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Miami Dolphins 2014 Season Preview

By Jeff Risdon

2013: 8-8, t-2nd in AFC East

2014 Over/Under: +/- 8 wins

Why the over

If the Miami Dolphins are going to top last year’s eight wins, it’s going to come from the defense. There is strong talent at all three levels--potentially. Turning all that potential into consistently effective play is the trick.

The pass rush is in great shape. Cameron Wake is a dynamo as the left end, producing 46 sacks in the last four years. He’s got great burst off the line but can also win with his impressive ability to transfer speed into power.

Miami found a strong complement to him in Olivier Vernon, who bagged 11.5 sacks off the right side last year. The local product took a major leap forward in his second season, and he should push double-digit sacks again. In fact, the duo could net 25 combined sacks with a little luck.

The Dolphins are also in good shape inside up front with Jared Odrick and Randy Starks. They’re both solid all-around tackles. Odrick has some consistency issues and takes himself out of too many plays, but he can also make life very difficult for opposing offenses. They even have depth up front with Derrick Shelby and Earl Mitchell. It’s a deep and functional front.

Linebacker Koa Misi has developed nicely. He’s a reliable tackler with solid range, and he offers some juice as a blitzer too. There is stability with fellow backers Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe, both of whom can also bring some heat on the blitz. Of course they are shuffling the deck a bit, moving Misi inside to try and spark a rebound from Ellerbe.

The secondary offers some promise. Brent Grimes was quietly great in his first season in Miami. Grimes was strong in coverage but just as importantly, when he ceded receptions he immediately cleaned them up with sure tackling.

I was a big fan of Jamar Taylor out of Boise State, the team’s second-round pick in 2013. He was never 100% and struggled as a rookie, but I really like his potential to step up and emerge as a quality starter in his second season. The team did bring in some insurance with Cortland Finnegan, though that’s more of a longshot gamble than anything to rely upon.

Adding safety Louis Delmas could be a boon, if he can stay healthy. He’s a hard-hitting playmaker with infectious confidence and brings a real presence to the back end of the defense. He proved more durable in his last year in Detroit, though that came at the expense of not practicing. He and Reshad Jones are big variables. Both are Pro Bowl-potential safeties if they click together and bring the consistency.

Offensively, it’s hard to imagine the line being any worse. At least four new starters will play, perhaps five if center Mike Pouncey isn’t healthy. The bigger issue here is that Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin are both mercifully gone. That’s the best example of addition by subtraction in the NFL.

There is some skill position talent on the roster. I like Ryan Tannehill as a quarterback, though he must take better care of the ball than his 30 INTs in the last two seasons indicates. Some of that was a function of being under constant duress from a truly awful offensive line, too. Tannehill was the most-sacked QB in the league last year--by double digits--and that comes on top of finishing second in throwaways. When he had time, he showed he could find the correct option and deliver a strong-armed strike. Matt Moore is a solid veteran backup who doesn’t get enough credit for how well he played during his periodic starts over his career.

Mike Wallace offers high-end potential. He and Brian Hartline could be a decent tandem. Wallace must live up to his lofty free agent contract, something he did not do in his first season with Miami. They even added a couple of rookies I like in Jarvis Landry and Matt Hazel, so there is some youthful potential. Charles Clay is a useful tight end/h-back with some giddyup. The receiving cast has the makings of a group that can emerge as better than the sum of its parts, yet has a couple of very nice parts too.

The Dolphins are entering camp with about 10 running backs competing for spots. I like the addition of Knowshon Moreno, although he could begin on PUP and miss several games. Lamar Miller does a solid job of eking out yards after contact and has some open-field elusiveness. He projects as a better fit in the new offense. Daniel Thomas is an effective short-yardage back who can break some tackles. If that troika is all healthy, Miami has a very strong, versatile backfield with some playmaking dynamics. That’s a great thing to have when the receiving corps is questionable.

The specialists are top notch. Caleb Sturgis finished his rookie campaign poorly but should rebound. Meanwhile, Brandon Fields is one of the better punters in the league.

Why the under

Before even getting to the players, just browse the above “positives” section. Notice how many of those have conditionals attached.

Tannehill “should” improve. Wallace and Hartline “could be” a solid wide receiver duo. Knowshon Moreno could begin on PUP. Lamar Miller “projects” better. Louis Delmas “could be” a boon if he’s healthy. Jamar Taylor has “potential” to step up.

There is very little positive certainty other than the defensive front, half the secondary and the punter. Uncertainty is opportunity for gamblers, but it’s a real tough way to approach a NFL season.

The biggest variable is Tannehill, now entering his third season. It’s just his fifth season playing quarterback, and that inexperience often rears its ugly head. He has very good mobility but doesn’t use it with discretion, appearing to scramble without an end game in mind. He throws a pretty deep ball but often aims it instead of throwing it. At times he creates pressure on plays where his offensive line is holding up well.

Ah yes, the O-line. Some of the new additions are major upgrades, notably left tackle Branden Albert. I was a Dallas Thomas fan in his draft class and he could be a solid left guard. Yet the line will need time to develop chemistry and cohesion. They’re starting an overdrafted rookie in Ja’Wuan James at right tackle and a career backup in Shelley Smith at right guard. I do like James’ potential but it would look a lot better if he had a more reliable presence flanking him.

Pouncey at center is a mixed blessing. No doubt he’s a skilled player, but he was more than casually involved in last year’s ugliness and continues to make ponderous off-field choices. It’s hard to envision him as the anchor and leader of this eclectic young group. It’s even harder since he’ll miss a few weeks with a torn labrum. There is not one snap of proven depth anywhere on the interior of the line, and oft-injured Jason Fox represents the depth at tackle.

Mike Wallace has to become the player he was in Pittsburgh. In his first year in Miami his catch rate, yards per catch, YAC and touchdowns all fell off. Some of that is attributable to working with a developmental QB in Tannehill, but Wallace just didn’t look as dynamic or strident. He’s a player at his best when loaded with swagger, but that effusiveness was missing for prolonged stretches. Without him blazing down the field on deeper sideline routes or creating havoc after a quick slant or bubble screen, the passing offense lacks a real difference-making threat.

The shuffling of the linebackers has to work. Ellerbe and Wheeler were major downgrades from the men they replaced, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. That 2013 offseason exchange turned out to be a Gob Bluth-like huge mistake. One of them should bounce back and have a decent 2014, but the odds that both play at an above-average level are about as good as Kentucky winning the Sugar Bowl. There is nothing but later-round rookies and street free agents behind them, though Jordan Tripp could turn out to be a great 5th round find.

I’m not crazy about the addition of Cortland Finnegan, who has been absolutely wretched on the field in two of the last three years.

Then there’s the complete waste of a top 3 pick that is Dion Jordan. He is a 3-4 OLB being used incorrectly by the Dolphins, who are trying to turn him into a rush end. That takes away from his best attribute, his ability to cover ground in space. After a miserable rookie season, he now will miss the first month of 2014 under suspension for PEDs. I have credible sources who advised me the team couldn’t even bring back a 2nd round pick as they begged other teams for a Jordan trade during draft weekend.

Organizational discord is another problem, albeit an abstract one. It starts at the very top with majority owner Stephen Ross, who has a unique way of running his team. Axing controversial GM Jeff Ireland is a positive, but failing to dump meh coach Joe Philbin with him is a major mistake. In order to move forward from chaos, all vestiges of said chaos need to be purged. Philbin will (rightly) be seen as a lame duck under new GM Dennis Hickey, and the change of coordinators is mere temporary plugging of serious cracks in the dam with duct tape and bubble gum. Hickey was a great hire but keeping Philbin undermines his authority. You’d better believe players know that.

Dumping offensive coordinator Mike Sherman could be a real negative in Tannehill’s development. Sherman was his coach at Texas A&M, his biggest advocate and his trusted mentor and support system. Did he perform well as coordinator? Absolutely not, but there is some major risk involved here.


Miami is a scary betting proposition. They finished 8-8 last year and in the middle third of the league in many statistical metrics, so the target 8 wins seems logical. They have many key questions, but so does the entire AFC East.

I’m leaning strongly towards the under here. It’s just hard for me to envision all those variables coming up roses. I’m legitimately worried about Tannehill’s progress at this critical juncture, and the offensive line chaos and him learning a new system exacerbate those fears. There is so much uncertainty around him, too.

The schedule doesn’t help. There’s a good chance this team opens 0-2, facing the Patriots and then travelling to Buffalo. The non-divisional slate features the tough NFC North and brutal AFC West, which put three teams in the playoffs last year. Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers et al represent serious passing attacks that will take aim at the Miami defense. Outscoring all those potent offenses will be a challenge.

I don’t think this unit is up for that challenge. It’s going to get worse before it gets better in Miami. These Dolphins finish 6-10 in 2014.

Green Bay Packers 2014 Season Preview

By Jeff Risdon

2013: 8-7-1, won NFC North

2014 Over/Under:  +/- 10.5 wins

Why the over

The easy answer is just two words: Aaron Rodgers. The best quarterback in the NFL today should be fully healthy and motivated to atone for last year’s subpar outing. Rodgers is a perennial MVP candidate and is capable of making the brilliant play under heavy duress in crunch time.

The starting skill position players with Rodgers are impressive. Jordy Nelson might not get the fanfare, but he’s a legit #1 wideout with great speed, hands and body control. He can make the tough catch in traffic but can also turn a quick hitch into a big gain with his power and elusiveness after the catch.

Randall Cobb is a lithe speed demon with incredible shiftiness and an outstanding top gear. He’s a flash out of the slot but can also work outside or even on some running and gadget plays. He’s very slightly built so keeping him healthy is paramount, but he and Nelson together give Rodgers two great weapons in all ranges of the passing game.

Eddie Lacy shook off his bad early weight and rumbled to Offensive Rookie of the Year. He finished strong, scoring TDs in six of the Packers’ final seven contests. While he had some clunker games and must get over his propensity to run into his blockers, he’s a tough guy to tackle with his active knees and strong forward lean. Lacy also caught 35 passes, though just one traveled more than 5 yards from the line.

The offensive line is solid, arguably the best shape it’s been in with Rodgers at the helm. The key here is the continued development of left tackle David Bakhtiari. He was up and down, as expected, as a rookie but has very high potential. His run blocking is often terrible, but the Packers are paying him to keep Rodgers comfortable in the pocket and the ex-Colorado giant does that pretty well.

With Bryan Bulaga (hopefully) returning to form at right tackle after missing 2013 with yet another injury, the ends should be decent. Durability is a major issue for Bulaga, however. Still, he’s a competent right tackle when he’s on the field and will be an upgrade over his injury replacement of a year ago, Don Barclay.

The guards, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, are there for their run blocking. Both are adept at opening and maintaining holes for Lacy and escape routes for Rodgers. Sitton is one of the best guards in the game and at 28 he’s just hitting his athletic prime. They’ve played their spots (mostly) for several years and appear to have as much chemistry as two guards can together.

Defensively, there is some talent too. A full 16 games of Clay Matthews as the top outside rush backer would do wonders. When he’s healthy he’s a terror on opposing quarterbacks with his barrage of pass rush moves and amazing closing burst to the ball. He’s a player the offense has to account for at all times, and that frees up his teammates to get more advantageous matchups. That’s a big key to Dom Capers’ attacking defense.

The corners look pretty good on paper. If Tramon Williams and Sam Shields ever play to their potential at the same time, it’s one of the better duos in the league. A return by Casey Hayward gives them a very solid trio of playmakers who aggressively challenge the football. Hayward could be special, a legit ballhawk with excellent instincts. Williams is coming off a down season but even in that he flashed greatness at times. A more consistent season is definitely within his reach.

Micah Hyde played well as a rookie and his role is growing. He projects as the starting free safety, which takes advantage of his size and range. He’s also apt to see time as the slot corner, where he can function just fine, too. It allows them to spoon-feed first-round rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The Alabama product will be the third safety but should see ample action on passing downs.

Punter Tim Mashtay is an above-average performer, and kicker Mason Crosby finally appears over his brutal 2012 campaign. The coverage units are solid, though they must find a more dynamic kick returner.

Then there is the organizational confidence. This team expects to win, thanks to the mindset established by Coach Mike McCarthy and GM Ted Thompson. They can make some ponderous decisions but the players trust them explicitly, and the culture of winning and living up to high expectations is firmly entrenched. That’s their biggest advantage in the NFC North, outside of Rodgers of course.

Why the under

The most obvious reason is their overwhelming reliance on Aaron Rodgers to carry the offense. When he missed time in 2013, the Packers were pathetic. Matt Flynn proved why he bounced from team to team despite being given shots at starting; he’s one of the worst backup QBs in the league. This team will not win more than 1/3 of the games Rodgers doesn’t start.

Their wideout core is not as deep or experienced as it has been in recent years. With James Jones gone, the only two proven commodities are Cobb and Nelson. They’re both fantastic--each should top 1,000 yards and 8 TDs--but the rest of the corps is relatively weak.

Jarrett Boykin is the third option. He caught 49 balls last year, with 5 drops. He’s a solid possession receiver at least one spot too high on the depth chart. Rookie Jared Abbrederis figures to be the next in line. The fifth-round pick from Wisconsin has some downfield ability, but he’s quite weak (just 4 bench press reps) and thrived in college largely by outworking his opponents. That doesn’t happen in the NFL nearly as readily. Second-round pick Davante Adams put up freakish numbers at Fresno State but that was far more about the Bulldogs’ system than his own greatness. There is good potential with his size, but his speed is ordinary and his route running experience is well behind the curve. Don’t expect much in 2014.

The rest of the receiving corps is full of half-baked projects like Chris Harper and Jeff Janis. Both belong on a practice squad in 2014. I do like Harper as a red zone threat with his great size and strong hands, but he has not shown he can get any separation against NFL coverage.

Unlike past years, there won’t be much help at tight end. With enigmatic Jermichael Finley gone, the top dog is plodder Andrew Quarless. Just 3 of his 33 receptions came beyond 10 yards. He’s not much of a blocking threat, either. I don’t discount the potential for Finley to be addition by subtraction, but the Packers don’t have anyone waiting in the wings who offers close to what he did as an athletic target.

Some will say, “but Richard Rodgers!” The third-round pick from Cal has the build of Finley but little else resembling a legit NFL tight end. He’s quite raw, doesn’t catch cleanly and is not a dynamic athlete.

The running back depth took a hit with the unexpected retirement of Johnathan Franklin, who was forced from the game after just one season with a neck injury. James Starks remains capable of grinding in short yardage, but the rest is unproven. There is talent here, however, with tough DuJuan Harris and rookies Raijon Neal and Ladarius Perkins battling for a spot, so it’s a minor worry.

The much bigger worry is the defense. More specifically, the defense up the middle of the field.

B.J. Raji was one of the worst defensive linemen in the league last year. In fact, Pro Football Focus rated him dead last among 3-4 ends. He’s little more than a big guy taking up space, no matter if he’s playing end or tackle in Dom Capers’ amorphous fronts. He got little help from guys like C.J. Wilson, Datone Jones or Johnny Jolly. Veteran Ryan Pickett turns 35 in October and has already lost both burst and range. Only Mike Daniels offers much competence on the defensive line, yet he’s more of a pass rusher than a run stuffer.

Teams can get by with a porous line if the linebackers are strong, but that position is probably the biggest weakness in Green Bay. Any team that trots out A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones and Mike Neal as the second line of run defense is going to struggle badly against the run. Hawk is generally effective but overruns and misses too many tackles to be considered dependable. That 29th ranking in yards per carry allowed (4.7) did not come by accident.

The only reinforcements the team brought in are Julius Peppers at outside backer and rookie Carl Bradford. Peppers is a 34-year old trying to make a change to a more physically demanding position after years of playing end in Carolina and Chicago. He hasn’t graded positively in run defense by PFF since 2010, and my lasting memory of him from ’13 was humdrum Lions left tackle Riley Reiff moving him around at will in both Detroit games. He will help spark the pass rush (somewhat), but he’s of little help vs. the run.

Ah yes, the pass rush. That’s another significant question mark, though a much rosier one. Adding Peppers and a (hopefully) healthy return by both Clay Matthews and Nick Perry gives the Packers a potentially strong rotation of sack artists at OLB. Matthews is one of the most dynamic defensive players in the league.

Yet there are questions with all three. As noted above, Peppers is moving to a foreign role that demands more athleticism at a time when his body is losing that attribute. Matthews has missed 9 games (4 in ’12, 5 in ’13) the last two years and did not top 7.5 sacks in two of the last three years. He’s got legit All Pro potential but has to stay on the field and top 12.5 sacks for this defense to improve. If he can play 15 games and bag 14 sacks--and he absolutely can do both--a lot of the worrying here goes away.

Perry is an even bigger injury question, having missed as many games as he’s played in his first two years. He has just 6 sacks and has not shown he can disengage once blocked. It seemed like GM Ted Thompson made a savvy move in picking Bradford as insurance, but the Packers are moving the Arizona State backer inside. It’s a curious decision that appears based more on his tweener size; Bradford is just 6’ tall and didn’t show much more than a rip move as a rusher. It might actually aid the run defense a bit, though for that to happen Bradford must cut back on the false steps and poor pursuit angles that plagued him in college.

I’m more optimistic about the outlook at safety, another area that must improve. Between moving Hyde to free safety and drafting Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama in the first round, the talent pool is significantly deeper. Still, neither has played that role in the NFL. Expect improvement but with some growing pains. As with Matthews’ health, this is a variable that could make the overall defense much better and swing the pendulum strongly into the “over” on wins.


The line is 10.5 wins. That seems more like a best-case scenario than a likelihood. Even with both Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews playing full seasons at MVP-caliber levels, there are enough holes on this roster that double-digit wins against their schedule would be a pleasant surprise. They open with 3 of 4 on the road, beginning with a trip to Super Bowl champ Seattle and two division games sandwiched around a visit from the difficult Jets. The non-division matchups are the AFC East and NFC South, two divisions that feature legit tests from top to bottom. Barring Rodgers being a runaway MVP and the defense unexpectedly rocketing from 24th in scoring defense to at least 12th, the Packers are a strong “under” bet. They finish with between 8 and 10 wins and sneak into the playoffs as the 6th seed.

Quick NFL Hits For The Fourth of July

By Jeff Risdon

This is the NFL’s slow season. Minicamps and OTAs are done, and training camps don’t kick off for another couple of weeks.

That doesn’t mean America’s premiere sports league is shut down. Enough news continues to matriculate out to keep the NFL prominent even in the midst of the World Cup and the NBA draft and free agency in full swing.

Here are some of the latest news blurbs, and my snap reaction to them.

--Kiko Alonso out for the season

Buffalo’s top tackler as a rookie, Alonso will be missed in the heart of the Bills defense. He tore his ACL whole working out on his own.

This is a major blow to Buffalo. Alonso’s range and technical proficiency covered a lot of holes on their defense. Even though his tackle numbers were inflated by some generous scorekeeping, Alonso still shows up making plays everywhere on game film. He certainly belonged in strong consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Buffalo will try to replace him with rookie Preston Brown, a player I liked a lot more than most in the draft process. The Louisville product doesn’t have Alonso’s amazing lateral range, but he offers the same kind of versatility and ability to move in any direction.

In the debate in my mind about who will be missed more between Alonso and Cowboys LB Sean Lee, who will also miss 2014 with a torn ACL, I think it will be Lee. Even though the Cowboys have more experience playing without him, the relative talent around Lee is thinner. The Bills have a better front and don’t depend on Alonso to carry so much of the burden.

It’s still a critical loss, however. Don’t believe me? Ask the bookmakers, who dropped the Bills prospective season win over/under total a half-game within 12 hours of the injury, from 7 to 6.5. I’ll take the under.

--Dion Jordan suspended four games for PEDs

The Miami Dolphins defensive end has certainly not had the career many of us draftniks envisioned. Miami traded up to the third overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft to pick Jordan, a long, athletic, versatile hybrid end/linebacker talent from Oregon.

Jordan was a misfit in Miami’s defense. The Dolphins deployed him as a 4-3 end, which takes away from his best asset--his ranginess. He’s not a power rusher, and keeping him with his hand in the dirt and tight to the formation doesn’t allow him to use his great agility or litheness in space.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required for premium content), Jordan managed just 2 sacks and 24 total QB pressures in his rookie year despite playing over 200 snaps in a rushing capacity.

There were lots of trade rumors this offseason, some of which (to Arizona for the Cards’ 2nd & 4th round picks was a popular one during Combine time) made too much sense not to happen.

Maybe now we know why they didn’t happen. Jordan will miss the first four games, putting him even further behind and making a sophomore turnaround all that much more unlikely. Per the initial report from ESPN, Jordan claims the suspension is for a banned stimulant.

It’s always a shame to see a talent go to waste. It’s even worse when the squandered talent wastes his own opportunity. The Dolphins were close to being a legit threat in the AFC East a year ago, but swinging and missing on a top-5 pick really sets them back. Between Jordan’s failure and the offensive line saga, it’s hard to see Miami rising up past third place in 2014.

--Lavon Brazill suspended for the entire 2014 season

This one really hurts. Brazill, the shifty Colts wideout, is the most prominent Ohio University Bobcat in the NFL. As a fellow Bobcat, it gave me great pride to see someone from our meager program (Ohio won 9 games in my five falls in Athens) to succeed, although the team has found recent prominence under Frank Solich.

Brazill got the Jordan treatment a year ago, missing four games for a positive test. He apparently did not get the message, as another positive test has ended his 2014 season before it even began.

On the field, the Colts will miss him only a little. He caught just 12 passes last year, and he was projected by most to be the fifth wideout. The team has impressive rookie Donte Moncrief and free agent signing Hakeem Nicks, both of whom are much bigger and more dynamic options. While Nicks has some injury issues, Moncrief could very well be an instant star.

He’s the second Colt to get whacked for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Pass rusher Robert Mathis, a much more significant contributor, will miss the first four weeks for his sin. Considering the owner is facing a suspension for being caught with all sorts of illicit substances during a DUI, the Colts appear teetering on the precipice of some real character issues. It won’t help a team that is already held together largely by the miraculous comebacks of Andrew Luck.

--Jimmy Graham ruled a tight end

This ruling came in the wake of Graham protesting the Saints labeling him as a tight end for franchise tag purposes. Graham, with the support of the NFLPA, argued that because he played more than 2/3 of his snaps split from the formation he should be classified as a wide receiver.

The Saints won the case. Graham did himself no favors by calling himself a tight end on his Twitter profile, however trite that might seem. As a result, the dynamic pass catcher will lose about $5M in 2014.

Other players have struggled to win similar cases. It calls to the forefront the need for the franchise and transitional tag concepts to adapt to today’s changing NFL.

Players like Graham, Vernon Davis in San Francisco and rookie Eric Ebron in Detroit are all hybrid tight end/wide receivers. Call them what you want, a hybrid or a joker or a flex, they all play a role that is defined by their ability to catch passes deeper down the field than the traditional tight ends. While they all do have blocking responsibilities, that’s not why they’re making millions.

The same is true on the defensive side of the ball, where not all defensive ends or linebackers are the same. Some are exclusively pass rushers, while others are run-stuffing forces. Lumping them all together is like saying every cheese is cheddar. The league needs to adapt. The NFLPA needs to push them more firmly but also without the acrimony that predominates their interactions with Commissioner Goodell.

It’s important to note the two sides are working to try and hammer out a long-term deal before it comes to Graham playing under the tag. My guess is they will meet somewhere in the middle, rewarding Graham for being the third-most prolific target in the league over the last three years. Tight end or wide receiver doesn’t matter to Drew Brees and New Orleans’ record-setting offense.

--Johnathan Franklin forced to retire

One of the bigger downers in being a NFL talent evaluator is when a player you like fails to pan out due to injury. Such is the case with Green Bay Packers RB Johnathan Franklin, who was forced to retire because of a neck injury.

Franklin played just one season for the Packers after being their 4th round pick in 2013. He’s 24 and his promising career is over. His final stat line is 19 carries for 107 yards and Franklin scored exactly one touchdown.

On one hand, it’s great that the medical evaluations caught the neck injury, which he likely suffered in Week 12 last year. It’s better to be overly cautious with a neck injury than to let Franklin continue playing and possibly suffer an even worse, life-altering casualty.

On the other hand, it’s hard to see a young man’s legit NFL dreams go away in an instant. Franklin was my 2nd-rated running back in the 2013 draft, and I loved the fit or the former UCLA Bruin in Green Bay. His niftiness out of the backfield and ability to cut hard off the crease were natural skills that fit the Packers offense perfectly. Paired with 2nd round pick Eddie Lacy, they were poised to be an effective thunder and lightning package for years.

Now Franklin is like Jahvid Best, the Lions RB who was forced from the game by 25 due to a series of concussions. He’s also like former Packer Sterling Sharpe, who was forced to retire far too early because of a neck injury. Franklin never came close to their level of accomplishment, and that’s sad. Here’s hoping his post-football life is a promising, productive, and healthy one.

Brian Hoyer Reality Check

Johnny Manziel might not be the answer either, but at least he has the potential to be something that Brian Hoyer can never achieve: greatness. If Browns fans cannot accept that, the factory of sadness will only continue to get into a deeper depression.

Happy Father’s Day

So for you dads out there, incorporate your love of sports into Father's Day. And for you sons out there, treat dad to something related to his big love.

Grading The Deal: Kaepernick Signs Record-Breaking Deal With 49ers

Playoff Kaepernick is how he should be judged relative to this contract, and he's been the best player on the field during every single one of his playoff games, which includes the two wins against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

$.05 On OTAs

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Initial Impression On 2015 NFL Draft Prospects

Notes on Brandon Scherff, Cameron Erving, Denzel Perryman, Derron Smith, Danny Shelton and Cody Prewitt.

The Best Pick For Every Team

The Texans may have picked the LeBron James of the NFL, Vikings had a jackpot pick in Teddy Bridgewater, a potential new No. 1 WR for the Saints and the other best picks for each team.