Chat with Chris Mortensen
Mortensen, an award-winning journalist and one of the most respected and accomplished reporters covering the NFL, joined ESPN in 1991 and appears on Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and SportsCenter.
Send your questions now and join Mort on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Chris Mortensen (2:05 PM)
All right, back from Sr. Bowl practice, talking with coaches, scouts & players... let's see what's on your mind.
You teased on twitter that Jake Locker had off-the-chart intangibles. Can you elaborate? How does that help his draft stock? What teams would go for him?
Chris Mortensen (2:09 PM)
Thanks, Mark, I got some funny responses to that note - some said intangibles are always "off the chart" because you can't chart them. First of all, Locker is clearly physically gifted who had some disturbing statistics this past year. But he played the last 6 games with three broken ribs. He knows he has an accuracy problem he needs to tweak. He understands that a minor fundamental error when he takes the last step of his drop from center can create a flaw that allows a pass to get away from him. He is smart. He has a high-character, integrity guy who will work with the best of them, train his muscle memory on the one flaw, a natural leader, a team guy and physically with all the tools. He has gotten better every day out here at the Senior Bowl.
Mike (Boca Raton)
What is your take on Dan Rooney's comments regarding the CBA situation? Would he influence the negotiations in any way?
Chris Mortensen (2:11 PM)
I thought Dan Rooney's remarks were the most substantive I heard - forget the 18-game season and keep your money; the owners do need a better deal; and it would be foolishness to have a lockout. He's right. His influential voice is missing because of his U.S. Ambassador's job in Ireland. I wish President Obama would give Rooney a leave of absence to jump into these talks when they heat up next month.
Viking Fan here. Since you reside from ATL what is your opinion of Musgrave as oc
Chris Mortensen (2:14 PM)
Very high on him. Smart. Outstanding teacher and, better yet, a really good evaluator of the quarterback position. He's a "go-to" guy when I'm looking for detailed evaluations on quarterbacks when prepping for the draft and he's among the very best because usually what he has projected has been pretty right on. Good person, family man, too.
Hey Mort, How does Mark Herzlich look at the Senior Bowl? Where do you think he'll go in the draft this year compared to where he would have gone two years ago had be declared before being diagnosed with cancer?
Chris Mortensen (2:17 PM)
Well, I know this, he's built like a rock, like a football player, a linebacker. And, obviously he is a good football player. I mean, you'll hear things like maybe he's a little stiff and how will he play in space. I don't think those things have changed. Obviously, teams will be very tedious in their medical evaluations so I don't know where he would have gone pre-cancer compared to where he'll go now. He has a lot of admirers and he's earned that.
Hey Mort. What is going on with the Eagles D Coordinator search? Seems very unorganized which is unlike them.
Chris Mortensen (2:20 PM)
Well, the Eagles are never disorganized. I was a little surprised they fired Sean McDermott and I thought Jets DC Mike Pettine was a guy they were targeting but there hasn't been anything yet.
Do you think there is a chance that the panthers draft Patrick Peterson? He seems to have the maturity and character that the organization covets and having a future shutdown corner would be great in the division we are in.
Chris Mortensen (2:22 PM)
You always go with the bigs - O-line or D-line when you pick No. 1...or a quarterback. In this case, there's a conventional wisdom that the Panthers will take Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers or Auburn DT Nick Fairley. I haven't heard anyone who would knock those picks but we're in the middle of the process.
So would taking Locker at 10 be a reach for the Redskins?
Chris Mortensen (2:24 PM)
No but I don't think he'll be there. I would be surprised if they didn't select him if the opportunity presents itself. Still, I'm anxious to hear more on the other QBs, too.
Coach Tuesday (NYC)
Mort, have you had a chance to speak to Chan Gailey at the SB this week? Any Bills-related insight to pass along to us?
Chris Mortensen (2:27 PM)
I spoke to Chan yesterday. It's obvious the Bills want to acquire more talent on the offensive line and on defense. I asked him about Spiller's disappointing year and he really believes it will come together for him. He thought Spiller has to learn how to be patient in setting up his blocks and thought the Bills needed to do a better job of creating plays for him in space. Loves Fitzpatrick but they're not rullng out a QB, as you know.
Mort, what's the latest with the Cardinals DC situation? A lot of fans are getting impatient down here with Whiz....
Chris Mortensen (2:29 PM)
As you know, Todd Bowles interviewed well but as we reported over the weekend, I believe Dick LeBeau will give the Cardinals DC job serious consideration. Dick obviously has a great relationship with Coach Whisenhunt, it is the 3-4, there is some talent and, you know, he loves to golf in his spare time! He is still sharp at 73 years young and I think he might embrace one last new challenge. We'll see soon enough.
Andrew (New York)
Bigger advantage in the SB: Steeler OLBs vs. Packer OTs or Packer WRs vs. Steeler CBs? One of the keys to the game, I think...
Chris Mortensen (2:32 PM)
Well, you probably nailed it, right there. I think the Packers spread it out and then it's a matter of Rodgers getting the ball out before those LBs come crashing in. Also, Polamalu can be marginalized some when you have multiple receivers but it's a great game of matchups. Can't wait! Oh, does that belong to Bart Scott?
Whee would you peg the chances of Dick Lebeau actually leaving Pittsburgh? .5%?
Chris Mortensen (2:32 PM)
50.5% with the Cardinals.
Mike (San Antonio, TX)
Mort,How are the 3 guys from Wisconsin looking, and where do you think they will be drafted?
Chris Mortensen (2:34 PM)
Mike, I know there are a lot of eyes on those guys but I will be honest - I'm just in my third day here and have a lot of catching up to do on most of these players. I'll pass along info as I get it.
Mike (San Diego)
Isn't accuracy a big indicator of success for a college QB? Locker never had a season where he completed more than 60% of his passes and it's hard to find a successful NFL QB that never had at least ONE season of a 60+ completion %.
Chris Mortensen (2:38 PM)
Yeah, Mike, that's a legit question. Some believe accuracy is God-given and others say, baloney, it's a matter of fundamentals and mechanics and changing muscle memory. Locker is a tremendous athlete. He has a strong arm. He is a worker. he went through coaching changes and talent deficiencies around him. One thing that also impacted him was his tenacity and playing through those injuries - he has to learn how to use his 4.4 speed to his advantage as a passer and how to slide. By the way, Elway had plenty of sub. 60% seasons. Most coaches and QBs will tell you if they just take 25 more check-downs, that percentage heads of 60. You can see he has touch and a quick release so I think he can improve quite a bit there. But he has to live with that critique.
I highly doubt Cinci will trade Palmer. Do you think Carson would indeed retire if they refuse to trade him? How does affect the #4 pick in the draft?
Chris Mortensen (2:40 PM)
I believe the Bengals will refuse to trade him. I think Palmer will test their resolve and retirement is serious option. He has saved his money - over $30 million in the bank, his wife wouldn't mind him retiring; he's been beat up; he wants a fresh start and he'd like the Bengals to get something for him. I guess we won't know until it plays out.
Is it safe to say Locker is to Mortensen this draft as Clausen was to Kiper last draft?
Chris Mortensen (2:43 PM)
No, because I'm not a draft "guru." I gather information from the people who are NFL evaluators and I have my own file on those evaluators who have excellent track records at specific positions. Then, yes, I do like to interview these guys because I believe you can discern whether a player "gets it" in terms of the challenge and the professionalism because adversity will strike, especially quarterbacks.
Andrew Robertson (Phoenix, Arizona)
Would Von Miller be the final piece in the Cardinals' 3-4? (final piece of player personnel that is) Could he make an instant impact? Do you see us taking him? If not, who do you see us taking?
Chris Mortensen (2:44 PM)
Everyone is raving about Von Miller so I'd have to say, yes, that would be a pretty good get. Again, for me, it's fairly early in gathering that information.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
It is becoming more and more apparent that the Packers are a dome team (despite their performance against the Lions in Detroit a few weeks ago) as opposed to an outdoor team. Both their offense and defense is predicated on speed, which is severely hindered by playing outside. With the Packers playing the Steelers in a dome for the Super Bowl the surface alone makes the Packers a favorite right? Do you agree with me that the Packers are built more to be an indoor team as opposed to an outdoor team?
Chris Mortensen (2:47 PM)
I'll say this - I think the Packers are a better dome team than most because their receivers don't slip, catch better and Rodgers is so accurate it's ridiculous. However, a dome field also will allow the Steelers to play with speed on defense, especially along that defensive front, coming off the edges. By the way, I don't know a team, especially an offense, that doesn't prefer a dome or fair-weather climate this time of year.
In your short time at the Senior Bowl who is the one player that you've said, "WOW!!!"?
Chris Mortensen (2:49 PM)
A couple - Von Miller and Cameron Jordan, a DE from Cal and the son of former Vikings TE Steve Jordan....The Boise State WR (Titus Young) is something else, too.
Kevin (Mile High)
Mort, what are the odds CBA is worked out by draft time?
Chris Mortensen (2:51 PM)
I expect to go past the March 4 "deadline" but I would say maybe 50-50 by April 15. If it gets beyond the draft, then I'd say we're going to September.
Any thoughts on the advantage--if any--that the steelers have over green bay as a result of players with super bowl experience?
Chris Mortensen (2:54 PM)
I guess it's a factor that gives the Steelers a slight edge because many of them have played recently in one and know how to handle the week, the largeness of the game, the differences in pre-game and half-time (lengths), how the tempo is slowed by the many TV timeouts. However, we can over-think some of these things, too.
One of Ben Roethlisberger's weaknesses appears to be his inability/refusal to thow with rhythm/timing. Since Green Bay's defensive backs are similar (if not better) to the Jets, do you see the same struggles Ben had last week showing up in XLV?
Chris Mortensen (2:56 PM)
Maybe Ben has struggles, the O-line is subpar and there are a bunch of young (talented) wideouts....but he converts more 3rd-and-longs and if he has the ball in his hands in the final 2 minutes with the game on the line, I don't think you'd bet against him.
Who is the most NFL ready QB in the draft?
Chris Mortensen (2:59 PM)
Ryan Mallett played in by-far the most-demandng pro-style offense at Arkansas. The QB under Bobby Petrino is operating from an NFL playbook, is responsible for getting the team in the right pass protections, as well as making run checks based on the pre-snap looks he's getting. But all of them have their flaws and question marks.
Chris Mortensen (3:00 PM)
I would add that Alabama's Greg McElroy is also very pro ready because of Nick Saban's program. He's just not as physically gifted as Mallett.
Mort, what do you make of this Cutler situation? I feel he is being unfairly portrayed as someone who isnt tough but as a Bears fan I think he is extremely tough. He took abuse the past two years and never complained and rarely misses games.
Chris Mortensen (3:05 PM)
I believe people spoke out of turn because critics may not like Cutler's carelessness with the football or maybe his "body language" but his toughness has never been questioned. I think the real-time social media world just got the best - or worst - of a lot of those critics, including past and present players. All of us have that tendency to say "You gotta be carted off the field" to not play in a title game. I had a veteran old-school athletic trainer text me and said he saw the play Cutler was injured on; noticed he tried to play with it and did not believe he could've or should've played. I wish that there was more definitive information that the Bears had shared with the broadcast crew but, let's face it, they didn't take the MRI until Monday.
Chris Mortensen (3:06 PM)
Gotta run to another practice... thanks. Catch up with me on Twitter @mortreport. We have a special edition of Sunday NFL Countdown at 11 a.m. this week....Thanks and God Bless!