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Some Love for Nate

While it was a bit of a surprise who he went to and when, Nate Davis continues to bring it with the San Francisco 49ers. Despite sitting on a depth chart staring at the backsides of Shaun Hill and Alex Smith, Davis is impressing those that matter and some that don’t with his arm strength, accuracy, and general awesomeness. Says Samuel Lam of MVN

Even though this off-season’s quarterback battle will mainly feature Alex Smith and Shaun Hill, would you believe that the quarterback that will benefit most from this could be Nate Davis?

The rookie quarterback out of Ball State was drafted in the fifth round and could be projected to be the team’s third string quarterback. He even could end up as the fourth stringer behind veteran Damon Huard.

But how can he benefit from a battle that doesn’t even involve him?

Now, the 49ers would be fools to not name Shaun Hill their starter for the 2009 season. Everything that has gone right for Hill has gone accordingly and he should be rewarded with the starting role. With an impressive 7-2 record as a starter, Hill does give the 49ers the best shot to win.

But let’s say that Hill does get the #1 spot on the depth chart. Who would be #2? You would think Alex Smith will take that spot, but Davis could be a solid challenge to Smith.

Smith is the pet project of the Mike Nolan era. With that #1 overall pick status looming over Smith, the “bust” word starts to creep closer and closer around 49ers camp. The 49ers surprised some by restructuring Smith’s contract to keep him around. But if he does not perform well, he should not be rewarded the #2 spot. If Davis does play better, Smith’s career in San Francisco might as well be over.

Smith says that he has fully recovered from off-season shoulder surgery and would be ready to handle the upcoming battle for the starting job. But with a lot of uncertainty behind Smith, Davis would probably benefit from the battle for the #2 spot on the depth chart.

Davis has been criticized for having an unorthodox way of gripping the football. But that shouldn’t take away his ability to throw the ball deep and accurately. In fact, those are the skills that I have yet to see from Smith at the pro level.

Davis looks to have more upside (and more potential) at this point than Smith does. If Davis outperforms Smith this off-season, the 49ers should not hold onto Smith as the future of the franchise. They need to let it go and move on.

Dyslexia, the learning disability that Davis has, should not be a problem for Davis as he learns the playbook. He has said that he is a great visual learner and as long as he is able to visualize the play and picture it, he will be just fine on the field.

And as Davis continues to battle for a position on the roster, he might just be good enough to make it to #2. He probably won’t win the top spot, but could very well set himself for a bright future if he can show his goods in training camp. And over recent years, backup quarterbacks have excelled when the team’s starter is unable to perform. In recent memory, we can find a Tony Romo or a Matt Cassel quietly taking notes as a backup. When their time came, they never looked back.

While Nate himself has said it isn’t dyslexia, the point is noted. From all evidence available, Alex Smith simply isn’t a serviceable starter in the NFL. Bust or not, a term which is thrown around far too frequently, it’s simply a matter of economics.

Davis, as the piece suggests, brings something Smith doesn’t. He brings hope. He brings optimism. He brings an unknown. Because the Alex Smith known, isn’t very good. Keep it up, Nate.

Hill, Gerberry Sign Contracts, Brewster profiled

Marking the fourth and fifth Cardinals from the 2008 departing class to sign NFL contracts, Dan Gerberry and Darius Hill both signed with a pro squad earlier this week. Hill, whom we reported a Bengals signee on Monday, a senior tight end for the Cardinals last year, was a 2008 All-MAC First Team selection after catching 40 passes for 670 yards and seven touchdowns. He also earned 2007 all-conference first team honors after receiving honorable mention in 2006. A 2007 John Mackey Award Semifinalist, Hill registered 65 catches for 926 yards with 11 TDs as a junior. He set the Ball State career record with 31 touchdown receptions and ranked third with 2,544 career pass receiving yards. Hill’s 157 career receptions ranks third on the Cardinals charts, while his four games of 100 or more yards receiving ties for sixth on Ball State’s career chart.

Dan Gerberry has signed with the Detroit Lions after a rookie tryout last weekend. He will attend the Lions next mini-camp May 18. A senior center for the Cardinals in 2008, Gerberry was an All-Mid-American Conference First Team selection as a senior. He started all 14 games in 2008, and started all 50 games in his four year career. He was part of an offensive line which ranked first in the MAC and fourth in the nation for fewest sacks allowed at 1.0 per game. A 2008 team co-captain, Gerberry blocked for an offense which ranked 24th in the nation in passing with 258.0 yards per game and helped H-back MiQuale Lewi set a single-season rushing record with 1,736 yards. Gerberry also protected junior quarterback Nate Davis, who was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League Draft, after passing for 9,233 yards and 74 touchdowns in his collegiate career.

Gerberry and Hill join Nate Davis (49ers), Robert Brewster (Cowboys), and Andre Ramsey (Seahawks) as Cardinals on a squad at least for now. It is expected that punter Chris Miller will make #6 once opening day hits. Miller hasn’t signed a contract yet, though he has auditioned for at least one squad.

The aforementioned Robert Brewster was profiled yesterday in the Dallas Morning News, and you can check that out here. Some cool video of Robert, as well as his strengths, weaknesses, fit for the Cowboys, and some quotes about him from the Cowboys OL coach.

Former Ball Stater Reggie Hodges Released

Former Ball State punter Reggie Hodges has been released as of this morning by the New York Jets. Interesting for not only the fact that Hodges was a Cardinal alum and an NFL journeyman since the NFL Draft in 2005, but also for the recent news that he had “negotiated” with new Jets draftee Mark Sanchez for Hodge’s #6.

Since being drafted by the Rams, Hodges played in actual games for the Rams, Eagles, and Jets. He attempted to make the Colts, Seahawks, and Patriots, with no success. Hodges also spent the 2006 and 2007 season out of football. Hodges career state to date sit at 20 games played with 85 punts and a 40.2 yard average.

Hodges made a bit of news in the recent days as it was announced that he was giving up his jersey number (#6) for rookie QB and first round draft selection Mark Sanchez. Not a terribly uncommon situation, and terms of the deal were not disclosed. And all Sanchez had to do was wait a week. Shame…

Regardless, good luck to Reggie either making a roster or transitioning out of football.

Nate Davis Makes His Way to Madden

As any NFL fan, college football fan, or even gamer in general will tell you, the summer release of Madden NFL Football is like Christmas in late summer. As evidenced by the exorbitantly high call-out sick rate the day after release, the game is eagerly anticipated the world over.

This year’s game looks to be outstanding, as per usual, but the news of the day today is the release of the rookie stats and attributes for this year’s draft class. For Cardinals fans, this signifies the opportunity to play as a major skill player instead of a punter, if you want to experience the Cardinals in the pros.

For those curious, here’s Nate’s ratings (out of 100), or at least the ratings that matter (meaning we went ahead and disregarded the kick power and run blocking…


Overall Rating: 67
Speed: 67
Acceleration: 80
Agility: 74
Strength: 60
Awareness: 36
Jumping: 78
Throw Power: 91
Throw Accuracy (Overall): 85
Throw Accuracy (Short): 87
Throw Accuracy (Medium): 82
Throw Accuracy (Deep): 62
Throw on the Run: 80
Play Action: 69
Ball Carrier Vision: 74
Juke: 73
Elusiveness: 72
Injury: 92
Stamina: 94
Toughness: 80

By comparison, Nate is Top 5 related to the other rookies in Throw Power (#5), Throw Accuracy Short (#3), Throw Accuracy Medium (#3), and Play Action (#4). So Cardinals fans can rejoice, and get ready to start your NFL Franchise with #13 at the helm on August 14th. Several long months away, but it will be here before you know it.

You can check out the rest of the Madden Rookie Ratings here.

Darius Hill Update

We, along with numerous mainstream media outlets, reported on Monday that former Cardinal Tight End Darius Hill was headed to the Giants. That report, as it turns out, is kind of false, and the many layers of Hill’s potential journey to the NFL was reported by Muncie Star Press Ball State beat writer Doug Zaleski.

Z reports via his blog this evening:

The 6-foot-6 tight end will make his first attempt at getting into the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hill’s agent, Storm Kirschenbaum, told me today that at least five NFL teams have interest in signing Hill. The strategy is to have Hill attend the Bengals’ rookie mini-camp this week and sign with them if they offer him a free-agent deal.

If that doesn’t happen, Hill will attend the rookie camp of the New York Giants from May 7-10. But clearly his interest is with the Bengals.

“All of Cincinnati’s tight ends are blocking tight ends,” Kirschenbaum said. “They drafted Chase Coffman and plan to use him as a blocking tight end. If (Hill) goes to Cincinnati and gets a contract, he won’t go to the Giants’ camp.”

Hill’s strength as a tight end is as a pass-catcher, which he showed throughout his career with the Cardinals. If neither the Bengals nor the Giants sign Hill, he has generated interest from the Browns, Jaguars and Panthers, according to his agent.

So we were sort of half right, which amounts to basically all wrong, but we did have the team right in the Giants, which is more than some can say. Here’s hoping that big 88’s workouts go exceptionally well and he ends up wherever they will get the most production out of him, whether it be Cincy, New York, or some yet to be named NFL team.

Gerberry, Ramsey Added to Rosters

Former Cardinals Dan Gerberry and Andre Ramsey, two gigantic reasons the Cardinals were successful on the offensive side of the football this past year, were picked up Monday morning in undrafted free agent deals with the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.

Gerberry and Ramsey mark the third and fourth players from last year’s 12-2 Ball State team to compete for a spot on an NFL Roster, with Nate Davis and Robert Brewster drafted over the weekend and undrafted free agents Darius Hill and Chris Miller sure to land somewhere. Congrats to Dan and Andre!