 13-of-17 for 299 yards and 3 TD — 17.6 yards per attempt.

7. He’s not exactly known as a runner, but he’s scrambled for more yards and first downs than any quarterback in the NFL since returning from injury in Week 10 of last season, including playoffs — yes, better than Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson.

6. He has an absolute cannon for an arm. He has 22 touchdown passes of 20 or more yards downfield in the past two seasons, the most deep-ball touchdowns in the league.

5. Mahomes has an NFL-best 73 Total QBR under pressure since the start of 2018. The league average is 20.

4. One reason he’s so good under pressure — throwing on the run. He has 23 touchdown passes on the run in the past two seasons — eight more than anyone else, including during the postseason. He actually had more touchdown passes on the run last postseason (5) than the rest of the NFL combined (4), per NFL Next Gen Stats.

3. He’s played 36 games in his career, including postseason, and never lost by more than one score or posted a Total QBR below 50 in a game. In other words, he’s never had a below-average game (QBR 0-100 scale). It’s the most consecutive games with a QBR of 50 or more to start a career (36) since the metric was first calculated in 2006. (The next-highest is 12 by Dak Prescott.)

2. Mahomes was 5-0 in 2019 when trailing by double-digits, the best record in a season in NFL history, including postseason. He’s also the first quarterback in NFL history to win three straight games by double-digits after trailing by double digits, including postseason. He accomplished that streak during last season’s playoff run.

1. He became the youngest quarterback (24) in NFL history to win both an MVP and Super Bowl title, surpassing Brett Favre. He also surpassed Tom Brady as the youngest quarterback to win Super Bowl MVP.

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Extension for Patrick Mahomes a no-brainer for Chiefs

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The Kansas City Chiefs, who wandered aimlessly for so many years without a long-term plan at football’s most important position, know how to take care of a franchise quarterback now that they finally have one.

They agreed to terms of a 10-year contract extension with Patrick Mahomes that, combined with the two seasons remaining on Mahomes’ existing deal, keeps him with the Chiefs through the 2031 season. Mahomes will be paid more than $400 million over the 10 additional seasons, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The 10-year contract for Mahomes isn’t the NFL’s longest extension. The Eagles once gave quarterback Donovan McNabb a 12-year extension. Brett Favre, Michael Vick and Drew Bledsoe at one point in their respective careers received 10-year extensions.

But if the Mahomes extension isn’t the longest, it well may be the smartest. If there was ever a player to tie a future to, Mahomes is it. He’s just 24 years old and health willing could still be a premier player when the new contract is finished.

It’s difficult to imagine there’s not at least a Super Bowl or two in there for Mahomes and the Chiefs. Such has been his impact in two seasons as their starting quarterback. Mahomes, the Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2017, has been one of the NFL’s all-time great values playing under the rookie contract he signed shortly after being drafted. The Chiefs paid him in three years a total of about $11.2 million, including his rookie season, when he was a backup to Alex Smith.

For that, Mahomes delivered an NFL MVP award and the league’s second-ever 50 touchdown-50,000-yard season in 2018 and the Chiefs’ first Super Bowl championship in 50 years in 2019. Over his two seasons as a starter, the Chiefs paid Mahomes $42,000 per touchdown pass, the lowest among 28 quarterbacks to throw at least 25 touchdowns in that span.

Mahomes will no longer be that kind of bargain, but is there any reason to believe that he, even as the NFL’s highest-paid player, the Chiefs won’t still get plenty of value from him? His career is already on a trajectory that will make him one of the NFL’s greats. He is averaging 38 touchdown passes over his two seasons as the starter. Based on that average, Mahomes would have 532 TD throws when his new contract expires.

Only Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning currently have more. Thirty-eight touchdown passes a season is ambitious for anyone but doesn’t sound outrageous for Mahomes as long as he’s partnered with coach Andy Reid. The two have been good for one another and the Mahomes contract extension ensures he will take the 62-year-old Reid to the end of his coaching career.

So the Chiefs can feel good about their decision to make Mahomes the richest player in NFL history, according to Schefter, and can now turn their financial attention to defensive tackle Chris Jones. They had thrashed around with journeymen quarterbacks for so much of their history. With this move on Mahomes, they’ve avoided that type of purgatory again for at least the next 12 years.

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