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ESPN Insider Article: 2008 Draft QBs

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  • ESPN Insider Article: 2008 Draft QBs

    "Pasquarelli: Plenty of talent at QB for '08 draft"

    Looks like a good read, CP for the post. Thanks.

    *Not sure if this goes in College & HS or General Discussion; college players, NFL Draft.

  • #2
    Got ya....

    Talent pool deep at QB for '08 draft
    By Len Pasquarelli
    Updated: November 9, 2007
    Given the instability and absence of depth at the position this season, there figure to be quite a few teams scrambling to grab quarterbacks in the 2008 draft. The talent pool at the game's most critical spot appears to be deep.

    Just among the senior prospects alone, there are probably nine quarterbacks who likely will be selected in the first three rounds: Erik Ainge (Tennessee), John David Booty (Southern California), Colt Brennan (Hawaii), Brian Brohm (Louisville), Dennis Dixon (Oregon), Chad Henne (Michigan), Josh Johnson (San Diego), Matt Ryan (Boston College) and Andre Woodson (Kentucky).

    By recent standards, that looks to be a bumper crop for the top part of the draft.

    In the eight drafts since 2000, the first three rounds have produced only 41 prospects, an average of 5.1 per year. In 2007, six quarterbacks were chosen in the first three rounds, and no draft since 2000 has had more than seven QBs selected in the opening three stanzas.

    But why list the nine prospects cited above alphabetically? Because scouts don't have a good feel yet for how to rank them, either.

    Despite the hype for guys such as Ryan, Brohm and Woodson, each has a wart or two that concern talent evaluators. Scouts are beginning to question the arm strength of Brohm and the accuracy of Ryan, wonder if Brennan is simply a product of a run-and-shoot offense that always inflates a quarterback's numbers, and believe that Woodson might be a bit too mechanical.

    There are, justifiably, injury concerns about Ainge, Booty, Henne and Brennan. Dixon, who has been drafted by the Atlanta Braves, may opt for a baseball career. And Johnson is a bit of a late bloomer.

    So while the first three rounds of next year's draft probably will see an increase in the number of quarterbacks chosen, there remain lots of questions at this early juncture of the overall evaluation process. And most scouts say that the number of possible top-10 quarterback prospects has been overstated.

    "Put the top four or five names in a hat, pick 'em out, and your order would be as good as anyone's right now," said one AFC director of player personnel.

    One name to watch: Joe Flacco of Delaware, who definitely is on the rise and whose arm strength seems to compare favorably to that of the more well-known prospects. The former backup to Tyler Palko at the University of Pittsburgh, Flacco transferred in 2006 and has put up big numbers for the Blue Hens, completing 472 of 712 passes for 5,448 yards, with 31 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions, in less than two full seasons.

    Flacco is 6-foot-6 and 236 pounds, has good pocket presence and has thrown only three interceptions this year in leading Delaware to an 8-1 record. Although there has been no official announcement yet, Flacco has been invited to the Hula Bowl all-star game.

    He may need some time to develop at the NFL level, but Flacco could be a middle-round bargain, a guy who costs a lot less than most of the better-known prospects, but who might offer just as much upside as many of the others.
    Last edited by stnzed; 11-10-2007, 10:17 PM.


    • #3
      Part 2....

      Around the League

      Andy Lyons/Getty Images

      With a huge season, Randy Moss is earning lots more cash.
      More money for Moss: As noted earlier this week by, New England wide receiver Randy Moss has already banked $700,000 of the potential $2 million in performance bonuses that he can collect as part of his one-year contract. Moss earned $350,000 each for reaching 45- and 55- reception plateaus. And he will bank another $350,000 each when he hits 65, 75 and 85 catches. And being chosen to the Pro Bowl, a cinch, means another $250,000.

      Moss has 56 receptions for 924 yards and 12 touchdowns. That's one more touchdown in nine games than Moss managed in 29 games during his two lost seasons with the Oakland Raiders. What is notable is that Moss, who reduced his scheduled base compensation for 2007 from $9.75 million to $3 million (a roster bonus of $500,000 and a $2.5 million salary) as part of the trade to the Patriots, took a pretty big gamble on his ability to collect the additional $2 million in bonus money.

      Wide receivers in the New England offense, at least over the past several seasons, have hardly posted numbers close to those put up by Moss in 2007. That's true, in part, because the Pats haven't had a receiver the caliber of Moss on the roster. But it also is a function of an offense in which quarterback Tom Brady has distributed the ball so evenly. The last New England receiver to enjoy a 1,000-yard season was Troy Brown in 2001. And Brown, with 97 catches in 2002, is the last Patriots player with more than 78 receptions in a year.

      Since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000, the Patriots' leading receivers have averaged 76.1 catches and 926.7 yards. Over the past four years, the numbers are just 63 receptions and 858.8 yards. So, while New England gambled that Moss would be able to turn back the clock, the veteran wideout also rolled the dice that he could register big statistics in an offense that historically has not produced them. And the biggest payoff is yet to come for Moss, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency in the spring. Even at age 31, which is what he'll be by the start of free agency, he is going to get a fat contract from some team.

      Change of scenery for Vikings' Williamson? The already strained relationship between the Minnesota Vikings and wide receiver Troy Williamson took another hit Thursday when it was revealed that the team is docking the third-year veteran one game check for missing last Sunday's contest against San Diego to attend the Monday funeral of his maternal grandmother. Williamson will lose $25,588 with the decision but has 45 days to appeal. Expect him to file an action against the team through the NFL Players Association.

      Coach Brad Childress was vague in explaining the rationale behind what seems to be a pretty harsh decision, suggesting that it was the result of an organizational business principle. Because it's unclear exactly what the understanding was between Williamson and Childress when the wide receiver left the team to help arrange his grandmother's funeral, it isn't fair to comment on the awkward nature of the penalty. But there were, it appears, extenuating circumstances that contributed to Williamson missing the game. He was especially close to his grandmother, Celestine Williamson, who helped raise him. And as one of 10 surviving children in his family, but a major source of financial support for some of his siblings, Williamson had to help arrange travel for family members, some of whom are in the military.

      Sources said team officials suggested to Williamson that if he returned from South Carolina for the game, and then went back either Sunday night or Monday morning for the funeral, he would have avoided the sanctions. But Williamson, who is also dealing with the fact that an older brother was severely injured in an automobile accident earlier this season, believed his priority was to remain with his family.

      The action by Vikings officials almost certainly represents another bump in an already pretty rocky relationship, and it's hard to imagine that Williamson, the seventh overall player taken in the 2005 draft, will be back with the franchise in 2008.

      In 34 games, Williamson has just 70 catches for 986 yards. Those are the kinds of numbers Minnesota expected from him every season, not in three years. Despite being a starter this year, Williamson has only nine catches. The Minnesota offense isn't a good fit for him and, at just 24 years of age and still blessed with great speed, he might benefit from a change of scenery.

      Peterson gets more cash: One Minnesota first-rounder who has worked out a little better for the franchise, rookie tailback Adrian Peterson, has already earned a $2.45 million bonus by virtue of rushing for more than 701 yards. And the sound you hear in the background is the cash register getting ready to jingle a lot more.

      The five-year contract Peterson signed as the seventh player taken in this year's draft has a maximum value of $40.5 million. But to reach that figure, he would have to rush for 2,000 yards and score 20 touchdowns for every year of the deal. A more realistic level on the deal now seems to be in the range of $30 million. That's based on the so-called "escalators" that will dramatically enhance Peterson's base salaries for latter years of the contract, based largely on rushing yardage levels. For instance, Williamson will add $2.5 million to his scheduled base salary of $2.695 million in 2010 by rushing for 1,000 yards in two of his first three seasons in the league. He's already topped 1,000 yards, of course, in this rookie campaign.


      • #4
        Part 3......

        Scott Boehm/Getty Images

        The Giants' juggling act at running back has been a hit, with Derrick Ward, above, Brandon Jacobs and Reuben Droughns combining for 1.053 yards.
        Giants three deep at RB: The New York Giants don't have a player among the top 20 rushers in the league but still rank No. 6 statistically in running the ball heading into Sunday's big NFC East matchup with the Cowboys. Credit strength in numbers for the fact the Giants are averaging 137.8 rushing yards per outing and 4.6 yards per rush.

        Teams are generally thrilled to have two solid tailbacks, but the Giants go three deep at the position. In Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Reuben Droughns, the Giants have three different kinds of backs, but all of whom are rugged between the tackles. As a unit, they have more carries (219-191) and yards (1,053-888) than the Dallas tandem of Marion Barber-Julius Jones, a better average per carry (4.8-4.6) and just as many touchdowns (eight). In poker, three-of-a-kind always beats a pair. Whether that is true in the NFL will be determined Sunday at Giants Stadium.

        New York certainly likes its chances with its three-pronged tailback attack.

        "We seem to (complement) each other pretty well," said Ward, who leads the group in carries (101) and is only two yards behind Jacobs' team-high 450 yards. "We're alike in some ways, different in others, and no one seems to care who's having a big day as long as we're winning."

        Tank Johnson's first action in Dallas: Dallas will have defensive tackle Tank Johnson on the field for the first time this season, and the former Chicago Bears starter, having served his eight-game suspension, likely will get 15-20 snaps splitting time with starting nose tackle Jay Ratliff. Having been permitted to practice for the past two weeks, Johnson -- who has not yet spoken to the media and won't until after he plays Sunday -- is said to be in pretty good shape.

        Privately, a couple Dallas defenders to whom Tip Sheet spoke believe that getting Johnson at this point in the season is a huge boost. Johnson is stouter than Ratliff and probably a bigger presence on first and second downs. The only caveat is that Johnson is more a two-gap defender, and the scheme favored by coach Wade Phillips is a rare one-gap 3-4 front that relies a lot on quickness. Still, Johnson will provide another experienced body for the Cowboys' line rotation and perhaps some flexibility as well.

        There is some sense from Dallas veteran defenders that once Johnson plays himself into shape, the Cowboys might add some 4-3 packages as a change-up look. That would put Ratliff and Johnson on the field together on early running downs.


        • #5
          What are we on? Part 4?

          Paul Jasienski/Getty Images

          Oakland running back Justin Fargas, who has rushed for 437 yards this season, could be a valuable pickup in free agency.
          Eye on Justin Fargas: It's never too early for teams to start thinking about free agency, and one potential unrestricted player generating a lot of buzz is Oakland tailback Justin Fargas, who has moved into the starting lineup and is playing well. Coach Lane Kiffin has soured on LaMont Jordan and the organization thinks so little of former Indianapolis starter Dominic Rhodes, signed as a free agent in the offseason, that it was dangling him in trade talks earlier this year.

          A fifth-year veteran and third-round pick in the 2003 draft, Fargas is in the final season of a rookie contract that includes a base salary of $800,000. The former Southern California standout has carried 81 times for 437 yards and one touchdown, has two 100-yard outings and a 5.4-yard-per-carry average. Fargas, who quietly ran for 659 yards in 2006, is 27 but doesn't have much tread rubbed off the tires, and he's a big guy with speed. It remains to be seen if Fargas can handle the No. 1 role over the balance of this season. Nonetheless, he is intriguing and could boost a team looking for a solid, experienced No. 2 tailback.

          Engram bails out Seattle: For most of his 11-year career, Bobby Engram has been a third-down possession wide receiver. He is one of the NFL's premier slot players, but a guy who never merited all that much attention.

          But Engram, 34, has been forced into the starting lineup in Seattle because of the injuries to Deion Branch and D.J. Hackett and has bailed out the Seahawks' passing game. Engram had 14 catches in last week's overtime loss at Cleveland and has 48 receptions for 607 yards this season.

          It's tough to project his production over the rest of the year because Hackett and Branch will return soon and Engram will go back to playing the No. 3 role, working primarily out of the slot on third down. His stint as a starter, though, has reinforced that Engram, even after 11 seasons, is still a crafty receiver, a guy who works with terrific efficiency between the hashes, and who despite modest speed, finds a way to create separation. The Seattle offense has been fairly sporadic in 2007, but it's hard to imagine how much worse things might be without Engram producing like he has.

          Kickers going long: For whatever reason, kickers are demonstrating a lot more leg on kickoffs in 2007. There were only two kickers for the 2006 season, Olindo Mare then of Miami (with 24) and Josh Scobee of Jacksonville (21), who registered 20 or more touchbacks on kickoffs. Through the first nine weeks of this season, there are five kickers with 10 or more touchbacks: Sebastian Janikowski of Oakland (18), New England's Stephen Gostkowski (14), Josh Brown of Seattle (11), Neil Rackers of Arizona (11) and Mare, now in New Orleans (10).

          The list: Among his many accomplishments, Minnesota Vikings rookie tailback Adrian Peterson is averaging a remarkable 6.56 yards per carry, which puts him on pace to break the NFL record of 6.40 yards set by Jim Brown in 1964.

          Since the NFL implemented a 16-game schedule in 1978, only 10 league running backs who rushed for 1,000 yards have registered averages of 5.4 yards per attempt or better. The list: Barry Sanders, Detroit, 6.13 yards (1997); Sanders, 5.69 (1994); James Brooks, Cincinnati, 5.61 (1989); Eric ****erson, Los Angeles Rams, 5.55 (1984); Clinton Portis, Denver, 5.52 (2002); Stump Mitchell, St. Louis Cardinals, 5.50 (1985); Portis, 5.49 (2003); Marshall Faulk, St. Louis Rams, 5.46 (1999); Robert Smith, Minnesota, 5.46 (1997); Frank Gore, San Francisco, 5.43 (2006).

          Stat of the week: Counting his two stints as an interim, in New Orleans (1985) and Atlanta (2003), Dallas sideline boss Wade Phillips is in his fifth incarnation as an NFL head coach. His resume includes 95 regular-season games. But Sunday's big showdown against division rival New York, which has won six straight outings, will mark the first time Phillips has coached against the Giants at Giants Stadium. Phillips has been to Giants Stadium as a head coach but always to face the secondary tenant there, the Jets. He'd better hope his luck is better against the Giants. In his five matchups against the Jets at Giants Stadium, he is 1-4. He has lost four straight there, by an average margin of 12 points.

          Stat of the weak: Between the time that Mike Martz became offensive coordinator in St. Louis in 1999 until he departed on a leave of absence as the head coach because of a heart condition in October 2005, the Rams were 72-39, including playoff games. The team went to two Super Bowls, won one title and averaged 27.4 points. Since his departure, first under interim coach Joe Vitt and now coach Scott Linehan, the Rams are 12-23 and have averaged 20 points. The Rams have only six touchdown passes in 2007.

          Rob Tringali/Getty Images

          Terrell Owens has thrived against the Giants.
          Punts: In eight games versus the New York Giants, the team he faces Sunday afternoon, Dallas wide receiver Terrell Owens has 47 catches for 756 yards and nine touchdowns. His teams are 7-1 in those contests. ... With St. Louis and Miami still winless, this marks only the sixth time since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978 that two teams have started 0-8. ... The Cleveland offense continues to ring up big numbers and, clearly, as quarterback Derek Anderson goes, so go the Browns. In the team's five wins, Anderson has a passer rating of 114.8, and has thrown 13 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. In the Browns' three defeats, his rating is 59.9, and Anderson has four touchdown passes and six interceptions.

          Look for Cleveland offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to be on the head coaching radar screen in the next year or two. ... Washington coaches have had quarterback Jason Campbell and wide receiver Santana Moss working overtime together in an effort to create more synchronicity between the two. ... With David Carr still suffering effects from a concussion, Vinny Testaverde is expected to start at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. ... There have been 49 different starting quarterbacks so far in the league this season. Should Brooks Bollinger get the start for Minnesota, as expected, the league will have already had as many different starters in 2007 as it had for the entire 2006 season.

          Pittsburgh inside linebacker James Farrior, who is getting a lot more blitz opportunities this season, as defensive coordinator **** LeBeau has added some new wrinkles to the Steelers' pass rush scheme, is quietly having a Pro Bowl-type season. ... Baltimore quarterback Steve McNair was very defensive this week in addressing the criticisms of his performance. Defenses simply don't feel McNair can gun the ball up the field anymore or escape a pass rush. The Ravens may eventually have to turn to Kyle Boller again and address their quarterback situation in the offseason.

          The last word: "I think that we try to go out there and play hard every week. And I don't think that guys are going to draw on an old, retired coach and old, washed-up players to pump us up. We play hard. We try to go out there and play hard. That's our job every week is to go out there and play hard." -- New England linebacker Mike Vrabel, responding to the suggestion by Hall of Fame coach Don Shula that because of the spying incident the Patriots should have an asterisk affixed to their 2007 record if they go undefeated

          Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for