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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.

NFL Power Rankings - Falcons & Panthers Top NFC South

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NFL Power Rankings Week 5 –
Falcons & Panthers Keep NFC South Perfect at Top

Rookies of the Week –
Offensive Player - RB Todd Gurley - Rams

Defensive Player - LB Stephone Anthony - Saints

Players of the Week
Offensive Player - RB Chris Ivory - Jets -

Defensive Player - Safety T.J. Ward - Broncos

Team of Week 4 - Giants
Matchup of Week 5 – St Louis at Green Bay

Rank / Team / Record

1. Green Bay Packers (4-0)
Packers face a tough Rams defense this week in a key NFC matchup.

2. New England Patriots (3-0)
Patriots are rested for their trip to Big D.

3. Denver Broncos (4-0)
Broncos’ defense is coming up big in the early action.

4. Cincinnati Bengals (4-0)
The Bengals get an acid test at home with the Seahawks coming to town this Sunday.

5. Atlanta Falcons (4-0)
Falcons’ HC Dan Quinn has this defense playing smart.

6. Arizona Cardinals (3-1)
Cards lost a tough contest with the Rams in the leagues strongest division.

7. Carolina Panthers (4-0)
The Panthers rest this week after a strong opening month atop the NFC South.

8. Seattle Seahawks (2-2)
Seahawks continue their unimpressive play, but find a way to win in crunch time.

9. New York Jets (3-1)
The Jets buried the Dolphins and get their bye week before a stretch of weak opponents.

10. San Diego Chargers (2-2)
Chargers host the Steelers on Monday night and need to make a statement here.

11. New York Giants (2-2)
GMen pounced on the Bills last week and get the 49ers at home Sunday night.

12. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Cowboys lost in overtime to the Saints and host the Patriots in a critical early season matchup.

13. St. Louis Rams (2-2)
The Rams’ won a hard fought contest vs the Cardinals and travel to Green Bay in another key NFC contest.

14. Buffalo Bills (2-2)
The Bills defense has been toasted under HC Rex Ryan. They should get well in Tennessee.

15. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)
Vikings are on their bye week and hope to regroup with a soft month of upcoming games.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
Eagles are in disarray and must show up vs a rejuvenated Saints’ club coming to town.

17. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
Without QB Andrew Luck, the Colts just got by Jaguars in overtime. They face South rival, the Texans on Thursday night.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)
Steelers’ gave away game to the Ravens and need big effort in San Diego Monday night.

19. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)
The Chiefs got wacked by Bengals’ last week and face almost a must win situation at home vs the Bears this Sunday.

20. Baltimore Ravens (1-3)
The Ravens were handed a gift by the Steelers and stay in the division with the Browns coming to town.

21. Houston Texans (1-3)
Texans host the Colts on Thursday night with their highly touted defense a major disappointment.

22. Cleveland Browns (1-3)
Browns find new ways to lose games and face a strong schedule over next two months.

23. New Orleans Saints (1-3)
Saints won a key matchup with the Cowboys and go to Philly for major NFC matchup.

24. Washington Redskins (2-2)
Washington beat the Eagles last week in an impressive effort. Travel to Atlanta to determine if that was real.

25. Miami Dolphins (1-3)
The Dolphins were waxed again this time by the Jets to got HC Joe Philbin fired. They get their bye week to regroup after a horrible start.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3)
The Jaguars play hard every week but don’t know how to win yet. Face the Bucs this week.

27. Oakland Raiders (1-3)
The Raiders lost to the lowly Bears last week. They host West rival, Broncos in must win scenario.

28. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
The Titans host the Bills this week and had two weeks to prepare. Let’s see if rookie QB Marcus Mariota went to school on the opponent.

29. Detroit Lions (0-4)
Lions gave game to Seattle and will look for their first win at home vs Arizona in desperate situation.

30. San Francisco 49ers (1-3)
The 49ers’ offense is struggling mightily and go to MetLife to face the hot GMen.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (1-3)
Bucs will make key mistakes with young roster looking mature in tough division.

32. Chicago Bears (1-3)
The Bears beat the hapless Raiders and go on the road for the next two vs desperate Chiefs and Lion.

NFL Power Polls - Packers & Patriots Rise to Top

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NFL Power Rankings Week 3 –
Packers & Patriots Rise to Conference Leaders

Rookies of the Week –
Offensive Player – WR Amari Cooper - Raiders

Defensive Player - LB Vic Beasley - Falcons

Photo -QB Aaron Rodgers - Packers

Players of the Week
Offensive Player - WR A.J. Green - Bengals

Defensive Player - CB Josh Norman - Panthers

Team of Week 3 - Packers
Matchup of Week 4 – St Louis at Arizona

Rank / Team / Record

1. Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Packers smoked the Chiefs behind the incredible Aaron Rodgers.

2. New England Patriots (3-0)
The veteran Patriots get a bye to rest on their hot start.

3. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
Cards lead the league in scoring behind the talented Carson Palmer.

4. Denver Broncos (3-0)
Broncos are taking care of business, but can they sustain it the full schedule.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)
The Bengals off to fast start, but they will be judged by the postseason.

6. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
Falcon’s beat the overrated Cowboys and host the tough Texans this Sunday.

7. Carolina Panthers (3-0)
The Panthers are atop the NFC South, but will have to beat the Falcons for the title.

8. Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
Seahawks will be pressed to be the best in the NFC West this season.

9. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Cowboys could rank lower except for a few gifts in the early action.

10. Buffalo Bills (2-1)
The Bills will be tested with the Giants coming to town in a pivotal game for both clubs.

11. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
Vikings face a key matchup in Denver this week to establish themselves as a legitimate playoff contender.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
Eagles hope to get to .500 with a trip to the Capital vs the Skins.

13. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
QB Andrew Luck hides countless faults in Indy, though maybe the best team in the weak AFC South again.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
Steelers’ move forward without Big Ben over the next few weeks behind the erratic Michael Vick.

15. New York Jets (2-1)
The Jets have to find a way to score more points if they expect to be a playoff contender.

16. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Chargers host the Browns this week in a key game to move up in the AFC West.

17. New York Giants (1-2)
GMen could be 3-0, but gave away the first two and look to get back to .500 in Buffalo this week.

18. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
The Chiefs got wacked by Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. Now must go to Cinny and face the hot Bengals this Sunday.

19. Miami Dolphins (1-2)
The Dolphins were waxed by the Bills at home last week. Face the Jets in London in a critical AFC East matchup.

20. Oakland Raiders (2-1)
The Raiders are off to a good start, and go to Chicago where the Bears appear to be ready to start rebuilding for next year.

21. Baltimore Ravens (0-3)
The Ravens are looking for their first win in Thursday night as they renew their bitter AFC North rivalry in Pittsburgh.

22. Houston Texans (1-2)
Texans travel to Atlanta in a stern test of their playoff contention aspirations.

23. Detroit Lions (0-3)
Lions travel to Seattle for a critical early season contest where the loser is in big trouble.

24. St. Louis Rams (1-2)
The Rams’ offense struggles to score points and faces a key West rival, the Cardinals in the desert.

25. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
Browns struggle scoring points and look to settle on a starting QB with Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel on call.

26. New Orleans Saints (0-3)
Saints lost a key South matchup to the Panthers and host the Cowboys Sunday night in a critical matchup and possibly without QB Drew Brees.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
The Jaguars were toasted by the Patriots and go to Indy for a key South matchup.

28. Washington Redskins (1-2)
Washington host the Eagles this week in an NFC East game that could determine the direction of these teams.

29. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
The Titans will ride rookie QB Marcus Mariota through the learning period this year both the good and bad.

30. San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
The 49ers were bombed in the desert. That may be the norm this season.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (1-2)
Bucs will go through the growing pain of a rookie QB in Jameis Winston.

32. Chicago Bears (0-3)
The Bears may have the #1 pick in NFL Draft 2016 as the event returns to Chitown.

Bettis, Brown and Haley Head NFL Hall of Fame Class 2015

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be inducted this Saturday night August 8th

The NFL Hall of Fame inductees this year begins with running back Jerome Bettis of the Pittsburgh Steelers and includes linebacker Charles Haley, wideout Tim Brown, linebacker Junior Seau, guard Will Shields, center Mick Tingelhoff and former GMs Bill Polian and Ron Wolf.

Photo - RB Jerome Bettis - Pittsburgh Steelers

Jerome Bettis put up eight seasons of 1,000-plus yards which at the time of his retirement was the third-best in NFL history. He was extremely tough runner who became the bell cow of the physical Steelers clubs. He's fifth all-time in career rushing yards with 13,662.

Tim Brown has been a finalist multiple times, but the high number of successful talented wide receivers in recent years made it difficult for all of them to make it into the Hall of Fame. Brown had more than 1,000 catches when he retired with mediocre Raider clubs that had bad starting QBs. At the time of his retirement, he had the second-most receiving yards in NFL history.

Charles Haley has been a finalist several times and many have questioned why he was not already inducted given that he is the only player in NFL history to have five Super Bowl rings as a player. He has rings from Super Bowl XXIII, XXIV, XXVII, XXVIII and XXX as both a 49er and Cowboy. He produced seven double-digit sack seasons and finished his career with 100.5 sacks. He was named the defensive player of the year twice, in 1990 and 1994 while earning five Pro Bowl appearances.

Junior Seau had an incredible career that includes 20 seasons in the NFL. He made it to 12 Pro Bowls with six All-Pro nods. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992
Will Shields was an ironman and didn't miss a single game for the Chiefs in 14 seasons. That totals 224 games played with 223 starts. TheChiefs won four division titles and made six playoff appearances with Shields blocking. He earned 12 consecutive Pro Bowl berths and helped runner Priest Holmes rush for a then-record of 27 TDs in 2003.

Bill Polian spent 32 seasons building franchises including the Colts, Bills and Panthers.His teams went to five Super Bowls, three with the Bills and two with the Colts. The Panthers made it to the NFC title game in only their second season in Carolina. The Colts went to the postseason 11 out of the 12 seasons thatPolian served as the President and General manager. He was named the NFL's Executive of the Year by The Sporting News six times.

Ron Wolf, listed as a contributor, has always been known as one of the best personnel guys in the game. He was with the Raiders for 23 seasons and they had winning seasons in all but six years during his tenure there. He also helped return the Green Bay Packers into a championship club and helped them to back-to-back Super Bowls. The Packers won 16 games, including Super Bowl XXXI with Wolf making all the personnel moves for the franchise.

Mike Tingelhoff was a Seniors Committee pick. He played 240 games over the course of 17 seasons in the 60s and 70s. He earned the starting center job as a rookie and kept it his entire career. He never missed a game or practice and played in 19 playoff games over the course of his career. He went up against guy like Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke twice annually.

The Class of 2015 will now have several months to work on their speeches for the Enshrinement Ceremony. That will come on Saturday, Aug. 8. There, each of the enshrinees will receive their bronze busts and will give a speech, followed by the NFL's annual Hall of Fame game on Sunday – Steelers vs the Vikings.

Patriots Top NFL 2015 Compensatory Picks

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NFL Announces 2015 Compensatory Picks

NFL office announced 32 compensatory selections this week with Kansas City, Denver and Seattle leading the way with 4 additional picks each for the upcoming NFL Draft 2915. Baltimore and Houston will receive three additional picks each for losing more free agents than they signed during the open market in 2014.

The world champion Patriots get the highest compensatory pick with the #97th overall selection at the end of the third round followed by the Chiefs and Bengals to end the second day of the NFL Draft.

Draft Insiders’ Yearbook 2015 – Over 300 Scouting Reports – available early April – Complete 7 Round Mock Draft - New Top 300 Value Board

Photo – RB Tyler Varga - Yale

NFL 32 Compensatory Picks

3rd Round
97 New England
98 Kansas City
99 Cincinnati

4th Round
132 San Francisco
133 Denver
134 Seattle
135 Cincinnati
136 Baltimore

5th Round
169 Carolina
170 Seattle
171 Baltimore
172 Kansas City
173 Kansas City
174 Houston
175 Baltimore

6th Round
208 Denver
209 Seattle
210 Green Bay
211 Houston
212 Green Bay
213 Carolina
214 Seattle
215 St. Louis
216 Houston
217 Kansas City

7th Round
250 Denver
251 Denver
252 Pittsburgh
253 New England
254 San Francisco
255 Indianapolis
256 Arizona

NFL Free Agency 2015 - Top 50 Players

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NFL Free Agency 2015 - Top 50 Players

Photo - DT Nda Suh

March 2015 Newsletter - Special Free Agency Report – available Now

Free Agents - Unrestricted & ‘Street’ - Franchise & Transitional Players

RANK PLAYER/AGE/ POS /LABEL
1 Ndamukong Suh (28) - DL - No franchise tag
2 Dez Bryant (26) - WR - Franchised
3 Justin Houston (26) - DE - Franchised
4 Darrelle Revis (29) - CB
5 Demaryius Thomas (27) - WR - Franchised
6 Jason Pierre-Paul (26) - DE - Franchised
7 DeMarco Murray (27) - RB
8 Greg Hardy (26) - DE
9 Julius Thomas (26) - TE
10 Byron Maxwell (26) - CB
11 Rodney Hudson (25) - OG
12 Bryan Bulaga (25) - OT
13 Nick Fairley (27) - DT
14 Mike Iupati (27) - OG
15 Pernell McPhee (26) - DE
16 Jerry Hughes (26) - DE
17 Jeremy Maclin (26) - WR
18 Terrance Knighton (28) - DT
19 Torrey Smith (26) - WR
20 Jason Worilds (26) - LB
21 Brian Orakpo (28) - OLB
22 Dan Williams (27) - DT
23 Stefen Wisniewski (25) - C
24 C.J. Spiller (27) - RB
25 Charles Clay (26) - TE - Transition tag
26 Jabaal Sheard (25) - DE
27 Jared Odrick (27) - DT
28 Chris Culliver (26) - CB
29 Justin Forsett (29) - RB
30 Malcolm Smith (25) - OLB
31 Orlando Franklin (26) - OG
32 Rahim Moore (25) - S
33 Brandon Graham (26) - OLB- DE
34 Jordan Cameron (26) - TE
35 Brandon Flowers (29) - CB
36 Stephen Paea (26) - DT
37 George Johnson (27) - DE
38 Clint Boling (25) - G
39 Da'Norris Searcy (26) - S
40 Joe Barksdale (26) - OT
41 Brandon Spikes (27) - ILB
42 Jake Locker (26) - QB
43 Percy Harvin (28) - WR
44 Bruce Carter (27) - LB
45 Michael Crabtree (27) - WR
46 Jermaine Gresham (26) - TE
47 Corey Peters (26) - DT
48 Shane Vereen (25) - RB
49 Mason Foster (25) - LB
50 James Carpenter (25) - G

Pro Day Workout Schedule 2015

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Pro Day Workout Schedule 2015

Photo - DE Shane Ray - Missouri

Dates / Schools

March 2: Minnesota, Virginia, Wake Forest, Troy, Chattanooga
March 3: Auburn, Pittsburgh, Northwestern, New Mexico St, James Madison, Sam Houston St, Tuskegee
March 4: Texas A&M, Arkansas, Mississippi St, Purdue, Weber St
March 5: Clemson, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah St
March 6: Arizona St, Southern Mississippi, Northern Illinois, Appalachian St, Newberry
March 9: Ball St, Grand Valley St, Montana, Northern Arizona
March 10: Monmouth University, UCLA, Arizona, Kansas St, Akron, Kent St, Alabama-Birmingham, Army, Harvard, Samford, Tennessee St
March 11: Rutgers, Alabama, Southern California, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Colorado St, Louisville, Cincinnati, Marshall, Central Arkansas, Eastern Washington, Emporia St
March 12: Oregon, Michigan, Oklahoma St, Kentucky, Washington St, Fresno St, Wyoming, UNLV, Buffalo, Delaware, Idaho, Miami (Oh)
March 13: Hobart, Ohio St, Oregon St, West Virginia, Georgia Tech, Georgia St.
March 14: Prairie View A&M
March 16: Toledo, Bowling Green, Idaho St, Montana St
March 17: California, Eastern Michigan, Richmond, Southern Illinois
March 18: Baylor, Georgia, Michigan St, Virginia Tech, Boise St, Boston College, Louisiana-Monroe, San Jose St, Memphis, Charleston Southern
March 19: Missouri, Penn St, Stanford, Western Michigan, San Diego St, Hawaii, Maine, William and Mary
March 20: Central Michigan, Valdosta St, Harding
March 23: Iowa, North Carolina St, Georgia Southern, Texas-San Antonio
March 24: North Carolina, Iowa St, East Carolina, Ohio, Northwestern St
Ohio
March 25: Tennessee, Syracuse, Central Florida, Kansas, Duke, Louisiana-Lafayette, Nevada, Southern Methodist, Illinois St, South Dakota St, Southeastern Louisiana
March 26: Utah, Tulane, North Texas, Fordham, North Dakota St
March 27: LSU, BYU, TCU, Missouri Western St,
March 30: Indiana, UMass, South Alabama
March 31: Notre Dame, Florida St, UConn, Yale, Stephen F. Austin
April 1: Miami, South Carolina, Florida International
April 2: Washington, Maryland, Florida Atlantic
April 7: Florida
April 9: UTEP

Top Ten Pro Prospect Rankings - NFL Draft 2015

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Top Ten Pro Prospect Rankings - NFL Draft 2015
Offensive Players / Pre NFL Combine Rankings / * underclassmen

Special NFL Combine Report – available this week

Photo - Wideout Kevin White - West Virginia

Offense
Quarterbacks:

1. * Marcus Mariota - Oregon - 6-4, 215
2. * Jameis Winston - Florida St - 6-4, 235
3. * Brett Hundley - UCLA - 6-3, 225
4. Bryce Petty - Baylor - 6-3, 230
5. Sean Mannion - Oregon St - 6-5, 220
6. Bryan Bennett - Southeastern Louisiana - 6-2, 215
7. Garrett Grayson - Colorado St - 6-2, 220
8. Shane Carden - East Carolina - 6-2, 220
9. Bo Wallace - Ole Miss - 6-4, 210
10. Taylor Kelly - Arizona St - 6-2, 215

Running Backs:
1. * Melvin Gordon - Wisconsin - 6-1, 205
2. * Todd Gurley - Georgia - 6-1, 230
3. * Tevin Coleman - Indiana - 6-1, 215
4. * T.J. Yeldon - Alabama - 6-2, 220
5. Ameer Abdullah - Nebraska - 5-9, 195
6. * Javorius Allen - Southern California - 6-1, 220
7. * Duke Johnson - Miami (Fla.) - 5-9, 205
8. * Jay Ajayi - Boise State - 6-0, 215
9. David Cobb - Minnesota - 5-11, 230
10. Jeremy Langford - Michigan State - 6-0, 205

Fullbacks:
1. Jalston Fowler - Alabama - 6-0, 250
2. Tyler Varga - Yale - 5-11, 235
3. Aaron Ripkowski - Oklahoma - 6-1 255
4. Zach Zenner - South Dakota State - 5-11, 220
5. Mark Weisman - Iowa - 6-0, 240
6. Hunter Joyer - Florida - 5-11, 235
7. Trayion Durham - Kent State - 6-1 245
8. Zach Zwinak - Penn State - 6-1, 235
9. Conner Neighbors - LSU - 5-11, 240
10. De'Marieya Nelson - Arizona State - 6-2, 225

Wide Receivers:
1. * Amari Cooper - Alabama - 6-1, 200
2. Kevin White - West Virginia - 6-3, 210
3. DeVante Parker - Louisville - 6-3, 210
4. * Dorial Green-Beckham - Oklahoma - 6-5, 225
5. * Sammie Coates - Auburn - 6-2, 200
6. * Jaelen Strong - Arizona State - 6-4, 215
7. Devin Smith - Ohio State - 6-1, 195
8. Phillip Dorsett - Miami (Fla.) - 5-10, 185
9. * Breshad Perriman - UCF - 6-2, 215
10. Jamison Crowder - Duke - 5-9, 175

For the rest of Offensive Top Ten Prospects - go to next page

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