The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off this weekend, a perfect occasion to announce our inaugural PGA Tour All-Pigskin Squad. This multi-part feature comprises our stab at creating a professional football franchise from the athletic smorgasbord of touring golf professionals. Today’s installment outlines our vision for the offensive unit, which we’ve set up to be a pro-style attack marked with a wide variety of personnel groupings. We intend to stretch the field vertically, while also imposing our will at the line of scrimmage.
Dissent and suggestions are absolutely encouraged, but keep in mind that our notes on each player are the result of hundreds of hours spent in the film room grinding on game tape, pouring over hypothetical Wonderlic test results, hushed conversations with NLU confidants (Yes, that includes Gruden, Kiper, and Jaws) and traveling to the “pro-days” we conducted (in our imaginations). And while some positions are obviously a bit harder to fill (the tour ranks are limited in certain physiques and skillsets), we’ve tried to be creative in addressing these need areas (the Lines were particularly challenging, but we will win in the trenches with technique and coaching). Without further ado, let’s go to the NLU War Room!
- Philip Alfred Mickelson – Really no surprise here – the ball must be in the hands of the most gifted player. Ultra-competitiveness is complimented with off-field charisma that is every agent’s “teenage” dream. Mickelson’s FIGJAM persona, sly smile, and experience under pressure combine for a plus-plus make-up calling to mind Kenny “The Snake” Stabler. Projects as a pure pocket passer so statuesque mobility isn’t a huge concern. Large mitts lead to smooth play-action fakes/RB-exchanges and “The Howitzer”hanging from his right shoulder can ignite an offense (contrary to popular belief, he throws righty). Can laser deep out-routes from the five step drop yet possesses fade-ball touch from his more natural shotgun delivery. Coaches will surely work on tightening his load and release as windows shrink and timing is paramount at the next level. What separates Philip from other QB’s in this class is his unflappable, at times irrational, self-confidence and love of the ‘Moment.’ He’s a gunslinger to the core — ceiling is a middle-class version of Brett Favre; floor is Rex Grossman (aka “The Sex Cannon”) — just as capable of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat as defeat from the warm bosom of victory. Off the field, Mickelson is a natural franchise figurehead, at home signing autographs for fans, giving great soundbites to the media, and schmoozing corporate sponsors. Has shown a habit of adding pounds in the offseason, and gunslinger mentality extends beyond the field where his gambling itch will need to be reigned in and monitored lest he become the next Art Schlichter. Although some GM’s have voiced concerns regarding Phil’s chronic psoriatic arthritis, our team physician maintains that with enough Enbrel this shouldn’t hinder the play or development of NLU’s QB1.
- Gary Woodland (Featured Workhorse) – Let’s be honest, the former college basketball scholar-athlete is built like a brick shit-house and pisses intensity. Squats a ton, military presses the weight room, and based on the amount of “downcock” he has in his swing (and most likely between his legs), I’d take him in an Oklahoma drill during preseason two-a-days over just about any other guy on Tour (except maybe Big Cat). Is best suited for the one-cut yardage between the tackles, and while he’s shown the capability to make the first man miss, is at home running downhill with his pads square to the line-of-scrimmage. Eats up three to four yards at a time and consistently falls forward. Crazy-good posture could be a detriment down the road as he will take a ton of punishment being an upright runner (a la Adrian Peterson). Willing and able blocker, he takes pride in pass-protection which will be a real asset in our pro-style attack as he’s versatile enough to stay on the field on third and long (again, we’re going to be very multiple in our sets).
- Rickie Fowler (Scat Back) – ‘The Puma’ fits this role perfectly for two reasons. First, his distance off the tee suggests Rickie packs explosive power into his compact frame. Plays bigger than he really is, and couples it with excellent athletic ability and balance (as evidenced by his moto-cross skills). Second, every football team needs that guy with flair, the guy that lives by the ‘look good, play good’ mantra. Expect bright orange spatted cleats, bicep bands, mirorr-tinted visor, and crispy white gloves…in practice and on game-day! Good lateral quickness and reliable hands make him a homeless man’s Warrick Dunn–a one-cut, off-tackle runner and sneaky screen man. Exceptional ball location skills. Downside is his slight frame and lack of muscle definition – not to worry though, our Strength & Conditioning staff has already mapped out a preseason nutrition and weight-lifting program.
- Ricky Barnes – Broad-shouldered specimen. Basically possesses the frame of a Clydesdale and his bloodlines suggest a phenomenal football IQ. Projects as an above-average blocker with the versatility to play all over the field. Looks good in a uniform – essential for the modern tight-end, and did you really think his annual pairing at Pebble with the hooded, serial TE-hoarding Bill Belichick was coincidence? The total package – think poor man’s Gronk. Already familiar with the staff.
- Alvaro Quiros – Now here’s a lanky specimen; high-hipped. Raw and in need of solid positional coaching but with polish can evolve into a serious threat as a “move” tight end. Building the necessary mass is a serious concern in short yardage; footwork will be a struggle – could be big tendency tipper. Stupid-high upside as a cover 2 beater (SEAM ROUTES!). Tweener downside as he may be allergic to in-line blocking and physicality of any sort. Inherent injury risk.
- Dustin Johnson (Deep Threat “X”) – DJ really exploded onto our scouts’ radar at the 2010 US Open, where the broadcast team slobbered over his athletic accomplishments at Coastal Carolina (except Johnny Miller – he only slobs himself). The guy is basically a living, breathing example of the Presidential Physical Fitness Award they hand out in high school PE. Great leaping ability combined with tall frame (6’4″) make DJ a nightmare cover for smaller corners. Uses his long arms and massive paws to snatch the ball out of the air, away from his body. Lacks polish as a route-runner and can be a bit slow getting in and out of cuts. He’s a long strider who takes time to accelerate–think Randy Moss–but with more than enough top-line speed to be a constant deep threat. Upside suggests franchise player, all-pro receiver, and all around alpha male. Concerns exist about football IQ and focus under pressure due to REALLY low Wonderlic scores.
- Keegan Bradley (Flanker “Z”) – Pro frame and natural chemistry with QB1 Mickelson make Keegan the perfect compliment opposite DJ. Really precise route runner with excellent body control, natural comps include Ed McCaffrey and TJ Houshmandzadeh. Underrated athleticism can make him a tougher-than-expected man cover; also has great feel and understanding of zone coverage and sits down in open areas. His best role likely is as third-down safety valve and general security blanket for the QB. Will not shy away from contact and makes tough, physical catches in traffic. Has a passion for the ‘Moment.’ Gamer. Solid chemistry with QB1 and locker room favorite an added bonus.
- Sergio Gracia (Slot “Y”) – No surprise here. Sergio (from Rio) has had the slot locked up since the scissor cut at Medinah. Sneaky-quick, tenacious, and mouthy – all three essential for an undersized receiver making his living over the middle. Will need a strong position coach to keep his mercurial personality in check; serious chemistry concerns abound due to a history of locker room beefs and on-field tantrums. Athletically, displays excellent feet and explosive burst off the line of scrimmage. Sinks his hips, puts his foot in the ground, and is in and out of cuts with precision. Projects as a poor man’s Danny “Madulla” Amendola and shares the same fragility. Shows a frustrating lack of concentration for someone so talented; will drop balls he shouldn’t. Home run threat in space, elusive after catch but doesn’t seek contact. Can help out on special teams as a plug and play return man from day 1.
- Ernie Els (Right Tackle) – The Big Easy has the frame, footwork, and quiet swagger to shoulder front-side responsibilities. A real knee-bender, the former ‘rugger’ isn’t scared to grab grass and get depth to gain leverage in the run game. Also possesses the laid back demeanor needed to forget about giving up sack lunches. Whispers among scouts suggest vulnerability to the bull rush due to height but his phenomenal kick-step and initial punch should keep speed rushers locked out of the pocket.
- John Daly (Right Guard) – Judging by the move he’s made on the golf ball for years this guy would be an absolute menace pulling inside on trap plays. He’s that grimy veteran, the glue of the O-line and a definite ankle twister on the bottom of the pile. While we expect JD to sneak in a few lung darts in the tunnel during halftime and take up the torch for rookie hazing (think Incognito), this guy will be the heartbeat of our team. Recent weight loss and sobriety raising legitimate red-flags…
- Kevin Stadler (Center) – Baby Walrus is our quiet muscle, the student of the game with pedigree who keeps his head down and plays hard. His tempo on lag putts and ability to read greens will certainly translate into consistent shotgun snaps and quick formation audibles at the LOS. He’s the cerebral anchor on our O-line. Concern among scouts is that he may lack pop at the point of attack and is missing that killer instinct to finish blocks (i.e. took his foot off Bubba’s jugular in Phoenix). Time will tell.
- Kiradech Apibarnrat (Left Guard) – Left guard is usually reserved for the least mobile, least experienced, and most stout lineman. Naturally, we think ‘The Big Unit’ fits well here. He’s a simple man, so we’ll keep his job simple (due to an obvious language barrier) and keep him stationary. Inertia will do the rest. Several suits in our pro personnel department voiced concern over his transition to American food, so we must have a solid nutritionist on staff. Overall, he’s young, coachable, and the first to say, ‘I got a lot confidence right now.’ Definitely worth a late round flier.
- Brendon de Jonge (Left Tackle) – Nothing a like a girthy, former rugger to protect blind side. He’s stacked through the hips and waist (a must for a book-end tackle) but does not possess the ideal height we like to see at this position. Some worry he’s more leaner than road-grader, but we believe he possesses the necessary drive and motor to get to the second level in run sets. Jason Kokrak was a consideration here, but we’re too enamored with the idea of Zimbabwe-Thai double-team clearing B-gap on the left side of this line. With some obvious height limitations, we may adopt a zone-blocking scheme (think late nineties Denver Broncos), pound the shit out of the rock, and bury the will of the opposition!
SPECIAL TEAMS (Offensive)
- Fred Funk (Long Snapper) – Tenured veteran whose accuracy off the tee translates to tight spirals out his ass. Great locker room guy. Been around forever and still getting it done, even when he plays with the big boys.
- Padraig Harrington (Place Kicker) – A true grinder with ice cold nerves. His skills were on display last year in Phoenix. Needs to tighten up his footwork, but gets nice lift and distance on his kicks. Has shown he can close.
- Sergio Garcia (Return Specialist) – As mentioned earlier, his fast-twitch muscle fiber combined with his explosive persona make him a perfect fit for return duties. May have to focus on ball security drills during off-season due to fumbling concerns.
Part 2, which features our steel-curtain defensive unit – is here! Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below or on twitter (@NoLayingUp). Will this offense be able to consistently hang half-a-hundred? Are there glaring omissions? Do we need to clean house over in the scouting department?