Tag:Will Brinson
Posted on: February 28, 2012 4:16 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 4:49 pm
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NFL kicks off Wednesday 9/5 to avoid Obama speech

The NFL's popular, but not that popular. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

For the past few years, the NFL's kicked off each season with a Thursday-night game featuring the previous year's Super Bowl champion. This year, though, the kickoff will be on a Wednesday, to avoid Barack Obama's scheduled speech at the Democratic National Convention, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Tuesday.

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The specific Wednesday in question September 5, 2012 and it will feature the Giants, as expected. It'll take place on NBC, beginning at 8:30 pm ET, with an NFL Kickoff 2012 special airing at 7:30 pm ET.

Currently the Giants are scheduled to host the Saints, Buccaneers, Browns, Steelers, their NFC East division foes and ... the Packers. Green Bay, as the 2010 champion, makes the most sense as a potential opening game for the Giants.

The NFL has yet to announce that however, but made the information about the move from a Thursday to a Wednesday public early on.

So much for the idea that the NFL was more powerful than the President.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 3:11 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 4:41 pm
 

Report: Teams like idea of Manning, Wayne package

Manning and Wayne could end up playing together again. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

It's presumed that by March 13, when NFL free agency opens, that Peyton Manning will no longer be a member of the Colts. Reggie Wayne, our ninth-ranked free-agent wideout, will be available. We've previously floated the idea that Wayne and Manning could team up again in a new location.

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And according to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, that's an idea that interests several teams potentially in the market for the legendary quarterback.

King cites an NFL source who says that Manning "would love to see it happen," and reports that "at least two potential suitor teams would seriously consider" making a run at Wayne in order to "lure" Manning if/when he becomes a free agent.

The potential suitors are exactly who'd you expect (in order that King lists them): the Dolphins, Jets, Seahawks, Redskins, Cardinals and Chiefs. (The Chiefs, by the by, are coming on strong as a darkhorse candidate to upgrade at the quarterback position.)

Miami makes a lot of sense, as they have a good offensive line, decent running game, and adding Wayne and Manning to Brandon Marshall and Davonne Bess would make for offensive fireworks in South Beach, something owner Stephen Ross has said he wants.

The Jets appear to be a longer shot, but they've been down the veteran-quarterback road before, as the first post-Packers team to land Brett Favre. King believes they'd even be willing to cut Santonio Holmes and take his cap hit, if it meant landing Wayne to secure Manning.

The Seahawks and Cardinals are in a reactionary mode against the 49ers after a successful year, and Rod Graves and Ken Whisenhunt wouldn't rule out the possibility of going after Manning when speaking at the combine. Wayne would quickly be the best receiver in Seattle, while in Arizona he'd probably post monster numbers while teams focused on Larry Fitzgerald.

Washington makes sense as a destination for Manning because of Dan Snyder's penchant for acquiring big-name talent. And the Redskins could use a top-end wide receiver as well. But Mike Shanahan's system is terrible for Manning, and he'd have to be willing to change it to suit a less-mobile quarterback. Additionally, if Washington can procure Robert Griffin III, even if it costs a reported four draft picks, they might actually have more success right away.

And then there's KC, who might have to deal with tampering charges before they can even consider Manning as a potential free-agent acquisition. KC's got the hardest row to hoe in terms of landing Manning or RG3, but there are some nice pieces in place there and, as Romeo Crennel (unwisely) said, they'd be "crazy not to consider" at least trying to get him.

Of course, all of this speculation is null and void if Manning can't prove to teams that he's healthy by the time he starts to work out with free-agent suitors. But if he shows that he can play, anyone who wants to acquire him would be wise to first obtain Manning's favorite target of the past decade.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:16 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 5:35 pm
 

Report: Skins willing to deal 1sts, more for RG3

So happy together? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We already know that St. Louis "will" trade out of the No. 2 spot in April's NFL Draft. Even before reports of that, there was little debate about the Rams pulling in a haul for Robert Griffin III. That's because, as Clark Judge wrote recently, the Rams are sitting on a "gold mine."

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But we haven't heard any specific potential trade options for RG3. Until Tuesday, when we heard a report about what the Redskins are willing to offer in exchange for the second-overall pick. According to Mike Jones of the Washington Post, Dan Snyder's team is willing to part with two No. 1 picks "plus other selections in the middle to early rounds" in exchange for the rights to RG3.

Presumably, the Redskins would use their No.1 pick in 2012's draft (sixth overall) and package it with their No. 1 pick in 2012 (currently undetermined) and try to create a package similar to what the Giants used in 2004 when they acquired Eli Manning from the Chargers. At that time, the Giants gave up two No. 1 picks (one of which was Philip Rivers) plus a third- and fourth-round pick in that draft in exchange for Manning.

Two things on this. One (and this is something I never thought I'd say), RG3 would be a perfect fit with Mike Shanahan's offense. According to Pro Football Focus, Rex Grossman threw downfield (20 times or more) the 12th-most number of times of any quarterback in the NFL last year. He did that without starting every single game and he did it without being accurate. Rolling out of the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield before throwing a laser is what RG3 does best. It would be fun to watch and he would be quite successful.

But then there's point No. 2: I'm not sure that two first-round picks is enough to land Griffin. If the Redskins are getting their initial salvo out there publicly this soon, it's entirely possible that someone else is willing to package an additional first-round pick in order to land the coveted Baylor prospect.

However, the timing of this should be clear: the Redskins would like to get something locked down before free agency. Though they wouldn't be technically allowed to make a deal until the draft approached, the Redskins and Rams could have a handshake agreement on a deal prior to that. And Washington and Mike Shanahan can't go into 2012 without a quarterback.

If they get to free agency and don't have a sense that they can get Griffin on draft day, they absolutely need to pursue someone in free agency that can improve their play at quarterback immediately, whether that's someone like Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn or just Kyle Orton.

The question then becomes whether or not Washington's potential offer of four very good picks qualifies as enough for Jeff Fisher and Les Snead to take Griffin off the trading block and come to an agreement on the terms of a draft-day trade prior to the start of free agency. That's risky as the value of the No. 2 pick could continue to skyrocket as the draft approaches.

But if teams fill their quarterback issues via free agency, it's also possible that the value of the pick could drop or remain stagnant. By striking early, it's possible the Rams could get the best-possible deal well in advance of the draft, and really begin planning out how to fill their roster with high-end talent.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:52 am
 

Report: Browns 'unlikely' to tag Peyton Hillis

Hillis isn't likely a candidate for a franchise tag. (US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

When the Browns went out and signed D'Qwell Jackson to a new five-year deal last week, it seemed like a good indication that they'd use their franchise tag elsewhere. Perhaps running back Peyton Hillis would be a target.

But that doesn't appear to be the case. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Browns are "unlikely" to use the tag on Hillis, but may still attempt to re-sign the running back before free agency begins on March 13.

The price for tagging a running back is $7.7 million, all of which is guaranteed, so it shouldn't be shocking that the Browns will avoid using that on Hillis. Not only would that be overpaying for his 2012 production, but it would be giving Hillis too high a number for baseline negotiations going forward.

Hills struggled badly in 2012, after a breakout 2011 season that landed him on the Madden cover. He played in just 10 games last year, ran for just 587 yards and saw his rushing yards per attempt dip nearly a full yard, from 4.4 in 2010 to 3.6 last season. He found the end zone just three times in 2011 after 13 total touchdowns in 2010. And he had reported issues with his contract off the field as well.

A more likely candidate for the Browns tag? Their kicker, Phil Dawson. Cabot writes that it's "doubtful" the Browns use the tag at all. If Dawson, who turned 37 in January, were to get the tag from the Browns, he'd be guaranteed $3.8 million.

While that's not outrageous, there's something about "using a franchise tag on a 37-year-old kicker" that just screams "we won't contend this year."

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:45 am
 

Donald Driver on 'Dancing With the Stars'

Driver was already a fan favorite before appearing on 'Dancing With the Stars.' (US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

It's apparently an aging wide receiver tradition to appear on Dancing With the Stars these days: Donald Driver of the Green Bay Packers will fill the "football slot" on the 14th season of ABC's inexplicably popular reality show about famous people dancing.

The announcement was made on Good Morning America Tuesday, and Driver will join a group of folks that includes Jack Wagner of "Melrose Place," Jaleel White of "Family Matters," and Melissa Gilbert of "Little House on the Prairie." (This was a white-hot group in 1999.)

Drivers, who recently re-worked his contract with the Packers, will be paired with professional dancer Peta Murgatroyd, who's returning for her second season as a pro on DWTS.

He'll look to follow in the footsteps of Steelers wideout Hines Ward, who won Season 12 of DWTS. Jason Taylor, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Warren Sapp, Chad Ochocinco, Kurt Warner and Jerry Rice have all appeared on the show previously.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 8:45 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 11:33 am
 

2012 NFL Combine: Monday's winners and losers

Poe looked light for a 348-pound beast. (US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

The media section of the combine is done and we've made our way back from Indy. But that doesn't mean there aren't still judgments to make. On Monday, the defensive linemen and linebackers worked out on the field and, generally speaking, it was a good day for some guys. But not for everyone. Let's examine.

Winners

Dontari Poe: The Memphis defensive lineman's stock is skyrocketing right now. Poe was great in interviews over the weekend, ran a 4.98 40 time, led all defensive linemen with 44 reps on the 225-pound bench and had a respectable 29.5 vertical. A veteran offensive-line coach told our colleage Bruce Feldman that he took plays off, but "has definite first-round talent." Poe was previously considered likely to land in the latter part of the first round, but with the Panthers desperate to improve their run defense and pass rush by plugging a powerful defensive tackle in the middle of their defensive line, Poe's a sneaky candidate for a top-10 pick.

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Melvin Ingram: Ingram's our top outside-linebacker prospect and currently the 16th-overall prospect in the draft. That shouldn't change after his Monday combine workouts. Ingram ran a 4.79 40, benched 28 reps and flashed athleticism with a 34.5 vertical jump and a 109 inch broad jump. Ingram also surprised in his interview portion; we'd spoken with him on the phone and weren't particularly impressed, but he was quite engaging with the media on Saturday. Ingram could quite easily push himself into the top-15 of the draft.

Luke Kuechley: Did you know that last year, the Boston College linebacker had seven games with 15 tackles or more? His lowest output of the season was nine tackles in BC's final game, but he managed to pick up a 45-yard interception for a touchdown. And that was coming after he injured his elbow late in the season against NC State. Keuchley was fantastic at the podium Sunday, and even better on Monday. He ran a 4.58 official 40 time, the third-fastest time for all linebackers. He pressed 225 pounds 27 times. He had the third-highest vertical jump at 27.5 inches. And he had the fifth-highest long jump at 123 inches. If the only knock on Keuchley was his athleticism, what's there to dislike now?

Mychal Kendricks: Kendricks rated as the sixth-best inside linebacker on NFLDraftScout.com's prospect board coming into the combine. His stock got a huge boost as he dominated Monday's combine workouts for linebackers. Kendricks finished first in the broad jump (127 inches), first in the vertical jump (39.5 inches), first in the 40 (4.47) and he also benched 225 pounds 24 times. His workout in Indy could very well make him the third inside linebacker off the board come April, behind only Kuechley and Alabama's Dont'a Hightower.

Nick Perry: The USC defensive end, ranked as the No. 2 DE by NDS, is tagged with the while "one-year wonder" concern and there are also issues with him potentially taking plays off. Before the combine, he was pegged as a potential late first-round pick, but he could climb draft boards between now and April. He was faster than UNC's Quinton Coples in the 40, he benched more reps and he finished with the best measurements of all defensive linemen on both the vertical jump as well as the broad jump. In a weak defensive-end class, Perry could lock himself into the first round with a strong push towards the draft.

Losers

Vontaze Burflict: When listing the weekend winners and losers from the combine, we noted "Arizona State" as a loser. Well, Burflict, the most notable Sun Devil prospect, really separated himself on Monday. And not in a good way: Burflict ran an official 5.09 40 time, which was 12th-slowest among all defensive linemen and linebackers. He was the only linebacker who topped five seconds on the 40, and as Feldman reported Monday, one scout said simply, "I wouldn't touch him." Rob Rang thinks he could be falling to into "third-day" territory for the draft.

Quinton Coples: Coples had a decent 40 time, but he was unimpressive on the broad jump (109 inches), the vertical jump (31.5 inches) and the bench press (just 19 reps). Coples is a guy that's taken heat for his on-field hustle, so seeing him come in to the combine motivated and dominate teams would've been a reason to allay some of those fears. Instead, Coples is proving that this defensive end class simply isn't that impressive.

Michael Brockers: Yesterday, Brockers was the big winner. Then Monday happened, and Brockers just didn't look like the athlete we expected him to be. As Rang noted, Brockers has "plenty of red flags" and looked surprisingly slow during his 40-yard dash, clocking a snail-like 5.36. Brockers joked on Saturday that he's seen his 40 time dip since adding weight, but he never mentioned anything about a 5.3-second range. Expecting him to blow up the workouts with his freaky athleticism, we were prepared to plop him into the No. 9 spot in our next draft to the Panthers. Now, that's much less certain.

Anyone Who Wants Robert Griffin: The Browns, Dolphins and Redskins are the three most popular landing spots for RG3. But the Seahawks and the Chiefs -- and the ever-popular "mystery team" -- are out there as well. In short, with RG3 now gone from Indy, the market is even crazier than it was before he got there. Griffin, in our mind, will go No. 2 overall. There's a 99.5 percent chance, with the only way he doesn't go second being a 0.5 percent chance that the Colts bypass Andrew Luck. And when he does, it's going to cost whoever got there a pile of picks to do so.

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Posted on: February 26, 2012 6:40 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 6:41 pm
 

2012 NFL Combine: Weekend winners and losers

Brockers stock is climbing quickly, and he hasn't even worked out yet. (US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- We broke down the winners and losers from Thursday and Friday's action -- primarily media work, -- already. Check them here.

Now let's make some knee-jerk reactions to what happened on Saturday and Sunday at the combine, when actual drills that may not actually determine whether or not someone's good at football took place.

Winners

Michael Brockers: Brockers isn't the number one defensive tackle on Devon Still's list, but Still isn't the guy evaluating the talent and making the picks in the upcoming draft. And the people who are evaluating the talent and making the picks are starting to fall in love with Brockers as a high-end talent with a ton of upside. (The NFL Network's Mike Mayock called him "special" and believes he'll end up being a "top 10-to-12 pick.") Clark Judge wrote on Saturday that Brockers is the next boom-or-bust draftee and we tend to agree with him. (The theory is he can be the next Jason Pierre-Paul; if you want to see prescience at work, check out this Prisco piece from 2010.) He's gained 80 (!) pounds since he was a freshman in college, and it's all "good" weight. He's a physical freak. And the possibility of boom is going to ramp up his draft stock.

Matt Flynn: Mike McCarthy said of Flynn: "It's his time to play." And word on the street is that the Packers won't be using their franchise tag on Flynn, primarily because it goes against the spirit of the franchise-tag rule (you're not supposed to use it with the intention of trading it). So it appears that Flynn will hit the open market and be free to sign with whatever team can't make a move up to grab Robert Griffin III with the Rams No. 2 pick.

Stephen Hill: The gigantic (6'4") Georgia Tech wide receiver wasn't even a top-five wide receiver in this class heading into the combine. And he's still behind guys like Justin Blackmon and Kendall Wright. But his stock is climbing, and it's climbing quickly. Hill looked good on pass-catching drills, and he ran the fastest 40-time of any offensive player at the combine (4.36 seconds). Hill's stock was low primarily because he played college in Paul Johnson's offense, which netted him a whopping 59 catches. In his college career! Of course, 28 of those came in 2011, when he averaged a mind-blowing 29.3 yards per catch.

Andrew Luck: It's not that Luck needed to boost his stock in the eyes of anyone. He's Andrew Luck and everyone knows he's good. But he beat out Robert Griffin III in the broad jump and he displayed a lot of athleticism that many folks forgot he had in the wake of the swooning over the 2011 Heisman winner out of Baylor. The combine represented a lot of potential downside for Luck, simply because the expectations are already so jacked up. Luck's 4.59 unofficial 40 time might sound familiar, since it's the exact same time that Cam Newton posted last year.

Kirk Cousins -- Cousins is one of the many outsiders looking in when it comes to a quarterback class that really revolves around Luck and Griffin. That's understandable. And the Michigan State grad didn't exactly make a mark as the lock-job third guy in the class over the weekend, as that honor still belongs to Ryan Tannehill. But he did make a great impression on everyone in Indy, looking sharp in the throwing drills and sounding like a 10-year NFL veteran in interviews.

Losers

Tight Ends: No one truly dominated the tight-end workouts on Saturday, but here's the thing: the potential draft picks actually have upside. You know who doesn't have upside? The list of guys on our colleague Josh Katzowitz' free-agent tight-end rankings. Many teams already have talented tight ends. But given the way that the NFL's going -- it's the year of the tight end! -- teams are going to want and land the next difference-making tight end. Is that guy in this group, which Mayock called "a bad class"? Ehhhhh. But as Pete Prisco recently wrote guys like Clemson's Dwayne Allen, Stanford's Coby Fleener and Georgia's Orson Charles will be "in demand" come draft day anyway.

Arizona State: First there was Brock Osweiler (we prefer the nickname "Brockweiler") not throwing and not running and generally not doing much. He did talk to the press and say that he gets stereotyped for being 6'7" quarterback, which, if you play at ASU, is like being stereotyped for being a billionaire. Or Jon Hamm. Then there's Vontaze Burflict, who declared himself the best linebacker in the draft ... right before he threw his coaches under the bus by saying they "messed [him] up."

Chris Rainey: Rainey's a burner, no question. That was evident when he ran the second-fastest time 40 time for running backs at the combine. Except his time was 4.45, which more than three-tenths of a second slower than Rainey said he'd run. And that's not a lot of time. But Rainey said he would "definitely" get in the 4.1 range. Nevermind that it's really hard to do that, what does it say about a guy when he's already whiffing on guarantees, before he even gets in the NFL?

Janoris Jenkins: Honesty is a good thing, especially with NFL teams who will find out about players no matter what. But that doesn't mean that Jenkins looked good when he told reporters that he has three arrests on his records and four kids at the age of 23. And even though he said he's done with marijuana "forever," there are going to be a lot more questions coming his way from teams. At least those that still even have him on their draft board.

Wideouts: It wasn't a good weekend for the wideouts, Hill excepted. Justin Blackmon didn't work out, Kendall Wright looked slow and/or was just asked about RG3, and while Michael Floyd addressed his off-field issues, it's not like he looked so sharp that everyone simply forgot about them.  This might help the Bears and teams that are actually looking for a wideout, but it's looking a lot more risky to invest an early first-round pick in a wide receiver this year.

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Posted on: February 26, 2012 5:34 pm
 

Kirkpatrick on bust: 'Wrong place and wrong time'

Kirkpatrick had to explain his arrest at the combine. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Dre Kirkpatrick made headlines shortly after the BCS title game when he was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana while in Bradenten, Florida. Earlier this month, those charges were dropped.

Kirkpatrick, who was in the passenger side of the car being driven by former Alabama football player Chris Rogers at the time of the arrest, was asked about the bust at the NFL combine and said it was a "wrong place and wrong time" thing.

"It was me being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Kirkpatrick said. "The guy that left the marijuana in the car turned himself in and didn’t want to put me in a bad situation. He signed an affidavit saying that I was unaware of the marijuana being in the car and I was unaware of it."

We're going to gloss over some of the inconsistencies here -- Who gets in a car with someone they don't know in a strange city? How did you not know a guy who played on the same football team as you did? Why does the police report indicate that Kirkpatrick and Rogers were both "under the influence of drugs"? -- in favor of focusing on another Kirkpatrick quote.

This quote came in response to being asked if he'd had any touchdowns scored on him in 2011.

“One," Kirkpatrick said. "The Florida game. It was the first one I have ever given up."

Ha, ha. Ever. That's funny. Because, you know, it means for the entirety of Kirkpatrick's life. And surely that's not right. Turns out, it's true.

"Yes, sir. Ever," Kirkpatrick said.

The play in question was an Andre Debose 65-yard touchdown catch from John Brantley on the Gators first play from scrimmage.

“He ran a fade route on me and I was playing over aggressive," Kirkpatrick said. "Just didn’t measure my steps."

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