FILE PHOTO – The downtown skyline of Miami, Florida November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
April 24, 2019
(Reuters) – Formula One and local organizers have given up on plans to hold a race in downtown Miami because of the disruption for businesses and residents, the Miami Herald reported on Wednesday.
It said they were now looking into an alternative race location on land next to the Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins NFL team, to the north of the Florida city.
“We want to do something great for Miami,” the paper quoted Tom Garfinkel, vice chairman and CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, as saying.
“Unfortunately when we finally received the detailed report of what it would take to build out a street circuit each year, the multiple weeks of traffic and construction disruption to the port, Bayfront Park and the residents and businesses on Biscayne Boulevard would have been significant.”
Formula One had hoped to add the street race to the calendar for this year but that was pushed back last July until at least 2020 as a result of emerging local opposition to the proposed harborside layout.
The sport’s owners Liberty Media say they want to make sure Miami, which has been offered a 10-year contract, has long-term viability with maximum local support.
The race would be a second grand prix in the United States after the one in Austin, Texas.
Miami Dolphins franchise owner Stephen Ross is supporting the project, with a company owned by the U.S. entrepreneur lined up as the potential promoter.
“A lot would have to happen for us to be able to do it,” said Garfinkel of the new proposal.
“But we have over 250 acres of land so adding an F1 race to where Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami Open sit means we can create a world-class racing circuit that is unencumbered by existing infrastructure.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Greg Stutchbury)
Apr 13, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes former running back Ezekiel Elliott (right) during the first half of the Spring Game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
April 24, 2019
The Dallas Cowboys exercised the fifth-year option on running back Ezekiel Elliott’s contract, keeping him in place through the 2020 season.
Elliott is set to make $3.85 million in 2019. He figures to receive around $10 million in the option season though the Cowboys have stated they intend to negotiate a rich extension with him.
Elliott led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards last season and also had a career-high 77 receptions for 567 yards.
Elliott has rushed for 4,048 yards and 28 touchdowns in 40 games over three seasons.
–The San Francisco 49ers exercised the fifth-year contract option on Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.
Buckner is in line to receive around $12 million in 2020. The two sides have been working on a long-term contract extension that could get hammered out prior to the 2019 campaign.
Buckner posted a career-best 12 sacks last season while accumulating 67 tackles. He has 201 stops, 21 sacks and three fumble recoveries in 47 NFL games.
–The Atlanta Falcons announced via Twitter that they picked up the fifth-year option of safety Keanu Neal.
Neal suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2018 season opener. The 2017 Pro Bowl selection has 220 tackles, eight forced fumbles and one interception in 31 games.
–The New Orleans Saints have exercised the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, according to multiple reports.
Rankins is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in January’s playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He had a career-best eight sacks last season and has 14 sacks and 86 tackles in 41 NFL games.
–The Cincinnati Bengals exercised the fifth-year option on cornerback William Jackson.
Jackson had 41 tackles last season. He has 66 tackles and one interception in 31 career games.
–Field Level Media
FILE PHOTO: Jan 5, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (55) warms up before a NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
April 23, 2019
The Seattle Seahawks agreed to trade franchise-tagged defensive end Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2019 first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick and a swap of 2019 third-round picks, according to multiple reports on Tuesday.
Clark, who must pass a physical for the trade to become official, has also agreed in principle with the Chiefs on a five-year, $105.5 million contract with $63.5 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports.
The Seahawks tagged Clark earlier this offseason, and both sides expressed a desire to keep him in Seattle long-term, but multiple outlets reported over the weekend that he could be dealt before the draft was set to begin Thursday.
Seattle now has two first-round picks — its own at No. 21 and the Chiefs’ at No. 29.
“They had other plans,” Clark told ESPN of the Seahawks’ position. “It got to a point where Seattle had used me for everything I had for them already. At the end of the day it’s a business.
.”.. It just sucks that we weren’t able to get something done, because they knew how I felt about being in Seattle and how I felt about my future, and I feel like at the end of the day it was all ignored. But it is part of the business.”
Clark added, “I wanted to be somewhere where I’m wanted, where I’m appreciated.”
He also told ESPN it was understood that any trade would require the acquiring team to sign him to an extension topping the one Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (five years, $105 million, $65 million guaranteed), signed earlier this month. Clark’s annual average now trails only Chicago’s Khalil Mack ($23.5 million) among defensive ends.
Clark, who turns 26 in June, was set to make $17.1 million on the franchise tag in 2019. He posted career highs of 13 sacks and 27 quarterback hits last season while starting all 16 games for the first time in his career.
The Chiefs traded their own franchise-tagged edge rusher, Dee Ford, to the San Francisco 49ers earlier this offseason, receiving a 2020 second-round pick in return. Ford, deemed an imperfect fit as Kansas City switches from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, signed a five-year, $85.5 million extension with the 49ers after the trade.
Kansas City also released long-time edge rusher Justin Houston this offseason, before signing former New Orleans Saints defensive end Alex Okafor in free agency and trading for Cleveland Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.
Clark has 35 sacks and 72 QB hits through 62 games (33 starts) over four seasons since being drafted in the second round by Seattle in 2015.
Once considered a top prospect, he slipped to the second round after being dismissed by the Michigan football team following his 2014 arrest on misdemeanor charges of domestic violence and assault. Clark later pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of disturbing the peace.
The Chiefs have dealt with multiple players with incidents of domestic violence recently.
They drafted receiver Tyreek Hill in the fifth round in 2016, a year and a half after he was dismissed from Oklahoma State following his pleading guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation of his then-pregnant girlfriend. Overland Park (Kan.) Police are currently investigating two March incidents, one for child abuse and neglect and one for battery, involving a juvenile at Hill’s home.
In November, the Chiefs released Pro Bowl running back Kareem Hunt after video surfaced of him shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel during a January 2018 incident.
–Field Level Media
FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft attends a conference at the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
April 23, 2019
(Reuters) – A Florida judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked prosecutors from releasing hidden camera footage that allegedly shows New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft engaged in sexual acts inside a massage parlor, local television station WPTV reported.
The billionaire owner of the six-time Super Bowl champions is among dozens of men accused of soliciting prostitution inside Orchids of Asia Spa in Jupiter, Florida. He has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges and issued a public apology for his actions.
Palm Peach County Judge Leonard Hanser said Kraft’s right to a fair trial could be harmed if prosecutors release the video to media outlets, which requested the footage under Florida’s robust open government laws, according to a ruling posted online by WPTV.
“The potential jury pool would be given the opportunity to preview trial evidence, including identifying (Kraft) as the person depicted in the videotapes,” Hanser wrote.
The videos will remain sealed until a jury is seated, a plea deal is reached or the case is dismissed, Hanser ruled.
Another judge, who is overseeing the prosecution of the spa’s owner and manager, had previously blocked public dissemination of any footage until he holds a hearing on the matter next week.
Kraft, 77, purchased the Patriots, one of the National Football League’s most successful franchises, in 1994.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)
FILE PHOTO: NFL Football – Seattle Seahawks v Oakland Raiders – NFL International Series – Wembley Stadium, London, Britain – October 14, 2018 Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson celebrates after the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs/File Photo
April 23, 2019
A week after Russell Wilson agreed to his four-year, $140 million deal with the Seahawks, he reportedly decided to share the wealth with the Seattle offensive linemen, gifting them each $12,000 in Amazon stock.
Each of Wilson’s 13 lineman reportedly received a letter with the gift, expressing his gratitude and hopes that the gift would help them “prepare for life after football.”
“You sacrifice your physical and mental well-being to protect me, which in turn allows me to provide and care for my family. This does not go unnoticed and it is never forgotten,” he wrote in a letter first published Monday by TMZ.
“When I sat down to think of ways to honor your dedication, a dozen different ideas came to mind,” the letter continued. “Some were flashy, some were cool. But I wanted to give you something that had a lasting impact. Something that would affect the lives of you, your family, and your children. …
“You have invested in my life … this is my investment into yours.”
The grand total came to $156,000, which TMZ reports Wilson paid with a credit card.
Last week, 30-year-old Wilson signed an extension with the Seahawks that made him the highest-paid player in the league.
–Field Level Media
FILE PHOTO: Mar 13, 2019; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray participates in positional workouts during pro day at the Everest Indoor Training Center at the University of Oklahoma. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
April 22, 2019
The 2019 quarterback class has a consensus top four, but all four bring wildly different styles, skill sets, strengths, weaknesses — and opinions from evaluators.
Let’s dig into the “wows” and the “red flags” for each, starting with the likely first overall pick.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Wow: Twitchiness as a thrower
His explosiveness as a runner is obvious, but Murray’s athleticism also translates seamlessly to his throwing ability. That sounds natural but is far from a given — just ask Blake Bortles or Paxton Lynch.
His sharp, active feet stay under him for balance but are always ready to move and reset for a new platform. Likewise, his arm is a whip that lashes out from any angle with a snappy release. Together, these tools help him throw extremely quickly from myriad positions with precision.
On the 10-yard touchdown against UCLA, Murray threw with just enough touch to get over the defensive line and the linebacker but also with enough zip to beat the cornerback. The ball placement was perfect. His tape is littered with throws like this.
Murray’s twitchiness also helps him stay on schedule even when forced to move early. On long touchdowns against Iowa State and Alabama, he had to move immediately after his play-fake but quickly reset from an unnatural platform to flick a flawless deep ball. In both cases, he kept the play on time despite immediate pressure — had he taken any longer, like most QBs would, his receiver would be too far downfield to hit in stride.
More than ever before, NFL schemers excel at creating simple reads and open targets for their quarterbacks. In turn, getting the ball from Point A to Point B with zippy precision — even amid adverse conditions — is a tremendously valuable skill.
Red flag: Inconsistent field vision and pocket movement
Murray’s hair trigger is important, because he is often a beat late to identify open receivers (and sometimes overlooks them entirely). His eyes aren’t as quick as predecessor Baker Mayfield’s, and they pinball at times instead of reading smoothly through a progression. Whether because of his short stature, Murray fails to see open receivers now and then.
Linked to inconsistent vision is a lack of polished pocket movement. Leaning on his athleticism, Murray often defaults to juke-and-escape mode — dropping his eyes at times — upon seeing/feeling pressure, rather than stepping up or sliding. That instinct can pay off with big plays, but it cuts both ways.
Murray will overreact to perceived pressure at times and rush unnecessarily, as seen on a third-and-8 against Baylor and his lost fumble against Texas. On the former, he scanned right past his running back — wide open up the seam against an overmatched linebacker — and an open receiver near the sideline. He scrambled and took a hit short of the sticks.
Against Texas, Murray juked himself into pressure while holding the ball loosely with one hand (a consistent tendency), creating his own fumble despite no rusher threatening until after he moved.
On third-and-11 against Alabama, Murray did a better job stepping up calmly, but his head bounced from left to right to left and back right again. He failed to spot a coverage bust to his left or anticipate a crossing route opening from left to right before he was sacked.
These aren’t all easy plays to make, but they highlight issues that will be exposed more often in the NFL. Murray had mostly terrific protection at Oklahoma, and the offense featured several half-roll concepts that moved the pocket slightly, slowing down opposing rushers.
If placed behind a porous offensive line early in the NFL, Murray will avoid some sacks and create big plays. But it also could exacerbate these issues, encouraging him to abandon reads and escape rather than refining his pocket movement and vision.
–Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Wow: Mental processing and field vision
A redshirt sophomore and one-year starter, Haskins’ lack of experience belies his advanced mental grasp of the game. Ohio State coordinator (now head coach) Ryan Day put a heavy burden on Haskins, shifting to more of a pro-style scheme with full-field progressions and asking him to set protections and change plays at the line of scrimmage.
Haskins rewarded him handsomely, showing quick eyes and processing, and finding targets late in the progression at a rate rarely seen from college quarterbacks.
These are high-level plays on obvious passing downs that many current NFL quarterbacks don’t make with regularity, but Haskins did so throughout 2018 and even more frequently late in the year.
The throw against Michigan State went to his fourth read, a backside dig, with perfect ball placement despite late pressure on second-and-14.
On third-and-7 against Northwestern, he stepped up smoothly from edge pressure — with both hands on the ball — before hitting his third read, throwing over a dropping D-lineman but with zip to beat the closing linebacker.
His touchdown against Washington was another fourth read. Haskins quickly eliminated covered routes to his right, scanned left — moving his feet with his eyes by sliding and stepping up — and layered a throw to the backside post on third-and-8. (Also notice, he signaled pre-snap to his slot receiver to run a hot route if the Huskies blitzed.)
Haskins also regularly uses subtle pump fakes and shoulder rolls to manipulate coverage, another high-level ability that some QBs never learn.
Recent history tells us the very best quarterbacks — Brady, Manning, Brees — win primarily with their minds. In just 14 career starts, Haskins has clearly shown the ability to do that.
Red flag: Response to pressure and inconsistent accuracy
Let your 16-year-old drive a Lamborghini long enough and he’s eventually going to crash it.
Day’s pro-style offense gave Haskins tremendous freedom, but it also allowed opponents to get more creative with blitzes, knowing they had time to get home as the quarterback went through full-field reads. TCU was the first to really stress Haskins with pressure, but he mostly responded well.
Penn State employed a similar blueprint with greater effectiveness, and Purdue and Michigan State followed suit, making Haskins uncomfortable and forcing misses or rushed decisions.
Facing repeated pressure in those games, Haskins’ accuracy went missing for stretches, even amid a clean pocket at times. His feet got lazy — a tendency he often overcomes with his arm — and his delivery rushed, leading to ugly misses.
At times, Haskins broke down in the pocket before pressure arrived and dropped his eyes to scramble, like against Penn State.
These issues are common for quarterbacks when pressured repeatedly — and outside of those poor stretches, Haskins’ accuracy was mostly razor sharp — but he will have to adapt to minimize negative stretches.
Whoever drafts Haskins will hope he improves at setting protections and finding answers against blitzes, trusting his mental acuity to win out as he gains experience. He also must sharpen his footwork and maintain it when pressured.
If not, Haskins’ coaches will be forced to protect him more through scheme — in other words, keep the Lamborghini off the highway. Nobody wants that.
–Drew Lock, Missouri
Wow: Arm talent and release
You’ve heard about Lock’s cannon by now, but his flexibility and speedy release are as valuable — if not more so — than his pure arm strength.
He overuses the sidearm slot, but Lock can whip the ball from funky arm angles like few outside of Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford. Combined with a lightning release, he can be deadly.
Most of those throws were on-schedule to the first or second read, but as he showed on third-and-12 against Oklahoma State, Lock can occasionally conjure brilliance from nothing late in the down.
His quick delivery is also a weapon against blitzing defenses. A four-year starter, Lock earned the authority to audible at the line and used quick flicks to beat the rush for third-down conversions or explosive gains.
Notice against Florida how Lock saw the nickel cornerback communicating with the safety, anticipated blitz and signaled for his slot wideout to run a quick hitch. (The wideout nearly ruined the play twice, by false starting — no call — and then bobbling the throw.)
Given Lock’s tools and level of experience, it’s no surprise NFL coaches want to work with him.
Red flag: Inconsistent field vision and skittish pocket movement
However, Lock doesn’t read the field as sharply as you’d expect from a four-year starter.
While he occasionally works deep into a progression, his offenses were built on either-or reads from 2015-17. Missouri’s attack expanded in 2018, but Lock produced shaky results, and he never fully mastered some simple designs.
Even when presented open receivers on basic reads, Lock failed to pull the trigger at times.
On third-and-6 against Arkansas (in 2017), Missouri’s post/wheel concept worked exactly as intended, springing the tight end — the primary read — wide open. Lock stared at it but didn’t throw, instead scrambling into pressure (and committing intentional grounding).
On third-and-4 against Alabama, Missouri ran a mesh concept with a wideout screening for the running back on intersecting crossers. The back came wide open, but Lock stared at the wideout (covered by three Tide defenders) and never saw the back.
Tied to Lock’s inconsistent vision — and perhaps more worrisome — is an extreme lack of pocket toughness.
That’s not to say Lock won’t take big hits; he makes some great throws on tape while getting clobbered. But he shows an extreme aversion to pressure, which short-circuits his reads and promotes dangerously undisciplined pocket movement.
Lock drifts and fades with alarming frequency, relying on back-foot throws, even when pressure is not close. He rarely showed the inclination to step up or slide within the pocket. That won’t fly in the NFL, where quarterbacks must step up to prevent easy angles for pass rushers.
By drifting deeper, Lock repeatedly gave edge rushers a shorter corner to turn, hanging his offensive line out to dry. Against Oklahoma State, he broke a free blitzer’s attempted sack, but he should have stepped into a clean pocket much earlier, giving that rusher a more difficult path.
Lock did make progress as a senior, his first year in a remotely pro-style offense, but he has a long way to go. Given how difficult it is to teach and improve field reading and pocket toughness, he carries major risk.
–Daniel Jones, Duke
Wow: Pocket movement and toughness
A complete 180 from Lock, Jones has pocket toughness in spades.
Yes, Jones has clearly learned from QB guru David Cutcliffe to navigate the pocket with proper mechanics (active feet, two hands on the ball, eyes downfield, etc.). At the same time, he also has something you can’t teach — a willingness to sacrifice his body to maximize every play.
With a weak supporting cast at Duke, Jones faced tons of pressure: unblocked, off the edge, through the middle, and sometimes all of the above. He was willing to not only take hits, but also to move into more exposed positions seeking the best throwing platform.
The deep throw against Virginia Tech came less than three minutes into his first game back from a broken collarbone. Jones shuffled slightly left from one rusher and stepped into another, getting slammed by both, but his receiver failed to secure a gorgeous deep ball.
On third-and-13 against Miami, Jones saw the slot blitzer come free but didn’t let it affect his mechanics. He stepped up quickly and fired a dart for a first down.
On third-and-8 against Temple, he again stepped into a hit to get enough juice on a sideline throw for a conversion.
Red flag: Decision making
The play against Temple, however, also hints at a concern about Jones: He writes too many checks his arm can’t cash.
Jones’ arm strength isn’t poor, but it’s closer to average than good, and his delivery can border on being too methodical. He flashes a slight windup and rarely makes the quick-flick, multi-platform deliveries these other three quarterbacks do regularly.
That’s OK — some NFL starters have merely decent arm talent — but Jones too often plays with the recklessness of a stronger-armed passer. The throw against Temple wasn’t far from being intercepted, and his tape shows too many ghastly gambles.
As a Duke product working under Cutcliffe with connections to the Manning brothers, Jones often gets labeled as a cerebral signal-caller who dices defenses up mentally. But decisions like these show he has a long way to go.
While he works deep into progressions and makes sound pre-snap decisions at times, it’s difficult to excuse late-down-the-middle throws like the one against Virginia Tech (which three different defenders could have intercepted).
The dropped pick near the sideline vs. the Hokies is even more concerning. On a very simple two-man route concept, the out route opened immediately, but Jones stared and waited. His receiver reached the numbers before he began his throwing motion, late enough for the cornerback to close 5-plus yards of separation. (The throw was also too far inside).
Unless he strengthens his arm or quickens his release, Jones must play more conservatively to survive in the NFL. Compensating for less-than-ideal tools requires maximizing mental precision and minimizing poor decisions.
–David DeChant, Field Level Media
Jan 24, 2019; Mobile, AL, USA; North offensive tackle Dalton Risner of Kansas State (71) blocks against North defensive end L.J. Collier of TCU (91) during the North squad 2019 Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
April 21, 2019
Mock drafts are like noses, everyone has one.
The same 25 or so names pop up in everyone’s forecast of the 2019 NFL Draft, with only slight variations to the order. Projecting the “surprise” players who sneak into the top 32 picks is the real art to the profession.
That task could be especially challenging this year with little consensus at the top of each position. Poll a few NFL scouts and analysts to name the top quarterback, wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback or safety in this class and you are likely to get different answers – which is fairly uncommon this late in the process.
That should result in a suspense-filled first round.
In the same way that a hot-shooting 12 seed can blow up your March Madness bracket, these are the five players destined to wreck mock drafts.
5. L.J. Collier, DE, TCU, 6-2 1/4, 283, 4.91
Players drafted in the first round typically dominated in college. Collier didn’t even start until his fifth year with the Horned Frogs, when he registered more tackles (43, including 11.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks) than in his previous three seasons combined (38 tackles) after redshirting his first year on campus.
The late-blooming Collier nevertheless was invited to the Senior Bowl, where his disproportionately long arms (34″), raw power and junkyard dog mentality made him a standout. He is a much more well-rounded defender than his 11 career starts suggest, showing an impressive array of pass rush moves and a commitment to run defense that should get him on the field early and often in the NFL.
If the anticipated early run of edge rushers comes to fruition, Collier could sneak into the late portion of the first round – perhaps as a plug-and-play replacement for Trey Flowers in New England.
4. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida, 5-10 7/8, 210, 4.48
Most draft enthusiasts know by now that the Class of 2019 offers an extraordinary bounty of defensive linemen, but the safety position isn’t far behind in terms of star power and depth. Though he is not included in many first-round projections from the media, Gardner-Johnson’s raw athleticism, versatility and penchant for turning turnovers (nine INTs in three seasons) into points (three TDs) very much has the attention of NFL teams.
Given his hyphenated name, it is perhaps appropriate that Gardner-Johnson played a slash role for the Gators, seeing action as a single-high free safety, in-the-box striker and nickel cornerback over his career. He led Florida in special teams tackles (eight) as a true freshman and punctuated that year by being named MVP of the team’s bowl game – joining Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith as the only first-year players at Florida to earn that distinction.
3. Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State, 5-11 7/8, 205, 4.31
One could argue that Campbell is the most under-appreciated receiver in this class. While the media blustered over the 40-yard dash time by Ole Miss workout warrior D.K. Metcalf and the straight-line speed shown by Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown as a vertical threat last season, Campbell, a two-time team captain, proved lightning fast on the field and in workouts.
Campbell led the Buckeyes in catches (88), receiving yards (1,062) and touchdowns (12) in a breakout 2018 campaign alongside two other receivers (Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon) who also will be drafted this week. He wasn’t asked to run complicated routes in Ohio State’s scheme, serving a Percy Harvin-like role on shallow crossers and jet-sweeps in Urban Meyer’s offense.
The traits and work ethic are there to suggest that Campbell’s route-tree will grow more branches and his production will only further bloom in the NFL.
2. Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington, 6-7 1/8, 317, 5.05
The massive and country-strong McGary is as battle-tested as any offensive tackle in this class. He started the past four years at right tackle for Washington before turning critics into believers at the Senior Bowl, Combine and well-attended pro day with his rare athleticism.
One of the biggest blockers in the class, McGary quietly wowed in workouts, generating top 10 performances among offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump (33.5″), broad jump (9’3″), 3-cone (7.66) and short shuttle (4.58) at the Combine. He then out-shined media darling and projected top 20 pick Andre Dillard (Washington State) in their respective pro day workouts – both of which I attended. That may not surprise Pac-12 observers, as the conference’s defensive linemen voted McGary the best blocker in the league with the Morris Trophy.
1. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State, 6-3, 305, 4.90 (estimated)
Simmons is likely facing a medical “redshirt” in his first NFL season after tearing his ACL during pre-combine workouts, so it is easy to see why he could slip out of the first round despite possessing top 10 talent. His projection is further clouded due to a disturbing 2016 video of Simmons repeatedly striking a woman on the ground.
Of course, in the talent-tops-all world of the NFL, the tape that matters most is what Simmons did at Mississippi State – not the family dispute caught on video prior to his joining the Bulldogs or the injury, from which he is expected to make a full recovery.
If a team is willing to invest in Simmons on Day Two, it might make more sense (and cents) to draft the three-time SEC honoree in the first round, given the fifth-year option provided in the NFL’s rookie contracts for players drafted in the opening frame.
–Rob Rang, Field Level Media
Mar 13, 2019; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray participates in positional workouts during pro day at the Everest Indoor Training Center at the University of Oklahoma. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
April 20, 2019
Unlike the 2018 NFL Draft, when the Cleveland Browns kept us guessing until practically draft night, the first overall pick seems to have been preordained for months.
There remain whispers about whether ownership is on board, and as long as the Arizona Cardinals still have Josh Rosen on their roster, we can’t be absolutely certain first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury will draft his former high school recruit, Kyler Murray, with the top pick.
But for now, there’s no reason to expect a late surprise – on that would set off an entirely different chain of events. Even with Murray penciled in at No. 1, it’s anybody’s guess where the other top quarterbacks wind up.
1. Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
The importance of Murray’s mobility in Kingsbury’s offense is overstated, but if you’re going to hire an offensive coach, why not let him pick his quarterback?
2. San Francisco 49ers: DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Acquiring Dee Ford won’t change the 49ers’ approach here — Bosa is a perfect complement, as a bigger, powerful end who can win outside and inside as a rusher while also stopping the run.
3. New York Jets: DT Ed Oliver, Houston
The Jets desperately wish to trade down, and most have Quinnen Williams or Josh Allen here if they stay, but don’t rule out roll the dice on Oliver’s unique athleticism.
4. Oakland Raiders: DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Josh Allen or Devin White could be in play here, but Williams is the best player on the board. A potential shocker cannot be ruled out: Drew Lock.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB Devin White, LSU
With Josh Allen still available, this is tricky. While the Bucs need more edge rush, Todd Bowles’ scheme creates pressure via blitzes, and White is a classic modern-day linebacker who can blitz, cover and play the run.
6. New York Giants: OLB Josh Allen, Kentucky
Dave Gettleman is never shy about taking the best player available, glaring hole at quarterback be damned.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
T.J. Hockenson would be an option, but Taylor makes too much sense. He fills the Jags’ hole at right tackle perfectly, as a mauler who excels in a power run game.
8. Detroit Lions: TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Rashan Gary or Montez Sweat could make sense, but Matt Patricia’s defense doesn’t prioritize edge rushers. Instead, the Lions grab a two-way tight end after nearly trading for Rob Gronkowski last year.
9. Buffalo Bills: DE Rashan Gary, Michigan
The Bills addressed a bunch of spots in free agency so they could take the top player on their board. They might hope Hockenson is still there, but with him gone, they grab one of the draft’s best athletes.
10. Denver Broncos: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Many believe the Broncos are targeting a second- or third-tier quarterback to develop behind Joe Flacco. Would Haskins slipping to No. 10 change their mind?
11. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Drew Lock, Missouri
This would be bold for a notably conservative organization, but if Zac Taylor wants to pick his QB, it’s hard to argue against him. Devin Bush would be in play if it’s not a QB.
12. Green Bay Packers: OL Jonah Williams, Alabama
The Packers added Billy Turner in free agency, but Williams could be an upgrade at left guard over Lane Taylor while serving as insurance and the successor to oft-injured right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
13. Miami Dolphins: OT Andre Dillard, Washington State
Miami let Ja’Wuan James walk and hasn’t replaced him, so Dillard (or Williams or Cody Ford) could fill the hole at right tackle. Clelin Ferrell would also be a perfect fit in Brian Flores’ defense.
14. Atlanta Falcons: DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Wilkins would slot in next to fellow Clemson product Grady Jarrett inside as a disruptive penetrator with terrific character.
15. Washington Redskins: DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
With some concerned about his heart issue, Sweat slides a tad, and Washington nabs a dynamic rusher opposite Ryan Kerrigan.
16. Carolina Panthers: DE Brian Burns, Florida State
Julius Peppers is finally retired, and Bruce Irvin isn’t the answer. Burns can threaten early as a situational rusher while adding power to be a full-time starter down the line.
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland): QB Daniel Jones, Duke
If the Giants don’t love any of the top quarterbacks but — as believed — like Jones, it would be sensible to wait and see if he reaches No. 17.
18. Minnesota Vikings: OL Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
The Vikings might prefer a left tackle — which would bump Riley Reiff to left guard — but with Williams and Dillard gone, they take perhaps the draft’s best interior lineman.
19. Tennessee Titans: WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
The Titans’ offense needs an injection of speed, and nobody in this draft has more of it than Brown. Lindstrom would also be in consideration if available.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Devin Bush, Michigan
Bush could land closer to the top 10, but if he slips this far, Pittsburgh should pounce. The Steelers have needed speed at inside linebacker since Ryan Shazier’s injury.
21. Seattle Seahawks: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
The Seahawks likely hope to trade down, as is their norm in Round 1, but more help on the edge makes sense with Frank Clark’s future unclear.
22. Baltimore Ravens: C Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
A solid, scheme-versatile pivot, McCoy might fit the Ravens better than Garrett Bradbury, who played in a predominant outside-zone scheme at NC State.
23. Houston Texans: CB Byron Murphy, Washington
With Taylor, Dillard and Williams gone, Houston opts to wait on offensive tackle and reinforce a weakened secondary instead.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago): TE Noah Fant, Iowa
While the Raiders need more reinforcements on defense, Jared Cook’s departure leaves the team with no receiving threat at tight end. Jon Gruden can’t help himself.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: C Garrett Bradbury, NC State
If Bradbury reaches 25, I love this pick. He would provide insurance for Brandon Brooks (torn Achilles) at right guard and eventually take over at the pivot when Jason Kelce retires.
26. Indianapolis Colts: WR D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi
Metcalf has a wide range of possible landing spots, but his combination of size and speed would make sense for Indy if he gets this far.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas): CB DeAndre Baker, Georgia
I could see Gruden gambling on Jeffery Simmons, but since the Raiders already nabbed a defensive tackle in Quinnen Williams, they opt for a cornerback here.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
The Chargers re-signed Brandon Mebane, but he’s 34 and got only a two-year deal. Lawrence would immediately fortify the run defense, with pocket-pushing potential down the line.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Greedy Williams, LSU
Don’t be shocked if they pick a wideout, but with the value not lining up here, the Chiefs add much-needed help to the secondary.
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans): DB Darnell Savage, Maryland
A late riser, Savage can play all over the place — single-high, two-deep, in the box or over the slot — making him a perfect fit in Mike Pettine’s scheme.
31. Los Angeles Rams: OL Cody Ford, Oklahoma
L.A. lost interior linemen Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan and has yet to replace them. Ford would compete at left guard, perhaps starting from Day 1.
32. New England Patriots: TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama
Smith is a better blocker on the move than inline, so the offense would require some adaptation, but he’s a dangerous receiver who thrives after the catch, which is critical in Josh McDaniels’ horizontal passing game.
–David DeChant, Field Level Media
NFL Football – Super Bowl LIII – New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams – Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. – February 3, 2019. New England Patriots’ Tom Brady before the match. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
April 18, 2019
The NFL’s schedule release is like Christmas morning — that is, if after unwrapping all of your gifts, you sat and stared at them for 4 1/2 months before unboxing the goods.
With Wednesday night’s unveiling, we can finally start circling the calendar, counting the days and drooling over the best 2019 battles to come.
You don’t need me to tell you to watch the rematches of last season’s conference championships — Saints at Rams in Week 2, Chiefs at Patriots in Week 14 — but here are a few others you absolutely should not miss.
1. Patriots at Eagles — Week 11, Sunday, Nov. 17
Not only is this a rematch of Super Bowl LII, a battle of the last two Super Bowl winners and the first meeting between Tom Brady and Carson Wentz, but it’s also the next installment of a very strange head-to-head history.
These teams have faced each other just 14 times total, with two of those coming in the Super Bowl. The five meetings since 2003 have pitted Brady against five different quarterbacks, with very odd results.
Brady outlasted Donovan McNabb in Super Bowl XXXIX but needed a fourth-quarter rally to keep 2007’s perfect season alive against A.J. Feeley, of all people. The Patriots rallied from a 10-0 deficit to beat Vince Young (!) and the “Dream Team” Eagles in 2011, then blew a 14-0 lead at home to Sam Bradford, Chip Kelly & Co. in 2015, as Philadelphia scored three non-offensive touchdowns.
Of course, Nick Foles & Co. won Super Bowl LII — which featured the most combined yards (1,151) in a game in NFL history — despite Brady throwing for 505 yards and the Patriots never punting.
The star power at quarterback is reason enough to watch. The possibility of something strange happening only makes it more fascinating.
2. Colts at Chiefs — Week 5, Sunday night, Oct. 6
This game is a rematch from January’s divisional playoffs. Let’s also hope it’s the second of many installments in a Patrick Mahomes vs. Andrew Luck rivalry.
When Father Time eventually ousts Brady in a 12-round split decision, not only will there be a superstar vacuum to fill, but the battle for AFC supremacy will be more open than it’s been in two decades. These two quarterbacks (ahem … Baker Mayfield and Deshaun Watson also would like a word) are the most likely future rulers of the conference. We can only hope Mahomes vs. Luck becomes a rivalry half as historic as Manning vs. Brady.
As for meeting No. 2, the Colts should be awfully dangerous. Luck is further removed from his lost 2017 season, and a coaching staff that was duct-taped together on the fly last January (thanks, Josh McDaniels) has had another year to jell after an outstanding debut season. With former Chiefs pass rusher Justin Houston aboard and Chris Ballard’s war chest of draft picks, Indy’s defense should make major strides under rising coordinator Matt Eberflus.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, have a ton to prove despite an excellent 2018 campaign. Almost no offense that reached the level they did last season has been able to sustain it year after year, while the defense lost Dee Ford and Eric Berry in addition to Houston.
3. Rams at Browns — Week 3, Sunday night, Sept. 22
This will be the Browns’ first time hosting a non-Thursday night prime-time game since 2015, and their first time hosting a Sunday night game since — amazingly — 2008.
It’s easy to forget because they’ve had so little to cheer for in ages, but Cleveland fans are among the most devoted in football. With the Browns’ expectations suddenly pointing skyward, FirstEnergy Stadium will be electric when the reigning NFC champions come to town.
Freddie Kitchens and Mayfield will try to break down Wade Phillips’ scheme while hoping Joel Bitonio & Co. can hold up long enough against reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. On the back end, the team that tried to trade for Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason will be tasked with slowing him down, likely with heavy doses of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters.
Meanwhile, Steve Wilks’ defense faces one of its toughest tests of the season against Sean McVay, as freakish young star Myles Garrett battles crafty veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth to get to Jared Goff.
4. Cowboys at Saints — Week 4, Sunday night, Sept. 29
This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but last year’s Thursday night meeting in Week 13 at Dallas was like a bar-room brawl you couldn’t turn away from. The Cowboys’ defense, led by blossoming star linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, battered the previously red-hot Saints offense and delivered the first major blow to Drew Brees’ MVP candidacy.
New Orleans getting robbed of a Super Bowl LIII appearance overshadowed a suspect finishing stretch from Brees, who averaged just 6.7 yards per attempt with seven touchdowns and five interceptions from Week 13 through the postseason. No one is arguing he’s washed up, but when the end arrives for quarterbacks, it does so swiftly and with little warning.
Jared Cook gives Brees his most dynamic tight end since Jimmy Graham was traded in 2015, but trusted center Max Unger retired, and Mark Ingram is also gone. The Week 4 rematch with Dallas’ defense should be an excellent barometer for where Brees stands early in his 19th NFL season.
5. Vikings at Chiefs — Week 9, Sunday, Nov. 3
It’s easy to overlook Minnesota after 2018 went sideways, but the Vikings still have one of the NFL’s best rosters. If they can piece together a respectable offensive line, they could be a juggernaut.
Most fascinating in this battle is the clash of Andy Reid’s offense and Mike Zimmer’s defense. Zimmer’s unit dictates terms to opposing offenses more than any other NFL defense, using a terrifying front four, finely tuned coverage rotations and a litany of blitzes to punish opposing quarterbacks.
But trying to dictate to the Chiefs’ offense is dangerous because Reid has so many answers. He routinely creates six- and even five-man boxes to run against through spread formations and packaged plays. He also feasts on zone coverage by getting Tyreek Hill inside against linebackers and safeties.
There should be fireworks against Zimmer’s aggressive, flat-footed zones, but Harrison Smith & Co. should also force Mahomes into a few turnovers.
–David DeChant, Field Level Media
FILE PHOTO: Aug 27, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster (56) looks on following the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
April 12, 2019
Washington Redskins linebacker Reuben Foster will be fined but not suspended for his involvement in an incident that led to misdemeanor domestic violence battery charges that ultimately were dropped, the NFL announced Friday.
The league said Foster would be fined two game checks. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $1.29 million in the 2019 season.
The charges stemmed from an incident in Tampa on Nov. 24 when Foster was a member of the San Francisco 49ers. His former girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, said Foster pushed her in the chest area and slapped her with an open hand on the left side of her face at a Tampa hotel on the eve of the 49ers’ game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 49ers released Foster the next day and the Redskins claimed him two days later. The NFL placed Foster on the commissioner’s exempt list, and he did not play the rest of the season.
“Following a thorough investigation, the evidence did not support a finding that Foster violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy in connection with the Tampa incident in November 2018. The NFL has returned Foster to the active roster from the Commissioner Exempt list. He may fully participate in all team activities,” the NFL said in a statement issued Friday.
Washington team president Bruce Allen said the team has told Foster it will not tolerate any further off-field incidents.
“The Redskins have put in place a comprehensive responsibility and accountability plan to help Reuben be successful on and off the field,” Allen said in a statement. “Elements of this plan include individual counseling, a structured living arrangement, weekly meetings with the club player engagement director, weekly meetings with our team chaplain, and targeted community service engagements.
“We have been very clear with Reuben that his past does not have to determine his future – but the responsibility is squarely on him to change. Reuben must fully adhere to the plan we have developed for him. Reuben knows that we simply will not tolerate any future conduct that is detrimental to the Washington Redskins organization or to the NFL.”
In a statement issued by the team, Foster said he understood the conditions.
“I accept the NFL’s decision and want to say that I am truly sorry for my past actions and the people who may have been hurt by them,” Foster said. “Going forward, I will follow the plan outlined for me and work hard to earn back the trust of my teammates, the NFL, NFL fans, and the community. I know that my success is all up to me, and I am committed to not letting you down.”
A first-round draft pick in 2017, the 31st player selected overall, Foster had 29 tackles but no sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries or interceptions in the six games he played last season.
–Field Level Media