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INDIANAPOLIS — The New York Giants think quarterback Eli Manning has multiple years left as a starting quarterback and are open to trading down from the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft.

New Giants coach Pat Shurmur said Wednesday at the scouting combine that he thought Manning has “years left as a starting quarterback in this league.”

And new Giants general manager Dave Gettleman indicated that everything is on the board entering this week’s scouting combine, including potentially moving back in the first round.

“Are we open for business? You know, whatever. Any decision I make is going to be in the best interest of the New York Football Giants. Plain and simple,” Gettleman said. “So if someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse, would I move back? Depends on who is there.

“Again, if there is a guy worthy of being the second pick of the draft and what we’re basically saying and answering that question to the affirmative, you’re drafting what you think is going to be a Hall of Fame player. So you can’t get too cute about that thing.”

The Giants are looking closely at the draft’s quarterbacks with Manning turning 38 before the end of the season. The Browns could also be in the market with the No. 1 overall pick. The Denver Broncos and New York Jets at No. 5 and No. 6 also are in need of quarterbacks.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield in the top 10 on his most recent Big Board. Gettleman says he is at least intrigued by the group.

“It’s an interesting class. All shapes, sizes. All flavors,” Gettleman said. “It’s like Howard Johnson’s back in the day. I’m excited about meeting some of these guys here. It will be fun. Obviously we’ll be busy once the combine is over visiting and you have your 30 private visits. So that will be part of the process. It’s a really interesting, eclectic group.”

The Giants seem ready to at least gauge the market for the No. 2 pick. It could be strong with the collection of quarterbacks available and so many quarterback-needy teams.

“We’re going to find out,” Gettleman said.

The Giants say they’re open to all options, including Manning, despite his age, and 2017 third-round pick Davis Webb, despite his inexperience. Webb didn’t take a snap last season, but Gettleman and Shurmur, who served as the Minnesota Vikings‘ offensive coordinator the past two years, said they thought highly of Webb coming out of California last year.

The Giants could also take a closer look at other positions if they stay at No. 2. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who’s No. 1 on Kiper’s Big Board, could be in the mix if they stay put.

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Whom does Patriots top pick Mac Jones study most? Starts with Tom Brady – New England Patriots Blog



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quick-hit thoughts/notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:

1. Mac’s models: Just as the Tampa Bay BuccaneersTom Brady has leaned heavily on personal quarterback coaches Tom Martinez and Tom House over his career, Patriots first-round draft pick Mac Jones has done the same.

Joe Dickinson, who first started coaching as a graduate assistant in the 1980s under Barry Switzer at Oklahoma, has been with Jones since an initial meeting at the DeBartolo Sports Camp in Jacksonville, Florida, when Jones was 11.

The two communicate daily, such as Saturday when Dickinson’s phone buzzed with a text at 5:50 a.m. It was Jones.

“He said, ‘Hey, Coach, are you ready to go to work?'” Dickinson told in a phone interview.

Dickinson said the early-morning text reflects Jones’ relentless work ethic and passion for the game. As Jones takes the early steps of hoping to become the Patriots’ succession plan to Brady, Dickinson pointed out that Jones has long studied Brady’s game.

“Tom Brady is a huge idol to him, since he was a young guy,” said the 64-year-old Dickinson. “I had a buddy of mine from the NFL who would get me New England film, and we looked at that a lot, because he was a master of going to the right guy. He loves Brady, because he’ll cut your heart out with a dull spoon.”

For Patriots followers becoming more familiar with the 6-foot-2, 217-pound Jones, and what he hopes to become, the quarterbacks he watches closest with Dickinson provide an introductory guide.

“He studied Tom Brady the most. Then Drew [Brees], because Mac knows his own capabilities. Drew might not have the biggest gun in the fight, so he has to have fast eyes. While Mac has a lot stronger arm than people think he does, and he’s more athletic than people think he is, he’s a huge student of the game and he has the fastest eyes.”

Jones hasn’t limited himself to just Brady and Brees, mixing in others such as Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes with a goal of “trying to learn from the best.”

As Dickinson was relaying that information, he started to laugh. His phone was buzzing again with a text message from Jones. He wasn’t surprised.

Jones told him he’d be back in Birmingham, Alabama, at 1:15 p.m., and wanted to finalize the details for a one-on-one throwing session with him. After two days of draft excitement and hype — from Cleveland to New England to Alabama — it was time for Jones to get back to work.

2. QB economics: Jones’ contract with the Patriots will be four years, $15.58 million, fully guaranteed, and include an $8.6 million signing bonus. The deal, like all first-round picks, will include a fifth-year option. That’s a great contract for the Patriots — assuming Jones pans out. Had Jones gone to the 49ers at No. 3, he would have signed a four-year, $34.105 million deal that was fully guaranteed.



Check out the best highlights from Alabama DT Christian Barmore’s college career.

3. Intel on Day 2 picks: A brief reach-out to some scouts/personnel men on the Patriots’ Day 2 picks — Alabama’s defensive tackle Christian Barmore (second round, No. 38) and Oklahoma’s outside linebacker Ronnie Perkins (third round, No. 96) — confirmed the initial impression that both weren’t expected to be available at those picks based on pure talent alone. So both seemed to be a case of how teams balance talent with the fact these are young men who are still maturing. Barmore had a challenging training camp, posted on social media that he wanted out of Alabama, and had deleted Alabama references from his accounts before playing his best football late in the season. And Perkins reportedly failed a drug test that led to a suspension, limiting him to six games. They both get a fresh start in New England, where their talent is less of a question than how they adapt maturity/culture-wise.

4. Mills as QB2?: The Patriots obviously felt good about Jones falling to them at No. 15, but as usual, they were prepared for multiple scenarios, having spent considerable time and resources on the second tier of quarterbacks. Who might have been their target? The Texans’ selection of Stanford’s Davis Mills early in the third round (No. 67) is the strongest evidence to me that he was the Patriots’ Plan B, as first-year Texans general manager Nick Caserio grew up in the New England system.

5. Windy welcome: When Jones arrived in town Friday and took part in the traditional photo shoot for a first-round draft pick with owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft, there were wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph. At one point as he stood on the stage at the 50-yard line, answering questions from reporters, the Jacksonville native stopped and said, “I’m going to have to get used to this.” He said it reminded him of the windy days when he would bring his football to the beach and throw there.

6. Mac’s timetable: When coach Bill Belichick didn’t wait for a question from a reporter after the first round and instead decisively declared Cam Newton is the team’s quarterback until further notice, some might have viewed him as being stubborn and fiercely loyal to Newton. The view here is different, however. Everyone knows the Patriots selected Jones to be their quarterback of the future, so the question is more “when” than “if” he’s handed the reins to show what he can do. But a foundational principle of the Patriots’ program is showing the type of commitment, work ethic and leadership to earn the respect of teammates and coaches, and there’s a process that still has to unfold over time. No one is handed anything until it does.

7. Bam(a), Bam(a): The Patriots selected back-to-back Alabama players with their first two picks in the 2021 draft (Jones and Barmore), and then back-to-back Oklahoma players after that (Perkins and running back Rhamondre Stevenson), which is the type of double dip at one school that has been commonplace under Belichick. It marked the sixth and seventh times, respectively, under Belichick that the Patriots have gone back-to-back at the same school: Rohan Davey/Jarvis Green (2002, LSU), Jermaine Cunningham/Brandon Spikes (2010, Florida), Logan Ryan/Duron Harmon (2013/Rutgers), Joe Thuney/Jacoby Brissett (2016/NC State) and Isaiah Wynn/Sony Michel (2018/Georgia). Only one team has done what the Patriots did this year (first two picks from one school, next two picks from another school): the 1992 Los Angeles Rams, with Pittsburgh’s Sean Gilbert and Steve Israel, and then LSU’s Marc Boutte and Todd Kinchen.

8. Wynn’s option: Monday marks the deadline for the Patriots to make a decision on the fifth-year options for 2018 first-round picks Wynn and Michel, with the team taking it down to the wire. Doing so for Wynn, the starting left tackle, would fully guarantee him $10.4 million in 2022. If the Patriots had selected an offensive tackle in the first three rounds of the draft, it might have swayed the decision. But since they didn’t, the safe play would be to pick it up, even though Wynn’s availability hasn’t been ideal because of injuries. For Michel, the No. 2 running back, it would be $4.5 million — which likely will be too rich for the team’s liking.

9. BB salutes Adams: Belichick called football research director Ernie Adams’ impact on the Patriots’ organization “historic” on Saturday night, tipping his cap to him while announcing Adams had concluded his final draft with the franchise. Adams and Belichick met at Phillips Andover Academy, with Adams first joining the Patriots in 1975 as an administrative assistant and assistant offensive coach under Chuck Fairbanks. Belichick noted that things the Patriots do now trace back to those years with Fairbanks and personnel czar Bucko Kilroy, crediting Adams for “being part of the process and the way he set it up and taught it to all the people who have come through here — from Scott [Pioli] and Nick [Caserio], to all the scouts.” ESPN’s Wright Thompson previously wrote about Adams as a secret to the Patriots’ success, and now Matt Patricia seems to be stepping into at least part of that role.

10. Did You Know: When the Patriots selected Jones at No. 15, it marked the second time in the common draft era (since 1967) that five quarterbacks were selected within the top 15. The other year was 1999 — Tim Couch (1), Donovan McNabb (2), Akili Smith (3), Daunte Culpepper (11) and Cade McNown (12).

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Jets should acquire this veteran QB to complete Project Zach Wilson – New York Jets Blog



FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:

1. In Nick of time? General manager Joe Douglas did a nice job of surrounding rookie Zach Wilson with players, using his second, third and fourth draft picks to build the offense, but the “Making of a Quarterback” project still is missing an important piece:

An experienced backup quarterback/insurance policy/mentor for Wilson.

The ideal candidate is the Chicago BearsNick Foles, seemingly the odd-man out now that first-round pick Justin Fields is joining “QB1” Andy Dalton. Foles, 32, has lost nine of 11 starts over the past two years, but he and Douglas have a strong bond — the Super Bowl they won together as members of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles.

The Jets should make a play for Foles, who has two years, $12 million left on his contract — including $9 million in guarantees. Obviously, the teams would have to work out a financial arrangement because it makes no sense for the Jets to trade for that contract as is. They could wait out the Bears, hoping they cut him, but it would cost more on the salary cap to release him than to keep him — whether it’s a post-June 1 cut or not.

Wilson needs a veteran at his side to help his growth, and the Jets don’t have anybody like that on the roster. Their other quarterbacks are James Morgan and Mike White, neither of whom has taken a regular-season snap. Foles is known as a team player who could function in the offense if called upon. They met recently with free agent Brian Hoyer, another good guy, but he hasn’t played effectively in years.

The Jets would love for Wilson to be their Week 1 starter, but there’s no guarantee. Of the past 11 quarterbacks drafted in the top 10, dating to 2017, only three were Week 1 starters — Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals), Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals) and Sam Darnold (Jets).

“I really am excited about the guys we have,” Douglas said Saturday, commenting on whether he needs a veteran in the quarterback room. “That’s a conversation Coach [Robert Saleh] and I will get together on. Once the dust settles on this draft, we’ll talk about every [position].”

2. Three’s Company: The Jets’ first three picks — Wilson, guard Alijah Vera-Tucker and wide receiver Elijah Moore — all ranked in the top 25 on their board and are expected to play significant roles as rookies. When was the last time that could be said about one of their drafts?

3. It’s catching on: The “Build-around-the-rookie-QB” concept is a leaguewide trend. Of the eight teams that drafted a quarterback in the first three rounds, six paired the quarterback with a new offensive lineman — a league high in the common-draft era (since 1967). Darnold must be wondering, “Why didn’t they do this for me?”

4. Joe goes O: Douglas is creating his own teams trends. Before he arrived, the Jets were known as a defensive-minded team that used first-round picks on 300-pound linemen. Now, look:

In two drafts, Douglas’ five highest-drafted players came on offense — Wilson (No. 2 overall), tackle Mekhi Becton (11th), Vera-Tucker (14th), Moore (34th) and wide receiver Denzel Mims (59th).

This is called adjusting to the new NFL.

5. ‘Big’ trade: If you’re keeping score on the trade of safety Jamal Adams:

Two of the four picks the Jets received from the Seattle Seahawks — Nos. 23 and 86 overall in this year’s draft — were dealt to the Minnesota Vikings in the move-up for Vera-Tucker. The Jets turned half the Adams trade into a 6-foot-4, 308-pound guard who will be a Day 1 starter — and they still have Seattle’s first- and fourth-round picks in 2022.

“He’s going to be an All-Pro guard,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said of Vera-Tucker. “He’s just one of the cleanest, safest picks in the whole draft.”

The downside is that it left the Jets with no third-round selections. Douglas considers those “premium” picks or projected starters. It’s tough to lose two of them, especially for a team with so many holes, but they were determined to get Vera-Tucker. He was one of the top-10 players on their board. Douglas was so pumped up to get him that he high-fived people in the draft room.



Check out the best highlights from Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore’s college career.

6. Hard lesson: The low point of Moore’s Ole Miss career was the 2019 Egg Bowl, when he celebrated a touchdown by pretending to urinate like a dog. The crude gesture drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, pushing his team back and resulting in a missed extra point in a one-point loss. During the run-up to the draft, he was grilled about it by every team who interviewed him.

Douglas said he’s “confident that was just a one-time incident.” Moore, in a post-draft Zoom call with reporters, showed contrition, saying he learned “countless things” from the regrettable incident.

7. Did you know? The Jets have the league’s longest active drought of not drafting a Pro Bowl player on offense. The last draft to produce one actually produced two — tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold in 2006.

8. Knapp town: BYU legend Steve Young, an unofficial advisor to Wilson and his family during the pre-draft process, is hopeful that Zach can reverse the franchise’s bleak quarterback history. One of the reasons is the presence of Gregg Knapp, the Jets’ passing-game specialist. (Yes, that’s his title.) Young and Knapp go way back; Knapp was a San Francisco 49ers‘ assistant for several years during Young’s run as the starting quarterback in the late 1990s.

“I told his dad, Mike Wilson: If I had a son and I needed him to be coached and taken care of in a way that helps him play better football, I’d want Gregg to be part of it,” Young told ESPN. “That’s a huge plus.”

9. No Joshing: Wilson and Darnold have a common link: Josh McCown, the former Jets quarterback who mentored Darnold as a rookie in 2018 (and still does). Before the draft, Wilson called McCown to pick his brain on what to expect from playing quarterback in New York. McCown, who grew up in a small town in Texas, told him how he fell in love with the place after early apprehension about a big city. He also spoke glowingly of the Jets’ rebuilding effort under Douglas.

“I thought that was so cool to hear that from him,” Wilson said. “It gives you confidence in being able to go in there and it made it very comforting to know that I’m going into a great situation.”

10. A-Rod’s swag: Wilson grew up in Draper, Utah idolizing Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers. He always speaks of Rogers in reverential terms, but a lighthearted comment about him last fall turned into a thing. Wilson said in an interview, “He’s my guy. But as far as his swag, the way he dresses, he doesn’t have any. He has no swag.” Word got to Rodgers, who responded on the Pat McAfee Show.

“One college kid took a shot at my swag,” Rodgers said, “Swag is a mentality.”

11. Coach speak: Saleh’s mantra — “All gas, no brake” — is something he wears and speaks. When he spoke to drafted players by phone, he mentioned the phrase “all gas.” When he greeted Wilson at the facility on Friday, he was wearing a black T-shirt that said, “All gas, no brake.” Get used to it; you’re going to be hearing that a lot in the coming months.

12. The last word: “We were trying to corner the market on Elijahs and Michael Carters” — Douglas, who drafted a Michael Carter at running back (North Carolina) and a Michael Carter at safety (Duke).

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers make Houston’s Grant Stuard draft’s Mr. Irrelevant



TAMPA, Fla. — Unlike many other NFL prospects, former University of Houston linebacker Grant Stuard wasn’t sent a box of hats for the 2021 NFL draft. The only NFL hat he owned was a vintage Tampa Bay Buccaneers hat his father brought over from Spring, Texas, on Saturday.

“He said something just told him to grab a hat because he’s a hat guy,” said Stuard, a first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection. “So he just grabbed a random hat that he had. He didn’t know what this was. I didn’t know what this was.”

It just so happened to be the hat of the team that called his name with the 259th overall and final pick of the draft, making him this year’s Mr. Irrelevant.

“When their pick was up and they were on the phone, he was pointing at the hat,” Stuard said of his dad. “I was like, ‘That’s just crazy.’ It was just by chance.”

Stuard getting to this moment wasn’t by chance, however. The leadership skills that led to him being voted a team captain at Houston? Those were cultivated at home. Though the two were together in Houston for one of the most important days of Stuard’s life, his relationship with his dad has been marked by ups and downs and absenteeism, and he fought to care for his siblings.

“My mom is a drug addict. … She used to work in the sex industry,” Stuard told ESPN on Saturday night. “My dad was in prison a good portion of our young life. Even when he wasn’t in prison, he was very absent when we were growing up. That results in both parents being absent the majority of the time.”

“It was bouncing from home to home,” Stuard said. “Sometimes we didn’t know if there was gonna be food on the table. We didn’t know if the lights were gonna be on. We didn’t know what school we were gonna go to.”

Stuard learned that in the grand scheme of things, an uncertain future in the NFL or being selected last is nothing compared with fighting to survive. He credits his faith, a village of people that helped raise him and football — the one constant he could turn to every August — for keeping him on track.

“There were a lot of people along the way — a lot of family members, a lot of teachers, a lot of coaches — that deserve worlds of credit for everything that they did,” Stuard said. “Whether it was bringing a meal, or my Nina paying a bill. There were people all over the place that just really gave back to us. So that’s why I’m really passionate about giving back with the little things I do as well.”

At his Houston pro day, Stuard raised money for Heels to Halos, a Christian organization helping women recover from sex trafficking. Stuard asked fans to pledge donations for each rep he performed on the bench press, with a goal of 25 reps. He wound up benching 28 reps, raising $5,210. He also put on back-to-school drives and toy drives.

“We love him as a person and, obviously, as a player,” general manager Jason Licht said Saturday. “He’s got a lot emotion on the field. He’s had a little bit of a tough life, he’s been taking care of his siblings. … He’s a very mature person, a very accountable person and a very accountable football player. Guys that can get through tough times and adversity — that’s a big box to check for us.”

So is Stuard’s special-teams ability, which was a focus for the Bucs on Day 3 of the draft. They love his speed, physicality and toughness and believe it will translate well onto their coverage units.

“He reminds me — this is going way back — I was with the Dolphins when we signed Larry Izzo out of Rice as an undersized linebacker that played with a huge heart,” Licht said. “He ended up making a great career for himself as a special teams linebacker. Not to say that we don’t think Grant has a chance to play linebacker — he’s going to be [an inside linebacker] for us on the field — but we think he’s got a chance to excel as a special-teams ace.”

Stuard said he hopes he can use his platform to help others going through similar obstacles, particularly those whose parents haven’t really been there for them in their life.

As for Stuard’s relationship with his family, both parents were with him when he got the phone call from Tampa Bay. His mother even popped in during his Buccaneers Zoom call with local media. His parents still have their struggles, but they’re improving, Stuard said.

“My mom … she pops in every now and again,” Stuard said. “My dad is doing much better. He definitely has improved. His involvement is a lot better. He’s becoming more involved and he helps my little brother with sports and stuff like that.”

Stuard said his major driving force is being a role model for his siblings. He and his wife plan to move at least one of his four siblings in with them.

“No matter what adversity comes in your life, there’s always a way out,” Stuard said. “If you just keep working hard, doing everything that you can and everything that you can control and really keep the Lord’s will first in your life, I truly believe that you will be successful. That’s pretty much the mindset that I have day by day when I wake up, is just doing everything with everything I have, because I know this is the only day that I have.”

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