Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2009 Round 6 #197 – Dallas Cowboys – S Stephen Hodge

With the 24th pick in the 6th round, the Dallas Cowboys take another safety, another athlete who played his college ball in Texas, and another Stephen:  TCU’s Stephen Hodge. says he’s a “tweener.”


Earned second-team All-Mountain West honors as a junior after being a special teams coverage leader his first two seasons. Hodge followed that up with a first-team All-Mountain West performance as a senior, making 91 tackles including 10 for loss. His eight sacks led all Football Bowl Subdivision defensive backs in 2007, though he basically played linebacker in TCU’s defense and blitzed often. The question for NFL teams will be whether he’s a safety, weak-side linebacker or a special teams player.

High School

Regarded as one of the top athletes in East Texas … Played quarterback and defensive back for coach Andy Evans at Tatum High School … Led the Eagles to 28 wins in 38 varsity starts over three years … Also handled the punting chores … As a junior he rushed for more than 2,000 yards and passed for more than 1,600 yards, combining for 45 touchdowns, earning district MVP honors … As a senior he completed 105-of-160 passes for 1,471 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions and rushed for 1,561 yards and 19 touchdowns in a 12-2 campaign to earn district MVP honors for a second time … In three seasons he rushed for more than 4,000 yards and 51 touchdowns while passing for nearly 4,500 yards and 48 scores … Member of the Star-Telegram’s State 100 list … Ranked 56th on the state 100 list by … On the’s East Texas all-Underclassmen team and on their 2004 All-East team … Ran a 4.4 40-yard dash … Also excelled in baseball and basketball … Considered Baylor, Houston, Missouri, Texas A&M and SMU before deciding on TCU.


Strengths: Adequate height with stocky, strong safety build and long arms. … Big hitter who will lay the wood when the ballcarrier is lined up in his sights. … Finds his way through traffic inside to attack the ball. … Quick in his drop and can handle zone coverage outside at the second level. … Hustles downfield and reads screens quickly. … Could be a special teams force at the next level, like he was early in his college career, due to his secure tackling and aggressive nature.

Weaknesses: Safety-linebacker “tweener.” … Plays in the box most of the time in the 3-3-5 defense, basically as a linebacker. … Is not as physical as he should be. … Runs around blocks because he has trouble getting off them. … High and choppy in his backpedal. … Takes poor angles at times and does not have the fluid hips or lateral speed to handle man coverage responsibilities. … Statistics inflated by aggressive TCU defensive scheme that had him constantly blitzing.

Scouts, Inc. gives him a horrible grade, saying he was the 19th best OLB in the draft. Otherwise, he’s far enough down the depth chart that they don’t even have a grade for him.

In the unkindest cut of all, Tim MacMahon dubs him “a Roy Williams-type of safety” and muses “Many experts projected him to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. Not sure how he’ll fit in the Phillips 3-4.” Considering the Cowboys put the actual Roy Williams-type safety on the street during the offseason, a good question.  MacMahon adds,

This line from his NFL Draft Scout report could explain the Cowboys’ thinking behind the pick: “Could be a special teams force at the next level, like he was early in his college career, due to his secure tackling and aggressive nature.”

Rather clearly, the Cowboys are drafting for backups and niche needs in this draft rather than going with the “best available athlete” that all the experts counsel.  The Cowboys have spent an entire draft picking special teamers and backups.

Shades of 1995, indeed.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 6 #181 – Miami Dolphins – OT Andrew Gardner

Miami goes for help in the trenches.

Good height with adequate build on the edge. Plays strong, attacking his opponent through the whistle in pass protection by punching and continually extending his arms to keep his man outside the pocket. Keeps his feet moving, which keeps him locked on his man. Will go through the whistle on his man when necessary. Good movement to the linebackers, giving good effort to get his hands on quicker defenders in space. Effectively uses angles to direct speedy defenders around the play. Gets low on cut blocks, which he did quite often in Tech’s option attack as a senior. Steady player, hard worker.

Weaknesses: Not the elite athlete most teams want at left tackle. NFL speed rushers may give him problems due to his average lateral movement and tendency to overextend or miss his punch. Inconsistent initial quickness off the ball. Needs to prove strong enough to play inside or on the other side of the line. Does not recover quickly or retain his balance after the initial hit while cut blocking, and sometimes whiffs on the cut itself. Struggles to sustain in space because he overextends and lacks recovery speed.

ESPN writes-

Gardner is a relentless blocker who possesses just adequate overall strength. However, he has excellent upside in terms of agility and athleticism. He will need some development in terms of footwork.

Someone to fight for the right offensive tackle job. Last year’s #1, Jake Long, will hopefully have the left tackle job sown up for years.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 5 #172 – Dallas Cowboys – K David Buehler

The Dallas Cowboys picked a placekicker, USC’s David Buehler, with the 36th pick in the 5th round.

How in the world does that make sense? They drafted Nick Folk two years ago and he made it to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.  He was excellent last year, too.  Unless  they plan to keep two kickers on the active roster, this is a wasted pick.

DMN’s Tim McMahon thinks that the ‘Boys will indeed keep two, making Buehler a kickoff specialist.  He adds, “Buehler made big news at the combine by putting up 25 bench press reps, more than some first-round offensive linemen. He practiced at fullback and safety for the Trojans, so maybe Buehler can help the scout team, too.”  Man, if we’re drafting kickers as safety and fullback projects, we’re in worse shape than I thought. agrees that he’s a tremendous athlete, though.


Unlike most place-kickers, Buehler is an impressive athlete with exceptional strength for a player at his position. He proved that recently at the NFL Combine, where his 25 repetitions bench pressing 225 pounds was more than even three of the 2009 NFL Draft’s elite offensive linemen, Michael Oher of Mississippi, Eugene Monroe of Virginia and Max Unger of Oregon. One look at his family tree, you can see that stellar athletes are the norm in the Buehler household.

His father, John, was a three-year letterman (1969-71) on Southern California’s track team as a shot putter. His uncle, George Buehler, lettered in football at Stanford for three seasons (1966-68) and then played offensive guard with the Oakland Raiders (1969-78) and Cleveland Browns (1978-79). Another uncle, Charles, lettered in football at Stanford for three years (1960-62).

During his prep and junior college playing days, Buehler served as his team’s place-kicker, linebacker and running back. He also competed in volleyball, golf and track. Upon his arrival at Southern California in 2006, he also worked at fullback and strong safety.

Still, it is his strong kicking leg that he will make his professional living. He holds the distinction of being the only the second kicker in school history to score at least 100 points (2007) in a season, joining Ryan Killeen (122 in 2003, 112 in 2004). Buehler’s kickoff abilities are also quite special. On 180 kickoffs, 105 of them (58.3 percent) have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line, with 69 resulting in touchbacks (38.3 percent).

Buehler handled kicking chores at Canyon High School, where he also saw action as a fullback and linebacker. He earned 2004 All-Century League honors as a senior. He also lettered in volleyball, golf and track.

As a freshman, Buehler attended Santa Ana Junior College. Playing on both offense and defense, in addition to handling kickoff chores he was selected to the All-Mission Conference National Division first-team. He registered 25 touchbacks on his 58 kickoffs, and 29 tackles (19 solos) with one interception as a linebacker. Playing fullback, he rushed for 50 yards on nine carries (5.6 avg) with five touchdowns and also caught a pass for a 2-yard score in ten games.

Buehler transferred to Southern California in 2006, playing behind the late Mario Danelo during his first year in the program. He appeared in 11 games, making his only field-goal try, a 49-yarder vs. California, the longest three-pointer by a USC kicker since 1998. He kicked off eight times, pinning the opponent inside the 20-yard line on six of those attempts, including three touchbacks.

With the tragic death of Mario Danelo, Buehler inherited the place-kicking chores for the Trojans in 2007. The All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention scored 100 points on 16 of 19 field goals and 52 of 54 extra-point attempts. He added three solo tackles and pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line on 35 of his 84 kickoffs, producing 18 touchbacks.

Buehler was named the Trojans’ co-Special Teams Player of the Year in 2008. He added All-Pac 10 Conference first-team honors, as he amassed 92 points, delivering on 9 of 13 field goals and 65 of 66 PATS. He pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line 64 times on 88 kickoffs that included 48 touchbacks.

Junior College

He made the 2005 All-Mission Conference National Division first team as a freshman placekicker, linebacker and running back at Santa Ana (Calif.) Junior College. He had 25 touchbacks on his 58 kickoffs in 2005, plus recorded 24 tackles and one interception

High School

Attended Canyon (Anaheim, Cal.) High School, earning All-Century League team honors as a senior…Also lettered in volleyball, golf and track.


Positives: NFL-caliber leg strength. Capable of handling kickoff and field-goal duties at the next level. Accurate. Gets good, quick elevation on his kicks. Rare size and athleticism for a kicking prospect. Can break down and make the open-field tackle in coverage. Practiced at fullback and safety with the Trojans. Unfazed by jump in competition from junior college to USC.

Negatives: Regressed as a senior in his deep accuracy. Only made 1-of-4 career field goal attempts against rival UCLA. Lacks experience in clutch situations; USC rarely played in close games.

Scouts, Inc. says he’s the 3rd best kicker in the draft:

Overall Football Traits
Production 3 2005: Buehler started his career at Santa Ana (Calif.) Junior College where he kicked and contributed at the linebacker and running back positions. 2006: Transferred to USC appearing in a back-up role and connecting on his only field goal attempt. (49 yards) Also recorded three touchbacks in six kickoff attempts. 2007: Connected on 52 of 54 extra point attempts and 16 of 19 field goal attempts. He also averaged 64.6 yards and recorded 18 touchbacks on 86 attempts while kicking off. 2008: Hits on nine-of-13 field goal attempts with a long of 43 yards. Also average 67.9 yards and notched 48 touchbacks with his 88 kickoff attempts.
Height-Weight-Speed 1 Tremendous frame, bulk and strength for the position.
Durability 1 Durability is not a concern as he has yet to miss playing time due to injury.
Character 2 Related to George Buehler (Uncle) who played guard in the NFL for a total of 10 seasons with the Raiders and Browns. Also no off-the-field incidents we are currently aware of.

UPDATE:Tim MacMahon reports, “David Buehler won’t be just a kickoff specialist.”

David Buehler is a football player whose best skill happens to be booting kickoffs into the end zone. That isn’t the only thing the Cowboys plan to have him do, though.

Nick Folk has a firm grip on the point-scoring part of the kicking job. But new special teams coach Joe DeCamillis told Buehler that the Cowboys plan to expand his special teams role past kickoffs. “I believe I’m a kickoff/special teams player, but I’m not positive,” Buehler said. “I’m going in there with my eyes wide open.”

Buehler, the 172nd overall pick, played linebacker, running back and kicker in junior college. He practiced at safety and fullback after transferring to USC and played on special teams as a non-kicker before becoming the full-time kicker. He has the size (6-1, 227), speed (4.62 40) and strength (27 bench-press reps) to cover punts or block for returners.

“I’m fair game,” said Buehler, who has been buddies with Folk since they met at a kicking camp a few years ago. “I’m their property now, so I’m willing to do whatever helps the team win.”

Or whatever justifies a roster spot.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 5 #166 – Dallas Cowboys – S Michael Hamlin

With the 30th pick in the 5th round, the Dallas Cowboys select Clemson safety Michael Hamlin.   This will, of course, create confusion since they already have a safety named (Ken) Hamlin.  And this after they rid themselves of the two Roy Williams situation by getting rid of the safety and keeping the wideout.

But I digress.

He’s 6’2″ and 214 pounds and runs a 4.62 40.


Hamlin showed his leadership skills in 2008, speaking up and imploring his teammates to play up to their ability after the team struggled and underwent a midseason coaching change. The young players responded, with Clemson winning four of its final six games to earn a spot in the 2009 Gator Bowl.

Hamlin and his two brothers all followed in their father’s footsteps and became defensive backs. While Michael went on to star at Clemson, his siblings, Markee and Marquais, play for South Carolina State. The two teams played each other in 2008, marking the first time since 1981 that brothers competed vs. each other in a Clemson game (Mark Richardson of Clemson and his brother, Jon, who attended North Carolina, played vs. each other at Chapel Hill that year).

The Tigers’ defensive captain started 43 games for Clemson, the most by a defensive back in school history. His 14 interceptions rank third in school annals and his 243 yards gained on interception returns rank second. He also ranks second in school history with 18 takeaways (four forced fumbles, 14 pass thefts).

At Lamar High School, Hamlin was a finalist for Mr. Football in South Carolina. Rated the 11th-best safety in the nation by Tom Lemming, he was named the state’s Defensive Player of the Year by High School Sports Report. He added All-State honors as a junior and senior and was a three-time All-Region selection, capturing Region Player of the Year honors in each of his final two campaigns.

Hamlin registered 23 career interceptions, including a team-high four as a senior. He threw three passes as a senior and two were touchdowns, including one to his brother in the state title game. He had 20 catches for 290 yards and four scores, and gained 148 punt return yards and 179 kickoff return yards. He added All-Region accolades in both baseball and basketball, as Lamar’s baseball squad won the state championship as a junior.

Hamlin enrolled at Clemson in 2004, participating on the scout team. He shared “Cat” (strong safety duties) with C.J. Gaddis in 2005, as the 190-pound defensive back started the final seven games. On 492 defensive plays, he recorded 55 tackles (30 solos), broke up three passes and intercepted two others as the first freshman to start in the Tigers secondary since Justin Miller in 2002.

As a sophomore, Hamlin missed three games after breaking a bone in his left foot vs. Boston College. He still managed to get on the field for 576 plays in 10 starts. He was in on 64 tackles (47 solos), including five stops for loss. He picked off two passes, returning one 74 yards and knocked down three other throws while recovering a pair of fumbles.

Hamlin received All-Atlantic Coast Conference recognition in 2007. He started all 13 games for the first time in his career, producing 97 tackles (73 solos), the fifth-highest total among league defensive backs that year. Three of his stops were for losses, as he also picked off four passes and deflected six others. Three of his four fumble recoveries led to Clemson scoring drives. He also intercepted a two-point conversion attempt and returned it 100 yards vs. North Carolina State for the first defensive score off an opponent’s extra point in school history.

Hamlin was an All-American honorable mention by Sports Illustrated and an All-ACC first-team choice as a senior. He ranked eighth in the nation with six interceptions and was second in the conference with a total of 16 passes defended (10 breakups, six interceptions). He also placed second on the team with a career-high 110 tackles (74 solos), as he served as the squad’s first two-time team captain since the 2001 campaign.

High School

Attended Lamar (S.C.) High School, playing football for head coach J.R. Boyd…Finalist for Mr. Football in South Carolina…Rated the 11th-best safety in the nation by Tom Lemming, he was named the state’s Defensive Player of the Year by High School Sports Report… Added All-State honors as a junior and senior and was a three-time All-Region selection, capturing Region Player of the Year honors in each of his final two campaigns…Recorded 23 career interceptions, including a team-high four as a senior…Threw three passes as a senior and two were touchdowns, including one to his brother in the state title game… Added 20 catches for 290 yards and four scores, and had 148 punt return yards and 179 kickoff return yards…Earned All-Region accolades in baseball and basketball, as Lamar’s baseball squad won the state championship as a junior.


Positives: Rangy player with the frame to add an additional 10-15 pounds of mass. … Quick to come up in run support. … Willing to take on blocks to get to the action. … Reliable tackler in the open field who flashes hitting ability. … Wrap-up tackler who looks to punch or rip the ball out to create a turnover. … Instinctive in coverage. Reads the quarterback’s eyes and gets a good break on the ball due to his feel for the game. … Natural hands for the interception. … Competes for the ball and can time his leap to catch it at its highest point. … Good vision and elusiveness with the ball in his hands. … Cerebral player who lines up the Clemson defensive backfield and was voted a permanent team captain as a junior.

Negatives: Questionable straight-line speed. … Much better with his eyes pointed toward the quarterback, as he lacks the deep speed most teams want as the deep safety. … Reliable open-field tackler, but lacks bulk and explosive hitting ability to be an intimidator over the middle. … Durability red flags: broke both feet in his career, missing three games in 2006 after breaking one against Boston College and undergoing postseason surgery after the 2007 season with a stress fracture in the other.

Scouts, Inc. rates him surprisingly high for a guy that fell to the end of the 5th round:

Overall Football Traits
Production 2 Clemson red-shirted Hamlin in 2004. He started seven of the 12 games he appeared in during the 2005 season finishing with 55 total tackles, 30 unassisted tackles, two special teams’ tackles and one tackle-for-loss. Hamlin also broke up a pass and intercepted two passes in 2005. He started 10 games in 2006 finishing with 64 total tackles, 47 unassisted tackles, six special teams’ tackles and five tackles-for-loss. Hamlin also broke up three passes, forced a fumble, recovered two fumbles, intercepted two passes and missed three games with an injury (see durability) in 2006. He started all 13 games of the 2007 season finishing with 97 total tackles, 73 unassisted tackles, two special teams’ tackles and three tackles-for-loss. Hamlin also broke up six passes, forced a fumble, recovered two fumbles and intercepted four passes in 2007. Hamlin started in all 13 games during the 2008 season and recorded 110 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, and one sack. He also added six interceptions and 10 pass break-ups. Earned second team All-ACC honors during the 2007 season and earned first team honors during his senior campaign in 2008.
Height-Weight-Speed 2 Hamlin lacks elite top-end speed but he’s fasts enough to cover the deep half of the field and he has room on his frame to add even more bulk.
Durability 3 Hamlin broke his left foot in the fourth quarter of the 2006 Boston College game and missed the next three games.
Character 2 Voted permanent defensive captain by his 2007 teammates. Graduated with a degree in management in may of 2008.
Defensive Safety specific Traits
Recognition Skills/Toughness 3 Reads quarterbacks’ eyes. Generally doesn’t bite on play action but can jump up in short yardage situations. Flashes the ability to deliver the big hit over the middle but won’t be able to push receivers around as much in the NFL. Can be a step slow filling in run support. Doesn’t play with enough of a mean streak when steps up in run support.
Closing Burst 3 Can plant off back foot and explode out of backpedal but notch below ideal closing burst, footwork is a bit inconsistent and can be a step late getting to the ball as a result.
Fluidity 4 Going to have some problems turning and running with explosive slot receivers/tight ends. Turns shoulders too early at times and vulnerable to double moves. Can cover the deep half of the field but doesn’t open hips well enough to play a centerfielder-type role.
Ball Skills 2 Aggressive, times jumps well and can snatch the all out of the air. Flashes the ability to make the big play after the catch. (see 2007 North Carolina State game)
Run Support 3 Fails to wrap up on occasion but doesn’t miss many tackles and takes sound pursuit angles. Good motor and doesn’t give up on plays. (See third quarter Darius Heyward-Bey run in 2008 Maryland game) Has experience lining up in the box. Has adequate-to-good upper body strength and flashes the ability to keep blockers off frame but inconsistent in this area.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 5 #165 – Miami Dolphins – S Chris Clemons

This was the selection Miami got from Indianapolis in return for trading down in the second round.

Miami goes back to picking real people players to bolster their poor pass defense.

ESPN writes-

Clemons is an instinctive quick-twitched safety that displays elite closing burst. However, he needs to improve as a playmaker and take better angles to the ball. writes-

Positives: Lanky build with room for additional growth. … Has at least adequate pure game speed to be the last line of defense. … Takes good angles in pursuit. … Reads the quarterback and gets a jump on the ball. … Flashes a late burst to close. … Good open-field tackler. … Has the lateral quickness and balance to break down in space and wraps up. … Agile enough to slip blocks and make tackles near the line of scrimmage. … Durable. … Has never missed a game due to injury at Clemson.

Negatives: Lacks the bulk many teams prefer at safety. … A reliable open-field tackler, but lacks the explosiveness to be an enforcer in the middle. … Isn’t a natural playmaker. … Loses sight of the ball and doesn’t have natural hands for the interception. … Surrounded by legitimate NFL talent and has been allowed to freelance as a centerfielder.

I wonder what Jason Allen’s future is with the Miami Dolphins. Allen who was picked in the 1st round of the 2006 NFL draft, goes down as a draft bust in my book. Could Clemons make him expendable.

Update- Miami may have gotten value here. Clemons was ranked 121st best player in the draft and the 8th best safety by Scouts Inc.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 5 #161 – Miami Dolphins – TE Johnathan Nalbone

The Dolphins draft another pass catcher. This time it’s a tight end. I don’t know what to think about this selection because neither or Scouts Inc. have the slightest bit of data or analysis on guy. A google search finds a link but its broken of course. Does this player really exist?

All I know is he played college ball at Monmouth. While I wait for the next Dolphin selection, I’ve requested some assistance in my search for more information on Johnathan Nalbone. Wish me good luck.

Update- ESPN gives us this analysis-

Nalbone possesses adequate size and top-end speed for the position, however he is going to be a developmental project at this point. He needs to develop in terms of strength at the point of attack as an inline blocker as well as an overall route runner.

Welll at least that’s something.

2nd Update- My bloodhound found this-

Monmouth TE John Nalbone measured in at 6-4 1/4 and 257 pounds. He ran a 4.75 and 4.81 40-yard dash, a 4.22 short shuttle and 6.97 three-cone drill, with a 30-inch vertical jump, 9-foot, 3-inch broad jump and 22 strength lifts. Two days later, Nalbone worked out in front of scouts at Monmouth University, where he measured in six pounds lighter at 251. There he posted a 4.63 and 4.66 40-yard dash, a 4.22 short shuttle, 6.94 three-cone-drill, a 30-inch vertical jump, 9-foot, 9-inch broad jump and 22 strength lifts.

We will keep trying.

3rd Update- The OTB Sports Bloodhound tells me has some analysis-

Positives: Good size, strength and effort as a blocker. Highly competitive. Surprising athleticism shown in workouts. Catches the ball cleanly and looks to turn it upfield. Can track the ball over his shoulder. Adequate agility to avoid tacklers in the open field, but good strength to run through them.

Negatives: Obvious concerns over his level of competition. Needs to improve his strength to hold up as an inline blocker at the NFL level. Marginal burst out of his breaks to gain separation. Lacks experience in a sophisticated passing offense and will need time to acclimate to a typical route-tree.

Good doggy. This could be a sleeper pick.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 5 #143 – Dallas Cowboys – DB DeAmgelo Smith

Dallas traded up a few spots to take Cincinnati defensive back DeAngelo Smith,  gaving up the 156th and 210th picks to the Falcons to move up.   DMN’s Tim McMahon reports, “The 5-11, 194-pound Smith made 12 career interceptions, including eight in 2007. He was clocked at 4.50 in the 40 at the combine. Smith started 28 games for the Bearcats (23 at corner, five at free safety).”  The guess is he’ll be a safety in the NFL.


Smith teamed with Mike Mickens to form one of the elite cornerback tandems in college football. The two combined for 26 interceptions during their careers together, more than any other active duo in the NCAA in 2008. Always known for his outstanding hands, the right cornerback added a new wrinkle to his game as a senior taking over full-time punt return duties to add to his resume that included handling the bulk of kickoff return chores as a junior.

While not the celebrated tackler that Mickens is, Smith is a top-notch pass defender, breaking up 21 passes as a two-year starter. He ranks tied for second in school history with 12 interceptions and set the Bearcats’ single-season record with eight pass thefts in 2007, ranking second nationally in that category. He also collected 179 yards in returns, the fifth-best total in Cincinnati annals, as his two touchdown returns are good for a third place tie in school history.

Causing problems for opposing quarterbacks is commonplace for Smith, who registered 11 interceptions, returning five for touchdowns, en route to earning All-State first-team honors as a senior at Independence High School. He closed out his career with 20 pass thefts, returning seven for scores.

Smith also caught 14 touchdown passes and totaled seven punt or kickoff returns for scores as a senior. He earned first-team All-City and All-District honors. He was named to the Columbus Dispatch-Agonis All-Star team, as he helped the team to a regional finals appearance in the state playoffs.

Smith enrolled at Cincinnati in 2004, spending the season on the scout team. The Bearcat Academic Honor Roll selection appeared briefly in seven games, mostly on special teams in 2005, finishing with one solo tackle. He was the top reserve at both cornerback positions in 2006, recording 23 tackles (17 solos) with three pass deflections, a pair of interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He made the most of his opportunity in his only game as a starter, earning Big East Player of the Week honors after posting six tackles and returning an interception 84 yards (fourth-longest return in school history) vs. Rutgers. He also gained 65 yards on four kickoff returns that campaign.

Smith took over right cornerback duties as a junior, coming up with 49 tackles (39 solos) that included 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He caused and recovered two fumbles, as he also deflected eight passes. His eight interceptions set the school single-season record and led the Big East Conference while ranking second in the nation. He also amassed 296 yards on 12 kickoff returns (24.7 avg), earning second-team All-Big East recognition.

In 2008, Smith was chosen All-Big East third-team. He started all 14 games, picking up the leadership slack in the secondary when Mickens was sidelined late in the season. He broke up 10 passes, intercepted two others and caused a fumble. He also had 53 tackles (36 solos) with 3.5 stops for loss. His versatility proved invaluable, as he lined up at free safety for the first five games before returning to his more familiar right cornerback spot for the rest of the schedule. He also averaged 9.5 yards on 23 punt returns.

High School

Attended Independence (Columbus, Ohio) High School, playing football for head coach Alan Jones…Registered 11 interceptions, returning five for touchdowns en route to earning All-State first-team honors as a senior…Closed out his career with 20 pass thefts, returning seven for scores…Also caught 14 touchdown passes and totaled seven punt or kickoff returns for scores as a senior…Earned first-team All-City and All-District honors…Named to the Columbus Dispatch-Agonis All-Star team, as he helped the team to a regional finals appearance in the state playoffs.


Positives: Aggressive, adequately-sized corner with long arms and confidence. … Stays low in his pedal and flips his hips open well. … Good hands for the interception when closing forward on the ball. … Attacks quick screens behind the line of scrimmage, will throw his body into the tackle. … Has played some free safety when needed and also returned kicks. … Works hard to improve his game.

Negatives: Fits best in a zone system where he can see the play in front of him and close on the ball. … Plays near the line at times but does not get his hands on receivers. … Gambles to get to the ball. … Only adequate straight-line speed. … Has trouble adjusting to the ball in the air and making the interceptions when moving backward. … Has a tough time getting off wide receiver’s blocks due to his lack of size and upper-body strength. … Gets turned around easily. … Lacks the suddenness to handle quick slot receivers. … Not a physical tackler. … Whiffs on attempts to cut tackle because he ducks his head. … Questionable ball security, decision-making and speed as a punt returner.

Scouts, Inc. says,

Overall Football Traits
Production 3 2004: Cincinnati red-shirts Smith. 2005-06: Smith starts one of the 20 games he appears in. He records a total of 24 tackles and intercepts one pass. Smith also returns four kickoffs for a total of 65 yards in 2006. 2007: Smith starts all 13 games accumulating 49 tackles and ties for the FBS-lead in interceptions with eight. He returns 12 kickoffs for a total of 296 yards. 2008: Smith starts all 14 games accumulating 53 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions, 10 passes broken up and one forced fumble. He returns 23 punts for a total of 219 yards.
Height-Weight-Speed 4 Height and bulk are adequate but top-end speed is below-average.
Durability 1 Durability is not a concern to our knowledge.
Character 3 Member of the Bearcat Academic Honor Roll during the fall of 2006.
Defensive Corner specific Traits
Recognition Skills/Toughness 3 Reads keys and locates the ball quickly. Instinctive and seems to understand how offenses are trying to attack the coverage.  Can line at corner or safety and can play man or zone coverage. Does not shy away from contact and has good upper body strength but could be more aggressive in run support. Gambles at times and vulnerable to double moves. Can get pushed around by bigger receivers despite being tough for size.
Closing Burst 3 Can plant back foot and drive out of backpedal when a receivers catches the ball is caught in front of him but doesn’t show the same kinfd of burtst .  Marginal recovery speed and going to have tougher time overcoming false steps in the NFL.
Fluidity 3 Quick-twitch athlete that has fluid hips and can change directions in an instant. Can turn and run with receivers smoothly but isn’t fast enough to run with most NFL receivers. Allows too much separation when playing off man and appears more comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage.
Ball Skills 3 Can snatch the ball out of the air. Has adequate leaping ability, times jumps well and flashes the ability to highpoint the ball. Extends arms and shows a good sense of timing when breaking up passes but doesn’t track the ball well enough.
Run Support 4 Does a nice job of going low and chopping ball carriers legs out from under him but misses the occasional open field tackle and not a big hitter. Needs to shed or slip blocks quicker.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 4 #120 – Dallas Cowboys – DE Brandon Williams

The Cowboys traded down three spots to pick up Tampa’s 7th rounder (’cause we don’t have enough picks already…) and then take another lineman and in-state player, Texas Tech’s Brandon Williams.   This might be a rare case where the Cowboys got good value in the draft! says:


Big 12 opponents fully appreciated the impact Williams had on the Red Raiders’ in 2008, even if others paid more attention to the high-flying offense. After all, Williams led the conference with 13 sacks, earning first-team All-Big 12 accolades as a junior, and leaves Tech ranked fourth in school history with 22.5 career sacks. Williams is strictly a speed rusher, as he lacks the bulk and strength to provide much in the running game. Teams are always looking for pass rushers and this fact could make Williams a top-100 selection come April, but another year at Texas Tech to get stronger would have been beneficial.

High School

South Hills High School in Fort Worth, Texas … No. 69 overall prospect in Dallas area (Dallas Morning News) … District 8-4A first team after posting 102 tackles and 11 sacks during senior season … Rated as one of the state’s top 20 defensive linemen … Timed at 4.8 second in the 40-yard dash … Also offered by Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa State, Central Florida and SMU … High school coach was Jerry Watson.


Positives: Lanky, athletic frame with room for at least an additional 15-20 pounds of added mass. … Good initial quickness off the snap. … Can pressure the edge immediately with his burst and has the balance and flexibility to get under the tackle and close. … Has a late short burst to close. … Good straight-line speed.

Negatives: Essentially a one-trick pony at this time because he lacks the bulk and strength required to be dependable against the run in the NFL from the traditional defensive end position. … Lacks the balance and flexible hips to change direction fluidly and project as a linebacker. … Relies on his long arms and speed to trip up ballcarriers too often. … Is not a strong tackler and opponents break his arm tackles.

Scouts, Inc says:

Overall Football Traits
Production 2 2006: Williams appears in 11 games as a true freshman and records 16 tackles including 3.5 sacks. He breaks up one pass. 2007: Williams starts 11 of the 12 games he appears in recording 41 tackles including 11.5 tackles-for-loss. He forces three fumbles and recovers one fumble. 2008: Williams starts all 12 games and records 21 tackles including 12.5 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks. He forces three fumbles and breaks up three passes.
Height-Weight-Speed 4 Adequate-to-good height but needs to bulk up to play defensive end or move to rush linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Combine 40 time was poor but he plays faster than that result indicates.
Durability 2 Durability is not an issue to our knowledge but lack of size puts him somewhat at risk.
Character 3 No off-the-field issues to our knowledge.
Defensive End specific Traits
Agility/Quickness 2 Better agility than Combine numbers reflect. Reads movement and explodes off the ball. Shows above-average closing speed in pursuit. But he does show some tightness in the hips, he struggles to change directions in space and he will likely have a difficult time matching up in coverage if moved to outside linebacker.
Strength/Toughness 4 Plays from the snap until the whistle and fights to get off blocks. Lacks ideal lower body strength and gets driven back at times. Undersized and can get engulfed by bigger offensive linemen.
Instincts 2 Finds the ball quickly and rarely caught out of position. Shows above-average awareness and does a nice job of sniffing out draws as well as screens.
Pass Rusher 2 Quick enough to turn the corner and shows above-average closing speed when gets a clear run at the quarterback. Can set offensive tackles up to the outside and then swim or spin back inside. Ball-hawk that looks to knock the ball loose when gets to the quarterback.
Run Stopper 4 At his best when on the move. Shows quick hands and long arms, which if used properly can help him keep blockers off his body. Possesses the lateral mobility necessary to get down the line and fill cutback lanes. However, he possesses marginal strength and really struggles to hold his ground when teams run at him. He typically takes far too long to shed the block.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 4 #110 – Dallas Cowboys – DE Victor Butler

With the 10th pick in the 4th round, the Dallas Cowboys take Oregon State defensive end Victor Butler, apparently with the intention of making him an outside linebacker in the 3-4.  He appears to be a serious project.

Holy crap this is a lousy draft.  Thus far, not a single player likely to compete for a starting job this year. says,


An undersized pass-rush specialist with the Beavers, Butler must make the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL. A standout pass rusher who broke out to register 10.5 sacks as a junior despite only starting one game, Butler was first-team All-Pac-10 and tied the single-season sack record at OSU with 12 as a senior and leaves second in school history with 25.5 career sacks. It was his final two games with the Beavers that really have scouts intrigued. Butler earned Sun Bowl MVP after racking up 11 tackles, including five tackles for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble against Pittsburgh and showed surprising fluidity when operating in coverage while at the East-West Shrine Game.

High School

Three-year letterman as receiver, safety, defensive end and kick returner … Played defensive end only as a senior due to team needs … Two-time all-league and all-county as a senior.


Positives: Rangy build with plenty of room for additional muscle mass. … Good initial burst off the edge as a pass rusher. … Capable of challenging the tackle and flexible enough to bend around the tackle to collapse the pocket. … Good closing speed. … Good lateral quickness and balance to redirect. … Shows some leg drive as a bull rusher. … Helped himself at the East-West Shrine Game, showing good upper-body strength to pop the tight end off the snap. … Good straight-line speed and agility to redirect in coverage. … Tools to warrant development as a rush linebacker. … Voted team captain.

Negatives: Classic “tweener.” … Essentially a one-trick pony. … Lacks the bulk to remain at defensive end and may lack the necessary speed and agility for coverage. … Questionable instincts for move a linebacker. … Relies on his agility to avoid blockers when in space. … Struggles to disengage from blockers once they’ve locked on. … Only one season as a starter.

Scouts, Inc gives him a decent grade.

Overall Football Traits
Production 3 2005-’07: Butler starts one of the 36 games he appears in accumulating 45 tackles, 18 tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks, one interception, four pass breakups, three fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles. 2008: Butler starts all 13 games accumulating 65 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He earns first team All PAC-10 honors in 2008.
Height-Weight-Speed 2 Adequate height and bulk but excellent top-end speed.
Durability 1 Has not missed any playing time with an injury.
Character 2 Voted team captain in 2008.
Outside Linebacker specific Traits
Instincts/Recognition 3 Instincts are adequate-at-best but he shows good discipline and generally stays at home when offense runs misdirection.
Pursuit/Point of Attack 3 Excellent range, takes sound pursuit angles and a sideline-to-sideline run stopper. Very good upper body strength but don’t see it enough on film and more effective in space than is in phone booth situations. Takes too long to shed blocks when gets reached and can get driven back.
Tackling 3 Strong tackler in a confined area but doesn’t show great body control in space and is an inconsistent open field tackler.
Pass Coverage 4 Fast enough to run with backs/tight ends down the middle of the field but takes too long to open hips. Not fluid changing directions so going to have some problems matching up underneath as well. Lacks ideal ball skills and not a playmaker.
Pass Rusher 2 Greatest strength. Quick, gets good inside body lean and shows above-average closing speed. Can set tackles up to the outside before redirecting inside.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 4 #108- Miami Dolphins- WR Brian Hartline

Another Wide Receiver who is ranked well down the board by Scouts Inc. analysis-

Positives: Good height and an athletic frame. Good initial quickness off the snap. Better football player than overall athlete. Does a lot of the little things well. Reliable route-runner. Lacks elite burst out of his snaps, but runs them with precision. Good body lean and utilizes head fakes and varying speeds to help generate separation. Good hands. Tough. Will take a big hit and hang on to the ball. Good downfield blocker. Stalks defenders at the second level and can supply a big hit. Experienced special teams player.

Negatives: Lacks the eye-popping athleticism to offer much upside. Doesn’t have the straight-line speed to challenge over the top. Lacks burst out of his breaks. Generally reliable hands, but has some ugly drops when he’s trying to make a move on the defender before securing the pass.

ESPN writes-

Hartline plays with the competitive edge and displays the toughness to go over the middle. He also shows good body control when catching the ball. However, we have some concerns with his fluidity changing directions and overall consistency with hands because he has a history of dropping balls he should catch.

Oh goody. A white Derek Hagen. It was said Hagen had problems with holding onto the football when Miami drafted him in the 3rd round in 2006.

Mel Kiper sees Hartline as a Special Teams player and 4th Wide Receiver. He’s higher on this selection than Miami’s pick of Patrick Turner.

In light of three of the last four picks they made, I expect Miami to either draft a Basset Hound, A Two-headed Martian lesbian, or Some goldfish with their next picks. The Dolphin 2009 NFL Draft is a psychoanalyst’s dream.


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