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PFT Live: Marqise Lee, PFT Planet calls and tweets

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USC wide receiver Marqise Lee wasn’t able to duplicate his spectacular 2012 season for the Trojans last year, but he’s still expected to be chosen early in next month’s draft.

On Friday’s edition of PFT Live, Mike Florio will speak to Lee about where he sees himself going once the league’s 32 teams gather in New York to make their selections. We’ll also find out why Lee’s production dropped off during the 2013 season and what he thinks he brings to the table that separates him from some his peers in this year’s draft class.

And then you’ll be the ones asking the questions. Florio will answer queries via Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or on the phone — 888-237-5269 — during the show about any topics that interest PFT Planet.

Whether you have a question or not, you can watch it all live at noon ET by clicking right here.

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Report: Jets “very intrigued” by Kelvin Benjamin

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The Jets signed wide receivers Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford as free agents, but their arrivals won’t fix one of the league’s least impressive receiving groups all by itself.

May’s draft is expected to bring more help on that front and the Jets figure to be linked with some of the top receiving and tight end prospects over the next month as a result. One player who qualifies is Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who had 54 catches for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns to help the Seminoles win a national title and quarterback Jameis Winston win the Heisman Trophy.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that the Jets are “very intrigued” by Benjamin, who brings great size to the position at 6-5 and 240 pounds. That size seems to be at the heart of the Jets’ interest as Mehta quotes a team source as saying that you “can’t teach 6-5.”

You can’t teach 6-4 either, but the Jets have learned with 2012 second-round pick Stephen Hill that all the size in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t catch the ball. Had Hill worked out, the Jets wouldn’t be so needy of help at receiver so any move for Benjamin needs to be based on more than just how big he is compared to other prospects at the position.

Benjamin is expected to visit with the Jets, who own the 18th pick in the first round.

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Brandin Cooks: I can do it like DeSean Jackson and do it better

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Now that DeSean Jackson is officially a member of the Redskins, one of the questions to ponder is what the Eagles will do to replace his production in their offense.

The arrival of Darren Sproles in a trade with the Saints and the return of Jeremy Maclin from a torn ACL should both be part of the plan, but the team will also have a chance to address the receiver position during the draft. Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that Texas A&M’s Mike Evans is on the radar, although Philly would likely have to trade up to land him, along with Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks.

At 5-10 and 189 pounds, Cooks has a similar frame to Jackson and he’s expected to come off the board somewhere around the 22nd overall pick owned by the Eagles. Should Philly decide to go in that direction, Cooks says they’ll be getting what they lost in Jackson and more.

“His game is unbelievable,” Cooks said, via Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com. “The man can blow the top off, catch the deep routes, catch the underneath routes, produce in the return game. He’s just special. He’s a freak. I definitely admire his game. Maybe Chip Kelly is looking to take another speedy receiver in that first round, and that could be me. Who knows? And if that’s the case, a lot of people will wonder ‘Can he do it like DeSean Jackson?’ In my opinion, I can do it like him and do it better.”

Clemson’s Sammy Watkins is widely regarded as the top receiver in the draft with Evans also expected to go early in the first round. Cooks, USC’s Marqise Lee and LSU’s Odell Beckham are the next three receivers on most lists and the Eagles should have a chance to grab one of them to help fill the void left by Jackson once May rolls around.

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Report: Blake Bortles working out for Browns Wednesday

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Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said this week that the team has a “big list” of private workouts planned with quarterbacks ahead of next month’s draft and they are reportedly checking another name off that list on Wednesday.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles is working out for the team on Wednesday. Derek Carr of Fresno State had a private workout with the Browns earlier this week.

The private workouts for Bortles, Carr and the others on the list that the team minimize the importance of any pro day workouts that General Manager Ray Farmer, coach Mike Pettine and others may have missed earlier in the pre-draft process. They also take away some of the guessing game that Farmer said he planned to play about the team’s intentions at quarterback during the draft.

The Browns have the fourth and 26th picks in the first round next month and 10 picks overall, at least one of which they’re expected to use on a quarterback.

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Derek Carr scheduled for visit with Titans

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Assuming he’s healthy, the Titans have Jake Locker as their starting quarterback this year.

That’s not the safest assumption given Locker’s history, however, and word out of Nashville is that the Titans are unlikely to pick up a fifth-year option on Locker’s contract that would all but guarantee him a spot on the roster in 2015 as well. That means that nothing is settled at the position long term heading into Ken Whisenhunt’s first season as head coach.

That may be why the Titans, who have the 11th and 42nd overall picks, are meeting with one of the quarterbacks expected to go early in next month’s draft. Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports that Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr is scheduled to fly into town to meet with the team.

As discussed in relation to the Patriots’ meetings with Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, there are plenty of reasons why a team with no intention of drafting a quarterback early might still want to meet with one of the draft’s top prospects. It’s hard to ignore the uncertainty about Locker’s future, though, especially with a new coach who may want a different type of quarterback leading the team.

Carr had a private workout with the Browns this week and should have more visits in front of him as the draft draws closer.

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Sammy Watkins: I have some freakish talents

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It’s not hard to find people calling Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins as the top wide receiver in this year’s draft class and Watkins isn’t going to argue with them.

Watkins said he has “some freakish talents and ability to make plays” during an interview with 95.7 The Game on Tuesday, which explains why he’s expected to be off the board sometime in the first few picks once the draft gets underway in May. Watkins also explained why he thinks he’ll be able to avoid some of the difficulties experienced by other rookie wideouts when they enter the NFL.

“I’m able to transition myself and work through tough conditions,” Watkins said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. “I understand football and the preparation, so for me, it’s getting in with the team I’m with and learn that playbook. That’s all I need to do is really learn that playbook, and after that, just adjusting to the speed of the game and how cornerbacks play in the NFL. That would be the next step. I think after the first few games I’ll be definitely fine.”

Gutierrez thinks Watkins would fit well with the Raiders, who were believed to have interest in DeSean Jackson before Jackson agreed to a deal with the Redskins. Oakland won’t be the only team interested in a man with “freakish talents,” however, and that may leave Watkins unavailable when the Raiders’ fifth overall pick comes up.

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Report: Teddy Bridgewater visiting Patriots on Wednesday too

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It looks like Johnny Football will have some company in Foxboro on Wednesday.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the Patriots will be hosting Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for a pre-draft visit. Bridgewater’s trip will come on the same day that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel visits a team that isn’t expected to be in the market for a quarterback when they pick at the end of the first round. The Patriots also met with Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, who joins Bridgewater and Manziel atop most lists of draft-eligible quarterbacks, last week after his pro day.

Mike Florio suggested on Tuesday night that the Patriots could be using a meeting with Manziel to gauge his potential trade value if he should fall to the later parts of the first round, something that could also be true of Bridgewater and Bortles even if they’ve generated less heated responses on both sides of the fence than the former Heisman Trophy winner.

There are other possibilities for the rationale for using two of their 30 pre-draft visits to team headquarters on quarterbacks expected to be off the board before the Patriots select, including, of course, the possibility that the Patriots want to keep the door open to selecting one should things break a different way. Whatever the reason, Wednesday is looking like a busy day for quarterbacks in New England.

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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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