Shutdown Corner

  • Star Lotulelei gets busy against UCLA. (Getty Images)

    After a dominant Mar. 20 performance at Utah's pro day, defensive lineman Star Lotulelei was able to confirm that his abnormal heart readings during medical tests at the scouting combine in February may have been an anomaly. And on Monday, Lya Wodraska of the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Lotulelei's further heart tests showed "no evidence of dysfunction," and his heart performed "consistently with that of highly trained athletes."

    [Also: Trades for vet QBs could hurt Geno Smith]

    Tests performed during the combine indicated that Lotulelei's left ventricle was pumping at 44 percent efficiency compared with the normal range of 55 to 70 percent. A repeat of the echocardiogram shortly after the combine indicated that Lotulelei's heart was returning to normal range, and according to the Salt Lake Tribune report, a recent MRI showed that his heart was indeed in normal range with no long-term effects. Reports indicated that Lotulelei lost 10 pounds in a three-day period as he prepared for the combine, and dehydration can be a factor in such negative echocardiogram readings.

    Lotulelei will attend and participate in the "combine re-check," a test in Indianapolis that re-assesses medical tests given at the February combine.

    Read More »from New tests show that Star Lotulelei’s heart is in normal range, with no evidence of dysfunction
  • Branden Albert was absent at the start of Chiefs workouts (USA Today Sports Images)

    Four NFL teams kicked off their offseason programs on Monday, including the Kansas City Chiefs, who are beginning the first season of the Andy Reid era.

    The Chiefs had 64 of 65 players under contract attend the start of the workout program, but were without left tackle Branden Albert, Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star reports.

    “You’ll find I don’t get caught up in that," Reid said when asked if he was disappointed by Albert's absence. "The guys that are here we’ll work with, and that gives the next man the opportunity to get better and get ready to play."

    Albert has signed the $9.828 million franchise tender he received this offseason, but his status with the club remains up in the air. The Chiefs, who hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, could use the pick on left tackle prospects Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) or Eric Fisher (Central Michigan), which may result in Albert moving from his left tackle spot to right tackle or possibly inside to guard. Albert has been resistant to such a move as it would have a negative impact on the value of a multi-year contract and a trade to another team remains a possibility.

    During a Tuesday morning appearance on "NFL AM" on the NFL Network, Albert said he's seeking clarity and a long-term commitment from the Chiefs.

    "If it's something I have to do, I'll have to do it. But I'd rather not," Albert said about skipping mandatory workouts (via Gregg Rosenthal of "I want that long-term commitment. But as you know in football, you don't have too much control of the situation. I want to play for the Chiefs, but I want that commitment long-term."

    Read More »from Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert skips start of offseason workout program
  • Cam Newton and Geno Smith now have something else in common. (Getty Images)

    For the second time in three years, Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki has taken it upon himself to warn us of the dangers of that most suspect of characters -- the highly athletic top quarterback draft prospect. In his draft report detailing the pros and cons of West Virginia's Geno Smith -- the consensus top QB pick in this year's NFL draft -- Nawrocki takes off from the tape and gets personal.

    "Not a student of the game. Nonchalant field presence — does not command respect from teammates and cannot inspire. Mild practice demeanor — no urgency. Not committed or focused — marginal work ethic. Interviewed poorly at the Combine and did not show an understanding of concepts on the white board. Opted not to compete at the Senior Bowl and has approached offseason training as if he has already arrived and it shows in his body with minimal muscle definition or strength ... Needed to be coddled in college — cannot handle hard coaching.

    "A cross between Akili Smith and Aaron Brooks, Smith is a gimmick, overhyped product of the system lacking the football savvy, work habits and focus to cement a starting job and could drain energy from a QB room. Will be overdrafted and struggle to produce against NFL defensive complexities."

    Before the 2011 draft, Narwocki made waves with some similarly scathing critiques of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton -- who went on to set several rookie passing records with the Carolina Panthers.

    “Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and will always struggle to win a locker room . . . Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.”

    Now, what we don't know is where Nawrocki is getting this stuff. We assume he's talking to NFL teams, because if he isn't, he's making it up -- unless he's in the room with NFL teams during combine interviews, which we tend to doubt. That's the first problem with the "analysis" that doesn't come strictly from tape -- the lack of clear and credible sources. If you poll a room full of NFL scouts, coaches, and executives about any player, you'll get a pretty divergent set of opinions. It's then your job as the analyst in question to vet those opinions, decide what's accurate and relevant, and present your version.

    The second problem in this case is the overwhelming evidence in Smith's favor.

    Jake Spavital, Texas A&M's current quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator, spent the last two seasons coaching West Virginia's quarterbacks, including and especially Geno Smith. Spavital is one of the most respected offensive minds in the college game, and he couldn't say enough about Smith's willingness to prepare, and how that manifested itself in game situations.

    Read More »from PFW draft guide clobbers another top QB prospect with questionable personal attacks
  • Browns trade QB Colt McCoy to the 49ers

    Colt McCoy has been traded to the 49ers (USA Today Sports Images)

    The Cleveland Browns have traded quarterback Colt McCoy to the San Francisco 49ers, reports Jason La Canfora of

    According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, McCoy and a 2013 sixth-round pick will head west in exchange for fifth- and seventh-round picks in the 2013 NFL draft. From a compensation standpoint, the Browns have essentially obtained a seventh-round pick in return for McCoy as the pick they're sending back to the 49ers (No. 173 overall, which originally belonged to the Philadelphia Eagles) is just nine slot lower than the fifth-round pick (No. 164) they'll receive as part of the trade. The seventh-round pick is No. 227 overall, which originally belonged to the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Originally selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft out of Texas, McCoy started 21 games over the his first two seasons in the league, completing 400-of-685 pass attempts for 4,309 yards with 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. McCoy lost his starting job last season to 2012 first-round pick Brandon Weeden and appeared in just three games last season, completing nine of 17 attempts for 79 yards and a touchdown.

    McCoy is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to earn $1.5 million in base salary, which is more than the $1,395,844 that 49ers' starter Colin Kaepernick and third-stringer Scott Tolzien will make combined this season.

    Read More »from Browns trade QB Colt McCoy to the 49ers
  • For the khaki-deficient man with everything else. (

    Well, you knew it was coming. Every April 1, a whole lot of people who consider themselves Original Pranksters take this April Fool's Day opportunity to get all hilarious. The NFL is not exempt from such shenanigans ... far from it. So far this year, the San Francisco 49ers franchise is out in the lead with this bit from the team's official website:

    With a wardrobe that stands the test of time, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is bringing his attire to the masses by launching his own clothing line, the Jim Harbaugh Collection.

    A trendsetter in the coaching profession, Harbaugh has inspired fans with a unique sideline look that he carries over into all facets of his life. Whether the 2011 AP Coach of the Year is stalking the sidelines of Candlestick Park or enjoying a round of golf at Pebble Beach, chances are he'll be dawning his black fleece, khaki pants and 49ers black cap.

    "I probably save about 20 minutes per day," Harbaugh said about limiting his daily clothing decisions. "I've cut down a lot of drag."

    The accompanying slideshow shows Harbaugh "reducing drag" during several different activities wearing the same thing he always wears in public -- 49ers cap, 49ers sweatshirt, khakis. So, if you're ready to reduce drag and go all Harbaugh, you now have a way to do so. Clenched teeth are optional. Contempt for the media is mandatory.

    We also have Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, Harbaugh's divisional arch-rival, getting into the April Fool's act on Twitter. This, following the trade of backup quarterback Matt Flynn to the Oakland Raiders:

    Read More »from 49ers lead NFL April Fool’s Day goofiness with the ‘Jim Harbaugh Collection’
  • The Packers and Aaron Rodgers are $2M per year apart (USA Today Sports Images)

    Last week, a report surfaced that had the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers nearing a long-term extension that would make the Super Bowl XLV Most Valuable Player the highest-paid player in NFL history.

    On Monday, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that the two sides are approaching a resolution on a new deal and currently are $2 million per season apart.

    According to Rapoport, the Packers' current offer averages more than $21 million per season, which would be a nice increase over the $20.1 million average per year (APY) that Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco received from the Baltimore Ravens in a contract signed on March 4, 2013. A $2 million gap suggests that Rodgers, who has passed for 21,332 yards with 170 touchdowns and just 46 interceptions in his first five seasons as a full-time starter in the NFL, is seeking a deal in the $23 million per year range, which would make his contract a bit harder for upcoming quarterback extensions to leap-frog in the APY rankings.

    Quarterbacks who are expected to receive long-term extensions in the near future include Eli Manning of the New York Giants, Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions, whose willingness to restructure their contracts have resulted in exorbitant cap charges in upcoming seasons. Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons and Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears are entering the final years of their current contracts and will likely receive long-term deals this offseason. Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers will be eligible for extensions following the 2013 season, while the Seattle Seahawks can start to pay Russell Wilson what he's worth following the 2014 season.

    Rodgers is represented by David Dunn of Athletes First, who does not represent any of the other eight quarterbacks listed above and may be inclined to play hardball. That group is represented by Tom Condon (Manning, Stafford and Ryan), James "Bus" Cook (Cutler, Newton and Wilson), Ryan and Bruce Tollner (Roethlisberger) and Scott Smith (Kaepernick).

    Read More »from Report: Packers, Aaron Rodgers are $2 million per year apart on new contract
  • RGIII cuts down the net for the Lady Bears during their 2012 championship run. (Getty Images)

    It's safe to say that Baylor alum and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was less than pleased with the circumstances that led the Lady Bears to an early exit in the women's NCAA basketball tournament. Baylor came in as the defending national champs and the number-one seed, but were knocked out by Louisville in the semifinal round on Sunday night in an 82-81 upset.

    Griffin, who has long been supportive of his school's endeavors in women's basketball (and once challenged center Brittney Griner to a dunk contest), was not specifically unhappy about the loss. He was, however, unusually vocal about the officiating after the game -- especially the ways in which (at least in his view) Louisville took after Griner throughout the game. Using a defense Louisville coach Jeff Walz called the "claw-and-one," the Lady Cardinals put as many as three players around Greer, and went all Hack-A-Shaq from there.

    Griffin really didn't appreciate it.

    Read More »from Robert Griffin III vents about officiating on Twitter after Baylor women lose in NCAA tournament
  • Raiders acquire QB Matt Flynn from the Seahawks

    Matt Flynn has been traded to the Raiders (USA Today Sports Images)

    The Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks have pulled the trigger on a trade that will send quarterback Matt Flynn to the Raiders in exchange for a pair of draft picks, reports Jay Glazer of

    According to a release from the Seahawks, they have acquired the Raiders' fifth-round pick in 2014 and a conditional draft choice in 2015.

    Word broke last Friday that the Raiders and Seahawks were close to a deal for Flynn, appeared in three games in his first season in Seattle after signing a three-year, $19.5 million contract as an unrestricted free agent last March. The 2008 seventh-round pick out of LSU by the Green Bay Packers played in just over three dozen offensive snaps, completing five of his nine pass attempts for 68 yards in relief of rookie Russell Wilson, who won the Seahawks' starting job after an open competition during training camp.

    Read More »from Raiders acquire QB Matt Flynn from the Seahawks
  • Luke Joeckel could be the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. (Getty Images)

    You didn't think that we were finished doing podcasts with our buddy Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's NFL Matchup just because the NFL season is over, did you? Well, if you did, fear not -- we're back in the saddle (and Greg's now writing for Shutdown Corner as well) to do a new series of podcasts in which we evaluate the draft prospects by position. We've already discussed the quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and tight ends in this year's class, and how it's time to talk about a very intriguing group of offensive linemen. Greg has taken his decades of experience, and oodles of coach's tape, and transferred both to the college side just in time for the pre-draft process.

    The Shutdown Corner draft podcast with Greg Cosell: Evaluating the offensive linemen

    A few words of wisdom from Mr. Cosell:

    On Texas A&M LT Luke Joeckel: "The strength of his game is repetitive execution, snap after snap. Not elite athleticism and movement. He's not unathletic, but ... I think he does everything right on almost every snap. I would say he's a smoother mover than Jake Long with Long came out of Michigan, but he's not as fluid as, say, Ryan Clady when he came out of Boise State. I think he'll be a perfectly good NFL left tackle, and if you draft him, you'll be fine at the position. If you look at him solely as a prospect, you wouldn't put him in the Orlando Pace/Jonathan Ogden/Walter Jones category, but he'll be a really good NFL left tackle.

    On Central Michigan LT Eric Fisher: "You can make the argument that he's a little bit better as an athlete than Joeckel. His feet are a little quicker, and his lateral movement is a little more fluid. I thought they were very similar in that they were rarely off balance. Fisher shows excellent athleticism and movement as a pass-blocker, and pulling in the run game. You can talk about the level of competition and all that -- it's not the same -- but when you look at Fisher's skill set, it translates really, really well. I would not be surprised if some teams had Fisher rated higher than Joeckel."

    The Shutdown Corner draft podcast with Greg Cosell: Evaluating the offensive linemen

    On Oklahoma LT Lane Johnson: "It was evident watching him through the season -- and I try to watch them with the right chronology, so I can get a sense if they're improving or not -- but because he doesn't have a lot of experience at left tackle ... early on, you saw the athleticism, but he wasn't that great a player. It didn't translate. As the season went on, it started to translate much more, but the main concern is to get him to play to that level snap after snap."

    Read More »from The Shutdown Corner draft podcast with Greg Cosell: Evaluating the offensive linemen
  • Kevin Kolb may be on the verge of a new NFL opportunity ... of sorts. (Getty Images)

    A few weeks after releasing former franchise quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick over salary issues, the Buffalo Bills are set to bring in a replacement -- but the name won't exactly get toes tapping in upstate New York. Kevin Kolb, like Fitzpatrick a once-grievously overpaid player in comparison to his skill set, reportedly finalized a deal on Saturday that will make him the newest member of the Bills. The prospective deal is for two years, could max out at around $13 million, was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

    The scientific term for this might be "Microscopic Lateral Move."

    Kolb signed a six-year, $62.5 million deal with the Cards in 2011, after a limited run of reasonable success as a backup with the Philadelphia Eagles, who selected him in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft. But he played in just 15 games in two seasons, starting 14, as injuries and ineffectiveness derailed his time there. He was cut on March 15 because general manager Steve Keim and new head coach Bruce Arians, Arizona's new men in power, didn't want to throw good millions after bad. Similarly, the Bills cut Fitzpatrick loose because they didn't want to be on the hook for a $3 million bonus when the new league year began.

    Read More »from Report: Kevin Kolb signs two-year deal with Buffalo Bills