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USATSI

Get over here, 2021. Let me give you a hug. I'm thrilled you're here, so excited to get started. You don't even know. 

We won't even mention your predecessor by name. Not a kind individual. And like the caption on every Instagram post today, we here at the Practice Squad Power Rankings are leaving negative energy behind us. 

But, what we've built at PSPR is really starting to take shape. A year ago, the inaugural PSPR netted 17 call-ups from 14 separate players. With teams needing to rely on the practice squad more this season than ever before, the PSPR erupted, and finished with 41 call-ups (!), and we very well could see more over the weekend. I can't say I had a goal in mind for the second go-around for the PSPR, but eclipsing the 40 call-up mark feels damn good.

(Last week, Cowboys running back Sewo Olonilua got the permanent call up to Dallas' 53-man roster but again only played special teams against the Eagles. In other running back news, the Broncos elevated LeVante Bellamy, and he gained 11 yards on three carries against the Chargers.) 

I couldn't be more proud of all the PSPR alumni. And I'm incredibly appreciative to all the PSPR patrons for flocking to this very page every Friday to see the latest crop of burgeoning young players on practice squads across the NFL. Many PSPR alumni now sit on 53-man rosters, and we haven't forgotten any of those success stories, even from 2019. I know you haven't either.

I'm going to pitch to Roger Goodell that starting next season Practice Squad Power Rankings alum get a little "PSPR" patch on their uniforms. It'd look really sharp and serve as bastion of underdogs defying the odds in the NFL.

So, again, thank you so much for reading what started as a pitch to editors I thought would never fly and has become an absolute joy to research and write every single week during the regular season. And remember -- Fridays. Are. For. Practice. Squad. Power. Rankings.

1. Deandre Baker, CB, Chiefs 

Last week's PSPR cover guy may take another week or two to learn the nuances of the Chiefs' scheme, but he's as talented as anyone in Kansas City's cornerback room and will be fresh for the latter part of the regular season and playoffs, a nice boost for Steve Spagnuolo's defense if the coordinator decides he needs it. 

2. Dane Jackson, CB, Bills

Jackson's back on Buffalo's practice squad and deserves this high ranking due to the solid play he turned in for the Bills during his stint on the active roster. In four games (including two starts), the 2020 seventh-round selection had 12 tackles, one fumble recovery, a pick and three pass breakups. He can play outside or in the slot and only missed one tackle. 

3. Jaleel Scott, WR, Jets 

The Jets should be in complete play-young-players mode, and Scott is only in his third season. He really hasn't gotten a chance to play much in the regular season either. Originally a fourth-round pick by the Ravens, he essentially had a redshirt year to get stronger as a rookie, then in Year 2 led the Ravens in receiving during the preseason. Scott is nearly 6-foot-5 and 218 pounds and excels when he needs to extend to make a catch outside his frame. 

4. Hakeem Butler, TE, Eagles

Mr. Butler is back on the Eagles practice squad after two weeks on the 53-man roster with just one target to show for it. He's a tight end now, so there should be better matchups for him against linebackers and safeties inside of ultra-twitchy corners who can stay in his hip pocket. With Philadelphia eliminated from playoff contention, Butler could get some looks in Week 17.  

5. Dylan Cantrell, WR/TE, Washington Football Team

Cantrell, a former stud wideout at Texas Tech who scorched his combine workout in 2018 at nearly 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, was a sixth-round pick by the Chargers in 2018 but has yet to make a reception in the NFL. He has the ability to be a dynamic H-back if called up by the Washington Football Team. 

6. Alex Taylor, OT, Browns

Football talent runs in Taylor's family. One of his uncles is former NFL defensive back Pierson Prioleau. Another is Joe Hamilton, a former Davey O'Brien Award-winning quarterback at Georgia Tech who was picked in the seventh round of the 2000 draft. In a strange genetic twist, Hamilton is only 5-foot-10. 

7. Javaris Davis, DB, Dolphins

Davis is the cousin of Vernon Davis and Vontae Davis, and the family genetics were on display once again when Javaris ran the 40-yard dash at 4.38 at the combine this year. He's small at 5-foot-8 and 183 pounds. He's faster than he is quick and plays larger than his size because of quality leaping skills. While mostly an outside cornerback at Auburn, Davis has just enough athleticism to bump down into the slot if needed. Miami has Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, and also used a first-round pick on Davis' teammate, Noah Igbinoghene. But Davis' downfield speed and range as a tackler could lead to him eventually getting on the field.

8. Darius Anderson, RB, Colts 

Awesomely nicknamed "Jet", Anderson was the lead back at TCU with fellow NFLer and PSPR alum Sewo Olonilua. While he may not have exactly lived up to his moniker by running 4.61 at the combine, the productive Horned Frogs ball carrier did have a 36-inch vertical and a vertical leap in the 94th percentile among backs over the past 21 years. He's somewhat of a linear runner, but the explosiveness he showcased in the jumps at the combine absolutely were apparent on film in college. 

9. Deon Cain, WR, Steelers

Will the Steelers suddenly give a former late-round pick who's been on the practice squad most of the season a chance to show he can catch a football as the team tries to hang onto the No. 2 seed in the AFC? Probably not. But, heck, it wouldn't be the worst idea, and Cain is an explosive player who tracks it well and can play on the perimeter.

10. Mike Love, EDGE, Bills 

I remember watching Love late in the 2018 predraft process and loving what I saw. The summary of my evaluation of him was as follows: "Strong, well-built defensive end with good suddenness but not the ability to sustain speed chasing from the backside. Uses his relatively heavy hands well as a pass-rusher and when shedding against the run." And Love had seven pressures in three preseason games in Buffalo last year. Buffalo has a collection of edge rushers in front of him who play in a heavy rotation, but if there's ever a need at the position, Love can produce in a limited role. 

Honorable mentions

Gary Jennings, WR, Bills

Jennings had a fascinating career at West Virginia, especially in his final two seasons with the Mountaineers. In 2017, he went over 1,000 yards but only averaged 11.3 yards per grab with just one touchdown. He was the consummate chain-mover for Will Grier. Then in 2018, Jennings looked a completely different player. He averaged 17.0 yards per grab and scored 13 touchdowns. He ran 4.42 at the combine but had poor agility-drill times. Jennings went in the fourth round to the Seahawks but is now on his fourth team. He has the contested-catch ability and long speed to be a useful niche player.

John Molchon, OG, Buccaneers 

The Buccaneers just aren't the same when Ali Marpet isn't on the field. The veteran guard is one of the better players at his position and Tampa's depth behind him has been disastrous in relief appearances this season. If there are any other Marpet injuries, Molchon deserves an opportunity to show his value, given that the previous Marpet replacements have been bad.

Rodney Clemons, S, Chiefs

Clemons was a late watch for me and instantly found himself inside my top 175. Talk about coverage range and ball skill as a safety, Clemons has both, and they were on full display in a very productive career at SMU. After three interceptions and 18 pass breakups in his first three years with the Mustangs, Clemons hauled in four picks and defended nine passes as a senior. In my notes, I wrote, "keenly aware of route concepts and where the next progression may be, so he routinely finds the football." 

Anthony Johnson, WR, Steelers 

Johnson went from the completely-loaded-at-receiver Buccaneers to the super-deep-at-receiver Steelers, circumstances that haven't helped him get an opportunity to see the field in an NFL team. Now's the time. As for his college career at Buffalo, Johnson caught 133 passes in two seasons with a 17.8 yards-per-catch average and scored 25 touchdowns. 

Prince Tega-Wanogho, OL, Eagles

Early in the 2020 predraft process, there was an early-round buzz for Wanogho. Injuries led to a precipitous fall to the sixth round, but the tools are there for the Nigeria-born former Auburn star to ultimately be the bookend tackle to Andre Dillard in the future in Philadelphia, a club that's been outstanding at the tackle positions for a while now. Wanogho plays with requisite knee bend, so he's not easily fork-lifted by smaller rushers, and he's explosive off the snap and in the screen game. With better punch timing and added weight, he can be a consistent pass-protecting tackle in the NFL. This season, he'd mostly be useful getting to the second level in the run game.