Authored by Jeff Risdon - 5th April, 2010 - 12:45 pm
Donovan McNabb to the Redskins dominates the NFL discussion, but it?s not the only NFL matter on my mind today.
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$.01--I?m surprised that the Eagles dealt McNabb within the NFC East, but that tells me two things. First, the market value for McNabb wasn?t what most people, notably the Eagles themselves, thought it would be. A second round pick this year and a 4th in 2011 is a small price to pay for a major upgrade and proven veteran at QB for Washington, one that seems almost artificially low. Oakland, San Francisco and St. Louis were all purported to be offering more at various junctures, allegations which all those teams vociferously denied. Those denials appear more credible now. For a 5-time Pro Bowler who has led the team to the playoffs almost every year for a decade, the Eagles barely got what the Chargers received as compensation for 3rd string bench-warmer Charlie Whitehurst. That?s stunning to me, but probably even more stunning to both McNabb and the Eagles.
Secondly, it tells me a lot about the direction in Philly. Could it be that the new regime around Andy Reid in Philly believes McNabb in Washington offers less of a threat than Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen? They clearly believe Kevin Kolb gives them a better chance to win in 2010 than McNabb, and they never had any intention of giving McNabb another contract. When paired with the Chris Gocong/Sheldon Brown trade to Cleveland last week, this team is clearly moving on from their recent successes and going forward with a much younger team. That team appears to be less about Andy Reid and more about Howie Roseman and Phil Savage. Could Reid be the next Eagles stalwart departing Philly?
$.02--From the Redskins point of view, picking up McNabb is a bold statement by their new brain trust of coach Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen. That statement is crystal clear: we?re aiming to win right now and will do anything to make that happen. And I don?t think it?s a stretch for that to happen.
Assuming they solidify the offensive line with their top draft pick (more on that later), McNabb provides the potential to turn a humdrum offense into a very good one. This offense will remind McNabb of some of his earlier Eagles offenses--strong running game, good tight ends, lots of 2nd tier wideouts but lacking anything dynamic outside. The defense is very good and could be great if the corners all decide to show up at the same time. McNabb took teams very similar to this to some NFC Championship games. The depth isn?t good and the O-line will need more help than just drafting Russell Okung, but my early gut reaction is that McNabb is exactly what Mike Shanahan needed to turn this team into a legit playoff contender. Don?t forget they added both Larry Johnson and Willie Parker, giving them a stable of runners with the versatility to attack different types of defenses.
$.03--From a draft perspective, this just made my job as a draft consultant a lot easier. Sam Bradford will go to the Rams--and nobody else--at #1, followed by Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy to Detroit and Tampa Bay in an order yet to be determined, and now the Redskins are pretty much carved in stone to take Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung. The drama surrounding Washington?s pick is gone, barring an unforeseen trade down, but I don?t believe that will happen. Why? There is little separation in talent level between the players available at #4 through #10, and the teams in that realm have enough spots of need that there is little incentive to move up to snare Okung or Eric Berry.
It?s also very bad news for Jimmy Clausen, worse news for his agent. The leverage of the illusion that Washington could take the Notre Dame signal-caller at #4 is gone. Now the next credible suitor is Cleveland at #7, though that is far from a certainty. Buffalo at #9 remains the most viable destination, though that too is far from a given. If they both pass, he falls to at least #17 and San Francisco?s 2nd pick but probably further than that. It could be a painfully long Thursday evening for Mr. Clausen, one eerily reminiscent of his Notre Dame predecessor Brady Quinn. The irony there is that more scouts felt better about Quinn than they do about Clausen, and Quinn just got dealt for a 6th round pick and a backup fullback.
$.04--From the ?Some people just can?t stay out of their own way? department, Browns defensive lineman Shaun Rogers got arrested for trying to carry a loaded handgun past an airport security checkpoint. There are only two viable explanations for this, and neither reflects well upon Mr. Rogers. Either he so frequently carries a loaded handgun that it?s like underwear to him, or he?s a complete idiot.
Before you gun enthusiasts get all out of sorts regarding my thoughts on carrying a loaded gun, consider what happened with Gilbert Arenas, Plaxico Burress, and other athletes who have lost their careers by violating gun laws. It?s well within his rights for Rogers to carry a concealed weapon with a proper permit, but there are clear limitations on where that can be done legally. Airports sure as hell aren?t one of them, and neither are NFL team facilities. Those facts are constantly reinforced at both locations and are in place for a reason.
Because this isn?t Rogers? first legal scrape, he?s likely to face some sort of league punishment. I don?t see that being enough to make the Browns throw in the towel on the talented-but-prickly Rogers. Frequent readers know I?m a very big fan of Shaun Rogers the player, one of the most dominant interior forces in the league. But Rogers the person makes rooting for Rogers the player awfully difficult.
$.05--5 draft quickies:
1. One player quickly ascending draft boards is South Florida wideout Carlton Mitchell. He?s got impressive size (6?3?, 215 pounds) and runs in the low 4.4s, speed that is backed up by game film. Yet for those measurables, he projects best as a slot receiver in the NFL due to his quick acceleration and agility, plus a decided lack of physicality. He will not fall out of the top 75 picks.
2. One player heading in the other direction is USC safety Taylor Mays, which brings a smile to my eyes. It seems more NFL decision makers are finally looking at the physically freakish Mays with the same sort of critical evaluation that they?ve applied to Tim Tebow. Mays is the best athlete in the draft but confirmed at USC?s pro day that he has poor instincts in coverage and can?t change direction once he?s moving--an egregious sin when the plays are scripted. He?ll be lucky to hear his name called in the top 40.
3. I reported from Mobile in January that wide receivers that lack speed but especially quickness are in increasingly low demand, and that?s becoming ever more evident. Nearly everyone I talk to, and that includes scouts, personnel people, and coaches, tell me that the ability to get open on their own and then catch the ball reliably are absolute requisites for a wideout to get drafted by their teams. The days of Limas Sweed, James Hardy, Dwayne Jarrett and Ramses Barden--very big receivers with long strides that lack lateral quickness and acceleration--being drafted above the 5th round are over.
4. One of the better questions I?ve been asked by readers comes from James in Baltimore. He asks, ?If you put all the quarterbacks from last year?s draft, this year?s draft, and next year?s draft together and rated them, who would be your top 5?? I would rank them as follows, based on pre-draft opinions: 1. Mark Sanchez, 2. Jake Locker, 3. Matt Stafford, 4. Ryan Mallett, and 5. Colt McCoy. And no, I did not forget about Sam Bradford!
5. One of the reasons a lot of NFL coaches like to go to pro days is to talk to the college coaches about their draft prospects. Many times players with questionable reputations are the subjects of discussion. Such was the case this year with Anthony Davis at Rutgers and Dez Bryant at Oklahoma State, and neither player got much help or support from their college coaching staffs. One that did: Terrence Cody from Alabama, who should pay his agent commission to Tide coach Nick Saban for talking him up so highly.