June 29, 2011

Why Champ Bailey may be Traded

I know what you are thinking, Aussie are you crazy, what you been smoking man. But hear me out, I had this idea recently and I thought it could be something interesting to discuss and explore further. Now remember this hurts you as much as it does me. No Bronco fan wants to see Champ traded but it could become the hard truth. Know I am not doing this lightly.

Let’s being then, it has been said that Champ will be moved and finish his career at the safety position. Champ recently signed a new 4 year deal with the Broncos. It is my belief that he would spend the next two years of that deal playing the corner position. After those two season he would now be 35 years old (also happy birthday Champ for a week ago) and by then he has probably slowed down enough to not be considered ‘elite’ anymore. For this reason he will be moved to play the Free Safety position (he isn’t big enough to play SS I think). He will play safety for the final two years of the deal with the hope that if he succeeds at the position he may see another deal. I am thinking a 3 year deal so that he retires when he is 40.

This is where I get to my current dilemma and issue for my reasoning why Champ will be traded. Currently we have Brain Dawkins on the roster, we will get one more good year out of him and Dawkins will push for another (he wants a Championship). Dawkins isn’t the problem. He should have finished up or retired by the time Champ wants to make the change. The problem lies with the four other young safeties on the roster. McBath, Bruton, Moore and Carter. Bruton will be a backup and ST until he shows improvement. McBath and Moore will fight it out for that FS spot and Carter most likely has a very good look in at SS.

And here is the problem. In two years from now are you going to boot out a young and up-and-coming player (Moore/McBath) from a starting role for an ageing Superstar (legend, awesomeness, god etc)? This is the problem I see, if Moore, McBath and Carter even Bruton for that matter excel at the position would we bench them for Champ? I don’t know. Fox does like veterans and that plays in Champs’ favour but is he willing to undertake the experiment. This gets to the crux of my reasoning, we will trade Champ to a team willing to undergo the safety experiment and who doesn’t have much safety depth and we would get some picks in return. I don’t see any/many GMs or coaches taking an ageing experiment over a young and established player.

A lot of things can change between now and then though. The young safeties could tank, have injuries, etc; allowing Champ to side into the position easily. Maybe Champ is so good at corner we keep him there for the life time of the deal.

Otherwise the Broncos front office (if it is still EFX) will need to make some hard decisions on Champ in a few years. For me I hope to see Champ play out his career in Broncos colours and we find a way to keep him on the roster. But then having him playing off the bench or in special packages, is that doing a disservice to him? Let me know what you think. ~ Aussie

June 28, 2011

Rookie Bio - Virgil Leo Green

Virgil Leo Green (born August 3, 1988) is now an American football tight end for the Denver Broncos. He played college football at Nevada.

Date of birth: August 3, 1988 (age 22)
Place of birth: Tulare, California
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 249 lb (113 kg)
Arm Length: 33 1/2 in.
Hand Size: 9 1/4 in.
College: Nevada
Conference: WAC
Position: TE

Born Virgil Leo Green on Aug. 3, 1988 he is the son of Sharon and Virgil Green. Green is the eldest of two. Virgil’s younger brother, Jeremiah, was also on the Nevada team last season, playing as a reserve linebacker. He’s hoping to follow in the steps of his older brother and to build himself from a reserve to a starting role. Green majored in general studies. Green enjoys playing basketball and reading the Bible in his free time.

High School

Green is a graduate of Tulare Union High School in Tulare, Calif. He was a first-team All-East Yosemite League selection and a two-time selection to the All-County team. Green had 61 catches for 1,014 yards and 12 touchdowns in his high school career, he even had 13 catches for 245 yards and four touchdowns in a single game. He was a three-year letter winner in football and also lettered four years in basketball and once in track & field.


For his first year at Nevada, 2006 he redshirted the season and missed spring drills while recovering from an injury. The 2007 season he played in all 13 games with no starts. The bulk of his playing time came on special teams. He earned a first career varsity letter.

In 2008 he played in all 13 games and made eight starts. He was fifth on the team in receiving with 14 catches for 164 yards. His first career touchdown was a 40-yarder at UNLV, which was also a career-long. He also had two carries for 18 yards, including a 14-yard run against Fresno State.

The 2009 season he really came on strong. He was named the Nevada Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year. He also earned All-WAC honors for the first time in his career as he was named to the second team. He was tied for third on the team in receiving as he set career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns. He started all 12 regular season games and was one of a team-record nine players (and the first this season) to earn the program’s prestigious Striker Awards for consistant and dominant play. He also helped pave the way for the nation’s top rushing offense, a record-breaking group that became the first team in NCAA history to have three players rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. He was named first-team Preseason All-WAC by The Sporting News, second-team Preseason All-WAC by Athlon Sports and first-team Preseason All-WAC by Lindy's.

2010 was another good year for Green. He was one of 32 players -- and the only WAC player – on the preseason Watch List for the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end. He had been named preseason first-team All-WAC by Phil Steele, The Sporting News, Lindy’s and Blue Ribbon College Football. Was a preseason second-team pick by Athlon. For his final year at Nevada he finished with career highs. He made 35 receptions for 515 yards averaging 14.7 yards a reception. He also had 5 receptions for a touchdown in what was a very productive year.

From the performance that he’d given at Nevada, scouting reports ranked him anywhere from a third-round pick to an undrafted free agent. Depending on the source, he’s either a tough blocker with substantial receiving skills, or a half-baked blocker who rounds off his routes, has tight hips and won’t be able to make the jump to the NFL. As is often the case, there are reasons for each of those interpretations. Statistics only tell a limited version of the truth, but looking at Green’s does explain some of the width of the spectrum of opinion on him.

After redshirting his freshman year, Green became a favorite target for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He also spent long hours in the weight room, building his body from the 210-pound frame that he took onto the Wolf Pack’s 2007 team into the 250-pound force that head coach Chris Ault trusted to pave the way for his rushing game. Meanwhile, Green's timely receptions helped the Wolf Pack win the WAC and claim their first victory over Boise State in 10 years.

“Virgil has developed into a consistent and dominant player, not just in the passing game, but also in the rushing game,” said Ault. How much did that growth in blocking matter? Enough that Nevada became the first NCAA school to ever boast three 1,000-yard rushers in a single season - in 2009, Kaepernick gained 1,183 yards rushing, while running backs Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott compiled 1,345 yards and 1,034 yards, respectively. Complementing his blocking ability is Green’s straight-line speed, which should allow him to split Cover-2 defenses by flashing up the seam. The leadership that he showed earned him one of four captaincies at Nevada. His ability to block on the line and to hit again at the second level convinced the Broncos to use the first of their two seventh-round picks to obtain him.

As a junior at Nevada Virgil gave out 13 touchdown-resulting blocks and continued that dominating performance in 2010, as he registered TD-resulting blocks on 13 of the team’s 52 rushing touchdowns, adding six more touchdown-resulting blocks on pass plays. But, there is much more to Green’s game than just clearing out rush lanes. In his last 40 games, 48 of 72 receptions by the tight end have produced first downs (66.7%), converting 22 third-down tosses and once more on fourth down in the process.

Green also became a favorite target of Colin Kaepernick in the red zone. Of his 23 catches he made in the 2009 season, five of them went for TDs. It’s a percentage that the Broncos should be envious of. Last season - 2010 - he had 35 receptions for 515 yards with five touchdowns. Teams were starting to key on him in the red zone, but he remained productive and raised his average catch from 11.3 yards to 14.7 - a big improvement, mostly by running stretch routes up the seam. Green was selected All-WAC First Team for the 2010 college football season by the WAC’s nine head coaches. The coaches who went up against him had a lot of respect for the player, and that’s always something that catches your eye. If a player is tough to defend against, the opposing coaches know it and he’s the kind of guy you want on your team.


Green's an undersized, athletic, pass-catching tight end / H-back with big-play potential. He has good burst off the line and doesn't idle down in and out of his breaks but is susceptible to press coverage and doesn't exhibit great awareness against zone coverage. Possesses outstanding ball skills. Did not make a load of explosive plays in college but has a high ceiling here due to his speed and hands. Shows good effort as a blocker and could improve technique but lacks natural size and strength to excel in this area. Green could sneak into Day 2.

Green has great speed for a tight end. Explodes off the line and out of his breaks to gain separation. Has excellent hands. Plucks and snatches away from his frame and secures the football without losing speed. Can get up the seam and make the over-the-shoulder grab. Flashes potential as a second-level blocker. Outstanding intangibles.

Does not have adequate NFL tight end size and lacks growth potential. Lacks power at the point of attack and technique needs refinement. Must improve ability to locate soft spots in zone coverage. Still developing as a route runner. Can be neutralized at the line by press coverage.

Positives: Three-year starter is an excellent downfield receiver with natural hands and top ball skills. Fast and elusive, good acceleration and change of direction. Excellent body control, can configure physique to get hands on off-target throws and reel them in. Runs good routes. Snatches ball with hands away from body. Can break tackles downfield and get YAC. Athletic enough for consideration as a wideout. Decent blocker when using proper technique. Durable and productive.

Negatives: Lacks sand in his pants and doesn't block with a lot of power. Doesn't finish blocks. Too often content with just one block attempt and fails to initiate another. Blocking technique is inconsistent across the board. More wideout than tight end at the next level. Could be pigeonholed into "just an H-Back" category.

Pre-draft measureables
HtWtArm lengthHand size40-yd dash10-yd split
20-yd split
6 ft 3⅜ in249 lb33½ in9¼ in4.54 s1.57 s
2.56 s
4.40 s6.90 s42½ in10 ft 10 in23 rep

If you’re looking for the most dangerous TE in this draft, Green is the difference-maker. He still needs work as a blocker. Right now, he’s a lot more punch and pop without consistent technique and strength to sustain his blocks. In fact, Green may never have the frame to add enough muscle to become a great blocker in the pros.

Although he is a willing and aggressive blocker and should develop into a technically sound player, his lack of polish will initially limit his opportunities as an every-down player. That’s O.K. If a team drafted Green as a blocker, the general manager should be fired. Green is much closer to Shannon Sharpe than Alge Crumpler.

Green has the quickness to get 15-20 yards downfield against most N.F.L. defenders, and his agility separates him from most of the tight ends in this class. When he makes a catch, he’s capable of making that quick cut, spin, or dip away from a defender and accelerate for significant yardage.

And that physicality with his blocking carries over to Green’s ball-carrying. Because he’s a flexible, explosive athlete, Green is also very good at getting his pads low at the point of contact and bouncing off hits. What’s most impressive is that he combines his athleticism with terrific hands and toughness over the middle. He catches the ball in high-traffic areas and takes the punishment.

The team that drafts Green will be able to move him around the field as an x, y or z receiver or use him on the line because of his receiver-like skills, size and strength. If Green can add another 10 pounds and taper his reckless tendencies as a run blocker, he has the athleticism to be a statistical leader at the position.

Green finished an outstanding career at Nevada with an impressive senior season. As an NFL prospect, Green has the frame, wheels and ball skills to be an effective downfield receiver as a tight end or H-back, but is not yet a polished blocker. A fine athlete, Green will entice NFL teams that use two-tight end formations and like to throw to the H-back, and is worth a look as a wideout prospect.

Green’s broad jump and vertical leap numbers were the second-best combine numbers among tight ends since 2000 - he had a vertical leap of 42.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 10 inches. He also posted the third-best 40-yard dash time (4.54 seconds) among tight ends who ran and put up 23 reps on the bench press. Mike Mayock had rated him as the fifth-best TE in the draft. Green runs well after the catch, has quick, nimble feet and is noted for making difficult catches. He doesn’t show any hesitation in making the catch when he’s going to get hit, and his hands are excellent.

About his medical issues: He was a durable three-year starter at Nevada, although he developed some injury issues early on. He had a microfracture knee surgery in 2007 that apparently scared a lot of teams away from him. The fact is teams are extremely concerned with what they considered a medical concern. There were reports of some swelling in the knee at the combime but Virgil never missed a practice or a game due to injury while at Nevada: he came all the way back after that surgery four years ago. He played his best ball after the injury, improving his stats each year as you'd expect. And that's it.

Even then - observers were also split on how effective he could be in the NFL. Some rated him as a third-round pick, while others had him as a seventh-rounder or free agent. It all depended on how you viewed him. To me - he’s been a durable, productive player, a hard-working leader, and a constant threat in the red zone who can also stretch the field as a ‘move’ TE. His blocking is a work in progress, but he’s come a long way there and the results at Nevada show it. He’s a player who, like many, needs good coaching and time to develop. And we know that from all reports he takes coaching very well, which is another plus.


The Denver Broncos selected Nevada TE Virgil Green with the No. 204 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

NFL Network's Mike Mayock believes that Green was taken off the draft board of several teams for medical red flags. He underwent microfracture surgery a couple of years ago and experienced knee swelling at the Combine. That didn't stop him from blowing up the Combine, however, topping several of Vernon Davis' marks in drills. Even at a rocked-up 6'3/249, Green is still on the smallish side for a tight end and grades out as a subpar blocker. He'll battle fifth-rounder Julius Thomas for playing time in Denver. As long as his knee checks out, Green possesses intriguing upside in the NFL.

The knocks on Green include the complaints that he shows tight hips and rounds off his routes, as well as the scouting reports that claim he is inconsistent in his blocking and struggles against press coverage. These reports always need a grain of salt as they aren’t updated when a player conquers a certain weakness. If you look at game film from late last season Green showed tenacity in his blocking, an explosive first step, and excellent hands, looking the ball into them and tucking it carefully and showing no fear of catching the ball in traffic. It’s true that he’s best suited on the wing right now, and will need to develop even more to handle in-line NFL blocking. Right now, he may be best suited for the role of a seam-running receiver who can also block well at need.

The question is - is that enough? Time will tell, but so far Green has showed diligence and determination in the weight and film rooms as well as on the field. He’s probably best suited for a team that wants to develop him over time, teaching him the NFL game and playing to his strengths. He’s frequently mentioned as a natural leader, a player who wants to improve and will do whatever it takes to accomplish it, and one who has improved each year. Taken in that context, Green may be a keeper.

Broncos Outlook

The Denver Broncos picked two tight ends in this years draft, Virgil Green happened to be the first to conduct an interview with the Denver media. Here’s what we came away with:

On transitioning from wide receiver to tight end
“Initially it was a tough transition. I went from being a high school receiver who everyone was afraid to hit to a tight end where you are hit almost every single play. Gaining weight was by far the toughest part. I have a fast metabolism and my body doesn’t like to put on a lot of weight but I ended up putting weight on and I feel fast, and I feel athletic and physical. I am hoping to bring some of my athleticism and physical ability to the Denver Broncos.”

On his familiarity with TE Julius Thomas
“Me and Julius actually had a chance to train together so I know him a little bit. I am excited to work with him and compete with him as well.”

On whether his draft day was stressful
“No, it has not been as stressful for me. I left it in God’s hands and I knew he would put me where I fit perfectly. I know he put me in Denver for a reason and I am going to go out there and do what God asks me to do.”

On describing himself as a blocker
“I think I am a great in-line blocker. At Nevada, we ran the ball a lot. So in our offense, if you couldn’t block, you couldn’t play.”

On his plans until the a labor agreement is reached
“I have been working out with a trainer in my hometown this last week. We have been working out hard and I am focused on getting into the weight room and getting my conditioning in because I know I have to be ready at all times. I just love working hard so every day is going to be a constant staying in the weight room for an hour-and-a-half or two hours and then doing conditioning work later that day. When I get that call from the Broncos to show up, I will be ready.”

On his 42-inch vertical jump at the NFL Combine
I have always had a jumping ability. In high school, people were always laughing about how I dunked on people in basketball games.

On prior interaction with Broncos
“We talked at the combine. I talked to (Tight Ends) Coach (Clancy) Barone and he let me know that he was very interested in me. He came over and worked me out and we went over some offensive things that he wanted to show me. I kind of felt like the Broncos was one of the teams that were going to draft me. I am ready to go play.”

On playing basketball
“In high school, that was actually my main sport up until my senior year. Basketball was one of my first loves and my first passion.”

Green is similar in several ways to former Bronco Marquez Branson. He has much the same kind of talent, same size, and both have a history of medical issues, although Green’s is minimal really. Both were underestimated because their competition level wasn’t elite. Both have the potential to be used as a WR as much as a TE. If Virgil does stay healthy (and he never missed a game or practice over three seasons) and continues to improve, he’s a steal. If he doesn’t, he’s a seventh-round pick - no worries. As a late-round pick, he is more than worth the flyer they’re taking on him.

Every TE coming into the league is raw in some degree. Green will have to develop the aspects of his game that need work - flipping his hips, finishing his blocks, blocking on the second level (which he’s done well at times) and continuing getting stronger in order to be more effective at in-line blocking. That’s not his forte right now. He’s had a tendency to round off his routes at times, and can sometimes be inconsistent coming out of his breaks. However - he’s also fast, athletic, talented and listens well to coaching, something that is essential for a player who wants to make the leap to the next level. He has excellent hands, catches the ball well in traffic, seals off the lanes for the running backs (consider Nevada’s run production, of which he was a part) and plucks the ball well when at full speed and over his shoulder, something that you don’t always get even with wide receiver prospects. In short - he’s got a ton of talent, and a lot of skills, with the normal weaknesses that you’d expect from a smaller rookie TE.

While it’s been talked about, I don’t think that Denver is going to practice squad this young man, although it’s always possible. I suspect that other teams will be looking carefully at whoever hits the PS, and exposing Green early in his career is an approach fraught with danger: You can lose him to anyone who places him on their active roster. Of course, the upside if Denver is able to stash him there is simple - it would give him a year to develop his body and his technique.

Denver’s TE coach, Clancy Barone, is one of the best. He first coached TEs for Atlanta in 2005-2006, tutoring Pro Bowl TE Alge Crumpler, and then went to the Chargers where he continued training their star TE Antonio Gates. Both Julius Thomas and Virgil Green have substantial upside that will require a steady hand from the coach. Barone was the TE coach in 2009 in Denver, before moving to coaching the OL. Barone also helped develop the blocking of Atlanta’s tight ends and helped the club average an NFL-best 171.4 rushing yards per game from 2005-06 and lead the league in rushing during each of those two seasons. He is probably as good a coaching option as a young TE player could have, and he personally worked out both Green and Thomas. Green takes coaching well, and Barone is one of the best. Perhaps that’s why Denver let Daniel Graham go even though all the remaining TEs are young players - Quinn will be seeing his third NFL season, Gronkowski his second and both Thomas and Green their first. But the talent is there to be polished and developed.

Looking at the TEs overall, it’s hard not to be impressed with the potential that Denver has accumulated. Quinn is 6’4 and 255 lb, came out as the best blocking TE in his draft class and is coming on nicely entering his third year. Gronkowski and Thomas are 6’5” and while Thomas will need to put on muscle mass (he’s only at 246 currently, but is already physically and mentally tough and will be adding weight), his potential may be up there with Gates - Thomas is consistently described as a physical freak, has the heart of a lion and works incessantly in the film and weight rooms. Gronkowski matches Quinn at 255 lb and developed visibly over last season.

Green is a different - he’s only 6’3”, but is up to 249 lb and has burner top-end speed. He’s explosive off the line, and playing from the wing will give him a quick moment to make his read and chose his gap. Green probably needs to develop better lower body strength to anchor better as an in-line blocker, but he’s already shown talent in sealing the lane in the run game. His hand placement in blocking is very good already, but he needs more ‘sand in the pants’ to hold up as an NFL blocking TE. However, he could contribute immediately as a counter to Cover-1, Cover-2 and Cover-3 schemes with his agility, quickness, straight-route technique and excellent hands when going up the seam. Denver may decide to bring him along faster by starting him in that role: It’s one that he’s well suited for.

Julius Thomas is the Broncos' biggest hope for the future, but he may also have the longest way to go, given the years that he spent out of football. Dan Gronkowski may not have the talent of his brother Rob, but he showed rapid development in the 2010 season, following his being a part of a trade with Detroit that sent them the disappointing Alphonso Smith. Richard Quinn is anything but the disappointing bust that some media and fans have tried to paint him as. It just takes time to learn NFL blocking, as Coach Fox said. With Quinn at 6’4 and both Thomas and Gronk at 6’5”, Denver now has some big targets for the QB to use, whether as primary receivers or as check-down outlets. With the addition of a fast, tough TE with good hands and more speed than you usually see at the position in Virgil Green, Denver has covered all the bases that the position can provide.

Virgil Green has shown himself to be a gutsy, determined player, a young man with a resolute strength of purpose who isn’t satisfied with anything but his best. He’s a natural leader, and a man who understands that he needs top coaching to succeed, and who consumes knowledge with a fervor that you don’t always see. I look forward to seeing how soon he can contribute to the Broncos' offense - a lot of people saw him as the most NFL-ready TE from the 2011 Draft. Now it’s up to him to prove it.

For me, Green reminds me a lot of a former WR turned TE (H-back) that played for us. I am speaking none other than Shannon Sharpe. Too big for WR and not quite fast enough for the position. Then not big enough or strong enough to block out of the TE position. A bit of a tweener in that sense and this should be the role that Green plays, similar to what Sharpe did. Create big problems for the secondary and make plays in that second level. Will Green have the type of career that Sharpe did? Well that is to be seen but I hope that Green develops into a quality starter for the Broncos. ~ Aussie

June 19, 2011

Rookie Bio - Mike Mohamed

Mike Mohamed
Height: 6-02.5
Weight: 238 - 240 pounds
College: California
40 Time: 4.65 - 4.75 seconds
Bench Press Reps: 21
Date of birth: March 11, 1988 (1988-03-11)(age 23)
Place of birth: Brawley, California

The Imperial Valley lies deep in Southern California, tucked up against the Mexican border.  It is farm land, where they grow tons of lettuce and thousands of pounds of onions. They grow plenty of melons and truckloads of sugar beets.

And one linebacker. One very good linebacker.

Mike Mohamed, the great-grandson of an immigrant farmer who built a thriving farm in Brawley, has grown to be a 240-pound tackling machine for the California Golden Bears.

Niaz Mohamed Sr. was born in India, migrated to America and became a US Citizen.  He bought 1,000 acres of the Imperial Valley and began planting. Today, his son Niaz Mohamed Jr., oversees more than 100 employees all of whom likely root for the big Cal linebacker.

Niaz Jr. is Mike’s grandfather and still running the family business, a source of great family pride in the valley.

Meanwhile, Mike Mohamed is headed for NFL career that is sure to add even more pride to the Mohamed family. He’s already had an impressive college career where among other things was named a four-time Pac-10 All-Academic performer.

Mohamed is the oldest of six children, the other five are all younger girls. “His sisters love him,” says his father, Mike. “He’s king of the castle. They’ll do just about anything for him.  I don’t get treated that well.”

The goal-oriented Mohameds of Brawley are all over these days. Mike has two cousins, Marty and Kyle, who are starring academically and on the field at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  Another cousin, Dylan, is headed to West Point this fall. All have been honored by the National Football Foundation as scholar-athletes.

And giving is part of the Mohamed nature.

“Anytime he’s asked to give his time, he never says no,” says his father. “He’s always willing to help and do things for other people....Sometimes I’m in awe of it because it’s hard for a young man to do.”


After finishing high school at Brawley Union High School Mohamed he decided to attend the University of California.

Mohamed played in 50 of 51 possible games and made 26 starts over the years of 2007-10 after redshirting the 2006 campaign. He earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors in his first season as a full-time starter in 2009 after garnering an honorable mention all-conference selection in 2008 and before picking up second-team all-league recognition as a 2010 senior. In 2009, he led the conference with 112 stops (8.6 per game) to earn first-team All-Pac-10 honors and was Cal's MVP on the defensive side of the ball. He finished his collegiate career fourth on Cal's all-time list for tackles with 340 (197 unassisted, 143 assisted), while adding 20.0 tackles for loss (-81 yards), 7.0 sacks (-51 yards), seven interceptions (77 return yards) including two that he brought back for touchdowns, nine pass breakups, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and nine quarterback hurries. He also brought back two kicks for 10 yards. He recorded double digits in tackles 11 times during his career. He made 47 career tackles vs. rival Oregon for an average of 11.75 stops per game in his four contests vs. the Ducks.

He was honored on the Pac-10 All-Academic team for four consecutive seasons (2007-10), earning first-team recognition in each of his last three campaigns. He named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week four times, twice as a junior in 2009 and once during both his 2008 sophomore and 2010 senior seasons. He is responsible for making one of the most memorable plays in the history of Cal football when he secured a 34-28 Cal victory by intercepting Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck on Cal's three-yard line late in the fourth quarter and the Cardinal driving for the go-ahead score in the 2009 Big Game on The Farm.

Mohamed played his best football in Cal's biggest game of the year against Oregon with 16 tackles and a sack. He finished 2010 with 95 tackles, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception.

He has returned two of his seven career interceptions for touchdowns, with a 19-yard score after a pick vs. UCLA in 2008 and a 41-yard return for a touchdown against Colorado in 2010.

The combination of excellence in the classroom and on the field has planted Mohamed on The Lott Trophy Watch List, the award that goes to the top college defensive player who has the biggest IMPACT on his team both on and off the field.

Mohamed is majoring in business administration at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley, one of the top undergrad programs in the country.

The fact that he is able to balance his academics with his football is a tribute to how he was raised.

“I worked in everything from the cooking shed to driving a tractor when I was growing up,” he said.  I learned my work ethic on the farm. The hard work there applies to football.  Nothing comes easy and it takes a lot of time.

“I’ve learned to be very time-efficient,” he told Jimmy Tran of The Daily Californian. “I’ve had to get good at picking things up the first or second time I read them. I don’t have the time to keep going over things.”

Fellow Linebacker Mychael Kendricks is dazzled by Mohamed: “He’s smart, without a doubt. He’s fast and strong, too, but when you’re smart on top of that it makes a good combination.”

He’s also one of the most popular players on the Bears.

“He’s the coolest guy,” says D.J. Holt, another linebacker. “He is so chill, never talks about anybody, someone you can trust, a great guy overall. He’s smart, wise and a true friend who gives good advice. He’s always positive and that’s always a good attribute to have as a friend.”

But stardom in college isn’t what makes Mike Mohamed the happiest. “Just being with my family,” he says. “They’re the ones who have been there for me and they always will. My parents made it to all my games last year and other family members are there often.”

“Sports were not an option growing up unless you were working hard in the classroom,” he said. “That really helps when you get to college.”

Named after Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Ronnie Lott, The Lott Trophy is awarded to college football’s Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Founded in 2004 by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, The Lott Trophy is the first and only college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player. The Lott Trophy is given to the player who exhibits the same characteristics Lott embodied during his distinguished career: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

Cal senior linebacker Mike Mohamed was also selected as a recipient of a NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. Mohamed was one of 16 selected from a nationwide pool of 121 semifinalists from among all NCAA divisions and the NAIA. Each member of the group also becomes a finalist for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy.

"I am truly excited to be named a finalist for the Campbell Trophy," said Mohamed at the time of announcement. "This is such a great honor and it feels awesome to know that I am being recognized for not only my on the field accolades but for my off the field work, too."

"Mike is well-deserving of being named a finalist," offered Cal head coach Jeff Tedford. "He epitomizes the highest character and positive qualities of a student-athlete. He's a great student, great player, and a great leader. There's no doubt that he deserves this. I know from going to the ceremony when Alex Mack won two years ago, that there were a lot of impressive people there that represented all levels of football. To be one of the people in that group says a lot."

Each Campbell Trophy finalist will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, and one of the 16 will be announced as the recipient of the 21st William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. Renamed last fall in honor of Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal, the award comes with a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship. A total distribution of $300,000 in scholarships will be awarded that evening.

In the classroom, Mohamed has a cumulative 3.43 grade point average and graduated in December 2010 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He has been named to the Pac-10 All-Academic team three times, including first-team recognition in each of the last two years. He added District 8 All-Academic first-team honors from CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine in 2009.

In the community, he has been one of the team's leaders and has volunteered extensively for many organizations including The Sage Project, an effort that matches Cal football players with local youth in one-on-one mentorship opportunities. He has also been involved with the Alta-Bates Summit Foundation's 10th Annual Thunder Road Crab Feast, a non-profit fundraiser to benefit under privileged children in the Berkeley area. He was a camp coach at the Calipatria Police Activities League all-skills football camp near his hometown of Brawley, Calif. He has been a volunteer reader at Glenview Elementary School in Oakland, and twice has helped give a local youth a behind the scenes look at the day in the life of a Cal football player.

Because Mohamed excelled so much on the field, he has been Cal's most decorated player in 2010. He earned preseason All-American honors from several publications and was also on watch lists for some of the nation's most prestigious awards, including The Lott IMPACT Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award. He was also a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. In addition, he was named by Phil Steele as the nation's No. 4 draft eligible inside linebacker prior to the campaign. Three times in his career Mohamed has been named the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Week.

"We are ecstatic about the quality of this year's remarkable National Scholar-Athlete Class. They stand as a testament to our mission of building leaders through football," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. "From top to bottom, this group has established itself as one of the greatest in the 50-plus years of this program, boasting an impressive array of academic and athletic achievements. We look forward to presenting each of them with an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship to further their education, as there are no limits to what these young men will accomplish following their football careers."


Scheme and position fit will be important for his NFL prospects. Mohamed projects well in a scheme that requires him to run a lot, rather than engaging offensive linemen. While it's conceivable Mohamed could fit anywhere from inside/middle linebacker to strong safety in the NFL, he projects best as a one-gap type in a 4-3 that expects the outside linebackers to run and cover.

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6' ft 3 in 239 lb 33 in 9 1/2 in 4.65 s 1.67 s 2.73 s 4.00 s 6.70 s 32 in 9 ft 7 in 21 rep

Positives: Extremely smart, productive, durable and experienced. Sure tackler with a nose for the ball. Athletic with good "game speed" on the field. Can turn and run with receivers, and projects well covering tight ends in the NFL. Uses his tall frame well and makes plays on the ball in coverage. Top intangibles; very smart in the classroom. Played in a variety of formations, including inside in a 3-4 and at Mike and Will in 4-3 alignments. Actually may project best in the NFL as a 4-3 Sam.

Negatives: Somewhat high hipped, and as a result tends to play and run high and upright. Too often tackles by diving at ankles. Not a "thumper." Marginal blitzer who struggles to defeat blocks. Doesn't have a lot of "sand in his pants" and tends to get destroyed when colliding with linemen. Looks like a big safety. May need a scheme like a Tampa-2 that doesn't require a lot of collisions with linemen to succeed.

Mohamed is a hard-worker who will maximize his natural tools on the field. Will come into your franchise, understand your defensive system, provide some instant linebacker depth, and contribute on special teams. However, he lacks the power to be a true force in the box against the run and the speed and range to make plays on the outside or mirror explosive space players in man coverage. Probably just not enough physical tools to work with to become an NFL starter, but still a late-round prospect who will bring some impressive instincts and great character to a locker room.

Mohamed is an experienced, productive, heady inside linebacker with great intangibles. Is a smart, disciplined player who won't bite on play fakes or take himself out of position too often. Reads his keys and finds the football against the run. Understands zone coverage responsibilities. Aggressive and competitive.

Doesn't have the explosive burst to make many big plays behind the line of scrimmage or rushing the quarterback. Is tough and feisty but lacks the lower body strength and power to take on blockers in the box. Lack of bulk also results in too many broken tackles. Doesn't have the range to play sideline-to-sideline. Doesn't have the speed to stick with targets in man coverage.


Mike Mohamed was drafted with the 24th pick of the 6th round, 189th overall, by the Denver Broncos in the 2011 NFL draft.

Shortly after being drafted Mike Mohamed took on the Denver media via conference call, here are a few questions and answers:

On whether he will play inside or outside linebacker
“I haven’t been told about my role. I just want to come in, and wherever they need me—wherever I fit in— that’s where I’ll go. As for which one I prefer, I played both during my college career, and to be honest, it doesn’t really matter.”

On being the third linebacker selected by the Broncos
“I guess they thought they needed a little bit of competition, and competition is always good; it always makes a team better. I’m just looking to go in there and give it my all and try to make the Broncos a better team.”

On playing a role on special teams
“Yeah, definitely. I already know that’s kind of my ticket. I’ve done them all throughout my college career. Like I said earlier, I’ll go in wherever they need me.”

On whether he was surprised by falling to the sixth round
“To be honest, I thought I would go a little bit earlier than what I did, but there’s a reason for everything. Going to the Broncos in here the sixth, that’s what was meant to be.”

On whether he has spoken with Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway
“I did. I talked to John over the phone for a few minutes. He told me, ‘Imagine a Stanford guy drafting a Cal guy.’ You would never think that in a million years.”

On his playing style
“I think the first thing that stands out is that I’m a ball hawk. I’m relentless. I’ll always try to get to the ball, obviously within the parameters of the defense. I’m never giving up on plays; my motto is, ‘All or nothing.’”

On whether he has spoken with Broncos CB Syd’Quan Thompson, a former teammate at Cal

“No, I haven’t talked to him yet, but it’s definitely cool for me knowing a guy on the team that I’ve played with already. I’m sure he’s probably got some good advice.”

Broncos Outlook

LB Mike Mohamed (6/189) figures to battle Nate Irving at middle linebacker but has moved all around in his collegiate 3-4 alignment so it figures that he will secure a backup role. Mohamed isn't a burner but is quick, athletic and smart and racks up tackles. He should be a productive special teams player.

As Cal’s inside linebacker, Mike Mohamed had a knack for being around the football. No Cal player had more tackles in the last 16 years than Mohamed, and in the Golden Bears’ best performance last year — a narrow loss to then-No. 1 Oregon — Mohamed had a career-high 16 tackles.

He obviously impressed a certain Stanford alumnus who has final say over the Broncos’ football operations.

With two other linebackers already selected, and D.J. Williams and Mario Haggan still on the roster and third-rounder Nate Irving poised to take over middle linebacking responsibilities, Mohamed’s immediate future may lie on special teams. This is to be expected for John Fox’s backup linebackers, who in Carolina were often selected on the basis of their ability to contribute on kickoffs and punts; that’s why Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard may still have long-term futures in Denver even with the team’s run on linebackers.

Mohamed also played some outside linebacker at Cal, so he could back up there, as well.

Mohamed’s selection means that the Broncos have selected more linebackers this draft than in the five previous drafts combined, when they only picked two, neither of whom plays there now: Spencer Larsen (2008, now a fullback) and Jamie Kirlew (2010, didn’t make it beyond training camp).

From 1998-2004, the Broncos picked six linebackers, including four in the first two rounds. This allowed them to put together a corps that by the mid 2000′s was among the league’s fastest and best, with outside linebackers D.J. Williams and Ian Gold flanking Pro Bowler Al Wilson.

Since a neck injury brought a premature end to Wilson’s career after the 2006 season, the Broncos have changed to a 3-4 scheme and started 13 different players at linebacker — a group that includes three converted defensive ends: Robert Ayers, Elvis Dumervil and Jason Hunter. All three are back at defensive end in the 4-3 alignment, creating linebacker vacancies that the Broncos spent the last three days filling.

For me Mohamed reminds me of another mighty man that we took late that was probably better suited to a 3-4 inside role. That is Spencer Larsen. Mohamed may not lay wood like Larsen but they both are very smart and good football players. This allows them to get over their speed deficiencies and make plays all over the field. I have heard many say that he will probably get cut and be nothing more than camp fodder. But I think Mohamed offers more than that. He provides good depth to the team and will have a big role on special teams. The Broncos should have one of the best ST units in the league this season. Guys like Burton, McBath, Larsen, Woodyard, Mays, Vaughn and with the addition of guys like Carter and Mohamed it will be a unit to be feared. Mohamed will make his bread and butter on ST and may get a chance at a starting role in the future. But for now is reliable as a depth player. ~ Aussie.

June 11, 2011


Word is out that a new CBA is now a work in progress. It should be done in a couple of weeks.