• Author:
  • Published: May 11th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Finding an all pro in the Undrafted Rookie pool.

Finding an all pro in the Undrafted Rookie pool.

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Some teams find Undrafted Rook Free Agents (URFA) and other teams don’t. Fans need to know what to look for in URFAs and how you can tell if your team is a Pittsburgh Steeler type scouting team or that of the Cleveland Browns.

The thing that makes a URFA become a contributor is one great quality. After the 2nd round, every player has holes in his game or danger signals from his past. From the 65th pick on, the secret to success is finding players that have at least one outstanding quality.

Exhibit 1—Fast Willie Parker RB URFA Pittsburgh

Parker came out of North Carolina with an insignificant college career (84 att 355 yrd). He was not used more by Coach Bunting because he thought the back needed to “bulk up.” But the Steelers saw one outstanding ability—speed. They signed him but he did not start his first year. All he has done since is rush for nearly 5,000 yards in 4 years as a starter. He holds the longest run in Super Bowl history and has helped the Steelers win 2 championships in his time as a starter.

Exhibit 2—James Harrison LB URFA Pittsburgh

Harrison didn’t light things up as quickly as Parker. He was a pass rusher at Kent State. When he was signed by the Steelers in 02, he was very green and had a great deal of trouble converting from DE to OLB. He struggled in pass coverage and was cut. He played in Europe in 03 and began to round out his game. He was resigned by the Steelers in 04 due to an injury to a key LB. When LB Joey Porter got involved in a pre-game altercation with Cleveland’s William Green, Harrison got his first start. From that time until 2007 he was a regular part of the rotation and became a star on special teams.

New head coach Mike Tomlin cut Porter and made Harrison the starter in 07. After the 2008 season, Harrison was voted the Defensive Player of the Year and an interception returned for a touchdown that was the key play in the Super Bowl. Not bad for a URFA.

Exhibit 3—Kurt Warner QB St. Louis (now Arizona)

The quality that brought Warner to the attention of the Rams staff was accuracy and quick release. He was a backup at Northern Iowa until his senior year. he won the Gateway Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year as a starter but did not get drafted. It was his performance in Arena football and in NFL Europe that earned him a spot on the Rams roster. In 1998 he lead NFLE in passing yardage and touchdowns. In a 1999 preseason game starting QB Trent Green was injured and put on IR. Warner started for a seriously flawed team and led them to a win in the Super Bowl. He had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history that included 4,353 passing yards, 41 touchdown passes and a completion rate of 65.1%. He has the top 3 passing games in Super Bowl history.

Exhibit 4—Donnie Shell S Pittsburgh 1974-1987

Pittsburgh saw Shell at South Carolina State while scouting team mate LB prospect Harry Carson. Shell had one outstanding quality—he was always around the football. He was too small, not particularly fast, but had outstanding football instincts. Even though the draft was 17 rounds back then, he went undrafted. He started for the Steelers for 14 seasons and got 51 interceptions and was a 5 time all pro selection. He was part of the Steel Curtain defense that helped the team win 4 Super Bowls during his career.

So watch the players that your favorite teams sign as URFAs. Maybe one of them can make my list the next time I discuss great players that were never drafted.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL Draft,Free Agent,Undrafted,Steelers,Rams,Cardinals,Parker,Harrision,Warner,Shell
  • Author:
  • Published: Apr 16th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on If you draft out of fear of failure you will fail.

If you draft out of fear of failure you will fail.

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Fryingpan Sports

If you draft out of fear of failure you will fail.

By Bill Smith

Given all the failures of QBs early in the NFL draft over the recent years, this year there is more talk than ever of drafting not to fail. The new administration of the Lions is going to have to byte the bullet about their first overall pick.

There was the first overall pick in 1999 with the Browns taking QB Tim “I’m on the” Couch (Kentucky). The team never has recovered.

That same year the Bengals drafted Akili Smith (Oregon) with the 3rd pick overall. The Bengals ended up drafting QB Carson Palmer (USC).

There was the first overall pick in 2002 with the Texans taking QB David Carr (BYU). The Texans languished for 5 years before putting their QB on the used Carr lot.

In 2006, Arizona took Matt Leinart (USC) with the 10th pick. He now holds the clip board for 38 year old Kurt Warner.

There was the first overall pick in 2007 with the Raiders taking JaMarcus Russell (LSU). A herd of coaches have yet to make him a NFL quality QB.

Although Vince Young (Texas) was the 3rd pick overall, it has stunted the playoff success of the Titans.

No wonder the Lions are a little squeamish about drafting a QB with the first overall pick. But here is the deal—IF (and only if) you feel that Matt Stafford (Georgia) is a franchise QB, you have to draft him. Failing to take a franchise QB out of fear of failure is a recipe for years to come. And most of those years will be managed by your replacements in the front office.

As you know, I have reservations about Stafford. His decision making leaves a lot to be desired. Some of that may be that he depends on his strong arm too much. But throws you shouldn’t make in college will result in touchdowns for the opponent in the NFL. But Stafford is very bright and with tape study and work on the field, he can improve his decision making. His footwork and mechanics are also in need of work. But those too can be fixed.

Last year the Dolphins had the first pick and took an O lineman Jake Long (LT Michigan) with that pick and QB Chad Henne (Michigan) with a 2nd round pick. The Lions are not going to be able to do that this year. If they pass on Stafford, chances are the other two supposedly 1st round picks Mark Sanchez (USC) and Josh Freeman (Kansas St.) will be gone by the 20th pick. I don’t have any other QB rated in the second or third round.

Like it or not, the Lions have very few choices other than Stafford. One possibility would be to trade for QB Derek Anderson (Browns). He is a young but somewhat proven QB with a strong arm that would make the Lions offense better. Then they could draft an LT with the first pick and either later this year or next pick up a QB of the future. That is the safe choice. But if they feel that Stafford is franchise QB, they have to go for it.

Such are the decisions that make a GM famous or if it doesn’t work out, unemployed. That is how so many ex-GMs end up on ESPN.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: NFL Draft,NBA Draft,Smith,Bengals,Browns,USC,College Football,Raiders,Russell,Carr,Couch,Young,Stafford,BYU,LSU,Oregon,Kentucky,Dolphins,Long,Michigan,Henne, ESPN,Warner,Titans,qb,OT,GM

Kurt Warner is my 2008 MVP—Most Valuable Person

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Frying Pan Sports

Kurt Warner is my 2008 MVP—Most Valuable Person

By Bill Smith

Technorati Tags: NFL,Kurt Warner,MVP,Football,Arizona,Terrorism,WW3,St. Louis,Rams,New York,Giants,Manning,Cardinals,Colts,Browns,Cleveland,Draft,First Things First

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OK, I will admit, I am a Kurt Warner fan. I even included him in a novel I wrote Terrorism—Fighting WW3 about a conservative Arizona Governor that runs for President. So right up front, I admit my bias.

I was watching the 1999 expansion draft for Cleveland and dropped my coffee cup on the floor when I saw Warner’s name as available from the Rams. I had seen him play in NFL Europe and a little in college. I was heart-sick when the Cleveland Tans failed to pick him. Even then, at the very least I felt he could be a great backup that would develop into a starter. But the Tans brain trust in their infinite wisdom passed on Warner and used the first overall pick for Tim “I’m now on the” Couch. Bad move!

That same preseason, the Tans could have traded picks to Indy for RB Marshall Faulk and given the team an offensive combination that would have been special. Didn’t that same combo is St. Louis win a Super Bowl that year? I think they did. But that is hind site and a discussion for another day.

Kurt Warner has been one of the greatest people in the NFL ever since he became the starter when Trent Green went down for the Rams. Warner has played great. According to every report, even when he was “Mike Martzed” in St. Louis he never lost his love of the game or desire to help the team win. The Martz offense is so infamous for generating long pass plays and injured quarterbacks in approximately equal quantities that in the NFL community it has become a football term. As a 2 time MVP riding the bench, he didn’t become a distraction. He helped the starter become a better QB.

In NY he was signed to be a mentor to a Manning—Eli. He served the franchise well and I believe has something to do with Manning’s development. Then he moved to the desert. There, he again was supposed to be a mentor/backup. Instead, any time he has been given a chance, he has produced another excellent season. As good a player as he is, that is not why he is my MVP–Most Valuable Person.

Kurt Warner is the ultimate professional and one of the very few that publicly expresses his appreciation for the fans, the game and the opportunity he has been given by God and developed by his effort to earn a lot of money doing something he loves. How refreshing is that? Even more than his attitude or his play, my MVP award is based on what he does in whatever community he lives in. His foundation First Things First is involved in Christian based charity work from children’s hospitals to flood relief to Homes for the Holidays. He has been honored by more organizations for his community work that I could ever list here.

For more information on First things First, visit Kurt’s web site kurtwarner.org.

Given all the thuggish behavior we hear about everyday from athletes, Kurt Warner is a great roll model. He is the kind of man any father would be thrilled to see his son become. Success seems to go to the heads of far too many professional athletes today. It is so refreshing to see one with Kurt’s grace and class. The rule is if you want something done, ask someone who is very busy to do it. In Kurt’s case, no matter how busy he is, he always seems to take the time and effort to do what is right. You can ask no more of a mortal.

Thank you, Kurt for being an MVP—Most Valuable Person and congratulations for your team’s success. We are rooting for you wherever you go and whatever you do.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for NFLDraftDog.com and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

  • Author:
  • Published: Dec 30th, 2008
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on A few after Christmas Gifts for the NFL

A few after Christmas Gifts for the NFL

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Christmas Gifts for the NFL

by Bill Smith

I have some gift ideas for those of you that need to buy something for the NFL player, coach or administrator that has everything.

TO Romeo Crennel, the ex-coach of the Browns: A fire extinguisher. Given how hot your seat has been after the abysmal season you perpetrated on Browns fans, you need it. You are a nice guy but nice guys finish last. And the Tans are last after they lost to the Bagels and to Pittsburgh while Cincy beat KC. By the way, your back pants pocket is currently smoldering.

Romeo Crennel 2008

TO Phil Savage, GM of the Browns: An email editing program to delete expletives from your responses to fans and a financial advisor to help you invest your contract payoff. You really need to get a grip. The fans are your customers and we pay your salary. Before you write another email that would choke a dock worker, take a moment to appreciate your life. You may not have any job for quite awhile so spend your money wisely.

TO Mike Brown, owner of the Cincinnati Bagels: A long distance calling card. Face it, you are going to need it to find someone—anyone with football scouting ability that is willing to work for an idiot son of a Hall of Fame father. I feel sorry for Paul Brown. He must be spinning at 5000 rpm in his grave.

TO Al Davis, owner of the Raiders: A dump truck load of common sense. Al, who do you think will take the coaching job once you fire Cable? When the team stinks for a decade, the problem is not the players—they come and go. Its not the coaches. In Oakland they are like paper towels—strong and disposable. It is the owner. Put one of the other partners into your chair and stop aggravating the Raiders fans. Having seen that group, I wouldn’t want to be on their bad side.

TO Rod Marinelli, ex-coach of the Lions: A warm hug because if anyone needs one he does. He has been trying to fight the football equivalent of the Nazi tank blitz with the Polish army on horseback. You put up a gallant but hopeless fight. The problems weren’t your fault but that doesn’t pay the bills.

TO Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys: 10 prepaid sessions with a media consultant. Jerry, you can not throw one of the few guys on the team with toughness under the team bus. And every time you try to make up for it, you make it worse. It is bad enough to put your foot in your mouth. What is inexcusable is to jam your foot down the throat of your best player.

TO Wade Phillips, head coach of the Cowboys: A prepaid contract with an executive search firm and the phone number of a good Realtor. He took over the D and it is playing better but now the O is a concern. Wade, since you didn’t make the playoffs, you may need both soon no matter what Jerry tells you. You may find it necessary to change your name and move out of state. There will be a lot of crazy fans looking for you in Texas. And most of them are armed.

TO Mike Holmgren Seahawks ex-coach: A one way ticket to Cleveland. That isn’t so much a gift for him as it would be for Browns fans. He wants to coach again and Seattle management has indicated they are ready to move on. Browns fans are tired of being the training ground for pro coach want-to-bes. What we need is a pro coach with experience. Mike, come to a town that would welcome you with open arms. Being by the lake we have all of the water with much less rain.

TO Mike Shanahan Broncos head coach: A running back made of something more substantial than crystal. He has lost a covey of running backs. This year they have dropped like leaves in the fall. Perhaps Santa can put a healthy and effective back in Mike’s stocking. Of course that would be a pretty big stocking.

TO Kurt Warner, star QB of the Cardinals: The respect and love you deserve with a contract on a team that is ready to win. Anyone that watched Warner play last year with one arm after another brain cramp by the O line injured his left arm has to have a ton of respect for the guy. He deserves another MVP, a yellow Hall of Fame jacket, and a shot an one more Super Bowl. How do you feel about living in Minnesota? The weather is worse than Arizona but they play more than half their games inside.

TO Plaxico Burris, wounded former WR of the Giants: A trip to Oz to ask the Wizard for some brains. Guns don’t kill people—idiots with guns do. If you are not smart enough to put the safety on before you jam a loaded gun in your pants, you deserve to get your ****s shot off.

TO Terrell Ownes, WR and crier in chief of the Cowboys: A passing only football league that allows only one receiver on the field at a time. That would be the only place you could play and be happy.

TO Donavon McNabb, Eagle QB: A copyright on the phrase “Kolb? How do you like me now?” If you get run out of town, you will need a lot of bumper stickers with that printed on them. Forget selling soup, the Philly market for those will pay you more.

TO Braylon Edwards, the Monday night only WR for the Browns: A 20 session contract with a shrink along with the bill. Given the way you played this year, you deserve to pay $250 an hour to hear some ask “and how do you feel about that?”

TO Joe Thomas, pro bowl (??) tackle of the Browns: 1 million thank you notes for all those misguided people that voted for you. Of course, you might have already paid them to do it.

TO LaDainian Tomlinson, running back for the Chargers: 1 million sympathy cards with postage to say how sorry you are for killing their fantasy football seasons. We all drafted you with the first pick and got squat for our trouble. To tell you how bad it was, we had to start Pierre Thomas in your place to win the game in week 15.

TO Jason Peters, pro bowl (????) tackle for the Bills: A quart of oil for your turnstile pass blocking technique. To steal a phrase from ESPN “Com-on man!” You should be duct taped to a chair and be forced to watch all of the games you played this year. Here is an idea—if you want to make more money, play like you deserve it. After the season you played, your value has gone way down. While name recognition may have gotten you votes for the pro bowl, the owners aren’t fooled.

TO Ben Roethlisberger, Steeler QB: A really good medical plan. If your propensity for riding motorcycles and bad luck in general were not enough, you have gotten hit more an baseball at batting practice.

TO A.J. Smith, general manager of the Chargers: A do-over approved by the NFL. You decided to keep an aging Tomlinson and let Michael “Burner” Turner go as a free agent? What were you thinking? Tomlinson has struggled to get to a thousand yards this year and is averaging less than 4 yards a carry. Turner has a shot at 1700 yards and is averaging well over 4 a carry with 15 touchdowns.

TO Cleveland Tan fans: A bottle of your favorite adult beverage—make that a couple of cases. As a life long Browns fan, I want Bill Cowher to coach this team as much as anyone. But he is getting a couple of million dollars a year for working 23 days. That is a hard gig to give up. Besides, I am not sure we should trust the sanity of anyone that would sign up to try to make a team out of this group of head cases and miss-fits.

And finally TO Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL: A reasonable deal with the players. Somewhere there must be a compromise to split the billions of dollars that the Golden Goose known as the NFL generates. Figure one out and get the deal done. No one wants to see a strike filled with replacement players.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent.

Check out his new site FryingpanSports.com! He currently is a senior writer for NFLDraftDog.com and his articles appear at . He has also published several novels on and edits

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