I could not have been more wrong about Vontaze Burfict

So, you remember a few weeks ago when I wrote that the Broncos should draft Vontaze Burfict?

Forgive me for taking crazy pills; thank the football gods for creating the NFL combine.

Not only should the Broncos not draft this guy, neither should any other team.

He started the week by blaming his coaches at Arizona State for his past troubles. Then he spouted off that he was the best linebacker in the draft. When it came time to show what he could do physically, he was (thus far) the biggest disappointment of the combine.

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Having their cake and injecting it, too

In Defense of Ryan Braun: The undeniable idiocy of baseball's steroids "crisis"
www.grantland.com

The first is the question of the player’s health. This is not one to be dismissed lightly, even though, in almost every other context in professional sports, it is always secondary to profits in the mind of management. And the second, more hazy argument is that it is somehow unethical to ingest a substance that will make you play better. Too often, it seems, the former consideration is used to camouflage arguments based primarily on the latter.

Can someone seriously argue that it is ethical to take a drug to make a performance possible, but unethical to take a drug that makes that performance better? Isn’t making a performance possible at all the ultimate performance enhancement?...Sports are rife with drugs. Without drugs of one sort or another, the NFL season would never begin, and the baseball season would end sometime in June owing to a lack of participating teams.

Pierce (as usual) raises an important and fair question: What is the real difference between administering to players (ie. Tony Romo) painkillers such as Toradol (without which they'd likely be unable to play at all) - the dispensing and long-term effects of which are under dispute - and a "performance enhancing drug" which might allow a player a better chance of returning to action a week after a particularly physical game?

Is the former okay simply because the team is in charge? After all, we've certainly learned enough in recent years to safely conclude that team medical staffs do not prioritize players' short- or long-term health concerns over #winning, as I was just saying to my good friend Colt McCoy.

Scouting the Combine: Offensive linemen

I had a lot of fun this weekend pulling game tape out of the library, watching Combine film, reading, and writing about the offensive line candidates. Although I’m mentioning Mike Kalil first, the following list isn’t in any particular order. Neither will any of my subsequent prospect columns; some will get attention later for one reason or another.

A couple of general comments to consider: last year’s vertical leap average was 28.5 inches; for interior linemen it was 27.5. The average broad jump last year for OL was 8.5 feet or 102 inches. Last year’s fastest 10-yard split was 1.74 - this year it was in the mid 1.60's. The players continue to get bigger and faster. I offer these marks simply as a sort of loose basis for comparison. That said, let’s move on to some of the OL candidates:

Matt Kalil out of USC was pretty much as expected - fast and smooth on his 4.99-second 40. He came in at NFL weight (6’7”, 306 lb), measured adequately, and he did very well in the tests and drills. In particular you can see his silky smoothness and skill on the kickstep drill. He’s the complete package, and I’ll mention him from time to time in illustrating why certain players are and aren’t as desirable. Kalil pretty much has it all.

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The Daily Lard 2-27-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's hard to tell whether it was fueled by some inside knowledge, or whether he's just pulling a Woody, but Mike Klis wrote yesterday afternoon that Brian Dawkins is "expected to retire". The blog entry even has a headline that proclaims Denver will acquire a hard-hitting safety to replace Dawkins this offseason, and Klis even suggests that former Pats first-rounder Brandon Meriweather is a possible target.

Now, it's certainly not a stretch to presume that Dawk will retire, as that possibility was first floated by the DP a couple months back when he suffered the neck injury which prevented him from playing beyond the Broncos' Week 16 loss at Buffalo. But it was only yesterday we read again that Dawkins is still considering a return to Denver for one more season.

So who exactly who expects Dawkins to retire, and who says the Broncos will undoubtedly acquire a "safety who can thump"? The entire Denver FO? John Elway? Brian Xanders? The cook at Dove Valley? Mike Klis? Because it's not anywhere close to clear from how Klis wrote it, and the insertion of the word likely in the headline and in the stead of expected within the piece would have done wonders. Here we are again, parsing words because someone didn't do their job correctly.

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Weeden the Broncos’ back-up plan?

Broncos impressed after interviewing QBs Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler
blogs.denverpost.com

The Broncos were extremely impressed with Weeden during a 15-minute interview this week. He turns 29 in October which is why he’s not considered a top 3 QB prospect even though he’s the second best pure passer to Luck.

They also came away feeling good about Arizona State Brock Osweiler. He’s 6-foot-7 and a one-year starter but he’s such a good athlete, he passed up a basketball scholarship to Gonzaga.

Weeden and Osweiler figure to both go in the second round, no later than the top-half of the third. Each would make sense as back up to Broncos starting quarterback Tim Tebow.

NFL Combine - Open Thread

Use this thread to discuss large men breaking the speed of sound, lifting heavy weights, and jumping long distances!

Andrew Luck wows ‘em at combine

Luck displays rare athleticism in 40-yard dash, jumps
blogs.nfl.com

The Stanford QB unofficially ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash Sunday morning, proving the Colts likely will land more than just a traditional pocket passer if they take him No. 1, as expected, in April’s draft. Luck isn’t Peyton Manning. He’s potentially somewhere between that and Cam Newton, whose measurables last year put Luck’s into proper perspective.

Luck’s unofficial 4.59 matched Newton’s official best time from 2011. Luck’s 10-foot, 4-inch broad jump was just 2 inches off Newton’s 10-6, the best of last year’s QB crop.

Finally, Luck notched a 36-inch vertical, actually besting Newton’s 35-inch jump from last year.

I knew Andrew Luck would be compared to Peyton Manning, but Cam Newton?  Is Luck the perfect combination of athleticism and pocket passer?  Or is the bar being set so high it will be impossible to clear?  Either way, it's a whole truckload of hype.

The Daily Lard 2-26-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Chiefs are expected to use their franchise tag on WR Dwayne Bowe if they're unable to sign him to a long-term deal. HC Romeo Crennel met with the press yesterday, and he spoke about each of the top QB prospects. But what caught everyone's attention were his comments about Peyton Manning:

I’m not supposed to talk about anyone else’s players. He’s still a player with Indianapolis. But with a talent like that, I would be crazy not to consider it if he were available. I’ll leave it at that.

Judy Battista thinks Crennel's words could land the Chiefs in hot water for tampering, but an NFL spokesperson told Will Brinson it was no biggie; Kevin Acee says Chargers fans shouldn't be scared of a potential Manning/KC marriage due to San Diego's record against Peyton and the Colts, as if that means anything at all (not really).

Colts owner Jim Irsay says he met with Manning recently; ex-Colts center Jeff Saturday talks to Peyton regularly and thinks he'll be playing this season. Mike Silver says Manning could end up in any of Seattle, Washington, Miami, Cleveland, KC, Arizona, or even with the Niners or Jets. Plus, he adds that Irsay is clearly in control of his franchise and was wise to dump GM Bill Polian along with his outsized ego, and he thinks Irsay would be well served to publicly acknowledge the team is moving on without Manning.

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The Daily Lard 2-25-12

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! Here's video of John Elway's Combine presser yesterday, and a summary of his comments from the official site. Of course, all anyone heard among Elway's words was the following regarding Tim Tebow:

We're hoping he's going to be the guy for a long, long time.

Again, these are just words, and only actions count. But until the Broncos sign and/or draft another quarterback, words are all we've got. Tebow fans will likely ignore the first two words of Elway's sentence and see unwavering organizational support, while the skeptics will zoom in on that second word.

It's all open to interpretation, and several writers read Elway's quotes in their own ways: Clark Judge focuses on hopingMike Tanier thinks Elway said nothing at all; Will Brinson says Elway made it pretty clear he's not committed to Tim; Jeff Legwold stresses that no matter what Elway thinks, he has to have a Plan B.

Doug Farrar and Jeff Darlington are more interested in when Elway will get to coaching Tim up, and the rules forbidding the Broncos from talking to Noel Mazzone.

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A Tebow Fan’s Worst Nightmare

The Battle for Second Place: Who will make a play to move up the NFL draft board and grab Robert Griffin III?
www.grantland.com

A Tebow trade would actually make a fair amount of sense right about now. The Broncos clearly aren’t enamored of the guy, considering they were talking about benching him before he led them to a playoff win over the Steelers. If they really think Tebow is going to fail as an NFL quarterback, they would want to sell high on him now before reality sets in and his market value craters.

The only problem is that the Rams would have no interest in Tim Tebow. That’s where our third team comes in: the Jacksonville Jaguars. New owner Shahid Khan has already said that the team should have taken Tebow in the 2010 draft, owing to both his abilities as a player and as a ticket-mover. Tebow went to high school in a Jacksonville suburb, played at Florida, and remains active in the Jacksonville community; a trade for Tebow would be great box office for a moribund franchise that often struggles to fill its stadium.

Jacksonville wouldn’t likely give up the seventh overall pick straight-up as part of a Tebow trade, but the Broncos could probably get it for Tebow and a mid-round pick or two. That would leave them with the seventh and 25th picks in this year’s draft, which would be about as much as anyone besides the Browns can offer.

The Broncos get to sell high on Tebow while acquiring a potential franchise quarterback and avoiding mass riots in Denver. And the Jaguars get the one player in football who is more valuable to them than any other team in the league. See? Everybody wins! Well, except for Blaine Gabbert.

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