Belichick, Shanahan Take Chances
Byline: David Elfin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
New England's Bill Belichick and Denver's Mike Shanahan aren't typical NFL coaches. Each was fired from his first head coaching job and rebounded to do what no one else has - win multiple Super Bowls during the salary cap era. So perhaps the unconventional moves each made in last weekend's draft were to be expected.
With the last pick of the first day, Shanahan chose Maurice Clarett, the running back who went from hero (for leading Ohio State to the 2002 national title) to pariah in 2003 (after being suspended for accepting improper benefits and then lying to investigators).
Clarett was legally rebuffed when he tried to enter last year's draft, and his stock dropped even further when he ran 40 yards more like a lineman than a running back at February's scouting combine. Of course, if any coach can rediscover Clarett's talent, it's probably Shanahan, who turned five mostly unheralded runners - Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis and Reuben Droughns - into 1,000-yard backs during the past decade while also winning two Super Bowls.
"We always feel you never have enough depth at the running back position," said Shanahan, who already had backs Tatum Bell, Quentin Griffin and Anderson on his roster. "I'm very impressed with not only what Maurice has done on the field ... but how he handled himself [in his press conference]."
Clarett's relationship with Broncos running backs coach Bobby Turner, who worked at Ohio State in 1989 and 1990, also was a factor.
"Coach Turner kept on telling me, 'Keep in touch with me every week,' " Clarett said. "He kept on saying they were interested in me. He said they would pick me if I was there. If it wasn't for him, I don't think I'd be here."
Clarett said his energy and desire are back where they were before he started at Ohio State. Shanahan feels Clarett is out to prove that "he wasn't a one-year wonder" and noted an upside to his third-rounder: Clarett is fresh after not being tackled in two years.
"I'm going to a great program," Clarett said. "The bar is set high here. They have a great tradition of running backs. Coach Turner took a gamble on me, he and Coach Shanahan, and I just don't want to make them look stupid. …