Tag:NFL Draft
Posted on: April 30, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 10:28 pm

2011 NFL Draft: Winners and losers

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- The grind of the NFL Draft -- and don't let anyone tell you otherwise, three days of straight picks is definitely a grind -- is finally over. Which means we should probably take our time to sit back and reflect on who did well and do not do well. Or, alternately, we can just start calling people names right ... now!

Atlanta Falcons: Been flopping on these guys all weekend long it feels like -- I like Julio Jones a lot, but I didn’t like all the picks the Falcons needed to get him. I do, however, freaking LOVE Jacquizz Rodgers. They got a steal when they landed a lot more offensive explosiveness in the seventh round. Couple that with a few more solid adds in Andrew Jackson, Akeem Dent and K/P Matt Bosher and it was a good haul for Thomas Dimitroff. Good enough to have me thinking about picking them to win it all. Again.

Peyton Manning: Not only is the best quarterback in the NFL going to get real paid as soon as we get a new CBA, but he’s going to have two new guys -- Anthony Castonzo and Benjamin Ijalana -- in town to help keep him healthy.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills started off their draft with a good blueprint: DEFENSE. And they stuck to that blueprint throughout the rest of the draft too, only diverting twice to pick up Chris Hairston from Clemson to beef up the offensive line and Johnny White for backfield depth and special teams. Da’Norris Searcy out of Chapel Hill could be a steal for them in the fourth.

Wade Phillips: Not that you expected the Texans to actually go out and get anyone that’s an an offensive player early in the draft, but did a great job with their first five picks, particularly in trading back up to grab Brandon Harris. Given all the limitations on that defense and the switch they have to make, it’s good for him to at least get a head start out of the draft.

Cleveland Browns: Giving up a top-10 selection when you’ve got a young quarterback that needs weapons is no easy move ... unless you’re getting five picks in return and turn those into serviceable offensive products and some defensive standouts. Buster Skrine’s value fell post-Combine but he could be a good find, Jason Pinkston out of Pittsburgh will help and already-physical offensive line. Phil Taylor/Jabaal Sheard immediately improve the defensive line and Greg Little and Jordan Cameron give Colt McCoy some guys with good hands and upside.

Ryan Mallett: My man Freeman thinks Bill Belichick might have taken too big a gamble, and there’s a good chance he might be right. But if Mallett goes anywhere else, you would have heard everyone saying that about the GM that grabbed him. (Can you imagine the reaction if Carolina took him or, dare I say, the Bengals?) The pressure of falling in the draft because of character issues and having to play/perform well at an early time is lifted with his move.

Green Bay Packers: Not that it’s hard to “win” if you’re Green Bay, coming off a Super Bowl-winning season and sitting on a young, stacked roster. But “In Ted We Trust” applies here, because Thompson beefed up the Packers’ offensive line depth, got a superb second-rounder in Randall Cobb to potentially replace and just generally marked everything he needed off his checklist. Standard Packers draft, really.

Arizona Cardinals: They had a good first two days nabbing Patrick Peterson and Ryan Williams and then fared quite well in the later rounds, particularly with their selection of Quan Sturdivant, a pretty stupendous value in the sixth round. Some would argue they didn’t address their QB need and that’s fair, but they’ll be the leaders in the clubhouse for a veteran or a Kevin Kolb trade.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The rich get richer, per usual. Cameron Heyward is the future at defensive end, Marcus Gilbert -- a reliable offensive lineman -- is exactly what the Steelers need, and the Steelers stepped up and addressed their cornerback issues early on Day 3 of the draft by grabbing Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen.

America: For awesomeness’ sake, I’m going to hold out eternal hope that the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, Ricky Stanzi ends up shirtless in a downtown BBQ joint with an American flag as a cape, holding a huge turkey leg while belting out the “Star Spangled Banner” in celebration and this scene makes its way onto YouTube. America needs that.

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers were a classic example of how trading early-round picks and finding yourself extremely weak at certain positions can kill you: in a draft with ridiculous defensive line depth, they still couldn’t add to a weak position until the third round when they picked up a pair of undersized defensive tackles in Terrell McClain and Sione Fua. Kealoha Pilares was a good grab at the top of the fifth, though. And, of course, they were essentially forced to take Cam Newton at the top spot. If he busts, this draft is a total nightmare. It might even be a situation of Carolina just taking their medicine in the best-case anyway.

Carson Palmer: Marvin Lewis says the Bengals have “moved on” for Palmer too; you gotta think they’ll try and trade him just to get something in return, but it’s shame because the best scenario for him might actually be returning to the ‘Nati and helping to bring A.J. Green and Stanford product Ryan Whalen into the fold of Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley. Those are nicer weapons than he’ll find in retirement.

Jacksonville Jaguars: I think Blaine Gabbert will end up being pretty good. If he’s great, this ranking could change, but if Jack Del Rio’s job is on the line, how does he not convince Gene Smith to go out and get him some freaking secondary help before fourth round? (Caveat: Smith has killed drafts since he got to J-Vegas, so if he thinks Gabbert’s “the guy” going forward, more power to him.)

Ronnie Brown: There was some talk Brown might stick with the Dolphins even after they took Daniel Thomas out of K-State in the second round. Nabbing Charles Clay -- even if he’s a fullback -- probably means Brown is done with the ‘Fins. (And it might also mean they’re not as set on paying DeAngelo Williams whatever he wants too.)

Washington Redskins: All weekend long, the Redskins looked like winners as they kept avoiding making huge mistakes by trading down and piling up picks. But did they really end up getting anything of substantial value for it? Leonard Hankerson could be a nice pull in the third round, certainly, but for all the Redskins’ surprising patience, they didn’t once address their (very serious) quarterback issue or linebacker issue.

Reggie Bush: Sean Payton’s saying that he’s open to Bush coming back. That might be true. And it might not be true. But what he’s not doing is making a dumb, knee-jerk reaction on Twitter simply because his team drafted Mark Ingram. Which is what Bush did and it’s not going to help him in the short or long term.

Denver Broncos: The Broncos accumulated a lot of picks, and added a linebacker trio that could be dominant in a few years (Von Miller as the pass rusher, Nate Irving as the tackler and Virgil Green as the cover guy). But two tight ends and not a single defensive lineman? Did someone show John Elway the wrong depth chart before this thing kicked off on Thursday?

Oakland Raiders: Al Davis didn’t have a first-rounder, so it’s okay to temper expectations a little bit, but Al really isn’t going to stop over-drafting athleticism until the day he dies. And considering how hot it was in Radio City Music Hall when they played “California Girls” for the second time on Saturday, I can’t imagine hell’s freezing over any time soon.

David Akers: With the Eagles’ decision to reach up into the fourth round and grab Alex Henery out of Nebraska, as well as the fact that Akers wasn’t happy about his transition tag, it’s pretty obvious that the incumbent kicker’s days as a Philly legend are numbered. (You could also add Henery as a loser here, too: having to come in and kick in front of Eagles’ fans sounds worse than listening to drunk Jets’ fans boo everything for eight-straight hours.)

Seattle Seahawks: Maybe Pete Carroll’s drafts are just too “zany” for me to understand, but the James Carpenter pick strikes me as possibly the biggest reach of the first round, maybe even ahead of Jake Locker and Christian Ponder. Unless bring Matt Hasselbeck back or land another veteran QB in the offseason, it’s almost impossible to imagine them sniffing the playoffs again.

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Posted on: April 30, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: April 30, 2011 10:01 am

Brady on Rex: 'As long as he hates me, I'm cool'

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- Fact: if you ask anyone about anything in the NFL, you have to ask them about the New York Jets and Rex Ryan.

And if you find yourself at an Under Armour Charged Cotton Draft Chat with Tom Brady in New York City and fail to ask about Rex, well, you're fired on the spot.

Not by Brady though -- it's pretty obvious he's answered his share of questions about the division rivals at this point and could talk about something else. 

"My favorite subject -- let's talk about the Jets," Brady half-joked, half-complained when asked about Ryan's new book. "As long as he hates me, I'm cool. Because he's the leader of that team and the players take after their coach. They've had successful postseasons, you know, getting to the AFC Championship Game. So I'm sure we'll be prepared to play them when we do."

The beauty of that quip is like ten-fold. It contains the stereotypical "Patriot Way" quote ("I'm sure we'll be prepared"), it offers a little reverence to Ryan's role ("he's the leader") and success ("success postseasons") but it also totally takes a potshot at the Jets inability to win a Super Bowl under Ryan thus far.
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That's not saying that Ryan is a loser because he doesn't have a title, just that he's guaranteed a lot of them, and still has three less than Brady and Bill Belichick. The real tragedy here, of course, is that no one got to ask Brady about the shocking third-round move by the Pats to draft Ryan Mallett.

More than anything, though, it's a reminder that we need football back ASAP, so we can go back enjoying the rivalries that actually take on the field.

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Posted on: April 30, 2011 12:26 am

Top five intriguing storylines from Friday

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

NEW YORK – Three rounds are done. We have four to go. Here are the most intriguing storylines for the second day of the NFL draft extravaganza.

1. Ryan Mallett fell how far … and who picked him?:
I wonder how fast Mallett’s mood changed when the Patriots took him midway through the third round. He must have gone from hurt and humiliated to not caring about what anybody else thinks. He knows he’s going to a winning program where he’ll have no pressure on him to produce immediately and where he can learn from one of the best QBs of all time. All of a sudden, life is good again for Mallett.

2. Da’Quan Bowers: third-best pro prospect out of Clemson: Before the NFL combine, what kind of odds could you have gotten if you wagered that former Clemson DE Jarvis Jenkins and former Tigers DB Marcus Gilchrist would be drafted BEFORE Bowers? You could have made millions, I tell you. Millions. Except Jenkins and Gilchrist don’t have a bad knee that might need microfracture surgery. Bowers does.

3. 49ers have a bridge to sell you … if you’ll get them a quarterback: Word on the street was that San Francisco was looking to draft Andy Dalton or Colin Kaepernick, and when the Bengals took Dalton at No. 35, the 49ers – who were picking 10 spots later – had to see which teams in front of them might also need a QB. Arizona for one, and Washington for another. So, they traded up to Denver’s No. 36 spot and gave up a third-, fourth- and fifth-rounder in exchange. It was actually a pretty deft maneuver to get the guy they wanted.

4. Washington has a TON of draft picks Saturday:
At one point, it seemed that the Redskins would never make a pick, because they kept trading down in the draft. They managed to select a player in the first, second and third rounds, and Saturday, they’ll select one fourth-rounder, four fifth-rounders, one sixth-rounder and four seventh-rounders. Unless, of course, the Redskins start trading for 2012 picks.

5. Lockout returns: There was no mention made of this during the draft – and really, why would there be? – but the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NFL a temporary reprieve and reestablished the lockout midway through the second round tonight. Which means that the new draft picks won’t get to start learning their new teams’ schemes, and they join the ranks of the rest of the NFL players who are locked out and not getting paid. Welcome to the league, boys!

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 10:57 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2011 12:05 am

NFL Draft day 2: Winners and losers

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- Well, the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft are under wraps. The lights are off at Radio City Music Hall, the boos and screams have subsided, and now we make knee-jerk reactions about who did well and who did poorly on Friday.


Ryan Mallett: Unbelievably, while in the middle of living out a Tom Petty song, Mallett caught a miracle branch extended by Bill Belichick and the Patriots, and now finds himself in the only situation in the NFL that could really get people excited about his potential.

Washington Redskins: Dan Snyder must have been hogtied before this draft started, because the ‘Skins actually traded down during the second day of the draft. Four fifth- AND seventh-rounders won’t win you a Super Bowl tomorrow but it’ll help strengthen a roster.

Denver Broncos: The Broncos took advantage of San Francisco’s desperate hankering to nab Colin Kaepernick, moved back and picked up a bunch of draft picks. Then they got a guy who will be one of the biggest steals of the draft in Nate Irving, added Rahim Moore at safety and picked up Orlando Franklin to help the line.

Buffalo Bills: They drafted defense in the first round. And then they drafted defense in the second round. And then they drafted defense in the third round. There’s really no reason to stop until the seventh ends.
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Cincinnati Bengals: They called Carson Palmer’s bluff for the second-straight day, and they did so in a way that could be teachable for some other first-round reachers, like the Titans and the Vikings: let the arguably-indistinguishable quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder and Jake Locker fall.

Cleveland Browns: They’re stacked with picks for the next two years and they’re making great selections all over the place. Greg Little gives Colt McCoy a weapon and Jabaal Sheard can slot into their new 4-3 as an end.

Houston Texans: They jump back on the good side during the second day after grabbing a linebacker who can help out in the 3-4 shift in Brooks Reed and then trading back up to into the second to grab the talented Brandon Harris from Miami.

Randall Cobb: Cobb had to hang around for the entire second round in New York City, but it was worth it, since he went to the Packers (he actually said he would have waited ‘til the seventh to end up there). Just a case of Ted Thompson looking far enough ahead. Again.

New England Patriots: I don’t know why Colin Cowherd is stealing my line about the Patriots owning every single first-rounder in the 2030, but it might not matter if it actually happens -- Pats already have two first- and second-rounders in next year’s draft.

Sam Bradford: The Rams went defense in the first round when Julio Jones and A.J. Green didn’t fall, but went out and got their franchise QB some nice weapons with great hands in TE Lance Kendricks and WR Austin Pettis.


The NFL: It was the second day of the draft and in the middle of the league trotting out veterans -- both of the league and the military -- and a score of fans to announce draft picks and huge new NFL players, the Court of Appeals ruled that the lockout was back on. It just felt dirty.

Ryan Mallett: He plummeted in the draft, falling all the way to the middle of the third round. And it looked like he was going to fall out of the third, with no one really expressing interest in the Arkansas quarterback. Then Belichick came calling.

Carolina Panthers: Said it before the round started, but it remains to be repeated, because they had no second-rounder. Hard to win on Friday without one of those. On the bright side, they took their medicine and used their two third-rounders on defensive tackles.

Da’Quan Bowers: Don’t get me wrong -- I like his spot in Tampa, and they’ve got a shot to hit an absolute home run with him late in the second round. But there’s no denying his health cost him a big old pile of money.

Atlanta Falcons: The Browns, using a pick obtained in the first-day trade for Julio Jones, grabbed Greg Little one pick after Torrey Smith went. Neither’s better -- or even close to better -- than Jones, but is Jones five draft picks-worth better than either of them? I’m not sure about that.

Marion Barber: The Cowboys drafted DeMarco Murray and it looks like Barber’s book is just about closed in Dallas.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Sssshhhhh. Do NOT tell Jacksonville, but they actually were horrible on defense in 2010. Actually, no, wait, tell them, because they’re only drafting offense for some reason.

Detroit Lions: I actually like the guys they got in the second day -- Titus Young and Mike LeShoure will help make the offense more potent -- but who’s going to protect Matt Stafford? If Jim Schwartz thinks the guys he’s got can do the job, they’ll be fine. But if not, 2011, meet 2010 and 2009.

Derek Jeter: Not football-related, but a certain sportswriter who was monitoring the Yankees game during the draft tells me he’s “terrible.” What? It was a theme!

Marvin Austin: The big fella out of Carolina was taken by the Giants, which would be fine, if the Giants didn’t play in New York City. The guy who single-handedly unearthed an agent and academic scandal at Carolina (still ongoing!) via his own Twitter account doesn’t need the bright lights of the Big Apple.

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 8:11 pm

Tampa stops Da'Quan Bowers' freefall at 51

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- Da'Quan Bowers very nearly got drafted by the Carolina Panthers ... in the second round. Okay, that's just speculation, but for a guy who was considered a possibility for the top-overall pick just a few months ago, for him to fall all the way to Tampa Bay with the 51st pick on the second round was a shock.

Or not, if you've heard all the reports about Bowers' knee, which may or may not be made of scrambled eggs.

The secret, though, is that Tampa and GM Mark Dominik took a gamble here and it's one that's not hard to like. Bowers is an elite talent with medical problems, but those type of players abound in the NFL. And the Buccaneers just paired him with a trio of early-round picks in Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and Adrian Clayborn.

If Tampa being heavily invested in their defensive line sounds familiar, well, it should: when they won the Super Bowl, they had a couple of guys (Warren Sapp, you may have heard of) who could wreck shop in the front seven.

If the Bowers gamble pays off, they'll find themselves in a similar position again soon, which won't make Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Drew Brees too happy.

And if it doesn't pay off, well, it's not like Tampa burned a bunch of guaranteed money with an early-round selection; the upside with Bowers at this point is absolutely worth it.

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 3:25 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 3:44 pm

Amukamara happy, but stunned to play for NYG

P. Amukamara was surprised to see New York take him in the draft (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

NEW YORK – Prince Amukamara, the Giants newest CB, stood at a podium on the fifth floor of the W Hotel at Times Square on Friday morning, and he looked dazed. Like he was in the middle of a dream and hadn’t quite woken up yet. Like his eyes hadn’t stopped REM’ing quite yet.

Then, as if on cue, his phone began to buzz, and as he reached into his pocket to silence the noise, he pointed out, “That was my alarm.”

He didn’t need it this morning, because, in reality, he didn’t get much sleep last night.

“The adrenalin still hasn’t slowed down,” he said. “It’s just too hard to fathom right now.”

Hard to fathom because he had no idea the Giants were interested in taking him, and the Giants – who had the 19th pick – had no idea Amukamara would have fallen that far. But he was there, and the Giants thought he was the best player on the board they could take. In fact, Giants scouting director Marc Ross said he was shocked Amukamara was still there. Shocked, I tell you!

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“I heard the (fans) chanting, “We want Prince. We want Prince,’” Amukamara said. “I still didn’t think I was going to go here, because I hadn’t talked to anybody with the Giants. But that’s how the draft game works. It’s pretty tricky like that.

“It’s very odd, but coach (Tom) Coughlin, when he called me, seemed like a great guy and a great coach. I heard he’s pretty stern and doesn’t like to joke around a lot. I can get used to it, but I think my personality will probably loosen him up a little bit.”

And if Amukamara actually believes that last part, he really is still dreaming.

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:09 pm

Tom Brady understands his place in labor history

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- Tom Brady hasn't said much, if anything, about his signing on to be the lead plaintiff in Brady v. NFL, but during an appearance at an Under Armour event at Chelsea Piers in New York City, he made it clear that his decision to put his name at the forefront of wasn't really that difficult.

"Was it difficult?" Brady asked. "I'm always trying to figure out what the right thing is.

"Look, I've been very fortunate as a player to sign the contracts that I've signed and to be in the position I've been in as a leader and to lead."

Brady clearly understands his place in history too; being the lead plaintiff in such a case not only means he'll go down in legal history, but also in terms of someone who represents the interests of the players at large. In fact, he directly cited the man who introduced him at the Under Armour event, Boomer Esiason, and Boomer's role as lead plaintiff in the 1987 labor case, and how previous players helped pave the way for the current players to achieve what they have.

"[I'm in my position] because of Boomer Esiason, who was the lead plaintiff in 1987, and all the work he fought for current players," Brady said. "So it's really a lasting legacy that Boomer's had. So when the opportunity was presented to me and someone like Peyton [Manning] and Drew Brees who are also very notable players in the league -- you know, we represent the entire group."
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The Pats' quarterback didn't take a contentious stance, though, with respect to the differences that the two sides have in reaching an agreement. Rather, he seemed to apply the "Patriot Way" to the discussion of what is absolutely a heated legal disagreement.

"I think that's the important thing to realize is that we're trying to bring reason and compromise to a very challenging agreement," Brady said. "This is not something that's easy. There's a lot that goes into it. I know a lot of people are hard at work. DeMaurice Smith has had a lot of meetings at Roger Goodell. Mr. Kraft is heavily involved, and everyone's trying to accomplish the same thing.

"Hopefully there's an agreement at some point soon."

More than anything else, Brady truly seemed to embrace and understand what his role as lead plaintiff entails. That's great news for the players he's representing, from his teammates to Brees/Manning and down all the way to relatively-unknown quarterbacks who might be drafted in the sixth round.

But considering his high profile in this issue, the calm rhetoric and optimism he exhibited -- while not out of the ordinary -- is great news for the same people for whom he was putting on event: the fans.

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 11:18 am

Jags predictably downplay QB controversy

Posted by Andy Benoit

Jack Del Rio said everything you’d expect him to say shortly after his team traded up to draft Blaine Gabbert Thursday night. “Our intention is to have David (Garrard) as our quarterback and have Blaine come in and push David,” he told a group of reporters that included Vito Stellino of the Florida Times Union.

Jags GM Gene Smith, “David is our quarterback. We’ve got Luke McCown behind him. He’s a proven starter."
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Smith’s sentiments about McCown are just plain wrong. There’s a difference between being a proven starter and being a guy who has filled in under center a time or two. And Garrard is not Smith’s quarterback; Garrard is the guy that the previous GM hitched his wagon to before getting fired.

So yes, it’s a quarterback controversy in Jacksonville. But really, the Jags had a controversy beforehand. After all, they had to have realized at some point last season that Garrard isn’t their long-term guy. The difference now is there is a new quarterback in town who makes the controversy an actual competition.

“We’ll have fun. C’mon. That’s part of the deal,’’ Del Rio said. “We all know you guys are going to have fun with it. ... We’ll keep the focus on the team. We have two good young men who are going to be battling. They’re the right kind of guys. Very unselfish.’’

Garrard should understand how this all works. Remember, he’s the guy who beat out former No. 7 overall pick Byron Leftwich.

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