Tag:Phil Taylor
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: April 18, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Seattle Seahawks Draft Preview

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
   2010 record: 7-9, first place NFC West
 
2011 draft rundown
   Eight total picks -- 25th overall (1st round), 57 (2nd), 99 (4th), 156 (5th), 157 (5th), 173 (6th), 209 (7th), 242 (7th)
 
Top needs
   Offensive Line -- With 10 different starting offensive line combinations last year, coach Pete Carroll said improving the talent up front remains a priority this offseason. The only player guaranteed to return to his starting role of a year ago is left tackle Russell Okung, who flashed the ability to be a standout player during his ten games last season. Former starting guard Max Unger could slide over to center , if the Seahawks elect to allow free agent Chris Spencer leave. Right tackle Sean Locklear is also a free agent who may play elsewhere in 2011.
   Quarterback -- Former Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck is 35 and expected to test the free agent waters. Both he and the team have expressed interest in his finishing his career in Seattle, though it is unknown if the team is willing to spend big dollars on an aging quarterback when the club is clearly rebuilding. The Seahawks paid dearly for backup Charlie Whitehurst in an off-season trade last year, but the veteran showed little during his limited opportunities. Regardless of how the Seahawks feel about Whitehurst, adding a young quarterback to groom for the future is a priority. 
   Defensive Line -- The Seahawks' defensive line played surprisingly well early last season, but the unit's lack of ideal depth was exposed when injuries to starting defensive end Red Bryant and defensive tackles Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane occurred. Mebane is a free agent and was surprisingly only given a third round tender by the club.
   Cornerback -- The Seahawks gave up 31 touchdowns through the air last season, tied for third-worst in the league, and allowed an average of 250 passing yards during last year's regular season, 25th overall. Veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant turns 31 this year, he struggled with injuries for a second straight season in 2010 and is due to make $5.8 million in base salary this season. Seattle's other starting corner from last season, Kelly Jennings, is a free agent this year.
 
First-round focus
   25th overall
   -- With holes throughout their roster and a stated goal from head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to improve along both lines, the Seahawks have plenty of options at No. 25, which could lead them to trade down. The team is likely to strongly consider any of the top offensive or defensive linemen available, with defensive tackles Corey Liuget and Phil Taylor especially attractive considering the precarious status of Brandon Mebane. Cornerback Jimmy Smith is also an intriguing option considering that the 6-2, 210 pound Colorado star is a perfect schematic fit for Carroll's press coverage scheme. Depth along the offensive line is good enough in the 2011 draft that the Seahawks may be able to get away with waiting until the middle rounds before addressing this concern -- though the OL might just be the team's biggest need. Quarterback is also a critical need and the team may feel free pressured to nab one of the top West Coast Offense quarterbacks like TCU's Andy Dalton or Florida State's Christian Ponder with their first round pick. Neither is likely to be available when the Seahawks draft in the second round.
 
Five names on the Falcons' board
   CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
   OT Nate Solder, Colorado
   DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
   DT Phil Taylor, Baylor
  QB Andy Dalton, TCU

Posted on: April 16, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Teams are red-flagging DT Phil Taylor's feet

Every year there are players who slip on draft day and leave all of us befuddled. Later, we typically find out that the player had medical concerns pop up, leading to the unfortunate drop.

Injury concerns have led to unstable stock for Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers and Alabama running back Mark Ingram this year. They aren't the only first round talents being downgraded due to medical red-flags, I'm being told.

Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor, himself a veteran of 43 games played, is also under scrutiny. Apparently during his Combine check, there were various injuries that caused teams some concern, the most serious of which involves both feet.

Taylor, according to MRIs taken at the Combine, has bones growing together in his feet. The condition, which according to the source is not correctable through surgery, is a pain tolerance issue. Considering that Taylor played much of his senior season at 330-340 pounds -- and has allowed his weight to get into the 380s in the past -- teams are concerned that his weight will only make the injury tougher to handle.

"If he was a 190 pound player, it might be different. Or, if he was an older player and you were only signing him for a few years, it might be different," a source said. "But, it is pretty hard to invest a first round pick in a player who you know coming in is being red-flagged by the doctors."

"This isn't just our team, by the way. Every team gets the MRIs. Every other team is seeing this too."

I tested that theory, as it is important to remember that this is the time of year for NFL sources insinuating the truth (and, in the cases of some, flat-out lying) in an effort to push players down the board. Therefore, I contacted other sources within the league and did confirm with another source that Taylor's injuries were being red-flagged by his team's doctors, as well.

 


Posted on: March 24, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Don't sleep on First Rd DTs after Dareus, Fairley

Many in the media have lauded this year's defensive end class as one of the best in recent years.

While that may be true, I'd argue that the defensive tackle group is not only more talented at the top, it is deeper as well.

Like last year, when attention on the defensive tackles centered around the top two players Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, this crop of run-stuffers is largely described elsewhere as Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley and a bunch of other guys.

Those other guys may not wind up as top ten picks like Dareus and Fairley, but draft fans may wind up surprised by how high the next three defensive tackles could go.

I've spoken to representatives of teams operating out of the 4-3 and 3-4 that see the next three defensive tackles -- Illinois' Corey Liuget , Baylor's Phil Taylo r and Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson -- as all potential Top 20 picks.

To put that in perspective, the last time there were five defensive tackles drafted within the Top 20 was ten years. Teams can only hope this year's crop winds up as good as 2001, when Richard Seymour (No. 6, Marcus Stroud (No. 13) and Casey Hampton (No. 19) began their standout careers. Unfortunately, the first defensive tackle in 2001 -- Gerard Warren -- was the most disappointing of the group, especially considering his high draft selection. Damione Lewis (No. 12) never panned out for the Rams, either.

I've written before about the raving reviews I've heard of Liuget . As a classic penetrating three-technique defensive tackle, he could hear his name called as early as No. 14 to the St. Louis Rams. I'd be surprised to see him get past the trio of Philadelphia, New Orleans and Seattle with picks No. 23-25.

Unlike Liuget, who could play in the 3-4, but projects best inside in a four-man front, Taylor is more scheme versatile. He's the unquestioned top nose guard prospect in this draft at 6-4, 337 pounds, but has the rare athleticism at that size to also split gaps and remain at defensive tackle. Most teams operating out of the 3-4 alignment will tell you that the toughest part of fielding a 3-4 defense is finding a nose guard. That fact could boost Taylor's stock much higher than most believe. The Washington Redskins at No. 10 and Houston Texans at No. 11 could be intrigued by Taylor's ability to immediately improve their interior run defense. I'd be surprised to see Taylor fall out of the first round with the Jets at No. 30 in need of reinforcements behind oft-injured NG Kris Jenkins.

Like Taylor, Wilkerson is scheme-versatile. He's also position-versatile, having starred at defensive tackle at Temple and having the long frame (6-5, 305) and strength (27 reps) to handle the conversion outside as a five-technique defensive end. Wilkerson had the widest wingspan (85 1/4") of all the defensive tackles measured at the Combine and second among all defensive linemen (Oklahoma State DE Ugo Chinasa measured 86 1/8").

That position and scheme versatility, coupled with his impressive production at Temple (70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks) could see Wilkerson drafted as high as the Patriots' No. 17 overall pick. The fact that Wilkerson's production came against questionable competition in the MAC could be enough to push him into the mid or late 20s, but I'd be surprised if the Steelers or Packers with the final two picks of the first round, respectively, didn't pounce on his upside should he fall into their laps, respectively.


Posted on: March 3, 2011 6:17 pm
 

23 teams watch Taylor, Watkins at Baylor Pro Day

The official start of the Pro Day season was today with 23 teams traveling to Waco, Texas to watch a handful of former Baylor Bears work out only two days after the annual Scouting Combine shut down.

Baylor's top two prospects -- defensive tackle Phil Taylor and offensive guard Danny Watkins -- stood on their Combine performances, but worked out "extremely well" in positional drills, according to Gil Brandt's sources . Taylor's strength, length and surprising overall athleticism could make him a first round pick. I am currently projecting him to be the Jets' choice with the 30th pick , overall, of the first round. I'm also quite high on Watkins, listing him among my top players on the Big Board.

The news wasn't quite as good for Baylor safety Byron Landor, a 6-0, 212 pound safety who posted 127 tackles this past season -- the most of any non-linebacker in all of the FBS. The JUCO transfer was a surprising non-invite to the Combine despite his production, All-Big-12 hype and this year's relatively poor class of safeties.

Landor was unable to take full advantage of the heavily attended workout, coming in a slower than scouts would like at 4.68 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Posted on: February 13, 2011 3:14 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Interviews most underrated component of Combine

The workouts get all of the attention and savvy NFL draft followers know that the medical grades are actually the most important part of the Combine.

One critical piece of the Combine pie that gets very little exposure is the player interview process.

In the past, the interviews teams get with players have only earned attention when something bizarre occurs -- like last year when the Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland asked then-Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant about his mother's ... uhhh... profession.

In reality, however, this is an integral part of the Combine.

Teams are attempting to learn through a 15 minute interview if the young man sitting opposite them is one of the rare individuals who will actually work harder after signing a multi-million dollar contract.

When I visited Athletes Performance for an article two years ago on the process high-ranking athletes go through in Combine preparation, everyone there was willing to talk about the revolutionary techniques in exercise, nutrition and rehabilitation. Few, however, talk about the significant coaching that players go through to prepare for interviews.

Based on polling various scouts throughout the league, here are 15 high profile players who have as much riding on their interviews with teams as they do the other more hyped components of the Combine.

Players are listed alphabetically.
  • Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
  • Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
  • Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
  • Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
  • A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
  • Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
  • Jake Locker, QB, Washington
  • Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
  • Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
  • Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
  • Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
  • Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
  • Tyron Smith, OT, USC
  • Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
  • Titus Young, WR, Boise State


Posted on: January 27, 2011 4:12 pm
 

My All-Senior Bowl (practice) team

Today and tomorrow's practices at the Senior Bowl are essentially walk-throughs, making Monday-Wednesday's practices far and away the most important ones for evaluating prospects.

Prospects at every position stood out. Fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I put together an expanded Risers-Fallers article soon to be released on NFLDraftScout.com based on these practices. In the mean time, here is my All-Practice team.

QB: Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
RB: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
FB: Owen Marecic, Stanford
WR: Vincent Brown, San Diego State
WR: Jeremy Kerley, TCU
TE: Luke Stocker, Tennessee
OT: Nate Solder, Colorado
OG: Danny Watkins, Baylor
C: Kris O'Dowd, USC
OG: John Moffitt, Wisconsin
OT: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

DE: Cameron Jordan, California
DT: Phil Taylor, Baylor
DT: Ian Williams, Notre Dame
DE: Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
OLB: Von Miller, Texas A&M
ILB: Casey Matthews, Oregon
OLB: Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut
CB: Johnny Patrick, Louisville
CB: Shareece Wright, USC
S: Da'Norris Searcy, North Carolina
S: Ahmad Black, Florida


Posted on: January 24, 2011 2:28 pm
 

10 impressions from Senior Bowl weigh-in

Before we can get to the field in Mobile, Alabama for the first Senior Bowl practices we had the weigh-in this morning. Rather than simply copy and paste the results, I thought it best to list the ten biggest surprises of the session.

  • Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan surprised by weighing in at "only" 255 pounds. He'd been listed at Purdue at 263 pounds and many expected that he'd put on weight to come in bigger and stronger. Instead, he came in at a chiseled 255 and looks poised to make the switch to outside linebacker if he can demonstrate the fluidity in coverage this week.
  • Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller eased concerns over his listed 6-2, 240 pound frame by coming in at 6025. It might not sound like much to come in 5/8" of an inch taller than initially projected, but at nearly 6-3, Miller does have enough length to project as a 3-4 rush linebacker. Clearly, the Butkus Award winner is a terrific pass rusher. Some teams however, had concerns whether he had the size to fit this role in the NFL. That 5/8 of an inch could make Miller millions and help him retain the title as the best and most versatile linebacker in the 2011 draft.
  • Two relatively "small school" receivers showed off a couple of the most impressive physiques, instantly providing some evidence that they deserve to be in this contest. South Alabama's Courtney Smith (6040, 220) and San Diego State's Vincent Brown (5110, 184) sported chiseled frames. In all-star games such as this one, the first step towards making a jump up draft boards is by making a first impression; Smith and Brown certainly helped their cause by doing precisely that.
  • Washington quarterback Jake Locker came in slightly shorter than expected at 6022, 228 pounds. He had been listed at 6-3, 230. Again, the 3/4 of an inch doesn't sound like a big difference, but one of the elements that scouts had liked about Locker was his prototypical size. It isn't fair to list Locker's size as an attribute when he's only a 1/4" inch taller than TCU's Andy Dalton and 3/4" of an inch taller than Alabama's Greg McElroy -- two QBs who have been often knocked for their lack of ideal height in the past.
  • Two highly touted Big 12 pass rushers came in smaller and with less than impressive builds than expected. Texas' Sam Acho (listed at 6-3, 260 by the Longhorns) came in at 6016, 257 pounds. Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal (listed by Oklahoma at 6-3, 267) came in at 6023 and 268 pounds. Acho's significantly shorter frame and Beal's sloppier build won't help either combat the growing sentiment among scouts that each has been a tad overrated due to their high motor play for major programs. 
  • I've been pretty outspoken about my feeling on Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan, but today's weigh-in only added to the reason why I believe he'll ultimately rank as one of the more impressive players in Mobile this week. Jordan measured in at 6041 and 287 pounds. More impressively, he had 11 1/4" hands and 34.5" inch arms, one of the reasons why I believe he can be successful playing inside or out in either front. 
  • Derek Sherrod measured in with 35.5" arms and 11" hands -- the biggest of each among this highly competitive offensive tackle class.
  • The most impressive build among the offensive tackles, however, was surprisingly turned in by Boston College's Anthony Castonzo. I've been critical of Castonzo's thinner than ideal frame in the past, but the former 260 pound tight end looked very comfortable at 6071 and 305 pounds. Few offensive linemen can boast a six pack. Castonzo's is slight, but it is there. His long arms and defined pecs prove that his weight gain is legitimate and likely to remain (and increase) in an NFL weight-room.
  • As expected, Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor was the heaviest man in the Senior Bowl. He measured in at 6034 and 337 pounds. Taylor's bulk was evenly distributed, however. In fact, he showed less jiggle than many linemen closer to the 300 pound frame.
  • Also as expected, West Virginia running back Noel Devine was the smallest and lightest player in this game. Devine measured in at 5070 and 160 pounds. He wasn't the lightest by much, however. Miami cornerback Demarcus Van Dyke weighed in at 168 pounds despite being just a shade under 6-1. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com