The Minnesota Vikings Grab FSU’s Dalvin Cook In The Second Round Of The NFL Draft

Dalvin Cook didn’t have to wait long on Friday night. In fact, after falling out of the first round on Thursday, Cook, the FSU star, was the second-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings. Now, the school’s all-time leading rusher will replace Adrian Peterson in the lineup.

Cook has been the subject of scrutiny since the end of the 2016-17 college football season. To begin with, there are questions about his durability, fumbles and being able to pass block. If that wasn’t enough, there were questions about his “friends” away from football and a subpar Combine workout.

Cook had plenty to answer for before he heard his name called Friday night.

With the Minnesota Vikings, he has a chance to show the NFL what he can do.

A Pro Day performance in March, where he ran a sub 4.5 40-yard dash and showed he could catch the football consistently helped his stock. After his performance in Tallahassee, Cook was linked to the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. In Minnesota, he gives the offense a breakaway back every time he touches the ball. He joins Latavius Murray, who came over from Oakland to carry the football.

According to sportingnews.com, Cook ran for 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns last season and finished his three-year career at Florida State with 4,464 yards and 46 scores. He also caught 79 passes for 935 yards and two touchdowns as a Seminole.

Cook’s innate ability to catch the ball is one aspect of his game that might separate him from other backs. Longtime wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, who retired in January after 25 years in the NFL, told Omnisport that Cook reminds him of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.

“The guy’s got the whole package,” Sullivan, who was most recently with the Jaguars from 2012-16, said of Cook. “He’s a great receiver out of the backfield, smart, instinctive. If you put him outside, he can catch.

Dalvin Cook was a first-team All-American his junior year at Florida State. However, he bypassed his final season in college to declare for the NFL Draft.




The Jacksonville Jaguars Add Beef To The Offensive Line With Cam Robinson

This is one of the picks that was decided a few weeks ago. The Jacksonville Jaguars met with Cam Robinson in Jacksonville and worked him out twice. The tackle from Alabama could be the team’s answer as a tackle for the future or could kick inside and play guard. Wherever he lines up, the Jaguars have another piece to their offensive line issues.

At 6-foot-6 and 322 pounds, the Monroe, LA native takes up space. He also has the ability to stand up defensive ends. That’s important in keeping quarterback Blake Bortles upright. He will also be a key to helping the Jacksonville running game and newly drafted running back Leonard Fournette.

Opponents sacked Bortles 34 times last year, an improvement over 51 sacks last season. The running backs – TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory averaged 3.4 yards per carry on the ground.

According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, he compares to Cordy Glenn of the Buffalo Bills.

“Given his massive frame, Robinson is surprisingly quick off the ball, showing good lateral agility and balance to mirror pass rushers. He can fire off the ball in the running game, showing the initial burst to pull and climb to the second level, where he is an intimidating presence that most defenders look to avoid at all costs.

“His greatest attribute, however, may be his iron grip rather than elite footwork, which could prompt a switch to right tackle or even inside to guard at the next level, like his Alabama predecessors.”

Earlier in the offseason, Jaguars Executive Vice-President Tom Coughlin said everyone on the team needed to play with grit and get tougher. Injuries have played a big part of the instability of the much maligned offensive line. Cam Robinson offers that grit and toughness. Also, he offers the versatility Coughlin has looked for in past draft classes. Both with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants.

The Jaguars now also have insurance if needed. The team traded for former Miami Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert. However, he did not appear at the team’s voluntary team meetings earlier this month and wants a new contract.

The team has reported it has not had contact with Albert or his agent.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are slated to pay Albert $8.9 million in 2017, per Spotrac. Because Jacksonville acquired Albert via trade, his deal comes with a clean slate. The Jaguars could theoretically move on before this season without having to pay Albert another dime.

Albert’s $9.6 million salary for 2018 is also non-guaranteed. It’s likely he’s looking to ensure his safety on the roster. Thus, in the form of guaranteed money under a new deal.

Following the announcement of the Cam Robinson pick, team general manager David Caldwell said on Twitter the rookie and Albert would compete for the starting left tackle spot.




Making The United States Title The Most Important Belt On Tuesday Nights

  1. My friend Chris is brilliant. While we are making a huge deal out of title matches having less than zero meaning at the Payback pay-per-view, my astute buddy came up with a theory that makes so much sense, it probably isn’t plausible.

Brock Lesnar is in hibernation for the time being, which means fans won’t see the Universal Heavyweight Title until the Beast Incarnate decides to wake from his slumber. Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt will once again battle over the WWE World Title – with the winner holding the title on the brand they represent. The same goes for Chris Jericho meeting his former BFF Kevin Owens in a grudge match for the United States Title.

Chris’ plan for all of this is to make other titles more important than the Universal Title, to make Lesnar’s strap part of the mid card attraction, or at least that’s part of the plan.

“Here’s a twist. What if you have it backwards and no one is talking about it. What if they are actually building the U.S. title? Here’s how. Every big name on Smackdown was in a #1 contender match for the US title, not the WWE one. AJ, Baron, Sami, etc.

“While Mojo, Jinder and others were in the contender match for the “Big” title? It feels odd. I’m probably way off, but if they do the thing that they haven’t mentioned, Let Bray win, that belt is on Raw leaving the U.S. title as THE title for that show and with AJ and KO fighting for it, both were the “Big” title holders until 3 months ago. How better to build a belt than that? I’m probably wrong. The Jinder part doesn’t fit for my plan but every other part does.”

I love the idea. You can thank John Cena for the beginning of all these shenanigans. When Cena made the United States Title more important than the WWE World Title, an idea was born. The U.S. strap and the Intercontinental Title have toiled in obscurity for some time. No matter who won – while The Miz, Cena, Daniel Bryan and Owens have tried as they might – WWE saw fit to continue to bury them. Cena’s run with the Open Challenge was one of the better angles the company has worked with. Owens could have that same kind of success.

Chris is right. Having Owens and AJ Styles fight over the Red, White and Blue is an awesome concept. Arguably two of the five best performers on the company roster engaged in a feud everyone wants to see finally makes the title worthy. If Wyatt beats Owens and runs back to Monday nights with the WWE World Title, then Owens and Styles get top billing. It’s perfect and brilliant and brings back some of the old-style NWA feel to a promotion that has used the past to build some of the present.

When Lesnar does return, have him face Owens, and drop the title. Bring the Universal Title to Tuesday nights, while Styles, Orton, Cena, Dean Ambrose and Mahal (he is going to be huge!) have their pecking order. It may also makes sense for WWE to shuffle the rosters once again with Baron Corbin moving over to the red team.

WWE has made major changes since WrestleMania 33 that the promotion hopes will make things more interesting. Vince McMahon is the master of the swerve. This – making the United States Title the most important title on Tuesday night – would be the biggest and best yet.

Now, we will see if the company will see the light, and take Chris up on his idea, which is so good, it probably won’t be considered.




Winners and Losers In The First Round Of The 2017 NFL Draft

A local writer here in Jacksonville was more optimistic about the direction the Cleveland Browns traveled in last night’s first round of the NFL Draft.

“Well, I’ll be in the minority here. But reaching for a QB was exactly what the previous Browns regimes would have done. Next year is considered the QB class. Build the defense. Having a better QB this year is the difference between 3-13 and 4-12.”

The Browns did well to get Myles Garrett with the first pick, then traded back, sending fans into a frenzy. Coming away with Jabrill Peppers at safety and David Njoku to play tight end were solid moves. But the question still remains, who throws the football in 2017?

There were strong rumors the Browns were in contact with Washington to acquire Kirk Cousins. It never materialized. The Browns gave up the first pick in the second round, but still, have a plethora of selections on Day 2 and 3.

The first round of the NFL Draft was as crazy a night as anyone can remember. Three trades to take three signal callers. The fact Jonathan Allen and Malik Hooker fall to the middle of the round and Reuben Foster landed in San Francisco with the 31st pick. How in the world do you explain those kinds of things? Really, you can’t.

There were some very good picks and some selections and moves that still have me scratching my head. That isn’t as bad as some fans, who may have punched a few walls or spilled their drink watching their teams take a tumble or forget how to draft players in the first place.

Here is a look at four winners and five losers from the first round of the NFL Draft.

WINNERS

Jacksonville Jaguars – The trade between Chicago and San Francisco made the team’s hierarchy sweat a bit. The Jaguars got the best running back in this draft and should help take the pressure off the passing game. Fournette is big, thick and can move through the middle of the defense. He will be this year’s, Zeke Elliott.

San Francisco 49ers – What general manager John Lynch did to Chicago last night should be illegal. The 49ers moved down one spot and still got Solomon Thomas. The Bears got Mitchell Trubisky after they signed Mike Glennon in free agency. The 49ers’ defense will be better this year. Chicago will have a quarterback controversy from Day 1 of training camp. Adding Reuben Foster at No. 31 was shrewd.

Cleveland Browns – They got Myles Garrett and then moved down to acquire picks. Jabrill Peppers was a solid move. He could be the strong safety this team needs for the next decade. The team then moved back into the first round, grabbed tight end David Njoku and could find a signal caller in the second or third round. The Browns finally changed their draft plan. Hence, they are building a winner.

Houston Texans – Or should we say, Deshaun Watson. The Texans gave up the 25th pick this year and next year’s first and second round picks to grab Watson, who fits the Houston system. This is a team that is a quarterback short of being a playoff contender. Watson was the best quarterback in this class. Houston knew it needed a signal caller over every other position and took a gamble that will pay off.

New Orleans Saints – The theory of letting the Draft come to them paid off. The Saints got Marshon Lattimore at No. 11. The move helps solidify the secondary. Many were projecting Lattimore to be as high as the second pick in this draft. The ability to grab Ryan Ramczyk at No. 32 will help provide depth at tackle. The massive tackle from Wisconsin moves into the starting spot and helps protect Drew Brees while providing better blocking for an improved running game.

LOSERS

Forrest Lamp – The Western Kentucky player shuffled down the draft board because of an early run on wide receivers and three quarterbacks grabbed earlier than expected. Nevertheless, the massive guard will be one the first players taken on Day 2. However, he should have been taken in the first 32 picks. Lamp is an All-Pro player waiting to happen.

Chicago Bears – Someone tricked the Bears into thinking they wanted to come up and grab Mitchell Trubisky and gave up draft picks to move up one spot. Say what? That never happens in the NFL. Trubisky goes into camp knowing the team signed Mike Glennon and may wait a year to start. That’s an awfully big risk for taking a signal caller with the second selection. Also, the Bears had plenty of needs on the defensive side of the ball. Jamal Adams was there. And the team could still have traded back to the North Carolina signal caller.

Dalvin Cook, Carolina Panthers – He is still on the board while the Panthers grabbed Christian McCaffrey at No. 8. However, I am not sure what kind of shelf life McCaffrey has in the NFL. For one thing, Cook is a dynamic runner who has breakaway speed. This might be the one “competition” to watch as Cook will get drafted in the second round and have a better career than the kid from Stanford. I’m not sure what the Panthers saw in this. They could have traded back or taken Joe Mixon in Round 2.

Oakland Raiders – This is such a “Raiders” move. The team grabs Gareon Conley despite the rumors of sexual assault. Oakland will have a massive media circus on its hands from the start. If Conley, who has proclaimed his innocence from the start, is arrested or found guilty, the firestorm of criticism begins. Conley is a great talent, but he also has a lot to prove on and off the field.

Alabama Players – The Crimson Tide produce plenty of NFL talent. Although this year, they fell to the middle and back part of the first round. Marlon Humphrey at 15 to Indianapolis. Jonathan Allen at 17 to Washington. OJ Howard at 19th to Tampa Bay and Reuben Foster to San Francisco at No. 31. All four of these players helped Nick Saban win national titles and were arguably the best at their positions in this draft. It will be fun to watch if they all prove to be better than those stars drafted before them.




Potential Second Day NFL Draft Picks For The Jacksonville Jaguars

If you want to know how much the Jacksonville Jaguars wanted Leonard Fournette, all you needed to do was hear the conversation between the player and the team in the war room.

Fournette, who will immediately challenge for a starting role on offense, was the team’s top pick all along. Executive vice-president Tom Coughlin told the LSU star he was a bit nervous when Chicago and San Francisco made a trade in front of the team. But patience paid off as this franchise now has an elite running back to go along with the passing attack they could return to 2015 form.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have two picks this evening – One at 35, and the other at 68. There still many holes this team needs to fill. With the offensive line and pass rush at the top of the list. Drafting a player like Fournette allows head coach Doug Marrone to concentrate on roster needs. Ones that will prove to be starters as well as depth.

The early run on quarterbacks, where three trades were made to draft signal callers in the first 12 picks, opened the door for quality players to slide.

Based on who is available, it looks like Jacksonville will get a first-round talent the next time the team is on the clock. Here is a look at five players this team could consider with their two selections later today.

Forrest Lamp, Guard, Western Kentucky – The massive guard will help the Jaguars open holes for Fournette and the running game. Lamp’s ability to use a compact frame to move offensive linemen has made him the best at his position in this draft.

Demarcus Walker, Defensive End, FSU – If he slides to the back end of the second round, the Jacksonville Jaguars should consider moving up to grab him. At FSU, all he did was rush the passer, to the tune of 16.5 sacks last season. At 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, he could also play inside as a three-technique.

Nate Peterman, Quarterback, Pittsburgh – Someone said the Jaguars should consider Deshone Kizer. I sure hope not. Peterman played in a pro-style offense at Pittsburgh and has a chance to be a solid starter in this league. He is a bit thin, but has a strong arm and is a local product from here in Jacksonville.

Kevin King, Cornerback, Washington – King, 6-foot-3, 192 pounds, finished his four-year career at Washington with 164 tackles. Hel also had six interceptions, as well as two forced fumbles. He was projected as a late first-round pick and adds depth to the Jaguars secondary. With the team uncertain about Aaron Colvin’s future, this is a solid pick.

Dion Dawkins, Guard, Temple – Dawkins could be the pick at No. 35 if Lamp is gone. Dawkins is a thick road grader at 6-foot-4 and 314. The Jags can plug him into either side of the line and play. There may be some talk he could eventually play center, meaning Brandon Linder moves back to his original spot.

 

 




The Jacksonville Jaguars Select Leonard Fournette From LSU

The Jacksonville Jaguars got their man. After a trade that may have made general manager David Caldwell sweat a bit, the Jaguars took running back Leonard Fournette of LSU. And with that, Blake Bortles has to be smiling.

Fournette gives the Jaguars’ offense a home run threat they did not have with TJ Yeldon or Chris Ivory.

According to Ron Clements of The Sporting News, the Jaguars ranked in the bottom third in rushing offense last season and Fournette is the type of workhorse back they can use to take some pressure off quarterback Blake Bortles. AN ankle injury bothered Fournette last year. Yet, the 6-foot, 240-pound back still managed to average 6.5 yards per carry and score eight touchdowns. That came after he ran for 1,953 yards and 22 scores as a true sophomore. 

He is the bell cow back Tom Coughlin, the team’s executive vice president likes to help balance the passing game.

Leonard Fournette set LSU’s single-season record for rushing as a sophomore. Furthermore, he left LSU as the school’s fourth-leading rusher with 3,830 yards and 40 touchdowns. Fournette is one of only two running backs in college football to post at least five 200-yard rushing games. Only Wyoming’s Brian Hill, who is expected to be a mid-round pick, has more. 

I love this pick. There are other needs on this team as well. With Jacksonville also needing interior offensive linemen, a safety, and another pass rusher. However, the thought of Fournette adding another offensive weapon with Bortles, wide receivers Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns – has the fans getting excited at EverBank Field.

If fans needed a reason why the Jaguars picked Leonard Fournette, then how about this. Yeldon, who was Jacksonville’s leading rusher last season with just 465 yards. Yeldon scored only once on the ground. Consequently, the Jaguars had just eight rushing touchdowns, three of which were from Bortles. 




Blake Bortles Has The Most To Gain And Lose In Tonight’s NFL Draft

There are a little less than five hours until the NFL Draft.

I just had to say that.

With rumors swirling about players soaring up draft boards. Furthermore, the build continues that the Jacksonville Jaguars may take Deshaun Watson with the fourth pick tonight. Hence, everything here in town could change.

The player on Jacksonville’s roster affected most by tonight is quarterback Blake Bortles.

Despite the fact, general manager David Caldwell told the media at the Senior Bowl he believes this organization can win a Super Bowl with Number 5 behind center. The jury has not reached a verdict yetT

After the selection process ends this weekend, the wait to find out whether the team picks up his fifth-year option begins. Should the Jaguars make Watson their first-round pick? Or, if they select a passer in the first three rounds, the message is clear. Head coach Doug Marrone and executive vice president Tom Coughlin have other thoughts about this team’s future.

“The player the team drafted No. 3 overall in 2014 is at a career crossroads. Bortles set single-season franchise records in passing yards (4,428) and passing touchdowns (35) in 2015, but he really struggled in 2016. His mechanics were a mess, and he conceded he was essentially a basket case by the end of the season,” writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com.

“Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was fired and Marrone and Coughlin were hired. Owner Shad Khan gave Coughlin total control over football decisions, and Coughlin has not exactly given Bortles a ringing endorsement. GM Dave Caldwell is still a big Bortles supporter, which is understandable considering he was the one who drafted Bortles.”

When Caldwell was hired to replace Gene Smith and tabbed Bradley as the team’s new head coach, fans, and the media knew it was only a matter of time before this organization found another signal caller. The Blaine Gabbert experiment failed. Chad Henne is a serviceable backup. Bortles looked the part but had flaws the organization thought they could correct.

This is year four of waiting and hoping.

I have learned over the years when it comes to the NFL Draft to read everything and believe nothing. Everything is a gamble – what is said, what is written. I am just as guilty of the process. But in this case, I stand with Caldwell. As for his thinking a better running game and more improvements on the offensive line help Blake Bortles. Also, consistency with a coordinator and a head coach whose mentality is an 180-degree shift from what he has been used to.

While Blake Bortles has to show improvement and change, so does this organization. While it is easy to point to poor decision making by No. 5, by the same token play calling at times last year left all of us scratching our heads.

“Marrone is the new sheriff in town – with Coughlin having the final say on every move this team makes.

Whether it’s Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky or Patrick Mahomes, their selection on Thursday or Friday by the Jaguars would signal the end of Bortles’ tenure in Jacksonville,” adds DiRocco.

“That scenario would be a clear indication the team does not believe Bortles is the long-term answer at the position, so there would be no reason to keep him around.”

And to ask him to come in and play, knowing he is not the long-term solution for this organization would be a huge slap in the face.