Pac-12: New England Patriots

You want a quote from recalcitrant media-phobe Marshawn Lynch in advance of Super Bowl XLIX? Here's one that stretches nearly 100 words.

"My mom raised me by herself with no help, basically," Lynch told USA Today in 2007 before he was drafted in the first round by the Buffalo Bills. "She worked three jobs for me, and it's not just what she did for me but (for) my older brother and my two younger siblings.

"She made it to each and every one of our games. That was kind of hard, because I'm playing, my little brother had a game and, probably later that night, my sister might have a basketball game. And she would still manage to go and be able to feed us and clothe us and pay the bills. She's just my Superwoman."

Sounds like a selfish guy with misplaced priorities, eh?

This very reporter had a pleasant chat with Lynch not so long ago. Well, it was nearly a decade ago, about Lynch becoming a college superstar similar to USC's Reggie Bush and Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson. Lynch had two responses. First, he didn't want the attention. Second, who is Adrian Peterson?

[+] EnlargeMarshawn Lynch
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsMarshawn Lynch can laugh and have fun ... within the circle of people he trusts.
"I really don't pay much attention to football when I'm not practicing or playing it," Lynch said in 2005. "I don't really keep up with football, period."

Lynch has been called many things. Some just love his "Beast Mode" on the football field and that's all they care about. His cousin, NFL quarterback Josh Johnson, has heard people refer to Lynch as a "thug," seemingly oblivious to the racist connotations of the term as well as the irony that the foundation Johnson and Lynch founded is expressly aimed at helping inner-city youths escape the so-called "thug life." The NFL believes he's a problem. He has been fined twice for grabbing his crotch after scoring touchdowns, most recently when he was fined $20,000 for making the gesture after scoring a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game.

Lynch also was fined $100,000 earlier this year for not talking to reporters. He did not speak after the NFC title game, and that's making required media interviews in advance of the Super Bowl a front-and-center issue -- a media storm, in fact -- a consequence that puts his desire to avoid the glaring spotlight and his unyielding will to do things his way at loggerheads.

He's never liked talking to reporters, which isn't unusual for star athletes, but Lynch's refusal has spiraled into the ultimate tempest in a teapot. It's a controversy that feasts on itself and will be resolved only when Lynch spouts cliched pabulum for a few minutes to reporters who will immediately become bored with the very thing that they clamored for over the past few months.

The least interesting thing about Lynch is probably what he will say when -- if? -- he speaks. The most interesting thing is that just about everyone who knows or has played with him only has good things to say about him. The negative public image as it is often articulated seems to say more about the speaker than Lynch himself, a construct of folks who don't actually know the man.

“There’s no question," said Jeff Tedford, Lynch's former coach at Cal. "I think it’s a total misconception of Marshawn. I think it comes across that he’s selfish. It’s totally the opposite. He’s never wanted attention put on him. He’s a quiet guy, he’s to himself, unless he’s within his circle of trust. Then he’s got a great sense of humor. Loves to laugh and have fun.”

To Tedford, the quintessential Lynch moment was when he commandeered a stadium cart on the Memorial Stadium field in 2006 after the Bears beat Washington in overtime. He waved a Cal flag and celebrated with fans. It was fun-loving and, yes, just a tad rebellious (Tedford was immediately told by administrators it couldn't happen again because of liability issues). It's probably also worth noting that Lynch played the game on two sprained ankles and rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns, including the 22-yard game winner.

There's also depth to Lynch beyond "Beast Mode" and an array of fun-loving instances that became public, such as his commandeering a bottle of whiskey from a fan during the Seahawks Super Bowl parade last winter. There's strong loyalty within his circle of trust.

Tedford was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator this year but was forced to take a leave of absence due to heart trouble. Early on, he received a text from Lynch -- he calls Tedford "Bossman" -- checking in on his health.

“He’s a real caring guy," said Tedford, who is back on his feet and now the head coach of the B.C. Lions in the CFL. "But people don't get to see that side of him."

In the biopic film "Ali," about former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali -- now perhaps the most beloved figure in all of sports -- Ali is asked by a skeptical reporter if he was going to be "the people's champion." While Ali's approach with the media was obviously different from Lynch's, what he said probably explains a lot about why Lynch conducts himself how he does.

Said Ali: "I'm definitely gonna be the people's champion ... but I just ain't gonna be the champ the way you want me to be the champ. I'm gonna be the champ the way I wanna be."

Lynch has a right to be the way he wants to be. He has a right not to speak to the media, just as the NFL has a right to fine him for not doing so, though excessively escalating the dollar amount seems dubious.

It's important to remember that speaking or not speaking to the media doesn't define Lynch as a person and it certainly doesn't make him a bad guy. His mother, Delisa, is probably no more a fan of the crotch grabs than the NFL. It's also possible that Lynch deep down wishes he could hit a reset button on how things have spun forward.

Lynch -- quirks, flaws, unassailable physical talent and all -- is his own man. One day, he might change his perspective and how he conducts himself, but we -- those outside the circle of trust -- are not going to change it for him.

At some level, that's pretty damn cool. Pretty damn American, in fact.

Pac-12 in NFL draft: Defense rules!

April, 11, 2013
ESPN draft guru Todd McShay has published his NFL mock draft 5.0, which includes analysis of several scenarios for each team Insider, and he projects four Pac-12 players being selected in the first round.

But that's not what's interesting.

What's interesting is all four are defensive players. The 14-team, defensive-minded SEC has six defensive players in McShay's projection.

While I'm too lazy to go through every previous NFL draft to find out if that has happened before, my guess is it hasn't.

McShay has it going like this:
Of course, there are several Pac-12 offensive players who could break up this foursome: Stanford tight end Zach Ertz, California receiver Keenan Allen and USC quarterback Matt Barkley all remain potential first-round picks.

Further, when you consider that the Pac-12 welcomes back two certain preseason All-Americans in Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton and UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, as well as several other All-American candidates -- Stanford safety Ed Reynolds, Stanford outside linebacker Trent Murphy, and Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu -- it would seem the conference is on the defensive uptick.
We can eliminate two things that Oregon coach Chip Kelly could be doing during the Ducks "improvement" week: Fishing and watching the NFL.

Kelly was asked about both this week and said neither was on his agenda.

The fishing question was a joke on the Pac-12 coaches call Tuesday. The Ducks, after all, will begin earnest preparations this weekend for their intriguing visit to Arizona State on Thursday, Oct. 18, so there's little time for recreation. Kelly's response to a question about New England coach Bill Belichick using an up-tempo offense was more interesting.

Kelly not only pooh-poohed the idea he'd had much influence with Belichick, despite it being documented in the Boston Globe this week, he claimed he had little idea what might be going on in the NFL, despite more teams experimenting with up-tempo, no-huddle attacks he'd help popularize.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
AP Photo/Don RyanChip Kelly isn't interested in big picture assessments of Oregon's season. The Ducks are "on one-week missions," according to Kelly.
"We're working all day Sunday," Kelly said. "The only thing you'll see is a clip on 'SportsCenter' when you're brushing your teeth. I couldn't tell you the last time I sat down and watched an NFL game."

Ducks fans might like the sound of that. In January, it seemed that Kelly was on the cusp of being hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he pulled back at the last minute to stay in Eugene.

We do know two things: 1) Kelly strongly values relationships with other high-level coaches in many sports because he's clearly obsessed with the nuances of coaching; 2) Kelly has little interest in sharing interesting information with the media and fans.

He was asked to assess how his 6-0, No. 2-ranked team had played so far.

"We don't really think of it that way," he said. "Every week is a season for us. Our sole focus right now is we're in an improvement week for us."

That's Kelly's brand of a beige response. Most other coaches would have said something like this: "I like our focus and effort, how hard guys are playing and practicing. But we can get a lot better. We can -- and need to -- improve in every area."

Kelly doesn't reject every question just for the sake of rejecting it. He is very good at talking about his players. Want to know what he thinks of quarterback Marcus Mariota so far?

"He's a tremendous learner," Kelly said. "He works extremely hard at the game of football."

But he doesn't entertain queries about scheme, hypotheticals or big-picture issues. That means he'll leave the midseason assessments to everyone else.

"We don't really look at the totality of anything," he said. "We'll do some offseason stuff of overarching things -- what we're doing well, what we're not doing well -- but really we're on one-week missions here. That's the way we've always approached it."

And, as Kelly enjoys noting, it's worked fairly well so far.

Confirmed: Kelly is staying at Oregon

January, 23, 2012

Chip Kelly is staying at Oregon.

Oregon fans ... you can now breathe. By holding your breath, you turned purple and, well, you know that's not what you want to do.

This has been confirmed by the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were deep in the process of trying to lure Kelly out of Eugene and into the NFL this past weekend.

"His heart is with college football and Oregon and he's no longer being considered," Mark Dominik said Monday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

A handful of news outlets had reported that Kelly was leaving Oregon. George Schroeder of the Eugene Register-Guard, however, was the first to report Kelly's change of heart.

This hullabaloo leads to two questions: 1. How long will Kelly stay at Oregon, as it is now evident the NFL intrigues him -- an idea that was just a theory before? 2. Does this provide the Ducks a boost of momentum -- he's staying because we are awesome! -- or is there some damage control to undertake?

Oregon fans got to experience what it would feel like to lose Kelly, who is 33-6 at the Ducks' helm after winning three consecutive conference titles. Some panicked. Some said, "We'll be OK." Some felt a little of both.

The first reaction of many will be that it's now clear that Kelly will eventually leave. That's not necessarily true. A flirtation that doesn't lead to a divorce can often lead to a renewed loyalty and sense of purpose. Recall that Joe Paterno was, in 1972, out the door at Penn State to coach the New England Patriots.

But Kelly is incredibly competitive, so the juice of competing at the highest level might eventually overcome him. And the non-coaching aspects of leading a major college football program also might wear him down.

Just not yet.

The immediate reaction among the Ducks' rivals was that perhaps some of Kelly's top recruits might waiver. And Oregon did lose a committed player over the weekend. Kelly reportedly missed a recruiting trip to Sacramento during his chats with the Bucs. The guess here is he'll be making a few phone calls today.

Are bridges rebuilt immediately, only with stronger materials? "He loves us, he really loves us!"

Or are questions going to linger? "He flirted once, which means his eyeballs are prone to wander."

The answer -- in some ways unsatisfying -- is "both."

Ah, but too much introspection and navel gazing won't lead to any permanent insight, though Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens now knows that his "Plan B" file needs to be kept updated.

The Pac-12 blog's advice to Oregon fans is to live in and enjoy the present, perhaps with even more appreciation for this golden age of Ducks football. Kelly isn't leaving. His 2012 team is loaded. His focus is back on winning a fourth consecutive conference title.

There will be plenty of time to fret about 2013 and beyond.

Final Pac-12 NFL draft tally

May, 1, 2011
The Pac-12 provided 37 players to the NFL draft over the weekend, one fewer than the SEC, which led all conferences.

If the six combined picks from Colorado and Utah are taken away from the conference, the old Pac-10 provided NFL teams 3.1 draft picks per team, also just behind the SEC at 3.17.

Here's where the Pac-12 players went:

First round
No. 8 Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Tennessee
No. 9 Tyron Smith., OT, USC: Dallas
No. 17 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: New England
No. 24 Cameron Jordan, DE, California: New Orleans
No. 27 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Baltimore

Second round
7. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA: Tennessee
10. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona: Houston
13. Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA: Denver
21. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Chicago
24. Shane Vereen, RB, California: New England

Third round
13. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC: Tennessee
20. Mason Foster, LB, Washington: Tampa Bay
25. Shareece Wright, CB, USC: San Diego
29. Christopher Conte, S, California: Chicago
33. Sione Fua, DT, Stanford: Carolina

Fourth round
5. Jordan Cameron, TE, USC: Cleveland
19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon: Philadelphia
21. Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado: Kansas City
27. Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford: Cleveland

Fifth round
8. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah: Minnesota
9. Gabe Miller, DE, Oregon State: Kansas City
14. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State: Atlanta
23. Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford: Seattle

Sixth round
2. Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford: Cincinnati
14. Caleb Schlauderaff, OG, Utah: Green Bay
17. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC: San Francisco
19. David Carter, DT, UCLA: Arizona
22. Allen Bradford, RB, USC: Tampa Bay
24. Mike Mohamed, LB, California: Denver
32. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona: Green Bay
38. Zach Williams, C, Washington State: Carolina

Seventh round
12. D'Aundre Reed, DE, Arizona: Minnesota
24. Scotty McKnight, WR, Colorado: New York Jets
30. Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State: Green Bay
37. Stanley Havili, FB, USC: Philadelphia
38. David Ausberry, WR, USC: Oakland
39. Malcolm Smith, LB, USC: Seattle

By Pac-12 school:
Arizona (3)
Arizona State (1)
California (4)
Colorado (4)
Oregon (1)
Oregon State (3)
Stanford (4)
UCLA (3)
USC (9)
Utah (2)
Washington (2)
Washington State (1)

The final tally by automatic qualifying conferences:
SEC... 38
Pac-12... 37
Big Ten... 36
ACC... 35
Big East 22
Big 12...19

Nebraska was a big swing to the Big Ten from the Big 12 with seven picks. With Colorado and Nebraska, the Big 12 provided 30 selections.

This was the tally through three rounds:
SEC: 20
ACC: 19
Pac-12: 15
Big Ten: 13
Big 12: 9
Big East: 4

Updating Pac-12 in NFL draft

April, 30, 2011
Here's where things stand for the Pac-12 through three rounds of the NFL draft.

First round
No. 8 Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Tennessee
No. 9 Tyron Smith., OT, USC: Dallas
No. 17 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: New England
No. 24 Cameron Jordan, DE, California: New Orleans
No. 27 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Baltimore

Second round
7. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA: Tennessee
10. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona: Houston
13. Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA: Denver
21. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Chicago
24. Shane Vereen, RB, California: New England

Third round
13. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC: Tennessee
20. Mason Foster, LB, Washington: Tampa Bay
25. Shareece Wright, CB, USC: San Diego
29. Christopher Conte, S, California: Chicago
33. Sione Fua, DT, Stanforrd: Carolina

Through three rounds by conference (with Nebraska in the Big Ten and Colorado and Utah in the Pac-12):

SEC: 20
ACC: 19
Pac-12: 15
Big Ten: 13
Big 12: 9
Big East: 4

Note: The old Pac-10 has 13 without two first-round picks from Colorado. Big Ten has 12 without Nebraska. Big 12 has 12 if Colorado and Nebraska are included.

A Pac-12 review of NFL draft's first round

April, 29, 2011
Five Pac-12 players were picked in the first round, with Jake Locker going higher than some projected and Cameron Jordan going lower.

Here's the draft order:

No. 8 Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Tennessee
No. 9 Tyron Smith., OT, USC: Dallas
No. 17 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: New England
No. 24 Cameron Jordan, DE, California: New Orleans
No. 27 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Baltimore

Here's analysis by Mel Kiper. And here's more on the first round.

Kiper also projects the second round, which starts Friday at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN (3 p.m. PT).

Kiper has Arizona DE Brooks Reed going first in the second round -- 33rd overall -- to New England. Other Pac-12 players in his second round: UCLA safety Rahim Moore to Houston at No. 42, Oregon State DT Stephen Paea to Oakland at No. 48 and Utah CB Brandon Burton to Philadelphia at No. 54.

Who is missing? Well what about UCLA LB Akeem Ayers, who was once considered a sure first-round pick.

Todd McShay also projects the second round, and he has Reed going first and Ayers going second, to the Buffalo Bills.

The rest of McShay's second round: Paea to Denver at No. 36, Moore to Minnesota at No. 43, Washington LB Mason Foster to Denver at 46 and USC DT Jurrell Casey to Seattle at No. 57.

Some draft links:

Colorado OT Solder to Patriots

April, 28, 2011
The third Pac-12 player picked in the NFL draft, though he played in the Big 12 last season, is Colorado OT Nate Solder, tapped 17th by the New England Patriots.

Pac-10 folks recall Solder struggling at Cal this past season, but Solder is a physical specimen who figures to develop into a solid starter.

And the Pats sorta have a good track record in the draft.

Notes on Pac-12 players at NFL combine

February, 28, 2011
Holy Stephen Paea!

We knew Paea, Oregon State's two-time winner of the Pac-10's Morris Trophy, was a beast, but the defensive tackle proved it to everyone else when he set an NFL combine record with 49 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press.

Folks, it's hard to do any repetitive movement 49 times, much less with 225 pounds.

Paea was just the lead note -- and he knows how to celebrate, by the way -- on what mostly appears to be a strong showing by Pac-12 players at the NFL combine.

Jake Locker ran fast; Nate Solder showed explosiveness, and a lot of other guys made good impressions, including a couple of Pac-12 running backs -- small ones -- per ESPN's Todd McShay:

Vereen leads smaller backs
California's Shane Vereen had a monster day, running the 40 in 4.48, posting a 34-inch vertical jump and putting up 25 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press. Vereen is an instinctive back on tape and shows good skills in the passing game, but we haven't seen the kind of explosiveness on film that Vereen displayed Sunday. It's time to go back to the film room and see if we missed anything during our previous evaluation.

Other diminutive backs had good showings as well. Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis, Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, Syracuse's Delone Carter and Kentucky's Derrick Locke all showed good balance and lateral explosiveness when bouncing to the outside and then cutting upfield during position-specific drills.

Here are some more links and notes

Six from Pac-12 in latest Kiper mock draft

February, 16, 2011
Mel Kiper has done his second mock draft for this spring's NFL draft, and it features six Pac-12 players.

While no conference player is projected to be among the first 10 picks, there's a strong presence over the first round's second half.

The Pac-12 players Kiper projects ending up in the first round are:

No. 13: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado (Detroit)
No. 17: Cameron Jordan, DE, California (New England)
No. 18: Tyron Smith, OT, USC (San Diego)
No. 19: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado (New York Giants)
No. 21: Akeem Ayers, DE, UCLA (Kansas City)
No. 30: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (New York Jets)

Pac-12 players fighting for 1st-round spots

February, 11, 2011
Todd McShay has released his third mock NFL draft, and six Pac-12 players are projected to be picked in the first round. Those players are:
Locker was the most-watched player at the Senior Bowl. Here's what McShay has to say after the smoke cleared -- and before the NFL combine: "Locker's stock took a big hit this season, but we still think he will come off the board in the first round. The Seahawks are not completely settled at quarterback and could do worse than bringing in a local hero with a lot of upside, and if they don't pull the trigger, we could see a team trade back into the late first round to get Locker"

Further, Steve Muench lists five underclassmen who did not crack the first round in McShay's latest projection but could use pre-draft workouts to boost their stock and work their way into the top 32 picks, and UCLA free safety Rahim Moore tops the list. Writes Muench:
If he looks fluid during drills at the combine his stock could jump. The Jets pick at No. 30 overall and have a need at free safety, where Brodney Pool and Eric Smith are both unrestricted free agents. Moore's strength is in coverage and he can hold up on the back end of a blitz-heavy scheme like the one the Jets run.

Senior Bowl notes: Whose stock is up?

January, 28, 2011
Senior Bowl practices are winding down: The players were in shorts on Thursday. Here are a few notes.

Colorado OT Nate Solder may have secured the title of "best offensive lineman available."
Colorado OT Nate Solder was the best lineman here this week. He showed a good combination of size, feet and lateral agility, but the thing that stuck out was his toughness. He was playing with a chip on his shoulder and mixing it up.

UCLA kicker Kai Forbath got this review:
He doesn't have a huge leg, but he's been good inside of 40 yards this week. You can tell, however, that kickoffs are not his strength, as he just doesn't have enough leg. He tries to overcompensate, and it affects his hang time and accuracy. Even Thursday, he did three kickoffs with team drills and unintentionally squibbed two kicks; the one he connected cleanly on reached only the 10.

Washington LB Mason Foster was called a "riser" all week:
Two linebackers who helped themselves this week are LSU ILB Kelvin Sheppard and Washington OLB Mason Foster. Foster showed why he was second in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 163 tackles displaying natural instincts. He finds the ball quickly, reacts quickly and gets into position to make the tackle. He's not the best athlete, but he is a reliable tackler and has enough power, strength and explosiveness in his hips when taking on blockers. He has good coverage awareness and is a big contributor on special teams. At the start of the season, he was a late-round prospect, but after a good campaign and a good week here, he's in the mid-fourth-round range now.

Washington QB Jake Locker got mixed reviews, and that link includes many of them.

Stanford CB Richard Sherman had a good day Thursday:
Stanford CB Richard Sherman had a great day. He’s very big but also real fast. Showed great instincts in the red zone drill, understood where the receiver was going and had enough skill to redirect and/or impede without committing a penalty. Made a couple of good adjustments on the fly, has the balance to change direction quickly and charge under control. He is visibly better than Chris Cook, a CB with similar size who went at the top of the 2nd round last year. The coaches still in attendance gushed over him.

Some more thoughts on California DE Cameron Jordan, including a nice review from an opposing offensive tackle.
Cal’s Cameron Jordan (6 feet 4 inches, 287 pounds) is nearly unblockable.

“He really impressed me,’’ said Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo. “He’s real strong to go with some good moves and speed. A really good player.’’

Several scouts compared Jordan to former Patriot Adalius Thomas because of his versatility and skill set. Thomas didn’t work out long-term in New England, but Bill Belichick obviously likes that type of player. Jordan is a young, moldable player who will stay within the scheme.

That Boston Globe article also noted Arizona DE Brooks Reed.
While the other top 3-4 outside linebackers will be underclassmen, Brooks Reed (Arizona) and K.J. Wright (Mississippi State) are promising.

Reed is very strong at 6-2 1/2, 257, and has good explosion off the ball. Wright is long-limbed at 6-3 and 246, and played in a passive read-and-react system. He needs to be coached up but has a high ceiling if someone can get him to turn it loose.

More on Reed here:
Arizona LB Brooks Reed has looked very good as an edge rusher in drills. He has been playing with his hand on the ground, as well as on the outside in the Bills' 3-4, this week and has been very impressive getting past tackles.

From the same article, some praise for USC WR Ronald Johnson:
USC WR Ronald Johnson looks like he has some legit run-after-the-catch ability. He's had a good week.

From what I can gather, Jordan, Foster, Reed and Johnson were generally considered the top "risers" among Pac-10 players, and if you go Pac-12, Solder also had a strong week.

Locker, Sherman, Oregon LB Casey Matthews and USC center Kristofer O'Dowd seemed to get mixed reviews, though none of them laid an egg or saw his stock drop drastically.

Pac-12 players on NFL All-Pro Team

January, 25, 2011
The Associated Press has announced its 2010 NFL All-Pro Team, and it includes four former Pac-12 players:

Edit note: The original version of this incorrectly listed OG Logan Mankins as going to Utah instead of Fresno State.

Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore (Oregon)
Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay (USC)
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Oakland (California)
Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh (USC)

Interesting that more than a third of the defense comes from the Pac-12.

Pac-10 presence on All-NFL team

January, 19, 2011
Pro Football Weekly and the Professional Football Writers of America have announced their 2010 All-NFL team, and there's plenty of Pac-10 presence.

Former USC linebacker Clay Matthews was named Defensive MVP, and he led three Pac-10 defenders on the team:

Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore (Oregon)
Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay (USC)
Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh (USC)

Further, an All-Rookie team was announced, and four from the Pac-10 made the team.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay (Oregon)
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England (Arizona)
Tyson Alualu, DE, Jacksonville (California)
*T.J. Ward, S, Cleveland (Oregon)

*Ward also was honored for special teams.

It's fair to say that Blount's fortunes have taken a positive turn since Sept. 3, 2009.

Pick six? Pac-10 in McShay mock draft

November, 10, 2010
ESPN draft guru Todd McShay has released his first mock 2011 NFL draft Insider, and he projects six Pac-10 players to be selected in the first round.

Those picks are as follows:

No. 1: Stanford QB Andrew Luck (Buffalo Bills)

No. 8 Washington QB Jake Locker (Minnesota Vikings)

No. 11 UCLA LB Akeem Ayers (San Diego Chargers)

No. 13 Oregon State DT Stephen Paea (St. Louis Rams)

No. 28 California DE Cameron Jordan (New England Patriots)

No. 30 UCLA S Rahim Moore (Baltimore Ravens)