Join Date: Jan 2005
sometimes the better players gettdrafted later bacause they
I hope we look for football players rather than at 40 times
Notebook: Patterson headlines 2005 Better-Than Team
April 7, 2005
By Pete Prisco
CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
Tell Pete your opinion!
Where can two inches mean a $5 million difference? Get your mind out of the gutter.
We're talking the NFL here. Mike Patterson is about to live this lesson the hard way -- in his bank account.
Mike Patterson has been a dominator on college football's best team. (Getty Images)
Patterson is a talented, aggressive, penetrating defensive tackle who showed up on tape for the Southern Cal Trojans last year as much as any player on a talented defense that helped the team win a national title. I challenge you to watch any USC game where No. 99 isn't dominant.
But come draft day, later this month, Patterson will be one of those players sitting and waiting to hear his name called. It could come late in the first round -- a smart team would be wise to do so -- or it could come in the second round.
This much is certain: At 6-feet tall, his name won't be called early in the first round. And that's based on his height, which is why he won't be getting the contract he should.
"I hear about it all the time," Patterson said. "When I was at the Senior Bowl, I heard it. When I was at the combine, I heard it there, too. People always talk about how short I am for a defensive lineman. It doesn't bother me, though. There's nothing I can do about it."
In the computer-formulated world of NFL scouting, Patterson doesn't fit the bill. The NFL likes its defensive tackles to be 6-3 or taller, weigh 310 pounds or more and yet have the quickness to be a pass rusher and the strength to hold up at the point of attack.
Patterson has it all, except for the height. He weighs 295 pounds, he has amazing in-line quickness and he's powerful against the run.
He hasn't earned the nickname "Baby Sapp" for nothing. Being compared to Warren Sapp is a heck of an honor -- at least on the field.
"I feel thankful to be compared to a player like that," Patterson said. "I have a level of play now to live up to."
Patterson will do that, which is why he is the headliner of our annual Better-Than list of players in this year's draft. Each year we take a look at the draft and how the scouts are rating the players, and then come up with a list of players we feel will be better players than people and some scouts are expecting.
Patterson is a favorite, based mainly on the way he played for the Trojans. It was USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, now the head coach at Mississippi, who gave Patterson the nickname of "Baby Sapp." Orgeron should know. He coached Sapp at Miami.
"I love watching Warren play," Patterson said. "He's so quick off the ball, but powerful. I hope I can play that well."
Patterson has a wrestling background, which helps his ability to stay lower than the guys trying to block him. That makes him a tough guy to move and keep out of the pocket.
He would seem to be a perfect fit for those teams looking for a penetrating one-gap tackle, which Sapp was when he excelled for the Bucs. Some teams who have expressed interest in Patterson are the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts, both who have coaches with ties to those Tampa Bay teams.
Colts coach Tony Dungy was the head coach of the Bucs when they came to power as a defensive team, while Jets coach Herman Edwards was the assistant head coach of those teams.
With both teams picking at the back end of the first round, Patterson could be going to one of those teams.
"I truly believe I have first-round skills," Patterson said. "I feel like I am a first-round player."
The feeling here is the same. That's why he's the captain of the 2005 Better-Than Team.
Now here's the rest of the squad:
Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma
He's a little receiver at 5-11, but he knows how to run routes. Clayton is quick in and out of his breaks and he has the speed to get deep. He will be a first-round pick, and many teams have that grade on him, but the reason he's in this list is because the feeling here is that he's better than Mike Williams, and should be the third receiver taken behind Braylon Edwards and Troy Williamson.
Taylor Stubblefield, WR, Purdue
He's the all-time receptions leader in the Big Ten, which says something about his ability to get open. He will be an ideal slot receiver in the NFL. He doesn't run that great and he isn't big, but he understands the passing game. Think a slower Brandon Stokley.
Derek Anderson, QB, Oregon State
At 6-6 with a cannon for an arm, Anderson fits the prototype mold. He was a 4,000-yard passer as a junior at Oregon State, and while his yardage numbers went down last year, his touchdown-interception ratio improved. He has a tendency to lock on to a receiver at times and force the football. But that can be coached out of him.
Ryan Grant, RB, Notre Dame
Grant split time with Julius Jones a few years back, and we all know what Jones did as a rookie last year with the Cowboys when he was healthy. Grant has good size at 6-1, 215, and he runs well. He runs a little upright, but that's what they said about Tennessee Titans running back Chris Brown when he came into the league. Grant is worth a fourth-round pick.
Frank Gore, RB, Miami
He has had major surgery on both his knees, but they both checked out with most NFL teams. Gore has decent speed, but he's one of those guys who knows how to find the cracks in the defense. He's a chain mover. And remember, this is a player who started ahead of Willis McGahee at Miami before he tore up his second knee.
Ray Willis, T, Florida State
With FSU left tackle Alex Barron a sure first-round pick, Willis isn't getting the same kind of hype. That's because he's not nearly the athlete that Barron is, but Willis is a tough guy. He is a mauler who won't back down. At 6-5, 327, he will make a good right tackle for somebody. If Barron had his toughness, that would be a heck of a player.
Santonio Thomas, DT, Miami
Injuries slowed him last year -- he hurt a knee -- but Thomas is a 6-3, 300-pound player who has some in-line quickness. He should be able to add a little weight and become a solid run player in the NFL. We've seen these types of players blossom when they get wide and big on the next level.
Bill Swancutt, DE, Oregon State
He isn't a great athlete, which is why he's being pushed down on some boards, but Swancutt makes plays. He's an effort player who plays hard all the time. At 6-4, 270 pounds, he needs to get bigger to hold up against the run. But you can bet this guy will produce for the team that drafts him in the later rounds.
Kirk Morrison, LB, San Diego State
Morrison was a four-year starter for the Aztecs, and a productive one at that. He doesn't run that well, but he has great instincts to get to the ball. Morrison didn't look good at the Senior Bowl practices, but he played well in the game. That's him. He's a guy who will show up on Sundays.
Odell Thurman, LB, Georgia
This kid has first-round ability, but some off-field problems will push him down the board. The coach who is secure enough in his coaching skills to take him will be getting a heck of a player. Thurman can run and he hits. If he keeps clear of problems, he will be a quality starter.
Kevin Burnett, OLB Tennessee
Burnett has size at 6-2, 240 pounds and he runs well. A lot of teams have him in the second round, but he's worth a look in the first. Despite major knee surgery in 2002, he can still run.
Brandon Browner, CB, Oregon State
He is 6-4, which is tall for a corner, so some people think he needs to move inside to safety. No way. He hasn't run that well in his workouts, but he plays faster than he has timed. He's also physical, which will help in press coverage. He isn't in the same class as Miami's Antrel Rolle, but he's still going to be a solid starter in the league early in his career.
Bryant McFadden, CB, Florida State
This is another corner who doesn't have blazing speed, but he played really well last season for the Seminoles. One other thing that will help McFadden is the history of corners from FSU. Many of the recent ones coming out of that school have played better in the NFL than they did in college. One of those is Samari Rolle.
Thomas Davis, S, Georgia
Davis makes plays. That's all you notice when you watch Georgia from the past couple of years. Some say he's too slow to play safety in the NFL, but his recent 4.48 in the 40 should dispel that notion. This kid does not need to move to linebacker. He will be better than Roy Williams is in Dallas playing the safety spot. He will be a top 20 pick, but those teams that pass on him might end up regretting it.
Junior Rosegreen, S, Auburn
Here's another safety who shows up a bunch on tape. In an Auburn game, he seemed to be all over the field. Rosegreen gets overshadowed by Carlos Rogers, but Rosegreen can play. He is worth a second-day pick.
Around the League
As we move closer to the April 23 draft, the feeling among many scouts is this is a solid first round, but there are no real difference makers in the top 10. "There's no difference from three to 30," said one scout. So look for a lot of teams to try to trade down as we get closer to the draft. The problem with that is finding partners who want to move up. It appears the 49ers will draft one of three players -- Utah quarterback Alex Smith, Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers or Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards -- since they are already speaking with the agents for all three players in an attempt to negotiate a contract before draft day. That could just be some form of leverage for the 49ers, but it's the wise thing to do. The feeling here is that Smith will be their choice in large part because it's a deep receivers draft and the 49ers are in desperate need of a quarterback. Smith has a slight edge on a lot of boards over Rodgers. The Dolphins, who pick second, will bring in Smith for a visit, lending credence to the talk around the league that the Dolphins will be taking a quarterback despite posturing from some in the organization that they won't. The Dolphins have A.J. Feeley and Sage Rosenfels, but neither of those players conjures up images of Dan Marino. It's going to take time to turn the thing around in Miami, so why not get a quarterback to build it around?
It's funny now to think about all this talk last season about how the cornerback position would be de-emphasized because of the emphasis on calling contact in the secondary. First, the cornerbacks cleaned up in free agency. Now comes word that as many as six corners could go off the board in the first round. Miami's Antrel Rolle, West Virginia's Adam "Pac-Man" Jones and Auburn's Carlos Rogers will be gone by the 15th pick in the first round. Fabian Washington of Nebraska, Justin Miller of Clemson and McFadden of Florida State could also go in the first round. So much for the thinking the corner position would be devalued.
Looking for a first-round sleeper? Northern Colorado receiver Vincent Jackson is a player some scouts think could go at the back end of the first round. He is a physical receiver who can run well. The level of competition is always a concern, but he's such a talented receiver that he might just sneak into the first round.
It looks like NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is simply going to fine Vikings coach Mike Tice for scalping Super Bowl tickets. After an investigation by NFL security found out Tice did indeed scalp the tickets, Tagliabue will likely fine him the money he made by scalping them. He won't be fired or suspended, which really shouldn't come as a surprise. There is talk around the league that Tice would have blown the lid off the scalping of tickets by plenty of NFL personnel, which happens to be the league's dirty little secret. Tice was said to be ready to chirp like a bird -- naming names -- if he was going down. So the wise thing to do -- and something we predicted here a few weeks ago -- was to fine him and make this go away. The league is expected to change the way the tickets are distributed, but those who have already sold the tickets should be off the hook. That includes the former GM who is rumored to have built his dream house with scalped Super Bowl tickets.
Just a thought: Who doesn't agent Drew Rosenhaus represent? He has more clients in the NFL than any other agent or agency in the league. He now has more than IMG's football division. His latest add-on is Eagles receiver Terrell Owens, who left agent David Joseph. Rosenhaus quickly went to work for Owens, meeting with Eagles president Joe Banner to discuss a new contract. Owens' deal is good through 2010 and he's the third highest-paid receiver in the league. To think he will get a new deal from the Eagles, who run their cap as well as any team in the league, is a big mistake. Owens, no matter who represents him, won't be getting a new deal. Rosenhaus has to know this.
Rosenhaus is also trying to get a new deal for Jaguars defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, whose contract expires after the 2005 season. Rosenhaus and the Jaguars have exchanged proposals, but the first asking price included an outrageous $20 million signing bonus. Unhappy with his contract, Stroud is not taking part in the team's offseason workouts. That's a concern to the team and some of his teammates. Safety Donovin Darius is also not taking part because he's unhappy he wasn't traded after being tagged with a franchise designation, but he keeps his body in tip-top shape. Stroud isn't as stringent with his workouts, and that's why some of his teammates have privately said they wish he was around Alltel Stadium. Stroud won't be going anywhere, and he'll likely have a new deal before the 2005 season kicks off, but if he doesn't come down from the $20 million number, he can forget it. By the way, the signing of Tony Williams was not done to stir Stroud to action, but rather to give them team quality depth behind Stroud and John Henderson.
A player who faced Tampa Bay tackle Todd Steussie last year said he was noticeably stronger than in the past when he had been matched against him. Steussie was named in a report as one of three players for the Carolina Panthers in 2003 who was given illegal prescriptions for testosterone. "He was stronger last year," said the player. "You could tell a difference." It didn't help, though. Steussie was eventually benched. I don't think all the times I called him Todd "The Turnstile" Steussie led him to take the testosterone. Nah, couldn't have.
That was a heck of move by the Patriots signing receiver David Terrell this week. Terrell obviously is a talented player, but he failed in Chicago after being a high first-round pick. Part of that was from his lack of work ethic, and some was because the Bears quarterbacks and offensive systems were stunted. In New England, Terrell will be reunited with his college quarterback at Michigan, Tom Brady. Those two had great chemistry in Ann Arbor and anybody doubting that should pop in a tape of the 2000 Orange Bowl game between Michigan and Alabama. Terrell had 10 catches, including three touchdown catches in that game. Brady completed 34 passes for 359 yards, yet was still a sixth-round pick later that April. Brady reportedly vouched for Terrell. Not only that, the Patriots' locker room, a group of self-policing players, won't accept any shenanigans from Terrell. The prediction here is that Terrell has a big year for the Patriots.
I'll take davis in the first-trade for a high second low first and grab burnett, then with our 40 grab patterson who still might be there-or castillo if he's still around.