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Tag:Cleveland Browns
Posted on: March 10, 2012 12:54 pm
 

Rams get bounty, but dropping to No. 6 has risk

In the wake of the bold trade up by the Washington Redskins to secure the rights to one of the two elite quarterbacks of the 2012 draft class you can expect that there will be plenty of media speculation as to whether head coach Mike Shanahan and his staff overpayed. 

The St. Louis Rams, on the other hand, are universally being lauded for their ability to pry first round picks from the Redskins in the 2013 and 2014 drafts, as well as Washington's second round pick this year for only dropping four spots. 

And while I do believe that this trade could be one of the few in which both teams appear to be "winners," it isn't fair to characterize the Redskins as the only team taking a significant risk with the move. 

Recent conversations with various league sources indicate that six prospects have pulled away as the elite talents of the 2012 draft. Though the order differs slightly per team, the general consensus seems to be that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Southern Cal offensive tackle Matt Kalil, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon have separated from the rest of the pack. In trading out of the second pick to the sixth, the Rams are still guaranteed to see one of these prospects still available to them. Whether it is one capable of making an immediate impact, however, is the bigger question. 

With obvious needs at wide receiver and cornerback, the Rams would presumably love to see either Claiborne or Blackmon still available. The Minnesota Vikings (owners of the third pick), Cleveland Browns (four) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (five) also have signficant needs at these spots, however. With free agency looming, much will change prior to the draft but Rams fans may not be as thrilled with their options at No. 6 as they may have been when hearing of the bounty of picks their team will receive in the move.

Based on the lowered value of running backs in today's pass-happy NFL, Richardson would appear to be the most logical candidate, at this point, to slip to six. And while the Rams are expected to add a running back during the off-season to ease the burden on star Steve Jackson, adding another elite talent at one of the few positions of strength on the roster is not the recipe for success most teams would follow. 
      
Of course, if the draft works out the way Dane Brugler and I anticipate in our updated mock drafts (which reflect the trade), St. Louis could be celebrating their mighty haul of draft picks and adding a certain playmaker for Sam Bradford to boot.                
Posted on: March 9, 2012 7:34 pm
 

Blackmon's big Pro Day draws key decision-makers

STILLWATER, Okla. -- When Justin Blackmon didn't run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, questions about his speed persisted.
With 62 representatives from all 32 NFL teams watching him at his pro day, Blackmon erased any lingering doubt about his timed speed in roughly 4.45 seconds.

Oklahoma State listed Blackmon's 40 time as a 4.46 Friday. Scouts attending also had him running in 4.44 seconds.

"I was trying to shoot for a 4.45," Blackmon said. "That was kind of in my head, anywhere between there and 4.5.

"I felt pretty good when I ran it. My time was there. It says everything it needs to say."

In other drills, Blackmon touched 35 inches in his vertical jump, ran 4.36 in the shuttle and jumped 10-feet-3 inches in the broad jump. Satisfied with his 14 reps in the bench press from the NFL combine, he decided to skip that drill.

Blackmon caught 14 of 16 passes from quarterback Brandon Weeden during pass-catching drills. He did have two drops, both on out routes, but made two 50-yard catches on which he made adjustments to the ball in midair.

"Brandon put the ball on the spot," Blackmon said. "I had a couple of drops, but overall it went well."

Most of Blackmon's catches occurred either within 10 yards on the left sideline or past 20 yards on the right sidelines. He did not run any routes to the right side within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Some of the teams drafting early in the first round sent top coaches to Oklahoma State's pro day.

For the Cleveland Browns, head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress were on hand. Shurmur and Childress stood to the left of Weeden as they watched Blackmon in the receiving drills.

The Minnesota Vikings, with the third overall pick in the draft, had four members of their staff in attendance, including coach Leslie Frazier. The Vikings staff had a meeting scheduled with Blackmon immediately after his workout.

Frazier said he thinks there is a good chance Blackmon will be available for the Vikings at the third pick if his team decides it wants to select him. Andrew Luck of Stanford and Baylor's Robert Griffin III are widely expected to be the first two picks in the draft, but the Vikings drafted quarterback Christian Ponder in the first round of the 2011 draft.

"He's a terrific young player," Frazier said. "He didn't do anything to make you wonder if he was a different person on tape. He really solidified some of the things you saw on tape."

Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith and Denver Broncos coach John Fox were the other coaches in attendance. Fox was flanked by vice president John Elway and general manager Brian Xanders before hurriedly hitting the airport, where they boarded a jet bound for Denver with Peyton Manning as a passenger.

The Broncos, though, were likely scouting Weeden and other participants more than Blackmon.

After declaring for the draft, Blackmon's initial goal was to participate in as few drills as possible at the pro day. A minor hamstring injury during the week of the combine forced him to skip the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, raising doubts about how fast he was projected to run.

For Blackmon, he felt relieved to post a convincing time of 4.46, which should stand up to any bristle about a "fast track" in Stillwater.

"It was a process to try to knock it all out at the combine, and things popped up and I couldn't," Blackmon said. "I'm glad I got to come out and perform today and glad I got to knock it out."

In the weeks leading up to the pro day, Blackmon had to adjust his training to allow his hamstring to rest.

"I didn't do everything running wise I could (have) to better myself," Blackmon said. "I had to cut down on the runs and coming in and out of breaks. I did a lot more upper body things."

Blackmon's focus turns to private workouts with teams. Todd France, Blackmon's agent, said his client had workouts scheduled with multiple teams, but France would not disclose which teams will be hosting Blackmon.

Contributed by James Poling
Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:12 am
Edited on: February 14, 2012 10:48 am
 

Report: Prior to Tebow, Broncos eyed RG3

Prior to the development of Tim Tebow as the most talked about quarterback in Denver since John Elway, the Broncos were looking at another versatile, Heisman-winning passer as a possible first round target for the 2012 draft -- Baylor's Robert Griffin III. 

Rated behind only Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and Southern California offensive tackle Matt Kalil among the elite prospects in the 2012 draft by NFLDraftScout.com, Griffin is likely to earn a top-five selection come April. That would almost surely keep RG3 out of Denver's reach, as the Broncos would have to package several picks -- including their current first round selection (No. 25 overall) to move up to get him. 

Steve Wyche of NFL.com reported Tuesday, however, that the Broncos were closely scouting Griffin this season. 

"At a certain point this season,” Wyche said “with conversations I had there, they were really doing their due diligence on RG3 because of some of the things he can do to the offense.”

Blessed with extraordinary foot speed and touch on the deep ball, Griffin is a multidimensional threat who appears perfectly suited to taking the NFL by storm. He's also entering the league at precisely the right time. The immediate success by Cam Newton will be used by some as evidence that Griffin, too, can make a quick transition to the NFL. 

Considering his unique talents, the fact that the Broncos were closely scouting Griffin is no surprise. Frankly, it would be a surprise only if they didn't scout Griffin (and every other highly regarded prospect) closely. Teams don't just scout the players at perceived positions of need. Each team works hard to do their "due diligence" on every prospect who could potentially help their team. 

While the Broncos aren't likely to be among them, there are several teams looking for help at quarterback. As owners of the No. 1 overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts, of course, will have the first option of taking Griffin. Team owner Jim Irsay mentioned RG3 by name when predicting who his Colts might take with the first pick.  

“With [Robert] Griffin and [Andrew] Luck and the way it’s shaping up at the top of the draft, [it] could very likely go one and two like with Peyton and Ryan Leaf [1998]," Irsay said.   

Besides the Colts, the Cleveland Browns (No. 4, No. 22 overall), Washington Redskins (No. 6), Miami Dolphins (No. 8 or 9*) and Seattle Seahawks (No. 11 or 12*) are teams thought to be keenly interested in Griffin. *The Dolphins and Seahawks' final draft slot won't be determined until a coin=-flip held at the Combine will break their tie with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively). 

If Mike Holmgren and Co. want Griffin in Cleveland, they may be able to wait for him to land in their laps at No. 4, overall. Considering the extra first round pick they have due to Atlanta's trade up for Julio Jones last April, they also have the ammunition to move up, if needed. Miami, Washington and Seattle do not have an extra first round pick this year but with enough talent on their rosters to potentially emerge as serious playoff contenders with better play at quarterback, one (or more) of the clubs could be willing to pony up several picks in an effort to move up for Griffin.

All of which is music to the ears of the St. Louis Rams, owners of the No. 2 overall pick and their own young franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford. The Rams, my CBS colleague Clark Judge argues, should auction off the pick to the highest bidder.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Pitt loses "good guy" OG Jacobson for year

The Pittsburgh Panthers suffered quite a loss Saturday with redshirt senior left guard Chris Jacobson, one of the most respected members of the team and a legitimate NFL prospect, suffering a season-ending injury to his left knee.

Jacobson has been overshadowed throughout much of his career, as the Panthers boast one of the top guard prospects in the entire country in Lucas Nix. The team sent left tackle Jason Pinkston to the NFL last April (Cleveland Browns' fifth round pick).

Despite the relative lack of national name recognition, the Pittsburgh coaching staff was mourning the loss of their co-captain.

Jerry DiPaolo of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was on hand to record Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham's comments:

"Chris Jacobson is one of the most respected people in our program,” Graham said, “and I know every player and coach feels disappointment for him that he’ll miss the rest of the year. Fortunately, we feel optimistic about his chances to receive sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA.” It’s a bad break for a good guy, but Jacobson would be the first to tell you, “That’s football.”

Jacobson is expected to undergo surgery on the knee soon, perhaps as early as this week. This is the second catastrophic knee injury. Jacobson missed the entire 2007 season after tearing the ACL in his right knee during fall camp. According to DiPaulo, Graham is hopeful the NCAA will grant Jacobson a rare sixth year of eligibility.

Jacobson currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 14 guard for the 2011 draft. Nix ranks fourth.
Posted on: August 20, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Pryor dazzles 17 teams w/speed. Less so w/ arm?

Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor proved both dazzling and perhaps a bit disappointing Saturday in hastily organized "Pro Day" workout at a Hempfield (Pa) high school in front of a collection of scouts, front office executives, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin and even Indianapolis Colts' owner Jim Irsay.

Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was also on hand for the workout, showing his support for the player some blame for the program's recent troubles.

Measuring in at 6-5, 232 pounds Pryor wowed onlookers with his straight-line speed early in the workout, posting times between 4.38-4.41 seconds on a soft FieldTurf surface, according to Zac Jackson's Twitter feed. The soft turf generally slows a player down, at least in comparison to a hard turf or track surface. Therefore, these are lightning fast times for Pryor; ones certain to boost the intrigue of teams considering the playmaker.

As impressive as Pryor was running for the stopwatch, he did not run routes or catch passes as a receiver and was apparently less impressive when throwing the ball. While he threw a tight spiral on many of his throws, he also threw a "duck" after instructing one of his four receivers on hand which route to run and there were several incompletions, according to Jackson.

According to The NFL Network's Albert Breer, Pryor completed 27 of 39 passes. Of the 12 incompletions, Breer counted four drops.

Having not been at Pryor's workout, myself, I can't fairly grade his performance during the throwing session. I have been to multiple Pro Day workouts from quarterbacks, most notably Sam Bradford's, Mark Sanchez's and Jake Locker's. Passes rarely hit the ground during these orchestrated workouts with no defenders.

There were 17 teams present at the workout: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami, New England, New Orleans, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington.

While the fact that more than half of the league's teams were represented at the Pro Day shows that there is a great deal of interest in the former Buckeye, it also should be noted that there were only a few decision-makers on hand. Most of the scouts in attendance were lower-level area scouts, likely close by due to their normal scouting responsibilities at local colleges during the late summer months. The Steelers, not surprisingly given their close proximity, were well represented. Besides Tomlin, Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert was also reportedly at the workout. Irsay tweeted that his Colts are "not taking Pryor" though he also mentioned that his team is "evaluating the QB [situation]."

The workout, while exciting, isn't likely to change the opinions of teams heading towards Monday's supplemental draft. I've argued for a long time that Pryor is quite an intriguing prospect at wide receiver. He, however, has indicated a strong preference for remaining at quarterback, though he did tell teams and the assembled media at the workout today that he'd play any position asked.

As a quarterback, Pryor's average accuracy and decision-making means that he's at minimum a two-year project for playing the traditional quarterback role. He could, however, make a significant and exciting contribution early in his career as a glorified Wildcat option for a club.

His athleticism and size are such a unique combination that Pryor most likely will earn a middle to late round pick. Most expect that it will come in the 4th to 5th round.
Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 6:17 pm
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Posted on: May 10, 2011 2:11 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Defensive Ends (4-3 and 3-4)

Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

Defensive end was one of the strengths of the 2011 draft class, but a disproportionate number of them were five technique defenders best suited to holding the point in a 3-4 scheme. There were few classic 4-3 RDEs to be had in 2011, with former North Carolina standout Robert Quinn being the most explosive of the bunch. In many cases, top collegiate defensive ends -- such as Texas A&M's Von Miller, Missouri's Aldon Smith and Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan will be moved to outside linebacker. As such, much of the focus below is on DEs capable of playing immediately in the scheme in which they were drafted, though they may not be used as defensive ends with their NFL teams.

 Like my picks on the offensive side of the ball (the quarterbacks , running backswide receivers , tight end and offensive line fits), I highlight players taken in the middle and later rounds, as well as 1st and 2nd rounders.

Players are listed alphabetically.

Quality Fits:

Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints:
New Orleans' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is one of the creative minds in the business, making the versatile Jordan an ideal fit in the Saints' defensive line rotation. Jordan, who emerged as a star at defensive end in the 3-4 while at Cal, proved the ability to be just as disruptive as a 4-3 pass rusher while at the Senior Bowl. At 6-4, 287 pounds, Jordan also has the size and strength to slip inside at defensive tackle in nickel situations.

Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins:
The Big Defensive Player of the Year as a defensive end, Kerrigan will be asked to drop to outside linebacker in the Redskins' odd-man front. Kerrigan was widely characterized as strictly a 4-3 defensive end, but some of the clubs I'm closest to who work for 3-4 teams absolutely loved the former Boilermaker's burst and passion as a stand-up OLB. The biggest knock on  Kerrigan coming out of Purdue was that he didn't use his hands well enough to keep NFL offensive tackles from latching on to him. The theory went that by moving him further away, he could use his speed to blow past tackles. Playing opposite an established rusher in Brian Orakpo, Kerrigan could prove an immediate impact player from this draft and ultimately quite a steal at No. 16, overall.

Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams:
Like the Saints, the Rams simply got lucky when a top defensive end that fit their system simply fell in their lap. Quinn was rated by many as a top 10 prospect, but with four quarterbacks surprisingly making the Top 12, Auburn's Nick Fairley and Quinn fell to the Detroit Lions and Rams, respectively. With the exception of the Broncos' Miller (who will be asked to move to OLB), Quinn was the most explosive pass rusher in this draft. Playing opposite a strong, stout defender like former No. 2 overall pick Chris Long, Quinn's speed should give the Rams' otherwise aging defensive line some real playmaking potential. Quinn is already being viewed by some as a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.

Jabaal Sheard, Cleveland Browns:
Knowing that the Browns desperately needed to get bigger and more productive up front in their transition back to a 4-3 defense, I had Cleveland pegged to take Quinn at No. 6, overall. That may or may not have been the direction they were going to with that pick, but when Atlanta offered them five selections (including their 1st and 4th round picks in 2012) to move down, the rebuilding Browns jumped at the opportunity. In Sheard (taken No. 37 overall), Cleveland got a high-effort pass rusher with an underrated combination of power and burst off the snap. He isn't as explosive as Quinn, but might be a safer pick and could surprise with his immediate production in this scheme.

Questionable Fit:

Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers:
While some pointed to quarterback or cornerback as the 49ers' biggest areas of concern, I've maintained that the team desperately needed to address their lack of a consistent pass rush. The 49ers clearly agreed, but I have real reservations about the player they chose to fix their concerns. It isn't that I dislike Smith. Actually, I'm quite high on the former Tiger's upside... I just liked him much more as a 4-3 defensive end rather than as a 3-4 rush linebacker. I didn't see the balance and change-of-direction from Smith that I believe translates into a high degree of success as a 3-4 OLB. Taking into consideration Smith's long, relatively lean frame (6-4, 263 pounds and exceptionally long arms, legs) and age (20), I see Smith getting naturally bigger as spends time in an NFL weight room. Quite frankly, I see Smith growing out of the position and struggling to put up the numbers expected of a player taken so high (No. 7) in the draft. 

Posted on: May 7, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Wide Receivers


Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

The 2011 wide receiver class was a unique one. While all of the attention was understandably heaped upon A.J. Green and Julio Jones, the so-called second tier talent of this group intrigued me. There wasn't a great deal of pure speed available in this class, but the number of elusive returners, tough slot receivers and big, physical possession wideouts made it a underrated strength of the 2011 draft. It will be interesting to see how many of these college stars prove to emerge as true No. 1 targets in the NFL. While I have some reservations about how many will be able to do precisely that, I am confident that a number of them will make immediate and lasting impacts at the pro level.

Earlier this week I broken down the quarterbacks and running back fits.
Good Fits:

Dwayne Harris, Dallas Cowboys:
Quite frankly, I wasn't as high on the Cowboys' draft as many, but I did love the value of Harris in the sixth round. In Harris, I see the same type of toughness, wiggle and secure hands that I saw in Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby (now with the Cincinnati Bengals) and Davone Bess (Miami Dolphins) when they starred in college. Considering the talent outside in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, Harris could slide right into the slot and prove a steal.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons:
Let's be clear. I thought Atlanta paid too much to acquire Jones. With that said, it is easy to see why they made their aggressive trade, as Jones is the most physically-prepared receiver to make an immediate impact in this draft and is an ideal fit for Atlanta's offense due to his size, strength, and run-blocking. He is not as fast on the field as his 4.34 second time at the Combine might suggest, but at 6-3, 220 pounds, he is tough to bring down in the open field. Considering the other weapons the Falcons possess, he'll rarely see double coverage early in his career, meaning that Jones will often be only one broken tackle away from big plays.

Greg Little, Cleveland Browns:
Little and Jones will forever be linked due to the fact that Cleveland used one of the picks they received from the Falcons to select a similarly built (6-3, 231) and skilled wideout 52 picks later than Atlanta selected Jones. Like Jones, Little uses his extraordinary combination of size, strength, underrated speed (4.53) and body control to be effective. A former running back, Little's RAC skills could result in plenty of big plays in Cleveland. He is one of the few wideouts in this class who I believe could ultimately emerge as a true No. 1 target. It will be interesting to compare in a few years to take a look back and see what kind of value the Browns got with Little at No. 59 compared to what the Falcons got out of Jones at No. 7.

Greg Salas, St. Louis Rams:
I could have just as easily listed the first wide receiver the Rams selected in 2011 -- former Boise State star Austin Pettis (No. 78 overall) -- as an ideal schematic fit, but with Salas taken 34 spots later, he could ultimately prove the better value. Each are tall, well-built possession receivers whose game is built on precise route-running and soft, reliable hands -- precisely the type of wideouts Sam Bradford so desperately needed last year.

Titus Young, Detroit Lions:
Young was hyped by some draft analysts as the No. 3 receiver in this class, but inconsistent route-running, hands, toughness and slim build (5-11, 174) kept him as my No. 7 rated wideout (No. 6 by NFLDraftScout.com). There is no denying, however, that Young fits in well schematically with the Lions, who needed a big play threat opposite Calvin Johnson and to take advantage of Matt Stafford's amazing arm. 

Questionable Fit:

Jon Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs:
Considering the success that Scott Pioli had in helping build the Patriots' dynasty as well as the successful renovation of the Chiefs, it might be seen as almost blasphemous to knock one of his first round picks. And yet, here I am doing it. I understand the Chiefs' need to add a secondary receiver to take pressure off of Dwayne Bowe and certainly acknowledge Baldwin's extraordinary combination of size (6-4, 228), speed (4.49), explosiveness (42" vertical jump led all Combine WRs), but quite frankly, on tape Baldwin isn't the sum of his parts. He isn't as physical as his size would suggest, nor as fast as he timed. Baldwin struggled against press coverage in college and will only face more of it in the NFL. He is blessed with a great deal of natural talent and Todd Haley has shown the ability to coax such talent from surly receivers throughout his career. There is no denying, however, that Baldwin was a significant gamble at No. 26 overall.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com