Fournette is arguably the most explosive pure runner to enter the league since Adrian Peterson.

This belief is magnified because Peppers is a two-way player. Remember Ohio State’s Chris Gamble? He had seven career interceptions at Ohio State, then had 13 interceptions in his first two years with Carolina. He enjoyed a productive nine-year career with the Panthers but never made the Pro Bowl. Gamble wasn’t a bust, but he’s not headed to Canton. The difference here is that if Peppers has that kind of career in the NFL, the side that thinks he’s overrated will proclaim he’s a bust.

Which brings us to the 2017 NFL Draft. Peppers’ performance likely clinched his status as a first-round pick, and that’s a question that still has wide-ranging answers. Is he Thorpe? Honey Badger? Gamble? Woodson? Su’a Cravens? Deone Bucannon? Somebody else?

Fournette is arguably the most explosive pure runner to enter the league since Adrian Peterson. With the backfield mess of Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon, he’ll get every chance to be the workhorse as the team leans on a power rushing attack with new football operations chief Tom Coughlin.

Fournette might struggle a bit if second-round tackle Cam Robinson has only limited effects on the team’s run-blocking woes, and if QB Blake Bortles isn’t more efficient to provide true balance to the offense. It will probably take something like a reasonable 1,200 yards rushing and double-digit TDs for Fournette to contend. It will take Jacksonville vying for at least a wild card for him to win.nike_steelers_3544

It’s low-hanging fruit, but Switzer takes it in stride.

The punch line, of course, is rooted in the fact that New England recently has fielded shorter, quick, white wide receivers. Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola come to mind, while guys like Austin Collie and Griff Whalen got temporary looks from the Pats.

It’s low-hanging fruit, but Switzer takes it in stride.

“Those guys are Super Bowl champions and making millions of dollars in the NFL, so if you wanna compare me to someone that’s got rings and got money, then by all means, go ahead,” Switzer said. “They’re at the pinnacle. I don’t take the comparisons negatively or positively.”

The nightmare scenario would be Trubisky playing early and being overmatched. That would send him down the same path as Blaine Gabbert, who never recovered from the shellshock of being thrust into action prematurely by the Jaguars in his 2011 rookie season.

The best case is that Trubisky becomes this year’s version of the Eagles’ Carson Wentz even though the former tried to downplay any comparison.

“We’re in two totally different situations,” Trubisky said.

True. Even with Trubisky’s background as a novice, Wentz was an even longer shot to play as a rookie. Philadelphia was so unsure of how long it would take for Wentz to develop coming out of a non-FBS program (North Dakota State) that Sam Bradford was re-signed and fellow veteran Chase Daniel added as a high-priced backup.

The plan to keep Wentz in mothballs was scrapped by the end of the preseason. Bradford was traded to the Vikings and Wentz leapfrogged Daniel into the starting lineup.nike_steelers_1203

My lasting impression is a talented-but-arrogant quarterback who rarely smiled

One thing we know for sure: Cutler will not be afraid to call out players who mess up. He did that regularly to his teammates, either in words or in action. Who can forget the Cutler glare or his verbal attacks on his linemen after being sacked?

Cutler was condescending to his teammates, coaches, the media and fans. His unpopularity was never more evident than when he exited the 2010 NFC title game against the Packers with a legitimate knee injury but immediately was accused by players around the league of quitting on his team. In 2014, Bears legend Brian Urlacher said of Cutler: “Financially he is one of the elite guys in the NFL … he just hasn’t produced like an elite quarterback.”

Cutler’s 11 NFL seasons in Denver and Chicago resulted in a 68-71 record as a starter, a pedestrian 85.7 passer rating, one playoff win and one Pro Bowl appearance. He thought his arm was so good that he could force throws into tight windows, but the results too often were drive- and game-killing interceptions.

My lasting impression is a talented-but-arrogant quarterback who rarely smiled, was not a good leader and was not very coachable.

Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida: Wilson left Florida following his junior season and the 6-1, 211-pound DB plays with tremendous confidence. He has prototypical size and was a second-team All-SEC selection as he and teammate Jalen “Teez” Tabor comprised one of the best cornerback tandems in the nation. nike_steelers_1203

Cutler being rewarded with this gig is a sad commentary on the state of TV.

Why was Fox inspired to bring Cutler aboard when there are so many former players with much more star power and pizzazz; good guys who treat people right? He’s nowhere close to fellow rookie analyst Tony Romo in personality or Q Score.

Cutler being rewarded with this gig is a sad commentary on the state of TV. I think it’s the train wreck mentality — Fox execs believe viewers will tune in to see whether Cutler is as unlikable in the broadcast booth as he was on the field. The network will hope people are pleasantly surprised by his phony new persona.

So I’ll plan to turn down the TV sound and listen to the radio broadcasts of any game Cutler is on this fall.

Because I know who the real Jay Cutler is, and that leopard cannot change his spots no matter how hard he and Fox try to convince us otherwise.

The first name that popped up Friday was Jim Overdorf, the team’s senior vice president of football operations whose main focus is the salary cap. Plenty coaches and GMs have gone through Buffalo over the years, but Overdorf has remained in place since he came to the Bills in 1986.

Pegula said Beane will decide Overdorf’s future, as well as that of other executives, for that matter.

“I’m coming in eyes wide open with everybody,” Beane said. “So it shouldn’t be about Jim. I’ve known Jim for a long time and have a lot of respect for him. Great man. I’ve never got to work with Jim. I’m going to jump in. Just spoke to Jim a few minutes ago and said a hello. I’m looking forward to getting to know this process, how he does things. I’m going to influence him with how I do things. We’ll see how this works and go from there.”

Beane said all the right things Friday, as most GMs and coaches do during their opening pressers. Whether Beane and McDermott will be successful as a pair remains to be seen. As the Bills learned with Rex Ryan, talk is cheap. But, for once, the Bills have their two most important team-builders on the same page.nike_steelers_1193

Anybody that says size is an issue in sports doesn’t know sports

Switzer has been a confident guy from the second he traded in soccer cleats for football spikes. After finally convincing his dad to let him play football in the fifth grade, he was a cut above.

“It was love at first sight,” Switzer said. “It was just something I was better at than the kids I was playing against. It’s just always been like this.”

“Anybody that says size is an issue in sports doesn’t know sports.”

Overcoming his 5-8, 181-pound frame, Switzer was heavily recruited, receiving offers from Florida State, Penn State, Arizona and his home state school of West Virginia.

But Switzer, thanks in large part to recruiting efforts by Fedora, wound up at Chapel Hill. And from his very first season there, the lightning-quick receiver was a sensation.

Watson, much like Prescott, can be expected to improve at all the little things in a short window before his first NFL game. Fresh off leading Clemson to a national championship, he’ll fit right into the mindset of a returning playoff team contending for a conference title.

With a true go-to receiver (DeAndre Hopkins), depth in the running game and J.J. Watt returning to anchor the defense, there will be limited pressure on Watson to try to carry the team. Although Houston can’t immediately give Watson an elite line the way Dallas could for Prescott, Watson can still play off a good overall supporting cast.

Cutler was nowhere to be found.

I have helped the family with PR and media relations for the tournament. One of my duties the year Cutler came was to help set up media interviews with the celebs.

Now, it was nice that Cutler wanted to support the Heimerdinger family and the benefiting charity. But it wasn’t a huge imposition since he’s a Vanderbilt grad. He often returns to Nashville.

There was a dinner and reception the night before the tournament with sponsors and golfers who paid to participate. I did not see Cutler in attendance. Then prior to the start of the tournament, media folks interviewed the celebs, all of whom were nice and cooperative, except for … guess who.

Cutler was nowhere to be found.

nike_cardinals_1804, Jeff Fisher, Brandon Marshall and many former Titans players talked about Dinger and how happy they were to support the event. They mingled with the sponsors and golfers.

Houston went 9-7 (again) with shaky QB play, mainly from Brock Osweiler, for most of last season. If Watson is a steadying force in helping the Texans win an improving division for a third straight year, with a better record, the credentials for rookie of the year would be in place.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: Cook might be the most talented running back in the class, but several off-field incidents have pushed him down. Despite character concerns, his talent is undeniable. He runs with power and speed, catches the ball well and is a solid blocker. A Le’Veon Bell-type player, Cook got better each of his three seasons at Florida State and finished with 4,464 yards and 46 touchdowns.

Deshaun Watson warns teams they’ll ‘live with the consequences’ if they draft Mitchell Trubisky over him

This year’s quarterback draft class is unusual. None of these prospects have established themselves as the clear No. 1 signal caller. Deshaun Watson thinks he’s the guy, though, and that teams should select him over Mitchell Trubisky.

“You’re gonna have to live with the consequences that come with it,” Watson said Tuesday on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. “That’s how I see it. I try to stay in my lane. I try not to take the path. I respect Mitch and what he’s done and all the hype he’s getting, but at the same time, my result speaks for itself.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished everything that I could. I guess if that’s who they’re gonna roll with, so be it.”

“My dad has been to one (game),” Brady said, via NESN’s Zack Cox. “That’s very atypical. They’re going to be here this weekend, which I’m excited about. It’ll be nice to see everybody. I’ve got a big crew coming.”

Brady has an existing relationship with President Donald Trump. He has referred to Trump as a “good friend,” and that friendship was his explanation for a “Make America Great Again” hat reporters spotted in his locker.

Brady has won five Super Bowls and has had plenty of opportunities to visit the White House. He missed the White House visit following the Patriots Super Bowl XLIX win for a previously scheduled family commitment. Brady said at the time that it wasn’t a political decision.

“It really is a great experience,” Brady told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “Putting politics aside, it never was a political thing. At least, it never was to me. It meant you won a championship and you got to experience something cool with your team, with your teammates.”

Several of Brady’s teammates, including Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount and Alan Branch, will also miss the White House visit.

NFL Draft: Top 10 wide receivers in 2017 class

John Ross has become an en vogue top-rated receiver for the 2017 NFL Draft after his 4.22 40-yard dash at the Combine. The Washington product, though, deserves to be the first receiver drafted for more reasons than his record-breaking sprint.

In our wide receiver ranking for the 2017 NFL Draft, find out what makes Ross so special, how the rest of the “Big Three” receiver prospects rank and why Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford is the best receiver who’s not talked about enough.

The following 2017 NFL Draft wide receiver prospect ranking is included in Optimum Scouting’s 2017 NFL Draft Guide, which is available for purchase here. The draft guide includes 300-plus scouting reports as well as position-specific analytics for prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft.

“My dad is the one who, since I was 8 years old, was out at a park with me every single day for 365 days,” Chad said last summer, the Clarion Ledger reported. “He never missed a day, and he was out there with me, whether it was 8 o’clock at night or 8 o’clock in the morning. He was always there trying to help me get better.”

But Chad and Jim speak often, he said then, and it sounds like the nephew found a lot of strength in his uncle’s bout with cancer.

“Definitely inspired me to be great and to lead and to be a fighter and never give up,” Chad said. “He’s my uncle, he’s another extension of me. I’m thankful that I have an uncle like that that can help me out on the field and off the field.”


No NBA head coaches were fired during the season for the first time in 46 years.

This isn’t a recent trend, either. At least one NBA head coach has been fired during each of the past 45 seasons. Marc Stein of ESPN reported earlier this season that the last campaign without an in-season coach replacement was 1970-71, when the league was 17 teams deep, Nixon was President and the ABA existed.

However, that streak has ended. No NBA head coaches were fired during the season for the first time in 46 years.

As we first noted in November, few coaches came into the season under threat of firing. Alvin Gentry was a hot candidate early, but the New Orleans Pelicans dealt with injuries and made a brief run toward respectability once Jrue Holiday became available. It now seems his job will be at risk once the season ends.

Other coaches who have flirted with midseason dismissal include Fred Hoiberg of the Chicago Bulls, but amid a playoff race and a massive contract the franchise held on. We’ll see if that patience extends to the offseason.

Manning’s former receiver on the Indianapolis Colts, Reggie Wayne, had a different explanation for Omaha, but also admitted that there was “no way” it still had the same meaning so many years later.

You’ll also note that Omaha is not unique to Peyton Manning. See his little brother:

You can bet on the number of times Manning will say OMAHA during the Super Bowl — the line was set at 27.5 — and there’ll be plenty of talk about his love for the Nebraska town. But the word serves a very functional purpose, just as any other quarterback’s cadence (Russell Wilson will use Blue or White and a number, for instance) tells a story.

I say all that to say NFL fans should sometimes listen to college fans and sometimes ignore us.

Jadeveon Clowney at No. 1 would’ve still happened, Teddy Bridgewater wouldn’t have lasted until anywhere near No. 31, and Aaron Donald would’ve gone about 10 spots higher than No. 13, but …

Johnny Manziel would’ve been top-five, even if only for entertainment value. (If we’re talking a certain segment of college fans, at least. He had plenty of detractors, all of whom ended up being proved right about his game and otherwise — if you’re a Texas fan who’s had little to celebrate over the last five years other than Manziel’s pro career, then congratulations — but most younger fans like those in SB Nation’s aura would’ve co-signed Johnny.)

I say all that to say NFL fans should sometimes listen to college fans and sometimes ignore us. Winner: Patriots. Jackson started nine games in 2015 before missing the 2016 season due to injury. Cardona is an anonymous long snapper, which means he’s doing his job well. Cooper and Pullard have combined for four starts in their careers, and Hundley is a solid backup quarterback in Green Bay. All things considered, the edge goes to New England.

The FBS all-time receptions leader, Jones is consistently grouped among the top receivers in the 2017 NFL Draft. His Senior Bowl showed his red-zone ability, and his interior catch finishing is impressive. But much of his college film is almost unusable for his NFL projection.

Jones will be drafted in the first three rounds, but expecting more than a volume slot receiver who will have an adjustment in getting separation in the NFL would be a mistake.