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Posts tagged with "2017 NFL Draft"

Now that the Green Bay Packers have wrapped up the 2017 NFL Draft and rookie minicamp, the team has finalized its 90-man roster heading into the start of OTAs. The Acme Packing Company writing staff has ranked the players in terms of the players’ overall talent levels and likelihoods to make an impact in Green Bay. We will present the single compiled ranking set to you over the next two weeks.

No. 70: TE Beau Sandland

After spending the first half of 2016 on the Carolina Panthers‘ practice squad, tight end Beau Sandland surfaced in Green Bay as a developmental player. He appeared better positioned to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster before general manager Ted Thompson signed Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, though Sandland could still nip at the heels of fourth-year man Richard Rodgers.

No. 69: RB William Stanback

William Stanback became a late addition to the 90-man roster after successfully trying out for the Packers during rookie minicamp. Stanback technically hails from Virginia Union, though he began his career at Central Florida. While that pedigree and solid workout numbers from his pro day suggest he can develop into a capable tailback, he must unseat one and potentially multiple of the running backs the team drafted in April.

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The 2017 NFL Draft saw the Arizona Cardinals start with defense then go heavy on offense in the middle.

It was here where the story of the Cardinals is told, as the middle rounds are not about finding immediate value, outside of maybe on special teams, but instead about finding players who can be helpful down the line.

The immediate need for the Arizona Cardinals was obvious, they lost 34 of their starting secondary and chose not to bring back a number of other starters or contributors on that side of the ball.

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Will the Bengals return to winning football in 2017? Which game on the schedule could prove to be the make-or-break matchup? Sports Illustrated serves up its projections in response to those two questions.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ 6-9-1 record from 2016 offered a reality check for a team that had made the playoffs for five straight seasons. After notching the No. 9 overall selection in the NFL Draft and attempting to improve this offseason, it remains to be seen whether the Bengals have done enough to get back into playoff contention in 2017.

Sports Illustrated’s Jonathan Jones predicted each NFL team’s 2017 win-loss record and gave the Bengals a winning record and shot at the playoffs. Before we get to what he said about the Bengals, here’s a look at how he went about making his predictions.

In my first year of picking all 256 games for SI.com, I learned just how difficult it is to predict the future, and I reserve the right to be wrong. I made these picks with a few universal truths in mind before dissecting the schedule: I believe the Patriots, Steelers and Packers are among the best teams in the NFL, and that they will profit from weaker divisions from top to bottom. They are the only teams I could give at least 12 wins.

Here’s what Jones had to say specifically about the Bengals in 2017 and how the season could play out:

Projected record: 9–7

Here’s another AFC North team with a coach who could be on the hot seat. Marvin Lewis is the second-longest tenured coach in the NFL today, but he won’t be able to afford missing the playoffs in consecutive years on top of five years of wild-card futility. The Bengals caught some tough breaks last season by losing seven of nine by a possession. Starting the season against Baltimore, Houston, Green Bay, Cleveland and Buffalo could give the Bengals a 4–1 start going into their bye.

Pivotal game: Week 17 at Ravens. This game could decide who gets a wild card and who stays home. Both the Bengals and Ravens will have to deal with a competitive AFC West, so nine wins may not cut it for a wild-card berth.

The Steelers are projected at 12-4, the Ravens 9-7 and the Browns 2-14. And as for the other team Jones refers to as having a coach on the hot seat in the AFC North, that’s Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

Regarding his Bengals projection, I think expecting Cincinnati to win three more games than they did in 2016 is fair. The team lost seven games by one possession and an eighth game ended in a tie. With a new kicker, added speed and athleticism and a healthy roster, the Bengals could certainly win three more games this season and return to playoff contention. If the Bengals fail to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, maybe Lewis’ reign in Cincinnati will truly be over.

If the Bengals get off to a strong start and go 4-1 ahead of the bye, which I do believe the team is capable of doing, we could be in for an exciting season of Bengals football.

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Nov 14, 2015; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Carl Lawson (55) walks on the sidelines during the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Former Auburn DE Carl Lawson picked up an impressive 9.5 sacks during the 2016 season, but still found himself waiting until Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft to hear his name called.

The ex-Tiger was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round, falling so far in part due to concerns about his lack of size.

However, according to the Springfield News-Sun, the Bengals are going to try to get the most out of the talented pass rusher by adding some new skills to his arsenal at the linebacker position:

“We’re going to use him in both areas,” Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “Right now he’s working half as a linebacker and half as an end in nickel situations. I’ve always said the more you can do the better.

“(His intelligence) is very key. It’s one of the factors why we took him. A guy who can’t understand football concepts can’t do the things we’re going to ask him to do.”

What the Bengals are going to ask him to do, in addition to rushing the passer, is cover an occasional tight end or running back out of the backfield on passing downs.

If he can adjust to his new role quickly, he could be one of the steals of this year’s draft.

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Despite national criticism of the Bengals’ locker room, A.J. Green knows he and Andy Dalton can help guide Joe Mixon as a professional football player.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals made one of the most controversial moves of the 2017 NFL Draft by selecting former Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon in the second round. Although he is, without a doubt, one of the most electrifying and talented players in the draft class, he is also well known for his off-the-field actions. For that reason, there has been plenty of criticism for the Bengals, who have notoriously poor decision makers like Adam Jones taking leadership roles in the locker room.

For some, it is hard to see how the Bengals expect Mixon, even if they genuinely believe he has changed, to stay out of trouble with negative influences around him. But, that’s hardly considering the full picture. The Bengals’ locker room is filled with incredible role models like A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Giovani Bernard, the list goes on and on.

And if you ask Green, not only should the Bengals’ locker room environment not be a negative influence, but it will be a very positive one for the embattled running back.

“I feel like we have a great locker room, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” Green told Mo Egger of ESPN 1530. “I think, with Andy and I being the leaders of that offense, we really can help him if he has questions and we can show him the ropes.”

Following the departure of locker room leader Andrew Whitworth to the Los Angeles Rams this offseason, it is going to be on Green and Dalton to lead the offense and help guys like Mixon become great members of the team, both on- and off-the-field.

“They talk about it, but I don’t feel like they have to pound it in us, because we already know what comes with that pick,” Green said of the attention surrounding the Bengals’ selection of Mixon. “There’s a lot of people who are going to be saying it was a bad pick. But, I feel like in that locker room, we’re family and we protect each other.”

That attitude is exactly what you want to hear from a player like Green, who is going to be expected to take on more and more of a leadership role as he gets older. He has never been the most outspoken player, as he has always preferred to speak when asked and lead by example.

Being counted on to step up as a leader in a big way is relatively new territory for Green. Still, Green sees potential in Mixon and isn’t worried about how he will act as a member of the Bengals.

“I think he’s going to be fine. He made a stupid mistake when he was 18 and I think he’s learned from it,” Green said. “He’s going to have to live with that for the rest of his life and get better from that. But, I think he’s going to be fine for us.”

The addition of Mixon could prove to be a very positive thing for the Bengals’ offense, when it comes to the on-the-field potential. After looking extremely one-dimensional in 2016, a multi-threat player of Mixon’s talent should open up the field and keep defenses honest. If he can stay out of trouble, there is no doubt he will be an excellent addition to the Bengals’ offensive attack. With that said, it is really encouraging to hear a veteran player like Green is looking out for his new teammate and believes he can help foster a locker room environment that will be nothing but beneficial for the Bengals’ newest running back.

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With the 2017 NFL Draft here and gone it was time for Jess and I to talk about it on the newest episode of the Rise up, See Red Arizona Cardinals podcast.

This is a long episode, but that is because we are taking a May vacation as I get to the end of semester for school and Jess prepares for the end of his semester at his job.

It is a great hour plus, and Jess was again nice enough to give you all time stamps so you can get our takes on specific prospects, so if you want to skip around… feel free.

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With the 21st overall pick, the Detroit Lions select linebacker Jarrad Davis.

The Detroit Lions needed help in a big way along their front seven on defense, and help is now on the way.The Lions selected Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis with the 21st overall pick in Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft.

It turns out Lions general manager Bob Quinn and his staff did a lot of homework on Davis, including a trip down to Gainesville for a private meeting and workout.

“I felt like we did a really thorough job and got a player that is really going to help us,” Quinn said. “It’s a player we targeted, it’s a player we wanted and we were fortunate to get him.”

Davis notched 60 tackles, six tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries and two sacks for the Gators last season, despite missing four of the team’s last five games, including the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2 with an ankle injury.

As a junior, Davis had 98 tackles (11 for loss), 3.5 sacks and four pass breakups playing the entire season.

After sitting out of the NFL Scouting Combine to give his injured ankle more time to heal, Davis wowed scouts, coaches and personnel people at his pro day with his testing and on-field workout.

Davis (6-1, 238) ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, had a 38.5 inch vertical and 10’9’’ broad jump at his pro day.

Quinn said Davis has position versatility, and can play both the WILL and the MIKE in Detroit’s scheme.

“He’s a passionate football player,” Quinn said. “He’s got very good playing speed. Very good tackler. Good blitzer. Good coverage player. This guy is a really well-rounded linebacker. As a freshman, he was the Special Teams Player of the Year for Florida when he was a backup linebacker. So he’s got four-down value. I think he’s a real well-rounded guy with position versatility.”

Davis said he was comfortable playing both the MIKE and WILL, but played more MIKE. It sounded like it was his position of preference.

“I played strictly MIKE all the way through my junior and senior year,” Davis said via conference call. “To play that and lead the defense and have an opportunity to make almost every play, every snap, being in the middle of the defense, it was a position I really enjoyed and really thrived on.”

Davis is a sideline-to-sideline run defender with explosive closing speed, and should be a three-down player in Teryl Austin’s defense.

The Lions signed veteran linebackers Paul Worrilow and Nike Bellore in free agency this offseason, but Quinn knew he had to add young talent to that group at some point early in this draft.

“It’s a position where I really think you need a guy in the middle of your defense that can be looked upon to call the defense, hopefully become a leader in time, and really be that gel between the secondary and defensive line,” Quinn said. “It was a position of need, for sure.”

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Jeremy Hill, Carlos Dunlap and other Bengals experienced their fair share of mess-ups in college. They were given second chances and have rebounded well. That’s the hope for Joe Mixon, too, as he joins the Bengals.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals got more attention during this year’s NFL Draft than they’re used to, mostly because of the controversial selection of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.

The former Oklahoma star was one of the most electrifying runners in college football last season, but no one can forget his 2014 incident in which he punched a woman. Even though that was three years ago, people are having a tough time forgetting about the terrible incident and video of Mixon hitting a woman, but the current Bengals don’t want to see Mixon defined by that terrible situation.

One Bengal who knows all about second chances in Carlos Dunlap. The star defensive end was hit with a DUI during his final season of college, which, like Mixon, led to a first-round talent falling into Round 2 before Cincinnati scooped him up.

Dunlap not only overcame that mistake, but he’s been a star in the NFL while being a great leader on and off-the-field. He hopes that’s the path Mixon is on.

“Second chances are hard to come by, but if you go about it the right way and people have that feeling it was an isolated incident and you’re not going to let it happen again, I think in the right circumstances you deserve a second shot,” Dunlap told My Dayton Daily News. “We’ve got a lot of veterans in here who have made a lot of mistakes and got back on the right path. I think that’s somewhat a comfort for (team ownership) and why they felt like we have the right guys to pull him in the right direction and bump him and keep him on the railroad tracks.”

Mixon has discussed that the Bengals have a support plan in place for him and that he plans to get involved with community service initiatives in Cincinnati.

“You know how that mamma dog, any time the little pup gets away, nudges him a little bit,” Dunlap said. “I think that’s what they felt like they have in this locker room because we have a lot of those guys who have made mistakes when they were younger but they’ve learned from their mistakes.”

Another Bengal who has a troubled past is Jeremy Hill. His long list of mistakes at LSU almost got him kicked off the team, but he bounced back from those and has been a productive NFL player while maturing and avoiding off-field issues.

“It’s definitely a similar situation,” Hill said. “Obviously people throw out the word ‘character.’ Not knowing the person’s character, it’s easy to do that. From what I’ve heard from the coaches and everyone who has spent time with him and been around him they have nothing but great things to say about him. I’m sure I’ll meet him here pretty soon, and I’m sure I’ll have the same feeling about him.”

Even saying all of this, it’s up to Mixon to make sure the terrible thing he did in college won’t define him. It certainly helps to be in a room with guys who’ve made their own mistakes and rebounded from them, so Mixon has hope for continuing his path to redemption in Cincinnati. Getting there won’t be easy, but if he stays on the straight and narrow path, he’ll get there eventually.

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There’s a run on wide receivers in the draft, and the Bengals just chose a receiver who can run.

With the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Bengals selected  wide receiver from Washington.

Ross set the NFL Scouting Combine record by running a 4.22-second 40-yard dash, so the Bengals now have the fastest player in the NFL, at least by Combine speed. Ross and A.J. Green will be a tough pair of receivers for opposing secondaries to stop.

There have already been three receivers taken in this year’s draft, with Corey Davis going No. 5 to the Tennessee Titans and Mike Williams going No. 7 to the Los Angeles Chargers.

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Carl Lawson has finally found a professional home.

The former Auburn defensive end was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the No.116 overall pick in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday in Philadelphia.

“I was a little surprised,” Lawson said at the timing of his selection. “I’m happy just to get the opportunity.”

Lawson had 30 tackles with team-highs in tackles for loss (13.5) and sacks (nine) last season. He was Auburn’s highest-graded player in the Sugar Bowl, according to Pro Football Focus, which credited him with nine sacks, 13 hits, and 42 hurries on 364 pass-rushing snaps in 2016.

“Carl Lawson in the fourth round really provided (us with) a player that has played on his feet, played outside in the 3-4 defense there at Auburn, and we really feel he has the versatility to be one of those swing guys here,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We can teach him to play linebacker in our defense, (and he can) have an opportunity to be a down guy on third downs and in passing situations.”

Most analysts projected Lawson as a second or third-round pick due mostly to durability concerns from his torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2014 and hip flexor in 2015.

“The doctors here cleared him and felt good about where he was headed medically,” Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “He had a couple bumps and bruises along his college career that might have set him back some. At this point, he’s cleared medically and we felt really good about taking him there.”

At the Combine, Lawson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds, had a 33-inch vertical jump, a 114-inch broad jump, 7.46-second three-cone drill and led all defensive linemen with 35 bench press reps and with a 4.19-second 20-yard shuttle.

Bengals defensive line coach Jacob Burney paid close attention to Lawson when he ran the defensive line drills at Auburn’s pro day.

“His outstanding effort,” Burney said. “I put it to him, and he stood up every time. That was very impressive. This is a talented kid, a leader on that team, and he was ready to go. Some other guys faded, but he was there. So it just let me know how tough he is between his ears. With the talent, with his leadership qualities, we’re getting a good football mind, as well as a good personality. We’re fortunate to get him.”

Lawson told reporters Burney “tried to kill” the defensive linemen that day.

“I could tell he was going for broke because I saw him right before the drill started and I tried to wave at him and smile, and he didn’t smile back,” Lawson said. “So I knew we were in for an intense workout.”

An FWAA All-American and All-SEC honoree, Lawson performed positional drills at both end and outside linebacker during Auburn’s pro day on March 10.

The 6-foot-2, 253-pound Lawson is the second of four Auburns player chosen in this year’s draft, joining Montravius Adams, who was picked by the Green Bay Packers in the third round on Friday, Rudy Ford and Josh Holsey.

Lawson’s four-year contract is projected to be worth $3.05 million with a more than $652,000 signing bonus, according to OverTheCap.com.

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