The Atlanta Falcons will be looking for a pass rusher in the upcoming draft and during the final days of the combine the name of Shane Ray was constantly associated with the franchise as their leading choice in round one.
It was bandied about the internet the New York Jets spent a significant amount of time with Philip Dorsett. I can confirm this to be true. Besides the Jets the other team who has taking a liking to the speedy wide out are the Green Bay Packers.
Staying with the Pack, I’m told they are very high on Stephone Anthony, who would fill a need at inside linebacker. Anthony had 16 official visits at the combine and the first team he met with was Green Bay. I was informed Anthony is a favorite of defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
Getting back to the New York Jets, I spoke with a league insiders about the teams free agency plans. I was told the Jets intend to be big players in the free agent market, specifically on defense. I’m told they will target outside linebackers and cornerbacks as big ticket items. They evidently will look for younger, taller corners. Potential free agents who fit the mold include Davon House, Chris Culliver and someone familiar to the teams new general manager Mike Maccagnan, Kareem Jackson. I’m told they will look to add depth on the defensive line and hope to add a mid-value guard, someone that won’t cost a lot of money. When asked if the Jets would go after Mike Iupati the response was, “the present belief around the league is they won’t spend $8 million for Iupati.”
I presently rank Benardrick McKinney at outside linebacker and so do a number of teams. Sources tell me the Kansas City Chiefs are considering McKinney as a possible replacement for Justin Houston who they may lose in free agency.
Prior to his poor forty time there was a belief the Oakland Raiders would target Denzel Perryman in the second round. After yesterday I don’t know if that remains true.
Since my posting Friday on the belief the Philadelphia Eagles are the frontrunners for Byron Maxwell, additional sources have told me they agree with the assessment and feel Maxwell ends up with the team.
I took a lot of heat after listing Hau’Oli Kikaha as a free agent and falling out of the draft’s seven rounds a few weeks ago. At the combine I learned a number of teams have taken Kikaha off their board because of medical red flags and the lack of next level athleticism.
Many were surprised by Paul Dawson’s poor forty time but those who saw him at combine training were not. I was told while Dawson is not foot fast but his reaction speed has been off the charts. Dawson was one of the best they’ve seen when participating in reaction drills. The bottom line is while he physically runs a 4.95 forty, mentally he plays at a 4.3 speed.
When speaking of Cedric Ogbuehi’s poor play last season I was told the offensive lineman really struggled moving from the right tackle to left tackle. The stance and set-up threw him for a loop in the early part of the campaign but it was brought to my attention that Ogbuehi played well on the left side late in the year.
Finally I’m told its not happy times for the Browns front office. People familiar with the situation have compared the present situation in Berea to the one that’s taken place in San Francisco the past three years. I’m told there’s a lot of dissension in the Browns front office and people are not working well together and are not fond of each other.
A group of fast flying pass rushers and defensive ends workout for scouts today and the defensive backs take the field tomorrow to conclude the 2015 NFL combine. And while the media has left, we’re still in Indianapolis gathering information.
Many were surprised Ohio State receiver Devin Smith was unable to break into the 4.3’s during yesterday workout, timing in the mid 4.4’s. So what happened? I spoke with people from Smith’s camp who told me the problem was all in the initial ten yards. Throughout combine training Smith had been clocking 1.45-seconds in his ten time but yesterday for some reason he ran 1.55’s. The one-tenth difference kept Smith out of the 4.3’s. It’ll be interesting to see what happens during the Buckeyes pro-day.
Small school defensive end Ryan Delaire of Towson ran a disappointing 4.95s forty today but the time is not reflective of the entire story. Three weeks ago Delaire underwent knee surgery to clip a piece of loose cartilage in the joint and really should not have been running today. Understanding the enormity of his combine opportunity Delaire decided to participate. Unfortunately after the forty he strained his groin and was sidelined for the rest of the session. The hope is Delaire will be full speed for Towson pro-day which takes place April 1st.
Participating in tomorrows workout will be a game time decision for UConn cornerback Byron Jones, who underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum just over two months ago. Jones was cleared just weeks ago for a full training regiment.
Several people were surprised when I rated Louisville safety James Sample ahead of teammate Gerod Holliman prior to the combine. I’m happy to say I’m not alone and most teams here in Indianapolis have a similar ranking. How high will Sample be selected? I grade him as a fifth rounder but I’m told a good forty time tomorrow could push Sample into the third round.
Word at the combine has the Kansas City Chiefs very high on East Carolina receiver Justin Hardy, which makes perfect sense. Hardy’s route running skills, ability to separate in underneath coverage and dependable hands would fit a hole in the Chiefs offense.
The quarterbacks and receivers take the field today as do the running backs. But we’re always looking ahead. Here are a few preview notes on tomorrows workout of defensive lineman and linebackers, the latest free agent news as well as our first supplemental draft candidate.
Over the past 24 hours sources have told me two bits of free agency news. The first is the New York Jets will be in the running for Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman James Carpenter. And the second, which may be old news for some but comes from sources involved in the situation, is the belief that Julius Thomas is done in Denver.
Expect a big workout from Alvin Dupree of Kentucky on Sunday. His forty time could be faster than Jadeveon Clowney’s from a year ago (4.59) and the rest of his marks should be off the chart. Many were surprised Dupree was listed at linebacker for the combine considering many of the undersized college ends are working out with the defensive linemen. It presents a real opportunity for Dupree who showed himself to be a dominant pass rushing end in college and now has the opportunity to prove he can also play in space.
I expect two Big Ten linebackers to beat expectations during their combine workout.
Mike Hull of Penn State had minor knee surgery at seasons end but still participated in the Senior Bowl and should run in the low-to-mid 4.6’s. Teams like Hull as a core special teamer/nickel linebacker.
Jake Ryan of Michigan, whose been pegged as a two down defender by a number of people including myself, should also run in the 4.6s and post good shuttle times. Ryan timed well last year as a junior and just needs to translate that speed onto the football field.
Defensive lineman Marcus Hardison suffered a minor knee injury during the Senior Bowl which has hampered his training. As a result Hardison will not participate in the combine and will workout for teams during the ASU pro-day.
I’m told the Houston Texans are not happy with not happy with Louis Nix and will target a nose tackle during the draft.
Speaking of Houston, it looks like we have our first candidate for the 2015 supplemental draft and he comes from the Houston Cougars. Last night I was informed defensive end Eric Eiland, who posted 44 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss last season, is very likely to enter the supplemental draft. Eiland, who’ll turn 27 years old this September, intended to enter April’s draft but did not fill out the necessary paperwork. Eiland is an accomplished baseball player who was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2007 amateur draft.
While everyone expects the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select a quarterback with the first pick of the draft what about their other choices? I’m told the team will target linebackers and offensive linemen throughout the seven rounds.
What will Kyle Shanahan miss most from Cleveland? If his words mean anything it will be offensive lineman Joel Bitonio whom Shanahan called “great” and the “best rookie lineman I ever coached.”