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Tag:Dan Koppen
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:28 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 12:40 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Offensive line rankings

Is Nicks, our top free-agent offensive lineman, done hoisting Brees? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling lists of the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the offensive linemen.

It's not the sexiest position in the NFL -- just ask Andre "C-Cup" Smith -- and there's a feeling in the NFL these days, whether it's right or wrong, that offensive line is becoming a fungible position. It's OK to laugh at that idea, because a few years ago, wide receiver was the same way. It'll shift back and forth in the next few years. Right now, you'll pay a nice price to land a wideout and offensive linemen are relatively cheap.

Some of the guys on the list below won't be cheap however. There's a pretty nice group of offensive linemen hitting the market this year, and teams might be wise to avoid trying to race in the free-agent market and focus their efforts on improving protection.

1. Carl Nicks

Breakdown: Nicks is probably the best guard in the league, and it doesn't help that his teammate, Jahri Evans, signed a $56.7 million deal for the next seven years. Especially since Nicks wants more money. With Drew Brees franchised, the Saints are essentially forced to let Nicks and top wideout Marques Colston both hit the market and good luck bringing Nicks back. He's the only guy who can hurt the guard-related stock for Stanford's David DeCastro.
Potential Landing Spots: Saints, Cowboys, Chargers, 49ers

2. Chris Myers

Breakdown: Honestly if Meyers left it would be a) a huge mistake for the Texans and b) a big surprise. Everyone talks about Mario Williams as the guy they need to re-sign, but Meyers is substantially more valuable to what they do (especially with the defensive personnel vs. the offensive personnel). Houston's offensive line is by far and away the most underrated in the NFL and while Eric Winston is the anchor, Meyers is the leader. I'd like to think that Houston won't let him walk, simply because the AFC South window is too big not to keep making a run at another division title.
Potential Landing Spots: Texans, Packers, Ravens

3. Jared Gaither

Breakdown: Gaither was a supplemental draft pick with the Ravens in 2007, washed out, went to the Chiefs and then looked finished in the NFL at an early age. But he was a big factor in revitalizing the Chargers run late in the season; after Marcus McNeil went down, Philip Rivers was offered no protection until Gaither came into town. The Chargers want to keep him, but this is a very shallow class for free-agent tackles, and Gaither could pull in good money on the market. He's got gobs of talent and is still young, but keeping him motivated is a concern.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions, Chargers, Cardinals, Vikings, Rams

4. Ben Grubbs

Breakdown: Grubbs, the Ravens 2007 first-round pick, made the first Pro Bowl of his career in 2011. He's a free agent only because Baltimore's had to use their franchise tag on Ray Rice and couldn't commit to the guard. The Ravens still want to re-sign Grubbs, and that could happen between now and March 13 when free agency begins. Working in the Ravens favor is the deep nature of this crop of free-agent guards.
Potential Landing Spots: Ravens, Bengals, Giants, Bears, 49ers

4. Scott Wells

Breakdown: Wells and the Packers are in the middle of a headed non-discussion about a new contract. Wells believes he deserves big money, and the Packers believe he deserves the type of money that a shorter, 31-year-old center would get on an open market. But Wells isn't just any center; he's proven his worth in working with different quarterbacks in Green Bay and helping to develop Aaron Rodgers. Wells made his first Pro Bowl in 2011 and has missed just one game since 2006. He won't want to leave Green Bay but he also won't take less than he's worth. It wouldn't be surprising to see him move closer to Tennessee (he's from there and played for the Vols in college) either.
Potential Landing Spots: Packers, Texans, Broncos

5. Demetrius Bell

Breakdown: Bell's been playing football for less than 10 years, but he's clearly quite good at it. Or at least good enough to keep being named the Bills left tackle. The seventh-round pick out of Northwestern State could come back to Buffalo, but if there are teams in need of offensive line help, there's a good chance he'll bail. The offensive line market is odd this year, in that it appears to be guard and center heavy. The tackles aren't exactly stacked and that could result in a nice deal for a guy like Bell.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions, Bills, Chargers, Cardinals, Vikings, Rams

6. Evan Mathis

Breakdown: Mathis hasn't started 16 games since coming into the NFL. But he's coming off easily the best season of his career and has said he'll take a discount to remain with the Eagles under the tutelage of Howard Mudd. Mathis said he'd work for "$20 and a pizza," but the reality is he got paid the league minimum last year, and at 30, he'd be insane not to maximize his money-making ability.
Potential Landing Spots: Eagles, Saints, Seahawks, 49ers

8. Geoff Schwartz

Breakdown: Schwartz played all over the line for Carolina in 2010 before missing all of 2011 with injury. It'll be interesting to see Ron Rivera's coaching staff handles the offensive line: Schwartz and Jeff Otah are holdovers from a previous regime and might not necessarily stick. But Schwartz, at 25, would be a nice, versatile and discounted signing for someone who needs help and depth across the line.
Potential Landing Spots: Giants, Bills, Panthers, Seahawks

9. Dan Koppen

Breakdown: You know what's weird? Everyone's willing to toss out the "system" word as it relates to anything with the Patriots quarterback but don't bother discussing how their offensive line, which features a pretty cohesive unit, helps Tom Brady's success. Whatever, it's fine. That's the "Patriot Way." But Koppen isn't going to get the franchise tag like fellow lineman Logan Mankins and he stands to make more money for a team that needs a center.
Potential Landing Spots: Packers, Ravens

10. Jake Scott

Breakdown: The good news is this: Scott played for an offensive-line monster in Mike Munchak. Munchak consistently creates cohesive offensive units that over-produce relative to their value. But the bad news is that Scott's 30 (not too old) and if you bring him into another organization, he's not going to have that same Titans cohesiveness. Is that overplayed? Yeah, maybe. But Scott will have bigger questions when it comes to Chris Johnson's production in 2011, whether that's fair or not.
Potential Landing Spots: Titans, Saints, Eagles, Seahawks

HONORABLE MENTION

Jeff Backus, Nick Hardwick, Vernon Carey, Anthony Collins

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Patriots C Dan Koppen out for season

Posted by Will Brinson

Patriots center Dan Koppen suffered a nasty broken ankle in New England's Week 1 victory over the Dolphins that resulted in him being carted off the field. But it was nastier than anyone could have imagined at the time -- the team announced on Wednesday that Koppen was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

Defensive lineman Myron Pryor was also placed on IR, and defensive back Philip Adams and defensive lineman Landon Cohen were signed to the active roster.

The good news for the Patriots is that guard Dan Connolly looked quite good against the Chargers (and in action against the Dolphins) since moving over to replace Koppen on the line.

Additionally, New England has a pretty sturdy line as far as things go, with Logan Mankins and Brian Waters beefing up protection around Connolly and Matt Light the stalwart at left tackle. Having tight ends Rob Gronkowski and -- when he returns from his injury -- Aaron Hernandez on the field almost all the time doesn't hurt either.

And neither does having Tom Brady under center -- clearly the Patriots would prefer to keep as much protection around Tom as possible, but if you're going to have a quarterback who needs to establish timing with his pass catchers and clear the ball out quickly, he's a pretty good one to have.

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Aaron Hernandez out 1-2 weeks with MCL sprain?

Posted by Will Brinson

The New England Patriots have piled up more passing yards than anyone in the NFL, and it's largely in part to the stupendous play from their two young tight ends, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. (As Phil Simms notes in the video below, they are, in fact, "the difference" for the Pats offense this year.)

So it's bad news to hear that Hernandez will reportedly miss one to two weeks with a sprained MCL, according to Shalise Young of the Boston Globe.

Hernandez missed the second half of the fourth quarter on Sunday against San Diego after taking a shot to knee from Bob Sanders helmet, despite staying in the game for a few plays after the knock to the knee.

"I feel pretty good," Hernandez said before hobbling out of the locker room, via Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald. "Little sore, we’ll see what it is. Just getting ready for this next game."

How this plays out will be interesting for the Patriots. For one, there's a belief that Rob Gronkowski will now catch 15 touchdowns next week. That's actually less likely, because Hernandez' absence will limit the ability of New England to spread out coverage on their tight ends.

It will also likely mean the recently-criticized Chad Ochocinco, heretofore the fifth option in the passing game for New England, gets a serious chance to step up and impress his critics, as the Patriots won't run as many two tight end sets without Hernandez in the game. (And therefore, likely more three-wideout sets.)

Hernandez' absence won't mean that Tom Brady's prolific start to the season should suddenly slow down, and it's entirely possible that the Patriots Week 3 matchup against the Bills is another shootout for a Patriots team that's already been involved in a pair so far this year.


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Posted on: September 12, 2011 9:06 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 1:14 am
 

Pats C Dan Koppen breaks ankle

Posted by Will Brinson

The Patriots won their season opener against the Dolphins in Miami but it came at a cost: center Dan Koppen, who left just before halftime, has a broken left ankle, according to the Boston Herald's Ian Rapoport.

"The team will run more tests tomorrow to see whether there is more damage to the ligaments or the surrounding portions of his leg," Rapoport wrote early Tuesday morning. "But, the early returns are that it may not be a complicated break. In fact, don’t rule Koppen out for the season just yet."

Koppen suffered what the Patriots called a left ankle injury at the time when Karlos Dansby fell on his leg as Koppen blocked for a Tom Brady sneak on third down late in the first half.

He screamed in pain and lay on the ground for a few minutes until a cart was brought out -- as Koppen was leaving, cameras picked him up mouthing something that didn't exactly look, um, optimistic to the medical staff. He was also seen leaving the medical room on crutches and said "We'll see" when asked about the extent of his injury.

The injury is particularly devastating for New England, as they signed Thomas Welch from the practice squad just to get to seven offensive linemen for the Monday night game.

The Dolphins Jason Taylor also suffered an ankle and/or foot injury during the first half when it appeared someone stepped on his foot; he returned to the game in the second half.

Perhaps coincidentally, as soon as Koppen left and Dan Connolly slid over to center, Wake immediately drew a holding call against rookie lineman Nate Solder and then on the next play, recorded a sack on Tom Brady.

Not coincidentally, Wake/Taylor against New England's thinned-out line was our top matchup to watch tonight. And, as we expected, the Pats have been using the heck out of two tight end sets -- they had Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on the field for nearly every single play in the first half.

Expect to see plenty of them in the second half as well, since the loss of Koppen will require increased assistance for an extremely thin offensive line.

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Posted on: November 25, 2010 10:12 am
 

Making the best of the Thanksgiving games

Posted by Andy Benoit

If the NFL were to implement the Thanksgiving game tradition today, no way would the league give the Lions and Cowboys the home game each year. Television has become too significant in today’s NFL – nationally-televised games are gold for clubs. But, tradition is tradition, and there’s some 40 years of it behind Detroit and Dallas playing on America’s favorite Thursday.

The NFL aimed to appease the other 30 teams by implementing a third Thanksgiving game, but unfortunately, it’s on NFL Network, which means most fans don’t get to see it. Thanksgiving tends to be held at an older relative’s house; without any official statistics to cite, we’ll assume that the older someone is, the less likely it is they have a satellite dish. Most people, of course, get their NFL Network via satellite dish.

Anyway, this year, we have three excellent teams playing on Thanksgiving (Patriots, Saints, Jets). Unfortunately, none of them play each other. It’s possible – maybe even probable – that all three games will be blowouts. This will be especially painful for you the viewer because you’ll probably already be watching these games with family members who don’t know jack about football. Thus, you’ll have boring football buttressed by boring conversation.

So what can you do to ameliorate a potentially-frustrating situation? Try dialing in on a matchup within the matchup and just focusing on the pure art form behind it. Here is a compelling matchup within the matchup for each game:

Patriots @ Lions

Ndamukong Suh against interior Patriots O-line

Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins has been fantastic since joining the team midseason after a prolonged contract dispute. Mankins is not a pure mauler, but he delivers one of the better hand punches in football. Suh, of course, IS a pure mauler. The No. 2 overall pick is on his way to the Pro Bowl, which is rare for a rookie defensive tackle. Center Dan Koppen is one of the better help-blockers in the NFL. Koppen’s double-teaming prowess will be needed against the behemoth rookie. (Worth noting: the Patriots will be without starting RG Stephen Neal in this game.)

Saints @ Cowboys

DeMarcus Ware vs. Jermon Bushrod
D. Revis (US Presswire)
Ware’s domination of Bushrod last season is what propelled Dallas to a December upset of the then-undefeated Saints. You might think the Saints will not allow Bushrod to go one-on-one against the superstar pass-rusher. However, Sean Payton could be willing to take that gamble if he decides to go with four wide receivers and spread the Cowboys out (which he likely will).

Bengals @ Jets

Darrelle Revis vs. Who?

Last year, Revis shutdown Chad Ochocinco in back-to-back weeks (Week 17 and the Wild Card round). Ochocinco has been drawing constant double coverage this season, but many believe that Terrell Owens has emerged as Cincy’s top wideout. The Jets will tell you which receiver they most fear by how they choose to use Revis. Don’t think Ochocinco and Owens won’t take note of which guy is paid the ultimate respect. Whoever draws the Revis matchup will almost certainly be held to under four catches (the guess here is it will be Owens, as the Jets could then implement some of the double-team concepts that have hindered Ochocinco this season).

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com