*My apology to any/all people hoping to get more coverage over the past five days, as I returned home to hear of an unexpected death of a former high school friend that died in a single-plane accident last weekend... of course I was involved with several activities involved with the draft, which kept me hearing/answering the incoming calls from his family, as I also thought it was just him calling me with questions about his favorite team's selections... I am now turned full speed ahead towards the 2006 NFL Draft, and will certainly attempt to makeup for the days missed this past week in future reports.
*Think that it is too early to get a jump start on the 2006 NFL Draft... well then you are looking to get left behind... our staff can help organize or contribute to your organization, franchise, player rep recruiting list or media coverage now so that you will be ahead of the curve when the new cycle of scouting starts later this spring... please contact our office over the next few weeks for more information... an available IM for our staff is draftjm13... as well as calling (504) 415.9979.
*For those who have not followed or received the reports during the previous four drafts... during and after the DRAFT... you can still send your prospect information (email@example.com) to our staff and it will be sent out to all 32 NFL Teams following the ROOKIE CAMPS... the example method for this process will be as follows: (School), (Position), (Name), (HT, WT, workout results and your (agent) best contact info either phone or email)... this year alone over 200 of the profiles that were sent out between rounds 6, 7 and post-draft.
"ALL-STAR GAME UPDATE":
The EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME is headed to San Antonio, Texas as the game will be played in the ALAMO DOME on Saturday, January 21st, 2006... an official press release will likely be made available sometime in the next 5-7 days... we will have hotel information, practice site scenarios and airport/transportation contacts for any/all involved (teams, agents, media) who will be filling out their fall schedules in the coming weeks... our staff will also have updates, regarding next year's LAS VEGAS ALL-AMERICAN CLASSIC from Darry Alton and the EAST COAST BOWL from Jeremy Toombs over the course of the next two weeks, as well.
"SPRING SCOUTING BRINGS FALL REPORTING":
On the way home from this year's NFL Draft, I stopped off at two schools to pick up information and have tapes shipped ahead in the coming weeks... additionally, there are some "Spring" points of interest in terms of destinations to stop by for a glance at some of the lesser-known prospects that will be making appearances in the "Fall"... one such player is BOWIE STATE senior linebacker STERLING GREEN (#4), who recorded four tackles in the team's recent spring scrimmage... he will push hard to become the second straight Bowie State athlete to receive an invite to the coming... although the only thing he might be smoking is the track surface at Indy, as he has been timed at sub-4.5 at nearly 230 pounds in the past... keep this name on your radar, as he could easily become the top-rated Division II defensive prospect by year's end.
Meanwhile, my first official scouting trip for the 2006 NFL Draft actually took place nearly a month ago, as I attended the AFL's contest between the Georgia Force and New Orleans VooDoo... if you have not had the chance to watch or evaluate the GEORGIA (AFL) offensive specialist/wide receiver TROY BERGERON (#22)... he too will be one to watch, as the recently turned 21-year old has migrated from the AF2 as a 20-year old rookie last season to becoming the odds-on-favorite to win the AFL Rookie of the Year title in 2005... he had several big offers out of high school, but circumstances led him to take a different path to success... he has terrific speed and quickness... impressive natural return skills... and should fillout to being roughly 6010, 195-200 pounds with an off-season of training... he's been timed at sub-4.4 in the 40... and 3.90 in the short shuttle at AFL/AF2 workouts.
One last name that could also surface is BIRMINGHAM (AF2) fullback/linebacker PATRICK BILLINGS (#48)... who had several college offers coming out of high school... he spent two years at Stillman College in Alabama before joining the Birmingham Steeldogs of the AF2... 6010, 272 pounds... playing fullback/linebacker after being used as a defensive end in college... can easily shed back down to 255-260 pound range... scored on a 20-yard run in his first week of action... pretty good looking athlete for his size... and just turned 22 years old... the Steeldogs face the South Georgia Wildcats in Birmingham on May 7th, which will be the first official post-draft scouting trip for the 2006 NFL Draft, as Billings will be draft-eligible come January should he properly file all of his paperwork with the league office.
"UPDATED SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT NEWS":
USC junior defensive tackle MANUEL WRIGHT (#92) continues to attend class, and has been registered to take both summer school courses for several weeks now, as he attempts to clear up his academic problems... while a lot has been made about his reviewing or considering the idea of jumping to the NFL's Supplemental Draft... it is more of a last resort concept with him, as his family's desire for him to complete his education and improve his overall draft status is what has kept him in the classroom over the spring semester... Wright's natural size and ability could be compared to those of Albert Haynesworth (Tennessee), who was taken 15th in the 2002 NFL Draft, where as the likelyhood of a first-round Supplemental Draft selection is certainly less than guaranteed... FYI -- any team using a pick in the Supplemental Draft will then forfeit that same round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, as well as using a portion of their 2006 rookie cap pool in order to sign any/all players, which normally leads to contracts that are not equal to those of a player taken in an actual draft setting.
"TRANSFER & OTHER POINTS":
Former OREGON senior cornerback MARQUES BINNS (#2) is likely to transfer to one of several Division I-AA programs that have contacted him since his departure from the Pac-10 program earlier this week... has the potential and ability to become a "Rising Star" at this position during his senior campaign.
HOFSTRA U. senior wide receiver MARQUES COLSTON (#89) is 100% recovered from a shoulder injury that cost him to red-shirt last season... spent the past few months working on his weight room strength and conditioning, as he attempts to regain the potential he showed to earn All-American honors at the Division I-AA honors.
Another former OREGON recruit, defensive end RODERKUS WRIGHT (#97), who played as a true freshman before running into some off-field issues at the school, will resurface this fall at Grossmont CC in California... he originally attempted to transfer to Portland State (I-AA), but his academic standing did not allow for that to occur, so he spent last year getting his grades straight... but at 6046, 265 pounds he could still earn a spot back in the limelight if he turns the corner on the field... long wingspan, while also flashing pass rush potential off the corner during his freshman campaign... more to this story than just him making several immature mistakes at Oregon... but he will finally get the chance to reclaim his prospect status this fall.
Former UL-LAFAYETTE linebacker TREY RANDALL (#10) will be senior eligible at Humboldt State in California with one season of eligibility remaining... he was a two-year starter at Kilgore JC in Texas before playing one year at UL-Lafayette... had an injury (knee) and academic issue, which cost him a season, and then he worked to get academically qualified at Humboldt State last season... they plan to use him at WLB this coming season... as he has been timed in the 4.5 range earlier in his career.
"PICKS OF NOTE":
Everyone will have an opinion on what happened in the early rounds of the draft, but any respected NFL person will tell you that finding talent in rounds three thru seven is what will make or break the development of your roster's depth.¬† So, to that end we will take a brief look over the next few days at a few the players selected after the first two rounds, and why/how they might effect their teams depth chart during the upcoming season.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS... selected Kentucky senior defensive lineman VINCENT BURNS... who is affectionately known as "Sweet Pea"... well he might also be a "Swelled up" pea by time his rookie campaign starts... upon initial review he might seem to be very similar to another undersized pass rusher that the team drafted a few years back, Robert Mathis, but further evaluation of Burns' ability will likely cause the team to send him packing... in terms of packing on the pounds with an eye towards using him primarily inside at defensive tackle... he came in at 6003, 267 pounds at the Combine... ran in the 4.85 range, but had a good first ten yard time (1.69/1.71)... 35" vertical, 10'2" broad jump and 4.44 short shuttle proved that he has good athleticism and quickness, but maybe not the pure speed off the edge... so bulking him up to between 285-290 pounds... which his body-type could handle... might allow the Colts to utilize him as an interior pass rusher, while hoping he develops along the lines of a Ellis Wyms (Tampa Bay).
"WONDERLIC WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN":
According to a source at the company that distributes the Wonderlic test, throughout the country the average Wonderlic score is 21, which means if you take any group of people no matter their background or job title, the average score will more times than not come to 21.¬† Well, the average Wonderlic score of this year's Top-10 selections was 22, so just over the normal average grade, as four of the Top-10 players received scores of 22 or above with a high score of 40.¬† Conversely, the average Wonderlic score compiled by five of the final six draft picks, so selections #250 to #255, was 28, which apparently did not help improve their final overall draft grade.¬†¬†
"UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS":
HUMBOLDT STATE senior wide receiver DUSTIN CREAGER has been compared to former Nevada-Reno standout Trevor Insley by offensive coordinator Bob Moore, who coached both players in college... Creager improved his 40-times from late-4.5's-to-early 4.6's last spring to mid-4.5's during his workout at the Home Depot Center in late March... 6006, 185 pounds... he also hit anywhere between 36" to 38" on the vertical... has better game speed than 40-speed... coach Moore points to his on-field production, hands and routes as reasons he should be in someone's camp... type of kid that would give someone a run for their money, and then earn a place over in NFL Europe next year... SE MISSOURI STATE senior tight end RAY GOODSON led all tight end in receptions the past two years... lost several pounds and nearly could not workout at his Pro Day after suffering a bug bite... came back and performed well... plays better than he tests... has very good hands... smart, tough kid that has one of the best attitudes/personalities of anyone we interviewed this past year... hard to find¬† even backup pass catchers at that spot... worth more of an evaluation... GRAND VALLEY STATE senior defensive back DERRICK PHILLIPS has the size/speed to be tried at either cornerback or free safety... solid production on a very good Division II squad that challenged for a National Championship almost every year he was there... probably better for a zone scheme... but showed good ball skills... is also more athletic than most would think for a defender would good natural size... NW MISSOURI STATE senior kicker LUIS BERLANGA was a Division II All-American... worked in the post-season to increase his leg strength... showed well on kickoffs during his workouts... teams that have not signed a young/secondary kicker for training camp should take another look at him... better leg strength than advertised...¬† CALIFORNIA, PA senior wide receiver CLAUDE WHITAKER (#22) was originally going to transfer to Arkansas State from JC powerhouse Blinn, TX... the Houston native caught 40 passes for 663 yards, eight touchdowns and two tackles, as a senior in just eight games... averaged 16.6 yards per catch and scored once every five times he touched the ball this past year.
"ALL-AVAILABLE TEAM": (A few of these guys were "Invited" to workout, but none of them have signed contracts as of today)
QB Ryan Hawk, Ohio U.
QB Patrick Josten, Chapman U.
RB David Alston, Kent State
RB Derron Parquet, Lindenwood/Memphis
RB Marcus Houston, Colorado State (DB)
FB Fred Staton, Tusculum/Wake Forest, TN
WR Dustin Creager, Humboldt State, CA
WR Claude Whitaker, California, PA
WR Travis Haney, Indiana
WR Rob Giancola, Valparaiso
WR Joel Hazard, Boston College
WR Dontay Spillman, Texas College
WR Dante Johnson, Graceland, IA
TE Ray Goodson, SE Missouri State
TE Wade Fletcher, Columbia
OL Joseph Crutchfield, UNLV
OL Tyler Moore, Purdue
OL Danny Martz, Alabama
OL Osmar Staples, San Jose State
OL Amariah Farrow, Midwestern State, TX
OL Mike Kracalik, San Diego State
OL Kenton Johnson, Georgia Tech
DE Charles Howard, Florida State
DE Jason Hardee, West Virginia
DE Marcus Jones, Louisville (OLB)
DT Donyell Booker, Fresno State
DT Walif Campbell, Shaw U.
DT Kevin Lewis, Virginia Tech
LB Kirk Johnson, Arizona
LB Zak Keasey, Princeton
LB Chris Peavy, Shaw U.
LB Ryan Palmer, Northern Colorado
LB Dustin Powell, Wisconsin-LaCrosse
CB John McPherson, Central Missouri State
CB Danny Tolbert, Middle Tennessee State
CB Derrick Phillips, Grand Valley State
CB Tad Kornegay, Fordham
CB Billy Alford, Vanderbilt
S Doug Monaghan, Cincinnati
S Brent Johnson, Louisville
S Josh Dean, San Diego State
S Pierre Wright, Eastern Kentucky
K Luis Berlanga, NW Missouri State
P Joshua Appell, Pennsylvania
KO Eric Zahler, Montana-Western
RT Richard Johnson, Virginia Tech
RT Gerald Smith, Penn State
DS Ryan Loftin, Oregon
SPT DonTa Bright, New Mexico Highlands
SPT Edward Simms, William Penn, IA
"NOTES FROM ROOKIE CAMPS":
BILLS rookie tight end KEVIN EVERETT, 3rd round, has likely suffered a potentially major knee injury (left) during his first practice on Friday... more will be known once the swelling goes down, but an MRI will happen sometime next week... so they can determine whether it is a minor or major injury... it will also hurt them big-time, as one of last year's rookies, Tim Euhus, is currently covering from a leg injury, as well...
DOLPHINS undrafted rookie running back KAY-JAY HARRIS is a physically impressive back with the ability to earn a backup spot over the summer... Iowa rookie defensive end MATT ROTH, while showing some of the ability that made him a second round choice... some noted that he seemed to have shorter arms than expected... rookie linebacker CHANNING CROWDER appeared to be on the lighter side of things this weekend... rookie defensive back TRAVIS DANIELS looks to be best suited for safety, as he did not show a great deal of straight-line speed... there have also been a number of good notes and opinions of the Dolphins' rookie camp by Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post...
TITANS rookie cornerback PACMAN JONES missed some practice due to tightness in his hamstring and groin area on Friday... it is not considered to be serious...
JAGUARS rookie wide receiver MATT JONES missed practice due to tightness in his hamstring on Saturday... it is not considered to be serious...
RAVENS rookie wide receiver MARK CLAYTON missed practice due to tightness in his hamstring on Saturday... there was some post-draft speculation that Clayton's medical chart was being closely evaluated leading up to the draft, but it has not been confirmed to date...
COWBOYS rookie defensive lineman MARCUS SPEARS reported to be a "Few" pounds overweight in his first appearance with Dallas... the first-round choice does not feel it will be a big deal, but he did draw a few comments from head coach Bill Parcells...
JETS rookie kicker MIKE NUGENT converted 4-of-6 field goals on his first day with the team...
RAMS rookie offensive tackle ALEX BARRON was slotted at right tackle, and is projected as the team's starter at that spot from day... recently signed free agent offensive guard Rex Tucker and rookie offensive guard CLAUDE TERRELL could battle for one of the guard spots... but the team is also very excited about the upside potential of rookie offensive lineman RICHIE INCOGNITO... but they will have to wait until he is 100% before they can see where he fits in best...
An interesting note upon reviewing the tapes of the actual NFL Draft, as when it came time for the Cincinnati Bengals to make the 17th overall selection... ESPN had¬† the actual announcement from the podeum... however, the NFL Network had it before the actual announcement as it was seen coming across the bottom of the screen at least a good 5-8 seconds before it was said "Live" by the commissioner... although this could just be part of the "Live" delay or feed... there has been consistent speculation by members of print, audio and video media that the NFL Network will eventually take over as the "Mainstream" way the NFL covers itself... but after viewing the tapes it is obvious they had the info before it was read to the rest of the viewers on ESPN.
"WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN AND MIGHT STILL BE":
BILLS tried often to deal running back TRAVIS HENRY, but could not come up with a good enough deal... with Tampa Bay, Arizona, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and Miami all having drafted running backs... the best option for both Henry and the Bills is to sit back and wait for a team to re-evaluate their RB position during training camp and deal Henry when the marketplace opens back up for him... although getting more than a conditional draft pick for him is unlikely...
SEAHAWKS never received an offer for running back SHAUN ALEXANDER during the weekend of the draft...
COLTS never received an offer for running back EDGERRIN JAMES during the weekend of the draft...
EAGLES spent some time evaluating possible trades for defensive tackle COREY SIMON... they also decided to go in another direction at running back passing on a deal for Travis Henry (Buffalo), and opting for one of the most under-rated backs in the draft, RYAN MOATS (Louisiana Tech)...
SAINTS, who made the trip to evaluate quarterback ADRIAN MCPHERSON at his private workout, decided that if he was still available in the fifth round that his talent and upside was too much to pass on, so by bringing him on board it now leaves Todd Bouman and Kliff Kingsburry in a battle for one position on the roster... Bouman was the #2 last season, but was nearly beaten out by J.T. O'Sullivan before he was dealt to Green Bay... Kingsburry, who has gone unnoticed to most since being signed by the Saints has quietly impressed their staff, so if he plays well early there is a chance the Saints could move either him or Bouman for a draft choice, since McPherson is likely to start the year as the team's #3...
BRONCOS decided to grab running back MAURICE CLARETT with the final pick of the 3rd round based on several reasons, but one of them being they felt there were a few teams, including Dallas, that might have taken him early on "Day Two"... the belief that his cut-back running style will fit perfectly into the team's zone blocking scheme was one of the major reasons they took a chance on him... but he also has a huge supporter of his on-field ability and potential for off-field maturity in Broncos' running back coach Bobby Turner, a 10-year veteran of the team's coaching staff, so his word and analysis of Clarett went a long way...
JETS will take a long look at free agent cornerback TY LAW if/when he is healthy, as the team still has concerns of the possible retirement of Donnie Abraham, but also feels that he could play his best against his former team (New England) and gives the a veteran to lead their young secondary...
JETS released veteran kicker DOUG BRIEN after selecting Mike Nugent (Ohio State) in the second round of last weekend's draft... while the Jets front office said all the right things over the weekend, they actually did Brien a favor by releasing him now, as he will have the chance to catch on with another team before training camp... keep an eye on Minnesota and Dallas, as either franchise could be a landing spot, since both teams have been monitoring the situation of available veteran kickers.
JETS have also been rumored to be talking about a possible deal that would send veteran cornerback RAY MICKENS to the DALLAS COWBOYS for versatile defender PETE HUNTER, who missed most of last season due to injury, however, Jets GM Terry Bradway firmly denied those rumors on Thursday...
CHIEFS had free agent wide receiver AZ HAKIM in for a visit, but mainly to let him know that although they like his talent and ability that he does not really fit into their plans... however, teams like Denver, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and possibly Carolina could show some interest in adding him before the start of training camp... behind the scenes the Panthers are hoping that wide receiver DREW CARTER, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, can provide a vertical threat off the bench...
GIANTS are on the lookout for a veteran backup quarterback again, as Jim Miller will be out up to 3-4 months after hip surgery... they may now turn their attention to New York native VINNY TESTAVERDE after missing out on the chance to sign Doug Flutie, who opted to sign with New England... the signing of Flutie by the Patriots may open the door for them to deal current backup ROHAN DAVEY for a 2006 draft choice... as the Patriots were already able to accumulate three extra picks for next year's draft by wheeling and dealing last weekend...
PATRIOTS, BRONCOS, BROWNS and SAINTS seem to be the prime contenders to sign veteran free agent linebacker CHAD BROWN... but keep an eye on the DOLPHINS as a late darkhorse, since the signed Chad's younger brother, VAN BROWN, to an undrafted free agent deal after last weekend's NFL Draft...
BEARS may look to deal kicker PAUL EDINGER before the start of training camp and sign a veteran kicker such as Doug Brien...
PANTHERS may look to deal punter TODD SAUERBRUN before the start of training camp and initially turn to veteran Tom Rouen...
LIONS may have a three-headed race for the starting right tackle job in training camp, but second-year tackle KELLY BUTLER is in the lead right now, although many think that once KYLE KOSIER learns their playbook that he will be the eventual starter... although others think he is best suited to be a swingman-type...
"LOOK WHO'S SCOUTING NOW":
Since most if not all of the people responsible for helping to create the draft boards that were used last weekend never get any publicity or exterior recognition for the jobs they do here is a quick look at some of the names that have stood out over the past 8-10 months... Tom Marino (Rams) is a name that most in the scouting business know well... not only for his evaluations, but also for his personality, which helps make him one of the most outgoing people in the business... he might be one of the top "Free Agents" available this spring/summer if he does not remain in St. Louis... Carolina, Philadelphia and Indianapolis are three teams that seem to send scouts in waves during post-season events... that or a lot of middle-aged men are buying their gear and attending workouts and Pro Days in disguise... Tony Softli of the Panthers and Jason Licht of the Eagles have both been mentioned prominently for future job promotions, while names like Ryan Grigson (Eagles), Brian Adams (Panthers), Dave Caldwell (Colts) and Tom Vasvari (Colts) are scouts that work behind the scenes for each of those individual teams... Green Bay and Cleveland have solid front offices with quality evaluators and administrators in place, including John Schneider (Packers), Shaun Herock (Packers), Steve Sabo (Browns) and Rich Long (Browns)... meanwhile, New England who has a solid nucleus of front office personnel have a future Director of Player Personnel if not GM in Tom Dimitroff... an under-rated evaluator that has been part of the 49ers organization for the past decade is Brian Gardner, who was interviewed during their off-season search for a new GM... two of the most quality guys in the business are Russ Bolinger (Lions) and Chuck Cook (Chiefs), who are the Director of College Scouting for their respective teams... both are known for taking the time to evaluate every player that comes to their attention... Marty Barrett (Bears), John Fitzpatrick (Vikings), Jeremiah Davis (Giants), John Peterson (Seahawks) and Mike Phair (Buccaneers) are some of the "Road Warriors" that help locate talented prospects for their clubs each season... if you are looking for a someone that is a true professional about their job there is none better than Tim Mingey (Jaguars) as he workouts out each player as if they are a Top-10 selection... he is a diligent worker that puts in the leg work that has allowed his evaluations to lead to several significant additions to the Jaguars' roster... you can't mention "Scouts" without recognizing one of the "Dean's of Scouting"... C.O. Brocato (Titans) who can be found at many of the top Pro Days in the South during the post-season, as well as creating opportunities for prospects by promoting and evaluating talent at a workout held each year at UT-Arlington... a few final names to keep an eye on in future years include Ryan Pace (Saints), Matt Littlefield (Chiefs) and Eric DeCosta (Ravens), each of whom have the potential to rise to more prominent positions, according to several of the people we speak to in the business.
*Be sure to listen to ESPN (Florida) radio's Thursday night program (7-9pm) leading up to the NFL Draft featuring Orlando Alzugaray... you can find out more by visiting www.espn1080.com.
*Since you can never have enough great information on each year's NFL DRAFT be sure to visit and purchase a copy of GMJR... the only hard-copy draft publication that is authored by a former NFL scout, Russ Lande, who has scouted in the league with both the Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams... a valued opinion and great friend to our staff, Russ' insight are valued by anyone who has ever read his material... he also has a very unique grading system for quarterbacks, which he learned while working with noted quarterback guru Mike White, a 17-year veteran of the NFL, who currently holds the title of Director of Football Administration with the Kansas City Chiefs... so visit www.gmjr.com/order_now.html for more information about obtaining this useful resource.
*Be sure to listen to Sirius' NFL Radio program each day leading up to the start of NFL Training Camps.
*Next Level Scouting Staff members Dean Zarafonetis, Matt Jansen, Pat Schuster have contributed to previous reports, as have Carlos Holmes, Josh Buchanan.
*All rights reserved by NextLevel Scouting, Inc. and John Murphy... any use of the material enclosed without the express written or verbal consent of NextLevel Scouting, Inc. or John Murphy is prohibited... John Murphy can be reached via phone or email at 504.415.9979 and firstname.lastname@example.org.