Dave Razzano is a former NFL scout and Playmaker Mobile correspondent with more than 22 years of professional scouting experience with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals under NFL coaches including Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Chuck Knox, Dick Vermeil and Dennis Green. He has been a part of five Super Bowls with three Super Bowl wins (49ers, 1989, 1990; Rams, 2000). Read more about Dave Razzano and his NFL scouting background. Interview by Dewey Hammond.
Dave Razzano is a former NFL scout and Playmaker Mobile correspondent with more than 22 years of professional scouting experience with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals under NFL coaches including Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Chuck Knox, Dick Vermeil and Dennis Green.
He has been a part of five Super Bowls with three Super Bowl wins (49ers, 1989, 1990; Rams, 2000).
Read more about Dave Razzano and his NFL scouting background.
Interview by Dewey Hammond.
Q: Kevin Kolb vs Aaron Rodgers: You've said they're very similar but at least one Eagles blogger responded with the observation that Kolb's arm strength pales in comparison to that of Aaron Rodgers. What are your thoughts on that?
A: Well there are no carbon copies in the NFL. They're the same physical size, they both understand the passing game, they're both mobile — neither of them are pocket quarterbacks like Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco — they can both throw on the move. Rodgers does have a stronger arm but Kevin can make most of the throws in a 30-yard bubble, which is where most of the throws are in this day and age. They both have the same type of leadership qualities. Rodgers is a little more quiet, but they both are respected by their teammates. A lot of the intangibles and the physical stature, those sort of things. Rodgers does have a stronger arm, but they're similar and, like you said, they both took over from legends. They both like to move around the pocket and they both like to take what the defense gives them. One guy just has a little stronger arm, but they're both very productive and I can see them both putting up similar numbers at the end of the season.
Q: I'm going to throw a couple names out there, and I think you'll jump right on the point I'm trying to make: JaMarcus Russell, Kyle Boller…
A: Arm strength is overrated. That's absolutely true. JaMarcus Russell, Jim Druckenmiller, Kyle Boller, JP Losman. All these guys in the spring go out on a field and work out in gym shorts and a t-shirt, and they have an arm and everybody sees it. But it's not under the gun. A lot of people feel if a guy has a strong enough arm to make all the throws, we can make him a quarterback, but they fail to study the guy's consistency over several games. Coaches a lot of times are in a "win now" mode, so all they want is a guy with an arm who can make the throws, and they can pretty much teach them how to play the game, which is completely false. That's why you see a lot of these guys go early and they don't really pan out. If you study their consistency and their degree of difficulty in the plays they make — it's just like when Alex Smith came out. A lot of those guys I had graded as backups. Boller, Losman, Trent Edwards, Alex Smith. I had backup grades, mid-round grades on those guys. You just have to write what you see and compare players over the years. But a lot of the guys who go early — Druckenmiller, Akili Smith — a lot of them can throw the ball. But it comes down to your preparation, your mental approach and your consistency.
Q: That having been said and all else being equal, if you gave Kevin Kolb the arm strength of Aaron Rodgers, would it raise his ceiling?
A: I don't think it would make any difference at all. You saw his touchdown throws last year. He had a couple 60-yard pass plays to DeSean Jackson. He can get it down the field. Joe Montana didn't have a strong arm and somebody had to throw all those touchdowns down the field to Jerry Rice. A quarterback rarely has to throw a ball more than 45 yards in the air. Arm strength is overrated. Rodgers has a stronger arm but in terms of making the plays on the field, Kolb has plenty of arm and I don't think more would help him or hurt him. He is what he is. One guy coming out, Drew Brees, that's one of the concerns I had with him, the deep ball, and obviously he's been very successful. We all make mistakes, but the arm strength thing is always overblown, overhyped.
Q: Let's talk about Kolb's weapons in Philadelphia. They obviously have DeSean Jackson, who may or may not be one of the 10 best receivers in the league, and pound for pound he might be the very best. But they've also got Jeremy Maclin, tight end Brent Celek. Talk about how those guys compare to their peers in the league. For example, Brent Celek is a top 5 receiving tight end. Fact or fiction?
A: That's fact, certainly in the passing game. Look at his production. He was a steal. The Eagles have hit on some really good players in the mid to late rounds. They have a great scouting department. Celek, I would think he's top 5. And also they've got Cornelius Ingram, who they took out of Florida, I believe it was last year. He's had some injuries but when he lines up he's also an outstanding receiver. Then there's Clay Harbor, the kid they took this year from Missouri State. So they have three outstanding receiving tight ends. Celek was a steal. He was a little stiff coming out so people dinged him on that, but boy he had great hands and was competitive. It looks to me, with the Eagles taking (DE from Michigan) Brandon Graham, that they're emphasizing competitiveness and just raw football mentality. With the wideouts, Maclin and DeSean Jackson, one of them is a more explosive down the field guy while Maclin is just an all-around good player. I thought he was better than Crabtree and I was shocked he slipped as far as he did. He dominated at Missouri for a few years, as a receiver and as a return guy, he was electric. When he gets up to speed you've got two dynamic outside guys, and you've got a young guy Riley Cooper they took this year late in the draft, from Florida, that I really like. He's a big receiver. But Jackson and Maclin can be as good as any pair in the league next year. So again, with the tight ends and the outside guys, and the offensive line with Jason Peters is getting healthy, that's why I feel so confident about the Eagles next season.
Q: Most fans are familiar with DeSean Jackson but Jeremy Maclin might not be a household name outside of Philadelphia. What makes him so special?
A: First of all, he's an explosive route runner. He's kind of like John Taylor, the old 49er guy who complemented Jerry Rice. He's one of those guys that's big, physical, can run after the catch. He can take a short hook and turn it into a 70-yard gain. He made more than several big plays while at Missouri. He's got speed, he's got great hands, he's a worker, he's a jack of all trades, a Tim Brown type. He's got the hands, the speed and the run after the catch ability. That's what separates him. DeSean, he's a little immature. He's more of a self-centered guy. He's an explosive player, but again, you have to keep a finger on him a little bit because he can get a little full of himself. They're both outstanding. Maclin, he can be as good as he wants to be. I expect him to be outstanding this year.
Q: You had Maclin rated higher than Michael Crabtree coming out, and Crabtree was the quote-unquote consensus best receiver in the Draft, and that's not to knock Crabtree because you predicted he'll be a solid starter, but what makes Maclin better?
A: Two things: explosion and run after the catch. He's explosive with the ball in his hands. He can take a short gain and burst up the field, run by people. He can return. Crabtree's not really a return guy. Crabtree's strictly an outside receiver, a big guy with good hands. His run after the catch is a tad limited in terms of making people miss and bursting, whereas Maclin can catch and make you miss tackles, and burst. Overall it's speed, explosion, a big play guy who to me is clearly the better player.
Q: Final question on the Eagles. You had mentioned three tight ends: Clay Harbor, the rookie out of Missouri State, obviously Eagles fans are familiar with Brent Celek and his production, and Cornelius Ingram, the second-year guy out of Florida. Three receiving tight ends seems like a pretty heavy roster. Do you think that's by design because Kolb's still getting his feet wet?
A: Well they are loaded at that position. They're loaded at offensive skill positions right now. Harbor can block. Celek can block. Ingram is more of a slot, a move guy, a big receiver if you will. But you can't have enough good players, and they've got three guys and there's going to be a lot of competition at that position. That's how you get better, when you have that kind of depth. That's another reason I think they're really good for next season. They have a lot of depth now and, again, you just can't stockpile enough good players. With injuries, and the season is long, they have a lot of weapons in their arsenal, and that is a good thing.