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Bill O’Brien: Texans might draft two quarterbacks

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At the league meetings last week, Texans coach Bill O’Brien said that the team will definitely be drafting a quarterback in May although he cautioned that the team wasn’t set on drafting a quarterback with the first overall pick.

O’Brien said there were 10-12 quarterbacks that the Texans were evaluating and that they weren’t locked into grabbing one of the players perceived to be at the top of this year’s group. With the top pick in the second round to go with the first overall pick, the Texans would be in position to grab a player outside that top tier by moving back into the first round or staying put and taking a player they like once the draft moves into its second day.

That may be an attempt at misdirection with the draft still more than a month away, as might O’Brien’s answer to a question about the team’s draft plans at a Monday town hall meeting with fans. O’Brien said that the team might draft two quarterbacks in May to compete for the starting job with some combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates.

O’Brien also said that he prizes accuracy in a quarterback over a powerful arm and that he wants a quarterback able to make decisions at the line of scrimmage based on what the defense is throwing at him. Between now and May, it’s a good bet that the Texans will find the player or players they think best fits those desires but ther

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Mike Zimmer on Manziel: There are some flags that come up

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In Sunday morning’s one-liners, there was a link to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer talking about his feeling that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s pro day workout last week was a “sideshow.”

Zimmer shared some more of his thoughts about Manziel during an appearance on 104.9 The Horn in Austin, Texas on Monday. Manziel met with the Vikings on Friday for a workout and a dinner and Zimmer said that he tried to get some information to clear up some “question marks” he had about whether Manziel was going to do what it takes to be a great player or if he wanted to be “the celebrity man guy.”

“We asked him all kinds of questions. … There are some flags that come up. All of the things that happened out in Los Angeles, the commercials and all that stuff; the position of quarterback in the NFL is such an important position and the reason these guys need to be a totally football-minded guy is the pressure of the position and being the face of an NFL team and doing everything right,” Zimmer said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “That’s the thing you want to know about him — will he be into work early every single day? Will he be the last to leave? Will he be the guy that is working the hardest to get better?”

Zimmer cited Peyton Manning and Drew Brees when talking about the kind of focus — “eats, breaths, and sleeps football” — on the game that he wants to see from a quarterback and that the team has to figure out if Manziel will put in the same kind of time. There’s been a variety of opinions offered on that front since Manziel decided to enter the draft, but we don’t expect any teams to share their full opinion until Manziel’s name is called in May.

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Derek Carr expected to work out for Browns on Monday

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Brian Hoyer says that last year’s torn ACL isn’t going to hold him back in a quarterback competition against whoever the Browns bring in to face off against him and the team is reportedly starting the process of finding that player on Monday.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr will hold a private workout with the team on Monday. Carr is the first of this year’s draft prospects to work out for the Browns, who have raised some eyebrows by passing on pro day workouts and combine interviews with the top prospects.

Any cost associated with missing those opportunities is mitigated by the time the Browns will have to visit with Carr, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and any one else they want to meet with before draft day rolls around. Even before the meeting, Browns coach Mike Pettine knows he likes Carr’s arm.

“I think he’s the best natural thrower as far as arm strength and when you’re just looking at the guy, natural thrower, in the draft,” Pettine said. “(He’s) very physically gifted. And a lot of times it’s hard to bet against the family history as well. You’re talking about like a Jake Matthews that it’s the old ‘don’t bet against the genetics.’ I think he certainly falls into that category as well.”

Carr’s name hasn’t been mentioned in relation to the top picks in the draft as often as some of the other prospects, but the Browns have a slew of picks beyond the fourth overall selection and could use them to maneuver into position for Carr even if they opt to go in another direction with their top choice.

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PFT Live: Joique Bell, Eric Ebron

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Lions running back Joique Bell was set to be a restricted free agent this offseason, but he and the Lions were able to avoid that process by signing a multiyear deal with the club as free agency was starting.

On Wednesday, Bell will talk to Mike Florio about that decision and what it is about the team that moved him to secure a future in Detroit. We’ll also get Bell’s impressions of new coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi as their first offseason on the job continues to unfold.

Bell went undrafted coming out of college, a fate that North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron is unlikely to share. Ebron is widely considered to be the top tight end in this year’s draft class and some believe he could go in the Top 10 once the first round gets underway. He’ll also join Florio to let us know what he’s hearing and doing as he prepares for draft day.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all by clicking right here.

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Dr. Andrews, Alabama doctor refute negative reports about Cyrus Kouandjio’s knee

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Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio’s draft stock took hits during the combine when he performed poorly and it was reported that several teams had failed him on his physical because of knee problems.

According to Dr. James Andrews, who has examined Kouandjio, and Alabama team doctor Lyle Cain, teams don’t have to worry about things on the medical side. Andrews told Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com that he’s written a memo to all 32 teams telling them that the tackle has had no problems with his knee since tearing his ACL and MCL as a freshman.

“I wrote a letter to send to every team about his true medical history,” Andrews told CBSSports.com. “I’m trying to put out fires that aren’t even justified and to clear the record, I guess, is the best way to put it. It came out he had a failed ACL surgery — that’s not even close to the truth. His performance at the combine had nothing to do with his knee situation, and that was blown way out of proportion and that’s not fair to the kid.”

Cain echoed Andrews’ findings and said that Kouandjio has had “no swelling, no pain” in the knee. There’s “a little bit of cartilage wear,” which Cain said was common in NFL players and that teams would have no reason to fail the tackle on his physical.

The positive reports don’t do much to help Kouandjio explain his on-field work at the combine, but it could quiet some concerns about a player whose work in college had him mentioned as a first-round pick.

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Browns didn’t formally interview any top quarterback prospects at combine

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Earlier this week, Browns coach Mike Pettine revealed that the Browns didn’t conduct a formal interview with Texas A&M quarterback and likely early first-round pick Johnny Manziel during the combine in Indianapolis last month.

As it turns out, that wasn’t an anomaly. Vic Carucci, senior editor of the team’s website, said on WKNR that the team didn’t have formal interviews in Indy hotel rooms with any of the other top quarterback prospects either.

That doesn’t mean that they won’t be speaking with Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Derek Carr, however. Or that they didn’t have informal conversations with them at a train station, another option available to teams.

They can bring them to the team’s facility or hold workouts on campus in meetings that can be more in-depth than the 15 minutes alloted for interviews at the combine. Pettine indicated that’s exactly what the team is planning.

“We’ll make sure that whatever access we need to get to that player and whatever interaction [we need] with him, we’ll get that done,” Pettine said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

With no one interviewing, the lack of an interview with any one prospect tells us nothing about Cleveland’s feelings. And we wouldn’t expect them to share anything telling about those feelings until it is time to hand in their pick in the first round.

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David and Derek Carr working out with Mike Sullivan

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Fresno State Derek Carr isn’t usually mentioned along with the presumed top-three quarterbacks — Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel — in this year’s NFL draft, but he’ll be picked sometime in the first half of the draft and will be in the NFL next season.

His brother David may join him. The elder Carr brother was out of the NFL last season as the Giants decided to move in a different direction at backup quarterback, but he’s not ready to give up on his career.

Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports 1 reports that both Carr brothers are working out with former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who knows David from his days as the quarterback coach for the Giants. It’s not the first shared tutor for the Carr brothers, who have also both worked with Sullivan’s replacement in Tampa Jeff Tedford.

The Buccaneers haven’t been shy about their desire to add competition for Mike Glennon at quarterback, but the Tedford connection may not help the Carr brothers there. They’ve talked about adding a veteran option, which would eliminate Derek and make David an unlikely choice given the fact that he last started a game in 2007.

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Phil Simms: I’m not sure there’s a franchise quarterback in this draft

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Ron Jaworski grabbed some headlines this week with his unimpressed review of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s fitness for duty in the NFL.

Now another former NFC East quarterback turned television personality is also weighing in on Manziel and the other quarterbacks believed to be possibilities to be drafted near the top of the first round. Phil Simms doesn’t sound like he’s any higher on Manziel than Jaworski, but went a bit further by putting down the entire group of quarterbacks.

During an appearance on Mad Dog Sports Radio, Simms said he’s “not sold” that there are any franchise quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville and Blake Bortles of Central Florida are expected to join Manziel as options for teams looking for just such a quarterback.

Simms dinged Bridgewater as having middle of the pack arm strength and said he never saw Bortles as a top five pick when watching him on film. The whole group got taken down a peg when Simms said he thought Jets quarterback Geno Smith, a second-round pick last year who struggled as team’s starter, would be the best quarterback in this year’s class.

There will be plenty of other opinions proffered in the coming months about all the quarterbacks in this year’s draft and we’ll be sharing plenty of them with you on these pages. And none of them will matter at all in May if teams fall in love with the players that Simms and Jaworski find lacking.

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Teams asked Blake Bortles if he’ll bring his girlfriend to predraft visits

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Last year, one of the stories to emerge from the combine was that teams were asking prospects if they liked girls as part of the interviews in Indianapolis.

Central Florida Blake Bortles didn’t get that question at this year’s combine. Teams seemed to be aware that Bortles has a girlfriend who was described by Central Florida coach George O’Leary, via TheBigLead.com, as being worth “six million Googles” during the season and wanted to know if they could get an up-close view of her if Bortles paid them a visit in the months leading up to the draft.

“If we come to town, will she be there for dinner and stuff like that,” Bortles said on The Dan Patrick Show. “They knew [about his girlfriend] going into the meeting. I think that was kinda the angle, how I would react to it.”

Plenty of teams ask questions from odd angles to see how a player handles them, with other stories from this year including queries about the number of uses for a brick that a player can think of off the top of his head. Such questions are far less creepy than grown men drooling over the possibility of meeting an attractive college girl who is dating a player they may want to be their quarterback.

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Ron Jaworski: I wouldn’t take Manziel in first three rounds

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Most of the discussion regarding Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s football future has centered on whether he will go in the first three picks.

Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski is taking a contrarian view. During an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, Jaworski was asked about the Eagles meeting with Manziel at the combine and said he liked the idea because it is a way of stockpiling information on a player you’re likely to play against at some point.

As for the idea of taking Manziel? Jaws isn’t so keen on that for the Eagles or anyone else in the league.

“I’m a big believer in Nick Foles, but who knows?” Jaworski said. “Manziel may fall. I’m not crazy about him, to be honest with you. I’ve only looked at five games. I wouldn’t take him in the first three rounds. That’s my opinion. It’s incomplete right now. But he has not done a whole lot to me.”

Jaworski has always taken strong opinions about quarterbacks and they don’t always follow the orthodoxy, so it’s probably fair to say that he doesn’t mind being an outlier on this front. Still, it would be perhaps the greatest shocker in the history of the draft if Manziel were available on even the second day of this year’s draft.

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Ha Ha Clinton-Dix posts solid 40 times

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While strong safety Jimmie Ward isn’t able to take part in the combine with his fellow defensive backs on Tuesday, the other top safety prospects are on the field in Indianapolis.

Alabama free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is on that list and didn’t do anything to hurt himself in the 40-yard dash as he posted unofficial times of 4.50 and 4.52 seconds in his two attempts at the distance. It’s not going to be the fastest of the day, but it is right where a safety praised for his overall athleticism and ability to close on the ball in coverage.

Clinton-Dix’s top competition at free safety is Calvin Pryor of Louisville, who is known as a heavier hitter than Clinton-Dix and calls himself a big fan of Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. The Alabama product called himself a fan of Pryor’s, but touted his own versatility as a reason why he should be the first safety off the board in May.

“Chance is a big play, a big-time safety. But you also need safeties that can cover slot receivers and also play the deep middle of the field and in the box,” Clinton-Dix said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “So I think you need more versatile safeties in this league now.”

We’ll find out soon enough whether NFL teams agree with the man with the most memorable name in this year’s draft.

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Foot injury sidelines Jimmie Ward at combine

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One of the top strong safeties in this year’s draft won’t be participating at the combine on Tuesday.

Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois has been ruled out of the combine by doctors after his medical exam in Indianapolis. Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reports that Ward has a foot injury that is believed to be minor as Ward was working out and preparing for the combine without any indication that anything was wrong with his foot.

Ward was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the top collegiate defensive back and had a strong Senior Bowl to bolster his spot at the top of the rankings at his position. Assuming his foot issue is indeed minor and he’s able to participate in pro day and other workouts, Ward should still be coming off the board in the first few rounds.

While Ward was a strong safety at NIU, he showed the ability to cover receivers in the slot as well. That versatility could help him when teams set up their boards and rank Ward against free safeties like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama and Calvin Pryor of Louisville.

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Fractured bone in foot to keep Stephon Tuitt from participating at combine

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Notre Dame produced a pair of defensive linemen that could wind up going in the first round of May’s draft, but only one of them will be working out at the NFL Scouting Combine on Monday.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com reports that defensive end Stephon Tuitt will not be able to work out because of a fractured bone in his left foot. Tuitt has not been medically cleared after the injury was discovered during a scan at the combine and is expected to have surgery in a week. Tuitt is expected to recover in six-to-eight weeks and Jeremiah reports that he may hold his own pro day for scouts when he has recovered from the operation.

Tuitt had 19.5 sacks for the Fighting Irish over the last two seasons, making him a potential pick in the first round for a team looking for more pressure from their defensive linemen next season. Kony Ealy of Missouri and Dee Ford of Auburn are also expected to be in the mix of defensive ends taken after Jadeveon Clowney goes near the top.

Defensive tackle Louis Nix III, who played with Tuitt in South Bend, is also expected to be off the board on the opening night of the draft.

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Dee Ford: Jadeveon Clowney “plays like a blind dog in a meat market”

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In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio on Sunday, Auburn defensive end Dee Ford was asked if he was better than South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

As would be expected, Ford answered in the affirmative.

“I’m better. I’m better,” Ford said.

Then, as he expanded on his answer, Ford offered something of a critique of Clowney, who had just three sacks in 2013 but is widely regarded as of the top prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft.

“People are just looking at the fact that he’s a physical specimen,” Ford said. “It really don’t matter. Honestly, if you watch the film, you know, it’s kind of like, he plays like a blind dog in a meat market, basically.

“I play with a lot of technique. I watch a lot of film. These are the things that make you a great player, and these are the things that I do, and it shows up, know what I’m saying?

“This is all my opinion, you know what I’m saying? And you can see these things. You can see these things on film. Go watch the film. You know, it’s a lot of intangibles that you need to have to be a great player. You can’t just look at the fact that he’s a physical specimen. I think the NFL should have learned by that by now.”

Ford certainly was the more productive player in 2013, notching 12.5 sacks for Auburn. Per NFL.com, he measures at 6-foot-2 and 252 pounds, but Ford, in his interview with SiriusXM, noted that Elvis Dumervil, Robert Mathis and Von Miller are all successful pass rushers of somewhat shorter stature.

Nevertheless, Clowney — who’s three inches taller and 14 pounds heavier than Ford, per NFL.com — is very likely to be drafted earlier than Ford in May. Clowney’s sheer skill set makes it just about a cinch.

In some ways, Ford’s confidence and willingness to talk about his strengths is understandable. If he’s not going to talk himself up, who will? Also, by talking about Clowney — one of the draft’s marquee prospects — he indirectly draws some attention to his cause.

Anyways, it just so happens that linebackers and defensive ends work out Monday at the Combine, and anything Ford does at Lucas Oil Stadium will mean more to his draft stock than anything he says.

Clowney? His draft stock is pretty solid.

After all, Ford’s not the one doing the drafting.

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LSU’s Jeremy Hill timed at 4.66 seconds in 40-yard dash

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LSU redshirt sophomore tailback Jeremy Hill was timed at 4.66 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday, according to NFL.com.

Hill — who measures at 6-foot-1 and 233 pounds, per NFL.com — is one of the more intriguing big backs in the 2014 NFL Draft. He rushed for 1401 yards on just 203 carries in 2013, racking up 6.9 yards per attempt. Just 21 years old, Hill had just 345 collegiate attempts to his credit.

However, he’s had some off-field issues, with a pair of arrests since 2011.

At the Combine, Hill took responsibility for the incidents.

“I put myself in those situations,” Hill said, according to a transcript from Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune for the Pro Football Writers of America. “I can’t really focus on that. All I can do is make the right decisions going forward and put myself in the best position possible.”

Hill’s size, production and youth are his greatest assets. His 40 time, while not great, wasn’t terribly slow for a back who’s work is probably going to come between the tackles on the next level. For instance, the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell was timed at 4.60 seconds last year at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, per NFL.com. For Hill, the Combine interviews might have been the most important part of the process, given the off-field incidents.

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