Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Greg Robinson signs with Cleveland Browns, becomes competition for Shon Coleman

The Cleveland Browns announced on Tuesday they had signed offensive tackle Greg Robinson, the second player picked in the 2014 NFL Draft -- a transaction that might have set up an Auburn-vs.-Auburn competition in training camp for the team's left tackle spot.

Robinson became a free agent in March and had remained on the market throughout the period of the NFL's offseason programs. The Browns held their final minicamp practice on Thursday and are scheduled to open training camp on July 27.

The Browns need to replace 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, who retired after the 2017 season.

Former Auburn standout Shon Coleman, who spent his second NFL season as Cleveland's right offensive tackle in 2017, has gotten the first crack at filling Thomas' old spot during the offseason program. During the 2013 season, Coleman served as Robinson's backup at left offensive tackle for Auburn.

Left guard Joel Bitonio, rookies Justin Corbett and Desmond Harrison and former UAB standout Chris Hubbard have remained options at left tackle, though. Cleveland signed Hubbard to a five-year, $37.5 million contract in March to leave the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency to become the Browns' right tackle.

"I don't know if he's clearly ahead of everybody else because there's a lot of guys just that sitting behind him," Cleveland offensive-line coach Bob Wylie said of Coleman's lead at the position, indicating a slight separation with his hands. "We just need to say, 'OK, this is the guy that we're going to go with.'"

Robinson might be "Plan D" at left tackle.

"I'm happy we have a training camp now to get to and put the pads on these guys and see what we really have," Cleveland offensive coordinator Todd Haley said last week. "You're only going to see so much in shorts, especially at those positions up front. I've been encouraged with the growth of Shon. We do have a Plan B, Plan C and, potentially, a Plan D that we don't even know about."

After the Houston Texans selected South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the first choice in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams selected Robinson. But the former Auburn standout never reached the performance level that the Rams envisioned for him, although he started 42 of 46 games in three seasons with the team.

When the Los Angeles Rams signed left tackle Andrew Whitworth away from the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency before the 2017 season, it left Robinson without a spot, and he was traded to the Detroit Lions for a sixth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Taylor Decker, Detroit's left tackle, had had surgery to repair a torn labrum 10 days before the Lions acquired Robinson.

Robinson beat out former Alabama standout Cyrus Kouandjio and Storm Norton to start at left tackle for Detroit last season. But six games into the campaign, he suffered an ankle injury that sent him to injured reserve for the rest of the year.

Robinson became a free agent when his four-year, $21,284,098 rookie contract ran out with the end of the NFL's 2017 business year in March.

On the final day of Cleveland's offseason program last week, Wylie said Coleman had some things to work on if he wanted to be the Browns' left tackle when they kick off the 2018 season.

"He has the athleticism," Wylie said. "I think the footwork -- we need to keep working on the fundamentals and that stuff. Being an athlete, he gets himself in some pretty awkward positions and gets himself out of them.

"We have to keep working on his footwork and his hands to make sure I get him from Point A to Point B without any wasted motion. We have 83 days before we have to play the Pittsburgh Steelers. If we can't get it done in 83 days, then it's probably not going to get done."


Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

from Auburn Sports Impact All-Access: Which SEC player has the best shot at the Heisman Trophy in 2018?

Five of the last 11 Heisman Trophy winners have been from the SEC.

There was Florida's Tim Tebow in 2007, Alabama's Mark Ingram in 2009, Auburn's Cam Newton in 2010, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel in 2012 and Alabama's Derrick Henry in 2015.

In that span, the SEC hasn't gone more than two years without a Heisman winner. With the last two Heisman winners -- Louisville's Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield -- coming from outside the SEC, it seems like it's about time for the league to produce another one.

So who among current SEC players has the best chance at bringing home the trophy in 2018?

The Heisman has always been a quarterback/running back award, and has become even more a quarterback award in recent years. Henry, Ingram and USC's Reggie Bush in 2005 are the only running backs this century to win the Heisman (and Ingram had his taken away due to NCAA sanctions).

According to the Vegas odds, there are seven SEC players with a better than 50-to-1 chance to win the 2018 Heisman. Let's look at them one-by-one.

Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia (10/1) -- There are rumblings he might not be the starter all year, and even if he is, he's not likely to put up huge numbers.

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (10/1) -- Again, not guaranteed to be the starter, but if he is, has the preseason hype and the supporting cast to pull it off.

Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama (20/1) -- It would be something of an upset if Hurts wins the starting job, and if he does, he's not likely to post the passing numbers to get Heisman notice.

Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn (25/1) -- He's got the ability and a good receiving corps, but offensive line issues might help him. And in general, a QB needs to be in the national title race to get serious Heisman consideration.

D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia (33/1) -- The latest in a long line of talented Georgia backs, he doesn't have much preseason hype. He'd probably need to approach 2,000 yards rushing to have a chance.

Drew Lock, QB, Missouri (33/1) -- Should put up huge numbers, but again, how good will his team be? The Tigers would probably need to win the East for Lock to have any kind of Heisman campaign.

Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State (33/1) -- Love his talent and his game, but he's coming off an injury. Also, if Dak Prescott couldn't win the Heisman, Fitzgerald won't.

I figure Tagovailoa's probably the best bet here, but I'd have a hard time expecting too much from someone who has never started a game. Stidham could have a shot, but Auburn would need to have a really special year (even better than last year).

So which of these players do you think has the best chance at the Heisman? Anybody not on the list you think should be considered?

I'll take your questions and comments on that or anything else on your mind beginning at 10 a.m.

from Auburn Sports Impact

Auburn set to maintain quality quarterback depth with 2019 recruiting class

Editor's note: This is the first of a nine-part series analyzing Auburn's position-by-position recruiting wishlist for the 2019 class. 

Auburn's quarterback situation is in the best shape it has been since Gus Malzahn took over the program, and the Tigers look to maintain that condition for the foreseeable future.

With Jarrett Stidham returning for a second season under Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, as well as rising sophomore Malik Willis and true freshman dual-threat option Joey Gatewood, Auburn has an ideal mix of proven talent and young potential at its most important position. While Stidham can leave Auburn after the 2018 season, the Tigers already have a line of succession secured, with Willis, who got in-game experience in a limited role as a freshman last season; Gatewood, who has drawn comparisons to Cam Newton due to his physical stature and skillset; and with the team's lone 2019 quarterback commit, Bo Nix.

It's a much better situation than even a year ago, when the Tigers had some uncertainty about the future of the position.

Under Malzahn, Auburn has made it a priority to take at least one -- and sometimes more -- quarterback each recruiting cycle. This time around, the Tigers currently plan to sign only one quarterback in 2019, and fortunately for them, they've already secured that commitment.

Nix, the son of former Auburn great Patrick Nix, committed to Auburn on Jan. 10 and has not wavered from that one bit. The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder is rated as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class, the No. 6 player in Alabama and the 68th-best player in the nation. According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, he is a four-star recruit.

Auburn's top 2019 quarterback targets

Nix is an ideal fit for Auburn's offense, with an ability to extend plays with his legs while also touting a strong and accurate arm. After transferring from Scottsboro before his junior season, Nix missed four games last year at Pinson Valley due to injury but returned to lead his team to a 15-0 record and the program's first Class 6A state championship.

As a junior, Nix completed 196-of-307 passes (64.8 percent) for 2,872 yards, 35 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He earned Class 6A first-team All-State honors and was named's All-Birmingham Player of the Year.

This offseason, he participated in the Elite 11 finals in California and finished in the top three, earning an invite to The Opening finals in Dallas, and he has quarterbacked Newton's 7-on-7 team out of the Atlanta area.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

from Auburn Sports Impact

Mostly Sunny today!

With a high of 93F and a low of 73F.

State NFL rookies by the numbers: Who's wearing which jersey in the pros

Still in college football last year, 45 players with Alabama roots now have completed their first NFL offseason programs. Their next pro stop will be training camp starting in late July.

from Auburn Sports Impact

Monday, June 18, 2018

‘Like a herd of buffalo’: Keith Hernandez on Bo Jackson

Nolan Ryan talked about Bo saving his life in 2014 biography “Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher.”
Keith Hernandez talked about Bo nearly ending his life in an interview about his 2018 memoir “I’m Keith Hernandez.”
“The only time I was ever scared, when I was older, in my last year in Cleveland, Oakland Raider running back that played for Kansas City, All-American Bo Jackson, hit a ground ball to shortstop. And the throw was down the line into him, and I heard him running like he was a herd of buffalo. I’m not exaggerating. I’d never had that experience before, and I’ve played against some big guys.  He was running so fast, and he was such a big, strong guy, I remember I cringed when I caught the ball just in hopes that he wouldn’t clip me on my left shoulder, and he missed me, thank goodness.”
h/t Blake Herrin. 

from The War Eagle Reader

4-Star defensive end Jaren Handy commits to Auburn

Handy is the second player from Mississippi to commit to Auburn's 2019 class.

from Auburn Sports Impact

Promising young core should help Auburn baseball lineup make up for loss of key upperclassmen

Auburn will have a lot to replace in 2019 on the field, but the Tigers have a young core that produced big time in 2018.

from Auburn Sports Impact

Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah working to earn 'good second deal'

Tight end C.J. Uzomah spent Cincinnati's offseason program trying to make sure the Bengals' coaching staff sees him "as a vital part of the team."

from Auburn Sports Impact

PM Thunderstorms today!

With a high of 90F and a low of 72F.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Football. A bigger responsibility: How Auburn coaches are fathers on and off the field

If father is defined as "one who gives care and protection; who encourages, nurtures and teaches," then every member of Auburn's coaching staff should be considered a father.

from Auburn Tigers News

A bigger responsibility: How Auburn coaches are fathers on and off the field

If father is defined as "one who gives care and protection; who encourages, nurtures and teaches," then every member of Auburn's coaching staff should be considered a father.

from Auburn Football news

M. Golf. Wells Padgett captures Southwestern Amateur crown

Padgett wins 103rd Southwestern Amateur with a birdie on the second playoff hole

from Auburn Tigers News

Thunderstorms today!

With a high of 83F and a low of 70F.

9 NFL free agents who still need teams for the 2018 season

When the NFL's 2017 business year ended in March, 27 players with Alabama football roots who played in the regular season last year became free agents. Since then, every NFL team has held its offseason program, but the football practices came and went without nine of the free agents.

from Auburn Sports Impact