Week 1 – Sunday Roundtable with Colin Cowhed’s Blazing 5

Week one, Sunday regular season action is upon us.  Here are my predictions and Colin Cowherd’s Blazing 5 picks.  Good luck to all!

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills,
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Bills +3 O/U: 45
Rex Ryan’s new era in Buffalo begins with Tyrod Taylor as his starter, unfortunately it’s against a tough Colts team lead by the miraculous Andrew Luck. Buffalo’s defense will make it tough on Luck but Taylor won’t get anything going on offense for the Bills. Pick: Colts 27-17

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears,
TV: 1 p.m., FOX. LINE: Bears -7 O/U: 49
No Jordy Nelson, no problem. Green Bay has had depth at receiver for years with the next best guy always stepping up. James Jones was recently signed to add security to the position for the season, back with his favorite elite quarterback in a very familiar offense. Pack don’t miss a step in Chicago but the spread is almost too great for this division rivalry. Pick: Packers 31-21

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans,
TV: 1 p.m., CBS. LINE: Texans +1 O/U: 41
Adding Maclin to the receiving corps will help Alex Smith get some touchdowns to the receivers this year, but the Texans defense is back with two of the biggest defensive ends in the game with Clowney being healthy again. The Texans will be without Foster for this game so look to see the back field platooning. Defense wins the day and the Texans are a home dog so take them. Pick: Texans 17-14

Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars,
TV: 1 p.m., FOX. LINE: Jags +3 O/U: 40.5
An intriguing matchup with the Jags toughening defense and the lackluster, nearly weaponless Panthers offense. I am surprised the line isn’t closer to a pick’em given that Bortles started to settle in as an NFL starter late last year. He’s got a plethora of young talent at receiver and with TJ as the new addition to the back field, look for the Jags to set a winning building block this year. Cam tries to do it all in this game which will be dangerous. It’ll be close but Cam can’t get the ball to enough guys to make up for missing Benjamin. Pick: Jags 17-16

Cleveland Browns at New York Jets,
TV: 1 p.m., CBS. LINE: Jets -3.5 O/U: 38.5
The Browns have been piecing together a team for years with no real direction. The defense always seemed to be the lone standout and kept them in a few games but the lack of offense proved to be its main weakness. With the Jets defense always being solid, now adding a sure star in Marshall on the outside as a main target, the Jets will try to move on from Geno slowly and find a winner at QB in Fitzpatrick who can win and keep mistakes to a minimum. No cannon but can give Marshall a big year. Pick: Jets 14-12

Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams,
TV: 1 p.m., FOX. LINE: Rams +4 O/U: 41.5
These two always seem to give each other fits and Seattle has never been stellar on the road. The Rams always give good teams trouble on the defensive side but with Foles as their new guy behind center, it may rejuvenate the franchise who were at the mercy of Sam Bradford and his knees. Expect bigger things from the Rams this year but Foles hasn’t faced a defense like this yet and had an average year compared to his first with Chip Kelly in Philly. Pick: Seahawks 20-17

Miami Dolphins at Washington Redskins,
TV: 1 p.m., CBS. LINE: Redskins +5 O/U: 45.5
The Dolphins anchored their man behind center with a nice new fat contract but now come the expectations. The Dolphins aren’t just going to rely on Tannehill as they added a stud at defensive tackle in Suh. Adding him will make the front defensive line that much tougher. Dolphins go from mediocre to playoff contenders this year. The Redskins have been in a tailspin again this offseason with more RGIII talk. With Cousins starting, they’re offense will have less distraction with injuries and off the field comments but Cousins isn’t their guy and the Redskins should’ve traded him when his value was very high 2 years ago. It must hurt being a home dog by more than a field goal but it’s for good reason. Pick: Fins 31-17

New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals,
TV: 4:05 p.m., FOX. LINE: Cards -2.5 O/U: 48
Jimmy Graham is no longer the main, attractive weapon in Who Dat nation. Brandin Cooks is now the young outstanding weapon opposite Colston that will keep the passing game thriving but still not as hot as it has been in years past. Brees took a bit of a hit in yardage however will still have more than 4,000 yards. The Cards have Palmer back and healthy. With the addition of Chris Johnson and some other young backs platooning in, the Cards could have a moderately successful season if most of the main offensive pieces stay healthy. This game is in doors which is both teams bread and butter. Look for it to be close like the line states but the Cards hold on. Pick: Cards 27-24

Detroit Lions at San Diego Chargers,
TV: 4:05 p.m., FOX. LINE: Chargers -3.5 O/U: 46
The Chargers open up at home without their start tight end Gates in the lineup. No more Matthews in the backfield will prove to shortchange the Chargers in the redzone. However the lack off redzone threats for the Chargers, the Lions are without Suh on their defensive front. That will considerably change the dynamic of their pass rush. Nonetheless, both teams still have the ability to air it out. Pick: Chargers 24-21

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos,
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS. LINE: Broncos -5 O/U: 47
With new offensive minds for the Broncos and an aging legend who still deals with numbness in his throwing hand, look for the Broncos to tone it down a bit in the air game, especially without Julius Thomas now with the Jags. The running game isn’t a sure bet to take over the offense but the days of 45-50 TD’s in the passing game are over for Manning. The Ravens on the other hand found a gem last year in Forsett. Coupled with the strong armed Flacco and Steve Smith threat, the Ravens are poised to have a good year. Pick: Broncos 27-24

Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders,
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS. LINE: Raiders +3 O/U: 43
The Raiders all around looked pretty good this off season. Defensively sound and Carr is developing nicely for them. The Bengals are going to put up their typical average season, good start, horrible finish. Teams are now on to Andy Daulton and once under substantial pressure, he will turn the ball over. Look for the Bengals to go to the run game more this year than in the past to limit picks. Pick: Raiders 21-17

Tennessee Titans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers,
TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS. LINE: Buccs -3 O/U: 41
The rookie quarterback matchup, Winston and Mariota is what we’ve all been waiting to see. Who made out better. This will show which quarterback was better prepared for their inaugural season. That being said, Winston was drafted into a much better offensive situation than Mariota. With Evans and Jackson on the outside Jenkins at tight end, and Martin/Sims combo in the backfield, the Buccs are going to be riding high this year if Winston can settle into the offense at full pace. Mariota has a little more work to do with the lack of weapons compared to Winston but he is a great game manager and doesn’t make errors often. Pick: Buccs 27-21

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys,
TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC. LINE: Cowboys -7 O/U: 52.5
Another early divisional matchup pits the revamped Giants offense with Cruz back, the Giants are poised to have a pretty successful air attack again this year. The Cowboys are without their leading rusher in Murray, jetting to another divisional rival, the Eagles, but landed Run DMC formerly of the Raiders. He hasn’t been all that cracked up to be since he was drafted but a new place, new team, new O-line might bring some spark out of him. Still, Romo, Dez and Witten are a tough combo in itself to handle. Pick: Cowboys 30-27

Colin Cowherd’s Blazing 5 Picks:
Jaguars (+3) 23-20
Ravens (+5) 27-26
Packers (-7) 34-20
Rams (+4.5) 27-26
Giants (+6) 28-26

Where doesn’t Allen Robinson fit in?

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My first blog writing gig for a website has come with morethanafan.net and their cfbroundtable.com site.  I accepted a position covering Penn State Nittany Lions football.  So, being a long time Michigan fan, I will always love Michigan, but now I have to draw my attention to PSU.

I’ve never disliked PSU and always rooted for them since they pluck a bunch of local kids from around where I grew up, to play for them.  So I never looked at them as “rivals”.  Plus, who didn’t like JoPa through his 30 plus years of coaching?  He taught a lot of kids through the program some very important values that they have taken to heart over the years and applied to their lives and even though he had a lapse in sense on what to do with the Jerry Sandusky situation, he is still revered by former players, coaches, alumni, and the university for the non-football contributions he made.

Having pulled up the current roster, 2014 schedule, and the departing players to the draft, I came away with an overall good feeling about the upcoming season.  Towards the end of the summer is when I will start to analyze the team more in depth along with their schedule.  Right now PSU students are going home for the summer and some senior football players including junior Allen Robinson, are hoping they hear their name called in the remaining 6 rounds of the draft tonight and tomorrow.

One of the best scouted prospects coming out of PSU this year is 6’2″ wide receiver Allen Robinson.  He is in a very packed wide receiver draft class where he was pegged by “mock draft experts” to go somewhere late in the first round or in the second round.  To say the least, there were a lot of surprising picks in the first round and a bunch of teams who need receivers passed on them and went for another need.  Teams in need of a wide receiver as a top 3 need are as followed: Rams, Jaguars, Browns, Raiders, Lions, Steelers, Jets, Eagles, Chiefs, 49ers, Broncos and Seahawks.  Plenty of teams to land on for Robinson who is considered by some “mock draft experts” the 7th best remaining receiver.  Robinson’s pro day improved on his combine numbers and with his size and his 4.49 speed, he would be an asset to any of the teams listed above.  Not to mention that he could be the complimenting receiver to another big named receiver currently on  a team or be your number one guy given his stature.

Upcoming second round picks from the list of teams above that need a wide receiver: 3rd Pick – Browns, 4th Pick – Raiders, 7th – Jaguars, 8th Pick – Seahawks, 12th Pick – Rams, 13th Pick – Lions, 14th Pick – Steelers, 17th – Jets, 22nd Pick – Eagles, 24th Pick – 49ers, 29th Pick – 49ers, 31st Pick – Broncos, 32nd Pick – Seahawks.

14 chances that a wide receiver could be taken, 14 chances that it could be Allen Robinson depending on how the teams have graded him on their board.  Size, Speed and great leaping ability (39″ vertical) will compliment any receiving core and he will be a red zone threat since he doesn’t mind the contact aspect of football (as seen when he ran his own lineman over to grab a few more yards against Syracuse last year.)  I could see him being taken early on to mid 2nd round but I would be shocked if he fell to the 20th+ picks of the second round.  It really all depends on how teams graded him and where they have him in the ranks of all of the other wide receivers.

News came in that an assistant coach saw the 1st round draft board of the Vikings and they had Johnny Manziel and Teddy Brdgewater 1 and 2 on their draft board.  Most of America didn’t have Bridgewater going in the first round after his pro day but it goes to show you that teams grade guys differently and that nothing is to be expected.  Personally, Carr would’ve been the pick there since he hasn’t missed where Bridgewater has in the throwing game and has more of a cannon.  So take in the next two rounds tonight, teams will look to pick up a great amount of solid left over players.

WHY THE TEXANS SHOULDN’T SELECT JADEVEON CLOWNEY #1 OVERALL

Let’s go down memory lane for a moment. The Texans had this very pick in 2006 and it came with a ton of pressure, as it usually does. Everyone was aware that Vince Young was the most versatile quarterback in the draft and fans wanted to see an actual Texan lead the, still relatively new, franchise with the hopes of the next Michael Vick. Pre-Draft mock experts had Reggie Bush going number one to the Texans, pretty much all across the board. To everyone’s surprise, the Texans talked with Mario Williams and signed him on the night before the draft making him, not Bush, the number one overall pick. Going into the 2006 draft, the Texans needed a ton of help on both sides of the ball which they balanced out with the use of the rest of their picks. They used their first two picks on defense picking up Williams and DeMeco Ryans (2nd round, 33rd overall) and their next five picks on offense (OT – Charles Spenser 3/65, OT – Eric Winston 3/66, TE – Owen Daniels 4/98, RB – Wali Lundy 6/170, and WR – David Anderson 7/251).

Combine Results

40 Yd Dash

3 Cone Drill

225 Bench Press

Broad Jump

Vertical Jump

Mario Williams – 6’7” 295 lbs

4.66

7.21

35 Reps

10’

40 ½”

 

One reason Vince Young wasn’t really on their radar was due to the fact that they still saw major potential with David Carr whom they drafted number one overall back in 2002 but had struggled staying upright being the highest sacked quarterback three of his first four pro years. However, he showed the Texans enough to get another full year of starts before not being resigned in favor of the Texans getting Matt Schaub. The Texans even drafted two offensive tackles to help protect Carr, but he eventually played horribly in other areas. Needless to say, the 2006 Texans had four different rookies start eight games and lead their respected position, while finishing 6-10. Williams had a great start and produced solid numbers over his time with the Texans (averaging 40.16 tackles and 8.83 sacks each year and could’ve been more if he didn’t miss 14 games his final 2 years). The point is, he was also a can’t miss pick, at defensive end, but it didn’t help them win a Super Bowl. Even though Vince Young isn’t employed by the NFL at this point, it doesn’t mean he couldn’t have flourished with Andre Johnson either.

Fast forward eight years and the Texans find themselves in a similar spot come May 8th. This draft seems similar, however on different circumstances this time around, the Texans have the distinct opportunity to select the top college prospect (in their eyes) of this year’s draft. It is an exciting time for any team that holds this pick each and every year but with this pick comes ultimate scrutiny from the beloved owner(s), writers and fans. At the forefront of this year’s draft is Jadeveon Clowney, who after his pro-day, is the can’t miss number one pick for any team in the Texans position, according to mock draft experts. There is just one thing, this year is also packed of NFL talent at the quarterback position as well, which the Texans also need. After the Schaub/Keenum experiment last year, the Texans could really use a new franchise quarterback more than another defensive end that could have the same impact as JJ Watt has on the other end. On the forefront of the needs board, the Texans have three quarterbacks, to which no one really is considers as a true franchise quarterback, and five defensive ends.

The one thing that every team needs to win and on a consistent level, is a consistent quarterback with good size. Bill O’Brien has had that in his coaching career since 2006 (Tom Brady in New England, Matt McGloin and Christian Hackenberg at Penn State). Having Bortles could continue that trend and allow O’Brien to keep the style of offense that has helped make him one of the top offensive minds in football. Taking on Clowney would mean that they would have to scheme defensive plays to make him effective since they also have Watt rushing hard on the other end as well. Their Romeo Crennel defense is a make-up of mostly 3-4 mixed with some 4-3. In his 3-4, the lineman are to draw double teams so that blitzing linebackers don’t get tangled up with offensive lineman. Does that type of defense sound good for a light on his feet, quick and explosive defensive end like Clowney? I think not. In fact, game films show Clowney against double teams all throughout his senior year and he was tossed around and not very effective.

The video below is of the Missouri game in which Clowney played poorly throughout only having 4 solo and 1 assisted tackles as well as a deflection in a two overtime game. Props to whom ever made this montage highlighting every play he was on the field for. You can visibly see some good things but on most plays he isn’t putting much effort in, peeling off of chasing the backs, going 10 yards deep in the back field and if he doesn’t get the edge he lets up. In fact he was mostly blown off of the line of scrimmage where as his other team mates took on double teams as well and were more effective in staying on the line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb-8ePTyOnQ

Top Quarterback Prospects Combine or Pro Day workouts:

 

40 Yd Dash

3 Cone Drill

Broad Jump

Vertical Jump

Blake Bortles – 6’5” 232 lbs

4.93

7.08

9’7”

32 ½”

Tajh Boyd – 6’1” 222 lbs

4.84

7.33

8’10”

30 ½”

Teddy Bridgewater – 6’2” 214 lbs

**4.79

7.17

9’5”

30”

Derek Carr – 6’2” 214 lbs

4.69

9’2”

34 ½”

Johnny Manziel – 6’0” 207 lbs

4.68

6.75

9’5”

31 ½”

**Denotes 40 yd dash was a result from pro day

The Texans are faced with a tough issue at hand with the number one pick overall. Need one, get Clowney and fill a pass rushing need on one of the leagues worse defenses. Need two, improve on the quarterback position which is also a huge need and pick up a defensive end later in the draft with either picks acquired in a trade down or with their second round pick. Huge issues stand in the way of Clowney and the Texans. Numerous experts and former pro athletes who all study the tapes say that the commitment isn’t there. Warren Sapp was recently quoted as saying, “My grandfather taught me something a long time ago. He said ‘You will never get more money by doing less work,’” Sapp said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I look at Jadeveon Clowney’s [game] tape and I don’t see a guy that is playing the game with his hair on fire, making plays, running up and down the field sideline to sideline, doing all of the things.”  That’s not something you want to hear as a team with that number one pick looking to possibly draft Clowney.  Merrill Hodge recently was picking apart his game as recent as his senior year, stating that his technique is flawed, looks like he lacks desire and has limited moves as a defensive end with really only having a good swim move.

Tedy Bruschi has stated that he loves Clowney and sees no reason as to why he shouldn’t be number one.  That was mere moments after Clowney finished his pro day.  First off, pro days are over-rated in some ways and this is due to the fact that it is all schedule and rehearsed.  These players spend weeks and months working out, getting stronger and faster for the combine, doing the same combine drills over and over to get the technique down and to improve for the combine.  After the combine, it’s off to working on areas of your game that you need to improve on to show NFL scouts on your pro day and individual private workouts afterwards, that you are ready to be “their guy”.  Players hook up with a training coach and come up with 50-70 drills/plays to best show off their talents.  Let me reiterate, it’s planned, rehearsed, practiced over and over and over against bags, against no defenses really pressuring them, against upright bags not blocking or applying pressure on them.  Not to knock Tedy Bruschi and his knowledge and experience but why get excited about that?  I would want to see this guy blow by actual players and avoid blockers and pass rushers by moving around in the pocket in that moment and see how they all deal with the similar pressures they will face in a game.  Don’t put too many eggs in the basket of someone’s awesome pro day, put your eggs in the decision on not wanting to pick a guy who was rattled in his pro day like Teddy Bridgewater.  How do you mess up a planned workout?  They say nerves; his nervousness of his pro day and he got rattled?  What happens when you select him and he chokes under NFL pressure?

Enough of that rant, let’s look at scenarios for the Texans.

The Texans have a huge advantage by hanging that first pick over the heads of the rest of the league. A very possible scenario is that the Texans don’t want to play against Clowney if they do pass on him and choose either Khalil Mack or Bortles with the first pick. A team just out of the top five, sitting at number six is the Atlanta Falcons who could use a pass rusher in the worse way. The Browns have been heard to like a wide receiver or quarterback at the number four spot which it’s predicted that Manziel or Sammy Watson will go there, so the Browns will not want to trade up to select either of those players first since they will be there by pick four anyways. Oakland at number five is not in need of a quarterback since they had picked up Matt Schaub and will be looking to bring him pieces to the aerial attack like Sammy Watkins or go defense to go along with newly added Lamarr Woodley and Justin Tuck, if Mack is available. If the Texans can trade down out of the top five and still be in front of the Vikings at eight, they would take Bortles and force the Vikings to take Bridgewater, whose stock has been tarnished with his so-so pro day.

The Texans have a high demand pick for a high demand player in Clowney which they could easily scoop up a ton of early round picks in a trade down scenario to which they could also scoop up Bortles, who experts say is a Bill O’Brien type of guy. If they take Bortles first overall or are able to trade out of the top five with Atlanta, to hope he is there at six, he will more than likely sit behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and either take over later in the season if there are struggles or sit pretty much the whole year and develop to take over in 2015. With their second round pick or if they trade for other picks, they can easily find a decent defensive end in this draft to help on the other side of the line with JJ Watt. That defensive end could be Dee Ford who posted a better 3 cone drill, 225 bench and similar 40 yard dash, broad jump and vertical jump as Clowney. I see the next two years going the same way, if not better for O’Brien, like his two years at Penn State, if Bortles is picked. O’Brien had to deal with a previously under-performing team with an inadequate armed quarterback in McGloin (who doesn’t have great zip on the ball) and had his ideal quarterback (Hackenberg) arrive a year later playing very well as a freshman. Bortles has the NFL frame and arm to get the job done especially with the revamped receiving core and the still dangerous backfield.

Top Defensive End Prospects Combine or Pro Day workouts:

 

40 Yd Dash

3 Cone Drill

225 Bench Press

Broad Jump

Vertical Jump

Jadeveon Clowney – 6’5” 266 lbs

4.53

7.27

21 Reps

10’4”

37 ½”

*Dee Ford – 6’2” 244 lbs

4.59

7.07

29 Reps

10’4”

35 ½”

Kony Ealy – 6’4” 273 lbs

4.92

6.83

22 Reps

9’6”

31”

Scott Crichton – 6’3” 273 lbs

4.84

7.19

24 Reps

9’

31 ½”

Kareem Martin – 6’6” 272 lbs

4.72

7.20

22 Reps

10’9”

35 ½”

*Denotes Pro Day workout (did not attend combine)

Can you name more dominant defensive players that are attributed to winning their teams multiple Super Bowls than quarterbacks? What you may realize is really what the Texans should do with that first pick. Mark my words, the Texans will be contending for a Super Bowl in the coming years and could quite possibly be the next New England Patriots with Blake Bortles as “their guy”.