Saturday, April 25, 2009

NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders Pick Of Heywood-Bey Panned


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The Oakland Raiders picked University of Maryland'Darrius Heyward-Bey even though he was rated by many behind Texas Tech Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree. Even in cyberspace, Crabtree's a better rated pass catcher.

On Madden Football, Michael Crabtree is rated ahead of Darrius Heyward-Bey 84 to 79, but Darrius Heyward-Bey was taken ahead of Crabtree. For the Raiders, Draftniks here in NYC think it was a question of speed. Heyward-Bey runs a 4.3 40 yard dash versus Crabtree's 4.5 time, but Crabtree's a gamer.

Still his underclassman status and his recent injury have caused Crabtree to be down-graded by some. But not so far that the San Francisco 49ers took him as the 10th pick. A number of people here at the Draft are questioning the Raiders decision to pass on him for the lower rated Heywood-Bey. Here's a video example: a conversation featuring our Bill Chachkes and Dewie from Yardbarker both in the Interview Room:

YouTube, and Sclipo

NFL Draft: Commissioner Goodell Discovers Twitter


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For the past three years I've been litterally pestering the NFL brass about "getting into the 21st Century" because they didn't have videos or use live streams or use social networks.  The NFL's concern has long been the possibility of "losing control of its brand" which to me is a statement marketing people make that always goes unquestioned when it should be challenged.  When its done, I find that the person making the statement really didn't think through what they meant and the fear is less than imagined if it was ever there at all. 

As other large firms have, as they say, moved into the social network space, the NFL's started to see the light, first with videos on, then a live stream of the NFL Draft that was done starting in 2008 (after I did it in 2007) and now Twitter. 

The NFL  started Tweeting with the last Super Bowl and "upped" its efforts with this Draft.  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell even has his own Twitter page.  Here's the full list of his updates:

  1. passing the podium role to Ray Anderson, our football ops chief
  2. among the hilites of every draft is saluting our military. it is nice to hear applause for them #nfldraft
  3. josh said it was longtime coming. he wanted to be a Buc!
  4. cushing another player out of new jersey. good 2 c so many family/friends here
  5. i told crabtree that at least he gets to keep his same college colors
  6. eugene says it's unreal. just unreal
  7. aaron invited 12-yr boy w/ leukemia. i gave aaron card 2 give 2 Bryson
  8. Jason Smith wouldn't let me go. he was so happy and surprised to go.
  9. wished Matthew a long productive career and said u look good in blue
  10. are u ready for some draft picks? I'm ready to get started #nfldraft
  11. ok, here we go. great seeing so many fans outside #nfldraft
  12. headed up to Columbia to talk with some grad students. Looking forward to it.
  13. I'm looking forward to the Draft on Saturday

Now here's my take: I think it's great Commissioner Goodell's using Twitter, but he and the NFL can get far better use out of it. The Commissioner should use his Twitter page as a press release to get out information he wants to share without the usual media filter. It could be something as simple as making sure NFL Draft patrons visit with a link or URL reference, which in turn drives traffic to that site. You get the idea. But the Commish just posts random things he's doing; by contrast Twitter for me is a device to get the Word out and send people to my daily updated blogs and Twitter.

It's not enough to be on Twitter, you have to have something to say too!

NFL Draft: Michael Crabtree, Interview With SF 49ers New Receiver


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After a bit of suspense that saw Texas Tech Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree fall to the Oakland Raiders at the 7th pick in the NFL Draft, he was finally selected number 10 by the San Francisco 49ers and then joined us in the Interview Room for a lot of questions all over the place in subject. Here's the interview on video:

To his credit, Crabtree handled it all very well, saying that he's not familar with the San Francisco Bay Area or San Francisco itself, but he has met and does have a great relationship with the Niners legendary receiver Jerry Rice, having met him at Deion Sanders home in Dallas. He likes and is looking forward to playing for head coach Mike Singletary, and Crabtree observed the coach wants you "just to work hard".

The hard work ethic is no stranger to Crabtree, who's preparation habits and focus led to one of the most amazing plays in College Football history, a stirring 32 yard catch and run against then-number-one-ranked Texas that scored a touchdown and led to a shocking upset of the heavily-favored Longhorns last year. It was that catch which put Crabtree and Texas Tech in the public spotlight and elevated his draft status.

Now he's a 49er.

(Photo credit: Bill Chackhes) 

In the Interview Room,Crabtree never stopped smiling. His mother and about 20 people, family and friends, all came downstairs to see his first official interview as an NFL player. His mother was just plain relieved to see it all end, as she told me as she slumped down into a random seat with a drained look. The ordeal of where her son was going was over.

Michael Crabtree Quote Sheet From The NFL:


(on the city of San Franciscco): It has great weather. I can't wait to play football in that weather.

(on playing in San Francisco instead of Oakland): I feel like I'm in the position where if somebody wants me and needs me, I just can't wait to play.

(on SF QB situation): I have no idea. As soon as I get there I'm looking forward to working hard with all these guys and try to make each other better.

(on his draft day wait): The key to this situation is being patient. I feel like I did that my whole life and can't go wrong.

(on Mike Singletary): Mike Singletary is a great coach. He's a good guy. He's very positive. The main thing he wants you to do is work and make the program better.

(on whether he wanted to be picked earlier): I'm just glad I got picked. This is a true blessing.

(on the adjustment to the NFL): It's a big adjustment. It's a challenge. It's going to take a lot of film watching and play watching. A lot of practice and running on the field. I'm looking forward to that.

(on if he feels he was the best receiver in the draft even though he wasn't the first selected): I always feel like I'm the best. I work to be the best. I have some big shoes to fill when I go to the 49ers with Jerry Rice. I'm looking forward to that too.

(on the pre-draft speculation): I'm one of those guys that really doesn't watch TV at all. The only way I know is if one of my little brothers tells me about it. Whatever they say I just feed it into motivation.

(on what he will say to the governor of California if they meet): Well, I was trying to see him while I was down there. But I’ll tell him: "I'll be back"

(on why he was not the top receiver picked): I still feel like I'm the top receiver. I don't really pay any attention to what everyone else does. He's a good receiver, the person who went ahead of me. I choose not to worry about that.

(on three people from Dallas in the top 10): That's a good deal. It's never happened in history. The top 10, three people from Dallas. I bet Dallas is going crazy right now. I can't wait to go back.

(on his football idol growing up): My football idol was Barry Sanders. I loved Barry Sanders. I loved Deion Sanders, too. There's something about these Sanders guys.

(on comparisons to Jerry Rice): It's a privilege to be compared to Jerry Rice. He's a great player, if not the best receiver to play the game. I just take all of that in and I listen very well to what they say about comparing me to all these different receivers. I'm just going to take it and run with it and try to get better every day.

(on if he has friends in the San Francisco area): I don't have any friends out there. I've talked to Vernon [Davis] a couple times, but I'm looking forward to meeting new people.

(on meeting Jerry Rice): He's a good guy. Behind the scenes, we mainly don't talk about football. We talk about the off-the-field things. And he just told me to keep a level head.

(on what he will miss most about Texas): Texas football! There's nothing like Texas football. It's probably the best football you can play.

(on his foot surgery): I will be 110%. My doctor told me I could start running. But he told me to wait until one of these teams picked me.

(on if he feels extra motivation to play against the teams that didn't select him): I really do. I keep all of that in mind. Like I said, I feel like I'm in a situation where someone wants me and needs me. And I can't wait to put this red, black, and gold on.

(on if Graham Harrell is underestimated by NFL teams): Graham Harrell is a football player. When I was working, he was working with me. He threw all the passes to me when I was working hard, so I know he's a hard worker. Anybody who gets him is going to get a steal. He’s going to progress every year. So I'm looking forward to seeing where he goes.

The Crabtree Zone has a great bio, which I repeat here for information me:

Michael Crabtree (born September 14, 1987 in Dallas, Texas) is a college football wide receiver for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. He has received much recognition as one of the nation’s most prolific wide receivers, including being a 2007 unanimous first-team All-American and the winner of the 2007 Biletnikoff and Paul Warfield Awards, which are given to the nation’s top college receiver.

High school

Crabtree attended David W. Carter High School in Dallas and played quarterback for the football team. As a senior, he passed for 870 yards and eleven touchdowns on 45 completions out of 100 attempts. He also ran for 646 yards and nine touchdowns on 100 carries. He was a four-star football recruit as an athlete.

In addition to playing football in high school, Michael Crabtree was also on the basketball team and ranked among the top 50 recruits going into college. During a visit in 2004, Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight asked Crabtree which sport he was going to choose. Though the decision was not an easy one, he opted to play college football exclusively.

Crabtree was offered football scholarships by Baylor, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Kansas. He was also offered a scholarship by Texas Tech, which he ultimately chose to accept.

Freshman season

Michael Crabtree redshirted his freshman season of 2006.

In 2007, Crabtree started his redshirt-freshman season against SMU. The Red Raiders won 49–9, and Crabtree stood out with 106 yards receiving on twelve receptions for three touchdowns. The next week, in a 45–31 win over UTEP, Crabtree continued his performance with 15 receptions, 188 yards, and two touchdowns. Against the Rice Owls, Crabtree put up 244 yards on eleven receptions for three touchdowns. In Tech’s first loss of the season, against Oklahoma State, he had 14 receptions for 237 yards and three touchdowns. In a 75–7 win over Northwestern State, Crabtree had 145 yards on eight receptions for three touchdowns in only two and a half quarters of playing time. In the contest against Iowa State, Crabtree had 10 receptions for 154 yards and three touchdowns. During that game, Crabtree broke the season record for most touchdown receptions by a freshman receiver. The previous record of 14 was shared by Jabar Gaffney in 2000, Mike Williams in 2002, and Davone Bess in 2005. In the October 14, 2007 game, Crabtree tacked on 170 more receiving yards on eight receptions but had no touchdowns in a 35–7 win over the Texas A&M Aggies. This brought his total yardage to 1,244. In the next game, against Missouri, he again did not score but still added 76 more yards on ten catches. In spite of having two consecutive games without a touchdown, CBS Sports still ranked Crabtree as the top freshman in the nation.

During the game against Colorado, Crabtree made his 99th catch. This set three records simultaneously—most single-season receptions by a freshman in I-A, most single-season receptions by a Red Raider, and most single-season touchdowns by a Big 12 player (18).

Sophomore season

Before the beginning of his sophomore season, CBS Sports listed Crabtree as a Heisman hopeful. Tech quarterback Graham Harrell’s name also appeared on the list.


Michael Crabtree has received multiple honors. In addition to being a unanimous first-team All-American, he won the Biletnikoff Award and the Paul Warfield Award.

NFL Draft: Update From The Interview Room


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As I sit here in the Interview Room at Radio City Music Hall waiting for and now having just made a video of Houston Texans Linebacker Brian Cushing and Tampa Bay Bucs Quarterback Josh Freeman , here's some updates real quick, because another player's coming down here in 3 min.

First, who was selected as of this writing:

1 Lions Matthew Stafford QB
2 Rams Jason Smith OT
3 Chiefs Tyson Jackson DE
4 Seahawks Aaron Curry OLB
5 Jets Mark Sanchez QB
6 Bengals Andre Smith OT
7 Raiders Darrius Heyward-Bey WR
8 Jaguars Eugene Monroe OT
9 Packers B.J. Raji DT
10 49ers Michael Crabtree WR
11 Bills Aaron Maybin DE
12 Broncos Knowshon Moreno RB
13 Redskins Brian Orakpo DE
14 Saints Malcolm Jenkins CB
15 Texans Brian Cushing OLB
16 Chargers Larry English DE
17 Buccaneers Josh Freeman QB
18 Broncos Robert Ayers LB
19 Eagles Jeremy Maclin WR
20 Lions Brandon Pettigrew TE
21 Browns Alex Mack C
22 Vikings Percy Harvin WR
23 Patriots
24 Falcons
25 Dolphins
26 Ravens
27 Colts
28 Bills
29 Giants
30 Titans
31 Cardinals
32 Steelers

Second, the controversy over The Oakland Raiders selection of Darrius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree, who went to the 49ers is heating up. On Madden Football, Crabtree is rated ahead of Darrius Heyward-Bey 84 to 79, but Darrius Heyward-Bey was taken ahead of Crabtree. For the Raiders, Draftniks here in NYC think it was a question of speed. Heyward-Bey runs a 4.3 40 yard dash versus Crabtree's 4.5 time, but Crabtree's a gamer.

Third, for some reason Michael Crabtree's representatives had him bypass the media in the second interview room for "some business with the 49ers" according to Michael Orenstein, the man who tried to market Reggie Bush and now represents Crabtree. What's coming is the table interview, but not an up close one as of this writing.

Forth, Crabstree says he met 49ers Wide Receiving legend Jerry Rice at Deion Sanders home in Atlanta. Crabtree says Rice gave him a lot of advice but most emphasized that he should just work hard.

NFL Draft: Radio City Music Hall Interview Room


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I'm stationed in the Interview Room at the NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall where everyone with a camera's assigned to go. It's the place where all of the invited NFL Draft rookies will come to give interviews after they're selected by a team.

I'm waiting on Matt Stafford to come down as he was just picked as the quarterback of The Detroit Lions. The Interview Room is actually two rooms and while I could describe it to you, it's better to see it in video-blog form:

NFL Draft: OT Michael Oher On His Life and Football


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The University of Mississippi's Michael Oher's one of the best offensive tackles available in the NFL Draft, so good that he was invited to New York City for Draft Day. But he also has a background that's the total rags to riches story. Oher's Mom was adicted to crack cocaine and his father was not involved in raising him. He attended several different elementary schools and was even homeless at one point in his life. Then Oher met Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, who took him in and helped him become a better student.

I talked to Oher at the "NFL Play 60" Event in Central Park, where he did talk briefly about his life, but said he was blessed to be taken in by the Tuohy's and came from a neighborhood where "zero people make it out" as he said. "I've always been a good guy and a guy who cared." Oher says his friends have not changed and everyone's the same even with his new fame and income to come.

Jawing With Brandon Spikes

Every offensive and defensive lineman has a story about what kind of talk goes on "in the trenches" and Oher's no different. He likes going against Brandon Spikes of Florida because "He's a funny guy. He talks a lot is a hard-noser. He calls me by my middle name (as they're playing) Jerome."

Oher explains that while he has his favorite players, he never hates a player. Another "good character" gentleman at the NFL Draft.

Oher may not be the best offensive tackle available in the Draft, that honor generally goes to Baylor's Jason Smith, but I think he has the most to live for and will work to become the best tackle in the NFL.

NFL Draft: Matt Stafford, Michael Crabtree, Stupid Salary Questions


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I'm in New York for the NFL Draft and its related events, one of them was held Friday, and called NFL Play 60 in Central Park. This fun affair on a sun-drenched day served as the backdrop for media interviews with the nine top college football players invited by the league to attend the draft.

Given that many of the reporters, bloggers, and columnists were not experiencing their first rodeo, as the saying goes, one would think the questions would be good ones. Well, not at all. In fact some of the most seasoned writers asked the stupidest questions and Georgia Quarterback Matt Stafford and Texas Tech Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree had to deal with them.

Without naming names, there are two gentlemen in my video who fall into that category. They were fixated on asking about something that doesn't even exist: the rookie salary cap. There's a school of thought advanced by these writers and some NFL players that there should be such a limit on what first-year NFL players make. But since the cap doesn't exist, and therefore doesn't impact this year's players, why raise the issue with them?

That bit of logic was beyond the reach of our fearless journalist-type heroes. They pressed on with the question and it only served to show how well-adjusted Stafford and Crabtree were as people, especially at their young place in life. When Stafford, who appears to be headed to the Detroit Lions as their first pick as of Friday night, got the question, he deflected it, saying in so many words, "Ask the Commissioner." Crabstree looked at the questioner as if he were from another planet - it's on the video - then said "I feel like what I do is fun. I'm blessed to be here" to which the reporter said sarcastically "We're all blessed to be here" in one of those moments that answers the question "Why are newspapers dying?" It had nothing to do with the real subject at hand: the new NFL rookies at the event and what they were all about.

When the question bottle spun to me, or really when I made it do so, I wanted to know who these guys were and the best way to determine that is how they treat you when you ask a question about how they handle relationship difficulties. More to the point, are their friends treating them differently since fame and the possibility of fortune came on to them?

Stafford said he had the same friends throughout the affair. Crabtree said he kept a tight circle of family and friends long ago. An interesting difference as Crabtree seemed more prepared for the ills of the process and the ups and downs, were Stafford is more laid back about the whole deal and in a way almost "Brett Farve" like in his country-boy attitude. I suppose both schools of thought work but we shall see as they grow in the NFL.

Stafford's Favorite Passes

As to "favorite" passes Matt Stafford likes to throw, he thought long and hard before answering "skinny post" which should be a tip to the Lions braintrust as they plans the teams passing game. Stafford also seemed determined not to be molded by the expectations of others. For example, one reporter asked about how he would deal with making "all that money"; Stafford offered that he'd never seen that amount of money to know! A great, simple action!

Crabtree Was "In A Daze For Texas Catch"

Michael Crabtree, one who's not a fan of passing game systems but of solid play ("Everyone has a system; the whole thing's overblown", he told me) is known for a jaw-dropping, quick-as-light catch and run that beat The Texas Longhorns last year. Asked what was going through his mind at that time, he said "I couldn't hear nothing. I was so focused, I couldn't hear nothing...I could see the whole field. I could see the linebackers. D-Line. I was like, hey, I can see everything." Many teams hope he can bring that focus to the NFL and there's every indication he can.

Indeed, if their play is as good as the way they deal with stupid media questions, Stafford and Crabtree will be all-pro players for a long time to come.