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National Football League
Draft King Analysis

September 30, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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The NFL made what I consider to be a surprising move yesterday when it fined Jets safety Eric Smith $50,000 and suspended him for one game for the hit he put on Arizona wide receiver Anquan Bolden this past Sunday. The fine seemed to be more reflective of the injury that Boldin suffered (and him having to be taken from the field strapped to a gurney), and in my estimation the punishment Smith received was excessive.

The circumstances didn't work in Smith's favor:

The Jets were up by 21 with less than thirty seconds to go in the game when the play took place.
Anquan Bolden is a bona fide NFL superstar.
A split-second before Smith delivered his hit, his teammate Kerry Rhodes rammed himself into Bolden, propelling Bolden's head downward to where Smith made contact with his helmet.
The NFL is looking to cut down on dangerous plays, particularly those that may be likely to cause a concussion.
As if a fine and suspension weren't bad enough, the hit left Smith groggy.

Eric Smith
Eric Smith has received a fine and a one-game suspension. (Icon SMI)
I feel sympathy for Smith, but with the connection that some have found between concussions and mental health problems later in life for athletes, sometimes with horrible results (e.g. Andre Waters and Chris Benoit), the NFL is trying to err on the side of caution on this one. And, to that end, it's hard to fault the league for trying to protect its players. Especially the high-profile ones.

If you missed today's Al Davis press conference, you missed out on a fascinating glimpse inside the secretive world that is the Oakland Raiders organization. The way that Davis kept referring to ESPN's Chris Mortensen as "Mortensen" in a hostile tone was quite amusing to me. With Davis not wanting to pay the rest of Kiffin's contract, and Kiffin mentioning on ESPN that he has his agent and lawyers working on it, you can expect litigation to follow.

Davis did the "fired with cause" thing before with Mike Shanahan in 1989, when the franchise was still in Los Angeles, refusing to pay out the balance of Shanahan's contract. It made the stakes that much higher when the Denver Broncos hired Shanahan in 1995, and Shanahan's clear disdain for the Raiders organization has helped stoke the fire for years in what was already an already heated rivalry.

Two NFL prospects who have seen their stock drop are Clemson QB Cullen Harper and Tennessee RB Arian Foster. Harper came into the year looking like potentially the best senior QB as far as NFL potential, but a slow start may put that in jeopardy. As for Arian Foster, he has been showing problems in fumbling the football with the Vols, which won't help his NFL considerations.

One player making a run up draft boards is Michigan State RB Javon Ringer. He has been on my radar since early in the season, and his recent performances have done nothing to change my opinion on that. At 5'9" he isn't prototype NFL RB height, but at 205 pounds he has some bulk that other smaller RBs don't typically have.

Ringer's estimated 4.5 40 speed isn't anything special by RB standards, and it will be interesting to see how NFL scouts evaluate him. Ringer has shown great toughness and the capacity to handle the load of the offense for the Spartans, which could help boost his NFL appeal.

Along the same lines, wasn't it this time last year when the hype for Boston College 5'9" 190 pound CB DeJuan Tribble was sky high? He ultimately slipped down the ladder considerably, ending up as a sixth round pick with the San Diego Chargers. He made the team, but Tribble was cut last week to make room for DT Ian Scott.

I mention this since there has been great attention paid recently for Wake Forest corner Alphonso Smith, who is also 5'9" 190. A strong playmaker, Smith is one interception shy of tying the school career record, and he has caught the attention of many scouts. But, at 5'9", he faces some major challenges to sell himself as a first round pick.


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