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noa
06-06-2006, 10:38 PM
http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/insider/columns/story?columnist=horton_gary&id=2472439

We've already heard a bunch of good news about him, but just another confirmation that Will Svitek is a legit prospect for OL. I saw that the Donkeys picked up a few NFL Europe prospects (none in the top 5 here), but I'm sure ours will turn out to be incredibly useful while theirs will turn out to just be more Maurice Claretts. Chiefs rule, Shanarat drools.

Henson gets much needed 'live' work

With the Frankfurt Galaxy recording their unprecedented fourth World Bowl victory, a 22-7 win over the Amsterdam Admirals, another NFL Europe season is wrapped up and it's time to take an inside look at this league and also evaluate some of the top players.

NFL coaches continue to have varying opinions on the value of NFL Europe. Position coaches in the NFL cherish the offseason and the quality one-on-one time with their players. Many folks believe the most progress a young player makes during his career is in the offseason between his rookie year and second season. Watching film and competing in individual drills with your position coach in the spring is a huge learning curve for a young player. Subsequently, many NFL coaches are hesitant to endorse their players' competing across the Atlantic ocean in an environment that usually lacks the same level of facilities and coaching expertise that they get with their NFL team.

However, there is a strong counterpoint to this argument. Playing in game situations is something that you cannot simulate in an NFL offseason program. All the drills in the world with your position coach will not match the speed and intensity of a live game. Many of these young players get very little playing time in the preseason and game experience is critical for the development. NFL coaches will tell you that specific positions, such as quarterback and offensive line, benefit the most from these game situations.

Another big question is how seriously do NFL teams support NFL Europe? Some teams try to utilize NFLE to develop their young "quality" players by having their coaches monitor the players' progress at training camp practices in Florida before the team leaves for Europe. In addition, they diligently watch their game film. However, there are also several NFL teams that do not utilize the advantages of NFL Europe; they simply sign guys "off the street" and allocate them with very little hope of these players competing for a roster spot in training camp. I have never understood why an NFL team would not really take the NFL Europe opportunities seriously. After all, if you send six guys to Europe and one or two of them make your roster, you're ahead of the game.

So, who are the players from this year's NFL Europe class to keep an eye on in this summer's NFL training camps? Let's take a look at five players.

1. QB Drew Henson, Rhein Fire (allocated by Dallas Cowboys)
Henson is a household name we have all heard about and at first glance he is a higher profile guy than we are used to seeing in NFLE. However, Henson is a player who still needs game experience and live snaps. Henson's biggest problem in his young NFL career has been his inability to read defenses, process information, and make quick decisions and that's what you do in these game situations. He has all the physical skills that you are looking for and he is coming off a season for Rhein in which he completed 109 of 209 passes for 1,321 yards and 10 touchdowns, but most importantly, he threw only three interceptions. The latter statistic leads you to believe that his decision making has improved. So, where does Henson fit in the Cowboys' plans? He will compete again with Tony Romo to be backup quarterback behind aging starter Drew Bledsoe. However, with Bledsoe near the end of his career, the Cowboys must decide whether Romo or Henson is their quarterback of the future and Henson's positive performance in NFLE should raise his confidence level entering training camp.

2. RB Roger Robinson, Frankfurt (allocated by Arizona Cardinals)
He was an undrafted free agent from Northern Arizona, but his performance in Frankfurt has enhanced his status. He rushed for 1,037 yards on 214 carries for a 5.1 average, while also catching 13 passes for 113 yards and a 8.7 average. He is a small back (5-foot-9, 191 pounds.) but he has great speed and explosiveness (4.43 in the 40-yard dash) and on the college level he was a good kickoff return specialist. His problem is that he joins a crowded backfield in Arizona and, while nobody expects him to compete for playing time with Edgerrin James, he is listed fifth on the depth chart behind backup Marcel Shipp, J.J. Arrington and Damien Anderson. The Cardinals likely will keep four running backs on their roster, but Shipp might be expendable, along with Anderson. Robinson and Arrington have a lot of the same skill sets, which further complicates things. If Robinson could compete as a kickoff returner in training camp, it would help his chances as he faces an uphill battle to make this roster.

3. WR Skylar Fulton, Amsterdam (allocated by Seattle Seahawks)
He came out of nowhere to post great numbers for the Admirals and put himself in contention for a roster spot in Seattle. He caught 53 passes for 999 yards and seven touchdowns and a whopping 18.7 average per catch. He was a running back early in his college career at Arizona State and he is trying to make the transition to wide receiver. At 5-11, 199, he wasn't quite big enough to be an everyday running back, but as a wide receiver he has excellent hands. However, he lacks some deep speed and vertical skills, which makes his average yards per catch in NFLE even more impressive. Fulton wasn't selected in the NFLE allocation draft until the 16th round, so nobody expected this type of production. He has excellent receiving skills and has improved as a route runner and his feel for the position is excellent, but he still might have trouble separating against tight coverage in the NFL with only average explosiveness. Seattle currently has 13 wide receivers on its roster vying for five or six spots and Fulton has his work cut out for him. His skills are not flashy and he will have to really "flash" in the preseason to catch his coaches attention.

4. OT Will Svitek, Frankfurt (allocated by Kansas City Chiefs)
Coming out of college at Stanford in 2005, he was a 286-pound tight end and defensive end and was drafted in the sixth round by the Chiefs. Athletically, as a tight end and defensive end, he was adequate, but as an offensive tackle who runs 5.1, he has excellent movement skills and he has bulked up to 300 pounds. He played left tackle for Frankfurt and is a smart guy who plays under control and has a great feel for the game. Right now he is listed third on the Kansas City depth chart at left tackle behind Willie Roaf and Jordan Black. However, with Roaf close to retirement, Svitek is closer to competing for playing time. The Chiefs love to develop young offensive linemen in NFLE and Svitek is a prime example.

5. OT Patrick Estes, Berlin Thunder (allocated by San Francisco 49ers)
Coming out of college at the University of Virginia, he was a 280-pound blocking tight end and was drafted in the seventh round by the 49ers last year. He has bulked up to 288 and still has the frame to add 15-20 pounds now that he is a full-time offensive tackle. He has good athleticism and feet, and is a good position blocker right now who will get better as he adds bulk and strength. He played left tackle for Berlin and is currently listed as the No. 2 left tackle on the San Francisco depth chart behind veteran free agent acquisition Jonas Jennings. Estes can sit and learn behind Jennings and easily could fill in as a blocking tight end in some short yardage and goal-line situations, and his upside is significant.

There is a common thread to these players: They all needed more experience. In the case of Fulton, Svitek and Estes, we have players who are learning new positions and playing in NFLE helps them make the transition. It is a league that serves a lot of useful purposes.

Gary Horton has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm called "The War Room."

BWillie
06-06-2006, 10:42 PM
Once Svitek gets another year of experience under his belt, Jordan Black is gonna be bagging groceries.

NaptownChief
06-06-2006, 10:44 PM
I didn't realize we offered a new contract to the revolving door that is Jordan Black...Svitek will have him beaten out in a heart beat as will Sampson if given a fair chance.

Gawd I have never seen a NFL lineman more over matched a confused than Black when he filled in at LT. That was ugly. Green is lucky he is still alive.

noa
06-06-2006, 10:53 PM
Once Svitek gets another year of experience under his belt, Jordan Black is gonna be bagging groceries.

Do you think there's a chance we'll keep Black just to be a back-up?

NaptownChief
06-06-2006, 10:54 PM
Do you think there's a chance we'll keep Black just to be a back-up?


I personally would rather have dead air as a back up...It would block no less than Black.

BWillie
06-06-2006, 11:02 PM
I personally would rather have dead air as a back up...It would block no less than Black.

Ya no kidding, or we could just make Dunn eat twinkies for a year.

noa
06-06-2006, 11:04 PM
I personally would rather have dead air as a back up...It would block no less than Black.


I agree that he was atrocious at LT last year, but that's a tough position and if there's any way he can pull off RT decently, I wouldn't mind having him as a back-up for the right side of the line. They obviously saw some potential in him by throwing him in Roaf's spot over Sampson and Svitek. Not necessarily a lot of potential, but maybe enough for him to be a decent back-up.

Mr. Laz
06-06-2006, 11:50 PM
Black needs to be moved inside to guard

noa
06-07-2006, 11:01 AM
Black needs to be moved inside to guard


Agreed...he'll be fine there.

StcChief
06-07-2006, 12:19 PM
Svitek to be next LT. 2007?
That would be great if he's 3/4 as good as Roaf we will be fine.

Black - Guard.