Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2009 Round 3 #87 – Miami Dolphins- WR Patrick Turner

The ESPN crew doesn’t like this pick at all. Mel Kiper called Turner a 6th or 7th round pick. analysis-

Positives: Long, lean build with adequate overall muscle development. Long arms and big hands. Good lateral quickness and hand play to get off the line of scrimmage cleanly. Better foot quickness and balance as a route-runner than most receivers of his height. Good vision and willing to cut back inside against the grain to generate yards after the catch. Times his leaps well and has the strength to go up and make the catch with defenders draped on him. Can track over his shoulder and can extend. Stepped up his play as a senior and was a pleasant surprise at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

Negatives: Relies on build-up speed to get downfield. Lacks the burst off the snap or out of his breaks to threaten defenders, potentially allowing NFL-caliber cornerbacks to stick in his pocket on underneath and intermediate routes. Not the physical dominator his size would indicate. Doesn’t use his size and strength often enough to generate separation from undersized defenders. Lacks the agility in the open field or the strength to run through tackles to be much of a playmaking threat after the reception.

ESPN writes-

Turner is a bigger receiver who lacks the quickness and fluidity to create adequate separation at the NFL level. He also lacks the top-end speed to ever be considered a home-run threat. However, he does an excellent job using his frame to shield defenders from the ball and does not drop many balls when catching within his frame.

How he fits: This is an interesting pick because of the mixed feelings regarding Turner, combined with the receivers still on the board. Miami desperately needed a target to play opposite of Ted Ginn Jr. and compete with Greg Camarillo. It remains to be seen if Turner is that guy. He is a big body who can contribute on special teams. This may be the replacement for Ernest Wilford, who appears to be a bust.

This is another puzzling choice made by Miami. There had been a rush of Wide Receivers before the Dolphins made their pick, but there were much higher ranked(Scouts Inc. had him as the 38th best WR and he was the 14th selected) available receivers out their than Turner. Turner at 6’5 has size, but alot of question marks.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 1 #26- Green Bay- LB Clay Matthews

ESPN expected New England to trade down this pick they got from Baltimore. They did- To Green Bay. Matthews is the third USC player to go in the 1st round.

ESPN writes- Matthews possesses great versatility. He has excellent range against the run along with the fluid change of direction to make him one of this draft’s best coverage linebackers. He has also improved his ability to bend as a rusher off the edge, not to mention the oustanding value he brings on special teams.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 1 #15- Houston Texans- LB Brian Cushing

Second former Trojan taken in the first 15 picks.

ESPN writes- Cushing’s greatest strength is his ability to defend the run. He locates the ball quickly, is strong enough to set the edge and he is a big hitter who wraps up on contact. There’s also a lot to like about his range and motor. He isn’t as strong in coverage or as a pass-rusher, but he can masque his lack of ideal hip flexibility with positioning and his ability to jam tight ends at the line.


NFL Draft 2009 – Round 1 #5 – NY Jets by the way of Cleveland – QB Mark Sanchez

The Jets make a trade with the team whose head coach, Eric Mangini, just worked for them last season. With Bret Favre retired this time for good, NY takes the best quarterback on the board.

Jets trade their second round pick to Cleveland in addition to exchanging their #17 pick in the first round for Cleveland’s #5 pick. There were players exchanged also. I’ll update the post when I get the details.

ESPN writes- Sanchez doesn’t have as much arm strength or the same body of work as Matt Stafford, but on the other hand teams have fallen in love with his intangibles and arm accuracy during the off season. There?s a lot to like about his pocket presence and ability to elude the rush. We are concerned about rushing him into the starting lineup, but if any of this year?s quarterback prospects have the mental toughness to learn on the fly, Sanchez is the one.


Are you ready for some bowling?

No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this Saturday, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Dec 20
Eaglebank Bowl- Wake Forest vs Navy
New Mexico Bowl- Colorado State vs Fresno St
MAGICJACK ST. PETERSBURG BOWL- Memphis vs. South Florida
PIONEER LAS VEGAS BOWL- Brigham Young vs Arizona
Dec 21
Dec 23
Dec 24
SHERATON HAWAII BOWL- Hawaii vs Notre Dame
Dec 26
MOTOR CITY BOWL- Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan
Saturday, December 27
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL- West Virginia vs. North Carolina
Champs Sports Bowl- Wisconsin vs. Florida State
Emerald Bowl- Miami (FL) vs. California
December 28
Independence Bowl- Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech
PAPAJOHNS.COM BOWL- North Carolina State vs. Rutgers
Valero Alamo Bowl- Missouri vs. No. 23 Northwestern
Tuesday, December 30
PACIFIC LIFE HOLIDAY BOWL- Oklahoma State vs. No. 17 Oregon
Texas Bowl- Western Michigan vs. Rice
Wednesday, December 31
Sun Bowl- Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
GAYLORD HOTELS MUSIC CITY BOWL- Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
Insight Bowl- Kansas vs. Minnesota
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL- LSU vs. Georgia Tech
Thursday, January 1
OUTBACK BOWL- South Carolina vs. Iowa
CAPITAL ONE BOWL- Georgia vs. Michigan State
Gator Bowl- Nebraska vs. Clemson
Rose Bowl- Penn State vs. USC
Fedex Orange Bowl- Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Friday, January 2
Cotton Bowl- Mississippi vs. Texas Tech
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL- Kentucky vs. East Carolina
January 3
INTERNATIONAL BOWL- Buffalo vs. Connecticut
January 5
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL- Ohio State vs. Texas
January 6
GMAC Bowl- Ball State vs. Tulsa*
January 8

That’s 34 games, 68 schools spread over a period of 20 days for those of you keeping score at home. An ample supply of college football for any fanatics out there.

A few notes

*- There are a few bowl games remaining without corporate names in their title. Gator, Sun, Texas, Independence. Were these games unable to find sponsors?
*- Will Oklahoma St. and Oregon combine for 70 pts or more in the Holiday Bowl? This annually has been of the most high scoring affairs.
*- Oh how has the Orange Bowl dropped. A game that featured early triumphs of Joe Paterno led Penn State, Nebraska and Oklahoma in their glory days, the first major bowl appearance of Florida State, and the all time classic 84 battle between Nebraska and Miami, has Cincinnati and Virginia Tech playing this year. I’m sure they are talented football teams, but how many people are drooling to see them play in a prime-time network slot?
*- Arizona and BYU meet in a bowl 30 years after the former left the WAC conference for the higher profile Pac Eight(Now Ten, Arizona State joined also)
*- Vanderbilt makes a rare bowl appearance. Congratulations to Commodore fans, but this is a sign of how bowls are grown way out of proportion. 6-6 college teams get bids. When I was growing up I could remember Florida State going without a bowl in 1978 even though they finished the season 8-3.

It is my humble opinion that bowl season has gotten out of hand. Someone may say what’s the big deal? If someone wants to start a bowl game and there are two schools willing to play in it, does their records matter. A good football isn’t only a contest between stars at big name schools.

All true, but how much public money is spent on these affairs? Many of the teams are state universities who get funded by taxpayers. Then there is the game itself where police have to be taken from other tasks to work the day or night of the game or paid over-time.

With the economic downturn right now, you have to wonder if there will be less bowls in the near future. That would depend on how long a deal a corporate sponsor signed on for. I wonder how many fans of some schools plan to make a bowl trip. Are there 1,000 or more FAU Owls willing to journey from Florida to Michigan in December to watch the team play? Even if I were a Owl fan and had money, I’d stay home.

Enjoy the games.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #28 – Seattle Seahawks – DE Lawrence Jackson (from Dallas Cowboys)

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Seattle Seahawks traded down three spots to pick up a 5 and 7 and quickly grabbed Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC.

Scouts, Inc.: 33

Strengths: Possesses good overall size; adequate height, thickly built with longer arms (34.1) and bigger hands (9.1). Displays good initial quickness and mobility for his size. Shows some variety as a pass rusher, using a combination of quickness and power. At his best as a pass rusher when working one-on-one on the perimeter. Displays enough upper-and-lower body strength to seal off the perimeter when he’s playing with leverage. Does a good job at times of keeping separation from blockers and is learning how to disengage quicker than he would earlier in his career. Is tough and plays with a mean streak.

Weaknesses: Is more quick than fast. Lacks ideal top-end speed. He will never be the type of speed-end that can consistently run past offensive tackles. Lacks explosive closing burst as a pass rusher. Really struggles to split the double-team. He leaves his feet too frequently. Durability is only a minor concern but he has had ankle surgery twice during collegiate career; once in 2003 and most recently in spring of 2007.

Overall: Jackson was redshirted in 2003 and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle after the season. In his first three active seasons (2004-’06), he played in 39 games and recorded 121 total tackles (35 for losses), 20 sacks, five forced fumbles and two interceptions. Jackson started all 13 games as a senior, delivering 60 tackles (17 for losses), 10.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. His right ankle required a second surgery before 2007 spring practice. His brother, Keith, played offensive tackle at Arizona. Jackson was one of the best young defensive ends in the nation during his first two seasons at USC (2004-’05) before his production tailed off as a junior in 2006. Part of the problem was that Jackson spent more time inside as the Trojans’ injected more 3-4 alignments on defense. The other problem was that Jackson didn’t handle all the double-team attention well. Regardless, Jackson bounced back as a senior in 2007, showing far more explosiveness when turned loose more frequently as an outside rusher. Jackson does not possess great top-end speed but his combination of initial quickness, size and power give him a chance to make an impact as an every-down starter in the NFL — likely as an end in a traditional 4-3 scheme. But if he doesn’t become a more consistent performer on the next level; Jackson will be a disappointment as a projected second-round pick.

Rick Gosselin: 42

A bit of a reach but a decent pick. There has been such an amazing run on lineman that the draft boards might have to be thrown out the window.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #21 – Atlanta Falcons – OT Sam Baker (via Washington Redskins)

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Washington Redskins are on the clock with a surprising array of highly rated skill players to choose from.

The best player on the board would seem to be Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall. They’re pretty solid at that position, though, with Clinton Portis and Laddell Betts on the roster. Sadly, they could use a safety after having their All Pro Sean Taylor murdered last year. But 21 is likely too high to take Kenny Phillips, the consensus best one on the board.

Their time is up and the winner is . . .


The Atlanta Falcons got the pick with just seconds on the clock and they’ve selected Sam Baker, OT, USC.

Scouts, Inc.: 49

Strengths: Possesses adequate height and size-potential. Feet are his best asset. He displays very good initial quickness as a run blocker and in pass pro. Gets set quickly and stays under control. Can mirror-and-slide with elite pass rushers and rarely gets beat by speed off the edge. His hand placement is outstanding. He shows very good awareness and rarely misses an assignment. Takes good angles as a run blocker and is technically sound in that facet of the game. Also does a good job of mixing in cut blocks to keep defenders off-balance.

Weaknesses: Lacks ideal bulk. Has short arms (32.6 inches) and small hands (9.2 inches). Too much of a finesse blocker. Plays with a narrow base and would benefit from added strength in his lower-body. He’s not overpowering in the run game and he will struggle at times to generate a new line of scrimmage versus bigger, stronger DE’s. He works hard to sustain blocks but he doesn’t show enough of a mean-streak at times. Durability is suddenly a concern following arthroscopic surgery to remove loose cartilage in his left knee prior to 2007 spring practice and lingering hamstring injury that cost him playing time as a senior.

Overall: Baker arrived at USC in 2003 and redshirted his first year. He moved from guard to offensive tackle before the 2004 season, and went on to make 39 consecutive starts at left tackle over the next three years (2004-’06). As a senior in 2007, he played 10 games (all starts). He was a first team All-America selection as a junior (2006) and a second-team selection as a senior (2007). He missed three games in his last season because of a left hamstring strain. Baker also suffered a bone chip in his left knee in 2005; played through a left knee sprain in 2006 (which required arthroscopic surgery at the end of the season); and suffered a cracked rib before the 2007 season. Son of AFL commissioner David Baker, Sam Baker enters the NFL draft as a four-year starter from one of the top programs in college football. He possesses good agility for the position and generally will get in position as a run blocker and in pass pro. However, Baker is a bit of a finesse player that lacks explosive power and does not play with consistent leverage. He also has short arms and small hands. Baker struggled to stay healthy as a senior and did not make the necessary improvements as a result. He is no longer expected to be drafted in the first round but he should be off the board by the end of Round 2.

Rick Gosselin: 51st

This seems like a bizarre trade to me, to move up to take a 2nd round value.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #7 – New Orleans Saints – DT Sedrick Ellis (via New England via 49ers)

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The New England Patriots have the 7th pick in the draft, despite being a few minutes shy of an undefeated season, owing to a draft day trade last year. They don’t have any obvious holes. Do they trade down? Or take the best available player?

With about 2 minutes left on the clock, they trade the pick to the New Orleans Saints

The Saints pick Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC.

Scouts, Inc.: 6th

Strengths: A disruptive, penetrating interior defensive lineman. At his best in a one-gap scheme but has some versatility due to experience as a nose tackle and three-technique. He is extremely disruptive versus the run. Displays outstanding initial burst and wins most of his battles with first-step quickness. Shows outstanding body control and stays on his feet. Uses long arms to keep separation and does an excellent job of disengaging from blocks and keeping on the move. Exceptional technique; uses his hands effectively and his feet never stop moving. Recognition skills are very good and he’s athletic enough to change directions and pursue once he penetrates the backfield. He consistently generates pressure as a pass rusher. Shows upper-echelon closing burst for his position and also does a good job of batting down passes once he realizes he’s not getting to the QB. Plays with a great motor and works very hard on and off the field. Never gives up on a play and his effort is infectious.

Weaknesses: Undersized; lacks ideal height. Not an ideal fit for two-gap schemes. Durability has been of an issue; redshirted in 2003 due to injury that required surgery and missed three games in 2006 (Nebraska, Arizona and Washington State) due to right knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery.

Overall: Ellis arrived at USC in 2003 but took a medical redshirt year after suffering a midseason left ankle fracture that required surgery. In his first three active seasons (2004-’06), he appeared in 34 games and made 86 tackles (16 for losses) and nine sacks. As a senior in 2007, he started all 13 games at nose guard and collected 58 tackles (12.5 for losses), 8.5 sacks and seven pass breakups on his way to first team All-America honors. Ellis missed three games in ’06 after tearing cartilage in his right knee, which required arthroscopic surgery. He also had fluid drained from the knee in ’07 and missed several practices but no games. Ellis did not time out well at the combine but he is a great football player, nonetheless. He has bulked up to 309 pounds and can play NT and/or DT at the next level. Thanks to an outstanding combination of quickness, power, technique and effort, Ellis proved in college to be nearly unblockable one-on-one  even versus top talent at the Senior Bowl. Ellis will be valued as a top-10 pick by teams in search of a playmaking one-gap interior lineman.

Rick Gosselin: 5th

Mel Kiper: 6th

Tampa Bay Bucs-style DT with superior quickness and a nonstop motor.


Keyshawn Johnson Cut by Carolina Panthers

Having drafted USC’s Dwayne Jarrett in the second round and Ryne Robinson in the fourth, the Carolina Panthers have cut Keyshawn Johnson.

The Carolina Panthers released receiver Keyshawn Johnson on Tuesday, three days after they selected another former Southern California receiver in the second round of the draft. It was thought Johnson would help groom Dwayne Jarrett of USC, taken in the second round with the 45th pick. But apparently Johnson was deemed expendable — he and Jarrett are both 6-foot-4 possession receivers.

The Panthers also selected receiver Ryne Robinson of Miami of Ohio in the fourth round. While he will likely be primarily used as a punt returner, he did catch 91 passes last season.

Johnson, who will turn 35 in July, had 70 catches for 815 yards and four touchdowns last season, his first with Carolina, and became the 16th player in NFL history with 800 career catches. The Panthers signed the former No. 1 overall pick last year after he was released by the Cowboys in a salary cap move so they could sign Terrell Owens.

Johnson worked as an analyst for ESPN during the network’s draft coverage. When Carolina selected Jarrett, Johnson remarked he was “much like me” for his size and good hands and said he was looking forward to taking him under his wing.

Keyshawn was still quite productive last year despite a mediocre quarterback. If the price is right, I’d be happy to have him back with the Cowboys…

UPDATE: His agent says there’s plenty of interest.

Jerome Stanley, the agent for wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, told’s John Clayton on Wednesday that “several teams have expressed interest in Johnson and that he does have offers.” Stanley would not identify the teams that have made offers to Johnson, who was cut Tuesday by the Carolina Panthers, but he added, “Based on the offers, Keyshawn will be playing in the NFL this season.” Stanley said Johnson is sorting through the offers, but the agent didn’t put a timetable when Johnson would make a decision.


“They said they wanted to get younger,” Johnson told the St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday. “That’s fine with me. I’d like to go somewhere and help someone win another Super Bowl.”

Granted, what else is his agent going to say? Still, it’s quite likely a few teams would like to have this guy. You’d think the Cowboys would be one of them — at the right price — even with three other 30-something receivers on the roster. If Jerry Jones really thinks this team can go all the way, it makes sense to load up with veteran talent.


USC And The New OJ

This has to be one of the most bizzare recruiting stories I have heard lately. Just a few choice quotes below:

Mayo was first mentioned in Sports Illustrated when he was in the seventh grade. He was considered a future lottery pick by the time he entered high school. He once talked trash to Michael Jordan during a pickup game at Jordan’s camp.

“Let me call him,” Floyd said.

The man shook his head again. “O. J. doesn’t give out his cell,” he said. “He’ll call you.”

Before Floyd hung up, he asked one more time for Mayo’s cellphone number. “No,” Mayo said. “I’ll call you.”

Its going to be an interesting one and done eyar for OJ and USC.


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