|02.27.10 at 4:10 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Those who have seen Clemson pass-rusher Ricky Sapp play know that he doesn’t need to be related to Warren to scare the the living daylights out of opposing quarterbacks.
The man projected to the Patriots with the 22nd overall pick took the podium Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Listed at 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5 throughout his four years at Clemson, Sapp was measured at 6-foot-3 and 252 pounds at the Scouting Combine. While this certainly won’t keep him off too many draft boards, the Patriots’ historical unwillingness to budge from the benchmark of 6-foot-5 could mean trouble for his prospects of calling New England his next home.
“I wouldn’t think [two inches] would make any [difference],” Sapp said of the Belichick Line. “I know I could play in that scheme, so I’m just going to take it from here and go.”
At 6-foot-3, Sapp still remains one of the taller college defensive ends who will likely move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. His speed as a pass-rusher is what has made many feel he will be coveted in the mid-to-late first round area. He acknowledged that he needs to improve his play against the run, but while in Indianapolis he is making sure that teams walk away from him knowing his right knee, which was operated on in 2008, will not have an effect on his NFL career.
“My main thing coming to the combine was my knee and how strong it was,” Sapp said. “So far, everybody has said it looks good, so I’ve got a little confidence now.”
|02.27.10 at 3:40 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — When Josh McDaniels left the Patriots at the end of the 2008 season to take over as head coach in Denver, there was a handful of players who followed him to the Broncos.
Wide receiver Jabar Gaffney, running back LaMont Jordan, long snapper Lonie Paxton, offensive lineman Russ Hochstein and defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith all ended up moving from Foxboro to Denver before the start of the 2009 season.
Many new coaches like to filch players from their own address — it helps the transitional process, especially in the locker room. One of the reasons the Patriots were so successful so quickly after Bill Belichick became head coach was because he brought many of his own guys with him to New England from his stops with the Jets and Browns.
But McDaniels said Saturday afternoon at the NFL Scouting Combine that the reason he ended up with so many ex-Patriots on his roster this past season was not to make the transition easier, but because he believed they could all still contribute.
“I think it was helpful because they were productive players, for the most part,” McDaniels said. “I think anytime you can add a player who’s a productive player and can play a role for your football team and help you win, it’s a good thing.
“We didn’t bring those players to Denver just because they were from New England. We brought them there because we thought they could help us win.”
|02.27.10 at 2:24 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — The draft may be just under two months away, but Sam Bradford already has podium experience wearing No. 1.
“It’s alphabetical,” Bradford said Saturday to a sea of chuckling reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I have the first name.”
Even so, the red Under Armour T-shirt seemed only fitting in wake of Adam Schefter’s recent declaration the Rams would likely make Bradford the top selection in April’s draft. The comments carried weight into the combine, and the development was news to the Rams GM.
“That took a lot of pressure off us right away when Dr. Schefter cleared him medically,” Rams GM Billy Devaney said with a laugh on Friday. “We feel really good about the health status of Sam Bradford now with Dr. Schefter giving him a clean bill of health and guaranteeing our pick. We’re on to the second round right now.”
|02.27.10 at 2:07 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — With the glory days of Richard Seymour a thing of the past, one of the biggest needs for the Patriots heading into the 2010 NFL Draft is defensive end. Not college defensive end who can play linebacker, but honest-to-goodness defensive end.
Unlike many positions of need for the Patriots that are considerably deep in this draft, there aren’t many perceived difference-makers at 3-4 end who would be worth the 22nd overall selection. Questions exist about Carlos Dunlap’s drive and off-field concerns. Then, there’s Penn State’s Jared Odrick.
Odrick could very well be targeted by every single team in this draft, regardless of defensive scheme.
“I’ve heard five-technique in a 3-4,” Odrick said Saturday. “I’ve heard one-technique in a 3-4. I’ve heard three-technique in a 4-3. I’ve heard five-technique and seven-technique in a 4-3, so I’m hearing a lot right now.”
Should he hear Bill Belichick’s voice on the other end of the phone line on April 22, Odrick is prepared to make the move to the spot that Seymour occupied prior to his pre-season trade to the Raiders.
“I’ve been playing three-technique the most, in a 4-3 defense for the last three, four years and probably feel most comfortable with that,” Odrick said. “But I think that I can find success at multiple positions.
“Whether it’s a 4-3 or a 3-4, I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Odrick had 104 total tackles in his four-year career at Penn State. Asked by WEEI.com to compare himself to a current NFL defensive tackle, his response was only fitting.
“I’ve got a lot of comparisons, given my body type, to Richard Seymour,” Odrick said. “I’m not sure yet [who I'm like]. We’ll find out.”
|02.27.10 at 2:04 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan defensive end/outside linebacker Brandon Graham may not fit the Patriots’ mold physically when it comes to edge rushers, but he sure sounds like he’s a good fit mentally.
The 6-foot-1, 268-pound defensive lineman, who likely projects as an outside linebacker in the NFL, may not have the size that Bill Belichick looks for in his “conversion” types. But he’s already been well-schooled in New England’s approach, thanks in large part to his relationship with current Patriots linebackers Pierre Woods and Shawn Crable.
“I’ve seen Pierre more than I’ve seen Crable in the last two years. He told me a lot about the Patriots and what they expect of you,” Graham said of Woods.
“He just said it was a great experience,” he added. “He said it was just like Michigan — you love to hate them. They have a swagger about them and they take pride in what they do, and everybody in the building works hard. So get ready if you become a Patriot.”
You can’t question Graham’s production — Graham had a combined 20 sacks the last two seasons for Michigan. But isn’t the ideal that New England usually looks for in that position. Think long and lean, like Willie McGinest — not short and stocky, like Elvis Dumervil.
“From the Patriots’ perspective, they typically like the longer outside linebackers,” Mayock explained. “Brandon Graham, at the Senior Bowl, was 6-foot-1, 263 [pounds]. That’s really short for an outside linebacker in the Patriots’ scheme, and he had 30 1/2 inch arms, which is extremely short.
“Just from an initial cosmetic overview, he fits what they do from a rush linebacker perspective, but he doesn’t fit the prototype. It doesn’t mean they wouldn’t take him, but he’s not as long as they like.”
Doesn’t matter to Graham, who models his game after Dumervil, the Denver linebacker who had 17 sacks last season.
“I watch Dumervil now because he was the leading sacker last year. I just look at myself as the next one. He’s 6-1, he’s small. A lot of people don’t think he could do it, but I believe whoever gets me is going to love me.
“No matter what size I am, I’m going to get to the ball. I’m going to cause havoc.”
|02.27.10 at 1:28 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — As Nick Caserio pointed out Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine, the 2010 Draft is one that features plenty of pass-rushing defensive ends who could be moving to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. While names like Brandon Graham and Jerry Hughes (whom Mike Mayock believes the Patriots could target) are becoming more popular with each passing day, it is worth noting that historically Bill Belichick has not gone after these types early on in the draft.
If the Patriots decide yet again to pass over the highly rated pass-rushers in the first couple of rounds, there remains talent in the later part of the draft. One of those players is Arizona State’s Dexter Davis. The former Sun Devil stands at 6-foot-2 (below what should be referred to as the “Belichick Line” of 6-foot-5) and has questions about his ability in coverage in addition to having a poor senior season.
So what is the draw with Davis? He was A four-year starter on ASU’s defense and set a school record with 50 games played.
“That was real important to me,” Davis said of the milestone. “I wanted to leave my mark on that school and I feel like I did that.
“Just being able to fight through knicks and bruises and knowing I was able to play was important to me.”
Not only did he play, but he was productive in his first three years prior the lackluster senior showing. All in all he recorded 133 tackles as a Sun Devil.
Davis has met with multiple NFL teams, including the Patriots at the East/West Shrine game, about which role he would be used in. He is open to being a 3-4 outside linebacker and has no preference. Should he move to outside linebacker, changes to his game will have to be made, and Davis is making sure that he will be fully prepared for the move.
“I’ve been working with a position coach at Athletes Performance in Pheonix,” Davis said in response to questions about his fluidity. “The ability of opening hips as the skill he most looks forward to showing off [at the combine].”
Due to his statistical dropoff and concerns about the aforementioned fluidity, Davis is seen as a fifth-to-seventh-round pick.
|02.27.10 at 12:47 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Chiefs coach Todd Haley knows that his franchise is fast becoming perceived as Foxboro West.
Kansas City imported Patriots GM Scott Pioli last offseason, and he brought quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel along with him via trade. In recent months, former New England coordinators Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis signed on to join Haley and the Chiefs’ coaching staff.
All that’s missing now in Kansas City is a lighthouse at one end of the stadium, right?
Speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday morning, Haley was quick to credit the Patriots’ system and the influence it has had on the Chiefs’ approach to team-buidling. But he did remind reporters that by and large, these relationships took root with the Jets more than a decade ago: Pioli was in the front office, but Weis and Crennel all worked with Haley with the Jets, a staff that included (for a time) Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells.
“I think in talking about the Patriots in general, you’re talking about the model that everybody would try to follow if they could,” he said. “But I don’t look at it as the Patriots just because so many of us were together even before that, in a situation in New York that was a turnaround situation.
“Eighty percent of the staff was sitting in Hofstra at Hofstra for three or four years together.”
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