Thursday, March 26, 2009

All Access: Daily Dose

Twenty-five NFL scouts were among the onlookers at Clemson’s Pro Day as Cullen Harper fired long, short and medium passes to Aaron Kelly, Tyler Grisham, Nelson Faerber and James Davis. Davis made a strong impression, too. Not only did he lower his 40-yard dash time from 4.49 seconds to 4.39 seconds, he looked good catching the ball out of the backfield, a major question mark for pro scouts. He is projected as a middle-round selection. Defensive tackle Dorell Scott has already set up or performed workouts with a number of NFL teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.

Mandel's Take: Davis would have been a sure-fire first day pick if he came out a year ago. However, he chose to stay in school and the Clemson offense turned shambolic in 2008, lowering Davis' draft stock. It doesn't matter if it's fair, it's the reality of the situation. This 40 time will certainly help him move up a bit, but he won't be a day one pick. The question surrounding Davis is--can he be elusive enough at the pro level, and is this speed a representation of how fast he is on the field? He will get his chance to prove the answers to those questions are "yes", and if he can, he'll get paid eventually. Davis could be extra motivated by being drafted later than he thinks he should have been. Scott will be an early day two pick for someone, and that team will be getting a tireless worker. The former Tiger had a knee ailment which effected his play in the first half of 2008, but played through it. Right now, he'd be a solid situational player in a 3-4 set-up. If he can improve his stamina and consistency, he'll be a bargain for the team that lands him. The Giants like players who have been well-coached in college, and the big man fits the bill in that department. Rev--would you like this guy at the nose for the Jets as a day two pick?

Mancini's Take: Yeah, why not. Scott's stock has risen to the point where he may be taken late in the second round. What this lineman offers, above everything else, is SIZE. He's 317 pounds and can move around pretty well. In fact, he's pretty solid at maintaining his balance and closing down run lanes. The underrated run stuffer also has a workout set up with the Jets. Davis, on the other hand, is a good cutback runner, but isn't known to have breakaway speed and has some serious issues with his pass blocking.


Tennessee DE Robert Ayers went through some outside linebacker drills at the Volunteers' Pro Day. Ayers is almost certainly going to be a 4-3 base end in the pros, but showing versatility can't hurt. He also posted a 4.46 short shuttle and 7.07 in the three cone.

Mandel's Take:
Throw out his first three seasons at Tennessee--Ayers didn't find his groove until his senior season, and boy did he find it. He had a tremendous season and an equally impressive post-season, rocking the Senior Bowl, impressing all who saw him. His speed and burst are what have teams excited about him and his versatility only adds to his draftability. True, he only had one season of real production in the SEC, but the kid is still developing as a player and once polished, could be a monster that devours quarterbacks. Rev--to me, this guy is a first-rounder. I only hope he doesn't go to Philly.

Mancini's Take: I'm with you on Ayers, Ross man. What stands out to me are his exceptional hand skills and lateral agility. There are teams picking before Philly that have already shown interest in the young lineman, including the Buffalo Bills. In addition, Ayers has also impressed in his interviews, which bodes very well for the former Volunteer.

Fast Times at North Dakota State? As we predicted yesterday, several Bisons' blazed the track for N.F.L. scouts--tailback Tyler Roehl, who scorched the University of Minnesota for 263 yards rushing in 2007, ran a 4.44 40 and did 30 reps at 225 pounds. Meanwhile, speedy wide receiver Kole Heckendorf ran a reported 4.34.

Mandel's Take: That's how they Roehl at NDSU. The powerful Roehl projects as the perfect small school H-back--determined and powerful, with decent hands and speed. Those 30 reps may have earned him a slot in the Draft and has, at the very least, put him on everyone's radar. Heckendorf's 40 time was impressive and at 6' 2" 190, he's got decent size to go along with it. The small schooler was very productive and fearless--it doesn't matter how small your school is when you're going across the middle He could be a very late pick or a welcome PFA. Rev--your team needs a speedster, doesn't it?

Mancini's Take: Yes, the Jets need speed at wideout, and they very well may address that deficiency in the first round. Heckendorf was remarkably consistent in college and started all 33 games. You have to love the durability. But they guy I want to focus on is Roehl, who can't help but remind you of Mike Alstott, one of my all-time favorites. The mauling bruiser has the strength to drive his way to positive yardage when he stays in between the tackles. His blocking technique needs a little work, but there's no reason why Roehl can't provide a Peyton Hillis-like performance in his rookie year, although Hillis is a better receiver out of the backfield.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports Cleveland Browns QBs Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson will both compete for the starting job, according to head coach Eric Mangini. 'I talked to both of them about that and was very clear,' Mangini said. 'I said if they have any questions they can come and see me. In terms of the competition and their opportunities. That's what I told them. They understand that.' Mangini also said there is no timetable in determining the starter.

Mandel's Take: Perhaps the Browns are realizing that Brady Quinn isn't a starting NFL quarterback. Having a competition would make that decision for them, but it would also lessen any trade value Quinn might have. Which brings us to Anderson. If Cleveland does somehow think Quinn is the guy, this announcement could be a way to bolster Anderson's trade value. By saying they're both worthy of starter status, the hope is that someone else will buy into that and agree to a trade. If they simply said "Quinn is our guy...who wants our backup?" the Browns wouldn't get much for Anderson, would they? I guess what I'm saying is--don't be surprised if one of these guys, probably Anderson, is dealt on or around Draft day. Rev--are either of these guys going to take Cleveland to the next level?

Mancini's Take: What's the next level, Ross? 8-8? Before we put any of these two in the Super Bowl (Wow, I just made a funny!), Cleveland needs to shore up their receiving corps. Winslow is gone, Stallworth may be looking at some hard time in the slammer and Braylon Edwards is a mess with the way he's been dropping passes. I agree with you on your theory that Cleveland may just be looking to create a trade market for DA. That's the only logical reason why there could even possibly be a quarterback competition since Quinn proved to have a better handle of the offense in his brief time at the helm last year. Anderson has one sellable asset and that's his arm strength. He doesn't read defenses well enough and has absolutely no mobility.


The Miami Herald, reports the Miami Dolphins want QB Chad Henne to be the starting quarterback in 2010. According to a source, the Dolphins plan to give Henne extensive playing time in the preseason while limiting QB Chad Pennington. However, Pennington will enter 2009 as the unquestioned starter.

Mandel's Take:
Essentially, the writing was on the wall for this one. The Fish didn't extend Pennington past 2009 and have no plans to add another signal caller. The Dolphins say they plan to give Henne extensive playing time in pre-season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him get significant playing time in the regular season if the team struggles at all. They've put their cards on the table and will do everything they can give Henne a chance to succeed. If you're a Dolphin fan, you should be confident that your team has a plan...or you should be nervous that they're putting so much faith in an unproven commodity. Do you have faith in the braintrust, Rev?

Mancini's Take: The game plan from the beginning was to leave Pennington in there long enough for the offensive line to improve to the point where it would be safe to play Henne. The thing is, no one expected the ex-Jet to play as well as he did last season, and the team won with him at the controls. Although the original plan has been delayed, you can bet that the 'Phins still want the rocket-armed Michigan alum to blossom as the leader of their offense. The cards, Rosstradamus, are all pointing in Henne's direction.


The NFL Network reports Sports Illustrated's Peter King said during an interview that the NFL will expand to 17 or 18 games in 2011.

Mandel's Take: Money makes the league go 'round, doesn't it? This is a cash grab, plain and simple. Eliminating two pre-season games while adding two regular season games will increase TV revenue, of course, but it will effect other aspects of the league, most notably player salaries. Roger Goodell can pretend that the extra games don't necessarily mean players' salaries will increase similarly, but he knows better. The amount of games is the same, but making two of the games count requires big time players to play more snaps and the risk of injury therefore increases. Aren't there already enough injuries? Also, fringe players will have less time to make an impression with only two pre-season games. Rev--I know it's a business, but couldn't this hurt the game in the long run?

Mancini's Take:
I disagree. If the NFL decides to cut one pre-season game and add a regular-season contest, there won't any damaging effects. There's more money, more real football and one less meaningless game that no one watches. Where's the downside, Ross? If you're worried about injuries, then why not expand the rosters and create more job opportunities. Spread the wealth Obama style. There's nothing wrong with that my friend.

Photo Credit: College Press Box, Collegiate Images