• Author:
  • Published: Jul 31st, 2010
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Questions in the NFC East and North training camps

Questions in the NFC East and North training camps

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NFL

Note: We will look at all the divisions of the NFL with this same point of view over the next few issues of Fryingpansports.com.

NFC East

Cowboys

1. Will the new LT be able to protect the blind side of QB Romo? The team cut previous starter Flozell Adams and will try Doug Free and Alex Barron at that critical position. Neither has proven he can be an effective RT let alone face the talented REs around the league.

2. Will the ground game get back to a high level in the running back by committee system? Last year there was too much Jones and not enough Barber. The line was inconsistent and the running game suffered. Beware of taking either of these guys high in your Fantasy Draft.

3. Will former 1st round pick Roy Williams ever be worth what Jerry Jones paid for him in the trade? NO and rookie Dez Bryant will have his spot before week 3 unless the injury takes him our for longer than we think.

Giants

1. Will the D line return to the top of the NFL or repeat a disappointing 2009? Going into last season, the DL was supposed to be a strength. It was not. The Giants replaced DC Bill Sheridan with new DC Perry Fewell. 2008 star DE Osi Umenyiora has been advised to get surgery to fix his hip. How will DE Justin Tuck bounce back from his shoulder injury? The D is going to have to play better and stay healthier than it was in 09.

2. Will the running game return to a high level? In 2009, problems on the O line and at RB caused the running game to disappear during games against Dallas and other top teams. If the Giants are going to become a contender again, the running game is going to have to improve.

3. Can FS Kenny Phillips recover from microfracture knee surgery and will UFA SS Antrel Rolle solidify the last line of defense? The loss of Phillips was a major factor in the D’s decline in 09. Rolle had an off year in 09 for the Cardinals and they were willing to let him go. The D will depend on the S position as much as anything if it is going to become effective again.

Eagles

1. Can QB Kevin Kolb become the QB that the team hopes he can? Probably not this year and it will be a down year for the Birds.

2. Can the running game be resurrected? In a word, no. The Eagles are talking like they have a running game but LeSean McCoy ran out of gas as a part timer last year. With Westbrook gone, he will have to carry the main load.

3. Will the D line produce sacks like they did in the beginning of the season last year? The team traded for DE Darryl Tapp and drafted undersized DE Brandon Graham in the first round. The D line ran out of gas last year. DE Trent Cole is getting older and neither LDT Mike Patterson or RDT Brodrick Bunkley are much of a pass rusher.

Redskins

1. Will Albert Haynesworth settle in at DE? 21M just doesn’t buy as much as it used to. That is what the Redskins paid Haynesworth to play NT but he wasn’t thrilled about being hit by 900+ pounds of OL every play. He lost 25 pounds so that he would be too light to play NT but still couldn’t pass the conditioning drill.

2. How good will the O be with Donovan McNabb at QB? McNabb will be a great improvement over Campbell. But he will really miss the quality receivers he had in Philly.

3. How will the OL protect an aging QB? The bookend pro bowl Ts are gone. The replacements are 4th overall pick LT Trent Williams and ex-Saint RT Jammal Brown. Brown can play LT if needed and is a 2 time pro bowler. Williams is a questionmark.

NFC North

Bears

1. How will QB Jay Cutler preform in OC Mike Martz’s offense? Cutler looked lost in a very simple O last year. Martz’s O depends on timing which has not been a strength of Cutler or the Bear WRs. Look for the Cutler/Martz marriage to end in a quick and ugly divorce.

2. Will the running game recover? 09 starter Matt Forte struggled badly and the lack of blocking up front didn’t help. Ex-Vike Chester Taylor was brought in to compete with Forte but he is not a full time guy at this point in his career either. Beware of these guys in the Fantasy draft as well.

3. Will the DBs finally come around? The coaching staff have been shuffling the lineup in the D backfield more often than they do in Las Vegas. The team has not had good coverage since they finally gave up on the oft-injured S Brown. Getting MLB Brian Urlacher will help a lot because he can cover the deep middle in the 2 deep zone.

Lions

1. How well will 2nd year QB Matthew Stafford play? He was up and down as expected in 09 but should improve with a year of experience. Forget what you hear about better WRs for the Lions. There is Calvin Johnson and a bunch of “never was” guys.

2. Will the team have a running game? 09 starter Kevin Smith is coming back from an ACL. It takes 20 months to fully recover from that injury. Rookie Jahvid Best has talent but there is no indication he can hold up for 16 games. Look for the running game to struggle.

3. How much will the D line be improved by the addition of DT Ndamukong Suh and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch? A lot! Suh is the real deal and has more pass rush than you think. Vanden Bosch is a solid pass rush guy and won’t face as much double teaming as he did last year.

Packers

1. How good will the D be without DT Johnny Jolly the year? That may sound like no big deal but Jolly played more downs than any other D lineman last year. Look for NT Ryan Pickett to move to LE leaving NT B.J. Raji to man the middle. Raji tends to wear down and there isn’t another legitimate NT on the roster if Pickett is not able to play there.

2. Will the O line look as old as it did late last season? LT Chad Clifton got old in a hurry last year. He has to play better. RT Mark Tauscher was OK but beyond that there is nothing special on the line. While there will be some challenges from the bench, there is no real depth there either.

3. Will the conversion to 3-4 continue to go as well as it did last year? The team lost multi-year pro bowl DE turned reluctant LB Aaron Kampman. The left OB looks like a problem with Brad Jones filling in for Kampman. He is solid rushing the passer but does not hold the point of attack against eh run. The rest of the LBs are solid.

Vikings

1. Will the league be able to suspend the Williams boys at DT this year or will the court fightes go on until they retire? Don’t worry Vike fans, they are safe for 2010.

2. Will MLB E.J. Henderson (leg) and CB Cedric Griffin (ACL) be ready for the season? The D suffered when these two went down last year. The biggest value of the great DT play of the Williams boys is that it frees up the LBs to make plays at the line of scrimmage. The loss of Henderson was exposed in the Vikings loss in the playoffs last year.

3. Will QB Brett —? Who cares at this point?

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: nfl football,NFL,Super Bowl,playoffs,NFC East,NFC North,Cowboys,Eagles,Redskins,Giants,Vikings,Lions,Packers,Bears,Farve,Stafford,Urlacher,Fantasy Football,Fantasy draft
  • Author:
  • Published: Apr 25th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Niblets with NFL Draft sauce for 4/25/09

Niblets with NFL Draft sauce for 4/25/09

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nib nfl

By Bill Smith

Rumors that we might believe:

The Browns are rethinking their draft away from a WR and more toward a D player. Both BJ Raja (Boston Col) and Brian Orakpo (Texas) seem to be the leaders.

However, the Jets have a deal with Jacksonville to move to the 8th pick if one of the 3 players they want is still on the board. The Jags want desperately to trade out of 8 to get more picks.

The Pats are looking hard at Clay Matthews OLB USC. They love players with a pedigree and smart guys. Matthews may turn out to be the best of the USC linebackers and he was a walk on in college.

I predict:

Don’t expect the Edwards (WR Cleveland) trade to be completed but a QB deal could be. It looks like the Giant deal is dead.

The deal with The Lions signing QB Matthew Stafford (Georgia) increases the chances that some team will want one of the Browns QBs. Reportedly the Vikes are interested among others.

The Lion’s pick also drives up the value of 3rd QB Josh Freeman (Kansas St). Look for him to be gone by pick 19 Tampa.

While a number of potential suiters might like to trade up to get QB Mark Sanchez (USC) but he will be taken by Seattle with the 4th pick. The value of the 3rd pick 2200 points. That is too much for the Jets at 17 or Tampa at 19 to get to.

ILBs will fall. Both James Laurinaitis (Ohio State) and Rey Maualuga (USC) have fallen to the bottom of the first round or maybe into the second. The value of an ILB is lower than OB and neither of them had a particularly great pro day.

Chris Beanie Wells (RB Ohio State) has fallen but has gotten up. Because of his toe problem and his 40 time early in the draft season he fell to the late 1st or early 2nd but he has made a comeback. Look for Wells to be gone no later than 21 to the Eagles.

The Bengals are not worried about the off the field problems that OT Andre Smith (Alabama) had by getting suspended for the Bowl game and quiting at the Combine. The Bengals will take Smith with the 6th pick unless BJ Raji is there. That might cause them to change players.

Despite the hype a couple of players will under produce based on their draft position.

OT Eugene Monroe (Virginia) is soft. While he will become an outstanding pass blockers, he will never be the run blocker you would expect.

3-4 OLB Brian Orakpo (Texas) is not a pass rush specialist and will disappoint the team that drafts him. He will be a good backer but not the pass rush guy they think they got.

Tyson Jackson DE LSU and Malcolm Jenkins CB Ohio State will be among the candidates for D rookie of the year.

Rumors that are probably not true:

The NFL has told the Bengals that they must use the no huddle offense in 09. That is only because felons violate their probation if they are within 20 feet of each other.

Detroit seriously considered bringing Mike Vick in as their starting QB and taking an OT with their first pick. That was not because they though Vick was a winner. They knew that PETA would send hundreds of protesters into the stadium and the Lions could use the extra attendance.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: Edwards,NFL Draft,nfl,college football,Browns,Giants,Stafford,Lions,Vikings,Sanchez,Bucs,Ohio State,USC,Wells,Bengals,Raji,Monroe,Jenkins
  • Author:
  • Published: Mar 2nd, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on KC's trade for QB Cassel resulted in some unforeseen repercussions.

KC's trade for QB Cassel resulted in some unforeseen repercussions.

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Fryingpan Sports

KC’s trade for QB Cassel resulted in some unforeseen repercussions.

By Bill Smith

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No one was surprised that ex-Patriot personnel guy Scott Pioli traded to get a couple of his former players to add some leadership to the Chiefs. Based on how the team played last year, it can use all the leadership Pioli can gather. When he landed QB Matt Cassel, Pioli caused ripples through the NFL.

The Lions now have some options at 1st choice:

While there are several teams that would like a QB, the Jets at 17 now look like the only one willing to spend a 1st round pick on one of the 2 top QB (Matt Stafford, Georgia and Mark Sanchez, USC).

While the majority of mock drafts have the Lions taking Stafford or Sanchez with the first pick, I am not at all sure that is a lock. I would not be surprised if the Lions took a chance and drafted an OT with the first pick then used the 22nd pick from the Cowboys to take whichever QB is left.

That would give the Lions a chance to keep their QB upright whoever that might be. It would also reduce the risk of taking a junior QB with the first pick. The history of that has not been positive. The risk and the cost of a QB at 22 would be significantly lower.

The NFL may look into the Cassel deal for insider trading:

Ex-Pat Pioli got a heck of a deal—in fact he may have gotten the steal of the century so far. The Chiefs reportedly got Cassel and LB Mike Vrabel for a second round choice. There were several teams that have reported that they would have given the Pats more than that for Cassel alone. The current rumor is that the NFL may look into the deal for the football equivalent of insider trading given the close relationship between Pioli and the Pats.

Ripples shake the Broncos:

New Denver head coach Josh McDaniels who was the OC for the Pats last year also wanted Matt Cassel. He was busy trying to pull off a three team deal that would have sent last year starter for the Broncos Jay Cutler to Tampa or another team in order to bring Cassel to Denver. When that was leaked, the Bronco fans were shocked but Cutler seemed to handle it as well as could be expected.

He was reported to have told the press that he was not shocked but very disappointed that his new coach would trade him away.

My Analysis: It was not a secret that he was very upset at the firing of former HC Mike Shanahan. The fact that McDaniels wanted to trade him has not made Cutler more comfortable in Denver. The relationship between coach and QB was already strained. Now McDaniels has to do something to fix it before the season. This was a stupid move by a rookie coach. You just don’t do something like that to a franchise quarterback and expect it not to get leaked. McDaniels has to engage brain before activating mouth.

New coach, new GM, same old Bucs:

The Bucs are still collecting QBs the way that some people collect stamps. According to reports from several sources, new Tampa Bucs GM Mark Dominik and new HC Raheem Morris made it clear they wanted Cutler. They were one of the trade partners for Denver to help the Broncos get Cassel.

My Analysis: If you have a covey of QBs, you don’t have any. The Bucs had a serviceable QB in Jeff Garcia but he was not what the new staff wanted. Do you really think Brian Griese or Josh Johnson can lead you anywhere but to a high draft choice next year? Probably not.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: Chiefs,Broncos,NFL,NFL Draft,Georgia,USC,College football,Lions,Pioli,McDaniels,Tampa Bay,Bucs,football,Griese,Johnson,Stafford,Sanchez

Should the Lions draft QB Matt Stafford with the first pick?

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Fryingpan Sports

Should the Lions draft QB Matt Stafford with the first pick?

t By Bill Smith

Technorati Tags: Lions, NFL Draft, Stafford, Sanchez, Georgia, USC, Booty, college football, NFL Football

The Lions need a QB badly. The starter on their depth chart is Dan Orlovsky. In 4 seasons he has a QB rating of 71.8 with 8 TDs and 8 picks. Not good. Behind him is second year QB Drew Stanton but he was very inconsistent at Michigan State and has thrown only 17 passes in the NFL. Then there is the 3rd QB Drew Henson. Henson was a better baseball player than QB and was cut by a couple of baseball organizations. His football career included one start for the Pre-Romo Cowboys in 04 but he QB rating of 64.2 doesn’t impress anyone.

So according to reports the team is going to take a QB with the first pick. Maybe that sounded like a good idea when there were 4 good prospects in the race for the top QB in the draft. But Sam Bradford went back to Oklahoma and Colt McCoy went back to Texas. That left only Stafford and one year starter Mark Sanchez from USC as the candidates for the top QB.

When you go 0-16, one guy is not going to turn your team around. So don’t be surprised if they try to trade the pick. Trading first round picks doesn’t happen too often. Trading 1st overall picks almost never happens. There are several problems. First, the amount of assets necessary to give anything close to equal value for a 1st overall pick is overwhelming. According to the draft chart first used by the Cowboys but now accepted as a good guide the 1st pick is worth 3000 points. Even if you have the 10th pick this year, it would cost you your #1, 2, 3, 4, 5 picks this year your 1, 2, and 3 next year and a young veteran starter. The Lions would love to take that but no GM could keep his job and make that deal.

Even if you could get by that problem with a number of quality young starters to replace the draft choices, there is the financial investment in the top overall pick. Jake Long, the OT from Michigan taken 1st overall by the Dolphins in the 08 draft got a contract worth 57 million dollars. A quarterback would be 10 to 15 percent higher. In addition, the 1st pick in 09 will probably get a 12% increase over 08 due to the expected increase in salary cap. That would mean that a QB as #1 should get a 5 year contract worth between 70 and 74.5 million dollars. He had better be another Payton Manning for that kind of coin.

So don’t expect the Lions to trade. Now the question is who do you pick. Miami went O line because you have a much smaller chance of a total bust with that position than QB or D line. Then there is the issue of which QB is the best choice.

Stafford is currently the flavor of the month as the top pick. As a three year starter, Stafford has a lot of college game experience. He played in the Southeast Conference which is a top league. He has great arm strength. He improved his completion percentage each season from 52.7% in 06 to 61.4% in 08. But then you watch film, you come away with some serious doubts.

He makes one throw that is incredible, followed by forcing the ball into tight coverage and an interception. Part of the problem is mechanical. He struggles with footwork and his throwing mechanics are inconsistent. He also does not seem to have the feet to move away from the pass rush and keep the play alive. He will have to learn that or be in serious trouble. The Lions line is not among the best in the NFL to say the least.

There is a question of mental toughness. Several times in the games I saw, he took the sack rather than standing up against the rush. You would like your big strong QB to keep his eyes down field and make the play as he was getting hit. That raises the question does he have the vision to an NFL franchise QB? That question will be answered only as he plays in the regular season.

Mechanics can be corrected with practice. A much more disturbing facet of his game is decision making. He has so much confidence in his arm he tires to make throws in college that are doomed to incompletion or interception before he releases the ball. In the NFL, the windows are much much smaller and the risk of interception is a lot higher. The Bulldogs were much better than all but 2 of the teams they played every year. Even so, he had a very uneven performance against some better teams.

The best corners he faced in the SEC were almost as good as the weakest ones he will face every week in the NFL. As you can tell, I am not convinced he can be a franchise QB at the NFL level and to give him 74 million over 5 years would be a mistake.

So, maybe the Lions should consider taking the other QB rated high in the draft—Mark Sanchez from USC. The NFL is very cautious about drafting a QB that only started 1 season. For Sanchez, my greatest concern is that he sat 2 seasons behind John David Booty who was taken in the 5th round by the Vikings with the 147th pick. If he couldn’t beat out Booty, is he really worthy of a first round pick let alone the first overall pick? I don’t think so. I will detail the scouting report on Sanchez in the future. For now, every time I hear someone talk about Sanchez, I hear the name Akili Smith the third pick in the 1999 draft. He had one great year with Oregon in the Pac10 as well. Look how nicely that turned out.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for NFLDraftDog.com and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

To declare or not to declare—that is the question!

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Frying Pan Sports

To declare or not to declare—that is the question!

By Bill Smith

Every pro prospect junior and third year sophomore faces a critical question—to declare for the 09 NFL draft or wait until 2010. They have until mid January to make that decision. The problem is that they will have no idea what the NFL and the NFLPA are going to do about the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The ultimate form the CBA takes will have a huge impact on the rookie contract of the top players in the draft.

If things weren’t up in the air far enough, the sudden death of Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFLPA, last August made things not only much more complex but reduced the odds of avoiding a strike/lockout in the 2011 season. Upshaw was heavily criticized by some of his members but presided over the deal that gave the players the largest percentage of the league gross in any professional sport. He had the ability to get the players and the league to a point that they could agree and avoid work stoppages. Now, the NFL will have to wait for the power struggle to work its way to a conclusion before negotiations can even begin. Now if the NFLPA would have adopted the old Soviet Union model for resolving power struggles, we would already know with whom the league should deal.

As things stand now, there will be a draft in 09 and 10 with a salary cap in 09 but not in 2010. That would seem to give the rookies a reason to stay at college one more year. The top guys coming out of the draft will get the biggest advantage if there is no cap.

But in this world nothing is quite that easy. One of the high priorities of the NFL owners in any new agreement is a rookie salary cap. That is something that the players will readily agree to because it means if the rookies get less, the veterans will get more of the salary cap dollars. Besides many of even the earliest draft choices wash out but take their millions of guaranteed signing bonus money with them. The rookies have never played a down in the NFL and get much more than vets in the same position that have proven themselves for years.

If there is a rookie salary cap as part of a new agreement it will be effective in 2010. And that is the rub. Eligible players can come out now under no rookie cap but with an overall salary cap. They can wait and if there is no new agreement, rake in a bonanza in the uncapped year of 2010. Or they can wait, and end up with both a rookie and overall salary cap and lose millions of dollars in their first contracts.

Admittedly this only affects the top 25 draft picks or so but for those like Sam Bradford, Oklahoma QB (3rd year Soph), Matt Stafford, QB Georgia (JR), Colt McCoy, Texas (JR), Knowshon Moreno, RB Georgia (3rd year Soph) and Chris Wells, RB Ohio State (JR) the decision is critical.

There is another couple of factors that enter into a player’s decision to come out or not as well. There is always a risk of serious injury in a year of college football. While all the top players will likely get insurance to pay them if they are injured and unable to play pro ball, the amount is not anything like the money that they would make in an average length NFL career. That insurance is also expensive. Some of the top performers may not be able to afford the coverage.

There is also the question of how many top players at their position will be in a given draft vs. what the demand for that position might be. Right now there are at least 5 NFL teams that have QB as their first or second priority in the draft or free agency in 2009. With only one senior QB being graded as a first day (2 rounds) choice and just a couple of quality free agent veteran QB’s, things look good for the afore mentioned QB candidates to come out. But what if all three plus Tim Tebo come out in 09? At least one or maybe even two or three will be second round picks because teams are very hesitant to draft a QB high in the first round. Do the names of Tim “I’m now on the” Couch (Cleveland 1999) and Alex Smith (San Francisco 2005) ring a bell? Each was a first choice over all and both got the staff that drafted them fired.

The last risk is one of matching their level of performance. Prior to the junior eligible entry date for the 2008 draft, two tackles were viewed as possible first overall choices. One, Jake Long of Michigan, was the first overall selection of the Dolphins. The other was Alex Boone LT of Ohio State. Boone decided to stay another year to see if the team could win a national title. I honor him for his loyalty but he played most of the year like he was running through wet concrete. The current grade on Boone is the middle of the third round and he is falling like the stock prices on Wall Street. He contributed to his draft grade demise by calling out his fellow players publicly but ignoring his own obvious short comings. Bad move, Alex. It cost you about $5,500,000 in signing bonus and another 10 million is salary and bonuses over the life of the first contract. For him, staying was extremely expensive.

It is likely that some will make the mistake of not coming out. But more will make the mistake of coming out when they would have been so much better off to stay and get one more year of seasoning. Every year around 60 football players that have eligibility left in college declare for the NFL draft. Every year about 50 percent of those players are not drafted or are very late 7th round choices. Everyone of that group would have been better off staying and getting another year to build their value. If my son was going to be a top 20 draft pick as a junior, I would tell him to come out and grab the cash. If he was projected to be a 3 round or later choice, I would encourage him to stay in college for another year.

In the last few years, the NFL has done a great thing by giving players a place that they can go without an agent to find out where they are ranked in the draft. The NFL has gathered a group of former GMs and personnel people to evaluate the player and give them a rough idea if they will go in the first round or well down in the draft. Unfortunately, there are agents that will tell a kid and his parents anything to get them to sign a representation agreement. Once a player does that, he loses his eligibility and has no choice but to enter the draft.

We will all be interested in seeing who stays and who goes. Either way. we wish the kids that have given so much effort for a sport we all love the very best no matter what they do.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for NFLDraftDog.com and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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