Jerry Angelo is a former personnel director for the Bucs and former general manager of the Bears. Each week, Angelo answers your questions regarding the NFL. Send your questions to GarySheltonsports@gmail.com with "ask the expert'' in the subject line. The most interesting questions will be selected.
Thursday, 4 a.m.
This week, we got a couple of tough reminders about how hard it is to get old. Dwight Clark says he has ALS, and Gale Sayers has the onset of dementia. What are your recollections of each player?
I just know each one professionally. I wasn’t particularly close to either one, but certainly admired them as athletes.
Clark is one of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. No ego, just a real down-to-earth guy and a fun guy to be around.
Sayers was a legend. He played and starred in an era where men were men. There was no coddling players back in his day. They didn’t make much money, but the money they made, they earned every penny. He and others like
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him made the game what it is today.
Jim Harbaugh, the old 49ers coach, says that Colin Kaerpernick can still win championships. Do you think so, or has the NFL caught up to that style of quarterback?
Kaerpernick is a journeyman. He had his chance and failed as a starter. There is no scheme or coach that’s going to change that.
He was a talent with a ton of potential, but the more he played the worse he got because opposing coaches figured him out. He had no answers for the things they did to counter his strengths. So, I disagree with the coach. He’s talking with his heart and not his head.
Do you buy the rumors of Marshawn Lynch playing for the Oakland Raiders, his hometown team?
Yes, I do. It’s his home team. He probably grew up a silver and black fan. He’s had enough time sitting around and eating his Skittles. Life is boring and money isn’t everything. It’s time to go back to work.
Few players just walk away like he did. There is always that itch and it’s time for him to scratch it.
The Bucs signed Nick Folk, who has averaged 81 percent of his kicks in his 10-year NFL career, to compete with Roberto Aguayo. How do you see the competition going? Can Aguayo stave him off?
I think the Bucs made a smart move. They can't live with Aguayo again this season if he has another season like last year. They have to protect themselves and signing Folk was a great insurance policy in the event Aguayo doesn’t take the next step.
They certainly want Aguayo to win the competition. He was a high draft choice and he’s young. They have him under contract for 3 more years. But saying that, they have to protect their down side. The competition will do him good. It will make or break him and if it breaks him, let it be during OTA’s and/or training camp/pre season, not the season.
With E.J. Manuel moving to the Raiders, 10 of the 11 quarterbacks picked in 2013 are no longer with their original club. Only Landry Jones of Pittsburgh is still in place. Did teams evaluate poorly, or did they develop poorly?
Teams that don’t have an established QB are driven to draft a quarterback. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter who it is as long as he has the traits and the potential makeup you want.
Most bust, as you noted, but what are teams supposed to do? Pass and play with a guy that offers no hope? Winning without an established quarterback is the hardest thing to do in the NFL. I lived it. Most organizations fail.
FSU running back Dalvin Cook is falling in the draft after a poor combine. But he passes the eye test. Should the Bucs be interested if he’s there at No. 19?
Absolutely. He is the real deal. The Bucs would be dancing in the rain if that happened. You don’t do what he did at FSU and say, because he performed poorly at the combine he’s suspect. He’s one of the best players in the draft. When he gets into the NFL he’ll prove it, just like Warrick Dunn did.
Michigan star Jabrill Peppers has played some safety, but he’s also played some linebacker. At first glance, what do you see when you look at him?
I see a safety. He’s too small to play linebacker and he doesn’t play well there. He’s still a work in progress. Whoever drafts him has to have a plan for him. It’s going to take some time, but the good news is that while he’s learning he’ll juice up your special teams and if you use him on offense, as Michigan did, you may have a real find. He’s a great athlete with toughness and speed. Guys with those characteristics usually ascend at the next level.
You were still with the Bucs when they had their greatest draft ever — getting Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp. But there were questions about Sapp’s character and Brooks’ size. What do you remember about that draft?
I remember what a great job our scouts did in their evaluations (Tim Ruskell and Mike Yowarsky), particularly on Derrick, who had some question marks by his name for some teams.
Sapp was an easy call. He should have been the number one overall pick. Remember, we passed on him by trading down and when he showed up again, we said "we can’t be stupid twice."
Ex-Giants G.M. George Young used to call the NFL draft “the biggest non-event in sports.” Seeing as how a high percentage of players miss, why does America care so much for the draft?
I think it’s because of the great work of (draft analysts) Joel Buschbaum and Mel Kiper. I really believe they made the draft relevant for fans.
The NFL had no idea how addictive fans were to the NFL during the off season. There was no news other than the draft. It was the great work of Joel and Mel that made the NFL aware of the appetite their fans had for their favorite pastime.