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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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
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?
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
PI: If Barrett is unavailable, is
it your opinion that the Pats could possible "trade up" to obtain him
or will they target perhaps a Odell Thurman or a Adam Seward type player.
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.
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
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?
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?
a kid like Jermaine Hardy, safety from Virginia as a late rounder based on his
terrific workout numbers. Same can be said for a late round LB like Kevin Harrison
of Eastern Michigan.
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.
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.
John, you mentioned Fincher of UConn earlier. What round do you project for him?
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?
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.
Next Level Scouting- www.nlscouting.com
: Sporting News Radio
:: Bio-Alfred Fincher
Ruud :: NFL Draft
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.
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