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Ahead of the Curve

Ahead of the Curve is a syndicated football column by Frank Coyle that covers NFL and College football year round. It appears in different national publications and on web sites throughout the season and postseason each year.

Senior Bowl 2014 - Key Game Players to Watch

Senior Bowl 2014 - Key Game Players to Watch

Photo - QB Jimmy Garoppolo - Eastern Illinois

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Fast rising small college passer put back to back strong performances together at the East-West and Senior Bowl practices. He gets the main stage Saturday in Mobile and could elevate his stock into the top 50 selections. Garoppolo (6'2", 220 lbs) has a very compact and quick release with fine accuracy and a nice touch that allows receivers to run after the catch. He has an above average arm though he shows the ability to drive the ball into small openings with timing and accuracy. After an impressive week of practice, he can really shine on the big stage vs top completion.

Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
Underrated runner elevated his stock significantly with an impressive effect at the practices. He combines fine size and speed with well rounded talent to fill all the roles for the position. He is a fine route runner with soft hands and the natural running ability to be dangerous after the catch. He is moves well laterally and shows a burst of speed coming out of his cuts to run away from defenders. He has a thick lower body to break tackles and show some cutback ability/vision to find running lanes. A strong game effort and he can move into the top 10 selections.

Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
Fast vertical threat has lite it up this week with his ability to separate and get open. His big play potential has drawn raves and improved his draft status. Though only 5’10” 187 lbs., his short area quickness and long speed allow him to create big plays and will most likely allow him to shine at the NFL Combine.

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
Agile sure handed receiver may be the most developed wideout in this class. He routes great routes, adjusts very well and has the receiving radius and soft hands to catch everything. He has deceptive speed and quickness and could be the playmaker with the development to be a key factor on game day.

Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Tough technician had an outstanding week at practices vs the best edge rushers. He probably guaranteed a first round grade. He is highly developed and versatile that probably will earn him a starting rookie grade this summer.

Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
Sound technician displayed strong hands and balance that enables him to win consistently vs top linemen. He shows a strong base that translates well to the well and allows him to play with power. Good work effort and preparation will earn him early NFL starting spot, probably at right tackle.

Defensive Players
Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn

Fast edge rusher was unblockable this week. He has the explosive speed off the ball that dominated the practice sessions throughout the week. This small defensive end consistently attacked the edge of offensive tackles in one-on-one pass-rush and team drills. He weighs only 243 lbs and teams see him as a better fit as an outside 'backer in a 3-4 front. In a four man front, he is a situational rusher with impact ability. He has the quickest first step off the line in this draft class.

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Another smallish defender who had a strong week vs top competition. He has a quick burst off the ball, with strong and violent hands to gain a fast advantage. Though only 6'0" and 288 lbs, he wins with quickness and leverage with the ability to finish strong. He plays hard and competes on every rep.
Fine 3-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 front who has rose up draft boards after he showcased consistent talent vs premier blockers.

Jordan Tripp, LB, Montana
Rangy small college defender moves easily that allows him to pursue and drop in coverage.
He moves like a strong safety with the frame to carry another 10-15 lbs. He is a very fluid athlete and plays with fine speed for a 6'2", 237-pound defender. He needs to get stronger and take on blockers
and hold the point to play in a base defense.. Interesting rising defender.

Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
Big agile corner had a strong week of practices. He has the length scouts seek in a pro corner and shows the agility to move easily in his pedal and closing speed. He plays the ball well with the reach to deflect many passes. He plays both press and man well with the ability to ride a receiver’s hips and locate the ball consistently.

Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State
Physical strong safety displayed powerful tackling with the ability to close on the ball and drop runners.
He has excellent size (6'1", 216 lbs) with the ability to cover the back quarter. He can run the alley and drop runners in their tracks. His ability to match up with top tight ends in the deep game will determine how high a club will draft this emerging defender.

Players Primed for Big Game Performances
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Brandon Thomas, OT, Clemson
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Michael Schofield , OT, Michigan
Gabe Jackson , OG, Mississippi State
Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
Tyler Larsen, C, Utah State

Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Keith McGill, CB, Utah
Dez Southward, DB, Wisconsin
Dontae Johnson, DB, North Carolina St.

Players Who Need Big Game Performances
QB Logan Thomas - Virginia Tech
QB Stephen Morris - Miami
WR Jeff Janis - Saginaw Valley St.
OG Cyril Richardson – Baylor
OT Seantrel Henderson – Miami
OG Kadeem Edwards - Tennessee St.
DE Michael Sam - Missouri
DT Caraun Reid - Princeton
LB Jonathan Brown - Illinois
CB Chris Davis - Auburn

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 18 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites.

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Top 50 Pro Prospects for the NFL Draft 2014

Top 50 Pro Prospects for the NFL Draft 2014
January, 2014 - Pre-Senior Bowl Rankings / * Declared Underclassmen

Photo - DE Jadeveon Clowney - South Carolina

Pro Prospect / Position / School
1. * Jadeveon Clowney - DE - South Carolina
2. Jake Matthews - OT - Texas A&M
3. Anthony Barr - LB - UCLA
4. * Sammy Watkins - WR - Clemson
5. * Greg Robinson - OT - Auburn
6. * Teddy Bridgewater - QB - Louisville
7. * Blake Bortles - QB - Central Florida
8. * Johnny Manziel - QB - Texas A&M
9. Khalil Mack - LB - Buffalo
10. Darqueze Dennard - CB - Michigan State
11. * Mike Evans - WR - Texas A&M
12. *Jace Amaro - TE - Texas Tech
13. * Marqise Lee - WR - Southern California
14. * Timmy Jernigan - DT - Florida State
15. * Eric Ebron - TE - North Carolina
16.* Cyrus Kouandjio - OT - Alabama
17. C.J. Mosley - LB - Alabama
18. Taylor Lewan - OT - Michigan
19. * Louis Nix - DT - Notre Dame
20. Derek Carr - QB - Fresno State
21. * Kelvin Benjamin - WR - Florida St.
22. Ra'Shede Hageman - DT - Minnesota
23. Justin Gilbert - CB - Oklahoma State
24. Trent Murphy - DE - Stanford
25. * Ryan Shazier - LB - Ohio State

For the Top 50 Pro Prospects Continue to Next Page

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College 2014 All Star Games Showcase NFL Draft Prospects

Medal of Honor All-Star Game - Inaugural Game
Jan. 11, 2014 - Charleston, South Carolina.

http://www.mohbowl.com/team-rosters/

East-West Shrine Game - Jan. 18, 2014 - 4 pm.
http://www.shrinegame.com/en/Teams/westRosterNew

NFLPA All-Star Game - Jan. 18, 2014 – 3 pm.
http://collegiate.nflpa.com/roster/

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 18 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites.

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The Bowl Championship Series: Grand Finale

The Bowl Championship Series: A Golden Era

Since 1998, when Tennessee beat Florida State in the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship game at the Fiesta Bowl, to this season’s VIZIO BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl Stadium, the BCS has transformed college football into a true national treasure; with popularity, attendance, and fan viewership at record levels.

Though, I have always advocated a College Playoff system and crown a true national champion, the BCS series has done a remarkable job getting the top two clubs on the field for the title. College football has flourished on many levels due to the BCS system and has set a valuable blueprint for the new upcoming playoff format that begins next postseason.

The BCS was a significant step forward. It delivered a guaranteed matchup of the top two teams in a true national championship game, replacing a system that left fans wondering who the real champion was. It also brought more access to all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs. It featured some of the finest performances from some of the game’s greatest student-athletes, and preserved America’s bowl tradition for fans and participants alike. As the sun sets on the BCS era, it’s worth remembering all the positive developments that brought college football to where it is today.

The Top Two Teams Played in the National Championship Game – 16 times in 16 years. Since its inception in 1998, the BCS did what it was asked to do – matching college football’s number one and two teams, while preserving the heritage of the bowl system, along with college football’s unique regular season.

BCS Title Game Matchups
1998 (1) Tennessee 23 (2) Florida State 16
1999 (1) Florida State 46 (2) Virginia Tech 29
2000 (1) Oklahoma 13 (2) Florida State 2
2001 (1) Miami 37 (2) Nebraska 14
2002 (1) Miami 24 (2) Ohio State 31 (2 OT)
2003 (1) Oklahoma 14 (2) LSU 21
2004 (1) Southern California 55 (2) Oklahoma 19
2005 (1) Southern California 38 (2) Texas 41
2006 (1) Ohio State 14 (2) Florida 41
2007 (1) Ohio State 24 (2) LSU 38
2008 (1) Oklahoma 14 (2) Florida 24
2009 (1) Alabama 37 (2) Texas 21
2010 (1) Auburn 22 (2) Oregon 19
2011 (1) LSU 0 (2) Alabama 21
2012 (1) Notre Dame 14 (2) Alabama 42
2013 (1) Florida State (2) Auburn

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NFL Power Rankings - Chiefs Perfect Entering Bye Week

NFL Power Rankings - Chiefs Perfect Entering Bye Week

Pro Power Rankings - Week 10

Photo - QB Drew Brees - Saints

Offensive Player of the Week - QB Nick Foles - Eagles
Defensive Player - CB Sean Smith - Chiefs

Rookies of the Week

Offensive Player- WR Aaron Dotson - Patriots
Defensive Player- CB David Amerson - Redskins

Team of Week 9 - Colts -
Matchup of Week 10 - Cowboys at Saints –

Rank / Team / Record

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0)
The Chiefs go into bye week prior to Broncos matchup in Denver next week.

2. Denver Broncos (7-1)
Broncos better not sleep with trip to San Diego this week.

3. Seattle Seahawks (8-1)
The Seahawks can win ugly too.

4. Indianapolis Colts (6-2)
Colts looking to establish AFC home field advantage over next month.

5. New Orleans Saints (6-2)
Saints get major vs Cowboys at the friendly confirms in the Big Easy this week.

6. New England Patriots (7-2)
Patriots get open week before second half run with mainly sub .500 teams.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (8-3)
The Bengals face major AFC North test at Baltimore this Sunday.

8. San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
The 49ers rested after London trip and host Panthers this week.

9. Detroit Lions (5-3)
Lions begin their push for NFC North title with trip to Chicago this Sunday.

10. Green Bay Packers (5-3)
Packers lost key game to Bears Monday nite and begin NFC push without Aaron Rodgers over next month.

11. Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
Cowboys just got by Vikings last week and travel to New Orleans for major NFC clash with Saints.

12. Chicago Bears (5-3)
The Bears got a huge win over Packers on Monday night.

13. Baltimore Ravens (3-5)
The Ravens facing almost a must win contest with Bengals at home this week.

14. Miami Dolphins (4-4)
The Dolphins travel cross state vs Bucs to deflect ongoing “Bullying’ fiasco.

15. Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
Cards get soft part of schedule and need a run here to stay alive in the NFC playoff race.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)
Eagles travel to Green Bay for vital contest for both clubs’ playoff hopes.

17. New York Jets (5-4)
The Jets won a huge game vs the Saints and have bye this week before a heavy AFC second half schedule.

18. Carolina Panthers (5-3)
Panthers go to San Fran with major test to determine whether a playoff contender or pretender.

19. San Diego Chargers (4-4)
Chargers get Broncos at home in a must win situation for any playoff hopes.

20. Tennessee Titans (4-4)
The Titans have Jaguars Sunday with two games vs Colts on the upcoming schedule.

21. Cleveland Browns (4-5)
The Browns sit out this week before facing a heavy AFC schedule for their playoff hopes.

22. New York Giants (26)
The GMen well rested for second half run for any playoff aspirations.

23. Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
Falcons get Seahawks at home this week with fading playoff hopes in balance.

24. Houston Texans (2-6)
Texans lost critical game vs Colts as they enter soft part of schedule.

25. Washington Redskins (3-5)
The Skins face the Vikings tonight and need win for any mathematical chances for playoffs.

26. Buffalo Bills (3-6)
The Bills need a win in Pittsburgh to stay in the playoff hunt.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
Steelers look slow and old when the game is in the balance.

28. St. Louis Rams (3-6)
The Rams face Colts this week and face a tough task to stay in contention.

29. Oakland Raiders (3-5
The Raiders got bombed by Eagles last week with GMen on the agenda this Sunday.

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-7)
Vikings are a weekly train wreck and face tough schedule over second half.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-8)
Bucs get the ‘Bullied’ Dolphins at home Monday night.

32 .Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)
Jags didn’t lose last week with bye – get back into routine vs Titans this Sunday.

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NFL Power Rankings - Chiefs Still Perfect at Midseason

NFL Power Rankings - Chiefs Still Perfect at Midseason
NFL Power Rankings - Week 8

Photo - QB Drew Brees - Saints

Offensive Player of the Week - QB Andrew Luck - Colts
Defensive Player of the Year - DE Chandler Jones - Patriots

Offensive Rookie of the Week - TE Jordan Reed - Redskins
Defensive Rookie of the Year - DT Chris Jones - Patriots

Team of Week 7 - Colts -
Matchup of Week 8 - Cowboys at Lions –

Rank / Team / Record

1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-0)
The Chiefs make the rise from bottom to top by midseason.

2. Denver Broncos (6-1)
Broncos lost shootout in Indy last week.

3. New Orleans Saints (5-1)
Saints rested after bye week and ready for second half run in NFC.

4. Seattle Seahawks (6-1)
The Seahawks have a 12 day rest for contest with the struggling Rams.

5. Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
Colts rest this week after huge victory over Broncos.

6. New England Patriots (5-2)
Patriots face big AFC East matchup at home with Dolphins.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)
The Bengals are ready to take command in the AFC North.

8. San Francisco 49ers (5-2)
The 49ers go to London to face lowly Jaguars on vacation week.

9. Detroit Lions (4-3)
Lions face a steady diet of playoff contenders this month.

10. Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
The Ravens regroup with bye week after a rough start of their NFL title.

11. Green Bay Packers (4-2)
Packers are slowly building momentum for a run at the NFC North.

12. Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
Cowboys go to Detroit for a huge midseason NFC matchup that could have playoff ramifications.

13. Chicago Bears (4-3)
The Bears lick their wounds after a tough loss vs the Skins.

14. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
The Dolphins face maybe the pivotal game of their season vs AFC rival the Patriots this week.

15. Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
Cards are well rested for the Falcons coming to town.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
Eagles face the Giants at home this week where the loser is probably toast for season.

17. New York Jets (4-3)
The Jets won a huge game vs the Patriots but must be ready this week in key matchup in Cincy.

18. San Diego Chargers (4-3)
Chargers get open week before hoping to make a second half run at the playoffs.

19. Atlanta Falcons (2-4)
Falcons coming off back to back wins with trip to the desert on this week’s schedule.

20. Tennessee Titans (3-4)
The Titans never seem to get a signature victory over recent seasons.

21. Cleveland Browns (3-4)
The Browns go to KC with hopes of getting to .500 vs only undefeated NFL teams.

22. Houston Texans (2-5)
Texans lick their wounds with this week’s bye.

23. Carolina Panthers (3-3)
Panthers need to win tonite to get into the playoff picture.

24. Buffalo Bills (3-4)
The Bills needs to build off big win vs Miami with tough assignment at New Orleans.

25. New York Giants (1-6)
The GMen get their first win and face Eagles in Philly that could be the pivotal contest for both clubs.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)
Steelers coming off back to back wins and hope to continue streak with trop to Oakland.

27. St. Louis Rams (3-4)
The Rams lost QB Sam Bradford for season last week and face a tough task to stay in contention.

28. Oakland Raiders (2-4)
The Raiders come off bye week with Steelers coming to town Sunday.

29. Washington Redskins (2-4)
The Skins face the Broncos in Denver this week.

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
Vikings face Packers at home this week with season getting ugly.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-6)
Bucs get the Panthers at home tonight in a winable matchup.

32 .Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7)
Jags hoping to join Conference USA next year.

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NFL Power Rankings – Broncos Face Colts This Week

NFL Power Rankings – Broncos Face Colts This Week
NFL Power Rankings - Week 7

Photo - QB Russell Wilson - Seahawks -

Offensive Player of the Week - QB Tom Brady - Patriots
Defensive Player of the Year - LB A.J. Hawk - Packers
Offensive Rookie of the Week - RB Eddie Lacy - Packers
Defensive Rookie of the Year - S Matt Elam - Ravens

Team of Week 6 - Patriots -

Matchup of Week 7 - Broncos at Colts –

Rank / Team / Record

1. Denver Broncos (6-0)
Peyton Manning returns to Indy this week with matchup vs Andrew Luck.

2. New England Patriots (5-1)
Patriots get Jets at Met Life this Sunday.

3. New Orleans Saints (5-1)
Saints sit out this week after loss to New England.

4. Seattle Seahawks (5-1)
The Seahawks look to rebound with Cards tonight after loss vs the Colts.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (6-0)
The hot Chiefs get the next two games at home vs Texans and Browns.

6. Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Colts host the Broncos for Sunday nite clash that could be preview for AFC title game.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)
The Bengals face key road game at Detroit before a strong AFC schedule.

8. Detroit Lions (4-2)
Lions face a critical month for them to take command in the NFC North.

9. Baltimore Ravens (3-3)
The Ravens’ face a three game stretch vs AFC North opponents that could shape the divisional race.

10. San Francisco 49ers (4-2)
The 49ers get a soft spot in schedule over next three weeks.

11. Chicago Bears (4-2)
The Bears head to the Capital this Sunday with Skins before their bye week.

12. Green Bay Packers (3-2)
Packers won a huge game vs the Ravens and face surprising Browns this Sunday.

13. Dallas Cowboys (3-3)
Cowboys hit the road with four of the next five games at NFC opponents.

14. Miami Dolphins (3-2)
The Dolphins get back to back AFC East opponents in Bills and Patriots over next two weeks.

15. Arizona Cardinals (3-3)
Cards face critical NFC West matchup with visit to San Fran this week.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)
Eagles get the Cowboys and Giants at home over next two weeks.

17. Tennessee Titans (3-3)
The Titans let game in Seattle get away from them and face acid test at home with 49ers this Sunday.

18. Cleveland Browns (3-3)
The gritty Browns have back to back tough road games in Green Bay and Kansas City.

19. Houston Texans (2-4)
Texans need a strong performance at KC this week.

20. New York Jets (3-3)
The Jets need to surprise vs the Patriots this week at home if they want to contend for the playoffs.

21. San Diego Chargers (3-3)
Chargers face the powder puff Jaguars this Sunday before a bye week.

22. St. Louis Rams (3-3)
The Rams need to keep pace in the NFC West with road game at Carolina this week.

23. Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
Falcons get home game with Bucs to start second half run at playoffs.

24. Buffalo Bills (2-4)
The Bills hit the road south over next two weeks with Dolphins and Saints.

25. Carolina Panthers (2-3)
Panthers are mired in mediocrity and hot and cold efforts.

26. New York Giants (0-6)
The GMen find a way to lose the game.

27. Oakland Raiders (2-4
The Raiders took another wippin by the Chiefs last week.

28. Washington Redskins (1-4)
The Skins face back to back games with Bears and Broncos on the schedule.

29. Minnesota Vikings (1-4)
Vikings go to Met Life to face the winless GMen.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4)
Steelers got a W with win over the Jets last week.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-5)
Bucs go into Atlanta to face the desperate Falcons this week.

32 .Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6)
Jags hoping to catch Chargers napping this week.

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