Jack Bechta
The Agent's Journal


I’ve been getting asked a lot of questions lately since Jarryd Hayne signed with the 49ers. Thus, I figured I would incorporate some answers into my weekly post.

Media, what to expect: Jarryd arrived in the states on October 14th, 2014. As soon as he landed he went off-the-grid, sought NFL friendly workout facilities, quarterbacks, coaches and anyone who could help him get some position basic training. He did this all on his own for a month, paid his own way and did something every day to learn the game. A month later he started interviewing agents and eventually settled on me/my firm.

On Tuesday, he had a big press conference in Sydney when he announced his team selection. We/he didn’t do this for the attention; we/he did it so he wouldn’t have to speak continuously to the numerous media outlets over the next few weeks. The goal was to get all the questions answered at once, and move on to training.

I learned by being around him that he cared less about getting attention, as he is used to being in the spotlight, and more about dedicating himself to the game of the NFL. He was his league’s MVP three different times so he is used to the attention, and doesn’t need more of it. Going forward, I would expect the same from Jarryd, flying low under the radar and eating as much football as he can every single day. Over the last 48 hours, I’ve received over 40 requests for interviews and I doubt Jarryd will do more than two of them. That’s what we should expect going forward.

What’s next: This is really simple. Jarryd will start doing what all the other NFL players are doing. And that is starting to tune up for the off-season workouts. He will make his way back over to the states in a week or so and start training with veterans. March is the month where vets start getting on the field again. They run routes and do some field work on top of doing weight room work and conditioning. Jarryd doesn’t want to do a media tour and/or try to dig up every potential endorsement. He just wants to go to work and attack the learning curve.

Why do I want to represent him? I had enough contacts down-under and throughout the sport that confirmed to me, that Jarryd Hayne is the “real deal”, a “special player”. I am a huge rugby fan (attended many matches) and never got to experience rugby league (there is a difference) in person but always thought it was the closest game to the NFL game. On top of that, I really admire the culture of rugby and rugby league. It’s the greatest fraternity in the world. The guys spend a lot of time with each other, and are really supportive of one another through long seasons, always putting the team first.

Even though Hayden Smith of the Saracens didn’t make it with the Jets for a second year in 2013, he accomplished something no one has ever done before (outside of punters). He went from never touching a football in March to playing in a game in October and catching a pass in December. It was a positive experience for all involved and getting to be a part of Hayden’s journey was worth more money than I could make. We remain great friends.

I strongly feel Jarryd’s journey will also be unique, fulfilling and rich. I for one, love being a part of something groundbreaking in my industry. The young man has been dreaming about this chance for years, is taking a big pay-cut to make this happen, and has a deep dark determination that can’t be measured by tapes and stopwatches. That’s the type of people I love busting my ass for.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


In the NFL you don’t see many quality player for player trades anymore. More often than not, it’s a player for a draft choice or choices. That wasn’t the case yesterday as Philadelphia traded running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso. While the trade can’t become official until next week, it’s said to be pretty much a done deal.

In most trades there is always a winner and a loser, but in this case, I feel that it is fairly even exchange. Philly does come out with some advantages when you look at the overall impact, which I will explain shortly.

What Buffalo Gets

In McCoy Buffalo gets one of the more dynamic running backs in the NFL. In the last two seasons, he has rushed for close to 3000 yards, had 80 receptions, and scored 16 touchdowns.

McCoy won’t turn 27 until July, so he is still relatively young. He also has not sustained a serious injury during his career. He missed four games with a concussion in 2012 and missed a game in 2011 with a sprained ankle. So his durability has been excellent. He gives the Bills a weapon they haven’t had at the running back position since Thurman Thomas.

On the down side, even though McCoy has yet to turn 27, he has already played six seasons in the NFL and has had 1761 touches between carries and receptions. Running backs have a short shelf life and when you draft one, you are hoping to get five good seasons. That said, how many more productive seasons does McCoy have left?

The other thing Buffalo gets is McCoy’s huge salary. Going into free agency, Buffalo who doesn’t have a first round pick had plenty of cap room to make a splash. Adding McCoy’s salary of over 10 million takes away a large chunk of that cap space.

What Philadelphia Gets

While Philly loses a playmaker, they gain a young linebacker in Alonso, who had 159 total tackles to go along with two sacks and four interceptions as a rookie. He missed all of 2014 when he tore his ACL shortly before the start of training camp. Being that it has already been eight months since the surgery, Alonso should be fine. There is no way Philly would have agreed to the trade if they felt otherwise.

Alonso played for Eagles coach Chip Kelly in college and he was a player the Eagles were targeting in the 2013 draft. Buffalo beat the Eagles to the punch when they selected Alonso in the second round. The trade now gives Philly two fast and instinctive inside linebackers in Alonso and Mychal Kendricks. It will also allow Philly to most likely part ways with DeMeco Ryans and his 6.8M salary.

In just over the last week, Philly has cleared over 25M in cap space with the trade and by cutting Todd Herremans, Trent Cole, and Cary Williams. If they cut Ryans, that number goes up to over 31M. The Eagles can do a lot in free agency with that kind space.

When the trade was first announced, and with the announcements of Cole and Williams being let go, my first thought was maybe the Eagles would be going after Ndamukong Suh. But it makes more sense that Philly will be a big player in free agency. If that is the case, maybe those rumors of Philly trying to trade up for quarterback Marcus Mariota aren’t so silly. To trade up, Philly would need to give up a bundle of draft choices. They can replace those draft picks with sound free agent signings.

One thing is certain, when the league year officially starts next week things will be very interesting in both Philadelphia and Buffalo. If Philly actually does try and move up for Mariota, that could really change how the first part of the first round looks. Stay tuned…

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Erik Oehler
Guest Stars


Is there a more exciting offseason transaction than a star player for star player, straight-up trade with your team involved? When the words hit my screen, every word of the headline on ESPN raised my heart rate just a little bit.

MCCOY! TO BILLS! IN BLOCKBUSTER!?!?!?

How? Who? What? Is this real life?

This is a paradox. Not because it doesn’t make sense for either team. It’s actually perfect for both of them. It’s the kind of trade you’d talk through with football cards when you were 10, but rarely see executed. When was the last time you saw all three of the following in one NFL trade?:

-Good player-for-good player on opposite sides of the ball
-No draft picks involved
-Both teams improve as a result

It doesn’t happen. Ever. The stars so rarely align with situations equal enough to get a deal like this done without additional compensation, even if it’s an extra 7th thrown in.

WHY BUFFALO WINS:

Rex Ryan wants to run the ball. A lot. C.J. Spiller never developed into the 20 carry back that merits a first round pick. Fred Jackson is in perennial, “He’s probably got another year in him” mode. Kiko Alonso had a sensational rookie year, but Buffalo didn’t exactly miss him in 2014 when he missed the entire season with a torn ACL. It was the most ferocious defense in years. And it may get even better under Ryan.

WHY PHILLY WINS:

McCoy just wasn’t working in Philly. Part of it might have been Chip Kelly wanting to spread it around conflicting with McCoy’s preseason quest for 2000 yards. Part of it might have been the beleaguered line throughout 2014. Who knows. And the Eagles’ defense, which saw great improvement in 2014, can take a step towards the elite with the addition of Alonso, whose versatile skillset shores up a suspect linebacking corps. Not to mention the cap implication for the Eagles, now on the hook for $1 million with Kiko as opposed to $11.95 million for McCoy.

Now if we can only talk them into a Foles for EJ Manuel trade…

Follow @erikoehler on Twitter



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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


As you all know, we haven’t see a running back selected in the first round in the last two drafts. That should change this year as one, possibly two running backs should hear their name called on the opening night of this year’s draft. Without question, there are six to eight backs in this draft who are capable of coming in and starting as rookies or at worst, be a major part of the running back rotation. My top five….

1) Tevin Coleman – Indiana

I know the majority of you will have Melvin Gordon in this slot. I have Gordon as my number two. My thinking is that if Coleman played behind the Wisconsin line he may have run for over 2500 yards. As it was, he ran for 2036 yards, a 7.5 average per carry, 15 touchdowns and 25 receptions.

Coleman has a complete game. He can run with power between the tackles, is creative, and consistently gets yards after contact. He has the speed to turn the corner and is elusive in the open field. As a receiver, he is very reliable, runs good routes and has very good hands. Add to that the fact that he can already pass protect and is a dangerous kickoff returner.

Coleman did not workout at the Combine, but when he does, he can solidify his status as the draft’s top running back.

2) Melvin Gordon – Wisconsin

Gordon had as good a season as any running back has in years…maybe ever! He ran for 2587 yards, a 7.5 average per carry, and a whopping 29 touchdowns. He got a bit more involved in the passing game this year with 19 receptions.

While Gordon only ran a 4.52 at Indy, he plays like a 4.40 guy. He has a great burst, and once he gets in the open field, he’s gone. He is quick and elusive and can make the first and sometimes the second man miss. He has top instincts and is a good decision maker.

While he runs with power in space, I don’t always see that power inside. While he is good, he is not a great after contact runner. We saw that in the Big Ten Championship game and also in the Western Illinois game where an FCS school held Gordon to 2.9 yards per carry.

I had questions about Gordon’s hands, but he showed at the Combine that he can catch the ball cleanly. The other area where there are questions is in pass protection. On tape, he is not only a very average blocker, but also lacks technique. Without question, Gordon will be the first or second back selected this year.

3) Todd Gurley – Georgia

Had Gurley not torn an ACL, there is no question as to who the best back would be in this draft. Before he got hurt, Gurley showed that he was head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the class. He has both size and speed and top run instincts. He can run inside and out and run with power.

Once in the open field, he is without question the toughest back in this class to bring down. As a receiver, he has great hands, can adjust to the ball, and consistently gets yards after the catch. He also is a very accomplished kick returner.

Because of his injury, Gurley is a “wild card” pick. He wouldn’t let team physicians examine him, and because of that, no doctor outside of the one who performed his surgery has any idea as to the seriousness of the injury and how well the surgery was performed. Until those questions are answered, I have no idea where Gurley goes in this draft. There are many teams who are wondering if he will be able to play this year.

4) Ameer Abdullah – Nebraska

Abdullah is one of my favorite players in this draft. He may lack ideal NFL size, but he is all football player. In 2014, he ran for over 1600 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had 22 receptions and another three touchdowns. While not a burner, he is very quick and explosive and gets a number of long runs. Not many are quicker for 20 yards.

He is tough and explosive and is able to get yards after contact. He is proficient both inside and out and has top instincts. Despite his size, he is more than an adequate as a blocker. He has issues with ball security. He put the ball on the ground too much this past season.

As I have said before, Abdullah reminds me of Thurman Thomas and Joe Cribbs two former Buffalo Bill backs. They all have similar size and quickness. It remains to be seen if he will have the same type of production in the NFL.

5) Jay Ajayi – Boise State

If you want a complete back, Ajayi just may be your guy. In 2014, he ran for over 1800 yards and had 50 receptions. He also scored 32 touchdowns. That’s production! At 6000 – 221, he has size to go along with adequate speed (4.57). While he may not be a burner, he is very quick with excellent change of direction and body control.

He is productive both inside and out and is able to get yards after contact. He has good vision and is a good jump cutter and cutback runner. As a receiver, he has soft hands and does a good job getting open. Like many college backs, he has to improve his blocking skills.

I can see Ajayi becoming a starter early in his career and becoming a productive NFL back.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Dave Miller
College Football Report


Brian Kelly isn’t afraid to shake things up when he isn’t happy with the product he is fielding.

The Notre Dame head coach officially named 32-year-old Mike Sanford to be the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and it’s a big import for the Fighting Irish staff.

Sanford is considered one of the bright young minds in the college game, a future head coach sooner rather than later. But when news first circulated of the impending hire, it came as a bit of a surprise because previous offensive hires by Kelly were usually names linked to the head coach’s past. Mike Denbrock, Matt LaFleur, Chuck Martin and Charley Molnar all landed jobs in South Bend because they had previous coaching experience with Kelly. Sometimes the hires worked, and sometimes they didn’t.

One thing, though, is certain: the Irish offense needed a boost after a turnover-laden season in 2014.

And Sanford, whose father was once Notre Dame’s quarterbacks coach (1997-98), could be just the right tonic to help stabilize an offense that returns a lot of intriguing pieces in the fall.

In his only year as OC at Boise State under Broncos first-year head coach Bryan Harsin, Sanford directed the No. 9 scoring offense (39.7 points per game) and helped guide the team to a Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona. It was a unit that was very balanced, as the Broncos ranked 29th in rushing and 23rd in passing nationally. Sanford landed the gig after coaching the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers in three seasons at Stanford, as he was part of three Cardinal teams that claimed BCS berths.

Kelly, quite simply, found himself a winner in Sanford. A coach that reportedly was in the mix for the OC opening at Ohio State that went to Tim Beck. Of course, Kelly recently lost assistant Tony Alford to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, yet another assistant that left South Bend for Columbus.

With Sanford in the mix, a lot is expected of an ND offense that will return nine starters (the Irish return 19 of 22 starters overall from last season). Expect running the football to be a priority. And, of course, putting the skill players in the best position to make as many explosive plays down the field as possible.

The only question is exactly how much control Sanford will possess once the new season kicks off. When Kelly met with the then-Boise State OC, he was simply seeking a new QBs coach because Matt LaFleur left for a job with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. But Kelly was so impressed by his chat with Sanford that he thought it would be a good idea to expand his role beyond a position coach because the two shared similar offensive philosophies.

Kelly has not yet announced who will call the offensive plays, so he could essentially have those duties as he has had in four of his five seasons at ND. A decision is expected to come after spring practice ends on April 18. However, adding Sanford is a clear sign that Kelly wants to maximize the potential of an offense that returns all five offensive linemen that started the Music City Bowl win over LSU, a pair of running backs with extensive playing time, a very deep receiving corps and two quarterbacks capable of starting at most every program across the country.

Of course, those signal-callers will be at the forefront of spring and fall camp. Everett Golson recorded 37 touchdowns but also 22 turnovers last year, while lefty Malik Zaire ‘wowed’ at times in Nashville against the Bayou Bengals. Is a two-quarterback system workable if the Irish go that route?

Kelly and the Irish have had back-to-back disappointing seasons since their surprise run to the BCS national title game against Alabama. With Sanford bringing diversity, intrigue and balance to the mix, the offense should at least be improved, increasing the program’s chances of being national contenders once again.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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