Former Pro Bowler and now Draftnasty.com expert Corey Chavous joins PFT to discuss if his off-season trouble will affect Alec Ogletree’s draft stock, and how E.J. Manuel will make the Texans playoff favorites.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Manuel the first QB off the board?
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has dealt with a lot of NFL scouts over the course of his career with the Buckeyes and other teams and he knows that they aren’t all created equal.
Meyer said Tuesday that some of the teams “do a phenomenal job” when it comes to asking questions and finding out everything there is to know about a prospect. He’s also had teams pick his players without ever speaking to him and says that those teams that don’t do the legwork also fail to “win a bunch of games.”
Based on 2014 experiences, you might think Meyer would put the Browns in the latter category. First-round picks Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert both struggled in their first NFL seasons with Manziel winding up in rehab and Gilbert dealing with a “very personal” issue that the Browns first became aware of once he was already on the team. Meyer says that’s not the case, however.
“Not good, fantastic,” Meyer said, via Cleveland.com. “I really like their head coach. He’s knee deep in it.”
The Browns did hit on later picks with guard Joel Bitonio, linebacker Christian Kirksey and running back Terrance West contributing to the team and Isaiah Crowell joined West in the backfield after signing as an undrafted free agent. As anyone familiar with recent Browns history will tell you though, missing on big pieces like quarterbacks often sets you back more than those kinds of hits spring you forward and the Browns need one of those big hits to become a team that wins a bunch of their future games.
The Lions have lost defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, replacing them with Haloti Ngata. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin sees that as an upgrade. And it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day gag.
“We plan to be better this year,” Austin told a gathering of season-ticket holders at Ford Field on Tuesday, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
“We tell our guys all the time, you go in, the No. 1 thing you want to do is stop the run, and Haloti’s a premier run-stuffer,” Austin said. “I don’t know if there’s any better in the league. He’s that good. And from the people that aren’t familiar with him, I had an opportunity to be in there with him for three years and just know the difference he makes up front.”
Colts coach Chuck Pagano was with Ngata, too. Which makes Indy’s failure to pounce on Ngata even more confusing, especially given their struggles against the run. Then again, the Colts may have tried to get Ngata, but the Lions struck too quickly.
“We literally finalized the trade with Baltimore, and Martin Mayhew and I are on the phone in my office, we hadn’t even told Jim [Caldwell] yet, and we’re on the phone to Bill Ford letting him know that the trade had finalized and it pops up on Twitter as we’re telling the owner that we had just finalized it,” team CEO Tom Lewand said, via Birkett. “So Twitter was finding out before our head coach, and we had to go down the hall and I had the privilege of interrupting a staff meeting and stuck my head in and said, ‘Hey we got Haloti Ngata,’ and the looks on the face of these guys was like it was Christmas morning and Santa Claus had just come down the chimney.”
It’s a neat story, but let’s be realistic about this. The Lions wanted to keep Suh. The Lions tried to keep Suh. The Lions reportedly hoped Suh would “come to his senses” after reports emerged of a looming deal with the Dolphins.
Austin now sees Ngata as an upgrade over Suh. Less than two months ago, Austin said he planned on Suh returning, and that a possible departure hadn’t even crossed Austin’s mind.
The truth is that the Lions are seeing the glass as half full because they have no other choice, especially when talking up the upcoming season to a room full of season-ticket holders. The offseason requires teams to sell hope to the fans, plausible or otherwise. Which likewise requires teams to create the impression that any losses via free agency ultimately weren’t losses at all.
Besides, if Austin’s assessment eventually is proven to be wrong, it’s unlikely that anyone will throw his words back at him. Even if they do, Austin will come up with a new reason for thinking that the glass is half full, no matter how empty is actually may be.
That’s not a knock on Austin. It’s a recognition of the reality that only one team wins the Super Bowl every year. For all 32, the challenge is to make the fans think they have a chance to be that one team.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw 12 interceptions in 16 games during the 2014 regular season, the lowest full-season total during his NFL career.
Stafford also set a new career low in net yards per pass attempt during Joe Lombardi’s first year as the offensive coordinator in Detroit. The team’s offense also saw sharp drops in points and yards, which may be why Lombardi suggested Stafford was too risk-averse during their first season working together.
“Our biggest thing is in order to win football games, you got to first not lose them,” Lombardi said, via MLive.com “And I thought he played smart football — almost to a fault. We’ll look for him to take a few more chances this year with the football. He’s got the arm to do it, and the receivers to throw it to.”
Having a healthy Calvin Johnson would offer Stafford more opportunities to show off the arm that once threw for 5,000 yards in a season and more shots down the field could return some of those missing points. That said, avoiding risk on offense paid off for the team last season and it would be surprising to see them alter things too dramatically after winning 11 games for the first time since 1991 and the third time since the franchise has been in Detroit.
Well, that escalated quickly.
Earlier in the morning, we pointed out that free-agent receiver Greg Jennings teased that he’d be announcing his next time on social media at 1:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday. He ultimately announced nothing, making the entire exercise a not-so-funny April Fool’s Day joke.
Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin has gone next level, using the scourge of drunk driving as the basis for an April Fool’s Day joke of his own.
‘Before this hits the media I just wanna apologize to my fans and the @Seahawks organization once again,” Irvin said on Twitter. “I made a terrible decision [by] driving after I had a few drinks. I will do everything to get ur trust back and will become a better person after this.”
And then, 25 minutes later, Irvin added this: “How many of yall thought I was serious ?! Haha April fools!!!”
I thought he was serious, because I seriously wouldn’t expect anyone to admit to a specific type of criminal activity that has claimed many lives over the years as part of an April Fool’s Day prank. Really, how is this any different than Irvin joking that he’d committed domestic violence? While a run-of-the-mill DUI has no specific victim, the behavior of drunk driving has generated thousands of victims over the years.
So, congrats, Bruce. You fooled us into thinking that you are among the many irresponsible adult males who get behind the wheel of a 4,000-pound steel missile after consuming too much alcohol, even though you have the resources as a result of your employment in the NFL to quickly and easily obtain another form of transportation. Hooray?
Linebacker Rolando McClain, a former top-10 pick who retired twice before turning his career around in Dallas, will continue his career there. As previously noted, it’s a one-year deal for McClain to remain with the Cowboys, with a value of up to $4 million.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, McClain’s visit with the Patriots resulted in an offer. Which made the decision a very difficult one for McClain. In the end, familiarity with teammates and coaches made the difference, along with the reality that Stephen and Jerry Jones gave McClain a chance to resurrect his career in 2014.
The short-term nature of the contract may have been influenced by a pair of off-field issues with which McClain is currently dealing. He’s reportedly one failed drug test away from a four-game suspension, and authorities have determined that a fire that destroyed his Alabama mansion was the result of arson. McClain has not been accused of having any involvement in or knowledge of the fire.
The Cowboys brought Rolando McClain in as an injury replacement.
And he showed them enough to make them pony up to keep him when the other guy got well.
PFT has confirmed that the Cowboys have agreed to a new one-year deal with McClain which has a base value of $3 million, with another $1 million in playing time incentives. The news was first reported by Ed Werder of ESPN.
Now, they can use McClain in the middle again, giving them some flexibility to bring Sean Lee back to play on the weakside (which may keep him out of some traffic, and help his durability).
The Cowboys signed the twice-retired McClain last year after Lee tore his ACL in OTAs, and he played well for them. The Patriots had also showed interest, but the former top 10 overall pick decided to stay in Dallas.
Long snappers don’t make a lot of pre-draft visits because long snappers are rarely drafted. And players from service academies don’t make a lot of pre-draft visits because players from service academies have military commitments that often keep them from starting their NFL careers right away.
But Chip Kelly’s team does things differently.
Navy long snapper Joe Cardona will visit the Eagles next week, the Baltimore Sun reports. Cardona was the only long snapper at the Combine and performed well there, with 30 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a 33-inch vertical and a 4.91-second 40-yard dash.
That athleticism may appeal to Kelly, who has long been fascinated by Navy training methods. One of Kelly’s first moves after becoming the Eagles’ head coach was to hire a Navy SEALs trainer and give him the title of sports science coordinator.
If the Eagles draft Cardona, he’ll be the first player from Navy drafted in two decades, and one of only a handful of players in NFL history drafted specifically to be a long snapper.
April Fool’s Day got rolling with a foolish exercise from free-agent receiver Greg Jennings.
Jennings launched the ruse Tuesday on Twitter, explaining that he’s “Really glad to be wrapping this #FreeAgency process up! Glad it’s coming to an end.” Three hours later he added, “Done deal!”
He then said the announcement of his new team would be made at 10:00 p.m. PT, which is 1:00 a.m. ET. Which meant I wasn’t going to stay up and wait to hear where a 31-year-old receiver who’d been cut by the Vikings will be playing in 2015.
Apparently, I didn’t miss anything. While it’s still unclear what Jennings announced at 1:00 a.m. ET because the link provided by Jennings on Twitter is dead, it’s clear he hasn’t signed a contract with a new team.
His exercise wasn’t entirely useless. It provided an important reminder to be on the lookout for April Fool’s Day jokes, even if they’re not particularly funny.
The Ravens are short on tight ends at the moment and they may try to remedy that by signing a former member of the Cardinals.
Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Ravens and Rob Housler have mutual interest in working together during the 2015 season. That mutual interest hasn’t led to mutual agreement on a price for Housler’s services, though Wilson reports that the two sides continue to talk in hopes of finding a common ground.
Housler caught 84 passes for the Cardinals across the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but saw his role in the offense drop significantly last season. Housler caught just nine balls for 129 yards as Arizona’s passing game looked in other directions.
Signing with Baltimore could offer Housler a chance to rebound as the Ravens need to replace Owen Daniels’s 48 catches from last season with the veteran following Gary Kubiak to Denver. Crockett Gilmore returns from last year’s team, although he’s been more of a blocker thus far in his career.
As with many modern media phenomenons, it all started with a tweet.
And actually, he’s better than Bayless, because there’s at least an intellectual honesty to the kid’s claims.
The original column in Virginia’s Venable Elementary School’s Gazelle began by suggesting the Panthers should move Newton to running back, decried their inconsistency, but came around to the notion of “Now that I think about it, … Maybe he is not the only bad player.”
Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review caught up with the precocious tyke, who was surprised by the attention, but saw the chance at a greater good.
“I am very surprised and very glad because it means the Panthers might get a new quarterback,” 10-year-old Robert Romer said, when asked about the attention his words had gotten.
“Cam isn’t reliable like Peyton Manning is. Some days he’ll win, some days he’ll lose,” Robert said.
When it’s mentioned that Manning loses in the playoffs a lot, Robert replied: “Well, he’s old.”
“I think Cam throws too many interceptions,” Robert said. “But I’ll cheer for him because he’s on my favorite football team.”
Believe it or not, there are actually some thin-skinned fans who were offended by the kid’s work, but his journalism advisor said she was proud of it.
“I would be very, very disappointed in mankind if there would be backlash, that people would be critical of a child having an opinion,” teacher Maxine Baskfield-Spears said. “We should be encouraging young people to learn, to express their ideas in the right forum, and in such a way that it can be even debated a little it. . . .
“This is sort of the beginning. I hope by the time he’s in 8th or 9th grade, he’ll be writing articles he can defend and that other people can intellectually question.”
His teacher may be expecting a little much from some of the hot-take merchants, and their customers.
And in a few years, we all may be out of work.
The NFL has perfected the offseason art of shows about nothing. From the Scouting Combine to the Veteran Combine to the schedule-release show to the Pro Day workouts of select incoming rookies, plenty of non-game action captures our attention, even at a time when other sports are racing toward (or are actively in) their postseasons.
While not as worthless as the upcoming multi-hour programs in which the “when” is applied to the “who” and “where” of the 256-game season as experts then predict outcomes of games to be played in September, October, November, and December, the Pro Day workout of the top prospect has little value — especially in comparison to the other available evidence of a player’s potential in the NFL. Former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, for example, spent two seasons as a starting quarterback with a major college program. He has generated plenty of game film. So how can 100 or so passes thrown against no defenders (except for brooms that never were going to actually make contact with Winston) even begin to compare to what he did on the field in live, game situations?
It can’t. But with nearly four months from the end of college football season until the draft, the space must be filled with something.
The Pro Day workouts aren’t entirely useless, given that plenty of emerging college players aren’t invited to the Scouting Combine. Even then, what a guy does in shorts and a T-shirt doesn’t really do much to supplant what he did in pads and a helmet.
Still, teams have hired armies of scouts, and those armies of scouts must justify their existences by actively scouting, even when there’s nothing to really scout. While those scouts can surely rattle off a laundry list of reasons for conducting and attending Pro Day workouts, for the top prospects it’s ultimately an exercise in excess, inviting a potential paralysis by analysis.
Maybe one day a guy who clearly is among the very best of the prospects will take a stand, explaining that he’s ready and willing and able to play football at a high level, but that he chooses not to devote further time and effort to the process beyond his play-for-no-pay college football career. He’s not going to the Scouting Combine, to be treated like livestock and forced to pee in a cup to determine whether he has been smoking a substance now legal in two of the 22 states where the NFL does business. He’s not going to fly from city to city to be asked various obtuse and intrusive questions, or to be spied upon while he travels. He’s not going to take a 50-question standardized intelligence test that reveals nothing about football intelligence. He’s not going to play an extended, public game of catch with his former college teammates for the world to scrutinize his every movement.
Really, why should any of the top prospects do any of this? And, please, spare us the “it shows that they love football” routine. It’s more accurate to say that it shows that they’re lemmings, which is perhaps exactly what the NFL wants.
If a player who truly believes that his college career establishes him as the best prospect dares to opts out of the pre-draft nonsense, would he nevertheless be embraced by a team desperate to win — or would he be shunned by an industry that craves its shows about nothing? If the game film demonstrates that the player can play at a high level, he surely won’t be waiting long to hear his name called while waiting somewhere other than backstage at the ultimate spring show about nothing.
Wide receiver Andre Johnson posted his lowest average yards per catch since 2005 while playing for the Texans last season, a development which may have accelerated his departure from Houston in the offseason.
It’s not a problem for the Colts, though. Indianapolis was quick to snap Johnson up once he became a free agent and coach Chuck Pagano says that the team didn’t see a markedly different player on the field during the 2014 season.
“You don’t see a huge dropoff numbers-wise,” Pagano said, via ESPN.com. “Maybe in touchdowns. But you still see a guy who is more than capable of stretching the defense. Certainly somebody who an opponent can’t just line up and say, ‘Don’t worry about Andre Johnson.’ They’re still going to have to tend to him if you will. If they choose to double [T.Y. Hilton] and take him out of the game, you have another guy on the other side, along with the rest of the guys on the roster who can still stretch the defense. He’s a big, possession type guy. He makes contested catches in traffic. He’s got a big catch radius. A big body. Those guys are hard to defend.”
The Colts are likely to get more out of Johnson as a “big, possession type guy” than as someone stretching defenses at this point in his career, but that shouldn’t be a problem at all. With Hilton and Donte Moncrief on hand, the team needs someone to make plays underneath the defense and give Andrew Luck a reliable target to extend drives down the field.
Johnson’s 85 catches while playing with the motley crew of 2014 Texans quarterbacks suggests he’ll be able to do that just fine.
Longtime NFL linebacker Dwight Freeney hasn’t found any action in free agency, but he’s working on a bigger score.
According to Dana Hunsinger Benbow of the Indianapolis Star, Freeney is suing Bank of America, saying they bilked him out of more than $20 million and forced him to close his restaurant business.
The lawsuit claims Freeney was taken advantage of after he trusted the bank’s wealth management division with his assets.
“Although we sympathize with Mr. Freeney as the victim of a crime, the bank had nothing to do with the criminal scheme,” said Bill Halldin, a spokesman for Bank of America.
The bank spokesman said two people who had been part of a previous scheme had been convicted in criminal court and ordered to pay restitution. One former Bank of America Merrill Lynch adviser and an associate were arrested in 2012 after fraudulently removing $2.2 million from Freeney’s account.
And in his lawsuit, Freeney said the bank “participated in and aided and abetted” a scheme that began in 2010 to separate him from his money.
If he wins, it’ll be bigger than anything he’s going to make playing football anytime soon, after the Chargers let him walk.
The Boston Globe has a detailed look at Robert Kraft’s testimony in the Aaron Hernandez trial.
Jets great Joe Namath visited the birthday party of 100-year-old twins.
Steelers great Rod Woodson is auctioning off some memorabilia.
The Bengals would like to add a receiver in the draft.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s truck stop company has settled four rebate fraud cases.
Here’s a look at players the Jaguars might draft.
Some possible options for the Chiefs in the draft.
Here’s a scenario in which the Eagles could draft Marcus Mariota.
Cliff Harris, a great Cowboy of the 1970s, says when he thinks about today’s game, “I’m trying not to think about the eight to 10 million a year I would be making if I were playing today.”
The Lions’ defense was good in coordinator Teryl Austin’s first season, but he expects it to be better this year.
The Falcons seem relieved that they got off easy for Noisegate.
Kentucky pass rusher Alvin Dupree could be a fit for the Cardinals in the first round.
Here’s how the Seahawks’ starting lineup on defense looks right now.
Earlier this week, video of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady jumping off a cliff in Costa Rica made the internet rounds but he isn’t the only player to spend some portion of their offseason finding thrills off of the football field.
As mentioned in one-liners on Monday, Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy shared some pictures and video of his experience walking on the wings of a biplane. There’s a standard clause in player contracts that says players cannot “engage in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury,” but the team doesn’t have any problem with Levy’s new pursuit.
Lions president Tom Lewand said on Tuesday that the team’s official position was “don’t fall” and coach Jim Caldwell remained unfazed by the linebacker taking a mid-flight stroll.
“I think he was strapped in pretty well,” Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. “As a matter of fact, I just saw the photo for the first time. He’s that kind of individual. He’s afraid of nothing. He takes some pretty exotic trips in the offseason and as long as he’s coming back healthy, we’re going to pray for him. He’s an integral part of our team.”
Despite their accepting attitude, we imagine the Lions will ask Levy to fly inside the plane on road trips during the 2015 season.