1. Cornerback Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman were regularly toasted last season as the pass defense set various franchise records for futility. The Cowboys are hoping that Rob Ryan’s aggressive scheming will jump start a unit that stalled under Wade Phillips, but if the corners fail to rebound in 2011, Dallas will be looking for new blood at the position in 2012. Newman is expensive and aging rapidly, making him a likely cap casualty. Nickelback Orlando Scandrick is in his contract year. There were rumors leading up to the 2011 NFL Draft that Dallas was looking to trade up and grab Patrick Peterson. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are similar rumors involving Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick and South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore on the eve of the ’12 Draft, assuming the Cowboys don’t sign a potential free agent like Cortland Finnegan or Leon Hall.
Eli Manning’s comments that he is a top five quarterback in the league left me wondering where I would rank him. My order went like this Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Eli Manning, and Matt Schaub. I even debated placing Matt Schaub ahead of Eli Manning but the tie goes to the guy with a ring. What I realized about my list was that Phillip Rivers was my 6th rated QB and Eli Manning was my 9th. Is there really that much difference between the two that shaped the 2004 NFL Draft?
This debate will forever wage on. The trade in the 2004 NFL Draft sent Eli Manning to the New York Giants and Phillip Rivers (and picks that turned out to be Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding) to the San Diego Chargers. Eli’s refusal to play for the Chargers helped the Chargers acquire enough talent to make them a legitimate contender for many years. But who really won in this trade? Read the rest of this entry » «Eli Manning vs. Phillip Rivers: The Debate Rages On»
The New York Giants have endured a rough last 24 hours with a host of injuries to productive players.
First, stud CB Terrell Thomas was lost for the season on a freak injury that caused him to tear his ACL. Thomas was pressuring the quarterback in a preseason game against Chicago when teammate Jason Pierre-Paul leg whipped him causing an end to Thomas’ season. Thomas led the team in passes defended and interceptions in 2010 and was said to be having a very strong beginning to the 2011 season.
As if that weren’t enough, the Giants also lost DT Marvin Austin for the season to a torn pectoral muscle. The promising rookie was on the fast track to playing time with a solid preseason and training camp. Austin was the Giants second round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and they already lost first rounder Prince Amukamara for six weeks following a broken foot.
The Giants have been bitten early with the injury bug and they are getting depleted quickly before the opening of the 2011 season. The Giants secondary has lost Thomas, Amukamara, and Bruce Johnson. With Austin’s injury and Barry Cofield’s departure to Washington the Giants are hurting for depth at defensive tackle. They did go out and sign veteran DT Jimmy Kennedy to add to a unit that consists of Gabe Watson, Rocky Benard, Linval Joseph, and Chris Canty.
With the injuries mounting and questions already with the offensive line the Giants and Big Blue fans could be in for a tough season.
Every year NFL prospects rise and fall in the big games to determine conference championships, bowl bids, and rivalries. The 2012 NFL Draft is expected to be laden with underclassmen that provide upside not seen in recent years. There will be games throughout the 2011 college football season that will go a long way towards draft position and declaration for the draft. Here’s a list of games and prospects that could change the landscape of the 2012 NFL Draft:
(underclassmen in italics)
Oregon at Stanford on November 12
The Oregon defense stifled Cam Newton in the National Championship game so it will be interesting to see how the handle Andrew Luck late in the season in a game that could be for a bid into the National Championship Game. The Ducks lost some talent up front on the defensive line but I’ll be watching the Stanford offensive line, particularly Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro to see how they handle the Oregon blitz packages.
Players to watch:
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
LSU at Alabama on November 5
LSU’s defense returns 7 starters from 2010 and could challenge Alabama for the top spot in the SEC West. Both teams are loaded with talent despite having to replace top talent from the 2011 NFL Draft. This game could define Trent Richardson’s 2011 season and propel him into Heisman contention late in the season. LSU is as talented as anyone on paper and will have to prove their worth on November 5. This game could be the deciding game for a lot of junior talents on both teams as to their entrance into the 2012 NFL Draft.
Players to watch:
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
D.J. Fluker, T, Alabama
Robert Lester, S, Alabama
Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Barrett Jones, T, Alabama
Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
Russell Shepard, WR, LSU Read the rest of this entry » «Games That Could Change the Landscape of the 2012 NFL Draft»
The San Francisco 49ers have traded 2010 2nd round pick Taylor Mays to the Cincinnati Bengals for an undisclosed draft pick according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Mays was a workout warrior that impressed with his otherworldly athleticism but drew plenty of concerns about his abilities to play centerfield in the NFL. Mays has already received the infamous “bust tag” from media types as he became the odd man out in San Francisco. The 49ers picked up Madieu Williams and Donte Whitner this offseason and re-signed Dashon Goldson. A pretty good sign that you are bad in coverage is when Madieu Williams is considered an upgrade.
The Chicago Bears were in the hunt for Mays but wanted to move him from safety to linebacker.
Mays accumulated 38 tackles in 16 games for the 49ers as a rookie but never quite fit in with the team. Mays blazed the 40 yard dash at the Combine with his phenomenal straight line speed but his tight hips and lack of lateral agility plagued him in coverage situations. Mays is a threat as a special teams player but could struggle to make it as a safety in the NFL. He will be given a better opportunity in Cincinnati with Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson manning the safety spots in that defense.
Could there be a more perfect marriage than Terrelle Pryor and the Oakland Raiders?
In a lot of ways this pick makes a ton of sense for both parties. Al Davis loves him a genetic freak which Terrelle Pryor fits. Jason Campbell is in the last year of his contract. Hue Jackson has a history of being successful with QB’s.
The Raiders selected Pryor in the third round of the supplemental draft and will have to give up a third round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft because of this selection.
Four years after selecting Jamarcus Russell with the number one overall pick the Raiders are back to the drawing board with another project QB. Pryor is viewed as the ultimate project with out-of-this-world athleticism but exremely raw passing abilities. He will have to show better mechanics, abilities to read defenses, and decision making if he wants to make it in the NFL as a QB.
Pryor has said and done all the right things leading up to the supplemental draft but his past would make one believe that he may struggle in the spotlight of the NFL. I have been on record as saying Pryor’s NFL future is as a WR and not QB. We may have to wait a long time to find out whether I’m right on that one.
Ron Rivera has said all along that he would like to name a starter before week three of the preseason, so they are able to take most of the week three reps with the first team. The QB battle in Carolina between Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen has always been a stacked deck but now it appears that Rivera has chosen his ace.
On Sunday, Ron Rivera announced that Cam Newton would start against Cincinnati in week three and play three quarters. A logical mind would presume that this is the official beginning of the Cam Newton era in Carolina. Cam would have to go out on Thursday and lay the biggest egg at this point to lose the lead in race is the translation I’m taking from Rivera’s comments. Rivera did not announce Cam the week one starter as he expected to…yet.
The race between Newton and Clausen has been a dead heat throughout training camp with Clausen showing improvement from an abysmal season in his rookie season. He failed to take advantage of a poor showing by Newton in his first career start which probably made this decision much easier for Rivera. Had Clausen lit up Miami after taking over for Newton after the half, this decision would have weighed on Rivera past his Sunday announcement.
I think this one is a wrap and Newton is your week one starter, Carolina. The only question that remains is how long is the hook. Carolina and Jerry Richardson invested a lot of money into this team in the offseason and Cam can only put butts in seats so long before the losing starts to take it’s toll. Clausen is probably in the best possible position for himself as he can come in and be the potential savior if Cam struggles. If Cam succeeds, he did enough to prove himself worthy of another team taking a long look at him.
Tim Tebow was viewed by many as not only the future of the Broncos organization but possibly the present. It appears the Broncos have come full circle from that notion.
Kyle Orton won’t be traded and will be the starter in Denver. That we know but there is still questions remaining in the Denver quarterback saga. Like who will be their backup?
In last night’s preseason game against the Bills Brady Quinn manned the 2nd team offense and impressed with his solid performance. Quinn, the former Cleveland first round pick, finished 10-16 for 135 yards, a TD, and an INT. Quinn was given four drives to Tebow’s two. Quinn’s four drives resulted in a TD, a FG, a three-and-out, and an INT which was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Tebow’s two drives were uneventful and the second drive was finished out by 4th string QB Adam Weber. So far in the two preseason games Tebow has thrown 9 passes to Quinn’s 30.
As we noted previously, Tebow’s struggles in camp have opened the door for Quinn to get 2nd team snaps and could relegate him to 3rd string QB. Ultimately, Tebow will need to leave Denver to ever have an opportunity to start in the NFL and we may have to get use to Tebow not being an NFL QB but one of the greatest college players in history.
As we noted yesterday, teams expected Pryor to impress with his supreme athleticism at his size. However, no one was there to watch that portion of his workout.
Questions in this workout surround Terrelle Pryor’s passing mechanics which were erratic throughout his college career. This workout would do nothing to eliminate any concerns teams had with Pryor’s mechanics. The 17 teams in attendance watched as Pryor missed on 11 of his 39 passes with four drops mixed in. Pryor threw to former Lions, Kevin Smith and Alric Arnett and former Bill Andre Anderson.
Pryor’s athleticism was on display yesterday with a 40 time in the low 4.4′s at 6’5″ and 235 pounds. This workout solidified the fact that Pryor will need some time and patience to develop into an NFL QB but could play WR quickly with work on route running.
Terrelle Pryor’s workout in Pittsburgh is turning out to be quite the spectacle. As many as 17 teams have turned out for the former Ohio State QB’s workout.
Thus far Pryor has blazed a 4.41 40, not bad for a guy that goes 6’6″ and 235 pounds. One team’s representative reports they had Pryor’s 40 time at 4.38. Pryor has yet to throw for scouts but the early returns for Pryor are solid based on running and he definitely passes the eyeball test.
Pryor will have to show cleaner mechanics in the throwing portions of his workout. Teams expected Pryor’s athleticism to test through the roof but the major question marks still surround his capabilities as a QB.
The teams in attendance are Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Washington, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Detroit, San Diego, Philadelphia, Oakland, Miami, Buffalo, New England, San Francisco, and Kansas City. Also in attendance is former OSU coach, Jim Tressel.
Some team will jump on Pryor in Monday’s supplemental draft the question remains which team and how early. Pryor is suspended for the first five games of the 2011 NFL season but that is expected to be a moot point with the amount of work he’s going to need to be an NFL QB.