|03.01.10 at 1:35 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL Combine changes everything. You get a feel for which type of guys could be the face of a franchise, which type of guys are likely bombing team interviews and which guys belong in which scheme.
You also get a sense of which players might go where and which moves teams might have to make in order to have a successful draft. With the Patriots likely looking long and hard at linemen — whether they be five-technique 3-4 ends or undersized 4-3 ends who would move to outside linebacker — it becomes a little clearer which guys could realistically be available at No. 22.
Take Penn State’s Jared Odrick, for example. A common mock draft choice of the Patriots, Odrick could see his stock move himself perhaps into the top half of the draft. His versatility and football IQ alone were impressive enough over the weekend for teams to hold him in higher regard.
Odrick could be the guy who fills the shoes of Richard Seymour, but if the Patriots are committed to finding a true pass-rusher who can play standing up, moving up for South Florida’s Jason Pierre Paul — who on Monday ran a 4.64 40-yard dash — could be a discussion worth having.
“People say I’m raw,” Pierre-Paul said Saturday. “I just say I’m God-gifted.”
Not recruited by many big-time college programs because of his lack of size (he verbally committed to Central Florida before failing the FCAT placement test), Pierre-Paul played his freshman year at College of the Canyons (JC) in Valencia, Calif. From there he went to Fort Scott Community College in 2008 before transferring to Southern Florida and finally playing his first season of FBS competition as a junior.
|03.01.10 at 12:00 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — When Dean Pees left the Patriots earlier this past offseason (reports differ as to whether he jumped or was pushed overboard after six years in New England, the last four as defensive coordinator), it was just a matter of time before he was linked to the vacant defensive coordinators’ position in Denver.
On the surface, it seemed like a natural move: Mike Nolan had left the Broncos defensive coordinator job for the same position in Miami. McDaniels and Pees were together on the New England staff from 2004 to 2008, and it was believed the two got along well together when they were together with the Patriots.
But this weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine, Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said Pees was never a serious candidate for the Denver job. Instead, it was a case of people putting two and two together and ending up with five.
“I had a relationship with Dean, obviously, in New England,” McDaniels said. “I think it was just a case where he was kind of out there, available, we had an opening and people seemed to connect the dots, probably mistakenly. Most of that conversation, there was no fruit to it.”
Instead, the Broncos decided to promote from within, elevating the popular linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale to the position of defensive coordinator. (Pees ended up as the linebackers coach in Baltimore.) It was a move some people believed was sparked after the players’ lobbied heavily for Martindale.
“We didn’t make any decisions based on that, but always the input from your players is something you would consider because their input obviously matters to us, what they think about a coach’s ability in their room is critical,” McDaniels said. “They provided great insight, some of which I knew, some of which I didn’t.
“We’re excited, we’re excited about the direction we’re going to go.”
|02.28.10 at 7:14 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — LSU defensive back Chad Jones can do a lot. As he pointed out Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, he’s pretty versatile. He can plays at either safety position or cornerback — not to mention southpaw reliever.
Jones was a two-sport athlete at LSU, knocking heads with receivers on the football field and bringing the heat (and a 2009 College World Series Championship) as a lefty reliever on the baseball diamond. From here on out, however, it’s all football.
“As of right now, I’ve wrapped my baseball career up,” Jones said on Sunday. “I had a good run at it. I loved it. I wouldn’t have done anything differently, but it’s time for me to pursue my [passion].”
Two-sport athletes often face difficulty making a decision at the end of their college careers. Notre Dame receiver Jeff Samardzija likely would have been a first-round pick in the NFL had he elected not to sign with the Cubs, who made him a fifth-round pick in the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.
Jones’ decision is similar. He was regarded as one of the top high school baseball prospects in the 2007 MLB Draft but didn’t go until the 13th round (Astros) because he had already committed to play football at LSU. The Astros failed to sign him and the rest is history.
“Baseball’s a different kind of feeling,” Jones said. “[In] baseball, everybody’s eyes are on you and every pitch counts. In football, everybody’s eyes are scanning around. There are so many people on the field. It’s a different kind of pressure.”
|02.28.10 at 3:20 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Oakland coach Tom Cable just spoke with the media here at the NFL Scouting Combine, and had a lot of good stuff to say about former Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour.
Cable indicated that Seymour, who was dealt by New England to Oakland for a first-round pick in 2011 before the start of this past season, has taken a real leadership role with the Raiders.
“I think he was everything I thought he would be,” Cable said of the 30-year-old Seymour, who just completed his first full year with Oakland. “I heard a lot about who he is as a person, and what he would bring to the locker room and the practice field and the preparation and all those things. To me, he accomplished everything I had heard about him.
“The thing that I was probably most excited about was how much he impacted our young players on our football team,” Cable added. “He’s been in the NFL for quite some time, and knows how to prepare, how to get himself ready, how to take notes. The time it takes, day-to-day, week-to-week as you go through the season, and ultimately, how to take care of your body. So I think there were a lot of good lessons learned there for a bunch of young football players.”
|02.28.10 at 3:01 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Whatever it takes.
It’s the philosophy that Boston College linebacker Mike McLaughlin is taking at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine. The Woburn native made his bones as a linebacker with the Eagles, but believes his best chance to reach the next level might be on special teams — specifically as a long snapper.
“I long-snapped. I actually did it at the East-West Shrine Game, as a short and long snapper,” said McLaughlin, who was twice named a defensive captain while at Boston College. “I just think to me right now, I consider myself a special teams guy first and then a linebacker. Of course, I play linebacker — I’ve got the LB on my shirt. But I think I can come in and make an impact on any special teams.”
The 6-foot-2, 247-pound McLaughlin wants to make sure he gets a few snaps in on Monday before leaving the combine, and will make sure he does the same at BC’s Pro Day on March 11. Some draft analysts believe McLaughlin is making the right choice.
|02.28.10 at 1:49 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — At this moment, it appears that New England will be the only team to enter the 2010 season without an offensive or defensive coordinator. But the folks who have had the chance to peek behind the curtain in Foxboro that it will make a lick of difference.
Current Broncos coach Josh McDaniels was part of a coaching staff that didn’t have an offensive coordinator in 2005 — McDaniels was calling plays as quarterbacks coach. He says that when it comes to New England’s coaching hierarchy, titles can be a bit overrated.
“In my history, I’ve been given responsibility to which I feel like I’ve earned. When I wasn’t given something, I just felt like maybe I didn’t deserve it yet and I’d just keep working,” he said Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “The title in 2005 was insignificant to me. I was excited to call plays and excited to be a part of the design of the offense and the game-planning and all that stuff.”
“I’ll never second-guess Coach Belichick’s approach to that,” said former New England director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff, currently the GM of the Falcons. “I understand that seems out of the norm, but he’s got a plan. He’s very calculating with his decisions.”
|02.28.10 at 1:44 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — When Joe Haden arrived at the University of Florida in the spring of 2007, he didn’t know what position he would play.
“When I first got to Florida I had a little dream that I was going to play quarterback [but] they had somebody named Tebow,” Haden said Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “So that kind of went out the window.”
Having been recruited as a quarterback by schools including Ohio State, Virginia, Georgia, Boston College (where his brother Josh played running back), LSU, and Rutgers, Haden was fine changing positions if it meant being a Gator. The first attempt was a move to wide receiver.
“I was second-string behind Percy [Harvin],” he said. “I couldn’t get it right.”
The depth on offense was killing Haden’s chances of making an impact as a freshman, which led to a discussion with coach Urban Meyer about trying something new. Haden was all for whatever would get him on the field.
“Coach Meyer asked me if I felt like going to the defensive side of the ball,” Haden said. “I just wanted to play, because I came in spring so I had a lot of time to adjust. He just moved me to corner, something I had never done before.”
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