Pro Player Insiders http://proplayerinsiders.com NFL Players Exclusive Lifestyle, News and Under the Helmet Access Tue, 28 Jul 2015 01:06:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Jen Welter Joins Arizona Cardinals First Female Coach in the NFL http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/arizona-cardinals-jen-welter-female-coach/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/arizona-cardinals-jen-welter-female-coach/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 00:31:44 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=157111 First Female to Join NFL Coaching Staff

 

The Arizona Cardinals  have added  Jen Welter and Levon Kirkland and to the team’s coaching staff.  This is a historic move for women and the NFL. Welter, is the first female to hold a coaching position of any kind in the NFL. The Cardinals in their announcement said she will join the coaching staff throughout training camp and the preseason, working with inside linebackers.

In February of 2014, she played running back and special teams for the Indoor Football League’s Texas Revolution, becoming the first female to play a non-kicking position in a men’s professional football league. This past February she became the first female to coach in a men’s pro football league when hired by the Revolution to coach linebackers and special teams. In that role she worked under Revolution general manager and 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Tim Brown.

A rugby player at Boston College, Welter has more than 14 years of professional football experience as a linebacker, mostly with the Dallas Diamonds of the Women’s Football Alliance, helping them win four championships. She also earned two gold medals with Team USA at the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Women’s World Championship in 2010 and 2013. Welter, 37, holds a master’s degree in sport psychology and a PhD in psychology.

Kirkland, a former Pro Bowl linebacker, becomes the inaugural participant in the Bill Bidwill Coaching Fellowship, a program established by the Cardinals to provide recently-retired NFL players with the opportunity to gain coaching experience at the highest level. The Cardinals announced that for the next two seasons, Kirkland will work with outside linebackers.

Selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round (38th overall) of the 1992 NFL Draft out of Clemson, the 46-year old Kirkland played 11 NFL seasons with the Steelers (1992-2000), Seahawks (2001) and Eagles (2002). A two-time Pro Bowler (1996-97) and first-team All-Pro (1997), he appeared in 176 games (155 starts) and registered 1,110 tackles, 19.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles and nine recoveries. He was also one of six linebackers selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-1990s Team, joining Junior Seau, Derrick Thomas, Kevin Greene, Hardy Nickerson and Cornelius Bennett.

 

 

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Kyle Busch Sweeps at Indianapolis http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/kyle-busch-sweeps-indianapolis/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/kyle-busch-sweeps-indianapolis/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:09:19 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=157077 Wow, just wow.  What do you call it when someone is on a remarkable run – where they seem to be invincible?  Whether it is a hitting streak, throwing touchdown passes, or winning races, any athlete who puts together a stretch that is just amazing, does this because of talent.

After Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the “NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Racing from the Brickyard Presented by Golden Corral”, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there is no way you can say Kyle Busch is not in the elite category as a driver and has a tremendous amount of talent.

After dominating the Xfinity Series race on Saturday and using his talent to make a last lap pass and win the Xfinity Series race, Busch came into Sunday’s Sprint Cup race looking for the weekend sweep.  Get out those brooms, because sweep he did.

Although he did not dominate on Sunday, leading only 19 laps, Busch continued the remarkable run he is on of winning 3 straight races and 4 of the last 5 races, making victory lane a frequent visit for Busch lately.

“Maybe I found my happy place”

Busch said in Victory Lane Sunday.  Photo Courtesy @NASCAR

Well think about it.  Busch after having a compound fracture of his right leg and broken left foot, injuries he sustained in the Xfinity race at Daytona International Speedway to start the season, he missed the first 11 races of the Sprint Cup Series.  The run he is on, has been since he came back!  As Busch noted,

“This has been a phenomenal return.”

So what does this mean for the rest of the season for Busch?  Well, although he has won four races, he is still not in the season ending Chase to determine the season Champion.  Missing all those races caused him to drop deep in the points.  The qualification for him to get into the Chase

  1. Have a win
  2. Be in the top-30 in points when those final 10 races come around

Well, number 1 is obviously checked off.  However, number 2 is not, as Busch is 23 points out of 30th in the points, currently sitting 32nd.

But, with 6 races before the start of the Chase, do you have any doubt Busch will be higher than 30th?

 

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Washington Redskins Outlook: QB, WR and RB Grades http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/washington-redskins-outlook-qb-wr-rb-grades/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/washington-redskins-outlook-qb-wr-rb-grades/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:09:16 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=157093 Finishing out our Pre-Training Camp Washington Redskins Outlook series we’ll preview the team’s current Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers and Running backs by grading and reviewing each positional group. In the process, we’ll also take a look at who could make the final roster.

 

Secondary Outlook 

Front Seven Outlook 

OL and TE Outlook

 

Recap:

OL (9)

TE (3)

LB: (9)

DL: (7)

CB: 5

S: (4)

 

Quarterbacks:

Robert Griffin III, 25

Kirk Cousins, 26

Colt McCoy, 28

 

Running Backs:

Trey Williams, 22

Matt Jones, 22

Silas Redd Jr., 23

Chris Thompson, 24

Alfred Morris, 26

Jordan Campbell, 27

Darrel Young, 28


Wide Receivers:

Evan Spencer, 22

Jamison Crowder, 22

Reggie Bell, 23

Quinton Dunbar, 23

Tony Jones, 23

Colin Lockett, 24

Ryan Grant, 24

Rashad Ross, 25

Andre Roberts, 27

DeSean Jackson, 28

Pierre Garcon, 28


Who I Believe Makes The Team (QB):

Position Grade: D -

  1. Robert Griffin III
  2. Colt McCoy
  3. Kirk Cousins

 

  • I would like to only keep three QBs here, but the Washington Redskins are likely to keep all three. Griffin is undoubtedly the most talented of the bunch and will receive seemingly his final shot at being the team’s starting QB. But this position is pretty horrible. I honestly don’t know what to expect from Griffin. He’s a talent for sure. You just have to hope he puts it all together and that the coaches use him correctly. Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins both have their issues. I like each guy as a back-up QB, but neither is going to win you games.

 

Who I Believe Makes The Team (RB/FB):

Position Grade: B

  1. Alfred Morris
  2. Matt Jones
  3. Trey Williams
  4. Darrel Young

 

  • I contemplated keeping four running backs here, however, I see no need for Silas Redd. He had ball security issues when he did get a chance to play last season. He’s also limited on special teams and Matt Jones will bump him on the roster as the most well-rounded RB on the team. Plus Darrel Young can always pitch-in when needed. Trey Williams makes the roster because it sounds like coaches are really intrigued by him. There were many teams that wanted him post-draft. So that lets you know he’s a guy that may not make it to practice squad if cut. Williams can also help you on kickoffs and could be a guy to replace or backup Andre Roberts.

 

Who I Believe Makes The Team (WR):

Position Grade: B -

  1. DeSean Jackson
  2. Pierre Garcon
  3. Andre Roberts
  4. Jamison Crowder
  5. Ryan Grant
  6. Evan Spencer

 

  • This may be the most overrated position on the team — at least based on last season. DeSean Jackson is still pretty lethal downfield. But I’m interested in seeing if he becomes more route savvy as he increases in age. Jay Gruden never figured out how to use Pierre Garcon last year. But he’s a guy who creates YAC and isn’t much of a scorer. Andre Roberts actually played a little better last year than people tend to think. He’s a chain mover and he did that a lot last year. But he does need to become a more consistent route runner. Jamison Crowder could push Andre Roberts for playing time. If all goes well in Pre-Season, I’d pencil him as the starting punt returner as well. There was a lot of buzz surrounding Ryan Grant last year, but he finds himself kind of crammed down the roster now. Evan Spencer will make the roster because he’s a great special teamer. Plus he has some size and his brother is a Redskins scout. I actually liked his film from Ohio State. He has potential to actually contribute on offense in the future.

 

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Kyle Busch Wins Xfinity Series Race at Indianapolis http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/kyle-busch-wins-xfinity-series-race-indianapolis/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/kyle-busch-wins-xfinity-series-race-indianapolis/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:27:21 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=157065 I do not claim to be able to predict the future, however I will claim that I can look at the facts, think about the facts, analyze the facts and make an educated guess.  Sometimes I am correct and sometimes I am wrong, but that is why it is called an educated guess, right?

Well, I would say if you read my previous article when I wrote about who was going to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 25, 2015, you would know I made a pretty good educated guess.

Yes, that is correct, my educated guess was that Kyle Busch would be in victory lane and kissing the bricks by winning the NASCAR Xfinity Race.Photo Courtesy @IMS

Busch dominated the Xfinity race, leading 51 of the 100 laps.  However, the race came down to the final 25 laps after a late race caution lumped the field back together.  Here, Ryan Blaney took the lead and began to pull away from the field – Busch was running second and was unable to catch Blaney.  However, when Blaney came up on a lapped car, Busch was able to get on Blaney’s bumper as the last lap approached.  Blaney led this last lap, until coming out of turn 2, Busch made a remarkable move down the backstretch to pass Blaney and hold on to take the checkered flag for the win.  Take a look at Busch’s dramatic pass on the last lap for the win – Busch passes Blaney on last lap.

Busch described the last lap pass perfectly and even knew he dominated the day:

“I just got close enough to make him mess up and made him get tight off Turn 2 and was able to capitalize underneath him with him losing his momentum off of (Turn) 2 and was able to get under him.  I can’t say enough about Chris Gayle (crew chief), all these guys on the Monster Energy Camry. It was the class of the field. We should have won this thing going away, but I guess we had to make it exciting”.

So next time you see me make an educated guess, will you agree with me or not?

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Jeff Gordon is the King at Indianapolis Motor Speedway http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/jeff-gordon-king-indianapolis-motor-speedway/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/jeff-gordon-king-indianapolis-motor-speedway/#comments Sun, 26 Jul 2015 13:54:25 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=157036 One of NASCAR’s biggest races of the year takes place this Sunday, July 26, 2015 in the state of Indiana.  Not only does one of the biggest races of the year occur in Indiana, it is also taking place at one of the most famed racing tracks in the world – Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Every driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series dreams of being able to run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and 43 drivers will get the chance on Sunday in the race titled “NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Racing from the Brickyard Presented by Golden Corral”.  Not only is it an honor to race here for these 43 drivers, but the money factor around the race is also key, as the “NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Racing from the Brickyard Presented by Golden Corral” race has the second highest purse for the season, only behind the Daytona 500.Photo Courtesy @TeamHendrick

Essentially it boils down to this on Sunday – 43 drivers competing at one of the most famous racing tracks, with the second biggest purse on the line all hoping to have a shot to kiss the bricks and drink milk in victory lane.  But, 42 drivers will be disappointed and only one will be cheering at the end of the day.  That one driver will be Jeff Gordon.

Now you ask, ‘Why Jeff Gordon’?  Well, that is an easy answer, as the stars are aligned perfectly for Gordon to capture the victory for a sixth time.  Gordon has won the event five times, already a record, so adding another win to the mix only builds on his legacy.  In addition, Gordon announced at the beginning of the year that the 2015 NASCAR season would be his last full-time season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  This year is his swan song, so why not have him kissing the bricks at the end of the day.

But also, Gordon has adopted the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as one of his home tracks.  Although born in Vallejo, California, Gordon and his family moved to Pittsboro, Indiana when Gordon was in his teens for more opportunities for him to Photo Courtesy @IMSrace.  So what did the tiny town of Pittsboro do on July 23rd?  They through Gordon a parade, naming this day “Jeff Gordon Day”.  If you think about it, it was like sending him off to the track to take the win.

As you can see, the stars are aligned for Gordon to win for a sixth time.  This is his last season racing full-time, he was given a parade by those in his adapted hometown and he is already the record holder for victories.  So the one outstanding question – ‘Will Gordon be drinking whole milk, or not in Victory Lane on Sunday’?

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Xfinity Series Race at Indianapolis might be dominated by Kyle Busch http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/xfinity-series-race-indianapolis-might-dominated-kyle-busch/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/xfinity-series-race-indianapolis-might-dominated-kyle-busch/#comments Sun, 26 Jul 2015 13:24:27 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=157055 The NASCAR Xfinity Series is supposed to be a division where drivers can gain experience and perfect their skills before moving up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  Think of the NASCAR Xfinity Series as Triple-A Baseball and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as the Major Leagues.  You will see Major League ballplayers playing in Triple-A games if they are on a rehabilitation assignment, or in a slump to try to work out problems in their swing, or aspects of throwing.  However, the NASCAR Xfinity Series works a little different.  Although still the Triple-A League, drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series can compete at any time.

Sometimes when the Sprint Cup Series drivers compete in the Xfinity Series, the normal Xfinity drivers have little chance at winning because these Sprint Cup Series drivers have more experience, know the track better and most of the time have a better car they are driving.

Going into the NASCAR Xfinity race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 25, 2015, it looks as if once again a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver might dominate the race, out match the normal Xfinity drivers and win.  Five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are entered – Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard and Aric Almirola.  However, out of those five drivers, Kyle Busch is the one most likely to be in victory lane for the Xfinity Series on Saturday.

Busch is driving the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing and has a very impressive record in the Xfinity Series Photo Courtesy @JoeGibbsRacingin 2015, as well as for his career.  Consider this year first.  Only competing in four races so far in the Xfinity Series due to a crash in the season opening race at Daytona International Speedway that left him with a compound fracture of his right leg and broken left foot, Busch has 3 top-five finishes, along with winning at Michigan in June.  The one time he did not finish in the top-five – Daytona when he crashed.

But for his career in the Xfinity Series, Busch has recorded 71 wins, 178 top-five finishes and 231 top-ten finishes, which he has accomplished all in 300 starts.

To top it off, Busch was 1st in the first practice on July 24th with a speed of 178.717 mph and 2nd in the second practice with a speed of 175.466 mph.

With how Busch has performed so far this weekend, as well as his results in a limited number of races in the Xfinity Series in 2015, there is a good chance he will once again take the win away from a regular in the Triple-A Series of NASCAR.

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Christopher Bell Comes Up Big On Dirt at Eldora http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/christopher-bell-comes-big-dirt-eldora/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/christopher-bell-comes-big-dirt-eldora/#comments Sat, 25 Jul 2015 12:21:48 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=157000 “It’s just unbelievable. I’ve been coming here quite a few times, if you would have told me two years ago that my first win at Eldora would be in a truck, I would’ve told you you were crazy.”

Those are the words spoken by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Christopher Bell last night after winning his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in the 1-800-Car-Cash Mud Summer Classic at the dirt track of Eldora Speedway in New Weston, Ohio, Wednesday night.  Bell led 106 of the final 113 laps for the win over dirt model pro Bobby Pierce.  Now what was remarkable about this win?  Well, racing the No. 54 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, this was only Bell’s third career start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.  You would think that being a very green rookie in the series, he might crash under pressure.  Howeer, he held his own and held off the rest of the field in a green-white-checkered finish.Photo Courtesy @CBellRacing21

So now you say, we have heard of Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., but who is Christopher Bell?

Bell, 20, is a USAC open-wheel prodigy, who started racing in 2011 and since he began, has compiled outstanding statistics, making his win Wednesday night not all that surprising.  His statistics should have told everyone he had a shot.

In 2011, Bell won a Micro-sprint Car race at the 66 Mike Phillips Memorial.  In 2013, Bell started racing for Keith Kunz Motorsports in the USAC racing series and finished the 2013 season as the USAC National Midget Champion.  2014 brought more success for Bell, as he began racing Super Late Models for Kyle Busch Motorsports and competing in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series.  In addition, he won his first World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series race at Jacksonville Speedway on May 7, 2014.

Also, as a Super Late Model driver in 2014, Bell won at New Smyrna Speedway, South Alabama Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park.  Overall for the year, Bell won 24 Quarter Midget races and 26 total dirt races.

So if you would have looked at Bell’s statistics going into Wednesday night’s race, especially his statistics alone from racing in 2014 on dirt, you would have picked him as one of your favorites.  However, if you did not pick him, you might want to next time.

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Victor Cruz stars in Givenchy Fall/Winter 2015 Campaign http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/victor-cruz-stars-givenchy-fallwinter-2015-campaign/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/victor-cruz-stars-givenchy-fallwinter-2015-campaign/#comments Sat, 25 Jul 2015 12:03:24 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156591 VCG1Only weeks away from training camp and right before Men’s Fashion Week debuts in New York Victor Cruz has become the newest face to grace the Givenchy Fall/Winter 2015 campaign. When you’re a Superbowl Champion, co-founder of streetwear fashion line, salsa aficionado, and known off the gridiron as being a fashion icon, what’s left to accomplish other than being the face for one of fashions most iconic brands. Cruz is no stranger to fashion, he has been spotted sitting front row at many shows and graced many fashion glossies. Cruz was hand-picked by fashion wunderkind Ricardo Tisci of Givenchy for all the right reasons. The campaign, shot by icons Mert Atlas and Marcus Piggot, puts Cruz in stripes head-to-toe, a la The Godfather Trilogy.

Stripes paired with classic tailoring flatter the male athletes figure which we are so accustomed to seeing in oversized clothing, this look is one all men should try this season. Ricardo Tisci describes Cruz as “a perfect mix of charisma, power, elegance and beauty.” We knew he had swag but this definitely sums it up, he continues, “a gentleman with the looks of a bad boy.

Tisci is known for highlighting the people that inspire him no matter their background even if it is a competitor like Donatella Versace who also stars in the Givenchy Fall/Winter 2015 campaign. If Givenchy can feature Donatella Versace in their campaign then there may be hope in the Giants/Jets rivalry, one can only dream……

Catch the behind the scenes footage here Victor Cruz for Givenchy Fall/Winter 2015

photos via Givenchy

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Washington Redskins Outlook: Grading The OL and TE Positons http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/washington-redskins-outlook-grading-ol-te-positons/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/washington-redskins-outlook-grading-ol-te-positons/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 19:27:14 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=157035 Continuing our Pre-Training Camp Washington Redskins Outlook series we’ll preview the team’s current offensive line and tight end roster by grading and reviewing each positional group. In the process, we’ll also take a look at who could make the final roster.

Secondary Outlook 

Front Seven Outlook 

 

Offensive Line:

Arie Kouandjio, 23

Austin Reiter, 23

Brandon Scherff, 23

Takoby Cofield, 23

Bryce Quigley, 23

Spencer Long, 24

Tyler Larsen, 24

Morgan Moses, 24

Tom Compton, 26

Josh LeRibeus, 26

Shawn Lauvao, 27

Trent Williams, 27

Willie Smith, 28

Ty Nsekhe, 29

Kory Lichtensteiger, 30

 

Tight Ends:

Je’Ron Hamm, 23

Chase Dixon, 24

Niles Paul, 25

Jordan Reed, 25

Devin Mahina, 26

Logan Paulsen, 28

 

Who I Believe Makes The Team (OL):

Trent Williams

Shawn Lauvao

Kory Lichtensteiger

Spencer Long

Brandon Scherff

Morgan Moses

Arie Kouandjio

Tom Compton

Takoby Cofield

 

Who I Believe Makes The Team (TE):

Jordan Reed

Niles Paul

Logan Paulsen

 

 

Final Offensive Line Depth Chart Grade: C+

I like where the Redskins are headed in regards to their offensive line. They hired Bill Callahan, who is one of the best in the business at coaching OL talent. They also put an emphasis on getting bigger, stronger and younger across the line.  

Trent Williams is a perennial Pro Bowler who has an opportunity to take his game to an even higher level this year. He played well last season, but compared to previous seasons, it was definitely a drop in his production. Williams has lost weight and should flourish in Bill Callahan’s power-based system.  Williams and Kory Lichtensteiger are really the team’s most dependable offensive linemen. Lichtensteiger is an above average center who simply gets the job done. Although, his future may not be so bright with the Redskins, he’ll be good enough for at least this upcoming season. 

Beyond those two players, there’s question marks across the board. Hence, the C+ grade. Shawn Lauvao did not live up to his not-so-inexpensive contract he signed last off-season. But he did show flashes of good ability. I wonder if the power-scheme will help him a bit.

At the other guard position, second-year player Spencer Long will get first dibs on the starting spot. I liked what I saw from him last pre-season. He certainly fits the power-scheme. But there’s more that needs to be seen with him. Personally, I’d prefer rookie Brandon Scherff to play RG, but it appears that they will focus on getting him acclimated at RT.

It will be interesting to see what the Redskins do with Morgan Moses as he continues to get healthy. It surprised me last off-season to see them push Moses to focus on Left Tackle in practice. He’s a Right Tackle and could be a pretty good one.

I have Undrafted Free Agent Takoby Cofield making the roster because he has upside and could provide depth across the board. I heard Scot McCloughan liked Duke Gaurd Laken Tomlinson pre-draft. It’s clear that he liked some of the talent at Duke, having drafted Jamison Crowder and signing Cofield. I like Cofield because he’s capable of playing either tackle spot or guard in a back-up role. He has more upside as a pass blocker than Tom Compton. I came close to having Bryce Quigley make the roster, but he may be a guy you can stash on Practice Squad along with Austin Reiter.

 

Final Tight End Depth Chart Grade: C+

I actually share similar thoughts on the Tight Ends as I do with the Offensive Line. I like the young talent with Jordan Reed and Niles Paul. However, there’s questions with both that makes me doubt the position and its depth.

Jordan Reed is always injured and he still has things about his game that needs improving. I’m concerned that he’s become contact-shy with his ever-growing list of injuries. I want to see him do better after-the-catch and just continue becoming more of a playmaker. Reed can be one of the better tight ends in the game if he stays healthy and improves. But I’m not certain he can do that.

I’m actually more confident in Niles Paul at this point, just because he’s a blue chip player. There’s nothing great about his skillset, which makes him a different type of player than Reed. However, he’s a high competitor who played well in Reed’s place early last season. He drops footballs every now and then (I always go back to the fact he has small hands). However, he actually does make plays after-the-catch and I just like the physical element he brings to the table.

I would prefer Logan Paulsen not making the roster, but there’s really no one else I can see that would push him. He’s the best blocker at the position. Although he adds very little for you in the pass game, he could stick around for those reasons. Maybe the Redskins ought to give Chris Cooley another shot since he wants to play again…

 

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David Ragan entering NASCAR’s Silly Season http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/david-ragan-entering-nascars-silly-season/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/david-ragan-entering-nascars-silly-season/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:36:52 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=157016 As August approaches, it begins the time of year for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, who are in limbo on their contracts for the next season, to either renew their contract, or look for a new contract with another team.  This can begin what NASCAR slang considers “NASCAR’s Silly Season”.  This time of year can impact all levels of drivers – rookies and veterans, good or bad.

One veteran driver who has gone through “NASCAR’s Silly Season” before and is in the same position this season is David Ragan.  Ragan a driver who excels on the track is in an unusual situation this year, which is why he is a part of “NASCAR’s Silly Season” in 2015.Photo Courtesy @DavidRagan

Before describing why Ragan is in the position he is as the season winds down, we should first discuss the impact Ragan has been able to have over his career.

Moving to NASCAR’s top series at the start of the 2007, Ragan raced the famed number 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion.  Although he finished second in the Rookie of the Year standings, Ragan scored three top-ten and two top-five finishes, including a top-five in the Daytona 500 that year.

2008 saw Ragan score a 13th place finish in the final point standings, scoring 14 top-ten and six top-five finishes.  In 2009, Ragan had a few troubles, as he finished 27th in the point standings, with only two top-ten finishes.  2010 saw a few more difficult races for Ragan, as he finished 24th in the final point standings with three top-five finishes.

2011 was a resurgence for Ragan, as he won the Sprint Showdown on May 21st at Charlotte Motor Speedway and backed up this win with a win at Daytona International Speedway on July 2, 2011 in the Coke Zero 400.  However, at the end of the season, UPS, Ragan’s primary sponsor, elected not to return to the team sponsorship, causing Roush Fenway to shut down Ragan’s team, leaving him without a ride – placing him in “NASCAR’s Silly Season”.

However, for the 2012 season, Ragan signed with Front Row Motorsports to drive the No. 34 Ford.  But, bad luck continued to hit Ragan throughout the year and he finished 28th in the final point standings.  The 2013 season saw initial bad fortune through the first nine races.  Luck turned however in May at Talladega Superspeedway, as Ragan won the Aaron’s 499, scoring the first win ever for Front Row Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  Ragan rode the high of the win for the rest of the season scoring sixteen top-25 finishes.  2014 saw Ragan score his first non-restrictor plate top-ten finish with Front Row Motorsports at Martinsville Speedway in the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500.

2015 saw Ragan back in the car with Front Row Motorsports for the Daytona 500.  However, due to Kyle Busch’s injury in the Xfinity race and not being able to drive the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, Ragan was named the driver.  He took on this role until Talladega, when he was was named the driver to replace Brian Vickers, due to health issues for Vickers, in the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing and would remain the driver for the rest of the 2015 season.

But, it was announced that Aaron’s, the primary sponsor on the No. 55, has yet to renew sponsorship for 2016.  Although both the team and fellow drivers on Michael Waltrip Racing would like Ragan to return to the No. 55 next season, there is the uncertainty until sponsorship is worked out, which essentially mean, Ragan has entered “NASCAR’s Silly Season”.

 

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Turn It Down For Watt: Texans’ J.J. Watt #1 on Top 100 Players http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/turn-watt-texans-j-j-watt-1-top-100-players/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/turn-watt-texans-j-j-watt-1-top-100-players/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:30:07 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156996                                                                            “All I know is you mess with me, you got problems,” (J.J. Watt)

 

Any time J.J. Watt does anything awesome, the song Turn it Down for What by Lil John is played in the stadium, and the entire city of Houston loses their minds.

“When they play that song and the stadium kind of gets going, it’s electric. I mean the place goes nuts; I go nuts. It’s like it turned into a different world and it’s unbelievable, and I love it.”J.J. Watt_ Houston Texans

 

It’s no wonder why the fans would lose their minds when that song comes on; J.J. Watt had an outstanding  2014 – 2015 season which resulted in him being named #1 on NFL Network’s Top 100 players.  During last season, Watt became the first defensive player in Texans history to score a touchdown from scrimmage. He scored the touchdown on the on a one-yard catch after coming into the game as a tight end. During the season Watt has also taken snaps on offense as a tight end, catching three touchdown passes.  Watt also became the first player in NFL history to record two 20+ sack seasons in a career. Watt currently holds the Texans franchise records for both sacks and forced fumbles.

“When I was able to get to 20.5 sacks, for the second time in my career, they told me that nobody had ever done that before. I think that was pretty special.”  Watt Said.

It’s been said that Watt is so good that his coaches often let him decide where he’s going to line up.

Titans’ Delane Walke said, “It’s funny because when you play him he’d say that. This guy I’m killing him, so he will line up where ever he feel like; it’s a miss match.”

JJ Watt

During a game against the Buffalo Bills, Watt picked off a pass from Buffalo’s E.J. Manuel that was intended for Fred Jackson, and returned 80 yards for the touchdown. With this touchdown, Watt became tied at sixth for the longest interception return by a defensive lineman. Watt’s touchdown was also the fourth longest interception return in Houston Texans history.

 

Buffalo Bill’s Eric Wood added, “We went into the game saying lets win someone on one match ups, and lets not ruin our protection scheme to focus on one player, and looking back, we probably should have should showed him some extra attention.”

“He made a hell of a play and the only thing going on in my mind was God I wish that was me” commented Buffalo Bills’ Marcell Dareus.

With the 2015-2016 season fast approaching, NFL fans will be keeping an eye on him. What records will he break this season? Just how many times will Turn It Down for What be played at the Texans stadium?

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Fans Need to Cheer Kyle Busch http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/fans-need-cheer-kyle-busch/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/fans-need-cheer-kyle-busch/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:15:26 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156985 When attending a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, what you think would be a quite time, at times can be almost as loud as when the 43 cars are on the track.  Yes, I am talking about driver introductions.  When Dale Earnhardt Jr. is introduced, the cheer from the crowd can be so loud, you can barely hear the person next to you.

A similar noise, although not as loud, also occurs when Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, is introduced at driver introductions, only this is a mixture of cheers and boos.  Yes, Kyle Busch has fans who do not like him for no reason other than he is Kyle Busch.  However, love him, or hate him, Kyle has talent and can drive.

If you would like to argue with me, go ahead and make your point, but I will have a tough time seeing your point and agreeing, after the stretch of finishes Kyle has going right now, as Busch has won three of the last four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, taking the checkered flag at Sonoma, Kentucky and New Hampshire.Photo Credit @KyleBusch

Now you might come back and say that is not that big of a deal.  Well, first off, let me see you go out and win three of four races against some of the best drivers in the world.  Second, let me see you win three of four races after missing the first 11 races after suffering a compound fracture of your right leg and broken left foot, which is exactly what happened to Kyle as the result of a crash on February 21st at Daytona International Speedway during the NASCAR Xfinity race.

The run Kyle is on is due a lot to his skill, in addition to the teamwork around his team.  Being the person he is of crediting those around him, Kyle clearing knows without his team being prepared while he was injured, he would not be on the run he is currently.

“It certainly is nice. It certainly has been a perfect storm, if you will, to come back and to get into fast racecars. That’s what has meant the most.’’

Although it is hard to say what the rest of the season holds for Busch and his team, one thing is clear – next time the driver introductions take place, fans should think twice about letting out the loud ‘boo’ and give Kyle more ‘cheers’.

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NFL: Remaining AFC West Team Needs http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/nfl-remaining-afc-west-team-needs/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/nfl-remaining-afc-west-team-needs/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 16:00:37 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156616 The start of the NFL regular season is just over a month away and the preseason is just around the corner. We’ve gone through seven of the eight divisions in the league to discuss what they need to be more complete teams. Today we go over the final division, the AFC West. The Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, and San Diego Chargers all showed last year that they all have significant holes to fill. Some helped themselves significantly, doing that with their picks in the 2015 NFL draft. So without further ado, let’s get to the remaining AFC West Team Needs.

Rays

Denver Broncos – Anytime you have Peyton Manning, he will help you glaze over the needs of the overall team, but when it comes to playoff time, Manning has not been able to carry the team on his 39 year old back. If the Broncos want to win, or even get back to, a Superbowl, they have to fill a couple spots. One of their big holes was at OT. They went with Shane Ray in round one, but filled their OT need with 2nd round pick Ty Sambrailo. However, there are still two needs that they needed to address:

Nose Tackle – They lost their big run stuffer, Terrance Knighton, in the offseason. They drafted NT Darius Kilgo in the 6th round and are going to go with Sylvester Williams, but I think it’s an important part of their defense and it needs a better upgrade. They need a space eater.

Inside Linebacker – It’s not a high priority right now, but they need someone a 2nd ILB to go with Brandon Marshall because Danny Trevathan is not good enough in my opinion.

Rays2

Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs, despite being in the playoffs or playoff contention the last two years, had a lot of holes on their roster. The Chiefs did well for themselves filling needs at CB, C, WR, and ILB with their picks of CB Marcus Peters in round one, OL Mitch Morse in round two, WR Chris Conley in round three, and ILB Ramik Wilson in round four. They still have two spots that they need to fill, either internally or externally:

Offensive Tackle – Eric Fisher wasn’t great last year and would probably be better suited as a RT, but currently he is forced to be the LT because they don’t have anyone else really that good on the team.

Defensive End – They have Allen Bailey on one side, but they need to upgrade on the other side where currently Mike DeVito is slated to start.

Rays3

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders seem to be starting to get it right. After drafting Derek Carr last year, they gave him the best WR in the draft in Amari Cooper with the 4th overall pick of this year’s draft. They then followed that up but giving him another weapon in TE Clive Walford in round three and OG Jon Feliciano in round four. Their 2nd round pick, DE Mario Edwards Jr, should be able to start opposite Justin Tuck. As I said with the previous two teams mentioned above, they Raiders have two more team needs they still need to address:

Offensive Tackle – Like Eric Fisher, Donald Penn is a solid OT, but would be better suited for RT, but just like with the Chiefs, the Raiders don’t have another OT that is solid enough to start alongside him.

Defensive Tackle – The interior defensive line of the Raiders is really a problem. Dan Williams and Justin Ellis look the part to be a monster DT duo, but both seem to be more of a NT than a 4-3 DT.

Rays4

San Diego Chargers – To be fair, the Chargers only had five draft picks this year, but I have to say that I am not a fan of how the Chargers addressed their needs this offseason. Essentially, they did nothing. Drafting Melvin Gordon in the 1st round was great, but their entire line is horrible and they neglected that position the entire draft. Not to mention that they were a bad rush defense last year and they took no NTs. Nothing against ILB Denzel Perryman, but with Donald Butler and Manti Te’o, that position was not the spot that was needed to be taken in the 2nd round. Their team needs are the following:

Offensive Tackle – DJ Fluker is actually not bad, but he should be playing OG, but since their only good tackle is King Dunlap, Fluker moves to RT and then RG becomes an issue.

Center – With Nick Harwick gone, they Chargers have some serious interior line issues. I already mentioned RG and RT, so this is just icing on the cake. Good luck running up the middle Melvin Gordon.

Nose Tackle – Currently Sean Lissemore is expected to start at NT for San Diego. That is not a good thing to say the least. Expect a repeat performance of last year.

Besides the Chargers, I think the rest of the teams in the AFC West all did solid jobs towards trying to round out their teams. It’s a division that as Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers gets another year older, while Derek Carr gets another year of experience, they standings may start to tighten up from top to bottom. To add to all of that, is Alex Smith the man who will bring the Chiefs to their ultimate goal of a Superbowl? There’s only one way to find out and it should be a fun year looking to find out in the always changing AFC West.

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Rams’ Jared Cook Gives Hope for At-Risk Communities http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/rams-jared-cook-gives-hope-risk-communities/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/rams-jared-cook-gives-hope-risk-communities/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:57:42 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156544 Rams TE Jared Cook joins forces with the Van Duzer Foundation to support At-Risk Communities through the Restoring the Village initiative

Jared Cook Rams

What started as a grassroots, local effort to help kids stay off the streets has turned into a national model for saving lives and creating brighter futures. Led by the Gulfstream Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Scott Van Duzer has put together a team of individuals who may just change the mindset of a generation. In 2013, Van Duzer and a group of volunteers worked tirelessly to create an opportunity for at-risk adolescent males to become engaged in Boy Scouting. The students who attended a school for students with behavioral and academic issues, lived almost exclusively in the most dangerous and violent, gang-riddled areas of St. Lucie County, Florida. Sixty boys initially expressed a desire to become Boy Scouts through Troop 772, named for the area code of its location, and a year later, the improvement to the boys’ grades, attitudes, and lives was astonishing enough to capture the attention and interest of officials in St. Louis, Missouri, where racial issues are prominent and touchy.

Jared Cook Rams Van Duzer, a local business owner in Fort Pierce, assembled a team which included a mayor, police chief, county commissioner, congressman, fire chief, and member of the Florida House of Representatives. Last month, the team got a lot stronger when Jared Cook, tight end for the St. Louis Rams, came on board and agreed to be the voice of the program, which is called Restoring the Village. Cook, who is halfway through a five-year contract with the St. Louis Rams, has been active in several communities including St. Louis, Atlanta, Columbia and Nashville and decided to join the St. Lucie County team of Restoring the Village as the national spokesperson to offer his voice in assistance and support.

The program is very close to Jared’s heart, and he was deeply touched when asked to be a voice for the Restoring the Village Initiative. Cook understands firsthand how exposure to positive environments and positive leaders can change the path of a child immediately.

Cook and the team immediately got to work, traveling to Washington, D.C., to meet with individuals from My Brother’s Keeper, a national initiative to help youth stay on track. Goals of My Brother’s Keeper include making sure children enter school cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally ready, ensuring they read at grade level by third grade, ensuring graduation and post-secondary education or training, ensuring that youth out of school are employed and remain safe from violent crime. While in Washington, D.C., Cook, who was the 2012 Walter Payton Award Winner for the Tennessee Titans, was recognized by Florida Congressman Patrick Murphy for his dedication and continued involvement to community service and his latest affiliation with Restoring the Village and Team 772.Jared Cook Rams

After meeting with leaders from My Brother’s Keeper in Washington, D.C., to discuss collaboration, the team traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, to meet with local leaders to help them establish Boy Scout Troops like Troop 772. Because of the success of Troop 772, a number of communities, including Ferguson, Missouri, have expressed interest in replicating the model. Indeed, after meeting with Van Duzer earlier this year, six new 772 Team Boy Scout troops were created in Ferguson and the surrounding communities.

Next up for Jared Cook, Scott Van Duzer, and the rest of the Restoring the Village team are meetings in Selma, Alabama, Plant City, Florida, and Richmond, Virginia, have already created troops modeled after 772, and Nashville, Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Miami, Florida, have expressed interest in replicating the model and creating hope and a future for children. With Cook as a spokesperson, Van Duzer and the team hope to see real change occur. Van Duzer’s own foundation has long run on the words of philanthropist Margaret Mead, who said, “Never doubt that a small, thoughtful group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing which ever has.” This small, thoughtful group has big plans to help change the world for children now and into the future.

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2016 Preseason NFL Draft Tidbits http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/2016-preseason-nfl-draft-tidbits/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/2016-preseason-nfl-draft-tidbits/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:30:19 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156637 2016 NFL DRAFT SUMMER TIDBITS

 

SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT

Isaiah Battle

Clemson offensive tackle Isaiah Battle was considered a 2nd-3rd round value by NFL scouts, based on 2015 film but some off field issues forced him to enter the Supplemental Draft where the St. Louis Rams took him in the 5th round.

 

No other player was picked and Battle was the first since the Browns took Josh Gordon back in 2011.

 

Battle was the only player who we believe will make a NFL roster but his issues are serious and he will have to work on them if he wants to have a long NFL career, which we believe he can. Battle is a gifted player with good feet, length, a powerful punch, and upside as he brings raw technique that the Rams should be able to coach up.

 

OVERRATED/UNDERRATED

 

Every year there are players who are rated much lower by NFL teams than the media and those who the NFL is higher on than the media realizes.

 

UNDERRATED

 

 

DT ADAM GOTSIS, GEORGIA TECH

Most people don’t have this former walk-on as an elite prospect but he ranks highly among NFL circles. We are hearing 3rd round from a lot of people. They love his upside, production, and body at 6’5, 285 plus pounds. If he can run in the 4.7s or better he will almost certainly be a 2nd or early 3rd round pick, at the latest.

 

SS MILES KILLEBREW, SOUTHERN UTAH

His name barely appeared online when we did a Google search 2 months ago but it will be all over the internet by August. Killebrew is getting high praises. We are told he could go in the 3rd or 4th round as of right now. Scouts love his measurables (6’2, 225, 4.4) and his range. He can cover ground and is a hard hitter. Keep an eye on him. Killebrew will be a Senior Bowl invite and top 100 draft pick if he lives up to the hype.

 

OLB JARED NORRIS, UTAH

After an honorable mention All-Pac 12 season view people viewed him as a top tier prospect but he is considered one of the top three senior outside linebackers in the draft by everyone we have pooled. Norris is just 6’1, 232 pounds but he can fly, showing 4.6 type speed on tape. His speed and athleticism make him a potential top 50 pick. Some are saying he is a top 15 senior prospect.

 

OT NATHAN THEAKER, WAYNE STATE (MI)

Nobody hardly knows this name either but Theaker is another player who should easily end up at the Senior Bowl and as a 5th round or higher pick. He has good strength and was a consistent player in 2014. Expect him to kick inside to guard at 6’4, 300 plus pounds.

 

S DARIAN THOMPSON, BOISE STATE

Nobody views him as a top tier prospect in the media but NFL teams not only see him as a potential 1st or late 2nd round pick but as a top 5 senior prospect. We have heard no lower than the late 2nd round from scouts with some having him as high as a late 1st round choice. This is partly after he ran 4.5s at his junior pro day and measured in at 6’2, 200 plus pounds. He finished with seven interceptions last year and 71 tackles to earn 1st-team All-Mountain West honors.

 

OVERRATED

 

OG VADAL ALEXANDER, LSU

When you earn All-SEC honors as an underclassmen you are automatically pegged a high draft pick but Alexander is not one of them, according to NFL teams. Most scouts who have evaluated him already stamped the 6’5 335 pounder as a mid round or priority free agent prospect rather than a 2nd rounder like many in the media have him.

 

QB TREVONE BOYKIN, TCU

Boykin is not 6’2 like many believed he is. He measures around 5’11 ½ and is considered a marginal draft pick by scouts right now. We have seen opinions from free agent to 7th round from sources and believe that the undersized passer who finished high on Heisman ballots is considered more of a good college player than a blue chip NFL prospect.

 

ILB KENTRELL BROTHERS, MISSOURI

The media seems to view Brothers as a top 100 pick in some circles, likely because he was 2nd team All-SEC last year, but NFL teams view him as a priority free agent or 7th round pick. This doesn’t mean he can’t go much higher but he has work to do in order to go where the media views him. One thing that may be hurting his stock is the fact he measures just 6’0, 240 plus pounds and is considered a sub 4.9 speed guy.

 

QB JAKE COKER, ALABAMA

If you have looked around the internet there are websites who have had him in the top 10. He’s considered a fringe free agent type prospects by scouts. Coker measures over 6’5 229 pounds but hasn’t been a starter yet so with a productive 2015 season as the starter he could perhaps move up boards.

 

OT SPENCER DRANGO, BAYLOR

Baylor has had some high draft picks at tackle over the years and they have all been over drafted. Maybe the NFL is learning with Drango. He is considered a late round pick by scouts, rather than a 1st or 2nd round pick that the media has him projected after he earned All-America honors last year.

 

TE DILLON GORDON, LSU

At 6’4, 300 pounds Gordon is a heavy tight end and someone who was rated highly because of high school hype but scouts also view him as a fringe free agent. It will be interesting to see if scouts keep that opinion or if he is able to show the ability once believed to have in high school.

 

S LADARRELL MCNEIL, TENNESSEE

NFL scouts don’t view McNeil as a legit draftable player and many don’t view him as more than a fringe free agent. At 6’0 plus, 205 plus pounds he has size but will need to improve if he is to be a draft pick. McNeil has a long way to go to get his stock in the draftable range.

 

CB FABIAN MOREAU, UCLA

At 6’0, 195 pounds Moreau is a good size corner but is more of a late round or priority free agent grade by NFL scouts right now than a top 3 round pick as he appears to be in the media. The 2014 2nd-team All-Pac 12 selection will need a strong senior year to be a top 100 pick.

 

DE SHAWN OAKMAN, BAYLOR

Oakman is perhaps the most overrated by the media there is. He is considered a top 10 pick by most media outlets but is rated as a 4th-5th round prospect by NFL sources we have spoken with. They tell us he looks like a million dollars but is stiff, inconsistent, and had his best production against lower rated linemen. He will probably end up in the 2nd or 3rd round because someone will fall in love with the size and length but many people believe he is just too stiff and inconsistent to be more than a backup or role player in the NFL, instead of a future Pro Bowler like many in the media have pegged him.

 

CB KEVON SEYMOUR, SOUTHERN CAL

Seymour did not earn any all-conference honors in 2014 but he is very highly regarded by NFL teams. We have spoken with west coast scouts who have him as high as the 2nd round right now and no lower than the 4th round. At 6’0, 185 pounds with one pick and 13 pass breakups in 2014 scouts believe his physical tools and ability to shut down his side of the field make him a likely top 50-75 pick at this point.

 

POTENTIAL RISERS

 

CB MORGAN BURNS, KANSAS STATE

It’s easy to go unnoticed when you don’t earn postseason accolades and Burns did not. However, NFL teams like him because of his 4.3 speed. If the 5’11, 195 pounder can clock 4.3s in the postseason and have an impressive senior campaign he is a name to watch because scouts already view him as a priority free agent who could easily rise into the mid rounds.

 

RB KENYAN DRAKE, ALABAMA

Drake has never been a starter and won’t be again in 2015 but he is a big, talented back with speed. At 6’0, 210 plus pounds he brings 4.4 speed and a lot of talent. He is viewed as a late round pick right now but if he can stay clean off the field and have a good postseason, we believe he could end up in the 3rd-5th round range.

 

WR TAJAE SHARPE, UMASS

Sharpe is a tall, lean receiver with speed and good hands. If he can run 4.4s in the postseason and put up another strong fall campaign he could move from a projected mid round pick to a top 100 selection. Sharpe had 85 catches for 1,281 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior and should have an even better senior year with his quarterback returning.

 

WERE CLOCKS FAST AT SOUTHERN UTAH?

We talked to a source who was at the Southern Utah pro day and we heard that three players ran impressive times. While we don’t know the exact times we are told that they had a wide receiver run a 4.3 and a corner run a 4.4 while Killebrew also ran a 4.4. Southern Utah should be a team to watch in FCS as they are loaded with potential NFL draft picks or free agent signings.

 

QB RANKINGS

 

NFL teams indeed have Southern California’s Cody Kessler and Michigan State’s Connor Cook as the top two passers but some scouts have Kessler ahead of Cook, which would surprise most media outlets. Cook stands at 6’4 220 pounds while Kessler measures at just 6’1, 215 pounds. We think Cook is the better player but there are scouts who believe Kessler is.

 

NOTABLE AWARD WINNERS UNDER THE RADAR

 

Here is a list of all-conference players from last year who we are told are either rated very low or not even considered a NFL prospect at this point. Surely many of these will fly onto NFL radars but it’s interesting to see so many who were among the best in their conference but not even considered a priority free agent or higher by scouts right now.

 

Pos First Last School
OG Andrew Ruechel Air Force
WR Garrett Brown Air Force
DT Cody Grice Akron
DE Chris Stone Arkansas State
RB Michael Gordon Arkansas State
QB Fredi Knigten Arkansas State
C Matt Hugenberg Army
DT Darnell Smith Ball State
C Jake Richard Ball State
CB Donte Deayon Boise State
K Tyler Tate Bowling Green
WR Ryan Burbrink Bowling Green
RS Devin Campbell Buffalo
WR Ron Willoughby Buffalo
RS Adam Hine BYU
C Nick Beamish Central Michigan
DE Joe Kawulok Colorado State
FS Kevin Pierre-Louis Colorado State
DT Carlos Wray Duke
WR Max McCaffrey Duke
DE Johnathon White East Carolina
ILB Great Ibe Eastern Michigan
DE Mike Wakefield Florida International
ILB Luis Rosado Florida International
FS Matt Dobson Georgia Southern
ILB Joseph Peterson Georgia State
QB Nick Arbuckle Georgia State
OT Bryan Chamberlain Georgia Tech
RB Kenneth Farrow Houston
SS Adrian McDonald Houston
OLB Marc Millan Idaho
CB V’Angelo Bentley Illinois
ILB Mason Monheim Illinois
DT Travis Britz Kansas State
DT Gerrand Johnson Louisiana Monroe
OLB Hunter Kissinger Louisiana Monroe
OLB Michael Johnson Louisiana Monroe
C Kirby Wixson Louisiana Tech
DT Jarquez Samuel Marshall
LS Matt Cincotta Marshall
FB Matt Tuleja Massachusetts
FB Jake Cross Memphis
DT Patrick McNeil Middle Tennessee State
OLB T.T. Barber Middle Tennessee State
DE Channing Ward Mississippi
WR Wesley Leftwich Missouri
CB Quincy Adams Navy
DE Chad Polk North Texas
DE Perez Ford Northern Illinois
ILB Boomer Mays Northern Illinois
OLB Rasheen Lemon Northern Illinois
C Andrew Ness Northern Illinois
OLB Jovon Johnson Ohio
C Lucas Powell Ohio
RS Daz Patterson Ohio
DE Andrew Everett Old Dominion
TE Pharaoh Brown Oregon
OG Andrew Reue Rice
WR Casey Martin Southern Mississippi
C Joey Hunt TCU
DE Praise Martin-Oguike Temple
SS Boye Aromire Temple
CB David Mims II Texas State
RB Robert Lowe Texas State
OT Adrian Bellard Texas State
C Jared Kaster Texas Tech
OG Alfredo Morales Texas Tech
P Taylor Symmank Texas Tech
RS Jakeem Grant Texas Tech
SS J.J. Gaines Texas Tech
DT Orion Jones Jr. Toledo
FS Montres Kitchens Troy
DE Tyler Roberts Troy
OG Dalton Bennett Troy
WR Bryan Holmes Troy
DE Royce LaFrance Tulane
DE Derrick Alexander Tulsa
K Nick Diaz Utah State
C Eric Lee UTEP
RS Autrey Golden UTEP
TE David Morgan II UTSA
K Ian Frye Virginia
RS Demitri Knowles Virginia Tech
CB Wonderful Terry Western Kentucky
ILB Nick Holt Western Kentucky
K Garrett Schwettman Western Kentucky
OG James Kristof Western Michigan
P  J. Schroeder Western Michigan
OLB Joe Schobert Wisconsin

 

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Ickey Woods Still Making an Impact http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/ickey-woods-still-making-impact/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/ickey-woods-still-making-impact/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:28:42 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156950 Whether you saw it live, or have heard about it, almost everyone knows of the “Ickey Shuffle”.  Yes, the “Ickey Shuffle” performed by former Cincinnati Bengals fullback Elbert L. Woods – better known as “Ickey”.

Ickey Woods made a splash in the NFL immediately in 1988 after the Cincinnati Bengals drafted him in the second round out of UNLV.  His rookie season saw him compile 1,066 rushing yards for 15 touchdowns in the regular season and 228 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in the playoffs.  These numbers earned him an All-Pro Selection, the AFC rushing touchdown leader and second overall in the NFL in rushing touchdowns, all in 1988.  However, injuries cut his career short, as Ickey had to retire in after the 1991 season.ickey-woods

After football, Ickey was living the family life, when one of the most tragic things possible happened to Ickey and his wife Chandra.  On August 14, 2010 Jovante Woods, Ickey and Chandra’s son, suddenly passed away from a severe asthma attack.  After Jovante’s tragic passing, Ickey and Chandra were informed Jovante had filed to be an organ donor.  Through Jovante’s act of filing, he helped to save four lives with his organs.

Immediately, Ickey and Chandra knew in order to keep Jovante’s legacy alive, they needed to help prevent others and educate them from experiencing the loss of a loved one.  Therefore, they started the Jovante Woods Foundation.  Through the Jovante Woods Foundation, Ickey and Chandra focus on:

1. Asthma – funding of the Cincinnati Children’s Asthma Research Division and providing of asthma screenings and education to families less fortunate
2. Organ Donation – work with LifeCenter Organ Donor Network
3. Education – “3.8 to be Great” scholarship to a male and female athlete whose GPA is 3.8 or greater

The Jovante Woods Foundation’s three focuses are funded through different events throughout the year.

Although Elbert L. Woods is no longer doing the “Ickey Shuffle” on the playing field, Ickey still has an impact worldwide in his dedication to find a cure for asthma through proceeds from the Jovante Woods Foundation.

 

 

 

 

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Brian Keselowski making an impact http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/brian-keselowski-making-impact/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/brian-keselowski-making-impact/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:09:26 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156965 Veteran NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and ARCA Racing Series  presented by Menards driver Brian Keselowski might not be behind the wheel of the car each week, although he would like to, however, he still is making an impact when he is at the track.

Brian, the son of 1989 ARCA champion Bob and older brother to 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad, started his career in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 2004.  Running a limited ARCA schedule each year from 2004-2007, Keselowski excelled each time he was on the track, winning three times over that span.  Once in 2006 at Berlin Raceway and twice in 2007, winning at Salem Speedway and Berlin Raceway.  From 2008-2014 Brian ran a mix in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Xfinity, ARCA and X-1R Pro Cup Series.  One of the most memorable events during this time was in 2011 at the Daytona International Speedway.

Attempting to qualify for the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s premiere race, Brian was slowest in qualifying, meaning he had to finish as one of the top two cars currently not in the field in one of the Gatorade Duel races.  Speed and great driving led Brian to a 5th place finish in the second Gatorade Duel, placing him the Daytona 500 starting field.  Although a crash put an end to his day, he still took home $297,338.

For 2015, Brian’s goal was to build and race a car he built from scratch with his father.  Photo Credit @KeselowskiBrianHowever, in order to pay the bills Brian has excelled in being the crew chief for rising ARCA rookie Matt Kurzejewski.  In six starts for Matt, he has scored five top-10 finishes, which includes two top-fives.  Although Matt has been the one driving, having Brian to teach Matt and be his guidance during the race has helped tremendously and is one of the main reasons for Matt’s success.

Remember the car Brian and his dad have been working on?  Well, this Friday night at Lucas Oil Raceway, Brian will be running the car him and his father have built, using the same number No. 29 his father used.   Being both Brian and his dad have built the car, there is a good chance Brian might be in Victory Lane at the end of the event and Brian realizes he has a shot

“We don’t think we’re going to go up there and stomp the field, but we have a good shot. I never underestimate the competition here. My dad’s going to come help.”

 

 

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Washington Redskins Outlook: Grading The Front Seven http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/washington-redskins-outlook-grading-front-seven/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/washington-redskins-outlook-grading-front-seven/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:23:03 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156956 Continuing our Pre-Training Camp Washington Redskins Outlook series we’ll preview the team’s current linebacker and defensive line roster by grading and reviewing each positional group. In the process, we’ll also take a look at who could make the final roster.

Secondary Outlook 

 

Defensive Line:

Corey Crawford, 23

Robert Thomas, 24

Frank Kearse, 26

Stephen Paea, 27

Travian Robertson, 27

Ricky Jean-Francios, 28

Jerrell Powe, 28

Terrance Knighton, 29

Kedric Golston, 32

Jason Hatcher, 33

 

 

Linebackers:

Martrell Spaight, 21

Preston Smith, 22

Terrance Plummer, 22

Dyshawn Davis, 23

Dasman McCullum, 24

Ja’Gared Davis, 24

Jackson Jeffcoat, 24

Trent Murphy, 24

Will Compton, 25

Alonzo Highsmith, 25

Keenan Robinson, 26

Ryan Kerrigan, 26

Perry Riley, 27

Adam Hayward, 31

 

Who I believe makes the team (ILB):

1. Keenan Robinson

2. Perry Riley

3. Will Compton

4. Martrell Spaight

5. Alonzo Highsmith

 

Who I believe makes the team (OLB):

1. Ryan Kerrigan

2. Trent Murphy

3. Preston Smith

4. Jackson Jeffcoat

 

Who I believe makes the team (DL):

1. Terrance Knighton

2. Stephen Paea

3. Jason Hatcher

4. Ricky Jean-Francois

5. Chris Baker

6. Kedric Golston

7. Frank Kearse

 

 

Final Linebacker Depth Chart Grade: B+

I actually really like what the Redskins have at linebacker. In my opinion, it’s by far the deepest position on the team and it’s loaded with young players. In the scenario above, Perry Riley would be the oldest linebacker and he’s only 27.

Ryan Kerrigan continues to improve each year. Maybe he’s not an “elite” pass rusher, but he’s a border line elite outside linebacker in my mind. He’s a very good player and should be a core piece for the team.

Keenan Robinson is a potential superstar. However, it’s going to take two things that will help push him from good to great: staying healthy and becoming a playmaker. He successfully accomplished staying healthy last season. But I do want to see him become more of a playmaker. That’s what it’s going to take for him to reach that next level. I remember a play last year that would’ve been a pick-six for Robinson but he dropped the ball. Those are the type of plays London Fletcher made in his prime and it’s what will help Robinson get to that next level. With the new one-gap scheme, Keenan Robinson will be the primary beneficiary.

I would give this position an “A” but there are two slight question marks opposite Keenan Robinson and Ryan Kerrigan. I like Perry Riley and he does still have some upside, but where he fails is in coverage. He’s a downhill player who gives up too many plays behind him. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to develop that part of his game. I also would caution those who think Martrell Spaight can step in and do that better than Riley. I was not very thrilled by Spaight’s coverage skills in the film I watched of him.

Several scouts told me pre-draft this year that Trent Murphy has a lot of talent that could potentially make him an excellent pass rusher. Murhpy is athletic and can bend the edge — but I need to see more of him. He needs to continue bulking up as well. I’d still like to see Murphy bulk up and move to 5-technique. I think he can be a poor-mans Justin Smith there. Murphy will probably start opposite Ryan Kerrigan, but it won’t matter because both Murphy and Preston Smith will get a lot of play time. I’m very high on Preston Smith and think he can be a true Swiss Army Knife on the defense.

 

Final Defensive Line Depth Chart Grade: C

The Redskins made a few additions to the defensive line this year with Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean-Francois. While the additions should help the overall depth of this positional group, it’s still a pretty old group of players who are all mostly one-trick-ponies.

The player I’m highest on from this group is Stephen Paea. I think he’s on the verge of becoming a big time player. He’s developed to be an excellent pass rusher and I think he’s a pretty underrated run stopper. Terrance Knighton is an elite run-stopper, but he isn’t going to do anything for you in the pass game. But that of course is where Chris Baker’s limited pass rush ability comes into play. Jason Hatcher is a very good pass rusher, but he’s even older than Kedric Golston who has to be like the Tim Duncan of the Washington Redskins. He’s literally been around for like forever.

I don’t know how much you can depend on Hatcher, as he does get injured often too. Which is where Ricky Jean-Francois comes into play. That signing could actually end up being a sneaky good signing. Jean-Francois doesn’t do any one thing great. But he’s a very solid player who I know for a fact has been working out like a mad dog this off-season.

Washington doesn’t have a star on their defensive line. Although, I think Paea could potentially be one. While they will rotate players often and use a one-gap system, I’m still not certain this unit will be great.

 

Follow us: @Manny_PPI | @PlayerInsiders

 

 

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MLFB Fills The Void In Your Football Heart http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/mlfb-fills-void-football-heart/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/mlfb-fills-void-football-heart/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 14:55:24 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156530 It is the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the holiday season (though it does encompass it). I’m talking about football season. There is nothing like it. It starts in the late summer and races on at breakneck speed until it culminates in the bitter cold of winter.

But what about the spring? Football is the most watched sport in the country and yet from March to July there is no professional football to be seen.

Well, my frantic football fans the solution may finally be here. A brand new professional football league has been developed strictly for the spring. Say hello to Major League Football (MLFB), a league that is engrained with decades of NFL knowledge and service.

The league is set to debut in 2016 and will be played from mid-March to early-July. The MLFB will be comprised of 10 teams that will play their way through a 12 game schedule before heading into a five team postseason. The MLFB, who will be announcing team locations soon, has set their eyes on emerging cities that don’t already have an NFL team. Early reports have cited Eugene (OR), Little Rock (AR), Orlando (FL), and Birmingham (AL) as potential spots for teams.

One of the key components of Major League Football, is their dedication to their credo. The MLFB is set around what they call “the three laces”.
MLFB
Each lace stands for a different quality that the MLFB has committed itself to. The first, stands for being dynamic. The MLFB devotes itself to the fan experience by using social media to provide constant contact with players and coaches. What really makes the league dynamic and truly weaves fans into the foundation of the league is that the MLFB is publicly traded (SYM: MLFB). Which means you, the fan, can actually own shares in the league.

The second lace represents being disruptive. The MLFB is intent on becoming a springtime pastime and is looking to shake things up on the field to do so. The MLFB has shortened the play clock to fire up offenses into a faster style of play, completed field goals of 50 yards or more will be rewarded with four points, and the ground can cause a fumble.

Being community-centric is the third lace. By choosing burgeoning cities, the MLFB hopes to impact such communities in a way that creates “a social haven of shared interests and value.”Wes-Chandler-DL-010815

“I see it as a vision and an opportunity to go in and make a real, real difference,” said MLFB President and former-New Orleans Saints and -San Diego Chargers Pro-Bowl receiver Wes Chandler. “It means something to feel the heartbeat of a community. It means something to know that the community understands that we care, that we’re not just there. We’re having an impact, we’re going out into that community, we are going to be married to that community for lots of reasons other than just football.”

With Chandler, as President of the MLFB, it shows just how deep the ties to the NFL go. The league’s CEO, Jerry Vainisi, was the former-Chicago Bears general manager who helped build the teams only Super Bowl championship team in 1985 and also worked in the Detroit Lions front office as the V.P. of player personnel and helped launch NFL Europe in 1990. Former-Los Angeles Rams cornerback Ivory Sully, also is a part of of the MLFB brass as EVP of Branding and Licensing.

Any surfacing of a new professional football league comes with weary as fans recall failed leagues of the past like the WFL, UFL, USFL, and the XFL. But the question of “what makes this league different” is answered simply.

Major League Football has developed it’s league around the NFL and has ensured that is a non-adversarial league. With no intent to take on the NFL and stacked with a wealth of former-NFL experience both on and off the field, the MLFB seems like they may have finally locked down a place for a second professional football league in America.

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NFL: Remaining NFC North Team Needs http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/nfl-remaining-nfc-north-team-needs/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/nfl-remaining-nfc-north-team-needs/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 16:00:18 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=156606 The division known as the Black and Blue division has actually become one of the underrated divisions in the sport. The Chicago Bears have taken a step back, but they still have a better offense than they are given credit for. The Detroit Lions have a team that with good QB play can actually be a Superbowl contender. The Green Bay Packers have the best QB in the sport and that covers a lot of holes that any team would have. And the Minnesota Vikings may have found their QB of the future, now it’s just about what they surround him with. So with that being said, let’s go through the remaining NFC North Team Needs.

Rays

Chicago Bears – Thankfully for them, going into the 2015 NFL draft, I did not have the Bears for many Team needs, two to be exact. I say thankfully for them because I don’t think they filled either need. Instead, the Bears chose to replace Brandon Marshall with their 1st round pick Kevin White. Then they backed up that pick with NT Eddie Goldman in round two and OC Hroniss Grasu in round three. I actually did like all three picks, but they are putting a lot of faith in what they currently have for the following positions of need:

Quarterback – The Bears couldn’t even give away Jay Cutler this offseason, but I think this could be his last year on the team so I’m surprised they didn’t even try to take a project QB.

Guard – If the Bears are going to stabilize their offense, it starts with fixing the interior offensive line. They didn’t really address this in the draft. They took an OT in round six if that counts for anything.

Rays2

Detroit Lions – The Lions have become the new wise guy pick to win the division now. With a top 5 defense that may have played over their head and an offense that, before last year, could score on anyone, the Lions look poised to go on a big run this year. They traded down in round one to get OC Manny Ramirez from Denver, and then took OG in Laken Tomlinson in round one and an OT in Corey Robinson, who slipped to round seven, to help the line. Then they selected a RB in round two in Ameer Abdullah to fill 3 big needs. However, they still have one more hole to fill:

Wide Receiver – Obviously when you have Megatron, you probably count him as two WRs alone, but it’s more the other outside WR that I’m worried about. Golden Tate is great, but he should be in the slot. Right now Corey Fuller is in the slot and that is not good utilization of your weapons.

Rays3

Green Bay Packers – As I said above, when you have the best QB in the league, in Aaron Rodgers, he can cover up a lot of spots. However, it puts a ton of pressure on him to be almost perfect. The Packers tried to fix that this offseason by filling their needs in the secondary with their 1st two picks in the draft in taking FS Damarious Randall and CB Quinten Rollins. Then they came back to fill their other big need at LB in selecting Jake Ryan in the 4th. To be completely honest, I don’t see any more holes on this roster and they are locked and loaded to make another run at the Lombardi Trophy.

Rays4

Minnesota Vikings – I couldn’t be much more impressed with how the Vikings have found a way to continuously improve over the last two years. After being a one man team for the last few years, they finally drafted their QB of the future in Teddy Bridgewater. To protect their new prized possession they selected three OL in this year’s draft (TJ Clemmings in round four, Tyrus Thompson in round six, and Austin Shepherd in round seven) to fill their needs at OG and OT. Add that to their 1st round selection in CB Trae Waynes and that is how you build a team, from the inside, out. Offensive and Defensive lines win championships. The Vikings are on their way in the right direction and, in my opinion, currently don’t have any more obvious holes to fill.

When you watch games in the NFC North, you realize why they call it the Black and Blue division. Both the AFC North and the NFC North just beat the crap out of each other during the season and typically, it’s not an easy win. The Green Bay Packers have slightly separated themselves in recent years, but the Detroit Lions are charging hard and the Chicago Bears do not have as bad of a team as they have shown, add that with the up and coming Minnesota Vikings and it invites us to another great viewing year of football for us fans of the NFL.

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