SportsDirect Inc. Ad
SportsDirect Inc. Ad
SportsDirect Inc. Ad
National Football League
NFL News Wire
  • Chiefs, Rams taking 'MNF' game to Mexico City
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, April 19, 2018

    The Los Angeles Rams will be the home team when they face the Kansas City Chiefs on "Monday Night Football" from Mexico City on Nov. 19, the NFL announced Wednesday night.

    • The announcement came ahead of the release of the full 2018 regular-season schedule on Thursday.

      The Rams-Chiefs game at Estadio Azteca will be the league's second Monday night contest in Mexico City. The Raiders and Houston Texans met there in 2016, with Oakland posting a 27-20 win.

      The league has not yet announced matchups for three other international games, all slated for London.

      For the Chiefs, it will be the franchise's first trip to Mexico since a preseason contest in Monterrey in 1996.

      The Rams have never played in Mexico, which has played host to 10 NFL games.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: Brady yet to confirm he's playing in 2018
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Tom Brady is not yet officially committed to playing in 2018, but the New England Patriots and others close to him expect the 40-year-old quarterback to return for his 20th season.

    • ESPN reported that Brady did not give "official word" that he's planning to be with the Patriots, putting him in the same proverbial boat as tight end Rob Gronkowski. Brady, who turns 41 in August, was not present at the start of the offseason program on Monday. He is not expected to participate in the team's offseason program for the third time in his career.

      "My money would be on him playing football for the foreseeable future, but what goes on away from the football field, I don't know," one source told ESPN, per the report Wednesday.

      Brady, who is signed through 2019 and is due $14 million each of the next two seasons, could be angling for a contract extension, according to The Athletic's Jeff Howe. Brady would rank around the middle of the pack for NFL starting quarterbacks at his current pay rate.

      --Saquon Barkley's agent says the Penn State running back has no intention of avoiding the Cleveland Browns at all costs in the NFL draft, contrary to a Sports Illustrated report.

      "I can say on behalf of our entire team that we would be thrilled for Saquon to go to whichever team drafts him," Kim Miale, Barkley's agent, said in a statement to Cleveland.com. "We know he will be a resounding success for any team fortunate enough to select him."

      Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday that Roc Nation, the agency representing Barkley, was pushing for Barkley to dodge the Browns if he is selected with one of Cleveland's first-round picks.

      --Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson said on Nashville radio station "The Midday 180" that the club will pick up the fifth-year option on quarterback Marcus Mariota's contract.

      The move will give Mariota a $20,922,000 salary in 2019. He is slated to make $3.73 million this season. Picking up the option also gives both sides more time to negotiate a long-term contract for the 24-year-old QB.

      Mariota guided Tennessee to its first playoff victory since the 2003 campaign last season despite an uneven campaign in which he passed for 3,232 yards and 13 touchdowns against a career-worst 15 interceptions.

      --Gronkowski purchased a minority stake in a racehorse named Gronk, a 3-year-old colt that will run in next month's Kentucky Derby. There was no immediate word on the purchase price.

      "I've never dealt with horses," Gronkowski told the Wall Street Journal. "Hopefully I can get a ride on the horse."

      Gronk the horse was purchased by Phoenix Thoroughbreds for over $400,000 in England last year. Trainer Jeremy Noseda and his family are huge Patriots fans and the decision was reached to name it after the player nicknamed "Gronk."

      --Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said he plans to play several more seasons despite a recent audition for ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

      Olsen is one of several individuals given a formal audition for ESPN's coveted spot in the Monday night booth vacated by Jon Gruden, who is back in the NFL as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Olsen attempted to short-circuit talk of his impending retirement and tried to dispel the notion he was only angling for a contract extension with the Panthers.

      He tweeted Wednesday, "Lets try it another way 1) Team was first to know about ESPN Audition. Made it clear at that point my desire to play 3-5 more years with PANTHERS. 2) Never gave team ultimatum regarding my contract or lack of commitment to this upcoming season. Now back to OTAs."

      --With ESPN yet to announce a replacement for Gruden, NFL Network's Kurt Warner is getting "serious consideration" for the job, according to USA Today.

      Per the report, Warner has had multiple conversations with ESPN about the position and is on a narrowing list of top candidates.

      A member of the 2017 Hall of Fame class, Warner has appeared on NFL Network since 2010, shortly after he retired from the Arizona Cardinals. He has served primarily as a studio analyst, though he called select games during the 2010 season and a pair of contests with NBC's Mike Tirico on "Thursday Night Football" in 2017.

      --The families of those killed or injured in the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and 18 graduating seniors will help the Miami Dolphins in next week's NFL draft.

      The Dolphins will host the students and family members at their Davie, Fla., practice facility, where they will announce the team's picks from the fourth through seventh rounds on Saturday, April 28. Miami traded away its fifth-round pick but has additional picks in the fourth and seventh rounds.

      The Dolphins have donated more than $100,000 to the Parkland, Fla., community in the aftermath of the February tragedy. The team also hosted a football clinic in Parkland in March.

      --The Denver Broncos have added up to $3 million in achievable incentives to cornerback Chris Harris Jr.'s contract for 2018, according to ESPN.

      Per the report, the incentives are linked to playing time, team wins, All-Pro recognition and interceptions.

      Harris, 28, is set to make at least $7.4 million this season, with the new incentives bringing his potential earnings to $10.4 million. He was paid a $1 million option bonus earlier this offseason and is in the fourth year of a five-year, $42.5 million deal signed in December 2014.

      --Devin Hester and Matt Forte signed one-day contracts with the Chicago Bears, clearing their way to retire with the organization they started their careers with. Both players spent their first eight NFL seasons in Chicago.

      Hester was drafted 57th overall by the Bears in 2006 as a cornerback but became an instant sensation as punt and kickoff returner. He had five return touchdowns in his rookie year and followed it up with six the next season.

      Forte enjoyed his greatest success with the Bears after being drafted out of Tulane in the second round in 2008. He ran for 1,238 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie and went on to rush for more than 1,000 yards in four of the next six seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Broncos add $3M in incentives to CB Harris' deal
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    The Denver Broncos have added up to $3 million achievable through incentives to cornerback Chris Harris Jr.'s contract for 2018, according to an ESPN report.

    • Per ESPN, the incentives are linked to playing time, team wins, All-Pro recognition and interceptions.

      Harris, 28, is set to make at least $7.4 million this season, with the new incentives bringing his potential earnings to $10.4 million. He was paid a $1 million option bonus earlier this offseason and is in the fourth year of a five-year, $42.5 million deal signed in December of 2014.

      The three-time Pro Bowler has played in 111 of a possible 112 games in his career, with the only missed contest coming in 2012. He had exactly three interceptions each year from 2012-14 and two picks in each of the last three seasons, earning All-Pro honors in 2016.

      A former undrafted free agent, Harris has spent all six years of his career in Denver, tallying 16 interceptions (three returned for touchdowns), 73 passes defensed and 422 tackles.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Warner getting 'serious consideration' for MNF job
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    With ESPN yet to announce a replacement for Jon Gruden as the network's Monday Night Football analyst, NFL Network's Kurt Warner is getting "serious consideration" for the job, according to a USA Today report.

    • Per the report, Warner has had multiple conversations with ESPN about the position and is on a narrowing list of top candidates.

      A member of the 2017 Hall of Fame class, Warner has appeared on NFL Network since 2010, shortly after he retired from the Arizona Cardinals. He has served primarily as a studio analyst, though he called select games during the 2010 season and a pair of contests with NBC's Mike Tirico on Thursday Night Football in 2017.

      A few other big-name quarterbacks appear to be out of contention for the job. ESPN's top choice, Peyton Manning, reportedly passed on the position. The New York Post reported Wednesday that Brett Favre auditioned but was "not great" and has been told he is no longer in consideration. Favre tweeted Tuesday night that he was intrigued by the opportunity but is not sure he wants to pursue a broadcasting career at the moment.

      Others who have reportedly been discussed are current ESPN studio analysts Rex Ryan and Matt Hasselbeck, former NFL defensive tackle Anthony "Booger" McFarland and recently retired offensive lineman Joe Thomas.

      Thomas has spoken openly on his podcast, The Thomahawk Show, about his auditions with Fox for their opening on the new Thursday night package and for the vacant ESPN job. He said he did his dry run at ESPN with play-by-play man Joe Tessitore, who is expected to take over for Sean McDonough after the latter moved back to college football.

      Fox reportedly plans to have Joe Buck and Troy Aikman pull double duty and fill the TNF role in addition to their weekly Sunday game.

      --Field Level Media

  • Gronkowski buys stake in horse named Gronk
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Gronk has bought a stake in Gronk. Well, not exactly a man betting on himself this time.

    • New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski actually purchased a minority stake in a racehorse named Gronk, a 3-year-old colt that will run in next month's Kentucky Derby.

      There was no immediate word on the purchase price.

      "I've never dealt with horses," Gronkowski told the Wall Street Journal. "Hopefully I can get a ride on the horse."

      Gronk the horse was purchased by Phoenix Thoroughbreds for over $400,000 in England last year. Trainer Jeremy Noseda and his family are huge Patriots fans and the decision was reached to name it after the player nicknamed "Gronk."

      It didn't take long for Gronkowki's interest to grow.

      "This horse is a winner and I love a winner," Gronkowski said. "When I heard about the racehorse being named after me, I started watching and got really stoked when he started winning. He's won his last three races and is now headed to the Derby. I'm all in: Welcome to the Gronk Family, Gronkowski the Horse!"

      Gronkowski does admit he knows very little about horse racing and says he is treating the situation as an investment and something fun.

      "It will be a new experience," Gronkowski said. "Hopefully it will be something I like. I like new hobbies."

      Gronkowski said he will be at Churchill Downs in Louisville on May 5 for the race.

      --Field Level Media

  • Roc Nation denies advising Penn State RB Barkley to dodge Browns
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Penn State running back Saquon Barkley has no intention to mimic Eli Manning and refuse to join the Cleveland Browns if he's drafted by the franchise next week.

    • "I can say on behalf of our entire team that we would be thrilled for Saquon to go to whichever team drafts him," Kim Miale, Barkley's agent, said Wednesday in a statement to Cleveland.com."We know he will be a resounding success for any team fortunate enough to select him."

      Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday that Roc Nation, the agency representing Barkley, was pushing for Barkley to dodge the Browns if he's selected with one of Cleveland's first-round picks.

      In 2004, Manning made public his opposition to the being drafted by the San Diego Chargers. The assertion from Manning and his father, former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, was that personnel decisions and organizational management concerns equated to San Diego not being a good franchise to play for at the time.

      The Chargers selected Manning No. 1 overall and traded him to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers, who was chosen three picks after Manning.

      Barkley chose Roc Nation, a firm founded by Jay-Z, which also represents Browns head coach Hue Jackson.

      Barkley, 21, was featured in Sports Illustrated's magazine edition released Wednesday. The article focuses on the 15-member team Roc Nation assembled around Barkley to help him become a major player on the marketing landscape as a rookie. A significant focus is on image.

      "The thing I want to do is build an image around myself," Barkley said in the SI piece. "And do that safely and smartly."

      Noted by Barkley's management team is Barkley's signing with Roc Nation generating 369 million online impressions. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen signing with Athletes First generated 30 million, per the SI article.

      "If ever there was an opportunity for a running back to (become the face of the league), this would be it," USC marketing expert David Carter told SI.

      --Field Level Media

  • Forte, Hester to sign one-day deals, retire as Bears
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Devin Hester and Matt Forte signed one-day contracts with the Chicago Bears, clearing their way to retire with the organization they started their careers with.

    • Both players spent their first eight seasons in the NFL with Chicago.

      Hester was drafted 57th overall by the Bears in 2006 as a cornerback, but became an instant sensation as punt and kickoff returner. Hester had 5 return touchdowns in his rookie year and followed it up with six the next season.

      He retired with 20 total return touchdowns (14 punt, 5 kickoff, 1 FG), an NFL record.

      After also becoming a receiver, Hester finished his 11-year career with 255 catches for 3,311 yards and 16 touchdowns.

      Forte, 32, finished with 381 rushing yards and 293 receiving yards in an injury-hampered 2017 season.

      He enjoyed his greatest success with the Chicago Bears after being drafted out of Tulane in the second round in 2008. He ran for 1,238 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie and went on to rush for more than 1,000 yards in four of the next six seasons.

      His best season came in 2013 when he rushed for 1,339 yards and nine touchdowns to go along with 594 receiving yards.

      Forte ranks second to Walter Payton in Bears history with 8,602 rushing yards.

      He announced his retirement in February. Hester last played in 2016.

      --Field Level Media

  • Watt tweets tribute after death of former first lady Bush
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Among those mourning the death of former first lady Barbara Bush on Tuesday was Houston Texans star J.J. Watt.

    • Watt tweeted a tribute to Bush, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92.

      "Rest In Peace Mrs. Barbara Bush.

      You were a beautiful light in this world and I am forever thankful for your friendship," the tweet, accompanied with a collage of photos of the pair together, read.

      Watt and the wife of former president George H.W. Bush were active in charitable efforts in the Houston community and got to know each other through their work there.

      Watt, 28, raised over $37 million to help relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and more of the southwest. He originally hoped to raise $200,000.

      He has been recovering from a broken left leg suffered in Week 5 last season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Parkland families to announce Dolphins' picks
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    The families of those killed or injured in the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and 18 graduating seniors will help the Miami Dolphins in next week's NFL draft.

    • The team will host the students and family members at their Davie practice facility, where they'll announce the team's picks from the fourth through seventh rounds on Saturday, April 28.

      Miami traded away its fifth-round pick, but has additional picks in the fourth and seventh rounds.

      The Dolphins have donated over $100,000 to the Parkland, Fla. community in the aftermath of the February tragedy. The team also hosted a football clinic in Parkland in March.

      Seventeen people were killed in a mass shooting at the school on Feb. 14. A former student at the school was arrested and charged with premeditated murder.

      --Field Level Media

  • 2018 NFL Draft: Class short on elite natural OTs
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    1. Connor Williams*

    • Texas

      6-5, 296, 40 time: 5.05

      Projection: First-Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      Williams had very high marks from NFL scouts entering the 2017 season. As a sophomore left tackle for the Longhorns in 2016, he had the makings of a future top-10 pick. He did not look like a first-round prospect in the opener against Maryland in 2017 and then suffered a left knee injury against USC, suffering a sprained MCL and PCL. He opted for rest and rehab instead of surgery and returned to the field for the final two games of the regular season.

      ANALYSIS

      Williams is an athletic tackle with the efficient set-up and kick-slide to cut off edge speed. A high school tight end and natural mover, Williams has foot quickness to pull, get outside and take out defenders in space. He has a hard-handed punch but tends to open his body for defenders to attack and knock him off balance.

      With relatively short 33-inch arms, some NFL teams view Williams as a guard. But he tends to play with more finesse than power and most offensive line coaches will want to instill more of a finisher's attitude. Williams trusts his technique and has the movement skills necessary to protect the blindside. If a team is convinced Williams can develop quickly, he could be a first-round pick.

      2. Mike McGlinchey

      Notre Dame

      6-7 7/8, 309, 40 time: N/A

      Projection: First-Second round

      OVERVIEW

      A first cousin of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, McGlinchey comes from a football family and proved himself repeatedly at Notre Dame. A reserve as a freshman, he started full-time at right tackle in 2015 before moving to the left side in 2016 after Ronnie Stanley's departure, starting 25 games on the blind side over his final two seasons and earning second-team All-America honors as a junior.

      ANALYSIS

      The most experienced and polished tackle in the draft, McGlinchey uses active feet, precise technique and plus play strength to repeatedly beat the man opposite him. He's at his best in the run game, routinely kicking out edge defenders or washing tackles down the line on double-teams and enveloping linebackers at the next level. He rarely whiffs on blocks or takes holding penalties, and he often sustains long enough to steer his defender. In pass protection, he forces rushers to run the loop outside and uses his feet and punch to guide them too far upfield. He also shows excellent recognition for blitzes and stunts.

      McGlinchey isn't elite, however, particularly in pass protection. His punch misses or gets swatted away too often, and gifted speed rushers can turn the corner on him at times. He also shows susceptibility to speed-to-power moves, allowing defenders to get underneath him as he kick-steps to take away the speed rush. Still, few players have as much good tape against quality opponents at multiple positions, making McGlinchey a relatively safe prospect who should be a steady pro.

      3. Kolton Miller*

      UCLA

      6-8 5/8, 309, 40 time: 4.95

      Projection: Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      Miller started five games as a redshirt freshman and five more in 2016, almost all at right tackle, before suffering a season-ending foot injury. He was moved to Josh Rosen's blind side in 2017 and responded by earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors. Miller tore up the NFL Scouting Combine, finishing first among offensive linemen in the broad jump (121 inches) and 10-yard split (1.67) and third in the 40 (5.67), short shuttle (4.49) and 3-cone (7.34).

      ANALYSIS

      With terrific length and athleticism, Miller has all of the tools you'd want at the position. He moves very well for his size, showing the ability to mirror in pass protection and climb to the second level with ease in the run game. He could be a weapon as a blocker in space on sweeps and screens. With long arms and strong hands, he flashes the ability to control defenders, and also shows good recognition of blitzes and stunts.

      Plenty of polish is needed, however. Miller has a terrible habit of taking a false first step in pass protection, forcing him to open his hips to catch speedy edge rushers. He often allows defenders to cross his face back inside, and he undermines his athleticism by stopping his feet on contact, failing to sustain blocks or redirect. With his height and tendency to play high, power is an issue, and it could be a major problem early in his career.

      Players with Miller's athletic profile usually go in Round 1, but there are plenty of concerns on tape.

      4. Martinas Rankin

      Mississippi State

      6-4 3/8, 308, 40 time: N/A

      Projection: Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      With no FBS or FCS offers out of high school, Rankin became the top-ranked JUCO offensive tackle after two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College. Following a redshirt year with the Bulldogs, he started 19 games at left tackle in 2016 and 2017, earning first-team All-SEC honors as a senior. Rankin was invited to the Senior Bowl but couldn't play due to a foot injury.

      ANALYSIS

      A bit of a late bloomer, Rankin caught attention for holding his own against Myles Garrett in 2016 and has steadily improved since. He moves quickly off the snap, whether with a strong kick-step into his pass set or a forceful initial blow in the run game. His upper-body power is obvious, as his punch can stop rushers in their tracks or pancake linebackers the second level. He also shows good awareness and has practiced several positions, leading some to see him as a guard or center.

      Rankin's lack of elite length and movement skills might also help facilitate a position change, as quickness and speed on the edge can give him repeated trouble. He is also inconsistent with his hand placement and technique, allowing defenders to get into his chest and often playing too high in the run game. While he fights hard to stay between his defender and the ball, he struggles to stay engaged and sustain blocks and occasionally whiffs entirely.

      His success in the SEC is promising, but Rankin would likely struggle to hold up on the edge if forced to play early.

      5. Tyrell Crosby

      Oregon

      6-4 5/8, 309, 40 time: 5.23

      Projection: Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      Crosby leaves college with a wealth of experience, including 19 starts at right tackle and 17 at left tackle despite missing all but three games of his junior season with a broken foot. He started 13 games on the left side as a senior, earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors. He was invited to the Senior Bowl and was among the better tackles who participated in Mobile.

      ANALYSIS

      Thick and powerfully built, Crosby's brute strength is his best asset. He uses a deadening punch to win early against edge rushers and shows off his power with a mean streak in the run game, burying defenders when he gets the chance. He flashes the athletic ability to mirror in pass protection, though he could stand to cut some bad weight to improve his mobility and keep up better with speed rushers

      Crosby could also use more refinement in his technique, as his hand placement is inconsistent and he often rises too high at contact, undermining his leverage. He also has a tendency to get grabby and take penalties as defenders shed his blocks or get a step on him upfield. In the Ducks' offense, he almost exclusively used quick-sets in pass protection and was rarely required to hold up for long, so his transition to the NFL could prove challenging.

      Crosby's body type and playing style will lead many to see him as a right tackle, with a potential move to guard if he can't hold up in pass protection on the edge.

      6. Brian O'Neill*

      Notre Dame

      6-6 7/8, 297, 40 time: 4.82

      Projection: Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      Recruited as a tight end, O'Neill was asked to move to tackle after a year of redshirting at Pitt. He started 24 games at right tackle from 2015-16 before moving to the left side in 2017, when he earned first-team All-ACC honors. He struggled against powerful defenders at the Senior Bowl but showed off his athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he ran the fastest 40 (4.82) and 3-cone (7.14) of any offensive lineman.

      ANALYSIS

      As you might expect for a former tight end, O'Neill has tremendous athleticism, showing rare twitch and quickness for an offensive lineman. His kick-step is plenty fast enough to stick with speedy edge rushers, and his lateral agility allows him to mirror and recover against counter moves. He's effective on combo blocks, punching and climbing quickly to the second level to latch onto linebackers. His comfort in space also stands out on screens and sweeps.

      With only three years of experience in the trenches, O'Neill is far from a finished product. He bends too much at the waist and tends to dip his head and lunge too often. He also lacks great play strength, an issue that could be debilitating early in his career and perhaps beyond. Even if he gets stronger, his frame might not be able to handle much more weight than he has already added.

      O'Neill's tools make him an intriguing left tackle prospect, especially for a team that features outside zone, sweeps and screens, but he must refine his technique and get significantly stronger before earning a major role.

      7. Chukwuma Okorafor

      Western Michigan

      6-6, 320, 40 time: 5.31

      Projection: Third round

      OVERVIEW

      After spending the first 12 years of his life in Nigeria, South Africa and the Republic of Botswana, Okorafor arrived in the United States and found his way to the football field soon after. He made the uncommon transition from kicker to offensive line as a junior in high school as he filled out his body. By the time his senior year came around, scholarship offers were pouring in from several of the top programs in the country including Ohio State and Florida. However, Okorafor elected to stay closer to home at Western Michigan, where he became a starter as a sophomore right tackle, moving to the left side for his junior and senior years - earning a spot on the All-MAC First Team both seasons.

      ANALYSIS

      A 16-year-old true freshman when he first enrolled at WMU, Okorafor is one of the youngest players in the 2018 NFL Draft class - and it shows in his play. He is late to recognize blitzers and when uncoiling his hands in his pass-sets. Okorafor is very unseasoned and his tape shows a player who hasn't been playing the sport very long. But his balanced and smooth movements for a player his size can't be coached, boasting the ideal frame and arm length.

      The biggest improvement Okorafor must make for the next level is his competitive make-up, adopting more of a physical attitude to match that of the NFL defensive linemen he will face. But with his physical traits, teams will take that chance.

      8. Jamarco Jones

      Ohio State

      6-4, 299, 40 time: 5.50

      Projection: Third Round

      OVERVIEW

      A former four-star recruit, Jones needed time to earn a job on the Buckeyes' line after recovering from a high school shoulder injury, but he seized the opportunity once it arose. He started 27 games at left tackle over the past two seasons, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2017.

      Jones missed out on a Senior Bowl invitation but impressed at the East-West Shrine Game and earned an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine, continuing a steady trajectory of development throughout his career.

      ANALYSIS

      Jones isn't a plus athlete, but he steadily improved throughout college and usually gets the job done. With deep and balanced pass sets, as well as long arms, he usually keeps speed rushers at bay, rarely allowing pressures as a senior. Despite inconsistent technique, he works hard to stay between his defender and the ball, and coaches have praised his preparation and effort.

      That said, Jones is not much of a people-mover in the run game, failing to deliver much shock in initial contact and rarely providing many dominant blocks. He works smoothly off combo blocks to linebackers but can miss at the second level. Jones also will get caught playing too high and shows below-average body control and balance, leading him to lunge and creating issues redirecting against counter moves or stunts.

      Jones' experience and development curve are promising for his future, but without great athleticism or overwhelming power, his ceiling might be limited. That said, he could prove to be a reliable, if unspectacular, starter up front.

      9. Geron Christian*

      Louisville

      6-5 1/8, 298, 40 time: 5.33

      Projection: Third-Fourth Round

      OVERVIEW

      More of a basketball player growing up, Christian started taking football more seriously as a junior in high school. He backed out of a commitment to Miami (Fla.) to join the Cardinals, where his brother, Gerald, was a tight end.

      Christian started all but two games at left tackle as a freshman and every game of his sophomore and junior seasons, finishing with 37 starts. Though he started solely at left tackle, he played plenty on the right as Louisville flipped their tackles depending on formation. He earned All-ACC Honorable Mention three times.

      ANALYSIS

      Though young in football experience, Christian has terrific tools to work with. His basketball background shines through in his athletic feet, which help him cut off speed rushes and redirect laterally against inside counter moves. He's able to keep his balance when his punch doesn't land, and he moves smoothly in space on second-level blocks while showing good body control.

      Christian also has great length, with 35-inch arms, but he has yet to learn how to use it properly. He frequently keeps his hands too wide and catches defenders rather than punching at them, letting them into his chest and compromising his leverage. He also shows a worrisome lack of play strength, regularly getting pushed back in the pocket and struggling to create consistent movement in the run game. Improved hand use could alleviate some issues, but he must improve his functional strength.

      Christian remains raw, but he has the traits to be a reliable starter with time and proper coaching.

      10. Orlando Brown*

      Oklahoma

      6-7 7/8, 345, 40 time: 5.85

      Projection: Third-Fourth round

      OVERVIEW

      The son of the late former Browns and Ravens tackle Orlando "Zeus" Brown, Orlando Brown Jr. is a mountain of a man. He committed to Tennessee in high school but had his offer rescinded due to academic concerns, allowing Oklahoma to swoop in and sign him.

      After a redshirt year, Brown started 40 games at left tackle over the past three seasons, earning unanimous All-America honors in 2017. Though he wasn't expected to test well at the NFL Scouting Combine, his historically bad performance - including a 6.12 40 and only 14 reps on the 225-pound bench press - raised major red flags.

      ANALYSIS

      It doesn't always look pretty, but Brown routinely gets the job done. With his huge frame (35-inch arms) and girth, he blows defensive linemen off the ball in the run game and latches on with strong hands to control and steer them. As a pass protector, he often stops rushers before they get started, with aggressive hands and a strong punch. He was rarely beaten cleanly and his anchor against bull rushes is about as good as it gets at the college level.

      Despite all of his good tape, there are significant concerns about Brown's size - he topped 400 pounds in high school and still carries plenty of bad weight - and slow feet. He uses his length well to compensate, but his struggles to redirect will be exposed more by NFL speed, and inside counter moves could be a major problem. Most teams will see him as a right tackle, which he never played in college, so his transition might take time.

      11. Will Richardson*

      NC State

      6-5 5/8, 306, 40 time: 5.26

      Projection: Fourth-Fifth round

      OVERVIEW

      Richardson originally committed to Virginia out of high school but switched to NC State, where he redshirted as a freshman while rehabbing a knee injury. He went on to start 30 games at right tackle from 2015-17, claiming second-team All-ACC honors in 2017. Richardson was suspended one game in 2015 after being arrested for DWI and two games in 2017 for a marijuana-related offense.

      ANALYSIS

      Built more like a guard, Richardson doesn't always look pretty, but he frequently got the job done, not giving up a sack in 400 pass-blocking snaps in 2017. His thick lower half makes him tough to move and he shows enough athleticism to take away the corner against most rushers. He also moves well - as shown in NC State's zone running game. Richardson excels at maintaining blocks and will finish with a nasty edge.

      That said, Richardson is up and down in the run game, with a few too many negative plays. He also shows inconsistent technique, at times playing too high or with his hands too wide. He carries some bad weight and got as high as 360 in high school, and it's fair to wonder if he'll have the foot speed to hold up on the edge in the NFL, so some will view him as a guard. Perhaps most concerning is a history of questionable decision-making, leading to off-field incidents.

      For teams that are comfortable with his character, Richardson could be a starter at right tackle down the line, with a move inside remaining a possibility.

      12. Desmond Harrison

      West Georgia

      6-6, 292, 40 time: 4.90

      Projection: Fifth Round

      OVERVIEW

      Harrison took a circuitous route to the NFL's doorstep. He went from attending three high schools to earning first-team JUCO All-America honors after two seasons at Contra Costa Community College. He transferred to Texas and played as a backup in 2013, but was suspended and dismissed from the program in 2014 after multiple drug-related incidents.

      After two years out of football, Harrison joined West Georgia, where he earned first-team Division II All-America honors in 2017. A knee sprain kept him from participating at the Senior Bowl, but he ran the second-fastest 40 (4.90) of any offensive lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine.

      ANALYSIS

      Harrison's value is all about potential, stemming from his fantastic physical tools. He sports 34-inch arms and 10 3/8-inch hands, has the frame to add more weight and also moves extremely well. Few offensive linemen can be called twitchy, but he fits the bill, with an effortless kick-slide and ability to mirror in pass protection, plus incredible range as a run blocker. He looked like a man among boys in 2017, dominating weak competition and showing off a mean streak.

      That said, few players have more question marks. He has off-field issues that need vetting, and he lacks ideal experience despite being an older prospect. Not only does his technique need extensive refining, but Harrison also lacks the functional strength to survive in the NFL, which will require him to put on and maintain more good weight. If the stars align, Harrison could develop into a gem down the line, but he also brings tremendous risk.

      13. Alex Cappa

      Humboldt State

      6-5 3/4, 305, 40 time: 5.39

      Projection: Fifth Round

      OVERVIEW

      The Lumberjacks aren't exactly an NFL assembly line, as Cappa is aiming to be the first Humboldt State player drafted since 1992, and the first ever taken before Round 7. After one year playing offensive line in high school, he redshirted in 2013 before starting 43 games at left tackle from 2014-17 and winning the Great Northwest Athletic Conference's O-lineman of the year award four consecutive times. He struggled some at the Senior Bowl but also turned heads with a few splash plays while working at tackle and guard.

      ANALYSIS

      Small-school products must jump off the tape, and Cappa definitely checks that box. Not only does he dominate opponents with technique and physicality, but he plays with as mean of a streak as you'll see, regularly burying defenders in the ground and occasionally blocking them off the screen. He also shows good flexibility and moves well, using precise footwork in tight spaces and thriving in the open field.

      Despite his dominance, however, Cappa doesn't have any "wow" traits compared to NFL peers. He likely needs time to build up good weight to have sufficient functional strength and his length (32 5/8-inch arms) is worrisome for a tackle. He also disappointed in athletic testing at the NFL Scouting Combine. Even if he proves physically capable, the transition for any small-school prospect can be jarring.

      Cappa plays the game the right way and should be drafted, but his future is likely as a swing tackle or at guard, and he may never start full-time.

      14. Joe Noteboom

      TCU

      6-5, 309, 40 time: 4.96

      Projection: Fifth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A former hockey player, Noteboom played tight end and defensive end in high school before moving to offensive tackle as a senior. After a redshirt year at TCU and another as a backup, he started 13 games in 2015, primarily on the right side, before starting 27 games at left tackle over his final two years.

      At the Senior Bowl in January, Noteboom showed flashes in Mobile against first-round edge-defender Marcus Davenport. He also tested well at the combine (among offensive linemen, he was second in 20-yard shuttle, fourth in 40, eighth in bench press).

      ANALYSIS

      Noteboom brings a lot of plus traits, including size, length (34 3/8-inch arms) and an athletic lower half. He has the quickness to handle speed rushes and looks comfortable climbing to second-level blocks or getting out in space on screens and sweeps. He flashes the power to collapse the line on down blocks, and his strong hands help him latch onto defenders and control them.

      Noteboom is highly inconsistent. Many of his successful blocks are achieved despite sloppy technique and defenders take advantage of Noteboom refusing to use what could be dominant length and strength. Placement with his hands tends to be too wide, allowing rushers into his chest and exposing an anchor not as strong as his size would suggest. Winds up off-balance too frequently. Fails to sustain blocks.

      A team is likely to notice Noteboom's potential, but he will need time and polish to earn a regular role.

      15. Brandon Parker

      North Carolina A&T

      6-7 5/8, 305, 40 time: 5.40

      Projection: Fifth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A no-star recruit who weighed 260 pounds out of high school, Parker went to North Carolina A&T and started all 48 games in his career at left tackle. He won the MEAC lineman of the year award three times and earned first-team FCS All-America honors as a senior.

      Parker was invited to the Senior Bowl and showed off his potential in Mobile despite some down moments.

      ANALYSIS

      Parker, whose dad played at North Carolina and is a high school coach, isn't ready to play now. But he has undeniable NFL-caliber tools, making him an ideal developmental left tackle prospect. With 35-inch arms and a wingspan approaching 85 inches, he can be stifling in pass protection. Parker did not allow a quarterback sack in 48 collegiate starts. He also shows off light, athletic feet and uses proper pad-level and hip roll to deliver pop in the run game.

      Parker has long legs and carries his pads too high with a tendency to play upright.

      Underwhelming power, and NFL strength could be a problem until he adds more muscle. The challenge for Parker is to become more precise and powerful with his hands to maximize his length.

      16. Timon Parris

      Stony Brook

      6-6, 320, 40 time: N/A

      Projection: Fifth-Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      Looking to become the first player drafted from Stony Brook, Parris wound up there after getting no FBS-level offers as a no-star recruit who weighed 255 pounds. After a redshirt year, he started 33 games for the Seawolves from 2014-16, with all but two coming at right tackle. Parris earned first-team All-CAA honors in 2016.

      A broken leg ended his senior season after eight starts, but he was named first-team All-CAA. His injury kept him from playing at the Senior Bowl or doing on-field work at the combine.

      ANALYSIS

      With a powerful, muscular build and above-average movement skills, Parris is an intriguing developmental tackle prospect. Despite stiffness, he has the sudden feet and quickness to wall off speed rushers on the edge and mirror inside against counter moves. Has a solid build - put up 27 bench press reps at combine -- and flashes functional play strength, but rarely overwhelms defenders with power.

      Parris has raw technique and post-snap posture. He struggles with consistent knee-bend and often winds up leaning with his upper body over his toes, playing off balance and out of control. He also must learn to use his hands better and more proactively, rather than waiting for defenders to punch first. He's certainly a project, but good coaching could make him a starter down the line.

      17. Toby Weathersby*

      LSU

      6-4 3/8, 317, 40 time: 5.34

      Projection: Fifth-Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A four-star recruit out of high school, Weathersby backed out of a commitment to Texas and joined the Tigers, playing in 12 games (one start) as a true freshman in 2015. He battled an injury and split time at right tackle in 2016 before starting 11 of 13 games at right tackle in 2017, missing two contests with what he described as "heat related headaches."

      ANALYSIS

      Weathersby cemented a starting job in 2017 and had a stellar season. He shows adequate quickness and mirror skills in pass protection and consistently works inside-out, not allowing rushers to win inside. He's scrappy in the run game but usually stays in control and blocks well in motion. Despite starting solely on the right side, he played some on the left with LSU's use of unbalanced lines.

      Weathersby could have used another year of development in college. He struggles to maintain and finish blocks, rarely flashing the competitive drive to bury defenders. His hands and punch are inconsistent and defenders cross his face due to poor body angles. NFL speed will be a stretch for Weathersby, who carries bad weight. He could eventually earn a starting spot.

      18. Matt Pryor

      Offensive Tackle/Guard, TCU

      6-7, 358, 40 time: N/A

      Projection: Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A three-star high school recruit, Pryor redshirted as a freshman at TCU before playing in eight games as a reserve in 2014 and garnering five starts at three different positions in 2015. He started 13 games at right guard in 2016 and both right guard and right tackle as a senior, finishing his career with 23 starts at right guard, eight at right tackle and one at left guard.

      Pryor was not invited to the combine but stood out at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

      ANALYSIS

      One of the largest players in the draft, Pryor combines a gigantic frame (arm length is 36 inches, hands measure over 11 inches) with surprisingly nimble feet. He moves well enough that length becomes a major weapon in pass protection. Pryor translates his size into power, shocking defenders with initial pop and locking on with strong hands to stick to blocks and finish.

      Pryor's weight will need to be monitored even though he has traditionally carried it well. He has approached 400 pounds. Despite light feet, he's sluggish laterally, struggling to recover in pass protection and lumbering to the second level in the run game. With questionable awareness in protection and a tendency to get grabby, he produces a few too many negatives plays. His tools, experience and versatility could make him a quality starter down the line.

      19. Cole Madison

      Washington State

      6-5, 308, 40 time: 5.33

      Projection: Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      After playing offensive line, defensive line and tight end in high school, Madison tipped the scales under 250 pounds as a recruit and programs weren't sure where to play him. Washington State was the only FBS team to take a chance on Madison and started him in the receiver meeting room during his redshirt season.

      He moved to the offensive line shortly after and developed into a four-year starter for the Cougars, logging 47 total starts at right tackle, including all 39 games the past three seasons. He was named Second Team All-Pac 12 as a senior and impressed enough to draw invitations to the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.

      ANALYSIS

      Washington State can make it tough to evaluate quarterbacks because of coach Mike Leach's spread scheme, but the wide splits also create a degree of difficulty when scouting offensive linemen. However, Madison isn't quite as much of a challenge because of his quickness - both with his hands and feet. He relies on body position to shield defenders from the pocket or rush lane, absorbing power due to his anchor. Madison isn't a mauling run blocker who will simply overwhelm with raw strength, but he diagnoses the action quickly and gets the job done. A college tackle, he projects best inside as a guard where he has NFL starting potential.

      20. Jamil Demby

      Maine

      6-5, 335, 40 time: 5.58

      Projection: Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A no-star recruit out of high school, Demby went to Maine after receiving only FCS scholarship offers. He started the opener as a true freshman and went on to make 40 starts, all at left tackle, earning first-team All-CAA in 2017. He accepted an invitation to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and impressed enough to earn a Senior Bowl invite. He was exposed at times in Mobile but didn't look out of place, showing off his strength and toughness.

      ANALYSIS

      Demby is not the typical small-school prospect short on size and strength. He's big, muscular and powerful, with decent length and big hands. He can withstand punches and bull rushes, dropping his hips to anchor with strength, and he brings heavy hands and explosion on initial contact in the run game. A two-time captain, he's also coachable and smart.

      When forced to move, Demby displays below-average athleticism for a tackle, especially visible in the run game. As a run blocker, his pad level regularly drifts upward, undermining his leverage and preventing him from sustaining and finishing blocks. Much more comfortable working in a phone booth than in open space, his future is likely at guard, where he could develop into a starter for a team that needs an anchor in pass protection inside.

      21. Brett Toth

      Offensive Tackle, Army

      6-6, 303, 40 time: 5.09

      Projection: Seventh Round-Free Agent

      OVERVIEW

      It isn't easy for offensive tackles from option offenses to garner attention from NFL scouts, but Toth has. A tight end-turned-offensive tackle as a senior in high school, Toth signed with Army (and its triple option offense) and blossomed into an authentic NFL prospect. After weighing only 220 pounds as a true freshman, he bulked up, filled out and all without losing his quickness. He went on to start 23 games at right tackle over the past four years, and participated in both the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.

      The next hurdle in Toth's path? He won't be eligible for the NFL until the 2020 season, having to serve two years of active duty following his graduation from the academy. So for the NFL team that drafts (or signs) him, it is a long-term selection.

      ANALYSIS

      Toth has the movement skills of a former tight end with bounce in his feet, flexible joints and overall body coordination required at the position. In Army's offense he would explode off the snap into defenders, churning his feet to create bull-dozing movement. Toth doesn't just win off the snap, he looks to sustain and bury, finishing his target to the ground until he hears the whistle... maybe until a few seconds after the whistle.

      The challenge for NFL scouts - yes, he has the athleticism needed for pass protection, but the Army offense didn't hone those skills, creating an unknown variable. Factor in the two years of service and Toth is an intriguing, but complicated prospect.

      *Denotes underclassman

      --Field Level Media

  • Titans on verge of picking up QB Mariota's fifth-year option
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson said Wednesday that the club will pick up the fifth-year option on quarterback Marcus Mariota's contract.

    • The move will give Mariota a $20.922 million salary in 2019. He is slated to make $3.73 million this season.

      Robinson revealed the team's intentions on Nashville radio station "The Midday 180," the team's radio partner.

      Picking up the option also gives both sides more time to negotiate a long-term contract for the 24-year-old Mariota.

      Mariota guided Tennessee to its first playoff victory since the 2003 campaign last season despite an uneven campaign in which he passed for 3,232 yards and 13 touchdowns against a career-worst 15 interceptions.

      In 2016, he passed for career highs of 3,426 yards and 26 touchdowns against a career low of nine interceptions.

      Overall, he has passed for 9,476 yards, 58 touchdowns and 34 interceptions in 42 NFL games.

      Mariota was the second overall pick in 2015 after a standout college career at Oregon. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2014.

      --Field Level Media

  • 2018 NFL Draft: Daniels among several plug-and-play center prospects
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    1. James Daniels

    • Iowa

      6-3 3/8, 306, 40 time: N/A

      Projection: First-Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      As a four-star recruit out of Warren, Ohio, Daniels was a three-year starter on both sides of the line for Warren G. Harding High School and opted to follow his brother LeShun to Iowa.

      Daniels made an impact quickly, appearing in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2015 with two starts at left guard. He moved to center for his final two seasons with the Hawkeyes, starting 23 of a possible 26 games, earning All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2017. He allowed six sacks and three quarterback hits over those final two seasons, before electing to enter the draft early.

      Daniels' vertical leap and broad jump both ranked in the top 10 of offensive linemen at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

      ANALYSIS

      Daniels was regarded as one of the best if not most productive interior blockers in college football the past two seasons, demonstrating the first-step explosiveness, body control, punch and mobility requisite for success centers at the NFL level.

      Working against Daniels is his medical history, having missed three games over the last two years with knee issues, though he is healthy know. Daniels is also just 20 years old, though he generally showed a maturity beyond his years on the field and has a sky-high football IQ.

      Throughout the evaluation process, Daniels hasn't given many reasons to think he won't be able to succeed at the NFL level, with his clean mechanics, athleticism and intelligence, though he will probably need to continue adding strength to his frame.

      2. Billy Price

      Ohio State

      6-4, 305, 40 time: 5.22

      Projection: Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      Ohio State has an illustrious program, but no player in OSU history has played more games than Price, who started all 55 games over the past four seasons. But the ironman suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle while performing the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine, requiring surgery that is expected to keep him sidelined until training camp. There is more than enough tape for scouts to understand exactly what they're getting with the experienced pivot, who split his 55 career starts between left guard, right guard and center.

      ANALYSIS

      Price is efficient in his snap-to-step motion, keeping his knees bent and body centered to anchor vs. power. He is technically proficient with his hands to extend into defensive linemen and dictate the point of attack. Price gets in trouble when his initial surge misses the mark and his overaggressive nature leaves him hunched at the waist. Most often, Price maintains his balance through contact, utilizing his base and body angles to stymie defenders.

      Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer frequently praised Price for his mature leadership on the field and in the locker room, leading by example but also speaking up when needed. His impressive resume and position flexibility to play any interior line position will have all 32 teams interested - and with his Combine injury, he might be available at a slight discount in the draft.

      3. Frank Ragnow

      Arkansas

      6-5 1/8, 312, 40 time: 5.18

      Projection: Second-Third Round

      OVERVIEW

      Ragnow was a productive athlete at Chanhassen (Minn.) High School, twice earning all-state at offensive tackle and dabbling in shot put, discus and basketball. Ragnow was the No. 3 recruit in Minnesota for his class, and ultimately chose the Razorbacks over Florida State.

      Ragnow moved to center and played in nine games as a freshman. He played nearly every snap the next three years, starting at guard as a sophomore before moving back to center in 2016. At one point he had made 33 straight starts, playing 98.2 percent of the snaps over that span, but his senior season ended after seven games due to an ankle injury.

      Ragnow was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded center in both 2016 and 2017. In his final three seasons with the Razorbacks, he didn't allow a sack and allowed just seven quarterback hits. He was invited to both the Senior Bowl and NFL combine, but couldn't participate due to injury.

      ANALYSIS

      Ragnow was as dominant as centers come in college football largely because of his hands. Ragnow consistently shows violence in his punch, and while he doesn't wield off-the-charts athleticism for his position, he's got enough to make him a versatile fit in many an NFL scheme.

      Ragnow is lauded for his mean steak and considerably high pain threshold, with the leadership qualities and mental makeup to fit in the NFL immediately. Ragnow found a way to get the job done over and over against the nation's toughest competition for three years, and never looked overwhelmed.

      4. Mason Cole

      Michigan

      6-4 1/8, 305, 40 time: 5.23

      Projection: Third-Fourth Round

      OVERVIEW

      As a four-star recruit at East Lake (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) High School, Cole was considered the top offensive line recruit in Florida and had his smattering of colleges to pick from, ultimately choosing Michigan over Notre Dame and Ohio State.

      Cole won the starting left tackle job as a true freshman in 2014, becoming the first true frosh in program history to start on the offensive line in a season-opener. He started a program-record 51 games over the next four seasons (38 at left tackle, 13 at center), and was voted a team captain as a senior.

      Cole was a two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection, not allowing a sack at center as a junior and allowing just 17 total pressures in his final season. He accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl after finishing his career in Ann Arbor.

      ANALYSIS

      Cole's time at left tackle appeared to be more out of necessity for the Wolverines. As a pro, he has more of center's body type, lacking the length or size of a typical NFL left tackle, though he was very productive at the edge throughout his college career.

      Cole is an agile, disciplined blocker who looks for work at the second level and is capable of handling stunts and twists. His game taking on Ohio State's Nick Bosa this past season isn't one for the highlight tape, and exposed him as a weak puncher, but he is an incredibly tough player who can compensate in other areas.

      There's lots of appeal for an NFL team taking on Cole, from his high IQ, leadership skills, toughness and versatility along the offensive line in a pro-style scheme that required him to master a litany of different blocks. If not a center, Cole could fit as a "swing" tackle with an organization. What he lacks in ideal strength for a pro offensive lineman, he makes up for with his athleticism and sound blocking instincts.

      5. Scott Quessenberry

      UCLA

      6-4, 315, 40 time: 5.09

      Projection: Fourth-Fifth Round

      OVERVIEW

      As a three-star center recruit out of La Costa Canyon (Calif.) High, Quessenberry was prolific in basketball and track and field in addition to football, where he started three years on the offensive line. He was considered one of the nation's top center recruits, ultimately staying local with UCLA over the likes of Wisconsin, Nebraska and Utah.

      Quessenberry was thrown into the fire as a true freshman in 2013, starting six of the Bruins' final seven games of the season at left guard. He earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors the next season after starting all 13 games, 12 of them at right guard. After redshirting the 2015 season with a shoulder injury, Quessenberry returned as the full-time starter at center for his junior and senior seasons, allowing four sacks and earning All-Pac-12 honors in 2016.

      In 2017, the Bruins' averaged a full yard per carry better with Quessenberry than they did the previous year and ranked third in the Pac-12 in total offense. He accepted his invitation to the 2018 Senior Bowl.

      ANALYSIS

      Quessenberry proved to be versatile in four years and 44 starts in Westwood, seeing time at all three interior offensive line positions and playing for three different offensive coordinators over five seasons.

      Coaches at UCLA lauded Quessenberry's leadership qualities and mental makeup over the years. He's also got some NFL pedigree, his brother David having been drafted by the Texans in 2013 and finally making his debut in 2017 after overcoming non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

      Quessenberry explodes off the snap and maintains a low center of gravity, and what he lacks in lower-body mass he makes up for with his upper body, demonstrating a powerful punch and excellent hand-fighting skills. He is a tough player and a persistent blocker, which should make him a good fit in pass protection at the NFL level.

      6. Will Clapp

      LSU

      6-4 1/2, 314, 40 time: 5.39

      Projection: Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      As a four-star offensive guard recruit and two-time all-state pick at Brother Martin (New Orleans) High School, Clapp followed his father's footsteps to LSU. When all was said and done, the Clapps, Tommy and Will, became the first father-son duo to permanently captain the Tigers in program history.

      After redshirting in 2014, Clapp started 36 games over the next three seasons, with those starts almost evenly distributed across all three interior offensive line positions. He earned All-SEC honors in each of his final two seasons, as a guard in 2016 after not allowing a sack, and as a center in 2017, yielding just one sack and eight total pressures.

      Clapp elected to enter the draft after the 2017 season, with one year of eligibility remaining.

      ANALYSIS

      Clapp's performance is so consistent that it might put you to sleep. The sturdy three-year starter demonstrates sound fundamentals against some of the nation's best competition, staying in control and rarely selling out for a big block.

      Clapp times his punch and shows great versatility on the interior, but the lack of jump-off-the-page traits in his game might work against him. His athleticism is average at best, and he lacks upper-body strength.

      His pedigree and experience having excelled in the SEC suggests Clapp is ready for the next level, but he has to clean up some of his balance and strength issues if he is to make a lasting impact in the NFL.

      7. Brian Allen

      Michigan State

      6-1, 300, 40 time: 5.34

      Projection: Seventh Round/Free Agent

      OVERVIEW

      Allen was a three-year starter in high school on both sides of the ball, earned all-state honors as a senior year and was also a state champion heavyweight wrestler and shot putter. A four-star recruiter and one of the nation's most highly-touted offensive center recruits who decided to join his older brother Jack in East Lansing.

      After getting pressed into action as a true freshman in 2014, appearing in 12 games and starting one at left guard, Allen became a full-time starter the next three seasons and was named All-Big Ten three straight times. That included a 2016 campaign in which he made starts at center and both guard spots, and a 2017 season in which he kicked to center permanently and didn't allow a sack all year.

      ANALYSIS

      An accomplished college lineman but Allen doesn't check a lot of boxes for physical traits. He is undersized and best translates to center in the NFL.

      Allen's hand skills reveal his obvious wrestling background, but it's also obvious he's not the most impressive athlete when asked to pull to the edge. Allen mostly stays at home as a blocker, winning with technique and control as opposed to sheer force, but with his size he also tends to short-arm defenders, which leads to struggles staying on his blocks against bigger players.

      A scrappy blocker lauded for his leadership skills, vocal skills setting the protection, and pride in playing to the whistle, Allen is likely worthy of a shot in the NFL, but questions remain about whether he can be more than a backup.

      --Field Level Media

  • Audition aside, Panthers TE Olsen wants to play '3-5 more years'
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said he plans to play several more seasons despite a recent audition for ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

    • Olsen is one of several individuals given a formal audition for ESPN's coveted spot in the Monday night booth vacated by Jon Gruden, who is back in the NFL as head coach of the Oakland Raiders.

      Olsen attempted to short-circuit talk of his impending retirement and tried to dispel the notion he was only angling for a contract extension with the Panthers.

      His latest attempt Wednesday to shift the narrative around the tryout came via Twitter:

      "Lets try it another way 1) Team was first to know about ESPN Audition. Made it clear at that point my desire to play 3-5 more years with PANTHERS

      2) Never gave team ultimatum regarding my contract or lack of commitment to this upcoming season

      Now back to OTAs."

      The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that Olsen was "keeping his options open" without a contract extension. The Sporting News reported Olsen demanded a new deal.

      Olsen will make $6.5 million in 2018 and the 33-year-old is scheduled to become a free agent after the season.

      --Field Level Media

  • 2018 NFL Draft: Notre Dame OG Nelson has All-Pro potential
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    1. Quenton Nelson

    • Notre Dame

      6-5, 325, 40 time: 5.25

      Projection: First Round

      OVERVIEW

      If position value didn't matter and teams abide by a literal "best player available" approach, Nelson would be in strong consideration for the No. 1 overall pick. And while guard isn't traditionally viewed as worthy of a high selection, that outdated thinking can be dismissed with a special player like Nelson. The former Irish lineman started 36 games at left guard (31 consecutive) for Notre Dame. There is no such thing as a "safe" prospect in the NFL draft, but Nelson has very low bust potential and should contend for Pro Bowl consideration very early in his NFL career.

      ANALYSIS

      Nelson passes the eye test with a thick frame and the powerful upper body to dominate defenders. He secures down blocks with his inline strength and is a people-mover in the run game, flashing violence in his hands to steer and bully objects in his path. In pass protection, he isn't the most athletic blocker, but he has a powerful base with the body balance needed to mirror and bend his knees to anchor, absorbing contact without much trouble.

      Mild-mannered off the field, Nelson flips a switch between the lines and becomes a nasty competitor, looking to bury defenders. His leadership on and off the field is also a strong selling point as the main voice on the offensive line to keep the communication flowing. Nelson played offensive tackle in high school and could probably kick outside if needed, but his best NFL position is at guard.

      2. Will Hernandez

      UTEP

      6-4, 269, 40 time: 5.14

      Projection: First round

      OVERVIEW

      Originally recruited as a defensive tackle out of high school, Hernandez received scholarship offers from Pac-12 programs (USC, Arizona State), but was unable to qualify academically in time for signing day. However, one school stayed by his side: UTEP. And the Miners unearthed a sizeable gem in the 2013 recruiting class. After moving from the defensive line to the offensive line during his redshirt year in 2013, Hernandez went on to start every game at left guard the past four seasons (49 consecutive starts).

      ANALYSIS

      Sporting the throwback neck roll, Hernandez looks like an old-school blocker and competes with the smash-mouth style reminiscent of the past. With his thick, wide frame, he is able to comfortably carry 340 pounds without sacrificing his foot quickness. While he is coordinated in his shuffle, Hernandez's calling card will always be his upper-body power - displayed in his 37-rep bench press session at the Scouting Combine -- using heavy hands and a violent punch to win the point of attack.

      Hernandez will allow his aggressive nature to get the best of him, finding himself hunched at the waist. But he is a physical mauler who will block through the echo of the whistle and with a dash of patience, he has the skills to be a Pro Bowl guard in the NFL. UTEP hasn't produced a first-round pick since 1968, but Hernandez has a very real opportunity to break that streak.

      3. Isaiah Wynn

      Georgia

      6-3, 313, 40 time: 5.20

      Projection: First Round

      OVERVIEW

      Wynn started all 15 games at left tackle for Georgia in 2017 after cross-training at guard and tackle his first three seasons. Wynn was second-team All-SEC pick as a senior but NFL coaches likely view him as a guard because of his height and frame.

      ANALYSIS

      A natural mover with good knee bend and overall flexibility, Wynn could be a tackle but his height will be prohibitive in the NFL. Wynn shows bounce in his feet to effortlessly slide and mirror edge rushers. He is always in a ready position with his hands, staying relaxed before extending to punch and control the point of attack. In the run game, he's quick to attack and run his feet to move bodies from the hole.

      While he played primarily left tackle at the college level, Wynn has a guard body with his shorter stature and average arm length. But with 19 career starts inside at left guard, teams won't need to guess what Wynn will be as a position projection. He could potentially move back outside in the NFL as a quick band-aid, but similar to Zack Martin and other college tackles who moved inside for the pro game, Wynn's skill-set is ideally suited for the guard position where he is a plug-and-play starter.

      4. Austin Corbett

      Nevada

      6-4 3/8, 306, 40 time: 5.15

      Projection: Second-Third Round

      OVERVIEW

      A no-star recruit out of Sparks, Nev., Corbett lettered in four sports in high school, earning a First Team All-State nod in the shot put. With no FBS scholarship offers, Corbett opted to walk-on at nearby Nevada.

      After redshirting in 2013, he started 49 of a possible 50 games over the next four seasons at left tackle, including 48 consecutive, earning All-Mountain West honors the final three (including a first-team nod in 2017).

      Corbett served as a captain his final two years with the Wolfpack. Over those final two seasons, he was charged with only three sacks allowed - including none for the entire 2016 season - and committed only seven penalties.

      ANALYSIS

      Corbett is lauded for his professional attitude and mature leadership traits that are ready for an NFL locker room right away. He's highly regarded as a technician in pass protection for the diversity of hand tactics he uses to attain leverage and keep defenders guessing, as well as the violent punch he wields to initiate contact and lock on to defenders.

      Corbett is an average overall athlete, with tight hips that hurt his recovery skills. He's not a poor athlete by any stretch, but he's not an explosive one, either, with minimal room for error in his steps. But his high IQ for the game should help mask those deficiencies, and his rugged toughness and finishing attitude should endear him to NFL coaches.

      Although he played exclusively on the edge during his time in Reno, Corbett will likely have to kick to the interior, either as a guard or center, to be a starting option early at the next level.

      5. Braden Smith

      Auburn

      6-4 1/2, 301, 40 time: 5.22

      Projection: Third Round

      OVERVIEW

      A four-star recruit coming out of Olathe (Kan.) South High School, Smith remains the program's highest-caliber recruit in history. He was also a Kansas state champion in the shot put and discus.

      After pledging to Auburn over the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame, TCU, Ohio State and Texas A&M, Smith arrived on campus with weighty expectations and improved each year he was on campus. His first career start came as a true freshman at right tackle in the Tigers' Outback Bowl loss to Wisconsin.

      He started all 40 possible games over the next three seasons, all but one of them coming at right guard. He paved the way in 2017 for running back Kerryon Johnson to lead the SEC in rushing (120 yards per game) as he earned First Team All-SEC and All-America honors.

      ANALYSIS

      While he can sometimes be feast-or-famine as a blocker, Smith is strong as a mule and plays angry, regularly moving the line of scrimmage even in one-on-one blocks. He stays busy until the whistle, actively looking for a body to get a hat on, and is no stranger to the weight room.

      Smith looks the part of an NFL-caliber offensive lineman, and checks off the necessary boxes for athleticism, strength and intelligence to keep ballcarriers clean.

      While his hands are active, he also needs to refine his hand tactics, but he still projects as an NFL starter with his balanced lower body and bullish upper-body strength.

      6. Wyatt Teller

      Virginia Tech

      6-4 3/8, 306, 40 time: 5.24

      Projection: Fourth-Fifth Round

      OVERVIEW

      Teller was a remarkable jack-of-all-trades as a high schooler in Virginia, seeing snaps at offensive tackle, tight end, fullback and even quarterback for Liberty High. However, he was known more for his defensive prowess off the edge as he earned Virginia AA Defensive Player of the Year honors his senior season.

      Teller came to Blacksburg, Va., as a four-star defensive end recruit, but volunteered to move to offensive line due to injuries on the team during his redshirt season in 2013. From there, he flourished, demonstrating an impressive mean streak at times for the team he grew up rooting for.

      After making six starts his redshirt freshman season, he became the Hokies' full-time starter at left guard for his final three years, making 43 total starts for his career, earning First Team All-ACC honors as a senior and accepting an invitation to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.

      ANALYSIS

      Teller developed a reputation as an absolute destroyer in the run game, laying out some of the best blocks seen around the country last year.

      With a broad, angular frame and the body type and length befitting of an offensive tackle, Teller moves with grace and is rarely seen on the ground. But he has also developed a reputation as a bit of a finesse lineman. His narrow base raises concerns about sustainability with blocks, and he doesn't always dominate a lower level of competition, with some concern about the consistency of his effort in practice as well as games.

      Still, Teller has the size, quickness and strength to latch on with an NFL team, capable of overwhelming defenders. While it might be concerning that he took a slight step backwards as a senior instead of elevating his game, the level of play he has sustained throughout his career is hard to disregard.

      7. Tony Adams

      NC State

      6-2, 315, 40 time: 5.48

      Projection: Fifth Round

      OVERVIEW

      Adams' athletic background is unique among offensive line prospects, having grown up traveling as a highly-ranked tennis player. His father, Carl, wrestled at Iowa State and was the head wrestling coach at Boston University from 1981 until the program disbanded in 2014.

      After moving to Charlotte as a sophomore in high school, Adams earned All-Conference three consecutive seasons at Independence (Charlotte) High. He enrolled early at NC State and spent time at center in spring practice before moving to right guard, where he eventually took over the starting job and started nine games as a true freshman.

      Adams's 47 starts at right guard are a program record. That includes a two-year run in 2016-17 in which he twice earned Second Team All-ACC honors, led the team in snaps and didn't allow a sack. His starting streak ended in December, missing the Wolfpack's Sun Bowl victory over Arizona State due to injury. Despite his experience and expected mid-round draft grades, Adams was a surprising snub from the NFL Scouting Combine after participating at the East-West Shrine Game.

      ANALYSIS

      With good thickness in both his upper and lower body, Adams isn't overly long but has the requisite strong hands and flexible body control, no doubt shaped by years of tennis, to get a jump on defenders in run blocking.

      But despite his grades stats in pass protection, Adams' delayed extension and counter measures lead to some off-rhythm snaps. That could be due to a lack of play-to-play concentration.

      Adams is a reliable blocker with an impressive resume, someone who's versatile enough to push for NFL starting reps at either center or guard after he acclimates to the NFL.

      8. Sean Welsh

      Iowa

      6-3, 300, 40 time: 5.43

      Projection: Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A three-star recruit out of Springboro (Ohio) High School, Welsh was a four-year letterwinner who helped anchor the team to a turnaround from 3-7 as a freshman to a perfect 10-0 campaign as a senior. Welsh held a dozen FBS offers but ultimately chose the Hawkeyes over Miami (Fla.), Louisville and Kentucky.

      After redshirting in 2013, Welsh made nine starts as a redshirt freshman in 2014, then made 39 of a possible 40 starts over his final three seasons, missing just one game to injury in 2016. He earned Third Team All-Big Ten in 2016, and second-team honors in 2017, accepting invites to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.

      Welsh "played the piano" along the offensive line throughout his time in Iowa City, making 23 starts at right guard, 19 at left guard and six at right tackle.

      ANALYSIS

      As shown with his variety of starts across the line, Welsh demonstrated an ability to plug holes up and down the trench over his four years starting for the Hawkeyes.

      Welsh is heavy in the legs and lacks the brute power to overwhelm defenders, but he can compensate for some of those deficiencies with his shrewd toughness. He's perhaps best in tight spaces, where he can tie up rushers more easily. His diversity along the line should boost his NFL draft grade, projecting as a backup along the interior of the line.

      9. Skyler Phillips

      Idaho State

      6-3, 318, 40 time: 5.09

      Projection: Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      Phillips grew up in Duck country in Eugene, Oregon, but didn't play football until his junior year in high school. Based on his testing numbers, he received an on-the-spot offer from Oregon State at one football camp.

      But on signing day, Oregon State coaches informed him no scholarship had been held, forcing Phillips to search for any other offer. He landed at Idaho State and started 43 games for the FCS-level Bengals, starting at four different positions - both guard and tackle spots -- and making the school a required destination for NFL scouts. Phillips did miss the final eight games with a knee injury in 2016 after starting four games at left tackle.

      ANALYSIS

      He has valuable and versatile experience, but Phillips looks like a guard and plays like a guard. He keeps his knees bent and drops his hips to create his anchor strength, absorbing contact without moving in reverse.

      Phillips is eager to fire his violent hands and extend and deliver a jolt to defensive linemen. While his core strength is solid, Phillips does have some physical stiffness, limiting his body control as a puller. Fails to sustain and his effectiveness wains the longer a play goes.

      10. Colby Gossett

      Appalachian State

      6-4 7/8, 315, 40 time: 5.20

      Projection: Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A two-star recruit out of North Forsyth (Cumming, Ga.) High School, Gossett was a two-way star at offensive tackle and defensive end, earning all-region honors for his work on the offensive side of the ball. Gossett chose Appalachian State over a sparse picking of Division I offers from the FBS and FCS levels.

      After redshirting in 2013 he went on to make 47 starts over four seasons, including 46 straight to finish his career. While those starts mostly came at right guard, he made eight starts at right tackle and one at center.

      Gossett left the Mountaineers' program having allowed just one sack over his final three seasons, earning First Team All-Sun Belt in 2016 and 2017.

      ANALYSIS

      Gossett's frame is powerful, with the requisite size for the pro level, and uses a fierce punch to overwhelm and lock into defenders at the point of attack.

      Having only been whistled for three penalties in 2017, Gossett is generally a disciplined player who knows his assignments. But he may be overly reliant on his impressive upper-body strength and could stand to work better on using his lower half to gain leverage.

      Gossett finds ways to get the job done despite his deficiencies, and with his versatility could at the very least serve as a "swing" lineman at the backup positions.

      11. Taylor Hearn

      Clemson

      Height, Weight, 40 time: 5.45

      Projection: Seventh Round

      OVERVIEW

      Hailing from small-town Williston, S.C., Hearn carved out a unique athletic background as a multi-sport star at Williston-Elko High School, serving as the team's placekicker in addition to his two-way lineman duties, and leading his baseball team in both home runs and wins as a junior. He left Williston ranked as a top-20 recruit in the Palmetto State.

      After redshirting in 2014, Hearn appeared sparingly in all 14 games in 2015 as a reserve and then started 29 of a possible 29 games the past two seasons, over which he allowed just four sacks and five quarterback hits. His 2017 campaign also included a memorable fumble recovery that became the longest run by a Clemson lineman in a half-century.

      After earning All-ACC honors (third team) in 2017 as a junior, Hearn elected to enter the draft, and participated in the 2018 Senior Bowl.

      ANALYSIS

      At a sturdy 330 pounds, Hearn carries a lot of his weight in his lower body and midsection, which allows him a great anchor and the requisite core strength to combat strong interior defenders.

      Hearn's arm length is on the shorter side among this year's crop of interior linemen and it shows when he struggles to establish the point of attack or take on defenders in space. His athleticism is lacking, which leads to struggles when pulling out on screens or reaching to the second level.

      While his blocking ability is better served in tight spaces, Hearn was lauded in his time at Clemson for his leadership role on the field and voice in the locker room, and passes with high marks in the toughness category.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Brady yet to tell Patriots he's in for 2018
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Tom Brady is not yet officially committed to playing in 2018, but the New England Patriots and others close to him expect the 40-year-old back for his 20th season.

    • ESPN reported Wednesday that Brady did not give "official word" that he's planning to be with the Patriots, putting him in the same proverbial boat as tight end Rob Gronkowski.

      Brady, who turns 41 in August, was not present at the start of the offseason program on Monday. He is not expected to participate in the team's offseason program for the third time in his career.

      "My money would be on him playing football for the foreseeable future, but what goes on away from the football field, I don't know," one source told ESPN, per the report Wednesday. "I don't know."

      Brady, who is signed through 2019 and is due $14 million each of the next two seasons, could be angling for a contract extension, according to The Athletic's Jeff Howe. Brady would rank around the middle of the pack for NFL starting quarterbacks at his current rate.

      Brady previously stated he wanted to play until he's 45 and before the Super Bowl he told Westwood One's Jim Gray "Yeah, you're going to see me playing football next year." However, in his Facebook series "Tom vs. Time" there were strong indications Brady's career is nearing the finish line.

      Last October, the Patriots traded Brady's backup -- Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round pick who appeared to be the heir to Brady -- to the San Francisco 49ers. Last August, the Patriots shipped quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the Indianapolis Colts.

      Part of the motivation to deal Garoppolo, according to ESPN's Seth Wickersham, was a power struggle between Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft. The spin was Brady did not want to be looking over his shoulder and felt he had earned the right to decide when to pull the plug on his career with the Patriots.

      There was also a reported struggle over the presence of Brady's personal trainer and nutritionist, Alex Guerrero, because of the shadow it cast over the Patriots' training staff. Guerrero had his Gillette Stadium office and seat on the team's plane to road games taken away.

      The absence of Brady at voluntary workouts and the continued rumors of his potential retirement could be a bit of gamesmanship on Brady's part over the treatment of Guerrero, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, who suggests it's possible Brady is "messing" with Belichick.

      New England acquired a second first-round pick for next week's draft in a deal that sent wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams, sparking speculation the Patriots could be primed to climb up for Brady's eventual replacement.

      --Field Level Media

  • NFL notebook: Eagles' Wentz eyes Week 1 return
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    About four months since he underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament in his left leg, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz says Week 1 of the 2018 season is still his targeted return date.

    • "Yeah, that's still the plan," Wentz told reporters Tuesday when asked about being ready for the season opener, noting he does not feel as if he must participate in the preseason to be prepared.

      Wentz, 25, also said he's begun the "running progression" of his rehab and is "feeling good," but he didn't offer many more details regarding his recovery. He injured his knee Dec. 10 and had surgery three days later. Most ACL injuries are estimated to require nine to 12 months for a full recovery.

      "It's such a fluid process, it's so hard to put a timeframe and a timetable on these things," he said. "I wish I knew as well, but things are going well, and I'm happy with where I'm at."

      --Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has lingering discontent over some of the team's offseason moves and his lack of input regarding changes that directly impact him, according to a Yahoo Sports report.

      Yahoo's Charles Robinson quoted a league source saying Rodgers is both "frustrated" and "emotional" over his lack of communication with the front office prior to major offseason moves, most prominently the firing of quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt and release of wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Rodgers, 34, has two years remaining on his contract.

      "Both of those decisions (with Nelson and Van Pelt) were made without him," a league source close to Rodgers told Robinson. "In both situations, he had no influence with (the front office) before anything went down."

      --Quarterback Jameis Winston will remain in Tampa Bay for at least two more years. The Buccaneers picked up Winston's $20,922,000 fifth-year option and are reportedly ready to begin working on a bigger deal with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft.

      The option covers the 2019 season, meaning Winston would become a free agent in March 2020. However, the Buccaneers are making it clear there is no intention to let Winston out of Tampa.

      Winston signed a rookie four-year deal worth $25.35 million in May 2015. The 24-year-old has 69 touchdowns and 44 interceptions in his career.

      --New York Jets center Nick Mangold announced his retirement.

      Mangold, 34, did not play in 2017 after being released by the Jets. He will sign a ceremonial contract on April 24 with the team before filing official retirement paperwork with the NFL.

      The Jets drafted Mangold 29th overall in 2006. He started as a rookie, played in 164 career games and was named to seven Pro Bowls.

      --Dez Bryant has said he would like to stay in the NFC East following his release by the Dallas Cowboys. Playing for one team in particular in the division appears to be an exciting thought for the wide receiver.

      Bryant said joining the New York Giants would "be crazy" in an interview with 247Sports.com.

      Bryant has told multiple outlets since being released last Friday that he'd like to play the Cowboys twice a year. The 29-year-old didn't speak specifically to the Eagles or Washington Redskins in the interview.

      --Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was not present at the start of the team's voluntary offseason conditioning program, according to multiple media reports.

      Thomas, who will turn 29 in May, is seeking an extension as he enters the final year of his contract and has been the subject of trade discussions this offseason, with the team openly listening to offers despite not outright shopping him.

      The three-time All-Pro tweeted a lengthy message on Twitter in March asserting his desire to remain a Seahawk, but he has also suggested he will stay away from the team until he receives a new contract.

      --The San Francisco 49ers reworked offensive tackle Joe Staley's contract to give the veteran a pay bump over the next two seasons, according to NFL Network.

      Staley, originally set to make $11 million combined in 2018 and '19, will now make $17.4 million the next two seasons. This season, Staley will make $8.72 million instead of the $5.5 million he was due.

      Staley has been one of the 49ers' most reliable players since he was drafted 28th overall in 2007. The 33-year-old has started all 158 games he has played in and is a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time second-team All-Pro.

      --Seahawks defensive tackle Malik McDowell sustained "extensive brain/eye trauma" in last summer's ATV accident and likely will not play again, according to a report from Yahoo Sports.

      The report comes a day after NFL Network reported Seattle is expected to release McDowell -- the team's first pick in 2017, taken in the second round (35th overall) -- in the near future, without him ever playing an NFL snap. McDowell has not yet been medically cleared by the Seahawks.

      The 21-year-old sustained what head coach Pete Carroll later called "a really bad concussion" and facial injuries in mid-July last year near his home in Michigan. The team has since offered few specifics regarding McDowell's health, but it did confirm that he did not fracture his skull.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wentz has started running, still aiming for Week 1
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    About four months since he underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament in his left leg, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz says Week 1 of the 2018 season is still his targeted return.

    • "Yeah, that's still the plan," Wentz told reporters Tuesday when asked about being ready for the season opener, noting he doesn't feel like he must participate in the preseason to be prepared.

      Wentz, 25, also said he's begun the "running progression" of his rehab and is "feeling good," but he didn't offer many more details regarding his recovery.

      "It's such a fluid process, it's so hard to put a timeframe and a timetable on these things," he said. "I wish I knew as well, but things are going well, and I'm happy with where I'm at."

      Head coach Doug Pederson said during the NFL owners meetings in March that Wentz was "doing really well" and was "ahead of schedule."

      Wentz suffered the injury on Dec. 10 and had surgery three days later.

      Most ACL injuries are estimated to require 9-12 months for a full recovery, though every situation is different. For comparison, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco suffered a torn ACL and MCL in late November of 2016 and returned for full participation in training camp practice by Aug. 1 of 2017.

      While he's aiming to be ready for the regular season, Wentz added Tuesday that he won't force his return too soon.

      "I'm just going stay the course," he said. "You've seen the horror stories of people coming back too soon and those things. So I can assure you I'll be smart about it.

      Meanwhile, linebacker Jordan Hicks told reporters he's "ahead of schedule" in his recovery from a ruptured right Achilles tendon suffered in October.

      "It has been a very good rehab," he said. "It feels like since Day One, I've been ahead of schedule. Doctors and training staff are pleased with where I'm at, just progressing every day, constantly trying to get stronger, trying to get my explosion back."

      Hicks, 25, started all 16 games in 2016 and racked up 86 tackles and five interceptions, but he missed the final nine games of 2017 with the Achilles injury and the final eight games of 2015 with a torn pectoral muscle. He also ruptured his Achilles in 2013 at Texas, a year after missing 10 games due to a hip flexor injury.

      "When I'm healthy, I'm productive," he said. "For me, it's stay healthy, play your game, and let it happen. There isn't any question in my mind that if I'm healthy, I'll be productive."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Seahawks DT McDowell suffered 'extensive brain/eye trauma'
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Malik McDowell suffered "extensive brain/eye trauma" in last summer's ATV accident, according to a report from Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson on Tuesday.

    • Robinson added, "It was clear from the moment of injury that it was an extremely long shot he'd ever play again."

      The report comes a day after NFL Network reported Seattle is expected to release McDowell -- the team's first pick in 2017, taken in the second round (35th overall) -- in the near future, without him ever playing an NFL snap. McDowell has not yet been medically cleared by the Seahawks.

      The 21-year-old suffered what head coach Pete Carroll later called "a really bad concussion" and facial injuries in mid-July last year near his home in Michigan. The team has since offered few specifics regarding McDowell's health, but it did confirm that he did not fracture his skull.

      McDowell tweeted on July 30 "my injury is not life or career threatening," and said he would be "back on the field in the near future," but he spent the season on the non-football injury list, making him ineligible to practice or play. Carroll told reporters in late November that McDowell was "not making any progress" and ruled him out for a return during 2017.

      In December, McDowell was arrested in Atlanta on suspicion of disorderly conduct.

      In March, Carroll said there was "nothing new" on McDowell's status.

      "Same kind of thing," Carroll said, per the Seattle Times. "He's got a process he is going through, we get information rarely in his case, but there will be a time when you will hear more."

      Once considered a possible top-10 pick, McDowell slid in the 2017 draft due to character concerns.

      --Field Level Media

  • WR Bryant: Joining Giants would be 'crazy'
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    Dez Bryant has said he'd like to stay in the NFC East following his release by the Dallas Cowboys. Playing for one team in particular in the division appears to be an exciting thought for the wide receiver.

    • Bryant said joining the New York Giants would "be crazy" in an interview with 247Sports.com published Monday.

      "The Giants got a helluva defense, they're going to pay OBJ [Odell Beckham Jr.], so coming back. Playing with him, Sterling [Shepard] ... the tight end [Evan Engram], [QB Eli] Manning? Crazy. ... They draft [Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick]? That'd be crazy!" Bryant said.

      Bryant has told multiple outlets since being released last Friday that he'd like to play the Cowboys twice a year. The 29-year-old didn't speak specifically to the Philadelphia Eagles or Washington Redskins in the interview.

      The Redskins have the most room financially to add a top receiver like Bryant, though the Giants could save $5.5 million against the cap if they cut Brandon Marshall. Reports in recent days have said Washington and Philadelphia likely don't have interest.

      When asked about the Green Bay Packers, Bryant replied, "It wouldn't seem right. ... Too much history," referencing, no doubt, his controversial overturned catch in the divisional playoffs in January of 2015.

      The Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars are teams outside the NFC East that appear to appeal to Bryant.

      Bryant told 247Sports.com his decision "won't be about the money." He also reflected on his exit from Dallas, saying there were things he could have done differently.

      "I should've been better at controlling my emotions,'' Bryant said. "I should've been a better professional. I said I was going to work on that and that's what I am doing.

      "...(But) football means everything to me. I come from nothing. Football gave me life. It gave my family life. ... It's the love of my life.''

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Seahawks S Thomas absent from workouts
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was not present at the start of the team's voluntary offseason conditioning program on Monday, according to ESPN Seattle's Brock Huard.

    • Thomas, who will turn 29 in May, is seeking an extension as he enters the final year of his contract and has been the subject of trade discussions this offseason, with the team openly listening to offers despite not outright shopping him.

      The three-time All-Pro tweeted a lengthy message on Twitter in March asserting his desire to remain a Seahawk, but he has also suggested he will stay away from the team until he receives a new contract.

      "I definitely don't see myself going out there not signed," Thomas said from Orlando during the Pro Bowl in January. "As far as my future in Seattle, I think if they want me, you know, money talks," he added. "We'll get something accomplished. Other than that, I'm just taking it one day at a time."

      Thomas is due $8.5 million in base salary in 2018 and will count $10.4 million against the cap. Five other NFL safeties -- including teammate Kam Chancellor -- average more annually than Thomas currently makes, with Eric Berry leading the way at $13 million per year.

      The only mandatory portion of the Seahawks' offseason program is the veteran minicamp from June 12-14, which Thomas could be fined for missing. The offseason conditioning program and three series of OTAs in June are all voluntary.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Packers QB Rodgers frustrated with lack of personnel influence
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has lingering discontent over some of the team's offseason moves and his lack of input regarding changes that directly impact him, according to a Yahoo Sports report.

    • Yahoo's Charles Robinson quoted a league source saying Rodgers is both "frustrated" and "emotional" over his lack of communication with the front office prior to major offseason moves, most prominently the firing of quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt and release of wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

      "Both of those decisions [with Nelson and Van Pelt] were made without him," a league source close to Rodgers told Robinson. "In both situations, he had no influence with [the front office] before anything went down."

      Per Robinson, the issue is something Rodgers is keeping on his mind as he prepares for his next contract extension.

      "I know he's thinking about that stuff when it comes to the next contract because he should have earned a voice by now," the source continued, per Robinson. "In other places with [elite] quarterbacks, consideration is given to those guys. I think Aaron wants to be engaged in some decisions. But that's just not the way it works [in Green Bay]. I think that's obviously frustrating and it's going to keep coming out."

      Rodgers, 34, still has two years remaining on his contract, which made him the league's highest paid quarterback when he signed it in 2013. His annual average of $22 million currently ranks ninth among NFL QBs, and his 2018 cap hit of $20.6 million ranks 15th.

      The six-time Pro Bowler spoke to reporters for the first time this offseason on Tuesday as the Packers get their offseason conditioning program underway. On the subject of a contract extension, he said he thinks "there's interest on both sides in getting something done," but added there is "nothing to report right now" on the subject.

      As to whether he desires more input on personnel decisions, Rodgers didn't address the Yahoo report specifically, but he noted the importance of having faith in the team's front office.

      "You have to trust the process," he said. "And the process works. ...They're paying me to play quarterback to the best of my abilities, and their job descriptions are to handle those type of things, so I think you just act accordingly in those situations."

      Rodgers also elaborated on the departures of players and coaches like Nelson and Van Pelt, saying it's difficult to see people he's built relationships with leave.

      "From a personal standpoint, that's the toughest part," he said, "You're in this business for a long time and you start relationships with coaches and players. ... That's the toughest part about the whole thing is losing guys over the years."

      Later Tuesday, Rodgers sent out a sarcastic tweet that appears to be aimed at the Yahoo report. He retweeted and commented on a Packers.com story about him by writing, "I feel like the title of this article needs more click bait. Come on GBP, make something up, or talk to some unnamed sources close to me or something to beef up the clicks," including the hashtags #relax and #fakenewstuesday.

      Rodgers hasn't been shy about voicing his desire for more input on certain decisions, telling ESPN radio following the firing of Van Pelt in January that he wasn't consulted on the matter.

      "I thought that was an interesting change, really without consulting me," he said. "There's a close connection between quarterback and quarterback coach. And that was an interesting decision."

      After Nelson's release in March, Rodgers told Milwaukee radio station 102.9 The Hog, "I think it's pretty clear that players play and coaches coach and personnel people make their decisions. That's the way they want it."

      Nelson was one of Rodgers' closest friends on the team and his most reliable receiver, having caught 24 more touchdowns (65) from Rodgers than any other player during the QB's career.

      --Field Level Media

  • 2018 NFL Draft: Cat-like big man Vea tops DT class
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    1. Vita Vea

    • Washington

      6-4, 347, 40 time: 5.10

      Projection: First Round

      OVERVIEW

      At 270 pounds in high school, Vea was an impressive defensive lineman, recording 89 tackles as a senior at Milpitas High School in California. However, it was when he took snaps at running back that he really got to show off his light feet, averaging 12.3 yards per carry and scoring 11 touchdowns in 2012.

      Vea committed to Washington, but was forced to grayshirt due to academic issues, which was followed by a redshirt in 2014. He was a part-time starter the next two seasons before becoming the lead singer of the Huskies' defense in 2017. Although the stat sheet (5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks) doesn't reflect it, Vea went through dominant stretches his junior season, which earned him the 2017 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and Morris Trophy.

      ANALYSIS

      Vea is one of the few defensive linemen capable of stacking and splitting double-teams on one snap, followed by his ability to chase down ballcarriers near the sideline on the next snap. He is built like a refrigerator with the upper body power to grapple and dispose of bodies in his way. However, his game lacks polish with the effort and technique running hot-and-cold throughout the course of a game.

      Players the size of Vea aren't supposed to be able to move like he does. And players that move like Vea aren't supposed to be as strong as he is. Basically, Vea is rare. There aren't many humans on the planet with his size/athleticism/strength profile. However, those raw traits don't always equal football production and that is the question with Vea: as talented as he is, can he use those traits in unison to be a consistent disruptor in the NFL? If a team believes the answer is ‘yes' then Vea is a lock top-half of round one draft pick.

      2. Da'Ron Payne

      Alabama

      6-2 1/2, 311, 40 time: 4.95

      Projection: First Round

      OVERVIEW

      As a freshman in high school, Payne weighed 300 pounds and could dunk a basketball. He grew into a 350-pound five-star recruit as a senior and steadily cut weight without losing strength at Alabama.

      After a year as a true freshman backup, Payne started 29 games from 2016-17, collecting 89 tackles (4.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks and six passes defensed over that span. He dominated in the 2018 College Football Playoff, including an interception and receiving touchdown in a span of eight plays in the Sugar Bowl.

      He stood out at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.95-second 40-yard dash at 311 pounds.

      ANALYSIS

      Don't let the modest production mislead the evaluation of Payne, who progressed during his three years into a highly disruptive player who should only get better. Asked primarily to eat blocks, he anchored against double teams and squelched opposing run games with discipline. He's extremely well built and country strong but carries his weight well with nimble movement for his size.

      The biggest question is whether Payne can rush the passer at the next level. He's explosive enough to do so but didn't penetrate often in college, showing a limited array of pass-rush moves and hand techniques. He also plays a bit too high off the snap, undermining his burst and ending some rushes early.

      Payne should be a stud run defender from Day 1, but whichever team bites in Round 1 will need him to affect quarterbacks. Despite minimal results, he flashes in this regard, and with his developmental arrow pointing up, he should be a better rusher as a pro.

      3. Taven Bryan

      Florida

      6-5, 291, 40 time: 4.98

      Projection: First Round

      OVERVIEW

      SEC programs rarely spend time recruiting in Wyoming, but Bryan - or "Wyoming Wildman" as his Gator teammates call him - had the raw talent in high school to attract teams like Florida to the rural plains of Casper, Wyoming. The son of a Navy SEAL, Bryan was a standout offensive tackle and defensive tackle at Natrona County, leading the team to consecutive state championships as a junior and senior.

      The Gators lured him to Gainesville, where he redshirted and spent the next two seasons as a reserve. Taking over for Caleb Brantley, Bryan impressed with 37 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks as a first-year starter in 2017, drawing enough attention from NFL scouts that he left college early for the pros.

      ANALYSIS

      The Florida roster is full of top-tier athletes, but at 291 pounds, Bryan might have been the most impressive athlete in that locker room. He plays loose, with the lower-body explosion to surge off the ball and penetrate gaps. Bryan, who grew up working with his father's construction business, has skilled hands to snatch blockers at the point of attack, disposing of them when he uses proper push-pull technique.

      While the highlights make you sit up in your seat, Bryan is also undeveloped in areas, most notably his subpar mechanics, relying on his natural gifts to get the job done. And while he loves to shoot gaps, he tends to do so at the expense of the run game, leaving gaping holes for runners to advance to the second level. Production isn't always not an accurate indicator of on-field traits, but with Bryan, his 10.5 career tackles for loss illustrates that while supremely talented, he is also still developing. Nonetheless, teams want to work with his traits, possibly as early as the top 25.

      4. Maurice Hurst, Jr.

      Michigan

      6-2, 280, 40 time: 4.97 (Pro Day)

      Projection: First-Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      The son of former New England Patriots cornerback Maurice Hurst Sr., the younger Hurst was one of the most celebrated recruits to come out of powerhouse Xaverian Brothers (Westwood, Mass.) High School in years, twice earning all-state honors and ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the state.

      Recognized for his powerful ability on the interior defensive line, Hurst also lined up in the backfield as both a fullback and tailback and committed to Michigan over Boston College and many others.

      Hurst had only four career starts before earning first-team All-Big Ten honors as well as the team's Bo Schembechler MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2017. He left Ann Arbor with some impressive production despite the limited amount of playing time, recording 13.5 sacks and 32.5 tackles for loss in 46 appearances of which only 17 were starts.

      Hurst wasn't cleared to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine after a heart condition was discovered during the medical evaluation. He was cleared for Michigan's pro day one month later and his reported 4.97-second 40 and 31-inch vertical would have placed him in the upper echelon of defensive tackles at the combine.

      ANALYSIS

      Hurst has long been an alluring prospect for the remarkable amount of athleticism crammed into his wide-bodied frame, and it showed through in 2017 when he was used primarily as a nose tackle in defensive guru Don Brown's blitz-happy scheme, but also moved up and down the line.

      His first-step explosiveness has shown throughout his career, whether it's shooting through gaps or bulling his way to leveraging an oncoming blocker. But he could stand to be more disciplined off the ball, sometimes overrunning the play or selling out too much.

      How much the heart condition discovery effects his stock on draft day remains to be seen, but on intangibles and physical ability alone Hurst is a bona fide first-round talent who plays bigger than his 6-foot-2 frame might suggest.

      5. Harrison Phillips

      Stanford

      6-3, 307, 40 time: 5.21

      Projection: First-Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      For most defensive fronts, the nose tackle role is designed to occupy blocks and clog interior gaps. This is a high-impact, but low-production position.

      Phillips didn't receive that memo, because in his final season at Stanford, he was a high-impact, high-production zero technique, leading the Cardinal with 103 tackles, 17.0 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Phillips has a track record of overachieving in anything he does. As a high school wrestler, he went 31-0 and was the 2013 Junior National Heavyweight champion. Graduated from Stanford early with two degrees -- sociology and science, technology and society.

      ANALYSIS

      Anchoring the middle of Stanford's three-man front, Phillips holds his ground at the point of attack, using long arms and strong hands to lock out and control blocks. He is quick to read the backfield action to track the run, work off contact and pursue the ballcarrier. When he reads pass, Phillips doesn't waste time in hand fights but uses a bull rush to squeeze quarterbacks to move their feet.

      Phillips shows various grappling techniques from his wrestling background, but tends to let his pads rise at contact, negating leverage and power. Strengths far out-weigh the weaknesses in his game. Relentless effort to beat blockers to the spot or crash the intended path of ballcarriers. Whether in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Phillips will be a welcomed addition for any NFL front.

      6. Nathan Shepherd

      Fort Hays State

      6-4, 315, 40 time: 5.09

      Projection: Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      The journey from high school to the NFL's doorstep is different for each prospect, and no other prospect this year has taken a path quite as lengthy as Shepherd's. After playing linebacker in high school in Ontario, he spent two seasons at Division-II Simon Fraser before leaving due to financial issues. After two years away from the game working odd jobs, Shepherd looked to return to football, moving south to Kansas and signing with Fort Hays State as a defensive lineman.

      Once a 205-pound linebacker, he is now a 315-pound defensive tackle. Shepherd started 36 games the past three seasons and was probably the best player on the field in all 36 contests, dominating the Division II level and drawing NFL attention.

      ANALYSIS

      Shepherd looks like he was built with a NFL starter kit with his wide, filled-out frame. He plays with power in his hands to shock and displace blockers, working off contact to force his way to the ball. Shepherd uses his active upper body to unglue from blockers, and then shows off his loose athleticism either infiltrating the pocket or chasing down ballcarriers from behind.

      There is always a concern for lower-level players as they face a substantial jump in competition, but Shepherd was arguably the best defensive lineman in attendance at the Senior Bowl. He was near unblockable in his one day of practice (before breaking a bone in his left hand) and was one of the few who got the best of UTEP's Will Hernandez in one-on-one drills. Shepherd has a realistic chance of crashing the top 50 picks.

      7.Tim Settle

      Virginia Tech

      6-2 3/4, 329, 40 time: 5.37

      Projection: Second Round

      OVERVIEW

      A four-star defensive tackle and rated a top-10 prospect in Virginia, Settle stayed in-state and redshirted in 2015 with the Hokies.

      He played in all 14 games as a reserve in 2016, picking up 17 tackles (7.0 for loss) and a blocked kick. As a full-time starter in 2017, he racked up 36 tackles (12.5 for loss) and 4.0 sacks, along with another blocked kick.

      Settle was the third-heaviest player at the NFL Scouting Combine (329 pounds).

      ANALYSIS

      Incredibly nimble for his size, Settle has drawn comparisons to Vince Wilfork. He worked diligently to cut weight and improve his conditioning, and it paid off with a breakout 2017 campaign. He bursts hard off the line and shows power, quickness and athleticism while routinely working to the ball, even on perimeter runs. His instincts have improved with experience, and he shows the ability to penetrate for tackles for loss and push the pocket as a rusher even when he can't get the sack.

      Settle isn't a finished product. With just two years playing and one year starting in college, he lacks refinement in technique and hand usage. While he makes splash plays, he also gets a bit out of control and loses his gap too often, playing high at times and getting steered by blockers. Despite his diligence, his weight could require monitoring throughout his career.

      Settle's size, athleticism and 2017 tape are enticing, and he still has unfulfilled upside. Weight control and consistent development -- particularly as a pass-rusher -- will determine his ceiling.

      8. Derrick Nnadi

      Florida State

      6-1, 317, 40 time: 5.38

      Projection: Third Round

      OVERVIEW

      A son of Nigerian immigrants, Nnadi was a four-star high school recruit and one of the top defensive tackles in the nation, picking Florida State over Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Penn State.

      He played in nine games as a true freshman reserve before starting 37 of his final 39 games, racking up a total of 90 tackles (20.5 for loss) and 9.5 sacks while earning first-team All-ACC honors in 2016.

      He accepted a Senior Bowl invitation but did not participate due to an unspecified injury. One of the heaviest players at the NFL Scouting Combine, he wasn't expected to impress in Indy, but he disappointed in the bench press (25 reps, tied 19th among D-linemen).

      ANALYSIS

      Nnadi is a hair undersized (6-1, 317 pounds) for an NFL nose tackle, but he sports an ideal build with an extremely thick and powerful lower half. An animal in the weight room, he shows his strength by anchoring against double teams and shocking single blockers with heavy hands. He maintains steady technique and discipline, staying low and fighting to keep his gap. He also shows above average recognition and great effort, leading to rare production for his position.

      Without elite length (33 ½-inch arms), Nnadi can be enveloped on occasion, and he also lacks great upside. His athleticism is just OK for his size, limiting his range in the run game, and while he got after quarterbacks in college, he may not be a dynamic rusher at the next level.

      Nnadi should become a great, steady run defender, but questions about pass-rush upside limit his ceiling.

      9. B.J. Hill

      NC State

      6-3 1/4, 311, 40 time: 4.99

      Projection: Third Round

      OVERVIEW

      A former high school defensive end and fullback, Hill joined the Wolfpack as a three-star recruit and excelled as a true freshman, tallying 40 tackles (7.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks in 12 games (five starts).

      His most productive campaign came as a sophomore (11.0 TFLs, 3.5 sacks), but he started all 39 games from 2015-17, collecting 147 tackles (19.0 for loss), 7.5 sacks and nine passes defensed in that span.

      He impressed at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, tying for third among D-linemen on the bench (35 reps) and running a 4.99-second 40-yard dash at 315 pounds. Likewise, his 20-yard shuttle (4.53) and especially his 3-cone drill (7.28 seconds, tied fifth among D-linemen) were excellent.

      ANALYSIS

      Hill steadily bulked up during college to play the nose on a very talented D-line. His powerful top half and big hands help him fight through blockers and shed to make plays in the hole. He shows great recognition, diagnosing plays quickly and finding the ball. He also maintains great effort despite logging far more snaps than most big men, and flashes pass-rush upside.

      Hill must improve his lower-body strength and play lower; double-team blocks displace him too regularly, and he might only fit one-gap schemes due to limited length (32 ¼-inch arms). His tendency to raise his pad-level off the snap also stymies his pass rush, and he didn't threaten quarterbacks often despite single-blocking opportunities.

      Hill is a solid run defender and flashes the movement skills to bother QBs, but he needs significant work to get there.

      10. Deadrin Senat

      South Florida

      6-0, 314, 40 time: 5.16

      Projection: Third-Fourth Round

      OVERVIEW

      Senat didn't play football until high school and became a three-star recruit, initially committing to Florida State before opting for South Florida. He redshirted in 2013 before starting two of 12 games in 2014, making 18 tackles.

      He went on to start 34 of 37 games from 2015-17, collecting 161 tackles (23.0 for loss) and 7.0 sacks in that span, including 10.5 TFLs and 6.0 sacks as a senior, earning first-team All-AAC honors.

      After excelling at the East-West Shrine game, he received a late Senior Bowl invitation but declined. He tied for third among D-linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine with 35 bench-press reps.

      ANALYSIS

      Senat closed his USF career with a bang, racking up 40 tackles (9.5 for loss) and 6.0 sacks in his final five games. With a thick, squatty build, he optimizes his shorter stature (6-0) by playing low to maintain great leverage. He has heavy hands and shows the lower-body power to anchor against double teams. He also moves well for his size, chasing perimeter runs with great effort despite logging a ton of snaps.

      Size remains a limitation as Senat's lack of length (31 5/8-inch arms) allows defenders into his chest too often. Bigger blockers can overwhelm him at times and he struggles to shed to find the ball in the hole. He also lacks the burst to be a penetrator or a threatening pass-rusher, limiting his upside.

      With technique and effort, Senat maximizes less-than-ideal tools to be disruptive, but he's probably not dynamic enough to be more than a clogger at the next level.

      11. RJ McIntosh

      Miami (Fla.)

      6-4 1/2, 286, 40 time: N/A - groin

      Projection: Third-Fourth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A defensive end and short-yardage quarterback in high school, McIntosh has two impressive brothers: a Notre Dame wideout and a top 2019 running back recruit. Richard Jr. ("RJ") joined Miami as a three-star prospect and played sparingly as a true freshman while transitioning to defensive tackle.

      RJ took over in 2016 and started his final 26 games for the Hurricanes, finishing with 99 tackles (22.0 for loss), five sacks and nine passes defensed (including seven as a junior) from 2016-17.

      He did not work out at the NFL Scouting Combine or his pro day due to a groin injury.

      ANALYSIS

      Though not super productive, McIntosh is toolsy. Huge (6-4 ½, 286 pounds) with a wingspan approaching seven feet (82 3/4 inches), he has room for more weight but moves fluidly for his size. He uses sudden feet and athleticism to disrupt behind the line, flashing arm-overs and spin moves. He has a knack for swatting passes and gives great effort on and off the field, having added 50 healthy pounds during college.

      McIntosh needs plenty of polish, however. While not weak, he lacks the play strength to consistently hold up in the run game, which is exacerbated by his tendency to raise his pads later in the down. As a pass-rusher, he shows more potential than production, rarely threatening quarterbacks and lacking an array of moves or a measured plan.

      In need of seasoning, McIntosh probably came out too soon and likely won't contribute early. However, he has the talent to be disruptive as a 3-4 end, 4-3 3-technique or 4-3 strong-side end, with significant interior pass-rush upside.

      12. Trenton Thompson

      Georgia

      6-2 5/8, 288, 40 time: 5.06

      Projection: Fourth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A five-star high school defensive tackle and the top-rated recruit in the state of Georgia, Thompson chose the Bulldogs over Auburn and made six starts (in 12 games) as a true freshman, picking up 25 tackles (2.5 for loss) and 0.5 sacks.

      He broke out as a sophomore with 56 tackles (9.5 for loss) and 5.0 sacks in just seven starts (13 games) before battling injuries as a junior, finishing with 38 tackles (3.5 for loss) and no sacks in 2017.

      He showed explosion at the NFL Scouting Combine, finishing third in the vertical jump (32.5 inches) and tying for fifth in the broad jump (111 inches) among defenders over 285 pounds.

      ANALYSIS

      Thompson combines above-average tools with a great motor. Though not particularly tall (6-2 5/8), he has long arms (34 inches) and huge hands (10 5/8 inches), with impressive athleticism and lateral quickness for his size. He stays low and plays hard, relentlessly pursuing the ball from a variety of positions and alignments. He also shows sufficient strength in his upper body and his base.

      Thompson didn't translate potential into production, with injuries a major factor. He fought through pain as a junior but played just 35 percent of Georgia's defensive snaps and was clearly limited. Despite flashes, he rarely manhandles or controls blockers, and poor body control leaves him on the ground too often. He also has a bad tendency to be slow off the snap.

      If developed and healthy, Thompson could become a disruptive starter, but medical check-ups will be crucial and his floor is lower than comparable players.

      13. Folorunso Fatukasi

      UConn

      6-3 3/4, 318, 40 time: 5.29

      Projection: Fourth Round

      OVERVIEW

      Fatukasi, better known as "Foley," slipped under the recruiting radar after missing his junior year of high school due to injury and picked Connecticut over Buffalo.

      He redshirted in 2013 and was a reserve in 2014 before breaking out with 50 tackles (8.0 for loss), 7.0 sacks and four forced fumbles in just eight starts in 2015. He started all 24 games from 2016-17, totaling 88 tackles (10.5 for loss) and 6.5 sacks in that span.

      He turned heads at the East-West Shrine Game and the NFL Scouting Combine, showing power (33 bench-press reps, fifth among D-linemen) and explosion. Among players over 315 pounds, he ranked first in the 3-cone drill (7.44 seconds) and short shuttle (4.53 seconds) and second in the vertical (30 inches) and broad (112 inches) jumps.

      ANALYSIS

      Though his production waned after 2015, Fatukasi remained very disruptive on tape. Thick and muscular, he uses long arms (34 1/8 inches) and big, heavy hands (10 1/8 inches) to control and discard blockers. He flashes double-team anchoring power and can push the pocket. He also shows great vision and instincts as plays unfold and checks most intangible boxes (effort, versatility, smarts, durability).

      Fatukasi needs more polish to be a consistent force. His pads often get too high, creating issues in the run game, and he relies mostly on power instead of technique as a rusher, which won't be enough at the next level. Despite good burst, he's a bit stiff laterally with so-so body control, limiting his range.

      Scheme-versatile and gifted, Fatukasi could appeal to many teams as a moldable future starter with some pass-rush upside.

      14. Hercules Mata'afa

      Defensive Line, Washington State

      6-2 1/4, 254, 40 time: 4.76

      Projection: Fifth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A three-star defensive end recruit out of Maui, Mata'afa also starred in wrestling. He chose Washington State over Oregon State and redshirted in 2014 before totaling 32 tackles (11.0 for loss) and 7.0 sacks as a reserve in 2015.

      He moved to defensive tackle as a full-time starter in 2016, finishing with 47 tackles (13.5 for loss) and 5.0 sacks. He earned consensus All-American honors as a junior with 22.5 TFLs and 10.5 sacks.

      He showed off power at the NFL Scouting Combine, tying for fifth in the bench press (26 reps) among defenders under 260 pounds.

      ANALYSIS

      Mata'afa is a thrill to watch. He explodes out of his stance and lives in opponents' backfields while red-lining his motor like his life depends on it. With initial burst and lateral quickness, he often beats blockers immediately for sacks and TFLs. He's durable (never missed a game), tough as nails and lined up all over the line, also showing some comfort dropping.

      Mata'afa is far too much of a liability against the run to stay at defensive tackle. At 6-2 1/4 and 254 pounds with short arms (31 ½ inches), he has little room for more weight. Double teams wash him away, and single blocks often control him. He also shows no run discipline, abandoning his gap to seek splash plays, and gets by more on effort than technique as a rusher. His traits are much closer to average when compared to edge defenders.

      With no natural NFL position, Mata'afa must move outside and get stronger to play full-time. Still, he should be a sub-package interior rusher early, with major upside if his technique develops.

      15. Kendrick Norton

      Miami (Fla.)

      6-2, 312, 40 time: 5.25

      Projection: Fifth-Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      Son of former NFL linebacker and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., Kendrick was a three-star high school recruit. He backed off a verbal commitment to Florida State and picked Miami over Alabama, Florida and Auburn.

      He played in 12 games as a true freshman reserve, collecting 19 tackles (1.5 for loss) and 1.0 sack. He broke out in 2016 with 39 tackles (10.0 for loss) and 2.0 sacks in 13 starts, then added 26 tackles (6.5 for loss) and 2.0 sacks as a junior.

      He tied for seventh among D-linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine with 30 bench-press reps.

      ANALYSIS

      With NFL bloodlines, Norton brings ideal size (6-2, 312 pounds) and length (33 ¾-inch arms) to the position, translating his mass into a strong anchor that clogs running lanes. His hands are big (10 ¾ inches) and powerful, conveying a heavy punch to shock blockers. He also plays with great effort and a mean temperament and held up impressively against top guard prospect Quenton Nelson.

      However, Norton undermines his strength too often by playing high, and he can be washed out of the hole by double teams at times. He carries some bad weight and lacks dynamic burst or lateral quickness, limiting his range and opportunities to create negative plays. He also winds up on the ground a bit too often and only occasionally flashes as a pass-rusher.

      Without great athleticism, Norton's ceiling is likely as a two-down run stuffer, but he could play early if he lowers his pad level and strengthens his base.

      16. Justin Jones

      NC State

      6-2 1/2, 309, 40 time: 5.09

      Projection: Fifth-Sixth Round

      OVERVIEW

      A four-star recruit, Jones joined high school teammate Bradley Chubb (top-five 2018 DE prospect) by committing to the Wolfpack.

      He had nine tackles in 10 games as a true freshman reserve before improving to 29 tackles (6.5 for loss) and 2.0 sacks in 13 games (three starts) as a sophomore. He started all 26 games as a junior and senior, totaling 77 tackles (15.0 for loss) and 5.5 sacks in that span.

      He impressed at the Senior Bowl -- named top defensive lineman of the week by director Phil Savage -- and stood out at the NFL Scouting Combine, tying for the fourth-fastest 40-yard dash (5.09 seconds) of any defender over 300 pounds.

      ANALYSIS

      Jones is smaller (6-2 ½, 309 pounds) than fellow Wolfpack defensive tackle B.J. Hill, but he's strong for his size and carries little bad weight. He plays low and delivers power with his first step, while showing the willingness and discipline to take on double teams and anchor. Though he rotated out some in college, he plays with great effort. He also looked surprisingly dynamic against quality competition at the Senior Bowl.

      Jones is not explosive on tape, showing limited twitch and rarely creating negative plays. He's disjointed as a rusher, lacking a clear plan and struggling to redirect laterally or counter. He is also late off the snap at times and lets blockers into his chest relatively often despite decent length (33 ½-inch arms, 81-inch wingspan).

      His performance in Mobile was promising, but Jones doesn't stand out in any one area, and a lack of size and athleticism limits his upside.

      17. Poona Ford

      Texas

      5-11, 309, 40 time: 5.09

      Projection: Sixth-Seventh Round

      OVERVIEW

      Few around the Texas football facility know Kaylon Ford. But Poona? Everyone knows the jovial big man who transforms into a backfield monster on the field. Ford, who was given the Poona nickname by his grandmother, was a middle linebacker in high school before he out-grew the position and moved to defensive line.

      He initially committed to Louisville before following Charlie Strong to Austin. Ford was part of the Texas defensive line rotation his first three seasons and was barely a blip on the NFL radar entering his senior season. However, he was a difference-maker in 2017 as the nose tackle in the Longhorns' odd front, racking up 34 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. For his effort, Ford was named Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year and First Team All-Big 12.

      ANALYSIS

      There aren't many defensive tackles under 6-feet tall in the NFL, but Ford will be one of the few. While he doesn't have ideal height, it does help to create natural leverage, playing low to the ground to get underneath blockers to win the point of attack. Although he managed only 4.0 sacks in college, Ford uses his strong hands and body control to pry through gaps, flashing pass rush potential with his lower-body quickness.

      He might not have a dominant characteristic, but Ford shows the ability to defeat blockers in different ways and will be viewed as a nose tackle by some schemes and a three-technique by others. A surprising NFL Scouting Combine snub, Ford has a great chance to be the first non-invite drafted in the 2018 class.

      18. Bilal Nichols

      Delaware

      6-4, 306, 40 time: 4.96

      Projection: Sixth-Seventh Round

      OVERVIEW

      A lightly-recruited player out of Hodgson Vo-Tech (Newark, Del.) High School, Nichols was a two-sport star who dominated on both sides of the ball, leading the Golden Eagles to a state title in his senior season of 2013. Nichols led the team with 11.0 sacks that season as a defensive end, but also made All-State as a tight end with seven touchdown catches. With no FBS offers, Nichols chose nearby Delaware over the likes of several other FCS powers along the Eastern seaboard.

      Nichols kicked inside to defensive tackle upon his arrival at Delaware and appeared in all 12 games as a true freshman, then made his first start as a sophomore in 2015 and earned third-team All-CAA honors. He assumed a full-time starter role at defensive tackle his final two seasons and earned two more all-conference honors, including First Team as a nose tackle in 2017 when he recorded 56 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and five passes defended.

      Nichols had an impressive showing at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, when he recorded a 4.96-second 40-yard dash that registered as the fastest such time among prospects over 300 pounds. His 29 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press was also the best by a non-FBS defensive lineman, and ninth-best overall among defensive linemen.

      ANALYSIS

      Among interior defensive line prospects, Nichols is a mound of clay, with room to add muscle mass, low body fat and the requisite length seen in a prototype NFL defensive tackle.

      Over his decorated career in Newark, Nichols flashed natural ability as a traditional two-gapper, with the power and anchor to fill holes and create a mess at the point of attack. But his technique is raw, and he could stand to develop as a better finisher.

      After going from an off-the-line edge prospect as a high schooler to a "piano player" able to move across the interior gaps in college, Nichols' versatility should be an attractive late-round candidate for NFL teams. While his performance in Indianapolis was shortened due to a hamstring injury, he did enough to provide additional intrigue.

      19. P.J. Hall

      Sam Houston State

      6-0, 308, 40 time: 4.68-4.83 (Pro Day)

      Projection: Seventh Round/Free Agent

      OVERVIEW

      Lightly recruited out of Seguin (Texas) High School, Hall was a busy body during his time with the Matadors, lettering in powerlifting and track and field in addition to his duties as both a defensive end and running back on the gridiron. Hall earned first-team All-District as a senior at Seguin after recording 71 tackles and 6.0 sacks to go with 604 rushing yards and nine TDs on offense.

      With little attention from FBS colleges, Hall brought his undersized frame to Sam Houston State. After redshirting in 2013, he went on to become one of the most accomplished defensive linemen in FCS history, earning All-American and Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors and four first-team all-conference nods.

      Hall lined up primarily at defensive end at Sam Houston State, but switched to nose tackle as a senior and posted similarly outstanding production. He is the program's career leader in sacks (42) and blocked kicks on special teams (14, second-most in FCS history), and totaled 406 negative yards in his 86 total tackles for loss.

      ANALYSIS

      Hall was a Scouting Combine snub, but has seen sudden interest from a handful of NFL teams after an eye-opening pro day that included a 38-inch vertical, 36 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press and a 40-yard dash that was unofficially timed as low as 4.68 second.

      Those impressive numbers were evident on his game tape from Sam Houston. Hall consistently disrupted gaps with explosive first-step quickness out of his stance, able to maintain balance with his low center of gravity, and able to generate plenty of power through his lower half. Hall also put on 30 pounds of muscle between his junior and senior years, and did so without compromising flexibility.

      At the NFL level, Hall is going to need to be more consistent against the run and creating a more violent punch. But with unparalleled production for a distinguished FCS program and some intriguing intangibles, Hall could wind up being a late-round steal for someone under the right tutelage.

      20. John Atkins

      Georgia

      6-2 7/8, 321, 40 time: 5.38

      Projection: Seventh Round/Free Agent

      OVERVIEW

      As a three-start recruit out of Thomson, Ga., Atkins was a renaissance man for his high school. In addition to his prowess on both sides of the line in football, he was also a standout in basketball, shot put, and even as a goalkeeper in soccer. Atkins committed to the hometown Georgia Bulldogs over dozens of other offers, but first had to spend a post-graduate year at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy after failing to qualify academically for the Class of 2012.

      After redshirting in 2013, Atkins made three starts over the next two seasons before becoming a full-time starter at the nose guard in Kirby Smart's 3-4 scheme, as a junior in 2016. Over his final two seasons, Atkins recorded 60 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and three passes defended, but he left Athens having never recorded a sack in his college career.

      ANALYSIS

      Atkins' lack of production at Georgia will raise an eyebrow, but that may be more of a function of his role than an indictment of his skill set. Atkins was a classic two-gapper for Smart, staying his lane and using his body to both plug holes and free up space for the Bulldogs' great linebackers.

      There were times his raw power was unleashed in the middle, using his stout lower half to establish leverage and attacking the point with vigor. As a pass rusher, Atkins' impact is mostly minimal, lacking enough burst out of his stance to push the pocket.

      In terms of strength, Atkins' impressive frame might be misleading. His motor isn't in question, though, and he takes pride in doing the dirty work that doesn't often show up on the stat sheet. Atkins most likely projects as a rotational space-eater at the next level.

      --Field Level Media

  • Buccaneers pick up Winston's fifth-year option
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    Quarterback Jameis Winston will remain in Tampa Bay for at least two more years. The Buccaneers picked up Winston's $20.922 million fifth-year option and are reportedly ready to begin working on a bigger deal with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft.

    • The option covers the 2019 season, meaning Winston would become a free agent in March 2020. But the Buccaneers are making it clear there is no intention to let Winston out of Tampa. The Tampa Bay Times first reported the team would pick up the fifth-year option on Tuesday.

      Last season was an adventure for Winston due to a shoulder injury, and an ongoing NFL investigation into allegations by an Uber driver casts a morsel of doubt on where the two sides might go from here.

      However, Winston said this week he has not been interviewed by the NFL, and general manager Jason Licht has pledged support for the fourth-year quarterback publicly.

      Licht pointed to the team's plans to open long-term contract talks during the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. As salaries at the position climb, Winston's fifth-year option salary -- fully guaranteed for injury -- is under the going rate for "franchise" quarterbacks.

      As the top pick in 2015, Winston signed a rookie four-year deal worth $25.35 million in May 2015.

      Winston, 24, has 69 touchdowns and 44 interceptions in his career.

      --Field Level Media

  • Niners OT Staley gets raise in reworked contract
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    The San Francisco 49ers reworked offensive tackle Joe Staley's contract to give the veteran a pay bump over the next two seasons, according to NFL Network.

    • Staley, originally set to make $11 million combined in 2018 and '19, will now make $17.4 million the next two seasons. This season, Staley will make $8.72 million instead of the $5.5 million he was due.

      Staley has been one of the 49ers' most reliable players since he was drafted 28th overall in 2007. The 33-year-old has started all 158 games he's played in and is a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time second-team All-Pro.

      San Francisco is well under the salary cap, so the raise for Staley shouldn't lead to setbacks elsewhere in the short term.

      --Field Level Media

  • Former Jets C Mangold retires
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    New York Jets center Nick Mangold announced his retirement on Tuesday.

    • Mangold, 34, did not play in 2017 after being released by the Jets. He will sign a ceremonial contract on April 24 with the team before filing official retirement paperwork with the NFL.

      The Jets drafted Mangold 29th overall in 2006.

      "I DECLARE RETIREMENNNTTTTTTT!" Mangold wrote via Twitter.

      He included a heartfelt note recounting his career, beginning in pee-wee football to what he called "good fortune" to play at Ohio State.

      "In my 11 years as a Jet, there were plenty of ups and downs but, through it all, I wanted to be the Steady Eddie. I wanted to be the guy that other guys looked at to see how it was done. I learned this attribute from the vets that I played with," Mangold wrote. "My biggest regret is not bringing the Lombardi Trophy to New York but, as I retire, I will continue my efforts to bring the Trophy home in a different capacity. I have no idea what that capacity is but I'm sure I will figure something out in the future."

      Mangold started as a rookie, played in 164 career games and was named to seven Pro Bowls. He was a two-time first-team All-Pro.

      The Jets released Mangold last offseason.

      --Field Level Media