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25 May 2007

Four Downs: AFC South

by Alex Carnevale

Houston Texans

Draft Review

It's hard to put down the Texans' draft. They took a player most every team liked with the 10th pick, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye. A few mocks had Okoye going much higher, and after making the call to bring in Falcons backup Matt Schaub, the Texans were probably relieved not to have to decide whether or not to pull the trigger on Brady Quinn. The second-round pick was gone because of the trade, but with the rest of their mid-round picks, they addressed short term needs at corner and added a guy who can immediately come in and help in the return game in Jacoby Jones. He'll compete with Andre' Davis, Kevin Walter, and David Anderson for the chance to catch the passes that don't go to Andre Johnson. The overall strategy of the Schaub move has a chance to work out, but the improvement is going to have to come with the defense, and their front line is going to be an interesting group for the next few years.

Remaining Needs

The Texans have some exciting players on the roster -- they're more in need of replacement-level depth around playmakers like sophomore linebacker DeMeco Ryans, cornerback Dunta Robinson, and receiver Andre Johnson. Head coach Gary Kubiak saw Mike Shanahan's expertise in that area while in Denver; bet on him to do a better job with depth before and during the season in his second year in Houston. Naming Kevin Walter as your number-two receiver is an uninspiring omen, but again, the improvement has to come on defense.

Undrafted Free Agents

The Texans took home NCAA Football coverboy Jared Zabransky, whose bowl game antics likely entitled him to at least one year of holding a clipboard and doing nostalgia-based interviews. "Do you wish you were back in college, Jared?" Doug Flutie can give him some tips. Linebacker Jon Abbate from Wake Forest pulled his hamstring before the combine after deciding to come out early -- he could impress if healthy.

Indianapolis Colts

Draft Review

As Aaron Schatz wrote in his draft preview, the Colts' top five needs were DT, WR, RB, LB, and CB. They went ahead and did the following with the top of their draft:

1 (32) Anthony Gonzalez -- Ohio St. WR
2 (42) Tony Ugoh -- ARK OT
3 (95) Daymeion Hughes -- CAL CB
3 (98) Quinn Pitcock -- Ohio St. DT

Nice job hitting three of five with the first four picks. Wideout Anthony Gonzalez is already the 94th ranked receiver according to KUBIAK's projection of 29 receptions for 489 yards, which you will learn as soon as the annual hits the presses. Media criticism largely focused on the Colts' move to grab tackle Tony Ugoh, but the guy gets an A for web design and doesn't have much downside to speak of. So what are the Colts going to do about a backup running back and their bare bones linebacking core? The Colts may regret passing on Michigan linebacker David Harris or other players with that second-round pick, even if Ugoh works out. And if Joseph Addai goes down, do the Colts really want to start De De Dorsey?

Remaining Needs

The Colts' needs at corner were addressed in the third round, but the Colts' depth is still suspect, with second-year player Tim Jennings failing to impress the coaching staff in his rookie season. Perhaps focused more on their new stadium, the Colts can assume that they'll still be playing on one of the fastest tracks in the league by 2008. They probably won't have Bob Sanders then, as the already banged-up safety is going into his walk year. Does this mean the Colts continue to win games by 42-40 scores until Bob's healthy around playoff time? It worked once, but it's something less than a foolproof plan.

Undrafted Free Agents

"There are a lot of different ways to find good players," said Tony Dungy in what was the 32nd article written with the same headline in every newspaper in an NFL town. The Colts nabbed the Ivy League's career rushing leader, Clifton Dawson out of Harvard. In reality, Dawson has no one skill that stands out; the reason he didn't get a look in the later rounds is summed up neatly by his combine numbers: 5-foot-9, 206, 4.56. The chances of his stepping off the practice squad are slim. More interesting is defensive tackle Ramel Meekins, an undersized lineman who comes from Rutgers but could fit in as a special teams player, with the possibility of getting snaps at fullback.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Draft Review

Pretty much everyone and their mother knew the Jags were wild about Florida safety Reggie Nelson -- that is, except for Lance Zierlein's source. Trading down four spots while still getting Nelson was a smart move, making the Jaguars even more of a sleeper team for 2007. Now they just need some awake fans.

Remaining Needs

Not many. The Jags will only struggle if their depth is tested at key positions, or if the great quarterback waffling of 2006 reprises itself in 2007. Back to their draft-day trade for a second: in swapping picks with Denver, the Jaguars got third- and sixth-rounders. For those still addicted to the Jimmy Johnson board, here's how the value works out. The Jags give up #17 overall (950) and get #21 (800) and #86 (165) plus #198 (12.2). Mmm, value. For the record, #86 ended up in Baltimore's hands, where they took offensive tackle Marshall Yanda, who had a second-round grade and was targeted because of Ozzie Newsome's relationship with Kirk Ferentz.

This meant that the #17 pick ended up turning into the #21 (800), plus the #101 (96), #166 (25) and # 203 (10.2). Those picks turned into, respectively, punter Adam Podlesh from Maryland ("It's just a great honor to be the first because you don't see a lot of punters drafted at all"), defensive tackle Derek Landri from Notre Dame, and the #203 pick ... somehow went to Atlanta. So according to the Johnson chart, the Jags got less value out of the second trade (931.2) than the first (977.2). Ask Kirk Ferentz.

Undrafted Free Agents

If you're interested in who the Jags signed as an undrafted free agent, you're probably one of them, or one of them came out of you. This was a group more dead to rights than a 10-year-old who picked up the Halo 3 Beta. Too soon? In all seriousness, Dan Parrish is a big tackle from Florida A&M, and if his Wikipedia page is any indication, he could be headed to Canton.

Tennessee Titans

Draft Review

Without dispensing a draft grade -- we went to the new age feel goodery known as Openings, where there are no grades -- the Titans' draft was a mixed bag. Texas safety Michael Griffin was a strange pick at 19th overall, when you consider they had a position switch to corner in mind. Perhaps you only need to hear the quiver in Jeff Fisher's voice: "That's what we're doing, and I believe it is going to work out." Anybody remember Tebucky Jones? When Pac-Man comes back next year, the odds the Titans will be "thrilled" about Griffin moving back to his natural position are about 3-to-2.

It's too bad they weren't still putting jerseys on draftees when it came to No. 50, because the commissioner could have draped a gigantic red flag over running back Chris Henry out of Arizona. With LenDale White nearing 800 pounds, Henry now has a chance to become an every-down back in the NFL, yet the guy's major in college was philosophy. Does this not say it all? Actually, the player himself has a chance to succeed if his writing skills are any sign of his on-field ability -- he'll be way ahead of Curt Schilling and the Titans' underachieving group of incumbent backs -- but the worst part of reaching for Henry was missing the chance to address a real need early. That Henry may now be more critical to the current running back situation than he was originally expected to be isn't exactly proof of forethought.

Fifth-round defensive lineman Antonio Johnson started all of five games in his college career. Excited yet? Fourth-rounder Chris Davis has a chance to contribute at the wide receiver position.

Remaining Needs

We hate to praise the Giants -- they are Bill Barnwell's team, after all -- but Steve Smith went right after Henry at #51. An interesting wide receiver prospect, he would have added depth at a position the Titans needed. When a team finds itself making an offer to Keyshawn Johnson, that opens them up to all the draft criticism in the world. When that offer was reportedly $7-8 million over two years, that opens them up to potential Congressional censure. Where they'll look for another receiver at this point is anybody's guess.

Undrafted Free Agents

Like myself, kicker John Vaughn is a Tennessee native with an exceptional time in the 40 yard dash: 4.96. Why they make kickers run it, we'll never really know. What we do know is that Vaughn hit 20-of-24 field goals in his senior season, including 2-of-3 from beyond the 50-yard line.

Posted by: Alex Carnevale on 25 May 2007

70 comments, Last at 05 Jun 2007, 5:34pm by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by scott (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 12:20pm

I was disappointed when the Titans took Michael Griffin, susbequently forcing my Patriots to take Brandon Merriweather.

I had Griffin ranked higher than Merriweather on my board, largely due to the fact that I think Griffing is bigger and can stand up to the physical rigors of the NFL better than Merriweather.

Can anyone on this board comment intelligently (not me!!) on the Griffin vs. Merriweather debate? Would the Pats have taken Griffin over Merriweather if both had been available?

2
by sam (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 12:59pm

Gee another joke about Jaguars fans.

Can somebody explain what he's trying to say with "This was a group more dead to rights than a 10-year-old who picked up the Halo 3 Beta."?

And is it just me or is this the shortest and content-light 4-downs of this round? Where's the love for the AFC South?

3
by BC Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:06pm

the dead to rights joke went right over my head.

4
by methdeez (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:17pm

funny stuff, dood

5
by Rollo (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:26pm

I guess deads to rights means, no chance, as in making the roster. I tend to agree, but if you are the mother of one of those UFAs the Jags had 3 from last year's camp make the roster. I'd say DE is a position of need for Jax, as the coach has stated Reggie Hayward may never be back to pre injury form and Bobby McCray hasn't reported to camp.

6
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:29pm

"Henry now has a chance to become an every-down back in the NFL, yet the guy’s major in college was philosophy. Does this not say it all?"

I take offense at that! Who says philosophers can't be successful NFL players? Besides, you didn't complain about the Colts picking Anthony Gonzalez, who was also a philosophy major, and he went in the first round. ;)

7
by Randy S. (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:30pm

I thought it was pretty funny article, nice work.

Anyways, why don't the Colts go after Corey Dillon? It doesn't look like anyone else wants him, and the Colts give him a great chance to win another championship. Plus they can pick his brain about the Pats offense.

8
by pawnking (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:33pm

The dead to rights joke was as obscure as a three year old colt buying lottery tickets in Ohio. At least, it makes as much sense to me as that...

9
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:34pm

Corey Dillon is my thought exactly.

10
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:35pm

7.

Randy, Corey has made it pretty clear that he doesnt want to PLAY football anymore.

11
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:40pm

The Titans' draft was, frankly, dreadful. Their first pick is going to switch positions, their second pick was a mediocre college player who was a complete reach, their 3rd round pick (Williams, WR) came at the end of a run on the position, their first 4th round pick (Harris, C/G) may be an upgrade to a backup (Eugene Amano), their second 4th round pick (Davis, WR) is, I'm guessing, the 7th or 8th WR, their 5th round pick (Johnson, DT) started 5 games in college, and their first 6th round pick is lower on the WR depth chart than the 4th round pick.

I'd guess the UDFA with the best chance to make the Titans is former Georgia RB Danny Ware. He didn't impress me that much as an NFL prospect, but the Titans are thin enough at the position he probably has a decent chance to stick.

The Titans have also signed Tim Rattay to be the 3rd string QB and Gilbert Gardner to be a depth LB. I expected them to draft an LB for depth, but they didn't, so Gardner made sense.

12
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:45pm

#2: "Can somebody explain what he’s trying to say with “This was a group more dead to rights than a 10-year-old who picked up the Halo 3 Beta.�?"

Sure. Here's the Merriam-Webster definition of "dead to rights":

with no chance of escape or excuse.

So, basically, he's saying they have no chance of making the team ("escaping" the cuts made before the season starts). Same as a 10-year-old playing the Halo 3 Beta having no chance of escaping a defeat at the hands of more experienced, talented players. That help?

13
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 1:57pm

Does this mean the Colts continue to win games by 42-40 scores until Bob’s healthy around playoff time? It worked once, but it’s something less than a foolproof plan.

Awesome quote.

14
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 2:06pm

If Corey Dillon wanted to play a backup/goal-line/Dominic Rhodes type of role on a contender, he would have come back to the Patriots. He was looking for some contender to hand him the starting job, but none materialized (the only team I could think of that even qualified--a contender with a need for a starting RB and a system to make an aging veteran successful--would have been Denver, or maybe Philly if he would have accepted a kind of committee role with Westbrook, but they looked elsewhere).

Regarding Griffin vs Merriweather--the draft analysts at Patriots.com loved both, but liked Griffin a little better. But they're not exactly experts. From what I understood, the knock on Griffin was that he was too small to be a dominant safety, the knock on Merriweather was his character issues. So to answer the question of who will be better, we'll need to know (1) if Merriweather's character issues are overblown, and (2) if Griffin makes the transition to CB well (CB's can get away with being smaller than safeties).

15
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 2:15pm

The lack of a second back concerns me a lot. The dropoff from Edge to Addai is basically 0. The dropoff from Edge to Rhodes is manageable. The dropoff from Edge to DeDe Dorsey, though...

They've got two options, both of which are unappealing. They can use DeDe Dorsey, or they can run Addai into the ground with too many carries.

16
by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 2:19pm

Very funny, subtle humor in the Colts section: "It worked once, but it’s something less than a foolproof plan."

I'd take most anybody from that Rutgers D lineup. The two or three games I saw near the end of the season, it looked like that had 12 defenders on every snap, and most of them just crashing the LOS. Gary Brackett mojo for Indy.

Nice Arrested Development ref in the Titans entry too--that new age feelgoodery! I understand Jeff Fisher has an Alpaca. Didn't Maeby get a "happy face" in spelling one semester? That's a grade, no?

17
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 4:04pm

In terms of Indianapolis' need for a #2 running back who isn't DeDe Dorsey, there isn't all that much available right now.
For most teams I'd say they should wait and sign the best available guy who doesn't catch on to a roster somewhere else, but that would leave whoever it was short of time to pick up on the Indianapolis offense, which actually requires the RB to do more than get the ball from the QB and run through the hole. So maybe they need to consider trading for a second-tier RB, see what they can get for a second day pick (they'll have a bunch of low-round comps next year so they can afford to part with a fourth or fifth IMO).

Unfortunately, my knowledge of lower-tier running backs who may be surplus to requirements is rather limited (also, I'm off out in five minutes) so I don't feel up to suggesting a target. Any ideas?

18
by methdeez (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 5:11pm

Re: #17
How about Ryan Moats or Correll Buckhalter from the Eags?
One of them will get cut this pre-season, might as well give us a 4th for them...

19
by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 5:58pm

15/17/18 Sounds good to me. I think Indy NEEDS somebody to carry at least 100 times--that's 6 times a game. That means he's probably in for about 12 snaps, which is two full drives or parts of about 4 drives in each game on average. (Indy has few enough drives as it is!) Reality is they probably need 160 carries or 10 per game from #2.

He has to have Manning's full trust or the O will just be ordinary with 70% of their package available, and that team cannot win consistently when they are just ordinary. They'll pull out a few when the O falters, but not too many.

Pretty confident (as I assume Polian is) that somebody will be available come August. But sooner is better, even though that generally means a little more expensive.

20
by Ralph (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 6:23pm

This is why Gregg Easterbrook gets paid well to write a humorous football column. It's obviously a difficult thing to do. This is a lame attempt at imitating TMQ's writing style.

21
by usedbread (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 6:27pm

In regards to the Colts' need for another RB, is Domanick Williams, ne: Davis, done forever? Last I checked he was still floating around the waiver wire. Yeah he missed all last season with injuries, but he was a pretty good little back for the Texans.

22
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (aka SJM) (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 6:36pm

The Redskins recently picked up Derrick Blaylock, but there's a decent chance they will cut him during the preseason. He might fit on the Colts if they are desperate by then.

23
by jr (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 6:45pm

ralph: Have you ever read anything written on FO before? If you're a first time visitor than you shouldn't be so hasty with your judgement; if not then you should know better.

On a separate note between their draft, failure to improve through FA, VY's looming Madden Curse and the Pacman saga has any team had a worse off-season than the Titans? Add that to the Grizzlies getting hosed in the draft lottery and it's been a pretty dismal year so far for Tennessee sports.

24
by sam (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 6:47pm

The Jags will have a running back or two to spare, but there's no chance Shack Harris lets one go to the Colts. I could really see them carrying an extra back just so Indy can't pick him up. I hate those guys.

25
by Tom (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 7:07pm

Re 15:

There is another alternative. Have Peyton pass all the way too much.

26
by Randy S. (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 7:13pm

16 - I think Maeby got a crocodile one semester as well.

Hmm, so Dillon might be out of the picture. They can acquire a Justin Fargas type from the Raiders, who have way too many RBs. One of the Minnesota RBs will probably get cut as well (Mewelde Moore? Ciatrick Fason?). They could probably grab Kevin Barlow too, as he's either cut or will be cut soon. Slim pickings, but anything is better than nothing.

27
by zip (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 8:54pm

This is why Gregg Easterbrook gets paid well to write a humorous football column.

Fixed that for ya.

28
by Joey (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 9:11pm

Oh man. Seeing a football fan not appreciate TMQ is as disheartening to me as seeing someone not appreciate Arrested Development.

29
by Theo (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 9:18pm

Damn good site that Tony YouGo got. Great find.
What's the 1st song called.

30
by Theo (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 9:22pm

I got it.
Artist: Young Jeezy
Song: Go Getta

31
by Ralph (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 9:33pm

28: The hatred for Easterbrook on this website is particularly bizarre, being that he put footballoutsiders.com on the map.

32
by Theo (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 10:31pm

31.
That's true.
But that doesn't make his columns any better.

I like the research in this article. It opens a lot of tabs in my browser, which I enjoy.

33
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 10:35pm

26 - Kevan Barlow is battling Najeh Davenport for the third-down/short yardage/backup RB role in Pittsburgh. I imagine he'll hang on at least into preseason there. I like the collective FO useless RB brainstorming in general though, it's highly amusing.

34
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 05/25/2007 - 11:10pm

The hatred for Easterbrook on this website is particularly bizarre, being that he put footballoutsiders.com on the map.

There's a heckuva lot of people who visit here. Not everyone hates TMQ. It's just that the people that do tend to dislike him a lot.

35
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2007 - 12:44am

I remember when TMQ first came out it was so unlike any other football writing. He's spawned a lot of imitators, and sometimes these days seems like an imitation of himself. What the heck...he had a good run.

36
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2007 - 1:10am

The Colts had better not sign Kevan Barlow. He is literally without a doubt the worst back in the league. -11 DPAR in three years, on teams that were successful running the ball with their other backs. People thought that he was on teams with poor running games, but they only thought that because those teams had Kevan Barlow.

Honestly, looking at what's out there, I think the best option is to cap Addai at 20 carries per game, not use anyone else, and just have Peyton pass all the time, like #25 said. It would be like one of those Marino offenses of old. 600 attempts for 4900+ yards.

One other thought: what about James Mungro? I don't think he's under contract now, but they gave him some carries as a rookie and he wasn't godawful. I'm fine with a low-talent backup running back, I just don't want one who's both untalented and inexperienced in the Colts offense.

37
by Bobman (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2007 - 1:43am

RE a Colt backup RB: Is Zach Crockett still in Raider black? It would be sweet having him finish his career where he started, backing up a young buck, and rambling for 130 yards in a playoff game when the starting RB got hurt. Of course that WAS 12 years ago.....

And I'd bet he'd go cheap to a team that has a chance of winning more than... (counting on my fingers now...) I guess five wins.

The Marino option is NOT what we want. Okay? I cannot stress that enough. Not to parrot back what every Pats fan rammed down my throat for the past five years, but let's count the rings Marino has from that system and the rings Manning has from years when he has had a 1,600 yard rushing attack AND fresh RB legs at the end of the season. (Edge's 13 yards in the 41-0 loss to NYJ still haunt me.)

Marino-ball might be exciting--hell, it WOULD be exciting, but the road to a 5,000 yard 50-TD season is paved with heartbreak. Beware all ye who enter.

Of course, as I backpedal so fast I twist an ankle, is it possible to alternate styles and play Marino ball about 10 games, standard Colt ball the rest, and have Addai fresh for the playoffs??? It would be combining 2004 and 2006, which, as I recall, is not the worst of all possible outcomes. Mixing in the D from 2005 in there would even be better.

All these damn what-if are killing me. is it August yet?

38
by Oily Harry (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2007 - 2:41am

Colts 12-4
Titans 8-8
Jaguars 6-10
Texans 6-10

39
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2007 - 5:41am

I would be surprised to see the Titans ahead of the Jaguars. I think they had a very rough offseason, and they lost a lot of important players for a team that wasn't all that good to begin with.

40
by James C (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2007 - 7:37am

If I were a Colts fan I wouldn't be too concerned if the Colts did run Addai into the ground. It may not be the way to have a long career, but the Colts are getting him for a fairly low cap figure and have (as far as I am concerned) demonstrated that they can pick up a replacement in the draft for their system - even if they have to spend a low first rounder, that isn't a problem due to how they build their roster. Similarly the back the Colts lost was an UFA, I would fully trust Polian and Moore to repeat the trick.

Yours sincerely

Bitter Bears fan (trying to be objective)

41
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2007 - 7:49am

Usedbread (#21) - Davis/Williams is almost certainly never going to play another down in the NFL due to injury. Even if he was, however, he's be a terrible fit for Indianapolis, because although he was a good receiver and a useful runner he was an abysmal blocker, and keeping blitzing defenders off Peyton is a really important part of the job for any Colts RB.

42
by Ulrik (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2007 - 8:56am

As for why philosophy majors may not be good at football:

"Coach: How could you throw that crazy pass? Didn't you see the safety?

Quarterback: I did see the safety, but then I thought, how do I know the safety really exists? My eyes perceive a safety and he seems to be covering the receiver, but this might only be from my frame of reference. Someone in the stands might perceive the safety to be covering another receiver, or no one at all. Who am I to say that my perception is correct and theirs is wrong? Then I thought, maybe the safety does exist! But the taboo against throwing into double coverage is just an oppressive ideology used by the dominant hegemony to maintain the imperialist power structure. So you see, I had to make the throw in order to liberate myself."

I found this on the 'net a few years back, probably right here on this site. But I can't remember who wrote it :-)

43
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2007 - 9:12am

36 - well:

Kevan Barlow vs. Leon Washington:
Barlow -1.7 DPAR -15.1% DVOA 42% Success Rate
Washington 17.5 DPAR 16.1% DVOA 49% Success Rate
Dominic Rhodes vs. Joseph Addai
Rhodes 0.6 DPAR -13.1% DVOA 49% Success Rate
Addai 36.1 DPAR 19.7% DVOA 62% Success Rate.

Looks like Barlow was a Rhodes-level back last year to me, at least based on dropoff from the actually competent back on the team.

44
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 05/26/2007 - 3:44pm

46: Since 1998 or so. I don't remember the pre-Peyton Manning era, but I do remember his rookie year. I'm 19, so I was about 10 years old when I began watching football. I remember the Barry Sanders retirement, Terrell Davis in the playoffs, Ryan Leaf, etc.

45
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Sun, 05/27/2007 - 12:52am

In all seriousness, Dan Parrish is a big tackle from Florida A&M, and if his Wikipedia page is any indication, he could be headed to Canton

Hmmm?

38/39: If the Jaguars can get decent quarterback play, they can challenge the Colts for the division title. After all, they did have a higher DVOA this year (last year?) than the Colts.

46
by sam (not verified) :: Sun, 05/27/2007 - 9:23am

51:
If by "decent" you mean "not Garrard" or "not throwing 2 interceptions for touchdowns and also fumbling at the 8 and having it returned 92 yards for a touchdown" then yes.

Basically they just need a quarterback who isn't going to contribute more for the opposing team than to his own team.

47
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sun, 05/27/2007 - 9:27am

#44 - I don't have any inside knowledge or anything, but I follow the Texans closely and the manner in which the team has behaved regarding Davis has made it clear for some time that they do not believe he will ever play again. Also, consider that the last time Davis played a full season healthy, in 2004, he racked up 1188 yards rushing and 588 receiving, with 14 combined touchdowns. If anyone thought he had any chance of returning to that form, he would not still be a free agent. Finally, PFP/BP injury specialist Will Carroll has stated that the last comparable injury to a running back he can think of was the one that ended Terrell Davis's career.

"Kevin Walter as your number-two receiver is an uninspiring omen"

I always find it strange that FO writers seem to treat Walter as if he was a known, not-very-good quantity. In Cincinnati, he was stuck behind a loaded depth chart at WR. The one game in which he actually got a significant number of targets due to injuries was the 2005 wild card loss to Pittsburgh, in which he caught a very respectable 5 balls for 73 yards. Last year in Houston, he was used much less than a normal number three would be simply because that is the nature of the Kubiak/Shanahan offense, not because of a lack of faith in him on the part of the coaching staff.

Walter's year-on-year DVOA, DPAR and catch percentage:

2006 (HOU): 2.4 2.5% 81%
2005 (CIN): 5.7 13.8% 66%

In 2004, he had 8 catches, but too few passes to show up in FO's metrics - ie. fewer than 10. So his catch percentage that year was either 88.9% or 100%. For whatever it's worth, the advanced metrics like him.

These stats, limited as the sample size is, point clearly to one thing anyone who has watched Walter could tell you: he has great hands. He is also very big, but rather slow. He is a similar type of player to Joe Jurevicius and Brian Finneran, both of whom also spent multiple years with minimal playing time at the start of their careers. I think it's entirely possible that Walter could turn out to be a very solid possession receiver along the lines of those two guys.

48
by admin :: Sun, 05/27/2007 - 12:00pm

Three comments.

1) Please don't have a message board name that takes more than 40 letters, okay? It screws things up.

2) I don't understand why we have to keep pointing this out, but white skin does not make Brian Finneran slow.

3) Don't attack each other on the boards, okay?

49
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sun, 05/27/2007 - 12:15pm

43:

Rhodes had 4 DPAR in the first two playoff games, and another 6.3 DPAR in the Super Bowl. While I don't think his fairly poor regular season numbers should be excused because of that, he did end up with above average numbers by the end of the year.

Barlow is much suckier than he is.

50
by Theo (not verified) :: Sun, 05/27/2007 - 6:56pm

48.

"white skin does not make Brian Finneran slow... his injuries do."

Oh and who are you to say... oh. Never mind. Peace.

51
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 05/27/2007 - 11:12pm

Does this mean the Colts continue to win games by 42-40 scores until Bob’s healthy around playoff time? It worked once, but it’s something less than a foolproof plan.

Someone tell me what I'm missing. Why is this funny?

52
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 05/28/2007 - 1:48am

Sid,
You're astute, so I'll assume you're kidding. If not, well, the statement itself is not funny (if you care at all about Indy), but the tone of the last few words comes through even on the Internet:

something less than foolproof = dang-fool idea if you think running through a whole season with 42-40 wins and praying for Sanders to be the Messiah in the playoffs is a good idea. I mean, if it happens, I won't be crying, but I wouldn't want to bet the mortgage on it.

53
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 05/28/2007 - 1:51am

Oh, and because of Aaron's deletions (what the hell happened? who went postal?), a handful of comments above remind me of a few threads we had last season, in which we took umbrage at something said 50 comments in the future. Fun for a while, especially when multiple guys picked up on it and tried to nail the future spot with something approaching witty referencing back to the original post.

54
by Rich (not verified) :: Mon, 05/28/2007 - 2:14am

Bobman,

We have L.J. Rocka to thank.

RE: 79
I agree. That is an excellent point.

55
by masocc (not verified) :: Mon, 05/28/2007 - 3:16am

Re #28:
I appreciate Arrested Development. Montsho-Eshe is hot.

56
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 05/28/2007 - 10:55am

35: I dunno, it feels that most peoples' criticism of TMQ is that he says ridiculous things and has silly "rules." It seems that most of the criticism is that he isn't seriously or accurately commenting on football, which seems a bit strange considering he doesn't appear to want to take either seriously. Less imitation of himself, more maturation of the genre, I think.

Of course, as I backpedal so fast I twist an ankle, is it possible to alternate styles and play Marino ball about 10 games, standard Colt ball the rest, and have Addai fresh for the playoffs??? It would be combining 2004 and 2006, which, as I recall, is not the worst of all possible outcomes. Mixing in the D from 2005 in there would even be better.

I'm not really sure you can just turn on a switch for that sort of thing, though. There is a lot of practicing and playbooking (like scrapbooking!) that would be problematic to essentially play two books. Plus, you also lose a lot of your ability to gameplan if you've already allocated a certain number of games to a particular "style."

57
by Theo (not verified) :: Mon, 05/28/2007 - 3:25pm

Does this mean the Colts continue to win games by 42-40 scores until Bob’s healthy around playoff time? It worked once, but it’s something less than a foolproof plan.

Someone tell me what I’m missing. Why is this funny?

Bob Sanders is not the most injury free player. And they did little to add depth behind him. So it almost looks like they're 'planning' to play the season without him (and win 42-40) and then gamble he's healthy in the play offs. (and win 29-17)

It's wasn't really funny, but I hope I cleared things up for you.

58
by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 05/28/2007 - 8:06pm

haha, yes I know who Bob Sanders is. And yes, I know all about the Indy defense last year.

But I was curious as to where the humor was. Didn't see any. Still don't.

59
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 05/29/2007 - 12:22am

#54 Funny, Rich, but the post at #110 was even better.

#56 Fnor, You speaketh wisdom, methinks. The offense is supposed to be complicated enough--they run few plays, but the necessity for everybody to be reading the same thing in the D and follow the real or fake audibles makes it a bit hard I understand. Add in, as you say, virtually a second playbook..... I bet every team does this to some extent (okay, here's the plays for when we're down by 28, or for when our three RBs all break their legs, etc.), but probably impractical to expect a jeckyll/hyde gameplan every week or so. (Then again, don't the Pats do something like that on D every week? he asks, contradicting himself.) Okay, I'll stop talking out my ass and wait til August to see what's gonna happen. I hear Ricky Williams is looking for a team. (I kill me....)

60
by iapetus (not verified) :: Tue, 05/29/2007 - 7:38am

39: Not to mention the fact that Jacksonville should be getting back a lot of players they were missing last year - Greg Jones, Mike Peterson, DD, Byron Leftwich (whether you think he's any good or not, he's never handed the opposing team a win in a game where they only managed to score 3 points under their own steam, and that's a 2-game shift in the Jags-Titans standings right there...) and possibly some portion of Reggie Hayward.

It's also worth taking a quick look at how the teams fared against their Pythagorean wins last year - they were both at the extremes of the league for that. Jacksonville underperformed, Tennessee overperformed. It's not a guaranteed predictor of future performance, but when the team that would have been expected to do better has a much better offseason and gets a stack of players back from injury it certainly seems like a strong indicator...

61
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 05/29/2007 - 5:13pm

Before last season, FO predicted the Jags would fall off compared to their previous 12-4 season, and then rise to contention in 2007. It looks like that just may happen. Greg Jones will be a valuable addition to the running game as a blocker (HB is a crowded position with Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew, LaBrandon Toefield and Alvin Pearman). My only concern about the defense is that Stroud's ankle is still bothering him... everybody mentioned DE as a position of need this offseason but if Stroud isn't ready to go on Day 1 that is a bigger problem.

62
by Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 05/29/2007 - 5:38pm

Some of this seems a little shorter on description: Draft reviews (for Houston and JAX), Remaining Needs (all but Tennessee) and UFA.

Houston - I was surprised that they did not pick up more help to try to keep Schaub upright. The Schaub trade could work well for Houston (look at Schaub's passing DVOA compared to Vick's over the past years) if they can keep him upright. Perhaps a second year in the system will be enough for the Offensive Line to gel.

Indianapolis - Sadly, I think the season will wear on them. The Colts are paying too much money for their receivers (Harrison has lost a step and Wayne is not far off, although their long history with QB allows them extra leeway) and QB (even if he is the best, Manning still takes up a LOT of cap space) to allow them much depth. The most noticable areas the Colts need more depth are probably the backfields (RB on offense and CB/LB on defense). The Colts COULD get lucky and not be plagued by injuries, but I suspect they will see enough to keep them from going deep into the playoffs.

Jacksonville - I enjoyed the rundown on which trade appeared good (trading down in first round was ideal - get extra picks, pay less $, still get your guy) and why. I would think the description of trades belongs in the Draft Review rather than remaining needs. In that case the Remaining Needs section is abyssmal. Surely, JAX is not that good and deep.

Tennessee - Wow. Bad draft. Bad off-season. Sophmore QB with too few targets and without a great RB. I think Vince Young is being setup to fail (too few weapons, started too many games in his rookie season - I prefer a Rookie QB start fewer than 6 games to avoid developing bad habits: Carr, Leaf, Vick, etc.).

The best predictor according to FO for QB making the transition from college to Pros is Games Started and Completion Percentage. Why not look at predictors for what you can do with a QB development once you have them? Take a look at the top 10 DVOA and/or DPAR for the past several years. Other than Big Ben (who took a nose-dive this past season) and Peyton Manning (who I consider to be exception to the rule), I think all of the top QB's in passing did not start many games their Rookie season.

63
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 05/29/2007 - 9:57pm

62: re Jax Depth "abysmal"

I would like to know which positions you feel are in need of addressing.

QB: Leftwich/Garrard/Gray
RB: Taylor/Jones-Drew/G.Jones/Toefield/Pearman/Winnfield
WR: added 2 draft picks & signed a free agent, plus Reggie Williams/Matt Jones/Ernest Willford
OL: They return four starters (would have been five, but they bolstered the RT position with Tony Pashos) and the former RT provides depth at the OT position. They have had a couple of project guys around the last couple of years they really like and who have been successful in limited spot duty the last 2 years.
TE: Marcedes Lewis (last year's number 1 pick) returns from injury/George Wrighster/Jermaine Wiggins/Greg Estandia

DE: Bobby McCray, Paul Spicer and Reggie Hayward are all quality starters. Rob Meier is an excellent rotation guy. Wyche and Hawkins are designated pass rushers. Mincey provides depth.

DT: Stroud and Henderson. Tony McDaniel did quite well as a rotation/injury fill-in. Derek Landri was a low draft pick who might make the team even with Stroud and Henderson in front of him.

LB: Mike Peterson/Daryl Smith/Clint Ingram (last year's 3rd-rounder did just fine when he stepped in due to injury)/Justin Durant (this year's 2nd-rounder). Nick Greisen has starting experience. The team has six other linebackers on the roster, ALL of whom they really like. A team in need of a quality linebacker will be glad to take guys like Pat Thomas or Brian Iwuh (who despite having a great preseason last year may not make the team this year...he got hurt last year and went on IR and there may or may not be a roster spot left for him now). Daryl Smith can play the middle in the 4-3 as he showed last year stepping in for Mike Peterson and anybody else can play either the Will or the Sam.

CB: Brian Williams and Rashean Mathis start at the corner. They've got a recent 1st day draft pick tie dup in Scott Starks and last year's 7th-rounder Dee Webb did pretty well in limited action as a rookie. Chris Roberson is a dime package/special teams guy who can step in to the nickel role for injuries.

Safety: Donovin Darius/Reggie Nelson. Gerald Sensabaugh did a solid job filling in last year when Darius went down and can play either safety position. They love Jamaal Fudge, an All-ACC undrafted guy they kept last year. Given all that, they must really like Josh Gattis, who they drafted this year even having drafted Reggie Nelson.

So, which position is it that has this abysmal void they need to fill?

64
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 05/29/2007 - 9:59pm

I did not intend to make it sound like I thought you said Jacksonville's depth was abysmal. I understand you were referring to the lack of information in that section in the article. I should have been more careful in how I worded that. Still, I would like to know why jacksonville "isn't that deep or talented."

65
by Pete (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 9:27am

#63/64 - I suspect neither of us suggested that Jax was an abyssmal team. However, your post was much more detailed than the original.

I was saying that I thought "The Jags will only struggle if their depth is tested at key positions, or if the great quarterback waffling of 2006 reprises itself in 2007." is nowhere near descriptive enough to lend any insights.

I think their QB situation could use improvement, but I do not see that happening this year.

I suspect there are lots of positions on all teams that could use more depth or top-level talent. Which are the ones of most need (even if they are better than most other teams)? Which positions are the riskiest at the top? Which positions are riskiest for depth?

66
by MRH (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 3:26pm

I know the Colts have a no-name rb behind Addai. How is that different from 2001 when Rhodes (an undrafted FA rookie) came on and was a decent replacement (14th in DVOA that year, better than James was in 2002)? The Colts D has some issues, but I think the Colts have demonstrated RBs are fungible in their system.

Rhodes post-his own injury was never as good as his rookie year but he was a pretty good player that season who almost no one had heard about.

67
by sam (not verified) :: Thu, 05/31/2007 - 5:52pm

65:

If they only had a set number of original "need" positions, though, and addressed them in the draft, it's pointless to list them again. You would just hae to copy the pre-draft report for every team, because who knows if the draft picks actually eliminated the need?

68
by Pete (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 10:41am

Sam, I think having a pre-draft "needs" section would be a great idea. This should include starting-level needs as well as depth needs. Then, the first part of "remaining needs" would link to this pre-draft description and then address remaining needs.

69
by sam (not verified) :: Fri, 06/01/2007 - 9:43pm

FO's pre-draft needs for JAX:
"The Jags have been quiet in free agency. Re-signing backs LaBrandon Toefield and Derrick Wimbush as insurance was a smart move. They’ll get the back end of the draft’s top talent. They already have some physical receivers and a capable running tandem, putting them well ahead of most of their division. Expect them to add on defense, as they can’t be happy about picking a tight end in the first round last year. Safety Reggie Nelson is one of the players the Jags hope drops to them, as Donovan Darius can’t be relied upon." Based on that, Jax addressed their needs.

70
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 06/05/2007 - 5:34pm

Well, try as hard as I might I can't seem to find any record of Brian Finneran having run a 40 at any point. Possibly if I had an NFLDraftScout subscritption I could, but I don't really want to shell out $25 just for that. He averaged 21.3 yards/reception in 2001, which obviously suggests some serious speed, and a far from shabby 15.0 and 14.2 in the two following years. On the flip side, I find it hard to imagine a player who was 6'5 and had blazing speed as well as tremendous college production, even at the 1AA level, going undrafted. Far from conclusive, of course. From 2004 onwards, his y/c has been around 12, so perhaps age and injuries had slowed him even before the latest blow. He never struck me as that fast, but then I didn't get Sky TV until 2004, so I had seen very little of him before that. I know perfectly well that there are fast white receivers (Kevin Curtis, Matt Jones) and big, slow black receivers (Marques Colston, recent editions of Keyshawn Johnson). The reason I didn't suggest either of these as a comparison was the same as my reason for not mentionning Ed McCaffrey: I didn't want to suggest such a high ceiling. I don't think there is much chance that Walter will ever be a 1000 yard receiver. Moreover, both Colston and Johnson had big rookie seasons, and I was looking for players with potentially similar career arcs.

I apologise if I sounded like I was attacking FO: I love the site and the work the Outsiders do. It's just that this wasn't the first off-season piece here to dismiss Walter out of hand, and it grated slightly. He's unproven, not proven bad.