Cardinals Afternoon Combine Notes: 2.23.07

Lots of ground to cover, including suitable replacements for Leonard Davis and J.J. Arrington.

Dave Clowney, WR, Virginia Tech:

This was definitely a guy that had that "happy to be here vibe about him."  I think that the Cardinals should take a shot at him (I know we have too many wide receivers already) because he's done pretty much every crappy assignment that there is in special teams.  He's been a gunner, he's been on the punt block team, he has returned kicks, he's busted wedges, he's returned punts, and all under special teams guru Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech.  All good things to have.

I know that we'll need to see how he does in the 40, see how well he catches the ball, and other factors.  But, he apparently did not have great practices at the Senior Bowl (dropped a lot of passes) and then played well in the game (information courtesy of Adam Caplan).  Worth a shot, especially since anyone we draft at the position is probably going to be a fourth string guy and will play a lot of special teams anyway.

Chris Leak, QB, Florida:

I know everyone's down on him and Troy Smith about their height, but I really have to say that I've never felt as tall around NFL players (especially after the gigantic guys they marched in yesterday when the offensive linemen came through).  They're both right around 6 feet tall and I'm right around 6 feet tall.  It was interesting too look a quarterback in the eye.  And, that's especially considering that most of the other quarterbacks I've spoken with are at least 6'3".  A lot of them are 6'5".

Both guys had tremendous success in college, Leak won a championship, Smith won the Heisman, but both of them seem to be buried under a lot of other prospects that have the measurables but not the clout.  It doesn't seem to upset either of them (because, really, they could both care less what I think of them), but it's got to get to them in some way, right?  Even Smith commented that, "You guys talk about being six feet tall like it's a disease."

I have a feeling that they're going to make a couple of teams look really smart for drafting them because they're winners (after all, Matt Leinart dropped because everyone questioned his arm strength and passion), but I don't think that they're necessarily going to make anyone pay.  I don't have anything to back that assessment up, just a feeling I get from being around them.

Jeff Rowe, QB, Nevada-Reno:

This is an interesting guy.  He got offers coming out of high school from Cal and Arizona State, but decided to go to Nevada-Reno to be close to home and because he was comfortable with the coach there.  You can say he's dumb for not jumping at a bigger school, or you can admire his principles.  I admire his principles, just like I admire that a lot of these guys (the offensive linemen especially) stayed around to finish what they started (both their degrees and their tenure with their respective teams).

He said he can make all the throws, he's probably going to be impressive in the 40 yard dash, and there's always one quarterback that comes out of nowhere and makes people pay attention.  That quarterback usually doesn't go until the fourth round or beyond, because they still played at a small school most folks haven't heard of (strange double standard: Leak and Smith had success at the highest level, but they're too short - Rowe is tall enough and big enough, but he didn't have success at the highest level - but Leak and Smith are definitely going to be drafted by someone, whereas you can't say the same about Rowe). 

Jeff also has some big hands.  They measured in at 10 inches, but it was seriously like trying to shake hands with a bunch of bananas.  Anyone that has thrown a football (and followed the over analysis of Alex Smith's career) knows how important big hands are.

And, the quarterback he most admires is Tom Brady - a guy that went in the Round 6 back in the day.  Warrants mentioning.

DeShaun Wynn, RB, Florida and Selvin Young, RB, Texas:

While everyone was scrambling to the podium where Adrian Peterson was, I talked to two guys that might be able to help add some depth to the running back situation in Arizona.  It was amazing when Peterson was introduced (once again by Gil Brandt).  Everyone in the ballroom mobbed the podium like the NFL dropped $81,000 and a bunch of strippers in that area.  Pretty interesting.

At any rate, Wynn would work better if the Cardinals don't re-sign Marcel Shipp.  He's about the same size (5'10", 232) and seems like he might have a little bit more speed (at least that's what he says - he has a burst that will surprise people).  The catch is that he worked in Urban Meyer's system, so he used to working out of the shotgun, catching passes, etc.  The biggest thing that's going to knock him down in the eyes of the Cardinal Brain Trust is that he doesn't have a lot of pass blocking experience either.  And that's one of the key aspects Maurice Carthon addressed this morning.

Young would work well if the Cardinals either permanently bench or decide to cut ties with J.J. Arrington.  He returned kicks and was basically a 3rd down back for Texas the last few years (4 1/2 years, ended up graduating).  He's apparently learned a lot from Vince Young and said that he might even flash some 4.3 speed in the 40 when he works out.  Seems like a solid kid, good head on his shoulders, and sounds like he's willing to do whatever it takes to help an NFL team win.  Granted, most of the prospects here have said that, but it sounds like this kid really means it.

Jon Cornish, RB, Kansas:

I don't see a whole lot that we will be able to do with Cornish, but I wanted to mention him because he's got a pretty interesting story.  He grew up in British Columbia, where the national sport is hockey and played his college ball at Kansas, where the passion is basketball.  So he's never really been in a situation where everyone around him (especially the fans) are focused solely on football.

Two things on his interview:

1.  I liked his confidence.  I asked him if he'd been gearing up for the 40.  He said that he had been.  I asked him if he had been timing himself.  He said yes.  I asked him  what times he's been getting and he said, "I'm not going to discuss that."  And then he stared at me until I looked away.  I like that.

2.  I always thought that hockey players all sounded the same in interviews because they're hockey players.  As it turns out, I think it's just that they're all from Canada.  Cornish sounded exactly like a hockey player.

Garrett Wolfe, RB, Northern Illinois:

Before any conspiracy theorists try to claim that that I went to NIU or that I have some type of sentimental weakness for the school, let me just say that I don't.

Now that we got that out of the way, I really think we should draft this kid. 

He shredded Michigan in 2005 and Ohio State last year, so he's done well against a high level of competition (even though he wasn't surrounded by as many talented players as the guys at Michigan and Ohio State).

He's up to 186 pounds from 173.  He's only 5'7", but then again, so is J.J. Arrington (okay, Arrington's a little bigger).  He seems very realistic about his chances, really just wants to catch on with a team, and even pointed out that, at this point, most NFL teams have done 90% of their research on a player.  He was the best interview that I've had so far: Candid, honest, humble, engaging, and very insightful.  Just a good guy that you'd want on your football team (as a player, as a fan, as a coach, whatever).

If we cut Arrington and draft Wolfe, we get someone that can come in on third down, return kicks, and even participate in other areas on special teams.  And, when that happens, we get all the benefits of Arrington (shifty runner, average-to-good return guy, someone who can chip in on third down) without any of the baggage that has accompanied Arrington since he came to the desert (lofty expectations, inability to hit the hole, inconsistency, sulking about a reduced role).

He's not the next Maurice Jones-Drew or the next Warrick Dunn, but he can be a better J.J. Arrington.  And, given the fact that Arrington was taken in the second round and Wolfe will likely fall to the 5th or 6th (especially since he's not going to run the 40 here at the Combine due to injury).  That seems like a fair trade to me.

Tony Ugoh, T, Arkansas:

And, we've got our first prospect that talked to the Cardinals!  He talked to them about playing left tackle, not right tackle.  This makes sense because of the sizeable void (I mean space, not talent) left by the departure of Leonard Davis.  Also, he's not really big enough (6'5", 301) to play right tackle in the scheme that Whisenhunt and Grimm would want to fit him into.

He put up the 225 pound bar 32 times, which is pretty impressive.  He only missed one game due to injury (and that was for kidney stones) in college.  And he played for Arkansas in the SEC against some of the toughest competition around.  They like to run at Arkansas more than Whisenhunt has a reputation for running the ball, so that seems like a decent fit as well (even if the Cardinals will probably still end up passing more than running this season).

One thing I really liked was his explanations for the "red flags" that showed up on his scouting report.  One red flag says that he "lacks passion for the game of football," which he said stems from the fact that he ran track and played football (not exclusively football) up until his senior year.  When he realized that was an issue that would affect his draft stock, he quit track.  The other one says that he has weight problems.  He gained 32 pounds between his sophomore and junior years because his coaches wanted him to be at 320.  When he found out that it affected his footwork and stamina, he lost the weight between his junior and senior years.

Looks pretty solid, actually.  If the Cardinals take him, I would say it's a good pick.  If anything changes between now and draft day, I reserve the right to retract that statement and reverse it completely.

 


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