The 2018 NFL season is coming up on the final quarter stretch and in most cases, nothing is settled. Divisions are close, playoff races are tight, and injuries around the league have really begun to shake things up.
It’s now make-or-break time for players and teams, and as the saying goes, big players make big plays in big games. So who might those big players be? Here’s a look at 10 players who could have a big impact down the stretch.
10. Colt McCoy, QB, Washington Redskins
33 years to the day that Lawrence Taylor broke Joe Theismann’s leg, players watched helplessly as Alex Smith suffered a gruesomely similar injury. His season is now over, and the reigns of the NFC East-leading Redskins have been handed over to Colt McCoy. He played relatively well in a Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans and will now lead the show moving forward, which is a role he hasn’t played in many years. The luxury McCoy brings to the table beyond his starting experience is his intimate familiarity with Washington’s offense and the skill position players surrounding him. And just as Nick Foles did a season ago, perhaps McCoy can channel some backup magic and lead the Redskins to the playoffs.
How a player does in the weeks and months before the NFL Draft can have a big impact on where they’re picked. A good Combine or Pro Day can be enough to turn a day two prospect into a first rounder, or grow some buzz around potential later-round players who weren’t really on anyone’s radar beforehand.
Here’s a look at ten players whose stock rose ahead of the draft.
1) Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
It’s not that Edmunds was ever poorly-regarded as a prospect, but his workouts have only bolstered the view of him as one of the elite athletes in the draft class. He ran a 4.54 40 at the NFL Combine, and his combination of size and speed is tantalizing. Edmunds was a likely first-round pick all along, but the hype around him is such that he’s almost certainly going in the top 15. The top ten may be a realistic proposition at this point.
2) Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Gesicki was a solid player at Penn State, but this year’s tight end class has never been particularly highly-regarded. It looked for a long while as if there would be no first round tight end, but Gesicki’s excellent combine may change that. Gesicki displayed an outstanding combination of size, speed, and athleticism, and could become a quality pass-catcher with time. That should appeal to several teams late in the first round.
Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter sported an awesome set of shoulder pads after Georgia defeated Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.
During the second overtime period of an epic college football playoff game, Carter blocked a 27-yard field goal attempt by Austin Seiber to keep the score deadlocked 48-48. Two plays later, Bulldogs running back Sony Michel scored a touchdown to send Georgia to this year’s national championship game. You can see the blocked kick below.
After the game, Carter sported a set of gold shoulder pads with black spikes on them. On the front is Georgia’s logo and the words “Attack the day” and “Attack the ball.” The back contains the word “SAVAGE.”
The shoulder pads are awarded as an incentive for turnovers, much like the “turnover chain” made popular by the University of Miami this season. Based on social media, it sounds like some like the shoulder pads over the turnover chain.