Archive for category NFL Combine

The Thundering Blurb Football Show – 2/24

Click for the  2/24 Blurb here.

Had Scott Wright of Draftcountdown.com on last night – as expected, he crushed it.

Before Scott came on at the halfway point, I hit a few more talking points.

First, I relate my encounter with yet another Tebow fan who just can’t get their head around his hero’s shortcomings.

In an article I wrote on Monday about Tebow’s attempt to alter the mechanics of his throwing motion—one in which I even went so far as to praise the attempt and while not sure it will work, once again find myself not wanting to bet against him.

Which I guess means it’s time for an irrational post from a homer, right? Some dude decided he should call me out by asking ‘Andrew, whom are you Qb coach for?’

First, bonus points for using ‘whom’ correctly. It’s a lost art. But really? THAT’S what you’re coming at me with?

This is really the state of the internet and I forget it at times. If you don’t agree with someone, don’t debate them with logic – attact their credibility with straw man arguments or character attacks.

Forwhat it’s worth, I watch a lot of game film. I carefully break down what I see, form an opinion and then challenge that opinion by reading as many others as I can.

And I QB coach my kid. If that’s not enough for you, you’re reading the wrong article or listening to the wrong show.

I segue to some hockey talk (USA!USA!USA!) and NBC, then talk about the BleacherReport Featured Columnists Mock Draft, where I was up for San Francisco’s pick at 13.

I get the chatroom into a little debate about which way to go and we don’t settle on one person, though I am moved towards the direction I eventually went in.

After the break (at about 30 minutes if you want to fast forward) Scott comes on and we range all over the place. We talk about his site and how he approaches the analysis, touch on various parts of the Combine process, hit the running backs, quarterbacks (including Tebow and his mechanics) and some sleepers to watch this week.

Scott crushes it and brings a ton of great info.

I wrap it up with a few thoughts on Tebow (not his acolytes or detractors) and what the future may hold for him.

Mind you, I’m no QB coach, so take that for what it’s worth. :-)

Thanks for reading, listening and supporting.

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Interview Transcript – Fresno State QB Tom Brandstater

As time goes on, I’ll be rolling more and more of these out. You can always find the audio on NFLDraftbible.com or in the archives for All-Access Football and usually (although not in this case) The Thundering Blurb Football Show – both on Blogtalkradio.com.

I did this interview just prior to Fresno State’s Pro Day and actually broke the news in it that Brandstater would not be working out at his Pro Day, which then appeared on Rotoworld. Right place, right time.

So without further ado, here is the interview I ran on All Access football a couple of weeks ago with NFL Draft Prospect and former Fresno State QB Tom Brandstater.


Garda: Welcome to another edition of All Access Football Radio brought to you by NFLDraftbible.com, as well as the fabulous Fantasy Sports Channel and BlogTalkRadio.com. I am Andrew Garda, your host for the next 15 or so minutes, as we will get our interview on with another in a long line of top prospects. A guy who, coming into the Combine people were thinking ‘Intriguing prospect, maybe someone who could make some noise.’ Coming out of the Combine, everyone was saying ‘What the heck did we just see?’ Of course I am talking about Fresno State Bulldog quarterback Tom Brandstater. Tom, how are you doing tonight?

Tom Brandstater: I’m doing great. How are you guys doing?

Garda: Doing absolutely fantastic. Big night for you, getting ready for your Pro Day. So I want to thank you for coming on tonight because I know you probably have some butterflies going on to tomorrow. Absolutely going to be a huge day. Between the Combine and now, have you been hearing a lot from teams? Are there any workouts yet, any dialogue or do you think that’s going to come later on?

Tom Brandstater: Yeah, at this point it’s starting to become, teams are calling and getting ahold of my agent and trying to figure out different meets and stuff like that. So it’s going to be – I’ll be a busy guy for the next month or so before {the Draft} just trying to hit every appointment and trying to talk to all the people who are interested so, I’ll be busy. And it’s kind of fun, part of the process to get out to different places and see different people and ultimately going for the goal of being on an NFL team.

Garda: So moving backwards a little bit before we move too far forwards, you played both quarterback and defensive back in high school and you were a good enough defensive back to where named to the first team All-District by the Modesto Bee, at the position. In college however, it was all about the quarterback slot. Which is not to say that you were so good as a D-back that nobody was talking about your quarterback ability because you were directing what was primarily a rushing offense, but you still threw for 1,000 yards as a senior high school QB. So, clearly you had the talent to do both. What was the thing that made you say ‘hey, I’m focusing on quarterback from here on out’ when you were clearly successful at either position at all. What really did you see that said ‘that’s why I want to do quarterback?’ And what advantage do you have, having played that position, a position that usually gives quarterbacks some headaches.

Tom Brandstater: Right. I was more of a safety in high school. I don’t think I’m physically gifted enough at to play defense in college. So it wasn’t a question at all as I got to college. I did well in high school because I was able to know what was happening before it was going to start. So it wasn’t because I had sheer athletic ability, the ability to cover and stuff. So I was kinda in the right place at the right time playing defense. And then I was a natural quarterback with the ideal – with the prototypical body at least to play quarterback.

Garda: You like, flipped the script there, because most of the time quarterbacks were like ‘yeah I played a little D-back and now I know what’s in the safety or corner’s head because I was there for a little bit.’ And it sounds as if you were all like, in high school, ‘yeah I played a little D-back, and I knew what the quarterback was doing and that’s what made me effective.’ So that’s a pretty good use of the tools. You reversed it on them.

Tom Brandstater: Exactly! That was how I utilized my somewhat athletic body. I kinda knew what was going to happen. In high school it’s such a – it’s not so precise. If you have any idea what’s going on, you can usually be pretty good and I was lucky just to – the quarterbacks would just kind of throw it up and would find a way to come down with the ball. I think I had like eight interceptions my last year. So that’s why I did so well, had so many interceptions on defense.

Garda: So let’s get back to the Combine, We touched on it a couple of minutes ago. You had, I’ll just put it simply, a very good day. You showed more accuracy and straight-line speed than people really expected, you had a great 20 yard shuttle. You were the fifth best among QBs in that. You showed off your agility. Accurate passes, good velocity. After a day like that, how do you go back to the grindstone and in many respects act as if nothing really happened? Because you can’t afford to lose that momentum. I mean, because you came out red hot after the Combine.

Tom Brandstater: Yeah I did. I had a good day and you know I think – I wasn’t totally surprised. Other people were more surprised than I was. I think that’s how I usually threw the ball and I felt good about that. So, it was a solid day for me. I was real happy with the way I did everything and I think – it doesn’t prove anything. It’s definitely going to help me to get looked at. I have to do it on a more consistent basis every time and so it was just one more piece of the puzzle that had to be put together in order for me to turn some heads.

Garda: Absolutely. Tom, really when it comes down to it, as time has gone on, the NFL has taken a lot more notice of small school players. A few years ago, people were saying – could Fresno State, could be Appalachian State – ‘sure they put up good numbers but they haven’t played USC, they haven’t the SEC’. That’s certainly changed over the last few years. And now in some respects it’s almost an advantage for some guys to come through a small school program. What are the advantages you’ve felt you had going to Fresno State over one of the huge universities which frankly, some people get lost in the programs a little bit. What do you feel is the best thing about going to Fresno State, and strengthened you the most? And at the same point, what do you feel some of the challenges have been coming out of a small school?

Tom Brandstater: Well I think that the good thing about Fresno State is we’ve had good coaches, we’ve had really good people involved with the program who have taught me a lot of things I need to know for the next level. So that’s definitely been a positive just having that knowledge part of it. A negative might just the fact that people are going to doubt the strength of schedule and… but that doesn’t really mean anything. We don’t have a team of 100 all-stars, you know, we have a couple of good players and enough players to field a starting defense and a starting offense. Our depth isn’t what the other teams are but that could be the only knock on our team. That and our schedule. So I don’t see it as a huge negative and I don’t think at the end of the day people don’t care where you came from, this is all about what you can do and what you can do to help a team win.

Garda: Absolutely and just to point out, I mean, in 2007 you had four very good passing games against the likes of , at the time #23 Texas A&M, at the time # 4 Oregon, at the time # 21 Boise State, and a Kansas State that I don’t think was ranked at the time but was still pretty stiff competition and you had a career high 300 yard passing game so I guess when it comes down to it, it’s all in the perception and as long as guys are looking at your tape, it doesn’t lie.

Tom Brandstater: Yeah, I mean that’s what I’m hoping for. It’s all about a couple guys up there in key positions in the NFL have to like you and not every guy is going to like you or think that you can fit with their system but when a couple of guys like you and a couple of guys are willing to go after you, that’s all it really takes. It really takes one but once you get a couple in there, it’s going to guarantee your odds and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m just trying to do my thing and hoping my thing is what some of the people are looking for.

Garda: You yourself mentioned that you pretty much have the prototypical size, the build the guys are looking for in the NFL for a quarterback. But at the same point, you’re still mobile. You can move the bootleg, you can move in and out of the pocket, you don’t lose anything for being that size. What do you do to keep up that agility, to work on the speed that you need to kind of keep things going long enough for a wide receiver or even a running back – one of your other options, if the primary is covered, to get open?

Tom Brandstater: First I’m gifted that a lot of it comes natural. Some guys just can’t run to save their life and luckily I’ve been blessed to be able to run. And then it comes down to working hard in the weight room and doing different things, different agility drills that allow you to be able to move around. I think that that’s a big part of my game. I’m not a Michael Vick by any means, but I think when things break down I have some ability at least to make the play happen and try to extend the play and at least get the ball out of my hands so I don’t get sacked let one of the playmakers make a play.

Garda: You know, we were just talking about how the perception of small schools at one point was sort of a negative. And it has turned to where it’s a positive or at least on the level of any other school. It seems to like now to me, virtually everyone I talk to be it scout, quarterback, analyst or Joe on the street, seems like to me the new ‘small school’ label is now the spread offense. Let’s flip the script on that – what do you think are the strengths coming out of something that uses the spread offense and what’s your reaction to people who do bring it up as a negative going into the NFL?

Tom Brandstater: Well the positive of it is, you know, the stats are pretty mind-boggling. You can put up some pretty good numbers in the spread offense. But the negative is the fact that you’re not going to run that offense in the Pros and there’s a lot guys that are going to look down upon that so that’s really, to me, that doesn’t affect me. Some guys will talk about it, even though I wasn’t in that offense, it’s going to help some guys as my peers or hurt guys. That’s not really my decision, but I think it is what it is. And I believe I wasn’t in an offense like that but if I was it’d be a lot of fun, you put a lot of points on the board and try to make the most of the situation.

Garda: Well, despite not being in a spread offense, 2,600 plus yards for two seasons in a row and 15 plus touchdowns for two seasons in a row is not too shabby really when it comes down to it. That’s some pretty good production.

Tom Brandstater: Yeah, you know, we definitely did some good things on offense. There were games where we’d like to have done more, you know like any position isn’t going to be satisfied with what they did. But, yeah we did some good things and that was good. We had a lot of good players here at Fresno State and I enjoyed my time here and it’s been awesome and the next step in my dream is getting closer and it’s exciting to live it out a little bit.

Garda: So as we’re getting close to the end here, a couple more questions for you here Tom. First of all, tomorrow is your Pro Day. What is your biggest goal going into tomorrow’s workout? What is the one thing that you think more than anything else you need to go out there and just hit a home run on?

Tom Brandstater: Well, actually, my Pro Day is tomorrow but I’m not going to be able to do anything. Two weeks before [the Combine] I tore my lat muscle in my side…..underneath my arm. So I re-aggravated it at the Combine. I haven’t been able to do anything for the last … since the Combine. I’m not even going to be able to throw tomorrow at [Pro Day]. So my situation is a little bit different, and basically it’s going to turn into a meet and greet for me to talk to the scouts and then before the actual draft. But my Pro Day is not – I won’t be doing anything at the Pro Day.

Garda: My bad. Sorry about that.

Tom Brandstater: Yeah that’s relatively new information yeah, so I mean, I got the doctor after the Combine and we found out I tore my lat while I was at the Combine. In a way it’s good, because I threw so well at the Combine, but I did it all with a torn lat, so hopefully there’s more to come and even better things for me out there.

Garda: All right, so when you are able to work out, where have you been working out and what were you focusing the most on when you’re able to throw the ball?

Tom Brandstater: Well I’ve been training in Southern California with my agent and a whole bunch of – we got about five quarterbacks. We got Curtis Painter, Pat White, Mark Sanchez and Nate Brown. We’ve been out there doing everything. I think the little things are what makes good quarterbacks great, so I’m trying to work on little things and making sure that I’m a complete quarterback. Whether it’s moving the pocket, accurate throws and just doing all the things that you have to do. I think footwork is my biggest emphasis, because I want to make sure that – anyone who knows anything about quarterbacks know that footwork is the most important thing and your arm and the ball will follow what good feet do. So that’s been my emphasis since I’ve been training.

——————————-

My take on Brandstater: This wasn’t the sort of thing that would hurt him, though it’s more about the depth (or lack thereof) in the class than the injury, missed Pro Day or anything else. Most of these quarterbacks are projects. Any team could very well go any direction and – if they are willing to be patient – could very well end up with the next Matt Cassel three or four years from now.


Brandstater is a guy who is a decent quarterback and has the basic tools to suceed, though in my opinion I’m not sure he is starter material. But since he’s a project, with the right system and coach, he has as much of a shot as most of this class of quarterbacks.

Pro Day Rewind Article up at NFLDraftbible.com

Hope this Combine week finds you well. I launched a new column on NFLDraftbible.com called Pro Day Rewind. While Pro Days are not really underway (and won’t be until Thursday), I wanted to start now and take a look a t a few guys who either didn’t work out (Stafford and Crabtree) or weren’t invited.

Check it out every Monday at NFLDraftbible.com and check out all the excellent work there leading up to – and beyond – Draft Day.

Also check out the All Access Monday Night Lights podcast from tonight – just finished up my segment and we covered Maualuga and Orakpo’s injuries as well as who else did well today and who I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Texas Tech WR Prospect Michael Crabtree has foot injury requiring surgery

Day 2 of the Combine and we already have a huge story – Texas Tech Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree has a stress fracture in his foot which will require surgery. Adam Shefter of NFLNetwork is reporting it could sideline him for 10 weeks, keeping him from running or working out at his Pro Day and possibly putting him out of action longer.

It’s hard to say what this could do to his draft stock – as I have said all week, film is king. But that 40 time for a receiver is critical in the eyes of many scouts and coaches.

We know what Crabtree can do on game film. We think we know what he is capable of. And nobody wants to see him rush back and risk re-injuring himself.

Should be interesting to hear what the analysts and scouts have to say. Can you risk a potential top 5 pick on a guy with no workout numbers?

We’ll find out in just over 60 days.

Combine Snub – Willie Tuitama, QB, AZ


Let me describe a quarterback to you. He’s ranked second in his conference in yards and touchdowns. He tossed two less interceptions than the leader in his conference, who happens to be considered one of the two best quarterbacks in the draft and he did it with more attempts. What if I told you he was a guy with above average touch, especially on the deep throws, that he has a strong arm and that he knows when to check down and is good reading both his progressions and the defense?

You’d think he might be worth a look at the Combine, no?

It might surprise you then that he wasn’t even invited.

When the dust cleared and the invitations were sent out, University of Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama was not on the list. Not only that but many are projecting him to go undrafted come April.

Tuitama’s story is not unusual in today’s NFL Combine world. With the awakening of the league to small school talent, the overall increase in athletes desiring a shot at the NFL and the winnowing down of prospects long before the Combine even commences, players get left out who are probably deserving of a shot. He’s not alone but he is a guy I think the committee may have missed the boat on.

Here is a guy who was has had a rock solid college career. He was instrumental in helping the Wildcats finish tenth in the nation in passing during the 2007 campaign. Tuitama is a player who has been the starting quarterback in Arizona since his freshman year in 2006, one in which he was expected to merely redshirt. Instead he debuted on the road and won, following that up with an upset of seventh ranked UCLA the next week.

Tuitama has shown himself to possess legitimate NFL level arm strength and can not only throw the ball a long way, but is able to put it in just the right place for his receivers. He can throw from anywhere on the field to anywhere on the field and do it both from the comfort of the pocket or if necessary, flushed out of it.

Willie Tuitama also has good overall accuracy. As just mentioned, he has a very nice touch on the longer throws and while he can be a tad streaky, is consistent in that accuracy. Tuitama has averaged a better than 50% completion percentage every year as a starter, achieving a rating of 60+% the last two years including a 62.4% while hurling a stunning 524 attempts.

This Stockton California product is calm in the pocket and while he isn’t particularly fast nor mobile, he can move well enough to keep a play going when he is flushed out of it. He does tend to shuffle his feet a tad too many times when dropping back but he has a quick three-quarter release. This, combined with fast decision-making, helps him get rid of the ball quickly and avoid taking a bad sack. The downside to this is that Tuitama sometimes doesn’t throw the ball away when he needs to. Instead he will on occasion force it where it doesn’t need to go or not have it secured when he can’t find a receiver and takes a hit. Overall though, he has thrown fewer INTs during his career than current favorite top pick Matthew Stafford.

Tuitama also has the experience and leadership ability to lead a team at the Pro level and can be counted upon to keep a huddle focused and his squad from fracturing during rough patches during the course of a game.

On the downside, he missed multiple games during the 2006 season due to concussions received against LSU, UCLA and ASU. This has raised the specter of the dreaded ‘injury-prone’ label and worries that Tuitama lacks the durability necessary to carry him through a full NFL season. However, while one never wants to underestimate the effect a concussion can have on a player long term, it’s hard to take this concern that seriously since it’s the only reason he’s missed a game in his college career. It’s not as though he has chronic turf toe or knee and shoulder issues in need of surgery.

Also, he did work out of the shotgun often in his college career. That and the excuse that Arizona was a pass happy offense is used as justification of ignoring his numbers. But the Golden Bears had a good run game this year and Tuitama wsn’t heading a spread offense by any means. He can work undr center.

Still, those things along with the glitches in his footwork and the tendency to hold the ball a tad too long on occasion, has left some scouts with questions about Tuitama. He looks to be a bit of a project, but certainly one requiring less work than other QBs who have in the past gone earlier than projections have Tuitama going – seventh round at best, more than likely signed as an undrafted free agent.

Overall, this is the portrait of a pretty good quarterback. In a lackluster position class, it’s hard to fathom how a player with his stats and measurables did not receive an invite to the Combine. But that’s the case and Tuitama will have to work twice as hard to impress during Arizona’s March 14th Pro Day and any interviews he can get with teams.

Despite being labeled a potential project, in my opinion Tuitama has far more upside than he is being credited with. While he may go undrafted, some team will take a flier on him and be well rewarded with a gifted, solid player who has plenty of arm, good leadership ability and who may be ready to produce sooner than expected.

All Access Appearence pushed

Hey folks – in case you were planning to tune it, with the jam packed show they have planned, it looks like I will get pushed on the All Access Football show. However I am still doing both Saturday and Sunday shows as well as (right now) the appearance on Monday.

Even without my lovely voice tonight, make sure you tune in anyway and Dan and Rick will get you set for the Combine. I know I’ll be listening.

NFL COmbine Coverage and Appearences!

Hey folks -

Have been busy in the batcave setting up some work for one of the most important weeks in football – the NFL Combine. Nothing compares to actually seeing a player PLAY but this is darn near the next best thing and these days you can get a better seat than the press AT the Combine (who cannot witness the workouts, only interview players and staff after said workouts).

If you want to know just what is going and how it impacts your favorite team, your fantasy season or the world economy, I can guarantee you answers for two of the three items listed.

Over the course of the next week I will be hosting or appearing on numerous shows, mostly on NFLDraftbible’s All Access Football shows. At the top of the blog, you can see the general list (which I will add to if other things crop up). Here are some details on some of the shows.

The Thundering Blurb Football Show – tonight (Wednesday at 10pm PST/7pm PST) – Join me as I get you set for the NFL Combine with news and notes as well as an interview with California OLB Zack Follett.

Guest on All Access Football (approx. 10:10pm EST/ 7:10 pm PST) – I’ll be appearing with the guys from NFLDraftbible for a short guest spot where I am sure we’ll talk some Pac 10 prospects and expectations for the coming week of action.

Hosting All Access Football – Combine Show – Saturday 10pm EST/ 7pm PST – Join me for exclusive coverage of the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine. Special Guests: Justin Van Fulpen of Verius Sports * Nick Miller of Southern Utah * Darrell Mack, Greg Newman & Freddie Brown of Utah. Also discussion of the kickers (yes kickers) O-Linemen and TEs who worked out today.

Hosting All Access Football – Combine Show – Sunday 10pm EST/7pm PST – Join me for exclusive coverage of the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine. Special Guests: Will Harding of Fresno State * James Pierce of Langston. Also discussion of the QBs, WRs and RBs who worked out today.

Guest on All Access Football (approx 10:10pm EST/7:10pm PST) – Again appearing with the guys from NFLDraftbible.com to discuss the week so far as well as some PAc 10 prospects as always.

There could be some more over the course of the week and if so, I’ll get them to you. Also, expect at least one article over the weekend here at the Blurb. I’ll have some stuff at Draftguys.com shortly as well as some player interviews at NFLDraftbible in the coming weeks.

We’re ramping up hard – hold on tight, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

ps – Make sure you check out NFLDraftbible’s COMPLETE coverage of the Combine. Not only will they have shows daily with guests ranging from Draftguys Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom to beat writers to the players themselves but they will have folks on the ground in Indianapolis and reporting in daily.

You want blanketed Combine coverage? Next to NFL network, there’s nobody better than the boys at NFLDraftbible.com.