10 things you need to know heading into the season
Who is the best passer in the league? Who is the best team? Gary Horton has the answers.
Originally Published: February 29, 2008By Gary Horton | Scouts Inc.
With the AFL season just around the corner, Gary Horton runs down 10 things every fan should know about the AFL this season.
1. Best player
Dallas QB Clint Dolezel -- Not only is he an excellent QB, but he is also the smartest player in the league and another coach on the field. In 2007 he threw for 4,475 yards, 107 TDs, only nine interceptions for a 128.2 QB rating. He makes every throw, rarely makes a mistake and he has great weapons.
2. Best team
Dallas Desperados -- They have won 28 of their last 32 regular season games, including a 15-1 record a year ago. However, in each of the last two years they have been bounced out of the postseason in their first playoff game. They are talented at every position, with depth, and 2008 may bring them that elusive championship.
3. Game to watch
Dallas at San Jose (March 22) -- This is a great Week 4 matchup between the best two teams in the AFL. San Jose has the trophy Dallas wants and both of these organizations realize this could be a preview of the AFL Championship game in July.
4. Best QB arm
Utah QB Joe Germaine -- He had a breakout year in 2007 and he has done an excellent job making the adjustment from the NFL. He has good size and he can fit the ball into tight spots with velocity and touch. He rarely makes a mistake or throws an interception. Germaine threw for 5,005 yards with 107 TDs a year ago.
5. Newcomer of the year
Orlando DB Ahmad Carroll -- He is a former first-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers and he has 28 NFL Starts. He has great athletic ability and he could become an elite press-corner in this league. The key for Carroll is to stick with it and realize the AFL may be his ticket back to the NFL.
6. Player with best chance to make it to the NFL
Grand Rapids DB Ahmad Hawkins -- He is still a fairly young player and he has flirted with the NFL in the past, including making some training camp starts. He had 13 interceptions a year ago for Nashville and he is always around the ball. He may not have elite turn-and-run speed, but he would be a nice fit in a zone or Cover 2 scheme in the NFL, where he could close on the ball.
7. RB who will make an impact
Chicago FB Dan Alexander -- He is a scoring machine in the red zone and he scored an amazing 41 rushing TDs in 2007 for Nashville. He has 54 TDs in his three year AFL career. He is tough, explosive and now he is playing for a Chicago offense that will be in the red zone a lot. He should have a great year.
8. Best defensive player
Colorado DB Rashad Floyd -- He was a free agent heading into 2008 and the Crush were very smart in re-signing him. He led the AFL in tackles a year ago with 156. Plus, he picked off nine passes and had 20 pass break ups. He is a ball hawk versus the pass and a punishing defender versus the run.
9. Best two-way player
Dallas DB/WR Will Pettis -- He does it all and he is the ultimate AFL Ironman. He is a perennial All-AFL performer and in 2007 he had 130 receptions on offense for 1,471 yards and 46 TDs. On defense he recorded 59.5 tackles, seven sacks and three interceptions. If that weren't enough, he also had a 21.2 yard kick-return average and returned four for touchdowns.
10. Most versatile offense
Dallas Desperados -- It all starts with Dolezel, who is so smart, he allows the coaches to be creative and make consistent adjustments. They are the No. 2 pass offense and scoring offense, but they can also run the football. The Desperados' offensive line only gave up four sacks a year ago, which gives Dolezel time to be creative.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
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