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Ahead of the Curve

Ahead of the Curve is a syndicated football column by Frank Coyle that covers NFL and College football year round. It appears in different national publications and on web sites throughout the season and postseason each year.

NFL Free Agency 2017 - Top 50 Players

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NFL Free Agency 2017 - Top 50 Players
Free Agents - Unrestricted & ‘Street’ -
Franchise & Transitional Players not included

Rank/ Player/ Positon / Age / Team
1 A.J. Bouye CB 26 Texans
2 Calais Campbell DE 31 Cardinals - (deal pending with Jaguars)
3 Stephon Gilmore CB 26 Bills - (deal pending with Patriots)
4 Alshon Jeffery WR 27 Bears
5 Dont'a Hightower LB 27 Patriots
6 Tony Romo QB 37 Cowboys
7 Brandon J. Williams DT 28 Ravens
8 Pierre Garcon WR 31 Redskins - (deal pending with 49ers)
9 Adrian Peterson RB 32 Vikings
10 Terrelle Pryor WR 28 Browns

Photo - RB Adrian Peterson - Vikings

11 Kevin Zeitler G 27 Bengals
12 Mike Glennon QB 27 Buccaneers - (deal pending with Bears)
13 Morris Claiborne CB 27 Cowboys
14 DeSean Jackson WR 30 Redskins - (deal pending with Bucs)
15 J.C. Tretter C 26 Packers
16 Dontari Poe DT 26 Chiefs
17 Tony Jefferson S 25 Cardinals
18 T.J. Lang G 29 Packers
19 Nick Perry LB 27 Packers
20 Jonathan Hankins DT 25 Giants

DraftInsiders.com for NFL Free Agency Players
New March Newsletter – Free Agency edition - available now – Top 150 Players

21 Andrew Whitworth T 35 Bengals - (deal pending with Rams)
22 Ronald Leary G 28 Cowboys - (deal pending with Broncos)
23 Riley Reiff T 28 Lions
24 Zach Brown LB 27 Bills
25 Larry Warford G 26 Lions
26 Ricky Wagner T 27 Ravens - (deal pending with Lions)
27 Martellus Bennett TE 30 Patriots
28 Matt Kalil OT 27 Vikings - (deal pending with Panthers)
29 Logan Ryan CB 26 Patriots
30 Kenny Britt WR 28 Rams - (deal pending with Browns)
31 Chris Baker DT 29 Redskins
32 Johnathan Cyprien S 27 Jaguars
33 Dre Kirkpatrick CB 27 Bengals
34 Jabaal Sheard LB 28 Patriots
35 Micah Hyde DB 26 Packers
36 Nick Fairley DT 29 Saints
37 Lorenzo Alexander LB 34 Bills
38 Brandon Marshall WR 33 Jets - (deal signed with Giants)
39 Bennie Logan DT 27 Eagles
40 J.J. Wilcox S 26 Cowboys
41 Kyle Juszczyk FB 26 Ravens - (deal pending with 49ers)
42 Eddie Lacy RB 27 Packers
43 Torrey Smith WR 28 49ers - (deal pending with Eagles)
44 LeGarrette Blount RB 30 Patriots
45 Kevin Minter LB 26 Cardinals
46 Austin Pasztor OL 26 Browns
47 Jared Cook TE 30 Packers
48 Michael Floyd WR 27 Patriots
49 Jamaal Charles RB 30 Chiefs
50 Malcolm Smith LB 27 Raiders

NFL 2017 Scouting Combine - Player Schedule

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NFL Scouting Combine

The best college football players are invited to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, In. This year 330 players will show up for extensive testing over a week as a critical part of the scouting progress for the NFL Draft. Top executives, coaching staffs, Player Personnel departments and Medical personnel from all 32 NFL teams will be on hand to evaluate the nation’s top college players eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft. This intense, four-day job interview is an exciting time for the athletes and a vital step in achieving their dreams of playing in the NFL.

Draft Insiders’ will have special Emails and Tweets From the NFL Combine!
Free for Full Subscribers - February Newsletter and NFL Combine Player List available now - Order today

With increasing interest in the NFL draft, the scouting combine has grown in scope and significance, allowing personnel directors to evaluate upcoming prospects in a standardized setting. Its origins have evolved from the National, BLESTO and Quadra Scouting organizations in 1977 to the media event it has become today.

Photo - WR 'Zay' Jones - East Carolina

Athletes attend by invitation only. Implications of an athlete's performance during the combine can affect their draft status and salary, and ultimately their career. The draft has popularized the term "workout warrior", whereby an athlete's "draft stock" is increased based on superior measurable qualities such as size, speed, and strength, despite having an average or sub-par college career.

The NFL Scouting Combine will be held February 28 - March 6, 2017

Schedule for on-field workouts by position at the NFL Combine:
March 3 – Running Backs, Offensive Line, Special Teams
March 4 – Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends
March 5 – Defensive Line, Linebackers
March 6 – Defensive Backs

Player Group Schedule
DAY 1 ARRIVALS*: Group 1 (PK, ST, OL), Group 2 (OL), Group 3 (RB)
Tuesday - February 28 - Travel to Indianapolis* ~ Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~ Overflow Testing ~ Orientation ~ Interviews
Wednesday - March 1 - Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Overflow Testing ~ Interviews
Thursday - March 2 - Psychological Testing ~ NFLPA Meeting ~ PK/ST Workout ~ Media ~ Bench Press ~ Interviews
Friday - March 3 - On-Field Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis

DAY 2 ARRIVALS*: Group 4 (QB, WO), Group 5 (QB, WO), Group 6 (TE)
Wednesday March 1 - Travel to Indianapolis* ~ Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~
Overflow Testing ~ Orientation ~ Interviews
Thursday - March 2 - Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Overflow Testing ~ Interviews
Friday - March 3 - Psychological Testing ~ NFLPA Meeting ~ Media ~ Bench Press ~ Interviews
Saturday - March 4 - On-Field Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure

DAY 3 ARRIVALS*: Group 7 (DL), Group 8 (DL), Group 9 (LB)
Thursday - March 2 - Travel to Indianapolis* ~ Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~
Overflow Testing ~ Orientation ~ Interviews
Friday - March 3 - Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Overflow Testing ~ Interviews
Saturday - March 4 - Psychological Testing ~ NFLPA Meeting ~ Media ~ Bench Press ~ Interviews
Sunday - March 5 - On-Field Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure

DAY 4 ARRIVALS: Group 10 (DB), Group 11 (DB)
Friday - March 3 - Travel to Indianapolis* ~ Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~ Overflow Testing ~ Orientation ~ Interviews
Saturday - March 4 - Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Overflow Testing ~ Interviews
Sunday - March 5 - Psychological Testing ~ NFLPA Meeting ~ Media ~ Bench Press ~ Interviews
Monday - March 6 - On-Field Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis

* Select players from any Group may arrive one day prior to their scheduled date listed above in order to assist with medical scheduling. This will be based on flight schedules and medical tests only and no players arriving early will have advanced contact with teams.

How are players selected for the NFL Combine?
Participants are determined annually by a Selection Committee. The Directors of both National and BLESTO scouting services, which combined represent twenty-five NFL teams, are joined by members of various NFL player personnel departments to form the committee. The participating NFL executives can rotate on a yearly basis, and remain anonymous. ALL eligible players are reviewed and voted on by the committee members. Each athlete receiving the necessary number of votes, by position, is then extended an invitation. While it is not a perfect science, the goal of the committee is to invite every player that will be drafted in the ensuing NFL Draft.

Tests/ Evaluations include:
40-yard dash
Bench press (225 lbs. repetitions)
Vertical jump
Broad jump
20 yard shuttle
3 cone drill
60-yard shuttle
Position-specific drills

Interviews – each team is allowed 60 interviews in 15-minute intervals
Physical measurements
Injury evaluation
Drug screen
The Cybex test
The Wonderlic test

NFL Postseason Dates 2017 - NFL Draft - April 27-29

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NFL Postseason Dates
** Feb 5: Super Bowl LI, Houston, Tx. **
Patriot 34 - Falcons 28

February 15: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.

Photo - QB Matt Ryan - Falcons (NFL MVP 2016)

Seven regional Player Combines in different nationwide locations from late Jan thru April

*** February 28-March 6: NFL Combine 2017 ***
Timing & Testing, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, In.

Draft Insiders’ will have special Emails and Tweets From the NFL Combine!
Free for Full Subscribers – February Newsletter available soon - Order today

March 1: Prior to 4:00 p.m., deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 7-9: During the period beginning at 12 noon, New York time, on March 7th and ending at 3:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 9th, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2016 player contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 9.
During the above two-day negotiating period, no direct contact is permitted between a prospective unrestricted free agent and any employee of a club, other than the player's current club.
March 9: The 2017 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
The first day of the 2017 League Year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 9. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the League office during the period between 4:00 p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 9.
March 9: Trading period for 2017 begins at 4:00 p.m., after expiration of 2016 contracts.
March 26-29: Annual League Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona.
April 3: Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2016 season may begin offseason workout programs.
April 17: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 21: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
April 26: Deadline for prior club to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents.

***** April 27-29: NFL Draft 2017 - Philadelphia, Pa. *****

Draft Insiders’ 2016 All Rookie Teams - Player of Year Awards

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Draft Insiders’ 2016 Rookie Team

Cowboys, Falcons and Chargers Post Best Rookie Classes

Photo - RB Ezekiel Elliott - Dallas

Offensive Player of Year - RB Ezekiel Elliott - Dallas
Defensive Player of Year - DE Joey Bosa - San Diego

First team Offense
QB Dak Prescott - Dallas
RB Ezekiel Elliott - Dallas
FB Derek Watt - San Diego
WR Mike Thomas - New Orleans
WR Sterling Shepard - NY Giants
TE Hunter Henry - San Diego
OT Jack Conklin - Tennessee
OT Ronnie Stanley - Baltimore
OG Laremy Tunsil - Miami
OG Joe Thuney - New England
OC Graham Glasgow - Detroit

First Team Defense
DE Joey Bosa - San Diego
DE DeForest Buckner - San Francisco
DT Javon Hargrave - Pittsburgh
DT Chris Jones - Kansas City
LB Leonard Floyd - Chicago
LB DeVondre Campbell - Atlanta
LB Deion Jones - Atlanta
LB Darron Lee - NY Jets
CB Vernon Hargreaves - Tampa Bay
CB Jalen Ramsey - Jacksonville
S Keanu Neal - Atlanta
S Vonn Bell - New Orleans

P Riley Dixon - Denver
K Will Lutz - New Orleans
RS Tyreek Hill - Kansas City

Head Coach - Ben McAdoo - NY Giants

Offense - Second Team
QB Carson Wentz - Philadelphia
RB Jordan Howard - Chicago
FB Andy Janovich - Denver
WR Tajae Sharp - Tennessee
WR Will Fuller - Houston
TE Tyler Higbee - Los Angeles
OT Taylor Decker - Detroit
OT Joe Haeg - Indianapolis
OG Josh Garnett - San Francisco
OG Germain Ifedi - Seattle
OC Ryan Kelly - Indianapolis

Defense - Second Team
DE Noah Spence - Tampa Bay
DE Yannick Ngakoue - Jacksonville
DT Jihad Ward - Oakland
DT Maliek Collins - Dallas
LB Blake Martinez - Green Bay
LB Jordan Jenkins - NY Jets
LB Elandon Roberts - New England
LB Jatavis Brown - San Diego
CB Eli Apple - NY Giants
CB Tavon Young - Baltimore
S Sean Davis - Pittsburgh
S Karl Joseph - Oakland

P Drew Kaser - San Diego
K Robert Aguayo - Tampa Bay
RS Kenyan Drake - Miami

Head Coach - Adam Gase - Miami

NFL Power Poll - Divisional Races Decide Final Playoff Clubs

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NFL Power Poll - Week 16

Week 16 - Five Divisional Races Decide Final Playoff Clubs

Team of the Week - Tennessee Titans

Offensive Player of Week - QB Drew Brees - Saints
Defensive Player of Week - Safety Keanu Neal - Falcons

Rookie of Week - QB Dak Prescott - Cowboys

Photo - QB Drew Brees - Saints

Game of Week #16 - Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)

X - Divisional winner / Y- clinched playoff spot

NFL Ranking /Record /Team
#1 - 12-2 y - COWBOYS
#2 - 12-2 x - PATRIOTS
#3 - 11-3 y - RAIDERS
#4 - 9-4-1 x - SEAHAWKS
#5 - 9-5 STEELERS
#6 - 10-4 GIANTS
#7 - 10-4 CHIEFS
#8 - 8-6 PACKERS
#9 - 9-5 LIONS
#10 - 9-5 FALCONS
#11 - 9-5 DOLPHINS
#12 - 8-6 RAVENS
#13 - 8-6 BUCCANEERS
#14 - 8-6 TITANS
#15 - 8-6 BRONCOS
#16 - 7-6-1 REDSKINS
#17 - 8-6 TEXANS
#18 - 7-7 COLTS
#19 - 7-7 VIKINGS
#20 - 7-7 BILLS
#21 - 6-8 SAINTS
#22 - 6-8 PANTHERS
#23 - 5-8-1 CARDINALS
#24 - 5-8-1 BENGALS
#25 - 5-9 EAGLES
#26 - 5-9 CHARGERS
#27 - 4-10 RAMS
#28 - 4-10 JETS
#29 - 3-11 BEARS
#30 - 2-12 JAGUARS
#31 - 1-13 49ers
#32 - 0-14 BROWNS

Frank Coyle is a long time scout with nationwide ties with coaches, scouts and player agents. He is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe, Biletnikoff etc for the past 20 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year-round basis related to NFL and College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites

NFL Power Poll - Patriots, Giants & Chiefs Move Into Top 5

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NFL Power Poll - Week 15

Patriots, Giants & Chiefs Move Into Top 5 Rankings

Team of the Week - New York Giants

Offensive Player of Week RB Le’Veon Bell - Steelers
Defensive Player of Week CB Janoris Jenkins - Giants

Rookie of Week - QB Carson Wentz - Eagles

Photo - RB Le’Veon Bell - Steelers

Game of Week #15 - New England Patriots (11-2) at Denver Broncos (8-5)

Ranking/Record/Team
#1 - 11-2 - PATRIOTS

Patriots established AFC supremacy again with strong victory over Ravens.

#2 - 11-2 - COWBOYS
The Cowboys’ lost again to the GMen that puts their East title on hold with huge matchup with Bucs Sunday night on the agenda.

#3 - 9-4 - GIANTS
GMen won a gutty game vs Cowboys that made a statement in the NFC. They face the tough Lions at home this week that shapes two divisional races.

#4 - 10-3 - CHIEFS
The Chiefs are undefeated in the AFC West after beating Raiders in critical matchup for divisional leadership.

#5 - 10-3 - RAIDERS
The Raiders have to recover quickly from their Thursday night loss to the Chiefs with trip to San Diego up next.

#6 - 8-5 - BRONCOS
Broncos lost a heartbreaker to Titans and host a vital game with the Patriots for their playoff hopes.

#7 - 8-5 - FALCONS
Falcons stay atop the NFC South after a strong game vs the struggling Rams.

#8 - 9-4 - LIONS
The Lions’ just got by the Bears and QB Matthew Stafford injured his throwing hands. Travel to Met Life for matchup with the Giants that has a huge impact on both divisional races.

#9 - 8-4-1 - SEAHAWKS
Seahawks are struggling and Russell Wilson was horrible with five picks in Packer loss.

#10 - 8-5 - STEELERS
The Steelers won their fourth straight behind a huge performance by back Le’Veon Bell vs the Bills.

#11 - 8-5 - BUCCANEERS
The Bucs are hot with their fifth straight win vs the Saints to tie with the Falcons for NFC South leadership. They travel to Dallas for the acid test in critical Sunday night clash.

#12 - 7-5-1 - REDSKINS
Redskins beat the Eagles to end their two game losing streak. They host the Panthers on Monday night in a must win situation for any postseason hopes.

#13 - 7-6 - TEXANS
The Texans ended a three game losing streak and won a divisional road game vs the Colts to stay atop the close AFC South race.

#14 - 7-6 - VIKINGS
Vikes beat the lowly Jaguars to stay alive in the NFC playoff race. They host the Colts this Sunday where the loser is virtually out of any postseason hopes.

#15 - 7-6 - PACKERS
Packers' won their third straight game with a beat down of the Seahawks that keeps them in the NFC North mix with three weeks left.

#16 - 8-5 - DOLPHINS
The Dolphins have made a fine comeback vs Cardinals and won on a last second FG to overcome a knee injury to QB Ryan Tannehill that keeps him out for at least a few weeks.

#17 - 7-6 - RAVENS
Ravens were beaten by the Patriots and face the Eagles this week at home in vital game to stay alive for their matchup with Steelers on Christmas day.

#18 - 7-6 - TITANS
The Titans went over .500 with big victory over the Broncos that has them tied for first place in the AFC South.

#19 - 6-7 - COLTS
The Colts’ lost a slug out with the Texans that leaves them in tough spot with road games at Minnesota and Oakland up next.

#20 - 5-7-1 - BENGALS
Bengals beat the winless Browns to keep their slim playoff chances alive. Host the Steelers this Sunday that decides their 2016 fate.

#21 - 6-7 - BILLS
Bills lost to the Steelers that all but eliminates them from the postseason, unless they run the table and get a lot of help.

#22 - 5-8 - SAINTS
QB Drew Brees leads the league with 4170 yards passing while the Saints defense has allowed a whopping 351 points.

#23 - 5-7-1 - CARDINALS
The Cardinals lost again this time to the Dolphins, giving up a last second FG on a drive directed by backup QB Matt Moore.

#24 - 5-8 - PANTHERS
Panthers beat the lowly Chargers to keep their slim chances alive with NFC games vs the Redskins and Falcons up next.

#25 - 5-8 - EAGLES
Eagles lost their fourth in a row to the Redskins. They have lost 8 of their last 10 contests making their 3-0 start a distant memory.

#26 - 5-8 - CHARGERS
The Chargers were slammed by the Panthers behind five Philip Rivers turnovers and five sacks.

#27 - 4-9 - JETS
Jets came back and beat the pathetic 49ers behind young QB Bryce Petty. They face three AFC East rivals to finish a terrible season.

#28 - 4-9 - RAMS
The Rams’ were embarrassed by the Falcons that cost HC Jeff Fisher his job this week.

#29 - 3-10 - BEARS
Bears are still fighting but also still losing close games that may once again force big offseason changes.

#30 - 2-11 - JAGUARS
The Jags' lost their eighth straight this time to the Vikings that guarantees another five win or less season and probably a top three selection in April.

#31 - 1-12 - 49ers
The 49ers lost their 12th game in a row to set a new franchise record.

#32 - 0-13 - BROWNS
The Browns lost their 16th straight game and will challenge the Lions winless season.

Frank Coyle is a long time scout with nationwide ties with coaches, scouts and player agents. He is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe, Biletnikoff etc for the past 20 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year-round basis related to NFL and College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites

NFL Power Poll - Cowboys, Patriots & Raiders Top Rankings

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NFL Power Poll - Cowboys, Patriots & Raiders Top Rankings

Raiders vs Chiefs Highlight Week 14 Games

Team of the Week - Pittsburgh Steelers

Offensive Player of Week RB Le’Veon Bell - Steelers
Defensive Player of Week Safety Eric Berry - Chiefs

Rookie of Week - RB Jordan Howard - Bears

Photo - Safety Eric Berry - Chiefs

Game of Week #14 – Oakland Raiders (10-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)

NFL Ranking /Record /Team
#1 - 11-1 COWBOYS
#2 - 10-2 PATRIOTS
#3 - 10-2 RAIDERS
#4 - 9-3 CHIEFS
#5 - 8-4 BRONCOS
#6 - 8-3-1 SEAHAWKS
#7 - 8-4 LIONS
#8 - 7-5 STEELERS
#9 - 8-4 GIANTS
#10 - 7-5 FALCONS
#11 - 7-5 RAVENS
#12 - 6-6 VIKINGS
#13 - 6-6 PACKERS
#14 - 6-5-1 REDSKINS
#15 - 6-6 TEXANS
#16 - 6-6 COLTS
#17 - 7-5 BUCCANEERS
#18 - 7-5 DOLPHINS
#19 - 5-6-1 CARDINALS
#20 - 6-6 TITANS
#21 - 6-6 BILLS
#22 - 5-7 SAINTS
#23- 5-7 EAGLES
#24 - 5-7 CHARGERS
#25 - 4-7-1 BENGALS
#26 - 4-8 RAMS
#27 - 4-8 PANTHERS
#28 - 3-9 BEARS
#29 - 3-9 JETS
#30 - 2-10 JAGUARS
#31 - 1-11 49ers
#32 - 0-12 BROWNS

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