When it comes to evaluating NFL talent, all the information on the internet can be kind of hit or miss at times. It's always good to read analysis from someone like Mike Mayock or Ron Jaworski. Even better is consulting with representatives from NFL franchises off the record; that's where the primo dirt comes from.
If Rutgers football fans weren't acquainted with Jeff Risdon and his columns at Real GM until recently, they are much more familiar with him now. Unflattering references to Kenny Britt's character had already been floating around for a while, but the likes of Todd McShay usually don't respond to all of their emails. Rutgers fans, ranging from curious to a little peeved, proceeded to send 250 messages to Jeff's mailbox when he relayed the same negative evaluations; to his credit, he responded, explaining that he was merely relaying chatter that had come from NFL scouts. Two weeks ago, Risdon interviewed another scout for his column. All the emails must have left an impression, because he asked about Britt, and received a more favorable response from that scout.
I wanted to follow up with Jeff, and see if he had anything else to say regarding Rutgers football and the NFL Draft. He kindly agreed to respond, and here are his answers.
Just to clarify for everyone out there: maybe you like certain players more than others, but scouts and draft analysts don't actively root against one particular prospect, right?
There is no real rooting for or against anyone, not at the beginning of the evaluation process anyways. As more game film gets broken down and information processed, then scouts are often forced to promote their opinion on a player, positive or negative. That's what is happening right now. But during the season, I have never seen anyone openly root for someone to fail.
One thing that's clear from the differing evaluations of Kenny Britt that you posted, is that each team, and really each scout, have their own opinions and evaluations. Have you heard of any specific teams that are high on Britt?
I believe many teams hold Kenny Britt in high regard. He's very similar to Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina in this draft class, so there is a lot of head-to-head comparison and argument about those two. I'm not privy to every team's draft boards, but at least a couple I know of have Britt rated higher, primarily because of his better open-field ability. They're both almost certain to be drafted in the 25-45 overal range.
I don't want to steal your thunder from when you evaluate the draft's safeties, but do you have any quick thoughts on Courtney Greene?
Greene really disappointed in 2008. I love his size and headed into the season I really liked his skills as a centerfielder and moving into the box against the run. His play in coverage regressed big-time, and he looked very slow to react and unable to see what might be coming. I saw a lazy tackler too, someone who too often dove at feet or tried to arm tackle. He never had good lateral quickness or fluid movement to begin with, so when his sound tackling went away, so did his draft stock. Some team will still take a late-round chance that the Greene of old can emerge, and if he takes to the coaching he'll be a steal.
Of the Scarlet Knights that were not invited to Indianapolis (Kevin Brock, Kevin Malast, Jason McCourty, Mike Teel, Pete Tverdov, and Jamaal Westerman), do you like any of them?
I am intrigued by Westerman, but he's going to have to add some functional bulk to make it as a 3-4 LDE. He's not quick or fast enough to play 4-3 DE, and the arm injury will keep him from being drafted. Brock has the misfortune of coming out in a year where there are loads of TEs who do what he does better than he does. I give him a fair chance to stick on a practice squad for a year and develop. Teel doesn't have the fastball or the consistent accuracy teams want. Take him for what he was--a solid college QB and leader. I never saw much in McCourty and I'll freely cop to being unfamiliar with Tverdov.
For a quick look ahead, is there any underclassman playing for Rutgers that stood out last year?
Anthony Davis has consistently stood out. He dominated George Selvie and moves his feet real well for such a big hombre. Just speculating, but I bet he winds up on a lot of preseason Top 32s and 1st rounds in mock drafts even though I believe he's got two years of eligibility left. I like the LG who played next to him, Haslam, too. Haven't broken him down at all but he has a lot of desirable attributes just from a cursory look. Ryan D'Imperio will get a good look because it appears he is a good fit at ILB for a 3-4. He appeared to make some nice progress as the year went on.
Thanks again to Jeff Risdon for answering my questions. Be sure to check out his columns at Real GM, as they're very informative.
Just as a reminder to the readers out there: if there's anyone you'd like me to fire off a few questions to, especially over the next few lean months, let me know. I already have a few names in mind for the near future.