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NFL Rumor Mill: East-West Shrine

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ST. PETERSBURG- The NFL world has come together for the East-West Shrine game being held in sunny, yet unseasonably cold St. Petersburg, Florida.

Although the prospects on the field haven’t turned many heads, when everyone gets together the Rumor Mill heats up.  Here’s some of the information we’ve received.

Bears Are Worried About White

After not playing a snap in his rookie season, the Chicago Bears are having some serious buyer’s remorse with their 2015 first-round selection of former West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White.

Surprisingly, it’s not just the stress fracture that caused White to miss the season that’s a concern.  Those close to the Bears organization don’t believe White has the toughness, demeanor and most importantly the skill to succeed as a potential No. 1 wide receiver.

With the question marks around White, it’s becoming more and more likely that Chicago will use their franchise tag on wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.  The former South Carolina Gamecock wide receiver played in just nine games in 2015 and led the team in receiving yards (807) on 54 receptions with four touchdowns.  Although Jeffery’s 2015 numbers wouldn’t substantiate a major pay day, the Bears have virtually no choice but to pay the 6-foot-3, 216 pound deep threat due to White’s poor performance.

Talib, Manning May Hit The Market

Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib is one of the most talented players at his premium position in all of the NFL.

As talented as he is, his services may be up for bidding in the next few months.

Despite having four years remaining on his deal and playing at a Pro Bowl level, a team source tells Football Insiders that the Broncos are likely to move on from Talib at season’s end.

A potential move would save the team upwards of $6.6 million on next year’s cap despite eating $3 million in dead money.  The reason for the potential move is the emergence of former Broncos first-round pick Bradley Roby.   The former Ohio State Buckeye is six years younger than Talib, with much fewer off the field concerns.

This same source tells us that it is “highly doubtful” that Peyton Manning would return next year and to look for the Broncos to try and make a short-term deal with quarterback Brock Osweiler, somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million per year.

Joeckel Doesn’t Have Much Support

The Jaguars haven’t wavered from their support of former second-overall pick Luke Joeckel. The third year pro from Texas A & M hasn’t lived up to expectations, but the team is far from ready to give up on him.
Others around the league aren’t convinced that he can play.

“Joeckel is terrible,” a scout said. “He’s a finesse player who doesn’t have the toughness to be a starting tackle, much less a good offensive tackle.”

It’s certainly easy to denigrate other players around the league that you didn’t select.

It’s even easier to defend said picks when you made them.

Where does the truth lie? Somewhere in between.

Joeckel isn’t the worst offensive tackle in football (that honor goes to Jaguars backup Sam Young). He will never be a great tackle either. The truth of the matter is that you can have a functional offense with one solid tackle and another guy who’s just a guy. Joeckel is just a guy. Very few teams have a pair of stallworth bookends and teams like the Carolina Panthers have an explosive offense with “just guys” at the position.
The Jaguars 2013 first-round pick isn’t what anyone envisioned he’d be, but he’s also not worth giving up on. At least not yet.

Big Canadian Is The Talk Of E-W Prospects

Very few football fans have heard of Manitoba’s (Canada) defensive end Ebuka Onyemata.  The 6-foot-4, 300 pound defensive lineman is quickly making a name for himself, even if you can’t pronounce it.

Onyemata has been dominant in the first two days of practice, and that’s with him mostly lining up at defensive end, a position where he is likely being misused.  Onyemata is at best a 5-technique, and can certainly play on the inside in a 4-3 scheme.

NFL Scouts have been scrambling trying to find information on the big man from north of the border.

“There have been several scouts that have contacted me trying to find out more about this guy,” Montreal Alouettes College Scouting Director Russ Lande said.  “He’s a fantastic player and he isn’t being utilized properly in this game.  He should be playing inside and if he somehow does slip through the cracks, he would be the No. 1 pick in our draft.”

There were six NFL scouts sharing an interview with the Canadian Goliath, something that’s rarely ever seen.

Shrine QB’s Disappoint

The six quarterback invitees to the East-West Shrine weren’t supposed to challenge to get selected early in the 2016 NFL Draft.

After two full days of practices, it would be a surprise if any were drafted at all.

Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld was the signal caller to watch coming in, mostly due to his plus-arm strength and 6-foot-6, 240 pound frame.  Although he looks the part of an NFL quarterback with his helmet on, he has been wildly inaccurate and although someone will invite him to training camp, it’s difficult to imagine anyone with accuracy issues as great as his correcting it enough to be a useful player on the next level.

As for the rest of the quarterbacks, here’s what we see:

  • Oregon’s Vernon Adams is simply too short, inaccurate and doesn’t possess the arm talent to play at the next level.  He should switch positions while he still can to show off his athleticism.
  • Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty has been the most accurate of the quarterbacks, but he doesn’t have a great arm and has a slow release.  He’s a project that should land on someone’s practice squad.
  • Massachusetts Blake Frohnapfel has a very long release and has been erratic.  He may land in a training camp, but it’s likely that he won’t be earning an NFL check.
  • Michigan’s Jake Rudock has been erratic with a long release.
  • Wisconsin’s Joel Stave has had moments of function-ability, with many more moments of erratic play. Very reminiscent of his college career.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.