Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 4/5/11

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Q&A: Broncos seem to have Ryan Harris in their rearview mirror - The Denver Post
If a court ruling eventually leads to the league doing business under last season's rules — one of the possibilities — then Harris would still be a restricted free agent and the Broncos would have the option to tender Harris a one-year contract offer or release him. He does not appear to be part of the future either way, however. Several times in this offseason, including late last week, Elway has recited the expected starters in the offensive line and listed only four players at four positions. He has repeatedly talked about Ryan Clady at left tackle, Zane Beadles at left guard, J.D. Walton at center and Chris Kuper at right guard.

Clemson star Bowers visits Broncos - The Denver Post
Make no mistake, the Broncos are considering trading back from the No. 2 spot so long as they get another first-round pick, and at least a second-round pick, in return. "That second pick is a valuable pick," Broncos general manager Brian Xanders said. "We're open to everything there." The possibility of trading out of the No. 2 spot is why the Broncos are visiting with so many players who may go later in the first round. Besides Bowers, the Broncos will meet today with linebacker Von Miller, defensive tackle Nick Fairley on Wednesday and quarterback Cam Newton on April 19.

Broncos should ponder Florida State QB Christian Ponder in NFL draft - The Denver Post
Because the Broncos are obviously on the prowl for quarterback help in an up-for-grabs draft for that position, one name has been consistently absent from much of the public discussion, a player who has consistently grown on me as more and more video dances across the screen. And there are always guys who will do better than expected as professionals because they are tough-minded, because they deal with scrutiny, criticism and the pressure of things by simply taking away what helps them and leaving the rest to float off into the mist. Christian Ponder may be that kind of player.

Cold, Hard Football Facts.com: CHFF’s Naughty Nurse: Denver really sucks
John Elway worked wonders in Denver on the field. But even the king of comebacks has his work cut out for him with this team. After a dreadful 4-12 record in 2010, Elway is part of a whole new power structure in Denver, with a new GM and John Fox taking over as head coach after the in-season sacking of Josh McDaniels. The clean-up effort is substantial. The Broncos cast off quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall before last season, replacing them with Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas. Neither was much of an answer, especially with the biggest problems coming on defense, which surrendered more points than the Doug Moe Nuggets. And while Tebow provided the season’s biggest highlight with some late-season heroics, 2010 was a year to take these busted Broncos out back and shoot them.

Draft Trends: AFC West | National Football Post
Since 2001, the Broncos have spent 34.2% of their total draft picks on quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. If you’re counting along at home, that’s only five fewer players than the team has taken from the entire defensive side of the football! Take note that Denver has selected more centers (7) and guards (5) than they have linebackers (3).

NFL.com news: Getting defensive: Bowers, Miller, Fairley to visit Broncos
The Denver Broncos this week are set to host three of the top defensive prospects in this month's draft -- Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley. The visits were announced Monday by John Elway, the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations, on his Twitter account. "These visits are an opportunity for us to get to know the prospects better personally and also gauge their football knowledge," Elway tweeted.

Source: AFC West teams eye UCLA's Ayers - ESPN
Three AFC West teams are among the clubs seriously considering the pass-rusher. Ayers has visited the San Diego Chargers and will meet with the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs before this month's draft (April 28-30), according to a source close to UCLA. Ayers is expected to be drafted in the second half of the first round. Ayers was a second-team All-American and a Butkus Award finalist. He had four sacks and 10 tackles for loss last season.

Sad news: Courageous Jason Graham, Daniel’s brother, passes away at age 38 | All Things Broncos — Denver Broncos news, stats, analysis — Denver Post
Jason Graham, the older brother of former CU and Broncos tight end Daniel Graham, passed away Saturday night of brain cancer complications at the Anschutz Cancer Pavilion at the University of Colorado Medical Center. Jason, 38, also is the son of former Bronco linebacker Tom Graham and Marilyn Graham, who have made their home in Denver since Tom’s playing days.

2011 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Line
In the weeks leading up to the 2011 NFL Draft, DenverBroncos.com is taking a look at the draft prospects position-by-position. We will devote a week to each group, looking back at some of the Broncos' previous picks at the position and showcasing some of the top prospects through top stories, blogs and Broncos TV videos. Next up in the nine-part series: offensive linemen.

 

NFL NEWS

Inside the film room: the CB position | National Football Post
Last week, I started to talk about film study as it applies to watching tape on NFL prospects at the safety position. From footwork to X’s and O’s, there is always something to be learned when you sit down to take notes on a player. Today, let’s move onto the cornerback position. With top prospects such as Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara and Brandon Harris there is plenty of tape to watch and discuss. Today: the CB position

NFL calls for better planning for future Super Bowls | National Football Post
The NFL is changing the way it assesses risk in developing contingency plans for future Super Bowls in the wake of the ice and snow that wreaked havoc on the game in North Texas in February, said Frank Supovitz, the league’s senior vice president of events. The NFL previously prepared for the "most likely worst-case scenario," Supovitz said. In other words, ice and snow typically melt within hours in North Texas, so the NFL’s contingency planning took that trend into account. It did not take into account the possibility of a once-every-40-years storm that left ice and snow on the ground all week, he said.

2010 Saints: What the Film Revealed - NYTimes.com
The primary difference between the Saints’ offense of 2009 and that of 2010 was the run game. Injuries rocked the ’10 Saints backfield, destroying Sean Payton’s trust in the handoff and thus compromising his play-calling balance. It didn’t help that the offensive line, for whatever reason, lost some of its power late in the season.

Mike Vrabel of Kansas City Chiefs arrested for theft - ESPN
Vrabel was arrested at the Belterra Casino Resort & Spa on a Class D felony charge -- the lowest level of felony crime in Indiana -- but was released Monday morning after posting a $600 bond. An Indiana gaming agent saw Vrabel taking "bottles of alcohol from a deli" without paying for them, Indiana Gaming Commissioner Director of Enforcement Kenny Rowan told KMBC 9 in Kansas City.

Why every team should install its offense in three days (and other political theories on coaching offense) | Smart Football
A word of caution to anyone who wants to adopt this approach, however, given the fraught nature of our political discourse: Underlying this approach is a kind of political value judgment — despite my quote of Adam Smith above, this framework for an offense assumes a belief that the best offenses are somewhat Marxist in their desire to "spread the wealth." In lieu of deciding upon one or two guys who will roam the field like old school capitalist robber barrons, dominating the receiving and rushing industries equally, the attempt is to assign roles ahead of time and to let them flourish in, and only in, the one place we’ve told him to stand: production comes from each according to his ability; and the ball goes to each according to his need.

Is the NCAA a coercive cartel? | Smart Football
[T]he NCAA sharply limits the number of athletic scholarships, and even more importantly, limits the size of the scholarships that schools can offer the best players. NCAA rules also severely restricts the gifts and housing players are allowed to receive from alumni and others, do not allow college players to receive pay for playing for professional teams during summers or even before they attended college, and limits what they can be paid for non-playing summer work. The rules are extremely complicated, and they constitute hundreds of pages that lay out what is permitted in recruiting prospective students, when students have to make binding commitments to attend schools, the need to renew athletic scholarships, the assistance that can be provided to players’ parents, and of course the size of scholarships.

 

NFL DRAFT

Mayock moves Cam Newton up on his quarterback rankings | ProFootballTalk
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock held out for a while, but he now ranks Cam Newton on his No. 2 quarterback prospect. Throughout the draft process, Mayock has ranked Newton below Jake Locker among quarterbacks and not among his top-15 players overall. After more film work and positive feedback about the interview process, Mayock moved Newton ahead of Locker.

Late round quarterbacks who are worth a look | National Football Post
So much has been made of this year’s quarterback class and rightfully so. There are a number of potential first round picks, as well as a litter of talented senior quarterbacks who could all end up coming off the board in the first three rounds. But where do you go from there? Here is a look at three later round/free agent type quarterbacks who will all have a shot of making a roster come 2011.

Frank Kearse drawing interest from 3-4 teams | National Football Post
Alabama A&M defensive tackle Frank Kearse is emerging as a commodity for 3-4 defenses because of his capability to anchor at the line of scrimmage. According to a league source with knowledge of the situation, Kearse is drawing interest from the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots. He has conducted an individual workout for the Steelers.

Ryan Bartholomew Q&A | National Football Post
Syracuse center Ryan Bartholomew is one of the most athletic offensive line draft prospects, running the 40-yard dash in 4.93 seconds at the NFL scouting combine and bench pressing 225 pounds 34 times. The All-Big East center improved his vertical leap to 29 inches at his Pro Day workout and posted an 8-3 broad jump. He hang cleans 402 pounds, has a 525-pound squat and has under 17 percent body fat.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Pro day circuit wrap up
Millions of dollars are spent each spring as coaches are introduced into the evaluation process and begin a series of private and pro-day workouts that are used heavily to make final decisions. Pro days allow evaluators to retest prospects who did not work out at the NFL Scouting Combine and account for those who were not invited. More importantly, it allows coaches to understand the drive, determination and inner workings of young prospects in the interview process. Following is a breakdown of notable performances during the spring workout period (listed in alphabetical order under each subhed):

N.F.L. Draft: D.J. Williams, Third-Ranked Tight End - NYTimes.com
Williams is a pure receiver. He is excellent with his hands and with his ability to adjust his body in flight. Whether it’s turning in midair to shield a defender from the ball or making an over-the-shoulder catch at the sideline, he’s a fluid athlete. After the catch, Williams has enough size and technique to break the first tackle or bounce off a hit. He has great balance to make big plays if defenders aren’t vigilant with finishing the play. In this sense, Williams reminds me of the JetsDustin Keller.

2011 NFL Draft is a crazy year for quarterbacks, says Mel Kiper - Peter King - SI.com
But first, let's stop in Maryland, at the home of the well-coiffed one, Mel Kiper. When I reached the longest-running TV draft maven, he was frantically -- and do you know anything Mel doesn't do frantically? -- putting the finishing touches on his 33rd NFL Draft Report, due at the printers today. (Go to www.melkiper.com for your very own copy.) I had no intention of leading this column with a Kiperism, but I couldn't help it when he said in that quick cadence of his: "I've done this for 33 years, and I can tell you there has never been a crazier year for quarterbacks in the draft.''

NFL Live Chat with Pat Kirwan
What do you think of Colin Kaepernick, and when do you think he may go? I got a chance to watch Colin at the Senior Bowl. I've interviewed him multiple times. I watched a lot of his tapes. He's a really fine athlete with speed. He might fit really well with the Washington Redskins at pick No. 41. Shanahan loves the bootleg game and mobile quarterbacks.

NFL.com news: Bucs officials solicit agent feedback to construct mock draft
Misinformation and smoke screens are a part of life in the NFL in the days leading up to the draft, and the Bucs have taken an innovative approach in soliciting from agents the range they believe certain players will be selected. According to the email sent to agents, the information is being used in putting together a "mock draft board." If an agent is feeling noncommittal, the email asks him to present a range of possibilities for his clients.

Maiocco: Five-year study of NFL drafts
22. DENVER BRONCOS Number of picks: 39 Still on team: 18 Starters: 7 Best pick: DE Elvis Dumervil, 2006 Worst pick: DE Jarvis Moss, 2007

2011 NFL Draft: Taking ends early a gamble - Mocking The Draft
Although it could probably be said for any position, the success rate of college defensive ends taken since 2006 in the top 20 has been poor. They're especially spotty when you look at ends who remain in a 4-3 system. After the jump, see which ends have been picked that high. (Players who have predominantly played linebacker have an asterisk)

UVA CB Dowling boosts stock at late Pro Day - CBSSports.com
Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling entered his senior campaign as a virtual lock to make the first. Unfortunately, the 2010 season was unkind to Dowling as he was limited to only two starts due to various leg injuries, including a sprained knee, strained hamstring and a fractured ankle. Previous to his senior year, Dowling had played in 35 of a possible 37 games for the Cavaliers.

 

NFL LOCKOUT

What to expect in Tom Brady vs. NFL injunction hearing - Michael McCann - SI.com
On Wednesday, Judge Susan Nelson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota will hear a motion for a preliminary injunction brought by the plaintiffs in Tom Brady et al. v. NFL. Our legal expert Michael McCann breaks down what to expect and what it means for NFL football.

N.F.L. Says Second Lawsuit Is Unlikely to Succeed - NYTimes.com
But the N.F.L.’s reaction was the same as it was to the first suit. In addition to arguing, as it does in the Brady v. N.F.L. case, that courts are barred from issuing injunctions in labor disputes and that no decision on the injunction should be made before the league’s charge that the union’s decision to dissolve itself was a sham is decided by the National Labor Relations Board, the N.F.L. says that this lawsuit is unlikely to succeed on its merits because the plaintiffs lack standing and can not allege antitrust injury.

NFLPA, NFL owners antitrust hearing questions and answers - ESPN
On Wednesday morning in a hearing in a federal court in Minneapolis, attorneys for NFL players will ask for an injunction that will stop the lockout imposed by team owners on March 12. The players will argue that the owners are violating America's antitrust laws. The owners will respond that the players are violating America's labor laws. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson will decide who is right and who is wrong. The hearing and its outcome raise legal questions that could affect the NFL's 2011 season. Here are some of the questions and their answers:

Judge combines requests to halt NFL lockout - WSJ.com
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said Monday that she will hear arguments from attorneys for Tom Brady, Drew Brees and other current players, as well as attorneys for retired players. The current players and retirees have filed similar antitrust lawsuits against the league in addition to their requests for an injunction to stop the lockout.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Antitrust lawyer: Players losing injunction might not be all bad
deny the injunction." Why? Well, Cantor reasons that the players' claims that irreparable harm is being done in the interim won't hold up. The court must find that the plaintiffs — the former union — cannot sustain the financial damages that are being caused by the lockout unless the injunction is granted, and that the NFL's practices to this point have been illegal. "That's a pretty extraordinary thing to ask for in a report, right?" Cantor said. "And the court has to find that, 'You know what? You're right. If I don't grant you this release, you're really going to be harmed and later on, there's no way you're ever going to be able to get any relief to compensate you for the harm you have (suffered) right now.'

Offseason workout lockout | National Football Post
Today would be the day on the NFL calendar – in a normal year devoid of the Courtroom football – where the last of the NFL teams would be starting their offseason workout programs at their facilities. It is usally the time of year where the most important coaches on the 20-man NFL coaching staffs are the strength and conditioning coaches. Those three men become the conduit for the team to the 50-70 players that join the program.

League denies report of refusal to negotiate last week | ProFootballTalk
Earlier today, we pointed out an eyebrow-raising report from ESPN’s John Clayton that the players "planned to meet with the owners March 28 and spend the week settling this mess," but that the league refused. Making the report even more curious was that, even though Clayton cited "multiple sources" (all unnamed) in support of the contention, it appeared not on the bottom of the screen or at the top of the SportsCenter loop or on the front page of the website but at the very bottom of a mailbag column.

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