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5/09/2007 01:59:00 PM

Tough luck Donovan

Field
Donovan McNabb said he was "shocked" the Eagles selected a quarterback in the second round of last week's draft.
Simon Bruty/SI

Ten days after the draft, the one pick that still is causing a stir is the Eagles' selection of quarterback Kevin Kolb with the No. 36 overall pick. Donovan McNabb said he was shocked by the pick, but would do his best to help the rookie. But it didn't take long for the media to create a minor storm in Philly.

I don't think there will be an old-fashioned QB controversy any time soon. This is McNabb's team and he's still a Pro Bowl-level player. But I do think we can read a lot into what the selection means and it's not all good for McNabb.

1. McNabb is not going to get Tom Brady-Peyton Manning money.
Philadelphia papers reported contract talks between McNabb and the Eagles didn't go very well last fall before he tore his ACL. McNabb is due $5.5 million this year, $6.3 million in '08 and close to $20 million combined for '09 and '10 -- money he wouldn't likely see. Philly is known for drafting players at positions where veterans are facing tough negotiations (e.g. taking Ryan Moats while they had Brian Westbrook) and not showing much love for veterans over 30. McNabb is 30.

2. Kolb is the real deal.
Although the Eagles may very well have considered McNabb's contract, don't think that means Kolb is merely a bargaining chip. The Eagles probably had Kolb ranked higher than Brady Quinn and knew several other teams were interested in taking the Houston QB. The NFL Network's Adam Schefter reported one team -- my guess is the Jaguars -- had Kolb ranked as the 12th best player in the draft. One source close to Kolb told me the Patriots were looking closely at him and were a candidate to take him at No. 28 before they dealt the pick (talk about a selection that would have raised eyebrows). The Packers were also interested in Kolb (sorry Aaron Rodgers). The fact that teams like New England and Philly liked him is a great sign. I think the Eagles believe they drafted a future Pro Bowl quarterback, which is the NFL's most precious commodity.

3. For better or worse, the Eagles are comfortable with their WR corps.
They had a shot at Robert Meachem, Craig Davis and Anthony Gonzalez with the No. 26 pick before they traded it to Dallas. Then they could have selected Sidney Rice, Steve Smith or Dwayne Jarrett at No. 36. They head into camp with Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, Bethel Johnson, Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett at receiver. The only receiver that has really jelled with McNabb as a No. 1 receiver is Terrell Owens and there isn't a receiver half as good as T.O. in Eagles camp. This is one issue McNabb definitely has a right to be concerned about.

4. The Eagles aren't comfortable with McNabb's lack of durability.
McNabb appears on track to recover from his ACL injury and be on the field midway through the preseason. But he has played more than 10 games in only two of the last five seasons.

5. The Eagles may be rethinking their offense after last year.
Maybe they learned something when Jeff Garcia was at the helm. McNabb even admitted Philly was scoring too quickly last season when he was racking up huge numbers before the injury. Kolb doesn't have anywhere near the arm strength of McNabb, but Kolb's accuracy makes him a great fit for the kind of ball-control offense the Eagles used to win their last five games of '07.

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4/30/2007 04:16:00 PM

Why Quinn fell

Quinn
The Browns traded for the No. 22 pick to draft Brady Quinn.
AP

Brady Quinn's dramatic fall is still the story of the draft. With a day of hindsight, these are my main reasons the Notre Dame quarterback lasted until No. 22.

1. Coaches have too much pressure to win and can't take time to develop QBs: Several of the teams that passed on Quinn have short windows to be successful before eager owners call for a coaching change. It seems like every coach in the top half of the first round isn't far from the hot seat: Lane Kiffin (the Raiders' seat is always hot), Rod Marinelli (assuming Matt Millen's days are limited), Romeo Crennel, Jon Gruden, Brad Childress, etc.

2. Quinn didn't play well against pressure last season: He looked frazzled against teams with great pass rushes: Georgia Tech, Michigan, UCLA (until the end when the Bruins went into a prevent), USC and LSU. True, his offensive line had several issues, but a first-round worthy pick should be able to keep his composure. The Sugar Bowl in particular hurt Quinn (15-for-35 for 148 yards, two TDs and two INTs), because LSU has a speedy NFL-style defense.

3. Quinn didn't participate in the Senior Bowl: He missed the annual event with a minor injury, most likely at the advice of his agent Tom Condon. His absence was particularly important because he didn't end his college career well. Another Condon client, Eli Manning also skipped the Senior Bowl, but he was still taken No. 1, which might have been a mistake in the long run. Quinn's fall should be a warning to top quarterbacks next year who think about sitting out pre-draft events if they didn't end their seasons on the right note.

4. Tom Brady: Even with the success of last year's rookie quarterbacks, teams around the league still mimic the Patriots and believe they can get a Super Bowl quarterback in lower rounds. As offenses get more complex, the quarterback position is more about brains than brawn, so amazing physical skills aren't as valued in signal-callers. Again, that's why a QB's performance in a week of Senior Bowl practices is more important than the combine or any other physical workout.

5. Charlie Weis: On one hand, scouts said Quinn was more NFL-ready because he played under Weis at Notre Dame. But maybe teams thought Quinn's success was more because of Weis' acumen than the quarterback's skill.

6. Need: Teams can only carry three quarterbacks, and the teams picking between No. 10 and No. 22 this year were set at quarterback. I don't love the QB situations in places like Buffalo, Carolina, St. Louis and Jacksonville, but those teams didn't want to invest in more arms.

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4/29/2007 01:39:00 PM

Will Pats' dynasty survive?

Moss
Randy Moss had just 42 catches for 553 yards with the Raiders last season.
John Iacono/SI

A sleepy Radio City Music Hall became a lot more animated after the Randy Moss trade. I was surprised by how many critics of the deal immediately emerged. One sportswriter instantly labeled them the "New England Yankees," and another said under his breath, "I hope this is the move that finally pushes this team over the edge and ends the Belichick dynasty." Another long-time observer of the Patriots said there's no way vice president Scott Pioli was behind this move, because it goes against everything their management team believes in.

New England built its dynasty on chemistry. The Pats haven't had more talent than everyone else, but they've had a nice system and players happy to do what Bill Belichick wanted. They remind me of Bill Walsh's 49ers. New England thrives on discipline and all its players look better than they actually are because they stick to the system.

Now Belichick is really testing his ability to keep the system in place by taking talented players he could get a little cheaper because of character questions. Belichick seemed a bit distracted last season. He certainly wasn't on his A game in that debacle in Indy. He was playing not to lose when the Pats blew a 21-3 lead.

As I wrote earlier, I still think New England is the prohibitive favorite to win Super Bowl XLII. But Belichick is going to have to keep a tight ship in Foxboro. If chemistry problems emerge, I'd expect Belichick to simply cut players mid-season like he did with Doug Gabriel last season.

There's no question the Pats are the team to watch in 2007. Let me know if you think they're going to win it all.

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4/29/2007 11:26:00 AM

Getting Moss seems unfair

The Patriots appear to be on the verge of acquiring Randy Moss, a move that should solidify their status as the 2007 Super Bowl favorites.

New England is confident its culture of winning can help transform players with questionable characters into champions. The Pats did so with Corey Dillon a few years ago and they drafted the controversial Miami safety Brandon Meriweather in the first round of this draft.

This is a team that should have defeated Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game and would have easily beaten the Bears in the Super Bowl. The Patriots only needed a slight tweak to climb back to the top of the AFC. Instead, they went all out and brought in Moss, linebacker Adalius Thomas and receivers Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth. And they appear to be having another great draft.

The big question about Moss is whether he has lost a step and if he can accept a reduced role in New England's offense. The Pats love to spread the ball around, while Moss thinks he's open on every play. But coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, who reportedly pushed for the Moss trade, set the tone in that locker room and should be able to handle the controversial wide receiver.

Moss reportedly will restructure his contract, so this isn't a huge risk for the Patriots. I think it will be hard to label a bigger winner than New England this offseason. I feel bad for the Colts, who may have a short run as NFL champion. And I feel really bad for the Jets, who can't get a break in the AFC East.

Do you think this move makes the Pats the team to beat in the AFC?
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4/29/2007 10:10:00 AM

Eight intriguing second-day prospects

Several very productive rookies were selected in Rounds 4 through 7 last year, including Texans TE Owen Daniels, Saints OT Jahri Evans, Jets RB Leon Washington, DE Elvis Dumervil, Colts S Antoine Bethea and Saints WR Marques Colston.

Let's take a look at eight players who have a chance to be this year's second-day gems:

1. Antonio Pittman, RB, Ohio State: Pittman rushed for over 1,200 yards his last two seasons at Ohio State and ran a 4.4 40 at the combine. He should go very quickly on Sunday.

2. Brian Robison, DE/LB, Texas: Robison started off as a linebacker at Texas and then became a productive defensive lineman. He's extremely strong and should be a good role player in a 3-4 defense.

3. Ben Patrick, TE, Delaware: The best tight end still available on most draft boards, Patrick has good pass-catching skills and could make an immediate impact like Owen Daniels did with the Texans.

4. Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State: Teams seem to be concerned about Smith's height (6-0) and he has steadily fallen throughout the pre-draft process. He does have mobility and other short quarterbacks have thrived lately. Best-case scenario, he's similar to Drew Brees.

5. Zak DeOssie, LB, Brown: Several teams appear to be interested in the son of former NFL linebacker Steve DeOssie. Zak, at the very least, will contribute immediately on special teams. Expect him to go in the fourth round.

6. Tanard Jackson, CB, Syracuse: Jackson doesn't have burner speed, but he has nice size and decent cover skills, which are always coveted.

7. Antony Arline, CB, Baylor: Not a big name in college, Arline has great measurables -- he's 6-1 and runs a 4.4 40 -- and has shot up draft boards in recent weeks.

8. Brandon Siler, LB, Florida: Teams aren't quite sure if he's big enough to play inside or athletic enough to play outside. But he produced in college and should make a nice complementary player.

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