Improved pass rush will lead way for Broncos in 2018

DENVER (AP) — Von Miller went bonkers when Bradley Chubb fell to the Denver Broncos with the fifth pick in the NFL draft.

Chubb not only takes pressure off Miller, who hasn’t been back to the playoffs since winning Super Bowl 50 MVP honors. He bolsters what was already a dynamic Denver pass rush that gives opponents fits and covers a whole lot of warts in the Broncos’ beleaguered secondary.

Rather than grab another quarterback in the first round — his last one didn’t work out so well — general manager John Elway selected the North Carolina State edge rusher who was widely regarded as the best defender in the 2017 draft class.

Now, the Broncos can send Miller, Chubb, Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett at quarterbacks from the outside while locking down the interior with a revitalized Derek Wolfe , a beefed-up DeMarcus Walker, a rejuvenated Adam Gotsis and free agent acquisition Clinton McDonald at defensive end.

Then there’s nose tackles Shelby Harris and the Peko cousins, Domata and Kyle, to provide inside push and help thwart the run.

Of course, it will only matter if Denver’s refurbished offense buttressed by free agent QB Case Keenum, rookie receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton and rookie running back Royce Freeman, starts scoring points like it did when Peyton Manning was hollering out, “Hurry, hurry!”

In the two seasons since Manning retired, the Broncos haven’t played with a lead often enough to capitalize on their pass rush prowess or what had been a stellar secondary.

Cornerback Chris Harris Jr., was pleased to finally face an offense in training camp that held its own.

“Our offense is way better than they were last year,” Harris said. “I see them putting up points, at least 30 a game. … because we have Bill Musgrave, a great offensive coordinator. We used to hate going against him. We used to call him ‘Mad Scientist’ when he was in Oakland, so they have a great offense. It fits Case well. He has great weapons. I don’t see why they can’t average 30.”

NO MORE NO FLY ZONE : A prolific offense will help a defense that went through a spate of injuries in the secondary, then lost a second member of the original “No Fly Zone” with the trade of cornerback Aqib Talib to the Rams this spring.

The Broncos had their share of growing pains after safety T.J. Ward was waived last year. Now the original “No Fly Zone” is down to safety Darren Stewart and Harris, who said the chemistry with cornerback Bradley Roby was slow to develop this summer after never needing to consider it with Talib.

“It was so easy that you never realized that you have to work for that with someone else,” Harris said. “Me and ‘Lib used to come out on the field — Bam! If he sees something, I see it.”

Asked when he thought that would come together with Roby, Harris said, “as soon as Roby gets it. It shouldn’t take long as long as he gets it. Once he gets it, we’ll be on the same page.”

REFRESHED RECEIVERS : It didn’t take long for Emmanuel Sanders to get on the same page with Keenum. Finally healthy after an injury-marred 2017 season, Sanders was the star of training camp even as rookie Sutton, another SMU alum, was entertaining the crowds with daily highlight reel catches.

Sanders said his enthusiasm isn’t just a byproduct of his return to health but of Keenum’s arrival. For the first time since 2015, Sanders worked exclusively with the starting QB and didn’t have to endure a prolonged quarterback competition that siphoned chemistry and rhythm from the offense once the regular season rolled around.

He and Demaryius Thomas also were pushed by the rookies.

“This is one of those wide receiver groups that can definitely carry this team,” Sanders said. “Elway has his pick of the litter in that room.”

BOUNCE BACKS : The Broncos haven’t had back-to-back losing seasons since 1971-72 and several players need bounce-back seasons to keep that streak alive. So do the coaches.

Elway contemplated firing Joseph following his 5-11 rookie season but decided to give him another chance, then provided him with a massive roster upgrade rather than going on another coaching search and starting over.

Joseph realizes he won’t get another chance if things don’t change, however.

“Winning football games is a must this year,” Joseph said. “We have to do that. That’s why they hired me.”


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Ex-caddie: Tiger’s comeback ‘an incredible story’

Ex-caddie: Tiger's comeback 'an incredible story'

Ex-caddie: Tiger’s comeback ‘an incredible story’

Steve Williams, who caddied for Tiger Woods for 13 years, was as transfixed as any observer when his former employer made a run to his fifth Masters title earlier this month.

Williams, who retired to his native New Zealand in 2017, told ESPN in a story published Monday that he hadn’t watched any golf on television since retirement — until Woods was making a run on Sunday at Augusta. Williams said he tuned in from New Zealand — where it was around 5 a.m. on Monday — as the final grouping was reaching the 15th hole.

Woods went on to birdie that hole and take the outright lead for good, while Italy’s Francesco Molinari double-bogeyed and fell out of contention.

“Given the fact that two years ago, he stated that he was unlikely to play competitive golf again, or was seriously doubting it … he wouldn’t just say that in jest,” Williams told ESPN of Woods, who made his return to the tour last year after a fourth back surgery. “There would have been a lot of truth to it. For him to actually come back full cycle to win a major championship … it’s just an incredible story.

“It’s an amazing achievement of pure guts and hard work for him and just a true indication of what he is made of. It proves again what an amazing athlete he is. It’s just an amazing achievement.”

Williams, 55, became Woods’ caddie in 1999 and remained on the bag until Woods fired him in July of 2011, covering a span of 13 of Woods’ 14 major victories to that point. Joe LaCava has caddied for Woods since.

Williams, who had caddied for Adam Scott while Woods was away from the tour, joined Scott regularly from 2011 until September of 2017. Scott won the 2013 Masters with Williams.

After seeing Woods claim the 15th major of his career and his first since 2008, Williams touted how strongly the achievement will impact the sport.

“You look at it from a broader perspective,” Williams said. “Here in New Zealand, golf is somewhat struggling. The number of rounds is down, junior numbers are slipping. Now that Tiger has come right back there again, winning a major championship, possibly putting Jack’s (Nicklaus) record (of 18 career major wins) in play again … it just re-energizes the game.

“It’s absolutely awesome. He’s the only guy who can energize the game like that. All those kids who were watching had to think it was fantastic. And so what he’s done is a remarkable achievement. It’s so positive.”

–Field Level Media

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Packers to exercise DT Clark’s option for 2020

Packers to exercise DT Clark's option for 2020

Packers to exercise DT Clark’s option for 2020

The Green Bay Packers intend to exercise their fifth-year option on defensive tackle Kenny Clark for the 2020 season.

General manager Brian Gutekunst confirmed that plan to reporters on Monday, although the team has until a May 3 deadline to make the move official.

The option is expected to be worth around $8 million in 2020. The first four years of Clark’s rookie deal are worth $9.4 million, including a $1.7 million base salary in 2019.

The Packers’ first-round draft pick (27th overall) in 2016, Clark registered 55 tackles and a career-high 6.0 sacks in 13 games in his third NFL season in 2018. He was ranked as the No. 9 interior lineman in the NFL by Pro Football Focus at the time he was placed on injured reserve with an elbow injury in mid-December.

Clark, 23, has 131 tackles, 10.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries in 44 career games (30 starts).

–Field Level Media

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McNabb clarifies words on Eagles QB Wentz

McNabb clarifies words on Eagles QB Wentz

McNabb clarifies words on Eagles QB Wentz

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb clarified his recent comments about current Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz on Monday, after taking criticism from the team’s right tackle, Lane Johnson, on Sunday.

“For those of you who misread, didn’t understand, were confused or just didn’t like my comments let me clarify it for you,” McNabb wrote on Twitter. “Let me start by saying there’s no beef, riff or ill-will toward [Wentz] or the @Eagles. My comments were strictly based off of experience and understanding of how the business of football works.

“You are consistently evaluated everyday, every game and if you are reliable and or healthy enough to play. I know at times as players and fans it can be confusing to move on from a beloved player but due to the business of health and trust tough decisions are usually made.

“Maybe people just didn’t like it because it’s coming from me or I answered a question from one of the talents on the radio the way you didn’t agree with. If that’s how you feel I’m sorry you feel that way. It’s the nature of the game.”

McNabb said Saturday on CBS Sports Radio that the Eagles should consider drafting another quarterback if they don’t get past the second round of the playoffs with Wentz in the next “two years or so.” He referenced Nick Foles’ success in Philadelphia and added of Wentz, “He hasn’t really proven to me, besides the year before he got hurt [when] he was, really, an MVP candidate. He needs to get back to that moment.”

Johnson responded to McNabb on Twitter with several snake emojis and the words, “and you wonder why nobody respects you when you come back!!!!”

Johnson later went on 94WIP radio to expand on those thoughts, referencing former Eagles players who are critical of current players.

“Every training camp we have all of these ex-players come and shake our hands, wish us good luck,” Johnson said. “Then they just go out and just talk hate. I feel there is a lot of envy, jealousy, and I see a lot of fakery. It isn’t just me — a lot of other teammates see it too.

“You would think the best quarterback in franchise history would try to build up a young man that looks up to him instead of always criticizing him, critiquing him and wishing he would fail so he could be the missing link and feel better himself.”

Wentz, 26, earned a Pro Bowl appearance in 2017 and was an MVP candidate before tearing his ACL late in the season. He also finished last year on the sidelines with a back injury. Foles led the team to playoff wins in both years, including a Super Bowl LII title after the 2017 season, before leaving for Jacksonville in free agency this March.

McNabb, 42, went to six Pro Bowls in 11 seasons with the Eagles, finishing as the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yardage (32,873) and touchdowns (216).

–Field Level Media

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Take 5: NFL draft props to play Thursday

Take 5: NFL draft props to play Thursday

Field Level Media analyzed dozens

Take 5: NFL draft props to play Thursday

Field Level Media analyzed dozens of prop bets offered by numerous sportsbooks, searching for the best odds and most likely moneymakers.

We’ve ranked the top five in descending order below, starting off with a dark horse that could pay big, a parlay worthy of a party and finishing with as sure a thing as the 2019 NFL draft has to offer.

5. First wide receiver drafted –

FanDuel has 15 different NFL draft prop bets currently listed, including old standbys — Who Will Be The First (or Second) Pick; First Player Drafted at several different positions.

As for the wide receiver most likely to be the first drafted, Mississippi’s D.K. Metcalf is listed as the favorite at -175, meaning that bettors would have to bet $175 to win $100.

Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown (+210) and Metcalf’s teammate at Ole Miss, A.J. Brown (+1000) are riskier but pay better. For those willing to roll the dice, consider Ohio State’s Parris Campbell, a 6-0, 205-pound Percy Harvin-like big-play specialist who at +5000 could make bettors rich even faster than the 4.31 second 40-yard dash he ran at the Combine. A measly $10 bet on Campbell – a late-rising prospect who was one of three receivers (along with Metcalf and Brown) listed in my latest mock draft – would net a $500 profit.

4. Kyler Murray Goes No. 1 –

Many sportsbooks list Murray as the prohibitive favorite to be the top pick at -1000. A $1,000 bet would win $100. A thousand is the operative number for, however, as the New Jersey-based online book is offering a +100 special to the first 1,000 bettors. As long as Cardinals general manager Steve Keim feels as strongly about Murray as his new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, this feels like easy money.

3. Number of Defensive Players Drafted in Round One –

You have heard by now that this year’s draft is loaded with defense, particularly along the defensive line. Two-time NFL general manager Scot McCloughan characterized the 2019 crop as the best defensive line class he’d ever seen in 25-plus years in scouting.

I expect multiple off-ball linebackers (specifically Devin White and Devin Bush) and a handful of defensive backs to join the historic defensive line class in earning first-round selections. offers several intriguing wagers but its over-under breakdown of defensive (16.5) and offensive players (15.5) is especially tantalizing.

You’ll need to invest a little to win, but at -150, take the over on defensive players or Under on Offensive Players and laugh all the way to the bank. Just don’t think you can get away with parlaying the two – I already asked.

2. ACC+Big Ten Players Drafted in Round One with possible SEC parlay –

If parlaying bets is your kind of party, check out the list of wagers available at, which offers online betting as well as walk-in sports books in Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia in the contiguous United States. First, for a reasonable gamble of -145, you can bet that at least 11.5 ACC and Big Ten players are selected in the first round.

That’s a steal.

I would be very surprised if these 12 players, in projected order, are not among the top 32 picks: Nick Bosa, Rashan Gary, Dwayne Haskins, Clelin Ferrell, T.J. Hockenson, Devin Bush, Brian Burns, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Daniel Jones, Garrett Bradbury and Noah Fant. And with a few other worthy candidates (Parris Campbell, Justin Layne, Chris Lindstrom, Amani Hooker, Juan Thornhill, etc.) having realistic shots at jumping into the mix, your risk is ready to become reward.

Parlay-seeking bettors might want to combine this bet with another on SEC prospects.

WilliamHill has the over-under on SEC players drafted in the first round at 12.5 with even odds on the over and -120 on the under. I see this as a riskier bet than the ACC and Big Ten combo but would take the over with 13 former SEC stars making my latest first-round mock (in projected order Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen, Devin White, Montez Sweat, Jawaan Taylor, Jonah Williams, Greedy Williams, D.K. Metcalf, Johnathan Abram, Deandre Baker, Jeffery Simmons, Josh Jacobs and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson) and several other worthy candidates capable of sneaking in, including A.J. Brown, Greg Little, Lonnie Johnson, Deebo Samuel and Elgton Jenkins.

1. Team (Denver Broncos) to Draft Player (Missouri QB Drew Lock) –

A more accomplished NFL draft analyst than a sports betting guru, my comfort level is greater in projecting an individual player to a specific team (and not just the first or second overall pick).

I had a lot of success with it a year ago at the quarterback position, correctly forecasting all five first-round passers to their correct NFL teams. I love the fit with Lock in Denver and apparently so does, listing the Broncos as the strong favorite to land the SEC’s all-time single-season touchdown leader with odds at +275 with the Redskins coming in second at +400.

–By Rob Rang, Field Level Media

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Report: Cardinals field trade offers, to meet about No.1 pick

Report: Cardinals field trade offers, to meet about No.1 pick

Report: Cardinals field trade offers, to meet about No.1 pick

The Arizona Cardinals still haven’t tipped their hand as to how they’ll use the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft on Thursday, and teams continue to inquire about a trade, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday.

He also said general manager Steve Keim, coach Kliff Kingsbury and owner Michael Bidwill have a final meeting scheduled to make a decision.

The assumption is Cardinals will draft Kyler Murray, who won the Heisman Trophy and led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff in 2018. Reports over the weekend surfaced that the Cardinals plan to keep Josh Rosen at quarterback and draft a difference-maker on defense.

CBS Sports columnist Pete Prisco reported that Bidwell wanted the team to take Murray, but that has changed.

“Initially, the ownership pushed for Kyler Murray,” he said. “They were having a hard time selling tickets. They put it out there, Arizona was lukewarm to it, so now all of a sudden they’re pulling back and, from what I have been told, they’re going to go in a different direction.

“They’re not going to draft Kyler Murray.”

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said the team was undecided last week during a pre-draft news conference.

“We are not done with this process,” Keim told reporters last Tuesday. “There are a number of players in my opinion and our scouts’ opinions and our coaching staff’s opinion that warrant being the first overall selection.”

–Field Level Media

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Report: Peyton Manning will not join ‘MNF’ booth

Report: Peyton Manning will not join 'MNF' booth

Peyton Manning

Report: Peyton Manning will not join ‘MNF’ booth

Peyton Manning will not join ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast team this season, Sporting News reported Monday.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback met with network executives last month in Denver about replacing Jason Witten, who has returned to the Dallas Cowboys after one season in the booth.

But Manning is reluctant to comment on games while his younger brother, Eli, is still playing, according to NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk. Eli’s New York Giants have two Monday night games scheduled in 2019.

Manning, 43, retired after leading the Broncos to a Super Bowl win in 2016. Instead of joining ESPN as an analyst, he will host a 30-episode football documentary series called “Peyton’s Places,” set to debut on ESPN+ in July.

–Field Level Media

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Pan vaults to No. 55; Bjerregaard to play on PGA Tour

Pan vaults to No. 55; Bjerregaard to play on PGA Tour

Pan vaults to No. 55; Bjerregaard to play on PGA Tour

The benefits from C.T. Pan’s first career PGA Tour victory continued to roll in Monday, as the Taiwanese golfer rocketed up 58 spots to a career-high No. 55 in the official world golf rankings.

In addition to a two-year Tour exemption and a spot in this year’s PGA Championship and the 2019 Players Championship and Masters, Pan is now close to qualifying for the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in July, where the top 50 players in the OWGR receive automatic invitations.

Third-round leader Dustin Johnson shot a 77 on Sunday to drop into a tie for 28th at the RBC Heritage, but retained the No. 1 spot over England’s Justin Rose as there was no movement in the top 10. They are followed by Brooks Koepka, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods, Italy’s Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele and Spain’s Jon Rahm.

Jordan Spieth continued his slide, falling another spot to No. 35 after tying for 54th in Hilton Head, S.C.

No OWGR points will be awarded at this week’s Zurich Classic, which is a team event.

Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, who took a week off following four events in a five-week stretch, dropped one spot to No. 44. However, the PGA Tour announced that he has accepted Special Temporary Membership for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

Bjerregaard beat Woods in the quarterfinals before finishing fourth at last month’s WGC-Match Play. He is now eligible for unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the season as he attempts to earn his PGA Tour card for the 2019-20 season through the Non-Member FedExCup Points List.

England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick accepted a Special Temporary Membership earlier this year.

–Field Level Media

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RB Yeldon signs two-year deal with Bills

RB Yeldon signs two-year deal with Bills

RB Yeldon signs two-year deal with Bills

Buffalo signed free agent running back T.J. Yeldon to a two-year contract on Monday.

Terms of the deal with the Bills were not announced.

Yeldon, 25, was a second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2015 NFL Draft.

In 51 games (30 starts) with the Jaguars, Yeldon gained 1,872 yards and scored six rushing touchdowns. He also was valuable as a receiver, catching 171 passes for 1,302 yards and six scores.

Yeldon was criticized by Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars executive vice president of football operations, after the final game of the 2018 season. Coughlin called Yeldon and running back Leonard Fournette “selfish” and “disrespectful” for what he perceived as their lack of interest in the game, a 20-3 loss to the Texans that capped a disappointing 5-11 season.

With Yeldon, the Bills now have six running backs on the roster, including veterans Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy.

–Field Level Media

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Film Study: Best, worst of Murray and 2019 QB class

Film Study: Best, worst of Murray and 2019 QB class

Film Study: Best, worst of Murray and 2019 QB class

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

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Wife of Lions’ Stafford home after 12-hour brain surgery

Wife of Lions' Stafford home after 12-hour brain surgery


Wife of Lions’ Stafford home after 12-hour brain surgery

Kelly Stafford, whose husband is Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, announced Sunday evening she is home from the hospital after a 12-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor earlier this week.

Stafford announced earlier this month she was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, which is a benign tumor, that was abutting her cranial nerves. She said she had been suffering from vertigo and experiencing other unusual symptoms and had the MRI performed on the advice of the Lions’ team doctor.

On Sunday, Stafford posted two photos on Instagram along with a video, showing her walking with assistance from her husband and her mother in the hospital.

“This Easter is the beginning of a new life for me,” she wrote in her post. “I wanna take a second to thank all of you for all the prayers. They have worked. I know they have.

“When they opened me up, I had an abnormal vein … maybe abnormal for other neurosurgeons, but not the one We chose. He had seen it before and written a paper on it. That’s truly God’s work. The prayers for my family, I’m beyond thankful for. A six hour surgery went to 12 hours and although they were anxious and scared, your prayers got them through. Thank you. Thank you so much.

“Now I am home and learning my new norm. It’ll take some time, but I really just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for all your support, thoughts and prayers. It means more than y’all will ever know.”

The Stafford have three daughters, twins born in 2017 and another born last August. They met while both were students at Georgia and married in 2015.

–Field Level Media

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Take 5: 2019 NFL Draft mock-busters

Take 5: 2019 NFL Draft mock-busters

Take 5: 2019 NFL Draft mock-busters

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

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Taipei’s Pan gets first pro win in PGA’s RBC Heritage

Taipei's Pan gets first pro win in PGA's RBC Heritage

Taipei’s Pan gets first pro win in PGA’s RBC Heritage

Taipei’s C.T. Pan won his first professional title by shooting 4-under-par 67 in the final round of the RBC Heritage on Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C.

Pan finished at 12-under 272, avoiding many of the late-round snags that tripped other contenders, giving him a one-shot victory over Matt Kuchar (67).

Patrick Cantlay needed a birdie on the final hole to forge a playoff, but he ended up with a bogey and a round of 69.

Pan bogeyed the 15th hole before finishing his round with a birdie and two pars. His attempt on a birdie putt on the last hole clipped the cup and rolled away.

Earlier, Kuchar’s birdie putt on No. 18 made him the leader in the clubhouse.

Pan had a tie for second place in last August’s Wyndham Championship as his previous best finish on tour.

Cantlay’s 10-under left him tied for third place with Scott Piercy (69) and Shane Lowry (70).

Lowry, who was the leader after the first two rounds, was aiming for his second PGA Tour victory.

Third-round leader Dustin Johnson, who holds the No. 1 world ranking, was a home-state favorite, but he faded with a 7-over stretch on Nos. 11-15. He finished his round of 77 with a birdie, tying for 28th at 4 under.

Johnson was in position for his 21st PGA Tour victory before the unexpected slide.

J.T. Poston (66) made a big move early, finishing tied for sixth at 9 under. He was joined by Ireland’s Seamus Power (67) and Kevin Streelman (68).

Sam Burns used an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to catapult into contention. But after reaching 11 under, a three-hole stretch at 3 over on the backside dropped him out of reach. He was ninth at 8 under.

Jason Kokrak also appeared on the leader board, but he ended up with a 69 after triple-bogey on the last hole. He finished 6 under.

–Field Level Media

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Veteran TE Watson might change mind on retiring

Veteran TE Watson might change mind on retiring

Veteran TE Watson might change mind on retiring

Tight end Benjamin Watson, who in December announced he would retire when the season ended, is considering coming back for a 15th NFL season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Watson, who has played four of his previous five seasons with the New Orleans Saints, including last season’s run to the NFC Championship Game, could come back if the circumstances line up correctly, Schefter reported, citing league sources.

In December, Watson said, “It’s time. It’s time to be done. I’m going to finish strong.”

The 38-year-old Watson, a first-round draft pick (32nd overall) of the New England Patriots in 2004, has played 195 games, with 530 receptions for 5,885 yards and 44 touchdowns. In 12 postseason games, he has 22 catches for 234 yards and three scores.

Watson’s wife, Kirsten, is expected to give birth to twins next week, and the couple have five children already.

After six seasons in New England (2004-09), Watson played for Cleveland (2010-12), New Orleans (2013-15) and Baltimore (2017) before returning to the Saints.

–Field Level Media

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Former NFL RB, college star Cobb dies at 50

Former NFL RB, college star Cobb dies at 50

Former NFL running back and Tennessee college star Reggie Cobb died Saturday, according to the San Francisco 49ers. He was 50.

Cobb spent the past 10 years as a scout for the 49ers.

The team didn't divulge a

Former NFL RB, college star Cobb dies at 50

Former NFL running back and Tennessee college star Reggie Cobb died Saturday, according to the San Francisco 49ers. He was 50.

Cobb spent the past 10 years as a scout for the 49ers.

The team didn’t divulge a reason for the unexpected death.

“We are devastated by the sudden loss of a tremendous teammate and loyal friend, Reggie Cobb,” general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “Reggie was an enthusiastic and passionate person who had a special ability to brighten up a room with his personality and infectious smile.

“For 10 years, the 49ers were better because of Reggie and these unique qualities that he possessed. He was a top-notch scout and an exemplary man whose years of service to this organization and the National Football League will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this time of mourning.”

Cobb played seven NFL seasons and rushed for 3,743 yards and 25 touchdowns and also caught 123 passes for 949 yards and two scores.

His best season was when he rushed for 1,171 yards and nine touchdowns in 1992 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played four seasons for the Bucs before spending one season apiece with the Green Bay Packers (1994), Jacksonville Jaguars (1995) and New York Jets (1996).

The Buccaneers expressed their condolences on their Twitter account.

“We’re saddened to hear of the passing of former running back Reggie Cobb. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cobb family.”

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Johnson take one-shot lead after Round 3 at RBC Heritage

Johnson take one-shot lead after Round 3 at RBC Heritage

Johnson take one-shot lead after Round 3 at RBC Heritage

Dustin Johnson moved into the lead of the RBC Heritage by shooting a 3-under-par 68 during Saturday’s third round at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C.

He’s at 10-under 203 after his third straight sub-70 round.

Going into Sunday’s final round, South African Rory Sabbatini (68), England’s Ian Poulter (67) and Ireland’s Shane Lowry (71) are at 9 under.

Johnson is a local favorite from his time as a college golfer at Coastal Carolina. The South Carolina native also is coming off a runner-up finish in the Masters.

Johnson hadn’t played the Hilton Heard course in about a decade until entering this week’s tournament.

Yet with windy conditions, there were rough closing stretches for several golfers.

Johnson had birdies on Nos. 13-15 before carding consecutive bogeys on 16 and 17.

Lowry led at the conclusion of play in each of the first two days, though he had to finish holes from the second round when play resumed Saturday. He held a one-stroke lead at the tournament’s midway mark.

In the third round, Lowry was 3 under through nine holes before giving those back during a 3-over backside.

Patrick Cantlay (66) is at 8 under in a tie for fifth place tie with Trey Mullinax (71), Scott Piercy (68), Taipei’s C.T. Pan (69), Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (70) and South Korea’s K.J. Choi (69).

Cantlay, who was among the contenders in the final round last weekend at the Masters, was 3 under on the backside Saturday.

Sam Burns (69) is at 7 under, hurt by a double-bogey on the last hole. He shares 11th place with Matt Kuchar (68).

Webb Simpson carded a bogey-free 65 for the low round of the day and stands tied for 13th.

Fifty-six golfers had to finish the second round Saturday morning after weather-related delays interfered a day earlier.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Seahawks DE Clark could be traded

Reports: Seahawks DE Clark could be traded

Seattle Seahawks defensive end

Reports: Seahawks DE Clark could be traded

Seattle Seahawks defensive end and franchise player Frank Clark could be traded leading up to or during the NFL draft this week, according to multiple reports Saturday.

NFL Network reported a deal is “a possibility” and added “several teams” are interested.

ESPN reported the Seahawks are considering trading Clark before the draft begins Thursday, but they would require at least a first-round pick in return.

General manager John Schneider told reporters earlier this week he would listen to any potential trade offers out of due diligence but doesn’t intend to deal Clark.

“If we didn’t [listen], we wouldn’t be doing our job,” Schneider said. “We can’t ever have our head in the sand with anything. But we love Frank, obviously. That’s why we franchised him.”

Fox Sports reported in March that Clark was drawing trade interest from the Buffalo Bills and others, and a separate ESPN report said the New York Jets also have interest.

Previous reports said Clark planned to hold out from team activities absent a long-term extension — which the sides have until July 15 to negotiate — but Schneider said he has not gotten that impression.

“That’s not my understanding at all,” Schneider said. “We’ve had very direct conversations, both myself and Frank and people in the organization and Frank and obviously myself and his agent, Erik Burkhardt.”

Clark, who turns 26 in June, is due $17.1 million on the franchise tag in 2019 and could be seeking more than $20 million annually on a long-term extension. Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who was tagged for the second year in a row, received $21 million annually on an extension signed earlier this month.

Clark posted career highs of 13 sacks and 27 quarterback hits last season while starting all 16 games for the first time in his career. He 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.

–Field Level Media

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NFL mock draft: Cardinals face conundrum

NFL mock draft: Cardinals face conundrum


NFL mock draft: Cardinals face conundrum

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

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Jaguars CB Ramsey fires back at Coughlin

Jaguars CB Ramsey fires back at Coughlin

Tom Coughlin

Jaguars CB Ramsey fires back at Coughlin

Tom Coughlin is hearing from more than the NFL players’ union after indirectly criticizing veterans like Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey this week for skipping the team’s voluntary workouts.

Friday on Twitter, it was Ramsey’s turn to indirectly respond to Coughlin, the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations.

“‘Fully aware'” & ‘voluntary’ meaning I don’t HAVE to be there BUT they know the EXACT REASONS I am not,” Ramsey wrote. “My teammates know it’s ALL love & know I’ll be ready when it’s time!”

Ramsey didn’t provide any more details, but his agent, David Mulugheta, also tweeted a response: “To be clear, Jalen Ramsey is exactly where Jalen should be during his off season. He’s spending time with his young daughter & family while training in his hometown of Nashville. In addition the Jags are fully aware of why he is not taking part in the voluntary off season program.”

During his four-minute turn at the podium for the Jaguars’ annual state of the franchise address Thursday, Coughlin spoke about team attendance — or lack thereof — for the offseason program that began Monday.

“We’re very close to 100 percent attendance, and quite frankly, our players should be here building the concept of team, working hard side by side, constructing our bond of togetherness, formulating our collective priorities and goals,” Coughlin said, via ESPN. “Success in the NFL demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish and insensitive to the real values of team. The hard work that many try to avoid is the major building block for the development of an outstanding football team.

“It’s not about rights and privileges. It’s about obligations and responsibility, and the question is: Can we count on you?”

According to multiple reports, the specific players Coughlin was criticizing for not being in attendance were Ramsey and starting linebacker Telvin Smith.

Following Coughlin’s comments, the NFLPA tweeted a statement from president Eric Winston, not specifically addressed to Coughlin or referencing Coughlin’s comments, but with the message, “Since there seems to (be) some confusion over what a voluntary workout actually means…#NFLPA President @ericwinston.”

Winston’s statement read:

“Our CBA definition of voluntary is the same as the actual definition and prohibits anyone from threatening players to participate in voluntary workouts. This is precisely the reason players negotiated strict work rules and bright lines when it comes to offseason activities. We know, from experience, that not all coaches and executives will adhere to them and we always pursue any violations to protect our rules.”

Last offseason, Ramsey worked out on his own at his father’s training facility in Nashville, Tenn. The All-Pro also stayed away from the team’s mandatory minicamp last June.

“How do I put this the nicest way possible?” Ramsey said at the time last season. “I don’t think any of my teammates had an issue because they know I was going to come back ready. But at the same time, if they did, I don’t think I would care because once I get out here I know what I was doing was the right thing for me.”

As for Smith, he has reportedly been at every team offseason workout since the club drafted him in 2014. Head coach Doug Marrone told reporters Tuesday that he had yet to hear from either player after reaching out to them to find out whether would return before the mandatory minicamp June 11-13.

At his end-of-season news conference, Marrone indicated he wanted 100-percent participation in the offseason program. Coughlin suggested that Ramsey and Smith were being selfish for not participating.

“Championship teams have one common denominator,” Coughlin said. “They’re comprised of individuals who have a burning desire to win, to be champions. Championship teams are dominated by selfless individuals who recognize that the welfare of the team must always be paramount to any other consideration.”

–Field Level Media

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Lowry leads with Round 2 suspended at RBC Heritage

Lowry leads with Round 2 suspended at RBC Heritage

Lowry leads with Round 2 suspended at RBC Heritage

Ireland’s Shane Lowry maintained a one-stroke lead when play was suspended due to darkness on Friday midway through a weather-disrupted second round at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C.

Lowry, who led by one after shooting a 6-under 65 in Round 1 on Thursday, reached 9 under while completing 16 holes at Harbour Town Golf Links before play was suspended at 7:47 p.m. ET.

Rain and thunderstorms halted play for 3 hours and 43 minutes in the afternoon before resuming at 4:31 p.m. Of the 130-player field, 56 were unable to finish Round 2, with two threesomes getting through just nine holes. The round will resume at 7:45 a.m. Saturday.

Lowry birdied his first two holes and added another at No. 5 before bogeying No. 7. After seven straight pars, he got back to 9 under with a birdie at the 15th.

Trey Mullinax holds the clubhouse lead alone after shooting a 3-under 68 to reach 8-under 134 for the tournament.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo are tied for third at 7 under after each shooting 67. Johnson opened on the back nine with two straight birdies and two more at Nos. 15 and 17 after a bogey at the 14th. He closed with a quiet front nine, with eight pars and a birdie at No. 8.

Grillo had the highlight of the day with an albatross, also known as a double eagle, at the 549-yard par-5 fifth, holing out from 254 yards on his second shot.

“It was perfect,” Grillo said of the shot. “It was perfect distance. Perfect wind. It went in I think perfectly. It was one of those that I’ll keep in my memory for a long time.”

Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini (69) and Taiwan’s C.T. Pan (65) are tied for fifth at 6 under, with a group of 11 players — including three still on the course — tied at 5 under.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Raiders send scouts home ahead of draft

Report: Raiders send scouts home ahead of draft

The Oakland

Report: Raiders send scouts home ahead of draft

The Oakland Raiders sent their scouts home for the weekend and are not expected to bring them back before the draft begins on Thursday, NFL Network reported Friday.

The report adds it is believed head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock “don’t know who to trust and wanted to clear the room,” presumably to avoid any leaks about their intentions.

The Raiders’ scouting department has seen significant turnover since Gruden was hired in January 2018 — including the firings of general manager Reggie McKenzie and director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales — and further changes are expected after the draft. Gruden and Mayock, who was hired from his NFL Network draft analyst post on New Year’s Eve, are expected to run the draft room when the first round begins Thursday.

Mayock spoke openly in February about evaluating the team’s scouting staff and making changes moving forward.

“These guys know they’re on notice” Mayock said at the time. “There’s a new GM in the building.”

Oakland has three first-round picks — Nos. 4, 24 and 27 overall, the latter two acquired in trades of Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper — and a second-rounder at 35th overall, the team’s only pick on Friday. The Raiders do not have a third-round pick (dealt to Pittsburgh for Martavis Bryant) but have four picks on Day 3.

NFL Network’s new lead draft analyst, Daniel Jeremiah, said this move by the Raiders isn’t uncommon in NFL front offices these days.

“When I started scouting in 2003, most teams allowed scouts and coaches to see the draft board,” Jeremiah tweeted. “By 2012, most teams only allowed 3-4 people (HC/GM/Personnel Director/College Director) to have access to the board. This isn’t that unusual.”

–Field Level Media

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