Being A "Tweener" Can Be Good Or Bad

One NFL Draft prospect is on the rise, while another may not be, both due to perceived versatility (or lack of). News and notes from around the league including a scout's take on this intriguing prospect.

Photo: Clint Boling, Georgia. (Getty Images)

Snooping around:
The search warrant executed on the offices of Pittsburgh Dr. Richard Rydze last month by federal agents hasn't gotten much publicity yet, and hasn't resulted in any charges against the former Steelers' part-time physician, but the feds are digging pretty deep into the records and that could make some former players a little nervous.

The Steelers severed ties with Rydze in 2007, after 21 years with the club, and following a U.S. Food and Drug Administration probe into why he allegedly purchased $150,000 of HGH and testosterone on his credit card. The questioning of Rydze at the time was part of a probe by the Albany (N.Y.) District Attorney's office into performance enhancing drugs.

It should be noted that Rydze, 61, was never identified as a target of the probe, but the recent seizure of some of his paperwork indicates that federal authorities might not be done with him. And authorities have told The Sports Xchange that there are at least a few former NFL players mentioned in the documents.

Losing through winning:
There is a growing cadre of veteran players who, while hoping that Judge Susan Nelson somehow finds a way to end the lockout, and allows them to return to work, remains wary of some of the ramifications. If the lockout ends, and the NFL returns to work under the 2010 rules, which seems likely, it would retain the system that requires players to have six accrued seasons in the league before qualifying for unrestricted free agency. Many players chafed under the guidelines for an uncapped campaign -- the former requirements for unrestricted free agency were four seasons in the league -- and the unhappiness over a similar arrangement would not dissipate. "As badly as we all want to go back (to work) ... some of the rules just don't flush for a certain pool of guys," said one NFC player with five seasons in the league. "It's the old, 'be careful what you wish for' deal."

Boling can ball:
Since most general managers and personnel directors profess to have 80 or 85 percent of their master draft board completed, with many allowing there is only some "tweaking" still to be performed, we're not buying into the popular assumption that there remain some prospects who can make a major "rise" up the ranks in the final three weeks.

That said, note Georgia offensive lineman Clint Boling as one guy who could go off the board earlier than some observers expect. In fact, one AFC team has Boling rated as a possibility to still sneak into the very bottom of the first round, although the second is more likely. Kind of a "tweener" prospect, most teams project Boling as a guard, but still feel he can play some tackle if necessary in the NFL.

"He's got some (warts), and his strength isn't what you want it to be ... but you can't ignore the versatility," said an AFC scout. Boling, who started 50 games for the Bulldogs, might be able to play anywhere but left tackle on the offensive line in the league. That kind of flexibility doesn't always get a guy drafted higher, but it "can't hurt" Boling, the scout agreed.

On the slip side, Boling's former Georgia teammate, Justin Houston, might be hurt a bit by the indecision over whether he is best suited to playing end in a 4-3 front or outside linebacker in a 3-4. There is no denying Houston's explosiveness off the edge and his closing speed on the quarterback. The questions: Is he big enough to hold up at end in a 4-3, and fluid enough for the 3-4 linebacker spot. The knee-jerk read on Houston is that he should be able to project to the latter. But he has rarely been asked to drop and cover. And even teams like Pittsburgh, noted through the years for turning undersized ends into linebackers, require James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley to shift from primary pass-rush responsibilities to cover once in a while.

Right direction:
During a 12-year NFL career that included 122 sacks, former Arizona and Tampa Bay defensive end Simeon Rice liked to joke that he was only a "short-timer" passing through the league, and that he had bigger plans for his like. Like designing clothes, writing screen plays, and directing movies. Last month, the colorful Rice debuted his first movie effort, a 27-minute work titled "When I Was King." Described as a "comedic romp" that details a man's effort to juggle four women he is dating, the movie earned solid reviews, not so much for its concept or content, but for the professionalism with which it was produced. The success was enough to have Rice -- one of the most honest players in the league during his career -- apparently starting work on a full-length feature. A 2009 graduate of the New York Film Academy, Rice, 36, seems to have found his post-football calling at a time when a lot of his peers are still struggling to locate theirs.

The last word:
"Remember when (coach Jon) Gruden used to say I was 'out there' a little bit? Well, he was probably right. But in this (endeavor), I fit." -- Rice, on his new career as a filmmaker

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