Posted on: January 9, 2012 6:09 pm

NFLPA all-star game announces 1st junior player

The NFL's Player Association raised some eyebrows back in November with the announcement that it would sponsor a post-season all-star game and invite underclassmen as well as top-ranked senior prospects to participate.

In the past, the NFL had generally been unwilling to recognize all-star games that catered to underclassmen for fear that it would be perceived that the game or the league was attempting to push amateur athletes into the professioanl ranks too soon. The changing NFL landscape in which many of the top prospects are underclassmen, however, has led all-star games to consider other alternatives to boost interest.

All-star games have toyed with this notion in the past. I attended the East-West Shrine Game practices back in 2004 when that prestigious all-star game allowed Stanford defensive tackle Amon Gordon to participate despite the fact that he was only a junior.

While allowing underclassmen to participate may drive better attendance during the game, itself, it also guarantees that no NFL scouts will be attending the practices. NFL personnel are prohibited in attending all-star practices or games in which underclassmen are participating.

The fact that scouts won't be on hand to evaluate prospects, however, won't keep the players from participating. Scouts, after all, will get their hands on the practice and game tape, regardless.

The NFLPA game, to be held in the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on January 21, is apparently carrying through with their promise to invite underclassmen. On Monday, Miami junior offensive lineman Brandon Washington was among the nine players the NFLPA Game announced on their Facebook page as having accepted an invitations.

Not surprisingly, Washington is the most highly regarded of the 39 prospects the NFLPA has thus far confirmed as playing in the game. Washington is currently graded by NFLDraftScout.com as a solid second round value and is currently our No. 3 rated offensive guard, overall.

Posted on: November 8, 2011 6:27 pm

NFLPA to offer new all-star game open to juniors

According to an official press release, the NFL Players Association has teamed with AstroTurf to present a new collegiate all-star game.

The AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will take place at the Home Depot Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California. The game is scheduled for January 21 -- the same week as the East-West Shrine Game, which used to be held in San Francisco, but now takes place in St. Petersburg, Florida and a week prior to the Senior Bowl. As with most all-star games, players will be brought in the previous Sunday for a full week of practice (and evaluation from scouts) prior to the game, itself.

Tickets (beginning at $15) are already being sold at TicketMaster.com and at HomeDepotCenter.com.

Like the East-West Shrine Game, the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will rely on the big names of some ex-NFL coaches to help stir up interest. The two teams in this contest will be led by former NFL head coaches Dick Vermeil and Tom Flores.

Perhaps most interesting about the game is that unlike the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and similar all-star events, the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will consider underclassmen for their 100 roster spots.

“Our mission is to provide these young men with an unforgettable all-star game experience but just as importantly with invaluable information for their transition out of college,” Clark Gaines, NFLPA Assistant Executive Director, was quoted as saying in the press release. “The NFLPA is a player’s primary resource for information on the business of football, and we will educate these players on how to succeed in the NFL and in their post-football careers.”

Most NFL scouts declined to comment on the new game. One, however, was intrigued by the idea that underclassmen might be involved.

"That's surprising [that underclassmen may be invited to participate], but it definitely is a way to be different from the Senior Bowl and the East-West," the scout, requesting anonymity, wrote in a text.

"Depending on who they're able to get play in the game, I'm sure scouts will be there to see it."

The scout is quite correct in that. The simple inclusion of underclassmen does make this game potentially unique and one to watch. As more details emerge, I'll post them here.

For now, if you'd like more information about the game you can follow the game organizers on Twitter and Facebook at: twitter.com/NFLPABowl and facebook.com/NFLPACollegiateBowl.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:41 pm

NFL's PR play will create awkward draft viewing

The public relations digs from both sides in the labor dispute have hit full tilt since the lockout began, with neither side wanting to miss an opportunity to win additional public sentiment.

You can almost feel the NFL and the players looking at the invisible pendulumn swinging and just waiting for an opportunity to push gravity in their favor.

The NFLPA immediately retreated amid strong backlash when word leaked out that the union would encourage prospects invited to the draft to skip the event at Radio City Music Hall and instead attend union-sponsored events in NYC.

Sensing the momentum, the NFL is going to squeeze every ounce of PR juice out of the door opened by the NFLPA's slip up. The league announced that a record 25 prospects have accepted invitations to attend Thursday night's first round festivities in primetime.

That's not including several who were invited but have chosen to stay home to watch the first round with their families, including quarterbacks Jake Locker and Colin Kaepernick. But it does include a host of players considered fringe first-round prospects by NFLDraftScout.com.

It could make for an uncomfortable scene late in the stanza as 5-6 prospects will likely be sitting in the "green room" as commentators discuss what a great value they'll make 24 hours later. Among those could be Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, UCLA S Rahim Moore, Baylor NT Phil Taylor, Baylor OL Danny Watkins and Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams. And a few others could slide into the category as the night wears on.

Boston College LB Mark Herzlich will also be in attendance, but the cancer survivor has an inspirational story and isn't expected to be selected until at least the middle rounds (he's projected as a sixth-round value by NFLDraftScout.com.

Update: The NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported that Herzlich will be announced with the others and take part in a group photo, but then will be allowed to stay as long as he likes or leave to be with friends and family. That's a sensible approach for a compelling prospect who likely won't hear his name called until Saturday - if at all.

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor
Posted on: February 5, 2011 6:03 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2011 6:04 pm

NFLPA Game Review

It was a civil war of sorts, as "Texas" and "Nation" squads faced off in the first NFL Player Association Game this afternoon on CBS College Sports Network, a new reincarnation of the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Challenge.

The first thing to know about college football all-star games is that evaluating talent purely off of that tape is fallacious. Players and coaches have one game to put together a game plan, and participants are rotated in and out throughout the contest so getting a rhythm or significant statistics is very difficult. 

Scouting talent while sitting at the Super Bowl media hotel is also difficult--however, there were some plays and players that caught my eye.

The most talented prospect in this game wasn't difficult to discover, even when watching in a public place; Nation DT Kenrick Ellis (South Carolina/Hampton) was continually putting pressure on Texas squad interior offensive linemen to push the pocket, plug up a lane against the run, or hustle to the ball outside the tackles. The 6-5, 336-pound tackle also forced a bad snap by otherwise stellar center Tim Barnes (Missouri) in the red zone in the fourth quarter, leading to a missed field goal.  

The game's MVP, Northwest Missouri State defensive end Roberto Davis, ended up in the backfield regularly in practice before making a sack and forcing a fumble on the day. A late add who scouts didn't really take notice of, even when at the NWMS campus, his ability to get under the pads of taller tackles, driving them in the backfield, will make teams go back to the tape.

Two other Texas defensive linemen made their stamp on the game late, Eddie Jones (Texas) and Jerrell Powe (Ole Miss) combining to stuff a fourth-and-goal run to seal the victory. Jones has a nice combination or speed and strength to be a strong-side 3-4 linebacker or 4-3 defensive end in the right system. Powe did not dominate in this game as many though he could, but he did make himself known by getting into the backfield when not facing double teams (which wasn't often). 

Both Ellis and Powe could be very high picks because of their size and relative athletic ability, but both also have issues (Powe-age, pass rush ability; Ellis-suspension from South Carolina) that could make them bargains in the second or third rounds in the Kris Jenkins mold.

Two intriguing quarterbacks, Josh Portis (California-PA) and Taylor Potts (Texas Tech) played well on the day. Portis used his legs to move the ball on a couple of occasions and a strong arm to hit short and intermediate routes. He and fellow Combine invitee WR Stephen Burton (West Texas A&M) had one of the best plays of the game; a perfectly-thrown deep ball down the right sideline which Burton caught while fighting off a corner. He was a bit erratic as the game progressed, but flashed the ability to originally took him to Florida and Maryland (the double-transfer will need to address his jumping colleges with scouts). 

Potts was named the game's Offensive MVP after going 9-for-15 for 107 yards and a touchdown; his practice week was the best of all quarterbacks, as well. And though his elusiveness in the pocket is significantly less impressive than Portis', his NFL size, fair arm, usually-tight spiral and accurate intermediate throws may make a team think he is worth a late-round selection.

One group of players difficult to evaluate in practices are linebackers because they don't get a chance to tackle. Tressor Baptiste (Texas A&M Kingsville),  Brian Duncan (Texas Tech), Adrian Moten (Maryland), and OLB Spencer Paysinger (Oregon) also quick enough to wrap up receivers and running backs in the backfield or towards either sideline. Baptiste and Paysinger were especially active, always appearing to be around the ball. 

Another player who made an impression in practice this week was Texas cornerback Josh Gatlin (North Dakota State), who had a nice high-point interception in the red zone on an underthrown pass. He also displayed nice press ability on the line, like he did in practice, but struggled to stay with receivers when playing off or in trail coverage.  Miscommunication with S ChrisProsinski (Wyoming) allowed a big play down the seam from QB Jeff Van Camp (Florida Atlantic) to WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (Iowa) near the end of the game. DJK stepped up with some plays today, especially on that late drive to give his team a chance to win, after an average week of practice.

Nation corner Vince Cuff also had some ups and downs in the game. He has the speed to stay with any receiver, and made an excellent leap in the air to knock down a pass. But he was five feet from the receiver during the play instead of on his hip pocket, forcing him to make the leap to get the ball--something scouts will notice on tape. Cuff also displayed toughness in the run game by cutting down FB Robert Hughes (Notre Dame) inside the hashes and tackling receivers immediately after the catch. His lack of size (5-10, 177), however, prevented him from making key tackles or staying with more physical receivers. 

Though explosive plays were at a minimum in this contest, Nation receiver Jock Sanders (West Virginia) and Texas running back Chad Spann (Northern Illinois) each made fans say "wow" with an exciting run. Former North Carolina QB T.J. Yates stepped up in the pocket to find Sanders over the middle in the third quarter, then the diminutive 5-6 receiver made a lot of yardage on his own with spectacular cuts and elusiveness through traffic. Spann showed great balance on a play later on, putting his hand on the turf after getting hit to stay upright and lower his shoulder to pound a would-be tackler after getting a chunk of yards.

Unfortunately, Nation WR Kris Durham (Georgia) and Texas WR Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State) aided in the game's lack of offense by starting the game with dropping passes. This was not surprising given their propensity to do so during practice. Another receiver with troubles holding onto the ball this week, UCF WR Jamar Newsome, got popped by his own guy (and some help from opposing CB Kevin Rutland from Missouri) to fumble a kickoff in the first half. All three receivers made good catches later, however, to earn back from respect from scouts.

Nation QB Nathan Enderle (Idaho) did little to help his stock in this game today, coming up short on intermediate and deep throws, and struggling to make any throw on the run. A mid-round prospect to start the year, a rough season and underwhelming NFLPA Game week give him only a slight chance to be drafted. 

Another Combine participant, Texas guard Isaiah Thompson (Houston), also struggled mightily--as he did in practice. Defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye (South Carolina) used quickness and violent hands to run by Thompson early and often, and Ellis pushed aside Thompson later to get to unimpressive QB Ryan Colburn (Fresno State) later on.

Reading through this summary review of the NFLPA Game, you'll notice that in most cases, players perform in games as they did during practice week. This is an axiom coaches have followed as long as the game has been played. 

So although NFL scouts do not rely solely on an all-star game tape to evaluate a player, they typically aren't surprised by the game's flow or outcome.

Posted on: February 5, 2011 12:24 pm

Prospects boycotting Combine, Draft senseless

Reportedly among the latest threats by agents and the NFLPA is that incoming 2011 draft propsects may elect not to show up at this month's Scouting Combine or the 2011 draft, itself. 
Quite frankly, I see very little chance of this happening.

Certainly, if prospects elected not to show up at the Combine, it would cause problems for NFL teams -- which is, of course, the point.

While the vast majority of the Combine coverage revolves around who runs the fastest or puts up the most repetitions of 225 pounds, for NFL teams the two most critical elements of the annual Indianapolis trip are the extensive medical testing and the face to face interviews with prospects.

If prospects did not attend the Combine, there is no doubt that it would disrupt teams' preparation. In doing so, it would make the million dollar gambles that each team was making with their owners' money even riskier. I get it.

But who has more to lose in this situation?

The prospects who elected not to come to Indianapolis would be perceived by teams as selfish, mindless drones following the orders of agents and current NFL players -- not the eager-to-please (and get paid to play) prospects that they actually are.

And let's be clear about which of the prospects have the most to lose. It clearly would be the underclassmen. It is especially important for the juniors and redshirt sophomores to attend the Combine as in many cases this is the first time NFL decision-makers have had an opportunity to meet these players. Considering that there are a record 57 underclassmen this year -- with many of them rating as 1st and 2nd round talent -- they typically have the most to gain (or lose) that week. Can you imagine trying to convince a Da'Quan Bowers or Patrick Peterson -- each with a legitimate chance at being the first pick of the draft -- to skip the Combine, entirely? Or what about players like fighting so-called "intangibles" red-flags like Nick Fairley, Ryan Mallett or Robert Quinn? Do you think they'd be eager to waste their greatest opportunity to convince teams that all of the reports of their laziness, poor leadership or reasons for their year-long suspension, respectively, are hogwash?

Sure, teams send their power contingents to invidual player and collegiate Pro Days when prospects don't work out at the Combine, but  if a collective group of prospects boycotted the Combine, rather than a few scouts, coaches or front office executives flying in to watch a prospect test athletically, time+money+travel would have to be set aside for medical testing, Wonderlic testing, interviews, etc.

It would be a logistical nightmare for all with flawed results.

Put bluntly, if the players don't show up at the Combine, they (or their agents) are idiots.

Now, the draft itself, is a different story. NFL teams aren't likely to change their draft board based on whether or not a player is shown on television in the green room as opposed to their parents' living room, after all.

Any leverage the prospects could gain for the NFLPA would likely be in the lost television ratings the networks, league and thus, team owners would receive from the draft's coverage.

But, let's be honest? Do you watch the draft because of the riveting interviews conducted before and after a player is drafted?

Or is it because you want to see who your favorite team picked? They would be making a pick, after all, regardless of which players (if any) were actually attending the draft.

I'm very much on the side of the NFLPA on many of the key issues, but on this particular front, I see very, very little to gain and much to lose. Expect to see the players (all of them) at the Combine. Don't be surprised at all if they show up to Radio City Music Hall, as well.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: February 1, 2011 12:01 pm

NFLPA Game Measurements

The NFLPA Game, formerly known as the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Challenge, started its week with the official weigh-in and measurements, listed below.

Most of the players from big-time programs looked like they belong: Oklahoma State Ugo Chinasa, Georgia OT Josh Davis, LSU Lazarius Levingston and Virginia Tech TE Andre Smith all looked put together. Utah center Zane Taylor and WR Jeremy Ross also looked a lot thicker than expected.

OT Trevis Turner (Abilene Christian) and DTs Kendrick Ellis (South Carolina/Hampton) and Frank Kearse (Alabama A&M) will get big looks despite playing at small schools this year, because of their size and builds.

Virginia Tech DT John Graves came in lighter than he'd hoped, Ohio State Devon Torrence's lack of length will hinder his grade, as well.

Write-ups from this afternoon's practices in windy and cold San Antonio will follow later today.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter

NATION SQUAD (Pos, Name, Ht, Wt, Hand (L=Left, Arm, Wingspan)

DB Abdul-Quddus, Isa  Fordham  6000  200   10.125  32  76.25

LS Adams, Corey  Kansas State  6043  246   9  32.875  77.625

OLB Addison, Mario  Troy  6025  245   9.375  33.625  80

DT Ajiboye, Ladi  South Carolina  6016  293   9.875  34.125  79.125

DE Anthony, Christian  Grambling State  6034  281   10.25  32.875  79.375

RB Berry, Damien  Miami  5104  212   9.375  31.625  75.625

P/K Bosher, Matt  Miami (FL)  6005  207   9.625  30.875  74.25

CB Brinkley, Niles  Wisconsin  5096  190   9.25  30.125  72.875

CB Cuff, Vance  Georgia  5102  171   9.625  31.25  74.875

OL Davis, Josh  Georgia  6073  305   10.75  35.625  85.75

S DeCicco, Dominic  Pittsburgh  6026  232   8.625  32.875  79

RB Draughn, Shaun  North Carolina  5112  210   9.625  31  75.125

WR Durham, Kris  Georgia  6052  214   9.125  31.625  77.125

DT Ellis, Kenrick  Hampton  6050  336   10.375  34.75  82.625

QB Enderle, Nathan  Idaho  6042  240   9.625  31  75.25

CB Gaitor, Anthony  FIU  5097  175   10  30.25  73.5

OLB Gee, Michael  Indiana (PA)  6004  239   8.875  32.875  77.5

DT Graves, John  Virginia Tech  6033  278   9.75  31.5  77.5

TE Hardy, Daniel  Idaho  6035  248   9.75  30.625  76.625

ILB Harvey, Mario  Marshall  5112  250   9.75  32.875  76.75

OL Hendrickson, Peter  Tulane  6076  310   10.25  33.75  82.375

WR Holmes, Andre  Hillsdale  6045  209   8.5  34  74

OLB Hunter, Jeremiha  Iowa  6006  239   9.375  31.625  75.75

OL Johnson, Carl  Florida  6052  353   9.875  35.375  85.125

WR Johnson-Koulianos, Derrell  Iowa  5116  204   9.5  32  75.25

DT Kearse, Frank  Alabama A&M  6041  311   10.75  34.75  84.75

OL Kilgore, Daniel  Appalachian State  6033  304   9.875  35.375  85.125

OL King, Jarriel  South Carolina  6052  310   10  35.5  86

S Legree, Mark  Appalachian State  6000  211   8.75  30.5  72.625

DE Levingston, Lazarius  LSU  6035  288   10.375  32.75  79.5

DE Marshall, Craig  South Florida  6045  276   9.25  32.25  81

CB Maxwell, Byron  Clemson  6006  207   9.125  32.625  76.875

WR Morgan, Joe  Walsh  6005  185   8.5  30.875  74.625

OLB Moten, Adrian  Maryland  6015  225   9.375  31.5  77.25

RB Murphy, Richard  LSU  6007  204   8.875  31  76.375

WR Newsome, Jamar  Central Flordia  6005  198   8.875  33  77.25

DE Nurse, Clay  Illinois  6026  259   9.625  34.125  81.25

TE Oordt, Schuylar  Northern Iowa  6056  258   9.625  33.25  80.375

RB Payne, Keith  Virginia  6022  257   10.75  32.5  78.25

OL Porter, Curt  Jacksonville State  6070  308   9.75  34  82.25

K Rogers, Jacob  Cincinnati  6022  215   9.5  31.125  76.5

WR Sanders, Jock  West Virginia  5063  174   8.875  28.375  68.5

TE Smith, Andre  Virginia Tech  6044  269   10.125  34.75  82.375

ILB Smith, D.J.  Appalachian State  5106  237   9.75  31.25  75.75

OT Smith, Willie  East Carolina  6047  305   11  33.75  81

WR Spencer, Owen  North Carolina State  6024  191   9.625  33.125  77.625

FB Taylor, Ryan  North Carolina  6033  250   10.125  33.125  77.625

OL Taylor, Zane  Utah  6024  313   10  32  77.75

OLB Thomas, J.T.  West Virginia  6012  236   9.25  30.75  74.25

OL Thorson, Brad  Kansas  6040  301   10  32.25  79.25

CB Torrence, Devon  Ohio State  5115  190   8.75  29.75  70.625

QB Van Camp, Jeff  Florida Atlantic  6052  209   10  32.5  78.75

S Walters, Anthony  Delaware  6000  201   9.5  32  77.25

QB Yates, T.J.  North Carolina  6035  221   10.125  32.25  75.75

OT Young, D.J.  Michigan State  6047  307   9.75  35.125  83.875

TEXAS Squad  (Pos, Name, Ht, Wt, Hand (L=Left, Arm, Wingspan)

WR Adams, Kris  UTEP  6034  194   10 L  34  80

OL Allen, Matt  Texas A&M  6025  279   10 L  33.25  79.5

ILB Baptiste, Tressor  Texas A&M Kingsville  6001  235   8.75  31.125  75.375

OL Barnes, Tim  Missouri  6036  297   10  32.875  78.25

FB Bartlett, Bubba  Carroll - MT  6007  238   10  31  74

OL Bell, Byron  New Mexico  6052  348   10.5  32.75  81

DT Bryant, Corbin  Northwestern  6041  302   9.25  32.25  76.25

WR Burton, Stephen  West Texas A&M  6016  219   8.875  31.5  74.875

DE Chinasa, Ugo  Oklahoma State  6051  254   9.875  35.5  85.25

QB Colburn, Ryan  Fresno State  6030  218   9.25  29.5  73.5

DE Daniels, Wayne  TCU  6006  257   10  32.5  78.375

OLB Davie, Quentin  Northwestern  6043  238   9.75  33.75  80

DE Davis, Roberto  NW Missouri State  6022  247   10  32.75  78.375

OL Dominguez, Ray  Arkansas  6042  340   9.5  33  80.875

OLB Duncan, Brian  Texas Tech  6003  237   9.25  30.75  74.25

P Epperson, Derek  Baylor  6032  237   9.125  32.25  77.875

RB Fannin, Mario  Auburn  5105  225   9.375  30.875  74.25

RB Finley, Jay  Baylor  5107  198   9.25  32.625  76.5

LS Flaherty, Harry  Princeton  6026  242   10.25  32.875  78.5

DB Gatlin, Josh  North Dakota State  6003  195   8.75  30.875  74.125

TE Graham, Cameron  Louisville  6031  240   9 3/8 L  30.875  75.5

CB Hagan, Darian  Cal  5113  178   8.875  31.875  75.625

WR Harris, Marcus  Murray State  6007  187   9.25  31.25  75

TE Housler, Robert  Florida Atlantic  6054  249   9.5  34.375  80.875

OL Hughes, Kevin  SE Louisiana  6037  297   9.375  33.5  80.5

FB Hughes, Robert  Notre Dame  5110  233   10 1/4 L  32  75.375

DE Jones, Eddie  Texas  6022  258   10.25  32.875  79

CB Jones, Ryan  NW Missouri State  5111  197   8.625  30.75  72.375

OLB Lattimore, Jamari  Middle Tennessee State  6020  218   10.75  33.125  79.875

WR Lockette, Ricardo  Fort Valley State  6021  207   9.875  33.5  79

DT Lumpkin, Ricky  Kentucky  6034  308   8.875  31.875  77.625

WR Matthews, Chris  Kentucky  6050  224   9.75  33.625  80.625

WR Moore, Denarius  Tennessee  6000  191   9.25  32.5  77.25

OL Newton, Derek  Arkansas State  6050  311   9.125  31.875  77.625

DT Patterson, Lucas  Texas A&M  6041  290   9.625  30.75  77.125

OLB Paysinger, Spencer  Oregon  6026  230   9  32.25  76

OL Person, Mike  Montana State  6047  296   9.375  31.875  77.875

QB Portis, Josh  California (PA)  6031  209   9.75  33.5  79.875

QB Potts, Taylor  Texas Tech  6040  220   9.75  32.875  80.25

DT Powe, Jerrell  Mississippi  6020  331   9.625  33.125  78

S Prosinski, Chris  Wyoming  6012  205   9.625  29.875  72.25

CB Rembert, Reggie  Air Force  5073  180   9.375  29.75  70.375

S Rolle, Maurice  Lousiana-Lafayette  6002  189   8.625  32.625  76.625

WR Ross, Jeremy  California  5117  212   9.125  30.75  74.25

CB Rutland, Kevin  MIssouri  5117  191   8.5  30.875  72.625

TE Skelton, Stephen  Fordham  6046  247   10  32.25  77.75

CB Skrine, Buster  Tennessee-Chattanooga  5095  186   8.625  30.125  72.25

RB Spann, Chad  Northern Illinois  5080  199   9  30  71.875

OL Stewart, Chris  Notre Dame  6043  346   9.125  34  83.125

OL Thompson, Isaiah  Houston  6035  300   9.125  32.75  77.25

OL Turner, Trevis  Abilene Christian  6067  342   10.375  33.625  81.375

S Valai, Jay  Wisconsin  5083  203   10.25  31.875  73.75

K Weber, Thomas  Arizona State University  6004  200   9.875  31.375  75.375

DT Whitlock, Colby  Texas Tech  6023  299   9  31.25  75.375
OLB Williams, Jabara  Stephen F. Austin  6022  223   9.375  31.125  75.125

Posted on: August 11, 2010 12:04 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2010 12:23 pm

Blocking scouts from practice isn't the solution

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is, according to this report from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, blocking pro scouts from Tide football practices in an attempt to cut down on the distractions to his players caused by player agents. The reigning BCS Champion coach is hoping that by doing so it will help keep his players out of hot water with the NCAA.

The strategy, which conflicting reports by Chase Goodbread of the Tuscaloosa News and Florio claim may or may not be implemented by the University of Florida, as well, has an obvious fault.

Limiting access to pro scouts, really, has nothing to do with the sleazy player agents and runners who are attempting to circumvent the rules.

Perhaps rather than limit scouts who are simply trying to do their job of identifying the rare collegiate athletes potentially capable of playing at the game's highest level, the universities should be continuing to fine-tune the education of their players on the dangers of dealing with agents prematurely.

And the NFLPA, the organization that is supposed to have some control over agents, needs to strongly consider bolstering the penalties to agents found guilty of bribing prospects with inappropriate gifts and travel.

In a very real way, locking scouts out hurts everyone except the agents.

  • The NFL loses on their ability to accurately gauge prospective players on and off the field.
  • The players lose because scouts can't scout them accurately.
  • The university eventually could lose out, as well. Prep players sign with college teams to win, but every bit as important to many players is the school's ability to market their players to the NFL. Making players less accessible to the pros is only going to make the schools less attractive to top prospects.
The argument some will make is that by locking out everyone, including NFL personnel, universities can make sure players aren't being hounded by the undesireable element. Does anyone believe that the runners and agents performing the illegal practices are slipping thousands of dollars in cash (or plane tickets, the keys to cars/homes) to players as they walk off the field from practice?

For scouts, the value in going on the road to scout players in person lies in the ability to scout practices (do players take practice seriously, etc?) and in the interviews with players and the coaching staff. Scouts I know typically try to speak to at least three staff members for each prospect -- the position coach, strength and conditioning coach, and trainer.

If locked out of practice, scouts will still be able to watch most of the film they need to see if the player has the size, speed, strength, etc. to play in the NFL.

What will be more difficult to gauge if locked out is if the players have the intangibles to deal with the money, fame and pressure of the NFL. That, could potentially lead to more highly drafted busts.

Posted on: February 25, 2010 9:59 am

Player Position Schedules

I managed to get my hands on the official player position schedule and thought some of my more detail-oriented readers might like to know what players were doing each day.

The player positions are put into "Groups." These groups each have a four day schedule in Indianapolis. Based on their schedule, some groups arrived Wednesday, others arrive today, tomorrow or Saturday.

The groups are designated as:

Group One -- Specialists (punters, kickers, longsnappers, return specialists) Offensive Linemen
Group Two -- Offensive Linemen
Group Three -- Tight Ends
Group Four -- Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers
Group Five -- Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers
Group Six -- Running Backs
Group Seven -- Defensive Linemen
Group Eight -- Defensive Linemen
Group Nine -- Linebackers
Group Ten -- Defensive Backs
Group Eleven -- Defensive Backs

Groups One, Two and Three arrived yesterday and depart Saturday.
Groups Four, Five and Six arrive today and depart Sunday.
Groups Seven, Eight and Nine arrive tomorrow and leave Monday.
Groups Ten and Eleven arrive Saturday and leave Tuesday.

Each group goes through a four day cycle.

Day One is spent arriving in Indianapolis, registering, taking the pre-exam and x-rays at the hospital, taking an orientation and beginning their interviews with teams.

Day Two begins with the player measuring (heights, weights, arms and hands), the complete medical examinations, media interviews, psychological testing and more interviews with teams.

Day Three begins with a meeting with the NFLPA, more psychological testing and the final day of team interviews.

Day Four is the players' final day in Indianpolis and the day they actually do the workouts for which the Combine has become so famous.

As if there was any question as to what NFL teams consider to be the most important aspects of the Combine, note that the over-hyped workouts only take one day and are the last thing players are asked to do. The medical and psychological testing, on the other hand, takes two days. Team interviews take three days.

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