Posted on: April 24, 2009 9:00 pm
One of the more enjoyable aspects of this gig is talking to some of the high profile players on their "Road to the Draft." I've been fortunate to follow Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry and Texas defensive end/outside linebacker Brian Orakpo throughout the Combine, Pro Day, NFL Draft experience and tried to highlight some of the highpoints in a series of articles on their journey.
The third of the four-part series with Brian Orakpo was posted today, but with so much going on, the article is a little difficult to find.
For those interested, here is a link to copy and paste for Brian's take on the numerous private workouts and team visits he's had over the past month. He's flown all over the country (Denver, Washington, Houston, Kansas City, and Cleveland) over that time and has gave me some interesting details on differences with how some teams chose to work him out.
The phone call he received from Gil Brandt is an interesting one, as well...
Check it out: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/
Posted on: April 24, 2009 8:45 pm
I held a one hour chat earlier today that you may have missed. I wasn't able to answer all of the questions posed, unfortunately, but got to as many as I could.
You can copy and paste the following URL and check it out.
Thanks to all who participated!
Posted on: April 24, 2009 8:34 pm
Spending some time with teams over the past few hours and I can tell you this... the smoke is thicker this year than ever before.
I had a high ranking team official tell me, in fact, "I've never seen it this bad. Guys are flat lying to each other. We're used to seeing guys lying to you all [media] but you make friends in this business and expect to be able to at least get some truth out of them, but not this year. Guys who've known for years, you don't at the end of the conversation if you can believe anything they said."
There are a lot of reasons why teams might be more willing to bend the truth this year. Interest and speculation about the draft continues to grow at a staggering pace. The money being invested in these unproven players continues to grow, a well. Perhaps most importantly, the disproportionately mediocre talent at the top of this year's draft is forcing teams to lock in on their guy and do whatever is necessary to get him.
With only ten minutes provided for each first round pick, the action can get pretty tense in an NFL war-room when on the clock. Therefore, many teams will assign one or more employees to contact other teams to learn which teams are openly trading to trade, would consider trading, or have no interest in trading. The weeding out process takes time that teams just don't have on draft day.
How about this as an example of the misdirection teams are resorting to on draft eve...
One team source told me that representatives of his club had called other teams over the past few days to judge potential trade possibilities. One of the teams contacted claimed that they had no interest in trading the pick. Hours later, another representative of the same club called the team back to discuss another matter. He was informed by another high-ranking member of the team that were actively shopping their pick.
It wasn't that the team's opinion changed drastically over the course of a few hours. The second team simply wanted to send out mixed messages as part of their strategy...
Posted on: April 24, 2009 7:20 pm
It is generally assumed that the St. Louis Rams are going to take one of the top tackles with the second overall pick. The consensus is that the pick will be either Baylor's Jason Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe.
The tackle not selected by the Rams could take a serious tumble down the board, according to the latest rumors circulating throughout the league.
The Chiefs will consider one of the tackles, especially Monroe, I'm told. However, most believe the Chiefs have locked in on either Wake Forest linebacker or LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson with third pick and will allow either tackle to continue to slide past.
Seattle also has concerns along the offensive line and are thought to be higher on Jason Smith. Still, they seem to be focused more, at this point, on USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Curry, should he remain available.
Cleveland, is obviously set at left tackle with young Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, but may consider one of the tackles for the right side. The fifth overall pick on a right tackle seems is pretty steep, however, especially when insiders suggest the Browns are locking in on either Sanchez or Boston College defensive tackle BJ Raji.
Cincinnati would seem like the logical landing point for the tackles, but I'm told offensive line coach Paul Alexander loves Andre Smith and wants to take him over any other tackle in this draft. Few teams take their position coaches' opinions into account more than the Bengals, and it isn't difficult to understand why, considering the success the Bengals have had in developing several quality (non-first round) offensive linemen over the years, including Eric Steinbach, Stacy Andrews and Andre Whitworth, among others...
The Raiders certainly need help along the offensive line, but I'm told Al Davis is going to devote much of the draft towards acquiring weapons for JaMarcus Russell... I'd argue that protecting his blindside would be a good way to towards helping Russell out, but the Raiders think differently than most teams on draft day and seem to be leaning towards a receiver...
The Jaguars could be the first realistic option for the falling tackle -- and even they are certainly no lock considering the fact that they signed Tra Thomas in free agency... Watch out for a small trade up from Green Bay (#9) or San Francisco (#10) who would each welcome the falling tackle on their team.
Considering the tackle passed by St. Louis at #2 could be available this late, some lucky team may be poised to be one of the few top ten drafting teams to actually get a bargain on draft day.
Posted on: April 23, 2009 5:12 pm
According to multiple sources throughout the league, he is actively looking to trade out of the 3rd overall pick with the hopes of acquiring a mid to late first round or picks throughout the second round as compensation.
The likelihood that he'll be able to trade out of the 3rd pick, however, is slim, meaning that running back Larry Johnson, guard Brian Waters and the rest of the Chiefs' 2009 picks could be up for auction.
Don't be surprised if Pioli even turns around the 2010 2nd round selection he received from the Falcons to get back into the 2nd round this year. The Chiefs, of course, previously gave up their 2nd round pick, the 34th overall for quarterback Matt Cassel.
As it stands now, the Chiefs have two picks in the first three rounds: the 3rd and 67th.
I have a feeling that somehow Pioli will manage to get another pick between these two by Saturday afternoon...
Posted on: April 22, 2009 11:47 am
Foxsports.com's Alex Marvez is reporting that Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin and North Carolina wide receiver/return specialist Brandon Tate both tested positive for marijuana at the Combine. He cites two sources and attempted to reach agent Joel Segal, who represents both Harvin and Tate for comment, but did not have his calls returned.
Harvin has top ten athleticism, but the positive test, when combined with the previous character red-flags on Harvin's resume could lead to a significant drop on draft day. A handful of teams I've spoken with in the past few days feel that the character concerns are significant enough to knock him out of the first round entirely. Some even suggested Harvin could be knocked out of the first day.
Tate, who flashed first day talent as a receiver and returner throughout his career before tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee in his senior season, could be knocked out of the draft entirely due to the positive test.
Just as newsworthy is that, according to Marvez's source, "Harvin and Tate were the only high-profile players to flunk their combine drug tests."
Posted on: April 22, 2009 11:27 am
Edited on: April 22, 2009 12:41 pm
My colleague Clark Judge penned an intriguing article, whose link is provided below, which theorizes that the Seahawks essentially will control the top half of the draft based on who they select with the fourth overall pick.
He believes the three options the Seahawks will consider are OT Eugene Monroe (or Jason Smith, if Monroe is the tackle the Rams take at #2), WR Michael Crabtree and QB Mark Sanchez.
I've agree, but feel he's wrong on the three candidates Seattle is considering.
I believe Aaron Curry will be available and very much in consideration for the Seahawks, along with Sanchez and Crabtree. I believe that OT is less of a need for the Seahawks than has been reported.
If Tim Ruskell sticks with his own history of selecting high character, four year starters from BCS conferences, Curry is the pick. Certainly Curry is a need, considering the trade of Julian Peterson. Curry's strengths make him a perfect fit for the OLB position in the 4-3 scheme. If Curry is not selected by Seattle, he could slip surprisingly far down the board due to the number of 3-4 teams in the top ten. Curry is viewed by many as a poor fit at the rush linebacker position in the 3-4 defense.
There is also the possibility that Ruskell looks to the future and drafts Sanchez. Matt Hasselbeck, soon to be 34 and having made all 16 regular season starts only three times in his seven years in Seattle, remains a great player and the face of the franchise, but Sanchez is viewed by many throughout the league as a franchise caliber quarterback. He is likely to be graded higher than any quarterback Seattle will be in position to select next year. Most feel the Seahawks were extraordinarily ravaged by injuries last season. Their return to health could result in a more competitive season, which could put the Seahawks squarely in the middle or later portions of the first round next year.
The player making a late run back up the board with the Seahawks appears to be Crabtree. Disregard that the Seahawks signed TJ Houshmandzadeh via free agency. At 32 years old, he is not being viewed as a longterm solution to Seattle's needs. The dynamic Crabtree, who many scouts believe will be the best player from this draft three years from now, is absolutely in play.
I'm among the few, apparently, who does not believe Tim Ruskell is strongly considering an offensive tackle with the fourth pick. Certainly the team needs to have a plan in place for life without future Hall of Famer Walter Jones. However, the team feels they already have that tackle in current starting right tackle Sean Locklear. By re-signing Ray Willis, who the Seahawks feel is a starting caliber right tackle, the Seahawks feel they're much stronger at tackle than most perceive.
Here is Clark's article. It is a terrific read, even if ultimately I disagree on a third of the players he mentions for Seattle's pick.
Posted on: April 22, 2009 1:18 am
Edited on: April 22, 2009 11:07 am
With few sure-fire prospects in this draft, many of the teams drafting within the top ten have privately -- and in some cases, publicly -- stated their interest in trading down. Few teams have publicly stated their interest in moving up, but the rarely candid Bill Belichick offered some interesting thoughts on the situation in his annual pre-draft press conference.
I don't think I have ever been in a draft where we've had the potential flexibility that we have this year. Last year, we went in with the 7th pick and 62nd pick and I felt, at that time, it would be hard to move very far from those two spots, and in fact, we didn't. I think this year, if you go by the generic trade charts-the charts everyone uses or has access to-if you just do the numbers we could probably trade a combination of our picks in the first round and get up as high as 10. We already have three picks in the second round, so we could pick anywhere from the beginning of the round until the end of the round and then a couple more picks in the third, so I think it's really important for us to know the value of the board all the way through those first 100 players and be able to know where the opportunities are or aren't, and how we can make the most of them. Again, we don't always have flexibility to trade because you need a partner on that, but I'm sure there will be some discussions there and there already have been with teams that see our multiple picks and have interest in acquiring two for one.
Belichick, of course, is not known for his particularly gabby, often light-hearted and carefree, terrifically insightful comments with media.
With six of the top 97 picks, including three second rounders (34, 47, 58) Belichick's Patriots are in position to do whatever they'd like in this draft, and the reality is, with teams so eager to move out, the Patriots could move even further up than in a typical year.
With a lot of the talk out of New England focusing on cornerback Darius Butler from Connecticut, don't be surprised if the Patriots package some picks and instead move up for Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins size, physicality, instincts and versatility could make him a perfect fit in New England.
Regardless of who they target, don't be surprised at all if New England makes some interesting, aggressive moves this weekend. For all of the talk that Scott Pioli and Josh McDaniels want to make a splash in the draft to begin their new legacies, Belichick is in better position to extend his own.