Commentary

Booty and Flynn improve their draft stock, while Woodson's falls

Originally Published: February 13, 2008
By Morty Ain, Luke Cyphers, Carmen Renee Thompson and Todd McShay | ESPN The Magazine

One day, two cities and three different draft perspectives. For the third installment of "This Way to the Draft" (see the first two on ESPN.com; search: NFL Draft '08), we spent Jan. 23 with our prospects: Kentucky's Andre' Woodson, USC's John David Booty and LSU's Matt Flynn. As likely first-day picks, Booty and Woodson worked out for NFL coaches during Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Ala. Meanwhile, late-round prospect Flynn decamped to Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. to prep for the February combine. Did those 24 hours help the trio of QBs move forward? We break down their days, and Scouts Inc. draft guru Todd McShay breaks down their games.

[+] EnlargeAndre Woodson
AP Photo/Ed ReinkeAndre' Woodson struggled in Mike Martz's system and may have dropped out of the first round.

Andre' Woodson's typical day in Mobile, Ala.


At the Senior Bowl you get free doughnuts and free gear, but no free time. Woodson rises at 6:45 a.m. for a 7:15 meeting, where he is drilled on the 40-play offense installed by 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz. That's followed by breakfast and film study. Then, in the Mobile Convention Center, the offense walks through plays against a defensive line that's, well, garbage.

Woodson gets picked off by an autograph hound after practice, then it's on to spend time with Martz's playbook. Martz is speeding up Woodson's footwork and teaching him to launch the ball early on timing routes. "He wants us to throw five yards before the receiver cuts," Woodson says. Martz's offense is complicated, but Woodson's not worried. "The North isn't doing as much, especially on mechanics," he says. "I'd rather learn something new."

After practice, Woodson has an hour to watch replays on TV with his roomie, Arkansas defensive tackle Marcus Harrison.

"You got handled right there," Woodson said. Counters Harrison, "I got penetration."

Then he had team interviews deep into the night. Asked if he feels like a pro, Woodson answers, "It hasn't hit me yet."

But he's finding out one thing. The draft's not just an adventure. It's a job.

Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay: Martz and Woodson were a disastrous duo. Woodson never got comfortable in Martz's timing-based scheme and he hurried his release so much that his passes were off all week. And as he struggled, Woodson began to press and he became more inaccurate. After that week, Woodson has a mountain to climb to get back into the first round.

[+] EnlargeJohn David Booty
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillJohn David Booty's stock rose after performing well in Lane Kiffin's system during Senior Bowl week.

John David Booty stays cool under pressure


Already warm to the media spotlight following five years at USC, Booty indulges WNSP 105.5 Sports FM (Mobile, Ala.), which set up shop at the players' hotel. He tackled questions ranging from "Would you like to see a playoff system?" to "Aren't you USC guys better at dealing with all of this attention?" After quickly rattling off polished answers (yes and yes) Booty declares his love for the Cowboys. You never know if Jerry Jones is listening.

With only a week to learn the playbook, every snap counts. Luckily, Booty's old USC coordinator, current Raiders boss Lane Kiffin, is coaching Booty's North squad. Kiffin's West Coast scheme utilizes play-action and deep-in throws, which require a strong arm.

"A lot of what the coaches want to see is how fast you can adjust, Booty said. " With hundreds of scouts and coaches on the sidelines, the 23-year-old turns in a solid performance, showing off his accuracy on short and intermediate routes, and looking comfortable when facing a rush.

After his impressive practice, Booty is bum-rushed by a slew of scouts. As in the pocket, he stayed poised.

And if the number of suitors is any indication, the Chiefs and Ravens are front-runners for his services. Most personnel gurus request time for a meeting, but some just start asking Booty questions about his best and worst games.

"I do all the work for them I guess, so they just watch those tapes," Booty said. "For the bad game, I just gave them a decent one I had."

He's already acting like a pro.

Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay: Booty had a very good week in Mobile: never spectacular, always solid. He has the arm to make every NFL throw, and he consistently made them in every practice. In the West Coast system, Booty could be a steady NFL starter. Worst-case scenario: He looked like he could be an excellent NFL backup. Right now, he's a very good mid-round value.

Matt Flynn
Jerry Lai/US PresswireMatt Flynn needs to focus more on his timing with his receivers than his 40-time.

Matt Flynn's combine preparation in Orlando, Fla.


Seven days after winning the national title, Flynn moved to Orlando for five weeks of training with combine guru Tom Shaw. The scenery is nice, but it's no vacation. One of Flynn's least-favorite drills: Churning waist-deep through the facility's raging pool. By jogging against a current, Flynn, alongside teammate Glenn Dorsey and Ole Miss running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, they build leg strength. That will help Flynn when he drops back, plants his right foot and drives through throws.

The bonus of not being part of the dizzying Senior Bowl atmosphere: It's not all football all the time. Flynn and his fellow draft hopefuls bond over favorite "YouTube" clips at Cracker Barrel. Flynn's No. 1? "Dramatic Squirrel."

The downside: It's too quiet. "I'm staying by myself, and we don't have Internet or cell-phone service," Flynn said. "But, I figure, it's five weeks for the rest of my career."

Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay: Not being invited to the Senior Bowl didn't affect Flynn's stock. Scouts are still impressed by his grittiness in the title game. While Flynn's athleticism is good, his arm is average and he's not yet an efficient, NFL-caliber thrower. He needs to worry less about his 40 time and instead devote most of his workout time to hitting receivers in pro-style passing drills.