Posted on: March 30, 2010 1:29 pm
While at Sam Bradford's Pro Day yesterday, I spoke with many scouts, coaches and league executives about Dez Bryant's workout today. Every team I spoke to yesterday (about a dozen) planned to simply continue their trip from Norman to Lufkin, Texas for Bryant's workout and on to Austin Wednesday for Texas' Pro Day.
Scouts had varied expectations for Bryant today.
One scout, who loves Bryant's athleticism and has compared his leaping and YAC ability to Randy Moss on several occasions in the past, felt that Bryant is nonetheless going to put forth a less than eye-popping time in the 40-yard dash.
Said the scout, "I've heard talk that he's going to run in the low 4.4s or even faster. If he does, that'll help surprise me. He's not that fast on film. He's more of a 4.55 guy, but he's like [Anquan] Boldin in that way; his straight-line speed is misleading."
The scout did expect Bryant to look "very good" running routes and catching the ball.
Posted on: March 30, 2010 12:25 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2010 12:40 pm
Besides the dozens of NFL executives, head coaches and scouts on hand to watch Sam Bradford's Pro Day yesterday, there were several other surprising onlookers.
Former teammate Gerald McCoy (and his father) were on hand. So too was former OU star and current Baltimore Raven Mark Clayton. Each were there to lend support to Bradford and Oklahoma for obvious reasons.
Former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt, however, was also in attendance and does not have a natural allegiance I was aware of.
Upon noticing him, casually dressed and chatting amicably with league personnel, I made a mental note to talk to him. Once Bradford began throwing, however, I lost track of Leavitt.
Until that is about an hour later when I saw him dressed in full Oklahoma regalia, jogging on campus. Oklahoma crimson t-shirt, shorts, the whole deal.
I only happened to see Leavitt running because I skipped out early from the press conference held by Bradford and Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. Those media members who had been there only for Bradford's workout were long gone. Those that stayed for the press conference were inside Memorial Stadium listening to Bradford and Stoops.
If it has been announced that Leavitt has signed with Oklahoma in some capacity, I don't know of it. A simple internet search turned up nothing of a connection between Leavitt and the Sooners except for conjecture that Leavitt might be a coach of interest for the Sooners considering that he coached with Stoops and defensive coordinator Brett Venables at Kansas State. Leavitt is not currently listed among the Sooners' 13 football coaches according to SoonerSports.com. I contacted a handful of NFL personnel on hand for yesterday's workout to confirm that they, too, had seen Leavitt there. They had, but knew nothing of his connection with the Sooners.
Leavitt is currently in a legal battle with USF regarding his pay and whether his termination was "with" or "without" cause. Leavitt is suing USF and the USF Foundation for exoneration of inappropriate contact with a former player and the remainder of his 7 million dollar contract. Leavitt was accused of grabbing former walk-on Joel Miller by the throat and slapping him in the face. The school investigated and decided to fire Leavitt in January.
Posted on: March 29, 2010 1:17 pm
NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang attended the much-anticipated pro day for QB Sam Bradford this morning. 21 teams were officially in attendance, including the main players in the Bradford sweepstakes: St. Louis Rams General Manager Billy Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo, and Washington Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen.
Posted on: March 29, 2010 10:07 am
I apologize for the absence of blog updates yesterday, but I spent virtually most of the day shuffling through airports and cramped airlines.
This morning, however, I've woken up to sun, calm skies and the promise of Sam Bradford's Pro Day workout in just a few hours.
I've spoken to a couple of league personnel in town already and asked them what they'll be looking for in today's workout.
The broadcast begins at 10:45 CT.
Posted on: March 24, 2010 6:00 pm
Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid created some buzz at the owner's meetings today with the announcement that the Eagles are, in fact, listening to trader offers for their quarterbacks, including incumbent starter Donovan McNabb.
Soon after, Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported via an anonymous league source that the St. Louis Rams have offered the Eagles their second round pick, No. 33 overall, and free safety OJ Atogwe in exchange for the Pro Bowl quarterback.
If the Rams were to acquire McNabb it would seemingly open them up to take one of the two defensive tackles, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, the top two rated players in the draft in the eyes of many.
This, however, wouldn't necessarily be the case. While the salary ramifications of trading for McNabb (and agreeing to a new contract with him) and then taking Sam Bradford with the first pick would be historic, it would also give the Rams a great deal of talent at the game's most important position. With no salary cap, the once inconceivable notion of paying two quarterbacks top dollar would, at least theoretically, be possible. The combination of McNabb and running back Steven Jackson would give Steve Spagnuolo's Rams the offensive talent to compete in the wide-open NFC West immediately. It would also give Sam Bradford time to acclimate to the speed of the NFL.
If nothing else, the Rams likely would keep the appearance of considering Bradford with the first pick so as to potentially force a team like the Redskins, Seahawks or Browns to make a trade.
Posted on: March 23, 2010 5:02 pm
Lately there has been growing speculation that if the St. Louis Rams take Sam Bradford with the first pick of the 2010 draft, as expected, the Detroit Lions might pick left tackle Russell Okung next.
The rationale behind taking an offensive tackle is simple. The Lions just invested nearly 42 million guaranteed dollars into quarterback Matt Stafford. They need him protected. The Lions have also added defensive linemen Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch during the off-season, lessening the need for Ndamukong suh or Gerald McCoy, the defensive tackles most rate as the two best players in the draft.
According to sources throughout the league, however, if the Lions do indeed take an offensive tackle second overall, it won't necessarily be Okung.
I spoke to representatives of four teams in the past few days. Though none of the representatives were willing to tell me who their team, collectively, had as their top-rated offensive tackle, I was able to get their personal opinions on who should be the first blocker drafted April 22nd.
Two of the four polled had Okung as the top rated tackle. Iowa's Bryan Bulaga and Oklahoma's Trent Williams, however, each received a vote, as well.
Okung, a four year starter, has the experience and consistency scouts like. The two scouts who picked Bulaga and Williams, however, nitpicked about his lack of elite athleticism and conversion from a spread attack.
The conversion from a spread attack applies to Trent Williams, as well. Williams, who demonstrated eye-popping athleticism at the Combine, has only one season at left tackle, however. There are some who believe he has the most upside of this talented OT class.
Bulaga is actually viewed as the safest of the trio by many scouts, including three of the four I polled. Already technically refined, however, he may lack Okung and Williams' upside, which is why he only earned the one vote as the best tackle of the class.
Regardless of the order they are selected, there is a growing consensus that all three tackles will be drafted among the top ten.
Some believe, in fact, that the three will join with Bradford, Suh and McCoy in some order as the top six picks of the draft.
Posted on: March 21, 2010 8:15 pm
Cleveland president Mike Holmgren, the man who coached and is at least partially credited with developing Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck, among others, is apparently not interested in working with Jimmy Clausen.
Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer quotes Holmgren as saying "I wish I liked him more. You know that you have a type of player that you like? It's not scientific. People like him a lot. He'll go high. But it would be hard for me [to take him]."
This isn't because Holmgren isn't interested in adding a rookie quarterback. Holmgren freely admits that the Browns will use a pick on a quarterback in the draft, but it appears it won't be Clausen, or, as Grossi points out later in the article, one in the second round either.
Said Holmgren, "I'd have to have another second-round pick [to take a quarterback in the second round].
The Browns have to add a young quarterback because Holmgren has hitched his wagon to veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. Holmgren signed Delhomme to a free agent contract after he was released by Carolina. The Browns traded for Wallace, who was drafted by Holmgren and played under him in Seattle.
Holmgren's history indicates that he'll draft a quarterback in the mid to later rounds. As I mentioned in a previous blog post , Holmgren, in 23 years of NFL work, has never been apart of a team that has invested anything higher than a third round pick on a rookie quarterback.
Holmgren had previously announced that he liked Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford "a lot," but isn't likely to be willing to part with enough of his ten picks in the 2010 draft to be able to pry away the first pick from the St. Louis Rams. Should the Rams pass on Bradford, Detroit and Tampa, who, of course, took their own first round quarterbacks last year with Matt Stafford and Josh Freeman, respectively, would likely be very interested to hear what the Browns might offer.
Holmgren's honesty is not surprising to those who have worked with him in the past. Holmgren's candor was appreciated by local beat writers and national media, as well. Few head coaches were as willing to explain the what's and how's of the game with the kindness Holmgren did -- which is why his comments on Clausen are likely heart-felt.
It would be a surprise to those who know him if by saying these things Holmgren was attempting to create smoke screen.
"That's just not his style," texted a scout who used to work under Holmgren.
Posted on: March 19, 2010 1:05 pm
Last year I argued that the Seattle Seahawks were the key to how the top ten would play out.
They had expressed considerable interest in quarterback Mark Sanchez, had a greater need at offensive tackle and employed a general manager in Tim Ruskell who favored safe players like outside linebacker Aaron Curry.
The Seahawks obviously went with Curry with the fourth pick of the draft.
The ramifications of this decision, of course, were that the Browns traded their pick to the Jets, who took Sanchez and the run on offensive linemen continued in the top ten despite Seattle ignoring the position.
This year the Washington Redskins own the fourth pick. They're the team thought likely by league insiders to control what happens early in the first round.
It is possible that the Lions surprise and select OT Russell Okung second overall to protect their young quarterback Matt Stafford, but most in the league believe the three best players in the 2010 draft are Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy -- likely going in that order to the Rams, Lions and Bucs, respectively.
The Redskins have a need for a young quarterback, especially considering that Jason Campbell is a restricted free agent expected to sign a one year deal. The Redskins recently signed former first round pick Rex Grossman, but he too, is only signed through next season. There are some who believe Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen is destined for the Redskins.
Others, however, point to Washington's lack of talent at offensive tackle. The retirement of Chris Samuels opened up a gaping hole at left tackle that veteran Levi Jones struggled to fill last year when Samuels was hurt. Right tackle isn't much better with Stephon Heyer.
Still others have argued that a good Washington defense could carry the team in Mike Shanahan's first year if he were to find more playmakers in the secondary. LaRon Landry hasn't produced as expected to his point and has been outplayed by Chris Horton. Eric Berry, who many believe to the be in conversation with Bradford, Suh and McCoy as the elite players in this draft could be a tempting option.
The shoddy depth and extreme importance of the quarterback position could force Shanahan to grab Clausen. If so, you can expect the next best quarterbacks -- Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Tony Pike, etc -- to be pushed up the board that much higher.
The same would apply at OT or S should the Redskins go in those directions. There is no denying that along with defensive linemen, offensive tackles and safeties are the strengths of this draft. Three offensive tackles went in the top ten last year. Should Washington select Okung at No. 4, Iowa's Bryan Bulaga and Oklahoma's Trent Williams may not be far behind.
The more intriguing scenario might be if Washington selects Berry. Only twice since 1993 have there been three pure safeties selected in the first round (1998, 2007). This will almost surely occur in 2010 with Berry, Texas' Earl Thomas and USC's Taylor Mays all likely to be drafted in the opening frame. Should Berry go early, however, a run on safeties could result, pushing South Florida's Nate Allen into the mix.