Category Archive: NFL
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Shutdown Corner is counting down the top 50 prospects in the 2017 NFL draft with a scouting report, quotes from NFL evaluators and a projection where they might be drafted.
33. Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
6-foot-0, 197 pounds
Key stat: In 30 starts over the past two seasons on one of the best defenses in recent college football history, Humphrey intercepted five passes and broke up 13 other passes.
The skinny: The son of former Alabama running back Bobby Humphrey (who also played for the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins), Marlon was a track and football star at one of the state’s best football programs and came to Tuscaloosa highly touted. After redshirting for the Crimson Tide in 2014, Humphrey started the past two seasons for the national champs in 2015 and the NCAA runners-up in 2016. Entered Bama with a reputation as a “track guy,” Humphrey said at the NFL scouting combine, but sought to prove he was a football player the past two seasons. “Toughness is a choice,” he said.
Humphrey declared early for the draft following his redshirt sophomore season and will turn 21 in July. Turned in good times in the 3-cone drill (6.75 seconds) and 40-yard dash (4.41) at the combine but only bench-pressed 10 reps.
Best-suited destination: He has the size, toughness and attitude to play in a press-man scheme or a zone system that asks him to redirect receivers and be a good run stopper. Most teams are projecting him to an outside CB spot, but a few might be open to trying him at safety as well. He’d be a good fit with the Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs.
Upside: Plays with an edge. Presses receivers with intent to knock them off their blocks. Fights through traffic to make tackles. Can ragdoll receivers who try to get in his way and make a block. Solid tackler, with only occasional hiccups. Adept at ripping the ball out of ball carrier’s hands. Appears to talk a good game, too, trying to mentally defeat opponents without losing his own composure. Hits like a strong safety. Humphrey is excellent playing the ball in front of him, able to diagnose short and intermediate routes well, close quickly and prevent plays from happening on his watch. Reacts well and can stop on a dime, plant and go on the shorter stuff. Appears to look through receivers in zone coverage and read quarterbacks’ eyes well. Solidly built for the NFL game. Did a very nice job on Washington WR John Ross, whom Humphrey called the best receiver he’s faced, in the playoff semifinal.
Downside: Has small hands and is not a great playmaker in the air. Appears to have trouble tracking the ball at times, especially on passes downfield. Nearly every team Bama faced tried to expose this, often early in games. Sometimes relies too much on his makeup speed and will be caught with his pants down. Most of his catches allowed are 15 or more yards downfield. Allowed CLemson WR Mike Williams to make big plays in national title game. Humphrey struggles to locate the ball in the air and gain position to make plays downfield. Might have to be shielded by rangy safeties behind him. Guilty of jumping short stuff and biting on double moves. Sometimes guesses wrong too soon on routes. Has no experience playing inside and was primarily Bama’s left corner.
Scouting hot take: “It’s easy to see the plays he gives up, but a lot of that is correctable. He’s [20 years old], man. We can fix some of that stuff. He’s a big, tough kid who plays with that chip. He’s dealt with a lot of family stuff, so that toughness … you can see it out there.” — NFC secondary coach
Player comp: He reminds us a bit of a thicker Desmond Trufant if he can clean up a little of his coverage technique.
Expected draft range: Top 40 picks, although the pre-draft injuries to Washington’s Sidney Jones and UCLA’s Fabean Moreau clearly improve Humphrey’s chances of going in Round 1.
Nos. 51-100: Here’s who just missed the cut
No. 50: Indiana OG-C Dan Feeney
No. 49: Iowa DB Desmond King
No. 48: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
No. 47: Wisconsin pass rusher T.J. Watt
No. 46. Alabama pass rusher Tim Williams
No. 45. Washington CB Sidney Jones
No. 44. Alabama LB Ryan Anderson
No. 43. Ohio State WR-RB Curtis Samuel
No. 42. Florida DT Caleb Brantley
No. 41. Connecticut DB Obi Melifonwu
No. 40. USC CB-KR Adoree’ Jackson
No. 39. Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
No. 38. Michigan State DL Malik McDowell
No. 37: Ole Miss TE Evan Engram
No. 36: Florida LB Jarrad Davis
No. 35: Washington S Budda Baker
No. 34: Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon
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With all the money NFL teams spent in the first two weeks of free agency, you’d think the shelves would be bare by now.
Yet, there are plenty of big names still looking for work. There’s one of two running backs in NFL history to average 5.5 yards per carry over his career, two of seven running backs in the 2,000-yard club, the Chicago Bears’ all-time leader (by far) in passing yards and touchdowns, a 29-year-old quarterback who has started in a Super Bowl, a former NFL offensive rookie of the year at quarterback, a sure Hall-of-Fame cornerback and the 14th all-time leading receiver in NFL history.
And at some point, Tony Romo will probably join that group.
Even though the initial flurry of free agency has passed, there are still a lot of intriguing names on the market. Here are the 10 most interesting names – not necessarily the best players still available (you won’t find big defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, for example, though he’s one of the best players left), but the ones who we’ll all be watching:
RB Adrian Peterson: If free agency was based on past accomplishments, Peterson would have been signed in the first half-hour. He’s a former MVP, a 2,000-yard rusher (Chris Johnson is the other 2,000-yard back looking for a job) and one of the best running backs ever.
But he’s also 32 and coming off an injury-plagued season, and he doesn’t fit every offense because he’s much more effective in a scheme with the quarterback under center and not in the shotgun.
If Marshawn Lynch’s comeback for the Oakland Raiders doesn’t happen, maybe there’s a possibility there. Or some team that doesn’t land an immediate starter in a deep draft class will circle back with Peterson. It’s hard to believe he’s done based on his 2016: He didn’t look great last season, but he never starts fast and he had only 31 carries before he got hurt. Then he came back for one game after he rushed back from meniscus surgery. It seems unfair to discard him based on that small sample size. This was, after all, the NFL’s rushing champ in 2015 (though, he struggled late that season too).
There have been reports that Peterson’s salary demands are too high, but Peterson said that’s not the case, he wants to find the right fit with a chance to win a championship and he’s in no rush to find a new team.
— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) March 25, 2017
QB Jay Cutler: Once the New York Jets decided on Josh McCown, the former Bears quarterback seemed to have lost the game of quarterback musical chairs.
Cutler will be 34 next season, has taken a ton of punishment through his career and has dealt with injuries the past few years. Cutler is more talented than just about every backup in the league (and some starters), so depending on what kind of role and salary he wants, he could still have a job. But his chances of starting look slim.
QB Tony Romo: Technically he’s not free, but let’s make an exception and put him on this list. The Dallas Cowboys are making a very curious decision to hang onto him, even though you’d think that if a trade was there to be made, it would be done by now. And the Cowboys have a lot of cap space tied up as they wait, with holes they need to fill on the roster.
Assuming Romo moves at some point (this is Jerry Jones we’re talking about, so it might be foolish to assume anything), everyone seems to believe that the Houston Texans are his landing spot. Or maybe the Denver Broncos will surprise everyone – although a report Friday said the Broncos aren’t pursuing him and Romo believes it’s “Texans or retirement” in 2017. But at some point the Texans, Broncos and whoever else need to get on with their offseason and quit playing this foolish waiting game the Cowboys are engaged in. The Cowboys were going to “do right” by Romo, but unless something happens reasonably soon, they might ruin his 2017 prospects. It doesn’t seem like the Cowboys would stall much longer but, but it’s strange he still hasn’t been cut loose so who knows?
If Romo doesn’t land with the Texans at the end of all this, it will be a major upset. Though, reports this week that CBS and Fox are after him as an analyst give him very good options. It’s a fascinating saga.
RB Jamaal Charles: Charles has had an unbelievable career. His 5.5-yard average is second all-time among running backs to only Marion Motley, who last played in 1955. Next on the list is Jim Brown at 5.2. There’s no denying Charles has been great.
But the end comes fast for running backs. Charles has had multiple knee surgeries and struggled to get healthy last season, playing just three games. At 30 years old, it’s hard to figure out what Charles has left to offer. That’s why he remains unsigned.
RB LeGarrette Blount: Blount rushed for 1,161 yards and led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns and is still unsigned. That sums up the running back position in 2017.
Blount fits best with the New England Patriots, because they’re fine with him being extremely one dimensional (Blount has 26 catches in his last five seasons combined), but the Patriots don’t seem very interested. He’ll find some work, one would imagine, but the running back market is cold this offseason.
WR Anquan Boldin: Boldin has had a great career, with 13,779 yards. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he ends up in the Hall of Fame someday. And he still had value last season, catching eight touchdowns for the Detroit Lions. He’s also universally respected in the locker room.
Boldin is 36 so nobody is expecting a 1,000-yard receiver anymore. But every team that still has a hole at receiver after the draft will at least have to ask themselves if Boldin has one more productive season left.
CB Darrelle Revis: You’re not getting Revis Island. That guy doesn’t work here anymore. But can Revis, arguably the best cornerback since Deion Sanders, still provide something heading into his age-32 season? He’d probably be an upgrade for plenty of teams.
Revis had all charges against him in Pittsburgh dropped, so that’s no longer an issue. Teams might worry about Revis’ desire to keep playing, probably at a lesser contract and in a lesser role too.
WR Michael Floyd: Everyone knew Floyd’s free agency would be unusual. Floyd was arrested late last year on an extreme DUI charge. He was released from jail earlier this month, but TMZ said he will serve three months of house arrest.
Those are the logistical complications. The arrest has to be a red flag for any team interested in signing him, not to mention his on-the-field inconsistency with the Arizona Cardinals. Still, Floyd is a former first-round pick, just 27 years old and has 3,781 yards and 24 touchdowns in the NFL with some brief stretches of very high-level play.
QB Robert Griffin III: Is this it for Griffin? He’s just 27, which seems incredible. It seems like he’s lived through three NFL careers already.
We all know the story of how the NFL’s hottest star in 2012 got to this point, cut by the Cleveland Browns (yikes) and out of a job. It’s not like there’s so much quality quarterback play in the NFL that the door is shut for Griffin, but other quarterbacks are looking for a job too and spots are running out. Griffin has played five games the past two seasons and injuries are a constant concern. He was not impressive last season, though he was on a horrible team.
Griffin might resurface but consider this: By far the most buzzy news about him since he became a free agent is that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats acquired his Canadian Football League rights.
QB Colin Kaepernick: This case has more layers than the rest, of course, with the “it’s just for football reasons!” crowd at odds with those who have a hard time believing Kaepernick’s national-anthem protest has nothing to do with the absolute lack of interest in him to this point as a free agent.
There are clearly some football reasons in play, although it’s also obvious Kaepernick is better than many of the quarterbacks currently on NFL rosters. What makes Kaepernick’s free agency even murkier is that he doesn’t fit every offense; whichever team signs him will have to play to his strengths as a quarterback who does his best work on the move, not from the pocket.
While there are better players on this list, and maybe even more interesting names football-wise, nobody’s free agency will end up being more controversial.
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