Projecting the draft: Denver Broncos
DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 27)
The Broncos’ biggest need - literally and figuratively - is clearly at defensive tackle…As such, should Worthy still be on the board when the Broncos pick at No. 25, the powerful and explosive defender certainly would make a great deal of sense.
RB Chris Polk, Washington (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 61)
Despite leading the NFL in rushing last season, the Broncos need help at the position…Polk has as good of tape as any running back in the country not named Trent Richardson. He’s the type of determined, physical runner that Fox has preferred over his career and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield capable of earning Manning’s trust quickly. If Denver is comfortable with the heavy workload Polk had with the Huskies, he’d be a quality schematic fit in the second round (No. 57 overall).
WR Rishard Matthews, Nevada (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 89)
...[The Broncos]could make a versatile playmaker like Matthews a surprise target in the middle rounds (like third round pick, No. 87 overall)...Matthews, who stepped up his game for the Wolfpack in 2011 after Colin Kaepernick was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, is not only a talented receiver but returned punts for touchdowns in each of his two seasons at Nevada, as well.
QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 115)
..adding a player with Wilson’s starting experience and composure makes sense as well. If still available when the Broncos are up with their first of two picks in the fourth round, the underrated Wilson might simply provide too much value to pass up at No. 108 overall.
CB Leonard Johnson, Iowa State (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 136)
Johnson may slip a bit on draft day after a disappointing showing at the Combine, but he plays with the physicality and competitiveness necessary to enjoy success behind the Broncos’ extraordinary pass-rushing duo of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. He’d make sense with the Broncos’ second fourth round pick, No. 120 overall.
While we wouldn't call this a mock draft, it's a scenario that's realistic; it fits all of the Broncos perceived needs. If the Broncos sign Marcus Thomas before the draft, they probably draft one defensive lineman. If they don't, expect them to snag two.
The surprise here is Wilson, given the Broncos' recent obsession with tall quarterbacks. However, remember something Mel Kiper, Jr. said about Wilson recently: if he was two inches taller, he'd be a first-round draft pick. For a leprechaun, he's got a rocket.
New Orleans Saints assistant head coach and linebackers coach Joe Vitt will assume the day-to-day activities of suspended head coach Sean Payton, effective Monday, the team announced Thursday.
Loomis said Vitt will provide the best continuity in Payton’s absence. Not yet determined is who will fill in for Vitt once his six-game suspension begins at the start of the regular season.
Sure, replacing one suspended coach with another one definitely provides continuity. But coaching? Not so much.
Update 5:43 pm ET: Adam Schefter reports that offensive line coach Aaron Kromer wll be the interim² coach.
Things sound good in the Gaffney household
Lito Sheppard is the biggest p#$%y mf’er in the world if u c him tell him I said it & it’s whatever…4-12 is my anniversary woke up and couldn’t find my soon 2 be ex wife anywhere. F#$% dat b@#$% I can’t wait till its final in a few weeks…Feelings are for suckas Neva Eva again. Black heart dead soul!!! Get it how u live & I’m outta here.
My beef wit Lito don’t got nothing to do bout a girl he just a person I don’t f#$% wit he lame to me so don’t hit me up wit that. #Realtalk
Ain’t nobody f#$%ed my wife but for anybody saying any slick s@#% better watch ur girl and not let me get hold to her…Last tweet: b@#$%s ain’t grateful no matter what u do for em. Homeboys will change on u. I keeps it 100 don’t read into that’s all it is…I’m done tweetin all u smart asses i be in da 904, 407 & 703 tell me what u think if and when u c me
Gaff apparently didn't learn anything from his Twitter debacle from last year.
Update 5:36 pm ET: Just added some more of Gaff's colorful prose. Jabar and Lito Sheppard were teammates at Florida and again for a few months in 2006 when the Eagles signed Gaff as a free agent but cut him prior to that regular season.
Peyton Manning calls to say thanks
In my time on the beat, which began before Manning arrived in 1998 on a fill-in basis, no player has ever called to say farewell.
Manning said thanks for my work over the years. Classy move. He said everything had happened so fast, but he wanted to call the local writers and express his appreciation for what they had done while he was in Indy.
I’ve always said Manning is the most clever athlete I’ve ever dealt with when it came to how to handle the media. And while his critics will suggest this was just a PR move, I’ll confess I initially thought I wouldn’t write anything about the call. I didn’t want anybody to think it was about me.
As someone who strives to be professional, I am human and will choose to be a bit sentimental about this. I’ll always remember the phone call.
As I said to him, it was a first-class way to say farewell.
Surely, Mark Kiszla got a call just like this from Jay Cutler, right? Right?
New Uniforms and Old Traditions
The former alternate jersey becomes the new primary jersey, as worn by future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey at the unveiling in New York, the road while will stay the same, and Denver’s alternate jersey, which may be worn for two regular season games, now is the navy blue.
Sacco also mentions that the orange of Crush fame was originally intended to match the color of the Vols, but presumably they changed their minds once they realized Woody Paige was a Tennessee alum.
I ain’t going to say I was sad because the only thing they remember is that pass. You gotta go back and look at the rest of the games. I wasn’t getting no balls and you had to make some of these plays where some players were open and he is not making the throws, but I don’t want to talk bad about Tim, but hey I am happy we got Peyton.
There wasn’t much talk about him, but you know everything on ESPN was all about Tim. That bothered some players too because they would say ‘Tim Tebow Time.’ I felt like it was a team thing. If it wasn’t for the defense most of the time there wouldn’t be no supposed ‘Tim Tebow Time.’
To cover the bases, Tim Tebow did actually target Thomas a fair amount - 81 times (for just 42 receptions) in 12 games, including playoffs. As for how many of those throws were catchable, that's another story. By PFF's measure, only one of those targets was picked off, and six were dropped by Demaryius.
In another interview, Thomas says a plate and three screws were recently removed from the left pinky he had injured last year. DT also sounds like he was as surprised to go at #22 in the draft to Denver as we all were, and he admits it will "be kind of tough" to adjust to Peyton Manning's acumen at changing plays at the LOS.
IMLTHO*: Responses Worth a Reply, and an Epiphany at Speakers’ Corner
Tebow never said anything to which I objected until now. If someone wants to take a knee and pray in the corner of the game or end zone, fine. If he wants to answer his first press conference question with “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” I can live with it; it seems to be an odd non-sequitur because it is neither germane to the topic broached by the inquisitor nor to the subject at hand: football. But it’s his thing. I didn’t use the quotes about his faith unless it was tied to the topic at hand, which I found to rarely be the case.
This is a fascinating piece by Mason. He responds to the hail of criticism he received the other day when he challenged Tim Tebow's assertion that the United States was founded as "One nation under god."
Mason also notes that not one reader responded with thoughts on his mention of Wesley Duke, the former tight end for the Broncos.
Not even Debbie Sandoval. Of course, Debbie Sandoval has never heard of Wesley Duke, we're quite sure.
What we appreciate most about Mason here is that he loaded up his metaphorical shotgun and went a little Zombieland. Keep up the good work, Mason. We're considering giving you the Zombie Kill of the Week.
NFL Exec: 'Half of the teams in the top 10 are trying to trade out'
Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman made waves a few days ago when he commented that he’d be willing to make a trade out of the No. 3 overall pick while his team was on the clock. While last moment deals are common over the course of the NFL draft, don’t fool yourself into thinking that these deals aren’t being discussed long before the curtains are raised at Radio City Music Hall. In fact, one NFL executive told me to anticipate plenty of fireworks as “half of the teams in the top 10 are trying to trade out.”
FWIW, Cincy has two picks in the bottom half of the first round, while Philly has two second-rounders. New England has two picks in each of the first and second rounds, but only two picks beyond that.
Bill Parcells has informed the New Orleans Saints the he will not replace suspended coach Sean Payton and is staying retired, according to a league source.
The Saints will now look to hire from within the organization. By promoting an assistant on the team, the Saints will not have to interview a minority candidate in accordance with the league’s Rooney Rule.
Who wants Parcells without Bill Belichick running the defense, anyway?
Christmas Ape is bummed that neither Tuna nor the Dunge will be taking over in N'awlins.
Peyton Manning working with WRs
“The guy’s still throwing the ball a long time, throwing it great, hitting you in the right spot,” Decker told Cowherd. “He’s such a perfectionist. If he hits you in the belly button, he gets mad at himself for not hitting you in the chest. It’s unbelievable to be around a guy who has those standards for himself.”
“He’s so precise with everything he does and there’s a reason for everything he does do,” Decker told Cowherd. “In workouts, in the weight room—I mean the guy’s jogging from station to station. He’s working like he’s a 23-year-old free agent coming out of college. The way he talks about football, the way he runs drill work, routes, everything’s gotta be perfect and there’s no gray area. I think that, as a receiver, (is) the best thing about it. You got a leader that demands the best out of you because he gives the best he’s got.”
“Obviously that’s the goal for every team starting the season but I know that we’re willing to put in the work and put in the extra time in the offseason to make that happen,” Decker told said. “I think we really understand that it’s all about reading defenses, being smart, finding the open zone and just hitting the passes on third down and converting because that’s what keeps drives going, that’s what keeps you in ballgames.”
Memo to Broncos wide receivers: dropped passes will not be tolerated.