THUNDERING BLURB » college football rankings ANDREW GARDA'S ENDLESS TAKES ON NFL AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL Tue, 26 Oct 2010 03:04:29 +0000 en hourly 1 USC Pro Day Wrap-Up Thu, 02 Apr 2009 07:01:00 +0000 admin This week I found myself down in Los Angeles, home of the USC Trojans for what is the wrap of the Pro Day season. Yes, I will be at Hawaii’s Pro Day tomorrow, so technically it isn’t a ‘wrap’ but USC’s Pro Timing Day often marks the end of a long month or so of Pro Day workouts, plane flights and take-out food for NFL Scouts. I am curious to see who comes to Hawaii’s Pro Day tomorrow but that’s not what this is about.

I will say one of my favorite things about USC Pro Day is hanging around the Path to the Draft crew. Burmiester, Davis and Mayock are three exceptionally nice guys and very gracious. Always great to talk football with them.

So I’m guessing there is no beating around the bush here – QB Mark Sanchez looked GOOD. He threw for an awfully long time and while there were occasional hiccups, his timing, accuracy and strength was pretty good.

Plus the 80 or so throws he made – hey that’s nothing to sneeze at. Against the wind at times too. The man came to work and didn’t disappoint.

Stafford has a bigger arm, but I don’t really think it’s that big a deal. He threw scripted passes and then took requests from the audience aka the Detroit Lions. But don’t read too much into that – it just means the Lions may still go offensive line (which is, in my opinion, the choice to make) and are doing their homework on Sanchez in case he is there at 20.

I can’t say how likely that is. If Stafford drops to the Jags (a team very interested in Sanchez) then Sanchez drops a bit further and it isn’t outside the realm of sanity that he could end up with the Lions.

I started this year out as hard a critic as anyone on the USC signal caller. As Pac-10 Insider for College Football Insider, I saw a ton of Sanchez and I still say anothe ryear and he could be the top overall pick in 2010.

But the more tape I watch and the more I see of him in things like today – I have to say that he should develop into a very good quarterback. The experiance thing doesn’t bother me all that much. And if he drops to a team where he can sit for a year or two (for example, Jacksonville at 8 – do you sense a theme?), he would avoid some potentially confidence crushing sacks.

Above all this is a guy who is a hard worker and that showed today. He’s not Matt Leinart and he may not be a Carson Palmer. But he is still a very sharp athlete and could go far.

Some say his day was better than Stafford’s but I didn’t see Stafford’s with my own eyes. I did see Sanchez’s though and I liked what I saw.

The USC linebacker corp – or the Triplets as I call them – were also on display today. Matthews, Maualuga and Cushing all had good days.

Brian Cushing is probably the safe pick, though many worry about injuries with him. Still, to me he is the versatile guy who will contribute consistently early on in his career. His ceiling is not as high as the other two, but that’s no knock. Some scouts worry he isn’t a three down linebacker, but I don’t think that’s totally true. He can play in pass coverage and I believe he can continue to add to his game at the Pro level. He could very easily develop into a perennial Pro Bowler.

Cushing looked explosive and quick and made a great catch where he had to extend his body to grab the ball and looked very good doing it. While he was a bit stiff in the hips when turning, he looked very good overall and I walked away impressed with the New Jersey native. Cushing ran about a 4.70 in the one 40 I timed though I saw some scouts with 4.75 and 4.77.

Clay Matthews has had to fight his way through his college career. A walk-on, he eventually became an important part of the USC team, especially on Special Teams. Matthews is still a tad raw, but I think the skies the limit with him.

Matthews looked great in drills, showing good smoothness and fluidity as well as solid ball skills. He too caught the ball nicely in drills and overall had a great workout. He added a 4.57 in the 40 to his day and that’s not too shabby. (I had him quicker but this is where the scouts had him.)

Of course maybe the biggest story next to Sanchez was Rey Maualuga. Maualuga had to skip the position drills at the NFL Scouting Combine when he pulled his hamstring during his initial 40. He didn’t run the 40 today until well after his position drills.

As he told me in an interview (which you can hear on Wednesday’s Thundering Blurb Football Show) that he held off on the 40 because he very much wanted people to see him run the positional workout. Having missed it at the Combine, he realized it was super critical.

While he looked a little stiff at times, I thought he had a very solid workout. He was clearly favoring his hamstring still, and I saw him limp off the field for a while, coming back later to run his 40. That 40, by the way, clocked in at a 4.69, very respectible next to his 4.43 shuttle and 7.22 three-cone. There were some concerns that while rehabbing Maualuga might gain some wieght, which is really all about questions people (mostly media) have about his attitude and work ethic.

Listen, just because the guy moves to the beat of his own drummer doesn’t mean he can’t march. Maualuga can flat out play. Now, in my opinion he’s a guy who will need to adjust in the Pros – go less for the big play and more for the basics during his initial year or so in the league. It will be a few years before teams turn him loose – which is similiar to another standout USC defensive player from way back in the day by the name of Junio Seau.

Seau used to make huge plays at USC – and whiffed on them at times as well. I’m not saying El Rey is Seau, but he could be and if Seau could adjust, so could Maualuga. In the right system (maybe one involving Mike Singletary?) I think he could develop into a monster.

The dude is pretty intimidating, that’s for sure.

A few other notes – cornerback Cary Harris hurt his knee during his first 40 and missed the rest of the workout. Definitely a dissappointing way to go, and not the first time I have seen it at a Pro Day. Just another reason people wonder if the 40 is worth the trouble.

Kevin Ellison looked good in drills and his 4.70 in the 40 was nice. He was much hotter earlier in draft season, but should move a little further up boards with today’s workout.

Another less known, but very solid, linebacker prospect is Kaluka Maiava ran a 4.66 and a 4.7 by my watch and that was with a slight hamstring pull (see what I mean?). Maiava is sitting in the shadow of the Triplets right now, but could become a very good prospect once he gets into the league. I think he could have recieved a lot more publicity and attention if he was elsewhere and not behind Matthews, Cushing and Maualuge. He’s not quite their class, but he’s nothing to sneeze at.

Wide receiver Patrick Turner looked good in his drills as well, and was in synch with Sanchez as well. He made some very nice catches along the sideline and ran very fast in the 40, getting times of 4.60 and 4.58 – the 4.58 a personal best.

Turner won’t go early but is a guy who could put in a good show in camp once he’s drafted on the second day.

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Blurb finishes 8 out of 64 teams in Fantasy Sportswriter Association League Tue, 23 Dec 2008 17:40:00 +0000 admin Hey folks

I’ve mentioned it a few times this August I joined the Fantasy Sportswriter Association’s Experts League. The playoffs just wrapped up and I finished 8th in the playoffs (16 teams) which is also 8th overall out of 64 teams. These teams included people like Michael Fabiano of, Stephania Bell and Chris Harris of ESPN as well as less known names like’s Jamey Eisenberg and George Winkler from the Sporting News.

We all got smoked by Sigmund Bloom of The man was on a mission, got out of the gates fast during the playoffs and never looked back. The playoffs were more 15 teams fighting for 2nd as Sig just went off. I am very happy for my Drive-Block co-host – he worked hard and it showed.

Still, amongst this illustrious group, to finish 8th is an achievement I am very proud of. I won my 16 team division and had a nice little run in the playoffs – which were not head to head but total overall points (regular season was head to head).

Not bad for a small indie site.

For those interested, here was the Blurb’s team:
Donovan McNabb QB
Matt Forte RB
Le’Ron McClain RB
Larry Fitzgerald WR
Kevin Walter WR
Terrell Owens WR
Vincent Jackson WR
Greg Olsen TE
Joe Nedney K
Arizona Cardinals Def/ST
Joe Flacco QB
Willie Parker RB
Leon Washington RB
LenDale White RB
Chad Ocho Cinco WR
Nate Washington WR
Domenik Hixon WR
Bo Scaife TE
Matt Bryant K
Buffalo Bills Def/ST
]]> 0 The Blurb’s College Top 20 Tue, 12 Aug 2008 23:34:00 +0000 admin Feel free to disagree – I am sure many will – but here is my take on the top 20 teams in the NCAA this season as it sits now. Angry emails about why Michigan was forgotten or how i could rank Team X at position Y can go in the comments or to

1. Florida: Heisman Winner Tebow leads a bevy of very good returning players all of whom are fast and very good. They played tough last year and will challenge the whole way to get to that title game.

2.Ohio State: A very talented group returns. The USC Game is huge – but Ohio State hasn’t fared well in the two biggest games they played in the last few years. A year more experience could make a huge difference this year.

3. USC: Despite losing Sanchez to injury and a ton of defenders to the NFL, they stack talent like cordwood. The game vs Ohio State could well hold the key to who plays in the National Championship game.

4. Georgia: One of the toughest schedules in the nation offsets great talent at the RB and QB positions. If they can hold it together, they will be in the Nat. Champ conversation.

5. Missouri: They don’t play Oklahoma this year, and that’s good since that accounts for both of 2007’s losses. They will be carried by a stellar defense and could flirt with the BCS title, though in the end they won’t have the horses to hang.

6. Clemson: They return a very good offensive group and face a very weak schedule this year. That combination should make them a very difficult challenge for opponents this year.

7. West Virginia: Heisman hopeful Pat White get protected by one of the best O-lines in the nation and if you’ve read the Blurb, you know how important I think that is. Games get won in the trenches and WV should rule the roost on the offensive side of the ball in most games this year.

8. LSU: The Defending National Champs lost more than a few good players to the NFL and graduation and face a daunting schedule. They can play, no doubt, but it will be very hard to repeat even with the talent they do have returning.

9. Texas: Always in the running for the Big 12 title, the Longhorns bring back a great O-line, an even better D-line and veteran leadership. They lack a soft schedule but could play very hard and surprise some people.

10. Auburn: Tough schedule, hard attrition of talent. But Auburn has the talent to hang around and challenge for the SEC title. If they can do that, they have an outside shot at bigger things – but that road will be very hard to walk.

11. Kansas: They have a tougher schedule than 2007, but return some good athletes. While they may have to face Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and FSU this season, they have the talent to persevere.

12. Texas Tech: They return a ton of starters, have a Qb who could have a big year and overall have more talent and veteran leadership than they have had in years. Some tough games this year, especially on the road, may be a problem though.

13. Virginia Tech: A great coach with a great recruiting tradition must offset the loss of their top WRs and defensive players.

14. Wisconsin: The Badgers have a great group of backs playing behind one of the best O-lines in the nation. Problem is their defense won’t match their offense and they have a tough schedule this year.

15. Arizona State: If the offensive line could hold it together this year, Rudy Carpenter could take this team places. Their defense is very good and while they got lucky sometimes last year, they could play well enough to surprise some people.

16. BYU: They lost a lot of starters on defense but have enough in depth to offset that. They tend to dominate their conference and that won’t change this year.

17. Tennesee: The Volunteers have a tough row to hoe in the SEC this year and will be sorely tested. They do have a great offensive line and overall a very solid team.

18. South Florida: They return a bunch of starters, will have a solid veteran team but I think they will not be able to keep up the pace all season and will fade at some point during the year.

19. Oregon: They have a great secondary and will not have problems filling Dixon and Stewart’s shoes, though the drop-off will be considerable. They have a tough Pac-10 schedule but have enough talent to overcome most of their issues, though not enough to repeat last year’s pre-Dixon success.

20. Penn State: The return of the spread offense should help, as will the fact that they have a great D-line. But the Nittany Lions face several very tough games and lost their best player on the defensive side of the ball (Sean Lee, LB) last spring and there isn’t anyone who will fill his shoes this season, which will cause a ton of problems for Joe P and his team.

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