BY ANDY REID AND DAN FELDMAN
Daily Sports Writers
Published February 22, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS - Todd McShay is a very busy man.
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On our way out of the NFL Combine today, we saw the ESPN
analyst filming an interview for SportsCenter in the hallway. When he wrapped production, we asked him if he was willing to talk with us about Michigan players' draft prospects, but he was due for a radio segment, which he said would take about ten minutes.
But after that interview, he was happy to talk with us about Jake Long, Chad Henne, Mike Hart and the pair of junior receivers, Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington. Before we could ask about the Wolverines' defensive NFL hopefuls, he had to return to his duties on ESPN Radio.
McShay, the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc., is much more qualified to analyze potential draft statuses than either of us. Here's what he said:
The Michigan Daily: First of all, the big guy is obviously Jake Long. What have you seen from him so far?
Todd McShay: So far, through four days here at the Combine and one day of working out, he's been by far the story of this year's Combine. You can't have a better Combine. He showed up, and he's in unbelievable shape. He's 6 foot 7, 313 pounds, hands are bigger than expected, arms are two inches longer than (former Wisconsin tackle Joe) Thomas had a year ago. He had the most reps on the bench press, 37. Obviously, as I said before, he's in very good shape. He worked out well. I just think he's done a phenomenal job at managing the expectations.
TMD: He's drawn a lot of comparisons to Thomas. How would you compare the two?
TM: They're both elite. You know, they're both in the elite class. I gave Thomas a slightly, and I mean a slightly, better grade, simply because of the athleticism. Thomas is a better athlete than Long. Long is bigger, stronger and much more physical at the same point in his career, coming out. That's the only difference, but I think Long can absolutely protect the blindside and has enough quickness to do that.
TMD: What have you been hearing from teams about where he'll go?
TM: Well, I've heard anywhere from one to five. Honestly, No. 1, Miami is a possibility. I think that they still have to decide on their quarterback situation. Another possibility is Chris Long, defensive end from Virginia is in there as well. But Long could go No. 1 overall. I mean, all the team in the top five could use offensive line help. St. Louis could with Orlando Pace's injury; Atlanta absolutely could; at No. 4 Oakland could but will probably go defensive line and then at No. 5, if he's still there, Kansas City will pounce on him.
TMD: What about the two junior receivers, Mannigham and Arrington. How is their stock in the draft?
TM: Well, they haven't done anything, yet. They're going to work out on Sunday. I was a little surprised at Manningham. He's not quite as big as I thought, but his game isn't sie, and his game isn't necessarily speed. He should run mid-4.4s, I would guess. And if he does that, he'll be fine. I just think he's just such a polished, natural, instinctive route runner, playmaker and a guy that steps up in the clutch. I mean, you watch him on film, you don't necessarily need a workout to grade him. I think he'll be fine. He should go mid-to-late first round, and late first round would probably make the most sense.
TMD: You said his game might not be size and might not be speed. Is just route running enough?
TM: Well, he reminds me a lot of Tory Holt from the Rams. Holt may not have had the best 40-yard dash, and he didn't have the best size, but he just knows how to get open. Separation is the biggest key. I mean, you've got to get open to have a chance to catch the ball, and he does it better than anyone in this class.
TMD: Arrington's more of a possession receiver. Do you see his style translating more to the NFL?
TM: Well, I think that that's just what he's going to be. He's going to be a No. 3, at best, probably a No. 4 receiver, possession receiver-type guy. He catches the ball well. He competes for the ball. He goes up and makes some big some plays. I think he continues to improve every year. The circumstance dictated him leaving early, obviously with the coaching changes and so on and so forth. I would have liked to see him play for another year and continue to develop, to see if he can be that No. 1 guy, but it is what it is, so now he's in this class. I think he'll probably end up mid-round range.
TMD: What about Henne?
TM: I like Chad Henne more than some other people, I guess. I think he's the third best quarterback in this class. I think that what he lacks in mobility, he makes up with absolute, unbelievable toughness and mental aptitude. He understands the game. He's a very accurate passer. The key is can he overcome the lack of ideal feet and moving around? If he can do that at the next level, I think he can be a very good starter.
TMD: Would you consider him one of the smartest quarterback in the draft this year, in terms of football knowledge?
TM: I think that he's got the experience. He's a four-year starter at the highest level. He has everything in terms of the intangibles and the mental aspect. I think he's as good, if not better, as everyone, including Matt Ryan, in terms of intangibles and intelligence
TMD: How many questions are there still about his injuries?
TM: You know, the shoulder is always a situation. You're always concerned about the shoulder, because it's what you have to have. You have to have good health, so I think it could play into it. It'll be interesting to see how the tests come out. If he's a 100%, that'll be a big, and I expect he will be. He's showed a lot of toughness fighting through that injury.
TMD: Looking at who needs quarterbacks, where do you see him falling in the draft?
TM: I think second round. That would be my best guess now. There's still a lot of time between now and the draft, but I would guess he'll be the third or fourth quarterback, in that range. Early-to-mid second round.
TMD: What about Hart? He was obviously great in college. Can he translate to the next level?
TM: He's tough, because he didn't translate into college. He's 5 foot 9. He's about a 197 pounds. He doesn't have anything you'd expect physically from an elite back, but he's got that competitiveness, that vision. He has all the little things you need to be a good running back. I know this - I won't count him out from being a starter at the next level. Nothing about his game translates very well except the toughness and all those sorts of things.
And with that, McShay was off to do more radio work. It would have been interesting to see what McShay thought about Michigan's defensive prospects, especially linebacker/defensive end Shawn Crable, who has all the physical tools to be successful at the next level but hasn't exactly shown the most discipline in the world.
Check back with The Game through Monday. We'll be posting Michigan players' 40-yard dash and other drill times and scores as they come in.