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Draft talk

NFL Draft Bible is reporting that Courtney Greene and Tiquan Underwood were among the seniors invited to the NFL Combine. I think that Mike Teel is going to need a big week in El Paso to get an invite.

Dan Pompei mentioned Kenny Britt a few days ago as one post-bowl riser, which seems to be an ongoing theme.

Except for the all-star games, the bowl season is complete. The draft stock of a number of players has moved as a result. Here are some of the players who NFL scouts are talking about.

The player who might have helped himself more than anyone was North Carolina junior wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who subsequently has declared for the draft. Nicks had 217 yards and three touchdowns against West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Nicks, who made some great catches and reminded one scout of Hines Ward, might have secured a spot in the first round with his effort.

Two other receivers who also might have moved into Round 1 were Rutgers junior Kenny Britt and Ohio State senior Brian Robiskie. The 6-foot-4-inch Britt applied for the draft after his 119-yard receiving performance in the PapaJohn's.com Bowl. Robiskie, whose productivity was limited this season because of factors beyond his control, had 116 receiving yards in the Fiesta Bowl.

Rotoworld

In many ways the 6-4 215 pound junior is very similiar to Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree. Both have great size, balance and a temendous set of hands. Britt may even be a tad faster, which will make him a steal for NFL teams looking for a wide receiver after Crabtree is selected (assuming he declares for the draft as well). Britt is projected as a second round pick.

Rotoworld, again

This local New York City hero put on a show in his final game as a collegiate. A 20-year-old true junior who overcame an early-season suspension to have the finest campaign by a Rutgers wideout in school history, Britt cut through the Wolfpack's zone defense for a juggling 42-yard game-winning touchdown less than a minute after NC State had grabbed a short-lived lead in the fourth quarter. Britt also exhibited his speed on a 16-yard second-quarter carry that set up a field goal try for the Scarlet Knights and made four of his other five receptions go for first downs. Britt is a player you'll hear a lot about during and after February's Combine, because he's going to light it up.

Er, Britt is a native of Bayonne.

The other thing that really bugs me, and this is being very pedantic, is the notion that Britt's stock "improved" due to his bowl performance, which implies that he hasn't been playing absolutely out of his mind for the past two and half years. It's not a knock on him of course, but now that Britt is off to the NFL, I'm free to angrily beat my drum about how badly Britt was unfairly denied national media recognition over the past year.

Of course, I've been beating this drum for a while, but I don't understand why Kenny Britt is seen as "merely" a second round pick. Because the national media doesn't know who he is? Because Todd McShay says so? The projections I trust are from writers that seem to have connections with NFL sources - Bob McGinn, Rick Gosselin, Mike Mayock, Pro Football Weekly, Pete Dougherty, etc... I know what Lenn Robbins said on ESPN 2 a few weeks ago (that Britt could be the first receiver taken), but let's leave that aside for now.

The other big question with Britt will be about his timed speed in the 40 yard dash. And this is another pet peeve of mine (no, I'm not going to rage about the value of the 40 - in fact, it's very important for receivers). It really seems like a lot of people don't understand the difference between the 40 - which measures top end speed, and acceleration speed (which would be measured by something like the 10 yard dash or other drills). We saw this all the time with Brian Leonard a few years ago, where people kept insisting that he was "slow", even though he had showed a fair bit of top end speed at Rutgers, which was ultimately validated by running around a 4.5 at the Combine.

I'm cognizant of that difference. For what it's worth, I think I'm decent at estimating 40 times with the naked eye, and I have Britt pegged around the 4.5 range. Game speed in pads doesn't necessarily translate to workout speed. Obviously, training and health will play a major role in what he ultimately runs at the combine. Whispers around the program have indicated that Britt will run in the sub-4.5 range. The same talk comes from official sources:

He's run a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, and he expects to again at the NFL combine, where he hopes to be invited. More than one NFL scout said this season that if Britt is able to replicate that number there, he shouldn't last past the second round.

"Kenny will test unbelievably well," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano promised. "His abilities and his production will transcend to the next level, there is no doubt."

That has some value; but put yourself in skeptical shoes for a moment. What else can Schiano say publicly? I'm not alleging that there's any sort of rift in his relationship with Britt; indeed, it appears to be very strong. However, NCAA coaches have an obligation to be straight with NFL scouts, or they will lose credibility. Their is little doubt in my mind that reports about Britt's attitude, and similar reports about Clark Harris two years ago originated in part from the Rutgers coaching staff. Rutgers isn't a Penn State, where Joe Pa is notorious for locking down access to players. In that sense, Schiano does not take after his mentor; he rightly recognizes that such efforts are both counterproductive, and ultimately futile.

Finally, in their Shrine Game preview, the National Football Post did a writeup on Courtney Greene.

Courtney Greene: Rutgers (6-2, 215) Projection: 3rd Round

A well-built safety with good power at the line of scrimmage and straight-line speed in the secondary. A bit "leggy" and struggles re-directing in space.

Also: the Giants need to draft Kenny Britt before I go completely insane.