Brewster Slides, Ebner Rises

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Last updated: 04/29/2012 2:10 PM

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My Thoughts on Brewster’s Slide, Ebner’s Rise

By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — One of the greatest things about the NFL draft, and really the thing that makes it such a national spectacle every year, is unpredictability.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like an event that would lend itself to such volatility and randomness, especially with all the analysis and mock drafts that find their way onto the internet in this day in age.

A lot of analysts know these teams and coaches, and their tendencies, better than they know themselves. Yet every pick is a mystery, with coaches and general managers showing off their fickle natures at every turn.

The top two or three are usually set weeks in advance, and the top six or seven players are pretty much established, but after that, anything can happen.

Everyone was trying decide who would grab LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne heading into Thursday night. Most experts it would be Minnesota at three, Cleveland at four or maybe even Tampa Bay at five. Instead, the Dallas Cowboys traded up eight spots to grab the Thorpe Award winner, who was widely consider the best physical talent on defense in this draft.

Who would have expected Courtney Upshaw, the defensive MVP of Alabama’s national title game, would fall to the Baltimore Ravens in the second round? Or that the Cleveland Browns would take a defensive tackle in the third round who was just hoping to be drafted.

We probably could have seen that one coming, but even Nate Ebner wasn’t planning a draft party before the New England Patriots snatched him in the sixth round.

Thinking about Ebner’s Rise

Nate Ebner
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nate Ebner

1. This was one of the truly great moments of the 2012 NFL Draft. Ebner is one of the best stories out there, and it was great to see a team like the Patriots think outside the box about what he might be able to bring to their team.

2. This is a kid who did not even play football in high school. He was a rugby player at Hilliard Davidson, and a darn good one, which is why wasn’t playing the Davidson team that won the state title back in 2007.

3. In fact, Ebner was one of the best in the country, and he had planned on returning to rugby after his football career if no one in the NFL wanted him this year.

4. Before coming to Ohio State, Ebner was on the United States U19 and U20 national teams for rugby. He was also the MVP of the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and 2008.

5. That toughness and tenacity helped Ebner make a transition to football after he walked on at Ohio State. He never quite developed his understanding of the game well enough to be an every-down player on defense, but he was certainly one the best tacklers on the team the last two seasons.

6. He finished his career without making a single start, and with a total of 30 tackles in a Buckeye uniform. A lot of those, however, came in the open field after Ebner came flying down on kickoff.

7. Ebner only played three snaps of defense for OSU in 2011, but he managed to get a sack on one of them. That’s because he’s a football player, a tough guy who will continue to learn the game.

8. That doesn’t mean he’s going to stick with the Patriots. They might ultimately decide they can’t afford to carry a special teams guy who can’t contribute on defense right now. Or maybe he can. Maybe they will find a creative way to use him.

9. Either way, it’s a unique story, and Bill Belichick got himself a great kid.

Thinking about Brewster’s Fall…

Mike Brewster
Photo by Jim Davidson
Mike Brewster

1. On the other end of that spectrum Saturday was former OSU center Michael Brewster, who officially went undrafted after being a four-year starter, and captain, for the Buckeyes.

2. Brewster was projected as a potential third-round pick after last season, when he was voted as a first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association. It may have been a little of a stretch, but he had to feel like a fourth year was only going to make him that much more attractive to NFL teams.

3. Along with a chance to improve his draft stock, Brewster came back to help the Buckeyes get through the scandal his classmates had brought on the program. It was an admirable move at the time, but even Brewster could not have imagined how much the scandal would wear on him.

4. Nobody is perfect, but Brewster was the ideal teammate and leader for the Buckeyes, if not always the ideal player. He loved Ohio State and truly wanted to leave the program better than what it would have been had he left.

5. The Buckeyes were 6-7 a year ago, and all that losing was tough on Brewster. He gutted it out, but you could see the look in his eyes by November. He was ready for some kind of normalcy.

6. Now he will get it, or at least a chance at it, after reportedly signing an undrafted free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a great landing spot for the Orlando product after three stressful days of watching the draft boards.

7. In reality, Brewster probably fell out of the draft because he didn’t perform all that well at the Senior Bowl, or show anything exceptional at the NFL Scouting Combine. The biggest question mark with Brewster has been his ability to go against top defensive tackles from week to week.

8. Another thing that hurt Brewster was the fact teams clearly viewed him as a center, and a center only in the National Football League. That makes sense, because Brewster started 49-straight games at center for the Buckeyes, but teams are looking for versatility with their late-round draft picks.

9. Brewster was probably athletic enough to play just about anywhere outside of left tackle when he got to Ohio State back in 2008. He was never the 6-5 or 6-6 he was listed at by recruiting services, but he was a lean 6-4 with the ability to add good weight.

10. In fact, he might have actually been a much better, or at least more attractive, guard than he was a center. But the Buckeyes needed a franchise center, and the coaching staff thought that would be his best position for the NFL. Maybe it still will.

11. In playing center for four years, Brewster never really got to show his athleticism. Not in Ohio State’s old offense. He was incredibly stationary, anchoring down the middle of the line in a power-run oriented attack.

12. He added a lot of weight to his frame, but never really had the strength in his base to battle talented 300-pound nose guards in the Big Ten.

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