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Cleveland Browns

2015 NFL Combine Notes from Wednesday 2/18…

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My notes, in random order, from the Head Coach and GM press conferences at the 2015 NFL Combine Wednesday 2/18/2015… 

 — We’re just having fun and speculating at this stage, so take my following voice tone and body language powers of interpretation for what you will…

I don’t think Lovie Smith is sold on Jameis Winston yet. 

I know. I know. He’s not going to come out and endorse him, or tip his hand, etc. It’s not that. Lovie Smith is a pretty stoic guy, so he’s hard to get a read on, but I’ll give you my three clues as to why I am open to the concept that Tampa may not go Winston (and not Mariota either):

1) If I (Lovie) was headed to the 2015 NFL Combine, and I knew I would be the center of attention (having the #1 pick and all), and I knew I would get blistered with Winston questions—I would have a better defense (or offense) ready when asked.

If I really was strongly leaning toward picking Winston, I would be prepared to tell you a glowing detail or two about Winston…some interesting on-field tidbits to try to spin the story—even if I was just talking him up because I didn’t want him and was hoping for a trade. I would have something a little detailed to say. Smith had almost nothing to say about Winston as a player. If he supposedly “prefers Winston,” as many are reporting—wouldn’t he have offered some reason why…just out of enthusiasm for his new face of the franchise? Wouldn’t he talk about his arm, or that one play where that one thing happened, or how people you talk at FSU have said nothing but positives?

Lovie’s pulse barely raised above zero when speaking of Winston.

Smith says he hasn’t really studied much on it, which I know can be a lie, but if we accept that as true—then who is making up the rumor ‘Lovie prefers Winston’? If it’s a lie, and Lovie really has done his homework and made a decision on Jameis—why is there no detail, or joy from him when describing Winston? All we got was a monotone, rehearsed version of: “The courts have cleared him, and so did FSU, so we trust that, and kids will be kids. We look forward to sitting with him to talk.”

2) The reporters peppered Lovie with Winston-talk, as if Marcus Mariota didn’t exist…because football reporters are mostly robots. ‘Winston to Tampa’ is a done deal in the media…since it wasn’t so in early January, but then some local guy said ‘Lovie prefers Winston’, so that’s good enough to base all football theories on from here to eternity starting mid-January. When the robots asked all the Winston-based questions, Lovie was quick to pull Mariota’s name into the discussion. Lovie did not usually answer Winston questions with Winston-talk alone—the media did, but not Lovie…he was quick to pull Mariota’s name into the discussion.

3) Lovie was monotone in Winston Q&A’s, but he perked up a bit when discussing his admiration of Josh McCown and how disappointed he was with last season (as a whole), and that they needed to get better. It showed Lovie was convicted about something. By comparison, his discussion of Winston or Mariota was like a kid giving an awkward oral report in high school…like on a subject he wasn’t that familiar or concerned with. If there is a Winston-passion, Lovie Smith is great at hiding it…for no reason, because the contract amount is locked in, and no one can jump ahead of them to swipe Winston away. I don’t get the no Winston-positives or smile at all.

Now…there was no rally cry for Mike Glennon either, but Lovie did say they chose to drop McCown because they were comfortable with Glennon as the QB for next season, but that wasn’t said with much conviction either…and the media is not having any Glennon talk, so that comment went right by the boards.

I think I will keel over and die if someone ever asks Lovie why QB would be such a priority in the draft when the team drafted Glennon in the early 3rd-round in 2013, and he has shown flashes…so why not develop Glennon? To the football media, Mike Glennon does not exist…and in the TV Show they are creating called “The NFL Draft”, you cannot have ‘hot draft talk’ about Leonard Williams—this narrative, this story arc has to be about “which QB will it be?” It’s the only story that sells the draft more as a TV product—which is why they built-up Johnny Manziel in 2014.

This ‘Winston as #1′ story is so one-sided, and so universally accepted so early in the process…I feel like I am dealing with a pushy car salesman on it. it doesn’t feel like reality to me yet.

 

 — A random journalist asked Ravens HC John Harbaugh about the team’s WR situation due to the current question marks surrounding “the Smith’s,” and the journalist brings up then names Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro, and Jeremy Butler.

Harbaugh is totally excited to discuss Jeremy Butler, and compliments the journalist—who should be complimented.

Find out a little more about Jeremy Butler in our 2014 College Football Metrics writings, our 2014 Fantasy Football Draft Guide, various other name drops along the 2014 season, and how we rank him in our Dynasty Stash for 2015…

Our Dynasty Stash 2014-15 analysis is still available:   Dynasty Stash Package 2014

More Details on our Dynasty Stash 2014-15 itemsDynasty Stash Package 2014 (Long Description)

 

 — Why did Tampa cut Josh McCown? I mean, he is now the most coveted, greatest QB in all of football…according to all the Head Coach interviews I witnessed on Wednesday.

Rex Ryan loves E.J. Manuel, he told us today, but also just met with Josh McCown.

John Fox is excited about getting to know Jay Cutler, he told us today, but also just met with Josh McCown.

The Jets are talking to Josh McCown.

This is why I rail against the NFL personnel management. Josh McCown has been an NFL failure for a decade, except a couple of game magical stretch in 2013. He’s now free to sign anywhere, so all GMs are sniffing around like an over-excited dog. At the same time, no one in the NFL, as QB-desperate as they are, makes a trade move for a Mike Glennon or Ryan Nassib, or whomever.

Why is it that QB issues only be solved via QBs off the scrap heap, and through the NFL Draft…could someone make a real trade for another team’s promising backup sometime soon?

Is there really shortage of NFL QB talent, or do most GMs and Head Coaches have their head up their….? Thus interesting QB talent wastes away, buried on depth charts, never seeing any meaningful development time because Andrew Luck or Drew Brees or Tom Brady or Peyton Manning has to be in the game throwing passes with the team up (or down) by 30 points with three-minutes left.

 

 — I learned two things about QBs, at the Wednesday press conferences, that are now media/football absolutes:

1) Josh McCown is the greatest QB ever.  

2) …and take note here that this next ‘thing’ I comment on is real, and is going to become ‘a thing’ soon–so Mock Drafters, who among you will lead the way, and be a trailblazer ahead of your time…no longer shackled by the group-think? Let me be your ‘group’…

Marcus Mariota’s draft status as a top-6 guy is sitting on absolute quick sand. The knives are drawn, and he is about to be “Et tu Brute’d” by the football media. I am one-inch shy of guaranteeing this.

There is a drum beat happening now, that should have been happening weeks ago, and isn’t fully here yet, but will be soon…

Marcus Mariota is going to get shredded as a ‘system’ guy who does not make NFL throws very well…or very often (which I so rudely mentioned in 2014 and again in 2015). I mean, he is going to get it from everywhere in the media, which will roll down hill to the fans…and Mock Drafters. Even the dolt TV analysts are now echoing what anonymous scouts have been chirping about more loudly: Mariota is not ready, and may not work in the NFL. Part of the Mariota smear campaign is real (he IS a system pumped guy), but what will amplify the harshness of it will be all the people (for various reasons) who are trying to prop up Jameis Winston…tearing down Mariota serves a purpose for the pro-Winston.

You folks are going to get Johnny Manziel ‘punk’ed’ again by the media-anointed Winston movement. It’s almost the same exact ‘show’ as 2014 with Johnathan Football. Winston has the same QB guru/Paul Heyman-esque (George Whitfield) mouthpiece to run interference and create the illusion. The savvy among you will be sick of hearing “Youthful indiscretions” and “Cleared by the courts, and cleared by the school board.” The un-savvy among you will drink the “He’s just a kid” Kool-aid with both hands. 

Mariota is going to get ripped while Winston is praised. Someone has to pay for beloved Pistol QBs failing, and being a giant slap in the face to the media’s rankings and push the past two seasons (think RG3, Kaepernick and Manziel).

Mariota falling to Philly at #20 is absolutely on the board.

Winston is being propped up by the media, but could possibly have a Bill Clinton-like bimbo-alert pop up in the form of a new revelation that some other event happened at FSU that was covered up, which causes his draft stock to erode. You know it could.

Everyone has Winston-Mariota #1-2 today, but what if I told you in two months they’d be #21-22?

Stock up…Brett Hundley.

Stock up…Mike Glennon.

You think I’m crazy with this theory, and I might be…but you watch: The part I would almost guarantee is Mariota is about to get destroyed a la Teddy Bridgewater last year (not saying he is anywhere as good as Bridgewater). I know it, because I heard it from every circle of the media at the Combine Wednesday. It’s just waiting for the fuse to be officially lit…but all the fireworks are set up, in place ready to go.

 

 — No Todd Gurley, no Tevin Coleman running at the NFL Combine. It has no effect on Gurley, but it really hurts Coleman…who I think is a mild fraud as it is.

 

 — Reports are Mariota and Winston are throwing at the NFL Combine, and I was originally skeptical when I first heard it. However, the more I think about it, the more I think this is a George Whitfield smart maneuver. The NFL Combine is a joke for QBs, because people watching on TV are just oohing at arm-strength which is almost meaningless in the NFL (if you suck as a QB, who cares how hard you throw the ball?). It is the Winston-defender’s main argument: His ‘big arm’. At the Combine, Jameis gets to show it off in shorts with no DBs covering…the perfect crime/con. George Whitfield is a genius.

It forces Mariota to do the same…not to look weak–which plays right into the visual difference between the two. George Whitfield is brilliant. Visual scouting is the NFL’s downfall. Fans and media love it…so watch how they harp on the difference between the two QBs.

Winston is glorious throwing in shorts. It’s under pressure where he has massive problems, but no one wants to listen to me about that. You can read like 3,000+ words on it at College Football Metrics.com if you’d like.

**See the 2015 NFL Draft and 2015 Dynasty Rookie Draft, like never before with our Moneyball-style scouting reports and rankings. Go to www.collegefootballmetrics.com **

 

 — Jets fans…I hope Todd Bowles is a better coach than interviewee. I’ve seen three interviews with him since becoming the Jets new HC, and he puts me to sleep in seconds. You don’t have to be a master on the mic to be a great HC, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some enthusiasm or make a salient point.

I wonder how much Rex Ryan cringes every time Bowles talks about having a major chore in fixing the awful Jets defense.

**Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics IDP Dynasty (three-year) projections now exist on the Fantasy Football Management technology: “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here (link): The Machine via FFM

 

 — You want a real head coach? My 2nd-favorite HC, trying to become my #1: Mike Pettine. No one is as thoughtful, and controlled…and honest (as he could be expected to be) with the media than Pettine.

Unlike every Head Coach who dodged every QB question thrown at them at the Combine (among what I saw), Pettine said the QB situation they have IS an issue, and looking at QBs in this NFL Draft is obvious that they would. He never endorsed Manziel for two-seconds. He was courteous about wishing him well, and how proud he was, but he was not talking like he ever thinks Manziel will matter to the Browns.

Jay Gruden didn’t dodge QB questions either…as he named RG3 the starter. The difference is that Mike Pettine speaks about his QB situation with confident humility, while looking you in the eye. Gruden looks like he is reading a script terrorists are forcing him to read. His eyes are darting down and away…and his voice a not-so confident pitch as he conveys the very tepid, stoic news.

 

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics.com, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics.com. He is also a lead writer for ‘Play The Draft.com’. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here: The Machine via FFM

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