Supplemental Declarer Jackson Signs with Dallas

Toby Jackson, one of the players who declared for the 2013 NFL Supplemental Draft that occurred in mid-July, became the first of the six declarers to sign with an NFL team.

The defensive end, who declared for the supplemental draft following an academic dismissal from the University of Central Florida, was ineligible to play in 2012. Jackson played in nine games in 2011, including two starts, totaling three tackles and a blocked punt. Dallas will likely utilize Jackson as depth at both end and tackle in their new 4-3 defensive scheme, as both Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff are expected to be out until the preseason at the earliest.

No other supplemental declarer has received interest from teams at this point, although representatives of multiple NFL teams were in attendance for ex-Southern Alabama defensive back Damond Smith’s pro day just days prior to the draft on July 11.


Jacksonville’s Quarterback Dilemma

When the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up to select Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert 10th-overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, then-coach Jack Del Rio and former general manager Gene Smith could not have predicted a Jacksonville franchise with such a question mark at quarterback.

The biggest news out of camp concerning who’s playing under center revolves around a former first-round bust (Gabbert) and a second-round bust (Chad Henne). Gabbert’s woes are well documented in Jacksonville — a disastrous rookie season that garnered the label of “the fifth-worst season we’ve ever measured” by Football Outsiders along with league lows in yards per attempt (5.4), passer rating (65.4) and quarterback fumbles (14), while ranking second-worst in completion percentage (50.8).

In 24 starts in the past two seasons, the Jaguars have gone 5-19 with Gabbert under center. Henne’s poor play to finish out the season (1-5 record, 7:10 TD:INT ratio) following Gabbert’s torn labrum in week 11 may be the only reason why Gabbert still has a shot at beating out the former Dolphins veteran.

Henne had an up-and-down four-year stint with Miami following a 57th-overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, never once managing a passer rating of 80.0 or throwing more touchdowns than interceptions in a season. Henne played sparingly as a rookie behind starter Chad Pennington, and only started in 2009 following a season-ending pair of injuries to Pennington in week three. In four seasons Henne started only 31 games (13-18 record) and was not re-signed by the Dolphins after his rookie contract ended.

This offseason marked the addition of two undrafted free-agents following the 2013 NFL Draft — Matt Scott (Arizona) and Jordan Rodgers (Vanderbilt), the brother of star Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Both Scott and Rodgers are lauded as project quarterbacks with plus arm strength and athleticism that need work in both decision making and picking up an NFL-style offense. While Rodgers may be out of luck following a sports hernia surgery that has kept him sidelined, Scott looked to have the third quarterback spot locked up until the addition of another young quarterback — ex-Eagles 2010 fourth-round pick Mike Kafka.

Originally selected by Philadelphia to learn behind Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb as the third quarterback, Kafka was displaced following the third-round selection of Nick Foles out of Arizona last year. Kafka spent 2012 searching for a job, only to find his first offer in the form of an a reserve/future contract in early January from the Patriots — who would later cut Kafka to make room for media hype Tim Tebow in early June.

Kafka offers the Jaguars very little in the way of arm strength, but is a smart passer with excellent accuracy. This polish could appeal to coach Gus Bradley for the third quarterback role over either project players Scott and Rodgers, and general manager David Caldwell stated that Jacksonville had interest in Kafka as a player to push Gabbert prior to his addition by the Patriots.

As of now, the camp battle is up for grabs between Gabbert and Henne. Kafka’s addition is more of a sideshow at this point in the quarterback competition, but preseason struggles by either Gabbert or Henne could change the coaching staff’s perspective on Kafka.

This doesn’t mean that Jacksonville is standing pat with their talent under center. Caldwell has made it clear his staff is looking into the 2014 quarterback crop, including the likes of Tahj Boyd (Clemson) and Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville). While every team will look into the upcoming draft class’ quarterbacks, regardless of talent on their roster, this is a very important indication that Gabbert is in a make-or-break season — if he can’t prove on the field that he’s worthy of the time and money Jacksonville has invested, he’ll likely be getting a one-way ticket out of town after the 2013 campaign.


Gabe Carimi Trade Example of Recouping Value

Gabe Carimi is a name that many draft aficionados may remember from the 2011 NFL Draft.

The former Bears 29th-overall pick was sent packing yesterday on a one-way flight to Tampa Bay only two seasons removed from his selection in return for a 2014 sixth-round pick.

Carimi started only two games as a rookie before suffering a right knee subluxation in week 2 of the 2011 season. Kept on the roster while rehabbing, Carimi was placed on injured reserve in November. Scouts had previously red-flagged Carimi coming out of Wisconsin for concerns about the durability of his right knee — but that didn’t stop the Bears from using their first-round pick on the athletic blocker.

This past season wasn’t much of an improvement, as Carimi was ranked 73rd out of 80 qualifying tackles by Pro Football Focus in his ten starts at right tackle — with an even worse ranking of 78th in pass protection. Carimi was removed from the starting lineup after facing San Francisco phenom Aldon Smith in week 11 — where he was jointly responsible (with left tackle J’Marcus Webb) for 5.5 sacks by the second-year pass-rusher.

New Bears head coach Marc Trestman was hesitant to name Carimi as a starter during the offseason, but he did state that Carimi wouldn’t be playing any tackle for Chicago in 2013. Over the past weeks leading up to Carimi’s trade to the Buccaneers the team was unsure whether Carimi would attend minicamp following his voluntary skipping of organized team activities.

Tampa Bay already has a solid offensive line group, so Carimi will have an uphill battle to crack the final roster. His experience as a tackle and passable play as a guard towards the end of last season must have given Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik hope that Carimi can contribute as quality depth.

This is not the first we’ve seen of a team attempting to get some value out of a perceived draft bust like Carimi. The Broncos similarly sent 2009 second-round cornerback Alphonso Smith to the Lions in return for reserve tight end Dan Gronkowski. Aaron Curry, the 2009 fourth-overall pick, was also jettisoned by the Seahawks after a disappointing two-plus seasons with Seattle.


Jaguars’ Justin Blackmon Suspended Four Games

Justin Blackmon has had a rough ride to the NFL, with two arrests on his record — one during his time at Oklahoma State, and another shortly after his selection fifth-overall in 2012 by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It seems he’s in a bit more trouble less than a year after the last incident.

There is yet no news as to why Blackmon has been suspended, but it is clear that the previous DUIs are not connected to today’s announcement.

Thankfully for Jacksonville, the run-ins with the law allowed the Jaguars to build in clauses to Blackmon’s contract that would effectively allow the team to release the troubled receiver by eliminating any guaranteed money. It’s unclear whether Jacksonville will take this out or treat the situation similarly to Tampa Bay corner Eric Wright, who’s contract was recently restructured for similar reasons.

Blackmon released this statement to the press:

“I’ve made a mistake and I have no excuse. I am truly sorry and disappointed in myself for putting the Jaguars in this situation, and I look forward to putting this behind me and maturing and growing as a person. I will have a productive training camp and pre-season with my team, and during the suspension I will work hard to stay in top football shape and be ready to help the Jaguars when I return. I have chosen to be accountable for my poor decision, and I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the front office and Jaguars fans for the impact of my mistake on the team.”

The suspension is a big blow for Jacksonville, as they’re currently sticking with over-matched 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert under center heading into the 2013 season.

I simply do not see Gabbert succeeding (or even improving on the previous two seasons’ performances) with only Cecil Shorts as a starting wide out and Mohamed Massaquoi slotting in as Blackmon’s replacement. Jacksonville’s offense is one to stay away from for fantasy purposes.


JaMarcus Russell, Waking Up

A bit of something different, but I thought that this short documentary of JaMarcus Russell’s rise (and fall) is definitely worth a watch.

Who knows, we may witness Russell donning no. 2 for another team sometime in the future.


Darrelle Revis Likely Headed to Tampa Bay

The Revis trade rumors are coming to a head today, with reports that the Jets cornerback is set to take a physical with the Buccaneers and can also begin contract extension negotiations.

According to multiple news outlets, a trade has been agreed upon between New York and Tampa Bay, contingent on Revis and his agent hammering out an extension with the Buccaneers and Revis’ ACL checking out.

If Revis were to agree to an extension and be traded to Tampa Bay, it would shake up the plans for both the Jets and the Buccaneers — the Jets would be picking up another first-round pick (13th-overall) and Tampa Bay is eliminating a need at cornerback.

New York would now have some flexibility with trading around in the first-round, as even if they trade down with one pick they’ll be able to stay in the first-round with the other pick — and reports are coming out of New York that new GM John Idzik is looking to stock pile picks in the way that his former team (Seattle) did in previous seasons.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay may be giving up their first-round pick, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a first-round pick if they play their cards right. Several teams are looking to trade out of the first-round, and it’s not as if the Buccaneer traded down and didn’t get value — the trade will only happen if an extension is already arranged beforehand, giving Tampa Bay a long term solution at cornerback.

For the full story, see John Clayton’s report below.

Update:

It’s becoming clear that the Revis deal is done, and an extension has been agreed to — according to multiple sources.


Concerns About Ogletree and Lotulelei in the NFL

It seems that as the 2013 NFL Draft approaches, mock drafts from many different outlets are starting to resemble each other.

Even when the mocks are drastically different, it seems that some analysts are sticking to their mocks almost pick for pick–as is the case with CBS Sports’ Rob Rang over the past couple weeks.

With that said, the Mock Drafts Comparison page has been updated once again, with new mock drafts from NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah and ESPN’s Todd McShay.

Jeremiah makes several interesting implications, such as Geno Smith to the Eagles and surprisingly has the Lions passing on Ziggy Ansah at fifth-overall.

McShay also makes some odd assertions, namely Geno Smith being selected by the Browns at sixth-overall.

Mayock Worries About Ogletree in the NFL

To say that Mike Mayock has his doubts about Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree is an understatement after comments made in an interview with the Daily News‘ Paul Domowitch.

“I’m scared to death about Ogletree, both for on and off the field issues. When you put the tape on, he has no clue what he’s doing. He looks like a safety that somebody plugged inside at inside linebacker. He just runs around.”

Mayock assumes that some conservative-minded GMs will be too worried by Ogletree’s question marks to take a risk on the high-upside, high risk Bulldogs product.

NFL Personnel Man Claims Star Lotulelei Most Overrated Prospect

Mark Eckel of the Newark Star-Ledger spoke of the prospects of Utah tackle Star Lotulelei in an article discussing the top defensive tackles in this year’s draft class. The full quote from a “personnel man from a NFC team” is below:

“He’s not a top five pick, not at all. He’s a good player, but he’s not that good. Somebody will take him higher than he should be taken, because he’s gotten a lot of hype. Don’t get me wrong he’s a great, big run stuffer, but that’s all he is.’’

News like this isn’t great for a former top-five prospect in draft class crowded with talented defensive tackles. With his size and lack of production rushing the passer at Utah (seven sacks in four seasons), there’s a chance that come draft day Lotulelei could drop to the second-half of the first-round–only because a team sees a legitimate nose tackle in him.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a player highly projected is revealed to have been regarded much lower by most teams around the NFL–every year there are several prospects that have much higher draft stock in the media than in reality.