Tag:Chris Samuels
Posted on: April 11, 2010 12:27 pm

First "surprise" of draft? Williams leaps Okung

With only ten days to go until draft day is here, the top of the first round is beginning to take shape.

Barring colossal trade offers, the Rams will take Sam Bradford, the Lions will take Ndamukong Suh and the Bucs will take Gerald McCoy.

Since trading for quarterback Donovan McNabb, it has been obvious the Redskins would be looking to fill their biggest need -- offensive tackle -- with the 4th pick of the draft. With Oklahoma State's Russell Okung the top-rated tackle by many, including NFLDraftScout.com, he seemed the natural candidate to replace former Pro Bowler Chris Samuels as the Redskins' starting left tackle.

Except that Okung isn't the top-rated tackle by the Redskins. Oklahoma's Trent Williams is.

I reported nearly three weeks ago that Okung is far from the consensus top-rated tackle. While most teams had Okung rated as the best, a sizable number had Williams as the better prospect. One team had Iowa's Bryan Bulaga as the best of the 2010 class.

Okung is the safe pick. Williams, due to his greater athleticism, has the higher upside.

Most importantly (at least in terms of the Washington Redskins), he's the better fit in Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking offense.

There are sure to be plenty of surprises on draft day. Some will characterize the first one as the Redskins' decision to draft Trent Williams over Russell Okung.

Considering that I've felt for weeks that Williams would likely be the first tackle taken , I won't be among those surprised... and neither should you. 
Posted on: March 26, 2010 12:21 pm

Source confirms: TE Gronkowski's back red-flagged

NFLDraftScout.com has confirmed that Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski is being red-flagged by teams due to a spinal condition.

The source, a scout with an NFL team, confirmed that his team's doctors were questioning if Gronkowski "would ever be 100%" and that his team was acknowledging the injury by lowering Gronkowski's grade. The scout declined to talk specifically of Gronkowski's condition.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock reported Wednesday evening that Gronkowski had spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine. The condition is characterized by numbness in the extremities, neck and back and leg cramps and can be hereditary or caused by previous injury, surgery, abnormal bone growth or or deterioration, according to WebMD.com .

Perhaps most frightening, the condition puts the player at a higher risk for suffering paralysis.

This is the same condition which former Pro Bowl offensive tackle Chris Samuels cited as a reason for his sudden retirement from the Washington Redskins and was also believed to be the primary reason why former Auburn star Marcus McNeill, also an offensive tackle, slipped to the second round of the 2006 draft.

McNeill, who found out he had stenosis while in college, said as much in a post-draft interview.

"A lot of teams ended up passing on me because they thought my back would keep me from playing." McNeill said.

What is important to note is that McNeill played four years in college with knowledge of the injury and did not miss any time over his final two seasons with the Tigers. In four seasons with the Chargers, the Pro Bowl-alternate has started 62 of 64 regular season games.

Unlike McNeill, Gronkowski has missed significant time due to spinal issues. He missed the entire 2009 season, in fact, and underwent surgery, a microdiscectomy on his back on Sept. 24. He has unable to workout at the Combine or at Arizona's Pro Day, March 12.

Instead, he'll be working out on campus tomorrow.

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