PHOTO: Barrett Ruud, 6-2, 240 LB, from Nebraska is projected to be one of a number of linebackers taken in the first-round of the 2005 NFL Draft. The Patriots have been interested in Ruud and are expected to select him if he's still on the board when they pick. (AP Photo)
Q & A with John Murphy
John Murphy of Next Level Scouting talks about the Draft
By KEN CASTRO, Patriots Insider
As the clock ticks down on a highly anticipated 2005 NFL Draft weekend, John Murphy will witness the results of his arduous work over the last 12 months come to fruition.
At face value, Murphy has perhaps the most enviable job among fans who see the annual spring affair as the most thrilling off-season day of the year.
Quite simply, Murphy of Next Level Scouting is among the most sought after commodities in the business of evaluating talent. John is a frequent guest on 1080 ESPN Radio in Orlando, FL. NLS is on Sirius Satellite Radio as well. John was recently named the East-West Shrine game Director of Player Development. John will also be providing up to the minute coverage of Draft Day for Sporting News Radio.
Murphy was busy tidying up his final outlook on the draft when he sat down with PI, earlier this week for a little Q&A.
PI: John, give us an insight into your work at Next Level Scouting and what it entails?
JM: It is based around the concept that scouting and evaluation of prospects is year round. So while we have been working on the upcoming draft, there is also time dedicated to the pre-season evaluation of the 2006 prospects. We send out a daily report that goes to over 1,500 people in the football business, including NFL teams, media, agents, trainers and the college all-star games.
PI: How did the opportunity to join the East-West shrine game as Director of Player Development come about?
JM: Well, I have been working with those guys the past three years. Each year it has grown to be more involved, so after this past year's game I was approached by Jack Hart and William Homer and felt that a game with that kind of prestige would be a great move forward for myself and the ideas I would be able to share with their current staff.
PI: As the impending draft day nears, please give us an idea how NLS sees the top ten picks developing.
JM: Well, I think it will be very interesting to see how all three of the first picks will be decided by people who are all working their first draft in charge of an organization (Nolan, Saban, Savage).
The 49ers are trying hard to find a suitable trade partner if not they seem to now favor QB Alex Smith. I feel that Miami will surprise and go with WR Braylon Edwards. Cleveland would then look to deal out if possible, as they do not see a value choice at #3. Chicago has taken a hard look several guys, but with Ronnie Brown still on the board they get the best RB in the class. Tampa Bay liked Smith over Rodgers, but could still take Rodgers here at #5, if not WR Mike Williams would be the player of choice. If they went RB don't be shocked if it was Benson over Cadillac. Tennessee needs a lot of help, they too would like to get an offer so they could add more picks. If not they would be open to one of the QB's if they fell. If not it would come down to DB Antrel Rolle. Minnesota would love to see one of the WR's fall to them, if they both went Top-5 and they did not deal up for them. This could be the first big shocker as they could turn to WR Troy Williamson.
Arizona would love to see a guy like Rolle fall to them. If Benson and or Williams is available they could take an RB, but would prefer to take an RB in the 2nd or 3rd round. Washington is another team that is going to listen for trade options when they get on the clock. There is a bit of a tug-of-war between CB Pacman Jones and CB Carlos Rogers with DE/OLB Shawne Merriman also in the mix. Detroit has done a lot of movement with the hopes of being able to draft the best player on their board. Adding a pass rusher or offensive tackle seem to be 1-2 right now. The surprise pick here could be DE/LB David Pollack who is a favorite of GM Matt Millen.
PI: General consensus in many circles has the Pats filling the Bruschi/Phifer hole at LB with their first pick. How do you see that situation developing on draft day? Do the Pats see a "value choice" at that position that they are high on?
JM: I think the value of that those two positions (ILB/OLB) will come in the 3rd-to-5th round, so I think they will see how the first round plays out. I would not be surprised to see them go for a wide receiver (Reggie Brown), safety (Josh Bullocks) or offensive lineman if someone slipped to that spot.
PI: Barrett Rudd (Nebraska, LB) would seem to fit the Patriots scheme and "intangibles" profile. What's your take on him?
JM: You are right about that Barrett fits their scheme and type of player they have selected in recent years. I think the LB's will slide some on draft day, so he could be there at #32
JM: In terms of best value choice of those three... Adam Seward or even Alfred Fincher of UConn could be 2nd-3rd round picks that will have equally solid careers.
PI: The Patriots mantra of selecting "the best player available" has certainly been tested in recent years in the running back position. Of your projected remaining RB's that the Pats could select, who fits the criteria to make an impact down the road?
JM: Kay-Jay Harris could be a guy that comes on like LaMont Jordan. Ciatrick Fason is a big back with decent hands. Marion Barber III will give you a guy that could step in at some point and be a 1,000 yard guy and Alvin Pearman is likely to be that jack of all trades type back that does anything you ask.
PI:: Any thoughts on how the Patriots will draft with an eye towards filling Andruzzi's spot?
JM: I think there feeling on OL's is to find guys the can develop and bring along, so they don't have to spend high picks on them, plus there is a feeling that OG Gene Mruczkowski can develop like Steve Neal, Russ Hochstein and Brandon Gorin have in previous years.
PI: Any Pro-Day positive surprises as far as the Pats are concerned, disappointments?
PI: Please evaluate the strength of the overall draft by positions. Best to worst?
JM: Corners, Running Backs, Defensive Ends and Wide Receivers would be the top four positions in terms of high-end playrs and quality depth. Tight End, Safety, Defensive Tackle and QB would be spots that will see a lot of later round guys make their mark, while the higher end players might be rated 1/2 a round to a full round higher than they would be in any other year.
PI: What teams in your opinion have will fare best in improving their offensive production.
JM: Miami could come out of the first day with both a WR and RB if the draft breaks their way. Chicago should have a new RB or WR to go with their free agent moves. San Diego and Dallas will look long and hard to find #2 WR's that can battle for starting jobs right away, while Pittsburgh and Jacksonville might surprise some people and look to add a WR or TE to help their young QB's growth.
PI: John, you mentioned Fincher of UConn earlier. What round do you project for him?
JM: Fincher is a kid that shows great leadership, instincts and the intangibles to become the vocal and on-field leader of a defense, so while he probably would carry about a 3rd round grade, I think he will be a surprise 2nd round choice.
PI: Closing thoughts on the Patriots?
JM: I would say Pats fans will see the team be active, maybe more so on Day 2 with some of the extra choices they have- doing something in the 4th or 5th round to deal up, same in the 7th. I would not be shocked to see them take a mid-to-late round QB if one presents himself.
Notes: Patriots Insider and Scout.com will be bringing you regular updates throughout the draft. Be sure to check the front page often and hit the "refresh" button obsessively.
Editor: We would like to thank John and his staff for the courtesy of making themselves available to spend time with PI this close to the craziest part of the year for them. We look forward to bringing you more down the road.
We will try to check back with John Murphy and some other experts throughout our draft coverage to get their impressions of how things went in the draft, and for the Patriots in particular.