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 Post subject: Emerging Hall already the talk of the game
PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 4:02 pm 
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http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football ... g-db_x.htm


By Matt Pitzer, USA TODAY
If DeAngelo Hall does not become the best cornerback in the NFL, it will not be for a lack of dreaming big.

Check out some of the players Hall already has turned to on his quest for greatness: Deion Sanders, Champ Bailey, Darrell Green.

"I talk with Deion all the time," Hall says. "Just how to play schemes and about certain situations. ... I know how vital and essential this season is for me, heading into my third season. Teams are going to notice me and single in on me. I'm not stopping at (any) cost. I'm picking the mind of some of the greats."

The Falcons cover man will tell you he is among the best cornerbacks in the league, and our panel of experts says he is on his way to the top. If he improves as much as he did from an injury-plagued rookie season (two interceptions in nine starts) to his second year (six picks in 15 games), he'll be closer to getting there.

"Champ definitely is the champ; he has that leaguewide respect," Hall says. "I'm starting to get that kind of respect, too. Guys like Deion Sanders, Chad Johnson, Michael Irvin are telling me that.

"But it's hard to argue with Champ because he's been that guy for so long."

Bailey agrees that Hall is on his way. "I love the way he plays," Bailey says of Hall. "I think he'll be one of the all-time greats. I think he has all the tools. I want him to be as good as he can be. I want every guy to be like that. I'm going to tell them what I know."

Before long, Hall might be the one dispensing advice. He has the athletic skills to stick with league's best receivers. Now it is a matter of mastering finer points and learning the tricks that only experience brings.

"He's really had only 1½ years," Falcons defensive coordinator Ed Donatell says. "But he has shown everybody that he does belong. He's really a sharp guy. To go to the next level in this league, it's really from the neck above. He's a really intelligent guy. He's learning at a rapid pace. He's going to give you the mental cues that you need to have."

The paradox of the elite cornerback is trying to do more with less. The better a player covers a wide receiver, the less likely opposing quarterbacks are to test the defender — which means fewer chances for the receiver to get his hands on the ball.

"I'm cocky and brash," he says. "You know I want the ball. Not to get the ball thrown at you is frustrating, but you have to be more focused. You can't take one play off, because that could mean six points. You could get only a couple balls a game and you have to be ready. That's what keeps me focused."

It is an attitude — and aptitude — that can lift an entire defense.

"I really love the way he plays," Atlanta coach Jim Mora says. "He plays with athletic arrogance. I'm not going to say he is the best in the league, but I think he has the potential to be one of the best in the league if he works at it — which he is."

Hall takes pride in matching up against top receivers and keeping them out of the end zone. In the first game of the 2005 season, then-Eagles receiver Terrell Owens had seven catches for 112 yards but he didn't score. And when the Eagles were trying to rally for a go-ahead score late in the game, Hall was in the mix when Philadelphia's final drive stalled, including two incompletions to Owens in the Eagles' final three plays.

"His Week 1 performance vs. Terrell Owens on Monday night was his coming-out party," TV analyst Solomon Wilcots says. "He revels in his assignments to lock down No. 1 receivers each week. The foundation of his game is complete and utter confidence and no fear of getting beat. He explodes out of his break and closes on receivers with precision timing."

The Falcons are counting on Hall and are rebuilding their defense with him as a key component. Atlanta pinned much of the blame for last season's 8-8 record on its 22nd-ranked defense. The unit was 26th against the run and got little help from its safeties, and the Falcons also were 22nd in the league in defensive completion percentage at 60.8%.

Newcomers Lawyer Milloy and Chris Crocker will get a chance to start at safety. The team's first draft pick, second-rounder Jimmy Williams, could bump veteran Jason Webster at cornerback, leaving Hall as the only returning starter in the secondary.

Mora says cornerbacks have difficulty becoming on-field leaders because their play often is so isolated, but Hall is taking it upon himself to become one of the players his teammates turn to.

"The coaches sat me down in the offseason and gave me that responsibility (to lead). And I definitely accepted it," Hall says. "We're not going to have to put the burden on (quarterback) Mike Vick's shoulders anymore. I feel like we can go out there and make it happen" on defense.

Helping to make it happen will be a rebuilt pass rush, forcing quarterbacks into quicker decisions and possibly mistakes thrown in Hall's direction. The Falcons were in the middle of the pack with 37 sacks last season. The big addition was John Abraham, acquired from the Jets for a first-round pick. Abraham, bookend rusher Patrick Kerney and tackle Rod Coleman combined for 27½ sacks last season, and each was selected to the Pro Bowl.

"That's what's going to help me. Ooh, the pass rush," Hall says. "Just bringing that kind of pass rush, it's going to be scary. We're not going to have to cover guys at all. Quarterbacks will just be throwing the ball away."

Although Hall returned an interception for a touchdown against the Saints last season, his greatest demonstration of that athletic ability was barely seen. As a rookie in 2004, playing at the Giants during quarterback Eli Manning's first start, Hall broke off a blitz when he saw Manning read his move and soared into the air to snag Manning's dump-off pass with only open field ahead of him.

The trouble was Giants tackle Luke Petitgout was called for a false start and the play went down, as Hall says, as the Greatest Play That Never Happened. "If that tackle hadn't moved, I'd have probably won an Espy," Hall says. "That's the kind of excitement I bring to the field."

That also is the brash confidence Hall brings, which the Falcons hope helps him become as good as Bailey.

"I think there are a lot of really good corners in this league," Mora says. "I wouldn't trade DeAngelo for any of them."

Contributing: USA TODAY's Chris Colston and Jim Corbett


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 4:41 pm 
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"That's what's going to help me. Ooh, the pass rush,"

- Absolutely!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 5:18 pm 
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Things are definitely looking up for our pass defense, but it's been the run unit that has been a concern of mine. But probably moreso than people realize is that a top notch pass rush can alleviate some pressure off a team's run defense. A perfect example is the Indianapolis Colts.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 5:42 pm 
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a good pass rush is the biggest help you can give to a defensive secondary....

that's why ever since we got Abraham I've been saying that if we can just be middle of the pack against stopping the run we could have a top 8 defense.....

any team we force into passing situations we should eat alive


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:29 pm 
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Gotta love D. Hall. Looking forward to seeing what Milloy can do. Crocker is a mystery that looks good on paper. Webster showed some late promise last year...but I cant figure out if hes overachieved, has underachieved previously, or is just plain mediocre. People seem to be hailing Jimmy Williams as a frigging pro bowl caliber corner...and I do like him alot, but dont forget...he is a rookie. Beyond those three corners, its REALLY shallow! I have loved Kevin "Panty Snatcher" Mathis's game vs the Panties...but its will be tough for him to get through these injuries and maintain a decent career...even as a nickle back. Chris Cash...virtual unknown with promise and potential. No one else who would be a starter for NFL Europe.

Imagine for two seconds ANY of the above happens: J Web, D Hall, or J Will get injured; OR J Will or J Web stink up the joint next season...ANY one of those happen, and we have a lack of cover corners so glaring that we are back to the SAME problem we have had for years of forcing a safety to be devoted to coverage and coverage alone. Thats not good considering 1. If the safety was great at covering he would already be a corner (stating the obvious) and 2. Even more open holes for the run game. Of course, there are a long list of other drawbacks to it as well. In those scenarios, the viewing Falcons fan will have to be thinking "whos covering thier #2...s***...whos covering their #3...s***...Thats not a 4 WR package is it??? Anyway, I like the offseason thus far but I'm still not confident in this defense.

In response to another post:
A healthy Ed Hartwell...and one more solid workhorse DT...would GREATLY improve the run D IMHO. Without that extra decent DT, virtual no talent ass clowns like Samkon Gado, Aaron Stecker, and Antowan Smith (the latter two in combination)will continue to look like "Sweetness" when in the GA DOME.

Lavalais looks like he could/should be cut...and may be almost worthless for this team this year. Lavalais...who appears to be getting training with the guy who used to dance to Jail House Rock in the End Zones of the Dome for every home game...is currently your starter on the depth chart. Lake only looks decent against the Jets...who we dont face for several years...and have upgraded their line. Sorry Lake. Shropshire has potential...but would be much better served to play the swingman/come in to give someone else a breather role for another year or two. He could have success in that role and really be grooomed for the future. For Babineaux...see Shropshire. Basically, I dont see anyone on this team worthy of starting beside Roderick Coleman at DT. They will all be circled targets for opposing run gameplans.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 12:15 pm 
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Why was my post deleted?


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 12:30 pm 
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I think our depth at CB is good....

We have DHall, JWeb, JWill, KMathis, CCash, ARossum. And I think OLowe and LTorrence are about as much as you can ask for from players who might not even make it on the field. THey proved to be great gunners when I have seen them play, and I think Lowe really has a chance to be a solid backup and spot starter type player.

Our real problems in the secondary are with depth at Safety. I think we should bring back Antuan Edwards, and try to sign another vet to compete for a backup spot (A. Plummer?).

We also need a FAT body to plug the middle. That will do wonders for our run defense.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 12:36 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
Things are definitely looking up for our pass defense, but it's been the run unit that has been a concern of mine. But probably moreso than people realize is that a top notch pass rush can alleviate some pressure off a team's run defense. A perfect example is the Indianapolis Colts.


The only reason the Colts defense is any good is becuase the offense puts 30 points up a game, and makes the opposing team one dimensional. Talk about an overrated bunch of players. If Peyton Manning gets hurt, lets see good they are.... That is the same thing that happened to Vick, and everyone s*** on us. Then the next year we go to the NFC championship game.

And to talk about the colts pass rush, take away Dwight Freeney and they dont have one. Teams have to over compensate for him, and thats how scrubs light Robert Mathis break free, sack the QB and score big contracts. Mathis should donate half of his new contract to Dwight Freeney. Same as Osi Umenura (sp?) from the Giants.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 1:13 pm 
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ether3917 wrote:
I think our depth at CB is good....

We have DHall, JWeb, JWill, KMathis, CCash, ARossum.


Again-I repeat- JWeb=Rookie, JWil=sporadic, KMathis=Coming off two major injuries in as many years, CCash=?, ARossum=stinks at anything defensive...also stunk at returns last season.

If this is depth that makes you feel good you are much easier to please than I.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:07 pm 
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BENT21 wrote:
ether3917 wrote:
I think our depth at CB is good....

We have DHall, JWeb, JWill, KMathis, CCash, ARossum.


Again-I repeat- JWeb=Rookie, JWil=sporadic, KMathis=Coming off two major injuries in as many years, CCash=?, ARossum=stinks at anything defensive...also stunk at returns last season.

If this is depth that makes you feel good you are much easier to please than I.


Name a team with a better group of 6 CBs


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 8:26 pm 
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I think Tampa Bay's Top 6 corners could give ours a run for our money. Ours is only superior if the old Kevin Mathis returns. Since that is very doubtful at this point...

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 Post subject: There is no excuse not to have def tackle fixed!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2006 3:25 am 
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The defense has alot of potential however the one thing that can ruin it is the def tackles not stopping the run. There aren't hardly any good ones on the market but Buckner would at least by some time till the other def tackles develop.If we see running backs continously running all over are defense it will be Mckay's fault. He did address the pass rush but we all know stopping the run is essential. I hope the Falcon's don't think Hartwell is the answer to stopping the run. Remember last season when people were wondering why he wasn't as effective as he was with the Ravens.It was because the ravens had def tackles to block the linemen and hartwell would just clean up the mess. Same thing happened to Ray Lewis he isn't nearly as effective if you have no def tackles.

Hall is good but to reach the top he needs to focus more and not get caught out of position. The day when he can shut down a receiver consistently by himself isn't quite here yet. I have seen Hall get burnt and I hope he isn't caught up in all the hype. What I mean is Hall still has he doesn't read the receiver and gets burned for long gainers. Hall is good but he isn't there yet.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:11 am 
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DHall's the man! If Williams is only 2/3 of what DHall is, we will be in good shape in the secondary.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:28 am 
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DHall's the man! If Williams is only 2/3 of what DHall is, we will be in good shape in the secondary.

- I wouldn't worry about this, physically he's the man, but mentally he's still a rookie. The future couldn't be brighter though. Hall's the uber talent and JDub's the enforcer. Pick your poison too me.

Not sure why everyone is still negative on the defense. I mean Rome wasn't built in a day. How could we have had a better offseason than we had?? There wasn't a better DE than what we got (other option was only an overdrafted rookie), probably not a better corner (who we stole in the 2nd round), revamped the safeties and Hartwell's back (although we do know he's still kinda a ? mark). Sure it would have been nice to get the other pieces (big DT, safety depth, etc), but you do have to take into consideration that only so much can be accomplished in one offseason with the salary cap in mind. I couldn't be happier with McKay's results for his end of the deal thus far.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:58 am 
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Good points widetrak, and I don't think you can truly count it as over because I do somewhat expect the Falcons to address DT and S before Opening day,probably on the heels of training camp cuts.

When we made the Abraham and Milloy moves, I was ready to say, "Yes, the Falcons will have a Top 10 defense in 2006!" But over the recent months and as I've stated before, I tend to get a bit less optimistic closer to the summertime. But I definitely believe that we still have that potential to be a top-ranked unit, I'm just not as ready to shout it to the heavens as easily as I was in March.

Honestly, if our defense is not a Top 10 unit this year, it will be a major letdown for this team.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 12:51 pm 
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I think a top 10 is certainly feasible, as long as the newcomers gell nicely. The thing I like about our defense that nobodies talkign about is turnovers. And I kinda think about this in fantasy football terms too. Ie. A fantasy defense that creates turnovers is 10x more valuable than one whose just solid and gets 3 and outs. Two years ago we were a turnover machine it seemed like. I'd like to get back to that attack style, turnover creating defense. With the pass rush improved, I could easily see us returning to that style with some consistency. I've always like an aggressive defense, as opposed to one who more reaction based.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 2:29 pm 
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IMO the best combination of start DT's is going to be Coleman and Lake with Babs & Shrop behind them. I really would prefer to see us deal Lavalais for a late round pick if possible or just cut him out right. I'd rather get Shrop the snaps than Lav. I was high on the pick back then as well but not anymore.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:18 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
... I do somewhat expect the Falcons to address DT and S before Opening day,probably on the heels of training camp cuts.//


Yeah, I expected the same last offseason. I still remember the cringe that almost got me into an auto accident as I heard McKay on 790 The Zone last July saying he thought we were fine at DT and Safety and he didnt intend to add anyone else.

I hope that was just 'organizational' speak based on knowing the limitations of our current cap, because if he honestly thought our talent and depth at those two positions was good enough, he was sorely mistaken.


Last edited by BENT21 on Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:23 pm 
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dirtybirdnw wrote:
IMO the best combination of start DT's is going to be Coleman and Lake with Babs & Shrop behind them.


Coleman and 'sack of dirt' would be the equivalent. Using the word 'best' seems to be an embarrassment to the word.

Its like saying, "I think Zac Derr is the best kicker on the team!"
***By the way, Derr is listed as the starting kicker on the current depth chart.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:44 am 
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widetrak21 wrote:
I think a top 10 is certainly feasible, as long as the newcomers gell nicely. The thing I like about our defense that nobodies talkign about is turnovers. And I kinda think about this in fantasy football terms too. Ie. A fantasy defense that creates turnovers is 10x more valuable than one whose just solid and gets 3 and outs. Two years ago we were a turnover machine it seemed like. I'd like to get back to that attack style, turnover creating defense. With the pass rush improved, I could easily see us returning to that style with some consistency. I've always like an aggressive defense, as opposed to one who more reaction based.

I agree widetrak. I've been saying for 9 months that the Falcons are at their best when they are aggressive on defense. If I don't see more of that this year, you can put me on the Fire Ed Donatell bandwagon.
BENT21 wrote:
Yeah, I expected the same last offseason. I still remember the cringe that almost got me into an auto accident as I heard McKay on 790 The Zone last July saying he thought we were fine at DT and Safety and he didnt intend to add anyone else.

But at least last year he had the excuse that he didn't quit know Lavalais was going to be so ineffective and had Heard and McCadam as backup safeties. He couldn't possibly confuse Chris Reis and Nick Turnbull for those two guys, at least I hope not. :shock:

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:51 am 
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Pudge wrote:
BENT21 wrote:
Yeah, I expected the same last offseason. I still remember the cringe that almost got me into an auto accident as I heard McKay on 790 The Zone last July saying he thought we were fine at DT and Safety and he didnt intend to add anyone else.

But at least last year he had the excuse that he didn't quit know Lavalais was going to be so ineffective and had Heard and McCadam as backup safeties.


Like GI Joe said...knowing is half the battle. Thats McKays job. "I didnt know he was going to suck" is an excuse I expect from Matt Millen...not Rich McKay.

I guess the bottom line is...if the GM knows his stuff more often than not than you end up consistently in the playoffs. You wont get every one right....but the great talent evaluators get it right enough that it makes up for the 'whoops.'

Lets see if McKay can live up to his reputation and get this team into the playoffs consistently. This season will be huge in determining his value as a GM.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:03 am 
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I don't want to sound like I'm ragging on McKay, but I recall when there were first rumors the Falcons were going after him way back in 2002, I didn't want him. I thought he was overrated based on his recent drafting. Sure he had done a pretty good job in his early days in Tampa Bay, but if you really look at his final 5 or so drafts there, he did a poor job. I mean he really only finds quality talent on Day 1. Most of his Day 2 picks in Tampa Bay absolutely sucked and couldn't even make the team as rookies. And if you look at his record, besides Dunn, Alstott, and maybe a couple of OL, not a single offensive player turned out to be worth a damn in like 9 years of drafting.

But by 2004, my opinion had changed in that I realized the Falcons needed a GM that has experience building a solid front office. It's McKay's ability to lead a successful front office is his greatest asset, not particularly his prowes in personal decisions. He's good in that latter area, but I think it would be difficult to argue he's the best considering many of his Tampa picks.

And I think that leadership ability is what of course makes him an attractive candidate for the Commish job.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:09 am 
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I want to like McKay. I dont think there were too many guys out there that were better candidates for this position. Ron Wolf maybe...but he would have probably GMed about like Alex Gibbs coaches. Of course, McKay wasnt even 'available'...Blank just made it so.

If what you say is true...and McKay stinks at talent evaluating, but is great at 'other things' than just how HUGE is losing Tim Ruskell? Was he the guy behind the curtain for McKays 'great picks?' I'm not insinuating...just curious...


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:22 pm 
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BENT21 wrote:
dirtybirdnw wrote:
IMO the best combination of start DT's is going to be Coleman and Lake with Babs & Shrop behind them.


Coleman and 'sack of dirt' would be the equivalent. Using the word 'best' seems to be an embarrassment to the word.

Its like saying, "I think Zac Derr is the best kicker on the team!"
***By the way, Derr is listed as the starting kicker on the current depth chart.


You are underestimating how solid Lake has been against the run.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 8:34 pm 
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Well, I'm not saying McKay sucks at talent evaluating, but he's not heads and shoulders above the rest of the guys out there, which is what his rep sorta implies.

But also remember Ruskell was right alongside him when he was having those bland drafts in Tampa Bay.

McKay knows his stuff. I mean he picked DUngy for Tampa Bay, the right guy to turn that franchise around. Then he was about to pick Marvin Lewis, who seems like he would have been an excellent pickup for the Bucs, until the Glazers interfered and brought in Gruden.

His 3 principle disciples in Tampa Bay, 2 of them are top dogs for other franchises: Jerry Angelo in Chicago and Ruskell in Seattle. The third guy: Ruston Webster is Ruskell's new #2 in Seattle. His cap guru, John Idzik is the cap guru in Arizona. There's a few other guys that were his head honchos as well working around the league. So he sort of has the same impact in front offices that guys like Belichick and Holmgren seem to have on team's sidelines.

McKay has the rep of being a guy that consistently produces A-grade drafts. But all I'm saying is that his record seems to indicate he has as many C & D drafts as he does A & B ones.

I think Ruskell is going to be missed by McKay. I think much of that evidence was seen in this past year's draft particularly on Day 2 which IMO is a significant dropoff from 2004 & 2005 drafts in talent.

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