Yes, it’s an incredibly tough act to follow.
But the 2015 lot appears up to the challenge. No, it doesn’t appear to be the same transcendent level of talent, but there are starting-caliber receivers who could last well into the second — and perhaps into the third — day of the draft.
Much like quarterback and running back, some have made wide receiver something of a two-horse race at the top, with Alabama’s Amari Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White (in some order) the two elite prospects available. We favor White slightly for his length and explosion, perhaps just a tick more dynamic than Cooper, but it’s beholder’s choice here. Both are beautiful NFL prospects who project to long, fruitful careers.
But by no means is there a clear division to the next tier of talent. Don’t snooze on the talents of USC’s Nelson Agholor (our choice for most undervalued wideout this season), Louisville’s Devante Parker and ex-Missouri wideout Dorial Green-Beckham as being potential eventual No. 1 receivers in the league. If not for serious character concerns, DGB might be a slam-dunk top-10 selection.
SLEEPER Tony Lippett, Michigan State
OVERRATED Devin Funchess, Michigan
Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is out of rehab, and he might not be ready to discuss his various difficulties, but he is ready to say he's sorry.
In a statement released by Manziel through the team, he said:
"I would like to thank my family, friends, the Browns organization, my teammates, and Browns fans everywhere, for your patience, understanding, and support during my stay at Caron. The doctors and staff have been amazing and what I’ve learned in the last couple of months has been tremendous. I owe private apologies to a lot of people that I disappointed but a very public one to the Browns organization and the fans that I let down. I take full responsibility for my actions and it’s my intention to work very hard to regain everyone’s trust and respect.
So this thing has a long way to go. But if you're the Browns, you have to feel good about the first step back by their talented but troubled quarterback.
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After two straight NFL drafts with no running back selected until the second round, the 2015 edition could turn back the clock. No, Trent Richardson didn’t ruin it for everyone — there could be a back selected in the first 32 picks. Perhaps even two! (Three and we might just faint.)
Georgia’s Todd Gurley is a special back — perhaps the best prospect we’ve seen in the draft (spare the Richardson jokes) since Adrian Peterson came out. Had Gurley not torn his ACL this past season, he might be considered a no-doubt top-10 pick, even in this age of the passing game, and he still might end up there.
Some say that Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon is the safer choice because of the health factor, and he’s the more electric runner in space, but the negatives against him (history of fumbling, weakness in the passing game) should make him the second back selected behind Gurley.
[Yahoo Sports Radio – Minnesota RB David Cobb on becoming a three down RB in the NFL]
SMALL-SCHOOL WONDER Zach Zenner, South Dakota State
COULD RISE IN DRAFT Johnson
IDEAL FIT Ajayi to the Jaguars
Looking back, the 1995 NFL draft was, well, not so hot. But the top 10 picks were a fascinating historical study.
We had a trade involving the No. 1 overall pick, only the fourth time that ever has happened in the league history, and the pick — Ki-Jana Carter — turned out to be a major bust. He’s also the final running back to be taken first overall. Maybe for good reason.
The expansion Carolina Panthers traded down out of that spot, down to No. 5, where they took quarterback Kerry Collins with their first-ever selection. Fellow expansion club Jacksonville Jaguars took Tony Boseli second. Although Boseli played fewer than half the NFL games that Collins did, the offensive tackle had a brilliant run when healthy.
Steve McNair out of Alcorn State went third, followed by Michael Westbrook fourth, Collins fifth and Kevin Carter sixth. McNair had a great career but never won a Super Bowl, beaten out by the St. Louis Rams’ Carter in the 1999 season. Westbrook never fulfilled his potential after making one of the more incredible catches in college football history.
Yeah, it was one of those years.
Here are 10 more interesting facts on the 1995 NFL draft:
A lose-lose deal?
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Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner 3 days ago
What has happened since our last NFL mock draft? Not a ton outside of some wild rumors and baseless chatter — the fun stuff! — about Team X liking Player Y and the like. But we’ve been gathering information behind the scenes, double-checking our lists and circling back on prospects we missed the first time around.
And with it comes another two-round mock draft, this one two weeks prior to liftoff on April 30:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Florida State QB Jameis Winston
Although the team has gone out of its way to point out that it is examining all avenues, and wild rumors tend to catch wind this time of year,. we believe this pick has been solid since head coach Lovie Smith essentially signed off on Winston’s character at the NFL scouting combine, even if some higher-ups are a little skittish.
2. Tennessee Titans — Oregon QB Marcus Mariota
3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Clemson OLB Vic Beasley
4. Oakland Raiders — USC DE Leonard Williams
5. Washington Redskins — Florida DE Dante Fowler Jr.
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Leading up to the NFL draft on April 30-May 2, Shutdown Corner will examine each position, rank the top players at each spot and identify some sleepers, sliders and lesser-known gems.
As was the case in the drafts of 2008 (Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco), 2005 (Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers) and 1998 (Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf), this year’s quarterback class is viewed roundly as a two-QB field heading into draft night.
There’s Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, and there’s everyone else.
Again, that’s the perception right now, and though history showed that Leaf was a far bigger bust than, say, Matt Hasselbeck, Brian Griese or Charlie Batch — other ’98 draft quarterbacks — we have little reason at this moment to expect much change.
Could Winston or Mariota flame out in the NFL? Absolutely. And perhaps there is a Hasselbeck or a Griese in a group made up of Bryce Petty, Garrett Grayson, Brett Hundley and Sean Mannion. But as things stand right now, there’s a wide gap between Winston and Mariota and the remainder of the field.
Both could be quality NFL starters — they’re just nothing alike.
SMALL-SCHOOL WONDER Chris Bonner, Colorado State-Pueblo
Rex Ryan has come out guns blazing with his new team, the Buffalo Bills. What, you expected something different?
Ryan believes he has a winner brewing in Buffalo, but he allowed himself — in an excellent piece from MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas, for this week’s Sports Illustrated — to vent a bit on his exit from the New York Jets.
It wasn’t pretty.
In the long, grueling, slow death of last season, when the free world knew that Ryan (and GM John Idzik) would go down at the end of what would be a 4-12 campaign, the former Jets head coach said he felt neutered and undercut by management, which had been brewing since the year prior.
“I wasn’t the boss anymore, I was just a guy,” Ryan told MMQB. “Whether they want to say it or not, all of a sudden I became less important to the team.
“They were trying to pull away from me. Like it was my fault, somehow, that people identified the Jets with me, and that was a bad thing and not a good thing. I was just being who I was. From that point on I knew I wasn’t going to be long for that job.”
How badly does he want to stick it to them?
The 2015 NFL draft in Chicago will be a quarterback-free environment.
The league's first draft foray outside of New York will be lacking in star power for the first round on April 30, when 26 prospects are scheduled to attend — but there will be no Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota there. On the list of players the NFL confirmed have RSVPed to the event, there are zero quarterbacks who will stride across the stage to bro-hug Roger Goodell as of now.
Mariota previously said he intends to be in his native Hawaii for cultural and familial reasons. Winston has yet to officially say he's not attending the draft but did say he wanted to stay home because his grandmother is too ill to travel.
Also conspicuously absent from the list of invitees: Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Biletnikoff Award winner is a candidate to go in the top 10, perhaps as high as No. 4 to the Oakland Raiders, and is in a battle with West Virginia's Kevin White to be the first wideout selected.
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Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner 5 days ago
Michael Crabtree's wait to find a new team is finally over.
The Oakland Raiders announced Monday night that Crabtree has signed with the team, which is flush with salary-cap space and in need of pass catchers. The deal is reportedly worth $3 million for one year with incentives available as well. Quarterback Derek Carr showed promise as a rookie but had precious few reliable targets, which Crabtree could provide if he's healthy.
The former No. 10 overall pick in 2009 played the entire 2014 season but did so through a painful foot injury following a bowl-out Achilles tendon. Although he averaged a career-worst 10.4 yards per catch last season, he did snag four touchdowns — actually the third-most in his career — amid a slew of offensive problems with the San Francisco 49ers.
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Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner 6 days ago
At first, it seemed like a cute little entitlement. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson won the Super Bowl and decided to take a few grounders after the 2013 season with the Texas Rangers, who earn his baseball rights. Hey, he had earned it, right?
After losing the Super Bowl this past season, Wilson went back. He took more grounders. Hmm. Hey, if Tom Brady is cliff diving and playing hoops and golf with Michael Jordan, Wilson can have his fun on the diamond, right?
Well, sure, but what if this baseball thing is more than mere folly?
Wilson sat down with HBO's Real Sports, telling Bryant Gumbel in a piece that will run April 21 that his passion for baseball goes beyond a few cuts in the batting cage in March.
Asked by Gumbel what is stopping him from attempting to be the next Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders, Wilson didn't exactly make Seahawks fans comfy with his answer.