Can the Texans win for the first time ever in Indianapolis? Does the cold weather favor the Patriots over the Dolphins? The Bears need a win over the Lions, will they get it? The PFT guys answer these questions and more as they make their Sunday picks.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: PFT Sunday picks
Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles has long been connected as a possibly fit for the Houston Texans with the No.1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
The Texans need a quarterback. Bortles is a quarterback. It kind of makes sense, right?
After meeting with the Oakland Raiders on Monday, Bortles arrived in Houston Tuesday night for a meeting with the Texans on Wednesday.
Bortles met with Texans’ brass at the combine and general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien were both on hand for Bortles’ pro day workout as well.
“They’ve been great,” Bortles said from the William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, via James Palmer of CSNHouston.com “He’s a great guy and a great coach. I’m just excited to get here, meet everybody and sit down and talk with everybody again. So I’m really looking forward to it.”
Bortles, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater are the three likely selections the Texans have to choose between if they want to take a quarterback with their top selection in the draft. Houston also has scheduled a pre-draft visit with Manziel set for next week.
The Texans know they are taking a quarterback at some point in the draft. If it will be at No. 1, Bortles and Manziel seem to have become the two options Houston is focusing on the most.
A pair of prospects from the University of South Carolina is apparently wanted for questioning by police in relation to an incident at a New York City nightclub last week.
According to TMZ, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and cornerback Victor Hampton are “wanted for questioning at the very least” stemming from an alleged attack at Greenhouse nightclub.
A club promoter allegedly suffered “extensive facial injuries” after being allegedly attacked by three men. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.
With less than four weeks to go until the NFL Draft, college prospects are still directly under the spotlight of teams as they continue to adjust and tweak their draft boards. While the investigation is still in its preliminary stages, it likely won’t benefit Quarles and Hampton to have their names tied to a police investigation.
Both players are expected to be drafted based on projections. However, if they are found to be involved in this incident it could affect just when teams decided to take a chance on the,.
After visiting with the Jets, Johnson decided to take in Tuesday night’s game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. While at the game, he spoke with multiple reporters regarding his visit.
Per Josina Anderson of ESPN, Johnson said “I had a great visit with the Jets. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”
Johnson reiterated those thoughts to Peter Botte of the New York Daily News but added he’s “not ready to make my decision.“
Johnson had a down year in 2013 for Tennessee but still posted his sixth straight 1,000-yard season. However, the 3.9 yards per carry were the lowest mark of his career.
The Jets ranked sixth in the league in rushing last season with Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory as the primary options out of the backfield. Johnson would likely work in as part of a rotation alongside Powell and Ivory should he elect to sign with the Jets. But, Johnson is also a home run threat whose speed could be a real addition to the lineup.
For now, Johnson isn’t ready to make a decision as he’s possibly holding out for a better offer from the Jets or another team. However, if he doesn’t make a decision soon, teams may elect to wait until after the draft to re-evaluate their needs and Johnson may have to wait to find a new home.
The Lions have a pair of potent tailbacks. And they plan to use both of them. Perhaps equally.
“[T]his game is a violent game anymore and it’s hard for one running back to get all the carries,” Lombardi said. “So much like they did last year, I see these guys kind of having a split role and both being very productive.”
Last year, Bush and Bell became the first teammates in league history to rack up both 500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in the same season.
Based on salaries, Bush likely is in line to be the starter. But Bell will get plenty of opportunities, and the shared role will help both guys stay healthy deeper into the season — and to play deeper into the decade.
There’s a fourth guy who believes he’s better than all of them.
Appearing on NFL Network on Tuesday, Fresno State’s Derek Carr was asked whether he’s the best quarterback in the draft.
“Absolutely,” Carr said. “And I say that with respect to all of the other guys because they are great competitors and all of those good things. Of course it’s not easy for me to answer a question like that but I absolutely think so. There is no doubt in my mind and we can turn the film on, sit down and watch it, and we’ll talk about it and I’ll convince you.”
Plenty of franchises are interested in having that conversation with a potential franchise quarterback. In a separate appearance on the league-owned broadcast channel, Carr rattled off a list of teams with which he has met.
“Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, Tampa, Minnesota – just the first that come off the top of my head,” Carr said. “Tennessee. I’ve been with them, working out with them, visiting with them, talking to them, the whole process. Those have been the initial ones so far.”
Carr’s brother, David, was the first pick in the 2002 draft. After five years as the starter in Houston, Carr has served as a backup with the Panthers, Giants, 49ers, and Giants again.
Despite the bluster, the bravado, and the convenient revisions to the history of his antagonism of the NFL, billionaire Donald Trump would have a good chance of being approved as owner of the Bills, if the family of Ralph Wilson decides to sell the team to him.
“I don’t see why not,” a source with direct knowledge of the dynamics of team ownership told PFT on Tuesday. “He’s the only one saying it will stay in Buffalo.”
But what of Trump’s thirst for attention, his potential inability to put the greater good above his own interests, his tendency to be belligerent and combative with real or imagined enemies?
“I don’t think there are nine people to stop him,” the source said, in reference to the fact that nine “no” votes from other owners can block the sale.
Of course, a vote of the owners won’t matter unless the Wilson family chooses to sell the team to Trump. It’s one thing for Trump to talk publicly about buying the franchise. It’s quite another to put the cash and financing together to make the purchase.
The Cowboys need defensive linemen. And multiple defensive linemen in the draft pool would like to play for the Cowboys. The question is whether they’ll be there when the Cowboys are on the clock.
And whether the Cowboys will move up the board to get them.
“There’s pros and cons to every team and everywhere you go, but if I were a Cowboy, that would be really a blessing, truly a dream come true – a team I watched growing up,” Barr said, via the team’s official website. “It would just be surreal. I would be really appreciative to be here.”
During his visit, Barr spent time with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
“He showed me a lot of tape of [Julius] Peppers and Simeon Rice and [Warren] Sapp, so I think he wants me playing that defensive right end position to go after the quarterback, and that’s something I’m all for,” Barr said.
Barr also was a little star struck by the folks from the team with the blue star.
“I met Jerry Jones last night, and I couldn’t believe it,” Barr said. “I couldn’t even talk at first, like, ‘This is Jerry Jones.’ It was a pretty cool experience, so these guys get my respect right off the bat.”
He’ll get their respect if he becomes a Cowboy, and if he helps lead the team back to the days of glory.
The 49ers have until May 3 to decide whether to extend the contract of linebacker Aldon Smith from four years to five. In the wake of his latest off-field incident, we reported that the 49ers haven’t made a decision on whether to pick up the option.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the team is “very unlikely” to extend the deal.
Kawakami also believes that Smith “probably” won’t play for the 49ers in 2014. The mechanism for Smith’s unavailability is unclear. He could be suspended by the league under multiple policies and/or he could be placed on the non-football injury/illness list by the team if he has had a relapse of his alcohol issues.
The decision not to exercise the option reinforces the notion that the 49ers may indeed be done with Smith, at least for now. Exercising the option would guarantee his 2015 salary of $9.75 million for injury only. As of next March, it would be fully guaranteed.
For now, Smith’s 2014 salary also is guaranteed. A suspension would wipe out the guarantee, however. Likewise, if the 49ers were to place Smith on the NFI list, they wouldn’t have to pay him.
The risk of owing him $9.75 million in 2015 remains small. Which would make a decision not to pick up the option confusing. If the 49ers are done with Smith, why not trade him? He’d be more attractive in trade if his new team would control his rights for two years.
Regardless of how the situation plays out, the 49ers clearly are exploring their options. And those options include Smith never suiting up for the 49ers again.
In a recent interview with the Carroll County Times, linebacker Rolando McClain indicated he wanted to restart his NFL career with the Ravens, who hold his rights after his retirement last spring.
Well, McClain reportedly had a workout with the Ravens, and the first accounts of that meeting are not flattering for the 2010 first-round pick.
According to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network, McClain’s workout, from what she was told, “was NOT [her emphasis] a roaring success,” with the linebacker not completing the conditioning part of the exercise.
According to Matt Zenitz of the Carroll County Times, the workout was conducted Tuesday, and it “did not go well.”
Speaking at the NFL meetings in March, Ravens coach John Harbaugh made it clear the club would welcome back McClain, but only if he were diligent about his craft.
“If he’s working his rear end off, then I’m kind of excited about him,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN.com. “If he’s not, then I’ve got no interest in him being on our team.”
The 24-year-old McClain last appeared in an NFL game in 2012 with Oakland.
Lee and Nissley spent the 2013 season on injured reserve.
The 23-year-old Lee signed with the Falcons last May after going undrafted out of Alabama State. He reportedly suffered a leg injury in training camp.
Nissley, 25, also spent the 2012 season on injured reserve. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nissley suffered two ACL tears in his time with the Falcons. A UCF product, Nissley signed with Atlanta in April 2012.
When it comes to the 2014 schedule, the NFL has said that the target for the release is mid-April, but that the schedule won’t be released this week.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL currently plans to release the schedule on Tuesday, April 22.
The unveiling of the schedule could be shifted to Wednesday, April 23 or Thursday, April 24. For now, though, the plan is to pull the sheet off the 256-game slate on Tuesday.
Look for the schedule to be announced in prime-time, with a multi-hour event on NFL Network and something similar to that on ESPN, complete with (if last year’s trend holds) an effort to make preliminary picks for games to be played in December.
The NCAA has done plenty of huffing and puffing in the wake of the effort of Northwestern’s football team to unionize. The NCAA will now try to blow their house down.
On Tuesday, the NCAA’s Legislative Council determined that student-athletes “can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation.”
So now college football coaches can punctuate meetings by saying, “Let’s go eat a goddamn snack.”
The move won’t become official until April 24, if/when the NCAA Board of Directors approves the move. It would be a shock if they nix it, since preventing something that many assumed already was available to student-athletes could be the moment that the push to secure significantly better treatment for them fully crystallizes.
Then again, that may have already happened.
The NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy gives a player the benefit of the doubt when he finds himself in one wrong-place/wrong-time situation. The policy isn’t as forgiving when it happens two or more times.
With 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith now involved in a second incident that falls under the Personal Conduct Policy, he could be disciplined before either or both situations are resolved in court.
“With respect to repeat offenders, the Commissioner may impose discipline on an enhanced and/or expedited basis,” the league’s Personal Conduct Policy states. “In such cases, the timing and nature of the discipline will be determined by the Commissioner based on several factors including, but not limited to: the severity of the initial charge and the later charge, the facts underlying the later charge; the length of time between the initial offense and later charge; and the player or employee’s compliance with counseling and other programs.”
Last year, Smith was charged with multiple felony counts arising from the alleged possession of illegal weapons. He now faces an eventual felony charge arising from the allegation that he made a false claim of having a bomb while in an airport security line.
With a pair of pending felony incidents, that could be enough to prompt the NFL to move against Smith sooner rather than later.
Multiple players have been suspended by the NFL while charges were still pending. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games (reduced to four) without ever being even arrested or charged.
Smith’s multiple alcohol-related arrests fall under the substance-abuse policy. The NFL could be influenced by those incidents when deciding whether to discipline Smith before either of the two non-alcohol charges has been resolved.
Ron Jaworski, the former NFL quarterback turned ESPN commentator, is well regarded for his ability to break down film and analyze it in a way that fans can understand. But in breaking down the quarterbacks in this year’s NFL draft, Jaworski has been all over the map.
The latest example: Jaworski said today on NFL Live that he views former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger as a better prospect than either of the two highest-profile quarterbacks in this year’s draft, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M or Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville.
“This is the guy that can change the draft, Zach Mettenberger,” Jaworski said. “He has the big, strong arm, the prototypical NFL quarterback, at 6-foot-5, 228 pounds, coached by Cam Cameron down there at LSU, pro-style offense.”
Jaworski ranks former Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles as the best of this year’s class, Mettenberger second, Manziel third, Bridgewater fourth and Derek Carr of Fresno State fifth. Jaworski seems to put a lot of stock in pro days, moving Manziel up on the risk after ripping Manziel before his impressive showing at Texas A&M’s Pro Day, and moving Bridgewater way down after his disappointing showing at Louisville’s Pro Day.
“After my tape evaluation, I had Teddy Bridgewater No. 1. But I went to his Pro Day. He really struggled throwing the football — accuracy, velocity and it came out with a wobble,” Jaworski said.
It’s highly unlikely that the quarterbacks in this year’s draft class will be selected in Jaworski’s preferred order. But all it takes is one team to love Mettenberger as much as Jaworski does, and Mettenberger will be a first-round pick.
It won’t make the kind of splash that signing Brett Favre did, but the Vikings have added another former member of the Packers to their roster after he spent a season playing in the AFC.
The Vikings have been awarded linebacker Terrell Manning off of waivers one day after he was let go by the Chargers. Manning was a fifth-round pick of the Packers in 2012 and played five games for the team before being waived last summer.
Manning was limited to just one game for the Chargers last season because of injuries, so he’s got very little NFL experience under his belt after two years in the league. Manning has spent most of his time as an inside linebacker and he’ll be competing for snaps with Michael Mauti, Jasper Brinkley and Audie Cole if the Vikings put him into the mix at middle linebacker.
The Vikings also signed tight end Allen Reisner on Tuesday as they continue shaping their roster ahead of the 2014 season.