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How Would Our Expansion Team Do?

By NATHAN COOPER

Recap

This is the final article in our series of pieces imagining an NFL Expansion Draft scenario.

In our first article, we laid out Protection Lists for each NFL team. In the following article, we detailed my picks with analysis and featured all 21 roster submissions we received.

Before we get into how the team would do based on our numbers, here’s a reminder of who I picked with the picks by NFL team and the projected depth chart.

Pick-by-Pick

 

Expansion Draft Recap – By Team
Team Player Pos
Arizona Cardinals Chase Edmonds RB
Arizona Cardinals Zach Allen DE
Atlanta Falcons Jacob Tuioti-Mariner DE
Atlanta Falcons Jaylinn Hawkins S
Baltimore Ravens Marquise Brown WR
Baltimore Ravens Alejandro Villanueva OL
Buffalo Bills Devin Singletary RB
Buffalo Bills A.J. Klein LB
Carolina Panthers Pat Elflein OL
Carolina Panthers Joey Slye K
Chicago Bears Mario Edwards Jr. DE
Chicago Bears Bilal Nichols DT
Cincinnati Bengals Drew Sample TE
Cincinnati Bengals Mike Hilton CB
Cleveland Browns Rashard Higgins WR
Cleveland Browns Joel Bitonio OL
Dallas Cowboys Michael Gallup WR
Dallas Cowboys Jourdan Lewis CB
Denver Broncos Teddy Bridgewater QB
Denver Broncos Bryce Callahan CB
Detroit Lions John Penisini DT
Detroit Lions Jack Fox P
Green Bay Packers Jordan Love QB
Green Bay Packers Robert Tonyan TE
Houston Texans Desmond King II CB
Houston Texans Jon Weeks LS
Indianapolis Colts Zach Pascal WR
Indianapolis Colts Tyquan Lewis DT
Jacksonville Jaguars Gardner Minshew II QB
Jacksonville Jaguars James Robinson RB
Kansas City Chiefs Mecole Hardman WR
Kansas City Chiefs Tershawn Wharton DT
Las Vegas Raiders Foster Moreau TE
Las Vegas Raiders Nicholas Morrow LB
Los Angeles Chargers Justin Jackson RB
Los Angeles Chargers Oday Absouhi OL
Los Angeles Rams Austin Corbett OL
Los Angeles Rams Taylor Rapp S
Miami Dolphins Jesse Davis OL
Miami Dolphins Byron Jones CB
Minnesota Vikings Adam Thielen WR
Minnesota Vikings Josh Metellus S
New England Patriots Isaiah Wynn OL
New England Patriots Chase Winovich DE
New Orleans Saints Adam Trautman TE
New Orleans Saints Cesar Ruiz OL
New York Giants Tae Crowder LB
New York Giants Xavier McKinney S
New York Jets Vinny Curry DE
New York Jets Sheldon Rankins DT
Philadelphia Eagles Eric Wilson LB
Philadelphia Eagles Rodney McLeod S
Pittsburgh Steelers Chuks Okorafor OL
Pittsburgh Steelers Terrell Edmunds S
San Francisco 49ers Kyle Juszczyk FB
San Francisco 49ers Samson Ebukam LB
Seattle Seahawks Alton Robinson DE
Seattle Seahawks Cody Barton LB
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ryan Jensen OL
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Carlton Davis CB
Tennessee Titans Rashaan Evans LB
Tennessee Titans Jayon Brown LB
Washington Football Team Cole Holcomb LB
Washington Football Team Jimmy Moreland CB

 

Projected Depth Chart

(click to enlarge)

How Would This Team Do?

Alex Vigderman, Lead Football Researcher at SIS, crunched the numbers to see how our team would fare.

Obviously this team doesn’t have a real schedule, so he assumed their strength of schedule to be league-wide average at .500. He used WAR per snap from the last three seasons to project each player’s WAR for this season and used a Marcel-based system where he weighted 2020 performance as a 5, 2019 as a 3, and 2018 as a 1.

Additionally, he regressed everyone by one full season’s worth of replacement-level snaps both to downweight small-sample performances and to account for everyone being on a new team.

When all the numbers were crunched, this team would accumulate 9.1 expected wins in a 17-game season based on SIS-WAR.

While this may not make the playoffs, the team is competitive and does have a chance. An above .500 record would be a major win for an expansion team and something to build upon for the future.

Looking on an individual level, the top five players in Total WAR for this hypothetical season are: 

1) Teddy Bridgewater 

2) Carlton Davis 

3) Bryce Callahan 

4) Adam Theilen 

5) Chase Winovich. 

Out of the 56 players I had getting snaps during the season, 46 players finished with a positive WAR.

While I would love to assume all of my starters will play 100% of the snaps, we based snap counts on last year’s, making adjustments as to whether they would get more or less playing time on this team based on the projected depth chart, and also took into account that if a player has an injury history, they would likely miss time.

Looking Ahead

When looking at this roster, the focus was put into building a strong defense that can rush the passer and cover on the back end, and an offense that is strong along the offensive line. 

This team was assembled with a win-now mentality, but also with a look ahead to the future. With this roster, the team could go out and compete right away, but it also has the flexibility to make changes after Year 1, if needed. As it currently stands with these 64 players under contract, the team has just over $8 million of cap space.

There are some things to consider moving forward. 

First, some of the middle to back-end of the roster will likely be traded to accumulate future draft picks. The team automatically is given the No. 2 overall pick in the next draft, so using early picks and gaining more is definitely a priority. 

Additionally, a 16-man practice squad means there are still 5 spots that would need to be filled. That means the waiver wire will be watched closely and unsigned UDFAs will be signed to compete in camp and eventually fill out the practice squad.

Of the current roster, only 37 players are under contract for 2022. The 2022 Salary Cap ceiling has been set at $208.2 million, which leaves the team with more than $56.7 million in cap space going into the 2022 offseason. 

With a rookie salary pool that will cost approximately $16 million for 10 draftees, that leaves about $40 million to re-sign some key free agents, make a splash on one big UFA, and then fill out the back end of the roster. The team will definitely become much younger beginning in 2022.

If this was your team, how happy would you be with it? How well do you think they’ll do?

Tweet us at @sportsinfo_SIS and @ncoopdraft  and let us know

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