2016 NFL mock draft: A new QB for the Browns

With the regular season over, nearly two-thirds of the league has its sights set fully on the 2016 NFL Draft. The Tennessee Titans start things off at No. 1 with the smart, obvious and sort-of-boring choice. After that, look for plenty of surprises.

Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Adding an offensive tackle with the No. 1 pick may seem a little dull, but it would be a smart move by a team that needs to make a handful of them this offseason. Picking Tunsil would force 2014 first-rounder Taylor Lewan to the right side. In doing so, having Lewan and guard Chance Warmack would give the Titans one of the league’s better run-blocking right sides in the league.

Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California
Johnny Manziel’s time in Mens Dave Hollins Jersey Cleveland is basically done, and he never really gave good enough reason to keep him around. Once again the Browns are starting anew. What better way to do it than with a quarterback? Of the many glaring needs on the Browns, quarterback is the most obvious and important. Goff is ready for the NFL from a mental standpoint and has solid athleticism.

BLACK SUNDAY: Monday has been Adrian Clayborn Jersey known as “Black Monday” in the NFL as the day when middling teams axe coaches for leading underwhelming seasons. Some teams couldn’t wait to begin searching for new leadership, however.

First, there was the Cleveland Browns, who fired head coach Mike Pettine, their third head coach in four years, and general manager Ray Farmer. The Browns then promoted their general counsel to vice president of football operations, which means that a man who has zero scouting experience now has final say over their 53-man roster.

Not to be outdone, the San Francisco 49ers moved quickly to fire Jim Tomsula, a man who CEO Jed York hand picked to be the 49ers’ head coach not even a year ago after “mutually parting” with Jim Harbaugh.

Free-agent 3B Justin Turner close to deal with Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a contract offer on the table to retain free-agent third baseman Justin Turner, and the two sides are close to working out a deal, a major league Joel Ward Kids Jersey source has indicated.

Turner, 32, has come into his own after the Dodgers signed the right-handed hitter before the 2014 season. He became a free agent after he was non-tendered by the New York Mets.

Despite offseason microfracture knee surgery, Turner had his best major league season in 2016, batting .275 with a .493 slugging percentage, well above his career mark of .439. Turner easily established career bests in home runs (27), RBIs (90) and doubles (34).

Turner also was a Gold Glove Award Nathan MacKinnon Kids Jersey finalist at third base.

While no details of a potential contract have been revealed, there is some indication that both sides are fine tuning the contract language, not always a simple process.

If the White Sox continue to dismantle their roster to acquire more young players, Quintana is their third huge asset. As Buster Olney wrote Friday, however, general manager Rick Hahn doesn’t need to trade Quintana:

But before the White Sox trade the left-hander to Houston or some other team for another boatload of prospects, it might be worthwhile for Hahn and his staff to think about this: Sooner than expected, the White Sox might need somebody exactly like Quintana.

Through the trades with Boston and Washington, Chicago has added young players who will make an impact with the White Sox next year. Those include Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito, who already have major league service time. Pitchers Dane Dunning and Michael Kopech are a little further away and more likely to reach the majors in 2018.

Derrick Johnson ruptured Achilles in Chiefs vs. Raiders

Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson ruptured his left Achilles in the second quarter of Kansas City’s Thursday Night Football matchup against the Oakland Raiders. The team almost immediately ruled Johnson out for the rest of the game.

Following Kansas City’s 21-13 win, head coach Andy Reid confirmed that the injury was a ruptured Achilles.

Johnson, who fought his way back from a torn Achilles during the 2014 season, was unable to walk off the field and had to be heavily assisted by athletic performance staff. The injury appeared to occur without any contact.

Chiefs players and Johnson appeared dismayed following the injury, suggesting that it may be serious.

Johnson, 34, has 89 tackles, one sack, and one interception for the Chiefs this season.

To add insult to injury for the Raiders, they had stopped Hill on a punt return just a minute before but after a penalty, they had to redo the kick.

It was just 22 degrees at kickoff and both teams got off to a slow start in the first quarter. Hill and Alex Smith have been on fire since, though.

Smith is often criticized for not throwing deep, but that hasn’t been the case in this game. He also completed a 39-yard pass to Chris Conley in the first quarter, and he hit Conley for another 31-yard catch in the second quarter. Smith was a perfect 5-for-5 on throws of 10+ yards in the first half.

It’s a valid question, Coach Pagano.

Derek Carr and Latavius Murray are having a phenomenal season, and the Oakland Raiders’ offensive line has been instrumental in their success. Carr and Murray decided to show their appreciation for one of the best lines in the league by treating them to courtside Warriors seats on Monday night.

Campfire talks shape Ben Roethlisberger’s friendship with Bills great Jim Kelly

The hunting and snowmobiling is great fun, but Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t visit Ellicottville, New York, for an annual offseason “buddies” trip simply for sport.

He goes for the campfires. He goes for Jim Kelly. And he goes for the quarterback stories you can’t get in a scouting report.

“When you’re up and around each other for four or five days, and you’re sitting around a fire, you talk about everything,” Roethlisberger said.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers make their first appearance in Buffalo since 2010, Roethlisberger has been texting with Kelly this week about how to catch up in person before Sunday’s game. They settled on dinner Saturday night.

The Cowboys don’t dabble much in free agency, so Garrett has been the only NFL coach most of these players have ever known.

The downside of all the attention that comes from playing for the Cowboys is that every person you run into has the potential to record your every move and produce a video that could go viral.

Elliott and Prescott were partying at a club the other day. The video wound up on TMZ.

“Going to Mississippi State, a school not known for a lot of football success, and for us to go and have the success we did in the two years I was there,” Prescott said, “particularly the year [2014] we went to No. 1, yeah, I mean it definitely showed me what the spotlight does, how to get used to it and prepare for TMZ or whatever it may be out there, yeah.”

Maybe, but the excitement America’s Team generates is at an entirely different level.

Manning gets the Colts a fourth-quarter lead only to see defense and special teams collapse as Mark Sanchez

Manning threw for 310 yards, with one touchdown and zero interceptions.

Same old, same old — Manning gets the Colts a fourth-quarter lead only to see defense and special teams collapse as Mark Sanchez (!) led a drive for a last-second field goal. It was only the second time in playoff history that a team got the lead in the final minute only to lose it (1999 Bills and the Music City Miracle was the other). The goat was Colts coach Jim Caldwell, who called a timeout to stop the clock while the Jets were out of timeouts and scrambling to get a play off. Caldwell must have studied at the Andy Reid school of clock management.

Manning threw for 225 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions.

Jared Goff seems destined for Cleveland (sorry, bro)

Goff is the clear top choice at quarterback among this year’s class. The Browns last drafted a quarterback in the first round just two years ago, but the Johnny Manziel experience hasn’t worked out well, especially due to Manziel’s off-the-field antics.

In fact, it’s already been reported that new Browns coach Hue Jackson plans on severing ties with Manziel. Jackson, the former Bengals offensive coordinator, is also a quarterbacks coach by trade and no doubt wants to build his team around a shiny new (and reliable) signal caller.

The only thing that could get in the Browns’ way of taking Goff with the No. 2 pick is if another quarterback-needy team leapfrogs them by trading with the Titans, who own the No. 1 pick but already have Marcus Mariota on the roster.

But there has been one constant in all six losses: the games, except for one, have been very close. Four times, the Colts or Broncos led in the fourth quarter. Two games went to overtime. In five of them, reverse one or two plays, and Manning’s team moves on.

Ben Roethlisberger’s standard fantasy point totals in his four home games this season

I want to be clear here: I can’t promise anything. The only thing I control is my own feeds. But, I am friendly with almost all of my ESPN colleagues, and if you follow the steps above (donate, send receipt and your handle to [email protected]) and mention you’ve been blocked by an ESPN personality, I will personally reach out to that person and say, “Hey, so-and-so made a donation to the V Foundation. Would you mind unblocking them for Jimmy V? Pretty please?” Knowing how generous most of my colleagues are and how important this is to all of us, I bet most of them will say yes.

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Whether you donate or not, I urge you to watch Jimmy V’s speech from the 1993 ESPYS. It’ll be the best 11 minutes you’ll spend all week.

Ben Roethlisberger’s standard fantasy point totals in his four home games this season: 19, 34, 29, 28.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: The sun comes up, the sun sets, you start Ben at home.

On Saturday, the Bills announced that Clay did not make the trip to Oakland with the team as he stayed behind for the birth of his child. His status remains questionable.

Players off game status injury report:

Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks, knee: Graham’s pattern remains the same; no practice on Wednesday followed by full sessions Thursday and Friday. He is again expected to play.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans, shoulder: This is an identical report to last week’s for Fiedorowicz, who was listed as a limited participant Wednesday and Thursday because of his shoulder. On Friday, he upgraded to full participation and is now off the injury report.

Braxton Miller and 5 others who boosted their draft stock at this year’s Senior Bowl

Before practices began at this year’s Senior Bowl, Braxton Miller was a bit of an enigma. For Ohio State this season, Miller switched from quarterback to a type of hybrid offensive weapon.

He ran the ball 42 times for 260 yards and a touchdown. He caught the ball 26 times for 341 yards and three touchdowns. He showed intrigue, but those are not exactly dazzling numbers. Miller’s usage was indicative of Ohio State’s up-and-down season on offense, so it was hard to figure out what to make of him as a prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft.

Following three practice sessions in Mobile, Ala. that is no longer the case. Miller was unquestionably the week’s biggest star. The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff running the North roster worked Miller outside and in the slot, and he was really good at both.

“I feel like every team needs playmakers and they’ve mentioned that I can do it all, whether it’s being a punt returner, in the backfield as a decoy and playing on the outside,” Miller said earlier this week. “It’s a great feeling being able to do all that stuff and still learn so much at the same time.”

Miller proved to be a quick learner during the week. Coaches tasked Miller with keeping his eyes up on routes and be tighter in his movements. Later in the week, he showed off what he learned. More than once, in fact:

“We’re coaching these guys hard and it’s good to see how well he’s responded to that coaching,” Dallas Cowboys head coach said. “Clearly a great athlete and a productive football player, and someone that has a lot of upside.”

With Miller starting to actualize that upside, Miller’s draft stock is clearly on the rise. It will go even higher if he runs a 4.28 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, like he predicted this week. Miller also said he closely follows the play of Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots and Randall Cobb of the Green Bay Packers. Miller’s game and his path to the the NFL mirrors Cobb, a quarterback and receiver at the University of Kentucky. Cobb was eventually picked with the last pick of the second round in 2011. Miller might not last that long.

2015 NFL Combine results: 40-yard dash times for running backs

While it’s always interesting — and entertaining — to see offensive linemen and quarterbacks run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, the test of speed is far more important for some other positions. It’s hard to believe a scout will significantly color his opinions of, say, an offensive tackle based on a fast or slow time in the 40-yard dash, but for positions like wide receiver and running back, the notion isn’t exactly “out there.”

Typically, the fastest positions are running back, wide receiver and defensive back. Judging by the early looks at the running back position though, they’re not exactly pushing the receivers for the top spot. None of the running backs came close to the top receiver, J.J. Nelson. He managed to put up a time of 4.29 seconds.

Ginn joined the Cardinals last offseason as a free agent, signing a three-year, $9.75 million deal. Though he did not factor significantly on offense, Ginn became the team’s primary punt returner, averaging 10.7 yards per return and scoring the seventh return touchdown of his career. He also returned 22 kickoffs for an average of 19 yards per attempt.

While Ginn finds himself on the street, he shouldn’t stay there for long. Since entering the league with the Miami Dolphins in 2007, he has established himself as one of the league’s most consistent return men and a capable reserve receiver. He later played for the San Francisco 49ers and had a career season with the Carolina Panthers in 2013. As for the Cardinals, they are left with Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown and Jaron Brown at wideout.

By cutting Ginn, the team saves $2.5 million in cap space for the 2015 season and avoids $6.5 million in future compensation. The Cardinals entered the offseason with around $5 million worth of cap space.

The biggest mover in McShay’s Mock Draft 3.0 was Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who jumped up from No. 13 to being taken third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The former Gator put on an impressive performance at the Combine, displaying the elite speed and athleticism necessary to be a stud edge rusher in the NFL. Fowler’s rise up the draft board caused McShay to drop defensive ends Randy Gregory and Shane Ray to the No. 5 and No. 8 picks.

Nobody could have predicted Peterson would miss almost the entire season

That belief was likely misguided. Nobody could have predicted Peterson would miss almost the entire season, but he was a 31-year-old back with nearly 2,400 carries on his tires with a history of injury issues. Even ignoring the child abuse case that cost him his 2014 season, Peterson has made it through only two 16-game seasons in the past five years. He was always likely to miss a few games, which erodes the logic of the trade a bit. The offensive line rotation included five veterans who have required a trip to injured reserve over the past two seasons, and that doesn’t include Kalil (whose play has deteriorated while limping through injuries) and fill-in Jake Long (whose career was decimated by injuries and who suffered an Achilles injury after four games).

Research I’ve done suggests that injuries are mostly random, especially for younger players. Health one year shouldn’t make us just assume health the next. But based on this, if anything, it’s a surprise the Vikings haven’t been hit by an injury to Bradford himself. Despite the offensive line woes, their quarterback is on pace for his first injury-free season since his 2012 campaign with the Rams, having missed 27 of the next 48 games in the three ensuing years.

ESPN Bengals reporter Katherine Terrell dropped a reference to the movie “The Replacements” this week. She also did a great job of breaking down which Bengals will step into greater roles.

Terrell’s advice is to pick up rookie receiver Tyler Boyd. Although Boyd and veteran Brandon LaFell should both see an increase in targets — and Terrell stressed that fantasy owners should be “cautious about starting anyone in a Bengals offense that couldn’t move the ball in the second half against the Bills last week” — she said Boyd is the one with an opportunity to break out.

“This will be the Bengals’ chance to see what they have in their second-round draft pick,” Terrell wrote of Boyd, who has been used primarily in the slot as the No. 3 receiver for most of this season, but caught his first touchdown of the season last week and saw his most targets (8) and receptions (6) since Week 2.

With A.J. Green out, Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd has an opportunity to break out.

Terrell also pointed out that LaFell’s receptions have dropped considerably since tight end Tyler Eifert returned from injury last month.

Frank Gore, Andre Johnson sign with Colts

Running back Frank Gore has officially signed with the Indianapolis Colts, as has free agent wide receiver Andre Johnson. Both deals are for three years. The two veterans wanted to reunite and play for the same team, according to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

Gore became a free agent after spending his first 10 seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in all but two seasons and totaled 1,106 yards on the ground in 2014. The Eagles were previously thought to be the leaders for Gore, but the 31-year-old running back reportedly changed his mind and balked on the idea of a deal in Philadelphia. According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Gore told a friend that he was concerned about Chip Kelly’s intense and overbearing demeanor as well as offseason moves made by the Eagles.

Gore’s contract with the Colts will be similar to the one the Eagles offered. The three-year deal is worth $12 million, with $7.5 million guaranteed, per Adam Schefter.

The gathering is similar to the combine conducted a few weeks ago for college prospects, with extensive testing, measurements and position-specific drills performed by the invited players in front of league scouting personnel. The results of the combine are to be distributed electronically to all 32 NFL teams.

One of the more notable names that will participate in the combine is Michael Sam, who was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams last year, cut in training camp, and signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad during the season. He was eventually released by Dallas, however, and never appeared in a regular-season game for any team as a rookie.

There were also some curious names missing from the participant list, including Tim Tebow and Vince Young, both of whom had been rumored to be interested in attending the combine. Tebow reportedly wants to resurrect his NFL career, but apparently he won’t be pursuing this opportunity to showcase his skills in front of scouts. According to the Houston Chronicle’s Brian T. Smith, Young’s agent said his client was not invited to the combine and won’t attend the event in Arizona.