NFC East: Mike Iupati

Cowboys done with OL rebuild

May, 14, 2014
May 14
IRVING, Texas -- Pam Martin asked her son to do some research on the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line, so the team’s first-round pick dutifully did what his mother told him.

Zack Martin quickly realized he was older than Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, the other two first-round picks Martin will join on the line in 2014. Smith, the 2011 first rounder, was born Dec. 12, 1990. Frederick, the 2013 first rounder, was born march 18, 1991.

Martin was born Nov. 20, 1990.

[+] EnlargeZack Martin
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsNotre Dame's Zack Martin is the latest first-round pick Dallas has added to its young offensive line.
“That’s a little weird,” Martin said.

Weird and potentially terrific for the Cowboys. Before Smith, Jerry Jones never used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman. Tom Landry, Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt also kept their distance from the offensive line. Before Smith, Howard Richards was the most recent first-round offensive lineman, coming in 1981 with the 26th overall pick.

Now the Cowboys are like the San Francisco 49ers with three first-round starters on the offensive line. In 2007, the Niners took Joe Staley. In 2010, they added Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis.

“We believe games in the National Football League are won up front,” coach Jason Garrett said. “If you look at the best teams in the league now and for a lot of years, they are able to control the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball. We did that for years here when we won championships here in the ‘90s. You need to build the infrastructure of your team.”


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San Francisco went 6-10 in 2010, but has gone 36-11-1 in the past three seasons. They have played in three straight NFC Championship Games, making it to the Super Bowl in 2012.

“We’ve been pretty lucky getting (Andre) Gurode, getting the Flozell Adamses and Larry Allens (in the second round), but those days are over apparently,” Jones said. “So we want to get some of that quality in the future offensive line. These guys are long-term players that are good, and all of that is about franchise.”

The Cowboys have an offensive line that can grow together.

Smith made his first Pro Bowl last season and is the best young tackle in the NFL. Frederick started every game as a rookie and cemented the interior of the Cowboys’ line. Martin will be a Day 1 starter and was considered the safest pick in the draft.

Right tackle Doug Free is the oldest up front and is just 30. Ronald Leary recently turned 25. Mackenzy Bernadeau, who could still compete for a starting job, is just 28.

Having Smith, Frederick and Martin grow together should make everyone associated with the Cowboys’ offense happier, from Garrett to passing game coordinator Scott Linehan to assistant head coach Bill Callahan to quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray.

The selection of Martin ends the rebuilding of an offensive line that started in 2011 when the Cowboys parted ways with Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo. A year later they said goodbye to Kyle Kosier.

It took time.

In 2011, the Cowboys started a seventh-round pick, Bill Nagy, at left guard and a second-year undrafted center in Phil Costa. When Nagy got hurt, they looked to journeymen Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery.

Smith played as a rookie at right tackle and needed 2012 to be seasoned as a left tackle. Nate Livings was signed as a free agent in 2012, but injuries led the team away from him last season. Bernadeau’s play improved last year after he re-took the right guard spot following Brian Waters' season-ending triceps’ injury.

“We are going to be a better offensive line, a better offense, and we will probably play better defense the better we play on the offensive line,” Garrett said. “We will be able to run the ball better and control the football a little more.”

Stephen Bowen, Darrel Young out

November, 25, 2013
LANDOVER, Md. -- The Washington Redskins will try to snap a two-game losing streak without three starters, one of whom they already knew wouldn't play. But in addition to tight end Jordan Reed, the Redskins will be without starting defensive end Stephen Bowen and fullback Darrel Young because of injuries. Also, ESPN980 reported that Santana Moss would handle punt-return duties Monday night.

Bowen was not rushing as well as he has in previous seasons, but his play against the run has been solid. He re-injured his right knee last week against Philadelphia and did not practice all week. Chris Baker will replace him in the starting lineup. Though Baker can be disruptive at times, he also has a tendency to play undisciplined and leave gaps in the defense. Still, he can occasionally make plays in the backfield.

The Redskins don't have a backup fullback, but their tight ends are familiar with the position enough that they can fill in. Indeed, tight end Niles Paul will play fullback for Young. They'll also use tight end Fred Davis for the first time since an Oct. 13 game at Dallas. Davis, a pending free agent, is not as athletic as Reed but has been aching for another chance since losing his starting job earlier this season. The Redskins didn't sour on Davis as much as they liked others for what they needed, including Logan Paulsen as a blocker. But this will be a good chance for Davis to prove what he can still do.

As for Moss, he'll apparently take over for Nick Williams after a rough debut a week ago. Moss at least gives the Redskins an experienced returner, something they have not had all season in Josh Morgan and then Williams. It's surprising it took this long for them to go with Moss, but they've wanted to save him for slot duty and not wear out the 34-year-old.

San Francisco will be without starting guard Mike Iupati and starting defensive lineman Ray McDonald. Iupati does a good job pulling for the 49ers and will be replaced by Adam Snyder. Demarcus Dobbs will replace McDonald on the left side. They already were down starting corner Tarell Brown, who will be replaced by Tramaine Brock.

Cowboys put draft board on display

May, 11, 2010
Update: It's come to my attention that Blogging The Boys (via Theebs from CowboysZone) had the Cowboys' draft photo well before the Miami Herald (via the comments section). I took some vacation after the draft and did not read about the draft-board snafu until today. My apologies to the good folks at Blogging The Boys blog and it was not my intention to slight you in any way. Here's all the legwork they did.

Original post: One of the helpful things Cowboys owner Jerry Jones does other than making colorful statements about his buddy Bill Parcells into hidden cell phone cameras is sharing his NFL draft board with the American public every other year or so. This year, Armando Salguero from the Miami Herald secured an image from the Cowboys' draft room. Salguero's a fine reporter, but he admittedly had a pretty easy scoop on his hands this time around.

A reader in Iowa sent him an image of Jerry Jones standing in front of the sacred board that had mistakenly been published on the Cowboys' website for a few moments. The picture was from Saturday, April 24, which was the third day of the draft. So what did we learn?

The Cowboys had Dez Bryant listed at No. 11 on the board before trading up to select him at No. 24. I'm told by scouts that players are often given the same first-round grade, so the player listed at No. 10 on the Cowboys' board, guard Mike Iupati, could have actually been tied with Bryant. In fact, I believe that running back C.J. Spiller, Iupati and Bryant essentially had the same grades in the 9-11 spots.

The board also backs up Jones' claim that the Cowboys gave Penn State linebacker Sean Lee a first-round grade. He showed up at No. 14 in the image that was mistakenly supplied by the club's in-house TV department, which may or may not still exist. The Cowboys were able to land Lee at No. 55.

I know the Cowboys were in love with Texas safety Earl Thomas (No. 12 on their board), but the price to move up the board was too steep. If the Cowboys had remained at No. 27, I think Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick would've been the pick. He appears at No. 15 on the Cowboys' board.

The Cowboys were also interested in left tackle Bryan Bulaga of Iowa, but he went off the board one pick before they selected Bryant with the 24th overall pick. Next year, we're hoping the Cowboys will release a photo of their board a couple days in advance of the draft. It would really be helpful in the mock draft community.

Bryant pick speaks volumes for Cowboys

April, 23, 2010
Dez BryantTom Hauck/Getty ImagesFor Jerry Jones, Dez Bryant was just too valuable to pass up with the No. 24 pick.
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones refused to acknowledge that he's given up on Roy Williams, but his actions in Thursday's first prime-time draft pretty much confirmed that theory. Even after moving up three spots in the first round to take the top wide receiver in the draft, Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant, Jones insisted that Williams would be the starter in 2010.

I'd give that until at least Week 2 of the season. The Cowboys had more pressing needs on their roster than wide receiver, but in the end, Bryant's value at No. 24 was too much to ignore. Jones claimed that Bryant was one of the top-10 players on the Cowboys' board -- and I believe him because I've talked to other scouts around the league. The wide receiver dropped into the 20s because he had considerable baggage, not the least of which is he's using the same advisers who helped guide Michael Crabtree into a holdout last fall.

And there's this little thing about Bryant being habitually late to meetings. In scouting parlance, Bryant had some "life skills" issues. That's why Bryant would've been too much of a risk in the top 10, but Jones was comfortable taking him at No. 24. Jones joked that a fellow Arkansas native who ended up in the Oval Office also had an issue with punctuality.

“It’s no concern,” said Bryant. “I felt like all those things happened my freshman year, and I looked up to the older guys and I matured from them and I matured from my coaches. My sophomore year, my junior year, I felt like those years went well. And from there, things were just great.”

Jones and coach Wade Phillips danced around a barrage of Williams-related questions. Reporters wanted to know if they'd reached out to the receiver to offer reassurance. Phillips said he had a team meeting this week to tell all his players not to be concerned about the players selected in the draft. I'm not sure that will do the trick.

Jones had spent the offseason saying it would be highly unlikely for the Cowboys to draft a wide receiver in the first round, so you knew there was at least a chance. He admitted Thursday that his top targets in the first round were Texas safety Earl Thomas, Idaho guard Mike Iupati and Bryant. Thomas and Iupati were off the board by No. 17, but Bryant continued to fall. When Denver moved up to No. 22, Jones started to feel uneasy. The Broncos took Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, but Jones said he was already "twitchy" at that point.

[+] EnlargeRoy Williams
Al Bello/Getty ImagesDallas insists Roy Williams will be the starter in 2010.
The Packers took Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga and then Jones knew it was time to make his move. He knew the Ravens were likely to take Bryant at No. 25, so he traded first-round picks with the Patriots at No. 24 and sent them a third-round pick (No. 90 overall). The Cowboys also received a fourth-round pick in return (119).

The Cowboys certainly needed depth along the offensive line or a safety a lot more than a wide receiver, but they think Bryant is a rare talent.

“We saw it coming, so we didn’t have to hesitate or be apprehensive about it,” said Jones. “We felt pretty strongly that we should go on in there and get him when we did.”

A lot of people will write that Jones went after Bryant because of his regret over not taking Randy Moss in the first round 12 years ago. Jones said too much was being made of that angle. And it’s not fair to compare Bryant to Moss, who had a criminal record when he entered the league. From the start of the scouting process, I was told that Bryant was essentially a good kid. Of course, it didn’t help his cause that he lied to the NCAA about a meeting with former Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders last summer and had to miss most of his junior season at Oklahoma State.

Jones made it clear he wouldn’t devote “extra resources” to monitoring Bryant when he’s away from the building. He was very clear that he expected Bryant to show up on time, pointing out that practices wouldn’t be planned around the wide receiver.

For Williams, Thursday was yet another setback. There’s no way he can feel good about his future with the club despite the $13 million in guaranteed money coming his way in 2010.

The bottom line is that the Cowboys would not have taken Bryant if Williams had come anywhere close to meeting expectations. On Thursday night, the Cowboys began planning for life without him.

Remember these names in the Beast

April, 22, 2010
OK, we're about 45 minutes away from the first pick of the NFL Draft. I'll make a few observations and predictions involving the Beast:

  • I think all the talk about the Washington Redskins being on the phone with the St. Louis Rams about the No. 1 pick was a smokescreen. But there may be something to this Eric Berry talk. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett covets Berry's playmaking ability and his biggest emphasis is to increase the Skins' takeaways in 2010. But as of right now, I still think Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams is the pick. If you talk to any scouts they'll tell you the draft begins with the No. 4 pick. We'll be writing about it in an hour or so.
  • Some folks think the New York Giants will trade up to No. 11 to select Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain. That doesn't sound like Giants general manager Jerry Reese to me at all. If Rich Seubert.
  • I'm about to listen to Vinny Cerrato analyze the Redskins' first pick on ESPN Radio. This should be priceless. He's on with John Clayton and Freddie Coleman as we speak. Clayton just said that Cleveland made one last run at the Rams' No. 1 pick this afternoon. Interesting.
  • OK, I'm hearing a ton of things on the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of folks have them doing whatever it takes to trade up for Dez Bryant. Well, they're not willing to do whatever it takes from what I'm hearing. If Bryant falls all the way to No. 27, Jerry Jones will be there to take him. Anything short of that, I don't think the Cowboys make a move. If Bryant makes it to No. 25, the Ravens will take him. I feel pretty strongly about that. If the Cowboys stay at No. 27, look for them to take Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick. He can play nose tackle and defensive end in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme. But it's more likely the Cowboys bail out on the pick and try to take South Florida safety Nate Allen early in the second. Also keep your eye on defensive end Tyson Alualu. The Cowboys love him, but they won't take him at No. 27. I think Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty is also a good name at No. 27.
  • Our guy John Clayton just said on ESPN Radio that the Redskins could trade Albert Haynesworth "in the next 10 minutes." I think he just meant that it could happen in a hurry. Cerrato thinks the first trade could occur when Jacksonville tries to trade out of the No. 10 spot.
  • ESPN's Sal Paolantonio has told us that Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has been wanting to move into the top 15. And while I'm sure Roseman's made a lot of calls, I don't see Andy Reid wanting to move that far to take someone like Earl Thomas out of Texas. I've seen Thomas play a lot in person. Great player, but he's not special enough to move up 10 or 11 spots. If Florida guard/center Maurkice Pouncey slips to No. 24, the Eagles would have to think about taking him. I also think Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson's a name to keep in mind. If Haden goes early, though, Wilson will be long gone before the Eagles pick.
PHILADELPHIA -- With the Eagles ranking 19th in the league in points allowed in 2009 -- their lowest ranking of the Andy Reid era -- the natural assumption is that Philadelphia's primary target is defense, especially in the early rounds of the draft.

But if they are unsuccessful in pulling off a trade up from the 24th pick in the first round, new general manager Howie Roseman could shift his focus to the interior of the offensive line, where starting center Jamaal Jackson is still rehabbing his surgically repaired knee and will not be ready for the Sept. 12 opener at Lincoln Financial Field against the Green Bay Packers. Roseman said Jackson's return is "fluid" right now -- not a good sign.

Backup Nick Cole started the final two games against the Cowboys and did not hold up well against Jay Ratliff and the rest of the Cowboys' D-Line. After Cole, the pickings are slim.

So, if the Eagles can't move from No. 24 spot in the first round, there could be two options available: Florida center Maurkice Pouncey, who is represented by Michael Vick's agent, Joel Segal, or, Mike Iupati, a guard from Idaho. He is a mauler who impressed Eagles coaches in a series of personal interviews and workouts.

Sal Paolantonio, who covers the NFL for ESPN, is the author of “How Football Explains America” (Triumph Books: Chicago).

Anyone remember the Giants?

April, 15, 2010
Tom Coughlin Jerry ReeseAP Photo/Bill KostrounUnlike their NFC East counterparts, Giants GM Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin have not made any splashy moves this offseason.
I was just thinking about the good ol' days of the '07 offseason, when Jeremy Shockey was shouting at new general manager Jerry Reese and Michael Strahan was threatening to retire to a life of football analysis and sitcom appearances. Three years later, the Giants have become the shrinking violet of the Beast compared to their counterparts.

It's gotten to the point where it's nearly impossible to get co-owner John Mara to say anything to a secretly placed cellphone camera. And while the Eagles and Redskins pulled off the trade of the past two decades (at least), the Giants have signed a couple of safeties and quickly put the kibosh on Osi Umenyiora's brief retirement threats.

"We're flying under the radar," a high-ranking club official told me Thursday afternoon. "And that's exactly how we like it."

Other than a mild coin flip controversy, not even New Meadowlands Stadium is getting any burn. Like it or not, the Jets have surpassed the Giants in terms of compelling storylines -- and for the time being -- in the overall NFL hierarchy. If we conducted a pre-draft power rankings report, which I'm sure will happen any minute now, the Giants would likely be in the middle of the pack. And there are those among us (John Clayton) who think the Redskins leapfrogged both the Giants and Eagles with their bold trade for Donovan McNabb.

So where's the panic? When will Reese pull the trigger on an intra-division trade? At least sign former Cowboys Pro Bowler Flozell Adams to be your left tackle. It would be intriguing to watch Adams and the man he tripped on national television, Justin Tuck, bond as teammates. But apparently the Giants are embracing their relative anonymity in relation to their NFC East foes.

I'm even told that Tom Coughlin has suspended his motivational T-shirt operation. In the past, he's introduced us to XXLs with catchy messages such as "Talk Is Cheap" and "Our QB Is Less Interesting Than Yours." Coughlin is now going with a simple "It's about the team" message during interviews and family meals.

The biggest offseason story outside of Umenyiora's bellyaching is the arrival of new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, formerly of the Bills. No one has been really clear on what changes Fewell will make, but he's apparently much more aggressive than his predecessor, Bill Sheridan. In two separate conversations this offseason, Reese has told me how utterly disappointed he was in the team's safety play. And that's why the Giants aren't waiting around to see if Kenny Phillips makes a full recovery from microfracture surgery. Reese made Antrel Rolle the wealthiest safety in the league early in free agency and he later signed journeyman Deon Grant, whose best trait is that he rarely misses games due to injury.

Now that we're a week away from the draft, everyone pretty much assumes the Giants will select a linebacker No. 15 overall. In a perfect world, Reese would select Rolando McClain and mock drafters across the nation would be very supportive. But I think McClain's way too good of a player to last until No. 15, so the Giants will have to be ready for Plan B. I'm pretty sure they have one.

[+] EnlargeJoe Haden
Jeremy Brevard/Icon SMIIf Florida cornerback Joe Haden lasts until the No. 15 pick, the Giants will have an interesting decision to make.
"I think we could improve our team at every position probably; so not just linebacker, any other position," said Reese, who tried desperately not to say anything Thursday afternoon during a pre-draft news conference -- and succeeded . "We are looking for seven good players who can give us depth or maybe be a starter at any position -- not necessarily linebacker."

In an upcoming mock draft that I was asked to participate in, Idaho guard Mike Iupati will go to the Giants at No. 15. Iupati would immediately replace Rich Seubert at left guard, and David Diehl could stay at left tackle. Of course, everyone thinks the Giants will take a defensive player, so this won't be a popular prediction. If Florida cornerback Joe Haden somehow slips to No. 15, I think Reese would have an interesting decision to make. And I almost think he'd have to take him despite the Giants' depth at that position. Actually, Reese addressed this very topic.

"Back when we drafted [Mathias] Kiwanuka we had [Michael] Strahan, we had [Justin] Tuck, and we had Osi," said Reese. "But he was the best guy on the board right there at that time. There was no way we were going to pass him up. So it doesn’t preclude us from drafting even if we have depth at a position; if he is the best guy up there, it is going to be hard for us to pass him up."

So basically we spend two or three months discussing a certain player such as McClain, and then the Giants don't have an opportunity to draft him. Reese was very up front about the fact that he hates picking this early in the draft. It's a sign of what type season the Giants had.

But don't expect the Giants to miss on the pick. They've connected late in the first round in the past (Hakeem Nicks, Phillips), and now the odds get even better. The Giants continue to fly under the radar. And that may just be a position of strength.

Thursday Beastlines: Barber on the block?

April, 8, 2010
Let's take a quick look at the top storylines from across the division:





The Kiper/McShay mock shocks, amazes

April, 7, 2010
I've spent the afternoon studying mock drafts from some of my favorite experts. And as luck would have it, Mel Kiper and my older cousin Todd McShay Insider delivered their fourth joint mock draft. Most of this information is reserved for our Insiders, but I've pirated a few of the NFC East picks.

Both Kiper and McShay have the Washington Redskins taking Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung, which makes a lot of sense. Here's an excerpt from what Kiper wrote about Okung:

"Okung may not have the extraordinary upside of a guy like Anthony Davis, but he's the most complete left tackle available, and is a low-risk pick for a team that can't afford to miss."

In one of the most interesting picks in the joint mock, McShay selects Idaho guard Mike Iupati for theNew York Giants. I think Iupati could be a force at left guard for years to come, but linebacker is a bigger need at this point.

The Philadelphia Eagles will select Alabama cornerback Kareem Jackson at No. 24, according to Kiper. He thinks the Eagles could wait until No. 37 to draft a safety. And Kiper even thinks Nate Allen of South Florida might be available. But knowing how much the Cowboys like Allen, I'm not sure he'll be around that late.

McShay has the Dallas Cowboys taking USC safety Taylor Mays at No. 27. And Mays would certainly be tempting at that spot. The biggest problem is that Mays is getting compared to former Cowboys safety Roy Williams. And we all know how his time in Dallas ended. I think Jerry Jones is hoping that Mays is already off the board before the Cowboys pick.

McShay says that Mays has "better closing burst and range" than either Ken Hamlin or Williams. From what I'm hearing, the Cowboys are pretty high on USC left tackle Charles Brown. If he falls to No. 27, don't be surprised to see the Cowboys take him.

Who put the 'I' in Iupati?

February, 25, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- The breakout player from Senior Bowl week was none other than Idaho guard Mike Iupati (U-pot-ee). And on Thursday, the enormous player (330) made an appearance at Lucas Oil Field to talk with reporters. I'm told that Iupati's weigh-in at the Senior Bowl caused a huge buzz in the room. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and son Stephen were seen craning their necks for a closer look at Iupati, according to eyewitnesses.

When Iupati's appearance was announced Thursday, reporters literally jogged over to the podium, which is saying something for this out-of-shape crowd. Iupati told the story of how his parents gave up good jobs in American Samoa when he was 14 in order to move to the United States. He said his family lived in his aunt's garage at one point because money was so tight. Now, Iupati stands to become a very wealthy young man.

The one negative thing that happened in Mobile, Ala., is that Iupati was caught holding several times during the actual game. He was asked about that Thursday.

"That's not me," he said. "I'm good at using a short punch and for some reason, I changed my game that day. I didn't want to get beat. But I have a very physical punch, so I'm not worried about repeating that mistake."

I believe the guy. We talked to a lot of offensive linemen today, but Iupati may have had the most impressive presence. He pretty much took over the entire podium, which explains why Jones and son were so interested in that weigh-in.

What's in Mosley's Mailbag?

February, 1, 2010
I know that many of you are fired up following the NFC East's dominant performance in the Pro Bowl on Sunday, so let's get right to your questions.

Zach R. from Fayetteville, Ark., wants to spice up the Pro Bowl: Basically my idea is that we scrap the whole NFC vs. AFC and have true all-star teams. After all the Pro Bowlers are selected, the two coaching staffs that are in place for the game get to basically have a draft to determine the teams that will play in the event. It would give the fans a chance to see mixtures of players never thought possible! How awesome would it be if Tony Romo was throwing bombs to Andre Johnson or Peyton Manning handing it off to Adrian Peterson? And the fact that the mixture of players on each team would change each year would make each year's Pro Bowl unique. I just thought I would throw the idea out there and see what you think.

Mosley: Zach, thanks for putting so much thought into salvaging the worst of the four "major" all-star games. I would vote to scrap the entire concept of a Pro Bowl. There's at least some interest in the baseball and basketball all-star games because they happen during the regular season. By the time the Pro Bowl arrives each season, we don't really have much of an appetite for an all-star game (yes, I know the ratings were good for us). And moving the game to the weekend before the Super Bowl only seemed to encourage more cancellations from players. I sort of like your suggestion about mixing up AFC and NFC players, though. It would certainly spice things up to have the coaches from both sides participate in a draft. It would also give us another announcement show for TV.

Glenn from Hanover, Pa., has a question about Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick: Matt, what do you think of the probabilty of the following scenario in Philly: Eagles trade McNabb and Vick this year for draft picks. Kevin Kolb is the starter in 2010 and Jeff Garcia is brought in to be the veteran backup. That's the plan that makes the most sense to me. And a little known stat: Kolb is the only QB in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards in his first two NFL starts. He can move the offense and I believe he is more of a typical West Coast QB than McNabb .

Mosley: I think there's a better chance of the Eagles moving Vick than McNabb at this point. They don't want to pay Vick $5 million in 2010 to be a Wildcat quarterback. If the Eagles can land a third or fourth-rounder for Vick, they'd have to feel pretty good about things. If no one wants to trade for Vick, then you have a decision to make. I think the Eagles will demand a first-rounder for McNabb. So will they eventually settle for a second-round pick from either the Cardinals or the Favre-less Vikings? That remains to be seen. At this point, I think there's a 70 percent chance McNabb plays quarterback for the Eagles in 2010.

Champ from D.C. also has a McNabb question: Mosley, respect your work very much, so just one important question. You often indicate that you see Mcnabb somewhere other than Philly in 2010. I don't know about you but this makes no sense for one completely obvious reason. Who is going to replace him? Kevin Kolb threw six interceptions in two games. Meanwhile, Mcnabb is top three all-time in touchdown-to-INT ratio. There aren't any better options on the market. With all the pieces in place (on the offensive side, anyway), why do you think Andy Reid would do something stupid like let Mcnabb walk away? You can't leave the most important position on a team to an unkown during a time like this. Bottom line: Mcnabb is the best option we have, and letting him walk away now (he sitll has a few years in him) isn't the Eagles style. They'll wait 'til his play declines to not renew his contract and let him walk away (see also: Dawkins, Brian/Douglas, Hugh/Trotter, Jeremiah/Sheppard, Lito).

Mosley: First off, Kolb threw only three interceptions in his two starts in '09 and they all came in one game against the Saints. He actually put up solid numbers in a loss to the Saints and a win over the Chiefs. That's not enough to make the Eagles think that Kolb could take over and basically pick up where McNabb left off, but it's certainly a positive sign. And it's not like the Eagles are simply going to let McNabb "walk away." They'll only trade him if they can find a team willing to send them a high draft pick. Both McNabb and Kolb are entering the final year of their contracts. You don't want McNabb as a lame-duck quarterback. It just doesn't make sense. That's why it wouldn't completely surprise me if the Eagles ended up dealing him.

Dave from somwhere in Texas has a Redskins question: Matt, you have been vocal about the Redskins' Jason Campbell needing a change of scenery. How about Campbell going to the Cardinals for Matt Leinart? Jason is a pretty good pocket passer and Leinart is a better quarterback in play action, making him a good fit with Shanahan.

Mosley: I don't think that would be a wise move by the Redskins. Campbell put up decent numbers during a season in which the Skins may have had the worst offensive line in the league. Leinart's failed to live up to his first-round pedigree and I wouldn't give up a proven player such as Campbell for a guy who hasn't accomplished anything in the league. Let's remember that it was Leinart being a bust that cleared the way for Warner to cement his future Hall of Fame status. (And yes, I think he'll eventually get in the HOF, although not on the first ballot.)

Jason from Bryn Mawr, Pa., is concerned about Asante Samuel: Matt, although I thought Brian Baldinger was horrible as an in-game analyst, he does a very nice job breaking down game film and presenting his findings on weekly radio shows. I heard him on with Ray Didinger last week discussing the Eagles defensive woes. Surprisingly, he mentioned that the Eagles will need to take action with Asante Samuel, because he plays the game to suit his own purposes and not the teams. Very interesting. There is no doubt Samuels is a top cornerback in the league, but Baldinger's point was that when you watch the film of all the games, Samuel constantly puts the team in bad situations due to his route jumping to pad his INTs. Sure, he may have nine INTs, but he makes 30 to 40 plays that hurt the team.

Mosley: Jason, I think it's a fair point by Baldinger. And you saw Samuel try to jump a route in last night's Pro Bowl game and get beat on a deep ball. His knack for reading the quarterback is a pretty remarkable but his reluctance to make tackles is what frustrates a lot of Eagles fans. You saw him early in the Pro Bowl game allow some nice gains on the screen because he wanted no part of the tackle. Just a very soft player when it comes to making tackles. But when you make nine interceptions, you have a little more leeway in the toughness category. I do think the Eagles would be wise to draft another cornerback in the first round. With Sheldon Brown staggered by injuries and Samuel's refusal to tackle, you have plenty of room for improvement. I would argue that drafting a cornerback is more important than selecting a safety for the Eagles.

Anton from Montreal has a question about Flozell Adams: Hey Matt, do you think Flozell Adams, because of his strengh, could move over to the right side and let Doug Free, who is more of a finesse player, play on the left side of the o-line? I was very frustrated with colombo this season and thought Free and Adams both outplayed him.

Mosley: I don't see that happening, Anton. Adams has played left tackle for many years now, so he'd be reluctant to make the switch. And Colombo was playing pretty well before his leg injury knocked him out for seven games. I think he'll come back strong in 2010, so there's really no need to move Adams to the right side.

Matt from Charlotte, N.C., wants to discuss the draft from a Giants perspective: Love the blog, Matt. Thank you for making my workday that much less productive. Kiper had the Giants going with Carlos Dunlap with the No. 15 pick in his first mock draft. I know a lot will change by the time of the draft but am I the only one that thinks this is crazy? The Giants have a glaring need at ILB and Safety, and I could see them going OL or DT if there are any studs out there but DE? Kiwi was unhappy this year being a backup and rightfully so as he'd be a starter on most teams. I understand it was a bad pass rush this year but with two former Pro Bowlers and Kiwi, why would the Giants even consider a DE in the first three rounds?

Mosley: Matt, thanks for making us a part of your non-productivity. I don't think you can ever have enough pressure players, so I wouldn't have any problem with the Giants taking Dunlap at No. 15. But I think it's more likely that the Giants will take someone such as safety Taylor Mays. He's a big guy (6-3, 230) who has the chance to be an intimidating player. I'm told that Mays didn't have a great week at the Senior Bowl, but teams loved the fact that he showed up to compete. The Giants aren't going to start drafting based on need because it doesn't go along with their philosophy. But if the best player on the board happens to match up with their biggest need, there you go. I think Mays is a player they really like. But I also think offensive lineman Mike Iupati out of Idaho is someone who intrigues general manager Jerry Reese.

Beast scores heavily at Senior Bowl ('05-'09)

January, 28, 2010
One of the first things you learn when covering the Senior Bowl from 642 miles away is to always have a phone number handy for ESPN Stats & Information guru Alok Pattani. On Wednesday morning, I commissioned a study on how many players drafted by NFC East teams over the past five years participated in the Senior Bowl.

The numbers have obviously dipped in recent years because of all of the underclassmen coming out, but the Senior Bowl is still an important part of the evaluation process -- especially for the Philadelphia Eagles. Here's the breakdown from 2005-09:

In 2005, the first six players selected by NFC East teams were all on Senior Bowl rosters. In 2009, only three of the first 11 players picked by NFC East teams participated in Senior Bowl week. As we've already stated, this probably has a lot to do with the spike in underclassmen entering the draft. These players are not eligible for the "Senior" Bowl. We're also seeing some of the big-time seniors sit out the Senior Bowl because they feel like there's more to lose than to gain. That's why I admire a player like USC safety Taylor Mays showing up and competing in Mobile, Ala., this week.

For a somewhat unheralded player such as Idaho offensive lineman Mike Iupati, the Senior Bowl can provide a rare opportunity to compete against athletes from larger schools. Iupati has had a breakout week and some draft experts, including our own Todd McShay, think he could go in the first round.

Over the past five seasons, nine of the 17 first-round picks in the NFC East were on the Senior Bowl roster. That list includes DeMarcus Ware, Jason Campbell, Brodrick Bunkley, Mathias Kiwanuka and Anthony Spencer. Over the past few years, the Eagles have been pretty shrewd when it comes to identifying and tracking players who participated in the Senior Bowl:

Here's a great Excel spreadsheet if you're interested in finding out which players from the NFC East have participated in the Senior Bowl over the past five years. In 2009, the Giants selected linebacker Clint Sintim (Virginia) and offensive tackle Will Beatty (Connecticut) in the second round and Ramses Barden (Cal Poly) in the third. All three players participated in the Senior Bowl. And at least two of the players -- Beatty and Sintim -- could be starting in 2010.

Skins arrive at the Senior Bowl

January, 26, 2010
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and his staff have arrived in Mobile, Ala., where they are paying particular attention to the offensive linemen on the South and North teams. Rick Maese of the Washington Post is on the ground and he reports that Idaho guard Mike Iupati and UMass offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse have had strong showings.

For now, Scott Campbell is still the Skins' director of player personnel. Scouting changes normally don't occur until after the April draft. In time, this scouting department will look very much like the one Shanahan had in Denver. Broncos fans might chuckle at that, but it will certainly be an improvement from the Vin Cerrato era.

Senior Bowl Report: Day 2

January, 26, 2010
I've found the Senior Bowl blog to be a nice resource for keeping up with the developments in Mobile, Ala, this week. The North team, coached by the Detroit Lions' staff, has already wrapped up its practice and the Tim Tebow team (South) is getting ready to take the field. Here's what our guys from Scouts Inc. had to say about an offensive lineman from Idaho:
"Idaho's Mike Iupati is clearly the best offensive lineman on the North roster. He is quick, powerful, balanced and nasty. He struggled when moved to tackle and might fit best at guard in the NFL, but Iupati is good enough to consider in the late first round."

I've been on the phone with a longtime scout from the AFC South this afternoon. After reading about Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's struggles on Day 1, I wanted to get the scout's take:

"I know he dropped a couple from center, but that's not a big deal to me," said the scout. "He's got time to figure that out. He's a good football player, so teams will have to figure out how to use him. I think he'll run a 4.6 or better at the combine, so his speed won't be an issue. We'll look at him first as a quarterback, but you have to also think about how he would look as a running back or a tight end. I even think he might be able to play linebacker."

That would cause quite a stir this week if Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano asks Tebow to line up with the linebackers. But that's not going to happen. This is the first day the players are in full pads, so we should have a more accurate read on Tebow by this evening. I know players such as Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were scrutinized coming out of college, but I'm not sure we've ever seen a player who will spark such wildly different opinions as Tebow.

As I told you earlier today, former Redskins/Texans general manager Charley Casserly, now with CBS, told the Miami Herald that two teams he'd spoken with said that Tebow was a first-rounder. But as I start to visit with scouts across the league, I think it's more likely that Tebow will go in the second or third round.

By the way, if Iupati is truly a late first-round prospect, that's someone the Cowboys could target at No. 27. I'm in touch with the Cowboys' scouting party in Mobile, so I'll pass along anything I hear. Owner Jerry Jones said Monday that he doesn't expect to move off that No. 27 pick.



Sunday, 10/5
Monday, 10/6