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Peter King on D&H: McCourty ‘will work harder than anybody else’

04.26.10 at 2:40 pm ET
By
pk

Peter King

After a very busy weekend in the NFL, Peter King of Sports Illustrated called in to Dale & Holley to talk about the NFL draft.

Fans may have been frustrated with the Patriots and Bill Belichick consistently trading down in the draft,  but King said that those inside the game think completely different on the subject.

“They think he’s brilliant,” King said. “I’d say over the weekend I talked to, between Thursday and yesterday, maybe 11 different coaches, GMs, draft guys, and I didn’t find anybody who said, ‘Pick somebody, will you.’ They all admire the position that the Patriots have themselves in.”

When asked if the Patriots picked an impact player this year, King said wasn’t sure if the Patriots got exactly what the needed over the weekend.

“I don’t know that they did. I don’t know that anybody knows that they did,” he said.”The Patriots need somebody to get after the quarterback. They need it bad. They may have that guy on the roster right now, and they may not. The other thing I think about their draft is that first of all, no matter how many picks you have, it’s unrealistic you are going to answer every question that you have.”

King also talked about the end of the Adalius Thomas tenure in New England, the future of Devin McCourty and the chance to hang out with Pete Carroll on draft weekend.

The transcript follows. To listen to the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Tell us about the Scott Sicko story.

It’s amazing because to me what’s really the difference, and I asked him this. For those who don’t know Scott Sicko is a tight end at the University of New Hampshire. He was a Division 1-AA All American this year. He had a lot of interest. He had a private workout with the Patriots and there was a lot of interest in the kid. He was a free agent. He was not drafted, and five teams called him after the draft. He just decided, “With the probably itinerate life, with what ever chances I would have to make it, then I don’t want to be a free agent. If I’m not going to be drafted then I’m going to move on with the rest of my life.” I talked to him yesterday and he was not at all bitter. Not at all unhappy or anything like that. He feels in general that he’s sort of been given a sign. He enjoys school as much as he enjoys football. So now he’s going to do school instead of doing football, so I thought it was a pretty interesting story.

What was the experience of being in the draft room with Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks?

I didn’t sit in the draft room, but I would have like to of have. I recreated a few scenes from the draft room, but they buttoned up a little bit tight there. I don’t know that they are Belichickian in terms of being buttoned up. But they are pretty tight at the beginning of the rein with Pete Carroll and John Schneider the general manager. A couple of observations: Pete may have matured, he may have gray hair, and he may be a little bit different than the Pete he was in New England or with the Jets, but it’s only a very little bit. He’s still that sort of frenetic, energy-driven guy. The first day that Charlie Whitehurst got to Seattle after the trade. When he was working out, he was out throwing the ball with Matt Hasselbeck just sort of loosening up, and Pete went out and ran 40 routes for he and Hasselbeck. Go routes, fades, crosses, everything, and they ran the whole complement of stuff that is going to be in their offense. Whitehurst just simply couldn’t believe it. He’s about the same, and I think he finally I said to him, “Are you happy that you are finally buying the groceries?” He said, “You know, that’s one of the greatest statements ever made in our business by someone who wanted to buy the groceries.” He seems to be pretty happy out there.

You didn’t think the Patriots got an impact player in the 2010 draft?

I don’t know that they did. I don’t know that anybody knows that they did. The Patriots need somebody to get after the quarterback. They need it bad. They may have that guy on the roster right now, and they may not. The other thing I think about their draft is that first of all, no matter how many picks you have, it’s unrealistic you are going to answer every question that you have. I do think there is going to be a lot of pressure on this Taylor Price kid to come in and to be a player pretty early. I think if you go into the season pretty confident about Randy Moss, who has been hurt some obviously, and pretty confident about Julian Edelman, for the role that he is going to play, I don’t know what other confidence you can have. I understand Torry Holt, but I just hope for their sake they are deep enough at receiver coming out of this draft.

What do people in the NFL think about Bill Belichick’s maneuvering in the draft?

They think he’s brilliant. I’d say over the weekend I talked to, between Thursday and yesterday, maybe 11 different coaches, GMs, draft guys, and I didn’t find anybody who said, “Pick somebody, will you.” They all admire the position that the Patriots have themselves in, because Bill, a lot he knew on his own already, but I think he learned an awful lot meeting with Jimmy Johnson over the years, and I think he started to understand early on that draft picks are currency. You can do a lot with draft picks. One of the reasons why I’m not killing him in terms of any move in terms of trading down is very simple, I don’t think you can say with any sort of guarantee that there was a guy in this draft that was to them what Jerod Mayo was a couple of years ago — an absolute plug-and-play, first-day starter, impact player. You look at all of these pass rushers and they all had zits on them. Jason Pierre-Paul, and again I’ve seen highlights of this guy and he looks like Jevon Kearse, but the guy played 13 games last year and had six sacks. If he’s so wonderful what’s he doing getting a half a sack a game in the Big East? I’m not saying that he won’t be a really good pro, but is that a guarantee? Two years of junior college and then six sacks at [University of South Florida]. Derrick Morgan was probably the safest of all these guys. But I know this, a lot of teams, including Philadelphia and Miami, that really wanted a physical pass rusher, they had a chance to take them and both passed on them. There was no Julius Peppers in this draft. One of them may turn out to be great, but the reason that I look at this draft and say that I don’t mind what the Patriots did in not staying there and not picking guys, is that I don’t think any of those guys are sure things.

Josh McDaniels is really sticking his neck out there, isn’t he?

You could put it that way or you could also say that he’s bought himself three years right now. Pat Bowlen is certainly not going to fire him after this year and certainly not going to fire him after next year, I wouldn’t think, because you got a developmental quarterback there. I understand what you are saying. We talked at length the other night and he said, “Sixty-seven of the 86 guys we have here on this team right now weren’t here when we got here.” That’s a phenomenal rate of turnover, and it’s Josh McDaniels putting his own stamp on this team. A lot of people under Mike Shanahan got fat and happy. I think he basically feels like it’s time to make a change. So that’s what he’s doing. He’s making a change all over the roster. About [Tim] Tebow, if you are Josh McDaniels you want to have a couple of things in your quarterback. You want to have a guys who understands what you are doing and is a team guy that I always equate this to Phil Simms back with the Giants. Bill Parcells, in 1984, told Simms, “Look we don’t have running game this year so you are going to have to throw the heck out of it.” He went on to throw for 4,000 yards that year. Next year, what do they got, Rob Carpenter and Joe Morris emerging and a great running game and he said, “You are not going throw it very much.” And he throws for not a lot. He didn’t care. It was just football. He wasn’t out for stats. That’s the kind of guy he saw in Tebow.

The one quick story I’ll tell you, last Monday, Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders, the general manager, made a hush-hush, top secret trip to Gainesville. They actually went to see Colt McCoy on Sunday in Austin. Then they went to Gainesville on Sunday and spent seven hours with [Tebow]. McDaniels told me, “People who know our offense know how complicated it is. It’s very, very difficult. What happened in this case was that midway through the visit, that Tebow started talking to me in my language, my terminology, that he had never used at Florida.” He had already translated the stuff from his terminology in his scheme into what Denver was going to do. [McDaniels] got back on the plane that night and said to Xanders, “We got to do everything we can to try and get this guy.” You know what, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How Tebow goes is how Josh McDaniels will go in Denver. We all know that now.

What did you think of what the Kansas City Chiefs did in the draft this weekend?

It was interesting, I wrote this today that the top-five picks in their draft were all captains of their team last year at the major college level. They got a tight end from Iowa, Tony Moeaki, who they think has the chance to be the blocking fool and more than a receiver than Mark Bavaro was with the Giants. That’s high praise, obviously, but that’s the kind of player he is. One of the guys I really trust is Rick Gosselin. I think he does the best job of anyone in the business of analyzing the draft. He’s from the Dallas Morning News, and he gave them an A+. He is a stingy grader and he gave the Chiefs an A+. I think they did well. A lot of people have said, and it was the hot talk early in the second round, I don’t know who said it, maybe [Jon] Gruden or maybe Steve Young or somebody on ESPN, they said that the Chiefs are going to sit here and take Jimmy Clausen. That just didn’t ring right with me and I checked with the Chiefs afterwards and they never had any intention of taking Jimmy Clausen. He was never on their radar screen. Everybody put two and two together. It’s silly if you pay $31 million over two years or whatever it was to Matt Cassel, that before you really know the long-term answer with Matt Cassel, that you bring in his successor. It’s a little bit ridiculous. As far as Dexter McCluster goes, their second round pick, they wanted to go hard after Darren Sproles before he was tagged as a restricted free agent by San Diego. They wanted a field-changer, a game-changer. I think what you are going to see happen is McCluster will be kind of a slot receiver, maybe some kind of Wildcat player and returner somewhat in the mold of Sproles, but less in the backfield.

The Chiefs will win nine or 10 games next year.

They might. I don’t know. A lot is going to depend on how well Cassel plays, that’s for sure.

Do you have an opinion on the Devin McCourty selection?

I have a very high opinion on him. I think Joe Haden was better and I think Kyle Wilson was better. But Kyle Wilson, the kid from Boise, had a few zits on his personal resume that I think a few people shied away from, even though I think he has a chance to be a really good player. A bunch of people had him rated as the top corner above Joe Haden. Here’s the reason that I love McCourty. When Bill went down to New Brunswick (N.J.) to speak to the [Rutgers] coaches and I’m sure he worked in the trip to see his son, he went down there and one of things that he did he went and sat down in the football office with Devin McCourty and he wanted to watch some tape with him. I asked McCourty about this. It wasn’t necessarily to sort of teach him about football. McCourty thought it was about getting to learn his football IQ. You know, getting to learn some stuff about McCourty, which I thought obviously any coach is going to want to do before the draft, but I know a couple of the coaches down there and they love this kid. This is a guy, who first of all, will never be in any trouble. He will work harder than anybody else. He loves the game. He’s one of these “Coach you want me to be the gunner on the punt team for the next 10 years then tell me what to do, I’ll do it.” He’s a really, really good kid and there is some good receivers in that league the last few years now. You talk to Mardy Gilyard at Cincinnati and some of the guys who have been good in that league over the years and they’ll tell you that he was the best cover corner that they faced in that league.

What did you think of the Adalius Thomas era in New England and what do you think about the Jason Campbell trade to Oakland and how that impact JaMarcus Russell?

The JaMarcus Russell thing is going to be totally up to Al Davis. It makes sense to get rid of him before you pay him his $9 million or whatever it is. But Al Davis would then be admitting an absolutely colossal mistake after three years. There is no way that you can say that that thing is a slam dunk. They’ve already paid him $39 million. Al is not flushed with cash, so I’m not sure that it’s a done deal yet, but if it is, JaMarcus Russell got what he’s deserved.

About Adalius Thomas, we’ve seen this coming for eight months. We’ve seen this coming during the season, with the day that he was inactive. I just thought that was the sign that this thing is just never going to work. It never worked. Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick I think probably have made two mistakes. They’ve made the mistake with that Carolina receiver [Donald Hayes] early on in their regime. They made a mistake with him and they made a mistake with Thomas. In their defense, I think it was an honest mistake. In the Baltimore scheme, he did so many things. A lot of the listeners won’t know this but guys will. Adalius Thomas for the Raves was Bert Campaneris. Remember he played all nine positions in one game for the A’s. Adalius Thomas, in his last year in Baltimore, played eight different positions on defense. He covered for a series, Chad Johnson back when he was Chad Johnson. All I’m saying that sometimes in life you project a guy to be certain thing and this guy was not. That’s the way it goes sometimes. You can criticized them all you want and they deserve to be criticized because it didn’t work out. I think there would have been a lot of teams that would have made the same effort that they did.

As far as where he is going to go. I think in a couple of hours, my original guess was the Jets, Baltimore or Miami. Now I’m sort of thinking the Jets, Baltimore or Washington. Know this about Adalius Thomas, he has become and East Coast guy. He loves it on the East Coast. He turned down an awful lot of money to go the 49ers and Mike Nolan originally, because he and his wife didn’t want to stray far. They grew fond of Washington, they love the Washington D.C. area. I think if Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen offered him something that was a good role that he liked, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go to Washington or Baltimore. It’s really going to depend on what the interest is in teams. He’s not going to be able to go somewhere for a lot of money. If I were him, he’s going to go somewhere for the right role.

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