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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Looking in on the combine

Watching the NFL combine coverage on TV the past few days, here's what I've seen thus far:

© West Virginia quarterback Pat White ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, plenty fast enough to play any position in the league. White still wants to be a quarterback - for obvious reasons, they make the big money – but he has the ability to do a lot of things. The only question with him will be durability and the ability to get lined up under center after playing in a shotgun-only offense at WVU.

He's already proven that he has, as one scout told me when talking about Kordell Stewart one time, 'oh $^%& speed.'

© The running backs at this year's combine weren't in the same league as the ones available last year. This was not considered a strong running back class to begin with, but only three backs broke the 4.5 mark. Pitt's LeShon McCoy did not run.

© Just in case you were wondering if the new turf in Indianpolis may have slowed the backs down, the receivers proved that wasn't the case.

There were 19 receivers who broke 4.5 seconds, led by Maryland's Darius Heyward-Bey, who clocked in at a smoking 4.30. Heyward-Bey also had a vertical leap of 38.5 and a standing long jump of 10-6, showing his explosiveness as well as speed.

Penn State's Derrick Williams ran a disappointing 4.58.

One of the big winners among the wide receivers was North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks. Viewed as a possession-type receiver with great hands and body control, he ran a 4.49, plenty fast enough to possibly get him into the end of the first round.

© The decision of Alabama's Andre Smith to skip out on the combine after checking in could have repercussions for the Steelers. Smith was considered one of the top two offensive tackles available, but teams may now question his desire.

If that happens, it causes a domino effect the rest of the way down the tackle board. Smith will still be a top-20 pick, but a tackle who may have lasted to pick 32 - say Arizona's Eben Britton – may now go before that.

© Oklahoma's Phil Loadholt ran a painfully slow 5.49. That's right tackle material all the way.

© California center Alex Mack did not work out, but Penn State's A.A. Shipley did and had good numbers.

Shipley ran a 5.19 and also bench-pressed 225 pounds 33 times. Shipley's an intriguing prospect who will last until later rounds because he's only 6-1.

Oregon's Max Unger was a little disappointing, managing just 22 bench reps.

Louisville's Eric Wood ran a 5.17 and managed 30 reps on the bench.

Wood has possibilities as a guard.

© In addition to offensive linemen, the Steelers have reportedly been sniffing around cornerbacks at the combine. That makes sense considering Bryant McFadden is likely to leave as a free agent.

They can also get a corner who doubles as a return man, killing two birds with one stone.

According to Jim Wexell of, the team spent time talking with Coye Francies and Darius Butler.

Butler, from Connecticut, is also a very good return man.


Anonymous said...

great, add cornerback to the list of needs which includes a several starters for the offensive line and some youth on the D-line

Watch us draft a corner and round 1 LOL.

Anonymous said...

Any word on Anthony Smith? Is his contract up this year? I really like this kid and had very high hopes for him.
Any indications what BMac is looking for as far as $$$ goes. I know it's been noted that he wanted a "little" pay day. Is he looking for to 10 money? If he is then I say good luck and bye bye.

Anonymous said...

Anthony Smith is a RFA. The Steelers will probably put a low tender on him. Another team might pick him up or he will 'play' one more year in Pittsburgh then be gone. Steelers have made it clear that they he is not part of their future.

BMac wants what every free agent does, the most money he can get. Dont fool yourself into thinking anything else. If you want to know how much he can get well CB Kelvin Hayden just got 5 years, 43 million. Hayden is slightly better than McFadden, you do the math.

Dale Lolley said...

The corner market was set high when Carolina re-signed Gamble to a $49 million deal.
The Steelers can't pay McFadden more than Polamalu. They're just not going to do it. It upsets the apple cart.
So yes, CB is a first-round consideration, especially if that CB is a return guy.

Ben said...

Dale, how are teams paying such huge salaries and staying under the cap? I realize, in many cases, they're putting all their eggs in one basket, but if the price for a starting - not pro-bowl - CB is that high, how can you expect to field a team?

Also, if they don't reach a new CBA, we'll be dealing with uncapped years ahead. Do you think the Steelers will still be able to compete without a salary cap?

Patrick said...

I'm not really a draftnik and Dale only wrote a little bit about Wood, but from what you wrote, I'm intrigued.

A strong guy that can pull? That conjures up some good memories...

If he is not worth 32, I think maybe he is a trade up possibility in the 2nd. And if anyone out there knows way more than me and Wood is nowhere near this value, then please let me know. I don't know the draft guys well until about early April.

Anonymous said...

Andre Smith dropping could benefit the Steelers. If teams that were targeting him decide to take players at other positions then the number of good tackles available will last longer and give the Steelers a better shot at one of them.

Or teams could do as you suggest and start to reach on lower ranked tackles like the Texans did last year.

Dale Lolley said...

If you need a tackle and you're in the top 20 to 25 picks, you may take somebody else who wouldn't have gone that high and pass on Smith. But he doesn't make it out of the top 25. Therefore, a tackle who may have been there later in the first round, early second may get bumped up.

The Raiders are spending silly money on a CB and punter. They also have the highest-paid kicker in the league. That's why they stink.

I think Wood will wind up being the top center taken because he has the strength to play guard as well and his tape will be good. I like him, I just don't think he'll be there for the Steelers - at least at this point.

Anonymous said...

"If you need a tackle and you're in the top 20 to 25 picks, you may take somebody else who wouldn't have gone that high"

Unless your the Steelers...

Dale Lolley said...

Their problem last year is that's exactly what happened. When Atlanta moved up to take Sam Baker – who was a so-so prospect - that ended a pretty good tackle class and completed a ridiculous run.

Anonymous said...

This year's tackles are weak, having just returned from Indy. Most will need development. Britton is in that same boat.
Watch out for DE as a position for the top pick. The Steelers interviewed EVERY offensive lineman, but they like to pull diversions and then go in another direction.
A great deal of time was spent on discussing the 3-4 and the lack of DE for the 3-4. Colbert discussed this only because it was asked of him and every 3-4 GM. Also, he kept talking about OLB, probably a diversion. Deep class at OLB. Overall it is a very poor class.
Cinncy will take Crabtree or trade up to get him. Cleveland (stupid organization) is looking at some WR too early.

Dale Lolley fan