Point No. 1
Oregon's Patrick Chung is one of those highly versatile players who could help
an NFL team right away as a rookie.
The four-year starter at safety finished his collegiate career with 384
tackles, fourth all-time in that category for Oregon, and first among all
players who were not linebackers. But in addition to being a hard-hitting
defensive back with great instincts, Chung played special teams throughout his
career, even during his senior year when he notched 14 special teams tackles. He
was a two-time Special Teams Player of the Year for the Ducks.
"Special teams is a fun part of the game for me," he said during a
phone interview this week. "Defense is focus, focus, focus and make the plays.
Special teams is just fun, it's a 40-yard fist-fight."
Chung also returned kickoffs late in his junior season and averaged 25.6 yards per
return during his senior year. And he returned punts earlier in his career.
Ironically, although he has a take-no-prisoners mentality on the field, he's totally
content to be out of the spotlight when he's off the field.
"I've always been a very humble person. I'm probably one of the most
laid-back people you'll know," Chung said. "I like to be at home,
watch TV, watch a little film. That's just me."
With his ability to play either safety position, his wide variety of
special teams experience, and his well-grounded temperament, Chung's drawing a lot of interest from NFL teams. The
Eagles, Browns, Broncos and Panthers are among the many teams Chung's worked out
for so far. His next workout is with the Atlanta Falcons. And the Patriots, Eagles, Saints and Chargers are just a few of the teams that he's scheduled to visit over the next few weeks.
Point No. 2
I'm not convinced that Albert Haynesworth is going to be the dominating player
in Washington that we saw in Tennessee the past two seasons.
The Redskins obviously got a guy who has the talent and ability
to be a force to be reckoned with in the middle of a defensive line. With 91
tackles and 14.5 sacks over the past two seasons, Haynesworth has certainly made
a convincing case that he is the best defensive tackle in the NFL right
So why do I have doubts about his success in Washington? For two reasons.
Although he's finally playing at his potential, when you look at
his body of work for his career to date, it's erratic at
And his anger problems percolated to a shocking result as recently as 2006, when he stomped
on the face of Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode with his cleats.
Former Titans DT Albert Haynesworth wraps-up Lions RB Kevin Smith.
AP Photo/Duane Burleson
To his credit, Haynesworth seems to
have learned a valuable life lesson from the resulting five-game suspension and public embarassment. He truly appears to be
a better person and player since those days.
But was part of his diligence
and dedication to his craft over the past two seasons driven by the fact that he knew he was
closing in on a huge payday—one he seemed to want, in part, as an affirmation of his top-tier status in the league?
If so, how will he perform going forward without that
carrot dangling in front of him as motivation?
"It's a lot of money, but honestly, I put more pressure on myself than
what the contract will do," Haynesworth told the media after the ink on the contract
That's the right thing to say, but Albert Haynesworth has previously never been challenged to stay motivated
after receiving a contract that guarantees him $41 million.
concern is his injury history. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound player has yet to start 16-games in a single season.
He's missed five starts over the last two years alone. Will he be as anxious to jump back into the fray as he gets
nicked-up in the future? Or will he be willing to cool his heels a bit longer?
It's all up to him. And I hope he succeeds and proves my suspicion to be
wrong—because he's awfully fun to watch when he's playing with some fire in his
Point No. 3
Draft prospect Eben Britton is one cool dude who's going to be fun to watch
at the next level.
When I recently talked with University of Arizona offensive tackle Eben Britton, he
was one of those draft prospects who really stood out to me—partially due to all
of the contradictions I uncovered while chatting with him, and partially because
he simply seems to be a smart, talented and fun guy.
Britton was born in the Bronx, making him a New York City guy, but he's spent the last
decade or so in California. He's a football player who writes short stories and
poetry. He's a guy who thinks it's so very cool that he's named after his
great-grandfather, Eben, (so do I) but would undoubtedly be just as comfortable responding to you if you simply
called him "dude."
Britton has a very easy-going and laid-back manner off the field, yet he'll tell you that it's
the violence of the game of football that appeals to him the most. And while he's a truly
modern man in every sense of the term, he's a man one who sees the sport of football through an ancient lens.
"It's either you, or the guy in front of you. It's a battle,"
Britton explained during our conversation. "There's a lot of great things
to be said about that, it's a beautiful game on that level, it's man versus man. We're gladiators of the modern time."
The 6-foot-6, 309-pound offensive lineman is not only one of the top talents
at his position in this draft, he's also a humble and likeable guy
who would be a positive presence in an NFL locker room. And teams have taken
Britton's already had private workouts for the Miami Dolphins, the
Philadelphia Eagles, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Bears. And one of
the teams he's already visited is the Buffalo Bills, with more scheduled.
Point No. 4
While some draft experts and the media are quick to doubt Texas WR Quan Cosby
because he's only 5-foot-9, they're truly missing the big picture.
Cosby has three important attributes that are going to help his chances of
success in the NFL—quickness, great hands and maturity. As I watched him at the
Senior Bowl earlier this year, he was consistently converting poorly thrown
balls into catches. It didn't matter if the ball was thrown too high, too low,
or behind him. Cosby kept pulling them in. I honestly can't recall seeing him
drop a pass. His body control and concentration on the football was simply that
Texas WR Quan Cosby leaps to make one of his 14 catches in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
"That's one of the things I pride myself on," he said during a
recent phone conversation. "At the end of the day, a receiver has to catch
the ball. You can do this or that, have all the moves, but if you don't catch
the ball, it means nothing. I was fortunate enough down there that not one ball
that I could get my hands on ended up touching the ground. The way I look at it
is, if I can touch it, I should catch it.
As for his height, Cosby said that it hasn't come up as a topic of discussion
with coaches and scouts. And he's quick to point out that he's the same height as players
such as the Patriots' Wes Welker, who has torn-up the NFL out of the slot position.
"You need a quick guy who can beat a DB or a linebacker and make those
small plays and turn them into a big play. So from a coaching standpoint, I
haven't heard a word about it. From a media standpoint, yeah, I hear a lot about
it," he said with a laugh.
"But it's heart, man. That's what it boils down to. I've been asked how
tall I am, and I tell them it depends on where the ball is. You just have to go
up and get it when they throw it too high. And I've got a bit of an advantage
when they throw it low."
Cosby has drawn quite a bit of interest from teams, including the Seattle Seahawks who
talked with him at both the Senior Bowl and at the Combine. And the Denver Broncos are
one of the teams that recently put him through a workout.
Point No. 5
The Dallas Cowboys have made some smart free-agent acquisitions.
As I recently rolled through the list of free agent acquisitions by team,
the trio of unrestricted free agents that the Cowboys added jumped off the page
at me more than most of the groups of players I saw elsewhere on the list.
Dallas added former Atlanta LB Keith Brooking, a reliable, 12-year veteran
who hasn't missed a start in eight seasons. He'll should step right in and claim
the insider linebacker starter's spot vacated by Zach Thomas.
Former Charger Igor Olshansky is a fifth-year defensive lineman who will be penciled-in at
Chris Canty's former defensive end spot. He's an
incredibly strong player with a non-stop motor who will benefit from the
tutelage of defensive line coach Todd Grantham.
Safety Gerald Sensabaugh is only entering his fifth season, and Dallas is
likely to be the beneficiary of the four-year investment the Jaguars made in the
25-year-old player. Sensabaugh turned in the best season of his career in 2008,
grabbing four interceptions and logging 70 tackles in 13 starts and 16 game
appearances. He'll provide a bit of stability to what was a very shaky secondary
situation in Dallas following the release of Pro Bowler Roy Williams.
Point No. 6
I admire linebackers who have the instincts and intelligence to be one of those guys who are constantly
around the ball, and the University of Pittsburgh's Scott McKillop is one of
those guys in this year's draft class.
A perfect fit as a middle linebacker in a 4-3 alignment or an inside
linebacker in a 3-4, McKillop is one of those guys who isn't at the top of the
draft class in straight-line speed. But if you're looking for a smart player who
can get to the ball carrier faster than most linebackers—despite the chaos that
erupts in front of him at the snap of the ball—McKillop's your guy.
Pittsburgh LB Scott McKillop at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
"I think in order to be a great football player, you've got to have good
instincts and you have to study film," the Big East's 2008 Defensive Player
of the Year said during a phone interview. "There are a bunch of athletes
who are faster than me, who are stronger than me. But I just think that with my
work ethic and my understanding of the game, knowing what I can do and what I
can't do, helps me be a great player."
A two-year starter at Pitt, the 6-foot-1, 247-pound is a well-rounded
athlete, something he proved by finishing in the top five at his position in
five drills at the NFL Scouting Combine. During the 2008 season, McKillop made
137 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss, was credited with four sacks and
intercepted a pair of passes.
At the Combine, McKillop had formal interviews with the Jets, Chargers,
Panthers and the Saints. And the Chargers' interest is noteworthy since they are
one of the teams that have lined him up for an official visit at the end of the
Point No. 7
I applaud NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's position that the league should add
more games to the regular season—with one reservation.
Noting that the "fans don't believe preseason games are up to our
standards," Goodell stated that he'd like to see the season expanded to 17
or 18 games instead of the current 16-game format.
He and the fans are absolutely right. A four-game slate of preseason games is
not only unnecessary, it's just flat-out boring.
With players staying in shape year-round and teams holding mini-camps in
addition to training camp, there's no need to make them play four useless games.
Expand the practice squads by a few more players to help teams have a deeper
bench during the year. Add another bye week for each team if need be. But let's get
this change implemented.
My only reservation about adding the games is that the league will use them
to play more games at neutral sites, a move that I understand from
a marketing perspective, but one I really dislike from the fan's perspective.
Click the player names to learn more about Patrick Chung, Eben Britton, Quan Cosby, and Scott McKillop.
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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features
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