The 2017 NFL draft is only two weeks away. Like every year, some teams will select players to fill a major need. Others will make questionable decisions that could possibly set their franchise back a few years.
Drafting the right player can be tricky at times, but every team in the NFL has managed to get it right at least once. Yes, even the Cleveland Browns.
That doesn’t necessarily mean this player is the best on his team, just that his team made the savvy choice drafting him when and where it did.
Every now and then, when someone in the media wants to push the too-easy button that triggers the nostalgia impulse of Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the most popular ploy is to rank the greatest Steelers ever in some order.
Even among such a grand collection of Hall of Famers, it long has been assumed that the correct answer at No. 1 is Mean Joe Greene. If one is limiting the discussion only to those who have worn the team’s jersey, that is accurate.
The greatest of all Steelers, though, in the strictest sense, has been Dan Rooney.
His father, Art, founded the team and ran it for decades. Art’s money, guile, perseverance and charm kept the team going for decades. But when Dan took charge of the operation, it became a truly professional football team. Art Rooney made them the Steelers. Dan Rooney made them the Steelers we know today.
Instability is the most stable concept in the life of an NBA head coach. Twelve head coaches are in their first full season in their current job. Four others have only one full season with their current teams under their belts. That’s more than half of the league right there. Only four coaches — Gregg Popovich, Rick Carlisle, Erik Spoelstra, and Dwane Casey — have been in their current job for at least five years. NBA head coaches, by and large, get hired to get fired.
In-season firings are a normalized practice in the NBA. Five head coaches were fired last season alone, from Kevin McHale in November to Derek Fisher in February. Three were fired in 2014-15, one was fired in 2013-14, four were fired in 2012-13, and four were fired in 2011-12. That’s an average of more than three in-season firings over the past five years.
The Jazz didn’t have more talent on the floor than the Clippers. The played a hobbled Derrick Favors for 32 minutes, as he huffed and puffed his way up and down the court, and even he scored 15 points despite an apparent foot injury.
Utah did, however, have more heart than Los Angeles. For a team with two perennial All-Stars, a first-time All-Star in DeAndre Jordan, and the requisite supporting cast the Clippers possess, their Game 1 fumble reeked of discord.
The undermanned Jazz simply outplayed the Clippers on Saturday. And Doc Rivers got flat-out out-coached by Snyder, as Utah fought off a flurry of Los Angeles comeback efforts down the stretch.
It’s the only day that brings much transactional news about college players. That makes it bigger for fans of this sport than trade deadline days or draft days are for fans of pro teams.
If you’re a casual follower of football news, the Wednesday Signing Day has long been a duty. You can pull up an ESPNU special, check team blogs for a few days beforehand, follow a few social accounts, and feel like you’re up to speed.
For media, Signing Day’s a cataclysmic event. There’s more national interest in Signing Day than there is in even the Playoff, because Signing Day features 130 FBS teams and the Playoff features four. It’s the longest day of the year.
New England took the second-round pick it acquired from trading away Chandler Jones and shipped it to the Saints, who took safety Vonn Bell with the 61st selection. In return, the Pats got third- and fourth-round picks who each played a major role in Tom Brady’s fifth Super Bowl title — Joe Thuney and Malcolm Mitchell. Later moves also netted developmental WR Devin Lucien and a fourth-round pick this spring, which will almost certainly be traded for another hodgepodge of picks.
On film and in flashes, McDowell is arguably the most talented defensive lineman outside of Myles Garrett in the class. But two major concerns hold him back and make him a doubtful first-round pick.
One is his inability to stay within the defensive scheme at Michigan State, where he often went off script. Another is his character, which is easily the most concerning part of his evaluation. His character report and concerns are maybe the most notorious of those of any prospect in this class.
There might be quicker ways to lose a locker room full of good players than by backing the wrong quarterback, but I can’t think of any. It will be interesting to see how the Texans respond to Kubiak the rest of the season.
And what of resource allocation? Before the 2017 season, the Texans elected to back up the Brinks truck and give Arian Foster a five-year, $43 million contract with more than $20 million in guaranteed money. In the same offseason, Houston parted ways with the right side of its offensive line as guard Mike Brisiel and tackle Eric Winston headed for greener pastures.
Weak offensive line play was the Achilles heel for some teams last season. It kept the Broncos out of the playoffs entirely after they won the Super Bowl the season before. The Seahawks failed to make strengthening the line a priority for a few consecutive offseasons, and it finally caught up to them in 2016. Injury after injury forced the Browns to rotate through five different starting quarterbacks.
There’s another factor at play, too. The offensive line class in this year’s draft isn’t particularly deep. Outside of a few select players, it might be tough finding linemen who can start immediately.
It’s unwise to rely too much on first-year players to fix offensive line problems right away, anyway.
“Brock could be on our team or we could trade him,” Haslam said to reporters at the owners meeting Monday, according to Cabot of Cleveland.com.
This is generally true, but by default, because Haslam left the team’s options wide open. Haslam didn’t say whether waiving Osweiler was a possibility, but with the amount of cap space Cleveland has, maybe that one just went unspoken.
It’s not that easy to just trade Osweiler, as the Browns surely know by now. They started shopping the quarterback almost immediately after acquiring him. Cleveland may have to bear some of his guaranteed $16 million salary for this season as part of that agreement.
Oh, and the Raiders get a sparkling, $1.9 billion Vegas domed stadium. That’s a twist — in their prior moves, they never set up with a roof.
A no from the league to Los Angeles turned into a 31-1 vote of yes to Las Vegas here on Monday at the NFL owners meeting. It was a resounding vote on this Raiders/Vegas parachute.
The league will tell you that it was never about Davis trying to pit Oakland against Vegas. They insist it was about which option was most viable.
The IOU to Davis, the big Vegas cash investment and the chance to enter a fresh, exciting entertainment mammoth was an avalanche that squished Oakland.
For all we know has done an exceptional job as the head coach of the Thunder. But it’s hard to think about anything other than RUSSELL WESTBROOK when you’re thinking about the Thunder.
Harden thrives off pick and rolls, and his aptitude forces defenses into a bind: Send the house at him or stay pat on shooters. The Warriors choose the latter, rarely conceding an open look from three.
It’s why they have the league’s best defensive three-point percentage. They force him to go one-on-one to the rack, where they collapse on a shot when it’s too late to make a pass.
Knowing that, he often settles for a contested three. Chance Warmack, Guard, Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack has gotten some heat this season for his struggles in pass protection, deservedly so. However, last week on Thursday Night Football, Warmack stood out in the running game. Chris Johnson ran for 86 yards and two touchdowns in the Titans’ loss to the Colts, mostly due to how much room he had to run. Warmack was a big reason why, and he deserves some credit.
Ultimately, the game makes both teams 7-3 on the year. For Carolina, it sits in the No. 5 seed, trailing the New Orleans Saints by two games in the NFC South. New England is tied with the Indianapolis Colts for the coveted second-seed, well ahead of any competition for the AFC East.
Vance McDonald, Tight End, San Francisco 49ers: Vance McDonald turned heads in the pre-draft process due to his combination of size and speed. His vertical jump was through the roof and people began to rave about his upside. Unfortunately, those physical traits haven’t translated into blocking ability. McDonald not only hasn’t been much of a factor in the passing game, but he’s also struggling to run block, a crucial skill for a No. 2 tight end in the NFL. He still has a lot of work to do.
President Donald Trump rejected the Washington Nationals’ invitation to have him throw out the first pitch at the team’s home opener on April 3, citing a “scheduling conflict.”
The tradition dates back to 1910 when Howard Taft did a favor to then-American League president Ban Johnson by throwing out the first pitch for the Washington Senators as a way to boost attendance. Since then, the list of ceremonial first pitches is long.
“Well, the examples that they showed us were the really bad examples,” Carroll said via ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia. “They didn’t show the examples of how pretty it is when a guy leaps over with great body control and makes the play and all.”
The Seahawks have been great at making it look pretty, and have executed the safest displays of the leap.
Captain Kirk, KC Masterpiece, The Michigan Gentleman, you name it Cousins is the 360 degree opposite from the sandwich artist formally known as RG3. Kirk has a calm demeaner that would fit in just as well in the ER the way hes acted with such patients while RG3 shoots his whole team in the foot. The NFL is a opportunity league, people forget that,, and Kirks making the most of his time by preparing and even writing his very own biography in the offseason, which is ironic because you could fill a DC playbook with what RG3 doesnt know about football folks.
Keeping Cousins out of your life might be a smart gameplan if your Tavon Austin, but Mike Shanahans unwillingness to go with the hot hand and healthy legs has turned a Storybook team into a physicians desk reference folks.
The NFL has upheld the one-game suspension handed down to Indianapolis Colts linebacker Erik Walden for his headbutt on Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Walden used his helmet as a weapon in the Colts’ win over the Titans when he smashed his head into Walker, who was not wearing the protective headgear.
A second-year player out of Western Kentucky, Rainey didn’t see any action in his rookie season. The Bucs claimed him in October after he got waived by the Cleveland Browns. He finally got his chance this week after the Bucs lost Martin and James, and is making the most of it. He did an admirable job as a mid-game replacement against the Dolphins last week, recording 45 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
Barring a complete collapse, the Bucs will win their second game in a row, and Rainey has been a key part in their slight resurgence. Company Man Favoritism Tour 2K13 rolls on with Mr. Roth, who brings up a verse of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” that I’ve taken a personal interest in. Specifically, the bit in which Mr. Carter claims the officer accused him of driving 55 miles per hour on a road with a speed limit of 54 miles per hour. I feel that that is a strange speed limit to post, and would further like to suggest that the officer in Mr. Carter’s report should not have applied such an inflexible interpretation of the law, especially given the unusual nature of the speed limit posted.
As long as we’re in the realm of video games, I may as well cop to my greatest gaming failure. I never beat the Water Temple. Ocarina of Time was an absolute masterpiece, and if you called it the greatest video game ever, I wouldn’t be mad at you.
Despite a three-game losing streak earlier in the season, the Tennessee Titans are in the thick of the AFC playoff race. The Titans have a favorable stretch of schedule upcoming, beginning this week with a home game against the 0-8 Jaguars.
The Titans snapped their losing streak last week with a 28-21 win against St. Louis. The win moved Tennessee back to .500 on the season and just behind the 5-4 Jets for the final wild card slot. The Titans have played well most of this season, but ran into a brutal stretch of schedule against Kansas City, Seattle and San Francisco.
Jacksonville should be fresh off a bye week, but the Jaguars are still searching for ways to be competitive. They have struggled to even challenge teams this year, and their minus-178 point differential is more than double the second-worst team.
On paper, Sunday’s game shouldn’t be much of a contest, but the teams have been fairly well-matched in recent seasons, splitting their last eight meetings.
“The feeling on both of our parts was that what he’s used to and accustomed to playing, at a certain speed and a certain level and certainly what we’ve seen, still wasn’t there. But he’s progressing,” Payton said. “It was more of just an overall knowing we’ve got eight weeks left in the season, and is he going to be able to progress enough to where he’s comfortable and we’re comfortable enough with his progress?”
Vilma’s absence shouldn’t affect the Saints’ defense too harshly. The unit has been without him for almost the entire season, and has still performed admirably through nine weeks.
Whoever is running the event decides that in order to save time, we will alternate between football drills and taking team photos with Gronk. When it is their turn, women sprint toward Gronk, who is already sitting in a folding chair, in order to be as close to him in the group photo as possible. Some even try to sit on his lap. I am instructed to sit near his legs because I am short. I maintain a safe distance.
And then I hear the familiar sounds of “Teach Me How to Dougie,” a song that had permanently etched itself into my brain and probably yours three years ago. But wait… this is not “Teach Me How to Dougie.” This is some kind of Rob Gronkowski remix. This is a thing. I begin to wonder if the tackling drills gave me a concussion. This can’t be actually happening.
But it is happening. The women have started to dance. Both Gronkowski brothers have joined in. This is what we were warned about. THE DANCE OFF IS HAPPENING. I haven’t worked on my moves yet! Wait…is that woman doing the worm? Is this football? How hard did that tackling dummy hit me?
The Minnesota Vikings are willing to commit to quarterback Christian Ponder, but only so long as the third-year quarterback is winning, according to Ian Rapoport.
Asking Ponder to keep winning is no easy feat. The team’s next five opponents are extremely difficult outside of a Week 10 matchup against the Washington Redskins. Minnesota is slated to face the Seahawks, Packers and Bears — all sitting above .500 and leading their respective divisions.
It’s unclear whether Ponder will remain with the Vikings in 2017, but the key for now is to win games — and there’s no indication Minnesota knows how to do that.