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pauldrulez 21-01-2009 09:35 PM

Rey Maualuga:

Can the Mods see if we can have an off-season thread or some other type of thing for this. Maybe a new thread starting after the Superbowl.

Somewhere I can post all the bits of news so people dont miss out on the 1 in 100 good bits of news I post.

MOBILE, Ala. — The suitors lined up near midfield as soon as the South team had broken its huddle to end Tuesday's Senior Bowl practice.

Kansas City, New Orleans, New England and Baltimore all were setting up interviews for that night with Rey Maualuga, star linebacker from the University of Southern California.

"You can have me whenever you want," Maualuga told one scout.

"How 'bout April 25?" the scout replied.

Which would be the first day of the 2009 NFL draft.

There's no doubt Maualuga will be one of the most coveted defensive players in this year's draft. This season's winner of the Bednarik Award as college football's top defensive player, Maualuga was one of the centerpieces of a dominating Trojans defense.

As such, he looks like a sure top 10 pick. And someone who might perfect for a team looking to get bigger and more physical. Like say, the Rams with the No. 2 overall pick. Top-tier draft picks frequently skip the Senior Bowl, but Maualuga apparently has nothing to hide.

"No sir," he told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday. "This is something that I've been working hard for in my last couple years. To be able to be out here with a group of phenomenal athletes, and share my abilities with everyone else and to compete at the highest level. It's an honor to be here."

Then came the clincher.

"I'm just trying to be discovered," he said.


Make no mistake, every one of the hundreds of NFL scouts and coaches assembled here knows about Maualuga. However, what they're trying to "discover" is whether Maualuga is an every-down linebacker. No one doubts his strength and physical presence.

"He's a kamikaze," said one veteran scout. "He wants to kill people out there. He seems to run well once he gets going. But he may be just a 'triangle' player."

In other words, Maualuga's future in the NFL could be as a run defender at middle linebacker, hitting anything that moves between the tackles but coming out on passing downs.

There are some questions about Maualuga's coverage skills, and that could mean all the difference in the world in terms of his draft value. An every-down linebacker gets taken in the top 10. Someone who comes out in passing situations isn't as valuable.

"I've got a lot to prove (this week)," Maualuga said. "Like I said, I came out here to get discovered and show the coaches that the things I established during the season, I've gotten better at. I'm trying to show them that I'm a complete player."

Sometimes, Maualuga's coverage skills suffer because he over-commits to the run.

"During the season, I had tendencies of trying to make that big play," Maualuga said. "Leaving my feet and trying to make a phenomenal play when coach would say just make the plays you can make. Or don't try to be someone that you're not."

Maualuga has excellent size for a linebacker, even by NFL standards. But some critics wonder if he's so big that his speed suffers.

"People doubted my weight — being overweight," Maualuga said. "I'm Polynesian. I'm Samoan. We've got big bones, and our family, we're known for being big."

Maualuga said he measured in for Senior Bowl week at 6-1, 254 pounds, after spending most of his senior season playing at 255-260.

"I'm positive about my speed, and I'm positive about myself covering the ground," he said.

As for a legitimate 40 time?

"I would love to surprise some people, so I'll just leave it at that," he said.

Which means, scouts and coaches may have to wait until the NFL scouting combine in February to gauge his speed — if Maualuga chooses to run there. (No timing is done at the Senior Bowl.)

Maualuga is wearing his familiar jersey No. 58 for the South squad, the same number that former USC linebacker (and current Seattle Seahawk) Lofa Tatupu wore for the Trojans. Tatupu also is of Samoan descent.

This week, he's still wearing eye-black under each eye with the word "Dad" on it.

"I wore my dad's eye-black for (almost) every game since I've been at USC," Maualuga said.

His father, a U.S. Army veteran and Pentecostal minister, died of brain cancer at the end of the 2005 season. For Maualuga, wearing that eye-black in Mobile is a sign that he means business at the Senior Bowl.

"Just being out here is a game atmosphere for me," he said.

Especially when you're trying to be discovered.

pauldrulez 21-01-2009 09:36 PM

Team Number 1 - Patriots


With the Patriots [team stats] out of the Super Bowl, an event that has typically flown under the radar in New England might actually draw some interest Saturday: the Senior Bowl.

Some of the nation’s top players will be on display in Mobile, Ala., and at least one of them probably is going to hear his name called by the Pats during the draft.

After building through free agency in 2007, the Pats focused their efforts on the college ranks last year and were rewarded with a Defensive Rookie of the Year season from middle linebacker Jerod Mayo.

With cornerback and linebacker expected to be the team’s top needs on draft day, there are a number of players to keep an eye on when the North and South squads collide this weekend.

First up are the linebackers. This is considered an extremely deep draft at the position, possibly the deepest in five or 10 years, according to the draft experts at Pro Football Weekly.

One of the top linebackers is USC’s Rey Maualuga, a 260-pound behemoth who can play inside, comes from a proven system under Pete Carroll, and possesses excellent cover skills for a player of his size. Comparisons to Adalius Thomas are justified.

The only problem is, Maualuga already is a borderline top-10 pick and can cement his status this week. The odds of him lasting to the Patriots at No. 23 are slim, although stranger things have happened. The gift of Vince Wilfork [stats] at No. 21 springs to mind.

Next on the list is Maualuga’s partner at USC, Brian Cushing. The defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid has the size (255 pounds) to play in the middle, but he’s an excellent edge rusher. His versatility and athleticism would appeal to the Pats, and there already has been talk of 3-4 teams shifting him inside. His stock is likely to rise at the combine.

One player who projects to be available at No. 23 is Virginia’s Clint Sintim. A preseason All-American, Sintim struggled during the Cavaliers’ terrible start. But as their play improved so did his. With Virginia playing a 3-4 under Al Groh, the Patriots should have a good idea of whether Sintim fits their system. The 250-pounder is an edge rusher, but has the size to move inside and could fill a Mike Vrabel-like role.

Two players turning down invitations to play in the Senior Bowl who would have made this list are Wake Forest outside linebacker Aaron Curry, a beast of a pass rusher projected to go in the top 10, and Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis, a slightly undersized 4-3 linebacker who could have helped his stock by playing.

Shifting gears, corner is not considered a strong position in this draft. The only surefire first-rounder is Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins, who is not at the Senior Bowl.

One corner who could appeal to the Pats in the second or third round is Wake Forest’s Alphonso Smith. The ACC’s all-time leader in interceptions (21), the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder fits the Patriots’ mold in that he’s extremely quick in short spaces and changes direction fluidly. He’s also confident bordering on cocky, which could be a good thing.

The rest of the pickings are less inspiring. Cincinnati’s DeAngelo Smith is a physical corner with good ball skills, while Virginia Tech’s Macho Harris is viewed by some experts as a player whose name recognition exceeds his production.

One last player to watch is Oklahoma safety Nic Harris. He has been practicing at outside linebacker in Mobile, and normally would be considered a lock to land in a Tampa-2 system like Indianapolis’.

However, the Patriots appear to be placing a new emphasis on nickel linebackers who can cover, which led to hybrid roles for Rodney Harrison [stats], Tank Williams and even Lewis Sanders.

Harris is far from polished in coverage, but at 6-3, 230, he at least boasts the physical attributes to play nickel linebacker for the Pats.

pauldrulez 21-01-2009 09:38 PM

2. Dolphins (best I can find for now)

MOBILE -- Four autographing-seeking fans charged back from the parking lot where they had just finished chasing Dolphins vice president Bill Parcells outside Ladd Peebles Stadium after Monday's Senior Bowl practice.

Each one wore a bigger smile than the next.

''Did he sign?'' said a person standing nearby.

''Yup!'' said the first fan, who was carrying a football with white ink scribbled across it. ``I broke him down!''

No doubt about it, Parcells' presence was noticed by many Monday in Mobile, where scouts, coaches and agents began to converge for the annual weeklong evaluations of this year's college seniors.

During the afternoon workout, Parcells sat in the bleachers next to Dolphins coach Tony Sparano. General manager Jeff Ireland sat directly behind them, completing a rare public appearance of the Tuna Trifecta.

So why did Parcells, who didn't travel to any of the Dolphins' road games this season and made only one appearance at the Senior Bowl during his four years with the Dallas Cowboys, decide to make the trip? Well, no surprise here: He wasn't willing to say.

''I don't talk,'' Parcells said in a light-hearted manner when approached Monday. He then turned toward Sparano and pointed his finger. ``He does the talking.''

It still isn't a secret that Parcells will be watching a number of potential prospects worth drafting with the Dolphins' 25th overall pick in the first round of this year's NFL Draft.

And don't expect Miami's brass to watch only the coveted prospects this week. As the team proved Monday by signing Canadian Football League star Cameron Wake to a four-year contract, the best players aren't always the ones with the most hype.

Wake, who went undrafted out of Penn State in 2005, wasn't even invited to the Senior Bowl. Instead, he settled for the CFL's British Columbia Lions, where he has made a massive mark that included two Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Over the past two seasons, after getting snubbed by the NFL despite running a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day at Penn State, Wake has amassed an astounding 39 sacks.

Asked why he wasn't drafted, Wake said Monday, ``If I could look into that crystal ball, that's the first question I'd ask.''

Now he will receive guaranteed money of nearly $1 million with a contract worth nearly $3.6 million.

Wake's addition -- he will play outside linebacker in the Dolphins' 3-4 system -- fills a considerable need for pass-rushing help, but it doesn't satisfy all of the other voids.

Two of those needs -- depth at guard and help in the secondary -- could be addressed with the crop of players at the Senior Bowl.

Interviews between NFL teams and the draft prospects began Monday night and will continue throughout the week.


It is looking less and less likely that linebacker Channing Crowder will return to the Dolphins next season -- even though Miami's brass still wants him back and even though he still wants to come back. The two sides are still far off when it comes to agreeing on Crowder's financial worth, a gap that will need to be bridged significantly for Crowder to resist the desire to test the open market.

jj62255 21-01-2009 10:21 PM

I don't know if you read this already, but there's a lot about the senior bowl and plenty other stuff on here http://walterfootball.com/

Strathclyde Eagle 21-01-2009 11:54 PM

No PFiA updates from Mobile this year?

pauldrulez 22-01-2009 12:11 AM

Someone is giving updates on 606.

Said Maualuga looked average the first day. Cushing looked good.

B.J Raji looked awesome both days and may have pushed himself into the top 5 at the least.

None of the QBs were majorly impressive.

PFiA, where are you? :(

Strathclyde Eagle 22-01-2009 12:55 AM


Originally Posted by pauldrulez
PFiA, where are you? :(

At a guess... Mobile, Alabama? :moo:

elliott 22-01-2009 01:03 AM


Very nice.

pauldrulez 22-01-2009 10:31 AM

That is an excellent column. Chokes you up a bit.

Benzhiyi 22-01-2009 10:40 AM


Originally Posted by pauldrulez
And I know I said no more Patriots rumours etc etc.

BUT, (this is not something made up by me or via any non-Patriots sources, it is in fact discussed by the writers in their AskPFW segment as well).

There is a buzz going around of big Free Agency movements as well as one trade on defense. This is due to the rumours of Bruschi, Vrabel and Harrison retiring as well as the 3 secondary members moving on. And BB has been furious at the Pass Rush as well.

The rumour is a trade of Matt Cassel and a conditional pick for Julius Peppers who wants out of Carolina and wants to go to a 3-4 system. Sounds ridiculous at first, but when you look at it, Delhomme has been hurt, and that playoff performance was frankly embarrassing and likely the final straw. To me, the deal is still unlikely, but I would love it.

The possible Free Agent pickups that I have been told are Jonathan Vilma from New Orleans to go along side Mayo. And either Nnamdi Asomugha (if not franchised) or Jabari Greer of the Buffalo Bills, who like Asomugha was deliberately thrown at in the games against their teams to see how they could handle Randy Moss as he lined up against them.

Take it as I have, as something I have been told by the same person who told me about the Franchising of Cassel and the confirmation of the Wembley game. He has been reliable so far, but I haven't heard anything as big as this from him.

1. Cassel is not the answer in Carolina. Even if discussions about a trade have taken place - which I highly doubt as Cassel hasn't even been franchised yet - I'd think John Fox is a sensible enough man that he'd let the FO know spunking $14million on an unproven quarterback who may turn out to be no better than Delhomme is ridiculous.

2. If you think Al Davis is just going to let Asomugha walk, you're more crazy than I thought.

3. Vilma totally failed - I mean, spectacularly - when Mangini implemented a 3-4 scheme with the Jets, hence him being offloaded to the Saints. He's a great MLB... but only in a 4-3 defense. So why would the Pats want anything of him?

Sometimes I wonder if you write this things just so we can have fun knocking them out of the park. ;) :lux:

pauldrulez 22-01-2009 10:47 AM

I only put what I was told.

This is Al "Vampire" Davis you know ;)

I know he will be franchised, which is why Greer was mentioned.

Anyway, back to Senior Bowl talk (this is eyewitness account from 606)


The buzz around the day 2 practices is all around and it seems like some guys are making huge strides in their draft status. Here's the word:

- BJ Raji who I was hyping about yesterday is looking like the star of the practices for the North squad. I've been hearing Warren Sapp comparisons in terms of his burst and agility as a DT. while he does have some character issues (missed games for academic issues and some have questioned work ethic) he's obviously looking to make a great first impression on many of the scouts. Gunning for a top 10 selection and looking like he's for real.

- Was a rough day for QBs yesterday as the wind was gusting here (we live right on the Gulf of Mexico) and several struggled int he conditions. Rhett Bomar, who has the most to prove of any of the invitees, made some poor decisions and hung some passes in the wind. Big arm, but his touch was very suspect.

- WR Brian Robiskie from Ohio State made a good impression on the scouts in 7 on 7 drills. He was able to get separation from some pretty good DBS and looked crisp in his route-running (his dad is the Falcons WR coach so this should be no surprise). Lacks elite speed, but good hands and separation skills make him less of a project at the next level. Could contribute immediately as a possession guy.

- As far as centers go Cal's Alex Mack had a better day than the much more hyped Max Unger from Oregon. Of course, Unger had to go up against Raji, and as I stated earlier, Raji's a beast. I don't know how long Unger will stay on top at his position. He's got technique and awareness in pass protection that put him above the rest of the pack, but he's not as big and strong as many NFL centers. If he gets pancaked anymore by DTs at practice he may freefall. Look for Mack to emerge if that happens.

- LSU guard Herman Johnson weighed in at 382 lbs. I'm not commenting on his technique or practices...that's just one huge guy! Mobility is an issue for him, so he'll do well to trim down before the combine.

- The Patriots coaching staff was overheard at the Hurricane Brewery (my favorite downtown place for a pint) talking about how they liked "those two kids from Cincinnati." Not sure which they're referring to, but of the 5 Cinci players at the Senior Bowl, two of them are DBs. Make of it what you will.

- Louis Delmas of Western Michigan is emerging at Safety. He's shooting for the Polmalu vein: hit hard and fly around the field. High intensity guy. Impressed scouts with run stopping hits. No word yet on his hands. He's looking like maybe the 3rd or 4th safety off the board since Taylor Mays stayed at USC. Could be a great 2nd round selection.

-Larry English from Northern Illinois is making some gains at DE. He's still not an elite run stopper, but he can pass rush with the best. Not quite 1st or early 2nd rounder, but I can see him as an excellent late 2nd/early 3rd round choice.

- Alphonso Smith of Wake Forest. He's been making waves at CB. Had a pick yesterday in practice. Great top end speed and closing burst, but not a great tackler; his technique needs work. Great jumper for his height, and looks like he can cover well enough to get into the 2nd or 3rd round at CB. Not an elite talent, but possesses the tools.

15 mins until ticket time. My Mum has been charged with the job as they don't take Solo and i'm in college :(

If I dont end up with tickets, she can forget a birthday present... :D

pauldrulez 22-01-2009 11:50 AM

I got my tickets :lux:

And its sort of relevant:

TORONTO (AP) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said in an interview Wednesday that his rehabilitation from season-ending knee surgery was "going really well," but he did not offer any timetable for a return to the football field.

In some of his first public comments since being injured in the first quarter of the regular season opener in September, Brady also told Toronto sports radio station The Fan 590 that he did not think the Patriots would be hurt badly by the defections of key personnel such as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Scott Pioli, the team's former vice president of player personnel.

Brady was not asked during the interview if he expected to be ready for training camp or the start of the 2009 regular season. Nor was he asked about ongoing speculation that his recovery from surgery has been slowed by a post-operative infection in his left knee.

"It's going really well," said Brady of his rehab. "Anyone who's come back from injuries that require surgery knows it's just a process and there are some good days, some bad days and you just have to keep plugging through them."

Brady was operated on Oct. 6 in Los Angeles and confirmed on his Web site a couple of weeks later that he had a second procedure after developing an infection.

In the interview, in which Brady promoted a sports cream, the 2007 NFL MVP described himself as the Patriots "biggest cheerleader" after the injury. He said he watched every game and shared the team's disappointment in missing the playoffs with an 11-5 record.

He also noted that the Patriots defeated the NFC's representative in the Super Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals, by 40 points (47-7 on Dec. 21).

Brady said he was confident the team would make improvements in the offseason to try to get back to the playoffs, and he downplayed the departures of Pioli and McDaniels.

McDaniels was hired as coach of the Denver Broncos and Pioli general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs.

"There's change every year and you have to get used to it," he said, adding that the team's ownership and head coach remain intact.

"As long as we have Robert and Jonathan Kraft and as long as we have coach (Bill) Belichick we'll be just fine," he said.

Matt Cassel, Brady's backup for the previous three seasons, played well after taking over as starter and reports have indicated that the Patriots are considering placing the franchise tag on Cassel as insurance should Brady not be ready for next season
I'm turning into Zohar and eagleforlife

Benzhiyi 22-01-2009 12:08 PM


Originally Posted by pauldrulez
Matt Cassel, Brady's backup for the previous three seasons, played well after taking over as starter and reports have indicated that the Patriots are considering placing the franchise tag on Cassel as insurance should Brady not be ready for next season.

This can't be right - a very reputable Pats source I know from a UK football team's independent forums insists Cassel is being traded before the draft. Apparently Carolina are on the phone right now.

pauldrulez 22-01-2009 12:10 PM

How the hell did I do a 19 minute double post?

saxoneagle 22-01-2009 12:35 PM

My pin doesn't work :(

Not like I'd be using any tickets I get anyway other than to ebay them :D

Benzhiyi 22-01-2009 12:46 PM

Booooooo @ Saxon. :veryangry

saxoneagle 22-01-2009 12:58 PM


Originally Posted by Benzhiyi
Booooooo @ Saxon. :veryangry

It would make up for all the tickets I have had to buy in the past for matches at well over face value :D

Latvian Eagle 22-01-2009 01:23 PM

On the Cassel to Carolina thing...

I'd still prefer Jake over Cassel! And I certainly wouldn't be trading JP for him either! :vader:

jazman 22-01-2009 01:26 PM

Managed to book tickets fine this morning so happy days :lux:

Not so keen on the Pats coming over so will be a home boy at the game supporting the Bucs ;)

jazman 22-01-2009 01:30 PM

Interesting reports from Dallas this week. many rumours about TO, Phillips wanting to increase the fine structure but Jones not approving, the players having very little confidence left in Romo, the fact that they need a player in the Ray Lewis mould to lead the team which they have a distinct lack of and finally question marks over Jason Garretts future. It has been said about Garrett that he has been poor this season and many do not approve of his softly softly approach to Romo. All is not well, if the press are to be believed, or more to the point, the Dallas Evening Post (or News?) ...

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