By Jeff Risdon
2013: 7-9, third in NFC East
2014 line: +/- 8 wins
Why the Over
The New York Giants have lost some of the bite on defense lately, but they are still strong on that side of the ball. The difference is that the strength has moved from the line to the back end.
This secondary is pretty good, featuring one of the most underrated cornerback groups in the league. Prince Amukamara is not a shutdown #1, but he’s a reliable cover man with good instincts. The former first rounder plays well to his help and is a sturdy tackler to prevent yards after the catch. Adding Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond reloads the position with proven talent and more playmaking ability. Thurmond comes over from Seattle and brings that Seahawks physical mentality with him.
They lack star wattage but have very sound depth. Trumaine McBride played quite well in coverage a year ago, good enough that he’d start in many places. Here he’s no more than sharing the nickel role. Jayron Hosley will miss the first four weeks with a league suspension, but he too would slide up at least one spot on the depth chart of most other teams once he returns.
Safety is still in good hands with Antrell Rolle and Stevie Brown. They’ll miss playmaker Will Hill, a troubled talent who was released after his third drug-related suspension, but getting Brown back at full speed will help mitigate the loss. Brown missed last season, however, so his health is not a given. At least Rolle continues to churn out consistent good-not-great play. Cooper Taylor offered strong potential as the third safety, though he will be on the shelf for some time with a toe issue.
The line should be improved, and that improvement will come on the backs of two second-year talents. Tackle Johnathan Hankins and end Damontre Moore both played less than 200 snaps as rookies, but will be counted on to handle a much bigger workload in their second years. Hankins stepped right in and emerged as the best run stuffer on the team. He uses his bulk to clog holes well, and his quickness and nose for the ball are both exemplary for a 325-pound behemoth.
Moore is the third end behind Jason Pierre-Paul and Matthias Kiwanuka, but he figures to play a lot as a pass rusher over Kiwanuka, who is coming off a miserable season. Moore is a limited athlete but a very smart football player who thrives on relentless effort and judiciously using his burst. Playing across from JPP, still one of the most fearsome pass rushers in the league, is an optimal situation for the Texas A&M product. A healthy JPP adds a lot more snarl to this front, and he’s looked like his old self in preseason.
Honestly I don’t know what to make of Kiwanuka. He was wildly ineffective last year, playing soft against the run and looking tentative as a pass rusher. Both those negatives have not reared their ugly heads in preseason, but it’s hard to trust in the former first-rounder.
The Giants will miss Linval Joseph inside, but rookie Jay Bromley has outplayed expectations and earned major buzz from camp. Veterans Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins give the unit solid depth and makes it very difficult to run between the tackles.
Linebacker is a question centered on how you feel about oft-injured Jon Beason. He’s a stud in the middle, though he’s missed the entire offseason with a foot injury. The Giants have clearly defined roles for the LBs, and Beason’s ability to snuff out plays between the numbers is critical to that plan. He’s a downhill striker with excellent instincts and quickness. Jacquian Williams is a coverage specialist, and a good one. He can match up with opposing tight ends and does an excellent job of carrying his mark down the field to the safeties. Rookie Devon Kennard has impressed all summer and offers more muscle than Spencer Paysinger as the outside strongman.
On offense, the line cannot be any worse. Adding Weston Richburg in the second round was a brilliant move. He’s the center of the future, though he might play guard early on. The Colorado State metalhead (when I talked with him at the Senior Bowl we chatted about Lamb of God and Mastodon) is technically sound and nasty to play against. He will be an above-average starter for years.
Will Beatty, one of two holdover starters, is sporadically effective at left tackle. It’s odd that he’s better at run blocking than pass protection, as it’s his lack of base strength that makes him highly vulnerable on the edge to power rushers. He’s due for a bounceback season after struggling a year ago; in 2012 he was much better. Justin Pugh, the other holdover, acquitted himself well at right tackle as a rookie. He played with more confidence as his first year progressed, and his tenacity serves him well.
Victor Cruz is still a lethal weapon at receiver, as any fantasy football player can tell you. Even though he didn’t turn in as many highlight-reel long runs after the catch last year, he’s a dynamic player with the ball in his trusty hands. He gives Eli Manning a reliable threat and can create problems for opposing defenses.
Cruz is a natural fit for the new passing scheme of offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. The Giants are switching to a (hopefully) more efficient, precise and shorter-range scheme that will get players in space more readily. This should help the rebuilt line too, as Manning will get the ball out quicker. This also plays to the strengths of shifty Jerrel Jernigan, who can line up in the slot or the backfield. He goes down on first contact pretty easily, so getting him in space and using him more on quick-hitters and jet sweeps builds his value. Keep an eye on rookie widebody Corey Washington, who has been a summer sensation and will push perennially overrated Mario Manningham off the roster.
I’m still a firm Tom Coughlin advocate as coach. The coordinator changes should offer fresh perspective and fine-tune an engine that was running on fumes. The players respect and trust Coughlin, who has proven he can maximize limited talent and lift his team in times of adversity.
Why the Under
This was one of the worst offenses in the NFL last season, and I’m not sure they’re going to be any better this year. Being very different doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be improved.
Part of the problem is that Eli Manning appears to be what he is. That’s an odd way to phrase something that I could write about 2,500 words on here, but I’m a firm believer that the Eli of the last two years is the Manning going forward. He’s thrown 42 INTs with a completion rate of 58% in those seasons, neither of which is good.
Perhaps the only way to get Manning back to being acceptable would be to push him from within, but the Giants’ cupboard is bare behind him. Curtis Painter is lucky to be on a NFL roster, and probably won’t make the final cutdown. Ryan Nassib, a fourth round pick in 2013, has had some strong moments in preseason, but they’ve come late in games against players who won’t be in the league in the regular season.
It would help if Manning had a better receiving corps, but the Giants’ overall talent level at wideout and tight end has fallen off a cliff recently. Other than Cruz, this cast sorely lacks anyone who really threatens the defense. Rueben Randle could make a solid possession receiver, but he has no deep speed or elusiveness after the catch. Jernigan offers the versatility highlighted above, but he’s a limited-use weapon with serious durability issues.
I love Odell Beckham Jr. as the first-round pick, but he’s missed all of camp with an injury and figures to be playing catchup all season. The team desperately needed him to step right in as a major contributor, but he might not catch more than 25 passes as a rookie. Still, that’s more productivity than any of the tight ends appear to offer.
The starting TE will either be Kellen Davis or Larry Donnell. Both caught exactly three passes a year ago, Davis doing so in Seattle after years of failing to meet expectations in Chicago. Daniel Fells is a mediocre blocking specialist. This might be the weakest positional unit on any NFL roster this season.
The offensive line overhaul was long overdue, and it’s a necessary evil to suffer with the growing pains of change. There is talent present that could form a solid line, but it’s not likely to happen this year. The guard situation is unsettled, to put it nicely. Eric Herman’s PED suspension hurts here, because it forces a lesser player like John Jerry or Brandon Mosley into the starting lineup. The fact that stiff James Brewer makes the final roster, and he will, tells you that the depth here remains awful thin.
Running back is an unfortunate mess. David Wilson’s forced retirement due to a neck injury robs the G-men of their expected feature back and legit playmaker. Now they must rely on Rashad Jennings and rookie Andre Williams. Both have some skills but are one-note runners, unlike the versatile weapon that Wilson provided. Jennings does offer the ability to catch out of the backfield. Fullback Henry Hynoski is a good one, but he won’t touch the ball more than 10 times.
The defense could be very good, but it’s relying on a lot of variables. Beason must stay healthy. JPP must be his dominant old self. Kiwanuka must bounce back. Brown must prove he’s fully recovered. I really do like the talent, but it’s premature to say this unit will be able to hold up over the course of a long season.
It’s tough to like the “over” here, as eight wins seems like a Herculean task for what appears to be one of the worst offenses the NFL has seen in recent times. Yet you write this team off at your peril. Manning can still dial up the 400-yard, 4 TD game a couple times a year, and the defense is capable of providing wins. They held three opponents to 7 points or less as they won 7 of the final 10 games, and they’re now deeper and healthier.
The schedule features a whole lot of 50/50 games, contests that either team could realistically win. However, the young offensive line is going to be tested hard against fearsome defensive fronts in Detroit, Houston, Tennessee and pretty much the entire NFC West, which the Giants draw as non-division opponents. Those are bad matchups, and it starts with the Monday night opener in Detroit. Given their inevitable splits with all three NFC East teams, New York has to win five of 10 outside the division.
That’s asking too much of this offense. Barring a surprise renaissance from the erratic Manning, the Giants are going to finish near the bottom in scoring offense and giveaways. That’s a tough recipe for success. These Giants finish 7-9 once again.
New York Giants, IQ
By Jeff Risdon
I know, college football season hasn’t even started yet. So why put out a mock draft now?
There are a couple of reasons. First, consider this a sort of “watch list” for players who I believe could wind up as first-round picks next May. I haven’t really perused other mock drafts to this point, so the players populating this list are talents I believe are either already highly regarded or will emerge to that level in the ’14 season.
Second, it’s always fun to look ahead and try to project where NFL teams will be nine months from now. What might they be looking for in the ’15 draft? Obviously that’s quite difficult to predict, as several teams will have coaching and front office changes.
The order here is based on current (as of 8/18/14) season win total over/under lines in ascending order. In cases of ties, I broke those ties with my own forecast for which team will win more games. The draft order here is technically impossible, as it does not account for division winners and playoff seeding. Get past that, folks…
1. Oakland Raiders: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon. Sure they just drafted Derek Carr in the second round. They cannot afford to look past a superior overall prospect and dual-threat weapon like Mariota. He needs some passing polish, but the physical tools are all there for Mariota to be Colin Kaepernick’s equal, if not superior. He’s just a junior, so it’s far from a given that he declares.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon. Ducks go 1-2 in this premature edition. IEO, as he’s known in scouting shorthand, enters the season as my personal No. 1 overall player. He’s got size, speed, vision, instincts and playmaking flair. He has a chance to be the best CB in the NFL at some point, something that cannot be said of any first-rounders in the last 2-3 drafts.
3. Cleveland Browns: Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn. He’s a downfield demon with legit 4.3 speed, impressive for a rocked-up 6’2”, 200+ pounder. Coates is dripping with potential. If he shows he can improve his footwork on routes and concentration over the middle, he’s going to be the first wideout taken. The Browns need every weapon they can get for Johnny Football, and character concerns are going to matter. Coates
4. Cleveland (from Buffalo Bills): Vic Beasley, Edge, Clemson. The booty for dealing the pick that became Sammy Watkins to Buffalo is the top pass-rushing prospect heading into the season. Beasley has a lightning first step and great closing burst to the ball. He fits better as a 3-4 OLB as he appears fairly maxed out at about 245 pounds.
5. Minnesota Vikings: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford. The Vikings already have a solid pair of tackles in Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt, but Peat could be too skilled to pass on here. He’s got outstanding length and quick feet, a natural left tackle. The Vikings do like to trade picks, too…
6. Tennessee Titans: Leonard Williams, DT, USC. He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to Ndamukong Suh since the Lions stud was dominating at Nebraska. A violently strong interior presence with the athleticism to play anywhere along the line, the rising junior has everything NFL teams want. The Titans have a sturdy young line with Jurrell Casey, Mike Martin and Sammie Lee Hill, but Williams gives them real star potential up front. Have to think that if they’re picking this high they’ll look strongly at a QB, however.
7. Houston Texans: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. It might seem inconceivable for the reigning Heisman winner and field general of the national champs is not a top 5 pick, let alone No. 1 overall. I think he’s a victim of hyper-scrutiny about his character, but also his surprisingly spotty mechanics and accuracy. He can--and I suspect he will--iron the on-field issues out, and that should be enough to convince the Texans to trust him with the keys to the franchise.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa. The Bucs offensive line is in the process of a major turnover, and Scherff has the potential to be the centerpiece of a rebuilt front. Physical and relentless, he’s likely a right tackle at the next level, but could be an awesome one. When I graded him for the ’14 draft he came out ahead of No. 11 overall pick Taylor Lewan, a similar style of player. Scherff isn’t as athletic, however.
9. New York Jets: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State. If you liked Mike Evans in the ’14 draft, Strong is your kind of receiver. Big and strong (no pun intended) with a huge catch radius, the 6’4” junior is a better route runner than Evans already. He’s a viable potential No. 1 receiver, something the Jets could pair nicely with a talented No. 2 in Eric Decker.
10. St. Louis Rams: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA. If the Rams miss out on the playoffs once again, it’s likely Sam Bradford’s fault. That means it’s time for a change, and that change is the rangy Bruins junior. He’s a divisive prospect already, as some (I raise my hand high) worry about his accuracy as much as they are tantalized by his huge arm and great size.
11. Washington Ethnic Slurs: Landon Collins, S, Alabama. Washington drafted a pair of safeties in 2013, but Philip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo have yet to emerge past decidedly average journeymen Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather. Collins is a do-it-all safety with strong tackling skills and solid instincts vs. the pass, giving them a long-term solution at a position of growing importance. Collins is just a junior.
12. Arizona Cardinals: Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida. Fowler is a rising junior with freak closing speed and lateral quickness for a 275ish-pound edge player. He’s not afraid to get physical. If he can clean up his positional discipline and continue to wreak havoc in backfields, he could go a lot higher than 12th. I think the Cardinals are better than this slot, so for them to add another impact piece to their solid defense would be quite fortunate. Fowler and Calais Campbell would be a devastating DE/OLB duo to try and block.
13. New York Giants: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M. Ogbuehi continues the strong line of premium tackles in College Station. He’s not quite as high-end as Luke Joeckel or Jake Matthews, but he’s a high-floor talent who is ready to start right out of the box at either tackle spot. The rebuild of the Giants offense continues by building up the front and adding skill position weapons in the next few rounds.
14. Miami Dolphins: Devante Parker, WR, Louisville. Long and strong, Parker proved he could make the tough catch from Teddy Bridgewater. Now he gets to break in a new QB at Louisville. His projected 4.55 speed waters down his draft stock a bit, but there might not be a better catcher of the football in the next draft. He’d make a great complement for Mike Wallace to help Ryan Tannehill’s progression in Miami.
15. Kansas City Chiefs: Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford. A blazing speedster with reliable hands, Montgomery would immediately upgrade a Kansas City receiving corps that scares Chiefs fans more than it does opponents. In his junior season, he can elevate his stock by improving his footwork and selling his moves better.
16. Carolina Panthers: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State. A fluid athlete with a very high football IQ, Williams will get a lot of exposure playing for the Seminoles. He can elevate himself higher than this if he makes more impact plays as a junior. He would immediately step into Carolina and be their No. 1 corner.
17. San Diego Chargers: Shilique Calhoun, Edge, Michigan State. He’s a fierce pass rusher with explosive athletic metrics, a perfect fit along a Chargers front that needs more sizzle off the edge. His ability to play both end and 3-4 outside backer gives the defense more options. The junior reminds me of Mario Williams.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Randy Gregory, Edge, Nebraska. Another player who is going to divide the draft community, Gregory has potential to be a dynamic edge rusher with a great first step. If he can even out some truly ugly ’13 game tape (Michigan, among others), the rising junior would bring speed and length to what appears to be a brutal Dallas defense.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Funchess, TE/WR, Michigan. He’s a hybrid receiver along the lines of Eric Ebron or Tyler Eifert, a wideout in a tight end frame. The junior offers great potential as a seam-stretcher and giant slot presence. He could blossom with more consistent QB play, something he would get in Pittsburgh with Big Ben.
20. Atlanta Falcons: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia. The two-year drought of first round running backs ends with the eminently talented Bulldogs junior. He will remind some of Steven Jackson, others of Marshawn Lynch. With Jackson nearing the end, the Falcons could add the local product to bolster and balance the Matt Ryan-centric offense.
21. Detroit Lions: La’el Collins, OT, LSU. A massive and punishing line presence, Collins offers the Lions options up front. LaAdrian Waddle and Riley Reiff are both versatile, which would allow Detroit to find the best combination to help fuel their high-powered offense. Yes, once again the Lions do not take a first-round corner…that’s what free agency is for.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State. With Darqueze Dennard now a Bengal, the Ravens tap his Spartans mate to be their own shutdown corner. The rising junior has size and attitude, two attributes in high demand in the NFL today. Of all the picks I’ve made here, this is the one that is the most likely to actually come to fruition.
23. Chicago Bears: Derron Smith, S, Fresno State. Smith is a playmaking cover safety, something the Bears desperately need. He lacks size but doesn’t lack punch when he’s flying all over the field. He’d make a great fit for Chicago in the pass-happy NFC North, a division I think they win in 2014 despite a still-leaky defense.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: Noah Spence, Edge, Ohio State. The rising junior performed at his best against top competition, and he’s an impact player against both the run and pass. His game is similar to Kyle Van Noy from the ’14 draft, and Spence has the similar lack of power and strength that he can build up to improve his stock.
25. Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Robinson, OT, South Carolina. Bengals fans are used to a former SEC behemoth anchoring the offensive line. As Andrew Whitworth approaches his mid-30s, Cincinnati reloads with the 6’7”, 330ish Robinson. He’s still fairly raw with his technique, but you can’t coach his length and brute power.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Ellis McCarthy, DT, UCLA. The junior’s upside is similar to the good Nick Fairley, a disruptive gap penetrator with both power and quickness. McCarthy has to be reminded he’s big at times, but guys his size (6’4”, 325) with his movement skills from a major program typically don’t last long on draft boards.
27. New Orleans Saints: Ramik Wilson, ILB, Georgia. A tightly-wound tackling machine with decent range, Wilson would make a great fit in Rob Ryan’s aggressive, oft-unconventional defense. He could lead the nation in tackles in 2014, but his best NFL attribute might be his cover skills in the short and intermediate range.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Deontay Greenberry, WR, Houston. Every year there are a couple of surprise first round picks, and it’s often the 49ers who make one. Greenberry is a long, speedy monster along the lines of Dez Bryant or Demaryius Thomas. He needs to show his strength more frequently, and then the junior can take the NFL draft process by storm.
29. Green Bay Packers: Alvin Dupree, Edge, Kentucky. Dupree is a player I think will blossom going forward as he gets stronger and learns how to better use his hands. He’s already physical and has nifty feet for a 260-something pound edge rusher, and he’s also shown he is fluid in space. Great fit for a zone blitzing team like Dom Capers’ Packers, who can use him opposite Clay Matthews.
30. New England Patriots: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama. This is probably lower than you’ll see the talented Cooper in most mock drafts, but his lack of any elite trait will water down his stock. That doesn’t mean the Patriots won’t be getting a potentially great receiver, as his sticky hands, route savvy and professional polish are all already evident.
31. Seattle Seahawks: Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State. The player Greene most reminds me of is former Seahawk Golden Tate, who took the money and ran to Detroit. He’s comfortable lining up in the slot or outside, has superb hands and body control and he can make tacklers miss. He’s not as fast at Tate, but the reigning Super Bowl champs can use his NFL-ready game.
32. Denver Broncos: Josh Shaw, CB, USC. The onetime Florida star recruit has the traits of a hybrid corner/safety a la Kenny Vaccaro or Calvin Pryor, two recent first round picks. His high football IQ and great burst out of breaks should translate well to the NFL. Denver needs to keep reloading secondary talent.
Next 10 players picked: Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor; Marcus Peters, CB, Washington; Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State; Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami; Ty Smabrailo, OT, Colorado State; Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland; Jordan Jenkins, Edge, Georgia; Reese Dismukes, C, Auburn; Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington; Christian Covington, DT, Rice
Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Draft, Draft Misc
By Jeff Risdon
The first session of Official Team Activities, or OTAs, are now in the books for every team. There will be many, many more significant things going on as the offseason progresses, but there are some things that stood out around the league.
$.01--The Dallas Cowboys lost the best player on its historically inept defense when middle linebacker Sean Lee tore his ACL on the very first day of OTAs. This is a devastating loss for a unit that is trying to overcome already losing Pro Bowl pass rusher DeMarcus Ware to free agency.
This is not Lee’s first rodeo with major injury. He’s missed significant time throughout his career with neck, knee, wrist and toe issues. He fell in the 2010 draft because of his propensity for getting hurt at Penn State, too.
The Cowboys gambled that he could get healthy, and now it’s blown up in their face. Rod Marinelli’s vanilla 4-3 defense desperately relies on talented players making plays within the scheme, and Lee was the playmaker in the middle. Now they’ve lost him for the year. They don’t have anyone who can replace him at all. I like second-year backer Devonte Holloman a lot, but he’s an outside cover backer, not an inside thumping presence.
Here’s how desperate things are: rumors of Brian Urlacher coming out of retirement are generally viewed as the best option to replace Lee. That’s the same Brian Urlacher who had visibly lost at least a full step in his last season in Chicago back in 2012. Dallas does have some time to find a replacement, be it a trade or a preseason cut (Kelvin Sheppard?), but there’s no denying they are going to sorely miss Lee in the middle of the defense.
$.02--The New York Giants released bad boy safety Will Hill after his latest drug-related suspension. It’s his third since entering the league in 2012 after a career at Florida that might have taken years off then-coach Urban Meyer’s life. For a great look at his dubious history as a human being, check out this fine timeline from Jordan Raanan of NJ.com.
It’s always a shame to see talent wasted; it’s one of the biggest frustrations of covering sports. But when a guy cannot stop smoking pot after at least three failed tests, there is zero sympathy.
One of the bigger arguments I hear from marijuana advocates is that “it’s not addictive” like cocaine or even caffeine. Okay. Try going one single month without smoking it and see what it does to your body, your brain, your attitude. Will Hill apparently cannot, or will not, accept that challenge.
It’s too bad, because his former Gator pothead teammate Janoris Jenkins was able to overcome his chronic abuse of the chronic. One person with knowledge of a failed drug test at Florida told me before Jenkins was drafted that the levels of pot measurable (THC) in his system was that of someone “who is habitually stoned beyond any sense of general sobriety”. Jenkins has kept himself clean in his two seasons with the St. Louis Rams. Maybe St. Louis should take a flier on Hill and hope that Jenkins can lead him into the world of the clear-headed. Of course, the opposite could happen too, so perhaps it’s better that Hill’s NFL dreams go up in smoke.
$03--In previous years, one of the bigger issues at this time on the calendar was getting all the first-round draft picks signed. It wasn’t uncommon to have no more than a handful signed in the first month following the draft, and there were typically at least that many who remained unsigned into training camp.
That has changed with the latest CBA, as the rookie contracts are no longer the mega-deals that crippled many a salary cap. Sam Bradford, the first pick in the 2011 draft, made $50M guaranteed in his rookie deal. Last year’s top pick, Eric Fisher of the Chiefs (remember him?) got a smidge over $22M guaranteed.
For many years, the last team to sign its first-round pick was a lock to miss the playoffs. This year’s candidates for that distinction are few: San Diego, Detroit and Kansas City all have cap issues that could cause a delay in signing their picks. Detroit’s situation is the most acute; the Lions have just $1.1M in cap room but will have to count a little more than double that when they sign top pick Eric Ebron. Yet even that is expected to be wrapped up before training camp begins in July.
The new CBA has its significant detractions, but getting rookies signed and into camp is one of the more underpublicized positives.
$.04--Longtime readers know my disdain for Dan Marino, who I find one of the most overrated athletes of my lifetime. Marino put more fodder in my cannon this week by apparently joining the concussion lawsuit against the NFL by accident.
Much fanfare celebrated such a prominent name joining the long list of plaintiffs suing the NFL for head trauma suffered while playing in the league. Marino never had a documented concussion even though he played for almost two decades, which raised some eyebrows. He has later said he believes he suffered two concussions.
But just as he did when he accepted a front office job with his beloved Dolphins, Marino couldn’t handle any of the negatives that went along with the positives and quickly bailed. His statement on the issue, that he didn’t know his name would be attached to the existing suit, ironically proves that he probably did suffer irreparable brain damage. How could he not understand that? He either needs new advisors around him or to listen to the ones he already has, because the ignorance here is staggering.
There are rumors that Marino quickly withdrew when he realized that his involvement might hinder his ability to work in a front office. Not that there are teams beating down his door after his abortive experience in Miami, where Marino is still revered by fans who like to overlook his lousy playoff record. If he were a politician, opposing candidates would throw flip flops at him.
It’s a shame, really, because if Marino is indeed one of the multitude of former players suffering, he deserves to be part of the massive lawsuit. Adding his name certainly lends more sizzle and credibility to the cause. He’s a prominent figure with a platform, from being a living legend to working for CBS. Casual fans know and respect Dan Marino, and that means something here. If suddenly being thrust out as the face of the lawsuit spooked Marino, that’s simultaneously understandable and unfortunate.
$.05--The first week of June is a tough time to be at the bottom of the roster. This is a very active time for roster churning, and that can make it a very aggravating time for agents whose clients reside in spots 87-90 on the current 90-man roster limits.
The maddening process of trying to secure a tryout with another team is tedious and often humiliating for agents, who are employed in part because they have to believe in the dream too. Often those tryouts consist of one sole practice session in front of a position coach with far more important decisions to make than who is the 7th cornerback on his roster. It’s a longshot of a longshot, but it requires several phone calls and very little chance of financial reward for the agents. Many of these guys don’t have a big “meal ticket” client to lean on.
For folks like me who spend countless hours breaking down draft prospects and fits, it can be very frustrating as well. Lots of these guys are seeing their dreams die. They might not get signed by another team, and unlike the other pro sports, there is no minor league or overseas options to continue playing. Names like Luke Marquadt or Spencer Hadley might not ring a bell for most people, but it’s tough to see their NFL aspirations end when I’ve seen legit glimpses of viable NFL talent in watching their college tape.
Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, St. Louis Rams
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.
The 2014 NFL Draft was most critical in the NFC for the Rams, Falcons, Buccaneers and Vikings.
This was indeed a deep draft, with more prospects than ever evaluated as worthy of being drafted, but it was still filled with surprises.
Great first rounds for the Rams, the NFC North as a whole, Bengals and Chargers, while the Eagles and Patriots received thumbs down, while Cleveland had the most intriguing night.
The two extra weeks of NFL Draft season have led to way too much smoke and speculation. It's one of the most confusing drafts ever, with beat writers for the same teams often wildly differing in their own projections and information.
Breaking down the draft needs, tendencies, draft history, round 1/entire draft priorities for all 32 teams.