HBO’s Hard Knocks officially announced the five teams that are eligible to be chosen as the one that the show will follow for the 2019 late offseason and training camp. The show gives an inside and behind the scenes look into how training camp unfolds for an NFL team as they construct their 53-man roster for the regular season.
The San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, New York Giants and Detroit Lions are the five teams that are eligible since they meet the requirement of not making the playoffs in the last two seasons, not having appeared on the program in the last decade and don’t have a first-year head coach.
Here’s a compelling argument for each of these teams that could make them an interesting and entertaining franchise to follow during training camp:
New York Giants:
The Giants have been making a lot of headlines and have experienced a lot of turnover this offseason as they have traded away their sack leader Olivier Vernon and star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns and let three-time Pro Bowl safety walk in free agency where he signed with their NFC East division rival Washington Redskins for a record-breaking deal.
They have two first-round picks in this year’s draft and there is growing speculation that they could select their franchise and two-time Superbowl winning quarterback Eli Manning’s heir apparent with either the sixth or 17th overall selections. If that ends up being the case that could possibly be must-watch TV if that rookie can show enough in camp and preseason to supplant Manning as the starter sooner rather than later.
San Francisco 49ers:
The 9ers were the trendy pick last offseason similar to how the Browns have been this year before a torn ACL to franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo early last season derailed what many thought would be a promising 2018 campaign.
The rehab of Garoppolo from his injury and the development of many of the young players that were ascending towards the end of last season as well as some of the addition they made in free agency and will make in the draft could make them an interesting team to watch as Head Coach Kyle Shanahan prepares for his third year at the helm.
The Lions and Head Coach Matt Patricia who is heading into his second year in Motown after spending years as defensive lynchpin on Bill Belichick’s staff, have been talked about as trying to become the Patriots of the Midwest this offseason after signing New England’s top free agent in defensive end Tre Flowers who was the top available pass rusher this offseason.
They also signed a pair of former Patriots in free agency as well in receiver Danny Amendola and Justin Coleman. It will be curious to see if Patricia can accomplish what so many Belichick’s disciples have failed before in trying to replicate a semblance of the success that they have enjoyed in New England for the past two decades.
This could be a pivotal season for Head Coach Jay Gruden and his staff after missing the playoffs for three straight seasons. They traded for Case Keenum and signed top free agent safety Landon Collins this offseason in hopes of turning around some of their recent woes on both sides of the ball.
The team has been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Cardinal quarterback Josh Rosen via trade if Arizona does decide to take Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray No.1 overall. Another interesting side story to watch, which are staples in Hard Knocks every year could be second-year running back Derrius Guice, who missed all of his rookie season after suffering torn ACL last preseason.
He was a popular early candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year and could pair with the ageless Adrian Peterson and multidimensional Chris Thompson to form one of the most potent backfields in the league in 2019.
The Raiders are considered to be the early fan favorite of the eligible candidates to be the chosen for the program simply because they have a cast of characters that are made for television and they have been one of the most active teams this offseason.
They were among the biggest spenders in free agency when they made left tackle Trent Brown the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history and made All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown the highest paid player at his position in the game following their trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers in which they got the star wideout for a steal at the cost of a pair of mid-round pick.
Head Coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock are former TV personalities who have been in, around and associated with the game for decades and hold the two positions that are highlighted the most by the cameras that will be placed throughout the facility during the show. The team also possess three picks in the first round and are expected to select three difference makers or possibly boldly package some or all of them to move up for Murray.
If they are the team that is chosen, they could make for the best season on Hard Knocks to date with the polarizing personalities of AB, Gruden and Marshawn Lynch if they decide to bring him back.