Draft Winners, Losers, Mysteries
Wednesday - May 07, 2008
Just to show that you don’t need bad hair to rate the NFL draft, here is yet another worth-lessly wild shot at explaining the most over-hyped and unimportant two days on the sporting calendar.
Taking the only lineman rated higher than the rookie Pro Bowler from a year ago is certainly a good start. Among Miami’s many, many needs was a left tackle to solidify a unit that not long ago was down right awful. With tackle Jake Long, the Dolphins have an offensive line fixture for the next 10 years. Even if he proves unable to handle the left side, a move to right tackle would still mean years of solid line play to go with last year’s second round pick, center Samson Satele. The Dolphins also added line depth with guard Shawn Murphy in the third round. Grabbing Chad Henne, a four-year starter at Michigan, in the second round was another stout move as neither Josh McCown or 27-year-old sophomore QB John Beck could solidify their hold on the position last year. Miami may also have found a replacement for Jason Taylor in defensive end Phillip Merling.
When perhaps the most dominant athlete in the draft falls in your lap at No. 5, a good draft is nearly assured. Kansas City struck gold with a man so damn nasty that not even a sore ham-string, a sore back and a sprained right knee prevented him from becoming a first-team All-America and winner of the Bronco Nagurski Award, Vince Lombardi/Rotary Award, Outland Trophy and SEC Defensive Player of the Year. The hits kept coming with perhaps the third best lineman (guard/tackle Brandon Allen) in the draft to go along with plenty of help for the defensive backfield with Brandon Flowers, Dajuan Morgan and Brandon Carr. Tailback Jamaal Charles is too small to be an every-down back but his 4.37 speed is a nice addition.
With the Carolina Panthers seemingly always on everyone’s short list for an NFC title, last year’s 7-9 mark was an unquestioned disappointment. The good news for 2008 is that they were able to fill needs while getting good players in great spots. Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart has perfect NFL size at 5’ 10” and 235 to go along with a nice 4.48 40. He’s also a tougher runner than No. 4 overall pick Darren McFadden. Moving up to take massive Jeff Otah at 19 was a good move to go along with free agent O-line pick ups Milford Brown, Toniu Fonoti and Keydrick Vincent. Grabbing Penn State linebacker Dan Connor in the third round was simple larceny.
Lions’ President Matt Millen did something unusual - he actually drafted to fill needs. Unfortunately, he may have over-valued each pick. Gosder Cherilus (No. 17 overall) was a four-year starter at Boston College whose play declined after making the switch to the left side, causing his draft projection to sink to a late round one, early round two pick. Jordon Dizon may have been the best ball hawk in college since Chris Spielman, but there was no rush to grab him before the third round. The NFL doesn’t clamor for slowish, smallish linebackers no matter how impressive their stats in college. Had the Lions grabbed Rashard Mendenhall at 18, moved to get Cherilus in the second and Dizon in the third, this would have been one nice draft.
While neither Rex Grossman, Kyle Orton nor Brian Griese are as bad as Bears fans would have you believe, allowing one of the deepest quarterback classes in recent years to pass without picking a signal caller is simply dumbfounding. After Matt Ryan was picked too high at No. 3, 54 picks passed before Brian Brohm - the No. 1 ranked quarterback in the preseason - was called up to the podium as the second QB taken. The Bears could have grabbed Brohm at 44 and most likely have gotten running back Matt Forte with little effort later in the draft.
As mentioned before, Carolina getting the No. 2 ranked inside linebacker in the third round was simply a steal.
One look at Dennis Dixon and you can’t help think of a new century version of Kordell Stewart, but with more speed and perhaps a better arm. Dixon will be a project for the Steelers, but he’s an amazing athlete and could get a look at quarterback, wide receiver or maybe even some at H-back if Mike Tomlin gets frisky.
This may be a bit of a homer pick, but grabbing an accurate quarterback a year removed from a predicted first or second round slot in the sixth is a pretty nice haul. Colt Brennan will have time in Washington to sit and learn while working with one of the league’s most respected developers of quarterbacks, head coach Jim Zorn.
Mike Hart’s slow 40 time, history of injuries and size killed his chances of being anything but a mid-round pick. But the ultra-professional Colts have to love a proven leader who refuses to fumble and who has very nice hands. What more can you hope for at No. 202 in the draft?
The seventh round is a throw-away where finding a practice squad player would not constitute a wasted selection. Finding a 6-foot, 3-inch, 200 pound wide receiver who had nine catches for 153 yards vs Florida in the Capital One Bowl could turn out to be felony theft. Even if Adrian Arrington ends up being the Saints’ No. 4 wide out, that’s still a lot of production from someone who was 15 picks from being Mr. Irrelevant.
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