AFC South: Myron Rolle

What wasn’t addressed in the draft and could be a free agency focus for the Titans:

Safety: Unless new defensive coordinator Jerry Gray sees starter potential in Nick Schommer, Robert Johnson or Myron Rolle, the Titans need a guy who can start at strong safety. Chris Hope is slipping and has a bonus of $500,000 coming due. I think they’ll try to negotiate it down and give him one more year. But maybe the new regime goes a new direction.

Tight end: Craig Stevens took over as the primary blocking tight end last year and it’s time for Jared Cook to be the main pass catcher. Bo Scaife was overpaid the last two years and isn’t expected back. A versatile veteran backup who can help steer the other two guys would be a good addition.

Quarterback: The Titans did address the position in the draft. But there is still a veteran to be added, one the Titans hope allows Jake Locker can move at his own pace and not feel too much pressure to start too soon. They may need to sign someone to a three-year deal to get him, but if a Kerry Collins or a Matt Hasselbeck or a Marc Bulger is starting on opening day in 2012, it’s probably not a good thing.
Monroe
Monroe
For the current issue, ESPN The Magazine went back and visited with the top-ranked high school recruit for each of the last 25 years to see what it meant to be SuperPrep magazine’s No. 1 guy.

Four of them have AFC South connections. The most notable is Jacksonville left tackle Eugene Monroe, who was the top guy in 2005. He went from Plainfield (New Jersey) High School to Virginia to the Jaguars as the No. 8 overall pick in the 2010 draft.

You need to be an ESPN The Magazine subscriber and/or an Insider to see the whole deal Insider. But here’s what Monroe said:
"Being ranked No. 1 didn't mean a thing to me, but it did to my mother and the rest of my family and friends. You should have heard the way they said it, with such pride. My brother, Scott, walked around town telling everyone his brother was No. 1 in the nation. Seeing my family and friends enjoy it -- that was the best part."

The others with AFC South ties: David Givens (1998) was with the Titans, Vince Young (2002) will soon be released by the Titans and Myron Rolle (2006) spent the season on the Titans’ practice squad.

Checking in on AFC South draft picks

September, 7, 2010
9/07/10
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A look at AFC South draft picks heading into opening day …

Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
  • First-rounder Jerry Hughes is in line to work as the third or fourth defensive end.
  • Second-rounder Pat Angerer is a backup linebacker and special-teamer.
  • Third-rounder Kevin Thomas (knee), a cornerback, is on IR.
  • Fourth-rounder Jacques McClendon is the backup right guard.
  • Fifth-rounder Brody Eldridge is the starting H-back.
  • Seventh-rounder Ricardo Mathews is a backup defensive lineman.
  • Seventh-rounder Kavell Conner is a backup linebacker and special-teamer.
  • Seventh-rounder Ray Fisher, a cornerback and return man, was cut. (Not put on IR as I originally wrote.)
Jacksonville Jaguars
  • First-rounder Tyson Alualu is a starting defensive tackle.
  • Third-rounder D’Anthony Smith (Achilles), a defensive tackle, is on IR.
  • Fifth-rounder Larry Hart is the second-string right defensive end.
  • Fifth-rounder Austen Lane is the third-string left defensive end.
  • Sixth-rounder Deji Karim is the third-string running back and the top kick returner, though he could be slowed early with a thumb injury.
  • Sixth-rounder Scotty McGee is the punt returner.
Tennessee Titans
  • First-rounder Derrick Morgan is part of the rotation at defensive end.
  • Third-rounder Damian Williams is the second return man and the fifth or sixth receiver.
  • Third-rounder Rennie Curran is a backup linebacker and special-teamer.
  • Fourth-rounder Alterraun Verner could be part of a rotation at right cornerback.
  • Fifth-rounder Robert Johnson is a third-string safety.
  • Sixth-rounder Rusty Smith is the third-string quarterback.
  • Sixth-rounder Myron Rolle, a safety, was cut and is on the practice squad.
  • Seventh-rounder Marc Mariani is the return man and the fifth of sixth receiver.
  • Seventh-rounder David Howard, a defensive tackle, was cut.
Roster and practice-squad news so far Sunday:

Houston Texans

Were awarded linebakcer David Nixon from the Oakland Raiders and cornerback Jamar Wall from the Dallas Cowboys of waivers. Released linebacker Danny Clark.

Indianapolis Colts

Signed quarterback Tom Brandstater, defensive end John Chick, receiver Brandon James, defensive back Mike Newton and receiver Blair White to the practice squad.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Were awarded defensive tackle Landon Cohen off waivers from the Detroit Lions. Released offensive lineman Paul McQuistan.

Signed offensive tackle Daniel Baldridge, tight end Mike Caussin, receiver John Matthews, and defensive tackle Kommonyan Quaye to the practice squad.

Tennessee Titans

Were awarded linebacker Tim Shaw from the Chicago Bears and linebacker Patrick Bailey from the Pittsburgh Steelers off waivers. Released linebackers Stanford Keglar and running back LeGarrette Blount.

Signed defensive lineman Hall Davis, receiver Dominique Edison, cornerback Pete Ittersagen, center Kevin Matthews, safety Myron Rolle and linebacker Patrick Trahan to the practice squad.

Observation deck: Cardinals-Titans

August, 23, 2010
8/23/10
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Midway through the exhibition schedule (the NFL just loves that word), the Titans got the AFC South’s first win, beating the Arizona Cardinals 24-10 on Monday.

Which means nothing, of course.

But some of this might.

[+] EnlargeVince Young
Don McPeak/US PresswireVince Young completed 9 of 13 passes for 128 yards and also ran once for 10 yards on Monday.
Vince Young was efficient, but can still stand some polish: His big completion to a wide open Craig Stevens came off his back foot. He also had a pump-fake fumble (though he recovered it and ran for a first down) and a bad, low throw for Nate Washington into double coverage at the goal line that fell incomplete. Those all amount to the sort of things he needs to clean up. When things go well for him, he not only survives such circumstances but turns them into positive plays as he did on the first two of those three plays against the Cardinals.

Back to form?: I thought veteran safety Chris Hope played fast. He made a quick stick on tight end Stephen Spach after a short reception on a third-and-long, and on a blitz from the left side he got in on a tackle of Tim Hightower, who was running to the other side.

Running back pecking order: Javon Ringer was the first backup in on offense, playing with the first team. He’s earning increased faith from his coaches and it seems as if he’s the guy who will take a few snaps off Chris Johnson’s plate. He can run inside, gain a tough yard and function as a pass outlet. Don’t rush to imagine those carries going to LeGarrette Blount, especially since Samkon Gado was ahead of Blount as the third back and ran for two TDs.

Disruptive forces: Jason Babin continues to impress me with his fast get off and his ability to get into the backfield. Against the Cardinals he was the first to get into the backfield on a couple run plays. Jason Jones, meanwhile, beat starting right guard Reggie Wells for back-to-back knockdowns of Derek Anderson.

Still not sold: Michael Griffin, who tackled poorly a year ago, whiffed on LaRod Stephens-Howling on a first-half kick return leaving Myron Rolle to clean things up after a bigger gain. Griffin has got to do better in such circumstances.

Compounding a mistake: Kenny Britt got a hand on the pass to the right sideline from Kerry Collins and could have caught it. Ticked at himself that he didn’t, he kicked the ball after it fell incomplete, drawing a delay of game penalty. I think that sort of thing is helping slow his path into the starting lineup.

Head of the line: Offensive line depth is a big question. Mike Otto and Fernando Velasco were the first two subs, replacing left tackle Michael Roos and right guard Jake Scott, respectively. Zero regular season starts between the two primary backups isn’t a huge confidence boon for an offense.

Nondescript: Damian Williams didn’t distinguish himself with first-half chances in the kicking game. But the rookie return man didn’t mess up either, and considering how the Titans are starting from zero at the spots after last year, that’s not nothing. Marc Mariani’s 60-yard kickoff return midway through the fourth quarter was great, but came against far lesser players.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans defensive backs shined early in the team’s Sunday practice. Go ahead and respond to my tweets about it with commentary, telling me that with that quarterback and those receivers, how could it be different?

But one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills are, by their nature, to the offense’s advantage. While there were drops -- most noticeably four by Justin Gage -- there was a lot of tight coverage and breakups from a group of DBs that is already thinned out.

Tye Hill is out with a hamstring injury and Nick Schommer and Jamar Love are on PUP, so nickelback and safety Vincent Fuller played some outside cornerback in team drills with the twos and threes.

Among the top playmakers in the secondary was Jason McCourty, the corner who was back with the first team after Ryan Mouton was in the spot the first day. A couple of them were not against Jerry Rice, they were against Paul Williams. But with opportunity to make plays he made them, and he doesn’t rank highly enough to be choosing his matchups. On his knees, he also picked off a Kerry Collins pass meant for Lavelle Hawkins in the end zone during red-zone work.

Gage had a lot of trouble pulling in the ball, several times against rookie Alterraun Verner.

But it wasn’t all about the defensive backs. Marc Mariani had a nice afternoon with slithery slot work, including an excellent diving catch down the right sideline over Verner for a gain of more than 40 yards on a throw by Chris Simms.

A couple other notes:
  • Derrick Morgan did very little, aggravated his left calf which was an issue during OTAs. He will be monitored, but sure seems likely to miss at least a couple days. Saturday night, just before the first-round pick signed his contract, he tweeted a picture of himself in the room where he waited at team headquarters. It was filled with boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts. My natural follow-up question to that was did he have any? He said he limited himself to one, original style.
  • I was a bit surprised when Jim Washburn, the notoriously loud and outspoken defensive line coach, got on safety Donnie Nickey about not attempting to get the ball out when an offensive player broke into the secondary. Is there protocol about yelling at a guy who you don’t coach? Nickey said he’s absolutely fine with it and that Washburn had a good point.
  • Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks benched 315 pounds, the measuring standard for a Titans defensive lineman, zero times when he joined the team as a second-round pick out of Auburn last year. “I didn’t even want to get up under it,” he said. Before 2009 training camp, also zero. In recent days, twice. It might not sound like a lot, but he and coaches regard it as a great improvement that shows the strength gains that will pay off for him this year.
  • Nice camp moment: Rookie safety Myron Rolle introduced his mom, Beverley, his dad, Whitney, and his brother, McKinley, to defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil and linebackers coach Dave McGinnis. Minutes later at his locker, Rolle was checking text messages McKinley sent him during practice about particular plays.

On the radar: Nick Schommer

July, 1, 2010
7/01/10
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NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

[+] EnlargeNick Schommer
Joe Murphy/Getty ImagesTennessee 2009 seventh-round draft pick Nick Schommer will be vying for a roster spot in 2010 at safety.
A seventh-round pick for the Tennessee Titans out of North Dakota State in 2009, Nick Schommer spent last year on the practice squad. Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil didn’t get a great look at him because of an injury.

Though he was listed at 6-0, 201, I remember thinking he didn’t have an NFL safety’s build during training camp. He certainly didn’t have good body language.

But Cecil said Schommer shined as the Titans wrapped up OTAs. Schommer got some time with the second team when Donnie Nickey got married. But he hurt a hamstring in the second-to-last practice.

If Schommer reports healthy and can stay that way, he could make the team ahead of a guy much more well known -- 2010 sixth-round pick Myron Rolle, the Rhodes Scholar. The Titans also selected Robert Johnson in the fifth round.

Chris Hope and Michael Griffin, each a 2008 Pro Bowl selection, slipped badly in 2009. The Titans need to develop contingency plans and solidify the depth.

“Nick needs to be ready to go,” Cecil said. “If he stays healthy and plays the way we think he’s capable, then there might be a spot for him… He’s totally unknown and during OTAs he couldn’t do the thing that he’s best at -- hitting is his calling card. He used to knock himself out all the time. He’s my kind of guy.”
Pete Prisco checks in with thoughts on Chris Johnson and Andre Johnson.

Houston Texans

The Texans aren’t looking at Fred Bennett as a potential starter anymore in the eyes of Jerome Solomon.

Arian Foster’s been working as the starter at running back, says Jordan Godwin.

Sherrick McManis finished his school work and joined the Texans, says Godwin.

Indianapolis Colts

The Final Eight rule has successfully limited the Colts’ ability to add help, writes Mike Chappell. While the Colts don’t generally add big outsiders, any chance to deviate from that plan was snuffed out by the rule.

Cornerback depth is an issue, says John Oehser. I’ve got an entry on this coming around lunchtime.

Signing with the Colts was an easy call for Adam Terry, says Colts.com.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Vince Manuwai is trying to regain his form and his spot, says Vito Stellino.

The trade for Justin Smiley’s been finalized, writes Stellino.

Is Smiley damaged goods? Adam Stites examines the question.

Vic Ketchman looks at some reasonable expectations for the Jaguars.

Black & Teal offers the Jaguars five best and worst moves so far this offseason.

Tennessee Titans

Bo Scaife disputes the idea that he’s greedy, writes Jim Wyatt.

Jeff Fisher acknowledges the Titans and Chris Johnson have issues and hopes for a meeting, says Wyatt.

David Climer wants that meeting to happen soon.

Myron Rolle doesn’t have a contract yet, but donated to Nashville flood relief.

Auburn’s Gene Chizik visited Titans practice, says John Glennon.

Wyatt’s OTA injury report.

A slideshow of OTA pictures from Sanford Myers.

The Titans' offensive line can be even better, say Andrew Strickert.
RTC = Reading the coverage. That's been the title of our daily wrap-up of stories from around the division from the beginning. But periodically, because of headline space constraints, we'll abbreviate.

Houston Texans

Jerome Solomon considers where Rick Smith fits in the pantheon of Houston’s GMs.

Texans records that need to change, from Alan Burge.

Ten questions with Shelley Smith (here) and with Trindon Holliday (here) from the team website.

Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning’s new teammate, Jacques McClendon, has to shift from fan to blocker, says Michael Marot.

The Colts are insistent that there is no shift in offensive philosophy underway and generally seem to hate the concept of shifting, says Stampede Blue. Are we supposed to think bigger linemen they've added are a mere coincidence?

Considering the order of the wide receivers with Mike Chappell.

Jacksonville Jaguars

When teams struggle, it’s usually because they lack talent, not because they quit, says Vic Ketchman.

Gene Smith’s been great, says Collin Streetman, but he objects to the Clint Ingram and John Henderson moves.

Tennessee Titans

Vince Young is raising money to help with flood relief, says Jim Wyatt.

Former Titan Samari Rolle is helping out new Titan Myron Rolle, a longtime friend but not a relative, writes Jim Wyatt.

Who’s been the Titans' best third-round pick, Andrew Strickert asks.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It’s out of training and combine mode, back into football mode for Titans rookies, who hit the field Friday for two orientation practices and have another Saturday before heading home.

Safety Myron Rolle said he’s picked up on two big things so far: Punctuality and volume.

“It’s just a massive amount of information that you’re expected to know, quickly,” Rolle said. “And be on time, be five or 10 minutes early. Coaches just don’t like that and it doesn’t make a good impression either.”

Quick thoughts on my first impression of draftees from the second practice, which ran less than 90 minutes and included 24 players:
Defensive end Derrick Morgan -- I didn’t see the defensive linemen except when they did a bit of special teams work. Their area of the field’s been re-sodded, so they worked inside the practice bubble and never lined up across from offensive linemen.

I asked Morgan about the biggest change he feels coming.

“I’m kind of understanding more and more what Coach [Jim] Washburn wants from us and what he wants from me coming off the edge,” Morgan said. “My aiming points coming off the edge and what my aiming points were. Really it’s a lot different. It’s more so just cutting it loose and making something happen. Back at school it was more so reading the guy in front of you. Now you’re coming off, you’re going 100 miles an hour and you’re making the guy in front of you react to you.”

Wide receiver Damian Williams -- Not quite as tall as I was imagining, he had a nice advantage in one-on-ones since the defensive group is three-fourth safeties. I heard one other sideline observe call him slithery, but thought it was premature based on the small sampling. He did some good things against mostly guys he should beat in given the drill and personnel. He looked pretty tired near the end, walking back to the line of scrimmage as if he was hurting.

Linebacker Rennie Curran -- “There were some times where I missed on a play in a one-on-one situation and a back got by me,” he said. “I’ve just got to finish a play, got to show them that I can hustle and I don’t get down on myself in adversity.”

Cornerback Alterraun Verner --I saw good ball sense. While he didn’t always maintain great position on receivers in one-on-ones, he always seemed to know where the ball was. He stayed with Mico McSwain to assure a breakup was all the way broken up and on another play, he nearly turned a bobbled and dropped ball by Bobby Sewall into a behind the back interception but at least made sure it was incomplete.

Safety Robert Johnson -- He’s lanky and doesn’t look like he’s 203 pounds, but that’s what they say he is and I am no doubter. He looks a little like Bobby Myers body-wise. He ran well with Marc Mariani on a ball that was thrown well beyond them both and had a quick close on McSwain for a breakup. Clearly the better coverage safety of the two drafted safeties, as we presumed he would be.

Quarterback Rusty Smith -- The guy Jeff Fisher and Mike Heimerdinger described after the Titans drafted Smith in the sixth round was just the guy we saw. Tall, poised, threw the ball on target and with great zip. He’s got a nice quick delivery without a lot of wasted motion and throws a tight, fast spiral. He looks the part. One ball slipped out and was a duck and he seemed to do well laughing it off as Dinger called it “just a bit outside.”

Rolle -- Ran up the back of a receiver more than once and didn’t look particularly in coverage. I’m sure he’ll be better and tracking and closing on running backs when we get to watch that.

Mariani -- He’s wearing 83, so the first thing I thought was “smaller Drew Bennett.” Then someone saw him run a few routes and catch a few balls and said poor man’s Wes Welker, which made me think poor man’s Julian Edelman. He caught the ball very well, always with his hands and seemed to be running to the right spots. I was impressed.

Defensive tackle David Howard -- Missed him on the field, like I did Morgan, and didn’t get a chance to talk with him in the locker room either.
Chris Hope Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesCoaches were concerned that Chris Hope may have prepared too much last season.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As is often the case, Chris Hope was among the last Titans off the field after Thursday’s practice. He’d set up some cones and worked with some defensive backs after the session ended, but even as he left the field he wasn’t finished.

With hand gestures and footwork examples, he talked second-year safety Nick Schommer through a technique all the way to the walkway to the locker room.

That sort of devotion is what made Hope such a valuable addition to the Titans in 2006, when he was brought in from Pittsburgh as a free agent. It’s what helped him earn a Pro Bowl spot in 2008 -- one of three members of the secondary to earn the honor.

Working just as hard, maybe harder, he was also in the middle of the defensive backfield's brutal drop-off in 2009. The league’s ninth-best pass defense plummeted to 31st.

Hope was still a constant, but he didn’t qualify as the same steadying presence in a group that featured some injury replacements and was going against opponents who had more time to find targets downfield.

“I didn’t play consistently at a high level every game,” Hope said. “Not the big year that I expected from myself and not the big year coming off the Pro Bowl season. When you lose, a lot of things get pointed out. I’m a professional about it. Every year I try to find something to get better at.

“The numbers are considerably close, but the game isn’t about numbers, it’s about how effective you are every Sunday and wins. …I feel like I played well enough to win every Sunday, but I didn’t have those big spectacular plays and those consistent big hits that I was looking for coming into the season.”

Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil looks back on Hope’s year and has come to a conclusion that he said he never has reached before as a coach.

Hope may have studied too much and gone into games overprepared.

“I don’t even know how to say this without it sounding wrong, but I think it was almost to the point of being counterproductive because he was so prepared,” Cecil said. “I think it became a situation where he was studying it so hard and so much, and putting in so much time that he was assuming when he saw something that he knew what the play was. Rather than just playing football and playing what happened, he was playing what was supposed to happen.”

“…As far as what you tell him? ‘Hey, don’t study so much. Play ball.’”

Hope didn’t completely agree with that assessment, and said he didn’t have any plans to change his preparation style.

But he did say he found himself watching things unfold last year and sometimes felt helpless.

“It’s sometimes frustrating, because you know what’s coming, you know what’s going to happen, you know you can make the play and you’re not in position to make the play,” he said.

“Sometime you may tweak your assignment or tweak your alignment a little bit. When you’re a playmaker, and you’re one of the leaders of the team you get a little frustrated. That was more of the problem than anything.”

Cecil is one of several people in the organization who credit Hope with changing the tone of the defensive back meeting room and setting standards for work ethic and preparation for young players like Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin and Vincent Fuller.

Myron Rolle
G Fiume/Getty ImagesRhodes Scholar Myron Rolle could learn a lot from Chris Hope.
The next time the veterans are on the field for an OTA the rookies will be mixed in. They’ll include safeties Robert Johnson and Myron Rolle, a Rhodes Scholar the team may be viewing as Hope’s eventual replacement.

It can be an awkward stage of a guy’s career when he’s in position to help train his successor, but Hope will be a guy who handles it gracefully.

“If I’m here to teach those guys how to play and get to be a professional, I embrace that,” he said. “I feel like I owe it to the game. I didn’t get here on talent alone.”

Still, he believes he’s got three to five years left, and he’s determined not to fall into a trap he thinks hurt him in 2009.

With Finnegan and Griffin also coming off Pro Bowl years, Hope said he backed off, placing friendships ahead of football. It’s a mistake he pledges he won’t make again.

“We were experienced, we were all friends,” he said. “Sometimes the leader had to take the bad side, and I didn’t want to do that. I regret not doing it now. This year I will be more prominent and not really worry about friends and friendships as much as success and the growth of guys. I took a lot of pride in seeing Griff grow into one of the best safeties in the league and I feel like I kind of let him down.”

Hope will turn 30 on Sept. 29, a number that’s becoming a flashing warning light for teams no matter the position. He’s got two years left on the six year-deal he signed when he came to Tennessee after helping the Steelers win a Super Bowl.

“Father Time is undefeated, he gets everybody,” Cecil said. “I think Chris has been around long enough to understand that. His professionalism is almost unmatched. It’s not a discussion that you have. But it’s something that sooner or later everybody comes to understand.”

Hope said he knows Kobe Bryant can still do a lot of what LeBron James does, but that the Laker now picks his spots.

“[Bryant] chooses when it’s time to put the dagger in someone,” he said.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher mentioned the possibility of giving Hope days off during the season next year. Hope said he’ll pass on those. To glue a secondary together, to press guys to do the extra work, to train Rolle in the intricacies of the job, Hope needs to be on the practice field.

For Cecil to get him back to reacting to football as it unfolds rather than as it should unfold based on what he’s seen on film, Hope will want to be in uniform.
Houston Texans

It won’t take long for the Texans to feel the draft, says John McClain.

The Texans’ draft is better than McClain initially thought. (Video.)

Director of college scouting Dale Strahm reviews the picks with Nick Scurfield of texans.com.

Indianapolis Colts

Bob Kravitz does the draft grade thing and looks at the schedule.

John Oehser looks at new defenders Jerry Hughes and Pat Angerer.

Expectations for fourth-round offensive lineman Jacques McClendon from Nate Dunlevy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Gene Frenette looks at the revamping of the defensive line and at linebacker and says safety is next, which lines up with Darren Sharper’s visit.

A ticket-sales update from the team.

Judgment day has arrived for Reggie Nelson, says Adam Stites.

Breaking down the defensive line with Zoltan Paksa.

Tennessee Titans

Chris Johnson leads the short list of players who skipped the first OTA day, writes Jim Wyatt.

Derrick Morgan has a motor like Kyle Vanden Bosch’s and a chip on his shoulder like Jevon Kearse had at the start, says David Boclair.

Damian Williams was the sixth-best draft day bargain, says Jeff Chadiha.

Williams was the best value pick of the third round, says Rick Gosselin.

Clay Travis says it’s ridiculous to question Myron Rolle’s commitment because he took a year off to study as a Rhodes Scholar. I absolutely agree. (Full disclosure, Travis and I work for the same Nashville radio station.)

Kiper's grades: Jags the worst

April, 25, 2010
4/25/10
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Mel Kiper’s draft grades are in. Insider

Here's my standard draft grade disclaimer. Yes, grades before a guy sets foot on an NFL practice field are a silly concept. Still, they are what a huge percentage of fans will be looking for Sunday. So here are my notes from Kiper's Insider file.

Texans

He calls first-round corner Kareem Jackson “a predictable, safe pick” and said Ben Tate looks even better as a value at 58 considering Minnesota traded up to take Toby Gerhart at 51. Sixth-rounder Trindon Holliday “could be the next Dante Hall.” Even seventh-rounder Dorin Dickerson “has promise at tight end if he can add strength.” (The Texans are going with him as a wide receiver to start.) “Nothing amazing, but plenty of promise.”

Kiper's grade: B

Titans

No end has the “polish and versatility” of Derrick Morgan and he fills the hole left by Kyle Vanden Bosch. He questions Damian Williams' speed, and while he likes Rennie Curran, he called him “a slight reach” in the third. And “between math whiz Alterraun Verner and Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle, they'll have the smartest secondary in football if both stick.”

Kiper's grade: C+

Colts

He likes Jerry Hughes but thought Pat Angerer was a reach in Round 2 and “could have been around even at that No. 94 slot where Indy picked Kevin Thomas.” He rates Thomas a risk because of injury history. In general, nothing flashy. “But I'm never going to believe Bill Polian won't prove me wrong on at least one of these guys.”

Kiper's grade: C

Jaguars

Kiper calls GM Gene Smith’s second draft disappointing, starting with the over-valuing of Tyson Alualu at No. 10. “To take a guy you could conceivably get 15 to 25 slots later, you're cheating yourself not just out of sixth- and seventh-round guys, but potentially a late second- or third-rounder. You have to know not just the pick, but the relative value.” Of the Jags' six picks, only Alualu rated in Kiper’s Top 100.

Kiper's grade: D

AFC South draft analysis

April, 24, 2010
4/24/10
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NFC draft analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

We had big names (Jerry Hughes, Myron Rolle) and no names (Scotty McGee, Shelley Smith) in 32 draft picks in the AFC South.

We also had an incoming veteran (Kirk Morrison to Jacksonville) and outgoing underachievers (LenDale White and Kevin Vickerson out of Tennessee).

Everyone’s on the phone hoping to land more in the form of undrafted free agents, but they’re feeling good too. Needs they had on Thursday have been washed away over three days, and minicamps where rookies will be fitted for uniforms and yelled at by position coaches for the first time will soon arrive.

Best moves

The Titans and Colts both wanted a productive defensive end, both sat still at their first round pick and both had a talented player who fits them fall in their laps.

Derrick Morgan’s got multiple connections with defensive line coach Jim Washburn, and the love fest is on. After losing the high-motor, classy Kyle Vanden Bosch as a free agent, the Titans look to have landed a young version of KVB.

Bill Polian said the Colts have been looking for an extra end for seven years. First-rounder Hughes from TCU looks almost too good to be true in terms of matching up a skill set with a Colts’ model for a position. He couldn’t have landed in a better spot, playing with and learning from Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

Riskiest move

Tyson Alualu at No. 10 caused a big stir and raised questions about the Jaguars’ inability to move down. The defensive tackle would likely have still been available later, and the 11th, 12th and 13th picks all got deals right after their selection.

Gene Smith went very heavy on small schools and low profile programs -- Central Arkansas, Murray State, Southern Illinois and James Madison. But it’s Alualu, more than anyone, that will make or break his regime’s reputation. Will the scouts who shook their heads and dropped their jaws at the pick be surprised and revise their opinion or be proven right?

[+] EnlargeKareem Jackson
Chris Williams/Icon SMIJackson didn't miss any time with injuries as a three-year starter for Alabama.
Most surprising move

They are touting the championship pedigree of first-round cornerback Kareem Jackson from Alabama, but Kyle Wilson and Devin McCourty were still on the board. If Jackson doesn’t pan out well for a team thin on talent at corner, they could regret the decision.

I think the Texans had really settled on Ryan Mathews being the guy and may not have recovered after San Diego jumped all the way up to 12 to get him. They had plenty of time to recover and re-examine, but went with Jackson, who was rising on a lot of boards as they draft drew near. There is a gaping hole he needs to help fill, and there will be a lot of second guessing if he doesn’t -- particularly if Wilson and/or McCourty play big.

File it away

Based on their conference call media conversations and the inclusion of a math whiz from UCLA (Alterraun Verner), a Rhodes Scholar from Florida State (Rolle) and an Ivy League defensive tackle from Brown (David Howard), the Titans drafted a smart class.

It’ll be a wonderful thing in meeting rooms and interview sessions. And there shouldn’t be a lot of kids confused when they first dig into the playbook. But if the brains don’t translate into the games, it won’t matter.
NASHVILLE. Tenn. -- Bill Bradley told him not to get fat. Pat Haden said be ready to be treated like the locker room’s Supreme Court Justice.

Florida State safety Myron Rolle got advice from a couple other Rhodes Scholar athletes before he headed for Oxford, passing on a final year of college football.

After he was drafted in the sixth round at No. 207 by the Tennessee Titans, he shared some of the details in a conference call with reporters who follow the Titans.

He did his best to eat well while following a training plan set forth for him by Tom Shaw. And when he joins the Titans for minicamp work next weekend, he’ll accept that his new teammates may ask him to be the “absolute arbiter” of any in-house dispute.

As for the idea that skipping a year to be a Rhodes Scholar created some questions about his football commitment, an absolutely ridiculous line of thinking in my eyes, he said:
“I had a lot of options, to go to medical school, to get (another degree) at Oxford, to enter politics now or keep my foundation going strong. There are so many different avenues I can take right now. The fact that I choose football, something that academics and people in the education realm, can’t really understand, I think shows my testament. I gave up a lot, I sacrificed a lot in my Rhodes Scholarship experience, to stay in shape, to make sure I was ready for this moment right here.”

“When my classmates were frisking at the pubs at 1:30 in the morning or traveling to different parts of the EU, I was working out, training, going to sleep, resting my body and making sure I was ready to compete. I love this game, I love this sport, I want it to be my vocation for the next 10 years.”

Does that fire you up? It certainly worked on me.

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