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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 Combine 2014 -Defensive Players To Watch at Workouts


NFL Combine 2014
Defensive Players To Watch at Combine Weekend Workouts
Workouts – Feb 22nd Saturday thru Feb. 25th Tuesday

Photo – DE Kony Ealy - Missouri

Defensive Players

* Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Rare athlete looks to light up the sprints.

* Scott Crichton, Oregon State
Relentless edge rusher pushing into the early round.

* Kony Ealy, Missouri
Versatile athlete has impact talent.

Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
Tweener type needs to impress in agility drills.

Kareem Martin, North Carolina
Big athlete has impressed this offseason.

Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Big All-star efforts puts him in the first round discussion.

* Ego Ferguson, Louisiana State
Strong workout puts him in the first round

Ra'shede Hageman, Minnesota
Top tackle entering the NFL Combine.

* Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Explosive interior defender hopes to solidify an early grade here.

* Anthony Johnson, LSU
Underachiever needs a strong performance here.

Carl Bradford, Arizona State
Junior looks to impress in drills to move up charts.

Trevor Reilly, Utah
Tough tweener edge rusher needs strong agility drills to convert to playing up.

Devon Kennard, Southern California
Underrated tweener needs a big workout.

*Yawin Smallwood, UConn
Junior hopes to impress with his overall athleticism.

Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA
Versatile defender has come on strong this season.

Pro Prospects - Pre-NFL Combine 2014 Rankings


Pro Prospect Rankings - NFL Draft 2014
Pre-NFL Combine 2014 Rankings * underclassmen

Photo – WR Mike Evans - Texas A&M


1. * Teddy Bridgewater, 6-2, 200 - Louisville
2. * Blake Bortles, 6-3, 230 - Central Florida
3. * Johnny Manziel, 6-1, 210 - Texas A&M
4. Derek Carr, 6-3, 215 - Fresno St
5. Zach Mettenberger, 6-5, 230 - LSU
6. Jimmy Garoppolo, 6-2, 215 - Eastern Illinois
7. AJ McCarron, 6-3, 220 - Alabama
8. * Brett Smith - 6-3, 215 - Wyoming
9. Tajh Boyd, 6-1, 220 - Clemson
10. David Fales, 6-3, 220 - San Jose St

Running Backs:
1. * Tre Mason, 5-10, 215 - Auburn
2. * Ka'Deem Carey, 5-10, 205 - Arizona
3. * Lache Seastrunk, 5-9, 210 - Baylor
4. * Carlos Hyde, 5-11, 240 - Ohio St
5. * Bishop Sankey, 5-9, 205 - Washington
6. Charles Sims, 5-11, 215 - West Virginia
7. Tyler Gaffney, 5-11, 225 – Stanford
8. Antonio Andrews, 5-11, 215 - Western Kentucky
9. * James Wilder, 6-1, 230 - Florida St
10. * Terrance West, 5-11, 225 - Towson St.

1. Jay Prosch, 6-0, 255 - Auburn
2. Ryan Hewitt, 6-3, 245 - Stanford
3. J.C. Copeland, 6-1, 270 - LSU
4. Chad Abram, 5-11, 240 - Florida St
5. Trey Burton, 6-0, 225 - Florida

Wide Receivers:
1. * Sammy Watkins, 6-0, 200 - Clemson
2. * Mike Evans, 6-5, 225 - Texas A&M
3. * Marqise Lee, 6-0, 195 - Southern Cal
4. * Kelvin Benjamin, 6-5, 220 - Florida St
5. * Davante Adams, 6-2, 210 - Fresno St.
6. * Odell Beckham, 5-10, 190 - LSU
7. * Brandin Cooks, 5-10, 185 - Oregon St.
8. Jordan Matthews, 6-2, 205 - Vanderbilt
9. * Jarvis Landry, 6-1, 195 - LSU
10. * Allen Robinson, 6-2, 205 - Penn St

NFL 2014 Offseason Schedule


NFL 2014 Offseason Schedule
Free Agency and NFL Combine Head Key Upcoming Dates

February 8-9 - NFL Regional Combine, Methodist Center, Houston, Texas
February 15-16 - NFL Regional Combine, Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, Florham Park, New Jersey
Feb. 17: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players

Feb. 19-25: NFL Combine 2014 - Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Feb. 22-25: NFL Combine - Workouts daily by position

Draft Insiders Digest will have complete NFL Combine Roster 2014
– available soon – February Newsletter – available now - Frank Coyle / Publisher

February 22 - NFL Regional Combine, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, California
March 1 - NFL Regional Combine, One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, Florida
March 3 - Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players
March 8-9 - NFL Regional Combine, Atlanta Falcons Training Facility, Flowery Branch, Georgia March 8-11: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their 2013 player contracts at 4 p.m. ET on March 11. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m. on March 11

March 11: New NFL League year, Veteran Free Agency begins

March 11: Before 4 p.m. ET, clubs must exercise options for 2014 on all players who have option clauses in their 2013 contracts
March 11: Before 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts
March 11: Before 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2013 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued Seasons of free agency credit
March 11: All clubs must be under the 2014 salary cap before 4 p.m. ET
March 11 - Trading period for 2014 begins , New York time, after expiration of all 2013 contracts
March 15 - NFL Regional Combine, Halas Hall, Lake Forest, Illinois
March 22 - NFL Regional Combine, Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University, Davie, Florida
March 22-23 - NFL Regional Combine, Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Renton, Washington
March 23-26: NFL Owners Meeting - Orlando, Fla.
March 29 - NFL Regional Combine, Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, Indianapolis, Indiana.
March 29-30 - NFL Regional Combine, Under Armour Performance Center, Owings Mills, Maryland.
April 7 - Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2013 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
April 12-13 - Super Regional Combine, Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan.
April 21: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin off-season workout programs.
May 2: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
May 7: Deadline for prior club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.

May 8-10: NFL Draft 2014 - New York, Radio City Music Hall
May 8th First round - May 9th Rounds 2&3 - May 10th Rounds 4 thru 7

May 10: Rookie Free Agency market opens
May 19-21: 2014 Owners Spring meeting, Atlanta, Georgia

Senior Bowl 2014 - Key Game Players to Watch


Senior Bowl 2014 - Key Game Players to Watch

Photo - QB Jimmy Garoppolo - Eastern Illinois

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Fast rising small college passer put back to back strong performances together at the East-West and Senior Bowl practices. He gets the main stage Saturday in Mobile and could elevate his stock into the top 50 selections. Garoppolo (6'2", 220 lbs) has a very compact and quick release with fine accuracy and a nice touch that allows receivers to run after the catch. He has an above average arm though he shows the ability to drive the ball into small openings with timing and accuracy. After an impressive week of practice, he can really shine on the big stage vs top completion.

Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
Underrated runner elevated his stock significantly with an impressive effect at the practices. He combines fine size and speed with well rounded talent to fill all the roles for the position. He is a fine route runner with soft hands and the natural running ability to be dangerous after the catch. He is moves well laterally and shows a burst of speed coming out of his cuts to run away from defenders. He has a thick lower body to break tackles and show some cutback ability/vision to find running lanes. A strong game effort and he can move into the top 10 selections.

Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
Fast vertical threat has lite it up this week with his ability to separate and get open. His big play potential has drawn raves and improved his draft status. Though only 5’10” 187 lbs., his short area quickness and long speed allow him to create big plays and will most likely allow him to shine at the NFL Combine.

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
Agile sure handed receiver may be the most developed wideout in this class. He routes great routes, adjusts very well and has the receiving radius and soft hands to catch everything. He has deceptive speed and quickness and could be the playmaker with the development to be a key factor on game day.

Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Tough technician had an outstanding week at practices vs the best edge rushers. He probably guaranteed a first round grade. He is highly developed and versatile that probably will earn him a starting rookie grade this summer.

Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
Sound technician displayed strong hands and balance that enables him to win consistently vs top linemen. He shows a strong base that translates well to the well and allows him to play with power. Good work effort and preparation will earn him early NFL starting spot, probably at right tackle.

Defensive Players
Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn

Fast edge rusher was unblockable this week. He has the explosive speed off the ball that dominated the practice sessions throughout the week. This small defensive end consistently attacked the edge of offensive tackles in one-on-one pass-rush and team drills. He weighs only 243 lbs and teams see him as a better fit as an outside 'backer in a 3-4 front. In a four man front, he is a situational rusher with impact ability. He has the quickest first step off the line in this draft class.

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Another smallish defender who had a strong week vs top competition. He has a quick burst off the ball, with strong and violent hands to gain a fast advantage. Though only 6'0" and 288 lbs, he wins with quickness and leverage with the ability to finish strong. He plays hard and competes on every rep.
Fine 3-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 front who has rose up draft boards after he showcased consistent talent vs premier blockers.

Jordan Tripp, LB, Montana
Rangy small college defender moves easily that allows him to pursue and drop in coverage.
He moves like a strong safety with the frame to carry another 10-15 lbs. He is a very fluid athlete and plays with fine speed for a 6'2", 237-pound defender. He needs to get stronger and take on blockers
and hold the point to play in a base defense.. Interesting rising defender.

Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
Big agile corner had a strong week of practices. He has the length scouts seek in a pro corner and shows the agility to move easily in his pedal and closing speed. He plays the ball well with the reach to deflect many passes. He plays both press and man well with the ability to ride a receiver’s hips and locate the ball consistently.

Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State
Physical strong safety displayed powerful tackling with the ability to close on the ball and drop runners.
He has excellent size (6'1", 216 lbs) with the ability to cover the back quarter. He can run the alley and drop runners in their tracks. His ability to match up with top tight ends in the deep game will determine how high a club will draft this emerging defender.

Players Primed for Big Game Performances
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Brandon Thomas, OT, Clemson
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Michael Schofield , OT, Michigan
Gabe Jackson , OG, Mississippi State
Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
Tyler Larsen, C, Utah State

Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Keith McGill, CB, Utah
Dez Southward, DB, Wisconsin
Dontae Johnson, DB, North Carolina St.

Players Who Need Big Game Performances
QB Logan Thomas - Virginia Tech
QB Stephen Morris - Miami
WR Jeff Janis - Saginaw Valley St.
OG Cyril Richardson – Baylor
OT Seantrel Henderson – Miami
OG Kadeem Edwards - Tennessee St.
DE Michael Sam - Missouri
DT Caraun Reid - Princeton
LB Jonathan Brown - Illinois
CB Chris Davis - Auburn

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.

Top 50 Pro Prospects for the NFL Draft 2014


Top 50 Pro Prospects for the NFL Draft 2014
January, 2014 - Pre-Senior Bowl Rankings / * Declared Underclassmen

Photo - DE Jadeveon Clowney - South Carolina

Pro Prospect / Position / School
1. * Jadeveon Clowney - DE - South Carolina
2. Jake Matthews - OT - Texas A&M
3. Anthony Barr - LB - UCLA
4. * Sammy Watkins - WR - Clemson
5. * Greg Robinson - OT - Auburn
6. * Teddy Bridgewater - QB - Louisville
7. * Blake Bortles - QB - Central Florida
8. * Johnny Manziel - QB - Texas A&M
9. Khalil Mack - LB - Buffalo
10. Darqueze Dennard - CB - Michigan State
11. * Mike Evans - WR - Texas A&M
12. *Jace Amaro - TE - Texas Tech
13. * Marqise Lee - WR - Southern California
14. * Timmy Jernigan - DT - Florida State
15. * Eric Ebron - TE - North Carolina
16.* Cyrus Kouandjio - OT - Alabama
17. C.J. Mosley - LB - Alabama
18. Taylor Lewan - OT - Michigan
19. * Louis Nix - DT - Notre Dame
20. Derek Carr - QB - Fresno State
21. * Kelvin Benjamin - WR - Florida St.
22. Ra'Shede Hageman - DT - Minnesota
23. Justin Gilbert - CB - Oklahoma State
24. Trent Murphy - DE - Stanford
25. * Ryan Shazier - LB - Ohio State

For the Top 50 Pro Prospects Continue to Next Page

College 2014 All Star Games Showcase NFL Draft Prospects


Medal of Honor All-Star Game - Inaugural Game
Jan. 11, 2014 - Charleston, South Carolina.


East-West Shrine Game - Jan. 18, 2014 - 4 pm.

NFLPA All-Star Game - Jan. 18, 2014 – 3 pm.

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 Power Rankings - Chiefs Perfect Entering Bye Week


NFL Power Rankings - Chiefs Perfect Entering Bye Week

Pro Power Rankings - Week 10

Photo - QB Drew Brees - Saints

Offensive Player of the Week - QB Nick Foles - Eagles
Defensive Player - CB Sean Smith - Chiefs

Rookies of the Week

Offensive Player- WR Aaron Dotson - Patriots
Defensive Player- CB David Amerson - Redskins

Team of Week 9 - Colts -
Matchup of Week 10 - Cowboys at Saints –

Rank / Team / Record

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0)
The Chiefs go into bye week prior to Broncos matchup in Denver next week.

2. Denver Broncos (7-1)
Broncos better not sleep with trip to San Diego this week.

3. Seattle Seahawks (8-1)
The Seahawks can win ugly too.

4. Indianapolis Colts (6-2)
Colts looking to establish AFC home field advantage over next month.

5. New Orleans Saints (6-2)
Saints get major vs Cowboys at the friendly confirms in the Big Easy this week.

6. New England Patriots (7-2)
Patriots get open week before second half run with mainly sub .500 teams.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (8-3)
The Bengals face major AFC North test at Baltimore this Sunday.

8. San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
The 49ers rested after London trip and host Panthers this week.

9. Detroit Lions (5-3)
Lions begin their push for NFC North title with trip to Chicago this Sunday.

10. Green Bay Packers (5-3)
Packers lost key game to Bears Monday nite and begin NFC push without Aaron Rodgers over next month.

11. Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
Cowboys just got by Vikings last week and travel to New Orleans for major NFC clash with Saints.

12. Chicago Bears (5-3)
The Bears got a huge win over Packers on Monday night.

13. Baltimore Ravens (3-5)
The Ravens facing almost a must win contest with Bengals at home this week.

14. Miami Dolphins (4-4)
The Dolphins travel cross state vs Bucs to deflect ongoing “Bullying’ fiasco.

15. Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
Cards get soft part of schedule and need a run here to stay alive in the NFC playoff race.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)
Eagles travel to Green Bay for vital contest for both clubs’ playoff hopes.

17. New York Jets (5-4)
The Jets won a huge game vs the Saints and have bye this week before a heavy AFC second half schedule.

18. Carolina Panthers (5-3)
Panthers go to San Fran with major test to determine whether a playoff contender or pretender.

19. San Diego Chargers (4-4)
Chargers get Broncos at home in a must win situation for any playoff hopes.

20. Tennessee Titans (4-4)
The Titans have Jaguars Sunday with two games vs Colts on the upcoming schedule.

21. Cleveland Browns (4-5)
The Browns sit out this week before facing a heavy AFC schedule for their playoff hopes.

22. New York Giants (26)
The GMen well rested for second half run for any playoff aspirations.

23. Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
Falcons get Seahawks at home this week with fading playoff hopes in balance.

24. Houston Texans (2-6)
Texans lost critical game vs Colts as they enter soft part of schedule.

25. Washington Redskins (3-5)
The Skins face the Vikings tonight and need win for any mathematical chances for playoffs.

26. Buffalo Bills (3-6)
The Bills need a win in Pittsburgh to stay in the playoff hunt.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
Steelers look slow and old when the game is in the balance.

28. St. Louis Rams (3-6)
The Rams face Colts this week and face a tough task to stay in contention.

29. Oakland Raiders (3-5
The Raiders got bombed by Eagles last week with GMen on the agenda this Sunday.

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-7)
Vikings are a weekly train wreck and face tough schedule over second half.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-8)
Bucs get the ‘Bullied’ Dolphins at home Monday night.

32 .Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)
Jags didn’t lose last week with bye – get back into routine vs Titans this Sunday.

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