The following quotes are from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
• “They have average offensive talent in Baltimore. They have a running back and a quarterback who does some good things with weapons, but they just lost (Ben) Grubbs. The line is old and injury-prone and out of shape. I know (Terrell) Suggs is talking a good game — but I guarantee he will start the season on PUP, and they might not have him at all. Ed Reed has not shown up yet and is talking about retiring. Ray Rice is not paid yet. The quarterback is not paid yet. If I’m (John) Harbaugh, I’d be frustrated with where the roster stands. He has had to work with a lot of smoke and mirrors, especially on the offensive side.”
• “I keep hearing people talking about the devaluing of the running back, but if you have a good one, boy can he be a factor. When you have a guy who can carry the load, it’s hard to stop. The teams that have them — Minnesota, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Chicago — they are the offense. Don’t think they don’t know it. Veterans know when they are the key to success or failure.”
• “Rex Ryan knows that when you are a defensive coach and you are inside the 5 or 10, you don’t account for the quarterback. When Tim Tebow is on the field, now you have to account for the quarterback. It’s much more difficult to get away running cover zero (man) and pinching the ends. With Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Michael Vick or Robert Griffin, you have to account for the quarterback — so it takes one less player away from stopping the run. The other thing Tebow brings — as a defensive coordinator, even if it’s only five or seven plays, every team will now have to spend X amount of time preparing for a package with Tebow. If you don’t, he can make you pay. And even if you do, he might still catch you off guard. He can be a weapon.”
• “Watching Danieal Manning in Houston (last year), he has great instincts. He’s a smart player. He just kept moving positions in Chicago. It was a question of development — not instincts. He is very talented.”
• “In a lot of offenses, Wes Welker would be a slot guy only. He’s smart and tough and likeable and gets the job done, but he is not close to being in the same category as a Greg Jennings or Calvin or Andre Johnson in the way of being a physically gifted receiver. Do you remember when Mike Furrey caught (nearly) 100 (passes) and Roy Williams was the only other receiver and then they picked Calvin Johnson with the second pick? Stats can really skew a players’ view of talent. Remember when Houston was running the run-and-shoot with Drew Hill, Ernest Givens and Haywood Jeffires? Jeffires had the most catches many years, but he caught a bunch of hitches and slants and was the third most talented receiver of the group. It’s a similar story in New England.”
• “I look at Joseph Addai — I think he’ll be able to fill the Kevin Faulk role for one more year as a third-down catch specialist. What people do not realize about the Colts’ offense — the mental strain is a lot higher to play there than anywhere else in the league — at least when Peyton (Manning) was running it. You’re not walking back to the huddle and catching your breath. You’re back on the line trying to figure out, ‘What is going on? What is my responsibility?’ Peyton changed so much at the line. You have to be smart in that system. And you need to have stamina. You get few plays off (as a back) — you’re getting more contact in pass protection on blitzes in some games than many other backs will take (as) ballcarriers.”