AFC South: Michael Oher

A guy has to be rated to be overrated, which makes sorting through overrated guys a very subjective and dangerous exercise.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports rates Tennessee Titans tackle Michael Oher as the most overrated member of the team.

SportsNation

Who is the most overrated Tennessee Titan?

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    23%
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    32%
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    11%
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    9%
  •  
    25%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,272)

The case for Oher: Some scouts and evaluators feel his game was best when he was a rookie in Baltimore and gradually faded, and the Titans went and handed him a four-year, $20 million contract. They do have an out after one year and $6 million.

So who else is a candidate?

Running back Shonn Greene was 2013’s Oher, a debatable signing that got more money than he seemed to be worth: $10 million for three years. He can be good in short-yardage situations, but as the running back market was starting to fade the Titans jumped out and gave a limited guy a lot. His knee injury limited him in his first season.

Defensive tackle Sammie Hill wasn’t as big an impact guy as the Titans had to be expecting when they signed him in 2013 to a three-year deal worth over $11 million. He was an element of the team's push to get bigger and stop the run better. He's not working as a nose tackle in the new 3-4.

Outside linebacker Akeem Ayers has dealt with some injuries in his first three years. The old coaching staff never had a great feel for how to use the 2011 second-round pick. He should be better suited to the 3-4, but he’s going to have to rush better and play better in space when he’s asked to.

Free safety Michael Griffin was better in 2013 than he had been the few years before. I often say he needs to be surrounded by talent to be good, and he asks me who is that not the case for? But a guy with his contract -- he’s in year three of a five-year, $35 million deal -- should be a guy making others better, not needing others to help make him better.

Titans offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
May 23
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» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Tennessee Titans' offseason moves.

Best move: You might call it a cop-out, but the biggest and most significant upgrade the Titans made is the new coaching staff. With head coach Ken Whisenhunt and Ray Horton as the offensive and defensive playcallers, respectively, this team is going to have smarter plans on Sundays than it did during the past three seasons. It will also adjust better as a game unfolds. It’s hard to rate some of the talent until we see how those guys and their deputies assess and deploy it.

[+] EnlargeJake Locker
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderThe Titans will take their chances with Jake Locker as the starting quarterback again this season.
Riskiest move: Sticking with Jake Locker as the quarterback and not at least creating a situation where he has to win the job. I know it’s not like there was an obvious alternative, and just three seasons after they overreached on Locker in the draft it would have been a big mistake to overreach again. But I like to think that if they had seen a good alternative, they would have made a move. It's hard to have much faith in Locker, given his injury history, and there is no assurance he will be able to grasp the new offense quickly.

Most surprising move: We knew they were thinking about the left tackle situation beyond 2014, and their rationale for picking Taylor Lewan 11th overall is sound. Still, he’s not guaranteed to be in position to contribute in 2014. If he does, then a well-paid veteran tackle -- free-agent addition Michael Oher or nine-year stalwart Michael Roos -- won’t be playing. It is easy to argue that a team that was 7-9 and has a new staff and systems could have found a guy guaranteed to have first-year impact in the first round.

I’m not arguing: The Titans survived the Pacman Jones disaster thanks to seventh-round pick Cortland Finnegan. They replaced Finnegan with fourth-round pick Alterraun Verner. Now they will replace Verner with either 2013 third-round pick Blidi Wreh-Wilson or 2012 fourth-round pick Coty Sensabaugh. The franchise's cornerback succession plans have been sound. It should be able to have a third- or fourth-round pick be a better-than-functional starter as it moves forward.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans have spent two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick on offensive linemen in the last two years.

They are unlikely to spend a premium pick on an offensive lineman again for sometime.

Incumbent left tackle Michael Roos, one of the team's best players for his nine-year career, is heading into the final year of his deal.

But here's what the Titans have in terms of contractual control of linemen going forward:
LT Taylor Lewan through 2018
LG Andy Levitre through 2018
C Brian Schwenke through 2016
RG Chance Warmack through 2017
RT Michael Oher through 2017

They need the quarterback who benefits from the security they should provide. They need another running back who can get the yards they block for.

I thought heading into last year the Titans were poised to have one of the best lines in the league and it simply didn't pan out that way.

If new offensive line coach Bob Bostad can develop guys like he did when he coached at Wisconsin, if Ken Whisenhunt can scheme to make the group maximize its talent and if they all play close to expectations, the Titans should do better at reaching such expectations.

Whisenhunt wants it to be a tone-setting group.

"I expected that before (Thursday night's) draft," he said. "We talked about that as a group the other day. That is an important piece of your offense, the mentality of that group. I certainly think that Taylor fits that mentality."
An offensive lineman or a safety in the first round for the Tennessee Titans wouldn't solve an immediate problem for the team.

I've made a case they can't go that direction.

But general manager Ruston Webster said Tuesday on my Nashvile radio show that he has to weigh the strengths of this draft with pending needs.

A limited role for the first-round pick in his first year "would be a little hard to swallow, yes," Webster said. The Titans, after all, were 7-9, had a major coaching change and figure to have room for rookie impact.

"You always want those guys to come in and contribute early, you'd love for them to," Webster said. "More importantly you want him to have an impact over time …

"You've got to think a little bit about the future. And what next year brings. I think that's part of drafting, understanding where you might be light in a year. And there are certain positions where there is no guarantee you can get that guy every year."

As I said there, that means offensive tackle is in play, and Taylor Lewan or Zach Martin after a trade down is the possibility there. Michael Roos is in a contract year and though the team has high hopes for free-agent addition Michael Oher, the Ttians wrote a contract that would let them out of the deal after one year for a total of $6 million.

It can also mean safety, where George Wilson has only a year left, Bernard Pollard has two and Michael Griffin is due a $6.3 million salary and an $8.1 million salary-cap number in 2015. Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor have both visited the Titans during draft build-up.
People who know a lot more about offensive tackle production than I do were not wild about Michael Oher's work product in Baltimore in 2013.

Oher
That doesn’t mean he can’t be a solid or very good right tackle for the Tennessee Titans. But he’ll have to play better than he did in a down year for the entire Ravens offense to justify a deal ESPN reported as four-year, $20 million contract with $9.5 million guaranteed.

Those numbers weren't exact.

Oher received a $4 million signing bonus with a guaranteed 2014 base salary of $2 million. Then $3.35 million of his 2015 base salary for 2015 is guaranteed only for injury.

So it's $6 million guaranteed now. With potential for $3.35 million more in 2015. If Oher is healthy, the Titans can get out of the deal after one season at a cost of $6 million with no further expense.

There is a tryout element here.

Oher has bases salaries of $4 million in 2015, and $5 million in 2016 and 2017.

This morning he was a guest on The Wake Up Zone in Nashville and was asked how he rated his performance last season.

“My play last year? Our entire offense, we struggled a little bit,” he said. “We had guys banged up injured. We lost Dennis Pitta, he was gone for most of the season. Anquan Boldin went out to the 49ers. Ray Rice got hurt. Out backup running back got hurt. I think all that fell into play on the entire offense. And it was just a lot of adjusting.

“For me personally, I don’t think I played too bad. I think people watch me a little bit harder than a lot of other offensive linemen because I might be a little more known. So I get a lot of the blame and people don’t really know what’s going on in meetings rooms and stuff like that. That’s why I figure you asked me this question. How do you think I played? What, you think I played bad or something?”

I appreciate his candor for sure, but am surprised he didn’t say he didn’t have the year he’d hoped for.

“I think I played all right, me personally. I work hard every single day. I love the game of football, I expect a lot out of myself, and hopefully I can get things rolling in Tennessee and help us win some games.”

You can listen to the entire interview here.
One candidate to replace right tackle David Stewart for the Tennessee Titans has emerged.

Outgoing Baltimore offensive tackle Michael Oher is visiting the team Friday.

Oher
Oher is a well-known name because he was the central figure in Michael Lewis’ book, “The Blind Side" and the movie made based on the book that starred Sandra Bullock. He is from Memphis.

He’s played on both sides with middling success in Baltimore, and the Ravens are not attempting to re-sign him.

The Titans have Byron Stingily in line at right tackle after the recent release of long-time starter Stewart.

The Titans drafted two offensive linemen last season -- right guard Chance Warmack in the first round and center Brian Schwenke in the fourth. They might be reluctant to fill another starting spot with a youngster.

ESPN’s resident general manager Bill Polian gave Oher a C on his free agency board.

Strictly a right tackle, Oher's off-the-field story is more compelling than his play of late. He has adequate size and ability for the position but consistently underwhelmed as a run blocker this past season while showing to be very average when left alone in protection.


If the Titans bring him in, it will be partly as a reclamation project for new offensive line coach Bob Bostad.

The Titans are also hosting Kansas City linebacker Akeem Jordan.
Joe Flacco, JJ WattUS Presswire, AP ImagesHow Baltimore's Joe Flacco, left, fares against Houston's explosive J.J. Watt could be key Sunday.


The last time we saw the Texans and Ravens square off, we were watching a divisional-round playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Terrell Suggs had six tackles and a pass defended as the Ravens' rush linebacker. Houston featured third-string rookie T.J. Yates at quarterback, and his three interceptions -- paired with multiple special-teams gaffes by Texans returner Jacoby Jones -- were big factors in a 20-13 Baltimore victory.

The Texans returned home to rave reviews for their first playoff season but also couldn’t help wonder what might have been if they'd had injured starting quarterback Matt Schaub and played a cleaner game. Baltimore advanced to the AFC Championship Game in New England, where it lost to the Patriots, but a near-catch for a touchdown by Lee Evans could have won it with 27 seconds left and a missed 32-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff could have forced overtime.

This rematch doesn’t carry the same stakes but could have big implications. The winner will have the AFC’s best record at 6-1.

AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley and AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky will be watching closely.

HENSLEY: I think it's easy to say this is a battle of the two best teams in the AFC. Not really going out on a limb here because the Ravens and Texans are the only teams with winning records in this mediocre conference. I know there are going to be nine games after this one, but this is shaping up to be the Ravens' most important game of the regular season.

The result of this game could become a tiebreaker for home-field advantage or a first-round bye at the end of the season. The Ravens, who have won a league-best 14 consecutive games at home, don't want to go on the road in the playoffs. The Ravens' mindset is that they won't have to come back to Houston this year if they win there Sunday. What's the mindset of the Texans after what happened in Houston last Sunday night?

KUHARSKY: Because the Texans are so young, they've played a lot of "biggest games in franchise history." This is certainly the newest one to top the list. Their critics look at the 5-1 record and see wins over mostly softies and a pasting by the Packers on Sunday night. A victory over the Ravens validates everything they've done and regains a firm hold on Best in the AFC. A loss would create some serious concerns. They do have the cushion of playing in a terrible division they simply can't lose. But Baltimore has been an obstacle and ended the Texans' last season in the playoffs. If they meet again with such high stakes, they don't want to be traveling.

It might be a good time to draw the Ravens, too, right? I know Ray Lewis wasn't what he has been, but their first game without a leader like that and without an underrated, great corner like Lardarius Webb may make them a bit more susceptible, no?

HENSLEY: This is the most vulnerable I've seen the Ravens' defense in 13 seasons. Lewis wasn't playing like the Lewis from 10 years ago, but he was still an above-average linebacker in this league. The Ravens have given up more than 200 yards rushing in each of the past two games, and losing Lewis only makes that run defense shakier. Dannell Ellerbe, who has made seven starts since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2009, will take Lewis' spot.

Though the Ravens will miss Lewis' leadership, the bigger loss is Webb. He was emerging as one of the top cornerbacks in the league. His nine interceptions since the start of the 2011 season was tied for the league lead. So, the Ravens have taken shots to both their run and pass defenses this week. How do you see the Texans attacking the Ravens' defense Sunday?

KUHARSKY: Although they might not run first chronologically Sunday, the Texans are a run-first team. Everything they do offensively is keyed on the one-cut-and-go running of Arian Foster, who did great work running for 132 yards in that playoff game on Jan. 15. They send him left most often now, because Duane Brown and Wade Smith are steadier blockers than the guys on the right side, where they have two new starters who aren't even full time.

Spinning off that run game, we'll see play-action heavy with bootlegs and rollouts. It's always remarkable to see Owen Daniels out in space awaiting a Matt Schaub pass. Andre Johnson is certainly dangerous too, though they've not been able to feed him the ball as much as usual. He hates the talk that he's getting older and slowing down, but he hasn't looked like the same player so far this season. Two weeks ago, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie really smothered Johnson. I figured Webb would be a guy who could do similar work. If AJ sees someone like Cary Williams instead, it could be a different story.

Speaking of Schaub, let's turn to quarterbacks. He has been quite efficient this year, doing what Houston needs and not getting caught up at all in his numbers. I came into the season not sold on Joe Flacco and thinking the Ravens didn't have the right guy under center to become an offensive team. But he has done some very good work in the games I've seen and started to change my opinion. Even minus Brian Cushing, the Texans' front throws a lot at a quarterback. Green Bay might have exposed some coverage deficiencies. How's Flacco at assessing such things on the fly and taking advantage?

HENSLEY: Flacco's biggest improvement this season has been his ability to audible at the line. The Ravens are using the no-huddle more than any other time in Flacco's five seasons. It's not to the point of being Peyton Manning, but Flacco is constantly changing the play at the line. Flacco, who ran the no-huddle during his college days, is comfortable with this. He has wanted to have more control of the offense and he's now getting it.

A lot of credit goes to quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, who is familiar with this style from his days with the Colts. Flacco makes his mistakes when he gets pressured. His pocket awareness has improved and he can scramble for yards. But Flacco will rush and make poor throws when a defender is in his face. Left tackle Michael Oher (four sacks) and rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele (three sacks) have struggled at times keeping rushers away from Flacco. Is there any chance the Ravens slow down J.J. Watt and Houston's pass rush?

KUHARSKY: It sure seems like the key to the game for me. Watt is going to get his at some point, and it's not just sacks. Watch how he'll stop rushing when he knows he's not getting there and time his jump to bat down, or even pick off, a pass.

And although the numbers of the other guys aren't in his stratosphere, Brooks Reed, Antonio Smith and Connor Barwin are very effective rushers who will have a bearing on Flacco's pocket comfort. Force some mistakes with that rush, and I like Houston's chances. Get stonewalled and fall victim to the ball coming out super-fast, and I feel differently.

One note about the quicker Ravens offense: With Cushing out, Brice McCain, the nickelback, will have a bigger role in covering players such as Ray Rice and Dennis Pitta on routes. If the Ravens run hurry-up or no-huddle, they can potentially trap the Texans in base if they want McCain off the field. I am eager to see whether they try that. The Texans are obviously are familiar with Jim Caldwell's no-huddling.

How about special teams? Tell me how Jacoby Jones is now reliably explosive? The Texans have some serious special-teams issues.

HENSLEY: Jacoby Jones has been one of the bigger surprises this season for Baltimore. The Ravens were looking to upgrade the return game this offseason and failed to sign Eddie Royal or Ted Ginn in free agency. That's why they jumped on Jones when he was cut by the Texans. He has been average as a punt returner (9 yards per return), but he really keyed the win over the Cowboys on Sunday. His 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which tied an NFL record, was the big play in that game.

The only reason the Ravens turned to Jones on kickoffs was because rookie Deonte Thompson fumbled a kickoff the week before. If you think about it, it's kind of funny that Jones got his chance to be explosive because another player couldn't hold onto the ball, especially after Jones' problems fielding kicks in the past. But that really hasn't surfaced so far with the Ravens.

Baltimore's coverage teams are both ranked in the top half of the league, which is a big improvement from last year. In 2012, the Ravens allowed three touchdowns on returns. Another improvement is at kicker. Rookie Justin Tucker has made 12 of 13 field goals this season and has hit both attempts beyond 50 yards. If this game is close, the Ravens have a lot of confidence in Tucker to make a pressure kick. So, what are the issues with the Texans' special teams?

KUHARSKY: Well, Trindon Holliday was absolutely electric as their returner in the preseason. But it didn’t carry over and they gave up on him. You saw Holliday playing for the Broncos on Monday night. Keshawn Martin is the man now. The team averages only 9.8 yards a punt return and 18.5 yards a kick return.

Their average start after a kickoff is the league’s worst -- the 17.7-yard line. Their coverage isn’t that bad -- it’s 31st in the league instead of 32nd. Opponents start at the 26.9-yard line.

Donnie Jones is a middle-of-the-pack punter in net average. Shayne Graham has been good on field goals, hitting 11 of 12, but is tied for 24th in touchbacks playing at home in what amounts to a domed stadium.

It’s gambler’s logic that the Texans are due to break through against the Ravens. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. If they don’t and Jacoby Jones has something to do with it, it’ll hurt a little bit extra.

It’s certainly no stretch to predict we’ll see these teams facing off again in the playoffs. In what round and where is the question, and Sunday’s winner will lead the race to be in position to host.

Final Word: AFC South

September, 16, 2011
9/16/11
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 2:

[+] EnlargeChris Johnson
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackThe Jaguars limited Titans running back Chris Johnson to 24 yards rushing in Week 1.
A focus on Chris Johnson: The Titans are semi-desperate to get their star running back going. But Mike Munchak emphasized this week that they can’t force it. It’s hard to be patient waiting for the big play, but they can’t call 10 rush plays in a row for him. The Titans need to show some creativity on offense and maybe turn themselves inside-out with some passes to set up the run. Matt Hasselbeck said they need to be in third-and-manageable to get off to a better start and to get the sort of possession they need to find an offensive flow. One good omen for Johnson: ESPN Stats & Info says he’s been very effective against 3-4 defenses, averaging about 6 yards per carry running outside against them.

Can the Colts rush? The Browns can neutralize Indianapolis’ pass rush by jumping ahead and riding Peyton Hillis. But when Colt McCoy is looking to throw, the matchups on Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will be compelling. Freeney is a speed guy, and if Joe Thomas has any weakness, it might come against a guy like that. (See Pete Prisco on the matchup here.) Tony Pashos is out, so Mathis will go against some sort of rotation of backups Oniel Cousins and Artis Hicks. Mathis came out of the opener with a neck issue, but he should have a big advantage here.

Big plays in Jaguars-Jets: The Jaguars are not necessarily a big-play team in the passing game, and if they aren’t going to find big plays, they have to be sure not to give them up, either. Stats & Info says Plaxico Burress was the only Jets receiver to be targeted more than twice on throws of 15 yards or more in Week 1. Last season, the Jaguars allowed the most completions and yards per attempt on throws of at least 15 yards. The offensive line will have to sort through constant blitzes to allow Luke McCown to find people, and we could see Cecil Shorts get some big opportunities along with Mike Thomas.

Reggie Bush and the run: The Texans are 5-0 against the Dolphins, but the average margin of victory has been just three points. Houston might be more ready to face Miami than usual after spending a lot of camp time working against its own 3-4 defense. Reggie Bush was on the field more than any other starting running back in the league, and Miami will try to spread the Texans out and create space for Bush to make plays. A big, early lead was the Texans’ best run defense in the win against the Colts. But they were run on in the preseason, and we’ll see Sunday whether things have tightened up or whether there is still a run defense concern.

Replenished D-line: The Titans’ revamped defense was a disappointment in the Week 1 loss at Jacksonville. Why might it be better this week? Because two guys who didn’t play against the Jaguars -- Jason Jones and Derrick Morgan -- will be in the mix. They should be the team’s top defensive ends. Baltimore’s tackles, the resurrected Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher, started strong against the Steelers. Can the Titans' young rushers find some cracks?

Final Word: Ravens at Colts

January, 15, 2010
1/15/10
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AFC: Jets-Chargers: Graham | Williamson Colts-Ravens: Kuharsky | Walker
NFC: Cowboys-Vikings: Mosley | Seifert Saints-Cardinals: Yasinskas | Sando

Three nuggets of knowledge about Saturday's playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens (10-7) and Indianapolis Colts (14-2):

[+] EnlargePierre Garcon
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesIf the Ravens clamp down on the Colts' primary receivers, Pierre Garcon will need to step up.
1. Can the kids catch it? The Ravens did excellent work on Dallas Clark (one catch for a three-yard TD) and Reggie Wayne (seven for 89 yards) in the regular-season matchup. I expect they will take the same approach many of the Colts’ opponents have -- sell out to slow Clark and Wayne and make Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie be the passing-game targets. Garcon and Collie performed very well this year for Peyton Manning. But the Ravens will look to heighten the pressure on them and hope they crack a bit in their first playoff appearances.

2. Fresh rushers: Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are as fresh as possible for a Jan. 15 game. If the Colts are able to get ahead and then rush Joe Flacco, they could rough him up. Much is made of small speed rushers against imposing tackles. Left tackle Jared Gaither is in his third season and dealing with an ankle injury. Right tackle Michael Oher is a rookie. The Colts' quick and crafty duo has to be expecting to play well. Indy didn't have a sack in the first matchup. And while Freeney and Mathis didn't even have a tackle between them according to game statisticians, they were influential in the outcome.

3. Efficiency: The Colts' run game doesn’t need to put up huge yards, but efficiency is key. In the regular season 17-15 win in Indianapolis, the Colts won because they were efficient with third-down offense (56 percent), third-down defense (38 percent), red zone defense (Baltimore was 0-for-4) and inside the Ravens’ 10-yard line (2-for-3 in goal-to-go situations). Timely clutch plays are the Colts' MO in a lot of ways, and if they continue to get them, they likely move on to host the AFC Championship Game.

Mathis hardly situational anymore

November, 19, 2009
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Robert MathisAP Photo/Darron CummingsColts defensive end Robert Mathis is known for rushing the passer, but opposing linemen know he's dangerous against the run, too.
He spins. He swipes. He swats. He sacks.

Although Houston’s Mario Williams (6-foot-6, 295 pounds) might be the prototypical defensive end whom personnel men crave, Indianapolis’ Robert Mathis (6-2, 245 pounds) qualifies as a self-made man who torments tackles and quarterbacks just as much as Williams, and, right now, maybe more.

Typically playing opposite Dwight Freeney, Mathis has gone from a situational pass-rusher to a complete player who regularly runs plays down all over the field.

He’s the top tackler on the Colts' defensive line, he’s got 8.5 sacks to go with Freeney’s 9.5. Mathis leads his counterpart in quarterback pressures -- as doled out by coaches as they review film -- 19 to 16.

The two are relentless, but Freeney was a first-round pick. Mathis, a fifth-rounder out of Alabama A&M in 2003, is a far more often overlooked player despite a Pro Bowl appearance last year.

Go ahead, typecast him. He doesn’t care.

“You can look at me however you want to look at me,” Mathis said matter of factly. “I do the same things that 6-6, 300-pound linemen do. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

While fringe fans still might not afford him his proper respect, offensive linemen certainly do.

“He’s such a different kind of defensive end I think than you’ll ever see,” Houston right tackle Eric Winston said. “I think they say he’s 6-2 but there is absolutely no way he’s that tall. I think he’s a little stronger than what he looks like and probably what people give him credit for.

“And obviously you know how fast he is. His spin move is just as good as Freeney’s and he’s a real problem sometimes to handle off the edge, especially when you get down in a game and you have to pass block. … If you think you’re just going to run over him, you’re wrong. He can stand up against double-teams. He can hold his own. Obviously his game is pass-rushing, but he knows how to fit the run just as well as anyone else.”

As Mathis began to make his mark in the league, he wore an awkward label: pass-rush specialist. It was a means to dismiss him as a part-time player for some.

But if you’re going to have a player who’s got one specialty, what else would you choose? And if you’re a player with one specialty, what else would you choose? Bump-and-run man-to-man corner, perhaps, but a good one has a full-time role doing it.

Pass-rush specialist trumps short-yardage back, or deep threat or run-stuffer, doesn’t it? It certainly gets a guy paid more.

Mathis has grown to be more and does just fine against the run.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

  • Peria Jerry and Evander Hood are possibilities for the Colts in the first round, writes Mike Chappell.
  • No. 6 on John Oehser's list of the top 25 picks of the Bill Polian era.
  • Bringing back Matt Giordano was a good move for the Colts, writes Oehser.
  • A look at defensive end in the draft, from Oehser.
  • Polian says he is rarely surprised by what unfolds in the first round, says Colts.com.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • The Jaguars got a No. 1 receiver in Torry Holt, writes Michael C. Wright.
  • A breakdown of receivers in the draft, from Wright.
  • Vic Ketchman's mailbag from Jaguars.com.
  • Five players the Jaguars could consider at No. 8, according to Cole Pepper.

Tennessee Titans

  • Jim Wyatt reviews his Sunday talk with Vince Young.
  • A look at Percy Harvin from a Tennessee perspective, from Jim Wyatt.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

ESPN The Magazine senior writer Bruce Feldman has special insight into two specific prospects of interest to the AFC South.

While he researched his book, "Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting," he became intimately familiar with the Ole Miss football program. Defensive tackle Peria Jerry and offensive tackle Michael Oher are rated as first-round picks.

Defensive tackle is a big need for Houston at No.15 and Indianapolis at No. 27, while Jacksonville, which drafts eighth but could be looking to trade back, needs a tackle.

Feldman was kind enough to share his forecast for each player as a pro.

"Peria Jerry was the best D-lineman in the SEC last year," Feldman said. "He was virtually unblockable and he also was the emotional leader of that team. He isn't huge, but he is very explosive and had played hurt for most of his career at Ole Miss till last year when his career took off. Lots of times the only way teams could contain him were with double teams or by cutting him.

"I'm more skeptical of Oher's prospects. He's had a ton of hype but he never was a dominant run blocker and has really struggled with his focus. People were talking about him saying things like he'd run in the low 4.9s and how he was some weight room warrior. That wasn't him. Prior to shedding weight before the combine, his 40 time at Ole Miss was 5.4 and he couldn't bench much more weight than their 170-pound return man Marshay Green. For most of his career whenever Ole Miss needed a few yards on third-and-short, they rarely ran to his side.

"He did improve last season, but I still don't expect him to be the player he's been touted to become."

Check out Feldman's blog here.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Team needs: Receiver, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, defensive back

 
  AP Photo/Michael Conroy
  It's unlikely that Boston College defensive lineman B.J. Raji will still be on the board at No 8, but if he is, expect the Jaguars to jump.
Dream scenario: It's possible the Jaguars could have the best player at two need positions on the board when they draft at No. 8. Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech could be around, and while Jacksonville may be wary of first-round receivers based on past failures -- R. Jay Soward, Reggie Williams, Matt Jones -- it would be hard to resist a prime weapon for David Garrard considering the team's top receivers now are Dennis Northcutt and Mike Walker. Still, new general manager Gene Smith has talked a lot about starting to build by concentrating on the foundation, and Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji could do a lot to help the interior line. Paired with John Henderson, Raji could help return the team regain the identity it enjoyed with the Henderson-Marcus Stroud combo and help take attention away from second-year ends Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves.

Plan B: The Jaguars have lots of holes and if they can't address one directly with No. 8, the way Smith has talked of building through the draft, it's hard to imagine he wouldn't want to bump back to gather extra picks. Maybe the Jaguars are really interested in USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. But they struggled to sign Harvey last season. It would surely be harder to strike a deal with a top 10 quarterback who they don't expect to start this year. Perhaps they want someone else who's interested to come up and get Sanchez here. The Jaguars traded into this pick last year, so teams will have a good sense of what it would take to make a deal.

PollCenter: On the Clock
What is the Jacksonville Jaguars' biggest positional need? VOTE

Scouts Inc. take: "After signing Tra Thomas, the Jaguars are now able to draft a project offensive tackle later in the draft as opposed to reaching in the first round for Andre Smith or Michael Oher. But, the Jaguars are not deficient in terms of glaring needs and wide receiver ranks right at the very top of that list. Michael Crabtree would be the ideal selection and in my opinion, as getting the best player in the draft at number eight would be a complete steal. Still, chances are that Crabtree doesn't make it that far. Is Jeremy Maclin worth that pick for Jacksonville? He certainly could be considering the position he plays and his big play ability, but overall, he isn't polished enough to come in an immediately be a go-to option. Two defensive players to keep an eye on are B.J. Raji, who is also unlikely to still be available but would be a tremendous get for the Jags, and Malcolm Jenkins, who could be exactly what Jacksonville needs to sure up their ailing and thin secondary. Mark Sanchez has been mentioned here, but I just don't see that happening." -- Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.

Who has final say: Jack Del Rio's desires will certainly be heard, but Smith made it clear when he took the post that he's got the final say on both draft picks and the roster.

On the Clock: Oakland Raiders, April 10.

Previous On the Clock: Green Bay Packers. The team-by-team series.

 
  Scott Boehm/Getty Images
  The Jaguars traded up for the No. 8 pick in the 2008 draft to select Derrick Harvey. This year, they may be looking to trade out of that same spot.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

A dip into the Jaguars' section of the mailbag:

Jeff from Jacksonville writes: Paul I have a two part question regarding the jaguars and the draft. First I believe that the Jags have put a smoke screen regarding drafting a QB in the first round, (although I do believe that they would do so if things did not work out the way they plan) I think that there main plan is to trade down and accumulate extra pics. Gene Smith has been preaching this since his first press conference and I dont believe it has changed. With the rise of Mark Sanchez from his workout, what are the chances that he might not even be there with the 8th pick for the Jaguars to try and trade, could it be that the Jags smoke screen was to big and now teams will try to trade in front of them to get Sanchez. Secondly, if Sanchez is avaliable what teams would probably be in the running for 8th pick from the Jags and what would be the compensation. The Jags are in a interested situation, they basically set the trade value for the 8th pick last year (which at the time looked like a steal since they didnt have to give up next year's first or a second) but now they are probably going to be looking for more than they paid last year for the same pic, I would love to hear your opinion on these two questions, like many, I check your blog everyday, I hope you have some new info for the team next week since they start off-season workouts. Thanks Paul, keep up the great work.

I'm not convinced the Jaguars will take Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez if one of them is available at No. 8 and agree with the idea that they'd like to trade down to accumulate picks. If Michael Crabtree, B.J. Raji, Jeremy Maclin or an offensive tackle they are in love with -- maybe Michael Oher -- remains available, they could be happy to stay put and address a need.

As for potential suitors: Teams that draft after the Jaguars who could want a quarterback include San Francisco (10), the Jets (17), Tampa Bay (19), Detroit (20, if the Lions don't use No. 1 on a quarterback) and Minnesota (22).

I really like Jeff's point that by trading into the eighth spot last year for defensive end Derrick Harvey, the Jaguars set the value for the very pick they may try to trade out of a year later.

Revisiting 2008: The Jaguars got the eighth pick in the draft from Baltimore in exchange for:

  • No. 26 overall -- Ultimately used by Houston on left tackle Duane Brown out of Virginia Tech
  • No. 71 overall (third round) -- Used by Baltimore on linebacker Tavares Gooden out of Miami
  • No. 89 overall (third round) -- Ultimately used by Houston on running back Steve Slaton
  • No. 125 overall (fourth round) -- Ultimately used by Oakland on receiver Arman Shields out of Richmond

(Quick aside: The Texans did pretty well with picks that first belonged to the Jaguars, didn't they? Duane Brown may be a long-term starter and Steve Slaton had a fantastic rookie season.)

Based on the numbers on the draft value chart we have up at ESPN.com, the Jaguars "won" the trade with Baltimore -- No. 8 is worth 1,400 points and the four picks Jacksonville gave up were worth 1,127 points. (The Ravens wound up trading back up to No. 18 for Joe Flacco.)

A trade partner for Jacksonville later this month has a blueprint for what it will cost to get to No. 8.

A similar deal out of the spot this year would leave the Jags with 13 picks, including three third-rounders and two fourth-rounders.

Here's what they have right now:

Round and Overall pick
1: 8
2: 39
3: 72
4: 107
5: 144
6: 180
7: 232*
7: 250**
7: 253**

* -- from Miami
** -- Compensatory selection.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

  • John Oehser's list of Peyton Manning's most underrated moments: No. 5 and No. 4.
  • Oehser's look back at the Colts in the first round: 2001.
  • Oehser's top 25 picks of the Polian era: No 23 and No. 22.
  • A look at Peria Jerry, courtesy of Oehser.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Gene Frenette is anxious to see how Gene Smith and the Jaguars do on draft weekend.
  • Vito Stellino looks at the improbable story of Michael Oher.
  • When the Jaguars head into the weight room for the start of the offseason program Monday, they'll see a completely revamped area, writes Vic Ketchman of Jaguars.com.

Tennessee Titans

  • Chris Johnson is trying to scale back on fast food, says Jim Wyatt.
  • David Climer ponders Chris Johnson and asks, why not live where you work?
  • I know these two aren't Titans related, but a lot of Titans fans are interested in Vanderbilt and Jay Cutler:
Cutler can look to history and find a Vanderbilt quarterback who led the Bears to a title: Bill Wade. Wyatt takes a look.
Bears receiver Earl Bennett was actually in a Vanderbilt classroom when he learned about the Cutler trade.

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