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2014 NFC WEST PREVIEW

July 24th 2014 00:59
2014 NFC WEST PREVIEW

Seattle Seahawks

– As always, the Super Bowl winning team gets raided and Seattle was no exception to that rule. It will be very interesting to see if they can overcome the losses of CBs Brandon Browner & Walter Thurmond and solid contributors WR Golden Tate and DEs Chris Clemons and Red Bryant. They’ll likely still win the division, but they’ve lost too much to repeat as champions. Parity is too high in the NFL these days and so many teams have the talent to go all the way. They’ll really need to have WR Percy Harvin healthy and his understudies will have to develop more too. RB Marshawn Lynch takes and dishes out a lot of punishment and they’ll need to find a way to balance out the offense load.

Arizona Cardinals

– There’s a lot of buzz about RB Andre Ellington and his expanded role in the offense. Stepfan Taylor will join him to bring some good balance after the surprising early retirement of Rashard Mendenhall this offseason. Veteran QB Carson Palmer gets some additional help with newly acquired TE John Carlson and left tackle Jared Veldheer. They’ve lost leading tackler LB Karlos Dansby, which hurts, but gaining CB Antonio Cromartie will help give the defense a nice boost and sophomore LB Kevin Minter has looked great so far as a replacement. WR Ted Ginn will improve the return game and help create space for WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd on the outside. They drafted more for depth so improvement will come with a 2nd year under Bruce Arians and free agent talent additions. It’s a real shame talented LB Daryl Washington won’t be a part of this season. I say they have the tools to take over the 49ers’ 2nd place spot in the division.

San Francisco 49ers

– They added SS Antoine Bethea and CB Chris Cook to replace Donte Whitner (Browns) and CB Tarell Brown (Raiders) respectively. They drafted SS Jimmie Ward to serve as understudy to free agent pickup Antoine Bethea after losing Donte Whitner to the Browns. They also picked up instant starter Marcus Martin for their vacant center position and added good depth at LB and WR.
With Aldon Smith’s very likely yearlong suspension looming, the Niners will have lost too much talent over the last two years to keep returning to the NFC Championship. Unless a lot of people really step up and they have good luck with injury management, they will likely make way to what is shaping up to be a very strong field of NFC competitors.

St. Louis Rams

– They got better depth through the draft and through free agency. They have solid talent at every position and are running out of excuses. If they were an AFC team they would be a lock for the playoffs, but these days the NFC has more talent overall, especially in the NFC East, the strongest division in the league. The defense can wreak havoc and has good young talent to cover. They potentially have another incarnation of the Fearsome Foursome on the D Line with starters Chris Long, Aaron Donald, Michael Bockers and Robert Quinn. They can be a special team that has the ability to surpass all expectations, or could be derailed by a key injury like the one to QB Sam Bradford last season. Last season started of great for Bradford and hopefully he can capture that same flow in the offense so it’s not another wasted year.

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5 Big Questions Before NFL Training Camps Start

1 - Will the Broncos and Peyton Manning bounce back?

It seems they need to develop the running game more (so why get let Moreno go?) to provide the one thing needed for championship teams, balance. The Seahawks solved Manning and the passing attack and got behind early. Too many teams still try to pass their way out of trouble instead of getting yards on the ground. If there was more focus put on running games these days, that sort of thing wouldn't happen.

2 - Will the Seahawks successfully defend their title?

It's so hard these days when teams go from sub 500 to a championship then back to below 500 again so often, it's an age of parity. Seattle will have too much competition to defend but they won't take a slide like the Ravens did (they didn't lose nearly as many key pieces as Baltimore did either). The Saints, Packers, 49ers and Eagles will have too much power for the Seahawks after losing a couple of those prime secondary players (Thurmond and Browner).

3 - Which rookies will make the biggest impact?

My bets are Johnny Football will bring some entertainment (much like Tim Tebow did) to the Browns and NFL in general if not a ton of wins. He'll be a big risk and reward guy but will progress as a pro passer. C.J. Moseley will bring the Ravens defense back on team radars. But the most impact will be made by 4th overall pick WR Sammy Watkins who has all the tools to step right into a WR1 position in the NFL.

4 – What happened to the teams with surprise playoff misses last year?

The Ravens lost their veteran leadership when Ray Lewis retired, that is much more important than teams give it credit. They just didn’t have that fire anymore after Lewis fueled it enough for a whole team for so many years. The Falcons were exposed as a one trick pony when Julio Jones’ injury took down the whole team; they had no depth and no athlete close to Jones’ quality on either side of the ball. In Houston they let too many FAs go for too many years and eroded the ground out from under themselves. They let key guys walk and then didn’t have the depth to survive injuries, it wasn’t only on QB Matt Schaub.

5 – Which teams will replace 2013 playoff teams in 2014?

The Steelers should be back to replace the Chargers in the AFC with a rededicated focus to the running game, again that important concept of balance comes into play…. The Bears will replace the Panthers who unbelievably voided the quality of their receiver core, still scratching my head on that one. Surprise teams Philly and the Chiefs will have to fight off Detroit and the Jets respectively as both teams have reloaded expertly in the offseason.

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2014 NFL Draft Team Grades

May 20th 2014 12:46
2014 NFL Draft Team Grades

St. Louis – A-
Big need along the offensive line filled by top tackle Greg Robinson, he’ll be a starter for a long time if he can get up to speed on pass protection. DT Aaron Donald completes one of the best young defensive lines in the league. CB Lamarcus Joyner and RB Tre Mason could have gone in the first round, they will contribute and perhaps even start right away with good training camps. DE Michael Sam and the press that comes with him was avoided by most, but they forgot how good of a football player he is as the Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the great SEC.

Houston – A-
No brainer pick of Clowney at first overall. Now they just have to do everything they can to make sure he is playing at full effort and teach him how to be a pro. OG Xavier Su’a-Filo and NT Louis Nix can start right away and TE C.J. Fiedoroxicz & QB Tom Savage are great pickups for depth.

Jacksonville – A-
QB Blake Bortles along with WRs Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson can come up together and help each other get a good start to their pro careers. Bortles brings solid footwork, a live arm, and excellent pocket awareness and will improve very quickly with pro coaching. His Central Florida teammate RB Storm Johnson is a great value pick at the 222 spot. He may surprise a lot of people.

Tampa Bay – B
WR Mike Evans is a Vincent Jackson clone that will slide into the WR2 spot right away with his ability to box out defenders with his size. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins fills an important need at TE and will excel immediately with his soft hands and above average after the catch running abilities.

San Francisco – B
SS Jimmie Ward was a great pickup to serve as understudy to free agent pickup Antoine Bethea. They nabbed instant starter Marcus Martin out of USC for their vacant center position in the third round. WR Bruce Ellington and LB Chris Borland could be future stars and the Niners were also able to solidly filll out a lot of depth with their bevy of picks. Stanford LB Shayne Skov was also picked up as an undrafted free agent and has football instincts that cannot be taught.

New Orleans – B
They acquired Oregon State star receiver Brandin Cooks at 20 and he could be the steal of the draft. No receiver comes into a better position than Cooks does with Drew Brees flinging it all over the field. They also added needed depth to key positions at CB and S.

Oakland – B
5th overall pick LB Khalil Mack will instantly boost the Oakland defense off the edge and make plays in every defensive package. QB Derek Carr has a quick release and can extend plays with his footwork and athleticism, a good choice to groom for the future.

Pittsburgh – B
QB1 Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t happy his team didn’t select a wideout until the 4th round (Clemson’s Martavis Bryant), but first round pick OLB Ryan Shazier and 2nd rounder DE Stephon Tuitt will step into starting roles right away.

Buffalo – B
Clemson WR Sammy Watkins should be an instant star barring any unforeseen injury. He is hard working and dedicated to improving his craft. They picked up a solid OT in Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandijo and picked up good depth elsewhere.

Chicago – B
CB Kyle Fuller will instantly improve the secondary and backup excellent veterans Tim Jennings and Charles “Peanut” Tillman. Picking up RB Ka’Deem Carey in the 4th round was a steal as his balance and vision will help him serve as a great backup and change-up to Matt Forte. Picking up dual threat Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch as an UDFA is an intriguing move.

Green Bay – B
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix brings hard-hitting precision to the secondary right away and Davante Adams has the deep route quickness and elusiveness that perfectly fits the style of the Packers’ offensive system.

Arizona – B
The Cardinals made solid picks all the way through the fourth round to ensure they have the needed depth. It’s always tough to predict if a rookie will contribute right away so they went with backup spots as their focus. Smart and conservative move, they can’t make any mistakes in the very competitive NFC West.

Minnesota – B
Anthony Barr landed in a great spot with a new defensive minded coach (Mike Zimmer) to get the most out of him. They also had a ton of picks and used them appropriately to back up sore spot positions.

New England – B
They made several solid picks to secure depth at key positions. Dominique Easley is worth the risk of recurring ACL issues due to his explosive and penetrating style.

Tennessee – B-
T Taylor Lewan will start right away and RB Bishop Sankey will likely finish camp as the starter over Shonn Greene. DT DaQuan Jones from Penn State was a great value and injured QB Zach Mettenberger was a steal in the sixth round. But they forgot about their huge need at CB.

Atlanta – B-
Filled needs with top recruits on both sides of the line in OT Jake Matthews and DT Ra’Shede Hageman, but could’ve done more by bundling and trading up for more immediate impact players.

Baltimore – B-
Got best available value with LB C.J. Mosley and NT Timmy Jernigan, but didn’t address their massive needs on the offensive line.

Cleveland – B-
Justin Gilbert is a great player but they needed help at WR much more. If Johnny Manziel can stay humble and take in all the NFL level instruction that comes his way, he could be the steal of the draft.

Indianapolis – B-
Filled some depth needs and picked up a good value with WR Donte Moncrief at slot 90

Philadelphia – B-
They missed out on physical CB Bradley Roby in the first round who would have brought a lot to the secondary and filled a bigger need than pass rusher. But WR Jordan Matthews is a multi-faceted and polished receiver who will contribute right away.

New York Jets – C
They would defend their picks with a “best available” (FS Calvin Pryor will be an immediate starter) philosophy, but they missed on huge need areas at receiver and along the offensive line.

Cincinnati – C
They made a great first pick of CB Darqueze Dennard who will contribute right away with tenacious play. They missed on top defensive line prospects by the time they reached their 55th pick and should have drafted WRs Cody Latimer, Allen Robinson, or Jarvis Landry to help take attention away from A.J. Green.

New York Giants – C
Took a big reach with WR Odell Bckham at 12 when many top offensive linemen were available (Zack Martin, Su’a-Filo Xavier) and the Giants current line is so bad. However, RB Andre Williams will be a great pro right away.

Washington – C
Adding DeSean Jackson was by far their best offseason move; not much was gained in the draft. OLB Trent Murphy will help right away coming from a well coached defense at Stanford.

Seattle – C
Adding Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat as an undrafted free agent turns their C- to a C . Otherwise Seattle’s picks are addressing needs, but unimpressive.

Carolina – C
Grabbing DE Kony Ealy at 60 only looks good now that Greg Hardy is in trouble. They should have traded up as high as possible and focused solely on receivers because they have the worst group in the NFL.

Chiefs – C
They incorrectly drafted to their current strengths and missed out on WRs Kelvin Benjamin, Marquise Lee & Jordan Matthews as well as OG Su’a-Filo Xavier, OT Joel Bitonio and OT Cyrus Kouandijo.

San Diego – C
They had a lot of needs and only addressed half of them. San Diego should have tried to move up for a receiver so they could finally give up on Vincent Brown.

Detroit – C-
Major reach of TE Eric Ebron when WR Brandin Cooks could have transformed their offense, Golden Tate will not pull more attention away from Megatron than Cooks would have.

Dallas – C-
Solid pick of Zack Martin at tackle, but they needed a safety much more and missed on Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Good pick of Demarcus Lawrence as a pass rusher but didn’t get much after that.

Miami – D
They reached for Ja’Wuan James when a CB like Darqueze Dennard or Jason Verrett could have helped them much more. Then they overvalued WR Jarvis Landry over more accomplished and explosive Donte Moncrief.

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So here is a baffling scenario that was played out in the 2014 NFL draft: two of the NCAA’s top conferences (Big 12 and SEC) had two players voted co-defensive players of the year in their conferences but one went undrafted and one went late in the seventh round.

Are those conference awards meaningless? Or is non-football information on prospects much more important in NFL draft war rooms than we all can imagine


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Best NFL Draft Prospects for Day 2

#NFLDraft2014
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2014 NFL Draft First Round Analysis

#NFLDraft2014
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ChatNFL 2014 Mock Draft

May 4th 2014 22:56
ChatNFL 2014 Mock Draft

1 – Houston – Jadeveon Clowney – DE – South Carolina - has too much on paper to pass up here at a need position and no one will trade up into this spot – they should but won’t take the risk on Johnny Manziel


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TOP NFL PROSPECTS BY POSITION - Defense

Clowney is a freak on paper, but on the field last year he wasn’t impactful and you have to question if he has the trajectory of Jevon Kearse but is already on the downside of that arc


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TOP 2014 NFL PROSPECTS BY POSITION - Offense

Teams will likely shy away from the bad the comes with the good of Johnny Football


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Draft Day Movie Review

April 17th 2014 01:09
Draft Day Movie Review

#DraftDayMovie


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