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Written by Sam Durant | 24 August 2016

NFL preseason games might not mean much, but they're more useful for evaluating draft picks than the endless conjecture that comes right after the picks are made in the spring.  Seeing players actually perform on the field can give you a better sense of which teams to wager on when looking at NFL odds.

The 2016 preseason is at the halfway point. We now have more than just scouting reports to go on. We've seen most of the rookies in pads against opposing players, and these five rookies look like draft steals.

No. 5: Blake Martinez, ILB, Packers

The Packers might have found a Week 1 starter in the fourth round.

Because of injuries to inside linebackers Jake Ryan and Sam Barrington, Blake Martinez practiced with the starters throughout offseason workouts. He's taken advantage of that opportunity. In the Packers' preseason opener, he knocked down Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III. In the Packers' Week 2 preseason win over the Raiders, Martinez registered two tackles and did a lot that didn't show up on the stat sheet.

What stood out in the 1st half:
Blake Martinez all over the field.
GB w/3 straight good punts.
Rip
Starting OL & Lacy.
Hundley looked good.

— Brennen Rupp (@brennen_james) August 19, 2016

Had the Hall of Fame Game against the Colts not been cancelled, according to the team website, Martinez would have been wearing the helmet with the speaker inside so he could relay defensive coordinator Dom Capers' play calls. That shows how highly the Packers think of the rookie.

No. 4: Matt Judon, OLB, Ravens

Two preseason games, two sacks for Matt Judon.

It's impressive enough that this kind of production is coming from a fifth-round pick. It's even more impressive considering Judon is making the leap from Division II to the NFL.

The 6'3", 275-pound Judon led the nation at the Division II level with 20 sacks last year for Grand Valley State. He also had 23.5 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles.

Against the Colts, Judon made this play to blow up a two-point conversion in a game the Ravens eventually won 19-18.

Former Division 2 standout Matt Judon comes unblock to prevent the 2pt conversion! D2NFL pic.twitter.com/3f9rByrfhL

— CGRecruiting (@Coach_Gerrard) August 21, 2016

Judon could eventually take the franchise's pass-rushing torch from Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.

No. 3: Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

There might be life after Tony Romo in Dallas.

The Cowboys drafted Dak Prescott out of Mississippi State in the fourth round after failed attempts to trade for Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook. In two preseason games, Prescott has completed 22 of 27 passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He's also run for two touchdowns.

Dak Prescott just threw the ball 63 yards in the air on a dime.

— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) August 20, 2016

Even before Prescott went 12-of-15 for 199 yards in last week's 41-14 win over the Dolphins, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that the Cowboys aren't likely look for a veteran quarterback before the season, according to NFL.com.

Veteran quarterbacks didn't help the Cowboys very much when Romo missed 12 games last season. If a backup is needed at any point in 2016, it's looking more and more like it will be Prescott and not some retread.

No. 2: Paul Turner, WR, Eagles

Technically, Paul Turner isn't a draft steal because he was undrafted.

He would have to be considered some kind of grand heist, then, because according to Rueben Frank of CSN Philly, Turner has been the Eagles' second-best receiver in the preseason behind Jordan Matthews.

Turner has caught nine passes for 78 yards in two preseason games, including this eye-popping, 23-yard grab against the Steelers that set up a touchdown.

Welcome to the NFL, Paul Turner.

We see you, rookie. #PHIvsPIThttps://t.co/0ANRGgMemO

— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 19, 2016

Turner played at Louisiana Tech after he transferred from LSU. He was teammates with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Those guys caught 96 and 110 passes, respectively, last season. Perhaps they rubbed off on Turner a little.

No. 1: Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans

Don't be surprised if Tajae Sharpe, a fifth-round pick from unheralded University of Massachusetts, is the Titans' No. 1 receiver when the games start to count.

Sharpe caught all six passes thrown his way for 68 yards, leading the team in both categories, against the Panthers in Week 2 of the preseason.

Even before that breakout performance, Sharpe impressed the Titans so much in offseason workouts and training camp that Dorial Green-Beckham, last year's second-round pick, became expendable and was traded to the Eagles for offensive lineman Dennis Kelly.

Then in the preseason opener Sharpe caught a 31-yard pass from Marcus Mariota on the second play from scrimmage.

Sharpe led the nation with 111 receptions last season. He provides one more reason to be excited about Mariota and the Titans' up-and-coming offense.

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Written by Joe Tetreault | 22 March 2011

ALL HAIL BLYTHE BRUMLEVE This is pure genius. So's her site in toto. no comments

Written by Joe Tetreault | 28 January 2011

QUARTERBACK RATING: A BOGUS STATISTIC James Joyner points to a thorough debunking of passer rating, the stat the NFL invented to try to quantify quarterback production by Mike Tanier. Joyner's comments illustrate the absurdity of referencing the stat:

I recall as a kid, 30-odd years ago, when Cowboys quarterback Danny White was in exactly the same position as Rodgers is now. Upon the 1500th attempt, he was the number one quarterback in NFL history, supplanting his predecessor, Roger Staubach. Nobody thought it was true. Within a few weeks, a kid named Joe Montana supplanted White and nobody believed that, either. Until a decade or so later, when they did.

Some of the greatest quarterbacks every –Stabubach, Unitas, Bradshaw — are blips on the QB ranking scale, ranking so far beyond today’s mediocre QBs that it’s not even funny. But quarterback is, alone among the so-called “skill positions,” unmeasurable by a single stat. People have a sense of who’s great and who’s not, but there really isn’t a widely used stat that works. Passer Rating is an index, but a complicated one that doesn’t really make any sense.

Keep all this in mind when Joe Buck and Troy Aikman gush about how great the two quarterbacks are on the field in Dallas next sunday.

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Written by Joe Tetreault | 26 January 2011

PATRIOTS FANS PLIGHT Like Lyford, I skipped the Conference championships on Sunday last. And despite the close locale of the coming Super Bowl, I'll pay far too little attention to the NFL's grand spectacle. The problem with Jets-Steelers is that there is no rooting interest and therefore little motivation to watch. Sure, the Jets lost, but they lost to America's Most Wanted quarterback, which leaves a mighty bad taste in one's mouth. Not quite as horrible the accolades the Jets ladled on the Ben, but still. On the NFC side the Packers are the least objectionable choice, but still, the two teams that ended New England's quest for title number one makes for minimal interest.

Here's to baseball!

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Written by Joe Tetreault | 14 January 2011

THE NEW YORK POST WEIGHS IN Over the top in every way.

I still prefer this Darth Belichick representation

darthbelichick

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