One of the many, many reasons the NFL draft is an inexact science is that teams can’t know for sure which players will put in the work to be great. It’s hard to predict what a 22-year-old will do once he’s given a few million dollars. It’s especially true at quarterback. NFL quarterback isn’t a full-time job; it’s two full-time jobs. It’s pretty simple: Either you immerse yourself in being an NFL quarterback or your odds of succeeding plummet. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, who came into the draft with plenty of question marks, appears to get it. NFL offseason stories are always a bit tough to gauge, because everyone is in the best shape of his life and everyone is working harder than ever. But every story about Winston has a common theme: He’s dedicated to being a great quarterback. The latest is from ESPN’s Britt McHenry , who wrote a detailed piece about Winston getting in better shape. He looked a bit out of shape for an NFL quarterback last year, but that has changed. This offseason he has been working with trainer Tim Grover, who is most famous for his work with Michael Jordan, and Winston has dropped 18 pounds. He has changed his diet and workout routine. The story said he’s still about five pounds from his goal weight of 225-229 pounds. [ Yahoo Fantasy Football is open for the 2016 season. Sign up now ]
Punter Michael Koenen was not on an NFL team in 2015, for the first time in a decade. Instead, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons specialist was fighting for his health, and watching his weight drop well below his normal playing weight. Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez tells Koenen’s story , now a potential comeback tale as Koenen is finally healthy enough to begin pursuing another job in the league. Things started going downhill for Koenen in 2014, when he believes he drank tainted sports water. He began dealing with negative effects like nausea, body aches and other flu-like symptoms. The water was recalled, and Koenen stopped drinking it, but the damage was done. The Buccaneers cut him after his subpar season, with two years remaining on the six-year, $19.5 million free agent contract he’d signed in 2011. Then, earlier this year, things got worse: Koenen contracted clostridium difficile, a colon bacteria that can be fatal. As he dealt with the infection, his weight plummeted to 153.4 pounds; over 40 pounds below his listed playing weight.
Despite Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft publicly supporting the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas, there will be obstacles. The main one has nothing to do with gambling. There will be the gambling issue of course, because the NFL’s history against Las Vegas and gambling is very consistent. And there is the stadium issue. Just because Raiders owner Mark Davis pledged $500 million , that doesn’t mean it’ll get built. It wouldn’t be something new in Las Vegas for a big project to be hyped, only to see it never get off the ground. There’s also the issue of whether the NFL is using Las Vegas as its new Los Angeles, and scaring existing cities with the threat of moving to Vegas, like it did with L.A. for 21 years. But there’s a real concern, and it’s simply whether Las Vegas can sustain an NFL team. Vegas is not a big market. It’s 40th in television market size , less than one-third the size of the Bay Area. it’s not a tiny town, but it’s also a step down for the NFL, which is always worried about its bottom line. The Raiders would need to capture a market that is filled with transplants who presumably already root for a team, if they follow the NFL. In 2011 the Las Vegas Sun said Nevada had by far the most transplants living there of any U.S. state, with only 24 percent of its residents born in Nevada. Las Vegas isn’t a bad sports town — UNLV basketball has a great following, and UNLV football doesn’t because it has a lackluster stadium well away from campus, and it’s UNLV football — but Las Vegas is also a unique market and we really don’t know what would happen if a pro team moves there. [ Yahoo Fantasy Football is open for the 2016 season. Sign up now ] Give Davis this: He knows that his team would need to win over a local fan base to survive. “We’re not looking to make this something where fans are going to fly in every week for the games,” Davis said, according to NFL.com . “To fly down for 10 games a year might not be a thing that would happen for a lot of people. We want to have a local fan base and that’s very important for us and I think that’s something Las Vegas would like to have as well.”
Dante Fowler Jr. took a step right, quickly cut back inside offensive tackle Luke Joeckel and found himself on a collision course with the quarterback. More importantly for Fowler and the Jacksonville Jaguars, it was a clear sign that the speedy defensive end is back. Fowler practiced Monday for the first time since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during rookie minicamp last year.
This offseason, Shutdown Corner will travel down memory lane with a series of stories presenting some interesting and sometimes forgotten stories from the NFL’s past. Join us as we relive some of the greatest and craziest moments in the sport’s history. The first round of the 2000 NFL draft is an interesting one to look back on . There were high picks who never quite lived up to the hype, like Courtney Brown or Travis Taylor. Some players had nice, long productive careers, such as Chris Samuels and Thomas Jones. Brian Urlacher and Shaun Alexander and a few others became superstars, although stardom lasted longer for some than others. Only one first-round pick from 2000 remains in the NFL, after John Abraham’s career ended after 2014. The lone survivor is Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski. Go figure.
In a long, fascinating story in Pewter Report, which looked back at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ recent draft class, some very interesting news arises. It appears they earmarked a first-round grade on a kicker . That, of course, would be Florida’s Stat’s Roberto Aguayo, whom the Buccaneers traded up high in Round 2 to draft. As Bucs GM Jason Light says in the exclusive story, it’s somewhat easy to connect the dots on how high a grade the team had on Aguayo. “We had Aguayo ranked high — pretty high,” Licht said. “We moved up into the second round to get him, so that should tell you something about where we had him ranked.” Typically, a team making such a move, trading up into the late second round (59th overall) to select a player (and give up a fourth-round pick to do so), means it has a very high grade on the player and believes he likely should have been off the board by that point, or that he likely would go before the team otherwise would have picked before the move. But a first-round grade? On a kicker?! That seemed to be the echo chamber — including from yours truly — outside the building. Inside, there was joy that the Bucs landed such a coveted piece in their eyes, and a Buccaneers source confirmed to Shutdown Corner on Friday that the Pewter Report story framed the Bucs’ draft grades accurately. After all, ask the Oakland Raiders if Sebastian Janikowski, still going strong all these years later, was worth a mid-first-rounder . Shutdown Corner’s Frank Schwab kicked that topic around on Friday. “Not a lot of people will ever admit that a kicker is worth a first-round pick,” Licht said. “I’m going to be jumping for joy when a few of the people in your business (the media) realize that some are.” Licht spent two stints in New England with the Patriots’ front office, and during his second stint there (2009-2011) Bill Belichick asked some of his staff to rank the team’s roster at the time 1 to 53 in terms of importance. When he got the rankings back from the members, there was one interesting but surprising common theme. “None of us had the kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, in our top 10 — even though he was an excellent kicker,” Licht said. “After we were done, Bill said, ‘Nobody wants to put Gostkowski in our top 10? Why, just because he’s a kicker?’ Bill made us rethink that and he got his point across. He said, ‘You tell me 10 other players that are more important than him!’ “It was an eye-opening moment for me. I had been around Adam Vinatieri and Gostkowski, and those are two of the best. I know how good of a feeling that is to have a guy like that when you know that a lot of the games are going to come down to field goals – a lot of the games come down to the kicker.” The Buccaneers do not yet know if Aguayo is in that class of kicker, but they do know that their shortcomings at the position last season cost them opportunities to win games. Aguayo was one of the most decorated college kickers in recent history, and he had an excellent track record making some of the most difficult kicks — especially those from the wider college hashmarks — which sold the Bucs on his ability to convert pressure attempts, especially after he missed only one fourth-quarter kick in his career. “Roberto is wired differently,” Licht said. “He’s very confident. The folks at Florida State said, ‘He’s one of the leaders on our team.’ You just don’t run across that often at all with kickers. Just the way he carries himself, he’s different. He’s more of a normal teammate as a kicker. He’s a core player and a leader. He has a certain confidence about him. You just like being around him.” With longer extra-point attempts in the NFL (Aguayo never missed one in college) and an offense that’s still rounding into form, he might be a very welcome addition. His draft value appears to be out of whack on the surface from where he was taken, but if Aguayo helps the Bucs win games the pick will be more than worth it. Right now, the Bucs are confident that they stole their new kicker and didn’t, like everyone assumes, reach for him. – – – – – – – Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm