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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 Calendar Dates For 2016 Preseason and Fall Season

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NFL Calendar Dates For 2016 Preseason and Fall Season
Aug. 9: Deadline for players under contract to report to their clubs to earn an accrued season for free agency.
Aug. 9: If a drafted rookie has not signed with his club by this date, he cannot be traded to any other club in 2016, and may sign a player contract only with the drafting club until the day of the Draft in the 2017 League Year.

Photo - QB Eli Manning - Giants

Aug. 25-28: Third Preseason Weekend.
Aug. 30: Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must reduce their rosters to a maximum of 75 players on the Active List.
Sept. 1: Final Preseason Games.

Sept. 3: Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.

Sept. 3: Simultaneously with the cut-down to 53, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List.

Sept. 4: Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at noon ET.

Sept. 4: Upon receipt of the Personnel Notice at approximately 1 p.m. ET, clubs may establish a Practice Squad of 10 players. No club, including the player's prior club, will be permitted to sign a player to a Practice Player Contract until all clubs have received simultaneous notification via the above Personnel Notice that such player's prior NFL player contract has been terminated via the waiver system.
Sept. 5-9: In accordance with the 2016 Personnel (Injury) Report Policy, each club is required to file a Practice Report with its conference communications contact by 4 p.m. ET, (or as soon as possible after the completion of practice) every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for a regular season Saturday or Sunday game; Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for a Thursday game; or Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for a Monday game.
Sept. 5-9: Each club must also file a weekly regular season Game Status Report with its conference communications contact by 4 p.m. ET (or as soon as possible after the completion of practice) on Wednesday for a Thursday game, Friday for a Saturday or Sunday game, and Saturday for a Monday game. An update must be reported if there is any change in a player's condition after the initial Game Status Report is filed.
Sept. 8: At noon ET, the Top 51 Rule expires for all NFL clubs.

Sept. 8, 11-12: Regular Season opens.
Oct. 2: NFL International Series, Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, London, England

Mid-October: Beginning on the sixth calendar day prior to a club's seventh regular season game (including any bye week) and continuing through the day after the conclusion of the 11th regular season weekend, clubs are permitted to begin practicing players on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform and Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness for a period not to exceed 21 days. Players may be activated during the 21-day practice period, or prior to 4 p.m. ET, on the day after the conclusion of the 21-day period, provided that no player may be activated to participate in a Week 6 game.

Mid-October: At any time after six weeks have elapsed since a player was placed on Reserve/Injured or Reserve/Non-Football Injury/Illness, each club is permitted to designate one player for return from either list to the club's 53-player Active/Inactive List.
The player who is "Designated For Return" must have suffered a major football-related or non-football-related injury after reporting to training camp and must have been placed on the applicable Reserve List after 4 p.m. ET, on the day after the final roster reduction.

A player whom the club wishes to designate for return is permitted to return to practice for a period not to exceed 21 days. The club is required to notify the League office that the player has been "Designated For Return" on the first day the player begins to practice. The player cannot be returned to the Active/Inactive List until eight weeks have elapsed since the date he was placed on Reserve.

Oct. 18-19: Fall League Meeting, Houston, Texas.
Oct. 23: NFL International Series, New York Giants vs. Los Angeles Rams, London, England.
Oct. 30: NFL International Series, Washington Redskins vs. Cincinnati Bengals, London, England.
Nov. 1: All trading ends for 2016 at 4 p.m. ET.

NFL Draft 2016 - QB Carson Wentz Tops Small College 'Dirty Dozen'

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Carson Wentz Heads Strong Small College Group
‘The Dirty Dozen’ – Top 12 Small College Prospects - Defense Dominates FCS Level

Photo - QB Carson Wentz - North Dakota St.

Top 30 Small College Prospects
Player - Ht/Wt - School

1. QB Carson Wentz - 6'5, 235 - North Dakota St
2. DE/LB Noah Spence - 6'2, 245 - Eastern Kentucky
3. SS Miles Killebrew - 6'2, 220 - Southern Utah
4. DT Javon Hargrave - 6'1, 30 - South Carolina St
5. FS DeAndre Houston-Carson - 6'1, 205 - W&M
6. LB Victor Ochi - 6'1, 250 - Stony Brook
7. OT Joe Haeg - 6'6, 310 - North Dakota St
8. CB Harlan Miller - 6'0, 185 - Southeastern Louisiana
9. TE Beau Sandland - 6'4, 255 - Montana St
10. DE Matt Judon - 6'3, 265 - Grand Valley St
11. FS Deiondre' Hall - 6'2, 200 - Northern Iowa
12. DE James Cowser - 6'3, 248 - Southern Utah

13. CB James Bradberry - 6'1, 207 - Samford
14. CB Ryan Smith - 5'11, 187 - North Carolina Central
15. OT Cole Toner - 6'5, 305 - Harvard
16. DT Justin Zimmer - 6'3, 305 - Ferris St
17. CB LeShaun Sims - 6'0, 205 - Southern Utah
18. TE Temarrick Hemingway - 6'5, 240 - South Carolina St
19. LB Tyrone Holmes - 6'2, 255 - Montana
20. OT Dominique Robertson - 6'5, 320 - West Georgia
21. TE Ben Braunecker - 6'3, 250 - Harvard
22. DT Devaunte Sigler - 6'3, 300 - Jacksonville State
23. CB Makinton Dorleant - 5'11, 180 - Northern Iowa
24. RB Marshaun Coprich - 5'8, 205 - Illinois State
25. QB Josh Woodrum - 6'3, 225 - Liberty
26. WR Paul McRoberts - 6'2, 200 - Southeast Missouri St
27. OG Anthony Fabiano - 6'4, 300 - Harvard
28. CB CJ Smith - 5'11, 188 - North Dakota St
29. DT Greg Milhouse - 6'1, 300 - Campbell
30. TE Ryan O'Malley - 6'6, 255 - Penn

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 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 ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to 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 Draft 2016- Dallas Cowboy Team Report -

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NFC East
Dallas Cowboys - 4-12 - Head Coach - Jason Garrett - 6th Year

Key Team Needs: 1. QB 2. DL 3. DB 4. WR 5. LB
1st Round Pick - 4th selection - 8 total picks

Draft Insiders' NFL Team Report - 35 pgs In-depth Team Report - Available now

Photo - DE Joey Bosa - Ohio St.

Cowboys - Short List Players
1st Round Prospects

Joey Bosa - DE Ohio St.
DeForest Buckner - DE Oregon
Zeke Elliott - RB Ohio St
Myles Jack - LB UCLA

2nd Day Prospects
2nd Round

Connor Cook - QB Michigan St.
Bronson Kaufusi - DE BYU
Kenny Clark - DT UCLA
Sterling Shepard - WR Oklahoma

3rd Round
Charles Tapper - DE Oklahoma
Darian Thompson - S Boise St
Kentrell Brothers - LB Missouri
Hassan Ridgeway - DT Texas

Team Needs
1. Quarterback
- The Cowboys lost starting QB Tony Romo for the critical early thru midseason when Dallas lost 7 games in a row. He was reinjured late and has a disturbing injury history. Best value appeared to be prospects Carson Wentz or Jared Goff with the #4 pick before the two major trades. They may sit on the need and wait until the 2nd round and hope to land Connor Cook. They like Kevin Hogan in the middle rounds.

2. Defensive Line - The Cowboys lost veteran Greg Hardy to a season opening suspension and he failed to make a difference. Rookie DE Randy Gregory faces a suspension this September and DE Demarcus Lawrence has been suspended the first month of season due to testing positive. He is a talented edge rusher who has emerged as an upcoming sack artist. They need both ends and tackles for their 4-3 set and could use two of their high picks there. They have little depth that must be addressed. They like DE Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner in the 1st round. They like DT Kenny Clark, Vernon Butler and Andrew Billings in the early 2nd round. They will probably address their line with multiple selections in a very deep group. They like DEs Bronson Kaufusi and Carl Nassib and DTs Maliek Collins and Hassan Ridgeway in the 3rd round. Expect the Boys to explore trading up for linemen in the early rounds.

3. Defensive Back - The Cowboys had major problems in the secondary last season and could address both the safety and corner spots in the early rounds. Starting corners, Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick have struggled in coverage. They liked top pick Byron Jones who settled in at free safety and graded out well. They like DB Jalen Ramsey in the first round. They also like corners William Jackson and Artie Burns and will consider them in the 2nd round. They like safeties Darian Thompson and Jeremy Cash on the 2nd day.

4. Wide Receiver - The Boys’ hope to address their receiving corps with a top three selection. Veteran star wideout Dez Bryant missed most of the season with a leg injury and was never a big factor in their offense. Fast vet Terrance Williams has been fairly productive with improved big play ability. Slot receiver Cole Beasley showed some playing ability in package offense. The talent is good this year and they could address this unit on the 2nd day and like prospects Tyler Boyd, Sterling Shepard, Braxton Miller and Michael Thomas there.

5. Linebacker - The Cowboys are set in the 4-3 scheme with a solid if unspectacular unit. Veteran Sean Lee moved outside with the addition of Rolando McClain to the Mike spot. Lee is a leader and playmaker though missed three games while McClain was reliable in the middle after missing a month due to suspension. OLB Hitchens was adequate. They have marginal depth overall and will hope to add an outside backer to complete the unit. They like Myles Jack and he would be great fit in the 1st round. They like Josh Perry, Kentrell Brothers and Jordan Jenkins and have them earmarked for the 2nd day.

Insiders’ Insights
The Cowboys finished last in the NFC East at 4-12, mainly due to Tony Romo’s recurring collarbone injuries. They hope to address their future passer and struggling defense with most of their top selections. They still need playmakers for the healthy return Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Jerry Jones will consider the top back, Elliott with their 1st round selection. In addition, they have average talent after Dez Bryant at wideout and will look to add one quality prospect there, though not with their top selection. Defense is their highest priority especially along the line. The Greg Hardy signing was a major disaster in production and team morale. They have ends high on their 1st round list and one will be available. They like DT Kenny Clark have him high on their 2nd round list. They could select multiple defensive linemen and possibly add another end in the top 40. They like Bronson Kaufusi in the 2nd day. They are interested in a starting corner in the top 100 and like Artie Burns in the early 2nd round.

1st Round Pick - DE Joey Bosa - Explosive edge defender with big play potential.
Alternate Pick - DB Jalen Ramsey - True blue chip versatile defender with early Pro Bowl talent.

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 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 ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to 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 Draft 2016 - Top 15 Prospects - Tackles, Guards & Centers

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NFL Draft 2016 - Top 15 Prospects By Position -
Offensive Tackles, Guards & Centers

Over 300 In-depth Scouting Reports -
Draft Insiders’ 2016 Yearbook - Available Now
By Scouting Staff at draftinsiders.com

Photo - OT Ronnie Stanley - Notre Dame

Top Tackle Prospects
1 * Laremy Tunsil - Mississippi
2 * Ronnie Stanley - Notre Dame
3 *Jack Conklin - Michigan State
4 Taylor Decker - Ohio State
5 Jason Spriggs - Indiana
6 * Shon Coleman - Auburn
7 Le'Raven Clark - Texas Tech
8 * Germain Ifedi - Texas A&M
9 * Jerald Hawkins - LSU
10 Willie Beavers - Western Michigan
11 John Theus - Georgia
12 Fahn Cooper - Mississippi
13 Joe Haeg - North Dakota State
14 * Avery Young - Auburn
15 Stephane Nembot - Colorado
16 Kyle Murphy - Stanford
17 Tyler Johnstone - Oregon
18 Caleb Benenoch - UCLA
19 Tyler Marz - Wisconsin
20 Alex Lewis - Nebraska

Top Guard Prospects
1 Cody Whitehair - Kansas St
2 Vadal Alexander - LSU
3 Christian Westerman - Arizona St
4 Josh Garnett - Stanford
5 Joe Dahl - Washington St.
6 Spencer Drango - Baylor
7 Landon Turner - North Carolina
8 Connor McGovern - Missouri
9 * Denver Kirkland - Arkansas
10 Seb Tretola - Arkansas
11 Joe Thuney - North Carolina St
12 Parker Ehinger - Cincinnati
13 Rees Odhiambo - Boise St
14 Ted Karras - Illinois
15 Chase Farris - Ohio St

Top Center Prospects
1 Ryan Kelly - Alabama
2 Nick Martin - Notre Dame
3 Max Tuerk - Southern Cal
4 Graham Glasgow - Michigan
5 * Isaac Seumalo - Oregon St
6 Jack Allen - Michigan St
7 Evan Boehm - Missouri
8 Austin Blythe - Iowa
9 Jake Brendel - UCLA
10 Mike Matthews - Texas A&M
11 Marcus Henry - Boise St
12 Matt Skura - Duke
13 Matt Hegarty - Oregon
14 Sioasi Aiona - Utah
15 Kyle Friend - Temple

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 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 ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to 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 Free Agency 2016 - Top 150+ Players

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NFL Free Agency 2016 - Top 150+ Players
Free Agents - Unrestricted & ‘Street’ -
Franchise & Transitional Players not included

Photo - QB Brock Osweiler - Broncos

Rank/ Player/ Pos / Team
Mario Williams DE Bills
Kelechi Osemele LG Ravens
Brock Osweiler QB Broncos
Malik Jackson DE Broncos
Casey Hayward CB Packers
Charles Johnson DE Panthers
Haloti Ngata DT Lions
Doug Martin RB Buccaneers
Janoris Jenkins CB Rams
Chris Long DE Rams
Leon Hall CB Bengals
Alex Mack C Browns
Lamar Miller RB Dolphins
Bruce Irvin OLB Seahawks
Prince Amukamara CB Giants
Jaye Howard DT Chiefs
Eric Weddle S Chargers
James Laurinaitis ILB Rams
Dashon Goldson S Redskins
Russell Okung LT Seahawks
Reggie Nelson S Bengals
Donald Butler ILB Chargers
Marvin Jones WR Bengals
George Iloka S Bengals
Jeff Allen LG Chiefs
Sean Smith CB Chiefs
Jason Pierre-Paul DE Giants
Adam Jones CB Bengals
Zach Brown OLB Titans
Stefen Wisniewski C Jaguars
Robert Griffin III QB Redskins
Jarvis Jenkins DE Bears
Matt Forte RB Bears
Dwayne Allen TE Colts
Rashad Johnson S Cardinals
Vernon Davis TE Broncos
Courtney Upshaw OLB Ravens
Andre Smith RT Bengals
Chris Ivory RB Jets
Damon Harrison DT Jets
Travis Benjamin WR Browns
Richie Incognito RG Bills
Jeremy Lane CB Seahawks
Alfred Morris RB Redskins
Jason Hatcher DE Redskins
Percy Harvin WR Bills
William Beatty LT Giants
Jahri Evans RG Saints
Nick Fairley DT Rams
Morris Claiborne CB Cowboys
Danny Trevathan ILB Broncos
Mitchell Schwartz RT Browns
Mike Wallace WR Steelers
William Moore S Falcons
Antonio Gates TE Chargers
Jermon Bushrod LT Bears
Michael Griffin S Titans
Antonio Cromartie CB Jets
Amini Silatolu LG Panthers
Jared Cook TE Rams
Roddy White WR Falcons
Rueben Randle WR Giants

For Rest of Top Free Agents - Go to next page

NFL Draft 2016 Order Into Final Regular Season Week

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NFL Draft 2016 Order

Cleveland and Tennessee went into the final weekend at 3-12 to determine the #1 overall selection for the NFL Draft 2016. Three clubs are at 4-11 and possible teams with the first overall selection. Both play vs divisional rivals, the Titans vs the Colts and the Browns against the Steelers. There are three teams at 4-11, Chargers, Cowboys and 49ers. The top ten clubs in the draft order will go down to the wire with 3 teams at 5-10 and 6 clubs at 6-9 entering the close of the NFL 2015 season. The final weekend will determine three divisional titles which had an effect on the playoff matchups, bye weeks and home field advantage.

Photo - DE Joey Bosa - Ohio St

x - Clinched division y - playoff team
# Team / W-L / Opp W-L % / Remaining Game

1 Tennessee - 3-12 - .492 - @IND
2 Cleveland - 3-12 - .533 - PITT
3 San Diego - 4-11 - .525 - @DEN
4 Dallas - 4-11 - .529 - WASH
5 San Fran - 4-11 - .550 - StL
6 Jacksonville - 5-10 - .471 - @HOUS
7 Miami - 5-10 - .475 - NE
8 Baltimore - 5-10 - .504 - @CIN
9 Tampa Bay - 6-9 - .483 - @CAR
10 NY Giants - 6-9 - .492 - PHIL
11 New Orleans - 6-9 - .508 - @ATL
12 Philadelphia - 6-9 - .513 - @NYG
13 Detroit - 6-9 - .538 - @CHI
14 Chicago - 6-9 - .546 - DET
15 Indianapolis - 7-8 - .500 - TENN
16 Buffalo - 7-8 - .508 - NY JETS
17 Oakland - 7-8 - .513 - @KC
18 St. Louis - 7-8 - .525 - @SF
19 Atlanta - 8-7 - .471 - NO
20 x Washington - 8-7 - .471 - @DALL
21 Houston - 8-7 - .496 - JAX
22 Pittsburgh - 9-6 - .508 - @CLEVE
23 y Seattle - 9-6 - .529 - @ARIZ
24 NY Jets - 10-5 - .438 - @BUFF
25 y Kansas City - 10-5 - .476 - OAK
26 y Minnesota - 10-5 - .529 - @GB
27 y Green Bay - 10-5 - .518 - MINN
28 x Cincinnati - 11-4 - .475 -- BALT
29 Denver - 11-4 - .504 - SD
30 x New Eng - 12-3 - .463 - @MIA
31 x Arizona - 13-2 - .471 - SEA
32 x Carolina - 14-1 - .442 - TB

Draft Insiders’ 2015 All-America First Team

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Draft Insiders’ - Frank Coyle
2015 All-America First Team

Players of the Year
Offense - RB Derrick Henry - Alabama
Defense - DE Joey Bosa - Ohio St.

Photo - RB Christian McCaffrey - Stanford

* Underclassmen
Offense
Pos / Player / Height / Weight / Class / School

QB Deshaun Watson 6-2 210 - Soph - Clemson
RB *Derrick Henry - 6-3 245 - Junior - Alabama
RB Christian McCaffrey - 6-0 200 - Soph - Stanford
WR *Corey Coleman - 5-11 190 - Junior - Baylor
WR Josh Doctson - 6-3 195 - Senior - TCU
WR * Will Fuller - 6-1 195 - Junior - Notre Dame
TE Hunter Henry - 6-5 245 - Junior - Arkansas
OL Spencer Drango - 6-6 310 - Senior - Baylor
OL Ronnie Stanley - 6-5 310 - Senior - Notre Dame
OL Vadal Alexander - 6-6 325 - Senior - LSU
OL Joshua Garnett - 6-5 325 - Senior - Stanford
C Nick Martin - 6-4 300 - Senior - Notre Dame

Defense
Pos / Player / Height / Weight / Class / School

DE * Joey Bosa - 6-5 275 - Junior - Ohio St.
DE Carl Nassib - 6-7 275 - Senior - Penn State
DT * Robert Nkemdiche - 6-4 295 - Junior - Ole Miss
DT D’Shawn Robinson - 6-4 310 - Senior - Alabama
LB Reggie Ragland - 6-2 250 - Senior - Alabama
LB Tyler Matakevich - 6-1 235 - Senior - Temple
LB * Jaylon Smith - 6-3 235 - Junior - Notre Dame
CB * Vernon Hargreaves III- 5-11 199 - Junior - Florida
CB * Desmond King - 5-11 200 - Junior - Iowa
S Jeremy Cash - 6-2 210 - Senior - Duke
S Jalen Ramsey - 6-1 200 - Junior - Florida St.

Special Teams
Pos / Player / Height / Weight / Class /School

P Tom Hackett - 5-11 195 - Senior - Utah
PK Ka’imi Fairbairn - 6-0 190 - Senior - UCLA
KR * Evan Berry - 5-11 207 - Soph - Tennessee
PR * William Likely - 5-7 175 - Junior - Maryland
AP Ryan Switzer - 5-10 185 - Junior - North Carolina

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 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 ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to 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.

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