NFL Foundation: Changing lives on and off the field

OTFB Reporter

By Liz Panucci // @PanucciLiz

Today, we are starting a new series on the positives of the National Football League, its teams, its players and its communities. Each week we will focus on a team, along with a community leader, making a difference in their city or town. We will discuss the movement surrounding an event and the people who support making ‘good happen’. #GiveBack

The NFL Foundation is the League’s nonprofit organization representing the 32 NFL clubs.  Its mission is to support the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football and the communities which support our game.

 

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2019 NFL draft: running backs

By Lisa Johnson // @LJ1303

This week we will cover two of the top running backs in the 2019 NFL draft.

Without question, this class lacks the fervor that last year’s top running back prospect Saquon Barkley commanded.  I’m also seeing many mock drafts that don’t even have a running back getting drafted day 1.

That being said,  the first running back coming off should be Alabama’s Joshua Jacobs.

Listed at 5’10”, 220 pounds, Jacobs is being talked about as one of the most physical of the backs entering the draft. With his ability to line up in the flat and his blocking skills, he instantly becomes the front runner.  Despite that,  Jacobs did not participate in this years NFL combine, because he was nursing a sore groin.

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AFC North – Everything is about to change

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8

Let’s face it – the AFC North was a hot mess last year! With Le’Veon Bell sitting out, the once-dominant Pittsburgh Steelers had to root for the Cleveland Browns in Week 17 in order to make the playoffs.

The Baltimore Ravens benched quarterback Joe Flacco and began the new era of Lamar Jackson football. Can Jackson keep being the leading rusher for this team and avoid injury?

The Cincinnati Bengals landed at the bottom of a division where the Browns had held that spot for too many years to count. But the once 0-16 Browns, under the leadership of rookie QB Baker Mayfield, are making their case to take over the division.

Let’s take a team-by-team look at the moves they’ve made so far to get ready for the battle to be “Kings of the North.”

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NFC North looking to fight for the top

Wanda Wiedman,
NFL Reporter

By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63

The 2018 season was presumed to be a lock with the Green Bay Packers on top of the NFC North and the Chicago Bears in last place, according to most sports affiliates.  But no one expected the opposite. Granted the Packers fell into third place in the division, finishing with a 6-9-1 record. However, no one expected the Bears to win the division with a 12-4 record led by a wicked defense and the Coach of the Year in Matt Nagy.

The Bears are fighting to keep that division title but their rivals are nipping at their heels, or so it seems on paper. Running backs, corners, safeties, defensive players and wide receivers are the focus of each team. Here is what the NFC North teams have done so far in free agency to fix some holes:

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Did Lions GM Bob Quinn get inspiration from Ariana Grande?

Sonja Greenfield, Detroit Lions Reporter

By Sonja Greenfield //@Mom23RN

If you have a child that is 9 years old or older, or if you’re just into the what the kids are listening to on the radio/iTunes/Spotify, etc. you more than likely have gotten a chance to hear Ariana Grande’s song 7 Rings.

In it, she talks about how she likes to buy stuff.  While it can get a little repetitive (“I want it, I got it, I want it, I got it, I want it, I got it”), one of the lines makes me laugh.  “Happiness is the same price as red bottoms.”

Well apparently, Bob Quinn either has a kid that is around my daughter’s ages or he’s just an Ariana Grande fan. Cause he wanted it, and he got it.  Quinn got the free agency negotiation period started with a bang.

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NFL Free Agent Frenzy – who made a splash?

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

The first day of the NFL’s “Free Agent Frenzy” period is over and a few teams made quite a splash. And even though free agency hasn’t truly started, the legal tampering period has brought some great news to some teams.

This is the time of year where Armchair Experts try to predict what their teams will do and are filled with either excitement over signings or depression when their team isn’t as active as they think they should be.

While the drama surrounding the trade of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders took a lot of the focus over the weekend, Monday’s free agent activity brought us all back into the mix.

The Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions made the loudest noise in adding talent to struggling teams. Their fanbases seem to be really excited about the possibilities these new players bring, but they aren’t the only teams who were active yesterday.

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2019 NFL Regional Combine

Dayna O’Gorman
Senior NFL Reporter

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

Kansas City and the KC Chiefs played host to this year’s NFL Regional Combine. 30 college football players from all over the country came to show their skills to NFL scouts. While it may not have had the flash as the one in Indianapolis, it had the same goal.

The Regional Combine is much the same as the main combine in Indianapolis. The same drills, tests, and measurements, just on a smaller scale with fewer players. The Regional Combine often showcases players from smaller colleges or players who may have been under the radar during the regular season.

Speaking with many of the players, the same sentiment was stated over and over. They felt lucky to have been invited, even though it wasn’t the large combine in Indianapolis. Fredrick Jones, DT from Florida state said “It’s an opportunity that God has given me to show what I have and to give it my all. I’m blessed to have the opportunity.”

He wasn’t alone in his feelings of being lucky. Bowie State quarterback Amir Hall also was excited to be in Kansas City. “It was exciting. Getting able to perform, because some scouts may not be at my Pro Day… That was big for me.”

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NFL Draft by position: Offensive Line

Lisa Johnson
Senior Sports Reporter

By Lisa Johnson // @LJ1303

The 2019 NFL Draft seems to be very defense heavy. As we dive deeper into the draft, the next most important question for the team is: Who is gonna be on the line to block all these pass rushers and linebackers?

According to many, Alabama’s left tackle Jonah Williams should be the first linemen to come off the board. Where the 6’5 301 pounder lands is anyone’s guess, but he is considered to be the best blocker in the draft.

Early in his college career, 2016 Williams played as a true freshman at right tackle earning two all American freshmen teams, as well as all American SEC team. He moved to left tackle his sophomore year and declared for the NFL draft this year following his junior year.

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20 years later, the impact players of the 1999 draft

Dayna O’Gorman,
Senior NFL Reporter

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

Currently, there are hundreds of articles about the upcoming NFL Draft. Mock drafts, team’s draft needs, draft surprises, the topics are endless. Well, I’m here to add another one to the list! However, I’m not talking about this year’s draft. Today, I’m going to take you back twenty years to 1999.

The Denver Broncos, led by quarterback John Elway, had just beaten the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII 34-19. You may remember that was the year when everyone was buzzing about Elway confronting his former coach, Dan Reeves, about comments he had made stating new head coach Mike Shanahan and Elway had conspired to have Reeves fired. Oh, the drama!

But when the new season started, all eyes were on the 1999 draft. The NEW Cleveland Browns had the first pick. It marked the first year, since 1995, the city of Cleveland had a football team. It was no surprise they went with a quarterback, selecting Tim Couch.

While Couch did manage to take the Browns to the playoffs during his 5 injury ridden years on the team, it was other players picked in that draft who would go on to make huge impacts, not only for their teams but in the NFL.

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The Orlando Apollo’s Answer to NFL QB Needy Teams

Wanda Wiedman,
NFL Reporter

By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63

The 2019 NFL Draft has only a handful of quarterbacks that can possibly fill a team’s need under center. The New England Patriots should be looking for their franchise QB successor to Tom Brady as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New Orlean Saints, the Los Angeles Chargers.and the New York Giants.

After watching the NFL Combine, only two QBs demonstrated the ability to throw the long bomb down the field, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and Auburn University’s Jarrett Stidham. With the exception of Oklahoma State Kyler Murray holding out for his Pro Day, the QB pool was slim pickings.

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