Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cassel Traded to Chiefs; Other Free Agency Updates

According to ESPN, New England Patriots QB Matt Cassel has been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. According to the report, Cassel may be a part of the trade that is sending LB Mike Vrabel to Kansas City as well. It is expected the draft picks will be the compensation, however there is no information available at this time. Cassel and Vrabel immediately upgrade the Chiefs and take them out of the running for Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez. Surprise, surprise.

UPDATE: According to Pro Football Talk, Cassel and Vrabel were had for a mere 2nd round pick. The 34th selections is heading to new England. The Patriots now have three second round picks.


  • Denver has been very active in free agency thus far. After visits from RBs J.J. Arrington and Correll Buckhalter, Denver signed safeties Renaldo Hill and Brian Dawkins. They have also landed LB Andra Davis from the Browns.
  • WR T.J. Houshmanzadeh is visiting the Vikings.
  • Former Titan WR Brandon Jones has signed with the 49ers.
  • The 49ers needed Jones because WRs Isaac Bruce (retired) and Bryant Johnson have left the team. Johnson has signed a three year deal with the Detroit Lions.
  • UPDATE: The Cowboys and Lions have announced a trade sending QB Jon Kitna to Dallas for CB Anthony Henry. Kitna will now be the Cowboys new backup QB after the team released Brad Johnson.
  • UPDATE: According to NFL Network's Adam Schefter, the Broncos have gotten into talks with teams about QB Jay Cutler. Apparently, Denver, Tampa Bay, and New England were trying to iron out a three-way deal that would have sent Cassel to Denver, Cutler to Tampa Bay, and draft picks to New England. The Lions have also talked to Denver about Cutler. Wow.
  • UPDATE: LB Keith Brooking - a lifelong Falcon - has agreed to terms with the Cowboys. The deal is for three years and likely spells the end to any "Ray Lewis to the Cowboys" rumors.

Penn State Update - 2/28/2009

Here's what has happened in Penn State sports the last few days as well as some upcoming events.

  • The baseball team competed in the Big Ten/Big East challenge last week. They dropped their first game to St. John's, 15-6, but won their next two games versus Northwestern (9-1) and Seton Hall (6-1). They started a four game set at Texas last night and fell in the opener to the Longhorns, 9-2. They have a doubleheader today (1:30 and 4:30). Texas is ranked #4 in the nation. [Black Shoe Diaries & Black Shoe Diaries]
  • The men's basketball team had a rough week, losing their only game at Ohio State, 73-59. The loss really hurts the teams chances of making the NCAA Tournament. The boys will need a win tonight at the Bryce Jordan Center vs Indiana, as well as a win versus either Illinois on March 5 or at Iowa on March 7. Winning two of those three will not guarantee a spot, either. They probably have to win a game or two in the Big Ten tournament to have a shot at March Madness. Devon2012 has a look at the loss to Ohio State. [Nittany White Out]
  • In some more encouraging news on the men's basketball team, Ed DeChellis is being recognized (finally) as underrated coach with a program on the rise. It has taken him a few years but he is finally getting the respect he deserves. Penn State (men's) basketball has never been dominant or among the nation's elite like football has but the basketball team has steadily improved and is reaching the point of solid play, week-in and week-out. [More Than Gold News]
  • The Icers continue their fine play, finishing the season 27-8, ESCHL regular season champions, and the #1 seed in the ESCHL post season tournament. They host Drexel today at 3:30. The winner play either Rhode Island or Delaware tomorrow at 1:00 for the post season league championship. No matter the outcome, the Icers will be making an appearance in the ACHA National Tournament. They will most likely be the #2 seed and will play Duquesne on March 14th. More on them next week! Go Icers! [Black Shoe Diaries & Penn State Hockey]
  • Last week the men's volleyball team was coming off their first loss, to Loyola (Chicago), 3-2. They have responded by winning their next three matches. They easily dispatched IPFW (3-1), Saint Francis, PA (3-0), and Lewis (3-1). The matches against Saint Francis and Lewis were at Rec Hall, as are the next two matches (vs. NJIT, vs. George Mason). The NJIT match is this afternoon at 2, but it is in the South Gym.
  • The men's gymnastics team has been inactive since their Valentine's Day loss to Illinois. They host Ohio State today at 2 in Rec Hall. Ah, that's why the men's volleyball game is in South Gym.
  • Last Saturday the women's gymnastics team hosted a four-team match and took 1st place! Other teams competing were New Hampshire, Rutgers, and Bridgeport. The women host another meet tomorrow, when Ohio State and Alabama will visit Rec Hall. The match starts at 2.
  • Immediately after I was a bit harsh on the women's basketball team they go out and win their next two games. They defeated Illinois in Champaign, 67-56, and Northwestern in State College, 65-50. They travel to Ohio State tomorrow for their final regular season game of the year. It starts at 4 pm. The women are 12-16 and are assured a losing record unless they make a run in the Big Ten tournament, which starts March 5th.
That's the Penn State update for the week up to February 28.

NFL Free Agency Update

Here's a quick update on NFL free agency. Who's going where? Find out below!

  • The Jets and Eagles are in talks to finalize a deal sending Lito Sheppard to New York for a 5th round pick in 2009 and a conditional pick in 2010. Also, the Jets resigned OG Brandon Moore, a day after releasing him.
  • Jason Brown has indeed taken the money and signed with St. Louis, even though he didn't really want to play there.
  • The Giants are very close to a deal with LB Michael Boley, formerly of the Falcons.
  • The Vikings have resigned hybrid FB/TE Jim Kleinsasser to a 2-year, $6 million deal.
  • After Brian Dawkins left Philadelphia after 13 years to play for the Broncos, the Eagles needed another safety. Now, they need two. Sean Considine has signed a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Quintin-squared (Demps and Mikell) are the only safeties on the roster. It's obvious they'll be looking for two more guys (at least) in free agency and the draft.
More as I find it!

Friday, February 27, 2009

NFL Update - 2/27/2009


  • The 2009 combine is over and, as expected, many prospects have increased or decreased their worth in scouts eyes.
  • The NFL has announced that the expected salary cap has risen from $123 million to $127 million for the 2009-2010 league year. The $4 million boost should help teams in free agency.
  • Free agency opened at midnight last night and the biggest name has already signed. Former Tennessee Titans DT Albert Haynesworth has inked a 7-year deal worth $100 million with the Washington Redskins. Haynesworth will earn over $30 million in the next 13 months. In other Redskins news, the team was able to resign CB DeAngelo Hall, whom they signed in the middle of last season after he was released by the Raiders. Hall inked a 5-year deal.
  • With the addition of Haynesworth, could Jason Taylor be on his way out? His agent does not think so but Washington could need the $8 million to upgrade other areas.
  • The 49ers are looking to add another back to take some of the load off of Frank Gore. Apparently DeShaun Foster and Michael Robinson aren't cutting it. RBs are readily available throughout the course of the draft and there is always the free agent market. San Francisco's GM wants the new RB to take 10-15 carries away from Gore.
  • Giants DE/OLB Mathia Kiwanuka will remain at DE permanently despite the return of Osi Umenyiora. Kiwanuka and Umenyiora will rotate with Justin Tuck at the two DE positions.
  • The Raiders did some house cleaning and cut safety Gibril Wilson a year after signing him to a large free agent contract. Wilson wasn't on the market for long (see Dolphins update below). Other Raiders to get the axe were DE Kalimba Edwards, WR Ronald Curry, OT Kwame Harris, and FB Justin Griffith.
  • As expected the Colts have cut ties with WR Marvin Harrison, despite attempts to keep him on board. Harrison, who has fought injuries the last two seasons, has no intentions of retiring. In other Colts news, thanks to the increased salary cap maximum limit, Indianapolis was able to retain the services of free agent center Jeff Saturday.
  • With Harrison now gone, will the Colts attempt to replace him in the first round of the upcoming draft? Based on their history there is a good chance of that happening. WRs Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez - the 30th and 32nd picks in 2001 and 2007, respectively - and TE Dallas Clark, chosen 24th in 2003, back up that claim. Prospects that could be available when Indianapolis selects on April 25th are Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, Rutgers Kenny Britt, North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks, and Florida's Percy Harvin.
  • Edgerrin James may not get his wish after all. The Arizona GM has not decided if he will release James.
  • The Patriots have added the recently released Fred Taylor to their deep RB core.
  • With Fred Taylor gone, Jacksonville will seek another option to pair with RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who they are working on a contract extension with.
  • The Minnesota Vikings have alleviated their QB concerns by trading for Houston's Sage Rosenfels. Deja vu? This same thing was attempted last year, albeit unsuccessfully. This time around it worked. The Texans received Minnesota's 4th round pick in the 2009 draft. With Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson on the roster - plus last years 4th round pick John David Booty - Minnesota may not be players for Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez even if they drop in the first round.
  • Initial reports had Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson taking a pay cut to remain with the team. However now it looks as though things are stalling which could result in his release. Wow, 30 really is a bitch of an age for RBs, isn't it?
  • What will happen with Cardinals QB Kurt Warner? He will play in 2009 but it may not be with Arizona. Apparently Warner and the Cardinals are not close on a new deal and there are a few teams (49ers, Jets, Buccaneers) that may try to snipe him on the free agent market.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs are now flush with cap space. They released veterans Patrick Surtain, Donnie Edwards, and Damon Huard.
  • Count the Buccaneers among teams with plenty of money to spend, too. Tampa Bay made massive cuts this week, letting go LBs Derrick Brooks and Cato June, WRs Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard, and RB Warrick Dunn. Does new head coach Raheem Morris know what he's doing? Lets hope so.
  • The Texans made cuts this week to free up some room for rookies and free agents. Among those released were LB Morlon Greenwood, DE Anthony Weaver, OT Ephraim Salaam, and safety Will Demps.
  • Carolina freed up some cap space by releasing WR D.J. Hackett, RB Nick Goings, and OT Jeremy Bridges.
  • Though it was reported last night that unrestricted free agent WR T.J. Houshmanzadeh would be resigning with the Bengals, nothing has been mentioned yet. It was also reported that Houshmanzadeh texted a Philadelphia radio station, wondering where he would land.
  • The Broncos are expected to sign RBs J.J. Arrington (formerly of the Cardinals) and Correll Buckhalter (Eagles) today.
  • A couple of big name guards were released yesterday. Pittsburgh released Kendall Simmons - their first round pick in 2002 - and Buffalo terminated the contract of Derrick Dockery. Dockery signed a huge 7-year deal with the Bills in 2007 when he hit free agency after the Redskins decided not to retain his services.
  • Eric Mangini just seems to bring drama to the workplace, doesn't he? Apparently DT Shaun Rogers wants out of Cleveland after only 1 year of his 6-year deal. Rogers felt slighted by Mangini on two occasions when he did not acknowledge the mammoth man.
  • UPDATE: Here's a big one. The Buccaneers and Browns have announced a deal sending TE Kellen Winslow to Tampa Bay for "undisclosed draft picks".
  • UPDATE: The Washington Redskins have cut CB Shawn Springs.
  • UPDATE: The Ravens, who lost may lose LB Bart Scott to the Jets, have signed CB Domonique Foxworth who played for the Falcons in 2008. This is a nice signing for them after dropping Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle. It's now being reported that Scott did indeed sign with New York.
  • UPDATE: The Chiefs and Patriots are working on a trade that will send LB Mike Vrabel to Kansas City for an undisclosed draft pick. As of 3 PM the deal is done. No word on the exact compensation yet.
  • UPDATE: It looks as though Vince Young will be spending at least one more season on the bench. Reports indicate that Tennessee and veteran QB Kerry Collins are closing in on a new contract for 2-years, $16 million. It is finalized. Two years, $15 million for Collins to remain the Titans starter.
  • UPDATE: The Broncos have completely revamped their deep secondary. They have added SS Brian Dawkins and FS Renaldo Hill. In addition to those moves they also added WR Jabar Gaffney.
  • UPDATE: The New Orleans Saints have resigned LB Jonathan Vilma to a 5-year, $34 million contract.

  • The Miami Dolphins were busy in the days leading up to free agency. The team resigned OT Vernon Carey to a 6-year deal worth $42 million. Five days later they ironed out a 3-year extension for soon-to-be free agent LB Channing Crowder.
  • They took a short break from resigning their own and decided to snag someone else. Miami grabbed recently released Raiders FS Gibril Wilson, signing him to a 5-year contract.
  • They returned to their own free agents and hammered out a deal with SS Yeremiah Bell, solidifying the deep secondary. Bell signed a 4-year contract.
  • After the Wilson and Bell deals it appears that last years starting FS Renaldo Hill will not be brought back. Hill is visiting Denver today. UPDATE: Hill signed with the Broncos.
  • The only other free agent of importance to Miami is Andre Goodman, who really came on in 2008 and was the teams best CB. As of now he remains unsigned and is thought to be seeking a deal that will pay him $5 million annually. The Patriots are thought to be interested.
  • Former Cowboys DE Chris Canty - a Parcells draft pick in Dallas - was thought to land in Miami as soon as free agency started. However he may have priced himself out of their budget. Canty may be seeking upwards of $8 million per year according to reports. Canty is visiting Washington today. UPDATE: Because of the Haynesworth deal, the Redskins have canceled Canty's visit. He will head to New York then Seattle and possibly Tennessee and San Francisco in the next few days. I'd say the 49ers are a good destination for him.
  • Another player originally on Miami's radar was Ravens center Jason Brown. Brown, like Canty, is becoming way too expensive for the Dolphins. Brown is visiting with the Rams today and is expected to sign a contract worth more tha $7 million per year. UPDATE: Brown received an offer averaging over $7 million per year from St. Louis. It's being reported though that he'd rather not play there and wants another team to step up. Apparently, it isn't happening. Brown will have to take the deal and play somewhere he doesn't want to or wait it out and take a little less money.
  • UPDATE: The Dolphins signed versatile OL Joe Berger to a 3-year deal. He is expected to challenge Samson Satele and Donald Thomas for the center or right guard spots. More likely, he'll be the backup at LG, C, and RG. Berger began his career in Miami in 2005 but was swiped off the practice squad by Dallas later that year. He returns to where he started his career and is reunited with many men from the Dallas organization.
  • My Two Cents: Miami is going about this free agent process the right way (listen up, Washington). They took care of their own players (Carey, Crowder, Bell) and grabbed someone (Wilson) to upgrade a position. It would have been nice to grab Brown but you can't overspend. Parcells has always been about building through the draft and this shows that. I wouldn't be surprised to see Marvin Harrison or Laveranues Coles sign with Miami, as the Dolphins need a veteran WR to teach the younglings. The Dolphins may sit back and wait for the draft, where they can grab Cal's Alex Mack, Virginia's Clint Sintim, or Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore to fill out other positions of need. Way to go trifecta!

  • Rex Ryan is attempting to raid his former team. The new Jets coach is going hard after former Ravens LBs Bart Scott and Ray Lewis as well as safety Jim Leonhard. Scott may be signed to a deal today. UPDATE: Scott has signed with the Jets, according to Pro Football Talk. The deal has not been signed and Scott will give the Ravens a chance to match the Jets offer believed to be 5-years, $40 million. If Scott does resign with Baltimore, expect Ray Lewis to land in New York.
  • The Jets have restructured the contract of Laveranues Coles, allowing him to become a free agent. Could he reunite with Chad Pennington in Miami?
  • K Mike Nugent rejected the Jets contract offer and will test the free agent market, where he will be the top kicker. New York expects to resign Jay Feely who handled the kicking duties while Nugent missed most of the season with an injury.
  • The Jets released TE Chris Baker, who promptly signed with rival New England. This is one entertaining feud, even though Mangini is gone.
  • My Two Cents: I like what the Jets are doing. Scott was a guy many Dolfans wanted if Crowder left. The Jets have holes (QB, WR) but Rex Ryan has a great football mind and will build through the draft. He has a keen eye for defense so he'll need help from others to fix the offenses problems. If New York finds a capable QB, they should be even better in 2009. That's a big if though.

  • Former Steelers WR Nate Washington is garnering plenty of interest as a free agent. Tennessee, Seattle, and Washington are among the teams interested. UPDATE: Washington is expected to sign with the Lions today. He'll be the #2 behind Calvin Johnson.
  • Though QB Byron Leftwich could see offers to become a starter again, he hasn't ruled out returning to Pittsburgh to back up Ben Roethlisberger.
  • Starting OG Chris Kemoeatu was not resigned prior to free agency and now the Steelers may lose him. He has already been contacted by the Jaguars. Losing Kemoeatu, after releasing Simmons, would be a big blow to the interior line. Pittsburgh must address the unit in free agency and the draft.
  • There were rumors that Colts center Jeff Saturday wanted to play in Pittsburgh. He resigned in Indianapolis. There was no word on whether the interest was mutual. From what I can tell, Justin Hartwig did a fine job in 2008. However if Pittsburgh wants to upgrade, they could go after former Viking Matt Birk.
  • UPDATE: The Steelers were able to retain Kemoeatu with a 5-year, $20 million contract. The line will return at least four starters (Hartwig, Stapleton, Kemoeatu, Colon) plus Starks, who was a starter but missed much of the season with a back injury.
  • UPDATE: Former Steelers OT Marvel Smith is drawing interest from the Raiders and Ravens.
  • My Two Cents: What is going on with the Pittsburgh o-line? Max Starks was franchised and Willie Colon was tendered a restricted free agent offer. Kemoeatu may be gone; Simmons is. A possible center upgrade? Darnell Stapleton returns with Hartwig and Starks. Are Doug Legursky and Tony Hills the answer? The Steelers may stay quiet in free agency - they usually do - and may wait til the draft. It is a successful approach, usually, but a dangerous one. Pittsburgh could be in for another o-line overhaul.

  • Where is Ravens LB Ray Lewis headed? According to Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware it could be Dallas. Apparently Lewis has let Ware know he'd love to be his teammate. Unfortunately for Lewis, Dallas has shown little interest in the days before free agency and nothing as of this morning.
  • As previously reported, the Cowboys are attempting to part ways with SS Roy Williams. They'd like to trade him but may ultimately need to cut him, as anticipated.
  • Things are very quiet in Dallas. A bit too quiet. Perhaps they are preparing to release Terrell Owens?
  • My Two Cents: The Cowboys have enough talent to win now. Someone has to bring the team together. Dallas has some needs but they don't need splashy acquisitions. They should wait til the draft and hope they can fill needs with what picks they have left after the (other) Roy Williams trade. A new NT and DE depth, plus some secondary help is needed.
  • The Eagles are restarting their attempts to trade CB Lito Sheppard. The unhappy Sheppard was thought to be headed out of town last offseason when the team signed former Patriots CB Asante Samuel to a big deal. The reason may have been the asking price - a high 2nd round pick. The Eagles are still demanding compensation in that range.
  • The Eagles have struck! According to Pro Football Talk, Philadelphia has signed former Bengals OT Stacy Andrews, the older brother of stud OG Shawn Andrews, who finished the season with Cincinnati on IR after severely injuring his knee. The elder Andrews will get a shot at the RT job but could flip-flop with his little brother and move inside to RG.
  • The Eagles are thought to be interested in free agent WRs Marvin Harrison and T.J. Houshmanzadeh, the latter of which is visiting Seattle today. Harrison played with Donovan McNabb at Syracuse. Perhaps bringing back an old pal could spark McNabb to accept the Eagles offer and report to offseason workouts?
  • UPDATE: Uh oh, Eagles fans... Brian Dawkins is visiting the Broncos today. And according to Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk, Dawkins has signed with Denver as of 5 PM. After 13 years in Philly, Dawkins is gone.
  • My Two Cents: McNabb is an enigma to me. I don't get him so I won't even touch on the subject. Apparently the Eagles think Andrews will be ready for training camp, despite the injury. They needed to sign at least one OT since both Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan are free to sign with any team at the moment. Reports had the Eagles aggressively trying to resign Thomas but nothing right now. They may wait and add another OT in the first round of the draft in April, even if Thomas eventually resigns.
I'll try to update this occasionally with any new free agent signings. After today all important signings will have their own post.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mock Draft Average Draft Position - 2/26/2009

Click to enlarge the 2/26/2009 average draft positions.

Here is the updated ADP analysis for the week. This reflects the addition of Russ Lande's mock as well as the changes made by Walter Football, The Football Expert, and Draft Tek. I added a "change" column showing if the prospect has gained or loss value in the last week. Starred prospects appeared on three or less mocks.

Mock Draft Update - 2/26/2009

My 2009 NFL Mock Draft
This is the third version of my mock (previous two here and here). It is still one round but has some significant changes from last time. Not only have players shifted a bit after the combine, included with this version is a comparison to my last mock and commentary on each selection. These will be included in every mock from here on out.

Once again I find myself uneasy about the mock. I still have trouble with a few teams (like the Jaguars, Packers, Redskins, Jets, Vikings, and Eagles). Luckily free agency will make the picture clearer and next weeks update will be my best yet (or so I hope). As always, dialogue is below the mock.

My mock draft (version 3).

I still firmly believe that the Lions brass is smart enough to not take Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez. They need to much and throwing a rookie QB that will be in over his head is not right for the future of the franchise. They need too much. Aaron Curry can step in and make the team better immediately and would help secure the defense. Eugene Monroe and Jason Smith are in a fight right now to be the first OT taken. I still give the nod to Monroe but Smith really impressed at the combine and could easily jump Monroe in the next few weeks. The Chiefs, like the Lions, should not take a QB. Tyler Thigpen is a fine caretaker as they build up the offensive and defensive lines for the future. Next year's QB class will be much better and Kansas City would be wise to wait. I don't like how things played out at picks 7, 8, and 9. I'm just not comfortable with the selections but that's what worked this time around. The Jaguars are a mystery to me. Washington reaches for Peria Jerry for the second consecutive week, something I don't see happening next week (Albert Haynesworth anyone?). Picks 17 and 18 have me scratching my head too. Do the Jets want to take a young QB? Again, free agency will help us answer some of these questions. Aaron Maybin is a bit undersized for a DE so the Bears pick is very iffy. He is supposed to be a 3-4 OLB but didn't show good agility or coverage skills at the combine. He may drop significantly come draft day. The Bucs pick is definitely up in the air after they released a ton of veterans. However, since one of them was Joey Galloway I could see them going WR (or QB). Darrius Heyward-Bey is fast approaching Jeremy Maclin as the second best WR available. Even if Mark Sanchez is available at 20, I say the Lions pass. They need other bodies before a QB. No way do they win more than 5-6 games in'09; they'll have a shot at Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy a year from now. Wait on them. I actually like the early selections of Eben Britton (Eagles) and William Beatty (Vikings). It happens every draft, a run on OTs. This has a good chance of happening. The Chicago pick was the last one I didn't like. The bottom of the first is solid, I think. What do you think? Leave some comments!

This week the comparisons section expands to eight mocks with the addition of Sporting News Today's Russ Lande. Four of the previous seven have been updated in the last week (Draft Tek, Walter Football, The Football Expert) while the remaining three remain unchanged (Pro Football Talk, Mel Kiper, Todd McShay).

I have ripped on Russ Lande's take before but this official mock is just as - if not more - ridiculous than the previous. It really skews some of the average draft positions (which will be posted a bit later). Check out this weeks comparisons below.

Click to enlarge comparisons for 2/26/2009.

  • As reflected in my mock draft, the stock of Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew is falling after a sub par combine. He ran a slow 4.80 seconds 40-yard dash. He may now be seen as a great blocker that can catch, and not the properly balanced, elite player such as Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. Pettigrew is a fringe first rounder as it stands today.
  • The exact opposite holds true for another TE, South Carolina's Jared Cook. Has he surpassed Pettigrew? It is a distinct possibility. Cook breezed through the 40, registering a 4.43. He has moved himself up from the mid rounds to an early second round pick and may hear his name called in the late first round.
  • Continuing with the tight ends - a position that looks stronger every day - brings us to Wisconsin's Travis Beckum and Florida's Cornelius Ingram. Beckum didn't fo lower body workouts or drills due to a lingering leg injury but he did impress by benching 225 lbs. 28 times, most among TEs. Ingram was a star with Cook in TE drills, displaying impressive agility, quick cuts, and smooth hands. Beckum is a 3rd round pick and Ingram is a 2nd rounder but both rise everyday.
  • A group everyone knew was strong, offensive tackle, had an interesting combine experience. Two players - Virginia's Eugene Monroe and Baylor's Jason Smith - has superb workouts, demonstrating more than enough speed, agility, and strength. On the flip side Alabama's Andre Smith hurt himself badly. Smith was not in shape and chose not to workout and then left the combine all together, without notifying authorities. His work ethic and character had been questioned before and these actions surely did not help. Because he has such vast potential it's doubtful he'll sleep outside of the Top 15.
  • At least two other OTs turned some heads with their overall athleticism and now find themselves in the first round discussion. Connecticut's William Beatty and Arizona's Eben Britton - fringe 1st rounders before - may have did enough to cement their selection between picks 20 and 32. First round, here they come!
  • Many scouts believe Mark Sanchez has pulled even with Matthew Stafford and could be selected 1st overall by Detroit. You know I don't believe that. But Sanchez did perform at the combine where as Stafford did not so it is a possibility.
  • I mentioned the amazing workouts and tests that Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey turned in before but I want emphasize that he is quickly climbing draft boards. Thanks to his size/speed combination, he could jump Jeremy Maclin come April.
  • Some other receivers of note had mixed results. North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks suffered a leg injury and wasn't able to finish workouts. He could drop into the second round if the injury lingers. He may have been surpassed by Rutgers' Kenny Britt. Britt has the body of Broncos wideout Brandon Marshall and is just as talented, which he demonstrated last week. Ohio State's Brian Robiskie was a pleasant surprise according to reports. He was faster than expected and is the most polished receiver in the draft when it comes to proper technique and route running. He may have played himself into the late 2nd round.
  • The top RBs had unremarkable combine experiences and neither has separated himself from the other. Both ran somewhat disappointing 40s but each looked strong in drills. Ohio State's Chris Wells is probably the best all-around option but Georgia's Knowshon Moreno has more upside and big play potential. Iowa's Shonn Greene was solid and impressed with his ability to catch passes, something he did little of in college.
  • Could West Virginia's Pat White play himself into the QB race? If he performs at his pro day workout like he did at the combine he most certainly will. Seen as more of a WR/RB hybrid, and someone capable as a threat in the wildcat offense, White threw the ball much better than anticipated. Though he may never be starter material, his multiple threat ability will raise his stock. Once thought as a 4th or 5th rounder, White could be called very early on Day 2.
  • Florida State's Everette Brown may have cemented his place in the Top 10 with strong workouts and a quick 40 time. Brown is in competition with Texas' Brian Orakpo as the best DE/OLB prospect. Orakpo had a solid combine but was not as impressive as Brown and may not have the athleticism to play OLB in a 3-4.
  • Two other 'tweener prospects had opposite experiences. USC DE/OLB Clay Matthews is rising thanks to a fast 40 and fantastic work in drills. Unfortunately Penn State's Aaron Maybin really struggled. For a man of his size the speed and quickness wasn't what it should have been. He also was disappointing in linebacker drills.
  • As I mentioned earlier, Wake Forest's Aaron Curry may have helped the Lions decide who to take at #1. He was fast, agile, and explosive in drills plus displayed the mentality to diagnose plays effectively. He is a Top 5 pick.
  • The same cannot be said for Ohio State's James Laurinaitis. Thought of as a Top 5 pick in 2008, a year later he could fall into the second round. Seriously. Similar things have happened to perceived top talent linebackers the past two years. In 2007 Paul Posluszny dropped into the early second and last year Dan Connor fell into the third. Laurinaitis may be next unless he has a stellar pro day workout in Columbus.
  • He won't hear his name called until later on Day 2 but Northwestern RB Tyrell Sutton is modeling himself after someone that he could become: Darren Sproles. Both are considered small, though Sutton is two inches taller. Sutton has expressed an interest to play defense if he can't make it as an RB.
  • Want another fast riser that could crash the first round? Try Missouri's Evander Hood. The DT was seen as a third round pick before the combine. After a great combine he know is entering the discussion to be taken before Peria Jerry.
  • Some more risers of note: Safety Chris Clemons (Clemson), CB Chris Owens (San Jose State), and CB Alphonso Smith (Wake Forest).
  • These players had bad combine workouts and their stock has taken a hit: CB Coye Francies (San Jose State), Safety Stephen Hodge (TCU), CB D.J. Moore (Vanderbilt), and Safety Kevin Ellison (USC).
That is one long update! The revised ADP will be up in a little bit.

Schedule Change

Because NFL free agency begins tonight at midnight, I am flipping my mock draft and NFL updates. Later today I'll be posting my third mock draft as well as a revision of the average daft position information, in which I'll be adding an 8th mock daft (Russ Lande from Sporting News Today). With the combine over things may have shuffled significantly. I know mine has changed! Stay tuned for mock draft stuff today and the NFL update tomorrow, filled with information on the start of free agency.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Around the Interwebs: Penn State Football Links for 2/25/2009

Lots of information this week! Let's take a look...

  • In a recent interview, former Nittany Lion CB Lydell Sargeant lets everyone know he's been training with the one and only "Neon" Deion Sanders for the combine and that the 2008 Penn State football season was a huge success. [Football Review Daily]
  • And apparently Sargeant is fast. [2 the Lion Football]
  • Todd McShay did a video breakdown of former Nittany Lion DE Aaron Maybin, who is projected to go in the first round of the NFL Draft at the end of April. [ESPN]
  • Adam Taliaferro is still providing hope and inspiration almost nine years after his unfortunate accident on the football field. []
  • The Pittbsurgh Steelers are interested in former Nittany Lion center A.Q. Shipley, who has raised his stock thanks to a strong combine performance. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
  • Recruiting is a continuous process. BSD takes a look at the running back position for 2010 and beyond. [Black Shoe Diaries]
  • Bill Kline has some video and his own tidbits on what he calls "the Penn State Eight" at the NFL Combine. [Nittany Lines]
  • John Sears has a small profile on former Nittany Lion DE Maurice Evans, who is eager to put his past behind him. Unfortunately Evans looked sluggish at the combine and hist stock is falling. [College Football Insiders]
  • According to Aaron Maybin, Head Coach Joe Paterno likes to ruffle his players feathers and definitely doesn't act his age. [Pro Football Weekly Draft Blog]

    “He tries to hop in our workouts occasionally,” Maybin said. “I don’t think the guy knows his age sometimes. He sometimes forgets the fact that he’s not 20 years old and a young football player. He’ll try to hop into a few of our drills and ends up almost getting trampled.

    "He's a guy that's full of a lot of energy and he definitely inspires us by the way he carries himself."

  • As they do every year, Penn State football players made many dreams come true over the weekend for children suffering from cancer during the University's annual Dance MaraTHON. THON raised almost $7.5 million this year for The Four Diamonds Fund. []
  • Could this be true? Maybe, but I think this is just a clever ruse and all about Internet fun. Apparently someone named Goran Mippipopoulos and the group Techno For A More Progressive Europe (TFAMPE) want Penn State to stop utilizing Kernkraft 400's "Zombie Nation" in Beaver Stadium. Mippipopoulos cites "wreckless (sic) and immoral usage" by Penn State and wishes to return the song "back to where it rightfully belongs". President Graham Spanier doesn't seem concerned, at least according to this story I found. [The Scoop and Score]
    Not only is their claim ludicrous, we feel it really sets a poor example to the rest of the world. "Zombie Nation" is now and forever will be the worlds song. I don't recall the Baha Men taking such a selfish approach with "Who Let The Dogs Out" and obviously we've all benefitted (sic) from that.
  • Budd Bailey has an honest and straightforward look at The Lion in Autumn: A Season with Joe Paterno and Penn State Football by Frank Fitzpatrick. The book is about the 2004 season, which was quite forgettable. Bailey gives it an official "three out of five stars" but says it should be a three-and-a-half (maybe he doesn't utilize halves?) and that, if you're a Penn State football fan it is a four. My interest is piqued. [Sports Book Review Center]
  • The spring previews are already rolling out. Here are the first two, with many more to follow (including my own) in the coming weeks. [Bleacher Report] & [Bucks Insider]
  • Brian Grummell takes a lengthy look at college football coaching tenure's. No doubt Joe Paterno makes an appearance. Actually, he's mentioned in the introduction. [Fanhouse]
  • Coaches take a lot of flak for their salaries which, in all honesty, they don't really control. It's the nature of their business and they get to take full advantage of it. Ron Cook examines coaches and their salaries and examines how Penn State and Joe Paterno are better off for having each other. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
  • Back at BSD, Kevin HD examines the first beat writer that takes a stab at Penn State's miserable out of conference schedule for 2009 and the recent Big Ten tie breaker changes. [Black Shoe Diaries]
  • What are the premiere gigs in college football these days? Well obviously, according to the ambiguous "coach" Penn State is, or why would I post the link here? He takes into account recent success, tradition, facilities, athletic department, and money. See who else made the Top 12. [Coach Hal]
  • ESPNs Mount Rushmore series came to a close recently, with Illinois (Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Ernie Banks, Mike Ditka) taking the title. They received 28.6% of the vote. Pennsylvania (Joe Paterno, Mario Lemieux, Roberto Clemente, Wilt Chamberlain) finished in second, 3.1 percentage points behind Illinois. At least we topped New York (Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown, Joe Namath) who finished 4th with 15.4%. [Newsday]
  • Joe Paterno is briefly mentioned in a piece about coaches and whether coaching from the sideline or the booth is better. [Rivals]
That's a lot to check out but they come highly recommended by me!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

MLB Update - 2/24/2009

Spring Training is now well underway in Florida and Arizona and another baseball season is just a little over a month away. Today I'll highlight a few baseball tidbits in my weekly MLB Update.

  • First of all, the Phillies are the defending World Series Champions. Just wanted to remind everyone.
  • 3B Joe Crede has signed with the Minnesota Twins. The former Chicago White Sock(?) has played only 144 games over the last two seasons thanks to back problems.
  • Brian Schneider is expected to be the Mets main catcher this season and Daniel Murphy will start in left field, according to Manager Jerry Manuel. Fernando Tatis, the 2008 reclamation project, may platoon with Ryan Church in right field.
  • The Mariners and Rangers have questions at closer.
  • Cardinals SP Chris Carpenter is showing some promise thus far in camp. The 2004 NL Comeback Player of the Year and 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner has pitched in only five games over the last two seasons due to elbow problems.
  • The return of former closer Chris Ray to the Orioles bullpen has not cause the demotion of last year's surprise performer George Sherrill. Sherrill will be the teams main closer though Ray, who missed all of 2008 due to elbow surgery, will see a few save chances.
  • The Dodgers do not have an agreement with Manny Ramirez. Negotiations continue but nothing is imminent, as had been widely reported by L.A. radio shows.
  • Blue Jays SP Roy Halladay may be traded this summer but won't be dealt prior to the All Star break.
  • Alex Rodriguez will meet with MLB officials this week about the steroids issue.
  • The 2nd World Baseball Classic kicks off next week and rosters will be finalized today. The first WBC will be March 5th at 4:30 am EST between China and defending champion Japan. [Nittanydelphia]
  • A few players have recently spoke out saying they won't be pitching in the Classic, including Cubs RP Carlos Marmol.
That's all for now.

Monday, February 23, 2009

SNT's Phillies Preview

The folks at Sporting News Today are doing a division-by-division preview of all the MLB teams prior to the start of the regular season. Below is what they had to say about the defending World Series Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies. Wow writing that feels amazing. I'm going to say it again. Below is what they had to say about the defending World Series Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies. Damn straight.

Click to read SNT's Phillies preview.

UPDATE: For those of you that are too lazy to click and read the preview, SNT says the Phillies will win their 3rd straight NL East Division Championship.

Nittany Lions in the Pros - Kickers

Today's installment of Nittany Lions in the Pros will focus on kickers. You can view previous entries in the series here, here, and here.

Below is the list of former Penn State kickers and their success in the National Football League since 1966.

Click to enlarge statistics.

Penn State has been in relatively good hands - or perhaps feet - since the mid-1970's. Every few years a great kicker comes along. The Bahr brothers were a Penn State staple through the 70's and Brian Franco and Massimo Manca had the position held down in the 80's. Manca kicked for both National Championship squads. A few years later Brett Conway would solidify the position followed soon thereafter by Robbie Gould and then Kevin Kelly, the focus of today's piece.

Not only were the Bahr's great college players they also excelled in the NFL, as demonstrated by their combined 31 year career. They never made a pro bowl but were continually solid. Chris kicked for three teams (Cincinnati, Los Angeles/Oakland, and San Diego). Matt traveled around the league, kicking for Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Cleveland, NY Giants, Philadelphia, and New England. The lone All Pro and Pro Bowl appearance belongs to rising star Robbie Gould. The Bears kicker went from unheralded college kicker to undrafted free agent to NFL Pro Bowler in about two years. Not too shabby. He has a promising future.

As of right now it has to be on of the Bahr brothers. They kicked in the league for well over a decade. Both were solid if unspectacular and looking at numbers its hard to justify picking one over the other. However, Matt Bahr did kick for two Super Bowl Champions (1979 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 1990 New York Giants). Chris did win a Super Bowl with the 1980 Oakland Raiders but two rings trumps one. Keep an eye on Gould though. He is still young and is considered one of the best in the league. If Chicago fixes some issues or Gould bolts for a new team, which is unlikely to happen since less than a year ago Chicago signed him through the 2013 season and made him the leagues highest paid kicker.

2009 DRAFT
Kevin Kelly finished his career with the most points scored in the history of Penn State football. That's what kicking for four years will do for ya. He finished just a few points short of the Big Ten record. Despite these statistical achievements, Kelly had a rough start to his collegiate career. He had an average 2005 season but his inability to make kick after kick in the 2006 Orange Bowl carried into the 2006 season. After two years of shoddy placekicking, fans wanted more. Kelly delivered. He started nailing all kicks as a soon-to-be-pro should. He was almost automatic from inside 40 yards in his junior and senior seasons. His career was the exact opposite of Gould's, who started strong but finished poorly. Kelly played in all 51 games he could while a Nittany Lion, connecting on 78 of 107 field goals attempted (~73%) and 183 of 185 extra point attempts (~99%). He also had one memorable rush on a fake FG which he took to the house for a 5 yard TD. The 73% FG percentage doesn't look good to the naked eye but when you look deeper you can see his progression. Kelly was 16 of 23 (~70%) as a freshman in 2005, 22 of 34 (~65%) as a sophomore in 2006, 20 of 26 (~77%) as a junior in 2007, and 20 of 24 (~83%) as a senior in 2008. Kelly showed such improvement in '07 and '08 that the staff occasionally had him try field goals over 52 yards.

Kickers are really a top priority of teams during the offseason, especially ones with no prior professional experience. However I definitely see Kelly pulling a Robbie Gould and making a training camp roster as a challenger to an aged veteran. Who knows, maybe he'll be the next kicker to sign a 5+ year deal for millions of dollars?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

NCAA Football Update - 2/22/2009

  • The combine is well under way in Indianapolis and some of last season's premiere college football players are raising eyebrows, in both good and bad ways. Alabama OT Andre Smith - a potential Top 5 pick - brought attention to himself in all the wrong ways. Smith abruptly left Indianapolis without alerting officials. Besides this egregious mistake, Smith did not interview well nor did he participate in any drills. His reasoning? He wasn't in shape. Wow. This was basically the biggest job interview of his life and he struck out on three pitches. Smith's stock is going to drop but he still has the potential to be an Orlando Pace- or Jonathan Ogden-type player. He won't fall out of the first round for sure. Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree has had a whirlwind few days at the national invitational camp. Crabtree has been diagnosed with a strees fracture in his foot, something he claims to have had for close to a year. He isn't running at the combine but has also chosen to forgo surgery. Crabtree will run in March at his pro day workout. [Pro Football Talk]
  • How about some good eyebrow-raising things. Try Darrius Heyward-Bey. The Maryland WR has been seen as a fringe first round prospect, someone certain to be picked between the 20th and 40th selections. That may have changed. Heyward-Bey was the fastest WR, clocking a 40-yard dash time of 4.3 seconds. He also posted the 9th best bench press, lifting 225 lbs. 16 times (Brooks Foster put up an amazing 27 reps). Heyward-Bey was 5th in the vertical jump (38.5 inches), 5th in the broad jump (10' 6"), tied for 8th in the 3 cone drill (6.8 seconds), and tied for 6th in the 20-yard shuttle (4.18 seconds). The only event he wasn't a "top performer" was the 60-yard shuttle. With this kind of workout - not to mention his measurables (6' 2", 210) - Heyward-Bey should be a surefire 1st round pick, and could crack the Top 20.
  • Putting on the Penn State goggles for a moment, in addition to some of the o-lineman turning some heads, a few Nittany Lion WRs had respectable outings as well. Deon Butler ran a blistering 4.26 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but it was unofficial and was soon changed to a 4.38, good for 4th amongst WRs. Derrick Williams - who had a rough showing in the 40 - showed surprising strength, finishing 10th among WRs in the bench press. Williams lifted 225 lbs. 15 times. Jordan Norwood - the unheralded possession WR - was a "top performer" in the vertical jump (finishing in a tie for 6th with a leap of 38.0 inches), 3-cone drill (tied for 8th, 6.80 seconds), and 20-yard shuttle (9th, 4.20 seconds). While Williams most likely hurt his stock with bad running times, Butler and Norwood especially have probably jumped into late round consideration (if they weren't there before). [NFL Combine Top Performers]
  • For all of the flak the Penn State football program - and Joe Paterno - took last offseason you'd think they're the only team that has ever experienced discipline problems. How many other programs have had an episode of ESPNs Outside the Lines dedicated to them? Well someone thinks that another program needs the spotlight thrust on them. That team just happens to own two of the last three national championships. Success with honor? Maybe not. [Amphibious Sports Duo]
  • Nebraska has lost their top two QBs from the 2008 season: Joe Ganz (graduation) and Patrick Witt (transferring). Junior Zac Lee is now the starter heading into spring practice.
  • Illinois has indefinitely suspended defensive lineman Josh Brent after being pulled over for speeding and failing sobriety tests. To make matters worse, Brent's license had already been suspended. Yuck.
  • The NCAA is adding some new rules in 2009. And there's potential for one really ridiculous one to be added in 2010. [Every Day Should Be Saturday & There Is No Name On My Jersey]
  • Texas Tech and coach Mike Leach FINALLY agreed on a new contract. This seriously ha been going on for over two months. Or at least it feels that way. [ESPN]
  • The Mountain West Conference really has a problem with the BCS (doesn't everybody?). They are trying to do something about it. Every little bit helps, I guess? [ESPN]
  • After a dismal 3-9 campaign, Michigan is lowering their ticket prices... by $3.57. Yeah. Again, every little bit helps, I guess? [Adam Rittenberg]
  • Sticking with ESPN and Adam Rittenberg, a Big Ten blog post says that the conference is changing its BCS tiebreaker policy. Head-to-head is still the #1 tiebreaker but teams are no longer penalized for playing FCS opponents. Also, the conference has trashed the rule that disallowed the team that most recently went to a BCS bowl from going to the same one in back-to-back years. It was deemed unnecessary. However, the conference added the "team with highest BCS standing" tiebreaker, which was quite controversial in the Big XII this season. Luckily that rule is one of the last and may never be used to break a conference tie. Thank God. [Adam Rittenberg]
  • Lastly (and with Penn State goggles again) Adam Rittenberg is running with ESPNs recent Mount Rushmore theme and going through all 11 Big ten teams and selecting who he'd carve in stone for them. For Penn State he selected Joe Paterno (surprise, surprise), Jack Ham, John Cappelletti, and LaVar Arrington. Arrington's selection has drawn some ire from fans. [Penn State's Mount Rushmore]