Posted on: July 16, 2010 1:10 am
North Carolina linebacker Quan Sturdivant, a first team All-ACC pick last season and solid NFL prospect for the 2011 NFL draft, was arrested Saturday for possession of marijuana.
His arrest alone could serve as a distraction to Butch Davis' Tar Heels, the trendy pick to win the ACC this season.
Even more ominous, however, is the report from the AP and ESPN's Joe Schad that the NCAA is investigating the North Carolina football program to "make sure no Reggie Bush stuff is going on."
The details of this developing story remain sketchy at this point, but what is very obvious is that agents and the prospect of their providing inappropriate benefits to players is the NCAA's concern.
It isn't difficult to understand why agents have been flocking to Chapel Hill.
As I mentioned in a previous article, this UNC defense is extremely talented. So talented, in fact, it is reminiscient of the 2008 USC squad that sent Brian Cushing, Clay Mathews, Jr., Rey Maualuga, and Kaluka Maiava (among others) to the NFL. That 2008 Trojan defense was the last unit to have so many senior prospects reportedly given such high preseason grades by NFL scouts.
For the Tar Heels, seniors Marvin Austin (DT), Bruce Carter (OLB) and Deunta Williams (FS) currently rank at the top of their respective positions on NFLDraftScout.com's most recent rankings of 2011 prospects. Fellow seniors Sturdivant and cornerbacks Kendrick Burney and Charles Brown are also viewed as potential mid-round values. And if the senior talent isn't enough, keep in mind that the most talented player on the defense might be junior defensive end Robert Quinn, a prospect that has earned already earned comparisons to former UNC star and 2002 No. 2 overall pick Julius Peppers.
Schad's article specifically mentions Austin, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4 overall rated player for the 2011 draft, as having been questioned by the NCAA for, among other things, driving former UNC's star Kentwan Balmer's vehicle and occasionally staying in Balmer's apartment. Balmer was the San Francisco 49ers' first round pick in 2008.
Hopefully for all involved, the comparison to USC remains viable only in that, like those Trojans, these Tar Heels boast rare talent...
Posted on: May 10, 2010 10:38 pm
The news that Houston outside linebacker Brian Cushing failed a drug test last September and, after losing his appeal, could now lose his Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, as well as be suspended for the first four games of the upcoming season has generated plenty of attention.
Too much attention, in my opinion -- at least in terms of the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
The reality is, Cushing won the award in a landslide, but was outplayed -- apparently too quietly -- by Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd.
Now, don't get me wrong. Cushing was spectacular last season. In starting all 16 games, he provided the Texans' with the playmaker in the back seven that this team has been lacking. His 134 tackles, four interceptions, four sacks and two forced fumbles showed the all-around game that scouts had seen him flash throughout his career at USC. Cushing's play was critical in several of Houston's victories this past season -- the team's first winning season (9-7) in franchise history. For his exploits, Cushing received 39 of the possible 50 votes by AP writers and broadcasters for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He was also voted to the Pro Bowl, though he was unable to play due to various injuries.
All of that said, Byrd's impact on the Bills was even more rare and deserved greater attention.
Byrd, who only played in 14 games due to suffering a torn labrum in his hip that required off-season surgery, nonetheless tied for the league-lead with nine interceptions. Like Cushing, Byrd was voted to the AFC Pro Bowl -- the first rookie defensive back to be honored since Charles Woodson burst into the NFL with the Oakland Raiders... in 1998.
For his play, Byrd only received six -- yes, six -- first place votes as the top defensive rookie of the 2009 class. Again, Cushing received 39.
Whether he wins it in his second attempt or not, one thing is clear: Byrd will get a helluva lot more consideration now that voters will have to take into account Cushing's failed drug test.
And that is a shame.
Byrd was better in the first place...
Posted on: April 25, 2009 5:44 pm
I like this pick for the Saints. Jenkins can play the cornerback position. Like Moreno a few picks before, I don't care what he runs in shorts, the kid can flat play football. I like the move for the Saints in particular, because Jenkins has the ability to play free safety, as well. Had he been graded strictly as a free safety, he would have been universally viewed as a 1st round pick and the elite prospect at that position.
The Texans are now up. They have clear needs at linebacker and have long been rumored to like both Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews... Each makes sense here, with Cushing being the safer pick.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 5:38 pm
As it turns out, Brian Orakpo's final team visit was the one that mattered most, as he ends up with the Redskins. A good move for a club looking to add a pass rusher next to free agent signee Albert Haynesworth.
The Denver pick was the bigger surprise. Funny, months ago I was told that the Broncos liked Moreno, but really thought that they'd address their running back needs later in the draft. That said, I love Moreno and thought that he was among the more underrated prospects in this draft. Forget the 40 time on Moreno. He's a star and if he had a decent QB behind him, I'd already proclaim him to be the favorite to be the offensive rookie of the year. I'm that sold on him...
The New Orleans Saints are on the clock.
They could use help on the defensive side of the ball and will also consider a RB in Beanie Wells.
I see the possibilities as:
A. Brian Cushing, OLB, USC
B. Malcolm Jenkins, CB/FS, Ohio State
C. Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
D. Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State
I've consistently projected Brian Cushing here because I thinkthe Saints are higher on him, but if it was me making the pick, I'd take Malcolm Jenkins.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 5:32 pm
The 49ers got the player I've had countless scouts tell me may be the best player in the draft 3 years from now at the #10 spot, so the value of the pick is spectacular. Crabtree's size, hands and physicality is a perfect compliment to the power running they have with Frank Gore.
The Bills are now on the clock and took Penn State DE/OLB Aaron Maybin. I had hoped to mention Maybin, as well as Michael Oher and Brian Orakpo for this pick but the Bills jumped up to make their pick surprisingly fast.
The Broncos are now on the clock.
They could be looking at Orakpo, the QB Josh Freeman, OLB Brian Cushing or some have even suggested one of the running backs - Beanie Wells or Knowshon Moreno.
Ultimately, I think the pick will be one of the pass rushers (Orakpo or Cushing) or a trade down. Orakpo is a bit stiff for my taste as a 3-4 rush linebacker and I have concerns about Cushing's durability.
Still, ultimately, I'd take Cushing, considering the Broncos' needs on defense.
Posted on: April 10, 2009 8:21 pm
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).
Tags: Aaron Curry, Andre Smith, Arizona Cardinals, Brian Cushing, Brian Orakpo, Eugene Monroe, green room, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jason Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Josh Freeman, Kevin Hardy, Keyshawn Johnson, Leeland McElroy, Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford, Michael Crabtree, Michael Oher, New York Jets, NFL Draft
Posted on: April 1, 2009 3:52 pm
Edited on: April 2, 2009 3:17 am
Although linebacker Brian Cushing and his teammate, Clay Matthews, tested very similarly at the Combine, their 40 times were significantly different today according to initial reports. Scouts timed Cushing between 4.7 and 4.75, as much as two-tenths of a second higher than Matthews ran.
QB Mark Sanchez is now getting ready to throw as the NFL scouts huddle up to go over their 40 times to reach a consensus on each player.
CB Cary Harris is not working out today because of a pulled hamstring, and is very disappointed. He really wanted to improve his 40 time from the 4.67 he posted in Indianapolis.
Posted on: March 25, 2009 3:42 pm
Considering the Texans' search for a bigger back to pair with second year runner Steve Slaton netted nothing in free agency, some (including me) have suggested that the club might consider adding a Chris "Beanie" Wells should he be available at pick #15.
Though head coach Gary Kubiak agreed that "...obviously, finding a complement to Steve (Slaton) is important," he also essentially shut the door on that complement coming via the first round in a conversation with media at the Owners' Meetings in Dana Point, California this week.“Our first-round pick has to have a big impact on our team. The more the first-round pick
continues to be an impact player, the better we’re going to get. We could still use an
impact player at linebacker and on the backend (but), we’d be hard-pressed to take a
receiver or a running back in the first round.”
The Texans are thought to be interested in several linebackers likely to be available with the 15th pick, including USC's duo of Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews Jr.