Posted on: March 3, 2011 2:03 pm
A high-ranking NFL source countered what NFLDraftScout.com and others had reported earlier in the week that Auburn QB Cam Newton "struggled" in team interviews conducted at the Combine.
"I think that is an example of a team trying to knock the kid down," the source said. "I can tell you right now, he was very likable with us. He answered every question we had about his off-field stuff and did a great job on the white board."
I pointed out that Newton could do well in his team's interview and then struggle in another (or several), but the source referred to specific questions asked and that the offensive coaches in the meeting later characterized Newton's answers as "perfect."
"He knew where to go with the football against different schemes, where his hot read was..." the source explained. "[Newton] did it quickly and with confidence. I wasn't in the other teams' meetings, so I don't know what they asked or how he answered, obviously. I can't imagine that kid 'struggling,' though, in that kind of setting."
The conflicting stories provide a perfect example of the smokescreens that take place in the months leading up to the draft...
Posted on: March 2, 2011 12:27 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 12:29 pm
The current NFL labor situation looks to turn the 2011 free agency process on its ear barring a minor last-minute miracle. Fourteen teams still enacted the franchise tag available to them under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, however, to keep their most prized impending free agents in town for another year.
Baltimore DL Haloti Ngata
The Ravens aren't likely to let Ngata go anytime soon because his athleticism/size/relentless combination is simply too difficult to replace. Picking at 26, they weren't going to land top 3-4 end Marcell Dareus -- and Cameron Heyward (Ohio State) and others available late in the first weren't going to fill Ngata's huge shoes. Hampton's Kenrick Ellis (formerly of South Carolina before his dismissal for failing multiple drug tests) will be viewed as a second-tier version of Ngata because of his 6-5, 336-pound frame and agility, but would have been a reach in the late first.
Carolina C Ryan Kalil
Kalil's importance to the offensive line, and maybe to any new quarterback they draft to compete with Jimmy Clausen, made it imperative to keep him in Charlotte. This year's draft class is not deep in centers, and with the exception of Pittsburgh's Maurkice Pouncey aside, you don't want to leave your young quarterbacks taking snaps from a young center if you can help it.
Cleveland K Phil Dawson
It seems as though teams are taking advantage of the relatively low franchise numbers for specialists to lock up above-average--but not exceptional--kickers. Dawson's career 83.2 percent field goal attempt mark and kickoff ability were good enough to lock him up for the 2011 season. Nebraska kicker/punter Alex Henery is strong-legged and accurate enough to earn a high draft spot, but there may be enough teams interested in his services to push him up boards.
Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning
Manning wasn't going anywhere. A long-term contract is very likely to be worked out as soon as possible. The team may bring in another young quarterback from the later rounds (Texas Tech's Taylor Potts, Idaho's Nathan Enderle) to compete for a back-up role, however.
Jacksonville TE Marcedes Lewis
Lewis had a great 2010 season, catching 58 balls for 700 yards. His 10 receiving touchdowns led the Jaguars and tied for the most among league tight ends. There are some intriguing mid-round receiving tight ends in this year's Combine, like Nevada's Virgil Green and Florida Atlantic's Rob Housler, but none quite as tall or explosive--and certainly not as proven.
Kansas City OLB Tamba Hali
Hali blossomed into a true sackmaster in his free agent season, bringing down the quarterback 14.5 times in 2010. His prowess on the outside would have been difficult to replace, and the proliferation of 3-4 scheme in the NFL would have made him a valued commodity on the free agent market. The Chiefs probably could have picked up Georgia end/linebacker Justin Houston to put into a pass rush role in the scheme at the 21st pick, a similar prospect with excellent upside, but keeping Hali allows them to find a strong-side 'backer or offensive lineman in that spot.
Miami NT Paul Soliai
The value of a strong 3-4 nose tackle has been proven by the increased usage of franchise tags at the position. Last year, San Francisco kept Aubrayo Franklin and Green Bay kept Ryan Pickett in tow by tagging them last season. Soliai's becoming the lynchpin of the Dolphins' run defense, and although this year's defensive line class is strong, the 3-4 nose tackle prospects will be heavily coveted. Miami should still address depth at the position.
Minnesota OLB Chad Greenway
One of the most productive linebackers in the country (144 tackles, fourth among league LBs), Greenway is a team leader and reliable defender. Fellow starter Ben Leber is also scheduled to be free agent, and the team could not afford to lose both -- especially in a draft where elite 4-3 linebacker prospects are severely lacking.
New England OG Logan Mankins
The acrimony between Mankins and the Patriots did not prevent the Patriots from keeping their best lineman, and former first round pick, in Foxboro. There are some intriguing interior offensive line prospects in this draft, which is the reason the team could still look to upgrade Dan Connolly at right guard.
New York Jets ILB David Harris
Harris has made himself an invaluable part of Rex Ryan's defense the past couple of years. North Carolina's Quan Sturdivant is a similar prospect to Harris, but multiple teams looking to emulate the success of the Jets' third-ranked defense will be searching out the next Harris.
Oakland DE/OLB Kamerion Wimbley
The Cleveland cast-off had his best sack total since his rookie year (nine) for the Raiders as a 16-game starter last season, so Oakland decided to keep him around. They certainly would have preferred to use the tag on Nnamdi Asomugha, but the language of his previous contract prevented it. In a draft full of long pass rushers, Oakland may have been able to find one--but they sent their first round pick to New England for DE Richard Seymour (whom they just signed to a two-year, $30 million deal) during the 2009 season.
Philadelphia QB Michael Vick
This one's pretty simple. The Eagles aren't in any position to select Auburn's Cam Newton, the only player in this draft with even a chance to be as explosive a weapon at quarterback as Vick. Back-up Kevin Kolb could be the next A.J. Feeley, a Eagles draft pick who gets cache without much performance.
Pittsburgh OLB Lamarr Woodley
During the draft, you'll hear a lot of talk about Justin Houston and Sam Acho (Texas) potentially becoming Woodley-type players because of their similar build and strength. With the Steelers owning the penultimate pick in the second round, however, it's not clear they would have been in position to grab one of those two players to replace the veteran. And even though there will be a number of highly sought-after end-linebacker conversion players, the Steelers are very specific in the type player they want at the second level.
San Diego WR Vincent Jackson
Jackson's size and speed are difficult to duplicate in any draft class (6-5, 241, 4.46). Despite Jackson's issues with San Diego management, his talent was too strong to let go without compensation. Southern Miss' DeAndre Brown and South Carolina's Tori Gurley have similar size to Jackson, but their long strides (as well as Brown's leg injuries) don't give them comparable speed.
Posted on: March 1, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 7:19 pm
Count me among those that is not at all surprised by the fact that LSU's Patrick Peterson and Nebraska's Prince Amukamara silenced a few critics today with their blazing times in the 40-yard dash and strong performances in other defensive back drills.
I certainly wasn't alone in believing these players would perform well. I spoke to various members of NFL scouting departments, agents, prospects and media in the weeks preceding the Combine that expected these two players to do well.
By only confirming the athleticism many of us recognized on tape, Peterson and Amukamara won't be boosting their stock much. Each was already viewed by many as potential top ten prospects.
Here are a few other defensive backs who boosted their stock even more with strong Combine workouts Tuesday.
Besides, aren't DVDs meant to burn?
Posted on: February 28, 2011 7:24 pm
We all know the value of quarterbacks raises as the draft gets closer. We also all know that significantly altering a player's grade based on Combine performance is a quick way to get a scouting staff fired.
Posted on: February 26, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 12:25 pm
Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward has regained his range of motion in his surgically-repaired left elbow but will not be able to work out this week at the Combine.
He plans to participate in most drills at Ohio State's Pro Day March 30th, but still will not be able to lift there.
Heyward's upper strength is viewed as one of his most impressive assets, but some teams will still want proof. Heyward may not be able to provide it prior to the draft, which could push him out of the first round.
The 6-5, 294 pound Heyward projects best as a five technique defensive end in the 3-4 alignment. He does not possess the burst off the edge to consistently get pressure on the quarterback, making his strength and ability to tie up blockers all the more paramount to his success in the NFL.
Heyward injured his elbow in the Buckeyes' Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas, missing the Senior Bowl to undergo a UCL reconstruction.
Heyward is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 rated defensive end and the 30th rated prospect, overall.
Posted on: February 25, 2011 3:46 pm
Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas measured in shorter than expected and will not be able to participate in workouts at the Combine this week due to a "tweaked" left hamstring.
Thomas was listed by Kansas State at 6-2 and 228 pounds, but came in at 6-0 (six foot and one quarter inch, actually) and 230 pounds.
Generally speaking, athletes measuring in smaller than expected can have a negative effect on their grade. In Thomas' case, however, it could help his cause. Taller backs, especially ones with an upright running style like Thomas, expose their bodies (and the football) to too many collisions.
Thomas will work out at Kansas State's Pro Day on March 15. Thomas' workout could prove critical to his final draft grade as teams questions his straight-line speed. He's been estimated in the high 4.5 to low 4.6 range by scouts.
Thomas, who led the Big 12 in rushing each of his two seasons with the Wildcats, is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 rated running back. He rushed for 2,850 yards, which makes him the second-leading rusher (behind Darren Sproles) in Kansas State history.
Posted on: February 25, 2011 1:49 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 1:50 pm
During his media question and answer session at the Combine, Washington quarterback Jake Locker expressed his passion for the game of football, but sidestepped rather than put an end to any concern that he'll pursue a career in baseball.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 9:21 pm
In the race to be the first quarterback selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, Auburn's Cam Newton is getting a head start over Missouri' Blaine Gabbert.
Newton, according to the NFL Network , has decided he will be throwing passes at this week's Combine. Gabbert, according to USA Today's Jim Corbett , is not expected to throw in Indianapolis and will instead wait until his Pro Day.
Both quarterbacks have questions to answer after starring in spread offenses in college. The schemes were shotgun-heavy and simplified the reads with which each passer had to make. Scouts want to see how well Newton and Gabbert drop back from center and how accurately they throw on the move.
Newton and Gabbert's decisions, though opposite, weren't entirely unexpected.
Newton successfully created a buzz for himself in holding a media-only throwing session February 11 outside of San Diego, California. If he'd elected to not throw at the Combine, Newton would have risked killing whatever momentum he'd built for himself and potentially angering NFL teams.
Gabbert, on the other hand, is considered by most to be this year's top quarterback. As the leader, the pressure isn't quite as great on him to perform. While NFL scouts certainly would love to see Gabbert show some competitive spirit and throw in Indianapolis, it is pretty tough to argue with his decision. After all, the agency that represents Gabbert -- Creative Artists Agency -- has represented several quarterbacks in recent years who elected not to work out at the Combine and successfully boosted their stock with strong Pro Day performances. Recent CAA quarterbacks include Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan. Each elected not to throw in Indianapolis. Bradford and Stafford were the No. 1 overall picks of the 2010 and 2009 drafts, respectively. Ryan was the first quarterback selected and the third overall pick in 2008.