Point No. 1
The Jay Cutler saga just got a little more interesting this past Wednesday.
OK, so by now you might be getting as bored with the Jay Cutler trade talk
as you used to get every time you heard that Brett Favre was
But when I learned earlier this week from one of my sources that the Broncos
had lined up a private workout with West Virginia quarterback Pat White, just
one day after the New England Patriots took a look at him, I found
some renewed interest in the finger-pointing fiasco that's been playing-out in
I honestly think the Broncos are preparing for the worst—a messy-divorce
with their young, talented quarterback. And with the various trade scenarios
that are being rumored, one common theme is evident: the
Denver Broncos won't have a quarterback as talented as Jay Cutler at the top of
their depth chart when the dust settles.
So the interest in Pat White as a potential quarterback candidate for the team is
a viable one, providing the team with a versatile athlete who could compete with
Chris Simms and whatever other quarterback ends up in Denver prior to draft
While some NFL teams may only consider adding him to their roster as a wide
receiver and return specialist, more teams have undoubtedly become intrigued by
the athletic quarterback after watching him throw for 332 yards and three
touchdowns in his final bowl game, witnessing his MVP performance at the Senior
Bowl, and then calmly zipping accurate passes at the NFL Scouting Combine.
If you're among
the doubters that don't believe a 6-foot tall, mobile quarterback can be
successful at the pro level, don't
forget about a guy named Michael Vick. Before his off-the-field activities
landed him in jail, that 6-foot tall quarterback was one of the most exciting
players in the league to watch on any given Sunday.
In Vick's two years as a starter at Virginia Tech, he averaged roughly 1,500
yards passing and 600 yards rushing per season. As a four-year starter, White's
also thrown for about 1,500 yards per year, but he rolled-up roughly 1,100 yards
on the ground each season, setting an NCAA all-time record for rushing by a
Wouldn't it be fun to see what he could
do as a quarterback in the NFL? I hope the team that drafts him gives him that
opportunity. And it could be Denver,
Point No. 2
Draft prospect Larry English has the potential to follow in the successful
footsteps of Falcons running back Michael Turner.
That may seem like an odd statement to those familiar with English, a
6-foot-2, 255-pound collegiate defensive end, and Turner, the powerful running
back who provided Atlanta with plenty of excitement during the 2008 season. But
both men attended Northern Illinois, a Mid-American Conference school, and
English has the talent and the personal attributes to be the Huskies' next
big-name player at the pro level. He's already stood out to pro scouts so
prominently that he's a likely first-day selection while Turner had to wait
until the fifth-round of the 2004 NFL Draft before he was picked up by San
Larry English at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
English earned his notoriety through his quickness off the edge and the
amount of time he spent in his opponents' backfield. During his four-year career with the Huskies, he made
57 tackles for a loss, registered 32.5 sacks and forced eight fumbles.
His dominating presence helped him achieve a feat that had never been accomplished
before in MAC history when he became the first defensive player to win the
conference MVP Award two consecutive years.
"The first time I won it, I was a little bit surprised since I was a
defensive player on a team with a 2–10 record," English explained
during a recent phone conversation. "Obviously, it was a great honor
for me to win it two times in a row. It meant a lot to know that your
opponents looked upon you in the way that they did."
English will likely make the switch to outside linebacker after he's drafted
in April, but the NFL club that selects him will be getting much more than just
a talented player. They'll be getting a man who is very poised, focused and who
has the potential to be a great leader—just like he was at Northern Illinois.
Point No. 3
The Lions may have tipped their hand that they're going to select a
defensive player with their first selection rather than a quarterback.
Even if Detroit doesn't land Jay Cutler through a trade and they enter draft
weekend without a new quarterback, don't be surprised to see them trade down
just a few slots--or possibly use the No. 1 pick overall--to grab Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji instead of
Georgia's Matthew Stafford or USC's Mark Sanchez.
Why? Well, they just traded away defensive tackle Cory Redding to the
Seahawks so that they could add Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson. So as of
right now, the Lions have 13-year veteran Grady Jackson and Chuck Darby, a
9th-year player, penciled-in as their starters.
Neither player is a slouch by an means, but that pairing isn't going to cut it on a team led by new head coach Jim Schwartz.
Schwartz was previously the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans.
defensive unit finished no worse than seventh-best in the league over the past
Meanwhile, the Lions had the worst defense in the league during
that same two-year span.
B.J. Raji tackles North Carolina State's Andre Brown.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Schwartz had young defensive tackles like Albert Haynesworth, Tony Brown and
Jason Jones in Tennessee. It's hard to imagine that he's going to be satisfied
with relying on two solid, but aging veterans in the middle of his defensive
line this year. Raji, the draft's top-rated defensive tackle, would give the new head coach of
the Lions a dominating force in the middle who capably handled double-teams in
And then maybe, just maybe, the Lions could then turn around and package some picks
if Mark Sanchez or
Matthew Stafford drops to a point in the first round where Detroit could buy their
way back in—just like the Browns did with Brady Quinn after shocking everyone
with their first-round selection of Joe Thomas a couple of years ago.
Crazier things have happened.
Point No. 4
NFL draft prospect Darrius Heyward-Bey is much more than just a really, really
fast wide receiver.
Maryland's Heyward-Bey posted the best 40-time at the NFL Scouting Combine
among wide receivers with a 4.30-second sprint. But he showed off his overall
athleticism by finishing as one of the top performers in a total of six
events, including both the vertical and broad jumps and the bench press.
Heyward-Bey clearly possesses one of the more intriguing combinations of size
and speed among this year's draft-eligible wide receivers.
"I just wanted to show them that I was a complete athlete and a complete
football player," told me during a recent phone interview. "I think
they were impressed that I was able to run those times and jump like that at
6-foot-2, 210 (pounds)."
At Maryland's Pro Day, Heyward-Bey participated in the position drills so NFL
coaches and scouts could evaluate his route-running and pass-catching skills.
"All the coaches said I did a great job, I looked natural out there,
like a true football player," he said.
During the 2008 season, the Terps' leading receiver caught 42 passes for 609
yards and five scores, despite facing plenty of double-coverage due to
Maryland's erratic offensive attack. But all that did was make the talented
pass-catcher more determined, a trait that should serve him well at the next
stage of his football career.
"Whatever team drafts me, they're going to get a hard-worker, somebody
who's going to make plays for them and who, in every game, can change the
momentum of the game for them," he said.
Point No. 5
There are a number of teams who should be calling quarterback Jeff Garcia—at
the very least to see if he'll go into training camp as their No. 2 quarterback.
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
If I'm the general manager of the Texans, Raiders, Jaguars, Jets, Bears,
Lions, or Rams I'd have the phone number of Garcia's agent on speed-dial if I
don't end up with more talented depth behind my starting quarterback after draft
All of those teams have unproven or just steady talent behind their starters.
Out of the seven, I think that Oakland, Houston, Chicago and the New York Jets
have the most serious issues.
Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell could benefit from Garcia's presence and
tutelage. And the ultra-competitive Garcia wouldn't readily yield the starter's role to Russell,
ensuring that the youngster would stay focused on his development. Matt Schaub's
backup in Houston is Dan Orlovsky, who struggled a bit during his seven starts
for Detroit last year. Chicago's two backup quarterbacks have a combined
experience level of 11 pass attempts in regular season games. And I'm not
convinced the Jets even have a legitimate starting quarterback on their roster
at this point.
Garcia still has plenty of spunk and the ability to move a team down the
field. Is he as consistent as he once was? Nope. But his football intelligence,
leadership skills and his raw football talent would still improve the depth of
quarterback talent for any of the teams listed above.
Point No. 6
Clemson safety and NFL Draft prospect Mike Hamlin is a playmaker, but not just
because of his athletic ability.
After picking off six passes and forcing two fumbles in 2008, the
hard-hitting safety has drawn plenty of attention from NFL teams who are
impressed by his knack for creating takeaways. And as you talk to the 6-foot-2,
214-pound defensive back, it's quickly evident that those big plays happen
largely due to what's going on inside his head, not just due to his physical skills.
"I think I read the plays real well. If you watch film, every formation
has a personality to it. You kind of get a feel for the possible play that
they're going to run," he explained as we discussed his success against his
"I look forward to the games near the end of the season when we start
trying to figure out break-points on receivers. Like in man-to-man coverage, on
safety point, you can't come up and press, you have to catch them. So I try to
sit in the zone, and when he breaks, I break with him."
Despite the fact that Hamlin's a very physical player at his position, he
didn't miss a start during the last two seasons. And over his four-year career
as a starter, he only missed three games due to injury.
Point No. 7
There's still some good free agent talent available at the linebacker and
This wasn't a great year to be a free agent if you were a linebacker or a
cornerback. There was a decent talent pool available, and it's become a buyers'
If your team needs a linebacker, they could still sign one of these talented
players: Derrick Brooks, Freddy Keiaho, Marcus Washington, Cato June, Tyjuan Hagler.
In need of some cornerback help? Then take a look at Ken Lucas, Chris McAlister, Patrick Surtain, Samari Rolle or Dre' Bly.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features
are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can follow him on
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