Cardinals Afternoon Combine Notes: 2.25.07

Why does Jamaal Anderson look so skinny? Who are the Cardinals going to use at gunner this year? Did we stumble on the best pass rusher in the draft today?

They posted the top 10 times for the wide receivers.  David Clowney (the receiver from Virginia Tech that I talked to on Friday) was fourth overall in his group, posting a time of 4.36 (right behind Calvin Johnson).  Steve Breaston (he's mostly in here because I like typing his name) ran faster than I thought he would (4.41) and Anthony Gonzales (4.44) is making his teammate Ted Ginn look bad.  Then again, Ginn's still hurt, so there's that.

The fastest receiver in the group was Kansas State's Yamon Figurs.

J.D. Nelson, SS, Oregon:

Nelson's about the right size to play free safety (5'11", 207) and has the type of mentality that we need at the position.  He's more of an "in the box" guy and likes contact (his Dad played for the Vikings and was involved in the Herschel Walker trade - and yes, the press asked way too many questions about his Dad), which is perfect for a free safety in our system, since it frees up Adrian Wilson to roam around and make plays.

He's faced mostly tight ends in coverage situations and held his own (the Pac-10 has had its share of top shelf tight ends the last few years).  He also said he was projected in the 5th round (one of the few players that actually shared this information with us) and there's been a history of safeties (especially free safeties) that have been drafted in that area and done well (most notably Marcus Coleman of the Jets).

He also has a formal interview scheduled with the Seahawks.  Nothing with the Cardinals.  I know it isn't our mission in life to steal all Seattle's guys, but I'd like to get one of them.

And this particular guy is the son of a player, he's been around the game, was very articulate and intelligent, and knows how defend the pass, having played 4 years in the pass-whacky Pac-10.

One of the best lines from the interview: Someone asked him if there were any similarities between him and his Dad (Darrin Nelson) and he said, "We're pretty similar.  I'd say I'm bigger than he was.  I know he wouldn't want to come across the middle on me."

Daymeion Hughes, CB, Cal:

 He had 8 interceptions for Cal last season, never allowed a touchdown pass in three seasons against Dwayne Jarrett, and considers himself to be a cover guy and a ballhawk.  He's also been training in Arizona.

I'm sure Matt Leinart has a scouting report on this kid.  That might be the most valuable information anyone has on him.

A lot of people have questioned his size (only weighs 190 pounds) and think that he gambles too much (interceptions aren't always the best indicator of a good corner).  But he started three years at Cal, kept Jarrett out of the end zone, likes covering big receivers ("They're bigger, so you can get into their body a lot easier and punch them, slow them down."), and said that the one thing that would not come into question is his past (no character issues or trouble with the law).  And that has to be attractive to the Bidwells.

Of course... he hasn't talked to the Cardinals.

Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas:

Houston destroyed in the opener and Mike Mayock thinks he's going to be the next fast riser.  Which means we probably won't get a shot at him unless we trade down (or, unless he runs a 4.1 or a 4.2 and looks like he's worthy of a top 5 pick).  He says that he has run a 4.2 in the past.  He looks like a real good cover corner and has enough size to come up in run support.

If we're looking cornerback in the first round, it's probably either him or Darrelle Revis.  Regardless, we'll likely trade back (somewhere in the top 10) if we go corner.  Or, we could just go for broke and take him anyway.

I'm not sold on the fact that we should take a guy in the first round anyway.  But, if we take a guy in the first round, I'd say it should be Houston (based on the tape and his interview - he was very impressive).

Quarterback Fastballs:

They just posted the last 5 speeds for the quarterbacks who threw here.  Brady Quinn and JaMarcus Russell didn't throw.

However, it's worth noting that Jeff Rowe, Tom Brady aficionado and Nevada-Reno alumnus, posted the fourth fastest throw among all quarterbacks.  He registered 57 miles an hour on the gun and looks like he might have a big arm to go along with that skinny frame.

He ran a weird half-shotgun offense at Reno-Nevada and seems a little too skinny to take the pounding of an NFL season.  But, Elway was skinny when he came out.  Same with Roethlisberger and Brady.  Not saying that he's going to be anywhere near the same level as those guys, but I hope he drops to the sixth or seventh round (or goes undrafted) just because he's skinny.  He'd be a good second or third string guy.

Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh:

Here's a guy that considers himself to be a shutdown cornerback (only thrown at 10-15 times all of last season by his estimation - still had two interceptions) and is ranked as the #1 cornerback prospect by the experts here at Scout.com.  He looks very impressive (5'11", 204) and he's definitely a physical guy, which fits in with what the Cardinals like to do very nicely.

But... the question is: Will he be available?  I hate to play with a guy's future, but we're not likely to go for him in the first round.  He isn't going to run until his Pro Day on March 16th because he tweaked his hamstring and maybe he won't blow scouts away with his time when he does run it.  If he runs a 4.4 or a 4.5, maybe he slips into the second round where we can grab him.  That's a bunch of "ifs" and "maybes," though.

The point is that we need a guy that thinks he can be a shutdown cornerback, has a lot of size, he's a very accomplished punt returner (had an absolutely amazing runback against WVU), he's got that physical mentality that Pendergast likes in his cornerbacks, and he'd most likely be a very angry, very focused man if he fell to the second round.

It might be too early to make a shrine and start saying novenas, but that's definitely a strategy that I'm considering.

Ray McDonald, DE, Florida:

In one of the stranger stories of the Combine, McDonald isn't working out because he got salmonella from a bad batch of Peter Pan and lost 12 pounds in the last two weeks.  He'll be working out at his Pro Day on March 7th.  He's more comfortable at 285 and he measured in at 6'3", 276.

He's more of a 4-3 end, but he also played nose tackle when teammate Marcus Thomas (remember him from yesterday?) was suspended.  He's got a lot of versatility and would be excellent playing defensive tackle on third down or known passing situations.  He'd give the Cardinals some speed and explosiveness on that side and would probably fill in admirably if Bert Berry or Chike Okeafor (like that would ever happen, right?)

He's an intriguing guy and is someone that I honestly thought was a tackle prospect coming in.  But he says he prefers to play 3 Technique end in the 4-3 as opposed to under tackle or nose tackle.  And the defense that he's accustomed to is pretty similar to Pendergast's defense.

And... hate to sound like broken record on this one, but he's talked to the Raiders, 49ers, Jets... and not the Cardinals.

Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas:

Anderson checked in at just a shade under 6'6" and 288 pounds.  The last information we had on him was that he weighed 275 pounds and he says that he's gaining weight every day.

I don't know, though.  He still looks pretty narrow through the waist and shoulders.  Nothing like Gaines Adams, but if this kid reminds people of Julius Peppers or Mario Williams, they may want to look at some film from when they came out.  They looked thicker through the shoulders and more powerful than Anderson.  He'd still be able to beat me senseless in a fight; put $20 on Anderson every time and you'd be a rich man, but he just looks gangly.

Some folks have the Cardinals taking him.  I don't see it.  If he runs a 4.5 or a 4.6 while he's here, he'll start to skyrocket up draft boards (especially if he gets in the high 290s by draft time).  There will be a lot of pressure for Arizona to take him.  That's not the best move in my opinion.

On top of the fact that he's skinny looking, he's raw.  He didn't play a whole lot in college, doesn't have a specific position in which he's excelled, and I'm not sure where he fits in the future of the organization.

I'd take him over Adams, but not over Alan Branch.

Eric Weddle, S, Utah:

Fun kid, great interview.  He's got a lot of confidence without being cocky, he's a funny guy, kept making jokes, and seemed very at ease in general.  He played safety, running back, cornerback (successfully shut down Calvin Johnson), and was even the held for the kicker (said Tony Romo's mistake was that he didn't look the ball in).  He's played on special teams, returned kicks, and seems like as good an "athlete" prospect as anyone.

If nothing else, the Cardinals can probably grab him in the 4th or 5th round, put him on special teams for a couple years, and groom him to be Robert Griffith's replacement (assuming, of course, that he ever retires).

Seems like he'd be a good guy in the locker room and someone that could keep everyone fired up on special teams early in his career.  He could even be a gunner if need be.  I think he'd be exceptional in that capacity.

Derek Landri, DT, Notre Dame:

He has an injury history that's as long as my... arm.  Possibly my leg.  From Notre Dame, he dropped a curse word in his press conference (which will probably draw the ire of everyone in the administration - nice Catholic boy using a word like that).  He also seems to be a man without a position.  He's not tall enough (6'2") to play end or big enough (288) to play tackle.

Then again, he hasn't talked to the Cardinals.  One of the few times that has been good news.

Anthony Spencer, DE/LB, Purdue:

I mention him because two prospects (Levi Brown and Ryan Harris) mentioned that he was the toughest pass rusher they faced and that he was the best defensive lineman in this draft.  He seems like he'd be a better fit as a 3-4 rush linebacker than anything else.  If the Cardinals wanted to burn a mid first round draft pick on him (trade down, stockpile picks), I'm not sure that they'd be able to find a home for a guy that's 6'2, 262.

He seems more like a specialist to me than an every down guy and the Cardinals already have a mid first round guy that turned into a pass rush specialist in Calvin Pace.

The reputation is there, he played against top-level competition in the Big 10.  I'm just thinking that he's another guy with a lot of potential that doesn't have a home with the Cardinals.  And that's cool.  There are 327 guys here, which is plenty for everyone.

Wrap-up:

Looks like everything's wrapping up here in Indianapolis.  Everyone's heading out, there are no more prospects coming in for interviews.  I just hope my plane takes off and lands safely (lots of bad weather here in the Mid-West).

Lots of prospects, lots of information, and we've just barely scratched the surface on the information that will be here at CardinalInsider leading up to Draft Day 2007.

Check back tomorrow as well, since I'll be posting a Morning After column.

And keep checking back through the off-season and the regular season.  Tons of information and analysis yet to come.


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