BC's Momah working to stand out for NFL scouts

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BC's Momah working to stand out for NFL scouts

Ifeanyi Momah is a striking specimen.

There weren't many people at Boston College Pro Day who didn't have a craned neck when speaking with the 6-6 Eagles receiver.

Momah should be pleased with the distinction; there was little else on Wednesday to remember him for.

A torn ACL in BC's 2011 opener left him sidelined for the season. The Eagles were playing Northwestern and Momah was having a field day: eight catches for a career-best 157 yards. The injury grounded him violently.

Momah, a fifth-year senior, had also sat out the 2009 season because of a bad knee. BC's application to the NCAA last year for another waiver and a sixth year of eligibility was denied. There simply wasn't enough medical documentation supporting his junior year redshirt.

Suddenly, it was NFL or nothing.

"I think early on it was kind of a mind-game because I wanted to make sure I was prepared for the worst," Momah said Wednesday. "I had a lot of good support groups -- my family, my friends, teammates -- and they all prepared me for this outcome.

"Throughout the whole process I was telling myself, if I don't get it, I just want to make sure I'm prepared and rehab as hard as I can, so when the time comes to go into the NFL I can show them what I can do."

Pro Day provided only a chance to weigh in and showcase his doorway-ducking height. No 40-yard dash, no receiver drills. Momah, as he has too often in his football career, was forced to watch and wait.

The longing reads plainly on his face.

"Right now I still have a little swelling in my left knee, so I'm going to do a little PRP Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy to try and get the swelling out of there," he explained. "Dr. Andrews said a month from now would be probably the latest he sees me being able to try out for a team. I'm kind of excited about that, I'm just ready to get out there. Especially just sitting here watching -- it's kind of hard."

Dr. Andrews, of course, is James Andrews -- top orthopedic and sports medicine provider for athletes like Michael Jordan and Peyton Manning. A positive prognosis from Dr. Andrews' inspires confidence; Momah has a workout scheduled in April.

If teams show up, they show up, the receiver says.

His combination of hope and reality is a charming. Though he's only been able to offer his personality to the pros, you feel when talking to Momah that he at least has that working in his favor.

Like his candor about being a "medical case."

"I tell scouts the truth. I let them know the truth because I don't want to tell them a lie and have to go out there not 100-percent. I let them know every appointment that I have. I keep them updated on all this stuff."

And his attitude toward the NCAA's refusal to buy him more time.

"They gave me a reason and it's fair. I'm not bitter at all. I'm just trying to move on to the next chapter."

Momah just wants to get back to football. He wants to restore function to his impressive form.

"I know I haven't been able to show too much what I can do, but I have good speed. I have good height, can stretch the field and create mismatches. And that's what I'm going to build on to separate myself from the rest."

He knows it'll take much more than height to stand out in the NFL.

The pros and cons of Rafael Devers' promotion

The pros and cons of Rafael Devers' promotion

BOSTON — Rafael Devers is here and there’s a bundle of reasons to be excited. There’s reason, too, to be skeptical. 

Here is a look at the potential pros and cons, depending on Devers’ success. We’ll start with the good as the 20-year-old top prospect heads to the big leagues for the first time.

PROS

Infusion of energy

In the same way a trade can bring a boost of morale, so too can the promotion of a top prospect. It’s new blood walking through the door, either way. There’s help for a group of hitters — and by extension, pitchers lacking run support — who need to see a lift from the front office. Sox manager John Farrell previously acknowledged the sense of anticipation leading up to the trade deadline. The mood heading into Devers’ first game should be an exciting one.

Production

Virtually anything is better than what the Sox have had offensively at third base. Devers’ minor league hitting has been a spectacle. They wanted to see how he adjusted to Double-A pitching and he did so admirably. He walked into Triple-A and kept raking, with three hits in his final game. The ceiling is very high.

Trade leverage

Theoretically this applies to Devers directly. If the Sox wanted to deal him, he’d be worth more as a big leaguer with some success. But if we believe everything the Sox say, they don’t want to trade him. They’d be crazy to do so. Leverage, then, comes in another form. Those teams that the Sox have talked to about third-base help, or hitting help, in general now get a message from the Sox of “Hey, we don’t need you.” Potentially, any way.

Feet wet for the future

A taste isn’t always a good thing, but it often is. One way or another, the Red Sox have to hope that Devers’ first stint in the big leagues lays the groundwork for the future. Growing pains might be inevitable but in some way, the sooner he can go through them, the better. If he comes off the bench at times, that’ll be a new experience he can have under his belt, although you wouldn’t expect he’ll need that skill too much early in his career.

Prospects saved, or repurposed

It’d still be a stunner if the Sox don’t make a trade at the deadline. It just wouldn’t be the Dombrowski way to stay idle. But Devers’ arrival might allow for a different allocation of resources. Whatever prospects the Sox were willing to put toward a third-base upgrade could go toward another bat, or a reliever or both.

CONS

Uncertainty

This is the biggest concern. Even if Devers rakes for the first week and thereby convinces the Red Sox they don’t need to trade for a third baseman, what does one week really tell them? A month isn’t really enough, either, but it would have been a lot better. (There is always the possibility of a trade in August.) Devers is still missing what the position has been missing all along — a known quantity. Someone with a major league track record, someone who can provide as much certainty as can reasonably be found.

Public about-face

Promoting Devers to the majors for the purposes of evaluation ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline would have been wiser at the start of July. He was raking after two months at Portland. It’s clear the Sox didn’t intend to move Devers with this kind of speed. They’ve adjusted on the fly, which is necessary sometimes, but Dombrowski said on July 14 — the day Devers was moved to Triple-A — that "I don't want to put it on his back that we're counting on him in a pennant race.” Didn’t take long for that to change.

Defense

Devers made four errors in 12 games at Pawtucket and has 16 in 72 games between there and Portland. One scout who has seen Devers doesn’t think he’s ready defensively yet. From there, it’s worth noting the context at this position: how chaotic third base has been for the Sox this season. Basic plays were not made for a time, and that’s how Deven Marrero ended up with a job. A drop off in defense is fine, but repeated errors on routine plays won’t work, particularly at a position where the Sox have already lived those woes.

Development

It’s a natural worry for a 20-year-old kid: if he doesn’t do well, can he handle it mentally? He wouldn’t be in the big leagues if the Sox didn’t think so. At the same time, you run the risk of a slow-down for a player who was chugging right along. Devers is poised to share time for now, which means he may well come off the bench, something he hasn’t had to do.

Loss of leverage

If Devers looks bad for a week — as in, truly overmatched — the Sox aren’t going to have any better position for a trade for an established infielder or bat. If anything, the potential trade partner would gain ground.