NFC South: Jared Odrick

On the eve of the draft

April, 21, 2010
Some random notes and thoughts on the eve of the draft.

  • I wasn’t sure how I felt about the draft’s new format when it was first announced. But I’m thinking I like it now as I look ahead to Thursday. My plan is to hit the gym in the morning, join “The Fabulous Sports Babe’’ on ESPN Radio Tampa Bay live from Peggy O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Eatery at 13910 W. Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET and then head out to One Buc Place, where I’ll be spending much of the night Thursday and Friday. Relax Atlanta and New Orleans fans, I’ll be reporting on your picks from out there, too. And we’ll get around to the Panthers on Friday when they finally make a draft pick. Also, Carolina fans, I’ll be coming to Charlotte for minicamp next week.
  • On my earlier post about guys who should be nervous about the draft, I cut the number off at five. But we’ll throw out an honorable mention here to Tampa Bay receiver Michael Clayton. The Bucs are going to come out of this draft with at least one receiver, probably two. Even if those guys are raw and inexperienced they might have an edge on Clayton, who hasn’t been seen since his rookie year.
  • Scott Reynolds made the pick for the Buccaneers on NFL Network. He said the same thing I’ve been saying –- defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
  • I’m still thinking defensive end Brandon Graham for the Falcons, if he’s still available. But I keep hearing this voice in the back of my head that I heard from someone with the Falcons soon after their brass attended Penn State’s pro day –- “Keep an eye on that one.’’ Presumably, the reference was to defensive tackle Jared Odrick. It could have also meant linebacker Navarro Bowman, but I think he comes with more questions than the Falcons want.
  • Suggestion for any NFC South general manager looking for a safety: You should take a look at some talk-radio producers. These people are relentless. Their hosts give them instructions to track down writers to take part in mock drafts and they’ll chase you every way they can. Not sure about their measurables, but they are fearless. Anybody that knows me, knows it’s not a real good idea to call my cell phone before 7 a.m.
  • I still am a little amazed that so many Carolina fans think something incredibly dramatic is going to happen with the Panthers during the draft. I understand your frustration. But if the Panthers were going to make some major trade or sign a big-name free agent, they would already have done some things like this. John Fox and Marty Hurney are sticking to their principles even as they sit on the hot seat.
  • Mike Triplett points out one of the best draft facts I’ve seen this year and it’s especially relevant to his audience because the Saints hold the 32nd overall pick. Exactly nine years ago, No. 32 overall was Drew Brees to San Diego. Yeah, you just might be able to find a player at No. 32.

Draft Watch: NFC South

April, 21, 2010
NFC dream/Plan B: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Dream scenario/Plan B.

Atlanta Falcons

Dream scenario: They get Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham with the first-round pick and come back with an outside linebacker and a center in the middle rounds. Graham’s been a very productive college player and the risk of him being a bust is low. He can fit a need immediately. Plan B: If Graham is somehow gone, that could change things dramatically. Jason Pierre-Paul has raw athleticism, but comes with questions. The Falcons may instead look toward linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, defensive tackle Jared Odrick or even an offensive lineman.

Carolina Panthers

Dream scenario: A big defensive tackle, like Terrence Cody, falls until they have their first pick in the second round. Cody would fill a huge void and make the run defense much better. They could follow him up with a wide receiver and a quarterback who can begin his career behind Matt Moore. Plan B: If Cody’s not there, a true run stuffer might not be available. The Panthers may have to go with a receiver first and that’s a dangerous proposition because their draft history with receivers has been terrible.

New Orleans Saints

Dream scenario: They done such a good job filling in depth at defensive end that it’s no longer a huge need. That leaves outside linebacker as the only really big need. The Saints likely would be very happy to land a linebacker like Weatherspoon or Jerry Hughes and get some depth at defensive tackle and tight end over the next few rounds. Plan B: The Saints aren’t desperate in any area. If a linebacker isn’t there with value in the first round, they can save that for a bit later and perhaps draft a defensive tackle or tight end first. The Saints are capable of surprises and a running back in the first few rounds isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dream scenario: There doesn’t seem to be a big preference between defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. The Bucs gladly would take either one and follow up with a receiver like Golden Tate and a cornerback with their two second-round picks. Plan B: If the Bucs don’t get a defensive tackle first, it’s almost a disaster because the need is so great. If Suh and McCoy are somehow gone, they’d have to consider taking offensive tackle Russell Okung, safety Eric Berry or a defensive end and they’d still have a glaring hole in the middle of their defensive line.

Some fun draft facts

April, 20, 2010
This is the time of year when the fine folks in the NFL’s public relations department really earn their pay.

Thanks to them, my wake-up call this morning came from a FedEx driver, who delivered a package with bios on just about every draft prospect you can imagine. They’re also sending out a steady stream of draft-related e-mails. Some of them are very lengthy, but you can find some really interesting stuff if you take the time to sort through them.

One of my favorites is the little “fun facts’’ section that came in an e-mail just a bit ago. I don’t have space to share them all with you, so I picked out five that I thought were pretty interesting:

  • Tennessee safety Eric Berry studied dentistry at Tennessee and interned at a Georgia dentist office this past summer.
  • South Florida wide receiver Carlton Mitchell’s mother, Angela, is the “cut man’’ for professional boxer Antonio Tarver.
  • Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy and Trent Williams will be in New York for the draft. It will be the first time three players from the same school have been present since Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter, Kerry Collins and Kyle Brady were there in 1995.
  • Speaking of Oklahoma, the Sooners have had a great program, but they’re not known for producing quarterbacks. Although Bradford is likely to change things, you want to take a guess who’s the last Oklahoma quarterback to throw an NFL pass? Jack Jacobs for the Green Bay Packers back in 1949. Before you start filling up the mailbag saying that’s not correct, Troy Aikman doesn’t count. Yes, he spent two years at Oklahoma, but he transferred to UCLA and that’s where he earned his way to the NFL.
  • Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick has invited his college defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. to wait with him in the “green room’’ during the draft. Johnson also is the father of NFL running back Larry Johnson Jr.
Just took a look at the mailbag and it was overflowing. I’m going to go ahead and try to knock out a series of team-by-team mailbags. If I don’t get all the way through Wednesday, I’ll finish it up Thursday.

We’re going in random order and we’re going to go ahead and start with the Carolina Panthers.

Brad in Charlotte writes: With the recent acquisition of Brandon Marshall and the claim from within the Dolphins organization that they "might" get a 5th round pick for Ted Ginn, why don't the Panthers make a play for him? We do not have a 5th rounder, so why not offer our non-compensatory 6th round pick, or a combination of our 6th and 7th rounders? I am in no way saying we should trade one of our first 3 picks, but Ginn would immediately step in and be that return man we desperately need and contribute in the slot. This way we can focus on our #2 receiver early and not settle for Jacoby Ford, Armanti Edwards, Scott Long or any other speedy unproven slots at the tail end of the draft.

Pat Yasinskas: I’m with you on this one. You’re theories are all very logical. Let’s see if John Fox and Marty Hurney agree.

Joel in Endicott, N.Y., writes: You've said that Carolina wouldn't go after someone like Michael Vick or Brandon Marshall because of off-field questions. Bill Parcells was the one who got Marshall and he's all about character guys. At what point does Carolina put its pride aside and take a chance on someone who might not be the kind of guy they want but the kind of player they need?

Pat Yasinskas: Yep, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As long as Jerry Richardson owns this franchise, the Panthers aren’t going after anyone with major off-field issues in their background. If you know anything about Richardson, you know that the man was deeply scarred by what happened with Rae Carruth and Kerry Collins in the early years of the Panthers. I’m not saying Richardson is right or wrong, but I’m just telling you his philosophy. Although some people might point at Steve Smith and say the Panthers have bent their rules for him, they haven’t bent them for anyone else. Also, I think Fox and Hurney believe strongly in that philosophy. A guy like Parcells might take a chance on a guy with issues because he has confidence that his organization might be able to keep things under control. Richardson doesn’t take chances like that.

Cory in Knoxville, Tenn., writes: If you did this and I missed it please excuse me, but what do you think Carolina would do if they had their #17 pick?

Pat Yasinskas: Good question. That pick is in the hands of San Francisco after the Panthers dealt it last year to get Everette Brown in the second round. If Carolina still had this pick, I’m guessing they would go with a defensive lineman. I’d say either Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham or Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick.

NFC South mailbag

April, 8, 2010
Time for another edition of the NFC South mailbag.

Glenn in Baton Rouge, La., writes: I was wondering if you had some insight on why the Saints haven't been courting Antonio Pierce, or Brad Hoover? Surely both these guys are an upgrade.

Pat Yasinskas: Hang loose. Hoover and Pierce probably will be available after the draft. Or at least more guys like them will be. It’s just the nature of the business right now. Teams are focusing in on the draft and they’re not going to lock up aging players until they see what their remaining needs are. Heck, the Saints are doing this with one of their own guys, letting veteran safety Darren Sharper hang out as a free agent.

Travis in Johnson City, Tenn., writes: Have you heard if the Falcons have any serious interest in Jason Worilds? I really believe that this guy has what it takes to be an outstanding DE in the very near future. Everyone seems to say he is more of a 3-4 guy, but has the same measurables as Robert Mathis of the Colts. I really believe his natural abilities can carry him a long way.

PY: Haven’t heard anything strong on potential interest by Atlanta. But teams are pretty good about keeping their intentions quiet. From the scouting reports I’ve read on Worilds, he sounds somewhat like Lawrence Sidbury, whom the Falcons drafted last year. The Falcons still have high hopes for Sidbury. But I’m not ruling Worilds out because the Falcons certainly are looking at all possible ways to improve their pass rush.

Nick in Atlanta writes: Hey Pat, I was just wondering what prospect in the draft are the Falcons really considering? Is it Brandon Graham out of Michigan, Sean Weatherspoon out of Missouri or someone a little outside the box?

PY: I think both of those guys and several others are under serious consideration. I’d also throw in Penn State linebacker Navarro Bowman and defensive lineman Jared Odrick. I’m not saying that because I’m a Penn State fan. I’m basing it on something I heard that leads me to believe they like both of those players. Graham and Weatherspoon also make lots of sense. When you’re sitting at No. 19, you can’t really lock into one player. I know some people have thrown out scenarios where the Falcons could take a running back or a receiver. I’m not buying into that. Thomas Dimitroff drafts on a need basis and the biggest needs this team has are in the front seven of the defense.

Steve in Redlands Calif., writes: Hey Pat,Thanks for filling my Saints fix during the offseason! The other day you mentioned a "contingency plan" the Saints have if they don't re-sign Darren Sharper. What is that plan at this point?

PY: Well, it’s not like the Saints are coming out and saying what their plan is. But they’ve got some alternatives. Malcolm Jenkins was a first-round pick last year and spent his rookie season as a backup cornerback. He has the size and skills to play free safety and the Saints knew that when they drafted him. I think moving Jenkins to free safety is one alternative. Usama Young is also a guy who’s done well as a backup and on special teams and he could be another candidate. Of course, the return of Sharper remains a possibility.

Gary in Hickory, N.C., writes: As difficult as it is to find two stud defensive tackles, is there any possibility the Panthers switch to a 3-4? Their linebacker corps is very good with Thomas Davis, Jon Beason and Dan Connor. Given the Panthers limited draft picks, wouldn't it be easier to find another linebacker or two?

PY: I follow your logic. But that’s not going to happen. John Fox is a creature of habit. He runs a 4-3 defense.

Marc in Brea, Calif., writes: Yes I've heard the Bucs are cheap. Yes I have heard that all their money is being sucked up by ManU. Yes I have heard their going young. But, for the life of me I cannot figure out their kicking situation. To me a guy like Neil Rackers hits the FA market and they don't give him a whiff? Let's not forget the revolving door at kicker last year. Is Tampa's plan to really use one of the 11 picks this year in the kicking game? I hope not. I'm a believer in the new regime but there are some things that make me scratch my head. This is one of them.

PY: Tell you the truth, I like Connor Barth, whom the Bucs settled on as their kicker down the stretch last season. Yeah, he’s not a proven veteran like Rackers. But Barth kind of fits with the whole youth movement here and I don’t see any reason to go out and use a draft pick on another kicker.

Around the NFC South

March, 30, 2010
Very interesting quote from fullback Brad Hoover, who was released by the Panthers a few weeks ago. Hoover, who is a pretty sharp guy, said it appears to him as if the Panthers are “putting themselves in a good opportunity for failure." Hoover took the high road the rest of the interview, but he might have had a point when he said the offseason moves have taken a lot of leadership away from the Panthers.

New Orleans restricted free agent Jeff Charleston went ahead and signed his tender. This one’s no surprise. Charleston wanted to stay with the Saints and there wasn’t much interest in the backup defensive end from around the rest of the league.

There’s been some speculation the Bucs could be a candidate for an eventual move to London. I think that’s a stretch. Yes, the Bucs are expecting to have problems selling tickets this year. But Tampa Bay is a market that’s so good that the NFL wasn’t about to abandon it back in the 1990s when the franchise was a joke. The franchise went on to have some great years. A few more wins and some turns in the economy can straighten this thing out. Besides, the Glazer family isn’t exactly viewed as royalty in England right now. The Manchester United fans are trying to oust the owners. Why would the Glazers want two franchises in hostile territory?

Panthers president Danny Morrison said the labor uncertainty isn’t impacting what the Panthers are doing and spoke glowingly about coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney.

In his latest mock draft, Daniel Cox has the Falcons taking Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick. This may come as a surprise to some because the Falcons have a greater need at defensive end. But Odrick has the tools to move outside and the Atlanta brass has been doing a lot of homework on him.

NFC South mailbag

March, 21, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. -- It has been very quiet as the NFL world arrives for the owners meeting. The official start comes Monday morning and we’ll bring you all the news and notes on the NFC South.

But, for the moment, let’s dip into the mailbag and see what’s on your mind.

Rudy in Arkansas writes: Assuming that Carolina has another disappointing season. Do you have any insights or thoughts about who they might chase as the next heir. I would like Bill Cowher, but everyone says he wants to go to NYG, other than Cowher is there anyone else who jumps out there?

Pat Yasinskas: How about John Fox? Yes, he doesn’t have a contract beyond next season, but he could go out and earn one. Say what you want about last year’s disappointing season and about the offseason moves. But Fox also has had plenty of success in the past. He could turn it around and assure himself of a very big contract. And let’s not even start thinking about the Cowher road again. I’ve never bought into the speculation that he wants the Carolina job or that the Panthers want him.

Kareem in San Antonio, Texas, writes: Why don't the Tampa Bay Buccanneers make a strong play for Brandon Marshall? Marshall is at a nice peak of his career and I believe he will get better. He played college football at Central Florida and would be a huge asset to a team committed to staying young. Brandon Marshall would help Josh Freeman, not only develop his game but also maximize his potential. It makes sense, and a couple of draft picks is a small price to pay for such a huge reward.

Pat Yasinskas: Your points make sense and there could be huge rewards with Marshall. But there also are risks that come with him. He’s had some issues and isn’t exactly known as a team player. Yes, Marshall has big-time talent. But the Bucs are trying to build with a young team and I think they also consider things like team chemistry and how a guy might fit into their locker room when they think about moves like this.

Will in Roswell, Ga., writes: I am a huge Falcons fans and lately one thing has REALLY been bothering me. Some fans have been talking about Brandon Marshall coming to the Falcons. Mike Smith, Arthur Blank, and Thomas Dimitroff all PREACH about how only high character guys get a shot on the Falcons and how we only build through the draft. So why would they trade a first rounder, give up even more cash, to sign someone who has had issues.

Pat Yasinskas: Sounds like you know the Falcons and how they operate. That’s precisely why I don’t think there’s any way the Falcons would pursue Marshall.

Kevin in Glen Lyon, Pa., writes: I noticed Mel Kiper has the Falcons drafting C.J. Spiller at #19. WHY??? He's a great athlete, but it's no secret we need defense. Especially, pass rushers and LB's who can drop back and cover the pass. Who do you think we should draft at 19??

Pat Yasinskas: I agree that Atlanta’s needs are on defense. I’m going to throw a name at you that hasn’t really been linked to the Falcons: Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick. Coach Mike Smith was in State College the other day to watch Odrick work out. Yes, I’m the first to say don’t put too much stock into who goes to workouts and what teams visit with players. But, for the moment, I think Odrick’s at least on Atlanta’s radar. Could also see Atlanta going with a defensive end or outside linebacker.

Matt in Streator, Ill., writes: Ok, I know you think the Bucs have a good plan, but I just don't see it. A 3 win team has way too many holes to just sit on your hands during free agency. I understand they have 10 draft picks but how often do more then 1 or 2 picks make significant impacts? To me it seems they are telling us we have to sit through another losing season before they can get better.

Pat Yasinskas: I don’t think I’ve said it’s a good plan. But it is the plan the Bucs are following. Ownership made that decision last year when it fired Jon Gruden and purged the roster of a bunch of older players. When you do that, you make a commitment and you don’t just give up on it in one year. Yeah, you could have another losing season ahead, but I think you’ll see improvement.

Time to start talking draft

January, 5, 2010
The regular season has been over for less than 48 hours. That means it’s time to start looking ahead to the draft.

I just saw the first mock draft I’ve seen this offseason. It comes from my friend Charlie Campbell of Pewter Report. He covers the whole first round and that provides a conversation starter for most of the rest of the NFC South. The Panthers don’t presently have a first-round pick because they traded it to San Francisco last year to get defensive end Everette Brown in the second round. But I’m not ruling out the possibility of the Panthers somehow getting back into the first round between now and April.

For now, let’s talk about what the other three NFC South teams may do in the draft. Let’s start with the Buccaneers.

Campbell has them taking Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Makes perfect sense. The Bucs need a tackle and McCoy is a good one. The only other scenario I see is them taking Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, if he somehow makes it past the first two picks or if the Bucs move up to grab him. The Bucs have plenty of needs, but defensive tackle is, by far, the most glaring.

Campbell has the Falcons taking Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon at No. 19. I wouldn’t rule that out because Mike Peterson is near the end of his career and Witherspoon could team with Curtis Lofton and Stephen Nicholas to give the Falcons a nice trio of linebackers. But that would be a value pick and the Falcons have greater needs at defensive end and cornerback.

If I’m the Falcons, I’m looking hard at a couple of Michigan players -- defensive end Brandon Graham and cornerback Donovan Warren.

Campbell has the Saints taking Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick at No. 31, and New Orleans’ draft position is subject to how the postseason shakes out. But I like the pick and not just because it involves a Penn State guy. Sedrick Ellis is a very good defensive tackle, but there’s been a big drop-off by the run defense when he’s been hurt. In a best-case scenario, Ellis stays healthy and you pair him with Odrick. If the injury problems continue, the Saints still would have at least one top-notch defensive tackle.