Friday, January 05, 2007

Pageantry Sucks

One thing becomes painfully reinforced into my brain every bowl season: Half time shows and marching bands suck.
I understand there's tradition and.....well, what ever else there is to support these atrocities of entertainment, I don't know. You hear about the "pageantry" of the bowls. The pageantry of the Rose Bowl, the pageantry of the Orange Bowl. Pageantry (am I even spelling that right), is a shorter way of saying, "A whole bunch of crappy, crap that you wouldn't ever want to see anywhere, but for some reason, because there's a college football game somewhere in the area, people are subjected to."
Pageantry? They say it like it's a good thing. When was the last time you were sitting around and thought, "Damn, if there was just more pageantry in the world. If my couch had some pageantry, that would be tight." Do you see cars driving around on a Tuesday with flowers glued all over it and jackasses waving from it? Do they sell cars at the local car dealer with props stuck on it? No. You know why? Because that stuff sucks.
You might say, "Hey, it's a football game, it's part of the atmosphere of it." Ambience doesn't excuse suckiness. And marching bands suck too. No one like them, otherwise they'd sell cd's of marching band music. I would rather see a dog catching frisbees at halftime than some God awful marching band. (God awful marching band is redundant by the way).

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The End...

Man, what a day - sad that it's come to an end. I won't be back tomorrow as I attempt to save my marriage...and my yard, but I will come back with my draft grades tomorrow based on what I've seen tonight, but initial thoughts are this...well, let me sleep on it, kind of like I did with the decision to sign Mario last night.

Take care and see you some the rest of this week. John.

New York Jets - Eric Smith, Michigan State SS

Okay, so Smith didn't elicit the response that Maurice Clarett's selection did last year, but the Jets get a little less controversial pick.

Smith is a fine in the box safety. I don't like him in coverage at all, even though his 40 time didn't indicate a guy who should struggle covering deep downfield.

However, if the Jets wanted a safety - Darnell Bing? Ko Simpson? Maybe they want to move Smith to outside backer, but he doesn't currently have the bulk to play that position.

Tough to say that I understand the thought behind this pick, especially with Bing, Simpson, Dee Webb from Florida (CB), Alan Zemaitis from Penn State (CB), et al still on the board. Not a great pick.

New York Giants - Gerris Wilkinson, Georgia Tech LB

Brilliant football player. Can do a lot of everything. Complete player who grew up in the zone blitz scheme of Jon Tenuta at Tech.

Good tackler, smarts and desire to hit running backs in the mouth. He's effective in pass coverage and is one of the more underrated linebackers in this draft. Some question whether he has the size to play in the middle, but his frame could probably add 10 pounds (putting him in the 250 range).

And, he doesn't have blazing speed, so the inside suits him a little better, but the Giants need some help either way at this position. I didn't like the Kiwanuka pick, but like the value here.

Pittsburgh Steelers - Willie Reid, Florida State WR/KR

What a versatile threat that Pittsburgh added to the mix with Reid.

Reid really took off at the end of the year with his returns against Virginia Tech and Penn State, but then when he ran a high 4.3 at the combine, he continued to get more attention.

Has a nice set of hands and could be used in a number of ways in Pittsburgh, but if all he does is fill the #4 WR position and return punts and kicks, it's still solid value late in the third round.

Finding speed of this magnitude in a playmaker who changed games during his career at FSU is a solid way for the Steelers to close the day.

Indianapolis Colts - Freddie Keiaho, San Diego State LB

Keiaho was a former fullback who moved over to the defensive side of the ball after the departure of Kirk Morrison and Matt McCoy.

Tremendous run stopper and proved it with a million tackles this year (okay, so that's a bit facetious).

Not a big guy at all, but production and athletic ability (i.e he can run!) are his hallmarks. Should give added depth and athleticism at the linebacker position in Indy.

St. Louis Rams - Dominique Byrd, USC TE

I don't understand this at all. Not from a talent standpoint or from Byrd's perspective. Byrd is a talented, talented TE - he did have some issues at USC - discipline and a knee issue, but...

How do you draft Joe Klopfenstein in round two and come back with Byrd in round three. Sure, Scott Linehan probably wants to use more balanced sets with two tight ends, but two guys in these key rounds? I don't get it.

Byrd showed in 2004 that he was a dominant weapon all over the field. He made tremendous one hand catches and he almost won the Oregon State game by himself. Inconsistent blocker, but then again, that's been said a few times today about TEs.

Dallas Cowboys - Jason Hatcher, Grambling State DE

Who? This is a guy who played DE at Grambling, and at 280 pounds, he's the perfect size to be a 3-4 defensive end.

How he fits along side Chris Canty and Marcus Spears is questionable, so I don't know why they didn't look to find a tackle, a speedy wide receiver or a safety. Obviously, building a team through a foundation of speed and aggressiveness on defense is the way to go, but this is a bit of overkill, especially at this position.

Cincinnati Bengals - Frostee Rucker, USC DE

Good pass rusher, but don't know how athletic he is against the run.

Endearing image is of him trying to chase Vince Young in the Rose Bowl, but that definitely is not his forte (of course, he was dropping in coverage, which was 'interesting') - the point is that he's not as gifted as the other DE's in this draft.

Can provide some edge pressure although he won't be a three down player for a while. Has to add some weight to truly be a three down player, but at least early on, he could be a solid pass rush specialist.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Maurice Stovall, Notre Dame WR

Big and physical - an underachiver for much of his career at Notre Dame. If not for the arrival of Charlie Weis, Stovall is seen late in day two.

He cut a ton of weight to get himself in shape and it showed. The physical abilties that many projected out of high school for him, we finally saw. He went up and got the ball at its highest point. He was a deep threat. He settled down against zones and caught the ball with his hands.

Can run, but has to prove that he can be a continued downfield threat to be effective. If not, he's nothing more than a poor man's Michael Clayton...who they already have.

Carolina Panthers - Rashad Butler, Miami OL

Very quick feet and willing to mix it up, even at 290 pounds.

Not sure that he can subsist at that size at tackle, but in pass protection, he can slide with the quickest/fastest of the speed rushers. The question is that he just won't be able to get movement off the edge on run downs.

If he can add 20 to 25 pounds and not lose his quickness, he'll turn himself into a solid tackle for a good while. The Panthers don't necessarily need him to start this year, but an athlete of this magnitude doesn't come around that often.

Carolina Panthers - James Anderson, Virginia Tech OLB

Physical, nasty and physical. Oops, already said that.

Anderson was a productive player at Virginia Tech and could be a factor in blitz schemes off the edge. He's not big, though, and the Panthers already have a SS/OLB type in Thomas Davis. I think that Anderson's physical nature sold John Fox and Marty Hurney, but how he fits with the personnel is a little questionable.

But, if you want nasty, then you've got to look to Virginia Tech players.

Baltimore Ravens - David Pittman, Northwestern State CB

Small, but quick. Very quick. With his size though, what he can do out on the perimeter, boy I don't know.

Was extremely dominant against Division IAA competition, but at his size, he might struggle, but in nickel off man coverage, he could excel.

New England Patriots - David Thomas, Texas TE

What a great pick on so many levels.

Thomas has such great hands and was the go-to guy for Vince Young. He's quick, he's fast for a TE, he knows how to get open and he is a wonderful kid. Absolutely the perfect fit for the Patriots.

In the intermediate areas, he gets open against anyone and with the way that Tom Brady can spread out the 'goods' to his receivers, Thomas will have an instant impact (45 catches, 600 yards and a red zone threat).

Like this pick for the Pats...Again.

Kansas City Chiefs - Brodie Croyle, Alabama QB

Trent Green won't be around much longer, and this is the QB who the Chiefs believe will follow in Green's massive footsteps.

Fragility (wait, is that a word? Well, it is now) is a knock and whether he can stand the physical nature of the professional game is a question. However, he can sling it and if he gets protection, he can carve up a defense. He didn't get that opportunity in Mike Shula's offense the past two years, but in Kansas City he'll have that opportunity and then some with Herman Edwards's offense.

Great kid who'll be a solid role model in Kansas City.

San Francisco 49ers - Brandon Williams, Wisconsin WR

An extremely underrated WR/PR/KR talent who gives the Niners more explosive abilties on the perimeter.

Williams showed a ton of growth in his career. He's going to be more of a #2 or #3 receiver who can be a demon in the slot, but his quickness is a perfect outlet for QB Alex Smith, who has to be loving this day's draft, with Vernon Davis and now Williams on their way to SF. He's not big, but in the slot, he's a real tough matchup, not to mention how tough it is to stop him on returns.

Pittsburgh Steelers - Anthony Smith, Syracuse S

Solid, quick playmaker who some thought would go higher than this (although I've got to say that not seeing Darnell Bing or Ko Simpson is a bit of a shock).

Safety is a definite area of need, with Chris Hope out of the mix this year, but Smith is a guy who can fill in the alley even if he's not a dominating hitter. Good special teamer which is a trait the Steelers love to see.

Miami Dolphins - Derek Hagan, Arizona State WR

The big question about Hagan in the post-season was his ability to catch the ball consistently with his hands.

However, I saw him throughout his career catching the ball away from his body with his hands, so I really think that his drops in the post-season were just a slump. I think he's a gifted, big receiver who could be a third down chain mover for Daunte Culpepper.

Surprising that Nick Saban went outside the SEC for a pick; at least, it's a good one.

San Diego Chargers - Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson QB

Not sure I understand this pick. I understand providing solid backups, but with a young QB like Philip Rivers, don't you want a seasoned backup in the second position?

Regardless, I liked what I saw from Whitehurst when he was healthy, especially as a sophomore. Then, he played behind a terrible line in 2004 and wasn't healthy. This past year, he was much better, but still the inconsistency tag is stuck on him.

Good arm and good mechanics, but decision making can be questionable. Some guys with bigger arms will try to squeeze one into a spot that they're confident that they can hit.

Either way, curious selection at this spot and for this team.

Jacksonville Jaguars - Clint Ingram, Oklahoma LB

Ingram is a little limited size wise, but I like his physical nature - the desire to hit a ball carrier in the mouth.

He's physical at the point of attack, pursues well from the backside and can blitz in the middle or off the edge. He has decent pass coverage skills, but that's one area that he has to improve upon.

His run defense skills are solid. He tackles well and understands the game. Solid player who will provide good depth for the Jaguars backers.

Atlanta Falcons - Jerious Norwood, MSU RB

Norwood was another guy on my underrated list and I think that his skill package was as good as those guys ahead of him. But, playing at Mississippi State the last four years wasn't going to be much of a blip on the radar screen.

Breakaway speed, decent hands and hard running style, Norwood might struggle to get carries in the packed Atlanta backfield, but he's too electric of a talent to not give the Falcon RBs a rest.

He's an underrated, complete football player who'll push for playing time, it's just tough that he got 'stuck' in the ATL.

Cleveland Browns - Travis Wilson, Oklahoma WR

Good, but not great receiving threat. Struggled to really display all his skills this year with no Jason White in the fold.

Very physical, but a little concerned with how fast he is. However, if he gives Charlie Frye an 'option' in the passing game, that's solid. With Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow II coming back, Wilson could be a sneaky threat.

St. Louis Rams - Jon Alston, Stanford OLB

Smart, extremely smart, and a blur off the edge. An incredible blitzer who can be a tremendous play maker on passing downs. Against Arizona State in 2004, he put on a show with four or five sacks - the Sun Devils couldn't block him.

The problem may be his size - there was some talk that he might move to safety, but he'll be smart enough to make the move.

Physical hitter who has to stay healthy, but should be a contributor to the defense this year.

New York Jets - Anthony Schlegel, Ohio State LB

I love this pick - I didn't think that he would go this early, but this is a guy who knows how to play. No, I mean he really knows how to play.

He's ultra quick deciphering plays and often beat AJ Hawk and Bobby Carpenter to the football. Absolute throwback who doesn't have overpowering athleticism, but understands the game and has a solid football IQ.

Should be able to compete from day one for a starting spot, but has to continue to show that he's a run stopping warrior - may be a two down player, but that's still good value in the third round.

Green Bay Packers - Jason Spitz, Louisville G/C

This guy was on my underrated list, so you know that I like him.

Nasty and aggressive, I really think that Spitz is the type of player who will get in the mix and really compete for that starting guard spot.

As a run blocker, he's extremely powerful and I like his future, especially in Green Bay where the starting guard position this fall is up in the air.

He could also move to center if the need is there, but that versatility works in Spitz's favor.

Detroit Lions - Brian Calhoun, Wisconsin RB

I like this pick a lot for the Lions. I don't ultimately think that Calhoun will be the number one guy from jump, but he gives the offense some depth behind Kevin Jones.

Powerful, quick and good hands out of the backfield - Calhoun has most everything you'd want out of a running back but great size.

However, his quickness will really give teams problems after they get pounded by Jones. If Calhoun can pick up 8 to 10 carries a game and give the Lions a continued run threat with Jones out of the game, that's huge. He will have to prove he can be effective in the A/B gaps, though.

Chicago Bears - Dusty Dvoracek, Oklahoma DT

A reader was giving me some grief this past fall when I said that Dusty would go before Rod Wright. Some Longhorn fan who didn't take off his Texas Orange tinted glasses. Ha, vindication.

Okay, so not really, but if the problems are behind him, Dvoracek will add more depth to Tommie Harris and crew there in Chicago.

Smart and aggressive, this is the type of player that the Bears and Lovie Smith love to have. He'll contribute, if he's healthy, right away.

Arizona Cardinals - Leonard Pope, Georgia TE

Man, I didn't think that Pope would fall this far, but this guy is 6'7" and can actually split out at WR on the goal line if needed.

He's a little stiff and isn't a powerful, dominating blocker. But, you know that with 'Quan, Larry and the Edge getting all of the attention, Pope could have a field day, from numbers to numbers, 20 yards down field. Linebackers won't win that battle with him in man coverage or running with him down the seam.

The Cardinals add another play maker at a key position on offense - turn the attention to defense, Denny, for the rest of the draft.

Philadelphia Eagles - Chris Gocong, Cal Poly DE

Again, small college player who no one really knows. Did have solid post season workouts and most people really like his motor.

Relentless player off of the edge and a guy who provides some depth for the Eagles behind Jevon Kearse.

The type of player who Andy Reid loves to have - a smart, relentless and productive player who doesn't call attention to himself. Wonder why that is?

Buffalo Bills - Ashton Youboty, Ohio State CB

The Bills get another Ohio State corner.

Don't think that he should've fallen this far, but he got beat a lot this year, which worries me tremendously.

I think that he can be a tough cover two corner, as he's willing to come up and be physical. His man technique has some holes and he's got to work on those skills.

But, he's a good kid and along with Whitner, he gives the Bills secondary depth and knowledge of the game.

Oakland Raiders - Paul McQuistan, Weber State OT

Division 1AA player who has really shown off his strength and power in post season workouts. Should provide some depth at the tackle position.

Similar to Robert Gallery in his run blocking acumen, not at that level, but similar in that he specializes in his running game blocking.

St. Louis Rams - Claude Wroten, LSU DT

Maybe some are surprised that he went first day, but there's no question the talent is there.

It's the off field stuff that has people concerned. This seems to be a good kid who hasn't fully matured yet. But, the Rams must have figured that they could take a shot at him in the third round.

The marijuana charges took him off some teams' boards, but apparently not the Rams' board.

Wroten is as quick as any DT off the ball as I saw all last year. He almost beat the center off the ball. He's a monster to block and you typically have to double him to keep him from eating the running back in the backfield. He should get pressure up the middle on passing downs.

The Rams need DTs and athletic ones at that. Claude Wroten fills that need, but is he 'safe' off the field? If so, the Rams got a Pro Bowler in the third round.

Green Bay Packers - Abdul Hodge, Iowa LB

Now AJ Hawk and Abdul Hodge get to play together, alongside Nick Barnett. I really like Hodge, even though he's not the most athletic linebacker in the draft.

But, he's a tackling machine with a strong football IQ, and an affection for finding the football. He'll have to adjust to an outside position with Hawk moving inside. Well, maybe Hodge stays inside and Hawk stays outside. Either way, the Packers have satisfied some big linebacker needs/holes.

Good kid and strong character - of course, a former Florida high school player, so he's going to be a star.

Houston Texans - Charles Spencer and Eric Winston, OL

The Texans used the two top picks here to pile up offensive linemen.

Spencer was an underachieving sort this year at Pitt, but he had a great Senior Bowl week and moved into the third round due to that performance. He has tremendous strength and if he gets his hands on you, gets locked on you, forget it, you're done. He could start from day one at guard.

Winston is a guy the Texans could've taken at the top of the second round (and that was my projection), but the knee injury from mid-2004 probably dropped him to this level. He's not all the way back, but as the season wore on, he got much better. Against Kamerion Wimbley in the first game of the year, Wimbley really embarrassed him. But, if Winston can be healthy, his biggest asset is his quickness off the ball. He was so strong and productive before the injury that if the Texans give him time to develop, they could have a first round talent at third round value/money.

Four picks of major need - I like this draft thus far, as long as Winston is fully healthy.

Minnesota Vikings - Tarvaris Jackson, Alabama State QB

D 1AA QB who has a ton of physical ability - strong arm and the type of quarterback who can sit for a year and then take over for Brad Johnson in a year or so.

Interesting that the Vikings go small school instead of Charlie Whitehurst or Brodie Croyle.

But, I'll tell you what - this kid has an absolute howitzer and throws darts with tight revolutions. Could be great value, but we won't know until next year.

Seattle Seahawks - Darryl Tapp, Virginia Tech DE

I've been waiting to hear Tapp's name, and was secretly hoping that he might fall a couple more picks to Houston. Dang.

Here's my evaluation of Tapp from film watching this spring:

High on the intangibles – heart, character, work ethic and coach-ability…thick trunk...strong base…good burst off the ball…second and third step are lightning quick, best in the DE lot this year…has strength to get tackles on their heels with bull rush…uses rip move to get upfield…tendency to play and align ‘wide’ – susceptible to screens and draws his way…wants to get straight line to QB drop point…may not be able to do that in NFL…physical player against the run, but still can get ‘swallowed’ by tackles…successfully uses his footwork to beat tackles on run downs…well coached…knows how to place hands on his variety of pass rush moves…creates more ways to get to QB – pass rush arsenal…has to be at an emotional peak to take over the game or not get taken over in a game…will pursue from backside, but best value is as pass rusher and leader…smart kid…will be tremendous locker room leader within one year...can play on special teams if needed.

I love this pick and it fills a big need for Seattle.

Indianapolis Colts - Tim Jennings, Georgia CB

Play making corner at Georgia, who is the antithesis of the corners they selected last year (Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden).

Love his aggressiveness although he's only 5'8". He can run with most receivers and doesn't shy away from contact in press man coverage, even if it's like a flea hitting a dog's rear end. Solid closing speed, which is his most evident strength.

If he can come in and show that he can cover a #3 receiver in the slot, this is a solid pick.

Denver Broncos - Tony Scheffler, Western Michigan TE

Another TE off the board and still no Leonard Pope. But, this is a two sport stud, former baseball player, so you know that he has hand eye coordination. The Broncos get an above average speed-wise TE with tremendous hands - that helps either Jake Plummer and/or Jay Cutler.

Blocking skills are suspect but, similar to each of the TEs before him (a trend in college football and in the NFL?) is a vertical threat. Should be able to get playing time early even if you've never heard of him.

Jacksonville Jaguars - Maurice Drew, UCLA RB

The Jags are giving the West Coast some love today, huh? Especially from the Westwood campus, adding Drew to Marcedes Lewis.

He might be short, but everything else about Maurice Drew is first round pure bread stud. He's quicker than a hiccup, catches the ball out of the backfield and embarrasses guys on punt returns.

He's so perfect behind Fred Taylor, even if he doesn't get to ride the adult rides at Busch Gardens. He's just a wonderful football player who will be so valuable in Jacksonville as a second back candidate behind Taylor. Add in his return game abilities and hands out of the backfield, and the Jags got another value pick.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jeremy Trueblood, Boston College OT

I hate to say that the Tampa Bay personnel department has dropped the ball, but Trueblood isn't worthy of a second round selection.

If you don't believe me, just pop in the Virginia Tech film from this past year when Darryl Tapp took him out behind the woodshed.

At 6'9", he's massive, but he doesn't have the power to get the movement at that position like he should. He envelopes guys on run downs and that style won't work in the NFL, instead of driving them and loses his feet on pass protection. I think that Trueblood could've been had at the end of third or early second day. Not here.

Two questionable linemen selections - not the fact that it was linemen, but Joseph and Trueblood are reaches. Big time.

Carolina Panthers - Richard Marshall, Fresno State CB

Wow, what a pick for the Panthers...again. This guy was getting first round grades from more than a handful of draft gurus (I had him in the first round as well).

Extremely physical. He fits the Panthers aggressive style in so many ways. Arrogant and confident, Marshall should be a contender for the starting position opposite Chris Gamble, once Ricky Manning heads to Chicago.

The Pat Hill philosophy of "Anytime, Anywhere" is evident in Marshall, who loves to play the game and has made plays all over the field in his career.

Chicago Bears - Devin Hester, Miami DB?

What position does Hester play? WR? DB? He's so fast and explosive that he could play either, but WR probably fits better than any other position because of the technique that he would need to learn to play defensive back.

But, from a return game perspective, the Bears just got the best one in the game (when healthy), including Reggie Bush. Hester has the ability to blow a game wide open with his breakneck speed and burst on kickoff and punt returns.

On offense, the Bears are just going to have to find a way to get him the ball. He doesn't demand the respect from defenses just yet, but there's so many ways to get him the ball, that defensive coordinators need to be wary of Hester. He's got to prove he can learn the playbook, but let him stick to one position and see what happens.

Baltimore Ravens - Chris Chester, Oklahoma OL

Chester was one of the fastest risers in the draft and when you mentioned his name to NFL personnel people, their faces lit up.

Quick and versatile, he was a former tight end who moved around to different positions on the offensive line. Center is probably his best position and that should fill a need in Baltimore.

I like this pick for the Ravens.

Cincinnati Bengals - Andrew Whitworth, LSU OT

Whitworth is a huge tackle prospect who got better each and every game throughout his career. Powerfully built, he should be a better run blocker than he is, but he hasn't given up a sack since early 2004.

He's a solid leader and a guy that Nick Saban would've loved to have come down to Miami to protect new QB Daunte Culpepper.

A good fit in Cincinnati and will provide some depth, if not start right away.

Kansas City Chiefs - Bernard Pollard, Purdue S

A big-time hitter. And, I stress big-time. He'll run right through the ball carrier and when he's deep in coverage, he's looking to knock someone's head off.

I do worry about him in half coverage, but when Pollard is playing near the box, he's a much more effective player. A physical player without many peers, Pollard could add a few LBs and move to linebacker at some point. For the Chiefs this year, if he gives them action on special teams and then can contribute in 'specialty' packages, then they'll feel vindicated taking a guy with a fourth round grade on most people's boards.

Dallas Cowboys - Anthony Fasano, Notre Dame TE

Did I miss something? Is Jason Witten not one of the best pass catching tight ends in the NFL?

The Cowboys had bigger needs than the Notre Dame TE (good safeties are still on the board - Ko Simpson, Darnell Bing, even Eric Winston at offensive tackle).

Fasano is a solid in-line blocker, but not as strong a receiver as the other TEs that came before him. But, he's more Mark Bavaro than Tony Gonzalez, so maybe he presents a different opportunity for the Dallas offense than Witten. Surprising pick at this spot.

Green Bay Packers - Greg Jennings, Western Michigan WR

One of the fastest risers in recent weeks is the former Western star. Jennings was as strong as a receiver, as he was as a returner.

One of his biggest strengths was the ability to go up and get the ball on balls thrown deep down field. He doesn't have the size of a Javon Walker, but Jennings has good hands and has shake once he gets the ball in his hands.

I like the fact that Brett Favre gets a guy who can put some pressure on secondaries, especially with Walker on his way to Denver. Plus, he can give them some value on special teams in the return game.

Minnesota Vikings - Ryan Cook, New Mexico C

I didn't think that another center would go this high, but Cook was an underrated star for New Mexico last year.

He was the ringleader for the Hitmen and is one of the biggest centers in this draft (6'61/2" and 325). At that size, he could easily lose leverage battles against 3-4 noses or 4-3 shade tackles. However, he's a solid athlete who has good feet, but has a tendency to play a little high, though.

There's a reason why DonTrell Moore, coming off a knee injury, was able to be MWC offensive player of the year, and a lot of that reason was Cook.

Surprising that the hometown Vikings wouldn't take a flyer on Greg Eslinger from the U.

San Diego Chargers - Marcus McNeill, Auburn OT

McNeill didn't give up a sack last year, but that's a little misleading. He can get beat by quick, speedy defensive ends. He can easily get his feet crossed over and he loses separation quickly.

However, as a right tackle, he can be a 10 year institution in San Diego. The questions about his back probably forced him to drop further than he or a lot of draft experts expected.

But, his run blocking acumen is solid. In fact, he might be the best run blocker in the offensive tackle family this year. I've seen him totally eliminate the corner on run downs and there was a reason that Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams and Kenny Irons were 1,000 yard + rushers in McNeill's last two years. Solid feet, but a little stiff. Strong as an ox.

New York Jets - Kellen Clemens, Oregon QB

The broken ankle probably kept him out of any post season talk as a late first round selection. Once Gary Crowton came to Eugene, his production really took off. I do worry that the Ducks' offense was a little less like one he'll run in the NFL, so that could be a concern.

However, he's 6'2" and a solid 215 pounds - he can escape the pocket, he's a gutty competitor and there are some who think he's a poor man's Jay Cutler. I can't disagree with that too much, as I've liked Clemens for a while.

Good arm, solid leadership skills, strong knowledge of the game - a definite asset who will come to compete with Patrick Ramsey and Chad Pennington.

Minnesota Vikings - Cedric Griffin, Texas CB

Physical player who has impressive physical attributes. Played all over the secondary when he was at Texas. Still has to improve his man coverage skills, but should be able to contribute in nickel packages immediately, as he starts his career behind Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot.

Has taken on some of the best receivers in the nation and has been decent. Santonio Holmes whipped him in Columbus in man coverage, but then he made the defensive play of the game by blasting Ryan Hamby when he started the play nearly 15 yards away.

Griffin's a big corner who may ultimately play at safety, but no matter where he plays, he'll eventually be a contributor.

Green Bay Packers - Daryn Colledge, Boise State OT

Not known real well by many as he played at Boise State, but this is a well rounded tackle who could step in and play right away.

Although Boise State's offense was thought to be nothing but an air attack, the reality is that this offense was balanced run and pass partly because of Colledge's ability to run block at the point of attack. Not a masher (and just a shade under 300 pounds) like say Robert Gallery who came a few years earlier, but he's not afraid to mix it up - just not a lot of weight behind him.

Pass blocking is solid - good feet and nasty attitude. Hasn't seen the best competition, but this kid can play (another Alaskan in the NFL!) - really did well against Quentin Moses from Georgia and Mathias Kiwanuka from Boston College.

St. Louis Rams - Joe Klopfenstein, Colorado TE

Underrated tight end threat who can stretch teams vertically like Vernon Davis and Marcedes Lewis.

Not quite the player that those two are, but in Scott Linehan's offensive system, he'll be able to be a solid 55 catch a year guy and down in the red zone, he can be a stud. Incredibly athletic and someone who should be a weapon right away.

In-line blocking skills are not real good, but not far behind others at his position that have come before him in this draft.

Tennessee Titans - LenDale White, USC RB

OH MY GOSH! Vince Young and LenDale White? Holy cow.

Let's put away all of the talk about his being out of shape - he runs as hard as anyone in the college game and has surprising elusiveness. He has good hands out of the backfield. He'll have to learn how to block someone, but I think that Tennessee just handed him his chip on his shoulder.

He's the only power back really in this draft and Norm Chow knows what he's getting with White. Remind me, there was a really good back a few years left who fell in the draft due to some 'baggage' concerns - how'd that pan out for Thurman Thomas? I think if White can continue to use that to his advantage and VY works his magic, oh boy, Tennessee's offense just took another step in the right direction. Fight on, Jeff and Norm, Fight on.

New York Giants - Sinorice Moss, Miami WR

Wow, almost forgot about Moss, but the addition of the speed from the slot opens up another area on the field for Eli.

Moss is tiny, but fast. Really fast. Put him in the slot and see what matchup you get with him. It's a matchup that the G-Men can win 100% of the time, if utilized properly. So, you have Shockey at TE, Burress at WR and Moss in the slot - that's enough ammunition.

Moss can catch and run as he did against Wake Forest in Winston Salem last year. He caught a short crossing route and turned the corner and, well, Wake is still looking for him. Against Florida State in 2004, he caught the key screen which he turned into a touchdown with his speed.

He's a perfect fit, and a much better pick than Mathias Kiwanuka in the first round.

New Orleans Saints - Roman Harper, Alabama S

Smart player who probably isn't a true standout athlete. But, what you've got to love about Harper is that he doesn't get beat deep and he comes up and makes plays against the run.

He only ran in the 4.6 range, so you're not talking about a guy that can be lax in his technique. But, at Alabama, that defense was so dominant and Harper was a big reason why. He'll lead the defense and get everyone in the right spot.

Good solid player - something the Saints can't do without.

Chicago Bears - Danieal Manning, Abilene Christian S

Small school player with big time skills. Incredible athlete and I like his size 6' and 205. He'll have the biggest adjustment to the NFL after a career at Abilene Christian.

Furthermore, he has some technique work to do, as he dominated the action at the lower level, but adding a play making threat in the Bears secondary was needed.

Manning will be a factor on special teams right away and he's probably going to be a situational player until he's fully ready to step into one of the starting safety spots.

Arizona Cardinals - Deuce Lutui, USC G

The Cardinals need to fill offensive line holes and there's no question they had to be licking their chops to hopefully find Winston Justice still there at #41; alas, Philly ended that dream with their pick at #39 of Lutui's former O Line mate.

Lutui is one heck of a run blocker. He can move for a guy who is 320+ and can often get up to the second level. When he gets up to the second level, he can lock on to linebackers, instead of whiffing as many guards do.

At the point of attack, he's so dadgum strong. In pass protection, he can lock his feet and get beat to the outside against a quicker, penetrating three technique. But, if Elton Brown can get his act together, he and Lutui can be a lethal pair at guard - now, they just have to fix their tackle situation.

Detroit Lions - Daniel Bullocks, Nebraska S

Bullocks is another physical defender who grew up in a storied program, the type of player who Matt Millen loves.

Good ball skills, but more of a run defender - a 'in the box' safety who should have the opportunity to step in and play right away. Could possibly struggle in pass coverage, but in the "Tampa 2" scheme that the Lions should play, Bullocks is going to have to show he can come off the hash and make plays against the pass.

Philadelphia Eagles - Winston Justice

I said to an Eagles fan just yesterday that if Justice could fall to the Eagles at #14, that it would be a wonderful fit for the Eagles and they'd be lucky to get him.

Well, how about if he falls to #39?

Shows what people think about character in the NFL. He put on a workout show at USC's pro day, but the questions of his maturity and discipline have dogged him since he set foot on USC's campus.

Great feet and solid pass protector, but combines that with good point of attack run blocking skills. If, and it's a big if, he's got his act together, forget it, the Eagles just had the best draft of anyone in the NFL. Seems as though there was a concerted effort to keep Mr. McNabb healthy and on the field this fall.

Oakland Raiders - Thomas Howard, UTEP OLB

Tremendous athlete - has all of the physical attributes that you'd want in a football player, much less a linebacker.

Not as productive as he should've been this season. He should've been the CUSA defensive player of the year with the speed, aggressiveness and physical abilities that he has.

He fits a need for the Raiders who weren't able to fill that need with AJ Hawk going to Green Bay, so he's got to be ready to play right away.

Atlanta Falcons - Jimmy Williams, Virginia Tech S

Williams finally goes in the second round to the Falcons as a safety. The Falcons had a need at safety and Williams fills it. I don't see him playing corner at all. He's prototypical safety size and could be an Ed Reed type at free safety - breaking on the ball, piling up picks, making tackles and generally making plays.

He's physical, no question. He can tackle well. I just don't think that he can cover that well. I saw Florida State really go after him in the ACC Championship game and they got away with it.

There's some major baggage here - attitude, cockiness and well, how good is he at corner? I think he could be a safety, but that's also a huge need for the Falcons, so they get a chance to evaluate that and determine it for themselves.

New England Patriots - Chad Jackson, Florida WR

The Patriots needed someone who could stretch the field. They got Laurence Maroney from Minnesota in the first round who can stretch the field in a different manner than Jackson, but the Florida star WR can stretch the field vertically with this 4.32 forty speed.

In 2004, Jackson was a 22 yard per catch guy, but the worst thing that ever happened to him was that Urban Meyer eliminated almost any vertical passing game at Florida last season. His yard per catch average was down almost 10 yards. He was a horizontal threat last year and it turned him into a completely different receiver.

But, he's athletic with the ball in the air and Tom Brady will love having a downfield receiver who will take some defenders out of the middle of the field. Another good move for the Pats.

Washington Redskins - Rocky McIntosh, Miami LB

Not a Jon Vilma type. Made plays for the Canes, but not a guy that stood out in any way. He had over 200 tackles the last two years, but I'm not sure that you couldn't go get a Thomas Howard from UTEP who has a bit more athletic ability. But, McIntosh brings some Hurricane attitude to Washington to help replace the departed LaVar Arrington.

Cleveland Browns - D'Qwell Jackson, Maryland LB

Played in the middle in the 4-3, and if drafted by a 4-3 team, he would've had to move to OLB due to his size, but in the Browns 3-4, he can stay in the middle.

Run stopper extraordinaire. I love so much about Jackson - great feet, physical nature - man he loves to hit, he can blitz and get after the quarteback. He's proven that he can scrape to the ball and then tackles so very well. Might be too small to be absolutely dominant, but he's much further along in his ability than EJ Henderson, the man Jackson replaced at Maryland, was three years ago.

Along with Kamerion Wimbley and Willie McGinest, Jackson helps turn the linebacker spot into less of a liability, maybe even a strength.

Houston Texans - DeMeco Ryans, Alabama OLB

Strong second round pick. I thought he was destined for a first round spot - in fact, I almost choked on my milk when the Giants took Kiwanuka instead of Ryans.

Tremendously versatile. Plays well in pass coverage, but is much better on blitz downs. Physical, good tackler. He's a smart kid, character guy and a solid player to find in the second round. Might need to play in space more at his size, but I think this guy steps in early and plays right away.

Texans go defense, defense, instead of offense, offense in the first two rounds - I guess the adage that you win championships with defense is still valid.

New York Giants - Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College DE

This was my spring evaluation on the Ugandan Warrior:

Did not play healthy last year… great effort and tremendous kid…son of former Ugandan President…culturally rich and diverse kid who’ll be a leader for some NFL team…tough kid who played with an injured knee…shows heart of champion…plays high, especially against the run…doesn’t have the physical size to win one-on-one battle with tackle to stop the run…will beat tackle to a spot with his quickness, but will get run past the hole by tackle…once engaged – had hard time getting off of block…lateral quickness was not evident this year once knee was injured…when healthy, has good change of direction skills…explodes off the ball high…gives larger target for tackle to ‘punch’ on pass protection…must get stronger to use inside pass rush moves (inside spin move)…long strider who eats up space on pass setting tackle…instinctive player who attempts to get sack and force fumble.

Maybe a little high at the end of the first round and confounding with Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora at that spot that they didn't fill another need.

Seattle Seahawks - Kelly Jennings, Miami CB

He might be small, but he's a Florida kid (Live Oak Suwannee, the U). And, I've grown to believe in cover corners from that state, that's for sure.

He can fly, can play man and isn't afraid to come up and make tackles when he's lined up in cover two. He might've been a little overshadowed by the year that Miami had in 2005, but I think that this is a guy that a number of teams had on their radar screen.

What he and Marcus Maxey did against the Virginia Tech wide receivers borders on abuse - they locked down David Clowney and company - forcing Marcus Vick to eat the ball or scramble throughout the night. Jennings was on an island all night long and he didn't disappoint. I like this pick filling a key need for Seattle. As if they had many.

Indianapolis Colts - Joseph Addai, LSU RB

What a position for the former Houston high school star! He's all man and all football player. He'll add a little power to the Colts offense and I love the passion (i.e. he's looking to punish the heck out of someone who has the audacity to make a tackle on him) that he runs with. He's a good blocker and doesn't shy away from making the block that he has to make in pass protection. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and is a tremendous leader.

With no Edge, Addai could step in and be productive from jump. As a leader, he's solid and he's a big time character kid (although the Edge was never in real trouble, he did like to shake things up a bit). You won't get that with Addai, that's for sure. He's an excellent teammate and should fit in up in Indianapolis very well.

New York Jets - Nick Mangold, Ohio State C

The Jets lost Kevin Mawae in the offseason, so adding a young, physical and nasty center had to be a need (especially if they couldn't get one through free agency). Mangold is by far the best center in this draft. His technique needs a little work, but you know what, he's nasty as can be.

He understands the game and made all of the line calls for the Buckeyes in his last two years. From a run blocking standpoint, he's got good power, moves well and doesn't lose his leverage at the point of attack.

I like the addition by the Jets of both Ferguson and Mangold. Now, they can look at offensive skill players, corner and/or kicker. Oh wait, kicker was last year.

Jacksonville Jaguars - Marcedes Lewis, UCLA TE

Lewis is a wonderful downfield threat. He's not the in-line blocker that you'd want from this position, but that's what Kyle Brady can provide until Lewis is more accomplished with his run blocking skills.

I thought the Jags would look tight end, but thought Leonard Pope over Lewis. I thought that Pope's blocking ability, although not tremendous, was better.

Lewis can get open against anyone who tries to cover him, be it safety or outside linebacker. He ran a 4.83 in the 40, but don't be fooled, he can eat up space with his long stride and has great hands. Great pick by Shack Harris

Carolina Panthers - DeAngelo Williams, Memphis RB

I think in this position Williams is a huge steal. All you have to do is look at the Panthers' run game in the NFC Championship game against Seattle. Brittle, but talented, DeShaun Foster was banged up, Stephen Davis is now gone and Nick Goings isn't going to be your #2 back.

Williams has heli-explosive abilities, but he's a bounce runner, a guy who has the burst you want in a back to the outside. I question how well he can run between the tackles, but as the second guy in the first few years of his career, I like the unique abilities he has to exploit the perimeter in the Panthers' running game. As he gets more experience, he's going to have to prove that he can be just as explosive bursting through the A and/or B gaps.

I think that, like the Patriots, the Panthers do so well in the draft, and this pick of Williams proves just that. To get the guy that many thought was the #2 back in the draft at #27, that's a huge steal. Williams is a hard working kid, who has fought through injuries over his career. As a second back, like Maroney taken ahead of him, he should be able to get 12 to 15 carries and one day take over as the number one back, especially if Foster's health and fumble problems continue to rear their ugly head.

Buffalo Bills - John McCargo, NC State DT

McCargo fills a need that I thought they lost by passing on Brodrick Bunkley and Haloti Ngata at the eighth pick.

So, the Bills have filled big time needs with both Whitner and McCargo, but some might consider this a reach. However, the fact is that he can get up the field. He's a penetrating lineman who will be productive inside. He was often overshadowed by Mario Williams and Manny Lawson, but there was a major reason why Steven Tulloch had nearly 150 tackles this year. McCargo can make plays in the backfield, just as well as he can tie up blockers at the point of attack.

Think about a guy like Mike Patterson from USC who went late in the first round last year - some thought it was a reach to get the fireplug from USC, but he turned into a star early. McCargo can be that type player, not that small and doesn't have the leverage that Patterson does, but he has that play making potential.

Pittsburgh Steelers - Santonio Holmes, Ohio State WR

Oh man, you're going to let the World Champions pick up the best pure WR in the draft to replace Antwaan Randle-El? Wow. I like this pick for so many reasons.

With Hines Ward a year older, Heath Miller at tight end becoming more of a weapon and Randle-El gone to Washington, the Steelers had to find someone to stretch the field, but also a guy who wouldn't be just a one trick pony. He can make catches in traffic. He can run after the catch. He runs routes well.

The knock on him is that he is a little small so getting off of the press jam is a question. But, you can't hit what you can't see...or catch. I just don't think that you can be that productive in the Big Ten without being a player. Oh yeah, he's a Belle Glades Central product and if you're a BGC grad, you can play. Big time. I see a big future for the Great Santonio.

Cincinnati Bengals - Johnathan Joseph, South Carolina CB

Speed put him in this position. Well, that was what got him into the first round, but I like the way that he closes on the ball. Watch the Tennessee game - that's the game that probably started getting some scouts' attention.

I think that he fits in well with the Bengals and adds another corner to a secondary that could really need a nickel corner, who could develop into a lock down corner in a couple of years.

He only played one year at South Carolina, but he showed extensive skills at the corner position in one year. However, he'll have to hone his technique, but that's the type of thing Marvin Lewis will force on him early in his career.

The Bengals weren't going to draft a receiver, but PLEASE someone take a wide receiver. PLEASE?!?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Davin Joseph, Oklahoma G

Man, taking Joseph at this spot, whoa, I just don't know. I like his versatility, but I think this is way too high, but it speaks to the thoughts on Winston Justice, who has major baggage that's for sure.

Joseph has been a productive lineman for the Sooners, but I don't know what position suits him best. I don't think that he's mobile enough to be a tackle. In addition, I don't think that he's aggressive enough to be a guard in this league. So, he's going to be a square peg into a round hole, no matter how Tampa Bay wants to use him. I did think offensive line here, but thought Nick Mangold from Ohio State would be a better fit, although he plays center. Questionable pick, but it speaks to how much character is valued at this level.

San Francisco 49ers - Manny Lawson, NC State OLB

Athletic, long and versatile. The only question that I have about Lawson is the fact that he was a linebacker in his first two years at NC State, but he was seemingly lost at that position. When he moved to DE and was able to really pin his ears back and get into opponents' backfields, he really became a force.

He can fly, and has to readjust to playing 'up', but I think he's matured as a player enough to be able to do it. He can absolutely fly, so using him on blitz packages off the edge is playing to his strengths, for sure.

Also, what makes him a solid value pick here is that he can be a demon on special teams. He's blocked a number of kicks in his career and can be a force in the middle on field goal block. Nowadays in the NFL, adding any value in any other phase in the game is paramount to success.

New England Patriots - Laurence Maroney, Minnesota RB

Oh boy. Oh boy, I just got chills. Why does it seem that the Patriots just know what they're doing in the draft. I knew that he was the number two back in the draft and the man crush that I have on him is highly evident. It is the dreads, you know.

Either way, he is the prototype NFL running back - he's a power runner, from an explosion standpoint. He understands running in a zone scheme, and can catch the ball out of the backfield. But, what got him here is his vision and one-cut ability. First of all, he knows where and when to make the cut, then he's on you at the second level or into the secondary in a flash. He has 4.4 speed and is an inside runner, which is what DeAngelo Williams is not.

Maroney's presence makes Tom Brady's job that much easier. Let's say that he can get 12 to 15 carries along with Corey Dillon getting 15 to 17 carries - how great is that? I think that a lot of people were impressed with how Scott Linehan put Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams together in Miami and got them to 'share' carries. Both of them stayed healthy and both of them were effective for all 16, errr, 12 games. That's what Maroney and Dillon can do for Brady and the Pats offense. Wow, like this pick.

Kansas City Chiefs - Tamba Hali, Penn State DE

This was my scout's evaluation of Hali from this spring:

Plays the game in ‘straight lines’… he doesn’t run circles, like others…redirects extremely well on bootleg/waggle action…feet stay hot and rarely stop…gets under the pads of taller linemen and wins leverage battle on most occasions…will not get hooked on the edge…maintains leverage against run blocks…technique is sound and accepts coaching well…use of ‘wrong arm’ technique indicates his ability to play within team defense concept…as a result, not selfish in the slightest – kept linemen off of PSU linebackers all year long…solid burst off the ball…physical at the point of attack…plays with strong base without slowing down…more than adequate pass rush skills…uses his hands on the pass rush well…placement of his hands is adequate and strong…sets up his defender with his speed, but can use quickness and strength underneath a tackle to get sack…developing a secondary pass rush move – swim move…must find a way to use his strength/quickness on inside pass rush move at next level to put tackle in peril…needs to add a few pounds to not get swallowed on run downs…high effort and high motor player…tremendous character kid – having survived war-torn Liberia to succeed in US (mother still there, so he’s playing with a purpose)

Essentially, the Chiefs got a kid who still will grow as a football player, but is all man. He's such a quality kid and, as I mentioned above, he's playing with a purpose. He didn't run well at his pro workout day, but you know, he provides so much pressure off the edge that I don't need 4.3. I just need sacks and pressures. Watch his feet - unreal. A little surprise to be this high, but that height matches his character.

San Diego Chargers - Antonio Cromartie, Florida State CB

As with Ernie Sims, I've seen this kid play for a while (as they played together as sophomores on that aforementioned North Florida Christian team, before his move to Tallahassee Lincoln). Before he injured his knee, I had him as a first team All-American even though he hadn't been a true starter in 2004.

Tall, lanky (okay, if you think 205 pounds indicates 'lanky') and fast. Real fast. Health is a major concern. How is the knee and, more importantly, how is his 'football confidence' with that knee? Cro is definitely not 'skeered' to come up and play press man and because he has such good ball skills, he can play off man coverage, as well.

How physical he can be is a concern, but the major question is his lack of experience, which could lead to some technique problems. He hasn't been a starter at the college level, but now he's the #19 pick? Goes to show that we as talent evaluators will sometimes shoot too many holes in guys we see play too much (Leinart) and play up guys we haven't seen that much who have sublime physical skills. At least Jason Allen had been a starter, and a good one, before he got hurt. But, I believe in Cro, even if he doesn't provide instant reward for the Chargers.

Dallas Cowboys - Bobby Carpenter, Ohio State OLB

I didn't think that Carpenter would go this high - apparently, the Cowboys couldn't find a trade down partner.

However, don't think that means that the Cowboys didn't get value with Carpenter. He's a big (nearly 260 pounds), run stuffing outside backer who could be in the mold of Jerry Porter from Pittsburgh. He can rush the quarterback, but he can run, which gives him backside run pursuit responsibilties. There were some in college football circles who thought that he was more valuable to Ohio State than either Whitner or AJ Hawk. I don't think that's 100% true.

He can drop into coverage or he could play on the line of scrimmage and rush the quarterbacks. But, he tackles well, plays physical at the point of attack and is the type of linebacker who really epitomizes a Bill Parcells type player. Considering that his dad once was one, I guess his son fits the same mold.

Minnesota Vikings - Chad Greenway, Iowa OLB

The selection of Greenway fills a big time need at the outside linebacker position. Some thought he might go a little higher to the Rams, who saw more of a need at corner and took Tye Hill.

Athleticism and versatility are his hallmarks - he can blitz, he can play in space, he can cover slot receivers, he can make plays all over the field. He's smart and a tremendous citizen, which given the recent "Love Boat" incident, citizenship isn't a trait to take for granted.

Greenway is a better player in space than he is a physical smashmouth typical Big Ten linebacker. He can run and get to the ball, but he's not a crushing hitter. He doesn't fill the gaps on power G's or inside isolation plays that well, but out in space, he's got great feet and can skate blocks to make plays or cover a #3 receiver in the slot.

The Vikings now perhaps look QB in the second (Charlie Whitehurst? Brodie Croyle?). We'll see in about three hours.

Miami Dolphins - Jason Allen, Tennessee DB

Hey, maybe Allen can try to tackle Ronnie Brown as he did in 2004 in Knoxville. Well, key word tried (if you remember, Brown ran flat over Allen for a touchdown in the Tigers huge win in 2004). all seriousness, as a safety, I think that he can be a player. I do not, repeat do not, like him as a cover corner - too much clutching and grabbing and not a great deal of recovery speed. But, he had a great 2004 season at safety (over 100 tackles), the attempt to tackle Brown notwithstanding, and I think that's the need for Saban and the Dolphins at this point. The hip injury was devastating to Tennessee last year, so maybe that tells you more about him as a leader and of his value to a team. As such, I hope that Allen can turn that into a positive in the NFL.

I thought Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech would go here, but perhaps his 'baggage' is a bit much for Saban and crew. And, also, Allen is a former SEC player, and Saban loves those players he has a 'history' with. If Allen's fully healthy and ready to play safety, the Dolphins have a strong player in the middle of their secondary.

St. Louis Rams - Tye Hill, Clemson CB

Fast, fast and even faster. This guy has tremendous closing speed. He's a former track guy who is more football player, though, than track star. I like everything about him as a cover corner. He can play the cover two as he's not shy about coming up and putting a hat on someone. But, the best thing about him is that he can come up and play press man with anyone because if he does get beat off the line of scrimmage, he can recover in a heartbeat.

He's not a big guy by any means, but when you can run like he can, it doesn't really matter. Clemson was able to do pretty much what they wanted to do with their defensive scheme because Hill literally locked down one side of the field. As with most young corners, technique will have to continue to get better, but he is the best cover corner in this draft.

The Rams pick up a third rounder and get the guy they perhaps wanted all along. Nice work.

Philadelphia Eagles - Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State DT

Last year, the Eagles drafted Mike Patterson, who I loved and he'll be the foundation in the middle for years to come. Now, they've got a penetrating stud to play on the other side of Patterson. I grew to love Bunkley this year. He whipped the entire Virginia Tech offensive line in the ACC Championship game and he became a dominant force in this conference this past year.

He's a one gapper who should be able to get pass rush up the middle, something that will give defensive coordinator Jim Johnson so many more options on the outside, knowing that Bunkley and Patterson are tearing up the inside. If teams have to single block Patterson and Bunkley, one of them will blow past to the QB.

He's so strong and put on a show at the combine with 44 reps of 225, so he can be effective against the run. But, he has relied on his quickness more to stop the run. As such, his technique probably needs a little work, but outside of that, a great pick for Philadelphia.

Cleveland Browns - Kamerion Wimbley, Florida State OLB

Wimbley, in my humble opinion, is one of the most overrated players in this draft. I think that he'll have some trouble adjusting to picking up his hand off the ground and playing OLB.

He does have that Florida State nasty attitude. He's smart and plays hard, but I just didn't see that pass rush ability that a lot of people were talking about. He had a great game against Miami this year, but that was against a less than 100% Eric Winston. He used a rip under move and a speed rush throughout the year and didn't have much else to use to get to the QB. When a tackle got his hands on him, he was trouble. Then, he got hurt and missed the rest of the year.

I don't discount Phil Savage and his personnel department, but I really don't like this pick for them. If he learns to play in space, with his hand off the ground, then Cleveland has a solid Julian Peterson type player. But, I don't see it right now.

Baltimore Ravens - Haloti Ngata, Oregon DT

Right spot, different team - this is exactly where we projected Ngata, the hulking defensive tackle from Oregon. He can tie up as many blockers as he wants to, and it frees up linebacker Ray Lewis, who has made some noise about leaving Baltimore lately. I don't think that he wants to leave with this kid coming to Baltimore.

The key is motor. When he's cranked up, oh boy, he is fantastic. Case in point, the USC game - he is playing as a shade nose with a slant to the right on. He slants across center Ryan Kalil's face as the play comes back opposite the slant. Ngata is now out of position by the slant call, but he's so quick that he works back across Kalil's face and makes a tackle on Reggie Bush for a two yard gain.

It's plays like that get defensive coaches attention. But, he doesn't have the explosive burst off the ball and does play high at times. He'll have to change that at this level.

Ngata has dealt with a lot of crap since he arrived at Oregon - both parents have passed, his mom earlier this year and he had a season-ending injury as a sophomore. With a new start on the East Coast, he's got to be ecstatic. Ray Lew, too.

Denver Broncos - Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt QB

Wow, what does this do to Jake Plummer in the Mile High City? Wow. Sorry, already said that.

There's some work to do for the first first round selection from Vanderbilt since 1986 - Cutler. His mechanics are not as solid as Matt Leinart, but he makes up for that with just pure play making ability. He can make all of the throws. The ball comes out of his hand hot. But, against a hard rush, he didn't set his feet and throw as he should (see the LSU film). His offensive line wasn't nearly as good as Leinart's or Young's but he'll have to fight off those bad habits.

He has the escapability vis a vis Young, but he's a gutty kid who carried Vandy through his entire four years in Nashville. In the Florida game, pulled that team through every tough situation, except in the last overtime, but everyone in the SEC knew how good he was. Now, he goes to Denver to work with Mike Shanahan, who must either believe wholeheartedly in Cutler or not much more in Jake Plummer.

Arizona Cardinals - Matt Leinart, USC QB

It's about time. I did have a feeling that Leinart would drop in this draft, so it's not a real surprise that he did go to #10 (even though, arguably, he would've been the number one pick in 2005).

You've seen him play so often, that it's hard to tell you what he can and/or can't do, but let's start with him being a winner. Similar to Vince Young, this guy knows how to win. He's a leader and the Cardinals will eventually rally around him. Arm strength is overrated in my eyes. I think that the arm that he has is sufficient, and as guys get older, they get stronger and can improve their arm strength. What do you think Tom Brady did in his first two years at New England? That's why he was a sixth round pick.

Leinart does throw the ball fairly well on the move, and he's moving into a situation where he won't have to carry this offense. He can let 'Quan, Larry and the Edge take the brunt of the action. He just has to manage the game. Leinart couldn't have been given a better situation. And, if there's a classier professional in this game, it's Kurt Warner, who'll help and assist Leinart every day.

Detroit Lions - Ernie Sims, Florida State OLB

I've been watching Sims since he was in the eighth grade at North Florida Christian. In fact, one of the funniest stories in my coaching career had to do with Sims, but this higher than I thought he would go because of the concussions.

Let's be clear - there are some physical players in this draft. They're all lined up behind Sims. This kid knocks running backs, of any size, shape or speed, backward. He seeks out physical contact and is a blur when the ball is snapped. He could be a blitz demon off the edge if used that way, or he could be a stuff the inside run type, also. He could be considered out of control, but if you harness the 'beast from within', forget it, this guy is going to be a star. If the new Detroit Lions staff knows what they're doing with Sims, oh boy, look out. The Lions needed a defensive weapon - a heat seeking missile who intimidates with his physical nature. Uh, think they got one with the former NFC Eagle (North Florida Christian that is).

Buffalo Bills - Donte Whitner, Ohio State S

Wow, I didn't see this one coming at this spot. I love this kid immensely, I just didn't see him going this high. But, maybe NFL personnel are seeing how valuable safeties are, considering how valuable Troy Polamalu was to Pittsburgh this past year. Whitner is a great in the box safety. He comes off the edge like a shot. Put him in a blitz package and he can be a star. He plays the run very well and reads and deciphers run plays to be able to make plays in the backfield. I'm a little worried about his pass coverage skills deep downfield, but around the box, this kid just understands the game and knows how to play. I'm telling you, this is one great player, who Ohio State will miss just about as much as AJ Hawk.

All the talk had been defensive line, so this tells you how much the Bills brass thinks about Whitner. He has a tremendous football IQ and understands angles in pursuit. He tackles well and will be a physical presence for the Bills in their secondary.

Oakland Raiders - Michael Huff, Texas S/CB

Huff has been a big-time player from day one at Texas. Versatility defines him. He can play corner, in fact, he could be a wonderful "Tampa 2" rolled up corner, with as physical as he is. He's got the speed to play that position, but got some technique work on his plate this summer. He's been working on the transition and cutting a little weight, but perhaps adding a bit more fluidity in his cover skills.

I would start him at safety right away, then transition him over time to corner. If the Raiders want to play more cover two, that transition should occur more rapidly.

Huff can also be a factor on special teams, especially in blocking kicks, which is a lost art in the NFL these days, but it just goes to show more of his versatility.

The Raiders know that they're probably getting one and a half players with making this selection, but it might provide a little more commentary on the thoughts of former USC QB Matt Leinart. The Lions drafting soon may be forced to take a hard look. Either way on Huff, nice pick for the Raiders.

San Francisco 49ers - Vernon Davis, Maryland TE

The phrase "Freak of Nature" is used probably way too often, but that's what this guy is. It fits Davis like a glove. Everyone and their brother were wowed by what he did at the combine, but if you watched him these past two seasons, you already knew.

He's a vertical threat. He's 6'4" and 254 pounds and can get down the seam as well as any receiver that you'll find in this draft. I think that he can get open in so many different areas on the field and that creates so many opportunities for himself and for Niner QB Alex Smith, who might be the happiest person on the West Coast this morning. Davis does tend to catch the ball with his body, but he also has made some tremendous one hand catches as he did against North Carolina. But, it was against Virginia when he really showed what he was all about. He caught a 15 to 20 short corner route, got plastered by a UVA defensive back, fought it off and then beat everyone into the end zone. It was one of those plays you really came out of your seat and said "Wow!" There aren't many people on this earth that can do what he does. He does have some work to do on his in-line blocking skills, but what he can do in the passing game surpasses any deficiencies in his blocking skills.

Plus, my wife is a fan - he's an art major, so we're all on board in the Harris household.

Green Bay Packers - AJ Hawk, Ohio State LB

I love this pick for Hawk, I love this pick for the city of Green Bay. Look at Chicago - they have a throwback stud in the middle, Brian Urlacher. His physical, athletic and nasty style fits so well in the Windy City. He epitomizes what the city is all about. Green Bay needed that type of player on their defense as well to epitomize the city of Green Bay and the state of Wisconsin. Hawk gives them that.

Hawk's ability to go sideline to sideline. He explodes through ball carriers and he gets to more ball carriers than other guys. He can drop into coverage, and he can be a huge factor in the Pack's blitz schemes. He tends to get overaggressive at times, but if he misses you on one down, he won't later in the game. One thing that stood out watching him this year was that in the first few series of downs, he seemed to be feeling out the offensive scheme. Texas, Northwestern and Notre Dame all had him on his heels early, but he figured out quickly what the offenses were doing on the sideline, made the requisite adjustments and turned in big time games in each of those ball games.

You hear 'play maker' referenced many times to offensive players, but Hawk is a play maker on defense. He'll lead by example and next year the Packers can draft his future brother in law Brady Quinn. Okay, perhaps not, but the Cheeseheads got a good one this year, that's for sure.

New York Jets - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, UVA OT

Sure, offensive tackles aren't the sexiest of picks. There's no question Jets fans would like to have Matt Leinart (at least the ones that don't understand football), but Ferguson is the best pass protector in this draft. I watched the Minnesota Music City bowl game this past week again and, man, he was so dominant. The Gophers DE/OLB didn't go anywhere. He locked out his arms and they couldn't get to him at all. I think that Ferguson can get beat on the inside, and smaller guys with explosive bottom halves, such as Darryl Tapp from Virginia Tech, can give him problems. But, as he gets comfortable in the Jets system, facing 6'4" and 6'5" defensive ends, he'll be able to use that huge wingspan to keep separation, which is a must for offensive tackles.

He's not the best run blocker in the world, in fact I'd rate him a 8.1 out of 10 - he can move his feet to position block, but he won't mow down the corner. But, that's not why he's the fourth pick in this draft. With another 15 to 20 pounds he could turn into a poor man's Jonathon Ogden. The former UCLA product was just so good in both aspects on offense - run/pass. Ferguson has to be able head off defensive ends on outside rush downs, but he's got the feet to be in a zone and/or power scheme. I like this pick for the Jets (although Bush in New York would've been that much better - I understand not mortgaging your draft, so keep an eye on RB/offensive threat at 29 - perhaps LenDale White, Bush's teammate? Perhaps another 'falling' RB)

Tennessee Titans - Vince Young, Texas QB

Vince Young is a winner. Before you think about him as a quarterback. Or, even as a football player. He's a winner. He was the driving force last summer with summer workouts - putting up on the board "If you want to beat Ohio State, meet me at 8PM on the field". He took the reins of that Texas team and led them to a 13-0 record and a national championship. Young has holes as a QB, let's not fool ourselves, but perhaps not the same holes that most people think about. He doesn't get passes knocked down, but his accuracy on key throws - deep digs, balls in the hole against cover two and down the seam - will need some work. But, his escapibility from the pocket allows him to keep his eyes downfield and find receivers - not just to make yardage on scrambles. And, if he does run from the pocket, you better bring all you've got to try to tackle him. He's a solid 225 and tackling him isn't how I'd like to spend my lovely Sunday afternoon. Give him the playbook that he wants to use - combine his skills into Norm Chow's knowledge of the game and the Titans could be scary in a year or two. Billy Volek will perhaps take the ball this year, if Steve McNair isn't around (and don't discount how valuable drafting Young is to McNair, VY's mentor), then it's going to be Vince Young's ball and his team in 2007 and beyond.

New Orleans Saints - Reggie Bush, USC RB

Bush is the most explosive offensive player that I can remember seeing at the college level. Barry Sanders was the same type player, but he came out of nowhere after languishing behind Thurman Thomas, so you could perhaps argue that he was a one year fluke. Uh, no. But, back to Bush, this guy can turn the corner as fast any running back that I've seen - the run he has in the Rose Bowl for the touchdown was incredible. He has an uncanny knack of making guys miss in a multitude of ways - he'll use a spin move, he'll blow right by you, he'll fly over you, he'll hurdle you as he did at Notre Dame. But, when he hits the gas, so to speak, forget it, you don't have a chance to catch him. No chance. Great hands out of the backfield. He can play any receiver position, along with being a feature back. His ability to play in the slot takes his value to another level. In New Orleans, don't be surprised to see he and a healthy Deuce McAllister in the game at the same time. Now, defensive coordinators have to find a way to slow him down. He's Marshall Faulk with even more explosion. I can't stress to you how good Bush is and how valuable he'll be to the Saints, and let's just say that between Drew Brees and McAllister, they're very happy. Very happy. Hellloooo, Reggie.

Don't lose sight of the fact that this could be the most important individual to the city of New Orleans. I'm not trying to put too much pressure on him, but the electricity that he can bring to that city is exactly the tonic that it needs. And, yes, sports do mean that much to areas of the country, especially in Louisiana - don't think they don't. It might be just sports, but they lift us all in so many ways. Bush can do that just by playing football.

Houston Texans - Mario Williams, NC State DE

This was my evaluation (in scout's speak) on Mario this spring.

Mario Williams, NC State 6’7” and 290 pounds – physical specimen…motor is a question…can he play hard 65 plays a game?...dominant pass rusher…can beat one, two and even three blockers when his effort is at its peak…4.66 speed for a nearly 300 pounder…quickness and burst off the edge is outstanding…talented, but raw…stronger against the run than most due to his size…tends to play tall when getting off of run blocks…’peeks’ into the backfield when run to his side…has to learn to let his technique take him to the ball…pursues quickly when motivated…not afraid to put his hat on ball carrier… closing speed to the QB is phenomenal…length is evident…strength is evident…so explosive off of the ball…has to learn to redirect against bootleg and waggle…will dominate with his physical skills early… but, must dominate while he ‘learns’ how to develop his pass rush acumen…speed and quickness will register sacks, but teams will figure out how to deal with those two aspects…how does he develop the rest of his ‘game’?...versatile…could play 3-4 DE or be a three down 4-3 DE…best value of any defensive player in this draft…perhaps as much value as Reggie Bush…young kid who arrived early at NC State, and is leaving early from State.

"It's a football decision"?

The alarm didn't even have to get me up this morning at 7 am. Today it was easy. It's the most exciting non-game day there is, in my humble opinion. So, let's tackle the topic of the wife. No, just kidding. We've all had the opportunity to sleep on the "football decision" that was made to bring Mario Williams to Houston.

The first thing to consider when you make a statement like "it's a football decision" is that you just passed up the best football player that college football has seen in quite some time. So, how exactly is that a football decision? Reggie Bush dominated nearly every game that he played in. Even in the Rose Bowl where some thought he was ineffective, he packed on 275 yards total offense. Mario Williams dominated one game - Maryland. Does he have the potential to dominate more games? Most definitely and that's what the Texans are banking on. When it comes to "football decisions", back in 1989, the Packers passed up Barry Sanders for Tony Mandarich because it fit a bigger need. A football decision, right? Well, we know what happened in that situation. I'm not in any way saying that Mario Williams isn't going to be a good football player, in fact, I'd go the other way. However, as much as he'll change games on defense, as much as anyone changes games on defense, you have to prepare for an offensive weapon of the magnitude of Bush ten-fold.

This decision was about sign-ability and filling a need. Down deep in your Texan fan hearts, you know that you probably needed a pass rushing star more than a RB/PR/KR. But, it isn't every draft that you have the opportunity to add a Reggie Bush to your team. For a plethora of reasons, the Texans didn't.

Now, here's the hard part, the decision wasn't the right one (in my humble opinion) and not a popular one in so many ways, but as Texans fans you should embrace Williams. He's a good kid, great character kid with an engaging personality. He'll make you proud on and off the field. He's a young kid and the transition from North Carolina, where he grew up and went to school, to Houston is going to be tough enough. You don't have to like the decision, but a tremendous player/individual is coming to Houston. Embrace him. He's not Reggie and the sooner that we all come to grips with that, the better. We just have to hope that Bush turns out to be another Tony Mandarich. Yeah, right.

By the way, as I'm a sick, sick individual, I'll be watching this whole draft, which my wife is still trying to comprehend. But, if you have any questions about your teams draft or prospects, please shoot me an email at throughout the day. I may not get to it right away as I'm blogging every pick today, but I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks so much and hope to hear from you.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Texans Ink...Williams?

I couldn't wait to get the blog rolling, especially after the news that just shook my whole world...and probably much of the football landscape. The deal is done - Mario Williams of NC State will become a Texan.

Watching film on Williams just recently (I also watched him up close and personal for the last three years), I really like what I've seen. 6'7", 295 running 4.6? People say Bush is a freak of nature with what he can do, but Super Mario is freakish along the lines of Jevon Kearse and Julius Peppers. He's blur off the ball, but he's strong against the run when he's not playing too high. He redirects extremely well and will pursue like the dickens on runs away from him. Although the Texans signed Anthony Weaver this offseason, Williams probably fills more of an immediate need than Bush. However...

I just don't know how you don't sign, seal and deliver Reggie Bush to Houston. This is the most electrifying football player since, well, I don't know when. I hope the 'house' situation in San Diego isn't playing a role in this decision, and I don't ultimately think that it has. With that being said, how does the rest of the top ten shake out.

2. New Orleans pick - I see New York doing whatever they've got to do to get this deal done. They've got the #29 pick as well, that they can package, if they have to get up to #2. New Orleans might want to take Bush, the Jets have to take Bush. Curtis Martin is getting older, but again, put the two of them on the field together at the same time, and defenses will have major problems.

3. Tennessee - I think that Bud and Floyd win out, so to speak and Vince goes to Tennessee.

4. New Orleans - Talk has been that the Saints have been enamored with AJ Hawk from Ohio State, but really didn't feel like they could justify taking him at #2. Voila - they're at four and Hawk fills a HUGE need in New Orleans.

5. Green Bay - D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Vernon Davis are on the board. With Javon Walker out the door, the Pack may want the versatile Davis to be a downfield threat along with Bubba Franks. But, D'Brickashaw may be too enticing. What a decision that is to make?

6. San Francisco - D'Brickashaw Ferguson or Vernon Davis. The Niners could use either, but don't count out the Niners trading down - maybe Arizona attempting to get up to get D'Brickashaw. The Arizona tackles are less than mediocre, so moving up to get Ferguson would be a major coup for Denny Green.

7. Oakland - Michael Huff or Matt Leinart - They could use either one almost immediately.

8. Buffalo - Brodrick Bunkley, Huff or trade down - if somehow D'Brickashaw falls into their lap, that's a no-brainer, and if Ferguson escapes the first five picks, he just might. Keep an eye on QB, also.

9. Detroit - Huff, Leinart - Two solid leaders, strong work ethics and filling a need for both. Huff more immediate, but Leinart is still around, so someone has to be intrigued (could the Rams, sitting at #11, get in the mix here to get Jay Cutler?)

10. Arizona - I don't think they'll pick here - I think this will be the Niners trading down or someone trading up to get Leinart (possibly Ravens - but I think that they like Vince Young more than the other two QBs, but if Leinart is there, it's a solid reason to trade up).

Man, I love this. Although my head is still ringing from the Williams to Houston news, this is so great. Get ready to watch the drama unfold.

NFL Draft Coverage

John Harris will be blogging here for the entire Saturday of the NFL Draft! Make sure you visit throughout the draft for his running commentary.