Paul K excerpts a piece by Matt Williamson (In$ider subscription) taking stock of the AFC South tight ends. Williamson puts the Titans at the bottom of the list, which is admittedly strong, but notes that we could be at the top of that list if Jared Cook has the break-out season he's capable of. Williamson compares Cook;s skills and potential favorably to Packers sensation Jermichael Finley. Cook totaled 29 catches for 361 yards (including a stellar 12.4 YPC) and 1 TD, and pretty much all of that came over the last 7 games of the season when we featured complete garbage at QB. Keeping Cook on the bench should go down as the second worst decision Jeff Fisher ever made related to playing time, with the worst being sticking with Nick Harper through 2009.
Pro Football Focus' Secret Superstar series reaches the Titans and highlights my boy Jason Jones. This is a must read since discussions on defensive linemen too often just focus on the most fickle of all stats: sacks. However, sacks only tell a fraction of the story of how a defensive tackle impacts a game, and Jones has grown himself into a well-rounded threat primed to explode sometime soon:
... there weren’t many better than Jones at putting pressure on the quarterback. The former First Team All-MAC performer was getting pressure on 9.17% of all defensive plays (eighth among defensive tackles,) proving more than a handful for interior linemen who couldn’t deal with his explosiveness.
Aggressive enough to penetrate, but disciplined enough not to sacrifice his run responsibilities, Jones ended the year with a positive grade in run defense. From being one of the worst run defenders we’d ever seen in his rookie year, Jones was ranked in our top twenty just two seasons later. That he did it without his pass rushing missing a beat (he earned our highest grade for a DT in pass rushing), is a testament to his development.
Wes Bunting details the prospects at every position that he'd target if he were a GM, so basically it's a list of guys he thinks are better than their draft grade. Highlights that could intrigue the Titans include QB Christian Ponder, WR Titus Young (who is a BEAST), and DL Drake Nevis. Nevis is a guy who I could absolutely see us going after if he slips to the 3rd round or so, with the hope he'd grow into what Sen'Derrick Marks already should be by this point.
The Panthers, who hold the no.1 overall pick, are working out Ryan Mallett... but you can be pretty sure it's just in case the draft's most polished passer, yet riskiest pick, falls to the second round.
Jim Wyatt reports on the letter Bud Adams and the Titans franchise sent to season ticket holders, which included a promise to refund or credit ticket holders for any games that are missed due to the lockout.
If there's one thing you need to remember about what's being made 'public' about what happened during mediation and what will be said in the press until substantive negotiations begin again, it's this: both sides are going to lie. This thing is a pure PR war right now, and certain parties on both sides will have no problem misrepresenting statements and offers or outright complaining about things that might not have happened. This thing is a messy political contest right now for the hearts of NFL fans, complete with mudslinging, whisper campaigns and fuzzy math. If they're going to act like this I think NFL fans at least deserve an organized, televised debate on the issues between DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell. Couldn't you just see a furious Goodell turning to Smith and saying "Sir, I worked with Gene Upshaw. I knew Gene Upshaw. Gene Upshaw was a friend of mine. Sir, you are no Gene Upshaw!"
The legal games are scheduled to begin on April 6th in U.S. District Court.
So at first I thought the idea of having prospects boycott the draft in NY was pretty stupid, but the more I think about it the more I wouldn't be caught dead there if I was one of those guys. In the middle of a labor dispute would a new player really want his first impression on teammates to be smiling and shaking hands with the same Commissioner who is the spearhead of this lockout? These guys are players, and if they have any respect for what players have fought for over the past half century, they have to show solidarity right off the back, even if they don't care or don't agree with some of the stances taken by the "union".
Mike Keith is confident that the NFL won't miss any games, even if both sides talk about it right up until the end. I've got to say that I'm on the same boat: I just don't believe that either side wants so much that they'd damage a modern NFL season.
Blaize Pennington looks at the prospects beyond Patrick Peterson who worked out at LSU's pro day, which is always teeming with NFL talent.
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