Posted on: June 10, 2011 5:02 am

Terrelle Pryor to the NFL

On Tuesday, Terrelle Pryor announced that he would forego his senior season at Ohio State and pursue a career in professional football. The announcement came just eight days after head coach Jim Tressel resigned due to his inability to report his knowledge of OSU players receiving improper benefits. With many new allegations surrounding Pryor following Tressel's resignation - including a report that the quarterback made up to $40,000 in exchange for signing memorabilia during 2009-2010 - it seems like the Jeannette native may be the main reason why "the Vest" will no longer be seen on the sidelines of Ohio Stadium.
Pryor was to be suspended the first five games of the upcoming college football season for accepting improper benefits. The recent allegations likely would have made him ineligible the rest of the year. Leaving was a no-brainer; especially considering the fact that the majority of his teammates who did not violate NCAA rules no longer desired him in the locker room.
As the Buckeyes' starter, Pryor had an impressive 31-4 record. Improving over his three years under center, Pryor became one of the nation's best quarterbacks. The 2010 Rose Bowl MVP had greatly improved as a pocket passer, enough so to at least draw the attention of NFL scouts. Going into his senior season, Pryor likely would have been the Heisman front-runner.
As he now looks for somewhere to play next year, Pryor remains focused on the NFL. However, he has apparently drawn the attention of a league across the border; the northern one. The Saskatchewan Roughriders have extended Pryor an offer to play for them next year in the CFL. Joining the three-time Grey Cup champions is an enticing thought, but not for the star quarterback of one of the nation's best teams.
Terrelle Pryor is accustomed to dominating Big Ten opponents in front of 100,000 + in Columbus. Now he's supposed to settle for a second-rate professional league? He may not be a surefire first-rounder. But, Pryor is easily worth a mid to late-round pick in North America's best football league. Sure, he's not the prototypical Peyton Manning, but he did win 31 of the 35 games he started; not to mention the fact that he played in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.
If there is a supplemental draft, Pryor will likely be taken in the later rounds. Whichever team drafts the former Buckeye will view him as a project. Although many believe Pryor will eventually find his niche as a Brad Smith-type wide receiver, why not give him a shot at quarterback? Are either Tim Tebow or Cam Newton really that much better under center than Pryor?
Of course, the NFL lockout makes the situation even more difficult for the former OSU superstar. With limited team workouts this offseason, a coach will be less willing to waste valuable reps on a "project" such as Terrelle Pryor. That being said, I still believe that Pryor will make an NFL roster this offseason.
CFL? UFL? No. Terrelle Pryor belongs in the National Football League.

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 7, 2011 4:27 pm

Plaxico Burress Released From Prison

After spending nearly two years in the Oneida Correctional Facility in Rome, New York, Plaxico Burress became a free man yesterday. Burress was serving time after being indicted by a grand jury on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and a single count of reckless endangerment in the second degree. The 33-year-old wide receiver will now look to return to the NFL. That is, assuming that there are games being played next season.
Plax has been a highly effective receiver since breaking into the league in 2000. When playing a full season, the Michigan State alum has never amassed fewer than 860 yards. He excelled in New York as a red zone target, presenting various matchup problems for shorter defensive backs.
He now faces his toughest challenge yet. Not having played organized football since 2008, Burress will need to quickly get in game-shape and learn a new playbook. This will be even more difficult in an offseason where team workouts will be limited. Unlike most of the other players at his position, however, Plax doesn't rely on speed or quickness. The reason that he was able to become one of the league's best receivers prior to his prison sentence was because of his size, football IQ, and ball skills. Burress knew how to find seams in opposing secondaries. All Eli would have to do was throw the ball within his vicinity and Burress was almost guaranteed to come down with it.
So, how much will these two years away from football hurt Burress? In those two years, the former Steeler's body was not enduring the same pounding that he otherwise would have received playing in the NFL. We know one thing: he will be fresh. And then there's the fact that Burress has reportedly stayed in shape, working out four times a week during his imprisonment. How much different is that from what most NFL players are currently doing?
It's going to take a while for Burress to get acclimated with his new team, to learn a new offense. But once he steps on the field for the first time - presumably in a preseason game - Plax will go back to being a highly-effective NFL receiver. A player as skilled as Plaxico Burress doesn't just lose his skills over a two-year period. Time is all the Virginia native will need. Michael Vick did the same thing...and he's a quarterback - the position requiring probably the largest overall skill set (mental, physical, instincts). You don't think Plax will be able to come back as a wideout?
Burress was seen this morning wearing a Philadelphia Phillies hat. Hint, hint. The Philadelphia Eagles would be a good fit for Plax. A nightmare scenario for a defensive coordinator:game-planning against two of the fastest receivers in the league (DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin) while simultaneously having to account for one of the tallest. Burress would also help a young developing quarterback; say Josh Freeman? Sam Bradford?
Wherever he ends up, Burress will be successful. He won't be a number one receiver, he won't get a big contract. Regardless, Plaxico Burress will help someone next year.
Category: NFL
Posted on: March 10, 2011 11:00 am

Ex-Giants RB Tiki Barber: Welcome Back to the NFL

The last time I saw Tiki Barber in a football uniform was at the 2007 Pro Bowl in Hawaii. The last time I vividly remember Tiki Barber in a football uniform was a week 17 game against the Washington Redskins during the same season. Barber rushed for 234 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-28 win in DC that gave the G-men a playoff birth. The Giants would go on to lose to the Eagles. In retrospect, however, New York lost much more after that 2006 season. Tiki Barber, who retired due to the physical wear and tear of professional football, is the Giants' all-time leading rusher. The 3x Pro-Bowler racked up 10,499 rushing yards and 55 touchdowns throughout his career, averaging an impressive 4.7 ypc. Standing at only 5' 9'', Barber was too small to punish opposing defenders. He excelled because of his ability to cut back and explode through holes. Another facet of his game was his ability as a receiver; the Virginia alum had 5,183 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns over his illustrious career. When he retired at 32, reportedly to pursue broadcasting opportunities, it was believed that Tiki was done for good. It is unprecedented for an NFL running back to call it quits during his prime. Thus, Tiki's retirement was an indication that he was leaving the game for good reason. Although he initially enjoyed relative success in the field of broadcasting, Barber was fired by NBC last May. His failure in the field broadcasting is only one of several problems that has characterized Barber's career: during as well as after his tenure in the NFL. Before the start of the 2007 season, Barber questioned Eli Manning's leadership abilities in an interview. It's important to note that the Giants did, in fact, go on to win the Super Bowl that year. Tiki also developed contentious relationships with several teammates, notably defensive end Michael Strahan and defensive tackle Keith Hamilton. I am the first to admit that Tiki Barber was an excellent player. However, he was not a well-liked player. Despite his marked improvement during Tom Coughlin's tenure as head coach of the New York Giants, Barber publicly criticized him two times. Out of football, out of broadcasting, and reportedly plagued by significant marital issues, Tiki Barber needed something. But nobody thought that something was the NFL. It was announced Tuesday that Barber has filed papers to come out of retirement. The 36-year-old will not be making his comeback in New York. Barber has indicated that he is interested in joining his brother Ronde in Tampa Bay. Tiki Barber was a great player, one of the Giants' all-time greats. But, all good things must come to an end. At 36, despite reportedly being in good shape and injury free, it would be nearly impossible for the 2005 All-Pro to be an elite running back in today's league. Best case scenario: he's an average third-down back who contributes sparingly behind an established starter. No running back 36 or older has rushed for more than 830 yards in a season; Tiki Barber will not buck that trend. With his history of volatile relationships with teammates, I cannot possibly see a situation in which the benefits outweigh the risks. Barber will not provide locker room leadership or help develop a young running back. He will be more of a nuisance than a mentor. Former giants linebacker and captain Antonio Pierce summed it up pretty well: "Tiki Barber, the leader, the person in that locker room? He is not going to do anything for your team." The ESPN analyst went on to further expound upon his feelings about the possible comeback: "Now if that is the guy you think you are bringing in, you might want to look in another direction. From personal experience, he didn't do anything to help the Giants [in] 2006 when he decided to retire in the middle of the season and then months later question our quarterback and our coach. That is my problem with Tiki Barber...the guy can play. Can he do it four years later? I don't think he can." Tiki Barber is coming out of retirement because he needs money, not because he loves football. If the latter were true, why did he take a four-year vacation during the prime of his career? I hope that Tiki succeeds. However, I don't envision success as a result of this attempted comeback.
Category: NFL
Posted on: March 6, 2011 2:01 am

New York Jets' Bart Scott "Can't Wait!"

Following the Jets' 28-21 win over the AFC East rival New England Patriots in the divisional round of this year's postseason, linebacker Bart Scott had no trouble expressing his emotion. His post game interview with Sal Paolantonio went viral - a result of Scott's last two words. When Paolantonio commented on the upcoming week's AFC championship game in Pittsburgh, Scott responded with authority: "Can't Wait!". This phrase quickly gained popularity among NFL fans around the country, especially those in the Tri-state area.
The rallying cry wasn't enough to bring the Jets their first Super Bowl appearance since 1969. Bart Scott and the Jets defense gave up 24 points and over 150 yards on the ground. The "Can't Wait!" phenomenon seemed to have lost some of its luster. Apparently Scott didn't think so.
The Southern Illinois alum revealed on Friday that he trademarked his famous phrase. "It really took off on ESPN, it took over on Youtube. My wife said, 'You should trademark it.' Once i started to hear people were trying to make t-shirts, I said, 'I tell you what, if anybody is going to benefit off 'Can't Wait', it should be me.' "
I understand that this is about money. With the possibility of there not being an NFL season next year, players need to do whatever they can to make some money. Bart Scott just happens to be the guy who decides to wrestle and coin obsolete phrases. Teammate Darrelle Revis trademarked "Revis Island". Unlike "Can't Wait", Revis's phrase still has merit: Revis remains the top cover corner in the league. Scott's "Can't Wait!" was meant to be applied to the Jets' next game in Pittsburgh, a game that they lost.
In my opinion, this phrase should have died along with the Jets' Super Bowl hopes in January. Instead, though, I'm going to apply it to something more important. Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA, owners: I "Can't Wait!" until you guys agree on terms for a new collective bargaining agreement. Get it done, Friday is fast approaching.
Category: NFL
Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:25 am

"Cam-bine" Failure?

Earlier this month, Cam Newton worked out at a San Diego high school with renowned quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr. After putting on an impressive display for about 50 media members, it was believed that the Heisman Trophy winner would wait for March 8 - Auburn's pro-day - to throw again. This would have allowed Newton to perform in a comfortable environment with his own receivers. Early last week, however, the Heisman Trophy winner announced his intentions to participate in full at this year's scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Prior to his workout at Lucas Oil Stadium, Newton was believed to be the number one quarterback in this year's draft and a possible top-five pick. He still very well may be a top five pick; yet, he didn't do himself any favors in Indy on Sunday.
It was a preconceived notion that Cameron Newton was the best athlete in college football at his position. At 6' 6''., 250 lb, the Auburn qb's ability to outrun larger defenders and overpower smaller ones makes him a unique commodity. In what has been called his "iconic Heisman moment", Newton made about five LSU defenders miss, then outran elite cornerback Patrick Peterson - the best defensive back prospect in this year's draft - to the end zone. One thing he did do at the combine was show why he was able to make these kinds of astonishing plays: he ran a 4.59 40-yd dash, recorded a broad jump of 10 feet 6 inches, and had a 35-inch vertical jump.
More importantly, Newton's lack of accuracy that was, at times, evident during his incredible senior season at Auburn, revealed itself once again. Completing 11 of 21 passes, the Walter Camp Award winner showed that his game is, indeed, flawed. Something tells me he would have showed a little better with his own receivers...
Putting aside his on-field struggles, Newton did not impress in the interview process. His troubles began with his prepared statement to the media in which he described himself as "not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon". Newton later reassured the media that "First and foremost, I understand that my obligation is to be the best possible football player I can be." Newton also struggled to properly address a question surrounding his apparent decision to run a qb sneak at the end of the BCS National Championship game rather than take a knee, as instructed by head coach Gene Chizik. Instead of convincing teams that he was capable of leading their respective franchises, Cam Newton painted a different picture: bordering on arrogance.
There is still a large amount of time before the Draft (April 28). Cam Newton will have an opportunity to redeem himself at Auburn's pro-day. However, this weekend, he may have convinced potential suitors at the top of the draft - Carolina, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona - that he is not a franchise quarterback. In my opinion, Newton still goes in the top five.
Category: NFL
Posted on: February 19, 2011 3:10 pm

Cameron Newton's Draft Stock

Cameron Newton studied social and behavioral sciences at Auburn University. He's 6 ft 6 in, 249 lb. He was born in College Park, Georgia and attended Westlake High School in Fulton County, Georgia. Oh, yeah he's a pretty good quarterback too.

Newton's accolades include the Manning award, Davey O'brien award, Maxwell award, Walter Camp award, and the highly coveted Heisman Trophy - all of these a result of his incredible junior season with the Auburn Tigers. However, although he had one of the best statistical seasons in college football history, highlighted by a BCS National Championship victory over Oregon, Newton's potential at the next level is still under question.

Many scouts believe that he cannot replicate his success on Sundays, that he will struggle in a pro-style offense. Newton put up gaudy numbers in Gus Malzahn's (Auburn offensive coordinator) spread offense, much of which was centered around option reads, shotgun sets, and designed QB runs. Some believe his numbers were merely a product of a system and that he will struggle when he cannot rely on his physical prowess alone.

Two weeks ago, Newton held a 45-minute public workout in San Diego with esteemed quarterback mentor George Whitfield Jr. The controversial quarterback was extremely impressive, working under center and completing a multitude of different throws. Even though it was merely 45 minutes of work in a t-shirt and shorts, Newton's performance is making scouts reconsider his potential.

Newton will attend the NFL combine in Indianapolis at the end of the month, and most likely, will be the most impressive quarterback there. He certainly has a proclivity for winning - just look at his performance in the Iron Bowl this year (led 24-point comeback to beat the Crimson Tide). If he can prove to scouts that he can make throws under center, there is no reason that Newton cannot be the number one pick in this year's draft.

I know, it was just one workout. But, surely no one is set on Blaine Gabbert as a true, elite NFL quarterback. Newton has the numbers, the size, the speed, and the hype. There is a long time between now and April 28. If he consistently has these types of impressive workouts, expect the BCS National Champion to be a lock for a top five pick.

I expect Cameron Newton to be an extremely successful NFL quarterback. If placed in the proper system with the right coaches, Newton's physical attributes can be extremely dangerous. Imagine Michael Vick, only 40 pounds heavier and half a foot taller. You tell me that's not worth a number one pick.

The Carolina Panthers were 2-14 last season. They just hired a new coach, Ron Rivera. Clearly this is a franchise in transition. Da'Quan Bowers has the potential to be a very good defensive player; but he's not winning any games for you next year. Cameron Newton is a unique talent, certainly worthy of a number one pick. Jimmy Clausen is not the solution.

As we approach the draft, expect Newton's stock to skyrocket. It's not every day that you see a top-level quarterback in a linebacker's body. Think about it, Carolina.
Category: NFL
Posted on: January 23, 2011 9:43 pm

"Man up, Cutler."

I think it’s nice that everyone gets to chime in with their 2 cents before really knowing all of the facts. I’m not a Bears or Cutler fan but if he wasn’t able to cut and plant on the knee, he would have basically been useless as a QB. I don’t know what exactly happened, but neither do any of these guys, any of the talking heads or any of the fans who are tearing into the guy right now. One thing that I do know is that both Kurtz and Urlacher are putting up a pretty staunch defense for him. Those guys are both pretty tough, and I wouldn’t expect them to be kicking up such a fuss if he just tanked the game for no reason. A lot of people might end up looking pretty silly when the actual facts come out.

Category: NFL
Posted on: January 23, 2011 5:21 am

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears: Bears 27 Packers 18

Aaron Rodgers is playing the best out of any of the four quarterbacks left in the playoffs. Last week, the former University of California Golden Bear threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns. He has now thrown for 10 touchdowns in three postseason games; not bad for a player who, just two weeks ago, was criticized for "never winning a playoff game". Rodgers led the Pack to a 10-3, playoff-clinching victory at Soldier Field week 17. It is worth noting, however, that, with the number two seed already in hand, the Bears had essentially nothing to play for. For some reason, no one has really ever believed that Chicago was an elite team at any point this season. Although they finished with a respectable 11-5 record, most believed that Philadelphia and Atlanta were both more likely to make it to Dallas. But here are those Bears, on the brink of their second Super Bowl appearance in the last five years. Their defense may not be as terrifying as 2007, with players such as Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Charles Tillman losing a step or two, but this team may be just as dangerous. Jay Cutler actually has weapons - tight end Greg Olsen as well as wide receivers Devin Hester and Johnny Knox are all legitimate threats. And I haven't even mentioned Matt Forte, who has proven himself as an effective runner and pass catcher. This Sunday, I see Forte playing a key role: if the Packers have to stack the box for the run, Mike Martz will give Jay Cutler more freedom to throw the ball down the field. If Green Bay can sit back in coverage, you can expect at least one interception from gunslinger jr. Chicago just needs to play smart, turnover-minimizing football. Most importantly, however, they need to force the Packers to settle for field goals. With his arsenal of receivers, Aaron Rodgers is going to convert first downs. The key for Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will be limiting Green Bay to field goals. The Bears can beat the Packers, but they can't outscore them.

Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or