AFC East: Arrelious Benn

Prolonged lockout hurts undrafted rookies

March, 3, 2011
3/03/11
1:19
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What players and teams will be impacted most by a lengthy NFL lockout?

ESPN's blog network put together a short list of unfavorable situations around the league.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando focused on the San Francisco 49ers and other young teams that will have to put development on hold. NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert looked at the Minnesota Vikings' undesirable troika of new head coach, new offensive coordinator and new quarterback. NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas examined the plight of Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Arrelious Benn. AFC North blogger James Walker shined a spotlight on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy and his new coaches.

Here's my contribution to the project, an overview of how undrafted rookies will be adversely affected and why every team would suffer as a result ...

The NFL draft is stressful enough for prospects. They wait for their phones to light up, watch ESPN's ticker, repeatedly click refresh on their browsers or try to distract themselves by refusing to pay any attention at all.

A select few know they'll be drafted. A larger group wonders whether their names will be called before Mr. Irrelevant closes the show.

This year's draft will be even more worrisome for the latter group.

Absent a collective bargaining agreement, the draft still will take place April 28-30. But players who aren't selected in those seven rounds won't be allowed to sign with teams because free agency won't exist.

The moments immediately after the draft involve frenzied phone calls. Teams scurry to sign unattached prospects in hopes of landing the next Tony Romo, Arian Foster, LeGarrette Blount, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates or Bart Scott.

The AFC East is rife with undrafted starters. Two of the four team-leading rushers weren't drafted: New England Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson.

Rookie free agents are necessary to building a roster and maintaining a personnel budget. Although this year's undrafted rookies eventually will get opportunities to find work once there's a new CBA, a prolonged lockout will cripple their chances of making an immediate impact.

When a new CBA is struck, veteran free agents will overshadow the undrafted rookies. Under normal circumstances, the veterans have been picked over long before the draft begins. That allows front offices to concentrate solely on the newbies. We can expect a free-for-all this time.

Undrafted rookies also will face a tougher time when it comes to development. These are marginal pro prospects, long shots who must get into a team's offseason conditioning program as quickly as possible. It would be almost impossible to expect a rookie free agent to understand NFL schemes minus minicamps and voluntary workouts and with a compressed training camp.

These also are the kinds of players who make their way into the NFL on special teams. Imagine how many mistakes we'll see if teams insist on using their undrafted and late-round rookies on return and coverage units.

Kiper shines draft spotlight on Jets WRs

April, 1, 2010
4/01/10
1:22
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ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper recently was a guest on ESPN Radio and shared his thoughts about what the New York Jets might do in three weeks.

With the Jets trading for cornerback Antonio Cromartie and signing free-agent running back LaDainian Tomlinson, Kiper said "Now you can look at that third wide receiver position and maybe address that. Now only will it be a third wide receiver. It'll be an heir apparent maybe to Braylon Edwards. Braylon Edwards to me is very inconsistent, and when you throw him the ball you don't know if he's going to catch it or drop it sometimes. He had a lot of key drops this past year."

Kiper mentioned Arrelious Benn from Illinois and Demaryius Thomas of Georgia Tech as candidates the Jets might pursue.

Kiper added Texas Christian defensive end Jerry Hughes could catch the Jets' eye.

Other topics in the podcast include what the Denver Broncos might do with star receiver Brandon Marshall and the futures of Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy.

Your AFC East pre-combine mocktacular

February, 24, 2010
2/24/10
8:41
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Since I'm on my way to Indianapolis to spend five days at the NFL scouting combine, I thought it would be a good time to check what the mocksters are thinking about the AFC East.

This will be the last round of projections before the players get jabbed with sticks, scouts fall in love with sleepers, a blue-chipper or two slips and everybody begins to second guess their research.

In a pre-combine AFC East mock roundup, we get the latest forecasts from ESPN's Mel Kiper Insider and Todd McShay Insider, Sports Illustrated's Don Banks, NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks, FanHouse.com editor Chris Burke, Richard Lines of UniversalDraft.com, Rob Rang and Chad Reuter at CBSSports.com and Buffalo News reporter Allen Wilson.

No. 9 Buffalo Bills

  • Kiper's pick: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State tackle
  • McShay's pick: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma quarterback
  • Banks' pick: Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame quarterback
  • Brooks' pick: Bryan Bulaga, Iowa tackle
  • Burke's pick: Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame quarterback
  • Lines' pick: Dan Williams, Tennessee defensive tackle
  • Rang's pick: Jimmy Clausen, Norte Dame quarterback
  • Reuter's pick: Bryan Bulaga, Iowa tackle
  • Wilson's pick: Bryan Bulaga, Iowa tackle
No. 12 Miami Dolphins

  • Kiper's pick: Rolando McClain, Alabama inside linebacker
  • McShay's pick: Rolando McClain, Alabama inside linebacker
  • Banks' pick: Rolando McClain, Alabama inside linebacker
  • Brooks' pick: Sergio Kindle, Texas outside linebacker
  • Burke's pick: Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State receiver
  • Lines' pick: Derrick Morgan, Georgia tech defensive end
  • Rang's pick: Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State receiver
  • Reuter's pick: Dan Williams, Tennessee defensive tackle
  • Wilson's pick: Rolando McClain, Alabama inside linebacker
No. 22 New England Patriots

  • Kiper's pick: Brandon Graham, Michigan outside linebacker
  • McShay's pick: Brandon Graham, Michigan outside linebacker
  • Banks' pick: Sergio Kindle, Texas outside linebacker
  • Brooks' pick: Brandon Graham, Michigan outside linebacker
  • Burke's pick: Dan Williams, Tennessee defensive tackle
  • Lines' pick: Ricky Sapp, Clemson outside linebacker
  • Rang's pick: Jared Odrick, Penn State defensive tackle
  • Reuter's pick: Brandon Graham, Michigan outside linebacker
  • Wilson's pick: Brandon Graham, Michigan outside linebacker
No. 29 New York Jets

  • Kiper's pick: Dan Williams, Tennessee defensive tackle
  • McShay's pick: Arrelious Benn, Illinois receiver
  • Banks' pick: Damian Williams, USC receiver
  • Brooks' pick: Kyle Wilson, Boise State cornerback
  • Burke's pick: Kyle Wilson, Boise State cornerback
  • Lines' pick: Kyle Wilson, Boise State cornerback
  • Rang's pick: Damian Williams, USC receiver
  • Reuter's pick: Kyle Wilson, Boise State cornerback
  • Wilson's pick: Carlos Dunlap, Florida defensive end

Get your AFC East mocks off

February, 11, 2010
2/11/10
8:22
AM ET
Mock draft season started a few weeks ago. I refused to acknowledge it until the Super Bowl was over, but now that the entire draft order finally has been settled and the next big NFL event is the scouting combine, let's have some fun by periodically checking in on the draftniks.

In the first installment of the AFC East mock roundup, we have the latest projections from ESPN's Todd McShay, Sports Illustrated's Don Banks, Wes Bunting from the National Football Post, Robert Davis from Football's Future, Arizona Republic reporter Bob McManaman, Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki, Rob Rang and Chad Reuter at CBSSports.com, FoxSports.com contributor Peter Schrager and Scout.com analyst Chris Steuber.

No. 9 Buffalo Bills

  • McShay's pick: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma quarterback
  • Banks' pick: Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame quarterback
  • Bunting's pick: Anthony Davis, Rutgers tackle
  • Davis' pick: Anthony Davis, Rutgers tackle
  • McManaman's pick: Anthony Davis, Rutgers tackle
  • Nawrocki's pick: Anthony Davis, Rutgers tackle
  • Rang's pick: Jimmy Clausen, Norte Dame quarterback
  • Reuter's pick: Jimmy Clausen, Norte Dame quarterback
  • Schrager's pick: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma quarterback
  • Steuber's pick: Trent Williams, Oklahoma tackle
No. 12 Miami Dolphins

  • McShay's pick: Rolando McClain, Alabama inside linebacker
  • Banks' pick: Rolando McClain, Alabama inside linebacker
  • Bunting's pick: Brandon Graham, Michigan outside linebacker
  • Davis' pick: Sergio Kindle, Texas outside linebacker
  • McManaman's pick: Brian Price, UCLA defensive tackle
  • Nawrocki's pick: Sergio Kindle, Texas outside linebacker
  • Rang's pick: Dan Williams, Tennessee defensive tackle
  • Reuter's pick: Ricky Sapp, Clemson defensive end
  • Schrager's pick: Dan Williams, Tennessee defensive tackle
  • Steuber's pick: Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State receiver
No. 22 New England Patriots

  • McShay's pick: Brandon Graham, Michigan outside linebacker
  • Banks' pick: Sergio Kindle, Texas outside linebacker
  • Bunting's pick: Jahvid Best, California running back
  • Davis' pick: Jared Odrick, Penn State defensive tackle
  • McManaman's pick: Brandon Spikes, Florida linebacker
  • Nawrocki's pick: Golden Tate, Notre Dame receiver
  • Rang's pick: Jared Odrick, Penn State defensive tackle
  • Reuter's pick: Brandon Spikes, Florida linebacker
  • Schrager's pick: Bruce Campbell, Maryland tackle
  • Steuber's pick: Brandon Spikes, Florida linebacker
No. 29 New York Jets

  • McShay's pick: Arrelious Benn, Illinois receiver
  • Banks' pick: Damian Williams, USC receiver
  • Bunting's pick: Arrelious Benn, Illinois receiver
  • Davis' pick: Patrick Robinson, Florida State cornerback
  • McManaman's pick: Jared Odrick, Penn State defensive tackle
  • Nawrocki's pick: Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech receiver
  • Rang's pick: Damian Williams, USC receiver
  • Reuter's pick: Trent Williams, Oklahoma tackle
  • Schrager's pick: Kyle Wilson, Boise State cornerback
  • Steuber's pick: Dan Williams, Tennessee defensive tackle

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