February 2010 - Football Wiretap
Risdon's Sunday Combine Notes
Sunday's notes are sponsored by Pacifico beer. After a long day of watching draft prospects run repetitive drills and being largely shunned by the more "name" media and NFL staff members, the Pacifico back at the hotel room tasted mighty nice. Most of the running backs ran in the 4.5s and even 4.6s just after several wideouts notched times in the low 4.4s in the 40-yard dash. Many were visibly disappointed, as were lots of the evaluators hoping to see some serious speed. Prospect Notes: -- Clemson wide receiver Jacoby Ford lit it up with a 4.28 40 very early in the day, the second-fastest time ever at the Combine. He ran it with an effortless gait that drew some serious "wows" around Lucas Oil Field, reminiscent of Usain Bolt with his bright yellow shoes. -- Not to be outdone, Ford's Clemson teammate C.J. Spiller matched his time towards the end of the day after so many in his running back grouping plodded to very unimpressive times. It should be noted his 20-second split time was faster than Ford's and identical to Chris Johnson's record-setting 4.24 run a couple years ago. I've said it before, I'll say it again: even though the running back market is oversaturated and teams are clearly looking at other needs higher in the draft, I will be shocked if someone with Spiller's speed falls out of the top 10. It might not be any teams picking there now, but trust me that no general manager wants to be the guy who failed to draft the next Chris Johnson. -- Ryan Mathews is impressing with both his athletic prowess and his business-like demeanor. The Fresno State running back is impressively cut and showed great quickness in the short shuttle, not to mention his 4.41 40 time. He carries himself like he's heading into war at every drill, yet in interviews he comes across as affable and coachable. I get the strong sense he is now the #2 running back in this draft class on many team boards, if he wasn't already. -- Toby Gerhart earned points for his low 4.5 time primarily because of how he went about it. Most guys carefully lined up every single muscle in a non-football 3-point stance, often waiting several seconds before launching themselves. Gerhart walked up to the line, slightly bent his knees, and took off. That shows more legit football speed, not track speed, and it was duly noted as such. He runs very upright, however, something that shows up on game film as well. -- One receiver having a very bad day was Dezmon Briscoe of Kansas, who ran in the upper 4.6s despite a couple of DQ'ed runs for leaning too far. He comes from an offense where the system is often credited for getting receivers open, and at that speed and poor shuttle numbers, it's evident the cocksure, lanky Briscoe is a complete product of the system. He might be waiting a very long time to hear his name called on draft weekend. -- Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn drew several comparisons to Anquan Boldin with his muscular build and hard-charging running style. He has humbly and successfully handled the questions about his rough 2009 season at Illinois, not casting stones despite clearly having some legit rocks he could chuck. -- My fellow members of the Ohio Bobcat nation will be pleased to know that Taylor Price had a very strong showing in all the workouts, running the second-fastest 40 time (4.41) and also ranking near the top in the vertical jump. He measured in with large hands for his average height, and he wears his 204 pounds nicely. As one prominent draft writer noted to me, "If he came from Ohio State and not Ohio U. he'd be a second round lock." -- His workout numbers weren't eye-popping, but I like the way Fordham quarterback John Skelton fit in with the big boys. He garnered a quick and genuine rapport with some of the receivers and the other quarterbacks. He is built almost identically to Joe Flacco. -- One under-the-radar prospect that helped his stock in workouts was Louisville wide receiver Brandon Long, who rated near the top in almost every drill. He has decent size and very large hands, which he flashed at Louisville during a very difficult time for the program. He has a chance to stick as a possession receiver and special teams contributor, something he is amenable to based on talking to him. NFL Notes: -- The strong performances of the Clemson players today seemed to jog the memory of many people about former Tiger James Davis, who missed his rookie season with the Browns with a controversial injury. It was funny to watch Browns coach Eric Mangini sidestep all the Davis questions (Davis was injured in a post-practice drill that nearly got Mangini fired), and also fun to see a lot of draftniks scrambling to adjust their "Browns needs" once reminded of Davis, who allegedly beat both Spiller and Ford in foot races while at Clemson and had earned the sarign spot in preseason before his injury. -- I'm surprised at how many people here are surprised by the Jets handling of running back Thomas Jones. If the drafting of Shonn Greene last year wasn't a clear indication that Jones' future was limited, a cursory examination of his contract should have told anyone with any sort of acumen that he was not heading back to New York in 2010. First-guessing his landing spot: Detroit. -- There are a lot of rumors flying regarding several Oakland Raiders that might be on the move. Among the names being thrown around and getting legit interest from other teams: Michael Bush, Darren McFadden, Kirk Morrison, but the one name that really jumps out is cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, one of the elite players at his position in the game today. I can't imagine Oakland giving him up, but too many people who would know are saying that no Raiders players except Richard Seymour, Darius Heyward-Bey, and Zach Miller are unattainable for the right price. -- Pay close attention to Seattle this week, as venerable veteran left tackle Walter Jones is expected to announce his intentions before Friday. If he is coming back, that buys Pete Carroll another year up front. If the multiple-time Pro Bowler retires, then the Seahawks might be forced to address offensive tackle much earlier than they want in the draft. Despite what you'll read elsewhere, I do not believe they have any intention of drafting a tackle with either of their first round picks. -- The press release from Pacman Jones' camp that he will hold workouts later this month for interested teams drew shameless guffaws from a few in the media center. Good luck with that, Mr. Rainmaker... Random Thoughts: -- There is palpable tension between the NFL Network and ESPN. Not so much between the on-air talent, but the behind-the-scenes guys have real hostility and it's clear the execs at both networks view one another with real enmity. -- If you ever find yourself in Kokomo, Indiana, do your taste buds a favor and check out the Half Moon Brewery. I drove up there last night to meet with an old friend (hi Ryan!) and was very impressed with both the food and the on-site-brewed beer. -- I sorely miss my Sirius radio in the car here. Indy just might have the worst radio of any city in the country. Note to the local rock stations: music has been recorded since 1980. Note to local program directors: 11 dedicated Christian music channels and right country music stations are far too many. I had to stop by Best Buy and pick up a couple of CDs last night to make it through my tenure here.
Lions, Chargers Discussing Cromartie Trade
The Lions have begun discussions with the Chargers about acquiring cornerback Antonio Cromartie, a league source told NFL.com on Sunday. The Chargers have been shopping Cromartie, but there had been little interest until the Lions reached out. "It may be time to move on," Cromartie said recently. "I have complained to the coaches about certain stuff, about the way we play, and they know that. But if it's time to part ways and that's in the Lord's will, then that's what's got to happen. But I would love to continue to finish out either my contract or my career in San Diego."
Chargers To Place High Tenders On Merriman, Jackson, Floyd
The Chargers are expected to place the highest tenders on potential free agents linebacker Shawne Merriman and wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd. A source familiar with the situation told the San Diego Union-Tribune of the team's plans. Doing so would force teams to give the Chargers a first and third round pick if they signed Merriman, Jackson or Floyd.
Jets Could Scoop Up Adalius Thomas
If the Patriots decide to release linebacker Adalius Thomas, as expected, the Jets will likely court him. New York coach Rex Ryan coached Thomas to a pair of Pro Bowl appearances in Baltimore.
Executive: Peppers 'Would Be Lucky' To Get $10M
An NFL executive recently discussed free-agent defensive end Julius Peppers' value with Sports Illustrated's Peter King. "Had an NFL exec tell me this weekend he thought Peppers would be lucky to get $10m a year in this climate," King wrote on his Twitter page.
Report: Pacman To Workout For Scouts
Adam "Pacman" Jones will hold a pro-day style workout for NFL scouts on March 19, a source told NFL.com. The workout will be held in New Orleans following Tulane's pro day.
Arizona To Release Rolle, But Hope To Keep Him
The Cardinals will release safety Antrel Rolle, but they hope to be able to sign him. Rolle was going to be owed an $4 million roster bonus.
Eagles Could Target Julius Peppers
The Eagles could be one of defensive end Julius Peppers' suitors this offseason. According to a league source, Philadelphia is on the free agent's short list of teams. The Eagles front office hasn't discussed Peppers, likely because comments could result in tampering.
Cardinals Say Boldin Could Be Dealt
The Cardinals are open to trading wide receiver Anquan Boldin this offseason. "Our approach with Anquan is really the same as what it was last year: We're going to consider all our options," general manager Rod Graves said. "... We'll go through what the options are throughout the offseason, and make the decision that's best for our team." Boldin has clashed with team officials in the past over his contract and the Cardinals previously have indicated a willingness to listen to trade offers for him. "We're going to look at all the options regarding Anquan and regarding all our players," coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
Browns Could Trade Up For Bradford
The Browns haven't ruled out trading up to draft Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. Cleveland has the seventh overall pick and there have been rumors that St. Louis could take him first overall. "I don't think we're closing the door on anything," general manager Tom Heckert said. "We're not shutting the door on moving up or even moving back. We're listening to a lot of different teams. It's still early. We have talked to teams about moving up and moving back. We're not closing the door on any position."
Risdon's Saturday Combine Notes
Jeff provides tons of insight from Saturday's events at the combine and begins to agree that the Rams could take Sam Bradford.
MRI Reveals No Further Damage In McCoy's Shoulder
Colt McCoy showed off positive MRI results at the Combine.
Ravens Won't Rule Out Owens, Westbrook
John Harbaugh could reunite with both Terrell Owens and Brian Westbrook in Baltimore.
Tebow, 15 Other QBs Skip Bench Presses
Most of the high-profile quarterbacks skipped the bench press drill on Saturday.
Injury Cuts Okung's Workout Short
Russell Okung is considered one of the best tackles in this year's class.
Browns Will Give Harrison High Tender
It won't be cheap for teams to sign Jerome Harrison away from the Browns.
Fisher: White In Tennessee's Plans
LenDale White had a down year in 2009 behind Chris Johnson.
Colts Will Make 'Competitive' Offer To Keep Brackett
The Colts are trying to retain Gary Brackett.
Holmgren: It's A Longshot That Quinn, Anderson Will Both Return
Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson won't both be in Cleveland next season.
Roy Williams Will Compete For Starting Spot
Roy Williams will make $13 million in 2010, but won't be given a starting spot right out of the gate.
Coughlin: Umenyiora Has To Earn Starting Job
Tom Coughlin isn't going to just hand Osi Umenyiora a starting spot.
Shanahan: Redskins To Tender Campbell
The Redskins aren't committing to Jason Campbell as their starter.