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Tag:Andrew Luck
Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:37 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:19 pm
 

Luck, Colts could be better than we think in '12

Can the Colts draw inspriation from what other team's have done with young QBs? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Colts and Peyton Manning are done. Which means that the Andrew Luck era began unofficially Wednesday afternoon (assuming, of course, Robert Griffin III doesn't surge to the top of Indy's draft board in the coming weeks). The knee-jerk reaction is to think that a post-Manning Indianapolis will look like something out of "The Book of Eli" -- an apocalyptic NFL wasteland with no hope of salvation anytime soon. Except that there are recent examples from around the league that should give the Colts and their fans hope. (We talked about it in the most recent Pick-6 Podcast, embedded below for your convenience.)


At its most basic, success with a young quarterback comes down to some combination of: a) a good defense, b) a strong special teams, c) a reliable running game, and, oh, it doesn't hurt if said young quarterback is d) mature -- both mentally and physically -- beyond his years.

As it stands, the Colts, should they draft Luck, will have d). It's up to owner Jim Irsay, new GM Ryan Grigson, and new head coach Chuck Pagano to take care of a)-c).  It's a tall order, for sure, but not impossible. Here are five examples that should give the Colts and Luck hope in 2012:

1. Baltimore Ravens

Pagano comes to Indy after serving as the Ravens' defensive coordinator last season. So he knows first-hand just how important a good defense can be for a young quarterback -- particularly one whose offensive coordinator doesn't seem to understand the downfalls of airing it out 50 times a game when the team's best player sits on the bench.

Luckily, Pagano hired Bruce Arians as his coordinator. Arians was Peyton Manning's first quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis, and he spent the last five seasons as Ben Roethlisberger's OC in Pittsburgh. He knows something about bringing along a young, talented quarterback.

Manning era ends in Indy
"[Arians] understands how to develop quarterbacks, especially young quarterbacks," Pagano told CBSSports.com in Indianapolis during Super Bowl week. "Bruce and I go back a long time. His philosophy matches our philosophy, and the pieces we're going to put around him [match] his passion and energy. He's a brilliant guy, he thinks outside the box so I feel really fortunate that Bruce is with us." 

The first order of business, however, is getting the defense in order. The Colts re-signed Robert Mathis, but appear set to cut Dwight Freeney loose for salary-cap reasons. Pagano will install a 3-4 defense which will replace the soft Cover-2 the team had been running for years. Even a mediocre defense to go along with something resembling a running game would go a long way in making Luck's rookie season manageable.

The last time the Colts started a rookie quarterback was in 1998 after they drafted Manning first overall. The year before, Indy ranked 23rd in total efficiency, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. The offense was 24th, the defense 25th and special teams 25th. In 2011, without Manning, the Colts were similarly awful: 31st overall, 27th in offense, 27th in defense, and 31st in special teams.

Of course, Manning was 3-13 as a rookie but his defense didn't do him any favors: they ranked 28th in '98. If Pagano can cobble together a defense and couple that with a decent running game, Luck's transition to NFL quarterback could go much smoother than conventional wisdom currently suggests.

2. Atlanta Falcons

In 2007, Michael Vick was in a heap of trouble and out of football, first-year Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino quit after 13 games to take the Arkansas job, and the starting quarterbacks that season included Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich. It's a miracle they managed four wins.

In 2008, owner Arthur Blank hired Mike Smith and the team drafted Matt Ryan. They won 11 games, and Ryan threw for 3,440 yards (61 percent completion rate), 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

In the Falcons' case, the one-year turnaround wasn't because the defense drastically improved. The unit was 28th in '07 and 25th in '08 -- instead it was the … passing game, which was fourth behind the Chargers, Colts and Saints. Part of that was because then-Falcons OC Mike Mularkey put Ryan in positions to succeed. But it was also a function of Ryan exceeding everyone's expectations.

We talked to him in January 2009, shortly after his rookie season ended, and asked if the Falcons had eased him into the playbook.

"To my knowledge, we had the full offense in," he said. "… From the start, we had a bunch of different things in, and I had a good amount of responsibility at the line of scrimmage to do some different things. I think as the season went on, we found what we were as an offense. Because there were a bunch of new people working together and trying to find the rhythm of our offense."

While a stout defense and a reliable running game are a young QB's friends, ultimately, it comes down to assimilating a ton of information and making plays you're asked to make.

3. San Francisco 49ers

If there's a blueprint from which Pagano should work, it might be the 49ers. By the 2010 offseason, Alex Smith was roundly considered a bust. The 2005 first-overall pick had, at various points in his career, shared snaps with Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill and Troy Smith, and San Francisco had never won more than eight games in Smith's six seasons heading into 2011. Then Jim Harbaugh replaced Mike Singletary as head coach and everything changed.

But it wasn't that Smith suddenly morphed into a franchise quarterback (it was the best season of his career but he was more game manager than late-game winner). The offense improved to 18th in 2011 from 24th the season before, but it was the defense and special teams that were the difference. The latter improved from 13th to third, and the latter went from 22nd to 2nd.

4. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals dumped chatty veterans (Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco) and were forced to find a new quarterback when Carson Palmer chose retirement over returning to Cincy. So the team took the draft's best wide receiver in Round 1 (A.J. Green), and landed their next franchise quarterback a round later (Andy Dalton).

Dalton was considered a heady player in college and that distinction followed him in the weeks and months leading up to the draft. Turns out, it was true. Like Ryan in Atlanta, Dalton not only knew where to go with the ball, he was accurate and timely with his throws. It's one thing to understand what the defense is trying to do; it's something else entirely for a rookie to actually do it with a blitzing linebacker in his face.

5. Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton wasn't the beneficiary of a good (or even slightly below average) defense and the Panthers, 2-14 the year before he arrived, still won six games. (They lost five games by seven points or less.) His success surprised everybody, even folks whose job it was to breakdown film for a living. Here's NFL Films' Greg Cosell in December 2011:

"What was remarkable about Newton was he demonstrated many of these traits of an NFL passer right away.  Beginning in Week 1 against Arizona, he read coverage, he knew where to go with the football, he was decisive and accurate. The next week he played the Super Bowl champion Packers and was truly impressive, showing NFL attributes beginning with poise and composure in the pocket. More importantly, he did not leave the pocket to run when the bodies started closing it down. He stood tall and delivered the ball in the face of pressure. He showed the willingness to make stick throws into tight windows, a necessary trait in critical long yardage situations against sophisticated NFL coverages."

And Newton came from a run-option offense at Auburn. Luck was in a pro-style offense at Stanford, and although he's plenty athletic, he was a pocket passer.

***

None of this means that the Colts are destined for the playoffs next year. But given how other teams have managed their young quarterbacks, it's reasonable to think that Luck could have early success in Indy. After all, if the only difference in Indy between annual double-digit wins and the playoffs, and last season's 2-14 record is Manning, then why can't the Colts win seven, eight or nine games with Luck in 2012?

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 8:16 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 8:22 am
 

Manning simply too expensive for Colts to keep

In the end, Irsay would have had to pay Manning $35.5 million without knowing for sure Manning is healthy. (Getty Images)
By Pat Kirwan

In the end it wasn't salary cap space but real cash that ends the Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis.

Latest news at Peyton's place
The $28 million bonus due the last second of the last day of the 2011 league year and the $7.5 million salary in 2012 is a $35.5 million hit without proof positive that Manning can play again. The 2011 portion of the new contract that had a $20 million signing bonus as well as a $3 million roster bonus and $3.4 million salary without a physical was his "legacy" money for a HOF career.

It didn't hurt that the Colts wind up in the spot to draft Andrew Luck and make the transition from Manning a little easier to tolerate.

The Dolphins are still looking for the Dan Marino replacement. The way the Colts structured the contract really indicates that the line in the sand was drawn for March 2012 as to how much more risk the Colts would take. Without playing a down in 2011 and not really ever being able to practice, it is over. I believe Manning will play again and now he hits free agency.

No modern day quarterback in the Hall of Fame that left his original team and joined another club ever took that new team to a Super Bowl. Joe Montana got close with the Chiefs but lost in the conference championship game. Could Peyton be the first to do it? I wouldn't bet against him.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:57 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 9:59 pm
 

Jones wants Romo, not trading up for Luck, RG3

The only way the Cowboys will have RG3 under center is if Tony Romo changes his name. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

There's a perception that Tony Romo isn't an elite NFL quarterback and it comes primarily from one thing: he's been underwhelming in big moments. The Week 1 fourth-quarter interception against the Jets, the two pick-sixes against the Lions, not to mention head coach Jason Garrett opting to run instead of pass late in the game against the Patriots. These are three examples from the 2011 season (all three losses, by the way) and it's enough for some fans to give up on Romo altogether.

One enterprising soul even asked DallasCowboys.com writer Josh Ellis about the possibility the team would trade up in April's draft and take Robert Griffin III.

Ellis' answer, in part: "(Owner and GM) Jerry Jones explicitly said last week he wouldn't trade Romo for Griffin or Andrew Luck. So on draft day, just hope Griffin doesn't end up in Washington."

The best response to Jones' decree comes courtesy our buddy, PFT.com's Michael David Smith: "Some might see that as further evidence of Jones’s 50 concussions…"

But Jones' son, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones, said as much in comments to the Star-Telegram.

"There are not many better than him out there," he said. "I hear it -- he hasn't gotten it done yet. I hear it, all of that. But you are not going to find much better than Tony Romo. Every year he improves. As he gets better, our chances get better."

Wait, Tiger isn't a Navy SEAL? (US PRESSWIRE)
Jones, it turns out, it's just making stuff up. Romo ranked fourth in Football Outsiders' QB efficiency metric behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. The difference: those players have combined for five Super Bowl rings and their teams all made the playoffs last season. The Cowboys went 8-8 and lost four of their last five games (and their Week 17 no-show performance against the Giants cost them the division and a spot in the postseason).

Romo, meanwhile, has two years left on the six-year, $67.4 million contract he signed in 2007. Although the two sides have yet to discuss an extension, Stephen Jones' comments to the Star-Telegram says plenty.

"Tony is going to play a lot more than two more years," he said. "We are going to take care of Tony. Tony is going to be a Cowboy."

Silver lining: maybe some of Tiger Woods' Navy SEALS training rubbed off on Romo during the Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this month. It can't hurt, right?

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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 10:39 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 1:23 pm
 

RG3's official 40 time is 4.41, Luck in 4.67

Griffin keeps wowing everyone in Indy. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- If you thought it was impossible for NFL people to fall more in love with Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, you thought wrong. RG3 proved exactly why on Sunday, shredding the 40-yard dash and looking as fast as expected en route to running an official 4.41 40-yard dash.

Andrew Luck, not exactly known as a speedster, was perhaps more impressive with his unofficial 4.59 40 time, later changed to a 4.67 official time.

Griffin's time (both officially and unofficially) was the second-fastest by a quarterback since 2006, with only Reggie McNeal's time of 4.35 in 2006 beating him out. Russell Wilson of Wisconsin ran a 4.50 40 for the second-fastest time of the day, and Jordan Jefferson of LSU ran a 4.59.

The bump up from unofficial to official doesn't matter too much; Griffin got below 4.4 seconds on an unofficial time and that's all people around the league really need to see.

Griffin ran track at Baylor (and in high school) and his performance at the combine -- on the field, in front of the mic, wherever -- has only continued to cement his status as a lock for top-five status in the NFL draft.

It would be stunning, honestly, if RG3 fell further than the second pick. There's a strong belief that the Rams will hold an auction for the No. 2 pick and that someone will pay a hefty price to move up and grab Griffin.

Which is why folks in St. Louis should be enjoying this almost as much as teams who are chasing Griffin are.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 8:43 pm
 

Luck would 'absolutely' play behind Manning

Luck and RG3 both said they'd be willing to sit behind Manning next season. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Even if they're not throwing this weekend, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are saying all the right things at the combine. Two months from the NFL Draft, they're considered the two best quarterbacks, and there's the strong possibility that both are off the board with the first two picks.

Most people -- from fans half-paying attention to draft experts -- expect the Colts to take Luck first overall. The former Stanford star has been called the best prospect since John Elway. Given all the upheaval in Indianapolis right now -- from the new front office and coaching staff to the speculation that Peyton Manning could be released in the coming weeks ahead of a $28 million roster bonus -- there's also reason to believe that Luck, like Manning in 1998, would be the starter from Day 1.

Despite the writing on the wall, Colts owner Jim Irsay said recently that he "would love to have" Manning back in Indy. We're guessing those comments were more PR cover than heartfelt, but either way, Luck was asked Friday about the possibility of playing behind Peyton next season.

“If I have the opportunity to learn from a guy like that, of course you’re going to take advantage of it," he said. "Absolutely. … Peyton was my football hero. That’s who I modeled myself after," he continued. "You never replace a guy like that."

Except you do replace a guy like that, perhaps soon. And many Colts fans accepted that reality when the team was on it's way to a 2-14 season without Manning, who had multiple neck surgeries in recent years and his football-playing future is still in question.

There's also this: the organization is free to sign Luck starting Friday.

Griffin, who sported Ninja Turtle socks when he spoke with the media Friday, was also asked about playing behind Manning.

"Yeah I would embrace it," he said according to CBSSports.com's Will Brinson, who is in Indianapolis this week. "It's not very often you get chances to play -- or be on a team -- with a legend like that and learn from a guy like Peyton.

"Definitely I'd come in and compete to try and be the starter, but I wouldn't be upset if Peyton was the starting quarterback of the team I'm on. It would be an honor to sit behind him. I'd hold that clipboard with pride. I'm not going to come in and demand to be the starter."

It's a fantastic answer to questions that are likely irrelevant. We suppose there is some small probability that Manning could return, but all indications are that he's taken his last snap for the Colts.

"Who knows what happens?” Luck asked Friday.

Irsay does, that's who. And we're guessing Luck will be under center when the Colts take the field in Week 1 of the 2012 season.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 2:59 pm
 

Luck, Griffin won't throw at combine this week

GriffinBy Josh Katzowitz

We already knew that Robert Griffin III wasn’t planning on throwing at the scouting combine -- he confirmed that today in his talk with the media (while wearing Ninja Turtle socks!) by saying he didn’t want to throw to unfamiliar receivers.

And while there was a report that Andrew Luck wanted to throw but was told not to do so by the Colts (the team denies saying that), he confirmed today that he also won’t be showcasing his arm this weekend.

As CBSSports.com’s Clark Judge notes, Luck said he made the decision not to throw after conferring with his father.

Also, Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon won’t be running the 40 at the combine. As NFLDraftScout.com’s Rob Rang writes, Blackmon injured his hamstring last week and though Blackmon said he might participate in a few short routes during receiver drills, he “won't do anything this week that requires ‘opening up’ and threaten his ability to perform at the Cowboys' March 7 Pro Day.”

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:45 am
 

2012 NFL Combine Day 1: Winners and losers

Whatever you say, Mr. Ryan. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Forgive us for not primarily focusing on draft-related players in this edition of knee-jerk judgments. But on the first day of the NFL combine, there were relatively few players of note to talk to; none of the interior linemen made appearances with the media, there were some lonely kickers and punters present, and not all of the tight ends showed up.

Most of the media sessions were spent chatting up various general manages and coaches, every single one of whom was asked about Peyton Manning and/or Andrew Luck. Or their own quarterback.

Winners

Andrew Luck: Luck isn't even in Indianapolis yet (that we know of) and he's already getting swooned over, as Mike Freeman wrote earlier on Thursday. The only flaw that people can find is his arm strength, and even that's a stretch. More good news is that his former coach, Jim Harbaugh, thinks he'll handle the pressure of all the expectations surrounding him just fine. Don't expect the hypemobile to drop speed between now and late April.

St. Louis Rams
: On Thursday night, we told a St. Louis radio station that Jeff Fisher would be sitting back and smoking a cigar by the time Robert Griffin III finished running his 40-yard dash. That's because Fisher and the Rams will be holding an auction for Griffin, the clear-cut, second-best (if second ...) quarterback in the draft. Everyone in Indy's glowing about the kid and he hasn't arrived yet either. And everyone interested should get involved. If the Browns, Dolphins and Redskins don't get involved, they're doing themselves a disservice, because RG3 is going to good in the NFL. Make the move, pay the picks and reap the benefits. Fisher's willing to do just that.

Green Bay Packers: There seems to be a lot of speculation about teams wanting Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn around Indy right now. (The Browns, Dolphins and Seahawks could all be interested parties.) Now that Green Bay's locked up Jermichael Finley for two more years, they can, if they want, apply the franchise tag to Flynn and then trade him for the best offer they get from one of the interested teams. As long as they get more than whatever the compensatory pick would be, they win in this deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Shortly after Kevin Colbert stated that he wanted wide receiver Mike Wallace to retire as a Steeler, Pittsburgh managed to restructure Ben Roethlisberger's contract. Making Ben more expensive in the future might not help in the future, but it means right now the Steelers can keep Mike Wallace. The No. 1 wideout in Pittsburgh's gotten flak as the heat's cranked up on the possibility of him leaving, but the fact remains that he's the team's best wideout. Antonio Brown is a stud -- the only guy who we know that loves Brown more than we do is fantasy expert Dave Richard -- and he'll keep improving. But Brown doesn't become team MVP without Wallace keeping top cornerbacks away from his side of the field.

LaRon Landry: Holy muscles, Batman. Did he hijack Ryan Braun's FedEx package or something? We kid, we kid. (But no, seriously: we're joking.) On the first day of young football playing fellas flexing their muscles for the public, Landry stole the show with his ripped Twitter pics.

Losers

Jonathan Martin: Forgive us for not loving everyone out of Stanford, or for not giving Martin credit for having confidence. But the athletic offensive tackle won't be participating in most of the drills at the combine, because of food poisoning. (We asked him what he ate, and he didn't remember, but said it was in Arizona. Fear not, consumers of spicy shrimp cocktails.) Martin also repeatedly said he's the best tackle available in the draft, and said "without a doubt" he's better than Matt Kalil. Competition is fun, and confidence is good, but we're not sure why he's talking a big game if he's not participating in the drills.

Mark Sanchez: As Clark Judge noted, "Sanchez should be worried." That's because Rex Ryan came out and made no bold guarantees (a staple of the combine for Ryan) regarding the job security of his starting quarterback. It's OK for Rex to downplay the interest the Jets could have in Peyton Manning; Manning's not a free agent yet, and there are roughly 25 NFL teams that will at least discuss what Manning could do to their franchise. But the lack of guarantees for Sanchez during a tumultuous offseason should be concerning for the Jets current starting quarterback.

Kevin Kolb: Like Sanchez, Kolb didn't exactly get ringing endorsements from the guys who cut his checks. Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves didn't explicitly say they'd think about dumping Kolb (due a roster bonus on March 17) if Manning became available, but they sure didn't slam the door on the idea. 

Tight Ends: This is the new position that's redefining the NFL, right? Well, um, here's the problem (as also noted by CBSSports.com's own Pete Prisco): where were these guys during their big combine day? Rob Gronkowski was the story during the Super Bowl, and for a week after. Jimmy Graham shattered records. Vernon Davis was the guy who made Alex Smith great. And Orson Charles, the third-rated tight end by NFLDraftScout.com, said he's happy to sit and learn behind someone like Tony Gonzalez?Love the attitude. Love it, and Gonzo's the man. But if you're a coming into college and someone tries to steer you away from playing tight end in college, don't listen to them. Or listen to them and stop playing basketball?

Stevie Johnson: We've thought he'd get the franchise tag from Buffalo at minimum. But in listening to Bills head coach Chan Gailey, that's just not happening. Or it might; but Gailey's description of Johnson was quintessential "we're sorry to lose Stevie." He said he wouldn't miss Stevie until Stevie was gone and then cited the "business" of the game. Those aren't the words of a coach who's pumped to be celebrating a new contract for his franchise wideout.

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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