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Old 01-22-2009, 12:01 PM   #1
cutthemdown
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Default Maualuga asserting himself at Senior Bowl practices.

He started out slow on first day but they say Wednesday he really started to impress the scouts and erase doubts about him slipping far in draft. Also some other tidbits for you later in article.

Enjoy.





http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/sport...11289252.shtml



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MOBILE, Ala. -- With a dearth of talent at the skill positions at the Senior Bowl this week, scouts continue to focus instead on this year's rare talent along the lines, at linebacker and with an underrated secondary. And I wasn't disappointed after breaking down the linebackers and defensive backs during Wednesday's practices.

Among the back seven defenders, the clear star Wednesday was Southern California inside linebacker Rey Maualuga. Scouts know he has a tendency to freelance, and one of his areas of concern -- wrapping up rather than just hitting a ballcarrier -- wasn't tested with the Jacksonville coaches wanting players to stay on their feet. But his burst to and through holes as a run stuffer and surprising agility in space stood out. Where he might have emerged as this game's highest-rated prospect, however, was his ability as a pass rusher.

Rey Maualuga has surprised with his agility in space. (Getty Images)
Rey Maualuga has surprised with his agility in space. (Getty Images)
Maualuga was rarely asked to blitz for the Trojans and finished last season with no sacks, so this was an area scouts wanted to see Maualuga work on. Showing speed, agility to redirect and the hand technique of veteran pass rushers, Maualuga was a one man wrecking crew during drills Wednesday morning.

After looking fluid in drills earlier in the week, Trojans teammate Brian Cushing's physicality in scrimmages stood out Wednesday as well. Conversations with scouts in the stands verified that Cushing, an outside linebacker, could be moving into the top 15 with his play in Mobile.

Yet another Trojan, Clay Mathews, and Ohio State's Marcus Freeman were often overlooked due to their more established teammates, but both have enjoyed strong weeks. Mathews is more fluid in space than expected after spending his senior season primarily rushing the passer. Freeman, finally over the ankle injury that slowed him throughout 2008, has been fluid and aggressive as well.

Coming from Virginia, one of the few collegiate teams that runs the 3-4 defense, Clint Sintim has struggled a bit in acclimating to the traditional 4-3 scheme the Cincinnati coaching staff employs. He's a bit stiff in space, struggling at times changing directions laterally in coverage or when breaking down to make the tackle. But the burst upfield, hand technique as a pass-rusher and explosive closing speed are all there for him to rank as one of the top 3-4 rush linebackers in the draft.

Another linebacker capable of rushing from the outside -- California's Zach Follett -- was rarely used in that capacity Wednesday. The Bengals staff moved Follett to inside linebacker throughout the practice, an area where his greatest asset -- his burst upfield -- is a bit hidden. Follett struggled getting off blocks, but showed better instincts than expected, blowing up a screen during the scrimmage and attacking holes in the running game. He belongs on the outside, but the versatility to slide inside in a pinch will help his draft stock.

Former Oklahoma safety Nic Harris has struggled with the acclimation to linebacker. He is naturally fluid in space for the position, but struggles disengaging from blocks and has a tendency to get lost amid the trash inside.

While this year's group of senior linebackers ranks among the stronger crops in recent memory, the best position from top to bottom this week just might be at safety.

The race to be the first safety selected in 2009 could come down to workouts, and depending on which scout you talk to, the headliner at the is either Western Michigan's Louis Delmas or Oregon's Patrick Chung -- both of whom were on display in Wednesday morning's North practice.

Delmas has good instincts for the position, is a natural playmaker and flies around the field with reckless abandon. Scouts have some concerns about his ability to flip his hips in coverage, however. Chung's speed, size and instincts make him the most versatile safety in the draft, which has him flying up draft boards.

With the Senior Bowl coaches mandating that only hitting, not tackling, is allowed in practice, neither has been able to show off what they do best -- tackle in space. Despite this restriction, their athleticism shows up, as opposed to that of two other highly-touted safeties.

Missouri's William Moore wasn't the impact player as a senior that he was in 2007, and needed a strong week in Mobile to rescue his falling stock. Unfortunately, quite the opposite has occurred as Moore's limitations continue to be exposed. He was high and stiff in his backpedal Wednesday, inconsistent in his angles to the ball and hasn't caught the ball well all week, which scouts had previously viewed as a strength. Thought of as one of the draft's top defensive prospects entering the year, Moore is in danger of falling out of the draft's first day -- and potentially further -- with his performance so far this week.

Rashad Johnson turned in an All-American season and was as instrumental in Alabama's success as any Tide player. However, his stellar instincts for the position and penchant for the big play belie his marginal speed and explosiveness. I'll never doubt a player with his track record of making plays, but he's smaller and slower than the other safeties here and is viewed by scouts as a bit of a product of Nick Saban's system.

The poor quarterback play has made grading cornerbacks tougher than most years. What has been obvious throughout the week, however, is Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith's willingness to gamble -- often resulting in big plays in his favor. Smith has excellent foot quickness and balance. In fact, he frequently has run better routes than the receivers he was covering this week. He intercepted his third pass in as many practices Wednesday.

Like Smith, San Jose State's Coye Francies, an Oregon State transfer, and his former teammate with the Beavers, Keenan Lewis, have the change of direction and speed to run with receivers. Both are physical in man coverage and could translate their skills well into a bump-and-run system.

Virginia Tech's Macho Harris has similar agility, but may lack their straight-line speed. He has played well here this week, but scouts are reserving judgment, as his ultimate grade will be determined by his 40-yard time. Cincinnati's DeAngelo Smith and Jackson State's Domonique Johnson have struggled a bit. Both are high cut and a bit choppy in their backpedal. They may run well in workouts, but receivers were too often able to generate separation from them on Wednesday. The North squad took a hit in the secondary with the news that Cincinnati cornerback Mike Mickens, a potential first-round pick, elected to pull out due to a sore knee. Mickens missed the final two regular-season games for the Bearcats after surgery to repair cartilage in the knee and clearly was not himself the first two days of practice. He was replaced Wednesday by former Michigan standout Morgan Trent. Trent has the athleticism to boost his stock this week, but has to answer questions about his toughness.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:12 PM   #2
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Kiper currently has him outside the top 16, FWIW...

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=3850049
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:15 PM   #3
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I am so torn at this point at which direction Denver should go. Do we spend a 1st round pick on a DT/NT who could take 3 years to develop....if at all, Or do we go with a kick ass LB that can start and make an impact in his rookie season?
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:17 PM   #4
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Kiper's not so reliable in my book .... I'll go with whatever Mayock says.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:24 PM   #5
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Cushing!!!!!
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:25 PM   #6
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I've been watching the practices on NFL network. I read that he showed up overweight but he's been destroying in practices.


Other things I noticed:
  • There's a lot of good 3-4 linebackers. Sintim, English and Cody Brown look pretty good for what we want to do.
  • Delmas and Chung seem like they're going to be good, hard hitting safeties.
  • The linemen don't look as good as last years' crop. The Centers especially have been underwhelming.
  • After a lackluster first day, Mayock called Raji out and then the next morning he was absolutely destroying.
  • Robert Ayers is having a really good week of practice.
  • Brandon Pettigrew is disgusting.
  • There are some decent corners in this group

I'm excited to watch the practices today.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:26 PM   #7
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Virginia Tech's Macho Harris has similar agility, but may lack their straight-line speed. He has played well here this week, but scouts are reserving judgment, as his ultimate grade will be determined by his 40-yard time

Macho can play. Some team will get a good player.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBF1 View Post
I am so torn at this point at which direction Denver should go. Do we spend a 1st round pick on a DT/NT who could take 3 years to develop....if at all, Or do we go with a kick ass LB that can start and make an impact in his rookie season?
We need the best guy on the board at SS, MLB and now NT if we really do go 3-4.

will be interesting to see how this draft plays out.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoBuff View Post
Kiper's not so reliable in my book .... I'll go with whatever Mayock says.
Absolutely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaylore View Post
I've been watching the practices on NFL network. I read that he showed up overweight but he's been destroying in practices.


Other things I noticed:
  • There's a lot of good 3-4 linebackers. Sintim, English and Cody Brown look pretty good for what we want to do.
  • Delmas and Chung seem like they're going to be good, hard hitting safeties.
  • The linemen don't look as good as last years' crop. The Centers especially have been underwhelming.
  • After a lackluster first day, Mayock called Raji out and then the next morning he was absolutely destroying.
  • Robert Ayers is having a really good week of practice.
  • Brandon Pettigrew is disgusting.
  • There are some decent corners in this group

I'm excited to watch the practices today.
Is NFL Network not the greatest thing in the history of the world?
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:30 PM   #10
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I just don't see us drafting a corner ... Shaw, JMFW and Paymah are decent backups.

We need S, NT and LB ... in fact, we should draft three of each








(That is not a joke)
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:31 PM   #11
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I don't agree with the comments on Sintim. I think he's looked good for adjusting his game.

Alex Mack has been getting owned a lot, though he plays better in-line than in drills. He's had issues with the QB. There's been a lot of fumbles in practices. Of course half the QB's are spread offense so it's understandable.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:31 PM   #12
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Is NFL Network not the greatest thing in the history of the world?
They used to be, but they fell off the past year or so.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:32 PM   #13
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BJ Raji is going to fly up the boards like Ellis did last year. He has been dismantling opposition in 1 on 1 drills with speed, power and technique. I would be very surprised if he doesn't end up in the top 10.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:32 PM   #14
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I would be soooooooooooo happy with Raji, Jennings, Matthews as our first 3 picks. I am not so sure about Rey.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I just don't see us drafting a corner ... Shaw, JMFW and Paymah are decent backups.

We need S, NT and LB ... in fact, we should draft three of each
Give me those and a Center, throw in some UDFA at RB and O line for depth and I will be happy.

Now if they draft a RB in round 1 or 2 and then proceed to get a WR I will start the 1st Fire MickyD thread.

I have faith in the G team though
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:34 PM   #16
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BJ Raji is going to fly up the boards like Ellis did last year. He has been dismantling opposition in 1 on 1 drills with speed, power and technique. I would be very surprised if he doesn't end up in the top 10.
Yesterday he sacked the QB buy shoving the guard into the QB so hard it knocked him down. It was on a five step drop, too.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:35 PM   #17
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[*]Brandon Pettigrew is disgusting.
Pettigrew is Riley Odoms II.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:35 PM   #18
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Maualuga is going to be a stud you will all see. He needs to be inside in a 3-4 IMO but in that role he will destroy. As a MLB in a 4-3 I think he would be decent but IMO better in a 3-4.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:38 PM   #19
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Quote:
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I just don't see us drafting a corner ... Shaw, JMFW and Paymah are decent backups.

We need S, NT and LB ... in fact, we should draft three of each
you didn't mention the best backup on the roster at that position.....Josh Bell.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:40 PM   #20
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Maualuga is going to be a stud you will all see. He needs to be inside in a 3-4 IMO but in that role he will destroy. As a MLB in a 4-3 I think he would be decent but IMO better in a 3-4.
i agree, before the deadline for underclassmen to declare i was on the Spikes bandwagoin big time thinking he was going to be the best 4-3 MLB in this draft, but as soon as we hired Nolan and it seemed more likely that we would be 3-4 i now want Rey because he will be a better 3-4 MLB.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:45 PM   #21
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Pettigrew is Riley Odoms II.
I think he'll be more prolific than that.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:49 PM   #22
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Draft this man!
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:49 PM   #23
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gotta say that coming out of hte season (college) I really wanted to get Maluanga....

but Raji has really really impressed me of late from watching his highlights and these practices
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:50 PM   #24
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Why don't people have faith in Korey Litchinwhatever??
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:51 PM   #25
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i agree, before the deadline for underclassmen to declare i was on the Spikes bandwagoin big time thinking he was going to be the best 4-3 MLB in this draft, but as soon as we hired Nolan and it seemed more likely that we would be 3-4 i now want Rey because he will be a better 3-4 MLB.
Spikes is like what 240? yeah a little small for a 3-4. I think Spikes could maybe even play outside in a 4-3. In a 3-4 he would have to be paired with a large run stuffing partner much like they do in Baltimore with Scott and Lewis.
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