"I don't think they're physically ready. I don't think they're far along mentally. I think they might be a work in progress for six months or a year."
-- Jon Gruden on Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater
Despite being picked, prodded and having every detail of their athletic ability and personalty analyzed, the jury remains out on the NFL prospects of Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles. There have been a wide range of opinions on the three, especially Manziel and Bridgewater and ESPN NFL analyst Jon Gruden is the latest to weigh in.
Gruden held a conference call in advance of the draft and spent a good portion of the time talking quarterbacks. He said it can be hard to evaluate the underclassmen because they don't have a complete body of work, but said he didn't think the juniors were ready for NFL success. That doesn't mean he doesn't think they won't go early -- he said he expects Manziel to go in the top 17 -- but that they aren't as prepared as some of the other players. He specifically singled out Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr as a player he thinks is further along and closer to NFL success.
"All for one letter change? I'd rather not."
-- Donte Whitner on his decision to not change his name to Donte Hitner
Donte Whitner will officially remain after the Browns' safety decided against changing his name to Donte Hitner. He initially said he was going to change his name to match his playing style as an enforcing safety. Months went by without a change, however, and as it turns out that's all because of the work associated with legally changing your name.
Whitner said talked to Chad Johnson -- who changed his name to Chad Ochocino -- and was dissuaded from following in his footsteps because of the effort involved, according to ESPN. That includes filing for changes on all his legal documents. So instead, he'll just be Donte Hitner unofficially.
"I think the majority of people will call me 'Hitner' regardless," Whitner said.
"The Titans won't exercise the fifth-year option on Jake Locker's contract, which means the quarterback will be playing for his future in Tennessee this season."
-- Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean on the future of Jake Locker
Next season will officially be a make or break season for Jake Locker in Tennessee after word the Titans opted against picking up his fifth-year option. The Titans haven't officially announced the move, but Wyatt reports the team won't pick up the roughly $14.6 million option.
Locker has had an up-and-down career in Tennessee, flashing elite skills at times, but dealing with injuries and bouts of inconsistency. Locker appeared to be coming into his own last season before another injury derailed his progress. The former No. 8 pick will likely get another chance to solidify his place next season. If he's able to develop into a solid starter, it could lead to a lucrative contract in either Tennessee or elsewhere. Wyatt speculates that the Titans could also opt to use the franchise tag which wouldn't cost the Titans much more than the option season would have.
"They were minding their own business, doing nothing wrong by all accounts, by independent witnesses. They were never wanted. They cooperated with the police. They gave statements, and they were vindicated."
-- Joe Tacopina on clients Victor Hampton and Kelcy Quarles
Former South Carolina players and NFL Draft prospects Kelcy Quarles and Victor Hampton have been cleared of any wrongdoing stemming from an incident at a New York City nightclub. The players were questioned after allegedly being involved in a fight. According to their lawyer, the players asked two men to stop smoking marijuana when one of the men punched Hampton.
"They said, 'You need to leave now,' and this guy, obviously being affected by whatever he was smoking, hauled off and punched Victor as Victor was sitting down," Tacopina said, via The Post and Courier. "They were victims from Day 1. . It was very, very clear that this guy was trying to do a money grab."
Mocking the Draft ranked Hampton as the No. 70 prospect in the draft and Quarles as the 167th-best prospect.
"Savage is one of the great American mysteries right now ... It is a limited body of work. He is a pocket passer with a strong arm. I'm sure some people have seen it and fell in love with him because of that."
-- Gruden on Pitt quarterback Tom Savage
Every year, there are a few prospects who jump into the discussion despite being relative unknowns at the start of the process. Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage is that player this season and not even Gruden is sure what to make of it. In same cases it's just hype -- possibly from an agent, or even a team with a smokescreen -- in others there is more to it.
There are a wide range of opinions about Savage with some, like Mel Kiper, projecting him as high as the third round. Others have him lower and outside the top 10 quarterbacks. He bounced around quite a bit during his college career, going from Rutgers to Arizona before eventually landing at Pitt. As a result he remains a bit of an unknown, even in the world where NFL teams attempt to uncover every detail about a prospect.