Monday, April 26, 2010

Warner, Moon And Cherry: Undrafted, But Not Defeated

The 2010 NFL Draft is over.  Some players’ dreams came true and they are still pinching themselves thinking, “this is really happening.”  Other players such as LeGarrette Blount, RB, Oregon; Jarrett Brown, QB, West Virginia; Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan; and Stafon Johnson, RB, USC are disappointed.  These players did not hear their name called during the draft.  A couple of them have signed as undrafted free agents since the draft ended on Saturday, but this is not a guarantee that they will play this fall.  As an undrafted free agent, they will compete to earn a spot on the team’s roster. 

Undrafted does not have to equate to failure.  These guys still could become not just professional players, but super stars in the NFL.  They will have to use their frustration to fuel their motivation to work hard and prove all of the sports pundits, general managers and coaches wrong.  For people that will say that you are just an optimist looking for a happy ending, here are a couple of players who proved all of the naysayers wrong and went from being undrafted free agents to pro bowlers.

Kurt Warner, QB – Signed as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers, in 1994, but did not make the team.  He played a couple of years in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe before his first job on a NFL team with the St. Louis Rams whom he led to a Super Bowl Championship.  During his 12-year career, he was selected to the Pro Bowl 4 times and earned Super Bowl MVP. 

Warren Moon, QB – Went undrafted in the 1978 NFL Draft.  (Many people believe that this was because he was black quarterback and refused to switch to tight end.)  Played in the Canadian Football League for 6 years before starting in the NFL with the Houston Oilers.  He played 17 seasons and was selected to the Pro Bowl 9 times.  He is enshrined in both the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He is the only African-American Quarterback in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Deron Cherry, FS - Signed as an undrafted free agent punter in 1981 with the Kansas City Chiefs, but was released.  Returned to the team as a free safety and went on to have an 11-year career.  He is third on the Chiefs’ list of most interceptions and tied for the team’s record of fumble recoveries.  He was selected to the Pro Bowl 6 times.

Not being drafted is not the end of a player’s dream to play professional football in the NFL.  With some perseverance and hard work, they can join this group of NFL players who were not defeated, by not being drafted.


Heels Helmets

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Rams Are On The Clock, Just Not First

The NFL Draft starts on Thursday.  This primetime event will make some college players dreams come true and mark the beginning of a new era for teams.  For months, NFL personnel have studied the players.  They watched the tapes, measured physical skills, conducted background checks and interviewed everyone from the player’s past.  Now it is time for them to make a selection.  Who will go in the first round?  Who will be the Number 1 Overall Pick?

It has been an interesting draft season.  Neither one of the top prospects at the quarterback position, Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen, threw at the Combine.  At the Senior Bowl, we saw a disappointing performance by Tim Tebow, one of the best college quarterbacks, that led to him changing his throwing technique.  He did not throw at the Combine, but really impressed scouts at his Pro Day. 

It’s crazy that I am even mentioning Tebow in a discussion about the first round of the draft.  He will most likely not get drafted until the second round (at the earliest), but the guy is a marketing machine, so I have to keep you in the loop.  Ticket sales for the Senior Bowl increased by 5,000 after he announced that he would participate.  He already has a deal with Nike and is on the cover of EA Sports’ college football game.  Even the NFL invited him to Radio City Hall for the first night of the draft.  (This is unheard of for a player with his draft stock.)  Will teams place more value on his image or his skill?

OK, last week I said that the Redskins would trade Jason Campbell to the Rams.  If this trade happens on Wednesday evening, everyone is shocked and here is how the first round of the NFL Draft goes.

1.     Washington Redskins (from Rams) – Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma. 
Snyder and Shanahan like McNabb, but they know that he only has a few more years.  They prepare for the future with a young quarterback. 

2. Detroit Lions - Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

4.     St. Louis Rams (from Redskins) – Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame.
Billy Devaney knew that he needed a quarterback.  He got Jason Campbell to go out there immediately and got a great deal on his future starting QB.

5. Kansas City Chiefs—Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

6. Seattle Seahawks—Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

7. Cleveland Browns- Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

8. Oakland Raiders—Earl Thomas, S, Texas

9. Buffalo Bills – Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

10. Jacksonville Jaguars—Joe Haden, CB, Florida

11. Denver Broncos—Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

12. Miami Dolphins—Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

13. San Francisco 49ers—Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

14. Seattle Seahawks—C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

15. New York Giants—Everson Griffen, DE, USC

16. Tennessee Titans—Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida

17. San Francisco 49ers—Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa

18. Pittsburgh Steelers—Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho

19. Atlanta Falcons—Brandon Graham, OLB/DE, Michigan

20. Houston Texans—Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

21. Cincinnati Bengals—Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno State

22. New England Patriots—Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

23. Green Bay Packers—Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

24. Philadelphia Eagles—Taylor Mays, S, USC

25. Baltimore Ravens—Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

 26. Arizona Cardinals—Sergio Kindle, OLB/DE, Texas

27. Dallas Cowboys—Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State

28. San Diego Chargers—Sean Witherspoon, OLB, Missouri

29. New York Jets—Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

30. Minnesota Vikings—Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama

31. Indianapolis Colts—Jerry Hughes, OLB, TCU

32. New Orleans Saints—Jahvid Best, RB, Cal

As for Tebow, he will go in Round 2 or Round 3 to a team with an established quarterback like the Patriots or Steelers.  At the end of the day, this is a sports competition, not a congeniality contest.  So skills win.

The NFL will release the full 2010 schedule tonight at 7 p.m.   Check out your team schedule at

Heels &  Helmets

Monday, April 12, 2010

Not So Fast On Draft Picks, Vets Are Still Being Traded

The 2010 NFL Draft is a little over a week away, but I can’t get to my first round picks just yet.  Trading season is not over and I think that we might see a couple of moves before the draft that would totally ruin any mock draft.  (Forgive me, my NCAA Men’s Final Four bracket was busted after the first weekend, so I am being a little cautious.)  Now, let’s look at a surprise that could happen among the vets before we start welcoming people to the NFL.

The St. Louis Rams will be on the clock first next week to select the No. 1 Pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.  Clearly, they need a quarterback.  This year’s draft class has several quarterbacks, but none of them are superstars that are ready to take a snap in the NFL and lead their team.  Sam Bradford is the top prospect at this position.  His performance was limited last season because of a shoulder injury.  He could not participate in the NFL Combine, but after his pro day, comparisons to Dallas Cowboys’ Hall of Famer, Troy Aikman, began.   So, it is widely believed that the Rams will get their future quarterback with the No. 1 Pick.

I think that the Rams could shock everyone and acquire Jason Campbell from the Washington Redskins. With McNabb now dressed in burgundy and gold, it is obvious who will start at quarterback in Washington and trading Jason is almost guaranteed.  Jason is not among the elite quarterbacks in the league.  After 5 seasons, it seems as if he is still timid and has not developed into a leader.  In fairness the guy has had to learn a million offensive systems in his short career.  OK, not a million, but if he could have played in the same system for a few years, I think that his development would have been better. 

Comparisons to great people, do not always translate to great performances.  Jason has struggled, but he knows what it feels like to be a quarterback in the NFL.  He has experienced a snap, a blitz and could start for the Rams immediately.  This move allows St. Louis to fill the quarterback position with a veteran, spend less money on a young quarterback later in the draft who can spend a couple of years learning and get another pick or two.  Plus, it will open the door for them to add a skilled player to their defense and use the No. 1 Pick next week’s draft to select …

I’ll tell you next week.

Heels &  Helmets


Monday, April 5, 2010

Not Sure Why, But McNabb is A Redskin

Donovan McNabb is trading in philly steaks for crabcakes.  He is leaving “Liberty City” for the “Capital City.”  He is hanging up his green and white jersey for a burgundy and gold one, but he is not leaving the NFC East.  Yes, it’s imminent; the 6- time Pro Bowler is now a Washington Redskin.

I think that this is a great move for the Redskins, but I am really shocked that the Philadelphia Eagles allowed it to happen and Donovan wanted to go there.  The Redskins needed a quarterback and they run a west coast offense.  McNabb is like synonymous with west coast offense, so the Redskins have just improved their team.  However, their offensive line has struggled, so this addition does not make them Super Bowl contenders.  This is why I am surprised that a veteran quarterback entering his 12th season with only one Super Bowl appearance, would go to a place that has one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.   I thought that he would want to go to a team that was… let’s just say, a little closer to reaching the Super Bowl. 

What surprises me even more is Philadelphia letting him go to a divisional rival! They have to play the Redskins twice during the regular season and if both teams end up in the playoffs, they could meet each other for a third time.  All of these meetings could be vengeful.  I also think that they made a mistake trading a proven quarterback at this time, to pass the leadership to a quarterback that has only played in a couple of NFL games in 3 seasons.  At 33, McNabb is old in the NFL, but he is not ailing.  He is not as fast as he was when he left Syracuse, but he is still quick and does not have any problem throwing the ball.  He is only behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in most wins among active quarterbacks. 

The Redskins are definitely going to do better than 4 wins this season.  They solidified the key position of quarterback and are headed in the right direction.  Now to make the playoffs and go deep in the post season, they must make some major improvements to their offensive line.  McNabb is really good, but he cannot block or tackle for himself.  The game begins at the line of scrimmage and a team with an offensive line that is in the bottom four of the league is not going to hoist up the Lombardi Trophy.  Great move, Coach Shanahan, now compliment it with some good offensive tackles.

Heels Helmets