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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 Draft 2012 First Round Selection Order - Dolphins & Chiefs Win Coin Flips!

NFL Draft 2012 First Round Selection Order
Dolphins & Chiefs Win Coin Flips!

NFL Draft 2012 – ‘The Colts are ‘On the Clock’!

Photo – QB Andrew Luck - Stanford

The NFL office held the coin flips for the first round ties at the NFL Combine on Friday. The Dolphins and Chiefs won the coin tosses. Miami will select 8th overall with the Panthers now at the 9th choice of the first round. The Chiefs will now pick 11th overall with the Seahawks holding the 12th choice in the first round. This completes the first round order entering the NFL Trading period in mid March. Two teams, the Patriots and Browns hold two #1 selections after trades during the first round of the NFL Draft 2011 last April.

The Colts hold the first overall selection and are the only team that can negotiate with any prospect in the country. The Colts made major changes with the signing of new GM Ryan Grigson and first year head coach Chuck Pagano this postseason. Grigson was a former Eagles executive who had an excellent track record as a personnel evaluator. He takes over an aging roster that has been an annual playoff club until the poor 2011 season. Pagano was the Defensive Coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. They have ranked in the top 5 to 10 annually in most key defensive categories.

The top overall selection should be QB Andrew Luck regardless if the Colts retain the pick or trades the selection, most likely within the top ten overall choices. Luck will not throw at the NFL Combine and will wait until later this spring with the Stanford Pro Day set for March 22nd.

First Round Selection Order
# Team - W-L - Opp W-L %
1 Indianapolis - 2-14 - .539
2 St. Louis - 2-14 - .590
3 Minnesota - 3-13 - .559
4 Cleveland - 4-12 - .531
5 Tampa Bay - 4-12 - .551
6 Washington - 5-11 - .477
7 Jacksonville - 5-11 - .500
8 Miami - 6-10 - .504
9 Carolina - 6-10 - .504
10 Buffalo - 6-10 - - .520
11 Kansas City - 7-9 -.512
12 Seattle - 7-9 - .512
13 Arizona - 8-8 - .469
14 Dallas - 8-8 - .473
15 Philadelphia - 8-8 - .488
16 NY Jets - 8-8 - .500
17 Cincinnati (Oakland) - 8-8 - .504
18 San Diego - 8-8 - .516
19 Chicago - 8-8 - .527
20 Tennessee - 9-7 - .461
21 Cincinnati - 9-7 - .492
22 Cleveland (Atlanta) - 10-6 - .480
23 Detroit -10-6 - .535
24 Pittsburgh - 12-4 - .492
25 Denver - 8-8 - .520
26 Houston - 10-6 - .453
27 New England (New Orleans) - 13-3 - .441
28 Green Bay - 15-1 - .457
30 Baltimore -12-4 - .477
31 San Francisco - 13-3 - .449
31 New England - 13-3 - .449
32 NY Giants - 9-7 - .520

Team tie-breaking procedure for the NFL Draft
If two or more clubs are tied in the selection order, the strength-of-schedule tie breaker is applied, subject to the following exceptions for playoff clubs:

1. The Super Bowl winner is last and the Super Bowl loser next-to-last.
2. Any non-Super Bowl playoff club involved in a tie shall be assigned priority within its segment below that of non-playoff clubs and in the order that the playoff clubs exited from the playoffs. Within a tied segment a playoff club that loses in the Wild-Card game will have priority over a playoff club that loses in the Divisional playoff game that in turn will have priority over a club that loses in the Conference Championship game. If two tied clubs exited the playoffs in the same round, the tie is broken by strength of schedule.

If any ties cannot be broken by strength of schedule, the divisional or conference tie breakers, when applicable, are applied. Any ties that still exist are broken by a coin flip.

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.

NFL Free Agency 2012 - Franchise-Tag Values by Position

NFL Free Agency 2012
Franchise-Tag values by Position

Figures for next season by position and top players who could be impacted. NFL Free Agency begins March 13 - Teams must be under the salary cap by this date.

Photo - QB Drew Brees – Saints

Quarterback: $14.4 million (down from $16.1 million in 2011, $16.4 million in 2010)
Players - Drew Brees, Matt Flynn

Draft Insiders' March Newsletter will have extensive NFL Free Agency Report

Running back: $7.7 million (down from $9.6 million in 2011, $8.2 million in 2010)
Players - Matt Forte, Ray Rice

Wide receiver: $9.4 million (down from 11.4 million in 2011, $9.5 million in 2010)
Players - Dwayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson*, Steve Johnson, Mario Manningham, Wes Welker

Tight end: $5.4 million (down from $7.3 million in 2011, $5.9 million in 2010)
Players - Fred Davis, Jermichael Finley

Offensive line: $9.4 million (down from $10.1 million in 2011, $10.7 million in 2010)
Players - Ben Grubbs, Carl Nicks

Defensive end: $10.6 million (down from $13 million in 2011, $12.4 million in 2010)
Players - Cliff Avril, Calais Campbell, Jason Jones, Mario Williams*, Robert Mathis

Defensive tackle: $7.9 million (down from $12.5 million in 2011. $7 million in 2010)
Players - Red Bryant, Paul Soliai*

Linebacker: $8.8 million (down from $10.1 million in 2011, $9.7 million in 2010)
Players - Stephen Tulloch

Cornerback: $10.6 million (down from $13.5 million in 2011; tag was $9.6 million in 2010)
Players - Cortland Finnegan, Brent Grimes, Brandon Carr, Aaron Ross, Tracy Porter

Safety: $6.2 million (down from $8.8 million in 2011, $6.5 million in 2010)
Players - LaRon Landry, Tyonn Branch, Deshon Goldson

* Player who'd receive more money because it'd be his second year in a row on the franchise tag, meaning he'd make 120 percent of his 2011 salary

GMen Win Super Bowl Behind Eli Manning's Late Dramatics - Manning's Scouting Report - Draft Insiders.com 2004 Yearbook

Photo – QB Eli Manning - NY Giants

The GMen beat the Patriots in a thrilling Super Bowl game behind another brilliant performance by QB Eli Manning. Manning lead the Giants to their second Super Bowl title in four years and in the process won his second Super Bowl MVP award.
Manning was hot the entire game especially in the Giant’s final drive that has become his trademark over his 8 year career. He has the uncanny ability to direct a critical late drive with the club behind and the clock and limited time outs pressuring the offense. Manning went 30 of 40 for 296 yards and 1 TD with no turnovers. He is one of only 11 starting QBs to win two Super Bowl titles. Eli is only one of five NFL QBs have won two Super Bowl MVP awards, Eli, Tom Brady, Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr and Joe Montana (three MVPs).

Eli Manning was selected #1 over in the NFL Draft 2004 by the San Diego Chargers and was traded to the Giants who selected #4 overall. The Chargers proceeded to choose QB Philip Rivers, in addition to receiving a #3 pick and a future #1 pick from the Giants.

QB Eli Manning’s Scouting Report - Draft Insiders’ Digest 2004 Yearbook

Draft Insiders.com ranked Eli Manning as the #1 QB prospect in the NFL Draft 2004 with Ben Roethlisberger #2 and Philip Rivers #3 in the best class of premier QBs since the famous 1983 draft class that featured John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly.

1. Eli Manning #10 - 6'5" 225 lbs. - Mississippi - Sp. 4.8 - Rating 95
Hindu Theory: Peyton Manning

Talented senior passer completed an outstanding career in the SEC, earning numerous honors over his final season. Eli comes from a long family of pro QBs, including his brother Peyton the current NFL MVP and father Archie a Pro-Bowl performer from the ‘70s. Eli followed his fathers’ footsteps by attending Old Miss and shattered his dad’s passing records over the course of his career. This fifth year senior will challenge for the first overall selection in the NFL Draft ’04 whether the Chargers retain the pick or trade it. He has been one of the premier players in college football this past few seasons consistently putting up big numbers against a high level of competition. Over his first three starting seasons, he has developed nicely in all aspects of play and hopes to follow in his brother’s footsteps as the first overall selection in April. He developed nicely under the tutelage of head coach David Cutcliffe who ironically coached Peyton at Tennessee during the ‘90s as offensive coordinator/QB coach. Over his five-year career at Old Miss, he made excellent progress in the finer aspects of the position, which is so critical in the development of a young passer. He is a good athlete with a strong arm, fine intangibles and good mobility to avoid the rush and run with the ball. He sets up smoothly, displaying excellent footwork and the ability to quickly read coverage. He has a fine delivery that is quick to release the ball and wastes little motion. He throws a tight spiral, combining both velocity and accuracy that allows receivers to catch the ball in stride and make plays after the catch. He is a well-developed passer who combines the athletic ability with the intangibles and maturity necessary to succeed in the NFL. He is a sturdy well-built athlete with quick feet that allow him to setup fast in three, five and seven step drops. He delivers the ball with outstanding timing and precision, displaying the ability to make the consistently sound decision and reads in coverage. His basic mechanics are very sound and he has learned to set his feet firmly before passing the ball with a good follow through. He is a fine ball handler and has learned to work the play action exceptionally well. He runs well for a QB of his size and can make a critical play as a runner, though he is not a great scrambler. He has shown both poise and courage in the pocket with the ability to hang in ‘til the final moment and allow his receiver to break open. He has developed quick decision-making to go with the athletic talent to run or throw in or outside the pocket. As a passer, he has an outstanding arm with the strength to make all the throws and he has progressed in each aspect of that game. He uses the pump fake well and shows a fast trigger that allows him to bait cover men on the first move and then lay it out on a deeper throw. He can fire the quick out, seam or slant pass, in addition to the ability to use exceptional touch to make the fade, screen and deep plays work well. He throws the fade well, giving his receiver a chance to make a play on the ball. On the deep pass, he has progressed and learned to put just the right touch on his passes to allow his receiver to run under the ball. On the slant and crossing patterns, he displays a quick release with the zip, accuracy and timing to hit receivers in stride. Though not a great athlete, he is a self-made athlete who has worked hard in all areas of play to get the most out of his fine talent. He has developed a strong work ethic, nice intangibles and instincts through experience and following the advice of his dad, brother and coaches. He has excellent pocket presence and feels backside pressure quickly with the ability to make sound decisions to minimize negative plays. He uses his quick feet to avoid the pass rush with the toughness to fight off tacklers using his good strength and mobility to move outside the pocket and make plays. He throws fairly well on the move, displaying the ability to retain his accuracy and hit the open receiver. He made great strides over his career of reading defenses and has learned to pick up secondary receivers and find the best match up. As a senior, he was very impressive, displaying a strong, live arm with the touch and accuracy to make all the important throws. He has developed the courage, leadership and poise to lead an NFL offense. With five years to develop his talent, he has matured well in areas of football instincts and overall intangibles. He combines fine athletic talent with those intangibles to make him one of the most developed and refined QB prospects of recent years.
The Numbers: He completed a terrific career with another big season that included throwing for 3341 yards on 253 completions of 410 attempts for 62% completion rate with 27 TDs and 9 interceptions. Along the way, he set several new SEC career passing records. As a junior, he threw for 3401 yards with 279 completions on 481attempts for a 58% completion rate and 21 TDs and 15 interceptions. As a sophomore, he threw for 2948 yards with 31 TDs on a 63% completion rate and 9 interceptions. As a freshman, he did not start one game and saw action in only six games with only a total of 33 thrown with just 16 completions and no TDs. Over his final three seasons, he was a model of consistency against a talented level of defensive competition.
The Skinny: Talented well-developed passer with all the skills to succeed early in his NFL career. His level of development is very high and he is the type of passer who could start as a rookie in the right setting. His ability to make the proper read consistently and get the ball to the hot receiver while under heavy pressure will help his cause to become a first year starter. He goes through his progressions very well and his ability to pick up secondary receivers should allow him to compete for the starting job immediately. He is the most likely first overall selection in April by the Chargers who have struggled mainly because of inconsistency at the QB position. They should retain this pick and add a franchise caliber passer after making poor decisions on both Ryan Leaf and Michael Vick over recent drafts. At the combine, he did not workout. He has the talent to become an NFL star, if he gets into the right situation that allows him to succeed early in his career and does not ask him to carry an offense. This guy reminds me of Peyton Manning when he stands in the pocket and makes decisions. Both were self-made athletes who spent extensive time on the other aspects of the position like film work, weight room development and understanding the system and game plan on a weekly basis.
Draft Projection: 1st Round - First Overall Pick

NFL Draft 2012 Selection Order - The Colts are ‘On the Clock’!

NFL Draft 2012 Selection Order -
The Colts are ‘On the Clock’!

The Colts hold the first overall choice of the NFL Draft 2012 this April after a terrible season that saw them win only two games all year. Their poor performance may cost head coach Jim Caldwell his job as NFL teams begin to make big changes with the regular season now completed. The final selection order is complete except for the playoff and Super Bowl teams, in addition to two coin flips for tied positions.

Photo - QB Andrew Luck - Stanford

* Playoff team / y - coin flip to determine order / Playoffs - Super Bowl determines final positions

Team - W-L - Opp W-L %
1 Indianapolis - 2-14 .539
2 St. Louis - 2-14 .590
3 Minnesota - 3-13 .559
4 Cleveland - 4-12 .531
5 Tampa Bay - 4-12 .551
6 Washington - 5-11 .477
7 Jacksonville - 5-11 .500
y 8/9 Carolina - 6-10 .504
y 8/9 Miami - 6-10 .504
10 Buffalo - 6-10 .520
y 11/12 Kansas City - 7-9 .512
y 11/12 Seattle - 7-9 .512
13 Arizona - 8-8 .469
14 Dallas - 8-8 .473
15 Philadelphia - 8-8 .488
16 NY Jets - 8-8 .500
17 Cincinnati (Oakland) - 8-8 .504
18 San Diego - 8-8 .516
19 Chicago - 8-8 .527
20 Tennessee - 9-7 .461
21 * Denver - 8-8 .520
22 * Cincinnati - 9-7 .492
23 * NY Giants - 9-7 .520
24 * Houston - 10-6 .453
25 * Cleveland (Atlanta) - 10-6 .480
26 * Detroit -10-6 .535
27 * Baltimore - 12-4 .477
28 * Pittsburgh - 12-4 .492
29 * New England (New Orleans) - 13-3 .441
30 * San Francisco - 13-3 .449
31 * New England - 13-3 .449
32 * Green Bay - 15-1 .457

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 18 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.

DraftInsiders.com 2011 All-American Team - Player Awards Voting

DraftInsiders.com 2011 All-American Team

Offensive Player of the Year
QB Andrew Luck – Stanford - Jr

Defensive Player of the Year
CB Tyrann Mathieu – LSU – Soph

Photo - WR Michael Floyd - Notre Dame

Offensive Freshman of the Year
WR Sammy Watkins – Clemson

Defensive Freshman of the Year
DE Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina

Coach of the Year
Brady Hoke – Michigan (1st season)

DraftInsiders.com All- American Team

Offensive Team
QB Andrew Luck - Jr. - Stanford
RB Trent Richardson - Jr. - Alabama
RB Montee Ball - Jr. - Wisconsin
WR Justin Blackmon - Jr. - Oklahoma St
WR Michael Floyd - Sr. - Notre Dame
WR Robert Woods - Soph. - Southern Cal
TE Coby Fleener - Sr. - Stanford
OT Matt Kalil - Jr. - USC
OT Jonathan Martin - Jr. - Stanford
OG David DeCastro - Jr. - Stanford
OG Barrett Jones - Jr. - Alabama
OC Peter Konz - Jr. - Wisconsin
PK - Carson Wiggs - Sr. - Purdue
KOR - T.Y. Hilton - Sr. - Florida International

Frank Coyle's Individual Player Voting 2011 Season
Heisman Trophy Vote - QB Andrew Luck - Stanford
Jim Thorpe Vote - CB Morris Claiborne - LSU
Nagurski Vote - CB Morris Claiborne - LSU
Lombardi Vote - OT Matt Kalil - Southern Cal
Outland Vote - OT Jonathan Martin - Stanford

Defensive Team
DE Melvin Ingram - Sr. - South Carolina
DT Brandon Thompson - Sr. - Clemson
DT Fletcher Cox - Jr. - Mississippi St.
DE Whitney Mercilus - Jr. - Illinois
LB Brandon Lindsey - Sr. - Pittsburgh
LB Jarvis Jones - Soph. - Georgia
LB Luke Kuechly - Jr. - Boston College
LB Courtney Upshaw - Sr. - Alabama
CB Tyrann Mathieu - Soph. - LSU
CB Morris Claiborne - Jr. - LSU
CB Brandon Boykin - Jr. - Georgia
S Mark Barron - Sr. - Alabama
S T.J. McDonald - Jr. - Southern Cal
P Drew Butler - Sr. - Georgia
PR Joe Adams - Sr. Arkansas

DraftInsiders.com 2011 NFL Predictions

DraftInsiders.com NFL 2011 Predictions
Saints Top Chargers in Super Bowl Matchup

Photo - QB Drew Brees - Saints

Player of the Year –
QB Drew Brees - Saints
Defensive Player of the Year –
CB Darrelle Revis - Jets

Rookies of the Year
Offense - RB Mark Ingram - Saints
Defense – CB Patrick Peterson - Cardinals

Breakout Player of the Year
QB Alex Smith - 49ers

Comeback Player of the Year
WR Chad Ochocinco - Patriots

NFL 2011Forecast
Frank Coyle

Philadelphia Eagles - 12-4 –

Eagles are among the best in the NFC after strong FA class. They are capable of winning the East and going deep into the playoffs behind Michael Vick.
New York Giants - 11-5 –
Giants can play with anyone on the league, but must stay healthy and play more consistently. They have a potent attack and tough veteran defense, though roster is thin after a few key injuries.
Dallas Cowboys - 8-8 –
QB Tony Romo returns after an injury marred 2010 season. They must prove they can run the ball consistently to balance this offense. Their defense is good, but not near the top two clubs in this division.
Washington Redskins - 6-10 –
Skins start another new QB this season in Rex Grossman. Their defense looks to return to their 2009 form mainly behind improved secondary play. Skins might again struggle to make .500 in the best division in the game.

Green Bay Packers -10-5 -

Aaron Rodgers is the hottest QB in the game and Packers may be the best club in the league again. The play of both lines will determine if they can repeat.
Chicago Bears - 11-5 -
Bears can win this division behind veteran QB Jay Cutler. The defense is one of the best in this league that could spell the difference over the course of the season.
Detroit Lions - 9- 7 –
Lions will in the playoff hunt if they keep QB Matt Stafford healthy for 16 games.
Minnesota Vikings - 10-5 -
Vikes look to veteran Donovan McNabb to be the difference maker on an erratic club that is capable of big wins or total self destruction.

New Orleans Saints - 12-4 –

The Saints organizations have improved on defense that gives them the edge in one of the toughest divisions in football. QB Drew Brees is capable of leading this club to the Show again.
Atlanta Falcons - 10-6 –
Falcons are thinking title but they face a very tough schedule that might be the equalizer. They could struggle at .500 through midseason. Defense is suspect.
Tampa Bay Bucs - 8-8 –
Bucs began a turnaround last season with a 10-6, though vs a soft schedule. They will regress this fall and will be not better than a young .500 club that needs maturity.
Carolina Panthers - 6-10 –

Panthers begin the Cam Newton era, but will rely on a strong ground game to win games. They face a very tough schedule and will go through some painful growing pains in 2011.

Arizona Cardinals – 10-6 –

Cards look to return to the top of the weakest division in the NFL after adding QB Kevin
Kolb. There young defense is at playoff levels currently.
San Francisco 49ers - 8-8 –
New HC Jim Harbaugh will give this club an identity. He will turn QB Alex Smith into a solid
reliable starter. There defense is a solid group, but this club might struggle to get past the .500 mark.
St. Louis Rams - 6-10 –
Rams look to build off an improved offense directed by QB Sam Bradford. There changing defense is still not up to playoff levels at this point, though HC Steve Spagnuolo is a master leader.
Seattle Seahawks - 5-11 –
Seahawks won the divisional title with a 7-9 record, the first sub .500 team to ever accomplish that feat. This club will struggle to play above the .500 mark and challenge for the playoffs.

Divisional Champs
Eagles, Packers, Saints and Cardinals

Wild Card Clubs
Giants & Falcons

NFC Championship
Saint over Packers – Saints march back to the Big Show.

New York Jets – 12-4 –

Jets look to young QB Mark Sanchez to take another step up. That would put them over the top in a tough division. They defense ranks among the top five in the game.
New England Patriots - 11-5 –
Pats look to premier QB Tom Brady to direct this changing potent offense. The new ground game and receivers could rank them at the top of the league. Their suspect changing defense will determine their final fate in key games.
Miami Dolphins - 7-9 –
Dolphins will be hard pressed to improve off back to back 7-9 seasons. QB Chad Henne is better than advertised and needs new vet Reggie Bush to become everything Ted Ginn did not become.
Buffalo Bills - 4-12 –
Bills are still rebuilding and will look to their young players to establish themselves as top NFL players. Their development will determine any improvement beyond a 4 to 6 win season.

Baltimore Ravens - 11-5 –

The Ravens will look to young QB Joe Flacco to join the upper echelon of NFL passers. The defense is still capable of ranking with the best in the game and able to win this division.
Pittsburgh Steelers - 10-6 –
Big Ben makes big plays and the Steel defense is still among best in the game. They are a threat to win any critical game.
Cleveland Browns - 7-9 –
Browns continue to rebuild behind young QB Colt McCoy hoping to get them to respectability. Only one winning season in past six seasons may continue this fall.
Cincinnati Bengals - 5-11 –
With star QB Carson Palmer on the retirement list, the Bengals look to rookie QB Andy Dalton and top pick wideout
A.J. Green to begin a new era. Their defense has never improved under HC Marvin Lewis.

Indianapolis Colts - 10-6 –

QB Peyton Manning starts the season on the bench healing from neck surgery. This club is aging and faces but still dangerous to win big games in the playoffs. Whether the aging defense plays up to those levels remain to be seen.
Houston Texans - 10-6 –
A .500 record won’t get it done this season. Only a playoff berth will keep this club from facing major changes after the season.
Tennessee Titans - 8-8 –
The Titans look to veteran Matt Hasselbeck to keep this club respectable until top pick QB Jake Locker can take the reins. They might surprise and press for a playoff berth.
Jacksonville Jaguars - 6-10 –
Jaguars turned the page with the release of veteran QB David Garrard. They have taken a few steps back recently and a sub .500 record appears likely unless many questions are answered positively.

San Diego Chargers - 12-4 –

The Chargers are a loaded club with QB Philip Rivers directing a veteran club.
They can win the NFL title behind a veteran defense but needs their troubled special teams to improve significantly.
Kansas City Chiefs - 10-6 –
Chiefs won the division behind QB Matt Cassel and runner Jamaal Charles. The young defense is quietly improving and capable of helping them to compete for a playoff berth.
Oakland Raiders - 7-9 –
Raiders are a franchise in disarray and have not won more than 5 games since the 2002 season and this year looks like another repeat disaster.
Denver Broncos - 5-11 –
Broncos made huge changes this offseason under new HC Josh McDaniel. They should face difficult growing pains that will push them to the bottom of the AFC.

Divisional Champs
Jets, Ravens, Colts & Chargers

Wild Card Clubs
Patriots & Texans

AFC Championship
San Diego over Indianapolis

Chargers show a top defense can stop a potent offense in big

Super Bowl Matchup

New Orleans Saints over San Diego Chargers
Saints win a wild Super Bowl showdown with Chargers.

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