Expectations Entering Tonight’s First Round

NFL-Draft-logo-gold-03-22-15The 2015 NFL Draft kicks off in the great city of Chicago this evening.  As awesome of a venue as Radio City is in NYC, I think a lot of people are welcoming the change of scenery.

There is no mystery as to what will take place with the No. 1 overall pick when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jameis Winston.  After that who knows what will transpire?  This draft isn’t exactly full of star power which isn’t always a bad thing because it usually means you can anticipate more spontaneity creating a lot of excitement.

Here are some thoughts on each team heading into the first round on what should be a memorable night in the Windy City.

Dallas Puts Peterson Trade Talk out to Pasture Opting for Younger Backs

Dallas is doing the right thing by not going after Adrian Peterson.  Unless Minnesota lowers their asking price and Peterson is willing to take a significant pay cut there is no need to pursue a 30 year-old running back when there is loads of talented backs in this draft.

Todd Gurley should be off the board by the time the Cowboys pick.  They might have a shot at Melvin Gordon, but don’t be shocked if they pass him up for Tevin Coleman who might be the most complete running back in this draft.  He’ll likely fall behind Gurley and Gordon which may give Dallas an option to address defense with their first pick.  Also don’t be surprised if the Cowboys have selected more than one running back when the draft concludes especially if they have found one that can also contribute on special teams.  If that is the case Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams, Lance Dunbar, and Darren McFadden will be put on notice.

Draft is Critical for Giants 2015 Success, Must Address O-Line

Did the New York Giants really get better in free agency?  It is questionable why they overpaid guys like Dwayne Harris and JT Thomas.  The signing of Shane Vereen should complement Rashad Jennings nicely, however outside of Danny Woodhead running backs that leave New England don’t have a good track record in their new landing spot.  The G-Men also brought back a lot of their own players and with the exception of Jason Pierre-Paul no one from that group is making anybody tremble.

The Giants have the skill positions to get back in the playoffs, but they need better blocking to compete as a top-tier offense.  New York has to find a blue chip offensive lineman and a couple of guys that can at least contribute (don’t have to be great, but can play a role or fill a void) on defense.  Brandon Scherff out of Iowa would make a ton of sense and from where the G-Men pick in the first round there is a good chance he’ll be wearing Big Blue.

Don’t Rule out Marcus Mariota in Philly

The Eagles are not out of the Mariota sweepstakes just yet.  While they probably won’t try to make a deal with Tennessee to move up to No. 2 there is the chance that if Mariota falls past No. 5 then the New York Jets with the No. 6 pick could be that trading partner the Eagles are looking for to land the former Oregon Duck.

It looks like the Titans are not in love with the idea of drafting Mariota.  The team that is a real threat to Philly in terms of acquiring the young signal caller is Cleveland.  Apparently the Browns are offering their two first round picks to the Titans for their No. 2 spot.  Word has it that the Browns might start drafting a quarterback every year until they get it right.  That sorry strategy is no surprise from an organization that repeatedly shoots themselves in the foot as if it were a bodily function.  It is no guarantee Tennessee will take Cleveland’s deal especially if they have their heart set one of the top pass rushers or receivers in the draft.  The Eagles don’t have the leverage to trade up that the Browns do, but don’t sell Chip Kelly short. Should the Titans reject Cleveland’s offer and Mariota drops, Kelly does have some young talented players he could package with draft picks to trade if he is so infatuated with the kid he once recruited.  Either way we’ll find out by Thursday night’s end if Sam Bradford is here to stay in the City of Brotherly Love or if he was merely brought in as a bargaining chip.

Skins Sitting Pretty at No. 5

The Washington Redskins have to be really excited about this draft.  Why not?  They actually have a first round pick this year!

The Skins are in a good spot at with the No. 5 pick.  While new GM Scot McCloughan has made some light smoke screens as to the possibilities of the team taking Marcus Mariota I wouldn’t buy it.  McCloughan is looking for his next Russell Wilson, but he knows he doesn’t have to take him at this spot.  Heck he might not even be in this draft!

If Amari Cooper is still there at No. 5 I don’t see Washington passing him up, although if they have Kevin White or DeVante Parker ranked higher on their draft board they could go with one of those guys as well.  It looks like Washington plans to retain a 3-4 flex defense for the coming years which might have them interested in Dante Fowler creating a bookend sack tandem with Ryan Kerrigan.

These all seem like good options, but if I had to bet I believe McCloughan is going to trade this pick to accumulate more draft selections and honestly that is the best move.  The Skins have a lot of needs and if they somehow become involved with a team that wants to trade up for Marcus Mariota this could pay big dividends for them.

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LET’S HAVE THE TEBOW TALK

Chip Kelly has been no stranger to headlines this NFL offseason. He has gutted the Eagles roster and brought in “his type of guys”. Still no one really knows what the plan is and Kelly won’t necessarily reveal it either. The man has one heck of a poker face. Whether you like the signing of DeMarco Murray or not it was pretty incredible how he pulled it off and robbed him away from division rival Dallas. A move no one saw coming.

So again we don’t know the plan, which means we are not 100% sure why Kelly brought in newly acquired Tim Tebow. The consensus is he’ll be competing for the third-string quarterback position.

Here are pressing questions regarding Tim Tebow’s status in the NFL and the answers should end the debate as to what Tebowmania was/is all about.

Why was Tim Tebow signed by Philadephia?
Tebow was signed by the Eagles for two reasons. One he is a great locker room guy. Third-string quarterbacks rarely see the field and if they do get frequent playing time it usually means the season is a wash. Have you seen the other third-string quarterbacks in the league? It’s putrid to watch them play. Did you watch Ryan Lindley in the playoffs? So why not have a guy that can have a positive impact on those around him?

The second reason is Tebow can actually succeed in Chip Kelly’s system as a backup. It is a simple offense for quarterbacks and his unique athletic talents can open things up for their perennial Pro Bowl running backs.

Why has Tebow had trouble finding a spot on an NFL roster?
Most quarterbacks with a record of 8-5 and a postseason win with over 300 yards passing which included throwing the winning touchdown wouldn’t have trouble finding work. Tim Tebow is the exception. He throws a nice deep ball, but his short to mid-range accuracy is terrible. Denver had to revamp their whole offense to adjust to his style. He’s not the type of quarterback that you can plug into different systems which automatically makes him a potential coach killer. Also if you factor in the media attention he brings (it’s much tamer than a couple years ago) it isn’t worth the headache.

Will Tim Tebow make the Eagles 53-man roster?
Tebow has a good chance to win the third-string job behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez mainly for the reasons I listed above. I don’t believe he is there as another body for camp like Sanchez suggested. If that were the case why not bring it someone who wouldn’t make a lot of noise? Of course all this could change if Philadelphia dumps Bradford and acquires Marcus Mariota.

What is the story behind Tebowmaina? The love? The hate? Will it continue?
Tebow is a polarizing figure. It all started with his incredible career at the University of Florida. Tebow is loved because of his intense play on the field, passionate leadership, his off the field demeanor, and his marketable clean-cut image. There are people who love Tebow because of his Christian faith, which I find odd since there are tons of other athletes that are openly Christian yet they don’t nearly garner the attention that Tebow does for it.

People hate Tebow because they don’t feel a player with his limited skill set should be taking up so much time as the main topic on multiple sport media sources. I’m sure there are some militant atheists who gag at his love of Jesus, but at the end of the day it’s no worse than Russell Wilson or Ray Lewis. There are also people who hate simply just to hate.

Tebowmania has likely reached its peak and unless he actually plays it will never resurface as the phenomenon it was just a few years ago.

What happens if Tebow gets cut?
Kelly runs the Read-Option more than any other coach in the league. This just happens to be Tebow’s biggest strength. If he can’t win a job in this offense that is the friendliest system to his skill set then I think it is pretty safe to say that he is done as a player in the NFL.

He will have several other options though. He could play in the Arena League or Canada. The door is always open for him to go back to broadcasting. Coaching perhaps? Why not? The guy is a great motivator. With his squeaky clean image he could even run for office. The next Mayor of Gainesville? Stranger things have happened.

PRETZEL