February 2013

The scouting combine is valuable for many reasons. One of the primary reasons for the whole event is that it allows coaches, general managers. and team owners to get a sense of priorities and targets in a huge pool of talent. That applies to the faux-GMs who do mock drafts, including your humble draft correspondent. With Pro Days and player interviews coming up, there's still a lot to get through, and that's why we'll have multiple mocks over the next two months. But after the combine is when things start to shake out. Linemen dominate the second half of the first round of our mock, but this is where as many as three safeties could be selected, as well. Picks 17-32 below; you can see picks 1-16 here . 17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri. The Steelers have struggled to strengthen their defensive line in the last few drafts, and Richardson could be an ideal five-five tech in Dick LeBeau's system. At 6-foot-3 and 294 pounds, Richardson has the strength to plug up blocks, and the athleticism to drop into coverage. 18. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. Well, we know that Jerry Jones won't be "wasting" any high picks on Dallas' offensive line. So, they might as well get Jason Witten's eventual replacement now, and allow Tony Romo one more hot route per play while he's getting his block knocked off. Eifert is a good blocker, but he's best known for his ability to line up along the formation, and Jason Garrett was a bit more adventurous with his receiver formations at times in 2012. We'll just have to wait and see how many of the plays he'll be calling. 19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. I'm not quite as sold on Werner as some -- I think he's a good run-stopper, a very aware defender in space, and a decent pass-rusher. But I don't see him beating blocks a lot, and he may be a low-ceiling player. The Giants would take that and run with it, as their front seven is in transition. Last season, the G-Men ranked 30th in Football Outsiders' Adjusted Line Yards metric, and 22nd in Adjusted Sack Rate. He may not be a transcendent player, but Werner could definitely help in both categories. 20. Chicago Bears: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame. Here's my reasoning for this one. All the best offensive linemen are gone in this mock, and Alabama's D.J. Fluker might not fit head coach Marc Trestman's more expansive offense. New Bears GM Phil Emery is an outside-the-box thinker, and Te'o's productivity from a statistical perspective will appeal to him. In addition, Te'o will benefit greatly from a locker room that includes legendary linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. He'll be able to mature in a defense perfectly suited to his strengths (decent speed in space) while the Bears front is optimized to minimize his weakness (thumping heads at the line). It will be tough for Te'o as this pick would be a clear indicator that the Urlacher era is close to an end, but I could see Emery taking a shot on the idea that Te'o is the next James Laurinaitis in the right environment. 21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, S, Florida. The Bengals' safeties were abused in 2012, and changes clearly need to made in their deep defensive backfield. As he proved at the combine, Elam has the speed and transition ability to transform this weakness to a strength, especially under the direction of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. 22. St. Louis Rams: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas. The Rams are an up-and-coming team, but they'll need to reinforce their secondary for that next-level championship push. Jeff Fisher loves aggressive safeties with attitude who don't fear contact in the front half, and Vaccaro plays the front half and back half with equal aplomb. 23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal. Allen missed the combine because his knee injury last year flared up. The plan is for him to have an individual Pro Day in early April, and if that goes well, it would be easy to see the Vikings pulling the trigger on another target for Christian Ponder, especially if Percy Harvin is on the way out. Allen is an ideal receiver for a quarterback who doesn't have a big arm (as Ponder does not) -- he's very dynamic after the catch, has better speed than some think, and plays with a lot of toughness. 24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M. Opinions vary greatly on Moore, especially after his sub-par combine workouts Some will tell you that he's the next Aldon Smith, and others will swear that he's an oversold outside rusher with limited upside. Personally, I think Moore is a talented kid who needs work on angles, leverage, and hand and foot movement, and that Chuck Pagano is the ideal person to start Moore on his way -- especially since Pagano will want to play more snaps in a "traditional" 3-4 defense this season. Ideally, Moore will be able to kick it outside in base packages, and move inside on passing downs. 25. Seattle Seahawks: Datone Jones, DL, UCLA.
The New York Giants re-signed left tackle Will Beatty to a five-year, $38.75 million contract on Wednesday.
Left tackle would have been coveted in free agency
The San Francisco 49ers have agreed to terms on a trade that will send quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs, Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports. According to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, the 49ers will get a second-round pick in 2013 and a similar draft choice in 2014. Per NFL rules, the trade will not be made official until the 2013 league year begins at 4:01 p.m. ET on March 12. Glazer adds that the Chiefs have made " a clear commitment ", which likely refers to Smith's contract. The 49ers re-signed Smith to a three-year, $24 million deal last offseason that included $15.5 million in guaranteed money. Nearly half of those guarantees refer to Smith's $7.5 million base salary in 2013, which is currently guaranteed for injury only. If Smith were on the 49ers' roster on April 1, the amount would become fully guaranteed. Smith was also scheduled to receive a non-guaranteed $1 million roster bonus on March 14, which is why trading him before the new league year was the most appealing option to the 49ers. Trading Smith before that roster bonus is due clears $8.5 million in cap space for the 2013 season. By acquiring Smith, the Chiefs will part ways with Matt Cassel, who had two years and $17 million remaining on a six-year, $63 million he contract he signed after being traded to Kansas City by the New England Patriots, who had placed the franchise tag on the former USC quarterback following the 2008 season. Releasing Cassel will clear $7.75 million in cap space for the Chiefs, who hired head coach Andy Reid and hold the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. [ Related: Quarterback's might not like Tom Brady's new contract ] Smith was selected by the 49ers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Over eight seasons with the 49ers, Smith started 80 games, completing 59.3 percent of his pass attempts for 14,280 yards with 81 touchdowns and 63 interceptions for a passer rating of 79.1. The 28-year-old blossomed under head coach Jim Harbaugh, passing for a career-high 3,144 yards with 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions in 2011, leading the franchise to an appearance in the 2011 NFC championship game. Smith passed for 495 yards and five touchdowns with one rushing touchdown during the 49ers' run at return to the Super Bowl, but the 49ers lost in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
After taking a few days to focus on the 2013 NFL scouting combine, "Shutdown Corner" resumes our look back at each team's 2012 season and a look at what lies ahead for the 2013 offseason. We continue in the NFC South with the Atlanta Falcons 2012 record : 13-3 What went wrong : Well, the final 44 minutes and 54 seconds of the 2012 NFC championship game immediately comes to mind when looking at what went wrong for the 2012 Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta dominated the San Francisco 49ers for the first 15 minutes and six seconds of that game with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones connecting on a pair of touchdown passes to give the Falcons a 17-0 lead that had the Georgia Dome rocking. After that, it was all 49ers, who scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to trail 24-14 at the half before Frank Gore had a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second half to stamp their ticket to Super Bowl XLVII. The Falcons were a bit of a bend, but don't break defense, ranking 24th in total defense – 21st against the run and 23rd against the pass. The pass defense was not helped having cornerback Brent Grimes, who received the $10.281 million franchise tag, on injured reserve for nearly the entire season after sustaining an Achilles injury after 52 snaps. A weak spot of the pass defense was their ability to defend opposing tight ends, ranking 21st in Football Outsiders' DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) against tight ends. That deficiency was evident in the playoffs as Seattle Seahawks tight end Zach Miller caught eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown in a 30-28 win in the divisional round, which was followed by Vernon Davis catching five passes for 106 yards and a touchdown in the NFC championship game Atlanta's offense was rather one-dimensional, relying heavily on Ryan and the passing game. The Falcons averaged just 87.3 yards per game on the ground. What went right : Ryan had a phenomenal season, completing 68.6 percent of 615 pass attempts for 4,719 yards with 32 touchdowns and a passer rating of 99.1. According to Football Outsiders, Ryan was fifth among NFL quarterbacks in passing DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) last season. Ryan's season was marred by two miserable performances at home. First came a three-interception game against the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 14 and the second was a five-interception showing against the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 18. Other than those two games, Ryan was intercepted six times on the season. Ryan's top three targets were wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, who combined for 171 receptions, 2,549 yards and 17 touchdowns. White and Jones each had over 1,100 receiving yards and were among the Top 12 receivers in FO's DYAR metric. Future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez led the Falcons with 93 receptions, gaining 930 yards and eight touchdowns. Of Gonzalez's 93 receptions, 65 produced first downs, which helps explain why he was second among NFL tight ends in FO's receiving DYAR. The Falcons produced just 29 sacks, but 34-year-old defensive end John Abraham was his disruptive self. Abraham had 10 sacks and six forced fumbles, earning a $1 million base salary increase for the 2013 season. Atlanta was one of six NFL defenses to produce 20 or more interceptions. Safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore combined for 10 of the Falcons' interception total and were added to the NFC Pro Bowl squad following the loss to the 49ers in the NFC championship game. Coaching/front office changes : All three of Mike Smith's coordinators – Dirk Koetter, Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong – received interest for head coaching vacancies, but the staff remains intact heading into 2013. One key departure was director of college scouting David Caldwell, who is now the GM of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Estimated 2013 cap space : $4.3 million
Tom Brady did so on Monday. So which NFL player will be next to rework his current deal?
The New York Giants will receive an infusion of young talent at the 2013 NFL draft (April 25-27), but the team already has a few young studs on the roster. These five under-25 players currently represent the future of Giants football and will play key roles in getting the team back to the playoffs next season.
Some state's laws prohibit employers from discrimination based on sexual orientation, while others do not.
In the wake of Tom Brady's restructured deal with the New England Patriots, the contracts of two other Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks were the topic of the day Tuesday.
…And we're back. After taking a few days to focus on the 2013 NFL scouting combine, "Shutdown Corner" resumes our look back at each team's 2012 season and a look at what lies ahead for the 2013 offseason. We continue in the NFC South with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 2012 record : 7-9 What went wrong : Coming off a 2011 season where the Buccaneers lost 10 straight games, the Buccaneers opened the 2012 season on a bright spot, beating the Carolina Panthers and winning six of the first 10 games of the Greg Schiano era. A five-game losing streak from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23 ended any hopes the Buccaneers had of making the playoffs. The Buccaneers signed cornerback Eric Wright to a five-year, $37.5 million contract and invested the seventh overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on safety Mark Barron, yet still finished the 2012 season as the 32nd-ranked pass defense, allowing 297.4 passing yards per game. The Buccaneers were also at the bottom of the NFL in terms of sacking opposing quarterbacks as their 27 sacks were tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the fourth-lowest total in the league. Though the offense ranked in the Top 10, quarterback Josh Freeman struggled in the second half of the season. In the final seven games, Freeman completed just 53 percent of his pass attempts and had more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (nine). Another disappointing aspect of the offense was the $33.785 million on guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks, but the pair of Pro Bowlers would combine for just 442 of 1,049 snaps on the season. Joseph was placed on injured reserve before the start of the season due to a broken kneecap, while Nicks tried to fight his way through a toe injury before he was placed on injured reserve in Week 9. What went right : The Buccaneers struck gold with first-round running back Doug Martin. The rookie from Boise State started all 16 games and finished in the Top 5 in the NFL with 1,454 rushing yards and was fifth in the league with 11 rushing touchdowns. Martin also caught 49 passes for 472 yards and a touchdown and was third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,926. Another quality addition was wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who signed a five-year, $55.555 million contract in free agency and led the Buccaneers with 72 receptions for 1,384 yards. Jackson's eight touchdowns were second to Mike Williams' nine for the team lead. Williams also had a bounce-back season, catching 63 passes for 996 yards. According to Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted receiving DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) metric, Jackson (15th) and Williams (38th) both ranked in the Top 40 . Defensively, 2010 first-round pick Gerald McCoy finally avoided those fluky injuries to anchor a defense that ranked No. 1 against the run in 2012, allowing just 82.5 yards per game and 3.5 yards play. 2012 second-round linebacker Lavonte David was sensational, posting 139 tackles, including two sacks and 20 tackles for a loss. Second-year outside linebacker Mason Foster was second on the team (behind David) with 104 tackles, adding a pair of sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. Coaching/front office changes : Greg Schiano made five new additions for 2013, most notably the hiring of Dave Wannstedt to take over for Bob Ligashesky as the Buccaneers' special teams coach. The Bucs also added John Garrett (quarterbacks), John McNulty (receivers), Robb Smith (linebackers) and Tony Oden (defensive backs). Estimated 2013 cap space : $30.562 million

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