NFL Hot Press

No Consensus on Paul Dawson

Updated Jan. 29, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One interesting player in the 2015 NFL Draft is TCU inside linebacker Paul Dawson. The TCU defense came alive to help lead the Horned Frogs to a huge season that nearly secured them a berth in the college football playoff. Dawson came up huge for the defense, as he put up a huge stat line with 128 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles, five passes batted and four interceptions. While Dawson had a big senior year, opinions on him are extremely split among NFL teams, and they are all over the map on where they grade him.

The team that was the highest on Dawson has him as a second-round pick, and the next-highest grade for Dawson is in the third round. A few teams have him as a fourth-round pick and said he could go somewhere on Day 3. Another team said that they've graded Dawson as a sixth- or seventh-round pick.

Dawson is listed at 5-foot-10, 240-pounds, but it wouldn't be surprising if he checks in smaller than that at the NFL Scouting Combine. That could send him to outside linebacker, and some teams don't like his lack of height and length in pass coverage.

Dawson has to hope that the team that views him as a second- or third-round pick is the one that drafts him; otherwise the team that believes he'll slide into Day 3 could be correct.

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Jaguars to Welcome Back Blackmon

Updated Jan. 27, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Sources with the Jacksonville Jaguars say that the team is currently planning on welcoming back wide receiver Justin Blackmon, and they are optimistic about his ability to contribute in 2015.

Team contacts say that Blackmon has successfully completed a treatment program after being suspended for the 2014 season for repeated failed drug tests. Thus far, Blackmon is said to have passed the necessary drug and alcohol tests to get reinstated into the NFL. Sources say that Blackmon has his affairs in order and is very motivated to resurrect his NFL career. Blackmon's goal is to be the Comeback Player of the Year next season.

Getting a healthy and motivated Blackmon could be huge for Jacksonville and make a big difference in the development of second-year quarterback Blake Bortles. Blackmon could combine with Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee to provide Borltes with a trio of receivers to make plays for him. If Blackmon is able to get reinstated, that would allow Jacksonville to focus on improving an overmatched offensive line. Sources with Jacksonville feel optimistic that Blackmon is going to stay out of trouble and is ready to provide an impact for the Jaguars.

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Mike Martin Deserving of Promotion in Houston

Updated Jan. 20, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One of the most improved teams in the NFL this past season was the Houston Texans. Their seven-win improvement was a team effort with huge contributions coming from the scouting staff as well as the new coaches. One of the assets in the Texans turnaround was a strong front office and scouting staff led by general manager Rick Smith.

Houston's director of college scouting, Mike Maccagnan, was hired away by the New York Jets to be their new general manager. Also, assistant general manager Brian Gaine is a finalist for the Philadelphia Eagles general manager job. Fortunately for the Texans, they have an in-house scouting star to replace Maccagnan in southeast area scout Mike Martin.

Martin is held in high regard and viewed as one of the best college scouts in the league. He was the scout who helped lead the way for the Texans to sign Arian Foster as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He also was part of Houston targeting Duane Brown late in the first round, a long-term left tackle, and a starting cornerback in Kareem Jackson.

In the past two years, the Texans have leaned heavily on Martin in drafting three young talented starters from his territory, including wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, safety D.J. Swearinger, and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans also depended on Martin for some late-round and undrafted free agent steals last offseason with running back Alfred Blue, fullback Jay Prosch, cornerback A.J. Bouye and cornerback Andre Hal.

Martin has led a Texans scouting staff that also hit on the best defensive player in the NFL in J.J. Watt, and you could make a strong argument that Watt is the best player in the league at any position. Some other good picks they made like Glover Quin and Connor Barwin left the team because of salary-cap limitations. Those moves helped Maccagnan's resume in landing the Jets' general manager position.

With Maccagnan in New York, it would make sense for Martin to be promoted to the director of college scouting before another team swipes Martin away from the Texans. Front-office changes are rampant across the league, and Martin is on the radar. With the opening of their college scouting position, Houston has an opportunity to maintain possession of one of the best talent evaluators in the business and keep Martin to help maintain the rebuilding of the Texans.

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Buccaneers Currently Prefer Jameis Winston over Marcus Mariota

Updated Jan. 15, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Tampa Bay landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft has sparked a heavy debate with Buccaneer fans and the media covering the team about which quarterback is the top prospect between Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota. Per our sources with the Buccaneers, the organization currently prefers Winston over Mariota.

Sources say it is early in the process, and things could change in the months to come. Coaches getting involved in draft evaluations can make a big difference in a team's thinking. However, our sources don't view that as likely. They say that as long as Winston interviews well and doesn't get into trouble in the months leading up to the draft, they feel that he will be the top pick in the draft.

I would agree with Tampa Bay's thinking that Winston is the far superior prospect on the field. Off the field, the advantage swings to Mariota, but in speaking with evaluators at other teams, they all feel that Winston is the right pick for the Buccaneers. Sources from the Bucs and multiple teams also agree with my contention that Winston is a better prospect than Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, and Cam Newton, who went first overall in the 2009-2011 drafts.

A lot can change in the spring months leading up to the draft, but entering the pre-combine training, Winston is the favorite to go first overall to Tampa Bay.

Check out my mock draft, where I have Tampa taking Winston No. 1 overall.

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Titans Will Consider Quarterback at No. 2

Updated Jan. 11, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Recent reports came out that the Tennessee Titans could look to address a position other than quarterback with the second-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. ESPN's Chris Mortensen stated that Tennessee was content with Zach Mettenberger moving forward as their starting quarterback. Our sources with the Titans said that Mortensen is correct that they are indeed content with Mettenberger, but they will consider a quarterback with the second-overall pick, and Mettenberger's rookie year won't prevent them from taking a signal caller at No. 2.

Sources with Tennessee feel that they have to get the quarterback position right, and they can't pass on a potential franchise quarterback. Overall, the Titans were pleased with Mettenberger in his rookie year and aren't opposed to entering training camp with him as the favorite to be the starter. However, the importance of the position compels Tennessee's front office to take another quarterback if a potential franchise quarterback is there at No. 2. If Mettenberger beats out Mariota/Winston, and Mettenberger becomes a good starter, then Tennessee could have a valuable trade commodity in one of its quarterbacks.

Sources with the Titans say that Mettenberger had a nice rookie year, but couldn't stay healthy, and they believe they have to get the quarterback position right. Thus, Mariota or Winston landing in Tennessee is still very likely.

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Teams View Alvin Dupree Mid-First to Early-Second

Updated Jan. 4, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

It can be hard for prospects to stand out when they play at Kentucky. A few years ago, former Kentucky guard Larry Warford (Detroit Lions' third-round pick) didn't receive the hype of other guard prospects like the Titans' Chance Warmack (Alabama) and Cardinals' Jonathan Cooper, but Warford has been a steal for the Lions and should have been drafted sooner. Apparently, teams are learning from Warford, as Kentucky defensive end/outside linebacker Alvin ?Bud' Dupree is being viewed as a potential first-round pick. Multiple teams told us they feel that Dupree could go as high as the middle of the first round and shouldn't fall lower than early in the second round.

One team told us that they view Dupree as a mid to late first-rounder. Another said a late first-round to early second round as to where they viewed the appropriate value for Dupree.

The 6-foot-4, 264-pounder has impressed talent evaluators with his combination of speed, athleticism and strength. Dupree had 74 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss, one pass batted, one interception, two forced fumbles and 7.5 sacks in 2014. He was more disruptive than the numbers illustrate. As a junior, Dupree recorded 61 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, one pass broken up and seven sacks.

Sources say that production is a concern, but part of the lack of sacks is that Kentucky played eight read-option teams this past season, so Dupree had fewer pass-rush opportunities.

Dupree will get the opportunity to help his draft grade at the Senior Bowl. If he does well in the pass-rushing one-on-ones, that could ease the production concerns and help him to reach the high projection as a mid-first-round pick.

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Sources: Beddingfield Deserves GM Consideration

Updated Jan. 2, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

As the Bears and Jets conduct their general manager searches, sources say that one name who should be included is Titans director of college scouting Blake Beddingfield. League contacts say that while Beddingfield has gone under the radar, he's an excellent talent evaluator and knows how to build up talent on a roster.

Sources say the Titans 2-14 record this season is misleading as to the superb job that Beddingfield has done. Beddingfield took over leading the Titans college scouting and setting their draft board in 2012. The previous year, Jake Locker was the Titans' first-round pick, and Beddingfield made it a priority to build a young nucleus on offense to help their young signal-caller.

Tennessee has a talented young offense with left tackle Taylor Lewan, guard Chance Warmack, center Brian Schwenke, wide receiver Kendall Wright, wide receiver Justin Hunter, and running back Bishop Sankey. Assuming the Titans draft either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston, the new quarterback will walk into an offense that is ready to grow up around him with early-round talents one the line and at the skill positions. If the Titans don't draft one of those quarterbacks, it's because they believe they got a steal on Day 3 with Zach Mettenberger last year.

Beddingfield has been a college and pro scout for 16 years, as he worked his way up in Tennessee's organization. Many of the names being discussed for the Bears and Jets have been general manager retreads who were let go from other teams. There haven't been many general managers in NFL history who had success in their second attempts at leading a franchise. League sources say the both the Bears and Jets should be giving Beddingfield serious consideration for their general manager positions.

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