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Old 03-08-2006   #1
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Default Lance Z's combine notes

Just got his weekly email. This week is some good scoop on the combine.
Enjoy.


A View From the Sideline

NFL Combine Notes from Inside / Lance Zierlein

Okay, I’ve been waiting for the inside scoop on what went down inside the RCA Dome and in the team interviews so I could pass as much info as I have along to you guys and I’ve finally got some scoop. I also spent quite a bit of time watching the workouts of the different players on the NFL Network. However, after watching offensive linemen participate in the broad jump and the vertical leap, I began to feel like I was watching a glorified “physical fitness test” like we used to take in elementary school. While the combine drills are still very important for where guys get drafted, football players will rise to the top of the league when it is all said and done whether they run a fast short shuttle time or not. Here are some thoughts as well as direct comments from people inside the Combine.

* Reggie McNeal was described as “a little too cocky” in his interview with one team, but another scout said that he gave McNeal bonus points for not pointing the finger at others for his subpar performance this year which showed that he’s not a “blamer.” While McNeal ran a great 40, everyone expected it. He struggled with his passing drills and one scout thought he hurt his draft prospects at the combine . . . at least as a QB. However, one scout said “In the right offense he might be much better. Franchione’s offense is horsesh-t.” All three scouts see him as a second day pick (4th round or beyond) but I think he’ll go in the third round.

* Rod Wright’s status hasn’t really changed much amongst the people who scout him on a regular basis. Everyone still considers Wright a 3rd or 4th round pick but Wright did have a pretty good workout from what I was told and a team may decide he is a good fit for what they do which means he could go earlier than expected. Many scouts point out that he hasn’t really made great strides since his freshman year.

* David Thomas, TE from Texas, had a solid workout with a 40 time of 4.67 and more important, he showed up much bigger than he was as a player at Texas which is something that teams wanted to see. Thomas didn’t really help or hurt himself at the combine. He is what he is which is a pass catching tight end and while NFL people are split on whether he’ll be a 3rd or 4th round pick, I think most teams feel comfortable with his potential as a solid NFL player.

* TCU WR Cory Rogers hurt his draft stock by running right at 4.6 but blazing straight line speed aren’t necessarily what teams like about Rogers anyway. He’s got very good quickness and I thought he caught the ball great during “the gauntlet” drill at the combine. Rogers should end up being drafted around the 4th round which is probably right where he should be going.

* Michael Huff impressed teams with his sub 4.4 40-yard dash time but both scouts I spoke with who watched him during defensive back drills said he wasn’t very impressive in those drills. One scout who has touted him to me as first round caliber CB since his sophomore year said that he still thinks Huff can be a CB but he wants to go back and watch some old tape on him now just to be sure. Regardless, Huff is considered a great defensive back prospect who will be highly drafted whether it is at safety or cornerback. If Huff gets down from 207 to 198, he’ll likely look better in his CB drills at UT’s Pro Day March 22nd.

* One scout who sat in on Vince Young’s interview with his team said that VY had an average interview. When he was “on the board” (asked to explain coverages, reads and decision making) he was raw and unsure. “He needs to sit and learn for a year or two before he’ll be ready.” We already know about the Wunderlich debacle that took place whether it was an NFL mistake or a Vince Young mistake. Bottom line, VY needs to be more prepared to take the Wunderlich test than he was. Agents around the country have Wunderlich tests that they use for players to prepare and Vince should have done the same thing.

* Texas A&M’s Johnny Jolly didn’t help himself at the combine by showing up overweight and seemingly out of shape. One scout was overheard telling Jolly he looked “gooey” and asked him what he had been doing since the end of the season. If Jolly had been in shape, he might have been a drafted in round 3 or 4 but now, according to all three scouts, he won’t be drafted until round 5 or beyond.

* Texas Tech’s prospects all ran very disappointing 40 yard dash times leading one scout to say “whatever they are doing over at Tech to prepare for the 40, they need to stop because it isn’t working.” Tech’s hard-hitting safety, Dwayne Slay, ran in the 4.8 range which didn’t surprise some of the scouts who had seen him all year. If he had run in the mid to low 4.7 range, he might have still been drafted by the 4th round, but not now. He’s a great hitter and tough kid and supposedly a good kid, but you just can’t run this slow and play safety in the NFL. He’ll be drafted in the 6th round or beyond now.

Now for some players from around the nation:

* Jay Cutler had a good combine. Everyone knows that by now. Cutler repped out 225 pounds 23 times on the bench press and ran a 4.77 forty. Cutler also had the second strongest arm of any quarterback at the combine which was expected. While Cutler is moving up, two scouts I spoke with said that he wasn’t quite as impressive throwing the ball as some media outlets have indicated. “He was good but I didn’t think he was great,” said one scout while another added, “There is still no way he should be drafted ahead of Leinart or Young.”

* AJ Hawk had a very good workout with a solid forty time and outstanding shuttle times which determine a player’s ability to change direction quickly. One scout whose responsibility is scouting all of the linebackers in the draft said “Hawk is a man. He can play any linebacker position in the 4-3 or a 3-4 and he will excel.”

* Iowa’s linebacker combo of Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge weren’t as impressive. Greenway was okay but didn’t run as well as expected while Hodge looked has been called “a little stiff and overrated” by one personnel man I spoke with. Look for Greenway to still go in the top 24 and Hodge to go late in the third or early in the fourth.

* OU’s Clint Ingram had a solid workout and figures to end up being drafted late in the round two or three while Ernie Simms from Florida State is catching teams’ eyes despite being a little small. Simms is very explosive and a good hitter but his aggressiveness is going to get teams excited about his pro prospects. He’s a perfect fit for Tony Dungy but he’ll probably be gone by then.

* Joseph Addai continues to do just what I told you he would do a couple of issues ago and that is lock himself into the early 2nd round. The LSU RB ran extremely well and has good NFL size. Durability is the only concern with Addai.
* NC State’s defensive end Mario Williams and Maryland tight end Vernon Davis were the talk of the combine. At 6'7 and over 290 pounds (think Julius Peppers body), Williams cranked out a 4.66 forty yard dash and 35 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press which is insane considering how long his arms are. One scout told me that the Texans would be completely justified if they took Mario Williams with the first pick of the draft and then took a guy like Joseph Addai in the 2nd round as a big play threat at RB rather than Bush with the first pick. Davis ran a mind-boggling 4.38 forty even though he is a shredded 250 pounds. His numbers were so off the chart that none of the other tight ends at the combine were near him. He’s a top 6 or 7 talent but since he’s a tight end, he might not get drafted until a little later than that.

* Look for South Carolina CB Johnathan Joseph to shoot up the board as he has size, speed and good ball skills. His rise up the boards is being likened to Fabian Washington from Nebraska last year who ended up in the first round. Look for Joseph to end up in the late first to early second round.

* Even though the thought has been that this is a weak year for cornerbacks that isn’t really true. There aren’t as many top 15 picks as there have been in other years but from picks 15 through 60 there are some very good corner prospects. How good? A scout (who is usually dead on) says he likes Cedric Griffin from Texas but only ranks him about 14th among corners in this draft and he thinks that is good enough to get him drafted by the late 2nd to middle 3rd round.

* FSU cornerback Antonio Cramartie is looking great after missing last year with an injury. Cromartie might be the most talented corner in the group but Virginia Tech’s Jimmy Williams is also a solid prospect and figures to be the first corner off the board. Cornerback prospects are interesting because many times the best players aren’t drafted the earliest because of perceived deficiencies. According to one scout, “80% of the cornerbacks drafted after the first round are chosen based on their height, weight and speed and not how they played on tape.”

John Harris’ Top 40

Top 40 Players (as of 2/18/2006)

1. Reggie Bush - RB, USC
2. Vince Young, QB – Texas
3. Matt Leinart, QB – USC
4. Mario Williams, DE – NC State
5. Haloti Ngata, DT - Oregon
6. AJ Hawk, LB – Ohio State
7. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, OT – Virginia
8. LenDale White, RB – USC
9. DeAngelo Williams, RB – Memphis
10. Chad Greenway, LB – Iowa
11. Vernon Davis, TE – Maryland
12. Laurence Maroney, RB – Minnesota
13. Michael Huff, S/CB – Texas
14. Tamba Hali, DE – Penn State
15. Jay Cutler, QB – Vanderbilt
16. Santonio Holmes, WR – Ohio State
17. Tye Hill, CB – Clemson
18. Marcedes Lewis, TE – UCLA
19. Marcus McNeill, OT – Auburn
20. DeMeco Ryans, OLB – Alabama
21. Winston Justice, OT – USC
22. Greg Eslinger, C – Minnesota
23. Deuce Latui, G – USC
24. Sinorice Moss, WR – Miami
25. Manny Lawson, DE – NC State
26. Brodrick Bunkley, DT – FSU
27. Nick Mangold, C – Ohio State
28. Mathias Kiwanuka, DE – Boston College
29. Dominique Byrd, TE – USC
30. Leonard Pope, TE – Georgia
31. Orien Harris, DT – Miami
32. Bobby Carpenter, LB – Ohio State
33. Ernie Sims, LB – FSU
34. Max Jean-Gilles, G – Georgia
35. Anthony Fasano, TE – Notre Dame
36. Jimmy Williams, CB/S – Virginia Tech
37. Darnell Bing, S – USC
38. Ko Simpson, S – South Carolina
39. Gabe Watson, DT - Michigan
40. Charles Spencer, OT/OG - Pittsburgh
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Old 03-08-2006   #2
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"One scout told me that the Texans would be completely justified if they took Mario Williams with the first pick of the draft and then took a guy like Joseph Addai in the 2nd round as a big play threat at RB rather than Bush with the first pick."

Someone also has Peppers and Portis on their mind from 2002. Take Mario regardless and hit the Oline with the second.
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Old 03-08-2006   #3
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Fix the trenches. 1) Williams 2) Mangold if he's there.
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Old 03-08-2006   #4
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Casserly would be a very brave man if he did that. Most fans would go nuts in Houston even if it is the right pick.
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Old 03-08-2006   #5
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Originally Posted by The Dude Abides
Casserly would be a very brave man if he did that. Most fans would go nuts in Houston even if it is the right pick.
Fans will go crazy regardless. The health of the product on the field is more important than the whim of the casual fan in my opinion.
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Old 03-08-2006   #6
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Originally Posted by Kaiser Toro
Fans will go crazy regardless. The health of the product on the field is more important than the whim of the casual fan in my opinion.
I completely agree. Nonetheless, after Casserly almost losing his job, will he take the risk and the public backlash? I doubt it.
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Old 03-08-2006   #7
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i dont know about that- just look at this MB lately- people have accepted we wont take VY- and now its a 3/4 way choice between Bush,D'brick,Mario (and maybe Vernon Davis if we drop down further) with most people having 1 favourite out of that list but will be happy no matter whichever 1 is taken
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Old 03-08-2006   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maddict5
i dont know about that- just look at this MB lately- people have accepted we wont take VY- and now its a 3/4 way choice between Bush,D'brick,Mario (and maybe Vernon Davis if we drop down further) with most people having 1 favourite out of that list but will be happy no matter whichever 1 is taken
Every poll I see has TExans fans saying about 60-70% still think we should take Vince Young, 20-25% Bush, 10% trade down. So I don't think "people have accepted we won't take VY" as you say.

Me, I like the idea of Mario and Joseph Addai, especially if we can get an extra player or two via trade down. But, like I've been worried all along, the jungle drms say nobody is willing to pay much of a price to get up to #1.
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Old 03-08-2006   #9
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Originally Posted by Nighthawk
Every poll I see has TExans fans saying about 60-70% still think we should take Vince Young, 20-25% Bush, 10% trade down. So I don't think "people have accepted we won't take VY" as you say.
I must not have seen the polls you're talking about.

Here's one of Texans fans:

http://www.houstontexans.com/fan_zon...ad.php?t=19352
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Old 03-08-2006   #10
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Originally Posted by The Dude Abides
Casserly would be a very brave man if he did that. Most fans would go nuts in Houston even if it is the right pick.
When after three years it turns out the picks were right though all those fans that went nuts could hitch up their pants, sniff their noses, and say, "I knew it all the time".
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Old 03-08-2006   #11
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I would not be displeased with Williams at #1.. though id really prefer it if we traded down to #3 or #4.. even if we took a deal that was WAY below worth. If you can get him at #3 or #4.. then take a 4th rounder to move down.. who cares?..get what ya can and get your player. Thats just me though.

Course..you would have to be 100% sure that no one took him ahead of you. That would be a catastrophy.
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Old 03-08-2006   #12
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Originally Posted by Grid
I would not be displeased with Williams at #1.. though id really prefer it if we traded down to #3 or #4.. even if we took a deal that was WAY below worth. If you can get him at #3 or #4.. then take a 4th rounder to move down.. who cares?..get what ya can and get your player. Thats just me though.

Course..you would have to be 100% sure that no one took him ahead of you. That would be a catastrophy.
Well if we trade to 4:
Leinart, Bush, Young, Mario.

If Mario is taken, we can simply trade to like 6 or 8 and pick up the best receiver in the draft: Vernon Davis who happens to also play TE.
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Old 03-08-2006   #13
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Originally Posted by The Dude Abides
Casserly would be a very brave man if he did that. Most fans would go nuts in Houston even if it is the right pick.
Casserly wasn't in the drivers seat in past drafts (at least that's what he claimed saying that he just got who Capers and Fangio wanted ...) so why should he be in the drivers seat now after his wings have been clipped?
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Old 03-08-2006   #14
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I always find Lance's articles very informative and think highly of his opinions. I'm out traveling this week in California and was listening to these ***** sports talk shows and I am really proud to have John and Lance in the morning, and Mark and Rich in the evenings. I think that Lance has a good sports mind and enjoy the morning show. Rich is a bit annoying at times, but professional. John is a fish out of water without Lance in the mornings. If Lance isn't on, I normally won't listen to just John, even though I like him.

I find his article very interesting. I was wondering when the Joseph Addai love start. This guy has all of the tools to be a very good NFL running back except for his injury problems which I think is largely due to his playing weight. Personally I like the idea of getting Mario Williams, D'brick, or AJ Hawk. But I think we would be crazy to pass on Reggie Bush even if it's not an area of need. Players of his caliber who can single handley impact the game as he can, you can't pass on. In my opinion, he's a once in a decade type player. That's pretty high praise, especially from a guy like me who thinks that team and chemistry is much bigger than any one single player.
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Old 03-08-2006   #15
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The only fans that would go nuts if the team took Williams would be the fans that are desparate for VY. As long as the product on the field is better there is no reason for fans to get upset. Football is about the team as a whole. There is no one player in the history of this sport that was the sole reason his team won a Super Bowl.

I'd rather see the team trade down to take Williams, but if they don't get a good offer and take him #1, it's still a smarter football move than drafting Bush or Young.

Fans will come to the preseason games if the team drafts Young. They won't come to the regular season games since he won't start and the team won't be a playoff caliber team yet. McNair wants fans in the seats and the ONLY way to do that every game is to put a great product on the field. Improving the O and D lines is the quickest way to improve a team.
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Old 03-08-2006   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sportsfan
John Harris’ Top 40

Top 40 Players (as of 2/18/2006)

1. Reggie Bush - RB, USC
2. Vince Young, QB – Texas
3. Matt Leinart, QB – USC
4. Mario Williams, DE – NC State
5. Haloti Ngata, DT - Oregon
6. AJ Hawk, LB – Ohio State
7. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, OT – Virginia
8. LenDale White, RB – USC
9. DeAngelo Williams, RB – Memphis
10. Chad Greenway, LB – Iowa
11. Vernon Davis, TE – Maryland
12. Laurence Maroney, RB – Minnesota
13. Michael Huff, S/CB – Texas
14. Tamba Hali, DE – Penn State
15. Jay Cutler, QB – Vanderbilt
16. Santonio Holmes, WR – Ohio State
17. Tye Hill, CB – Clemson
18. Marcedes Lewis, TE – UCLA
19. Marcus McNeill, OT – Auburn
20. DeMeco Ryans, OLB – Alabama
21. Winston Justice, OT – USC
22. Greg Eslinger, C – Minnesota
23. Deuce Latui, G – USC
24. Sinorice Moss, WR – Miami
25. Manny Lawson, DE – NC State
26. Brodrick Bunkley, DT – FSU
27. Nick Mangold, C – Ohio State
28. Mathias Kiwanuka, DE – Boston College
29. Dominique Byrd, TE – USC
30. Leonard Pope, TE – Georgia
31. Orien Harris, DT – Miami
32. Bobby Carpenter, LB – Ohio State
33. Ernie Sims, LB – FSU
34. Max Jean-Gilles, G – Georgia
35. Anthony Fasano, TE – Notre Dame
36. Jimmy Williams, CB/S – Virginia Tech
37. Darnell Bing, S – USC
38. Ko Simpson, S – South Carolina
39. Gabe Watson, DT - Michigan
40. Charles Spencer, OT/OG - Pittsburgh
It's no wonder that the readers of this MB have such differing opinions about who we should draft. Here is the top 20 players from Scott Wright, lots of differences, and these guys get paid for their opinions. Just look at the difference in just the top 20 players. I'll add a link to the bottom for anyone who wants to see who his top 100 are. I couldn't find a date on Wrights article.

1. Reggie Bush ------------RB Southern Cal
2. D'Brickashaw Ferguson --OT Virginia
3. Matt Leinart ------------QB Southern Cal
4. Mario Williams ----------DE North Carolina St.
5. Vince Young -----------QB Texas
6. A.J. Hawk -------------OLB Ohio St.
7. Vernon Davis ----------TE Maryland
8. Haloti Ngata -----------DT Oregon
9. Michael Huff -----------S Texas
10. DeAngelo Williams -----RB Memphis
11. Winston Justice -------OT Southern Cal
12. Brodrick Bunkley ------DT Florida St.
13. Chad Greenway -------OLB Iowa
14. Ernie Sims ------------OLB Florida St.
15. Santonio Holmes ------WR Ohio St.
16. Jay Cutler ------------QB Vanderbilt
17. Jimmy Williams --------CB Virginia Tech
18. LenDale White --------RB Southern Cal
19. Chad Jackson --------WR Florida
20. Antonio Cromartie ----CB Florida St.

Top 100 List

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Old 03-08-2006   #17
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Originally Posted by Nighthawk
Every poll I see has TExans fans saying about 60-70% still think we should take Vince Young, 20-25% Bush, 10% trade down. So I don't think "people have accepted we won't take VY" as you say.

Me, I like the idea of Mario and Joseph Addai, especially if we can get an extra player or two via trade down. But, like I've been worried all along, the jungle drms say nobody is willing to pay much of a price to get up to #1.
why do we need a rb
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Old 03-09-2006   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sportsfan
“In the right offense [Reggie McNeal] might be much better. Franchione’s offense is horsesh-t.”
I nearly spit out my coffee on this one comment by a scout about Franchione's offense.
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Old 03-09-2006   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOgre
I nearly spit out my coffee on this one comment by a scout about Franchione's offense.
I saw it to and had to make it my signature.
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Old 03-09-2006   #20
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John Harris watches more college football than any of us combined. Ask him who the 2nd string left guard is for Boise State and not only will he tell you his name, he'll tell you his momma's name and shoe size.
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