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Von Miller selected second overall

04.28.11 at 8:21 pm ET
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John Fox has what he hopes will be a star defensive player, as the Broncos selected Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller with the second overall pick i the draft.

This is a solid pick for the Broncos. Miller isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but he can get after the quarterback like only few can. He ran in the low 4.4 range in the 40-yard dash, and the Butkus Award winner will hope the talent that gave him 28 sacks the last two years translates to the next level.

Panthers select Cam Newton with first overall pick in NFL Draft

04.28.11 at 8:10 pm ET
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The Panthers kicked off the 2011 NFL draft by selecting Auburn quarterback Cam Newton first overall. Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy as a junior this past season, has good size and tremendous athletic ability. His upside may be greater than that of any other player in the entire draft.

If you’re seeking one man’s opinion, this is a terribly risky pick for the Panthers. Newton is very raw and is a ways away from being an NFL quarterback. If he can reach his potential, he could be one of the more dynamic players in the league. If he can’t, the Panthers, who already have a young quarterback in Jimmy Clausen, could pay for it. First overall picks should be franchise players, and given the risk factor with Newton, it’s hard to tell whether he will definitely be that franchise player.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton,

NFL set to resume football operations

04.28.11 at 2:38 pm ET
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Football has returned, at least for now. The NFL issued a memo on Thursday that said teams can open their doors to their players for voluntary workouts, meetings with coaches and the distribution of playbooks as early as Friday morning. For now, all player moves are on hold, but the league promised that it would issue detailed procedures for free agency, trades and other roster moves soon.

James Quinn, the class counsel for the players in their antitrust suit against the NFL, argued that waiting for an appeal is not grounds for keeping league operations shut down.

“Unless and until such a (stay) request is granted, however, we believe the 2011 league Year now has to begin,” Quinn said in a memo to players and agents. “The clubs must open their facilities to allow players to work out, meet with coaches and otherwise perform their jobs; and the NFL and the clubs cannot collectively continue to refuse to deal with players.”

The memo brings some clarity to an uncertain situation ‘€” despite the fact that the lockout was lifted earlier in the week, the clubs were unsure whether or not they could allow players into the facilities for workouts, as owners were in the process of appealing the decision. The league still plans to appeal the decision ‘€” the request for a temporary stay is still pending ‘€” but for now, there appears to be a sense that a return to normalcy will come sooner rather than later.

Read More: James Quinn, lockout,

A look into what mock drafts are saying: Part four

04.28.11 at 1:35 pm ET
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Since the draft is later on tonight, I want to focus on some interesting Patriots picks a few mock drafts have in the first several rounds ‘€“ at least ones that haven’€™t yet been mentioned. By now we’€™re pretty sure (at least, we think we’€™re sure) which way the Pats will go at pick 17, and we have an idea about pick 28, trades pending.

But what about some mock drafts that go against the grain? It looks like nfl.com’€™s Mike Mayock bought into New England hosting Washington quarterback Jake Locker for a personal workout. He has Locker breaking the Thursday cut and going to the Pats at the 28th pick. It’€™s an interesting choice, but one that can’€™t be completely ruled out altogether.

Although Patriots fans cringe at the thought, we know Tom Brady won’€™t be around forever. So what better way to bring up the next franchise quarterback than having him learn from the best while still in his prime years? Brady is 33 years old, and will be 34 before the season actually starts. Just a season ago, Brady won the NFL’€™s MVP by a unanimous vote. Doesn’€™t that sounds like the perfect role model for a developing quarterback to you?

I personally am not big on the prospect of Jake Locker being a successful NFL quarterback, but if Brady and Bill Belichick are in any way involved in Locker’€™s growth as a player, then I can’€™t be that skeptical. The one thing Locker could add if he were a Patriot is the ability to scamper outside of the pocket and use his legs more than Brady does. Having a multidimensional passer only adds more levels to a team’€™s offense. Think about the Patriots trying that on for size.

Locker’€™s value ranges all over the boards, so a spending a first-rounder on him could be controversial. It might make more sense to wait on him, potentially trade out the 28th pick for later round picks or future drafts (or keep it and draft a need position), and grab him at 33 if he’€™s available. Even if he isn’€™t, and the Patriots are serious about taking one of the quarterbacks this high up, there will likely still be players like TCU’€™s Andy Dalton and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett available. Mallett was another player the Patriots worked out privately.

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, DeMarco Murray, Jake Locker, New England Patriots

Welcome to what promises to be a wild day for the NFL

04.28.11 at 10:29 am ET
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Welcome to what promises to be a very interesting day in the world of professional football.

There is, of course, the first round of the draft, scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. The Patriots hold two picks this evening, the No. 17 and No. 28 selections overall. There’s no shortage of opinions as to what New England is going to do with those two picks ‘€” for what it’s worth, I believe we are going to see the Patriots use them both, with an eye toward dealing the 33rd overall selection (the first of the second round) sometime either Thursday night or Friday, when rounds two and three take place. (In the latest WEEI.com mock draft put together by our man DJ Bean, the Patriots take Cal’s Cameron Jordan at No. 17 and Miami’s Brandon Harris at No. 28)

In addition, the NFL is waiting for a decision from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal in St. Louis on the matter of the lockout. Late Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson denied a request for a stay ‘€” as a result, the owners appealed the ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court, which could rule on the matter as early as Thursday. If the temporary stay request from the owners is denied, the NFL could return to business immediately and start the new year, which could include the beginning of free agency and the resumption of usual league activities. If the temporary stay is granted, NFL business would likely remain closed while the appeal process proceeds.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Brandon Harris, Cameron Jordan, lockout

Judge Nelson refuses to grant stay to league in lockout case

04.27.11 at 10:16 pm ET
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U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson denied a request from the league for a stay in its case against the players on Wednesday evening, which maintains her ruling from Monday that lifted the lockout that was put in place by the owners last month. The owners are expected to appeal Nelson’€™s ruling to the 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis.

Nelson wrote that the NFL ‘€œhas not met its burden for a stay pending appeal, expedited or otherwise.’€

‘€œIn short, the world of ‘€˜chaos’€™ the NFL claims it has been thrust into ‘€” essentially the ‘€˜free-market’€™ system this nation otherwise willfully operates under ‘€” is not compelled by this court’€™s order,’€ Nelson wrote.

The league had wanted Nelson ‘€” who ruled earlier this month for the players ‘€” to keep the lockout in place while the ruling was appealed, saying that if the league began football activities, it could be damaging to the league’€™s long-term health. Meanwhile, the players argued against a stay, saying that if the lockout was extended, the league and the players would continue to be harmed.

Read More: lockout, Susan Richard Nelson,

Bill Belichick: We’ve ‘definitely had a lot’ of trade discussions

04.27.11 at 6:19 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday that they’ve “definitely had a lot of discussions” about potential trades, but people shouldn’t look for anything until the draft gets underway.

“Those things don’t really crystallize until draft day, or a lot of times, when you’re on the clock,” Belichick told the NFL Network. “It’s been pretty unusual to see these type of trades being done prior to the draft. I think the last one was when I traded with Jimmy Johnson in Dallas in 1992 or 1993, we made a deal three days before the draft ‘€” that was pretty much unheard of.”

Regardless, with six picks in the first three rounds ‘€” including Nos. 17, 28 and 33 overall ‘€” the Patriots are poised to be one of the major power players in this year’s draft. Belichick said New England is able to approach this draft with more “flexibility” than they’ve had in year’s past.

“We’re fortunate because it gives us a lot of flexibility ‘€” I think that we could move up, move down,” he said. “A couple of years ago we were at seven and 56, or whatever it was. There’s not too much you can do when you’re in a spot like that. But hopefully, we’re well-prepared on the draft board, and we’ll try to find a spot where we can get good value for our picks.”

The plethora of early picks forces you to know the draft better than if you were toward the end of the first round.

“I think it really forces you to know the board. You need to know what’s above you, what’s below you and what’s in between on all those picks, because there’s a possibility that teams could ask you to move, or you may want to move to [get] a particular player, so you’ve really got to do that. If you’re not going to move ‘€” let’s say you’re picking at 20 ‘€” you can pretty much eliminate the first 10 players because there’s no way you could get to some of them. I think it just forces you to prepare well for the draft, all the way through, every round and every pick.”

Belichick also discussed a number of other topics:
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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick,
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