Herbstreit: UM’s Maurice Hurst a ‘steal’ in NFL Draft

The way ESPN’s college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit sees it, Michigan All-American defensive tackle Maurice Hurst will be a steal in the upcoming NFL Draft.

It’s almost as if (players like Hurst) get forgotten, Herbstreit said. People better remember. Just turn the film on. He is a quick, he’s a little undersized but makes up for it with his quickness, and he’s a playmaker. We’ve got these big guys, inside guys, and I’m telling you, Mo Hurst will be one of those guys.

I don’t know where he’s going to go — my guess is somewhere in the first round — but he’s gonna be a guy next year everybody’s watching and he’s making plays in the backfield, and people are going to be going, ‘Who’s this guy?’ I think he’s slipping through the cracks and hopefully somebody, if he’s healthy and everything is OK, somebody is going to get a steal in my opinion with whoever picks him up.

A current player said Bryant told him, speaking of the Cowboys: They are going to wish they never let me go. 

NFL fans, and especially Cowboys fans, are going to find All or Nothing, the Amazon series on the Cowboys’ 2017 season, pretty fascinating. It comes out April 27, but I’ve watched the review copies.

Not to get too deep into this, but the best thing about it is access. Most teams hate these types of shows. The culture of football is still secretive, and teams want to shut down access instead of granting it.

These series are the opposite and give us a rare, and actually not too polished or phony, look at the Cowboys.

As you might guess, owner Jerry Jones is the star of the show.

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Bears were more worried about some knees than others

For another $1 million dollars, the Bears could have made sure Cameron Meredith was theirs this season.

But apparently the concerns over his reconstructed knee forced them into a cautious valuation, and so they lost him without compensation yesterday when they didn’t match the Saints offer sheet for the wide receiver. They tendered the former undrafted rookie at the lowest level of $1.9 million, when tendering him at $2.9 million would have gotten them a second-round pick if someone would have signed him away (or more accurately, scared off any suitors for a year).

Granted, Robinson has better back-of-the-football-card stats than Meredith, but not by a margin larger than the difference in their paychecks. Robinson had a 1,400-yard season in 2015, but in 2016, his 73-catch, 883-yard, six-touchdown stat line isn’t much different from Meredith’s 66-888-4.

Considering the Bears monitored Meredith’s rehab all last season, they’re in the best position to know what’s happening in that knee. But given General Manager Ryan Pace’s track record of finding qualified receivers vs. the Saints’, it’s worth wondering whether they were penny wise and pound foolish on this deal.

Drafted in the first round, Davis was tasked with the difficult challenge of starting at middle linebacker from Day 1. He played every defensive snap in six of his first seven games — only missing time in the outlier due to a concussion – but had noticeable struggles in coverage and with his pursuit angles, leading to being one of the league leaders in missed tackles.

By mid-season, the coaching staff reduced the rookie’s role, pulling Davis off the field on obvious passing downs. The idea was to narrow his focus on Sundays and work on his coverage skills on the practice field, building him back up to the complete linebacker he needed to be.

If Week 17 was any proof, the development plan put in place was a success. Davis played every snap in season-ending win over the Green Bay Packers and delivered his finest performance. He recorded a season-high 12 tackles (without a miss) and forced a fumble.

More: Patricia likes LBs, but would Lions take one in first round?

The strong close to the year buoyed Davis’ spirits heading into his first offseason.

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Sam Darnold says not throwing at combine was best decision for me

Scouts may or may not learn something new about the quarterbacks who are throwing today. They will learn nothing new about Sam Darnold because he’s not throwing.

The USC quarterback, who drew criticism from NFL Network’s Mike Mayock for his decision, explained it as the best decision for him.

I just felt it was the best decision for me, Darnold said. Obviously I’m going to throw at my Pro Day. I think that’s a good opportunity for teams to be able to look at how I can spin it. I’m going to be throwing to guys I’ve played with. I think given all the information I had, I thought that was the best decision.

If that is indeed the case, it sounds like Bridgewater will field some calls from outside Minnesota. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that a handful of teams showed interest in Bridgewater as a potential starting quarterback. Bridgewater said in January that he definitely thinks he can start in 2018.

The potential part of that equation suggests no one is going to hand Bridgewater a starting job, which makes sense given he’s spent two years (save a handful of snaps in garbage time last season) out of action after a serious knee injury.

The Cardinals, Jets and Broncos are reportedly the teams that have joined the Vikings in the running for Kirk Cousins and those that don’t land him could turn to Bridgewater, especially if they see him as a well-named bridge option until a rookie selected in this year’s draft is ready to start. With Case Keenum, Josh McCown, Sam Bradford and AJ McCarron also hitting the market, it should be a spirited game of musical chairs once teams are free to start making moves.

I think the important thing is Drew wants to be a New Orleans Saint, Loomis said, via Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. We want him to be a New Orleans Saint, so he’s going to be a New Orleans Saint. That’s what my expectation is and we’ll see about the timing of that.

Loomis met with Brees’ agent Tom Condon Thursday night, but he didn’t want to discuss anything that was said.

I don’t want to talk about that because look, in part, if I talk about it then they’re going to feel like they need to talk about it, Loomis said. I don’t want to put them in that position.

If the 39-year-old Brees wanted to, he’d find an eager market for his services, but every indication through this process has been that a deal will get done.

Did teams ask Lamar Jackson to do receiver drills, or didn’t they?

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Pat McAfee almost retired a year earlier than he did

Colts punter Pat McAfee surprised everyone a year ago by retiring early from the NFL. In a visit to Friday’s PFT Live, the Barstool Heartland personality explained that he nearly retired a year earlier.

Coach Chuck Pagano talked McAfee out of leaving after the 2015 season, during a flight back from an overseas USO Tour. After 2016, McAfee left even though his mortal enemy, G.M. Ryan Grigson, had finally been fired.

He just said that my tape from last year, the last game till now, that I’ve improved a significant amount, he said. Even from the last time he saw me in person till now, I got a lot bigger, faster, stronger, stuff like that. So they are gonna watch my tape as a staff and reach out tonight.

Devera already holds offers from five mid-majors — BUffalo, UMass, Old Dominion, Miami (Ohio) and Howerd — of which Miami of Ohio and Old Dominion stand out most. But there are other school also barking up the tree.

UNC, coach Baker from Rutgers wants me to come down there, Devera said. He says I’ll love it down there. Air Force too. Air Force is really close, and Kent State.

The end result is that the Eagles have their first-round pick (No. 32), a fourth-round pick from the Vikings in the Sam Bradford trade (No. 130), their fourth-round pick (No. 132), their fifth-round pick (No. 169), their sixth-round pick (No. 206), and three seventh-round picks (one from the Seahawks, their own, and a compensatory pick).

Absent further trades for example, a deal to send Nick Foles to another team, the Eagles will see 98 players drafted from when they’re on the clock to end Thursday night until they’re back on the clock on Saturday afternoon.

Apart from the fact that the Eagles need more draft picks is the reality that Foles, through his agents, may soon be clamoring for a chance to play this year, and to be paid accordingly. When the Eagles traded Bradford two years ago, the Eagles otherwise intended to put him on the field. Foles is slated to be the backup, and to make a mere $7 million; surely, he’s interested in not being a backup and not making only $7 million.

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Yes, people are defending do you like men? as a useful interview question

It shouldn’t be a surprise, in our current red-blue-right-wrong-yell-scream climate, that people are defending the indefensible efforts by teams to question incoming players regarding their sexuality. Some defend the question based on the fact that the locker room consists of men who are in various states of undress. Some defend the question based on the notion that, if the goal is simply to elicit a reaction, anything goes.

So, under the theory offered by those defending the question based on its substance, the goal is to get gay players to voluntarily out themselves to strangers, which will allow sexuality to be added to the spreadsheet that includes height, weight, and 40-yard dash time, apparently resulting in a balancing test that has the G.M. weighing football factors along with propensity to establish a wide stance in a bathroom stall.

Under the theory that it’s all being done to get a reaction out of the players, the fact that the teams (and the players) would think that this is the kind of question that should prompt any reaction at all shows how outdated the NFL mentality really is.

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports that King’s deal has a total value of $2.6 million and includes a $400,000 signing bonus. He has base salaries of $775,000 and $925,000 with another $500,000 available in per-game roster bonuses.

King did not play any defensive snaps for the Patriots last season, but appeared on 52 percent of their special teams snaps and made eight tackles. One of those tackles came when he dropped Chargers punt returner Travis Benjamin in the end zone for a safety after Benjamin recovered a muffed punt.

Rudolph is an interesting guy. He’s more of a traditional quarterback in terms of his size and passing ability. He put up huge numbers in college. And I think that New England will indeed consider taking a quarterback in the early rounds. Will that be Rudolph? Will it be with 49ers pick? I can’t answer those and anyone who pretends they can is selling you a bill of goods.

Hello. Huge Patriots fan from China. I agree that coach BB is great, while I kind of believe he lost respect within the team since there was still no explanation on why he benched Butler in the SB. Yes, money talks on FA market, while I don’t really think Solder, Lewis and Amendola all left just looking for higher salary only.

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Jarvis Landry will sign franchise tender

The Dolphins were the first team to use the franchise tag this year. And receiver Jarvis Landry will be the first one to accept it.

Per multiple reports, Landry will be signing the one-year offer.

The outspoken leader of the Jacksonville defense, Ramsey played remarkably well for a rookie cornerback in 2016 and was part of the best cornerback duo in football last season. The only question about Ramsey coming into the NFL was whether he would be a playmaker after intercepting just three passes at FSU, but the 23-year-old racked up four picks in addition to his 17 pass deflections in 2017. Ramsey isn’t due for a new deal until 2019 at the earliest, but he’s the position’s best bet to garner a massive extension. Marcus Peters also might be in the running here.

Berry bet on himself before the 2016 season and subsequently produced the best season of his career, forcing the Chiefs into an enormous extension. The second-largest safety contract at the time Berry signed his deal called for Devin McCourty to receive $29.9 million over three seasons. Most big contracts go to free safeties, but Reshad Jones plays a mix of both safety spots and is in second with $33 million over three years, while pure strong safety Kam Chancellor is in third at $31 million.

The top quarterback prizes — Kirk Cousins (Vikings) and Case Keenum (Broncos) — and middle prizes — Teddy Bridgewater (Jets), Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon (both Cardinals) — are all signed or set up to be signed in the coming days. McCarron is still waiting for the right offer, but it’s unlikely to be a starting one, with the Bills the only team that would seem in the market for that and little interest being reported between the two sides.

The former Bengals signal-caller, who won his grievance against Cincinnati last month that allowed him to test the market, now may be back to square one.

On Wednesday, WEEI.com reported the Patriots had made McCarron, 27, an offer. Although New England signed 32-year-old journeyman Brian Hoyer to a three-year deal in November, closing in on a deal with McCarron could open the door for a (backup) quarterback competition come training camp. Bill Belichick also could keep two backups on his roster as insurance for Tom Brady, who will turn 41 before the start of the regular season.

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Giants’ new, veteran running back understands why he’s here

Jonathan Stewart will be given the opportunity to compete for playing time at running back with the Giants, as, for the first time in his long NFL career, he transitions to a new team. The veteran also understands there is another reason why the Giants signed him.

Gettleman spent four years with the Panthers and has inside knowledge of what Stewart is like, on and off the field. Mike Shula, the Giants’ new offensive coordinator, held that title in Carolina and also knows what Stewart can do.

As far as the discussions with Matt, again Matt knows what this team is about and he knows what he can do for this team at a number of levels. He knows that he’s right up against a third contract in the NFL, and those are big contracts and significant discussion points. And he’s very aware of that. And he’s aware of everyone on the team being aware of it. He doesn’t want to be a distraction. That’s him. Ultimately, he’s a team guy through and through. Again, hopefully we can move through this and get this done.

Ryan is in the final year of a five-year, $103.75 million extension and is due $19.25 million in 2018. There was talk of the the Falcons completing the extension before the start of free agency to free up more cap space, but that never materialized. Ryan’s 2018 cap number currently is $21.65 million.

When pressed on how close the team is to reaching a deal with Condon, Dimitroff said, I don’t know how close we are on it. We talk about it and it seems like things are right around the corner and understand that there’s no real rush on it right now. … It’s not like we’re worried about free agency. The only rush on it is getting everyone comfortable so that we can continue to focus on the upcoming season.

I think all of the market will factor into how we do Matt and how we approach Matt, there’s no question about that, Dimitroff said. If I were to state the significance of it, I think it’s just a piece of the pie.

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Eagles may need the draft picks a Nick Foles trade could bring

The Eagles wisely are playing coy about a possible trade of Nick Foles, treating it as something they’ll do only if they get the kind of windfall they want. The reality could be that they ultimately need to take the best possible offer they can get for Foles.

The trade that brings defensive end Michael Bennett to Philadelphia also brings into focus the depleted draft class the Eagles are scheduled to have in 2018. Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.com lists the picks the Eagles have and explains the picks the Eagles have lost, via the Carson Wentz trade (second-round pick to Cleveland), the Ronald Darby trade (third-round pick to Buffalo), the Jay Ajayi trade (a fourth-round pick acquired in a trade that sent Eric Rowe to New England, to Miami), and the Bennett trade (a fifth-round pick acquired in a trade that sent Matt Tobin to Seattle, back to Seattle).

So, basically, the combination of the Eagles needing to replenish picks and Foles wanting a chance to strike while the Super Bowl MVP iron is hot and teams already making offers that the Eagles are summarily rejecting suggests that, at some point before the 2018 draft, the Eagles will realize that they should do the best deal possible for Foles, who otherwise will be able to walk away a year from now as a free agent.

That’s probably the extent of the actual football discussion during the 15 minutes or so with McAfee. Which made it a nice break from the 20-plus football interviews conducted throughout the week at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

For the full experience, check out the video.

Moving him to the left side would probably leave the Patriots worse off at two separate line spots. I’m not a huge fan of that idea. And I probably like the Clayborn addition the most. I think defensive end was the team’s biggest need before the Solder departure. The team had rotating bodies there last year and it didn’t work. Clayborn is a proven, starting-caliber veteran. New England lacked those types of guys last year. He’s far from an elite pass rusher but can be solid against the pass and the run. That’s a nice start to trying to solidify the front seven moving forward, but the work is far from done. And thanks foring!

Devera’s overall improvement was well-received by Ash and staff, and could lead to an offer in the near future.

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KAT hit in face, scores 37 to lead Wolves past Wiz 116-111

Karl-Anthony Towns recovered from a shot to the mouth that left him down on the court and finished with a season-high 37 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 116-111 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

For those wondering about the trends, well, they are myriad. Arrieta averaged 94.6 mph on his fastball when he was arguably the best player in all of fantasy. In 2016, that fastball slipped to an average of 93.7 mph. Last season it was at 92.1. That is a very big deal. Let us not blindly presume he is heading the way of fallen Seattle Mariners king Felix Hernandez, but being purely objective, when a pitcher sees such a stark decrease in velocity that quickly, it tends to be worth worrying about for either statistical or health purposes.

Unfortunately, there is more. Arrieta permitted 26 home runs over 64 starts in 2015-16. Last season, Arrieta permitted 23 blasts in 168 1/3 innings, as his hard-contact rate spiked, left-handed hitters had far less trouble with his stuff and/or deception, and his ground ball rate continued its predictive descent along with it. Arrieta’s FIP was 4.16, which is below average and likely more reflective of how he pitched, rather than his ERA. Now, we can all live with an ERA even in that somewhat bloated range, in theory, if it comes with a decent WHIP and strikeouts and wins and … this just is not as sure a thing anymore.

Butler entered free agency in a weird spot following his mysterious Super Bowl benching, and the buzz in Indy was that he wouldn’t find the deal of his dreams in free agency. I could see him taking a one-year deal for $9 million or so plus incentives, then hitting the market again in a year, perhaps under better circumstances. — Graziano

His résumé makes him one of the top two wideouts on the market, but he’s coming off a season lost to a Week 1 torn ACL. Robinson could find himself following the 2017 Alshon Jeffery model. Remember, Jeffery couldn’t get the long-term deal he wanted on the market, so he signed with the Eagles for one year and $9 million plus incentives that could push the deal to $14 million. He got his extension from Philly late in the season, and obviously things worked out well there for everyone. — Graziano

Davis has another year of arbitration eligibility left on his deal. Oakland has a lot of under-25 big leaguers, or others close to that, to replace him in the lineup and avoid that expense. For a contender looking for some middle-of-the-order pop, Davis would be attractive, and the cost in prospects likely wouldn’t be prohibitive.

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Jets are building toward a title with a young core, while Capitals try to keep Stanley Cup window open

Which teams have the best shot at locking up a playoff spot? Who’s earning a better shot at the No. 1 overall pick? Here are the latest projections for both, along with critical matchups to watch today and more. Read ?

Chris Peters, NHL prospects writer: That’s a good answer, Emily. But, for me, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks. The grave-dancing over their horrendous season and fall from elite status — the franchise is enduring its worst season of the Jonathan Toews/Patrick Kane era, which began in 2007-08 — has been rampant among fans outside of Chicago. The Blackhawks’ success is relatively recent and, compared with Duke’s scale of success, somewhat short-lived. But Chicago’s run has still been a pretty solid one, given that it came during the salary-cap era.

Chicago went from feel-good story of a franchise rising from the ashes — years of mismanagement and a tenuous relationship between the team’s owner and fans — to an oversaturation that left opposing fans nauseated.

Bucks: Middleton has reached double figures in 61 of 67 games this season and reached at least 20 points in 34 games. … Shot 56 percent for the first half, including 53 percent from 3-point range. . The Bucks had 33 assists on 47 made field goals.

Grizzlies: Hit nine of their first 10 shots. … Have lost seven straight at home. … Brooks entered the game averaging 21.3 points in the previous four games. … Used its 27th starting lineup of the season. … The 18-game losing streak is the longest during the Memphis era of the franchise. The Grizzlies moved from Vancouver in 2001.

Jennings said he expected to play 10, maybe 12 minutes. Instead, foul trouble had him on the floor for just under 24 minutes in his return. I was a little tired, he said. I kept telling (Bledsoe), `Don’t foul. Stop fouling. I’m tired.’ My nerves was running and everything like that. But it was good.

Memphis interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff on the 18-game losing streak: As professionals, our job is to show up every day and give our best effort. I don’t think they need to be reminded of that. Through and through, they haven’t laid down yet, and I don’t expect them to.

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