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Sunday, February 28, 2010
What's in Mosley's combine mailbag?

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- As promised, I'm about to deliver my annual combine mailbag, which will feature news and nuggets related to every team in the division. I've spent four days talking to draft prospects, coaches, agents and scouts. Now it's time for you guys to pick my brain. This shouldn't take long.

Casey from West Liberty, W.Va., is concerned about the Cowboys' WR situation: Please tell me that Dallas is considering other options at wide receiver aside from Roy Williams at this point. You've got to think that if you can get Anquan Boldin for a second rounder at this point you pull the trigger, don't you?

Mosley: So we're back around to Boldin trade scenarios? I'd missed those days so much. I think the Cowboys would be better off adding a wide receiver via the draft. It looks like second-year player Kevin Ogletree could develop into a No. 2 or 3 receiver if he's given enough attention. That's why I don't think the Cowboys need to select someone such as Golden Tate at No. 27 overall. Let's remember that Miles Austin and Ogletree were both undrafted. And Patrick Crayton has had a very nice career after being selected in the seventh round. There's no pressure to send a second-round pick to the Cardinals for Boldin. He wants to be a No. 1 receiver. That's not going to happen in Dallas, where Austin's quickly become the main man. And you also have the highest paid No. 2 receiver in the game in Williams.


Mike from Richmond, Va., has a question about the Skins' RBs situation: So I hear Thomas Jones is going to be released. Do you think this is someone the Redskins would be interested in? Everyone is saying how much Shanny likes LT. I would think Jones would still have more in the tank. Thoughts?

Mosley: Everyone who's saying that Mike Shanahan loves LaDainian Tomlinson is exactly right, Mike. I think the coach has immense respect for Tomlinson after being battered by the running back in the AFC West. As AFC West blogger Bill Williamson told me this past week, Shanahan always covets players who have stuck it to him in the past. That said, I think you're correct to say that Jones has more left in the tank. He's arrived at that magic age where his skills begin to decline, but he could still be effective as a complementary back. Would he be happy splitting carries with Clinton Portis in Washington? Well, he may not have a choice. Honestly, I think Chester Taylor might be a better fit than Jones in Washington.


Joseph from Bloomer, Wis., wants to talk about the Eagles' plans for free agency: Matt, what do you think the chances are that the Eagles make a big splash in free agency this offseason? Do they make a serious run for Julius Peppers? What about Darren Sproles? (I know there's more serious needs than RB, but he might fit in nicely.) Is there someone else on their radar that we're not hearing about? Do they go after someone big or do they stick with their usual M.O. and try to build through the draft? And how do you see the potential uncapped year affecting how the Eagles go about business? It seems like the majority of teams are going to do the opposite of what most initially expected and limit their spending as opposed to going all "NY Yankees" on the league. Thanks for the excellent offseason coverage!

Mosley: New general manager Howie Roseman opted not to speak with the media during the combine, so I can only go on what I'm hearing from other folks from the organization. I'd be surprised if the Eagles threw a bunch of money at Peppers. They know what it's like to sink a ton of money into an elite pass-rusher and basically come up empty. (See Jevon Kearse). There's a concern from people who've been around Peppers that he doesn't truly love the game. Something tells me that Andy Reid and president Joe Banner, the true power brokers, aren't looking to get into business with a guy like Peppers. I think it's more likely the Eagles will look for a pass-rusher in the draft. But I'd try to find a starting safety via a trade or free agency. It's a lot to ask of a rookie to step in and start at safety. Just ask Macho Harris about that. Even if you select someone like Taylor Mays or Nate Allen, it's not like you feel great at the position immediately. As long as you don't have to spend wildly, I'd go after someone like Darren Sharper from the Saints. He's getting older, but he's still a highly productive player. I've read the stuff about how Tracy Porter was the key to that secondary, but you'd be crazy to think the Saints would've made it to the Super Bowl without Sharper.


Erik from Long Island, N.Y., wonders which direction the Giants will go in the draft: Hey Matt, just curious, as a concerned Giants fan, what you're thinking about the Giants' draft focus this year. Certainly the secondary and defense need holes plugged, but what positions (and players) specifically do you think the G-men will go after? And who might they take with their first pick?Is it possible that LB Rolando McClain could still be in the mix when the Giants get to pick at 15th overall?

Mosley: I guess there's a slight chance, but my gut (and scouts) tell me that McClain's success at Alabama won't allow him to slip to No. 15 in the draft. McClain's intelligence level and ability to diagnose things on the fly is off the charts. He was an extension of head coach Nick Saban and he'll go down as one of the best defensive players in the history of the school. It's far more likely the Giants will have a shot at inside linebacker Brandon Spikes out of Florida. He's a guy who reminds me a little bit of the Cowboys' Bradie James. Sort of a high-hipped player, as they say. He has excellent instincts, but he doesn't always accelerate to the ball as quickly as you'd like to say. That said, I think the Giants would be pretty happy to have Spikes at No. 15. They certainly need help at safety, too, but I don't think you "reach" for a guy that early. Of course, you could always trade down if some team is yearning to move up the board.


Dan from Lakewood, Colo., has a Mike Shanahan question/statement: Mike's a good coach. But he won those two Super Bowls with Hall of Fame players. When they left, he won one playoff game. Does he really know QBs or was John Elway already in his prime when he got here? He know X's and O's better than most. He can't draft or trade to save his rear! He brought in some dogs to the Broncos the last few years. Washington needed someone with his resume. They just don't have a QB that puts fear in the defenses. Bronco Fan since 1963.

Mosley: I don't think that's really fair to knock Shanahan for winning with "Hall of Fame" players. I don't think anyone thought Terrell Davis was headed for the Hall of Fame when he was selected in the sixth round out of Georgia in 1995. That decision had a huge impact on Elway breaking through to win a couple of Super Bowls. Do you think Elway wins those Super Bowls if Pat Bowlen retains Wade Phillips?

Now, it's fair to criticize Shanahan for some of his decisions on the personnel side. He allowed the defense to become a mess his last couple of seasons. Perhaps general manager Bruce Allen will serve as a better sounding board for Shanahan leading up to the draft. You could certainly argue that Shanahan had too much power in Denver. He'll have similar authority with the Redskins, but Allen's no shrinking violet. He'll have plenty of say before Shanahan makes a decision.


Mike from somewhere in Maryland wonders if the Redskins could shop one of their tight ends: As it stands right now, the Redskins have a lot of needs on the offensive line, they have holes in the defense as well and it looks like they might lean toward a QB in the first round. However, they have two TEs who could be considered very good, Chris Cooley a Pro Bowler and Fred Davis, who looks to be heading for that level. I notice there are many teams that have a big need at TE, including the Patriots. Do you see the Redskins trying to shop one of their TEs to pick up extra draft picks? Also, what do you think each would be worth in terms of a straight trade for picks?

Mosley: Mike, I think Shanahan wants to play to the roster's strengths, so I'm not sure why he'd want to trade one his talented tight ends. Teams such as the Colts have shown how two tight ends can be pretty effective. I know the Cowboys were thrilled to have Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett -- before Bennett wandered off somewhere (figuratively) during the season. Davis can become a much better blocker and Cooley can continue to be a playmaker in the middle of the field and in the red zone. Of all the moves the Redskins need to make, I think trading a tight end ranks pretty far down the list. But keep reading the NFC East blog in case I change my mind.


Ryan P. from Pickerington, Ohio, is concerned about a certain Randy Moss rumor: Hello Matt! I read your blog just about every day and had a question. Is there any truth to the rumor that the Cowboys are in talks with the Patriots about a trade for Randy Moss? As a Dallas fan, I couldn't imagine having Moss opposite Miles Austin. If this is something that could happen, who would the Cowboys be giving up for this to happen? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

Mosley: Jerry Jones thought long and hard about drafting Randy Moss 13 years ago, Ryan. I think he already has a No. 1 wide receiver Austin and he's paying another guy, Williams, No. 1 money. So I think this is nothing more than a rumor. No one from the organization that I've spoken with has given this rumor any thought -- other than being amused by it.


Brian from Durham, N.C., has a question about Giants general manager Jerry Reese: Mr. Mosley, I faithfully follow the Beast blog for all of my New York Giants information. I was excited to see that you were able to line up an interview with Jerry Reese this weekend. Reese has shown no hesitation for selecting players from non-traditional football programs the past couple of years. Does Reese prefer to see a player that he likes from a small school not invited to the combine? How does the risk of not seeing a player perform at the combine weigh against relying solely on film scouting?

Mosley: Brian, thanks for embracing the blog. It's really hard to "hide" a player in this day and age. Even with a guy like wide receiver Ramses Barden out of Cal Poly, it's not like the Giants were the only team that knew about his immense potential. Every now and then, you might be able to take advantage of a kid not getting invited to the combine. As Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News wrote Sunday, sometimes the league just makes an error in judgment and doesn't invite incredibly productive college players such as Bowling Green wide receiver Freddie Barnes and Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek, who was a two-time All-Big 12 selection, to the combine. But Reese knows not to get too cute early in the draft. That can get a general manager in trouble. Makes sure you're taking Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks early in the draft. Then go looking for the Bardens of the world.

Thanks for reading.