Washington Redskins Do Not Plan to Re-Sign Brandon Meriweather

BrandonMeriweatherRedskins
The search for players to play safety for the Washington Redskins continues into 2015. Dianna Russini of NBC Washington is reporting that Redskins sources have informed her that they do not plan on bringing strong safety Brandon Meriweather back next season.  This follows the news from a week ago that free safety Ryan Clark was retiring from the NFL, and moving on to a job with ESPN.  Meriweather has been with the Redskins since 2012, but has been injured and suspended often.  He started last year suspended for two games for a hit in the preseason, and ended the year on IR for a toe injury.  His best game of the year came against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8 when he had 7 tackles, 2 sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.  But he has been inconsistent throughout his career and takes too many penalties.

This leaves the Redskins without both of their starting safeties from last year, and they have very little playing/starting experience on the roster with Phillip Thomas, Trenton Robinson, and Akeem Davis.  Safety continues to be a problem for the Redskins, and they seemed to be devalued in Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett's defense.  Haslett wanted safeties who could be interchangeable, and wanted a strong pass rush to cover the deficiencies in the secondary.  That pass rush wasn't strong enough last season, and the secondary was routinely abused, allowing the most TDs in the NFL, and allowing opposing QBs to have one of the highest QBRs in league history.

Jim Haslett is gone, and Defensive Backs coach Raheem Morris has moved on to Atlanta.  The Redskins hired former Chargers LB coach Joe Barry as the new DC, and hired former New York Giants DC Perry Fewell as the new secondary coach.  The Redskins will need to use free agency and/or the draft to restock the safety position.  Will Fewell lobby to get his former safety Antrell Rolle in free agency.  Rolle is close to Fewell and recently said he would follow him after he was fired, but also said he wants to remain a Giant.  Will the Redskins trade back and take Landon Collins in the first round, or address the position later in the draft like GM Scot McCloughan has done in the past.




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(hogshaven.com)
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Eagles free-agent targets: Safety Antrel Rolle

AntrelRolleGiants2
Antrel Rolle, S
Age: 32
Height: 6-0
Weight: 202
Last team: New York Giants

Scouting report
The 32-year-old veteran just wrapped up his 10th season, fifth with the Giants. In New York, he won two Super Bowls and started every game. In his career, the three-time Pro Bowl safety has started 139 of his 148 games and has played all 16 games seven times. His 565 interception return yards are fourth-most among active NFL players. Rolle made a base salary of $7 million last season.

Geoff’s take
My first thought: Hey, he’d be an upgrade over Nate Allen. And he probably would, but probably not that much. If the Giants are willing to let him go then his gas talk is probably empty. The Giants are usually good about letting veterans walk at the right time -- Justin Tuck, Kenny Phillips, Steve Smith, Kevin Boss. The Eagles found that out the hard way, signing Smith and Phillips on separate occasions after each was released. They shouldn’t make that mistake again.

Roob’s take
This isn’t the Antrel Rolle we remember. A multiple Pro Bowl two-time Super Bowl winner. This is a 32-year-old Rolle, a declining player who while still functional is not the kind of guy you build around. The Eagles need to be young, fast and athletic in the secondary, and a guy going into his 10th season who turns 33 before the season is over isn’t the direction the Eagles need to take.


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(csnphilly.com)
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Danny Valencia to see some action in LF

DannyValencia
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Thursday that Danny Valencia will see some time in left field this spring.

Toronto is scrambling all of its internal options to replace Michael Saunders, who was expected to open the 2015 season as the Blue Jays' starting left fielder but suffered a torn meniscus Wednesday when he stepped on an underground sprinkler. Saunders is expected to miss the entire first half. Valencia has never played the outfield at the major league level and is not a good bet to win the job outright, but he could see a bit of action there against left-handed starters if the Jays don't add anybody.


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(rotoworld.com)
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James Jones sets important example for Cleveland Cavs

JamesJonesHeat
Every championship team needs a player like James Jones.

An 11-year NBA veteran and two-time champion with the Miami Heat, Jones is averaging a career low 9.9 minutes per game, and has played in only 33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers' contests this year, but when coach David Blatt has turned to his third-most tenured player, he has liked the results.

Jones came off the bench for the Cavaliers (36-22), scored six points and handed out four assists in a 102-93 come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Pistons (23-34) at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Tuesday night.

"He's a seasoned pro," Blatt said following the win in Detroit. "He's always ready. He's always there. He can play a game. He cannot play three games. He can sit a week or two, but he's going to be ready when you put him out there.

"The last three games, James has really, really given us a great deal coming off the bench. He's a leader in the locker room. He's one of our leaders in the locker room. He's a leader in how we want to approach the game, and when his number is called, he's ready to give you what he can and what he knows he needs to."

After averaging only 2.9 points per game in January, Jones has scored 30 points over the last four games, three of which have been Cavaliers' victories. And to his teammates, Jones' playing style sets an important example that reserve point guard Matthew Dellavedova has followed closely.

"Champ is great," power forward Kevin Love said of Jones. "Delly's the same way. They had a lot of big plays. Champ really stepped up, was hitting threes, rebounding the basketball, playing tough defense, and that's just what he does.

"What comes to mind about him is he's a consummate pro. Delly's the same way. He's being scrappy, getting the loose balls, 50-50 balls, and boxing out (Andre) Drummond in there. That's just the type of guy that he is, and he's very well liked and admired on this team for all the hard work that he does, and all that stuff doesn't show up in the stat sheet, but it's contagious throughout our entire lineup. Guys are doing that now because Champ and Delly do that on a nightly basis."

A veteran of multiple runs deep into the postseason, including to an NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008, new Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins, who signed with the club prior to Tuesday's game in Detroit, believes a player like Jones can make the difference between winning and losing a title.

"Across the board, you've got guys that play their roles, veteran guys that are on the bench," Perkins said. "James Jones, he was huge for us tonight. Champ came in and gave us some great minutes defensively. (Iman) Shumpert did some great things. Kyrie (Irving) got into the ball in the second half, did a much better job, so we've got the upside to be pretty good."


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(wkyc.com)
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Knicks hoping Shane Larkin can return Friday

ShaneLarkinCanes
Knicks coach Derek Fisher said Thursday he is hopeful guard Shane Larkin will be available to play in Friday's game at Detroit, reports the team's official website.

Larkin is suffering from an illness, which has caused him to miss the last three games. Larkin has been trying to regain his conditioning. In 50 games, Larkin is averaging 5.4 points and 2.5 assists.


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(cbssports.com)
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Pat Burrell headed to Phillies Wall of Fame

PatBurrell
Fresh off the slip 'n slide circuit, former Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell will join the Phillies Wall of Fame this July.

Burrell emerged as the early favorite from a field of 12 deserving candidates, including Jim Fregosi and Rick Wise. He is best remembered for his double in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. The hit, which was a gust of wind away from a home run and his first hit of the series, started the tie-breaking rally that eventually won Philadelphia its first championship in 25 years.

The Phillies plucked Burrell from the University of Miami with the first overall pick of the 1998 MLB Draft. A first baseman, he was converted to play left field and joined the Phillies at the major league level in 2000 at the age of 23. Over a nine-year Phillies career, he played in over 1,300 games, receving MVP votes twice in 2002 and 2005 and hitting .257/.367/.485, with 251 home runs and 827 RBI. His eight straight season of at least 20 home runs helped put him fourth on the Phillies' all-time home run list behind Mike Schmidt, Ryan Howard, and Del Ennis.

Leaving the Phillies after the 2008 season, Burrell would go on to win a second World Series in 2010 with the Giants, for whom he now serves as a scout after 12 years in professional baseball. His Phillies immortality will begin July 31, during a 7:05 game against the Braves.


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(philly.com)
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PHOTO: Vince Wilfork helps take Tom Brady's workout to the next level




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Greg Olsen in a cryogenic cold tub



What is Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen up to these days? Glad you asked.

Well, now. In case you're wondering, -135 degrees Celsius works out to -211 degrees Farenheit. That seems... cold. And dangerous, right? Definitely seems like it would make someone freeze. Oh well, I'm not going to question it.


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Orlando Franklin Refutes Reports That He's Leaving

OrlandoFranklinBroncos
Amid reports that said he would likely be leaving the Denver Broncos this offseason, offensive lineman Orlando Franklin took to Twitter on Tuesday night to speak out on his impending free agency and where he currently stands.








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Ravens met with speedy wide receiver Phillip Dorsett at scouting combine

NFLU2009
The Ravens met with two of the faster wide receivers at the NFL scouting combine, Ohio State's Devin Smith and Phillip Dorsett of Miami (Fla.).

A projected second-round draft pick, Dorsett ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds. The time earned him $100,000 from Adidas as one of the fastest players at the combine.

Projected as a late first-round pick or second-round draft target, Smith ran a 4.42. Smith also talked with the Ravens at the Senior Bowl.

Smith averaged 28.2 yards per reception as a senior and helped the Buckeyes win the national championship with his ability to strike deep. He caught 33 passes as a senior for 931 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Smith finished his career with 121 receptions for 2,503 yards and 30 touchdowns. He averaged 37.9 yards per score, and Ohio State went 22-0 in games where he caught a touchdown pass.

Dorsett caught 31 passes for 826 yards and nine touchdowns last season for the Hurricanes. He finished his career with 116 receptions for 2,090 yards and 16 touchdowns.


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(baltimoresun.com)
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Darryl Sharpton 10th Best Bears Free Agent

DarrylSharpton
Free agency kicks off in a little more than two weeks, so let’s count down the top 10 Chicago Bears players set to hit the open market March 10:

We’ll go in reverse order.

Here’s No. 10:

Darryl Sharpton, linebacker

2014 pay: $730,000

By the numbers: Played in just 9.9 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last season, making his debut in Chicago’s starting lineup in an Oct. 12 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Sharpton posted 15 tackles and broke up one pass.

The case for keeping him: The Bears need inside and outside linebackers in the switch to a 3-4 front, and while Sharpton likely wouldn’t challenge for a starting job, he’s proved more than capable as a backup and special-teams contributor. Sharpton opened eyes in the team’s win over Atlanta, with some pondering whether he deserved a more significant role on defense. Sharpton filled in for Brian Cushing in Houston’s 3-4 scheme back in 2013, racking up 87 tackles in 15 games. Sharpton certainly won’t break the bank in a new deal, so it’s worth it to bring him back because he’s a quality backup with experience working in a 3-4 front.

The case for letting him walk: Although Sharpton has proved to be a solid performer, he’s been injury prone throughout his NFL career. Prior to coming to Chicago, Sharpton started the 2012 season on the physically unable to perform list and finished it on the injured reserve. Sharpton played in just eight games in 2011, a year removed from playing 12 games in 2010 and starting in six of them. The Bears placed Sharpton on the injured reserve in December due to a hamstring injury. Prior to the club ending Sharpton’s season, he hadn’t played for the Bears since Week 8.

Prediction: Although injuries remain a concern regarding Sharpton, it’s worth it for the Bears to bring him back on a one-year veteran minimum type of deal if he doesn’t sign with another team because of his experience in 3-4 schemes. A deal for Sharpton likely won’t come until the back end of free agency.


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(espn.com)
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Andre Johnson Contract: Latest Rumors and News on Negotiations with Texans

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Johnson may be on his way out of Houston if he doesn't take a reduced salary, via Around The NFL:



Per Spotrac, Johnson is owed $10.5 million in salary and would be a $16.14 million cap hit in 2015, as he's entering the sixth season of a seven-year, $67.8 million contract.

CBSSports.com's Joel Corry brought up a pertinent point prior to Wednesday's report surfacing:



AndreJohnsonWallpaper
Before detractors give Johnson too hard of a time about how he has already made plenty of money, etc., let's remember the quarterbacks the Texans have had in place for him.

The best option Johnson's ever had under center was Matt Schaub, who's been succeeded by the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Case Keenum. Houston hasn't fielded a roster good enough to get to the playoffs more than twice since Johnson was chosen No. 3 overall in the 2003 NFL draft.

Johnson has been a consummate professional and stuck by the Texans through their consistent losing. It'd be hard to blame him for refusing to take a pay cut.
If Houston does opt to release the veteran Pro Bowler, who will turn 34 in July, one can bet that plenty of suitors will pop up eager to land Johnson in free agency.
The chance to play for a contender elsewhere and the lack of incentive to budge on his salary leaves Johnson in a win-win situation.


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(bleacherreport.com)
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Ryan Braun healthy, ready to go

RyanBraun
PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun can't pinpoint the exact date, but he can remember with some clarity when his right thumb began bothering him.

"It was a changeup against Joe Kelly in St. Louis," Braun said Wednesday as he reported to spring training with the rest of Milwaukee's position players. "I think it was an extra-inning game at some point in 2013."

"It's been a while since I've felt as good as I do now," he said.

A little research can pinpoint the moment exactly: It was May 18, 2013. Braun led off the 10th inning with a single against Kelly in what would ultimately be a 6-4 victory for the Brewers.

The numbers back up Braun's memory.

That single improved his career batting average to .314. In 920 games to that point, he'd hit 210 home runs with 671 RBIs.

Since then, though, Braun has batted just .264 with 20 home runs and 91 RBIs in 159 games -- he missed the last 65 of that 2013 season because of a suspension for his role in the Biogenesis drug investigation.

The 2011 NL MVP last year posted a career-low .266 batting average with 19 home runs and 81 RBIs. In September, he hit .210 with a home run and five RBIs over the final 23 games.

In the days after the season ended, Braun underwent a procedure to freeze the balky nerve that was causing problems.

Since then, Braun says he's felt good. Really good. And with the 2015 season a few weeks away, he's hoping to finally turn the page on the most difficult stretch of his eight-year career.

"It's an important year for him," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "That's why it's nice to see him coming healthy and hopefully, we can keep him that way. When he's healthy, we know what he is capable of doing."

So far, Braun says there are no signs of trouble. He began swinging a bat a little earlier than usual during the offseason but reported to camp feeling fine and fully expecting a normal workload.

"I've been able to do everything I would typically do over the course of an offseason, which is encouraging," he said. "Hopefully I'll be healthy. But aside from that, I don't think I'll be limited or anything. I'll have to be conscious about how many extra swings I take and stuff like that, but aside from that I should be able to do everything."

More than anyone else, Braun's health will go a long way in determining the Brewers' fortunes. It's no coincidence that his September swoon coincided with a late-season collapse that left Milwaukee home for the playoffs despite leading the NL Central for 150 days.

"I think we've addressed that enough," he said. "Obviously, it was difficult, but it was last year."

"When you show up this year, you know you can't do anything about last year. None of us can change what happened. We wish things would have ended differently than they did but they didn't," he said. "Hopefully, the focus is on this year and doing everything we can to prepare the best that we can every day to be successful and to get off to a good start in April."


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(espn.com)
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Peter O'Brien making noise in D'Backs camp

PeterObrienCanes
According to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert, Peter O'Brien's batting practice sessions have become must-see events for players and executives in Diamondbacks camp.

O'Brien slugged 34 home runs in 106 games last season between High-A and Double-A. There are major questions about his defense behind the plate, but his offensive potential could guide him quickly up the Diamondbacks' shaky catching depth chart. O'Brien was acquired from the Yankees last July in the Martin Prado trade. He appears poised to make his MLB debut at some point in 2015.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Yasmani Grandal and the art of stealing strikes

YasmaniGrandalPadres
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Before every nuance of baseball came to be dissected, isolated and quantified, hitters used to assume that the best, most experienced catchers got the most calls from umpires.

“When you had Carlton Fisk or Bob Boone back there, you knew those guys were good at getting pitches,” Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

Now that the Information Age has pulled baseball into its orbit, a catcher’s ability to frame pitches so that they appear to be strikes has become one of the hottest areas of study. New Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has long been a proponent of the skill, which is why he lived with sub-par hitting from guys like Jose Molina in Tampa Bay.

And it’s also one of the reasons Matt Kemp is getting ready for the season five miles from here, with the San Diego Padres, instead of alongside longtime teammates Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier in Dodgers camp.

The Dodgers traded Kemp, a former MVP runner-up who led the majors in slugging after the All-Star break last year, for Yasmani Grandal, a catcher with a lifetime .245 batting average who is just a year-and-a-half removed from major knee surgery. On paper, it doesn’t jump out as one-sided in the Dodgers’ favor.

But there were motives for the trade beyond the players’ production in the batter’s box. The Dodgers were able to shed $75 million of Kemp’s $107 remaining salary and they got a catcher who, if things work out, could make the Dodgers' pitching even better.

Grandal, who is not otherwise known as a premium defensive catcher, is by all accounts one of the best pitch framers in baseball. The Dodgers’ incumbent starting catcher, A.J. Ellis, doesn’t rate highly and has vowed to work on the skill this spring.

“With Andrew and [GM] Farhan [Zaidi], you do hear a lot of it,” Mattingly said. “Now that’s part of the analytics, how he’s catching the ball and getting pitches. We do know Yasmani scores high on all of that.”

According to Baseball Prospectus, Grandal got 120 “extra” strikes called last season, an extraordinary number considering he caught just 76 games. Among other things, Grandal’s pitch framing in San Diego helped revive the career of former Dodgers left-hander Eric Stults, a finesse pitcher who makes a living at the fringes of the strike zone.

Pitch framing might be a valuable skill, but it’s not necessarily one that people like talking about at length. After all, it commodifies the fallibility of umpires. In a perfect world, how a catcher receives the baseball shouldn’t impact balls and strikes, but it has become an area where the most analytical minds in the game seek to exploit its most human element.

Grandal said he used to play a game with himself when he was behind the plate, counting how many pitches he considered balls he could get called strikes. He would be happy if he could get a half-dozen a game to go his pitchers’ way. On some days, getting that many borderline calls could be the difference between a win and a loss.

Then, a couple of years ago, people finally started noticing.

“Once somebody brought to my attention that it was a stat, it was kind of funny, because I was like, ‘I’ve kind of been playing this game for a while,’ “ Grandal said.

Grandal paused for a moment and added, “I never liked the idea of stealing strikes, because that’s making the umpire look bad. That’s the one thing I don’t want to do is make them look bad.”

Grandal said he learned his receiving skills from University of Miami assistant coach Joe Mercadante and then refined them over the years in pro ball working with veterans such as Ramon Hernandez, Pat Kelly, Brad Ausmus and A.J. Hinch. He doesn’t view pitch framing as fooling the umpire, but as making it easier for him to see the ball.

“I’m trying to make the umpire’s job easier. The better lane I give them to see the ball, the better relationship I’m going to have with them, the more they’re going to trust me,” Grandal said. “I’m always talking to them, trying to see, ‘Hey, do you have a good lane to see? Am I cutting you off? Are you seeing this pitch?’ The relationship between the catcher and pitcher is pretty important, but you also have to have a relationship with the umpire.”

The Dodgers should have a better catching situation in 2015 than last season, in part because Grandal and Ellis have skill sets that complement each another. Grandal’s best hitting typically comes from the left side. Ellis is a right-handed hitter. Grandal excels at pitch framing. Ellis is a master of game planning and calling pitches. If they put in the work and share information this spring, there’s no telling what kind of impact they could have on a Dodgers staff that finished fourth in the National League in ERA.

They also could have acquired Grandal, 26, at the right time in his career. A torn knee ligament cost him half of the 2013 season and limited him much of last year, he said.

“It kind of affected everything,” Grandal said. “Now, it’s good.”


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(espn.com)
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Phillip Dorsett: Jets, Packers are the favorites

NFLU2009
Speed continues to change the game in the NFL. Over the past decade, spread offenses have been extremely popular and given the nature of speed in this draft class, there may not be one prospect faster than Phillip Dorsett out of the University of Miami. Whether it’s inside or outside, Dorsett has an extremely unique skillset and many NFL teams will be licking their chops to add the speed demon to their offense. However, the two teams that most interested in the Miami product are the New York Jets and the Green Bay Packers.

According to Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net, the Jets and the Packers have shown the most interest in Dorsett. To be perfectly clear, Dorsett is a guy that could come in immediately and help out an NFL offense. Whether it’s a deep pass or an option when the play breaks down, Dorsett is just so athletic that he finds a way to break free from his opponents and make plays in the open field.

It’s clear that the Jets need more playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Percy Harvin flashed at times and Eric Decker looks capable of putting up numbers when he gets competent play from the quarterback position. The fact remains, however, that there isn’t a lot of talent on this team that scares opposing defenses.

On the other hand, the Packers have one of the best offenses in the league. Led by Aaron Rodgers in the passing game and Eddie Lacy in the running game, the Packers beat defenses in a variety of ways. However, stud receiver Randall Cobb is an impending free agent and if he goes elsewhere in free agency, the Packers seem to have their contingency plan in Dorsett.

While both teams are looking into the prospects of drafting Dorsett for different reasons, it truly is a testament to how Dorsett can make an impact in a variety of ways for an NFL offense. Running a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash just further solidified how dynamic Dorsett can be. The Jets and the Packers would have a real nice player in their hands if they drafted him.


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(fansided.com)
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Clive Walford “Disappointed” in 40 Time, Will Run Again on Pro Day

NFLU2009
Former Miami Hurricanes tight end Clive Walford reflected on the NFL Combine with Joe Rose on WQAM this morning, expressing disappointment over his 40-yard dash time.

“Honestly I was disappointed,” Walford said of running a 4.79. “I was expecting something fastericon1 than that.”

Walford says he’s going to run the 40 again at Miami’s Pro Day.

His time, however, still ranked fourth among all tight ends. He was also a top performer at his position in both the vertical jump and broad jump, with 35 inches (4th) and 120 inches (2nd), respectively.

Asked whether he’d alter his comments declaring himself the besticon1 tight end in the draft and the six-foot-five talent declined to back down.

“I feel like I’m the best tight end in the draft and I’m out to prove that.”


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(cbslocal.com)
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Bob Sturm’s 2015 NFL Draft profile: What I see in Duke Johnson, RB, Miami

NFLU2009
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (Fla) – 5’9, 207 – Junior

As we continue to roll through the high number of impressive running back prospects that make the 2015 unique in that regard, we arrive at the first of three (also, Ameer Abdullah and Mike Davis) who are under 5’10 and therefore are looked with the awkward eye that questions durability and the ability to be more than a change-up back.  All 3 are built well, with weight over 205, but when looking at the size and build of each of these players, durability and disposition are going to go heavily into how we see them fit in today’s NFL molds.  Never mind that Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith were both under 5’10 and above 200, the league now asks these questions as most of the fulltime backs are at or around 6’0.  To examine the accomplished Miami Hurricane RB who is the all-time leading rusher of that famous school, we looked at his games against Nebraska, Virginia Tech, and Florida State.

Pasted Graphic

What I liked:  For me, having watched Johnson quite a bit this year, the first thing I like is his competitiveness and his reckless abandon when he hits the hole up inside.  He seems pretty fearless and not bothered at all about being the smallest guy in most scenarios, because he seems to do a lot of his best work between the hash marks and most of his runs between the tackles.  He is a really solid runner in the zone stretches where he must plant his foot and head upfield with decisiveness and explosion.  He has both.  He is a smaller player who runs even smaller in terms of staying low and making yourself a tough target to hit.  He also is delivering the hits and stiff-arms and fighting to not go to the ground.  As a receiver, he just might be the best in the group as not only is a good screen/safety valve RB, but he is actually dangerous with arrow and wheel routes as a primary receiver.  They throw a lot at him and he catches very well and then hits the nitro.  On the 2nd level, there is so much to like as he gets in space and is hard to track down.

Pasted Graphic 1

What I did not like:  He is not much of a pass protector, but even in that scenario, he doesn’t get rushed much because his defender is backed off and concerned about losing Johnson in the flat.  He isn’t the best in two important categories for a RB – short yardage and the 4-minute drill situations where the defense is sitting on the run, it seems like he might not quite be to the level of the other backs we have examined.  I would call him average in both of those.  Also, when you get him to turn his shoulders and go wide, he does lose some of his steam and punishment.  I need him with his shoulders square going north and south where he is at his best.  He has a few nagging injuries that have some wondering about long-term durability as well as a concussion/migraine headache issue or two on his sheet that will get a thorough examination from a prospective employer.

Pasted Graphic 2

Summary:  There is a lot to like here with Duke Johnson, but it is understandable that he might be on that tier below the top with regards to some of the items listed above.  That said, as a zone runner with fantastic receiving skills and an attitude that you just have to love, he might be the type of guy who people wonder in 4 years why we were picking him apart when we should have been merely focusing on what makes him special.  If you were to focus on his strengths, you could really fall in love with what he brings to the table in so many regards.  But, if you want him to be your #1 RB, you might want to make sure your stable behind him is ready to pick up some of the workload just in case.


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(dallasnews.com)
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Phillip Dorsett earns $100,000 from Adidas

NFLU2009
CORAL GABLES Former Hurricanes wide receiver Phillip Dorsett showed up to watch practice Tuesday – with 100,000 reasons to smile.

Dorsett picked up a check for $100,000 from Adidas for running one of the fastest 40-yard dashes last Saturday at the NFL combine.

Adidas, who this summer will supplant Nike as the official outfitter of UM athletics, offered the sum to three players who signed endorsement deals and ran the fastest 40s. Dorsett, who led UM in receiving yards (871) and touchdowns (10) last year, ran his in 4.33 seconds. The other money men: Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (4.31) and West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White (4.35).

“Phillip owes us some lunches, I’ll promise you that,” UM coach Al Golden joked. “And now he can’t tell me he doesn’t have the money to do it. I saw everybody’s Twitter [time]line last night.”

Dorsett reportedly met with the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns at the NFL draft.


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(palmbeachpost.com)
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Peter O'Brien turning heads at D-backs camp

PeterObrienCanes
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It can get a little slow during the first week of Spring Training when it is just pitchers and catchers in camp, but this year at Salt River Fields, D-backs catcher Peter O'Brien has made batting practice a must-see event.

O'Brien, acquired from the Yankees last July 31 in exchange for Martin Prado, is likely to start the season in the Minors, but the team loves his bat and believes he is improving enough defensively where he can stay behind the plate.

A number of front office executives came out to the field to watch O'Brien hit Tuesday and after he blasted one off the batter's eye in center, former D-backs outfielder Luis Gonzalez joked with coaches behind the cage saying, "Hang in there. The power will come soon."

O'Brien heard that comment loud and clear.

"It's pretty funny when guys joke like that, so I like it," O'Brien said.

Fellow catcher Tuffy Gosewisch said O'Brien's power is no laughing matter.

"I think he's on a different level," Gosewisch said. "Sometimes there's guys in BP where you see them hit a few home runs and you might yourself try to hit some home runs to match them, but he's on another level and it's fun to watch. You can hear [it], [the ball] just sounds different coming off his bat. There's a few guys in the game that have that sound, and he's one of them. He's got some kind of power."


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(mlb.com)
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Yonder Alonso hoping he is past issues with right wrist

YonderAlonsoPadres
Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso has been having issues with his right wrist/hand since getting hit by a pitch late in May 2013. However, he is hopeful the issues are behind him coming off surgery in August, per U-T San Diego.

“It's a monkey off your back type of thing where you kind of just deal with it for a little while and finally put it behind you and go on to do the things I can do when I'm healthy,” Alonso said, adding that he was reporting with zero restrictions.

“(Injuries) are part of the game. You're going to have your bruises here and there. That's over with. Hopefully it's the last time I answer questions about my wrist. Knock on wood.”


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(cbssports.com)
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Host of NFL teams interested in OT Ereck Flowers

NFLU2009
Miami T Ereck Flowers will intrigue the Rams, Browns, Saints, Texans, Lions and Panthers, notes ESPN's Todd McShay.

"He's a massive right tackle prospect at 6-6, 329 pounds, with long arms (34.5 inches) and excellent strength -- his 37 bench press reps were the most in his class, which is pretty remarkable given how long his arms are," McShay wrote. "His times weren't great, with a 5.31 40, but not bad when you consider his size. He didn't do the jumps or shuttles, so he'll need to do those at his pro day." The 6-foot-6, 329-pound Flowers decided not to hire an agent and will represent himself. He's a possible Round 1 pick.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Anthony Chickillo will be a 3rd or 4th round 'gem'

NFLU2009
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said Miami DE Anthony Chickillo has "got a better get-off than people understand."

Chickillo didn't provide much production in college, but he was miscast as a 3-4 defensive end. The 6-foot-3 1/8, 261-pounder is a former five-star prospect who ran an impressive 4.77 40-yard dash on Sunday with an impressive 10-yard split of 1.59 seconds. "Someone is going to get a gem in the third or fourth round," NFL Media's Charles Davis said.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Scout: Ereck Flowers is headed for RT in the NFL

NFLU2009
An NFL scout told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he projects Miami T Ereck Flowers to right tackle.

"Big frame, good technician, good with his hands, good bulk and anchor," the scout said. "Has ability to hold up against power rushes but also can handle speed. Physically and athletically, probably more of a right tackle in the NFL." Flowers, who has started the past two-and-a-half seasons at LT for the Hurricanes, posted 37 reps on the bench press at the combine, the most of any offensive lineman. The 6-foot-6, 329-pound Flowers is also highly athletic (5.29 forty, 10-yard split of 1.78).

(rotoworld.com)
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Mayock likes Denzel Perryman despite so-so 40 time

NFLU2009
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said after Miami ILB Denzel Perryman's forty run: "I thought he was faster."

Perryman (5-foot-10 3/4, 236 pounds) ran a 4.78 40-yard dash. Mayock added he "still like[d] Perryman" despite the disappointing time. Mayock compares Perryman to Jon Beason. The Hurricane linebacker is an old school, squatty, hit-you-in-the mouth inside 'backer who lacks size and speed. An AFC director of scouting told NFL.com recently that Perryman is a "thumper" and a "badass."


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(rotoworld.com)
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Ereck Flowers says he likes to work in the weight room.

NFLU2009
Not every offensive lineman struggled on the weight bench. Former Miami Hurricanes stud Ereck Flowers should have said "Hulk smash" after he finished producing the numbers O'Hara reported:



From the jump, Flowers looks ready to be a force in any team's run game. As a prospective left tackle, he will also need to prove he can be effective as a pass-blocker. That's where there are concerns about his ability.

There are times when speed-rushers can beat him to the edge, but that's an area where he can improve.

There's something about Flowers' intangibles that make me believe he is the real deal and that his best is yet to come. When you look up information and accounts on the 6'6", 324-pound monster, the consensus seems to be that Flowers loves to compete. Whether it's his NFL.com draft profile from Zierlein or quotes from his college head coach Al Golden (via Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com), competitiveness is the constant trait used to describe him.

With the strength and athletic gifts he possesses, that should be a formula for success.


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(bleacherreport.com)
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Denzel Perryman Didn't Quiet His Critics

NFLU2009
Two other players who looked much more athletic on tape than they appeared during drills Sunday included Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman, arguably the best traditional Mike 'backer in the draft.

Unlike Phillips (who struggled with inconsistency throughout his Sooners career), Perryman was the picture of reliability for the Hurricanes, leaving the program as a four-year starter with 351 career tackles to his credit. While instinctive, physical and tough, however, Perryman didn't exactly quiet critics of his speed and overall athleticism with a 4.78-second showing in the 40-yard dash. In fact, it may give voice to those who suggest that the 5-11, 236-pounder is just a two-down run-stuffer in the NFL.


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(cbssports.com)
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Mayock: Clive Walford is clearly draft's No. 2 TE

NFLU2009
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said Miami TE Clive Walford is the clear No. 2 tight end.

Behind Minnesota's Maxx Williams, of course. Mayock added that there is no clear-cut No. 3 guy at the position. "After [Williams and Walford], what's your flavor?" Mayock said. The analyst likes Walford's combination of size, speed and strength. Measuring 6-foot-4, 251 pounds, Walford's 4.79 forty was a little disappointing, but his 35 inch vertical jump and 120 inch broad jump were both good.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Denzel Perryman Standing Tall Among Linebackers

NFLU2009
INDIANAPOLIS - Denzel Perryman from the University of Miami is considered one of the top inside linebacker prospects in the 2015 draft, and it seems one of the only knocks on his game is his lack of ideal size.

Perryman officially was measured 5 feet 11 at the combine and, as expected, he was asked about his height during his combine press conference. It was the same at the Senior Bowl.

“I find them funny,” Perryman said. “I hear the same questions over and over again, so it doesn’t matter me at all.

“I’ve been pretty much getting knocked for my height since I got to high school, getting recruited,” Perryman said. “My play makes up for my height. I don’t play like I’m 5-11.

Asked to described his style, Perryman delivered a quick, to-the-point answer.

Said Perryman: “I’m smart, I’m physical, I’m a downhill, hard-nosed dog.”


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(miamidolphins.com)
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Orlando Franklin is unlikely to re-sign with Denver

OrlandoFranklinBroncos
Mike Klis of the Denver Post doesn't expect the Broncos to re-sign free agent LG Orlando Franklin.

The salary Franklin will command in free agency should be out of Denver's price range. Klis suggested Mike Iupati as a possible replacement though he might make more than Franklin this offseason. Either way, it sounds like Denver is going to have a hole to fill at left guard.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Big questions ahead for Colts and Reggie Wayne

ReggieWayne
Whether we've seen the last of Reggie Wayne isn't yet known.

But if the Indianapolis Colts great decides to return for a 15th season, it will set in motion a series of difficult decisions for the franchise.

Among them: Can it find a place for an aging receiver coming off one of his worst seasons? And what's a fair price for a player who clearly would have a greatly reduced role but who also is one of the franchise's greatest players?

Those are complicated matters that must be dealt with in a manner that doesn't disrespect an Indianapolis icon.

Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano said this week at the NFL Scouting Combine that neither has had any recent discussions with Wayne, whose contract expires next month.

The team already has acquired CFL standout Duron Carter, son of Hall-of-Fame receiver Cris Carter. He's expected to be an important part of the rotation, though that's still a projection because of his lack of NFL experience.

Whether we've seen the last of Reggie Wayne isn't yet known.

But if the Indianapolis Colts great decides to return for a 15th season, it will set in motion a series of difficult decisions for the franchise.

Among them: Can it find a place for an aging receiver coming off one of his worst seasons? And what's a fair price for a player who clearly would have a greatly reduced role but who also is one of the franchise's greatest players?

Those are complicated matters that must be dealt with in a manner that doesn't disrespect an Indianapolis icon.

Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano said this week at the NFL Scouting Combine that neither has had any recent discussions with Wayne, whose contract expires next month.

The team already has acquired CFL standout Duron Carter, son of Hall-of-Fame receiver Cris Carter. He's expected to be an important part of the rotation, though that's still a projection because of his lack of NFL experience.

He finished with a respectable 64 catches for 779 yards but was significantly less impactful late in the season than early on. Wayne's partially-torn triceps was certainly a factor, but his legs seemed to also lose a gear as the season wore on.

Wayne's triceps required surgery, meaning much of his offseason will entail rehab. But if he can regain his form from early in 2014, Wayne would have some definite appeal to the Colts. For example, flash back to September, when Wayne had nine catches for 98 yards against the Denver Broncos and seven catches for 119 yards against the Tennessee Titans.

Wayne's situation remains fluid for the Colts. At some point, there will be some difficult conversations. That time is coming.

"He's got my number," Pagano said, "and I've got his."


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(indystar.com)
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Dolphins meet with Clive Walford, Duke Johnson

NFLU2009
The Miami Dolphins, who could be looking for a running back and a tight end in the first two rounds of the draft, met with former Univeristy of Miami stars Duke Johnson and Clive Walford at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Johnson, UM's all-time leading rusher, is expected to be drafted in the second round. Walford, generally regarded as the second-best tight end in the draft behind Minnesota's Maxx Williams, also is slated to be taken in the second round.

The Dolphins have the 14th pick in the first round.

The Dolphins could be looking for a running back to share the load with Lamar Miller, who rushed for 1,099 yards last season. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry on his 216 attempts, and scored nine touchdowns. But he was limited to 16 touches per game, which hints Miami needs another back to compliment him.

It is unlikely that Knowshon Moreno, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last season, will be re-signed.

This is the deepest crop of running back talent since the 2008 NFL Draft, led by first-round hopefuls Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Georgia's Todd Gurley.

The Dolphins are dealing with some uncertainty at the tight end position because starter Charles Clay is a free agent.

Walford would be a solid addition after dominating Senior Bowl practices, especially in red-zone drills.

“I have a great ability to jump,” Walford said. “In the red zone, I use my body and my jumping ability to go up over the top of defenders and grab the ball. I am the best tight end in this draft because I can block, I can catch, I can run after the catch, do everything that a tight end is expected to do.”

Walford, who caught 121 career passes and scored 14 touchdowns, also had combine meetings with the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions.

There are some questions about Walford's hands, though, as he's had his share of dropped passes.

Walford showed he was healthy at the Senior Bowl after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his right meniscus.

"It was very important because I was told that people thought I tore my medial collateral ligament, which I didn't," Walford said. "I just had a scope on my right meniscus. I just wanted to go out and show everybody that I was healthy."


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(sun-sentinel.com)
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Ereck Flowers' best Combine 10 yd: 1.78

NFLU2009
Miami T Ereck Flowers' best "unofficial" forty at the NFL Combine was 5.29 seconds with a 10 yard split of 1.78.

Flowers is a big man at 6'6" and 329 lbs with 34 1/2" arms. He shows a lot of strength moving forward, but we think he still has issues with functional strength when pass protecting, likely stemming from too much movement equaling a poor base. Still, Flowers is being linked to first-round picks.

Flowers posted 37 reps on the bench press at the combine, the most of any offensive lineman.

We've noticed Flowers' lack of strength while pass protecting, but think that is due to technique issues stemming from a poor base. In the run game, Flowers has no such issues. The 6-foot-6, 329-pound Flowers has great athleticism (5.29 forty, 10-yard split of 1.78) and has the look of a first-round prospect. He certainly helped himself Friday.


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(rotoworld.com)
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GIF: Air Wilfork




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‘Restrictions’ could make Antrel Rolle an ex-Giant

AntrelRolleGiants2
INDIANAPOLIS — Money sounds like the only thing that could prevent the Giants from re-signing safety Antrel Rolle.

Rolle is scheduled to become a free agent on March 10. Giants coach Tom Coughlin gushed about Rolle on Thursday and said the Giants definitely want him back in 2015 … if the price is right.

“We’d like him to come back,” Coughlin said at the NFL Scouting Combine, “obviously, we do have financial restrictions involved.”

The 32-year-old made the Pro Bowl in 2013, but his play slipped last season. Still, he is a reliable veteran presence in the Giants’ secondary.
Coughlin praised his off-the-field contributions.

“He’s an outstanding young man, and really I’ve never come across a player that was more interested in his team and trying to help his team be better in any way they could,” Coughlin said. “I think countless Tuesdays Antrel was in my office with, ‘How can we get better? What can we do to get better?’ Just thoughts going back and forth between coach/player, in terms of how our team could improve. I don’t think I was ever involved with a player that was more sincerely interested in how his team could improve. And I admire that very much in him as a young man and a leader.”


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(nypost.com)
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Did Clive Walford Hurt His Draft Stock At The Combine?

NFLU2009
Clive Walford, TE, Miami: After being hailed as one of the most explosive tight ends in the draft, Walford didn't wow scouts with his workout performance on Friday. The 6-4, 251-pound pass catcher clocked a rather pedestrian 4.79 40 time and failed to look dynamic or sudden in drills. Although Walford's numbers in the vertical jump (35 inches) and broad jump (10 feet even) suggest that he is a capable athlete, I didn't see a prospect with the kind of quick-twitch traits to create matchup problems on the perimeter.


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(nfl.com)
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Giants decline to say if Jon Beason will be back

JonBeasonGiants
Giants GM Jerry Reese declined to say whether MLB Jon Beason will be back in 2015.

"Jon is under contract. We will see where that goes," were Reese's comments. Beason has a $6.7 million cap hit, with $900K of his $3.6M salary guaranteed. He's a candidate for a pay cut after appearing in four games last year due to injuries. The Giants would save $4.3 million by releasing Beason, but leave $2.4M in dead money.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Phillip Dorsett is plenty fast, but not as fast as Chris Johnson

NFLU2009
Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett showed off such great speed in college that there was talk he might break Chris Johnson’s Scouting Combine record 4.24-second 40-yard dash. That didn’t happen.

But Dorsett did run the fastest time so far at this year’s Combine, finishing his 40 in 4.33 seconds.

More important than the speed Dorsett showed today in shorts is the speed he showed on the field as a Hurricane, when he averaged a whopping 24.2 yards a catch last season. Dorsett started all 13 games for Miami and finished 2014 with 36 catches for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Despite his speed, Dorsett isn’t necessarily viewed as a great prospect by NFL teams. His size (5-foot-10 and 183 pounds) is less than ideal, and some question whether he’ll be as effective in the NFL when he can’t just rely on his speed to blow past every defensive back. But he sure is fast.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Ereck Flowers Draft Stock is Rock Solid

NFLU2009
Ereck Flowers had a tough day of kick-slide drills at the NFL Scouting Combine, but a few on-field workouts shouldn’t decide his 2015 NFL Draft stock. After watching a bit more tape, I came back to my original take: Flowers is a legitimate prospect that is going to make an NFL team very happy.

Many times on tape, Flowers shows a natural ability to simply be a wall. He squares up very well and does a good job matching up head-to-head against elite defenders. When he gets things right with his first step, his strength is unquestioned.

It’s easy to get scared when you see some of the drills yesterday — I know I did — but you must rely on the tape to give yourself an accurate evaluation. While there are a few instances where he fails to meet the edge rusher, the poor outing at the Combine doesn’t really translate to what you see when you turn on the film.

The former Miami Hurricane is very talented, and it can be argued that his only real flaw is the fact that he occasionally has technical lapses in his game. Too many times does Flowers struggle with doing what he needs to do technically. With NFL coaching, he should improve mightily the moment he hits the practice field.

As far as draft stock goes, Flowers has a legitimate chance to be taken in the first round. Although his talent projects around the second round, there are too many teams in the NFL that have a need at the tackle position.

I’ve mocked Flowers to the Carolina Panthers a few times, a fit that seems natural.

Below, you’ll see my top-seven at the tackle position:

1. Brandon Scherff, Iowa
2. T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh
3. La’el Collins, LSU
4. Jake Fisher, Oregon
5. Ereck Flowers, Miami
6. Andrus Peat, Stanford
7. Cam Erving, Florida State

Projecting where Flowers will land becomes significantly tougher when we bring a guy like Jake Fisher. The Oregon standout could emerge as a first-round pick, and Flowers could be pushed back into the second round because of it.

On the other hand, you could argue that teams will see how raw Flowers is and look at that as a major plus. He has so much room to improve, something that could make him seem a bit more valuable in the scouting process.

Any team that has some wiggle room on the outside could value the kid that put up 37 reps on the bench press this week.


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(fansided.com)
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Phillip Dorsett vs Georgia Tech (2014)




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Santana Moss Is Attending Classes At The U

Just leaving class, waiting on the cane shuttle like...bhiiiiii it's cold!!!

A photo posted by Santana Moss (@eighttodanine) on




Santana Moss has returned to the school where he made a name for himself on the field.

The 14-year NFL veteran attended Miami during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, smashing the school’s all-time receiving yards record (2,546) while also earning All-Big East Conference honors his senior season.

While at Miami, Moss was also hard at work in the classroom, majoring in Liberal Arts.

Now, 14 years after receiving his Bachelor’s of Liberal Arts, Moss is back in the classroom, this time as part of the school’s new Executive MBA program designed for professional athletes.

As PRNewswire.com explains, “it is an 18-month program that consists of six two-week residency modules at the School’s main campus in Coral Gables. The program, which will be taught by the same world-class faculty who teach in the School’s other programs, has the same curriculum as the School’s existing Global Executive MBA program, which meets on a similar schedule.”


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(redskins.com)
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Ereck Flowers, a possible first-round pick, won't hire an agent

NFLU2009
INDIANAPOLIS -- Left tackle Ereck Flowers, the standout from the University of Miami who is projected as a mid first-round or early second-round pick in the NFL Draft, said Friday he doesn’t plan on hiring an agent this year.

Flowers said he originally got the idea from former UM players.

“I talked to players before about this,” Flowers said. “The University of Miami, one thing we take pride in is players coming back to teach other people the way. I’ve done research with my father. We didn’t see any reason to have one.”Flowers said he’d probably hire a lawyer to “look through” his rookie contract.

“Other than that, I’m not signing with an agent,” he said.

With NFL salaries slotted, there’s little reason for a player to hire an agent initially, so Flowers will handle the job with his father.

“We’ve just done research on it,” Flowers said. “My father is a pretty intelligent guy so we’ve talked to people and I’ve talked to my coaches a little about it, so it’s one thing we decided we would do.”


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(sun-sentinel.com)
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Frank Gore May Stay With 49ers

FrankGore2
Late last season, it seemed almost certain that Frank Gore was on his last legs as a 49er.

The veteran running back -- who will turn 32 this May -- was having a subpar season in the last year of his contract.

His age and salary didn’t line up with the 49ers' plans.

But now, after Gore’s late-season brilliance showed he’s still effective, the team appears intent on bringing Gore back for another season. Gore rushed for more than 300 yards combined over his final two games to finish with more than 1,100.

Niners general manager Trent Baalke, speaking to reporters at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this week, said, “We’re going to do what we can to get him back as a 49er.”

New head coach Jim Tomsula, also in Indianapolis, echoed Baalke. Tomsula, in fact, said the team was in negotiations with both Gore and wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

“Those talks are happening this week,” Tomsula said at a news conference, reported Marc Sessler of NFL.com. “I don’t have the checkbook, so I’m not in those particular conversations, but I do know that leaving San Francisco, heading to the airport the other day, that everything was lined up to talk to all of our people.”

Generally, running backs decline rapidly after age 30. But Gore has remained in top condition, forged by challenging offseason workouts, and has brought much more to the team than his talents as a ballcarrier. Players and coaches have cited his leadership, work ethic and hard-nosed approach as a plus for the entire team. He remains one of the NFL’s best-blocking running backs, particularly in pass protection.

Said Tomsula: “I’m a big Frank Gore guy.”

If he does return, however, it likely will be for less money than the $6.5 million he earned in each of his past two seasons. Baalke told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee that the team and Gore are trying to work things out.

“We’re still working on it,” Baalke told Barrows. “It’s not something that’s going to get done yesterday. It’ll take some time to resolve. It’s our intention to have Frank back.”


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(nbcbayarea.com)
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Suns Waive John Salmons

JohnSalmonsRaptors
PHOENIX - The Phoenix Suns signed centre Earl Barron to a 10-day contract Saturday.

The 7-foot Barron has appeared in six games this season for the Suns, averaging 3.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 13.7 minutes. He had 10 points and 13 rebounds in 24 minutes at Houston on Oct. 13.

In 27 games for Bakersfield in the NBA Development League, Barron is averaging 20.3 points and 10.9 rebounds. In 124 career NBA games with Miami, New York, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Portland, Golden State and Washington, he has averaged 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds.

The Suns waived guard Kendall Marshall and forward John Salmons.


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(winnipegfreepress.com)
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No extra limitations on OF Ryan Braun's thumb in camp

RyanBraun
Aside from limiting him to extra hitting early on, there are no extra limitations on Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun's thumb heading into camp, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Braun, 31, underwent a thumb procedure last October, and said in January that his thumb feels "significantly better" than at this time last year. He slashed .266/.324/.453 with 19 homers and 81 RBI in 135 games in 2014 while dealing with the injury.


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(cbssports.com)
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Yasmani Grandal expects A.J. Ellis to catch Dodgers' ace

YasmaniGrandalPadres
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have made a lot of noise so far this spring about wanting to break up Clayton Kershaw's reliance on A.J. Ellis so it doesn’t become a personal-catcher scenario, but most people view that as mostly lip service -- even the man who stands to lose playing time because of it.

“I’m expecting [Ellis] to catch him. Yeah, I am,” Yasmani Grandal said. “But at the same time, I need to be ready.”

After all, Grandal reasoned, “When you’ve seen a guy have success for a while, you don’t want to change that.”

Grandal caught Kershaw’s second bullpen session of the spring on Sunday. He didn’t need to squat 60 feet away to realize how special Kershaw’s ability is. He had seen that plenty of times with a bat in his hands.

“I think a guy like that, you appreciate even if you’re not catching,” Grandal said.

Plenty of catchers have made a pretty good living as a personal catcher and Kershaw’s preference might be Ellis’ clearest path to playing time, considering the Dodgers like Grandal’s bat and pitch-framing ability enough that they traded slugger Matt Kemp for him. Brian McCann and Mike Scioscia, among others, broke into the major leagues as personal catchers -- McCann for John Smoltz and Scioscia for Fernando Valenzuela.

Even if Grandal doesn’t catch Kershaw much, he said he hopes to help him succeed by watching video during games and making suggestions about game planning. Grandal said the Padres had a “real good game plan,” against Kershaw though that’s not necessarily reflected in Kershaw’s 2.25 ERA vs. San Diego. Grandal is 5-for-14 with a double and five strikeouts against Kershaw.

So, what is San Diego’s game plan against the Dodgers’ ace?

“If I tell you that, then the whole league would know, right?” Grandal said. “I won’t give you the exact thing, but our game plan was basically, ‘Stay on the heater.’ “


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(espn.com)
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Dyme U Collection By proCane DJ Williams. GET IT NOW!




CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR DYME LYFE GEAR!
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Ereck Flowers Strongest OL at NFL Combine

NFLU2009
INDIANAPOLIS ‐ Strength is mandatory for a quality offensive lineman. At the NFL Scouting Combine, it's measured in the bench press, where prospects are asked to put up 225 pounds.

It's not perfect, but it does serve as some sort of indicator of pure strength. Here are the results for some of the offensive linemen in Thursday's bench press:

Top 10
1. OT Ereck Flowers (Miami) 37
2. OG Mitch Morse (Missouri) 36
3. OT Sean Hickey (Syracuse) 35
4. OG Mark Glowinski (West Virginia) 31
5. C Cameron Erving (Florida St.) 30
5. OG Ali Marpet (Hobart) 30
7. C Andy Gallik (Boston College) 29
7. OG John Miller (Louisville) 29
7. OT Tyrus Thompson (Oklahoma) 29
10. OG Jamil Douglas (Arizona St.) 28
10. OT Corey Robinson (South Carolina) 28

Other Notables:
OG A.J. Cann (South Carolina) 26
OG Donovan Smith (Penn St.) 26
OG Laken Tomlinson (Duke) 25
OT Brandon Scherff (Iowa) 23
OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M) 23
OT T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh) 22
OT La'el Collins (LSU) 21
OG Rob Havenstein (Wisconsin) 16


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Duke Johnson compares himself to LeSean McCoy

NFLU2009
INDIANAPOLIS – University of Miami running back Duke Johnson is fast and explosive. But many draft analysts peg him as a third-rounder because of questions about his durability and ability to be a lead back.

It’s also a deep running back draft, which court hurt Johnson.

But Johnson believes he can be a three-down back and a major difference maker in the NFL.

“It’s not my job to tell you what I think about what other people say,” he said today at the NFL scouting combine. “The only thing is to come in and show that I can do it and I can perform.

“Whoever drafts me will get a great player and they won’t regret it.”

He met with the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday night and has a lot of interviews lined up with NFL teams.

Johnson says he won’t bench at the combine but he’ll do all the other drills. He’s hoping to complete the 40-yard dash in the low 4.4’s.

He compared himself to Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.

“His quickness, his burst, his ability to move in the open field, receiving out of the back field,” Johnson said.


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(palmbeachpost.com)
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Phillip Dorsett seen by Jeremiah as a mid-Rd. 2 value

NFLU2009
Miami WR Phillip Dorsett debuted at No. 45 on NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah's board.

"Dorsett is an undersized wideout with rare burst and speed," Jeremiah wrote. "He defeats press coverage with his quickness and he quickly eats up cushion when cornerbacks play off coverage. He is an easy/fluid route runner and he explodes at the top of his stem. He tracks the ball naturally down the field and he doesn't shy away from balls in traffic. He has a couple extension drops, but his hands are solid. After the catch, he isn't very elusive or powerful, but if he gets a crease he can run away from everybody on the field. Overall, this player lacks ideal size and physicality, but he's a valuable weapon in the vertical passing game." Dorsett will run one of the fastest 40 times at the combine. He's hoping to break the 4.3 barrier. Doing so would put him in the Round 1 discussion.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Ravens plan to meet with RBs Melvin Gordon, Duke Johnson and David Johnson at combine

NFLU2009
The Ravens met with University of Miami running back Duke Johnson.

Johnson is slightly undersized at 5 feet 9, 206 pounds, but is quick and elusive and has good hands. There are some durability concerns with Johnson, but his versatility and jump-cut running style have drawn comparions to Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.

He's projected as a second-round draft pick after finishing his college career with 3,519 yards and 26 touchdowns.

“Being able to receive out of the backfield is the No. 1 thing," Johnson said. "I’m a mismatch with linebackers. I can catch the ball really well. I think at the end of the day if there’s short yardage and I need to get it, I’ll go and get it. Whoever drafts me will get a great player and they won’t regret it.”


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(baltimoresun.com)
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49ers to meet with TE Clive Walford at 2015 NFL Combine

NFLU2009
The San Francisco 49ers have their front office and part of the coaching staff in Indianapolis this week for the 2015 NFL Combine. It marks the best opportunity to see most of the note-worthy draft eligible players, and that includes up to 60 meetings with the players. The 49ers have likely had several meetings already, but here is one that was confirmed by a player:



A visit can mean nothing in the big picture given that teams will chat with a lot of players leading up to the draft. But it is still interesting to track the names that pop up in connection with the 49ers.

The general consensus seems to have Walford as the No. 2 tight end, behind Maxx Williams (Minnesota), and ahead of guys like Nick O'Leary (Florida State) and Ben Koyack (Notre Dame). Poldarn posted his latest composite big board at the end of January. The composite had Walford ranked 76th overall.

Walford has the size and athleticism to handle both blocking and receiving duties. That composite ranking puts him firmly in the third round, but both Buffalo Rumblings and Big Blue View would be fine with grabbing him earlier than that. They both provided their scouting reports, and you can read more at NFL.com. The reports indicate he is capable in the passing game, but is not quite a big play threat.

The 49ers head into the offseason with Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald and Derek Carrier under contract. Garrett Celek is a restricted free agent, which means there is a strong chance he returns if the 49ers are interested. The 49ers could have a full stable of tight ends already in place for next season, but given the performances last season, some change could be in order. Even if Davis returns, he is entering the final year of his contract. McDonald has been underwhelming, although injuries were a problem this year. Carrier is an intriguing prospect, but he has never really broken out, and injuries cut short his 2014.

I don't know that I would see the 49ers investing in a tight end in the first two or three rounds, but plenty can change between now and late April. The 49ers seemingly have bigger concerns at the moment, but it's not like tight end is a rock of stability.


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(ninernation.com)
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Ravens meet with top tight ends Maxx Williams, Clive Walford at scouting combine

NFLU2009
The Ravens are dealing with some uncertainty at the tight end position because starter Owen Daniels is a free agent and Dennis Pitta's career is in doubt because of a recurring hip problem.

So, the team is exploring its options at the position in the NFL draft. The Ravens have met with Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams and Miami tight end Clive Walford at the NFL scouting combine.

Williams, a projected late first-round draft pick who declared early for the draft, has athletic bloodlines as the son of former New York Giants center Brian Williams, a 1989 first-round draft pick. His mother played volleyball at Minnesota.

Williams has drawn comparisons to Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.

"He's a complete tight end, in my opinion," Williams said about Witten. "He blocks. He runs routes. He makes plays for his team. That's what I want to be. I want to go to the NFL and be a complete tight end and make plays with my hands but also in the run game by making complete blocks."

Williams, 20, caught 36 passes for 569 yards and eight touchdowns last season and was named All-Big Ten Conference.

"As I'm going to the next level and will work on my craft, I can take my game to the next level that much better," Williams said. "Being only 20 years old, knowing that my body's not fully developed into what it could develop into, is a strength."

Walford dominated Senior Bowl practices, especially in red-zone drills.

“I have a great ability to jump,” Walford said. “In the red zone, I use my body and my jumping ability to go up over the top of defenders and grab the ball. I am the best tight end in this draft because I can block, I can catch, I can run after the catch, do everything that a tight end is expected to do.”

Walford, who caught 121 career passes and scored 14 touchdowns, also had combine meetings with the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions.

There are some questions about his consistency, though.

Walford also showed he was healthy at the Senior Bowl after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his right meniscus.

"It was very important because I was told that people thought I tore my medial collateral ligament, which I didn't," Walford said. "I just had a scope on my right meniscus. I just wanted to go out and show everybody that I was healthy."


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(baltimoresun.com)
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Texans' O'Brien: We don't want Andre Johnson to play anywhere else

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Texans general manager Rick Smith told reporters that Larry Fitzgerald's restructured deal won't impact Andre Johnson's situation in Houston. Coach Bill O'Brien also backed up Smith's comments, reiterating that the team wants Johnson to retire as a Texan.

"We don't want him to play anywhere else. He's a Houston Texan," O'Brien said, per the team's official website.

Johnson, 33, appeared in 15 games in 2014, but had his arguably his worst statistical season. He finished with 85 catches for 936 yards and three touchdowns. He is due to make $10.5 million in 2015, and $11 million in 2016 before becoming a free agent in 2017.


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(cbssports.com)
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Reggie Wayne's playing future in question

ReggieWayne
Colts GM Ryan Grigson indicated at the Combine that he's unsure of free agent Reggie Wayne's desire to keep playing.

Wayne's performance fell off a cliff in 2014 as he attempted to return from a torn ACL at age 36. He had a negative impact on Indianapolis' offense. Grigson acknowledged Wayne still means a lot "to the organization," but his future is "up in the air." We would not expect Wayne back in Indy.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Coughlin: Antrel Rolle’s desire to make his team better sets him apart

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Giants free safety Antrel Rolle can enter unrestricted free agency in March.

And head coach Tom Coughlin would like him to stay right where he is.

Speaking to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine Thursday, Coughlin indicated it was no secret he wanted the 32-year-old safety on the roster for 2015, but he also noted the club had a budget.

“Certainly it’s been stated, you don’t need me to state it again, we’d like him to come back, obviously we do have financial restrictions involved,” Coughlin said, according to an interview transcript from the PFWA.

Coughlin said Rolle’s efforts to help the Giants distinguished him.

“He’s an outstanding young man, and really, I’ve never come across a player that was more interested in his team and trying to help his team be better in any way they could,” Coughlin said.

“I think countless Tuesdays Antrel was in my office with, ‘How can we get better? What can we do to get better?’ Just thoughts going back and forth between coach/player, in terms of how our team could improve.”

Rolle is 51st in PFT’s ratings of the top 100 free agents. He has not missed a game in five campaigns with the Giants, intercepting 14 passes and forcing five fumbles in regular-season play in that span.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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John Salmons headed to Phoenix, Expected To Be Cut

JohnSalmons
Updating a previous report, John Salmons has been sent to Phoenix as a part of the Norris Cole trade.

Salmons is going to be fighting for minutes behind Gerald Green and Marcus Thornton, and with season averages of 2.0 points on 33.3 percent shooting from the field, he's very unlikely to suddenly emerge as an asset in any league. Salmons is actually expected to be cut by the Suns.

(rotoworld.com)
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Kiper: Denzel Perryman is a first-rounder right now

NFLU2009
ESPN's Mel Kiper thinks Miami ILB Denzel Perryman would be a first-rounder if the draft were tomorrow.

Perryman ranks as Kiper's No. 1 middle linebacker. "The more I've watched the tape of Perryman from the 2014 season, the more I like him," Kiper wrote. "He just does so many things well in terms of attacking the line of scrimmage and taking on blocks. Coverage is a question, but I think he lands in Round 1 if the draft is tomorrow. He can help a team now." NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah projects him as the No. 30 pick to the Packers. "Scouts love Perryman's physical, angry playing style -- he's a burly, stout, old-school linebacker who wants to hit the ball carrier," NFL.com colleague Lance Zierlein recently wrote.


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(rotoworld.com)
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proCane ILB Denzel Perryman compared to Jon Beason

NFLU2009
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock compares Miami ILB Denzel Perryman to Jon Beason.

"Perryman is fun to watch on tape," Mayock said. "He flies around. Reminds me of a Jon Beason. Everybody said he was too small. All he does is make plays." An AFC director of scouting told NFL.com recently that Perryman is a "thumper" and a "badass." The 6-foot, 243-pounder (4.72 forty) may sneak into Round 1 in the spring.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Duke Johnson's durability could hurt draft stock

NFLU2009
Miami RB Duke Johnson "a very explosive player, but durability concerns could hurt his draft stock," wrote ESPN's Todd McShay.

"He's undersized (5-9, 206), and even though he started all 13 games in 2014, he's dealt with some injuries during his Miami career," McShay wrote. "He suffered a season-ending ankle injury in 2013, has dealt with concussion-like symptoms and has a history of migraines." The 5-foot-9, 194-pound Johnson had 1,652 rushing yards on a 6.8 YPC average and 10 touchdowns in 2014, adding 38 receptions for 421 yards and three scores. He finished with 3,519 career rushing yards, passing in the record books elite Hurricane RBs such as Frank Gore, Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee and Ottis Anderson. CBS projects him as a Day 2 pick.


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(rotoworld.com)
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