There are several HBCU graduates that are plying their trade in the NFL. But which active player is in the best situation to win the Super Bowl in the 2020 campaign?
We’ll now break down the leading candidates, including one that has crossed a divide so to speak to enhance his chances of hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy come February.
Terron Armstead (New Orleans Saints)
Armstead and the Saints have been the victim of a whole world of pain in the post-season of late. In the last three seasons, New Orleans has suffered heartbreak after heartbreak, beginning with the Minnesota Miracle. Stefon Diggs’s last-second touchdown allowed the Vikings to advance in favor of the Saints in the 2017 Divisional round. Marcus Williams’ missed tackle allowed the wideout to run 40 yards untouched for a knife-wrenching touchdown.
The Saints were then on the receiving end of one of the worst calls in post-season history when Tommylee Lewis was wiped out by Nickell Robey-Coleman. It should have been pass interference that would have allowed the Saints to advance to Super Bowl LIII alas it was not called allowing the Los Angeles Rams to progress.
There was further pain inflicted by the Vikings in overtime in the Wildcard Round last season. Armstead’s form at left tackle has been exemplary, earning two Pro Bowl nods in the last two years. He has protected Drew Brees’ blindside, but time is running out for the Saints in their window. The 2020 season could be their final shot due to the age of the quarterback.
Javon Hargrave (Philadelphia Eagles)
Hargrave made the move across Pennsylvania from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Eagles. He signed a lucrative deal in the off-season after four impressive years with Mike Tomlin’s men. Although Hargrave and the Steelers reached the AFC Championship Game in the 2016 season, they were crushed by the New England Patriots. The following season resulted in another defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Since then the Steelers have failed to reach the playoffs, forcing Hargrave to turn elsewhere in his bid for a Super Bowl ring.
Pittsburgh is trending in a downward spiral as Ben Roethlisberger edges toward the end of his career. The Eagles could be heading upwards depending on the fitness of Carson Wentz. Doug Pederson’s men have better NFL odds on bet365 than the Steelers, with the Eagles standing at +2000 to win the Super Bowl compared to the Steeler’s +2500 next term. Hargrave’s presence will shore up the middle of the defense that was solid against the run, although the 26-year-old does offer a dual-threat with his pass-rushing abilities. With a bit of luck and a combined effort from the entire roster, the Eagles could win their second Super Bowl in four years.
Darius Leonard (Indianapolis Colts)
Leonard and the Colts were dealt a body blow on the eve of the last campaign when Andrew Luck retired from the game. He had suffered a slew of injuries and decided to call time on his career. Frank Reich’s men were considered outside hopefuls for the Super Bowl with Luck in the team. Even without his services, they beat the future champion Kansas City Chiefs during the regular season, holding them to a lowly 13 points in the process. Leonard’s defense was on form during the early part of the term but was gradually worn down due to their inefficient offense.
Jacoby Brissett will be replaced by veteran Philip Rivers for the 2020 campaign, giving fresh hope of another charge. The Colts were well placed in a wide-open AFC South and Leonard has established his reputation as one of the leading middle linebackers in the game. He can be part of a charge for the Colts to first win the division and then potentially conquer the AFC for the first time in over a decade.
Time is yet to tell which team will pick up the Vince Lombardi Trophy next year. Every team is naturally in it to play for, but these key players might just be the major factor that decides who comes out as the champions of 2021.