ARTICLE: Ginn must fill in blanks
No team likes to have a hole in its scouting report on a draft prospect and, right now, there is a veritable vacuum in the dossier of Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., potentially one of the most dynamic players in the Class of 2007.
That's why the Ohio State campus figures to be overrun by league scouts next Thursday, as Ginn attempts to run in front of NFL personnel executives for the first time since suffering a severe left foot sprain while scoring on the opening kickoff of the Fiesta Bowl.
Ginn, who sprinted 93 yards with the kickoff and then was injured in the ensuing celebration, remains the most intriguing wild card in the top part of the first round. Perhaps, even, in the top 10.
He couldn't run at the combine and couldn't perform with his Buckeyes teammates at the pro day workouts. Ginn will need to convince scouts, first, that he is physically whole. And, second, that his blistering speed has not been diminished by the foot injury, which has taken nearly three months to rehabilitate.
There are a few teams that retain lingering doubts about how good a receiver Ginn is, and whether he is destined to be only a return guy.
But not many.
"He's so fluid, I don't know how (other scouts) worry about it," said the college scouting director from one NFC club. "The only thing we've asked ourselves about, after the injury, of course, is his size. But he's a tough kid and he was plenty durable before he hurt his foot. We think he's a big-timer."
And if he runs a small time in the 40 on Thursday, and fills in the conspicuous hole on his résumé, Ginn is apt to catapult himself way up in the first round.
Around The League
• The report by Pat Yasinkas of the Charlotte Observer, noting that the Carolina Panthers would unload three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins for the right price, was a little surprising, but not overly so. Because of his reluctance to participate in the offseason training program, the six-year veteran has been a challenge for the Carolina staff.
His weight is a perennial problem and Jenkins, 27, missed nearly all of 2004 and 2005 with shoulder and knee injuries. That he was named to the Pro Bowl squad in 2006 was more than a mild surprise, since the Panthers' staff didn't feel he played that well. Carolina made a big investment last spring to sign unrestricted free-agent Maake Kemoeatu, and he's essentially the same type of player, a closed-area run-stuffer, that Jenkins is.
And the Panthers have solid depth at tackle, with young veterans such as Damione Lewis and Jordan Carstens. Sometimes a team just runs out of patience with a guy and decides that, if the offer is right, it will move him. It appears the Panthers have reached that point with Jenkins, who only a few years ago was regarded by many as the league's most dominant inside force. • Despite the rampant optimism surrounding the arrival of quarterback Matt Schaub in Houston, and the unbridled belief exhibited so far in a guy who has started only two regular-season contests, the former Atlanta backup faces one of the same problems that predecessor David Carr confronted. Beyond two-time Pro Bowl performer Andre Johnson, who is coming off a brilliant 2006 campaign in which he snagged 103 catches, there are no proven wide receivers.
The Texans thought they addressed that longtime shortcoming last spring, when they acquired Eric Moulds from Buffalo, hoping that he would be a solid complement. But Moulds notched just 57 receptions, averaged fewer than 10 yards per catch, was released early this offseason and remains unemployed. So now what's left after Johnson? Not much. There are six other veteran receivers on the roster, counting Jerome Mathis, who hasn't demonstrated that he's anything more than a return specialist, and they've combined for a total of 74 career catches. Four of the six have five career catches or less.
Johnson has averaged 77.8 receptions in his four seasons in the NFL, but he's going to need some help, as demonstrated in the past. Where he gets it -- and more important, it seems, where Schaub finds another dependable wide receiver -- is anybody's guess at this point.
• Since the 2007 free-agency period isn't over yet, at least technically, it's a bit premature to look ahead to the top veteran players who might be available in the pool next spring. But one emerging player who bears watching is Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, whose contract provides him the right to void his deal and become an unrestricted free agent.
The team's first-round choice in the 2003 draft, Asomugha didn't have an interception in his first three seasons, when no one was quite sure if his best position was cornerback or safety. But the former University of California star settled in at cornerback, had eight interceptions and has developed into a top-shelf cover defender. Given the kinds of contracts cornerbacks are landing in the open market, Asomugha figures to be a very rich man this time next year, if he follows up his 2006 performance with a strong 2007 season.
• The arrest of Indianapolis reserve defensive lineman Darrell Reid last weekend, on charges of marijuana possession, could hurt the Colts in a lot of ways. Reid became the fourth current or former Colts' player arrested since the team's Super Bowl XLI victory, which will not sit well with an organization that doesn't tolerate such behavior. And that, of course, is the overriding issue. But the potential loss of Reid could have an on-field effect on the Colts as well.
Indianapolis coaches feel Reid, an undrafted free-agent in 2005, has really made solid strides in two seasons in the league and is poised to become a consistent contributor for them. The former University of Minnesota standout, who has excelled on special teams for the Colts (watch him run down as a wedge-buster sometime), can play end and tackle on defense, has nice quickness and emerging playmaking skills. He was definitely a guy moving up in the team's plans for 2007.
The list: The league awarded its compensatory draft picks for 2007 at the recent owners meeting in Phoenix, and Baltimore and New England led the way, with each team netting four additional selections. That's not unusual, since the Ravens and Patriots rank among the top 12 franchises in terms of compensatory picks received since the current system was implemented in 1994. Here's the top 12: Dallas, 26 compensatory picks; Baltimore, 25; St. Louis, 24; Green Bay, 23; Buffalo, 22; Philadelphia, 22; New England, 19; Pittsburgh, 18; Tennessee, 17; Jacksonville, 16; New York Giants, 16; and Tampa Bay, 16.
Stat of the week: Seven-year veteran defensive tackle Darwin Walker, acquired by Buffalo in the trade that sent linebacker Takeo Spikes to the Philadelphia Eagles, should certainly aid the Bills' anemic inside pass rush. Walker has 26½ sacks in the past five seasons. In that same stretch, Buffalo's defensive tackles registered just 29 sacks combined.
Punts: A few teams, most notably Indianapolis, have demonstrated recent interest in tailback Kevan Barlow, who was released by the New York Jets last month. Barlow is an enigmatic back, for sure, a runner with talent, but a guy who has suddenly bounced around a lot. With the departure of Dominic Rhodes in free agency, the Colts need to add a tailback to complement second-year veteran Joseph Addai, who will assume the bulk of the ball-carrying chores now. ... The Atlanta Falcons are experimenting with an offensive package in which return man/cornerback Allen Rossum is aligned as a tailback. ... Despite some speculation that Eric Steinbach would play left tackle in Cleveland, it appears the former Bengals star will stay at left guard. ... Carolina quietly added journeyman safety Deke Cooper recently to help address a dire shortage at the position. The only veteran safety of consequence on the roster is the venerable Mike Minter, and he has announced that 2007 will be his final season. Shaun Williams and Colin Branch, both of whom started at times for the Panthers in 2006, are free agents and remain unsigned, and there are no current plans to bring them back for 2007. ... The Minnesota Vikings restructured the contract of tight end Jim Kleinsasser this week. The veteran will be challenged for the starting job by former New York Giants' backup Visanthe Shiancoe, who was signed as a free agent. ... Dallas guard Marco Rivera is expected to soon announce his retirement. ... Atlanta met with a pair of free-agent quarterbacks this week, Jay Fiedler and Joey Harrington, and hopes to sign a veteran backup before the start of minicamps. ... It appears that Daunte Culpepper, still rehabilitating from knee problems, will not fully participate in Miami's first minicamp.
The last word: "Money. And winning. And let's be honest, money is probably more important than winning to most of them. So how do they get money? They get new contracts because they play well. So help them (play well), you know? And then they'll respond to you."
-- first-year Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin on what motivates players Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
Last edited by WoodysGirl : 04-08-2007 at 12:45 PM.