Shutdown Corner
  • Pursuing a professional basketball career overseas no longer seemed appealing to Erik Swoope after the University of Miami forward had an end-of-the-year meeting with his head coach last month.

    Almost unfathomably, he suddenly had a more enticing opportunity.

    Miami basketball coach Jim Larranaga informed Swoope that someone from the Denver Broncos had left a voicemail asking whether the senior had interest in scheduling a workout before the NFL draft. Swoope had never played organized football at any level before, but the Broncos believed his 6-foot-5 frame, explosive athleticism and aptitude for learning gave him a chance to make the same transition from undersized power forward to NFL tight end that stars Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham once did.

    "I was completely shocked," Swoope said. "That was about the last thing I expected Coach L to tell me. Once I figured out this was real and that he wasn't kidding, I was really excited. I took a week to think about it but then I decided I

    Read More »from Miami's Erik Swoope is on the NFL's radar despite having never played football before
  • Remember last year, when there was a bunch of mystery about why Rob Gronkowski hadn't returned to the New England Patriots lineup from injury, and the weekly questions about when the tight end would make his debut?

    Well, here we go again.

    Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, quoting a source, says that Gronkowski's rehab "take his time and then take more time" in returning from a torn ACL and MCL suffered last season.

    This makes sense. Gronkowski needs to make sure he's fully healthy, because his body hasn't always cooperated the past couple years. His concern shouldn't be getting back as soon as he can for the 2014 season, but making sure he isn't cutting his career short by rushing back. But that was the case last year, and it didn't stop a lot of grumbling about why he hadn't made it back to the lineup when it seemed like he was due to play. Let's go out on a limb and predict this won't be the last Shutdown Corner post in 2014 that has to do with Gronkowski's rehab and when he might

    Read More »from Rob Gronkowski planning on a slow, methodical return from knee surgery
  • Carson Palmer is 34. He hasn't had a quarterback rating over 85 since 2007. He had 22 interceptions last year, second-most in the NFL.

    He's a stopgap quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals. He's not so bad he'll kill your chances of winning, considering he had 4,274 yards and 24 touchdowns to go with all those interceptions last year. But if the Cardinals haven't been looking for his replacement, they've been making a mistake.

    Palmer seems to realize the inevitability of the team finding a younger quarterback, and he told Cardinals' web site writer Darren Urban that he's fine with the team drafting his eventual replacement.

    “If you are in a position to draft the best player on your board, and that’s the best position to be in as an organization, and (a quarterback) is the best player on the board, you are not only making your team better by creating competition but you are helping out the future," Palmer told AzCardinals.com.

    Not that the team would have passed on a quarterback if it

    Read More »from Carson Palmer gives the Cardinals his blessing to draft a quarterback
  • The New York Giants are giving Josh Freeman another chance to salvage his NFL career.

    According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, Freeman signed a one-year deal with the Giants on Wednesday, which was confirmed by the quarterback's agent. Freeman is expected to be Eli Manning's backup this season.

    Freeman began last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but was released after a rift with coach Greg Schiano. He eventually signed with the Minnesota Vikings, and it appeared Minnesota found a quarterback to replace Christian Ponder. However, Freeman struggled in his debut against the New York Giants in Week 7.

    Freeman completed 20-of-53 passes for 190 yards and one interception during a 23-7 loss. Even though his lack of productivity could have been blamed on being thrown into the fire so quickly, Freeman was never given an opportunity to start in Minnesota again. The Vikings didn't pursue Freeman in

    Read More »from Josh Freeman agrees to a one-year deal with the New York Giants
  •  

    Leading up to the NFL draft on May 8-10, Shutdown Corner will examine some of the most interesting prospects in the class, breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.

    Tom Savage
    Quarterback
    Pittsburgh
    6-foot-4, 228 pounds
    2013 stats: 238-of-389 passing (61.2 percent completions) for 2,958 yards, 21 touchdowns, nine interceptions; 76 rushes, minus-208 yards, three touchdowns
    40-yard dash: 4.97 seconds

    The good: Who is Tom Savage and why is he perhaps the hottest mystery quarterback heading into the 2014 NFL draft? Savage stepped up with a strong final college season — his only one on the field at Pitt — and lived up to the hype he received when he was a highly rated passer in high school. Things didn't go according to plan, as he committed to Rutgers, started for parts of two years there and then transfered to Arizona but left before playing a game for the Wildcats. Savage attempted to re-enroll at Rutgers, but his hardship waiver to play immediately was denied, so he landed at Pitt and

    Read More »from NFL draft Under the Microscope: Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage

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