Anyone Hiring?

Posted by Brad On February – 14 – 2011ADD COMMENTS

With the League wrapped up in CBA drama, timing couldn’t be more perfect for the re-emergence of Plaxico Burress to the NFL.  In September of 2009 Plaxico was sentenced to a two year prison sentence for shooting himself in the leg in Manhattan’s Latin Quarter nightclub. 

Plaxico’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, tweeted “Just visited with client Plaxico Burress.  He is doing great!  He is running & lifting weights 5 days a week.  He looks in terrific shape…”  With Plaxico set to be released early on June 6th, the question of who if anyone will want him begs to asked.

Plaxico will turn 34 in August and hasn’t played football in two years.  While I have no doubts he is great shape and re-focused can a 34 year old receiver who is two years removed from game action still play?  Is this a Michael Vick situation?  These are the questions half of the league’s General Managers will be asking come June 6. 

As for the possible landing spots for Plaxico:

Baltimore Ravens:  Definitely need a receiver they can count on late in games.  They have the locker room to handle any of Plaxico’s baggage.

Pittsburgh Steelers:  The only reason I am putting this one as a possible is for my emailer last week who suggested a return to the Steelers.  Not a chance.

Washington Redskins:  Dan Snyder doesn’t shy away from controversial players.  They need a receiver in the worst of ways and if Donovan stays he would sign off on a return to Washington.

Either way, this will make for a great offseason story in an offseason in flux.

Blog – The Circus that is Cameron Newton

Posted by Brad On February – 11 – 2011ADD COMMENTS

On February 10, 2011 Cameron Newton and his handlers held a “media workout” with a goal of differentiating him from JaMarcus Russell and Vince Young.  Not present were an NFL G.M., NFL scout, NFL Coach, or NFL ball boy.  Let’s start the official Cam Newton Hype Train, led by Trent Dilfer.  Here is some breaking news…Cam Newton looks great in shorts.  This was nothing more than a media ploy to drive fans wild about the possibility of Cam Newton quarterbacking their local NFL flavor.

This publicity stunt did nothing to change Cam Newton’s draft stock.  In my upcoming mock draft you won’t see a drastic jump into the top 5.  I will have him going to the Washington Redskins at number 10.  In my mind, there is nothing Cam Newton can do to change my feelings toward him as an NFL prospect.  The video I have watched shows an NFL arm, above average athletic ability, good vision downfield, and ability to make plays when the play breaks down.  He still ran a simplistic offense out of the shotgun and stole laptops and didn’t know his dad was propositioning colleges for his services.  The same questions remain:  Is he a hardworker?  Is he capable of grasping the complexities of the NFL huddle?  What is he going to do with all that money?

If the goal of yesterday was really to differentiate Cam Newton vs. JaMarcus Russell and Vince Young why bother.  JaMarcus Russell and Vince Young looked great in a pair of shorts slinging the ball 70 yards to uncovered receivers.

Unfortunately for Cam a workout in front of media is not going to answer questions about maturity, abilities to run a pro-style offense, or whether or not your dad is going to interfere with your NFL development.

So lets hold the hype train on Cam for a while.  He is what he is.  An NFL prospect with NFL tools that has a lot of developing to do.

Blog – How Far Will Jake Locker Slide?

Posted by Brad On January – 31 – 2011ADD COMMENTS

First off, I have to admit:  I am a Jake Locker apologist.  I so badly want this guy to be a great NFL QB.  When you start talking about intangibles, this guy has them all.  Hardworker-check, Coachability-check, Moxie-check, Composure-check, Leadership-check.  He is Tim Tebow Light.  In every mock draft I have done for the 2011 NFL Draft I have found a way to slide him in my top 15.  I have personally willed Jake Locker into the Washington Redskins huddle.  Unfortunately, I can no longer do that.  In this week’s updated Mock Draft on he will be in the second round.  Sad but true and here’s how he got there.

January 24, 2011 started the week of reckoning for Jake Locker;  Senior Bowl week.  I instantly gave the guy credit just for showing up.  I have historically used his teammates at UW as an excuse of why he can’t complete throws.  I said at the beginning of the week, we are going to see Kellen Moore-type accuracy.  He’s throwing to Titus Young and Austin Pettis.  Oh yeah, and my boy Dane Sanzenbacher, he doesn’t drop anything.  I have watched pieces of a dozen or so UW game tapes and the guys mechanics are flawless.  Surely, it’s the weapons around him.  I saw (made up) instances of where the receivers ran the wrong routes, the OL broke down, the RB didn’t get to the flats off a chip.  I found thousands of excuses of why Jake Locker is a career 50% and some change passer.  This week he would prove all the Locker-haters wrong.  Right?

Well, that didn’t happen.  If anything he left the pundits more questions than answers.  Everyone is left asking themselves why is his accuracy so off?  His mechanics are light years ahead of Tim Tebow’s and his arm strength is well above average.  I guess this is the puzzling and frustrating part.  See, with Tebow, coaches knew if they could get his mechanics worked out he would improve on his accuracy.  With Locker you can’t fault that.  It is simply, an accuracy issue.  So where do we go from here.

I am going to slot Locker into the early second round with the hopes of moving back into the second round after an off the charts Combine and Pro Day workout.  Some team will pull a Denver and trade back into the first to stop Jake Locker’s slide.  Or maybe a team in the 20’s or early 30’s would take a flier on Locker.  This would be best case scenario for Locker.  He goes to a good team with a quality veteran and good QB coach.   I have heard some suggesting that NE could be a landing spot for Jake but I have a feeling they are very happy with their backup QB, Brian Hoyer.  I am thinking a team with a coach that is familiar with Locker from his college days and a veteran QB, Seattle, anyone.

Blog – Just Retire, Al

Posted by Brad On January – 25 – 2011ADD COMMENTS

In a week where the Super Bowl contenders were determined and a QB’s toughness was questioned, Al Davis went relatively unnoticed.  Al Davis is an enigma and I am in the majority when I say it’s time to hang it up, Al.  In my daily scouring of NFL news, I found a story from a Raiders press conference last week.  I was able to retrieve the transcript from the press conference where Al Davis spoke on many unusual and at times strange comments about the organization, Tom Cable, and new HC Hue Jackson.  What took the cake for me was a comment made about Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.

A little background before we delve into the comment, in the 2007 NFL draft, the Raiders choose the much maligned JaMarcus Russell.  Russell will go down as one of the biggest draft busts of all time.  Ironically, the man selected right behind Russell was All Pro receiver Calvin Johnson.  It goes without saying that the Raiders have to question whether they made the right decision.  Calvin Johnson vs. JaMarcus Russell, hmmm.  To further this debate, Al Davis and Co. selected Darrius Heyward-Bey with the 7th pick two years later.  We see how well that has worked out.

Al Davis, resident curmudgeon of the NFL, unleashed his feelings about Johnson when asked about the success of the Raiders last two drafts.  His response:

I think we’ve been very successful the last four.  I think we’re always pretty good.  The thing that hurt, is the question someone asked, JaMarcus hurt a great deal.  But the ones they wanted to take instead of JaMarcus, Brady Quinn, hasn’t played yet.  There was some talk of Calvin Johnson.  But you can take a look at Calvin up at Detroit.  How many games did they win this year.  Detroit, do you know?  Six?  Yeah.  But up until now, Calvin hadn’t done anything for them.

WOW, did he really say that.  Johnson just finished his second 1000 yard, 12 touchdown season and he is only 25 years old.  Not to mention he did that with Drew Stanton and Shaun Hill throwing to him most of the year.  Johnson is arguably one of the best receivers in the league and if you were starting a franchise today he would undoubtedly be the first receiver chosen.

Al Davis is right about one thing, Detroit is not exactly a pillar of winning but you can’t blame Johnson’s effort for the lack of wins.  Johnson has caught 33 touchdown passes since entering the league while the entire receiving corps for Oakland has combined for 36.

By using Al Davis logic (those three words should never go together), Adrian Peterson and Joe Thomas really stink, too.  Oh by the way, they are also in the 2011 Pro Bowl and on teams that won six or fewer games.  Al, it has been real but come on its time.

Blog – Quarterbacks killed the 2011 Draft

Posted by Brad On January – 14 – 2011ADD COMMENTS

For guys like me that (attempt to) predict the NFL Draft, free agency is a nightmare. As I was updating my mock on Wednesday night, I found a common theme: veteran QB’s. How so? There are roughly five teams in the top 10 that need starting QB’s. This is where the problem begins. I have watched three Auburn games, two Missouri games, including an ’09 matchup, re-watched two Washington games, and two Arkansas games in the last week. Now if I’m the GM of Buffalo, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, and Washington I have a major question marks with each of the signal callers on each team if I’m about to select them in the top 10. Let’s start here and quickly breakdown the teams.

Buffalo holds the 3rd pick, but I don’t see them selecting any of the top QB’s. They will stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick and draft a developmental guy later in the draft.

Arizona holds the 5th pick but Ken Wisenhunt knows he won’t be around long enough to see Gabbert or Newton develop into an NFL QB. The Cardinals have to go after a veteran like Donovan McNabb or trade for Kevin Kolb/Kyle Orton.

San Francisco is drafting 7th but Harbaugh will wait at least one more year to select a rookie signal caller. They are prime for picking up a veteran QB and if they listen to Vernon Davis, it will be the landing spot for McNabb. This could be the surprising spot for the first QB if Harbaugh likes any.

Tennessee has the 8th pick in the draft. This one will come down to Bud Adams vs. Jeff Fisher. Fisher knows he won’t be around to see one of the rookies develop. I think Fisher wins out (like Vince Young saga) and they pick up a veteran or trade for Kolb/Orton.

Washington selects 10th and could be a landing spot for the first QB taken in the draft. Shanahan has a longer leash and a track record with rookie QB’s. I could see Gabbert or Newton going here.

Aside from that potential landing spots for the top 4 QB’s would be Minnesota, Miami, or Seattle. It could be a long night lasting until Friday’s second round for at least one of Gabbert, Newton, Locker, Mallett.

Also, it is a great day to be a backup QB or veteran cast off looking for a home. Some of these guys may walk into good starting spots. Taking out Buffalo (they are sticking with Fitzpatrick), San Francisco and Arizona play in a winnable division. Tennessee has some solid pieces along with Minnesota and Miami. These teams will be vying for the services of Kolb, McNabb, Orton and can be had for below market value. Also, look for teams to look to trade for serviceable backups around the league.

I was debating this question the other day and it caused me to do an hour worth of research and be exhausted at work the next day.

Since 1990 eight cornerbacks have been taken in the top five of the NFL Draft (Terence Newman, Quentin Jammer, Charles Woodson, Shawn Springs, Bryant Westbrook, Terrell Buckley, Bruce Pickens, and Todd Lyght). This is a staggering number considering the value placed on corners throughout the league. Contracts for corners have exploded to astronomical proportions. When you put the names to the number (8) you can see why this is a fact. Of those players listed only Charles Woodson and Terence Newman have been selected to multiple Pro Bowls. Not what you expect out a top-five pick if you are an NFL GM.

The reason this internal debate crossed my mind was because I was updating my latest MOCK and about to slot Patrick Peterson into the Denver Broncos position (2nd overall). I was doing so as I was watching Nick Fairley decimate the Oregon OL. Now I have watched Patrick Peterson take over games not only at corner but on special teams but I am searching for a reason not to place him that high. How could I do so when he is my number one on my latest Big Board? Could this be an Eric Berry to the Chiefs scenario? A FS at number 5? All these questions going through my head as I debate the Broncos selection.

I truly believe Patrick Peterson will be the exception to the rule and make multiple Pro Bowls but I couldn’t blame NFL GM’s for staying away in the top five. The one caveat that Peterson brings is he can change the game on special teams, now the question becomes do you want your top five selection returning punts. Having said all that I mocked him to the Broncos in my latest MOCK DRAFT and see him as a shutdown corner in the league for years to come.

Blog – To Root or Not to Root to Lose

Posted by Brad On January – 11 – 2011ADD COMMENTS

As a fan of the Cleveland Browns I find myself often asking myself this question during the last couple weeks of the season. Do I want the players to pack it in to garner a higher selection in April’s draft or do I want the players I pay to watch to lay it out on the line. I listen to sports talk radio throughout the day and hear callers condemn teams for winning games and costing them opportunities to draft this player or that player.

I promise those callers one thing, your local NFL team is not concerned with your wants or needs. They are concerned with filling empty seats and producing a watchable product. For those rooting your team on to lose my guess is your team is more than one player away from being a Playoff team. I was reading in the Dallas forum on a reputable site a fan blasting the organization for costing them x amount of draft spots. I posted on the site because everyone was jumping aboard his ship, “Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett, and the Cowboys players are not concerned with your latest mock draft, my mock draft or who we think should be selected by the Cowboys.” I was then ripped by every poster on the Cowboys forum.

In case you were wondering I answer my question every December with an empathic response of just win baby. As a Browns fan I aspire my team to be the New England Patriots. If you look at Patriots fan boards they aren’t talking about mock drafts they are talking about the Jets. Oh, wouldn’t that be nice.

Blog – Should a Receiver Be Drafted First Overall?

Posted by Brad On January – 11 – 2011ADD COMMENTS

With Andrew Luck staying at Stanford, a lot of mocks (including my own) have A.J. Green going first overall in their updated mocks. There have been four WR’s taken Number One overall (Keyshawn Johnson, Irving Fryar, Lawrence Elkins, Dave Parks) in NFL history.

The question is: Is the position (WR) worth the #1 selection? Take the name out of the equation for a minute, does a guy who touches the ball on maybe 8-10 plays a game warrant this high of a selection. Some draftniks, scouts, GM’s don’t believe a WR warrants a top 10 selection. Now let’s examine the name. What if the guy you are questioning is being compared to Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, etc. A.J. Green is a game-changer, those 8-10 times a game he may touch the ball could result in 2-3 touchdowns. He has to be accounted for on every snap. Defenses are going to roll coverages to his side, making the run game and other receivers more effective. Does that change your mind?

While we are talking specifics, talk about attitude. Because if I am NFL GM and about to draft A.J. Green with the first selection I am going to wonder if I am getting Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or am I getting Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Brandon Marshall. Green was suspended four games this past year for selling a jersey to an agent. While this is not groundbreaking, earth shattering Randy Moss type of pre-draft concerns, it is still concerning. You are about to make him the highest paid WR in the league you want to ensure this is the only discrepancy. There will be a lot GM’s, scouts, NFL brass asking UGA coaches, team personnel, and teammates about what type of person he is.

To answer the original question, I believe a WR can be taken Number One but he would have to awfully special, as a person and a player.

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