Monthly Archives: May 2017

NFL Draft grades: Winners, losers of Rounds 2-3, from Dalvin Cook to Joe Mixon

Round 2 and Round 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft are in the books, which means it’s already time to do some grading on what happened Friday night.

While some teams made more great picks, others had more whiffs. Some falling players landed in good spots, while others weren’t drafted at all.

Here are the winners and losers of Day 2, with the best and worst developments involving two first-round talents at running back.

During a bang-bang play in which Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop drove his helmet into Newton, Bishop was called for roughing but was not fined.

That was on the heels of Newton getting two such calls in his debut at Arizona, vs. both Cardinals linebacker Clark Haggans and cornerback Richard Marshall. Later in the Green Bay game, Riveron’s crew again was quick with the flag when Aaron Rodgers took a tough hit from Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy.

In his first two NFL games, Newton got three roughing calls. He got a league-leading eight in his favor as a rookie.

In 2015, Newton got zero roughing calls during his MVP- and NFC-winning campaign. Last season, he got only two despite the post-game spotlight after that Week 1 mess in Denver.

Riveron, in his new job “overseeing all aspect of the league’s officiating department,” naturally should make QB protection a point of emphasis. Ron Rivera and the Panthers shouldn’t hesitate, then, to bring it back up in regards to Newton.

Carolina’s offseason has been about trying to better protect Newton, whether that means improving its offensive line, getting more players to ease his rushing burden or getting him more options to get the ball out quicker.

Riveron’s hire only adds to the help.

Predators’ Vernon Fiddler ejected for kneeing Blues defenseman in Game 2

Nashville Predators forward Vernon Fiddler was a hero in Game 1 but put his team in a bad place with a game misconduct in Game 2.

The veteran center was forechecking deep in the St. Louis Blues’ zone in the second period when Blues defenseman Colton Parayko carried the puck out from behind the net. Fiddler met him, went to lay a hit, and caught Parayko knee-on-knee.

Parayko was shaken up but returned for the ensuing five-minute Blues power play. Fiddler got a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct.

Fiddler might expect a suspension for the hit, but it’s the playoffs and the NHL is notoriously hard to pin down on discipline expectations this time of year. If he is out for a game or two, it might not be a big deal; Fiddler hadn’t played since early April due to injury and is a fourth-line center at most these days.

Though, with winger Kevin Fiala out for the season, it would hurt Nashville’s depth even more.

Everyone had to play a new role. This is why I moved to the next level, and the coach began to trust me more. I took this opportunity. But the main thing is that I was doing everything to help my team.

Denver drafted a pair of scoring guards in the first round last year in Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley. Anunoby would give them a versatile defensive complement who could switch screens and check big wings. He tore his ACL in January and his offensive skill set is unrefined, but he projects as the best defender in this class when he’s healthy.

Miami Heat — Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Allen was a five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American who flew under the radar a bit at Texas. That’s mostly because the Longhorns fell way short of preseason expectations and finished just 11-22. Allen’s combination of length (7’5.5 wingspan) and foot speed makes him worth the investment at this point for Miami.

Nick Saban doesn’t think that will be a problem

In an SEC carnival of violence, Fournette was often the main attraction. And it’s always been this way, since the moment he burst onto the scene as a dominant running back out of New Orleans in the class of 2014. He was a five-star recruit that year, the No. 1 player in the country on the 247Sports Composite.

Though Howard was an important piece of the Alabama offense, he wasn’t utilized like the mismatch machine he appears to be. After shredding the combine’s agility drills, it’s clear he has the size and quickness to leave opposing linebackers swatting at air. Despite that, he only averaged three receptions per game as an upperclassman.

Nick Saban doesn’t think that will be a problem, however. The Alabama head coach thinks Howard will be a great pro, even if Lane Kiffin’s offense failed to make him a star.

After earning a first-round grade, he’ll be expected to contribute much more with the Bucs. He showed flashes of that ability at the Senior Bowl, where he dazzled scouts and made some NFL executives — and Howard himself — wonder why he wasn’t used more in Tuscaloosa.

Melifonwu turned heads when he tested out as one of this year’s most electrifying athletes back in March. The 6’4 safety posted the second-best broad jump of all time (11’9), cleared an insane 44 inches with his vertical leap, and ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash to establish himself as an elite prospect.

Melifonwu was one of the most consistent bright spots during a bleak stretch of Connecticut football. The Huskies went just 14-35 in his four seasons with the program. He emerged as a starter after a redshirt freshman year, then he proceeded to get better and better as the team’s last line of defense. His 73 solo tackles in 2016 ranked eighth in the nation. He added four interceptions to prove his worth as a two-way defender in center field.

Why Dan Feeney should be a long-term starter for the Chargers

Dan Feeney isn’t the kind of blocker who can clear out defenders while protecting his quarterback’s blindside on the edge. He’s the kind of blocker who can anchor an offensive line from the interior.

The Indiana graduate doesn’t have the upside of some of the other members of his class, but his combination of size, strength, and experience makes him a low-risk pickup at the 2017 NFL draft. The Chargers made him part of their plans after selecting him with the 71st pick.

The two-time first-team All-American is one of the draft’s most accomplished players. Feeney came to Bloomington as an unheralded, three-star recruit and left as one of the most reliable athletes in program history. With the burly blocker clearing a path, the Hoosiers played in back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 1991.

Cleveland got off to a good start this offseason by shoring up the offensive line, which surrendered an NFL-high 66 sacks and 140 quarterback hits last year. The Browns signed former Green Bay Packers center J.C. Tretter and paid a boatload of money to right guard Kevin Zeitler. They extended left guard Joe Bitonio, and with perpetual All-Pro Joe Thomas anchoring the left tackle spot, the remade line is solid.

Although the Browns’ offensive line didn’t give him much help last season, Isaiah Crowell rushed for nearly 1,000 yards. Just imagine what he should be able to do behind the improved line.

After playing things close to the vest (he was 11 for 15 for 91 yards against Penn State), he let ’er rip. In Peterman’s last six games, he completed 85 of 148 (57 percent) for 1,630 yards, 16 touchdowns, and five interceptions. The result: A high pick rate, a low completion rate, three losses … and a three-game span in which Pitt scored 175 points. He threw five touchdown passes in an upset of Clemson, then completed just nine for 251 and four touchdowns in a 76-61 shootout win over Syracuse.