Quarterback already under focus for Reid in KC

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Quarterback already under focus for Reid in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs haven't hired a general manager to make crucial personnel decisions. Andy Reid hasn't hired a single assistant coach.

That hardly seemed to matter.

The pressing concern, at least for those who attended Reid's introductory news conference Monday, was what the longtime Philadelphia Eagles coach plans to do at quarterback.

The Chiefs' biggest area of need coincides with the most important position on the field. It's the biggest reason why the Chiefs went 2-14 last season, and why Reid was hired to replace Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs were looking for a new general manager.

``The quarterback position, I'm going to dig in and look at that and we'll build that thing,'' Reid said. ``We'll see how that works out, but I need to spend some time to look at that.''

Reid plans to start by analyzing the quarterbacks on last season's roster - Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi - though it likely will be discouraging.

Cassel, who has two years left on a six-year, $63 million deal, dealt with a variety of injuries the past couple seasons, including a concussion this year. He was 1-7 as a starter before being benched in favor of Quinn, after throwing six touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.

Quinn fared little better, throwing two touchdown passes and eight interceptions while also going 1-7 as a starter. Stanzi, a former fifth-round pick, was so poor during preseason that he never got on the field even when Cassel and Quinn struggled.

Altogether, the Chiefs' quarterbacks directed an offense that was last in the NFL in scoring at 13.2 points per game, and failed to score an offensive touchdown six games.

``Clearly,'' Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said, ``better quarterback play is a priority in 2013.''

That's one of the reasons that Hunt targeted Reid to be the Chiefs' next coach.

When he inherited the Eagles in 1999, they were coming off a 3-13 season in part because of their own shaky quarterback play. His options at the time were Koy Detmer, Bobby Hoying and Rodney Peete - not a whole lot better than what the Chiefs had to work with this season.

But the Eagles' poor record meant they had the No. 2 pick in that year's draft, and rather than spend it on Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams or fellow running back Edgerrin James, Reid decided that the most important upgrade he could make would be at quarterback.

So he weighed several who were available - Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown - before settling on Donovan McNabb, who was perhaps the least-regarded of them all.

McNabb wound up going to six Pro Bowls, led the Eagles to the Super Bowl and is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in the franchise's history.

The Chiefs don't have the No. 2 pick in the draft, of course.

They'll be picking No. 1.

That doesn't mean that Reid will spend it on a quarterback, like he did that first season in Philadelphia. There is no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III this year. But there are still a handful of quarterbacks who have shown some talent despite weak arms, inaccuracy and other red flags that come with picking them with the most valuable choice in the draft.

West Virginia's Geno Smith is widely considered the top quarterback available. Southern Cal's Matt Barkley has injury concerns, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib are garnering more attention, and North Carolina State's Mike Glennon has all the right physical tools.

Only Reid knows whether one of them will be his guy.

``You have to make sure you do the right thing and pick the right guy, not necessarily the quarterback,'' Reid said. ``You don't want to force anything at that point. People who do that get in trouble. We'll sit there and we'll evaluate and we'll get it right, wherever we go.''

The Chiefs haven't selected a quarterback in the first round since 1983, when they picked Todd Blackledge with the seventh overall pick. And while players such as Joe Montana and Trent Green had good years for them, they haven't had a true franchise quarterback in decades.

Maybe going all the way back to Hall of Famer Len Dawson in the 1960s and `70s.

``The first thing Andy's going to do is evaluate the talent on this football team and where they need help,'' Dawson said. ``That's the glaring one, because the quarterback is the one handling the ball all the time and he's the one who throws the interceptions and fumbles, and things of that nature. That's a very important part of the puzzle.''

Reid understood that long before the countless questions about quarterback were asked on Monday. He said that he'll pursue every avenue for upgrading the position, from the draft to free agency to making a trade with another team.

Then he looked into the crowd during his introductory news conference and spotted Dawson sitting a few rows back from the stage.

``I need to find the next Len Dawson, doggone it,'' Reid said. ``It might be right here, but it might not. I need to dig in.''

Ravens CB Jimmy Smith having surgery to remove screws from foot

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Ravens CB Jimmy Smith having surgery to remove screws from foot

Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is scheduled to have surgery this weekend to have screws removed from the right foot he injured in 2014, according to the Baltimore Sun, and confirmed by CSN. The Ravens hope Smith will be ready for the start of training camp in late July, and the expected timetable for recovery is four to six weeks.

Smith was never 100 percent last season, but played through pain and discomfort, after suffering his Lisfranc injury in November of 2014.

“It’s definitely a difficult injury, kind of more than I expected,” Smith said earlier this month at the start of the Ravens’ offseason training program. “It’s very…you can live with it, you can play with it. Obviously, I played with it last year – not at the level that I expected myself to – but I think I’ll be better this year.”

The Ravens were already in the market for cornerbacks, and that will not change when the draft resumes Friday night. Despite re-signing Shareece Wright and getting Kyle Arrington to restructure his contract, the starting cornerback spot opposite Smith is open, and the Ravens need more depth there, especially with Lardarius Webb moving from corner to safety.

 

 

Will Ravens use extra picks to make trades in NFL Draft rounds 2 and 3?

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Will Ravens use extra picks to make trades in NFL Draft rounds 2 and 3?

With eight picks remaining in the draft, including the fifth pick in the second round (No. 36 overall), the Ravens are just getting started making moves. Here are three reasons why the Ravens might make a trade Friday night during round 2 or round 3:

1. The Ravens need to strengthen their chances of getting a quality pass rusher or corner.

If the Ravens want a corner or pass rusher who can step in and contribute next season, it’s getting late. Before the draft, Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said he felt more pressure thinking about the second-round pick (No. 36) than he did the first round. The Ravens won’t sit around and wait if they sense all the players they covet slipping away. Don’t be surprised to see the Ravens trade up in either Round 2 or 3 to target a player they want. Corners still on the board include Mackensie Alexander of Clemson, Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech, Xavien Howard of Baylor, and Cyrus Jones of Alabama. Pass rushers on the board include Kamalei Correa of Boise St. and Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky. The third round could be too late to get any of those players.

2. The chance to get UCLA inside linebacker Myles Jack makes the start of Round 2 even more fluid.

Jack is a first-round talent who is only available due to concerns about his knee. Many teams, including the Ravens, could be thinking about picking Jack, or trading up to get him.

3. If the Ravens keep all of their picks, all nine players are unlikely to make the team.

The Ravens already have a crowded roster at several positions, including running back and tight end. They will also bring in more free agents once the draft is over. It makes sense to trade a pick or two, in exchange for a player who helps them next season.

Five potential Ravens targets in the second round of the NFL Draft

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Five potential Ravens targets in the second round of the NFL Draft

The Ravens will be on the clock early again on Friday night, scheduled to pick fifth in the second round, at No.  36 overall. After taking Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley with their first pick at No. 6 overall, the Ravens could turn to the defense in the second round, and there is a lot of defensive talent still on the board.

Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said on Thursday night that the Ravens expect to get a first-round talent with their second pick.

"We love the top 36 players in this draft," DeCosta said. "So we're going to get an outstanding player. ... We're very, very confident that at 36 we're going to get a guy that we feel like is a first-round type talent."

So who might that be? Here, in alphabetical order, are a few candidates that could be in play when the Ravens are on the clock:

CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson

The Ravens couldn't trade up for Jalen Ramsey, so they remain in the market for cornerback help. Alexander has shutdown capabilities though there are concerns about his height (5-10) matching up with elite receivers on the outside. Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta predicted a run on cornerbacks between picks 25 and 40, and Alexander figures in that equation.

OLB Kamalei Correa, Boise State

An early entry to the draft, Correa had 12 sacks as a sophomore at Boise State and then seven this past season. Correa (6-3, 243) has played defensive end and linebacker but is considered best suited as an edge rusher in a 3-4 defense.

CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

Kendall is about to become the fourth Fuller brother to be drafted, and he could find his way back to his hometown Ravens. A knee injury early last season knocked Fuller out of the first round, but he's a first-round talent when healthy and would be a nice fit for the Ravens.  

LB Myles Jack, UCLA

Wait a minute, he's still around? Yes, Jack had been mentioned as a Ravens first-round pick in many mock drafts, but concerns about his knee -- which he exacerbated by mentioning the possibility of microfracture surgery -- sent him tumbling down draft boards. Still, he's a potential top-10 talent who is still available.

DE Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky

Spence is the type of edge rusher the Ravens have said they covet. He had eight sacks as a sophomore at Ohio State. But off-the-field issues remain his biggest question mark; he was booted from Ohio State because of failed drug tests and tried to boost his draft stock by transferring to Eastern Kentucky, where he recorded 11 1/2 sacks last year.