2010 NFL Draft

East/West Shrine Game Interviews

shrinegameMike Band is hanging out at the East/West Shrine Game practices this week. On Monday he got a chance to catch up with some of the prospects. Here’s what they had to say…

O’Brien Schofield, LB Wisconsin

How do you feel about the transition from defensive end to linebacker?
I came out here today to show that I can stand up and play on the outside. It’s been a great time showing my skills and that I can make that transition. I’m gonna show I’m a coverage linebacker.

What did you measure during the weigh-in?
I measured in this morning at 6’2, 242. I was listed at 250 but I lost weight during the year.

How was today’s practice different than at Wisconsin?
The biggest thing I noticed was that these coaches are keeping it simple. They’re allowing everyone to understand the situation.

What’s your biggest asset when you step on the football field?
I will be able to cover well, man on man and stuff like that.

What scouts have showed interest in you the last few days?
I had interviews from Scouts from Carolina, Chicago, Philadelphia, Kansas City, San Francisco, Washington, Atlanta and New England.

Most of the teams are 43 teams, how do you feel about that?
I’m likely gonna have to stand up and play strong side linebacker and I feel I can work in any scheme. But I would love to put my hand down and just get up and go.

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Freddie Barnes, WR Bowling Green

Where are you training to develop your skills?
I’ve been working with Tony Valeri from XPE in South Florida for my training. I’ve been there for two weeks. I didn’t get invited to the combine so I’m just getting ready for my pro day which is on April 18 th

What scouts have showed interest in you the last few days?
Scouts from the Falcons, Bears, Panthers, Bucs and Chiefs all have approached me.

150 catches in one season is a feat no one has ever accomplished. Who do you attribute to your success?
I thank God first and foremost because I’ve been injured for the majority of my first four years. Me and Tyler Sheehan have been together for three years now and we just have a great understanding of each other.

You’re not a blazing fast wideout, nor are you the tallest, what’s your biggest asset and what allows you to get so open so often?
I played quarterback all throughout high school and through my sophomore year at Bowling Green. That allowed me to develop a great knowledge for the game. I feel like I’m much better at going through reads because of it.

What has your experience been like here at this All-Star Game?
It’s been nice here in Orlando because for years it was always about the team and making the group better. Now scouts are getting to know me and hopefully I can show what I can do on the field.

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Greg Hardy, DE Ole Miss

How has the draft process been for you?
It’s fun to be out here. I’m certainly excited to be out in this great weather.

You missed some time with a wrist injury. Has that effected your play at all?
My wrist feels good, I’m not having too much of a problem with it, there aren’t any lingering effects and it’s for sure 100%.

Where are you training to develop your skills?
I’m currently training at Michael Johnson’s speed camp to work in preparation for the combine

How crazy does this whole process get and what kind of questions are you getting?
It’s been very repetitive, most of these scouts ask the same basic questions, but it’s still fun. You just gotta have a good attitude out here and good things will happen.

Where do you feel more comfortable, on the right or left side?
I’m more natural on the right, that’s where I’ve always played but I can also play on the left. But I do believe I have the versatility to stand up and play linebacker and do all that.

What did you measure during the weigh-in?
I weighed in at 279, I dropped 9 lbs since the start of the season.

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Patrick Simonds, WR Colgate

What do you expect to run in the 40 time?
If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me. I’ve been running a 4.48, 4.49 which is pretty impressive at my size. I have the size and athleticism and I’m willing to work at it to get better.

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Darrell Stuckey, S Kansas

I read a recent KU article labeling you the ‘Tim Tebow’ of the Kansas defense. How do you feel about that?
I’m not as vocal as Tim is, but I do lead by example and I’m heard when I need to. But he’s a great guy and he’s made a great impact on the game.

Where are you training to develop your skills?
Right now I’ve been training for the combine and just reflecting what I want to do with the rest of my life.

How has Kansas prepared you for the next level?
Coach Bowen has done a fantastic job in preparing us throughout my career.

What did you measure during the weigh-in?
I measured in at 5’11, 207

Do you prefer strong or free safety?
I played both Free and strong throughout my career but I played strong as a senior because we didn’t have much else. I do feel comfortable at either position though.

Which wide receiver was the toughest you faced all season?
Jordan Shipley would probably be the guy, he’s the toughest receiver we faced all season, he’s versatile and strong yet he finds ways to get open.

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Seyi Aijrotutu, WR Fresno State

What did you measure during the weigh-in?
I measured in at 6’3, 211, not quite the 6’4 I was listed at. I’ve never even been 6’3!

What’s it like out there during practice and do you feel you’re prepared for the next level?
I feel like I have what it takes. It’s a mindset that you have to put yourself in. Everyone’s on the same skill level, same quickness out here. Everyone just makes plays. Luckily I didn’t drop a ball out here today so I’m feeling good.

Where are you training for the combine?
I’m training in West Lake, California

What are you expecting to run in the 40?
I think I can run a 4.5, that’s been my main focus just running 40′s after 40′s. 4.5 would be adequate for my size so I’m just working hard.

What would you like to take out of this week of practice?
I’m just looking forward to having fun. I just want to come out here and play and play well.

It looked like you and Verran Tucker were having some laughs out there. Is he your biggest competition out here?
Absolutely, I think Tucker and I are the top dogs out here and we’ve were going back and forth all day. He’s a Cal guy, I’m from Fresno State so the whole rivalry thing is making this fun.

Any of these corners have your number today?
No way. Hah, no but Brian Jackson and I had some fun out there. We train at the same place together so it’s been a good time.

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Dennis Pitta, TE BYU

How has your college experience prepared you for the road ahead?
I feel like I’m very well prepared, I’m much more mature in age than some of these guys and certainly my college experience has prepared me the right way.

What did you measure during the weigh-in?
I measured in at 6’4, 245.

What’s it like having Max Hall throw you passes out here?
It’s nice because it feels comfortable. It’s obviously going to be an adjustment when you have new quarterbacks throwing to you.

Where are you training for the combine?
I’ve been training at Velocity, it’s in Urbine, California.

What’s your biggest asset on the football field?
Just being able to catch the football. I’ve been the go-to guy at BYU and I feel like I can continue that role. I want to be the guy that a quarterback can count on when needed.

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Max Hall, QB BYU

So what do you think of former teammate Dennis Pitta?
He’s a great player. He was my main target for three years and we had a blast together.

If I’m an NFL GM, why should I draft you?
I can make all of the throws necessary and I know I can command and lead a huddle. I may be a little small but I can stand in the pocket and make the throws they ask of me.

Where are you training for the combine?
I’ve been training in Scottsdale, Arizona, just trying to get bigger and stronger while still improving my arm strength.

How has this week of practice helped you develop as a player?
Learning from these coaches is very helpful. These guys know what they’re talking about and they are certainly preparing me for the next step.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

Is James Harrison the Answer in Cleveland?

4th-year running back Jerome Harrison was talk of the fantasy football world over the final three weeks of the season as he rushed for over 500 yards. But is he the real-life answer to the Browns running back issues?

While his 286-yard performance against Kansas City will forever be remembered in Cleveland, the stats seem to indicate that the Browns would be better off going in a different direction in 2010.

If you remove Harrison’s outburst against the Chiefs, he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry this past season. Even in the final two weeks – two 100-yard performances – he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry. The fantasy stats were nice, but in reality his performance this season was well below average (aside from one game, of course).

So where can the Browns go from here?

Well, whether its the right move or not, Harrison is likely to get a shot at the starting role in 2010. At the very least, he’ll probably be given the opportunity to compete with James Davis who missed nearly his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury.

It would not be a wise move to enter the season with two unproven running backs competing for a job, however, and Mike Holmgren is well aware of this. Rather than spend big money to bring in someone to start over Harrison and Davis, I would look for the Browns to sign a veteran to share the load. Current Texas running back Chris Brown would be the type of experienced backup they could be looking for.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Browns Comments Off

Anquan Boldin Done in Arizona?

Get ready for the Anquan Boldin sweepstakes to begin as soon as the Cardinals bow out of the playoffs.

Boldin has missed time each of the past three seasons and the Cardinals offense hasn’t missed a beat without him. However, their lack of a need for Boldin has never been more apparent than on Sunday against the Packers.

Obviously Larry Fitzgerald is THE guy in Arizona. But Steve Breaston and Early Doucet are more than capable of filling the void should the Cards part ways with Boldin. Breaston (7 rec, 125 yds) and Doucet (6 rec, 77 yds) played key roles in the Cardinals picking apart a very solid Packers defense. Breaston would likely be the guy to step up as the primary replacement for Boldin, with Doucet taking over as the No. 3 guy. Both are capable of putting up big numbers in Arizona’s offense.

So where will Boldin end up? Here’s a few possibilities:

Bears – The Bears thought they solved their QB woes by acquiring Jay Cutler, but failed to address the receiving corps last offseason. There isn’t a receiver on the Bears roster worthy of be a starter in this league. Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, etc are No. 3 receivers at best. Boldin would give Cutler a legitimate No. 1 receiver to work with, much like Brandon Marshall who he worked well with in Denver.

Ravens - Joe Flacco has done an admirable job putting up impressive numbers in his 1st and 2nd year despite working with one of the league’s worst receiving corps. The Ravens have five receivers who are free agents this offseason, with only Justin Harper under contract for 2010. Expect some serious turnover in Baltimore this offseason.

Dolphins – The Dolphins are much like the Bears – they have a number of decent receivers but lack a true No. 1 or even a No. 2 receiver. This could be Boldin’s desired destination (he’s from Florida and went to Florida State) but Bill Parcells is unlikely to offer a 1st-round pick for a receiver, which will likely be the Cardinals asking price.

Bucs – The location factor could certainly play a role in Boldin’s desire to play for the Bucs. Additionally, Antonio Bryant (unrestricted) and Maurice Stovall (restricted) are both free agents this offseason.

Cowboys – OK, so they don’t need Boldin, but would it really shock you if Jerry Jones gave up his 1st-round pick for another receiver? Roy Williams has been a disappointment and even in Dallas, there has to be some doubt as to whether or not Miles Austin can match his 2009 season.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Cardinals Comments Off

Will the Redskins Draft a Quarterback?

Every year there’s one or two teams in the top 10 that don’t have an obvious need, and their decision ends up playing a significant role in shaping the draft. This year, that team is the Redskins.

The ‘Skins most obvious need is left tackle due to the likely career-ending neck injury to Chris Samuels earlier this season. However, Jason Campbell is far from an elite quarterback and Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen may decide to go in a different direction.

While the Redskins could certainly win with Campbell, provided they surround him with a few more weapons, I fully expect them to select either Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen.

The reason is simple: Mike Shanahan loves big arms.

Obviously Shanahan inherited John Elway, so we’ll exclude him from the list, but consider who he selected as his primary post-Elway quarterbacks. While Brian Griese’s arm strength was just adequate, Shanahan wasn’t making the personnel decisions in 1998 when Griese was drafted. However, it was Shanahan’s call to sign Jake Plummer and draft Jay Cutler – both of whom could chuck the ball all over the field.

Perhaps his selection of Cutler is most noteworthy, since he was the only quarterback Shanahan has drafted in the 1st round. It shows Shanahan’s decision to have a quarterback capable of making the necessary deep throws.

Now this doesn’t give us much insight into their decision between Bradford and Clausen since both have above average arms, but it would appear to rule out Jason Campbell as a long-term solution for the Redskins (not that this comes as a shock to anyone).

Ultimately, while I believe Campbell is an adequate NFL starting quarterback, he simply doesn’t have the skill set to allow Mike Shanahan to run his offense.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Redskins Comments Off

Who’s No. 1?

Now that the draft order is set, we can begin to narrow down the candidates to go No. 1 overall. The one obvious candidate is Ndamukong Suh. He is the top rated player on my draft board and many others.

There’s no denying that Suh is an elite talent. Personally, I think he may be the top defensive prospect in 15+ years, perhaps since Dan Wilkinson was the No. 1 overall pick in 1994. But is Suh really a good fit in St. Louis?
Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan were their starting defensive tackles this season and the Rams have been pleased with both. Ryan is a restricted free agent, so it is possible that an opening could be created if he signs elsewhere. However, if Suh were not an option, it is likely the Rams would make every effort to re-sign Ryan.

The question Rams have to ask themselves is: is Suh such an elite prospect that he is worth selecting despite the fact that his position one of the few strong areas of their roster?

Another option would be move Carriker, Ryan or Suh to defensive end. Leonard Little is an unrestricted free agent and appears unlikely to return, creating a hole on the defensive line. Carriker would be the best option to move outside, since he played defensive end for the majority of his career at Nebraska. However, he’s bulked up to make the transition to defensive tackle and may no longer be capable of providing the pass rush that the Rams need on the outside.

The Rams recorded just 25 sacks this past season and desperately need someone capable of getting to the quarterback. As good as Chris Long is, he will never be a consistent 10+ sack guy. He is a run stopper, not a sack artist. Putting Carriker, Ryan or Suh opposite Long at defensive end would only further limit the Rams ability to pressure the quarterback.

What the Rams really need is a franchise quarterback. Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen are both options but few, if any, teams will have them higher than Suh on their draft board. Are the Rams willing to pass over higher rated players to reach for a position of need? General Manager Billy Devaney is only in his second year on the job so its too early to know how he’s likely to handle this situation.

The best case scenario for the Rams is to entice a team to trade up for Suh. The Bucs would appear to be the most likely candidate to make that move. If the Rams pass on Suh, the Lions will take him without even thinking twice, meaning the Bucs have zero chance of landing Suh in their current position. The Bucs would have to package this year’s 1st and 2nd-round picks at a minimum to move up two spots, but its possible that they will covet Suh enough to make that move.

Ultimately its too early to tell who the Rams will select, but it would be difficult to imagine a scenario where the to pick is someone other than Suh, Bradford or Clausen. Its likely that this is a rare year where we really don’t know who will go No. 1 until the day of the draft. The Rams should keep their phone lines open until the time on the clock runs out

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Rams Comments Off