It makes sense that NFL players are thrill seekers. You don’t go through the adrenaline rush of playing on Sundays in the fall and then sit at home all offseason and watch old movies. That’s why Tom Brady was giving New England Patriots fans a heart attack by cliff diving . But Brady’s rush looks like playing in the kiddie pool compared to Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy’s mode of offseason relaxation. Someone turned off the “Fasten Seat Belts” sign on Levy’s flight, so he went up to the top of the old Red Baron propeller biplane and took in the flight from there. Here’s what he posted to his Instagram account: Whoa. I don’t think the flight attendant would approve of that. Levy likes to adventure; his Instagram feed is full of fun travel photos. Levy has become one of the most productive linebackers in the NFL, with 151 tackles last season and 119 tackles and six interceptions the season before that, and now we know a secret of his success: He’s not afraid of much. – – – – – – – Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab
Anyone who has ever attempted to put together a mock draft knows that there are a handful of teams whose picks represent flashpoint moments in the draft. Think back to last year. The Jacksonville Jaguars taking Blake Bortles third overall was the first bolt out of the blue, and it helped set the table for the rest of the first round. Then there are the trades. The Cleveland Browns shifted up, down and around the first round (and elsewhere) and easily became one of the pivotal, first-round shaping teams last season. (Which is different from being effective drafters, but that’s another point.) There are a handful of teams who can change the tide of Round 1 on April 30 — either by making surprising picks or by making moves up or down that could shift the landscape significantly. We might not know what the effect of these plate tectonics might be, but we certainly can see where the fault lines might lie. Here’s a look at the teams that significantly could alter how the top of the draft is shaped: Tennessee Titans (No. 2 overall pick) — Ken Whisenhunt’s professed love for Marcus Mariota felt a little ingenuine to us, but we also can buy into the idea that Zach Mettenberger might not represent their vision of a franchise quarterback either. Those things are mutually exclusive. The second pick is for sale, but how high is their price? The Titans’ biggest need — outside of quarterback, that is — is talent. Jim Schwartz used this line when he took over the 0-16 Detroit Lions, and we’re going to steal it and stamp it here, too. The Titans are starting to forge the broad strokes of a decent front seven on defense, they have a few OK receivers and some offensive linemen worth working around. Other than that, it’s an ugly roster. Depending on what they do, whether it’s trade down, take Mariota or fall back on Leonard Williams, could help shape other teams’ pursuit of quarterbacks in this draft. [All Draft News, All The Time: Follow Shutdown Draft 365 on Tumblr ] Washington Redskins (No. 5 overall pick) — We like that the Redskins have been active in free agency, but not active in a “Daniel Snyder is crazy” kind of way. New GM Scot McCloughan is one of the keenest talent evaluators in the game, and he knows the value of picks. That’s why we believe any team seeking to move up for Mariota (or whomever else) could really start in earnest at No. 5 overall. That’s where the Redskins’ pick should be for sale. Really, their needs don’t quite sync up perfectly with the talent available, so a move down makes a ton of sense. If they stay put, is it an edge rusher? If so, which one? We assume they’ll lean toward either Dante Fowler Jr. or Vic Beasley, whichever one the Jacksonville Jaguars do not take third. But the Redskins are a wildcard factor in the big picture for sure. Why else? Well, we also can’t rule out them taking a quarterback. Ah, the Redskins — always fascinating. New York Jets (No. 6 overall pick) — They, too, will consider Mariota. The Jets are sending six key decision makers Saturday up to Oregon to meet with the quarterback and try to decide if he’s worth their investment. Otherwise, they could be the trade-up destination for another team should he still be on the board at 6. And like the Redskins, the Jets have their eyes on the edge-rush candidates; that’s the one clear thing (other than maybe a rangy safety) that their defense lacks at this point. Plus, it’s a first-year general manager in Mike Maccagnan, so we don’t have a great feel for what direction he might go. We’ve had various people connect them to Todd Gurley , too, which is fascinating. Is 6 too early for him? St. Louis Rams (No. 10 overall pick) — The Rams have drafted 28 players the past three seasons (including 13 of those picks in the first three rounds) and could stand to move up if they wanted. That said, they have a mere five selections in the draft, sending fourth- and sixth-round choices to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for safety Mark Barron. Sure, the Rams might be content at 10 and could have a choice offensive lineman — it’s a need — fall into their laps, or they could even get lucky and be able to pick a top receiver, such as Amari Cooper or Kevin White, whichever one the Oakland Raiders pass on at 4. But Jeff Fisher’s continual hinting that the Rams’ QB picture is far from complete is intriguing, and it opens up the possibilities of what this team could do. Cleveland Browns (Nos. 12 and 19 overall picks) — Ah, yes, the Browns once again find themselves in the draft vortex as big players yet riding that line of insanity. There’s a good bet that when it’s all said and done, GM Ray Farmer might not end up making picks at 12 and 19. No team has more draft cache right now than the Browns, with their 10 overall picks, including additional fourth- and sixth-round picks to play with. What confuses the matter and might not be clear until next week is whether Farmer and Co. are docked a selection for the texting-from-the-booth incident (how Browns is that, by the way?) and if it’s a mid-rounder that could change their plans. Are the Browns interested in Mariota? Would they move up? Down? Could they go completely off radar altogether? They certainly are a get-your-popcorn-ready team if there ever was one on April 30. New Orleans Saints (Nos. 13 and 31 overall picks) — The Saints own five of the top 78 picks, plus an additional fifth-rounder, amid a napalm job to half their roster — with the other half perhaps ready to be nuked as well. We’ve been told by league sources that the Saints “still have a big move or two” left in them, so we only can assume that they’ll be big players when it comes to Round 1. The Jimmy Graham trade netted them No. 31 and the Kenny Stills deal (which we’re still trying to figure out) got them another third-rounder. Everything’s on the table, but we’ve heard they are going all in on revamping this defense and also looking to add a big receiver. The depth of the draft at those respective positions allows them to sit tight and take several good football players. But something tells us that fireworks might be afoot. They’re not done blowing stuff up. Philadelphia Eagles (No. 20 overall) — There are a handful of other teams between 13 and 20, such as the Miami Dolphins or San Diego Chargers, that are capable of shaking things up. But there will be a virtual drumroll and a tangible buzz when the Eagles find themselves on the clock. And, of course, we have no freaking clue when that actually will be. Chip Kelly is making the call on these picks now, and for all we know he could trade every pick he has; we wouldn’t put it past him. Needs? They still have plenty — secondary, offensive line pass rusher, maybe receiver — the Mariota talk won’t go away. It would be a profound disappointment if they stood pat at 20 and took, say, Florida State C-OG Cameron Erving. Nothing against Erving, a player we like very much. It just wouldn’t be a very Kelly-ish move, right? Baltimore Ravens (No. 26 overall) — The Ravens have 10 selections total, with extra fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks they can move, along with all of their own picks except in Round 7. (They also have three compensatory picks — one in Round 4, two in Round 5 — but those cannot be traded by league rules.) GM Ozzie Newsome has shown a propensity to deal, and he nailed trades up for Joe Flacco and Haloti Ngata, but not wantonly, either. Newsome has to love what he sees in front of him to move up; more likely is for them to move back if the right player isn’t on his plate. But they also have some real holes on their team, one that nearly took down the New England Patriots in the playoffs and could go a long way this season if they patch up the roster smartly. Staying put at 26 could land them a receiver or cornerback or pass rusher — all areas they’d love to improve. But the Ravens also could be a team to watch for a trade, and they pick right in front of the deal-happy Dallas Cowboys at 27, which ups the stakes a tad. – – – – – – – Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
Safety Louis Delmas is back with the Miami Dolphins, which means he’ll be reunited with former teammate Ndamukong Suh. Delmas, who is recovering from a knee injury, signed a one-year deal Friday to stay with the Dolphins. Last week Miami signed All-Pro defensive tackle Suh to a $114 million, six-year contract. Suh played with Delmas in Detroit in 2010-13.
Rashean Mathis is returning to a Detroit defense missing its biggest star from last season. He still has high hopes for the Lions in the post-Ndamukong Suh era. ”I’m very confident in the guys who we have,” Mathis said on a conference call Thursday. Detroit now can expect to return its entire starting secondary from 2014, when the team had one of the top defenses in the NFL.
Significant changes to the use of video replay, including reviewing all fouls called by game officials, will be proposed by the NFL’s competition committee at next week’s owners meetings. The committee is presenting a proposal by the Detroit Lions that would permit the instant replay system to correct an officiating error. Also to be discussed in Phoenix will be a proposal by the New England Patriots to place fixed cameras on all boundary lines.
Reggie Bush, a standout running back who helped New Orleans capture a Super Bowl crown in 2010, has agreed to National Football League contract terms with the San Francisco 49ers. The Detroit Lions released Bush last month to save salary cap room, opening the door for the 30-year-old rusher to join his fourth NFL club. Bush was a college star at Southern California who was drafted second overall by New Orleans in the 2006 NFL Draft.