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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.

Draft Insiders' - Odell Beckham's Yearbook 2014 Scouting Report

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Odell Beckham's Yearbook Scouting Report
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Draft Insiders’ Yearbook NFL Draft 2014

Wide Receiver Positional Overview: This year's group of receivers is an incredible class that may rank with the best prospects in over a decade. The addition of 15 underclassmen significantly improved a below average senior class to make this the strongest position in this draft.

Photo - WR Odell Beckham - Giants

There will probably be at least 35+ receivers over the three-day event. Rookie receivers have been highly sought after with NFL offenses predominantly focusing on the passing game. This is the strongest receiving class since the famous 1996 group that featured Keyshawn Johnson, Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, Eric Moulds, Terry Glenn, Muhsin Muhammad, Amani Toomer, Bobby Engram and Eddie Kennison among others.

Odell Beckham #3 - 5-11, 195 - LSU - Sp. 4.40
Hindu Theory Percy Harvin

Electrifying junior receiver/ returner completed a fine career for LSU, earning SEC honors several time over his career. Odell has been a consistently productive big play performer whether as a receiver, runner or return specialist. He combines explosive quickness and speed that allows him to make plays after the catch or returning kicks. He has shown consistent big play ability in those roles to make defenders miss or run away from them. Over his career, he has been a featured big play weapon for the pro style Tiger passing game that has featured several NFL receivers. He is an excellent all-purpose performer who has natural hands and running skills to fill a few key roles as a pro. He was a consistent playmaker in all roles and could earn the #3 job as a slot receiver as a rookie, in addition to both return duties. He has incredible natural hands who runs precise routes and is able to utilize his great suddenness to create space. He is both very quick and fast with the short area suddenness to create running room and hit an opening. He has top speed with the initial quickness to get into his routes nicely and the ability to make fast cuts at the break point and create consistent separation. He displays top AA and has a fine understanding of the passing game with the ability to adjust his routes and make the tough catch. He has the speed to get deep or take the short screen pass and make a big play using his natural running skills. Despite his marginal size, he displays the toughness and body control to make the difficult catch, take the big hit and hold on to the ball. He releases from the line quickly and fights thru the jam to get into his routes. After the catch, his top running ability makes things happen with his rare elusiveness to make defenders miss and speed to run away from tacklers. He is similar to Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb in speed, quickness, style and AA with big play talent to be a game to game difference maker.
The Numbers: As a junior, he started 13 games and had 59 catches for 1152 yards for a 19.5 average and 8 TDs. He won the 2013 Hornung Award as college football’s most versatile player for both his receiving and outstanding return skills. He led the SEC and ranking #2 in the nation in all-purpose yards with a 178.1 average. As a sophomore, he started 12 of 13 games and had 43 catches for 713 yards and 2 TDs. Over his career, he set the LSU record and finished No. 2 in SEC single-season history with 2,315 all-purpose yards as a junior in ’13. He started 34 of 39 games for three seasons and totaled 143 catches for 2340 yards and 12 TDs. Over his career, he had 2 punt returns for TDs in 2012 and had a career 9 yard average along with a 25 yard career average for kickoff returns. Over the 2013 season, he had 32 kickoff returns for 845 yards and a 26.4 average. At the NFL Combine, he ran 4.43 time with a 1.50 ten yard split. He did 7 reps. He had a 38.5” VL and a 10’2” BJ with a 3.94 short shuttle and 6.69 three cone in an excellent display of athleticism. He performed very well in the receiving drills.
The Skinny: Very explosive athlete with the ability to become an impact player as both a receiver and returner. He is a top athlete with the talent to provide early impact and game changing talent. He can be a slot receiver with the skill set to become a major matchup problem. His top open field running skills gives his club a dangerous weapon in a number of roles. Highly-developed athlete with the developed skills to be a much better pro than collegian. Pro Bowl returner to give an offense consistently good field position. Developed skill set to be a very good pro and he probably does not fall beyond the top selections. Impact weapon with big play ability in a few roles.
Draft Projection: 1st Round

#1 Mississippi St (9-0) at #5 Alabama Heads Premier Games

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#1 Mississippi St (9-0) at #5 Alabama Heads Premier Games

Top-ranked Mississippi State (9-0, 5-0 SEC) seeks to extend its perfect season against 5th ranked Alabama (8-1, 5-1) in an SEC West showdown at 2:39 p.m. CT Saturday from a sold-out Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Photo - WR Amari Cooper - Alabama

The contest will be televised live by CBS with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce calling the action. Free live streaming video is also available through CBSSports.com. ESPN’s College GameDay will originate from Tuscaloosa at 8 a.m.

The Bulldogs are aiming for the first 10-win regular season in school history. An MSU victory on Saturday would set up next weekend’s home finale against Vanderbilt with a chance to clinch the division title. With a loss to Alabama, the Bulldogs would have to win their remaining two games and need Auburn to defeat Alabama in order for MSU to clinch the division.

Alabama has won three national titles in the past five seasons. They look to claim a place in the Final four in the inaugural playoff system rankings with a win today. The Tide is a favorite to win a matchup that could determine the SEC West leader and possible national champion.

MSU has embraced the underdog role all season, coming out with victories four times under that scenario. The squad is seeking to become the first team to win at LSU (Baton Rouge) and at Alabama (Tuscaloosa) in the same season since MSU did it in 1957.

“In every article you read, we are big underdogs heading into this game,” said head coach Dan Mullen. We know that role. We are going to be ok with that. Our guys are going to come in with a chip on their shoulder and play with great effort. No matter what everyone else is predicting, we want to play that way every week.”

“We’re back to the team that we were to begin with to begin the season,” added Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott. “No one expected us to win; no one thought that we would win. We were the underdogs in all of those games.”

The Bulldogs are fully rested and well prepared after a 45-16 non-conference win against UT Martin last weekend. Saturday will be the fourth top-10 team MSU has faced this season. The squad has won 12 consecutive games – one shy of tying the school record – and has not tasted defeat in 364 days.

The Tide, ranked fifth in the College Football Playoff poll, survived in overtime at No. 14 LSU last weekend by a score of 20-13. Alabama has won the last six meetings against the team that resides just 84 miles down Highway 82.

Saturday’s matchup features the league’s top total offense and top total defense. MSU is putting up 522.1 yards per game, good for sixth nationally. Alabama is allowing only 275.2 yards per game, including 89.7 yards per game on the ground.

Prescott is the only FBS player to rank in the top 10 in total offense, points responsible for and passing efficiency. Prescott has thrown for 2,231 yards and rushed for 779 yards. He’s tossed 18 touchdowns and rushed for 11.

Running back Josh Robinson stands just 14 yards away from cracking the 1,000-yard mark for the season, while De’Runnya Wilson, a Birmingham, Ala., native, has caught a team-high 22 balls for 367 yards and six touchdowns. Senior wideout Jameon Lewis has worked his way back to full strength and will play Saturday.

Defensively, All-America candidate Benardrick McKinney paces the Bulldogs with 55 tackles. Defensive end Preston Smith is tops on the team in tackles for loss with 11.5, including seven sacks.

Frank Coyle 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.

Broncos & Cardinals Top NFL Power Rankings

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Broncos & Cardinals Top NFL Power Rankings

NFL Power Rankings Week 9 –
Broncos and Cardinals Top AFC & NFC

Rookies of the Week –
Offensive Player – WR John Brown - Cardinals

Defensive Player – LB Anthony Barr - Vikings

Photo – QB Ben Roethlisberger - Steelers

Players of the Week
Offensive Player - QB Ben Roethlisberger - Steelers

Defensive Player - DE J.J. Watt - Texans

Team of Week 8 - Cardinals
Matchup of Week 9 – Broncos at Patriots

Rank / Team / Record

1. Denver Broncos (6-1)
Broncos’ beat division rival Chargers handily in last one.

2. Arizona Cardinals (6-1)
Cards took care of the Eagles at home.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (5-2)
Eagles give up too many big plays.

4. Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
What happened to all those unbeatable claims.

5. Indianapolis Colts (5-3)
Colts were slammed by the Steelers 51-34 in last one.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1)
The Bengals beat North arch rival Ravens in key victory last week.

7. Detroit Lions (6-2)
Lions get a week off after edging out the Falcons across the pond.

8. San Diego Chargers (5-3)
Chargers have lost two in a row to West rivals the Broncos and Chiefs.

9. New England Patriots (6-2)
Patriots just find a way to win in soft AFC East.

10. Baltimore Ravens (5-3)
The Ravens’ lost a tough one in Cincinnati and travel to Pittsburgh this week.

11. Green Bay Packers (5-3)
Packers’ were hot vs Saints and Panthers and get bye week to regroup for playoff push.

12. Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
Cowboys were whipped by the Redskins with QB Tony Romo hurt in the process.

13. San Francisco 49ers (4-3)
The 49ers are looking to start a streak with tough NFC matchups over the next month.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
Steelers’ bombed the Colts in critical win with arch enemy the Ravens coming in Sunday nite.

15. Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)
The Chiefs are looking to get a streak going here with Jets coming to town.

16. Buffalo Bills (5-3)
The hot and cold Bills’ rest this week with five critical AFC matchups waiting starting in early November.

17. Miami Dolphins (4-3)
The Dolphins get the staggering Chargers at home in key AFC matchup.

18. New York Giants (3-4)
The GMen are well rested for the Colts Monday nite to start a demanding schedule over the next month of play.

19. Carolina Panthers (3-4-1)
The Panthers are sliding and face the Saints tonight in critical NFC South contest.

20. Chicago Bears (3-5)
The Bears are falling apart and get a week off to regroup before a complete NFC second half schedule.

21. Houston Texans (4-4)
Texans are hanging tough and face a in matchup with Eagles coming in Sunday.

22. New Orleans Saints (3-4)
Saints face almost a must win situation tonight at Carolina for their playoff hopes.

23. Cleveland Browns (4-3)
The Browns get another soft opponent this week with Bucs coming to town.

24. Washington Redskins (3-5)
The Skins won their Super Bowl vs Cowboys in last one.

25. St. Louis Rams (2-5)
The Rams are one of the disappointing teams this year and travel to San Fran this week.

26. Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
Falcons find ways to lose and face a major shakeup this offseason.

27. Minnesota Vikings (3-5)
Vikings can only beat the soft clubs. Get the Skins at home on Sunday.

28. Tennessee Titans (2-6)
The Titans are off this week and no one cares.

29. New York Jets (1-7)
The Jets are a total train wreck.

30. Tampa Bay Bucs (1-6)
Bucs are bottom feeders because they trade top ten picks for 3rd day selections.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7)
The Jaguars’ are back to reality with loss to the Dolphins.

32. Oakland Raiders (0-7)
The Raiders are after the Lions 0-16 record.

Broncos, Chargers & Eagles Top NFL Rankings

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NFL Power Rankings Week 7 –
Broncos and Chargers Heading for Showdown in late October

Rookies of the Week –
Offensive Player – RB Branden Oliver - Chargers

Defensive Player – CB Bradley Roby - Broncos

Photo – QB Tom Brady - Patriots

Players of the Week
Offensive Player - QB Tom Brady - Patriots

Defensive Player - DE Connor Barwin - Eagles

Team of Week 6 - Eagles
Matchup of Week 7 – Bengals at Colts –

Rank / Team / Record

1. Denver Broncos (4-1)
Broncos’ overpowered a scrappy Jets club.

2. San Diego Chargers (5-1)
Chargers just got by the Raiders with Chiefs on the agenda.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)
Eagles looked like world beaters vs the GMen.

4. Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
The Seahawks showed flaws in loss to the Cowboys.

5. Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Colts are on a four game winning streak with AFC rival the Bengals coming to town Sunday.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1)
The Bengals kissed the Panthers in tie last week.

7. Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
The Ravens’ just quietly take care of business.

8. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
Cowboys are a super hot club after trashing the Seahawks.

9. Arizona Cardinals (4-1)
Cards are jumping on soft clubs weekly.

10. San Francisco 49ers (4-2)
The 49ers face the acid test this week when they travel to Bronco country.

11. Green Bay Packers (4-2)
Packers’ are riding the hot hand of QB Aaron Rodgers once again.

12. Detroit Lions (4-2)
Lions host the Saints this week in a matchup that could have huge playoff implications.

13. New England Patriots (4-2)
Patriots drilled the Bills and host the collapsing Jets on Thursday nite.

14. New York Giants (3-3)
The GMen were shocked by the Eagles and face the surging Cowboys in Dallas.

15. Carolina Panthers (3-2-1)
The Panthers go to Titletown in a critical NFC contest.

16. Chicago Bears (3-3)
The Bears beat Atlanta last week and host the erratic Dolphins this Sunday.

17. Houston Texans (3-3)
Texans came up short vs the Colts with in key AFC matchup in Pittsburgh next.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)
Steelers’ got whipped by the Browns and face the Texans at home on Monday nite.

19. Buffalo Bills (3-3)
The Bills face the Vikings at home this week.

20. New Orleans Saints (2-3)
Saints had two week to get ready for the Lions in a key NFC matchup.

21. Cleveland Browns (3-2)
The Browns pounded the Steelers and travel to Jacksonville this week.

22. Atlanta Falcons (2-4)
Falcons are banged up and travel to Baltimore in tough matchup.

23. Miami Dolphins (2-3)
The Dolphins let the Packers off the hook last week.

24. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3)
The Chiefs had two weeks to get ready for critical AFC West matchup in San Diego.

25. Minnesota Vikings (2-4)
Vikings came up lame vs the Lions.

26. Tennessee Titans (2-4)
The Titans held on to beat the lowly Jaguars this week.

27. St. Louis Rams (1-4)
The Rams host the Seahawks in hope of getting into playoff hunt.

28. New York Jets (1-5)
The Jets gave a good effort vs the Broncos, but offense continues to struggle.

29. Washington Redskins (1-5)
The Skins get a winnable game at home vs the Titans on Sunday.

30. Tampa Bay Bucs (1-5)
Bucs get their bye week to figures out their weekly disasters.

31. Oakland Raiders (0-5)
The Raiders get the Cardinals at home in hopes to turn the tide.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6)
The Jaguars’ are primed to go after the Lions winless season.

Chicago Hosts NFL Draft 2015 - April 30th-May 2nd

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NFL Draft 2015 – Chicago Hosts NFL Draft Event

The 2015 NFL Draft will be held April 30-May 2 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday.

"We are excited to have fans from throughout the midwest experience the NFL Draft," Goodell said in a statement announcing the draft location. "We look forward to returning the event to the city of Chicago and working with the city, Choose Chicago, and the Chicago Sports Commission to create a week-long celebration of football for our fans. Mayor Emanuel and the city of Chicago presented us with numerous ways to enhance the Draft experience for our fans and incoming players."

Chicago beat out Los Angeles, which was the other finalist in the running to host the league's marquee event next year. Various sites across the country expressed interest in hosting the affair but couldn't beat out a strong bid from Chicago that was backed by Emanuel.

"Chicago is pleased to welcome the 2015 NFL Draft to America's heartland," Emanuel said in a statement. "Next year, NFL fans from across the country will travel here or tune in as the future of their team is decided in Chicago. We look forward to working with the Chicago Bears, the NFL, and our neighborhood partners to make this an event that highlights our world class city and reinvests in our communities."

The NFL Draft 2015 will be held April 30 through May 2. There had been some speculation that the draft was going to be expanded to four days but a three-day format will remain next year. Round 1 will be held on April 30 with Rounds 2-3 scheduled for May 1 and Rounds 4-7 set for May 2.

The new site will mark the first time the draft has been held outside of New York City since 1964, when it took place in Chicago. The draft was held at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan for the past nine years but scheduling issues forced the draft to be moved back this year and the site was already booked in 2015 during the dates the NFL was considering for the event.

The draft itself will be held at Roosevelt University's Auditorium Theatre right in the heart of downtown Chicago. A nearby area big enough to hold a fan festival was a key part of NFL criteria for submitted bids, and this year's event will expand outside to picturesque Grant Park and Congress Plaza. There will be an outdoor fan festival for all three days of the draft.

Frank Coyle is a long time NFL scout and 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 Power Rankings – Seahawks Gain Top Spot after Super Bowl Rematch Victory

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NFL Power Rankings – Seahawks Gain Top Spot after Super Bowl Rematch Victory

Rookies of the Week –
Offensive Player - WR Allen Hurns - Jaguars

Defensive Player - CB Kyle Fuller - Bears

Photo - QB Andrew Luck - Colts

Players of the Week
Offensive Player - QB Andrew Luck - Colts

Defensive Player - LB Jelani Jenkins - Dolphins

Team of Week 3 - Seahawks

Matchup of Week 4 – Eagles at 49ers –

NFL Power Rankings – Broncos Hold Top Spot with Trip to Seattle in Super Bowl Rematch

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NFL Power Rankings – Broncos Hold Top Spot with Trip to Seattle in Super Bowl Rematch This Week

Rookies of the Week –
Offensive Player - WR Sammy Watkins - Bills

Defensive Player - CB Kyle Fuller - Bears

Photo - QB Tom Brady - Patriots

Players of the Week
Offensive Player - WR Brandon Marshall - Bears

Defensive Player - LB Ryan Kerrigan - Redskins

Team of Week 2 - Chargers
Matchup of Week 3 – Broncos at Seahawks –

Rank / Team / Record

1. Denver Broncos (2-0)
Broncos’ go into Seattle this week for revenge.

2. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
The Seahawks are beatable after mediocre performance vs Chargers.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)
Eagles made a great comeback vs Colts Monday night.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (2-0)
The Bengals drilled the Falcons at home last week.

5. San Francisco 49ers (1-1)
The 49ers let the Bears comeback in Sunday night comeback.

6. New England Patriots (1-1)
Patriots blasted the Vikings.

7. Green Bay Packers (1-1)
Packers’ get in the win column with win over Jets.

8. San Diego Chargers (1-1)
Chargers are contenders in the West, but their secondary keeps coming up short.

9. Chicago Bears (1-1)
The Bears won a huge game in San Fran that could have meaning in any tie breakers.

10. Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
Falcons get the Bucs home on Thursday night in key NFC South matchup.

11. Detroit Lions (1-1)
Lions were terrible vs Panthers and face Packers at home in key NFC North matchup.

12. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
The Ravens continue AFC North tour with Browns contest after big win over Steelers.

13. Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
Cards had a gutty win behind backup QB Drew Stanton vs GMen.

14. Carolina Panthers (2-0)
The Panthers have Steelers at home this week.

15. Buffalo Bills (2-0)
The undefeated Bills get the Chargers at home in a reality check this week.

16. Indianapolis Colts (0-2)
Colts let Eagles steal their Sunday night matchup.

17. New Orleans Saints (0-2)
Saints lost a tough game in Cleveland that makes the Vikings contest vital this week.

18. Miami Dolphins (1-1)
The Dolphins got hammered in Buffalo again.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)
Steelers have 10 days to get ready for the trip to Carolina.

20. New York Jets (1-1)
The Jets failed to finish again and prep for Monday night home game vs Bears.

21. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
Vikings go into New Orleans without Adrian Peterson.

22. Houston Texans (2-0)
Texans travel to Met Life to face a desperate Giant club.

23. New York Giants (0-2)
The GMen face a critical early season matchup that may determine their direction.

24. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Cowboys beat a bad Tennessee club and go to St. Louis in hopes to get another win.

25. Washington Redskins (1-1)
The Skins go to Philadelphia in key early season NFC East matchup.

26. Cleveland Browns (1-1)
The Browns won a huge game late vs the Saints that they hope they carry through the season.

27. St. Louis Rams (1-1)
The Rams look for two game winning streak with Cowboys coming to town.

28. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2)
The Chiefs hung tough vs Broncos, but go to Miami looking for their first victory.

29. Tennessee Titans (1-1)
The Titans looked terrible vs an average Cowboys club.

30. Oakland Raiders (0-2)
The Raiders face Patriots in key AFC game.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-2)
Bucs has lost two close games, though they show little firepower to make big plays.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
Jaguars got hammered by struggling Redskins. They face a desperate Colts club this week.

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