We’ve moved

Update your bookmarks, dear reader: the blog has moved to its own domain, with a new look and many other new features to come. We can now be found at our own top-level domain, zonereads.com.

We’re still under construction, so bear with us, but we had enough of the blog up and running that I decided to go ahead and permanently migrate the site there. All the old archives have been successfully ported over, so you can still read any of your favorite pieces from Classic Zone Reads1.

We’re in the process of adding more features to the new site, including a database of NFL Draft prospects. In the meantime, the same quality analysis and prose you’ve come to expect from us will continue to be posted there.2 Draft season is our biggest season, so check back regularly or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to receive instant updates when we publish new content.

1 – I’ve just been notified that nobody considers “Classic Zone Reads” an actual thing.
2 – Note to dissatisfied readers: This could be interpreted as “the same quality of analysis and prose,” not “the same high-quality analysis and prose.”

Offseason GM: NFC South

Football is year round for us, and the period after the season ends is actually one of my favorite parts of the football year: the offseason business side. Assessing a team’s cap situation, their pending free agents, and stock of draft picks in an attempt to set out the course of the future is something I find to be a lot of fun. Right now I’m feeling extremely impatient due to the fact that free agency doesn’t even officially open till the second week of March, so over the next couple weeks I’ll be giving you an economic roster breakdown of the next year. I was discussing the Saints earlier today with Nath, so the NFC South seems like a good place to start.

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What are the Browns doing?

Yesterday the Browns announced that Mike Lombardi was dismissed from his general manager post, and that Joe Banner would be stepping down as CEO but would stay on for two more months to ease the transition. Owner Jimmy Haslam promoted assistant GM Ray Farmer to the GM post and has set up a power structure where Farmer and new head coach Mike Pettine report directly to him.

Now, you can tell from the title of this post that I’m not a fan of these moves. My position, though, isn’t based strictly on opinions of any of the men involved. It’s a matter of the process used to arrive at these decisions.

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Site Update: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

First off, I should apologize for the lack of content the last two weeks. In the leadup to and post-game analysis of the Super Bowl, we might have been the only football website to go dark. This was due to a combination of factors: One was real-world responsibilities; the other, the one you’re probably more interested in, is all the work we’ve been doing preparing for the draft.

All the Zone Reads writers are watching film and compiling evaluations and rankings of players. We plan to offer significantly more draft coverage than last year; we plan to offer in-depth reviews of prospects as well as a draft board based on our own film study. We’re not going to give you draft boards just based on publicly available information: We do our own work here, and if you like the work you’ve seen, you can rest assured that plenty more is to come.

In addition to this, we’re planning to roll out a new design for the site when the Combine rolls around. The new design should look cleaner, be more functional, and make it easier for you to find the information you’re looking for.

We’ll keep you posted on those changes. In the meantime, if you’re looking for some new content, you can read mjw’s piece on Michael Sam’s football prospects here.

Michael Sam: The Football Player

Much has been and will be written about the societal ramifications of Michael Sam’s announcement, and with good reason.  This post is dedicated, however, to Michael Sam’s ability to play the game of football and looking at how his game will translate to the NFL.

Many draftniks have knocked Michael Sam’s size as a reason for why he will or should be a fourth or fifth round pick.  Sam is absolutely not ideal sized for a 4-3 defensive end.  However, he makes up for his size with sound technique, great positioning and sneaky strength.

Let’s look at a few plays that show the things Michael Sam does very well.

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1/26 Mock Draft, post-Senior Bowl

The practices are in, the games have been played, and other sites have filed their columns on the winners and losers from the week in Mobile. You can determine who our winners and losers are by comparing this draft to our early entrant deadline mock.

Picks with explanations after the jump.

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