Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 4/20/11

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Cam the man? We'll soon find out in NFL draft - The Denver Post
NFL talent evaluators either love Newton's 6-foot-5, 248-pound frame, his arm strength and his 50 touchdowns in his only major-college season as a starting quarterback — or they don't. There is no middle ground with Newton, who threw for 30 touchdowns and rushed for 20 while leading Auburn to last year's national championship. The draft is about pro potential, not collegiate glory. Just ask Tim Tebow, Tommie Frazier, Danny Wuerffel, Andre Ware and many others on the long list of big men on campus who have felt the sting of the NFL's predraft criticism.

Gabbert follows Newton to Broncos headquarters - The Denver Post
For their final impression, the Broncos scheduled meetings with quarterbacks Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert will meet with Denver executives and coaches today, the final day of draft-eligible player visits to Dove Valley. Missouri's Gabbert follows Auburn's Newton, who was at Broncos headquarters Tuesday. In the name of Tim Tebow, why?

Q&A: Having a Hall of Fame-caliber QB isn't a requirement for winning the Super Bowl, but it's close - The Denver Post
I've asked NFL general managers and head coaches what it takes to build a successful team. Almost unanimously, they rank quarterback as the No. 1 position on the field, the offensive line's left tackle No. 2 and an edge pass rusher No. 3. Dominant players at those positions are the most difficult to find. Playing quarterback usually includes being the face of the franchise and handling the pressure that comes with public scrutiny. Hall of Famer John Elway, now the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations, says quarterback is "far and away" the most important position on the field.

Broncos' 2011 schedule opens with Raiders on "Monday Night Football" - The Denver Post
As for the Broncos' 2011 regular-season schedule? Maybe it's the perspective of a team coming off a 4-12 season, but this appears to be one of the toughest schedules in Broncos history. The defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. A five-game knuckle sandwich of two road games against AFC West rivals (Oakland, Kansas City), a home game on three days' rest against the New York Jets, who are coming off back-to-back AFC championship appearances, and two more road games (San Diego, Minnesota). The Broncos' new leadership triumvirate of John Elway, John Fox and Brian Xanders will have to build a team that, for once, gets stronger as the season advances.

Auburn's Cam Newton a big NFL question mark - The Denver Post
It's worth remembering that beyond all of the excitement and touchdowns Tebow constructed with the Broncos last season, there are plenty of quarterback coaches in the league who will quickly point out he finished the year as only a 50 percent passer. Fifty percent just won't cut it in the NFL, no matter how fast you can run. Newton's biggest issue with his delivery is his weight transfer, moving from his back foot to his front foot when he throws. When he follows through, he often is still leaning backward, with the majority of the weight on his back foot. That makes him a risk in terms of accuracy.

ESPN's Jon Gruden on Cam Newton, Tim Tebow | All Things Broncos — Denver Broncos news, stats, analysis — The Denver Post
I’ve talked to quarterback gurus around the league and to encapsulate their reports, Newton is superior as both a passer and an athlete but Tebow has the clear edge in the intangible aspects of leadership, work ethic and will to win. Former NFL coach Jon Gruden has been holding made-for-TV Quarterback Camps for draft prospects the past two years and featured both Tebow last year, and Newton this year. On an ESPN conference call today, I asked him about Newton vs. Tebow.

John Fox talks up Von Miller | ProFootballTalk
"In this league, you have to rush the passer," Fox said. "[Quarterbacks are] too good just to let them stand there and look over your defense. He has the skill set to play this game, no doubt." However, this time of year, when you hear a coach talking up a draft prospect, you have to wonder why he’d tip his hand by talking up the guy he wants to draft. So when Fox talks about Miller as a good choice at No. 2 overall, what that may really mean is that the Broncos plan to take Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus at No. 2 overall.

NFL NEWS

New York Jets, New York Giants set to open 2011 on 9/11 anniversary - ESPN
The New York Giants will visit the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets will host the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 11, marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Data Points: Kickoff Game an accurate forecaster "
Perhaps the most important game, at least from a league standpoint, is the Kickoff Game, which — since being instituted in 2002 — always comes on the Thursday night prior to Week 1′s Sunday games. Of course, it’s important that the NFL brandishes a sexy matchup, like last year’s Vikings-Saints tilt from the Big Easy. But perhaps more significant is how the clubs that participate on opening day fare the rest of the season. Taking a look at the numbers, there’s no doubt that a trend exists: teams that win the Thursday Kickoff game usually have successful seasons. Going further, only one winning team on opening night ended up having a losing season: the Patrick Ramsey-led Redskins of 2003.

Patriots-Jets, Ravens-49ers just a few of the prime NFL matchups - Don Banks - SI.com
With the league's labor battle unsettled as the draft approaches, the NFL's schedule release had that written-in-pencil feel to it this year, with the words 'subject to change' perhaps the caveat that remains unspoken but implied.

It's time for the NCAA to pay up | National Football Post
Based on my research the top 25 college programs are turning a "profit" of over $25 million per school. In 2009, Notre Dame cleared $38 million in profits, Texas over $58 million, Penn State did $50 million, Oklahoma $40 million, Michigan $34 million, LSU $30 million, Georgia did $45 million, Alabama $35 million, Nebraska $49 million, and Florida $41 million. The profits made will lead to increased coaches salaries, improved facilities, supporting other unprofitable sports programs, bigger score boards and more luxury stadium seating.

A 6-10 record won’t keep the Cowboys out of primetime, all the time | ProFootballTalk
Dallas is one of only six teams to get a maximum five games in primetime this season. The other five — Eagles, Colts, Ravens, Jets, and Steelers — all made the playoffs last year. Heck, four of those teams won a playoff game last year, which matches Dallas’ postseason output for the last 13 years.

Norv Turner thinks Chargers’ schedule is conducive to a fast start | ProFootballTalk
Appearing on NFL Network just minutes after the Chargers’ schedule was released, Turner said he’s glad to see the Chargers getting home games in Weeks One, Three and Four. "There’s no question," Turner said. "Being home three out of the first four, opening at home — we haven’t done that in the last couple years. It’s time for us to get off to a great start, and being at home should help us."

NFL DRAFT

Despite an explosion in information - 04.25.11 - SI Vault
In 1984 an engaging first-round quarterback prospect, Maryland's Boomer Esiason, was coming off a separated shoulder from a December bowl game. Cleared by doctors, he threw at the scouting combine in late January and then waited three months to be picked. Esiason visited no teams and had no Pro Day—in those days no schools did. One club, the Bengals, sent a coach to work him out. Cincinnati took Esiason midway through the second round. In 2011 an engaging first-round quarterback prospect, TCU's Andy Dalton, is coming off a mostly healthy season and a terrific Rose Bowl. He threw at the combine and met with 21 NFL teams there; threw again at TCU's Pro Day, which was attended by 26 teams; worked out privately for 11 teams and visited six in March and April; ate meals with four quarterback coaches or coordinators; and faced at least one crazy job interview. A team will choose him no later than midway through the second round this year.

ESPN expects draft ratings to be higher | ProFootballTalk
ESPN’s NFL Draft Producer Jay Rothman isn’t worried. He said on a conference call he expects fan interest to be "tremendous" and thinks that ratings will be higher than ever this year. The confidence is interesting. There are certainly fewer people reading about the draft than usual, but there’s no telling if that will translate to reduced ratings.

Breaking down Christian Ponder | National Football Post
One of the more interesting names in next week’s draft is quarterback Christian Ponder of Florida State. Some scouts have told me they feel he is a first-round quarterback and others have said they wouldn’t take him before the fourth. With that being said, I decided to look at some tape and form my own opinion. I was able to watch four tapes (against Oklahoma, Boston College, Maryland and Wake Forest) plus I saw the Senior Bowl practices and tape.

Nick Fairley + New England Patriots = Pro Bowler | National Football Post
Overall, he’s a 23-year-old kid who still has a lot of maturing and growing up to do. But, in all honesty, what 23-year-old doesn’t? So often we look at where the maturity level of a kid like Fairley is now only, and automatically assume he’s never going to change. However, what if you put him in an environment with structure? Leadership? Veteran mentors? I’m not saying that Fairley hasn’t had that during his upbringing or time at Auburn, but when I watch this guy on tape I just don’t buy into the fact he doesn’t have a passion for the game.

Why speed sells at the wide receiver position | National Football Post
Wide receiver is a "stopwatch" position, and you can’t hand out a final grade for a prospect until you have a 40 time to add to the report. Unlike scouting the RB position, top end speed sells for players that align outside of the numbers. The vertical passing game, separation speed on the 9 (fade), 8 (post) and 7 cut (corner), plus the ability to turn an underneath concept into a big play. Today, let’s look at two WR prospects on video—Julio Jones and Leonard Hankerson—to highlight why speed sells in the open field on two simple route schemes.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Teams should mimic Wolf's QB ways
Ron Wolf drafted seven quarterbacks from 1992 to 2000 in his time as Packers general manager. As we know, only one played any snaps of significance for the team during that stretch: Brett Favre. But Wolf had a method to his madness. He knew that quarterbacks, when good, are the NFL's best assets. They can be team saviors. Teams are desperate to find quality triggermen. They'll trade draft picks and established veterans alike to land them.

Colts, Patriots, Saints kick the tires on Andy Dalton - Peter King - SI.com
"You have probably talked about this but why is the NFL commissioner on the owners side? It would seem the position of NFL commissioner would be neutral and try be the lead negotiator to bring the two sides together.'' --Darrell, Pensacola, Fla. In theory, that's exactly how the negotiations should go. Except Roger Goodell had to go in front of all the owners when he was vying for this job five years and sell his thoughts and plans for the league to them. He never had to sell himself to a single player. Ideally, he would be a neutral party, and I know on many issues he tries to be. But the players will never see him as an equal, or as an equal party to each side.

Did Cam Newton flunk the Jon Gruden test? | Smart Football
The argument is that Newton just passes on the long verbiage call and, in not answering, fails the question. Now, it’s clear that Newton’s offense in college was not as complicated as what the pros do, I think the conclusion that Cam is automatically unfit is unfair. He didn’t forget his own plays; he says they did not have it in his offense because everything had to be done from the no-huddle. He says "36″ might be the play name, and they call 36 and up and go. (For what it’s worth, in his book Finding the Winning Edge, put out in 1997, Bill Walsh said the future of football was in no-huddle offenses where the plays were called with single words.)

Cold, Hard Football Facts.com: Draft Primer: desperately seeking quarterbacks
Disciples of the Cold, Hard Football Facts know that professional football games are won via an efficient passing game, not by "establishing the run." Therefore, it’s no surprise that NFL personnel guys are so desperate to find signal callers who can sling the pigskin: you rarely win without them. History shows that teams are more willing to roll the dice on quarterbacks at the top of the draft than any other position. Since 2005, 53 percent of quarterbacks selected in the first round go in the Top 10.

Peter King's Mock Draft - 04.25.11 - SI Vault
SHOULD PICK Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama Let's get one thing straight: The 6'3", 319-pound Dareus is not the second coming of Ndamukong Suh. No defensive tackle in this draft rushes the passer like Suh, but then again there's rarely a defensive tackle in any draft who does. What Dareus will do is stop the run better than anyone Denver has, a good thing for a team that allowed 4.7 yards per carry last year. A safe pick for John Fox's new 4--3, and the right pick.

NFL LOCKOUT

NFL.com news: 'Some progress' in labor talks on day NFL schedule released
The NFL and players met for seven hours Tuesday, their third day of court-ordered mediation before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan. According to sources, it was a tough day of talks, with the sides largely spending time separately, but "some progress" was made.

NFLPA* pushes a "lift the lockout" petition | ProFootballTalk
In the weeks before the expiration of the now-expired Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFLPA had made a push to get fans to sign a petition aimed at blocking the lockout. More than five weeks into the lockout and as a court-ordered mediation process commences its second week, the NFLPA* is making a new push to "lift the lockout."

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