Jaguars' Blackmon suspended four games

Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon has been suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Blackmon, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, had been arrested for DUI while in college at Oklahoma State and was arrested again last season on another driving under the influence charge.

The latest incident led the Jaguars to issue statements from GM David Caldwell and from Blackmon on the matter.

“Coach (Gus) Bradley and I have spoken with Justin, and he is well aware of our disappointment. I don’t think there is any question that Justin is embarrassed and remorseful, and Coach Bradley and I are both confident he understands the obligations ahead of him, to himself, the franchise and the fans,” Caldwell said. 'We will support him throughout the process and continue to work to educate him and all of our players on making the right decisions. The Jaguars have made a lot of progress over the past three months, and we will not allow this news to slow us down.”

In his statement, Blackmon said, “I’ve made a mistake and I have no excuse. I am truly sorry and disappointed in myself for putting the Jaguars in this situation, and I look forward to putting this behind me and maturing and growing as a person. I will have a productive training camp and pre-season with my team, and during the suspension I will work hard to stay in top football shape and be ready to help the Jaguars when I return. I have chosen to be accountable for my poor decision, and I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the front office and Jaguars fans for the impact of my mistake on the team.”

Follow me on Twitter @TerryMc13

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for

Depth for hire

The draft and the flurry of UDFA signings that occur immediately after are over. There are still plenty of players, evaluated by our own Russ Lande, that we think should at least see a tryout with an NFL team. Here's a look at some of them.

1) Mike Taylor, OLB, Wisconsin – GRADE: 5.0 G – Highly productive throughout his college career, Taylor is an undersized linebacker (Although he measured 234 at the Combine, he reportedly played in the 220’s) who lacks the elite speed and athleticism to be as productive in the NFL. While I do not believe that Taylor has the physical skills to be a front-line starter, he is the type of linebacker that often makes it in the NFL as a special teams player initially and works his way into a starting job where he does a solid, workman-like job. Taylor will be a good fit with a team that plays a 4-3 defense and is looking for a tough, hard-nosed backup outside linebacker with great intangibles. He will have to prove himself on special teams as a rookie, but if he can maintain 230+ pounds and improve his shed ability then he could work his way into a starting job in time. – FULL SCOUTING REPORTVIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

2) Drew Frey, SS, Cincinnati – GRADE: 4.8 I – A tall safety with good size and deceptive quickness and speed, Frey has the physical talent to at worst be a quality backup safety and high end special teams player. His good instincts and playing speed give him sideline range versus the run and in coverage and combined with his ball skills he has the tools to break up passes thrown in front of him. I love his willingness to come up and make hard hits/tackles in run support, but he has to become a much more consistent tackler if he is going to get on the field on defense in the NFL. He likely wasn't drafted due to his inconsistent tackling and struggles recovering in man coverage, but he has value because he could potentially be an excellent third safety and impact special teams player. – FULL SCOUTING REPORTVIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

3) Brodrick Brown, CB, Oklahoma State – GRADE: 4.7 G – Brodrick Brown is and extremely interesting prospect that has a spot in the NFL. He has been a three year starter at Oklahoma State, where you can always find him somewhere around the ball. He has fantastic ball skills with the ability to knock passes away or make big interceptions. His small stature will limit his usefulness as an every down starter in the NFL. He is best suited to be a nickel corner where he can be used primarily in coverage and would keep him from having to play the run game where he is least effective. He can also be used on all phases of special teams but will need to work on his hand usage so he can work on disengaging from blocks and be a factor. While playing defense he would best fit a zone system where he can use his nature coverage instincts and short area burst to make plays on a much more consistent basis. Brown has the tools to develop into a solid nickel cornerback. He reminds me a bit of current Bears’ cornerback DJ Moore. – FULL SCOUTING REPORTVIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Tracey LampleyUS PRESSWIRETracey Lampley of Southern Miss against the Houston Cougars

4) Tracy Lampley, WR, Southern Mississippi – GRADE: 4.4 G – Tracey Lampley is a very athletic player with the ball in his hands. His athleticism allows him to be effective in the open field and his speed allows him to run away from defenders. However, his size will be a big concern in trying to take his game into the NFL. He isn’t a polished route runner who can easily get open, which complicates his chances at the next level. Generally, players as small as Lampley won’t hold up to the NFL pounding, and there have to be questions about his durability. However, his athleticism, speed and big-play open-field running ability (especially in the return game) make him a good UDFA to consider as he could be a good return man with the ability to make plays out of the slot position if he can improve on his route running ability. – FULL SCOUTING REPORT

5) Dominick Reyes, S, Stony Brook – Russ didn't scout Dominick, but I had the chance to interview him as part of our “Character Guys” series. Reyes isn't the Safety archetype. At 6'4″, 220 lbs, he looks more like a small linebacker. But when you see him in coverage, he erases any doubt he's in the right spot. The team captain and defensive MVP, he played in all 48 games at Stony Brook the past 4 years, starting every game the past 3. He is now the all-time leader in tackles at Stony Brook and was voted 1st Team All-Big South in 2012 and 2nd Team All-Big South in 2011. His 75 tackles this year ranked 3rd on the team, a number that included 9 tackles for loss (never blitzed). He would be the tallest safety in the league if he made a roster. And he got his 40 time down to 4.59 at his pro day. If you watch his highlight reel, you'll be convinced he's at least worth a look. – FULL INTERVIEWVIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

The rest of the pack

Dylan Breeding, P, Arkansas – GRADE: 4.7 I
Dan Spitz, OT, Washington State – GRADE: 4.5 F

Isi Sofele, RB, California – GRADE: 4.4 G

Duane Zlatnik, OG, Kansas – GRADE: 4.4 F

Rashard Hall, FS, Clemson – GRADE: 4.4 E

Kenneth Tate, OLB, Maryland – GRADE: 4.3 J

Jarred Holley, CB, Pittsburgh – GRADE: 4.3 G

Jason Weaver, OG, Southern Mississippi – GRADE: 4.2 F

Josh Hubner, P, Arizona State – GRADE: 4.0 I

Sam Schwartzstein, C, Stanford – GRADE: 4.0 I

Dominique Sandifer, WR, San Diego State – GRADE: 4.0 F

Will Pericak, DL, Colorado – GRADE: 4.0 F

Vaughn Telemaque, FS, Miami – GRADE: 3.9 M

Walter Stewart, OLB, Cincinnati – GRADE: 3.9 I MEDICAL

Cooper Bassett, DE, Oklahoma State – GRADE: 3.9 I

LaRod King, WR, Kentucky – GRADE: 3.9 I

Scott Kovanda, P, Ball State – GRADE: 3.9 I

Shane McCardell, DL, Mississippi State – GRADE: 3.9 I

Walter Kazee, RB, San Diego State – GRADE: 3.9 G

Josh Wade, CB, San Diego State – GRADE: 3.9 F

Anthony Watkins, FS, Oregon State – GRADE: 3.8 I

Feti Unga, ILB, Oregon State – GRADE: 3.8 G

Colby Prince, TE, Oregon State – GRADE: 3.8 F

Daimion Stafford, FS, Nebraska – GRADE: 3.8 F

Cordian Hagans, DL, UL Lafayette – GRADE: 3.8 E

Andre Booker, WR, Marshall – GRADE: 3.70 I

Scott Vallone, DL, Rutgers – GRADE: 3.7 F

Leonardo Bates, OT, UL Lafayette – GRADE: 3.6 I

Nick Williams, WR, Connecticut – GRADE: 3.6 G

Lions move WR Dominique Curry to tight end

The Detroit Lions have a couple of proven pass-catching tight ends in Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler and now they’re going to try to develop another.

According to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, the Lions are working to convert wide receiver Dominique Curry from wide receiver to tight end. Detroit signed Curry to a reserve/future contract after the end of this past season. He’s got experience in the NFL but primarily on special teams.

Curry was 6-2, 225 pounds in training camp with the Lions last summer and the club will have to get him beefed up for the new role, adding probably a minimum of 20 pounds and hopefully closer to 25.

It’s worth a shot. McCosky notes that Curry ran well for a big wideout and Pettigrew and Scheffler are entering the final year of their respective contracts.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

RG-3 knows how to fire up fans against Dallas

Robert Griffin III energized Washington Redskins fan at a draft party Saturday at FedEx Field when he did some jumping jacks, apparently proof knee rehabilitation is coming along just fine.

Then, he charged up the crowd of more than 20,000 fans with a few words, telling them his favorite moment was a 38-31 victory over the rival Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving at Cowboys Stadium.

You've got to start with the last game against the Cowboys,” Griffin said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “Alfred Morris runs for 200 yards, does a great job. Then we go back to the game on Thanksgiving and we spanked the Cowboys.

“We made Cowboys Stadium our home. And that's what we want to continue to do.”

It did not take the young quarterback very long to learn what will fire up fans on both sides of this rivalry. Washington’s first meeting vs. Dallas this season comes in Week 5 at Cowboys Stadium and it will be nationally broadcast on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

NFP post-spring Top 25

With spring football in the books, it's time to re-evaluate the way-too-early Top 25 that was released shortly after Alabama's victory over Notre Dame last January in the BCS title game.

Here is a fresh set of rankings based off of what we saw in spring football and how we see these teams faring in the fall.

1. Alabama: Until the Crimson Tide get beat, Nick Saban and Co. remain at the top. And as we know, this is a program that just reloads no matter how much talent is lost to the NFL.

2. Oregon: Mark Helfrich is ready to lead the program, and Nick Aliotti remains one of the more underrated defensive coordinators in the nation.

Braxton Miller US PRESSWIREBraxton Miller and the Buckeyes could be in for another special season.

3. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have a very manageable schedule in 2013, and quarterback Braxton Miller continues to improve as a passer.

4. Stanford: Head coach David Shaw has this program trending toward BCS national championship game territory. The defense remains stout, and quarterback Kevin Hogan is legit.

5. Notre Dame: Quarterback Everett Golson is embracing his bigger role in the team's offense, and the defense will remain a force even without Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o.

6. Georgia: The Bulldogs lost a ridiculous amount of talent on defense, but Todd Grantham's unit developed depth last year. And quarterback Aaron Murray has returned to lead a skilled offense.

7. Texas A&M: The Aggies will have a target on their backs all season long after their standout debut season in the SEC, and all eyes will be on their rematch with Alabama early in the year.

8. South Carolina: A two-quarterback system just may work in Columbia if Steve Spurrier goes that route, and star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is primed to be the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

9. Florida: The Gators will need quarterback Jeff Driskel to take a big step in his development if they want a chance at an SEC crown.

10. Florida State: Playmakers abound on offense, and the defense should still be strong despite losing coordinator Mark Stoops and some top talent to the next level. But will the 'Noles trip up along the way against an inferior opponent as has been the case in recent years?

11. Clemson: Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins lead a prolific offense, but all eyes will be on Brent Venables as he tries to get continued improvement from the Tigers defense.

12. Louisville: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a Heisman hopeful, and the Cardinals are the best team in the Big East. Is another BCS game on the horizon?


Report: Geno Smith fires agents over draft fall

Geno Smith's unceremonious fall into the second round of the NFL Draft has reportedly led him to dismiss his agency – Select Sports Group, per Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal.

Smith was selected by the New York Jets in the second round of the draft after many draft experts had him projected as the top quarterback to be taken in the draft. Instead, Florida State's E.J. Manuel was the only QB taken in round by, by the Buffalo Bills.

Select Sports, which consists of Jeff Nalley, Vann McElroy and Graylan Crain, is now paying the price for that fall. An agent's job in the draft process, of course, is to market, prepare and ready a player in a way to get him selected as high as possible.

But if Select Sports oversold Smith's value to Smith on what teams really thought about him, they were far from alone, as most of the draftniks and talking heads also figured the West Virginia QB as a first-round pick.

Here's some advice to Smith as he starts his NFL career. He doesn't want to begin that career playing the blame game, which on the surface is what this move appears to be.

Follow me on Twitter @TerryMc13

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for

Texans plan to use Klein at quarterback

There had been speculation that Kansas State standout quarterback Collin Klein would have to switch positions in order to have any chance of sticking on an NFL roster.

Klein signed with the Houston Texans after going undrafted over the weekend, but according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the rookie will get a look as a quarterback.

That's the good news for Klein. The bad news is there are four quarterbacks already on the Texans, meaning he will have to bump one off the roster just to make it to training camp and would have to beat out another candidate to stick on the 53-man roster.

The competition: Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates, Case Keenum and Stephen McGee.

Follow me on Twitter @TerryMc13

Terry McCormick the Titans for

2013 draft expectations: By the numbers

With the draft now completed, DRAFTMETRICS has re-calculated who should expect the most help. The methodology used in calculating the expected results is as follows:
• The probability of achieving various milestones for each selection by each team was determined based on the article “Digging Deeper into Draft Probabilities”
• The probability assigned was based on when the selection occurred (i.e., in which Value Group does the selection occur) and the playing position drafted
o There are different probabilities for each playing position as indicated in “Digging Deeper into Draft Probabilities”
• The probability of success was converted into number of players
o A 50% chance of a player achieving a milestone equals

Packers' big contract extensions won't put strain on salary cap

The Green Bay Packers had been saving up to splurge on their own and that they did with lavish contract extensions for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews.

The Packers will pay the quarterback and outside linebacker $55.5 million in signing bonus money alone with the new contract that were completed this month. But the deals are not going to cripple the team when it comes to the salary cap, not right away anyway, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

According to the report, after Rodgers’ deal was calculate the team still has just more than $13.5 million in cap room for this season, way more than needed to sign the rookie class. Leftover cap money will be rolled into 2014 giving the club a small cushion to start with for next year.

Rodgers’ cap figure only jumped from $9.75 million to $12 million with his blockbuster extension. His cap number bumps up in 2014 but then it is relatively flat. There is no telling how far the players will make it into their respective contracts but the deals are unlikely to handcuff the organization.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Tom Coughlin calls Victor Cruz's absence a 'concern'

John Mara, the co-owner of the New York Giants, asked for patience a little more than a week ago when it came to talk of a long-term contract for wide receiver Victor Cruz, who has yet to show up this offseason after receiving a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent.

But Giants coach Tom Coughlin labeled it a “concern” when he visited with WFAN in New York on Monday afternoon, according to the New York Post.

It has to be a concern because when the restricted free agency period is over, you would hope that things would move fast,” Coughlin said. “What we want is exactly what I said the other day. We want a win-win. We want Victor to be proud to be a New York Giant, proud of his contract.”

As it is, the voluntary offseason workout program moves forward in Cruz’s absence. The one-year tender he received is for $2.879 million and most believe his agent Tom Condon will eventually broker a deal that will keep him in New York for the long haul. But until that happens, there is going to be doubt even as some call for patience.

“The New York Giants want him back as badly as we've ever wanted anybody,” Coughlin said, “And so we like the thing to be settled and over with and we wish it would be that way so that he could be in here working with the quarterback in the offseason. And the sooner it gets settled, the better off we will be.”

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune