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Posted on: April 12, 2009 8:14 pm
 

Easter Bunny Brings LB Thomas, QB Leftwich

 

 The first round of the draft might be getting a little clearer with the news of two interesting free agent signings Sunday.

The Kansas City Chiefs signed veteran inside linebacker Zach Thomas to a one year deal Sunday. While it is only a one year deal, the move signals to me that it is all the more unlikely the Chiefs will be drafting Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry -- at least not if they plan to play him on the inside.

Of course, I've been arguing for weeks that Curry's best fit remains outside in the 4-3 anyway...

On the other front, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed veteran quarterback Byron Leftwich Sunday. Leftwich, who reportedly signed a two year deal, gives the Bucs four quarterbacks: Luke McCown, Brian Griese, Josh Johnson and Leftwich.

Again, the addition of an aging Leftwich will not necessarily keep the Bucs from drafting a quarterback in the first round, if, say, Kansas State's Josh Freeman, were to be available.

However, if the draft unfolds like I anticipate; with both Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez being long gone by the end of the top ten, don't be surprised if Freeman isn't taken soon afterward. Tampa head coach Raheem Morris, who was on the Kansas State staff and knows Freeman as well as any coach in the NFL, may have wanted to reunite with the young star, but in signing Leftwich, he likely is waiving the proverbial white flag in acknowledgement that there is no way Freeman will remain on the board when the Bucs pick at 19.

Posted on: April 12, 2009 8:00 pm
 

Curry Among Green Room List

 

 Just got a text back from Wake Forest outside linebacker Aaron Curry. We've been conversing over the latest several days in preparation for the third part in a series of four articles detailing his "Road to the NFL."

In an earlier posting on the blog I mentioned that Curry had not, as of last Thursday, received an invitation to the NFL draft. He received it this weekend and plans to attend the event.

His excitement about the honor of being among those invited to Radio City Music Hall was obvious in his text:

"It's amazing to be at the place I've always dreamed to be... Every year I watch the draft and I was so happy and excited for the guys that were in New York and now I'll be there too." 

His story, which details what exactly transpires in a private workout and the 6 teams in which he's either worked out privately or traveled to recently, should be available this week.

Posted on: April 12, 2009 7:50 pm
 

Veteran Trade Talk "Heating Up"

The upcoming draft has already been hugely impacted by the recent trades of veterans Jay Cutler and Julian Peterson.

Sources within the league tell me that several more veteran trades could be on the horizon with talk between clubs "heating up" over the past few days.

Among the names being tossed about are Cleveland wide receiver Braylon Edwards and quarterback Brady Quinn, Buffalo offensive tackle Jason Peters, Kansas City running back Larry Johnson and Houston cornerback Dunta Robinson.

The Giants, according to the source, are strongly considering making an offer for Edwards as a replacement for Plaxico Burress. Speculation has it that the Browns expect a first and third round pick for the former #3 overall pick.The Giants own 10 picks in the 2009 draft, including two picks in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th rounds.

Speculation has been rampant that the Denver Broncos would be a possible destination for Brady Quinn, should the Browns elect to trade him, but I'm told that the New York Jets are another possible destination for Quinn. The Browns are thought to be enamored with USC junior quarterback Mark Sanchez and could be in position to nab him with the 5th pick of the draft.

With Terrell Owens already creating a distraction in Buffalo, the rumor in scouting circles is that the Bills are getting increasingly fed up with the antics of disgruntled offensive tackle Jason Peters and may be on the verge of shipping the young star elsewhere should they receive a suitable offer. Among those potentially interested are the Rams, Jaguars, Bengals and Eagles. The Eagles, owners of the 21st and 28th picks of this year's draft, are reportedly working the phones already in an effort to move up for one of the top young tackles, but may find the trade for the veteran more palatable.

The talk around Larry Johnson has been quieter than others, but call this one a hunch... Scott Pioli will not end the first day of the draft with only one player. The Chiefs currently own only one pick on the first day -- the 3rd overall -- due to the trade for quarterback Matt Cassel.

Finally, don't rule out a trade of franchised cornerback Dunta Robinson out of Houston, either. The discussions between Robinson and the team have been increasingly frosty, I'm told, and the Texans are in prime position, with the 15th pick of the draft, to take their pick of the top cornerbacks. Many, including I, have projected Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins with this pick, but there is increasing talk that Connecticut's Darius Butler is also a consideration should Houston elect to take a cornerback to either pair with or replace Robinson.

 

Posted on: April 10, 2009 8:21 pm
 

NFL expanding "Green Room" To 10 Players

 

 According to a report by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the NFL is going to invite at least 10 players this year to Radio City Music Hall for draft day. The number is nearly double that which the league has invited in recent years and is likely an attempt on the league's part to give the increasingly made-for-television-event a reality-TV appeal. The decision to invite more players was made to highlight especially intriguing players, including some who aren't necessarily expected to be within the top ten picks.

Among the players (listed alphabetically) expected to attend are:

WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech

OLB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest

OLB Brian Cushing, USC

QB Josh Freeman, Kansas State

OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia

OT Michael Oher, Mississippi

DE/OLB Brian Orakpo, Texas

OT Jason Smith, Baylor

QB Matthew Stafford, Georgia

Some notable names are missing on this list, not the least of which is USC quarterback Mark Sanchez (who, according to Mortensen's report is currently planning on spending the draft with friends and family), Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith and Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

Interestingly enough, I spoke with Aaron Curry yesterday in preparation for Part 3 of the four-part "Road to the Draft" we're doing and he had not yet been invited...

The most players I recall the NFL ever inviting to New York for the draft was 11, back in 1996. The 1996 draft was memorable for many reasons -- Keyshawn Johnson was the last wide receiver selected with the top pick and no linebacker has been selected as high since the Jaguars made former Illinois standout Kevin Hardy the second overall pick. The 1996 draft was also memorable in that it featured the only player invited to NYC by the league that slipped entirely out of the first round.  The Cardinals made running back Leeland McElroy the second pick of the second round (32nd overall).

Posted on: April 9, 2009 9:21 pm
 

Link to Chat Transcript

 

 For those of you unable to make the chat I had earlier today, I've provided a link.

I apologize in advance for some of the silly typo mistakes that you'll see on my part, but in trying to answer as many questions as I could as quickly as I could, I slipped up a few times.

Thanks again for those who participated. When we schedule another one for next week I'll feature the link, time and date on the blog.

Here is the transcript URL:  http://writers.groups.cbssports.com
/mcc/groups/post/9355477/14442313

Category: NFL
Posted on: April 8, 2009 3:34 pm
 

RB Wells, DE Orakpo Going Oppsite Directions

 

 With only 2 1/2 weeks until the draft, two of this classes' biggest names are going in opposite directions -- and their stock fluctuation could prove to be one of the real stories of the draft.

Anyone who has watched Beanie Wells throughout his career with the Buckeyes knows of his talent. Physically-speaking, he is clearly the best RB in this class, though questions about his consistency and toughness have caused many (including me) to rank Georgia's Knowshon Moreno as this year's best back.Wells, frankly, was disappointing even before the mysterious leg injury that robbed him of his effectiveness last season.

Scouts diligently reviewing Well's 2007 film, however, see a different back. A Larry Johnson, perhaps even Adrian Peterson-like combination of size and power. I've taken some angry comments from Packers' fans due to my projecting Wells to Green Bay in my latest mock draft. Certainly the team has other, greater needs, but there are many teams within the top ten considering Wells. His physical tools are just so great that some team, scouts tell me, is likely to pull the trigger earlier than most are anticipating.

On the flipside, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo seems to be slipping down boards. I've spoken to scouts who operate for teams using the 4-3 and 3-4 alignments and each club is souring on the Longhorn pass-rusher. The more film teams do on Orakpo, the more they are left wondering if he is explosive and persistent enough to consistently generate a pass rush against NFL left tackles or, for that matter, agile enough to drop back into coverage. Orakpo's imposing build is impressive to look at, but belies his career-long struggles with durability, as well; another element that scouts are mentioning as a reason he could slip out of the top ten -- and perhaps considerably farther than that.

 

Posted on: April 6, 2009 6:27 pm
 

Matt Hasselbeck's mini-camp key to Top 10?

 

 The Seattle Seahawks own the 4th pick of the draft and are thought to be considering using the pick on the eventual successor to Matt Hasselbeck. Some have theorized that if the Detroit Lions were to select someone other than Georgia's Matt Stafford with the top pick that the Seahawks would end his "fall." Others believe the Seahawks may take USC's Mark Sanchez at #4 regardless of what the Lions do.

Through savvy decisions in free agency and trade, Seattle general manager Tim Ruskell has put the team in position to take the best available player with the fourth pick of the draft. The team entered the off-season with clear needs at receiver, offensive tackle, and defensive tackle but filled those with the signing of TJ Houshmandzadeh, re-signing of Ray Willis and trade for Cory Redding. They could look to fill their greatest remaining need at outside linebacker with Aaron Curry, if he was available, or look to the future with OTs Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe, receiver Michael Crabtree, or one of the quarterbacks.

Ruskell will be able to make a much more informed decision after this week's mini-camp.

The 33-year old Hasselbeck is expected to participate in the mini-camp, after missing 9 games last season with a bulging disk in his back.

Though there won't be anything even remotely resembling the physicality of a regular season game in this week's mini-camp, how Hasselbeck performs could be a critical component in the Seahawks' decision on draft day.

Sanchez is one of the real wildcards of the 2009 draft, with his projected team ranging from Seattle at #4, Jacksonville at #8 or San Francisco (#10) all the way into the deep teens with the Jets (#17) and Bucs (#19).

Posted on: April 6, 2009 2:18 pm
 

Easy Solution to Drug Testing Fiasco

 

 Over the past week much of the media attention surrounding the prospects in the 2009 NFL draft have centered upon reports of failed drug tests taken at the Combine. The reports mentioned several players by name, including a handful of prospects generally considered first round talents. The reports prompted a release from the league, itself, which included the following excerpt:

“Neither the 32 clubs nor the league office know the results of drug or steroid tests taken at the 2009 Combine. The independent medical advisors who administer the tests have notified in writing those players  and only those players  who  tested positive at the Combine. Unfortunately, rumors about draft eligible  players, including rumors about test results, begin to circulate every year at this time. Many of these rumors are circulated for self-serving reasons and they are terribly unfair to the players and their families.”

Like the athletic test results from the Combine, once the official drug and steroid tests are released to teams, it will only be a matter of time before stories seep out. The league has done some things to assure that the story never breaks. The results are only provided to the highest ranking officials and there is a potential $500,000.00 penalty the league could impose if the source is exposed.

The league can do more to tighten the gaps that result in these "self-serving" and "terribly unfair" rumors, however, by no longer allowing the independent medical advisors, who administer the tests, to contact those players who test positive.

Players, upon receiving a letter that they tested positive, typically alert their agent. Often, the agent then calls the teams to alert them that that one of their clients tested positive and to schedule another test. By being proactive with the teams, the agent is attempting damage control.

By contacting the teams, however, the leaks result, which is why there are reports circulating throughout the league that some players have tested positive, when, in reality, the official results have not been sent to the league, itself, or any of the 32 teams. 

Releasing the information early to those that failed allows them time to reschedule future tests and therefore attempt to rescue their falling stock. It also, however, allows, and in some ways even encourages, the "reporting" of rumors.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com