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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.



Notre Dame's Brian Kelly Wins 2012 Eddie Robinson Award

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who has taken the Fighting Irish to their first unbeaten regular season since 1988, has been named the recipient of the 2012 FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, which is sponsored by the Fiesta Bowl.

Photo – Former Head Coach Eddie Robinson - Grambling St.

Kelly, in his third season at Notre Dame, won the award over eight other coaching finalists after a vote of the 1,200-member Football Writers Association of America. He is the fourth Notre Dame coach to receive the award following Ara Parseghian (1964), Lou Holtz (1988) and Charlie Weis (2005).

The Fighting Irish capped a perfect regular season (12-0) with a victory over arch-rival USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Notre Dame is the top-ranked team in college football in all the polls and will face Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7, 2013 in South Florida.

The 51-year-old Kelly will be presented the Eddie Robinson Trophy the previous evening during a reception at the Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Officials from Notre Dame, the Fiesta Bowl, the FWAA and the namesake coach's son, Eddie Robinson Jr., will be in attendance.

"It is with great pleasure the FWAA presents the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award to Brian Kelly," said 2012 FWAA President Lenn Robbins. "Notre Dame, under Coach Kelly, has returned to national prominence in the college football ranks. This award recognizes that accomplishment for the 2012 season, a season that began with 124 teams vying for an elusive undefeated campaign. Notre Dame was the only bowl-eligible school to accomplish that impressive feat."

"Brian Kelly is a deserving recipient for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award," added Fiesta Bowl Executive Director Robert Shelton. "He led Notre Dame to an undefeated record, earning the top spot in the BCS. Equally as impressive is the fact that his team boasts a 97 percent graduation rate, which is tied for best NCAA APR rate among all Bowl Subdivision schools. He inspires excellence in his players on both the field and in the classroom."

Notre Dame's 2012 season has been highlighted by victories over ranked teams at the time the Fighting Irish played them: Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford and Oklahoma. Senior linebacker Manti Te'o won the FWAA's Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's best defensive player, anchoring one of college football's top defensive front sevens.

Kelly, Notre Dame's 29th head football coach, began his head coaching career at Division II Grand Valley State in 1991. After winning back-to-back NCAA Division II titles there in 2002 and '03, he moved on to Central Michigan for three seasons before a highly successful four-year stint at Cincinnati. He guided the Bearcats to back-to-back BCS bowl games (Orange and Sugar) in 2008 and '09 before taking over at Notre Dame in 2010.
The FWAA has given out a Coach of the Year Award since 1957 when Ohio State coach Woody Hayes first claimed the honor. Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University, has been the FWAA's coaching namesake since 1997.

The late Robinson, the winningest coach in Division I history (408 games), passed away on April 3, 2007. Robinson's teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers claimed nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.

Robinson, who was named by the FWAA in 1966 as "The Coach Who Made the Biggest Contribution to College Football in the Past 25 Years," often took his show on the road to places such as the Louisiana Superdome, the Cotton Bowl, the Astrodome, Tiger Stadium and Yankee Stadium. And with his star-studded array of players Robinson helped integrate professional football.

In 1949, Grambling standout Tank Younger was the first player from a Historically Black College to sign with an NFL Team (Los Angeles Rams). By 1963, Buck Buchanan became the first player from a Historically Black College to be selected first overall in the professional draft (American Football League by the Kansas City Chiefs). Over the years, Robinson produced a Who's Who of professional football players, with more than 200 of his former players dotting professional rosters.

In 1975, with one of his greatest teams quarterbacked by eventual All-Pro Doug Williams, Robinson's Grambling team and Alcorn State became the first college teams to play a game in the Louisiana Superdome. The next season, Robinson's Tigers, along with Morgan State, became the first American college football teams to play in Japan.

A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Robinson has the keys to cities all over the planet, has been awarded in every form and fashion and has honorary degrees from many schools. The Eddie Robinson Museum has opened in his honor in Grambling, La., where numerous memorabilia now reside, including a bust of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game's predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association's official Web site, ncfaa.org.

Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert Heads John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List

Tyler Eifert-ND.jpg

Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert Heads 2012 John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List

Photo - TE Tyler Eifert - Notre Dame

2012 John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List

The Nassau County Sports Commission, sponsored by Briarcliffe College, has released the 2012 John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List. Given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end, the award recipient is selected by vote of the John Mackey Award Selection Committee and the 2012 John Mackey winner will be presented live on December 6, 2012 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Red Carpet Show airing at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Other key dates include the announcement of the 2012 Mackey semi-finalists on November 12, 2012 and the announcement of the 2012 Mackey finalists on November 19, 2012. All announcements can be found at www.johnmackeyaward.org.

NFL Hall of Fame member John Mackey is considered to be the best to have played the tight end position. A tight end by whom all others are measured, Mackey was a role model on and off the field as demonstrated by his Super Bowl Championship, his commitment to community and his place in history as the first President of the NFLPA.

The John Mackey Award presented since 2000, lists eleven NFL players as alumni: 2006 Super Bowl Champion Dallas Clark ('01) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two-time Super Bowl Champion Daniel Graham ('02), Kellen Winslow II ('03) of the Seattle Seahawks, two-time Super Bowl Champion Heath Miller ('04) of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Marcedes Lewis ('05) of the Jacksonville Jaguars, 2008 Super Bowl Champion Matt Spaeth ('06) of the of the Chicago Bears, Fred Davis ('07) of the Washington Redskins, Chase Coffman ('08) of the Tampa Bay Bucaneers, Aaron Hernandez ('09) of the New England Patriots, D.J. Williams ('10) of the Green Bay Packers and the 2011 John Mackey Award recipient Dwayne Allen of the Indianapolis Colts.

2012 John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List
Name / School / Year

Alex Bayer - Bowling Green - Jr
Kyle Carter - Penn State - Fr
Chris Coyle - Arizona State - Jr
Jack Doyle - W. Kentucky - Sr
Tyler Eifert - Notre Dame - Sr
Eric Ebron - North Carolina - Soph
Zach Ertz - Stanford - Sr
Gavin Escobar - San Diego State - Jr
Joseph Fauria - UCLA - Sr
Brandon Ford - Clemson - Sr
Crockett Gillmore - Colorado State - Jr
Chris Gragg - Arkansas - Sr
Marcus Green - Mississippi State - Sr
Chase Harper - Texas State - Sr
Gator Hoskins - Marshall - Jr
Nick Kasa - Colorado - Sr
Ryan Otten - San Jose State - Sr
Jacob Pedersen - Wisconsin - Jr
Kyler Reed - Nebraska - Sr
Zach Sudfeld - Nevada - Sr
Jordan Reed - Florida - Jr
Mychal Rivera - Tennessee - Sr
Austin Seferian-Jenkins - Washington - Soph
Dion Sims - Michigan State - Jr
Levine Toilolo - Stanford - Jr
Luke Willson - Rice - Sr

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, CBS, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College and NFL 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 Preseason Schedule - 2012


NFL Preseason Schedule - 2012

Hall of Fame Weekend

Arizona at New Orleans
8:00 PM

Week 1

Washington at Buffalo
7:00 PM

Baltimore at Atlanta
7:30 PM

New Orleans at New England
7:30 PM

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
7:30 PM

Green Bay at San Diego
8:00 PM

Denver at Chicago
8:30 PM

NY Jets at Cincinnati
7:30 PM

Cleveland at Detroit
7:30 PM

Tampa Bay at Miami
7:30 PM

NY Giants at Jacksonville
7:30 PM

Arizona at Kansas City
8:00 PM

Minnesota at San Francisco
9:00 PM

Houston at Carolina
7:00 PM

Tennessee at Seattle
10:00 PM

St. Louis at Indianapolis
1:30 PM

Dallas at Oakland
8:00 PM

Week 2

Cincinnati at Atlanta
8:00 PM

Cleveland at Green Bay
8:00 PM

Tennessee at Tampa Bay
7:30 PM

Miami at Carolina
8:00 PM

Detroit at Baltimore
8:00 PM

Buffalo at Minnesota
8:00 PM

Jacksonville at New Orleans
8:00 PM

Oakland at Arizona
10:00 PM

NY Giants at NY Jets
7:00 PM

San Francisco at Houston
8:00 PM

Washington at Chicago
8:00 PM

Kansas City at St. Louis
8:00 PM

Seattle at Denver
9:00 PM

Dallas at San Diego
9:00 PM

Indianapolis at Pittsburgh
8:00 PM

Philadelphia at New England
8:00 PM

Continue to Next Page for rest of NFL Preseason schedule

Browns Select Josh Gordon in NFL Supplemental Draft 2012

Browns Select Josh Gordon in NFL Supplemental Draft 2012

The Cleveland Browns drafted Baylor/Utah wide receiver Josh Gordon in the 2nd round of the NFL 2012 Supplemental Draft this week. It was a shocking early selection for the Browns who forfeit next year’s #2 selection as a result of the addition of Gordon. He is a major reach this early and a prospect who I rated a 3rd day selection in a seven round April draft class. His grade was a marginal Top 100-125 ranking with some serious developmental and off the field issues.

Gordon was the only one of the eight players eligible for the Supplemental Draft that was selected. Carson Newman linebacker Larry Lumpkin signed with the Colts shortly afterwards while TCU running back Ed Wesley will likely signed with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent if his shoulder passes a club’s medical exam. The others players that were eligible were Boise State defensive back Quaylon Ewing, Syracuse fullback Adam Harris, Iowa State offensive lineman Adrian Haughton, Georgia defensive end Montez Robinson and McMurray wide receiver Houston Tuminello. They are free to sign with any NFL team, though rosters are basically filled after mini-camps and most clubs would have to release a player to add a new rookie.

The Browns were overly aggressive adding Gordon. They "won" the second pick of each round in the 2012 Supplemental Draft and the only team drafting ahead of them in each round was the Buffalo Bills. The NFL uses a "lottery system" for determining the Supplemental draft order each July.

Gordon certainly shows good size (6’3” 224 lb.) and athleticism to warrant a mid round selection, though many NFL teams are generally conservative in giving up such high picks in the Supplemental draft especially with camp only weeks away. The last time a player was selected as high as the 2nd round in the Supplemental draft came in July 2003 when the Houston Texans selected former Georgia Tech running back Tony Hollings. No one player has been selected in the first round since former Duke quarterback Dave Brown in 1992. Last year, the Raiders used a #3 pick for QB Terrelle Pryor in the mid summer player draft.

Cleveland was very interested in Gordon in this draft class and they would have taken former Baylor receiver Kendall Wright with the #22 overall pick this past April if he was available. They chose former Oklahoma St QB Brandon Weeden at No. 22 and did not address the receiver position until the 4th round with the selection of wideout Travis Benjamin with the #100 overall pick. The Browns have committed to improving their passing game and needed playmakers and look to Gordon to press veterans, second-year pro Greg Little and veterans Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi for playing time.

It will be very interesting to see what impact Gordon after only one full season of college football under his belt, will have in the Browns passing game in 2012. Additionally, the talent of recent receiving classes has improved significantly with the emergence of potent NFL passing games and the prospects available with the Browns 2nd round for the NFL Draft 2013 could be far superior to Gordon as a NFL receiver. The Browns pick could be a top 40-50 overall selection next April.

The selection of Gordon could be a huge impact on the current regime with Browns President Mike Holmgren entering his third season with a 9-23 record and two last place finished in the AFC North in the books. Their NFL 2012 Draft class in April was their best group of rookies selected in years, though the overall strength of this group will depend on the impact development of rookies, runner Trent Richardson and QB Brandon Weeden in addition to several risky early picks included the selection of Josh Gordon this week.

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.

NFL Draft 2012 - Philadelphia Eagle's Draft Class Tops NFC

Eagles Top NFC Draft Class

Photo – DT Fletcher Cox - Mississippi St

NFL Draft 2012 Mini Review - out next week - Free for Subscribers
NFL Draft 2012 Review - complete master Review includes Rookie class and free agents, Mini Camps results and Veteran Free Agent additions - Available in mid June

Philadelphia Eagles - Grade A
The Eagles had another large draft class with 9 overall choices after trades and compensatory picks. They used their #15 pick in the first round to move up to the #12 overall spot to select defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, a quick explosive defender. They moved up for 4th and 6th round choices in this draft class. Cox was our highest rated defensive lineman in this class and is a highly developed prospect who is ready to compete for immediate NFL starting time. He can be an impact performer here especially as a pass rusher with the versatility to lineup at a few spots in their flexible front four. With their two #2 picks, they chose LB Mychal Kendricks and DE Vinny Curry. Kendricks is an athletic defender with experience both inside and outside. He can be a three down defender at any position in the Eagles 4-3 set with the mobility to cover and the burst to rush the passer. Curry is a tough athlete with fine pass rusher skills, but only average run support. He can be an every down defender in time with improvement to anchor and was great value here. On the 3rd round, they selected QB Nick Foles, a big raw passer with a strong arm, but limited mobility. He has nice upside potential with further development and is a young talented QB prospect the Eagles hope to refine over his early career to press for starting time or command a high ransom in the trade market. He was a reach here in the top 100 selections.

With their 4th round pick, they chose CB Brandon Boykin, a quick cover man who fell off a broken leg at the Senior Bowl. Boykin is a good defender who will compete for the nickel corner role when healthy. He figures to become a core cover man in all their package defenses and addresses a pressing need after the trade of veteran corner Asante Samuel. On the 5th round, they added OT Dennis Kelly, a tall rangy blocker who started three seasons on the outside in the Big Ten. He figures to push for a roster spot at a thin position on this squad after key injuries. On the 6th round, they added WR Marvin McNutt and OG Brandon Washington. McNutt is a big tough receiver with sure hands and good route running. He must prove he can separate at the NFL level, but has the makeup to become a fine possession receiver. Washington is a wide body lineman with experience both inside and outside. He was an underachiever who struggled with conditioning and technique that hurt his final grade. He is a boom bust prospect who can be a definite steal if he improves his work habits and overall technique. With their final selection, they added RB Bryce Brown, a highly rated prospect entering college who played in a few programs and never found his spot in either program. He can be a find here with the talent to surprise as a backup and possibly a 1 A type runner and kickoff returner.

Philadelphia Draft Selections
1 -12 Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.
2 -14 Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
2 - 27 Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
3 - 25 Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
4 -28 Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
5 -18 Dennis Kelly, OT, Purdue
6 -24 Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
6 - 30 Brandon Washington, OG, Miami
7 - 22 Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas St.

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 CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College and NFL 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 2012 - Podcast - Manning, Tebow & Pro Prospects


NFL Draft Podcast - Tebow and Pro Prospects for 2012

This is a link to a Podcast from Tuesday night - March 20th that Frank Coyle was a guest analyst on the site Draft Countdown produced by Scott Wright, the founder and owner.

We covered topics like Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, Free agency and of course the prospects for the NFL Draft 2012.

Draft Countdown is an outstanding NFL Draft web site that covers the player process thoroughly with expert scouting information. Go to www.draftcountdown.com

Click or paste link below for Draft Countdown Podcast

Frank Coyle - www.draftinsiders.com
Draft Insiders' Digest - 21st season

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc. 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 publications and web sites.

NFL Free Agency 2012 - Top 120 Players


NFL Free Agency 2012 - Top 120 Players

Bucs, Redskins & Bears Make Key Additions of first day of NFL 2012 Free Agency and Trading Market

Free Agents - Unrestricted, Restricted & ‘Street’
No Franchise Players listed

Photo - QB Drew Brees - Saints

March Newsletter has an extensive NFL Free Agency 2012 report - Order Today - Special Packages available - call 1-800-776-1949

NFL Free Agency - Top 120 Players
1 Peyton Manning - QB - Indianapolis
2 Mario Williams - DE - Houston
3 Brandon Carr - CB - Kansas City
4 Carl Nicks - OG - New Orleans
5 Matt Flynn - QB - Green Bay
6 Vincent Jackson - WR - San Diego
7 Red Bryant - DE/DT - Seattle
8 Curtis Lofton - LB - Atlanta
9 Eric Winston - OT - Houston
10 Mike Wallace - WR - Pittsburgh
11 Ben Grubbs - G - Baltimore
12 Carlos Rogers - CB - San Fran
13 Marques Colston - WR - New Orleans
14 Chris Myers - C - Houston
15 Lardarius Webb - CB - Baltimore
16 Stephen Tulloch - LB - Detroit
17 Cortland Finnegan - CB - Tennessee
18 Michael Bush - RB - Oakland
19 Terrell Thomas - CB - N.Y. Giants
20 Brandon Lloyd - WR - St. Louis
21 Tracy Porter - CB - New Orleans
22 Brodrick Bunkley - DT - Denver
23 Jason Jones - DT - Tennessee
24 Jared Gaither - OT - San Diego
25 Reggie Wayne - WR - Indianapolis
26 Scott Wells - C - Green Bay
27 Demetrius Bell - OT - Buffalo
28 Kendall Langford - DE - Miami
29 Evan Mathis - G - Philadelphia
30 Jeremy Mincey - DE - Jacksonville
31 Reggie Nelson - S - Bengals
32 John Abraham - DE - Atlanta
33 Mike Tolbert - RB - San Diego
34 David Hawthorne - LB - Seattle
35 LaRon Landry - S - Washington
36 Paul Soliai - NT - Miami
37 Pierre Garcon - WR - Indianapolis
38 Aaron Ross - CB - N.Y. Giants
39 Robert Meachem - WR - New Orleans
40 Alex Smith - QB - San Francisco
41 Sione Pouha - NT - N.Y. Jets
42 Mario Manningham - WR - N.Y. Giants
43 Cory Redding - DE/DT - Baltimore
44 Laurent Robinson - WR - Dallas
45 Jarret Johnson - LB - Baltimore
46 Antonio Garay - NT - San Diego
47 Martellus Bennett - TE - Dallas
48 Aubrayo Franklin - DT - New Orleans
49 Chad Henne - QB - Miami
50 Peyton Hillis - RB - Cleveland
51 Amobi Okoye - DT - Chicago
52 Mark Anderson - DE - New England
53 Rocky McIntosh - LB - Redskins
54 Randy Moss - WR - Tennessee
55 BenJarvus Green-Ellis - RB - New England
56 Erin Henderson - LB - Minnesota
57 Dwight Lowery - S - Jacksonville
58 Jason Campbell - QB - Oakland
59 Josh Morgan - WR - San Francisco
60 Leroy Hill - LB - Seattle
61 Tim Jennings - CB - Chicago
62 London Fletcher - LB - Washington
63 Richard Marshall - CB - Arizona
64 Cedric Benson - RB - Cincinnati
65 Andre Carter - DE - New England
66 Eric Wright - CB - Detroit
67 Samson Satele - C - Oakland
68 Kyle Orton - QB - Kansas City
69 Derek Landri - DT - Philadelphia
70 Manny Lawson - LB - Cincinnati
71 John Carlson - TE - Seattle
72 Jake Scott - G - Tennessee
73 Jarret Johnson - LB - Ravens
74 Steve Hutchinson - G - Minnesota
75 Trevor Laws - DT - Philadelphia
76 Dan Connor - LB - Carolina
77 E.J. Henderson - LB - Minnesota
78 Dan Koppen - C - New England
79 Luis Castillo - DE - San Diego
80 Joe Mays - LB - Denver
81 Kameron Wimbley - DE - Oakland
82 Geoff Schwartz - G - Carolina
83 Ryan Grant - RB - Green Bay
84 Anthony Collins - OT - Cincinnati
85 Dallas Clark - TE - Colts
86 Chilo Rachal - G - San Fran
87 Brandon Jacobs - RB - Giants
88 Abram Elam - SS - Dallas
89 Kevin Smith - RB - Detroit
90 Kevin Boss - TE - Oakland
91 Jerricho Cotchery - WR - Pittsburgh
92 Joseph Addai - RB - Indianapolis
93 Ronald Bartell - CB - Rams
94 Jacob Tamme - TE - Indianapolis
95 Cedric Griffin - CB - Vikings
96 Jeff Backus - OT - Detroit
97 Jake Ballard - TE - Giants
98 Juqua Parker - DE - Philadelphia
99 Brandon Meriweather - S - Chicago
100 Levi Brown - OT - Cardinals

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