Monday, April 19, 2010

Bob McGinn's Draft Goodies

As I prepare for the draft, I thought I would show you some of the stuff I am reading that you likely missed. Namely, my scribe hero, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal - kind of the Goose of his office.

Here are some of the gold pieces he wrote in the last little bit...

Dan Cody is big and fat ...

Savage, who coached for the Browns in the early 1990s when Alabama coach Nick Saban was defensive coordinator, said Cody drew little interest from major schools. So his coach, former Browns safety Stevon Moore, called Saban and told him that he had a good nose tackle who weighed more than 400 pounds.

"Saban told him that if he could get down to 390 before the visit they'd bring him in," said Savage. "Then he told him he had to be 370 by the time he reported. He cleared both hurdles."

Clemson and running back C.J. Spiller didn't know a thing about Cody when they lined up to play the Tide in the 2008 opener. Word spread like wildfire after the Tigers posted their worst rushing day since 1947 (14 carries, no yards).

Last spring, Cody scaled 373 pounds. He still was too big (370) at the Senior Bowl in late January. But he was down to 354 at the combine a month later, then to 349 on March 10 at pro day.

"He's a big, fat blob," an NFC personnel man said. "He's a big media creation. If you want a guy to play 10 plays a game and make maybe one play in those 10, then that's your guy. He can't move. He just stands there. He cannot move at all."

Just how slow is Cody's 5.66-second clocking in the 40-yard dash? You can't find a slower drafted defensive tackle in the last 20 years. The closest were Corey Swinson (seventh round, 1995) at 5.62, and Tim Roberts (fifth round, 1992) and Ron Brace (second round, 2009) at 5.51.

"This guy doesn't have any first-step quickness," one scout said.

Assuming Cody still is 349, he would be heavier than any defensive tackle in the last 20 drafts with the exception of 365-pound Jon Kirksey, an eighth-round choice in 1993 who ran 5.29 and played two seasons for St. Louis. Nobody else weighed more than 341.

There are fears that once Cody cashes a signing bonus, his best incentive to watch his weight will be gone. Still, there are 14 teams using the 3-4 defense, and for them he can provide a valuable service.

Almost Every RB in this draft has injury history

The fact so many runners will enter the league as damaged goods has left few options for clubs looking for a back.

"None of them will be O.J. Simpson," an NFC personnel executive said. "It's a marginal group of running backs."

The Journal Sentinel asked personnel men with national orientation to rank their favorite backs on a 1-to-5 basis. C.J. Spiller collected 16 of the first-place votes while Ryan Mathews gained the other three.

Spiller's total of 92 points led, followed by Mathews (72), Jahvid Best (51), Toby Gerhart (32), Montario Hardesty (18), Jonathan Dwyer (11), Joe McKnight (six), Dexter McCluster (two) and Anthony Dixon (one).

It's a blend of elusive small backs (Spiller, Best, McCluster, McKnight) and workhorse big backs (Gerhart, Hardesty, Dwyer, Dixon, Charles Scott, LeGarrette Blount). The medium-sized Mathews might have the best shot to emerge as a featured ball carrier.

"There's a solid group of bigger type backs who can crank out the yards and wear down defenses," Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "That's an important type of back in a two-back system."

But first the players have to reach opening day in order to contribute, and given their long medical charts it could be a tall order.


• Spiller missed just one game in four years but played through turf toe most of 2009. Some teams say it's not a factor; others say it is.

"That can be a career-killer for a running back," an AFC personnel man said. "Eddie George had that and it ended his career."

• Mathews appears to be the "cleanest" physically of the top backs but still had to sit out eight games in his three seasons due to injury.

• Best also missed eight games, including four to close last season with concussions suffered in back-to-back games. A year ago, he had elbow and foot operations.

"Yeah, he's worried about it," said one scout who has talked to Best about the concussions. "Plus, he has a muscle going down from his neck to his leg that bothers him. That's my reservation on Best. He's coming in all beat up."

• Gerhart suffered a torn posterior cruciate knee ligament and missed 10 games in 2007 but sat out just one game (concussion) since.

"He's been hurt and he will continue to be hurt . . . I don't think he has that quick twitch to get away from the big hits," an NFC scout said. "I feel bad for the kid. He plays the game the way you like it played but, gosh, it will take its toll on him."

• Hardesty blew out his knee in 2005, has undergone additional knee procedures and missed 11 games in all, including four with foot and ankle woes.

"He's injury prone," an NFC personnel man said.

• Dwyer didn't miss any time in his three seasons but the doctors for one team didn't like one of his feet.

• McCluster, a 170-pounder, sat out six games in 2006 with a concussion-stinger and four games in '07 with a broken shoulder.

"The realism is 155-to-170-pound running backs don't exist in the National Football League very long," an AFC personnel man said.

• McKnight "has been hurt most of the time," according to an AFC scout. Most of his problems occurred in spring and summer so he missed only two games.

• Anthony Dixon has had collarbone, ankle and finger problems but played every game.

• Ben Tate also played every game in his four-year career but, like Hardesty, has a style that doesn't portend longevity.

"He runs too hard," one scout said. "He will play until he gets hurt. He ain't going to last."

• Charles Scott was clean until a broken collarbone shelved him for the final four games of 2009.

Summing up the grim picture, DeCosta said, "You talk about medicals . . . this is the walking wounded. It really is remarkable that Emmitt Smith was able to play all those years the way that he played."


Who would take Dez Bryant ...

Based on ability, Bryant probably should be a top-five pick. But his uneven individual workout March 30 in Lufkin, Texas, only exacerbated reservations about his work habits, ability to learn and level of maturity.

"I don't know if he's a mess," Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian said. "I don't think he's a bad kid. He's just got some difficulty."

Before the 1998 draft, 10 of 14 personnel men told the Journal Sentinel that they wouldn't touch Marshall's Moss and three said they might but only late in the first round. Just one said he'd take him high.

Moss fell to the Minnesota Vikings at No. 21, quickly took the league by storm and has amassed Hall of Fame numbers.

This spring, 16 personnel men were asked by the Journal Sentinel what number pick, if any, they would be comfortable selecting Bryant.

Five said that their answer was none.

"Even if he was the only receiver in the draft I would never bring him into the building," a personnel director for a playoff team said. "Our locker room is pretty good right now. He's going to be hard to sign and he's going to be hard to deal with when he gets there. He is what he is, a tremendous player, but I wouldn’t have him on a bet."

Two hypothetically listed picks No. 36 and No. 40 in the second round.

"The top receivers aren't inconsistent guys who do bonehead things," another personnel director said. "His play is like his personality - flashes of brilliance and flashes of awfulness. Bad routes, dropped passes, headache both on and off the field."

Five others said Bryant would be worth it later in the first round, choosing fictitious picks 20, 20, 25, 25 and 26.


What about Tim Tebow?

In the last few weeks, the Journal Sentinel asked a broad cross-section of personnel men with national orientation this simple question: Will Tim Tebow be a solid starting quarterback in the National Football League?

Five scouts answered yes.

Sixteen scouts answered no.

"I honestly don't know," replied Indianapolis President Bill Polian. "There's such a long way to go. Would I stake my job on it? The answer is no. I don't know that he would become a quarterback."

Not only did Tebow finish first, third and fifth in balloting for the Heisman Trophy during a celebrated career at Florida, he split time as a freshman on the Gators' national championship team in 2006 and then led them to another title in '08.

He passed for 88 touchdowns while running for another 57 scores. Based on the NFL system, his career passer rating was an astounding 119.1.

"I think he's a first-rounder," an AFC personnel man insisted. "Everyone wants the Peyton Manning, guys that actually carry teams. Well, there's maybe three of those in the league.

"Ask Tebow to get on a team with talent around him, he's going to win ball games. People want to dismiss him so easily. Well, he's big, he's strong, he's fast, he's very powerful and he's got a strong arm. He puts the ball in a position to make people successful. That's what you want in a quarterback."

The results of our second survey question - "If you needed a quarterback, what round, if any, would you feel comfortable taking Tim Tebow?" - indicates little regard for him as a conventional quarterback.

The aforementioned AFC man was one of two personnel people who said first round. Six replied second round, seven said third round, four went with fourth round, one said fifth round and a final scout said he wouldn't draft him at all.

"The greatest thing that's ever happened to football. . .. you take away the leadership and all that manufactured (expletive), I don't think he has any quarterback skills and he's not a good enough athlete to play another position," an NFC executive said. "They've made this kid out to be perfect. I just don't buy it."

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