Welcome to Part II of this analysis that examines what prospects the front office could be targeting based on the attributes they focused on in prospects in the 2006 draft. When we last left off, we discussed what makes a Mangini player, and also talked about 3 specific prospects who fit this mold.
To reiterate, 3 of the most important attributes in finding players that fit the Mangini mentality discussed in Part I were intelligence, dedication, and leadership,. Further, players must have qualities like these if they’re going to be present in a Mangini locker room. At first glance, it sounds a tad idealistic, but after last year’s draft and the type of players this front office pursued, can one really even argue?
What was left off of Part I of this feature though, is the aspect of heart. Sure, dedication and even leadership are both offspring’s of a player having heart, but it’s still not what truly exemplifies heart.
So what defines heart? It would have to be specific actions, watching a player on the field from start to finish and being taken back by how much he put into every play. It’s a situational thing. Actions are what truly define heart, not qualities.
So let’s take a look at a few more players in this year’s draft class that we feel exemplify that Mangini mentality and the aspect of heart, players to realistically expect the front office to target in the coming weeks due to the actions that define them.
Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee: What most exemplifies Harrell is his toughness and leadership. Ever the emotional player, Harrell was one of the top run-stuffers in the country before falling victim to a ruptured biceps tendon against Air Force. Here’s the kicker though, Harrell actually went out and played the next week against Florida in a heartbreaking loss to the Gators, but the fact remains that he stepped on that field with a heavily bandaged arm and played his heart out. In terms of other prospects in the draft, Harrell might be the most emotional player available, but in a good way, his fire on the field made him a leader within the Vols locker room for the good part of two years, and is definitely the type of player you want in your locker room when your team is facing adversity. Harrell is a player that would gain instant respect on any roster immediately, and in this writer’s opinion would also be able to make an immediate impact as a starter from day one.
Josh Beekman, OG, Boston College: You simply can not ignore the history of BC offensive linemen in recent years; Dan Koppen, Jeremy Trueblood, Damien Woody, Chris Snee, and our very own Pete Kendall. Beekman, once projected as an early round prospect, is now being predicted to drop in draft circles due to a lackluster combine where he appeared to be heavily out of shape. It’s now being rumored that Beekman is going to fall into the mid to late rounds, and there’s some out there predicting that teams who pass on Beekman will be making a mistake. Much like Harrell, Beekman’s Mangini attribute is his leadership Many predicted that the Eagles running game would severely suffer in 2006 due to the losses of Jeremy Trueblood and Patrick Ross. However those “experts” didn’t account for the fact that Beekman would step his game up and lead the Eagles to the second best running attack in the Atlantic Coast Conference with an impressive 354.15 yards per game on the ground. He became a first-team All America player and also was a co-captain. The bottom line is Beekman is a pure road grader which is something that the Jets are severely lacking in the interior part of their offensive line. Combine with that the fact that he’s also a versatile player and is capable of playing either guard position along with center, and it’s very realistic to project the Jets using a mid-rounder on Beekman if he’s available.
Brian Robison, DE, Texas: Now here’s a player that has certainly been flying under the radar. When fans here “defensive end from Texas” this year, their first instinct is to think of Tim Crowder, however one simply can’t overlook what Robison brought to the team over the past few seasons. On top of the fact that he’s being projected as a 3-4 OLB amongst many scouts, the one Mangini attribute most apparent in Robison is his dedication. He was a two sport star for the Longhorns, actually setting the school record for shot put in 2005. Robison is a notorious hard worker and his conduct on the field is similar to that of David Harris (discussed in part I of this feature), being that from start to finish during a game, Robison’s motor never stops. Robison would absolutely be a solid addition to the line backing core and would also be a very smart pick up in the mid rounds.
Steve Smith, WR, USC: You know the name, Smith was the consummate teammate and playmaker for the Trojans. It’s no secret that Smith stepped up when injuries threatened to slow the WR corps down, and the passing game didn’t miss a beat. Like Robison, Smith is heavily overshadowed by his teammate and positional counterpart, Dwayne Jarrett, however Smith certainly isn’t a prospect to be ignored. He was very impressive at the combine in his catching drills, and it’s being said that his hands were possibly the most impressive in Indianapolis, of course after Calvin Johnson. However, where Smith comes into play for the purpose of this article, is the fact that he played injured for the entire season. Smith was battling a sprained ankle week in and week out, and it’s also said that it severely limited his practice abilities, but what makes that fact more impressive is that though practice might have been a problem, game time certainly wasn’t, as he totaled 71 receptions, 1083 yards, and 9 touchdowns for the season. Though the Jets might have given Jerricho Cotchery an extension this past off-season and Laveranues Coles is coming off of a stellar year, the team could certainly use a solid number 3 receiver with hands like Smith’s.