Posted on: April 22, 2010 8:45 pm

What happened? McClain to Raiders makes sense...

The Oakland Raiders have made some odd picks in the first round in recent years and, as such, may have made an even odder pick considering how much Alabama inside linebacker made sense.

The Raiders have struggled against the run, giving up more rushing touchdowns over the past seven years than any other team in the league and ranking 30th in the NFL in rush defense last year.

Middle linebacker Kirk Morrison had developed into a fan favorite and steady producer, but his marginal straight-line speed made him a liability in the eyes of the Raiders.

Al Davis rarely takes linebackers in the first round. His club hadn't taken once since 1994, but in the physical McClain, Al Davis added to his collection of former trophy winners. McClain, of course, won the Butkus Award last year.
Posted on: April 21, 2010 3:36 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2010 8:11 pm

Scout: If Gerhart was black 1st round "for sure"

Stanford running back Toby Gerhart would be a first round pick if he were black, according to a longtime NFL scout anonymously quoted in an article published today by Yahoo.com's Michael Silver.

“He’ll be a great second-round pickup for somebody, but I guarantee you if he was the exact same guy – but he was black – he’d go in the first round for sure,” the scout said. “You could make a case that he’s a Steven Jackson-type – doesn’t have blazing speed but he’s strong and powerful and versatile."
Gerhart led the nation with 1,871 yards and 27 touchdowns last year, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy race to Alabama's Mark Ingram -- who ran for 213 yards and 10 touchdowns less despite playing in 14 games last year. Gerhart played in 13 games.

Stereotyping Gerhart as just another white hope at running back is obviously unfair. Considering his underrated top-end speed, lateral agility and quick feet, it also isn't accurate. I've steadily made comparisons to former Cincinnati Bengals standout back Rudi Johnson with Gerhart.

Despite comparing him to a former Pro Bowl back, I agree with the first part of the scout's statement in that Gerhart is likely to be taken in the second round.

I believe, as I told Jon Wilner in this article for the San Jose Mercury News, that first round picks are generally reserved for running backs with explosive speed. I believe the color of Gerhart's skin won't have anything to do with where he is ultimately selected.

In a draft as talented as this one at hard-to-find positions such as offensive tackle and the defensive line, I expect it to be even more difficult for a third running back to sneak into the first round. 

Posted on: March 10, 2010 5:50 pm

Scouts: Crohn's a "non-factor" for McClain grade

Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain had appeared to solidify his stock as a likely first round pick with a pair of solid times in the 40-yard dash early during his Pro Day, but labored through the rest of his drills before getting sick. He later told scouts and media assembled at the Alabama Pro Day that he was suffering from Chron's Disease -- and has suffered from it since he was a freshman in high school.

Chron's Disease, according to WebMD.com is "a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines. It primarily causes ulcerations (breaks in the lining) of the small and large intestines..."

Common symptoms of Crohn's include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fever, and weight loss, among others. The disease affects an estimated two million Americans. Those inflicted have varying levels of severity, ranging from mild to quite severe.  

The news of McClain's admission spread like wildfire over the internet creating panic. Would this drop McClain out of the first round? Is he still even a draftable prospect?

According to two veteran scouts I texted, the admission is much ado about nothing.

"Non-factor" one scout replied after I asked him how much McClain's Crohn's disease would impact his team's grading of the Butkus Award-winner.

The other scout was more specific.

"Jax QB has it. He's not had problems."

The Jax QB the second source was referring to is Jacksonville Jaguars starter David Garrard, whose testimony about his life with the disease isn't nearly as rosy as the one scouts laid out.  Garrard, in fact, after trying various different prescriptions and losing 35 pounds, was ultimately forced to undergo surgery that removed "about a foot" of his intestines.

It would appear that wise teams will make sure to speak with their team doctors before making any final judgement on how Crohn's could impact McClain in the long run.
Posted on: March 1, 2010 1:37 pm

ILB McClain, DE Morgan pull out of some drills

Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain did not run the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis today and will instead wait until his Pro Day, March 10.

Though he informed the media that he would not be working out, scouts were nonetheless disappointed by the Butkus-award winner's decision. While quarterbacks and other "skill" position players often elect to put off their workouts until their Pro Days, linebackers generally participate at the Combine. McClain did participate in the bench press, posting 24 repetitions, but it isn't his strength that teams are potentially concerned with -- its his speed.

Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan, on the other hand, elected not to participate in the bench press drill.

Morgan was one of the few highly touted prospects to not make it into the media room for interviews prior over the weekend. The NFL generally herds as many of the nearly 330 players into the media room as possible and does a good job of getting almost all of the first round prospects before reporters began leaving Sunday.

Because he was not interviewed and given a chance to explain why he wasn't working out at the Combine (or at least doing the bench press), I, for one, was surprised by the news that he wasn't participating. In an interview I conducted just two days before the Combine began, Morgan told me he was planning on working out in Indianapolis...
Posted on: February 15, 2010 8:03 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2010 1:34 pm

Colt McCoy will attempt to throw at Combine

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy has been throwing 40-50 passes a day in an attempt to be ready to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine next week, he told media on hand Monday to see him presented with the Davey O'Brien award as the nation's top quarterback.

“I see the doctors every week,” McCoy said. “I go through the rehab process every day. I’m healing much quicker than normal.”

McCoy was checked by renowned surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, after sustaining the injury in the National Championship game. It was determined that he would not need surgery. However, since this is the second time McCoy has been sidelined with a nerve injury in his shoulder, scouts are concerned that this will be a recurring problem in the future. He suffered a pinched nerve in his neck as a freshman that knocked him out of the loss to Kansas State and limited him two weeks later against Texas A&M.

McCoy's ability to throw for scouts had been in question since the fifth play of the national championship game when he absorbed a big hit from Alabama defensive end Brandon Deaderick. While not in great pain at the time of the injury, McCoy compained that his arm felt "dead" and Texas did not allow him to return to the field. 

His career 70.3% completion percentage and NCAA-record 45 career wins are numbers scouts like. On the field, they like his moxie, mobility and short to intermediate range accuracy.

McCoy is currently rated as the 3rd best quarterback available in the 2010 NFL Draft by NFLDraftScout.com, behind juniors Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) and Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame). If he can prove his health, McCoy is likely to be selected in the second round. 

Posted on: January 7, 2010 7:54 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2010 10:27 am

Which Kindle shows up tonight?

One of the more hotly contested prospects in the entire country, Texas DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, will have an opportunity tonight to establish himself as a legitimate first round pick -- or potentially slip in the mid to late portion of the second round.

The 6-4, 255 pound Kindle is as quick off the snap as any defensive end in the country and generates even greater momentum around the corner due to his straight-line speed. He's effective against the run, especially when chasing down ball-carriers from the backside. He's fluid enough that teams operating out of the 3-4 alignment are intrigued not only by speed as a pass rusher, but his agility in coverage, as well.

However, for as athletic as he is, Kindle is a frustrating player to scout, as he doesn't locate the ball well enough or use his hands to fight through blocks. This is one of the primary reasons why Texas credits him with 31 QB hurries entering this contest, but only 3 sacks.  He's like several other potential DE-OLB converts in this class (Clemson's Ricky Sapp and NC State's Wille Young are others) who can dominate for a play or two, only to disappear for long stretches.

With their focus on the run game, Alabama likely won't give Kindle as many opportunities to show off his speed rushing the passer as many of the pass-heavy Big 12 teams have this season. How Kindle is able to handle Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and the Tide's power running game -- especially when they elect to run directly at him -- could be the hidden factor that determines the National Championship, as well as how NFL scouts project Kindle at the next level.

Posted on: December 1, 2009 8:45 pm

Dunlap's "stunning" DUI = draft-day slide?

News of Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap's DUI Tuesday morning swept through the country today, leaving everyone, including NFL scouts, almost speechless.

Some made the comparison to Andre Smith's suspension for dealing with an agent nearly a year ago that kept him out of the Sugar Bowl. Another just characterized the move as "unbelievably dumb." All agreed that his draft stock would slide due to this terrible mistake. Ranked by some in the media as the #1 overall prospect at times this season, it now seems possible that Dunlap could slip out of the top ten... or even further due to this mistake.

Perhaps the best way to describe Dunlap's move was made his own head coach, Urban Meyer, who characterized the news as

"Carlos obviously made a very poor decision," Meyer said. "I have not spoke to him or his family yet. He's not going to play. But I want to visit with him and his family first and go from there."

Though Dunlap is only a junior, scouts widely expected him to leave school after this season. The 6-6, 290 Dunlap has 35 tackles on the season and leads the Gators with 7 sacks despite often being double-teamed. He burst onto the scene as a sophomore, registering 39 tackles and 9.5 sacks and earning Defensive MVP honors in last year's BCS Championship. His unique combination of size, strength and athleticism had earned comparisons to former #1 overall picks Mario Williams and Julius Peppers. Scouts had been especially impressed with Dunlap's upside, as he, unlike many of the lanky pass rushers of recent years, had the strength to hold up at the point in the running game and used his long arms to knock down passes (8) and kicks (4)... 
What a shame that during the week of what may prove to be the true National Championship game, one of the contest's most talented players made a horrendous decision and has, rightfully so, been suspended indefinitely.

Posted on: November 9, 2009 2:39 pm

LSU: RB Charles Scott done for the year

LSU has announced via their website that senior running back Charles Scott, ranked as high as second this season at the position by NFLDraftScout.com, will miss the rest of the year due to the broken clavicle (collarbone) he suffered in the second half of Saturday's showdown with Alabama.

Ironically enough, the injury occurred on Scott's most impressive play of the game, a 34-yard run in the third quarter.

The loss of Scott is a significant blow to the LSU offense and further weakens an already shaky senior running back class. Buffalo's James Starks, viewed as a potential mid round pick prior to the season, underwent surgery to correct a labrum tear back in August.

A broken clavicle rarely requires surgery. Typically, the rehabilitation begins with a simple sling and pain medication, so that the broken bone has the time to heal itself. Typical recovery time is 6-12 weeks, though if muscles around the bone were torn, the rehabiliation can take much longer. Scott's injury will be an obvious focal point for the team doctors and x-ray technicians at the Combine.

Scott led the Tigers with 83 yards against the Tide and was leading the team in rushing for the season (542 yards and 4 TDs). He finishes his LSU career sixth on the school's all-time rushing list with 2,372 rushing yards. Scott rushed for 1,174 and a conference-leading 18 rushing touchdowns in 2008, earning first all-SEC accolades by the coaches.
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