On Tuesday, April 13, ESPN conducted a media conference with analysts Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski and senior coordinating producer Jay Rothman to preview the 2010 NFL Draft (April 22-24). Primetime coverage of round 1 begins Thursday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. from Radio City Music Hall To hear a full replay of the call click here. Select comments:
On the NFL Draft in primetime for the first time and ESPN’s production approach…
Rothman: “Just on the ratings, it’s going to have a huge impact on Thursday night. It’s a largely viewed night in prime time. I think the promotion leads to all of that awareness. … The approach this year is less is more, keep it in Radio City, keep it where the action is, keep it where the buzz is and make it more simple and fleet-footed.
“The electricity and abundance of players will make it more of a ‘wow’ factor. Increasing from eight to 14 players is a big deal. We’ve sprinkled more cameras around the theater to have more vantage points to capture that a little bit more. I think it will be pretty electric.
On the new three-day format – with the first two nights in prime time – and how it will affect teams …
Gruden: “I don’t think it will be dramatically different until the first round is over…You might see more trades to start the second round. I think you’ll see a little more aggressiveness, possibly some more trades at the start of Day 2 and Day 3.
“I like the idea of the format, the way it was, but that first round felt like three weeks at the end of the day…I can see with what’s at stake, what a commodity these first-round draft choices are to take a break after the first round and reconvene in the morning after they’ve had a chance to think things over.”
On Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford…
Gruden: “When you stand next to Bradford, you feel like you’re standing next to Vinny Testaverde, physically. This is a big man, every bit of six foot, five inches and closing in on 240 pounds. He is really an imposing figure. I love his stroke. He can get it out of his hand quick. He can zip it. He’s got touch. He’s got mobility in the pocket. He’s coming off
of an injury and he’s handled it the right way. He tried to come back –he’s a team guy. I really think he has a tremendous upside and would be surprised if he’s not the No. 1 pick in this Draft.”
Jaworski: “Clearly, (he’s got) the stature in the pocket – big and strong – but also the ability to hang in the pocket. When I look at these quarterbacks, the first thing I look for is toughness. You have to look down that gun barrel and be able to take a hit. If you look soft in the NFL you have no chance to play. I look for a guy that will hang in the pocket, deliver the football and Sam Bradford will do that. He has a quick, compact and smooth throwing motion. His ball position and drop is very good. He has a little bit of a tendency to over-stride at times, but for the most part when I look at Sam Bradford, I see a guy like Troy Aikman, a statuesque guy who can stay in the pocket and throw the football.”
On Texas quarterback Colt McCoy…
Gruden: “Colt McCoy is a guy that you have to tell it’s time to leave. He would stay there all day and all night. He loves football. This is the all-time winning quarterback in college football history…People accuse me of liking all the quarterbacks and being Johnny Positive, but if you don’t like Colt McCoy then you probably didn’t like Drew Brees coming out of Purdue either…When you’re around him you believe he can lead your organization. He’s the guy you want in front of your football team, in front of your fans, in front of your media, representing you because you know he’ll be prepared and you know he’s got a lot of talent.”
On Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen…
Gruden: “His football pedigree is probably as good as any three-year junior that has come out in a long time. He understands progressions. He understands situational football, and he understands NFL passing concepts. He’s done it under center and he’s done it all…What I really like about Jimmy is that he is a tough guy. A lot of guys would have gone on IR or sat out with that toe injury. It wasn’t just turf toe, there was ligament damage in there, and it was a painful injury. I really liked that he played through it. More importantly I like that he brings his football back every Saturday…And he plays his best football in the fourth quarter when the games are tight or they’re behind.”
Jaworski: “His collegiate game translates very well to the NFL…His game certainly is polished right now to the point where his game projects to being a quick player in the NFL. Of all the quarterbacks I’ve studied, he’s probably the most ready to step in…When you watch him play, Jon (Gruden) said it, the ability to bring a team back, and he wants the ball in his hands. He’s Lebron James, he’s Michael Jordan. With the game on the line he wants to make the difference in the football game. He clearly to me projects to be an outstanding NFL quarterback and I think he’s only scratched the surface.”
On Florida quarterback Tim Tebow…
Gruden: “I live in Tampa and have been a big Gators fan over the years. I followed him in high school, where he won a state championship. I know a lot about him. Nothing really surprises me, other than there are a lot more doubters than I expected. He comes from a spread offense, a very successful one by the way. they dominated at Florida. They had some of the most prolific offenses in Gator history, and that’s saying a lot…When I saw the progress he made, I was
very, very impressed…You want Tim Tebow on your football team. If you really want someone bad enough, you’re going to have to take him, whether it’s the first round or the second round…I think somebody that’s got a down the road approach and has a vision for him, will take him and take him earlier than some people expect.
“He’s been working relentlessly since the end of his Gators career to get ready for this day. Would he play another position, I think he would. I think he’d do anything you’d ask him to do as long as it had something to do with winning. If he felt he could help your football team win, I think he’d sell popcorn in section 300 if you wanted him to. I really think he wants to be a quarterback…I could see him being an H back, I could see him being a fullback, I could see him playing tight end. I could see him being a wildcat quarterback or a situational plus-10 red zone goal line, short-yardage quarterback while he learns the system.
“This is a very complex unbelievable kid…He is a guy I would like my sons to be like, off the field. His commitments to what he believes in are very real. He’s very focused and passionate about his beliefs, and it doesn’t waiver. I think that’s a very hard to find attribute that he has. I don’t think he has a lot of interests other than his faith, his family and football, but when you get behind the scenes of what he really knows and believes about those things, there’s a lot to it. There are a lot of branches that go in a lot of directions. This is a very exciting guy to have in your locker room.”
Jaworski: “When I talk about quarterbacks I believe you have to throw with accuracy and velocity and those are two areas that Tim Tebow has to work on. But I’m also smart enough to know that some of the finest quarterbacks in this league had flaws in their game when they came into the league with accuracy and velocity. You can talk about Peyton
Manning and Tom Brady. They didn’t have fire-balling arms, but they came in and they worked hard at it, lifted weights and got bigger and stronger…By eye discipline and constant repetition you can become a more accurate passer. Those are flaws that Tim has in his game right now, but he’s a guy that everyone knows will work harder and longer at getting better at it. I think the key is going to be where he goes. Does he go to a system where he can sit back and learn behind a veteran quarterback? I believe if he’s put on the field early it will be a mistake…I think Tim clearly needs that time to develop the fundamentals and the mechanics necessary to be consistently good in the NFL.”
On defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy and how the position should be drafted…
Gruden: “You can [draft them] if you really think that guy is unique and something you really need and something that is rare…When you really look at it, there are some concerns whether that defensive tackle can come in and electrify your fans and your football team — like Warren Sapp. I think these two guys are outstanding talents, no question. They’re different kinds of players. Suh plays with his hands. He’s more of a two-gap player on the line of scrimmage – reminds me a little of Richard Seymour from the Patriots. McCoy is more of a classic one-gap defensive tackle, a lot like Tommie Harris, who came out of Oklahoma a few years earlier.
“You have to take a look at what you need. Quality big people are hard to find to play on every down. If you take one of these guys, he better be an every down guy that can rush the passer and impact your football team in the fourth quarter. I don’t want some guy who’s only going to play 26 snaps a game. I want a guy who can play 55 or 60 snaps, potentially, a game.”
On a possible sleeper quarterback in this year’s Draft …
Jaworski: “Jonathan Crompton (Tennessee). I know there are some people that really like him and some don’t have him getting drafted. To me, I’m looking for that sleeper guy and the next Tom Brady. The guy people aren’t talking about but shows some real upside.… Very fluid with his movement. Can make all the throws. Has good pocket mobility. What I like as a quarterback is that (he) throws with great balance. To be a consistently accurate NFL quarterback you have to have rock solid mechanics. That jumped out at me.”
On what happens behind the scenes in Draft war rooms and who has the final say…
Gruden: “You have a lot of people talking. You have the general manger, personnel director, scouts, you have the team doctors…when you get five or six spots away from your pick, you put six names on the board that you really like…There’s a lot of secrecy. You have another two or three people on the phone soliciting trades…It’s exciting. You have position coaches fighting for players…and some places its just one guy sitting in a room by himself with the head coach…Everybody sees the Draft as a unique opportunity to get better and that’s what makes it fun.
“The owner has the final say…and then it depends on the general manger or head coach.
On who had the final say in the Draft war room during his years in Tampa…
Gruden: “I can’t remember anything that happened in Tampa except for Super Bowl XXXVII.”
These are great insites on the draft by key NFL insiders. Will this info help you make your picks in our Tim Tebow Contest:
It seems that Gruden and jaws both love Gator Quarterback Tim Tebow. To listen to them you would think Tebow will go in the first round next Thursday night… only 7 days away. With 7 days left, have you entered your draft predictions into our Tim Tebow contest yet?
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The Tim Tebow contest is unlike any other contest you’ve entered before. Entrants are given the opportunity to predict the exact moment the professional football career of Tim Tebow begins by guessing which NFL team selects him, and specifically in which round. Once you have made your choices, you could call it a day and wait until the NFL Draft… OR, you can come back tomorrow, and every day up until the start of the draft, and submit your entry again.