Sports Outside the Beltway

Army’s Caleb Campbell Drafted by Detroit Lions

Army’s Caleb Campbell Drafted by Detroit Lions Caleb Campbell, a safety out of West Point, has been drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.

At 218, he’s going to be one of the last players chosen this year but, because of the circumstances surrounding the pick, ESPN has been featuring him heavily in its coverage today. The Army has changed its rules to allow its graduates to go directly to the NFL and, if they can make the team, to fulfill their obligation via recruiting duty and service in the Army Reserve. I discussed this rule change almost exactly two years ago at OTB. Since its inception, this is the first time that it has been invoked.

Only a handful of elite athletes have gone on the play major sports. Navy’s Roger Staubach (Dallas Cowboys) and David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs) are the most prominent examples. Air Force’s Chad Henning (Dallas Cowboys) and Navy’s Napolean McCallum (Los Angeles Raiders) are other. All of them except McCallum, who was granted waivers because he was too tall after a growth spurt as a sophomore, were required to serve five years of active duty before joining their teams. Obviously, this both impedes the ability of the academies to recruit blue chip athletes and hinders the pro sports potential of graduates.

The ESPN coverge on Campbell focused on the fact that his classmates will graduate and serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, risking death, while he’s just going to have to risk concussions. But the amount of positive coverage his story is generating shows why the military thought this rule change worth making.

His gaining coach at Detroit, Rod Marinelli, is a Vietnam vet. His first coach at Army, Bobby Ross, is also a veteran — and, oddly enough, a former head coach of the Detroit Lions.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 7

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The 7th and final round of the 2008 NFL Draft is underway. The picks via ESPN and Scouts, Inc.

1(208) Chicago (From Miami) Ervin Baldwin DE MICHIGAN STATE
Baldwin is coming off a breakout season and he is at his best making plays in the backfield, whether it’s against the run or rushing the passer. On the flip side, he needs to improve his ability to hold his ground when teams run at him.

2(209) Green Bay (From St. Louis through Minnesota) Matt Flynn QB LSU
He has smooth feet and has a relatively quick delivery. He shows excellent touch on intermediate throws, good poise and has adequate speed to create if nothing is open. But he lacks elite arm strength, will struggle making some NFL throws and tends to hold onto the ball too long.

3(210) Kansas City Brian Johnston DE GARDNER WEBB
Johnston has good size and the frame to get even bigger. He’s more comfortable making plays on the move than he is anchoring. There’s also a lot to like about the way he uses his hands as a pass-rusher as he’s going to have a hard time turning the corner at the NFL level.

4(211) NY Jets Nate Garner OT ARKANSAS
Garner is big enough to engulf defensive ends and he can drive defenders off the ball. He is a far better run-blocker than pass-blocker.

5(212) Atlanta Wilrey Fontenot CB ARIZONA
He displays natural knee bend in his backpedal, and fluid hips that allow him to change directions smoothly. He reads the quarterback’s eyes and breaks on the ball very well, but he lacks overall size and will struggle to shed blocks in run support.

6(213) Jacksonville (From Oakland through Dallas) Chauncey Washington RB USC
Washington is a raw receiver out of the backfield. More importantly, there are questions about his ability to retain information as he missed two seasons at USC because he was academically ineligible. On the flip side, he has good size, is quick through the hole and make the first defender miss. He also runs very hard and can pick up yards after contact.

7(214) San Francisco Larry Grant OLB OHIO STATE
He possesses an adequate frame with room to add bulk. He plays with good leverage and plays hard from snap to whistle. He times blitzes really well with the ability to beat blockers in the backfield, but and needs to improve instincts and hand use when shedding blocks.

8(215) Baltimore Justin Harper WR VIRGINIA TECH
He doesn’t have the burst to consistently separate from man coverage and he drops some passes that should be routine catches. However, he has the wide frame to shield defenders from the ball. He also has excellent leaping ability, making him a candidate to develop into a productive red zone target.

9(216) Detroit Landon Cohen DT OHIO
Cohen is a one-gap defensive tackle who is at his best disrupting running plays, making plays in the backfield and rushing the passer. The biggest knock on him is that he?s vastly undersized for the interior defensive line, which could mean that teams will have success running at him.

10(217) Green Bay (From Cincinnati through St Louis) Brett Swain WR SAN DIEGO STATE
Swain is an experienced receiver with adequate size. He was a big-play threat in college but is not fast enough to be a home run threat in the NFL. At best, he’s a No. 4 possession receiver.

11(218) Detroit (From New Orleans) Caleb Campbell S ARMY
Campbell shows good range in zone coverage but is limited in man. He is a physical player who does a good job in the box in run support. Takes very good pursuit angles and plays hard. Shows vocal leadership on the field. There are some durablility concerns, though, due to a knee injury. Does not change direction adequately.

12(219) Buffalo Demetrius Bell OT NORTHWESTERN ST
Bell’s a small school prospect who has the frame, quickness and lateral mobility to develop into an effective reserve or possibly a starting right tackle. However, he has to improve his overall strength and play with better leverage before that happens.

13(220) Denver Joshua Barrett S ARIZONA STATE
He is a physical safety who possesses great size and has the ability to re-route receivers at the line of scrimmage. He is aggressive in run support and sheds blocks very well. He plays with a high motor and takes good angles to the ball and has sound ability to make the solid open-field tackle. His knee injury may have been more severe than we thought and is perhaps the reason he slid in the draft.

14(221) Carolina Hilee Taylor OLB NORTH CAROLINA
Taylor has experience lining up at defensive end and outside linebacker. Considering his lack of size he projects as a linebacker at the NFL level. He projects as an outside linebacker, but he could play a situational pass-rusher role. He has good athletic ability and quickness, but he doesn’t have great speed or size.

15(222) Chicago Chester Adams OG GEORGIA
Adams doesn’t play as big as his size suggests; he doesn’t show a powerful punch or great lower-body strength. However, he moves well for his size so he can get into position and he flashes the ability to sustain.

16(223) Houston Alex Brink QB WASHINGTON STATE
He has adequate feet, good pocket awareness and has shown solid ability to buy time in the pocket. He shows excellent ball skills and can freeze linebackers with fakes. He has questionable arm strength, though, and it remains to be seen of he can put enough zip on the ball at the next level. He also holds on to the ball too long and takes too many steps.

17(224) Buffalo (From Philadelphia) Steve Johnson WR KENTUCKY
Johnson’s hands are inconsistent and he has problems catching the ball in stride. But he’s tough for his size and does not hesitate going over the middle. He’s also a willing blocker.

18(225) Arizona Brandon Keith OT NORTHERN IOWA
Keith played at three different colleges and it shows. His technique is still very raw; he never got comfortable with one coach or in one scheme. In addition, he had two stints with Oklahoma, and there are concerns about his commitment to the game. He has rare size and good lateral mobility.

19(226) Oakland (From Minnesota (through N.Y. Jets) Chaz Schilens WR SAN DIEGO STATE
He’s a 6-foot-4, 225-pound wideout who might need to play an H-back role in order to make it in the NFL. He missed time due to injuries as a senior, but he has good straight-line speed for his size. He has to become a better intermediate route-runner and a much better blocker to make the transition.

20(227) Denver (From Tampa Bay) Peyton Hillis FB ARKANSAS
He is a versatile athlete who is a technician and gives good effort as a blocker. He does a solid job of adjusting on the move and sustaining blocks. Hilis is an excellent route-runner and can find the open area when the quarterback scrambles, but he lacks ideal strength and base of a traditional iso-blocker. He also needs to improve his hands.

21(228) St. Louis (From Washington) Chris Chamberlain ILB TULSA
He’s played inside and outside linebacker but is undersized for either position, to the point where he could take off some weight and move back to strong safety. He has good tackling skills, which could be an asset on special teams.

22(229) Tennessee Cary Williams CB WASHBURN
He shows loose hips and does a nice job of turning and running with receivers. He has a good closing burst and natural hands to make a play. However, he has a lean frame that makes him a liability in the run game.

23(230) Philadelphia (From Seattle) King Dunlap OT AUBURN
Big offensive tackle who is going to have to play the right side. To contribute in the NFL he must improve his feet. He’s slow to get set in pass protection, gets caught off balance too frequently and lunges too often. The upside with him is that he’s strong enough to finish once he locks on.

24(231) Cleveland Alex Hall DE ST. AUGUSTINE’S
Hall played defensive end at the small-school level. He’s tall, lean and still needs to add bulk to his frame and get a lot stronger. He projects best as a 3-4 outside linebacker and is at his best rushing the passer.

25(232) Atlanta (From Pittsburgh) Keith Zinger TE LSU
He is a reliable receiver who will be used more often as a blocker. He is a hard worker who plays form snap to whistle. He was not used mush in college due to LSU’s system and he lacks elite speed. He needs to improve his quickness out of breaks.

26(233) Seattle (From Jacksonville) Justin Forsett RB CALIFORNIA
He’s undersized and lacks top-end speed and a second gear as a runner. His versatility and quickness make him worth the value this late in the draft, though. The best-case scenario with him is that he finds a place to become a change-of-pace runner as a third-down back; he catches the ball well, is good in the return game and is a tough, shifty runner for his size.

27(234) San Diego Corey Clark OT TEXAS A&M
He possesses a good blend of size and initial quickness but hasn’t come close to realizing his potential. However, he doesn’t play with enough of a mean streak and takes too many false steps.

28(235) Seattle (From Dallas) Brandon Coutu PK GEORGIA
He has the strongest leg of any kicker in the draft and is also the best overall kicker in this class. He has the best chance of any kicker this year of handling field goals and kickoffs at the next level.

29(236) Indianapolis Jamey Richard OC BUFFALO
He’s a fundamentally sound drive-blocker who plays with a mean streak and shows good awareness in pass protection. However, he’s undersized so he has problems anchoring against bull-rushers and will struggle when nose tackles line up over his head.

30(237) New Orleans (From Green Bay) Adrian Arrington WR MICHIGAN
Arrington was a very productive receiver at Michigan and declared early because the Wolverines? new scheme was going to be detrimental to his numbers. He was never the No. 1 wideout in college and lacks explosiveness, and he will struggle to get separation at the next level. He is tough, though, and not afraid to do the dirty work or catch the ball in traffic.

31(238) Tampa Bay (From New England) Cory Boyd RB SOUTH CAROLINA
He is a versatile, tough runner but doesn’t have breakaway speed or elusiveness. After earlier character concerns he’s been a model teammate.

32(239) Kansas City (From N.Y. Giants) Mike Merritt TE CENTRAL FLORIDA
He is a big, run-blocking specialist who is very slow and lacks athleticism. It wouldn’t surprise us if the Chiefs move him to guard, but he will predominantly play as a jumbo blocking tight end in two-TE sets.

33(240) Baltimore Allen Patrick RB OKLAHOMA
Runs hard between the tackles and can pick up yardage after contact. The concern with him is how his slight frame will hold up given his physical running style and the big hits NFL running backs take.

34(241) Carolina Geoff Schwartz OT OREGON
Schwartz’s footwork is sloppy and he has problems getting into position. As a result, he doesn’t have great lateral quickness. The reason he has some value in the seventh round, however, is his excellent size and relentlessness as a drive-blocker.

35(242) Washington Rob Jackson DE KANSAS STATE
He’s an undersized prospect who struggles to hold his own against the run, but Jackson is tall enough to add some weight to his frame. In addition, though he doesn’t have great top-end speed he’s quick enough to make plays.

36(243) Chicago Joey LaRocque OLB OREGON STATE
He’s a tough, instinctive outside linebacker who was very productive late in his career. He struggled with a hamstring injury during the predraft process, but he probably wouldn’t have run much better than he did at the combine anyway. He lacks functional speed and is a marginal athlete.

37(244) Cincinnati Angelo Craig OLB CINCINNATI
He shows adequate upper-body strength, times snaps extremely well and gets a quick jump off the edge. He moves well laterally and takes sound pursuit angles to the ball. He plays with a mean streak and competes from snap to whistle. He is primarily used as a pass rusher and is going to struggle initially adjusting to the speed of the NFL level.

38(245) Miami Lionel Dotson DT ARIZONA
He has a strong upper body and active hands, so he can shed blocks. The problem is that he doesn’t have great size and he plays too high, so he’s frequently shedding blocks three yards downfield.

39(246) Cincinnati Mario Urrutia WR LOUISVILLE
He was injured as junior but still elected to come out early. He catches the ball very well and is a red zone threat. He has strong hands and surprisingly good feet for a big wideout. He has marginal top-end speed, though, and like most big receivers he struggles to separate from coverage.

40(247) Chicago Kirk Barton OT OHIO STATE
Barton is very tough and experienced. He almost always finds a way to get the job done. The problem is that his athletic deficiencies are going to show up at the NFL level.

41(248) Chicago Marcus Monk WR ARKANSAS
He has great size and ran better than expected at the combine. Monk is a high-character guy who works hard. He’s not shifty or explosive so he’s going to have some problem getting separation.

42(249) Washington Christopher Horton S UCLA
Experienced, tough, in-the-box safety who fills hard. The biggest knock on him is that he’s one dimensional because he has too many limitations in coverage.

43(250) Carolina Mackenzy Bernadeau OG BENTLEY
Bernadeau is coming off a knee injury and he obviously played at a very small school, all of which makes him a very risky pick. However, the risk may be worth the reward this late in the draft. He’s an athletic guard who gets into position and plays with good intensity.

44(251) Buffalo Kennard Cox CB PITTSBURGH
Cox plays with a mean streak and fills hard in run support, but he doesn?t have great speed and he isn’t going to make many plays in coverage.

45(252) St. Louis David Vobora OLB IDAHO
He is a physical linebacker who plays with a mean streak. He does a good job of breaking down in space and is a reliable tackler. He gets good depth and reads the quarterback’s eyes. He plays too upright, however, and will have problems holding ground when teams run at him. He is also slightly stiff in the hips.

Which, of course, makes Vobora “Mr. Irrelevant.”

What’s amusing is how dismal the scouting is on almost all these guys. Yet, not so long ago, the NFL draft lasted several more rounds. Hall of Fame caliber players have been picked in the 12th round and later. And yet these guys are all bums?

Indeed, the “Mr. Irrelevant” title, indicating that the guy has virtually no shot at making the team, had been outmoded by the shortened draft.


Pacman Jones Officially a Dallas Cowboy

The NFL has approved the Pacman Jones trade. Now, the Dallas Cowboys just have to hope that he’s allowed to return to the league.

The NFL has finally approved the first trade in league history involving a suspended player: Pacman Jones is officially a Dallas Cowboy.

Manny Arora, who represents Jones, confirmed the cornerback has signed a four-year contract that includes a Cowboys option after the third season. Jones was traded to Dallas from the Tennessee Titans for a fourth-round pick (No. 126 overall).

Arora said he and Jones will meet with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the near future to develop a strategy for the player to seek reinstatement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and perhaps attempt to modify the current terms so that he can work out and interact with his new teammates at the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch complex. Arora said he anticipates the Cowboys taking the lead role in that process.

The contract between the Cowboys and Jones includes no signing bonus or other guaranteed money. While the Cowboys and Arora have declined to reveal specific components of the contract, a source told ESPN that the agreement is incentive-based with roster bonuses that financially encourage Jones to refrain from the behavior that has resulted in six arrests. The source also said Jones will have to play at least three seasons in Dallas before he has an opportunity to become one of the top-paid corners in the league.

Jones forfeited a $1.25 million performance bonus and more than $6 million in guaranteed salaries the Titans would have been obligated to pay so that he might eventually resume his football career.

It’s a low risk move for the Cowboy with an incredibly high upside. And, frankly, the Cowboys would likely have just traded their 4th for a pick in next year’s draft, anyway. Certainly, they wouldn’t have gotten a player of Jones’ caliber.


Alabama Shut Out in Draft?

NFL Draft 2008 Logo Paul Gattis of the The Huntsville Times reports that, “no Alabama players have been taking after 173 picks and none are on draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.’s list of best available players remaining in the pool.”

So I flipped through the history books and discovered this bit of history Alabama is making this year: Alabama has never had its first player taken in the draft this late. The closest was Kerry Goode in 1988. He was the 167th pick of the draft, taken in the seventh round.

At this point late in the draft, you start to wonder if guys like Wallace Gilberry, Simeon Castille and DJ Hall would be better off not getting drafted so they can sign free agent deals with teams that might be good fits for them.

Indeed, I’d love for the Cowboys to grab Simeon Castille and DJ Hall. They’ve got needs at safety and wide receiver that they’ve failed to address in the draft so far. Those guys are real athletes and have a better chance of making the squad than some of the guys who the Cowboys have already picked.

Gentry Estes observed yesterday that, “Alabama has not had a first-round draftee since 2000″ and it has now been two consecutive drafts since the Tide had a player taken on the first day. Truly a comedown for the Capstone. My guess is that this will chance quite soon now that Nick Saban is on board.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 6- Dallas Cowboys – DE Erik Walden

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Dallas Cowboys, with the opening pick of the 6th round of the 2008 NFL Draft (via the Miami Dolphins in the Jason Ferguson trade) is Middle Tennessee State defensive end Erik Walden. Not a position of need, by any means.

He’s not listed in the Scouts, Inc. Top 150, Rick Gosselin‘s top 100, or Mel Kiper‘s Big Board.

Given that this was the 167th pick in the draft, that’s no great surprise, although ranked players — including safeties and offensive linemen, positions of ostensible need for the Cowboys — were still available.

UPDATE: Albert Breer reports that Walden “is not even listed in the Pro Football Weekly draft guide.” Given that he’s only 6-2 and 237 pounds, bets are that he’ll be converted to linebacker. Because the Cowboys so desperately need more of those.

One of Breer’s commenters supplies this, via CNNSI:

40 Time: 4.75

BIOGRAPHY: Moved into the starting lineup as a freshman and has played both defensive end spots as well as outside linebacker the past four years. Senior-year totals included 46/8.5/2 with one interception. Posted career-high numbers of 48/14.5/11.5 as a junior when he was an All-Conference selection.

POSITIVES: Aggressive defender who makes plays all over the field. Gets depth on drops, displays good range, and stays with assignments. Forceful up the field, plays with good leverage, and chases hard to make plays. Displays a good degree of quickness in his game as well as a closing burst of speed.

NEGATIVES: Marginally strong at the point and struggles against blocks. Limited skills making plays in reverse.

ANALYSIS: Walden possesses the size and speed to play at the next level. His ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage will get him consideration as a pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4 system.

PROJECTION: Undrafted Free Agent

Scouts, Inc. agrees:

Walden excels at getting to the quarterback and has experience lining up at linebacker and end. This is the second pick in a row on which we feel Dallas has reached; Walden isn’t big enough to hold his ground at defensive end position and his speed will make it difficult for him to be effective in coverage as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

The pick just makes no sense. This is probably a guy available as an undrafted free agent and at a position where, unless he’s truly phenomenal, he has no chance of making the squad.

Meanwhile, some ranked safeties and offensive linemen — and project quarterbacks — were available.

Man, I’m hating this draft. It looks like Bad Jerry is back and in charge of the draft room. At least, unless I’m missing something after 97 trades up and down the board for no apparent reason, the Cowboys are done for this year.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 6

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The 6th round of the 2008 NFL Draft is underway.

1(167) Dallas (From Miami) Erik Walden DE MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
Walden excels at getting to the quarterback and has experience lining up at linebacker and end. This is the second pick in a row on which we feel Dallas has reached; Walden isn’t big enough to hold his ground at defensive end position and his speed will make it difficult for him to be effective in coverage as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

2(168) Washington (From St Louis) Durant Brooks PT GEORGIA TECH
He was the best punter at the college level last year, winning the Ray Guy award. This was a major need for the Redskins and they took the best punter available.

3(169) Oakland Trevor Scott DE BUFFALO
Scott lined up at tight end for his first three seasons at Buffalo, but he was moved to defensive end because of the lack of depth there. The fact that he played one season at defensive end means he has a lot of work to do in terms of technique, but he did a good job getting to the quarterback and is showing potential to develop into a productive pass-rusher.

4(170) Kansas City Barry Richardson OT CLEMSON
His lack of a mean streak is a concern. He should be a better drive blocker for a player with his size. That being said, he moves well for his size and has long arms to ride edge rushers past the pocket.

5(171) NY Jets Marcus Henry WR KANSAS
He’s a smooth route-runner with good size and he’s not afraid to go over the middle. However, his lack of ideal upper-body strength is a concern because physical corners can muscle him off routes. In addition, he drops some catchable balls.

6(172) Atlanta Thomas Brown RB GEORGIA
There are concerns about his ability to stay healthy and he doesn’t have breakaway speed. He reads his blocks well, though, and his small stature means linebackers have trouble finding hem. He fits as a between-the-tackles runner and has good hands out of the backfield.

7(173) Houston (From Baltimore) Dominique Barber S MINNESOTA
He plays a lot like his older brother — Dallas RB Marion Barber: aggressive and physical. Dominique fills hard in run support and fights off blocks, though he has limitations in coverage because he doesn?t have great speed or ideal athletic ability.

8(174) San Francisco Josh Morgan WR VIRGINIA TECH
Morgan isn’t much of a threat after the catch and he takes far too many plays off. On the other hand, he has good quickness and changes directions well for his size, so he can get open underneath. He can also contribute on special teams.

9(175) Tampa Bay (From Chicago) Geno Hayes OLB FLORIDA STATE
Hayes is an excellent value at this pick, especially for a Cover 2 team like the Bucs. Although he has problems anchoring against the run, he has good instincts and sideline-to-sideline range as a run defender. He can also cover a lot of ground in zone coverage.

10(176) Miami (From Detroit) Jalen Parmele RB TOLEDO
He’s a big back who runs hard between the tackles and catches the ball well. He also has good top-end speed, but he takes too long to reach it. As a result, he’s going to have a hard time turning the corner at the NFL level.

11(177) Cincinnati Corey Lynch S APPALACHIAN ST
He isn’t big enough to line up in the box and he doesn’t have great man-to-man coverage skills. However, he is a sound tackler who fills hard in run support, makes the occasional big play on defense and will contribute on special teams.

12(178) New Orleans Taylor Mehlhaff PK WISCONSIN
We are surprised to see Mehlhaff as the first place kicker to come off the board because his mechanics are inconsistent. However, he has excellent range, so he can kick on deep field goal attempts and get touchbacks on kickoffs.

13(179) Buffalo Xavier Omon RB NW MISSOURI ST
He is a big back who makes a crisp first cut and gets upfield in a hurry. However, he isn’t quick enough to turn the corner at the NFL level and he doesn’t have breakaway speed.

14(180) Washington (From Denver through St Louis) Kareem Moore S NICHOLLS STATE
Moore is a playmaker both in coverage and as a return man. He also has good size and the potential to develop into an in-the-box safety, but he faces a steep learning curve.

15(181) Carolina Nick Hayden DT WISCONSIN
He has good size with the ability to put weight on and not lose quickness. He is a very active player with a high motor. He shows the ability to collapse the pocket with power moves, but is not a great athlete and he lacks some explosiveness. He needs to locate the ball better.

16(182) Kansas City (From Minnesota) Kevin Robinson WR UTAH STATE
Robinson isn’t fast enough to stretch the field and he’s going to get pushed around by physical corners. However, he shows good body control and he isn’t afraid to go over the middle. He’s also an effective return man who should make immediate contributions on special teams.

17(183) Denver (From Houston) Spencer Larsen ILB ARIZONA
He is a tough and instinctive inside linebacker with good awareness in pass coverage. He plays with a mean streak and he is not the type of guy you want to meet in a dark alley. He plays too high at times and has trouble shedding blocks. He is overaggressive at times and finds himself out of position.

18(184) Philadelphia Michael Gibson OG CALIFORNIA
Gibson has a quick first step and he sustains his blocks once he’s in position. Although he plays with a mean streak he doesn?t appear to have great lower-body strength, so he isn’t going to drive defenders off the ball. He’s also had problems staying healthy.

19(185) Arizona Christopher Harrington DE TEXAS A&M
He is a high-motor player who has good athletic ability, but he might never develop into an every-down player. He lacks the speed to consistently get to the quarterback off the edge and struggles to hold his own when teams run at him.

20(186) Washington Colt Brennan QB HAWAII
Brennan put up outstanding numbers at Hawaii. He’s quick enough to buy time in the pocket and accurate enough to lead receivers when throwing underneath. However, there are substantial concerns about the Hawaii spread scheme inflating his numbers and he doesn’t have great arm strength, either. His recent hip surgery raises concerns about Brennan’s ability to stay healthy.

21(187) Minnesota (From Tampa Bay through Kansas City) John Sullivan OC NOTRE DAME
He is an excellent value at this point in the draft. While he doesn’t have great lateral mobility, he masks this weakness by locking out his arms and riding pass rushers down the line. He is also a physical drive-blocker. Vikings now have an heir apparent for an aging Matt Birk.

22(188) Pittsburgh Mike Humpal OLB IOWA
Humpal is an instinctive linebacker; he reads his keys very well and is able to locate the ball carrier quickly. He also plays with sound leverage and does a good job of wading through traffic. He is a solid open-field tackler. However, he’s a bit stiff in the hips and might struggle to run with tight ends, and Humpal needs to work on utilizing his hands better.

23(189) Seattle (From Tennessee) Tyler Schmitt LS SAN DIEGO STATE
He is a four-year long snapper who is accurate and puts good zip on the ball. He is also an adequate open-field tackler.

24(190) Cleveland (From Seattle) Ahtyba Rubin DT IOWA STATE
At this point, Rubin plays with too narrow of a base and not enough leverage. In addition, he’s never going to be a great pass-rusher. But he has the size and quickness to develop into an effective nose tackle once his technique improves.

25(191) Cleveland (From Philadelphia) Paul Hubbard WR WISCONSIN
He has the athletic ability and size to make plays in the red zone. He also has the speed and body control to make plays downfield, but he needs to improve his route-running and become more consistent catching the ball.

26(192) San Diego DeJuan Tribble CB BOSTON COLLEGE
Tribble has good short-area cover skills; he quick and athletic. He can also contribute in the return game. However, he gets pushed around by bigger receivers and he isn’t fast enough to run with receivers down field.

27(193) Minnesota (From Jacksonville) Jaymar Johnson WR JACKSON STATE
He is a big-play threat both as a receiver and a punt-retuner, but he’s also undersized and lacks ideal upper-body strength. He is going to have problems beating press coverage and he will get muscled out of some routes.

28(194) Pittsburgh (From Green Bay through NY Giants) Ryan Mundy S WEST VIRGINIA
Mundy has had some problems staying healthy, and he doesn’t have great top-end speed or the ability to change directions quickly. On the plus side, he hass experience lining up at both corner and safety.

29(195) Miami (From Dallas) Donald Thomas OG CONNECTICUT
He displays adequate feet, bends naturally in the knees, displays brute strength and does a good job rooting defenders off the ball. Does not possess elite lower-body strength and struggles to adjust on the fly while trying to hit moving targets.

30(196) Indianapolis Michael Santi TE VIRGINIA
Santi isn’t going to knock defenders off the ball or burn defenses deep. But he is a better football player than athlete. He gets into position as a blocker, runs good routes and can contribute as a blocker in the return game.

31(197) New England Bo Ruud OLB NEBRASKA
He has good straight-line speed and also takes sound angles in pursuit. He is a solid open-field tackler, shows good instincts in zone coverage and good quickness when closing in coverage. He lacks ideal athleticism, though, and is stiff in the hips.

32(198) NY Giants Andre Woodson QB KENTUCKY
The hitch in Woodson’s release played a big role in his poor showing at the Senior Bowl and caused his stock to plummet. In addition, he makes questionable decisions and telegraphs some of his throws. He does, however, have great size, excellent arm strength and he shows toughness in the pocket.

33(199) NY Giants Robert Henderson DE SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI
He is big enough to hold his own against the run and can collapse the pocket as a pass rusher, but he doesn’t have great speed and is going to have a harder time at the NFL level.

34(200) Philadelphia Joe Mays ILB NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Mays has adequate size, good instincts and plays with a great motor. He’s also a sound tackler and flashes the ability to make the big hit, but he isn?t a sideline-to-sideline run defender and he has limitations in coverage.

35(201) Indianapolis Steven Justice OC WAKE FOREST
He shows great initial quickness. He is able to snap the ball and gets into position very quickly. He moves well laterally and can cut off defenders down the line, but he needs to work on overall strength, especially in his lower body.

36(202) Indianapolis Mike Hart RB MICHIGAN
At one time he was a first-round prospect, but he dropped due to pre-draft workouts. He is a natural runner who displays great patience setting up his blocks. He is very slippery and is able to break arm tackles. But he is very undersized, lacks top-end speed and shows an inability to be very helpful in pass-protection.

37(203) Philadelphia Andrew Studebaker DE WHEATON
Studebaker is a ‘tweener; he’s not big enough to holdup against the run as an end and might not have enough athletic ability to develop into an every-down outside linebacker. Also, he doesn’t show great instincts. However, he has good quickness and he closes well, so he can get to the quarterback.

38(204) Miami Lex Hilliard RB MONTANA
Hilliard lined up at running back at Montana and should be a productive short-yardage runner at the NFL level. However, he’s probably going to fit better at fullback in the NFL; he doesn’t have great speed or elusiveness. It will also take some time for him to develop as a blocker.

39(205) Indianapolis Pierre Garcon WR MT UNION
He shows solid quickness off the ball and possesses a good burst in and out of breaks. He adjusts well to poorly thrown balls and he’s not afraid to go over the middle and shows solid strength after the catch. He lacks top-end speed and elusiveness in the open field.

40(206) Baltimore Haruki Nakamura S CINCINNATI
He was a tackling machine in college with good instincts, but he is a strong safety in a free safety’s body.

41(207) Cincinnati Matt Sherry TE VILLANOVA
His size causes matchup problems for safeties. He can make plays downfield and has good hands, but he offers little as a blocker at this point.

FEATURED POST: NFL Draft 2008 – Round 6- Dallas Cowboys – DE Erik Walden


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 5 – Dallas Cowboys – CB Orlando Scandrick

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Dallas Cowboys traded for Adam Pacman Jones in the week before the draft, took CB Mike Jenkins in the 1st round, and have now added yet another corner, Orlando Scandrick of Boise State, in the 5th round.

He didn’t make the top 150 at Scouts, Inc. or Mel Kiper‘s Big Board. Rick Gosselin, though, had him ranked as the 83rd best player in the draft.

Not bad for the 143rd player taken.

Albert Breer reports,

To get in position to take Boise State CB Orlando Scandrick, the Cowboys dealt their fifth- and seventh-round picks (155 and 213 overall), which moved them up 12 spots to 143rd overall.

I’ve been hearing whispers about the Cowboys’ interest in Scandrick going all the way back to the combine. And it’s been quiet of late — which can be a sign that a club genuinely wants a guy. The Cowboys obviously did.

That seems like a lot to move up 12 spots in the 5th round but nothing else the Cowboys have done today has made any sense, either.

Orlando Scandrick Dallas Cowboys Photo


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 5

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft is underway. Here are the results, as reported by ESPN:

1(136) Detroit (From Miami through Kansas City) Kenneth Moore WR WAKE FOREST
He is an undersized receiver who doesn’t have great top-end speed, but he is a fluid route-runner who catches the ball well. He is sub-package receiver who fits in as a No. 4 wide receiver.

2(137) Minnesota (From St Louis through Green Bay) John David Booty QB USC
Booty doesn’t have elite arm strength or size, but he moves his feet well and is accurate, making him a perfect fit for a West Coast offense.

3(138) Atlanta Robert James OLB ARIZONA STATE
He is an undersized guy who struggles when teams run at him because he isn’t big or strong enough to anchor. But he is quick enough to make plays in the backfield and has the ability to develop and play in man-to-man coverage.

4(139) Denver (From Oakland) Ryan Torain RB ARIZONA STATE
Torain was slowed by ankle, knee and foot injuries last year. To make matters worse, he isn’t very elusive and he runs high, so he takes big hits. On the flip side, he’s a no-nonsense, north-south runner who excels at getting yards after contact.

5(140) Kansas City Brandon Carr CB GRAND VALLEY ST
He has good size for a cornerback with good athletic ability and decent speed, but he will struggle against quicker receivers.

6(141) Carolina (From N.Y. Jets) Gary Barnidge TE LOUISVILLE
Barnidge adjusts well to passes thrown outside his frame and is big enough to develop into a productive red zone target. Although he has the frame to get bigger, he’s undersized and can get driven back when lined up at the traditional tight end spot.

7(142) Chicago (From Carolina) Zack Bowman CB NEBRASKA
He missed all of 2006 and started just four games last year, which makes him difficult to evaluate. He is a developmental prospect who has to work on his footwork, but there is a lot to like about his blend of size and speed.

8(143) Dallas (From Chicago through Buffalo and Jacksonville) Orlando Scandrick CB BOISE STATE
Scandrick probably would’ve been better off returning for his senior year to work on his footwork and add some weight to his frame. On the other hand, he’s fast enough to run with receivers downfield and he opens his hips quickly. He also has shown a knack for blocking kicks and he can make an impact in the return game.

9(144) New Orleans (From Detroit) DeMario Pressley DT NORTH CAROLINA ST
He has had problems staying healthy, and he plays with a narrow base and gets driven off the ball at times. But Pressley has a strong upper body that allows him to shed blocks and the closing speed to get to the quarterback.

10(145) Cincinnati Jason Shirley DT FRESNO STATE
This is a surprising pick because Shirley comes with serious character issues. In addition, he is raw and tends to wear down quickly. Although we see this as a reach, he does possess good size and is very quick when he’s fresh.

11(146) Detroit (From New Orleans) Jerome Felton FB FURMAN
He isn?t a dominant lead blocker and will not put linebackers on their backs. He isn’t an explosive open-field runner either, but he’s adequate in both areas. Felton can reach linebackers at the second level and he is an effective short-yardage runner.

12(147) Buffalo Alvin Bowen OLB IOWA STATE
He isn’t fast enough to move to safety and might lack the size to become an every-down linebacker. His instincts, motor and open-field tackling should make him a valuable reserve and special teams contributor.

13(148) Denver Carlton Powell DT VIRGINIA TECH
He lacks the closing speed to develop into an effective pass rusher. He misses the occasional open-field tackle, but he plays with good leverage and has the upper-body strength to shed blocks. He is a better run-stopper than his size would suggest.

14(149) Arizona Timothy Hightower RB RICHMOND
Hightower is elusive and doesn’t show a second gear in the open field, so he won’t break many long runs. On the plus side, he’s a tough between-the-tackles runner who shows good vision and almost always falls forward. He also catches the ball well.

15(150) Green Bay (From Minnesota) Breno Giacomini OT LOUISVILLE
He is a developmental prospect who needs to learn how to control his emotions. He needs to improve his punch, but he has an excellent frame with long arms to ride edge rushers past the pocket.

16(151) Houston Frank Okam DT TEXAS
He’s a classic underachiever. Although he has outstanding size and flashes great lateral mobility, he’s extremely inconsistent. He takes far too many plays off and he appears to wear down. There are also questions about his work ethic and love for the game.

17(152) Minnesota (From Philadelphia) Letroy Guion DT FLORIDA STATE
He is a one-gap defensive tackle with an explosive first step who can make plays in the backfield. He plays to the whistle and flashes the ability to shed blocks quickly, but doesn’t have great size. He struggles to anchor when teams run at him.

18(153) New England (From Tampa Bay) Matt Slater WR UCLA
He went to UCLA as a wideout, got injured then moved to corner. As a result, he’s raw and needs some time to work on his technique. Still, the Patriots do a great job of finding special teams players in the middle rounds, and Slater is excellent in that phase.

19(154) Atlanta (From Washington) Kroy Biermann OLB MONTANA
He played defensive end in college but i?s not big enough to play there in the NFL. As a result, he will move to outside linebacker. He doesn’t have great speed but shows good instincts in coverage and doesn’t get caught out position.

20(155) Jacksonville (From Cleveland through Dallas) Thomas Williams OLB USC
He’s a very instinctive, smart player who plays physically and with a mean streak. He also shows good versatility; he’s able to play all three linebacker positions. He displays excellent awareness in coverage and breaks on the ball well. He also should be able to contribute on special teams immediately. On the down side, he doesn’t have great top-end speed or sideline-to-sideline range.

21(156) Pittsburgh Dennis Dixon QB OREGON
His stock dropped after he tore his ACL during his senior year, but he made great strides as a passer last season. He has great speed to develop into a reserve receiver. He could be the heir to Charlie Batch, and in the meantime he could see some time as a receiver. His ability to throw the ball allows the Steelers to work in some gadget plays.

22(157) St. Louis (From Tennessee through Washington) Roy Schuening OG OREGON STATE
He doesn’t have elite size, doesn’t change directions well in pass protection and he occasionally loses his balance. It’s also worth pointing out that he’s a relentless drive-blocker who plays with a mean streak and works to the whistle on every play.

23(158) Chicago (From Seattle through Jacksonville and Tampa Bay) Kellen Davis TE MICHIGAN STATE
He should be a better blocker for his size and he isn’t a crisp route-runner. There is no doubt he has awesome potential, though, as he is fast enough to chase balls down, has the wide frame to develop into a red zone target and is big enough to emerge as a quality blocker.

24(159) Jacksonville Trae Williams CB SOUTH FLORIDA
The biggest concern about Williams is his size. He gets pushed around by bigger wideouts and he doesn’t offer much in run support. On the other hand, he has the fluid hips, enough top-end speed and the ball skills to develop into a quality nickelback.

25(160) Tampa Bay (From San Diego through New England) Josh Johnson QB SAN DIEGO
The learning curve is higher for Johnson after playing at a small school. He is going to have to learn how to read the more complicated defenses in the NFL but has tremendous potential. He has quick feet and is dangerous as a scrambler, and he rarely tucks and runs too soon. He also has a strong arm.

26(161) Indianapolis Marcus Howard OLB GEORGIA
We thought Howard would land on a 3-4 team willing to move him to outside linebacker. That said, he’s also a good fit for a Cover 2 scheme like that of the Colts. Although he lacks ideal size and needs to improve his ability to defend the run, he has very good quickness and shows good closing speed when he gets a clear path to the quarterback.

27(162) NY Jets (From Green Bay) Erik Ainge QB TENNESSEE
He doesn’t have great mobility and he has only adequate arm strength, but has the potential to develop into an excellent game manager. He makes good decisions, reads defenses well and is a leader on the field.

28(163) Seattle (From Dallas) Owen Schmitt FB WEST VIRGINIA
Although Schmitt doesn’t always play with great leverage, he’s tough, has good size and possesses the lower-body strength to drive linebackers back once he gets in position. He doesn’t have great speed but he is an effective short-yardage runner.

29(164) New Orleans (From New England) Carl Nicks OT NEBRASKA
He plays far too high and doesn’t slide well in pass-protection. He is a developmental prospect who will have to develop his technique before pushing for significant playing time. However, he has outstanding size and the quickness to develop into a starting right tackle.

30(165) NY Giants Jonathan Goff ILB VANDERBILT
Goff lined up at middle linebacker last year but is arguably a better fit on the outside. He doesn?t have great lower-body strength and takes too long to disengage from blockers. On the other hand, he has good size, shows great range and is a strong open-field tackler.

31(166) San Diego Marcus Thomas RB UTEP
He has good size with adequate top-end speed, but this is a serious reach in our opinion. He dances far too much in the backfield and has a tendency to carry the ball away from his frame, which makes him vulnerable to fumbling

FEATURED POST: NFL Draft 2008 – Round 5 – Dallas Cowboys – CB Orlando Scandrick


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 4 – Dallas Cowboys – RB Tashard Choice

NFL Draft 2008 Logo After five trades down the Dallas Cowboys take . . . another running back. Georgia Tech’s Tashard Choice seems an odd, er, choice, given that the Cowboys drafted a back in the 1st round and have a young Pro Bowler, Marion Barber, on the roster. Still, this is a good value this deep in the draft (the 122nd pick).

Scouts, Inc.: 101st

Strengths: A workhorse back with natural running skills and excellent competitiveness. Reads blocks well, doesn’t waste motion and gets through holes quicker than people seem to think. Patient, does a nice job of locating cutback lanes and makes sharp cuts behind the line if scrimmage. Displays great stop-and-start skills. Runs hard, bounces off arm tackles and picks up many yards after contact. Consistently makes the first defender miss. Shows effective use of stiff arm. Runs adequate routes and has the burst to separate from man coverage. Catches the ball with hands away from frame and doesn’t drop many passes should catch. Is smooth turning upfield and shows good vision setting up blocks in space. Does an excellent job of selling playfakes.

Dallas Cowboys  RB Tashard Choice Photo Weaknesses: Lacks any elite physical qualities. Is quicker than fast. Lacks breakaway speed and isn’t much of a threat to go the distance when gets a seam. Gets tracked down from behind too often. Lacks ideal size for his tough running style. Keeps ball tight to frame most of the time but doesn’t always cover up when gets into traffic and can put the ball on the ground. Though he flashes a mean streak and a powerful punch when asked to help out in pass protection, he also takes poor angles to assignments and dives at defenders’ feet as a last ditch effort. Lacks ideal lower body strength and struggles to anchor when picking up blitz.

Overall: Choice spent the 2004 season backing up Adrian Peterson at Oklahoma. He enrolled at Georgia Tech in 2005 and was immediately eligible to play after the NCAA granted a waiver of the residency requirement. During his next two seasons with the Yellow Jackets, Choice appeared in 26 games (15 starts) and ran for 1,986 yards and 18 touchdowns on 414 carries (4.8 average). In 12 games (all starts) in 2007, Choice turned in 1,412 yards and 10 touchdowns on 261 carries (5.3 average); 14 receptions for 107 yards (7.6 average); and even an 11-yard touchdown pass. He had midseason knee surgery and also was bothered by a hamstring injury, but Choice missed just one game last year. Choice was tremendously productive at the collegiate level when healthy. He is a proven workhorse with very good vision, toughness and power for his size. He displays good patience setting up blocks and he also is quicker to and through the hole than some think. Unfortunately, Choice doesn’t have the frame to match his hard-charging running style, which has led to several injuries throughout his career. In addition to concerns regarding his durability, Choice lacks ideal top-end speed and will never be a homerun threat as a runner, pass-catcher or kick returner in the NFL. With all that in mind, Choice projects as a solid backup in the NFL and should come off the board in the mid-round range of the 2008 draft.

Rick Gosselin: 94

Albert Breer thinks this was forced by the Felix Jones pick:

And it’s Tashard Choice from Georgia Tech. So the Cowboys take a second back, which makes my point that the choice of Choice (sorry) was necessitated by the drafting of Felix Jones.

Rashard Mendenhall would’ve allowed the Cowboys to go in another direction here. But with Jones on board, they still needed insurance, since if Marion Barber goes down, there’s not enough of it with the Arkansas product.

Calvin Watkins agrees, twisting the knife a bit.

Cowboys got another backup running back in the draft. See Felix Jones. Anyway Choice rushed for 1,412 yards and 10 touchdowns on 261 carries for Georiga Tech last season. Choice battled a hamstring last season and missed one game due to knee surgery.

The ESPN gang seems pleased with the pick. And, certainly, this is a good value for the slot.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 4 – Dallas Trades Down Again – And Again!- And Again!

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Cowboys traded their 3rd rounder to the Detroit Lions for two 4ths (one in next year’s draft) and now have turned around and traded the opening pick in the 4th round, acquired from the Miami Dolphins for Akin Ayodele and Anthony Fasano, to the Oakland Raiders. This one makes sense:

The Cowboys got a fourth rounder (104) and a seven (213) from Oakland for their fourth rounder, 100th overall, which came from Miami.

The Raiders just grabbed UConn’s Tyvon Branch at 100th, which denied the Cowboys a chance to get Deon Anderson’s buddy in town. There’s a run on corners, too, with the Rams following up to take Penn State’s Justin King at 101.

Why not, really? Then again, Cowboys head coach Wade “Phillips pointed out that stockpiling picks was swell and all, but only if you occasionally used one.” Indeed.

UPDATE: They’ve done it again! They traded the 104th pick to Cleveland! Unless they got Chad Johnson (highly doubtful) this is starting to become a joke. And not a funny one if you’re a Cowboys fan.

UPDATE: The Cowboys’ spot, via Detroit, came up again. You guessed it: They traded down again. To Cleveland, again.

I’ve got no idea what the Cowboys are doing. Sadly, I don’t think they do, either.

Albert Breer: “The Cowboys just traded the 111th pick to the Browns. Which means they’ve now traded down five times today, and don’t have a player yet. Cleveland’s next pick is 190th overall.”

No word on what the Cowboys are getting in return. My guess is not all that much. Are they just stockpiling for next year? If so, that’s a bizarre strategy for a team expected to contend for a championship this season.

UPDATE: So, here’s the upshot of all these trades:

The Cowboys got a 2009 third-round pick, as Cleveland drafted Missouri TE Martin Rucker 111th overall.

So we’re clear here, this is what the Cowboys have left:

Fourth round pick — 122nd overall (from Cleveland)
Fifth round pick — 155th overall (from Cleveland)
Sixth round pick — 167th overall (from Miami)
Seventh round pick — 213rd overall (from Oakland)

But we had a 3rd rounder this draft and didn’t use it. It’s hard to see how this makes any sense.

Several people are speculating that we’ll somehow use all these picks to get a “Wow” wide receiver from another team. But why would someone give up a stud for a 3rd rounder next year? Wouldn’t they have rather had a 3rd this year, anyway,if that’s what they wanted?

Another way of looking at the moves:

They started the day with …

2008 Third round pick — 92nd overall
2008 Fourth round pick — 100th overall (from Miami)
2008 Sixth round pick — 167th overall (from Miami)

They now have …

2008 Fourth round pick — 122nd overall (from Cleveland)
2008 Fifth round pick — 155th overall (from Cleveland)
2008 Sixth round pick — 167th overall (from Miami)
2008 Seventh round pick — 213rd overall (from Oakland)
2009 Third round pick (from Cleveland)
2009 Fourth round pick (from Detroit)

So, we’ve basically traded out of Day 2 today, giving up a 3rd and 4th to get . . . 3rd and 4ths next year. Not smart, Jerry. Not smart.


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