Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Audibles at the Line: Week 16

The FO crew takes on the top contenders as the playoff field rounds into shape. Plus: the great Drew Brees debate of 2014.

07 May 2007

Four Downs: AFC West

by Michael David Smith

Denver Broncos

Draft Review

There are good reasons to question the Broncos' trades -- they gave up an awful lot to move up -- but you've got to give them this: They're clearly better on the defensive line after the draft than they were before the draft. Three of the Broncos' four draft picks were defensive linemen: First-round pick Jarvis Moss of Florida, second-round pick Tim Crowder of Texas, and fourth-round pick Marcus Thomas of Florida. All three of them have the talent to contribute as rookies, and beefing up the defensive line was the top priority of new defensive coordinator Jim Bates.

So does that mean the Broncos did what they needed to do? Not quite. For starters, Moss and Crowder are both undersized ends who are better at rushing the passer than they are at stopping the run. The Broncos already had a young undersized end who's better at rushing the passer than he is at stopping the run in Elvis Dumervil, who led the team in sacks as a rookie in 2006. And big questions surround Thomas; he once looked like a first-round pick, but he got kicked off the team at Florida.

The Broncos' other pick, Notre Dame offensive tackle Ryan Harris, is undersized and has quick feet, which makes Denver seem like the right place for him. He probably won't start right away, but Broncos coach and general manager Mike Shanahan has a certain type of lineman he likes to build his offense around, and Harris fits that type.

Remaining Needs

When you trade away so many draft picks that you are left with only four, and you use three of those four to bolster one unit, you are obviously not going to fill your needs elsewhere. With longtime middle linebacker Al Wilson gone, the Broncos were widely expected to be in the market for a linebacker, but they didn't draft one. They also could have used a young safety to learn from -- and eventually replace -- John Lynch.

Undrafted Free Agents

Shanahan belives strongly in giving undrafted players a chance to prove themselves in training camp. Last year, running back Mike Bell went from an obscure undrafted free agent to the top of the depth chart after just a few weeks of August practices. Two of the best players in recent franchise history -- receiver Rod Smith and left tackle Matt Lepsis -- entered the league as undrafted free agents.

Shanahan obviously loved the Florida defensive line: One of the undrafted free agents invited to Denver was Florida defensive tackle Steven Harris. Others include Texas running back Selvin Young, Auburn guard Tim Duckworth, Wisconsin safety Roderick Rogers, and Hampton wide receiver Marquay McDaniel.

Kansas City Chiefs

Draft Review

There's every reason to believe that LSU receiver Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs' first-round pick, will be in the starting lineup in September. Bowe was the third receiver off the board, and although he isn't the freak of nature that Calvin Johnson is and didn't have as many big plays in college as Ted Ginn did, he looks like a polished, NFL-ready player.

After taking Bowe in the first round, the Chiefs used their other two first-day picks on defensive tackles Turk McBride of Tennessee and Tank Tyler of North Carolina State. It'll be a while before we know if they can play, but it sure sounds cool to have a pair of defensive tackles named Turk and Tank. With two new defensive tackles in the fold, the Chiefs finally said farewell to Ryan Sims, trading Tampa Bay this 2002 draft pick who never lived up to expectations.

Fifth-round pick Justin Medlock of UCLA was the first kicker selected, and he'll enter training camp the favorite to beat out incumbent Lawrence Tynes for the kicking job in Kansas City. Tynes had a shaky 2006 season. He missed what should have been a chip-shot in the playoffs against Indianapolis, which deflated the Chiefs just when they looked like they were building momentum.

Remaining Needs

The Chiefs' offensive line took a hit when Will Shields retired, so it's surprising that they didn't select a lineman until the sixth round, when they grabbed Texas Christian's Herbert Taylor. Few if any draft analysts see Taylor as a player who can start as a rookie, so the offensive line isn't much better now than it was before the draft.

The Chiefs also didn't take a defensive back even though starters Ty Law and Patrick Surtain are 137 years old. (Each.) The Kansas City Star reported after the draft that the Chiefs' war room was very disappointed when the Giants selected Texas cornerback Aaron Ross, and Ross likely would have been the Chiefs' first-round pick if he had still been available. The Chiefs also considered Tennessee cornerback Jonathan Wade in the third round before going with Tyler instead. No matter the reasons for ending draft weekend without Ross, Wade, or any other new cornerback on the roster, that's still a major need for the Chiefs.

Undrafted Free Agents

Although he'll enter training camp behind McBride and Tyler in the defensive tackle pecking order, South Carolina nose tackle Stanley Doughty was a good signing for the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent. Doughty is an extremely strong 331-pounder who looks like he could step into an NFL defense today and immediately make life miserable for the center across the line from him. Doughty wasn't drafted because he doesn't make much of a dent in the pass rush, but if he can make the team, expect him to play well in the Chiefs' short-yardage defense.

Oakland Raiders

Draft Review

The Raiders drafted 11 players, but this year's draft will be judged, mostly, on the success or failure of JaMarcus Russell. If Russell is a great quarterback in five years, this draft was a major success. If he isn't, it wasn't.

Second-round tight end Zach Miller is a good all-around player who probably dropped a bit on draft boards after a mediocre performance at the combine. Even if he lacks the speed of most NFL tight ends, he should contribute to new coach Lane Kiffin's offense immediately. With its third-round pick Oakland chose defensive end Quentin Moses, who a year ago was seen as a likely top-10 pick but suffered a serious drop after a sub-par senior season.

The Raiders may have had the most activity surrounding fourth-round picks in draft history. They acquired a fourth-round pick in the highest-profile move of draft weekend, exchanging Randy Moss for New England's fourth-rounder. And they drafted Louisville running back Michael Bush, a big-time talent who's coming off a badly broken leg, with their own fourth-round pick.

They also traded a fourth-round pick they had previously acquired in another trade to the Lions for Mike Williams and Josh McCown. (Snapshot of the Matt Millen era in Detroit: He spent the 10th overall pick on Williams, who caught all of 37 passes in a Lions uniform. He spent $4 million on McCown, who never threw a pass in a Lions uniform. He traded those two players and got just a fourth-round pick in return. And this isn't even close to the worst move he's made.)

Remaining Needs

Does anyone seriously believe the Raiders did enough to improve their offensive line? I don't know about you, but when I watched the Raiders' line last year, I didn't think to myself, "All they need is Mario Henderson." And yet Henderson, a third-round pick out of Florida State, was the only offensive lineman the Raiders picked. Who's going to keep Russell upright?

Undrafted Free Agents

Among the Raiders' haul of undrafted free agents, the one who at first glance seems to have the best chance of making the team is USC wide receiver Chris McFoy, who already knows Kiffin's offense and is a good all-around player who blocks downfield and can contribute on special teams. Another intriguing undrafted player is Hawaii cornerback Kenny Patton, who in 2005 was one of the few bright spots for Hawaii in a 63-17 loss to USC. Despite giving up five inches, Patton out-leaped Dwayne Jarrett to pick off a Matt Leinart pass in the end zone that day, and that may have made a strong impression on Kiffin.

San Diego Chargers

Draft Review

No general manager has a more impressive draft-day résumé than the Chargers' A.J. Smith, but he's been questioned for the way he handled this year's draft. First-round pick Craig Davis, a wide receiver out of LSU, wasn't seen as a first-round pick in the eyes of most analysts, and it seems safe to say that the local fans would have preferred USC's Dwayne Jarrett. And Smith traded a lot (a second-round pick, two third-round picks, and a fifth-round pick) so that he could select safety Eric Weddle of Utah in the second round. Given Smith's track record, he probably knew what he was doing on those choices, but it's hard not to question him for the time being.

Smith's later picks look solid: Fourth-round pick Scott Chandler of Iowa can run, block, and catch, and he has the potential to team with Antonio Gates and give the Chargers a lot of options with two tight ends on the field. Inside linebackers Anthony Waters, a third-round pick out of Clemson, and Brandon Siler, a seventh-round pick out of Florida, will both get a shot at becoming Donnie Edwards' replacement.

Remaining Needs

San Diego's roster is so stacked that it didn't have many needs in the first place, but some added depth for the defensive line of new coordinator Ted Cottrell would have been helpful, and the Chargers didn't draft any defensive linemen.

Undrafted Free Agents

The Chargers added 22 undrafted players. San Diego State's Antwan Applewhite, who was a 4-3 defensive end in college but will play 3-4 outside linebacker for the Chargers, looks like one who could make the roster as a special teamer and eventually earn playing time on defense. Applewhite is a good athlete and a good pass rusher. Barry Cryer of Nebraska was overshadowed by linemates Adam Carriker (drafted in the first round by St. Louis) and Jay Moore (drafted in the fourth round by San Francisco), but he looks like a good bet to move from 4-3 defensive tackle to 3-4 defensive end and has a fair chance of making the Chargers.

When looking at undrafted free agents, Smith seems to like players who have a connection to the team. That's why Baylor cornerback Anthony Airline is a logical fit: When Airline was at Baylor, Chargers secondary coach Bill Bradley was Baylor's defensive coordinator.

Next: NFC South

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 07 May 2007

80 comments, Last at 22 May 2007, 7:51am by kibbles

Comments

1
by Mike W (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 12:26pm

The Raiders and Lions should be required to make at least two trades a year as long as Davis and Millen are in charge. High comedy.

2
by War N Peace (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 12:27pm

Love purty near anything MDS writes... great job as always.

Funny how Oakland failed to draft any decent OL.... I think they are aiming for addition by subtraction in that they left their best O-Lineman (L Walker) go in the off-season... wait a second... Nope.. they must just be aiming for SUCK.

Also (this is just a small point), but SD's Scott Chandler, may have the size that could lead one to believe he can block... he should by every right be able to block, but he obviously spent too much time under the TE coach and not enough listening to Ferentz. The guy can find the soft spot in coverage fairly often, but he's slow and fairly soft when it comes to blocking. Quite the project overall...

3
by dryheat (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 1:01pm

I just want to voice my support for the new video ads. Is there a way we can combine this technology with Catholic Match Girl's icily sexy (or sexily icy) stare?

4
by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 1:21pm

"Others include Texas running back Selvin Young"

FANTASY ALERT! FANTASY ALERT!

5
by diarmuid (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 2:43pm

I have to agree with Mike Shanahan on the awesomeness of Florida's 2006 D line. The Gators' offense might have sputtered ineffectually for stretches of the season but that entire defense was freaking phenomenal. Also I know it has no bearing whatsoever on his pro prospects but my favorite Jarvis Moss moment is definitely his block of a last second South Carolina FG to deny Spurrier back to back wins over UF and keep the Gators in the championship game discussion.

6
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 3:22pm

Denver: I agree with #5. Going after the entire Florida defensive line was a great idea.

Kansas City: I really don't feel like this team is in the position to be spending draft picks on kickers at the moment.

Oakland: I think the paragraph on the Raiders' remaining needs is the most important. We know Russell has a fairly poor QB projection from David Lewin's system. Is he really going to overcome that with the offensive line he has, and Jerry Porter and Mike Williams for receivers?

San Diego: I said before the draft that I thought because of the big Johnson-Ginn-Meachem-Bowe-Rice-Jarrett group, other really good receivers like Johnnie Lee Higgins and Craig Davis would go overlooked. I thought Davis would be more of a 2nd or 3rd round steal, but AJ Smith picked him up quickly.

7
by db (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 3:35pm

KC's pick of Dwayne Bowe will probably end up a waste. While Bowe has the measurables that teams love, he has Roberto Duran "hands of stone". Denver still has Cutler at QB and of all the newbies last season, he did the least with the most. If he has a soph. slump the Broncos watch the playoffs again. In defense of Oakland and Mike Williams, the Lions, Millen and the coach were all losers before he got there and they will all be losers now that he is gone. The Chargers win by default, a fact that I am sure surprises noone.

8
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 3:54pm

7. Well, Cutler was in a really good QB class. He had a good rookie year (he was a better passer than Plummer, even.) It just happened that Leinart and Young had great rookie years.

He'll be just fine this coming year. Usually QBs who start their rookie year make a huge jump between years one and two. Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Kyle Boller, David Carr, Peyton Manning, and Donovan McNabb all fit that pattern.

Cutler got unexpectedly thrown into the starting job mid-season and he still played decently. With a whole offseason's practice as the starter, and the typical 2nd year jump, he should be good next year. He's clearly not the best quarterback of his draft class, but that's just because he was in a really good draft class.

9
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 4:08pm

I've got to give props to the Broncos for identifying that they need help on the D-Line, and then bringing in stud(s) from the past 2 national championship teams to address those needs.

Then there is a team like the Washington Redskins with those same needs ( even worse), but that didn't even address that need with 1 draft choice.

Could Selvin Young be the next Bronco success story?

10
by Optimistic Packer Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 4:30pm

In yet another sign of how bad the Browns are, the Broncos replace their old defensive line with a college line-and the college line is expected to be better.

11
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 4:59pm

Denver still has Cutler at QB and of all the newbies last season, he did the least with the most.

The "most"? I must've missed the time when Denver's offense last year was ever really good, regardless of who was at QB.

Cutler also had less time at QB than any of the others (significantly less). That might've had something to do with it.

12
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 5:37pm

11: To continue that point, Cutler last year only had one decent receiver (Walker) and an O-line that sometimes struggled to pass block. Leinart had Fitzgerald and Boldin to throw to, and VY didn't really do much damage with his arm.

13
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 6:35pm

7: "Cutler at QB and of all the newbies last season, he did the least with the most" Cutler had a passer rating nearly 15 points higher than Leinart's, who also had the better supporting cast, as Fitzgerald and Boldin are among the best tandems in the game.

14
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 6:42pm

Can any of the sagacious minds that frequent Outsiders enlighten me as to who on earth is supposed to be starting at left tackle, right tackle and right guard for the Chiefs this year? I'm stumped and I'd wager that Larry Johnson is pretty pissed about the situation, having waited two years on the bench to play behind that line.

Has Lane Kiffin formulated some new offensive scheme that doesn't need any linemen or his he planning to get Russell killed?

15
by Randy (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 6:57pm

Not too bad a review, but I'm very confused by the reference to Denver's new rookie DEs as "undersized". From a cursory review of their physical specs and a quick look at a 100 DEs in the NFL it demonstrates that the "average" sized DE in the NFL is 6'4" tall and weighs 275 pounds. How is Crowder "undersized" at almost exactly that size? Also, Moss is listed as 6'6" and 250 pounds. He could/will gain a few pounds, but how can 6'6" be "undersized?" I thought you guys were into math and stats???

16
by Rob Zepeda (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 6:59pm

After seeing these guys on the field, and learning about them from a character and leadership perspective, Craig Davis and Eric Weddle are perfect fits for the Chargers.

I don't understand why Davis is considered a reach, whereas Anthony Gonzalez to the Colts didn't raise many eyebrows.

Davis had better numbers the past two season (than Anthony), is bigger and faster, and faced WAY tougher competition in the SEC.

17
by Cugel (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 7:11pm

Shanahan executed his draft strategy efficiently, and there's no reason to criticize it right now.

He didn't take a LB because he's moving former 1st round pick D.J. Williams over from SLB where he's been stifled the last 2 years and brought in former Redskin Warrick Holdman to play SLB.

He didn't take a safety because DL was a MUCH greater need and, as he said "John Lynch went to the pro-bowl last year. While a player can sometimes fall off a cliff that's why we have the off-season conditioning program." He presumably knows from Lynch's workouts this spring that he's right back on track. He's also getting Nick Ferguson and Sam Brandon back from injury and CB Dominique Foxworth will probably get some looks as a cover safety this season just to get him on the field more -- he's the nickel back behind Bailey and Bly.

S might be a need for the Broncos but probably not this year.

As for Thomas being a "risk" it doesn't look like it. He seems truly repentent (and well he should be after watching his buddies play the national championship on TV). If he stays away from drugs he will be the steal of the entire draft.

It's just virtually impossible normally to get an elite pass-rushing DT in the 4th round, yet Shanahan seems to have done it.

As for "giving up" picks to move up in the draft the Broncos always intended to do that. They didn't figure they had more than 4 roster spaces for rookies this season after all the FAs they got. So, they didn't even think the guy they were targeting in the 6th round would make the team! So, why not give up that pick to move up and get a guy who will?

18
by Sifter (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 7:24pm

#14 - Larry Johnson has every right to be pissed, but he probably won't get much of a chance to run behind the line due to his overuse last year and the inevitable injuries that must be coming his way this year.

19
by Matt Millen (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 7:39pm

Why do I always get made fun of? The Texans had to straight up cut David Carr...I got a 5th rounder for Joey freaking Harrington.

The Vikings are talking about cutting 7th pick Troy Williamson...I got a 4th rounder for a guy who has seen the field less and Drago the back-up QB. Hell the fact that I get stuff for my stupidity should be celebrated.

and Doughty's problems are more then his lack of a pass rush. The fact that he is not that bright and has off the field problems hurt him as well. Plus he was kind of lazy at South Carolina.

Are the Raiders changing their blocking scheme? That can help more then spending picks on guys.

20
by Matt Millen (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 7:49pm

#14

right now Chiefs OL I guess will look this:

LT: Damion McIntosh
LG: Brian Waters
C: Chris Wiegmann
RG: Chris Bober
RT: Chris Terry (or John Welbourn..)

Though I am not sure about Terry considering he was suspended for all of 2005...and he recently had a warrant for his arrest for failure to appear on I assume assault charges

21
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 7:49pm

rel: 19

Yes, Raider changing the blocking scheme. Going with zone blocking this year. Alex Gibbs brought in to help make switch. Raiders have personal in plave to make this switch. Personal was not the probalem last year- coaching was the problem. Raiders have look of a playoff team. Line was only concern last year and that will soon be fixzed.

22
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 7:51pm

re: 19

Al Davis pulled fast one on you in M Williams, L McCown deal. You got 4th round pick. Big deal. Raiders got new WR and new QB. McCown will start while jamarcus Russell gets ready.

23
by SMD (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 7:59pm

I think there is an interesting point to be made about the Weddle pick. I'm reading a in a lot of places that the Chargers overpaid. While this is probably true in general, I don't think it is in the case of the specific. The Chargers have a deep and talented roster, they really didn't have room for all those draft picks. So instead of continue to collect players, AJ Smith targeted a need and went and got the player he needed (Weddle). While this is generally a poor football strategy due to the lack of understanding of the importance of depth, this is not true in the specific case of the Chargers since they are so deep already.

24
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 8:03pm

13 - Leinart didn't, in general, have Fitzgerald and Boldin for many of his games since both of them missed time due to injuries. He more frequently had one of the two and Bryant Johnson, which is admittedly not a bad tandem to have either.

He also had no freaking running game whatsoever, of course, and not wonderful pass protection either. As anybody who watched the game in which Denny Green called five rush plays, total, will be aware.

Leinart put up a 3.9% DVOA (it's not meaningful to compare the PAR of players who saw widely different amounts of action). Cutler produced at -7.4%; Young (passing) at -8.1%. How much of that difference was caused by Leinart's superior recievers is another matter, but there's not much doubt he outperformed the other rookies out of context.

My best guess as to why Cutler has a superior QB rating has to do with Leinart's better pocket presence and willingness to throw the ball away (and his frequently having to with Arizona's wonderful offensive line); incompletes are better than sacks, which VOA knows and passer rating doesn't.

25
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 8:12pm

re: 1

Will you be laughing when the Raiders win the Super Bowl for the 2008 season (Super Bowl 43)?

26
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 8:18pm

Another reason Cutler's QB rating is better than his DVOA:

Cutler's conventional stats are helped a lot by two plays, the (admittedly awesome) deep ball to Javon Walker, and then that short pass that got taken something like 71 yards by Marshall. Those two together make up about 1/4 of his total yardage and TDs. Really, really long plays help conventional stats more than they help DVOA.

My perception is that Leinart played more consistently than Cutler did, and DVOA likes that.

27
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 8:37pm

25

I don't know he'll be laughing, but if you believe it as strongly as you seem to, you will probably be a very rich man.

28
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 8:37pm

re: 26

I don't know about these new stats but if they say Cutler isn't that great, then I agree. Cutler is not Russell,. That's for sure. Jamarcus Russell=black John Elway. Jay Cutler white Jeff Hostetler.

29
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 9:02pm

Ugg. meant to write Jeff Blake

30
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 9:27pm

24, 26: The main reason that I liked Cutler's season much more than Leinart's is that Cutler had a substantially better TD:interception ratio. Personally I am very dubious about using the FO stats to measure the performance of individuals, I like them for entire units though.

I'm pretty sure that Cutler is going to be a better player than Leinart through their entire careers, as he seems to have a special arm.

31
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 10:17pm

I'm not sure TD:INT ratio is a good measure of a QB's overall performance. Bruce Gradkowski had a better TD:INT ratio than Matt Leinart and Vince Young. And he was absolutely terrible.

32
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 10:36pm

30 (yay, this is the irrational Matt Leinart-Jay Cutler thread) - The TD:INT ratio for Leinart versus Cutler mostly means that Leinart was chasing games and had to take more risks.

If you're going to claim that stats don't reflect the performance of individuals you have to accept that's true of every stat you can quote, and to stop cherry-picking ones which reflect your preconceived notions. VOA and PAR are less biased by game situation (since they contain modifiers to correct for it) than yards, TD:INT (especially in Cutler's case where that's 9:5 based on less than half a season) QB rating or whatever other statistic you want to use, and at worst only equally context-dependent.

It boils down to making an evaluation of QB play based on 36 plays (11 TD and 11 INT for Leinart plus 9 TD and 5 INT for Cutler) or on 507 (the total number of passes the two QB's threw this year that VOA counted). "Cutler threw fewer interceptions." Well, sure. Maybe because Shanahan is more conservative (he clearly trusted him less than Green trusted Leinart, given that Warner got benched far earlier in the season despite playing better than Plummer). Maybe because Denver's superior defense lead to them chasing fewer games and needing fewer high-risk throws. Maybe because Cutler didn't have to play against Champ Bailey, who accounted for 2 of Leinart's INTs all by himself. Maybe because teams haven't had enough time (generally 6-8 games) to accumulate film on Cutler's weaknesses yet but they have for Leinart.

As for the longer career, Daunte Culpepper and Michael Vick have special arms, too. (So does Chad Pennington, but that's a more double-edge to the word "special", I think). What makes for a great quarterback is field vision, pocket presence and decision making. Neither of the official Football Outsiders Best QBs in the NFL have great arm strength - adequate to be sure, but not great. They don't need it. Ultimately, it really doesn't matter how fast you rifle a ball to a double-covered reciever.

33
by D (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 10:47pm

Not sure why this debate has sprung up in this thread, but it is worth noting that Cutler faced a significanly easier schedule of opposing pass defenses than Leinart which makes Cutler's standard stats look better than they really are. I think Cutler will be a good QB but I think Leinart is the better long term prospect (though I'm not quite sure The Whiz's run first offense will be a great fit in 'Zona which could hurt Leinart's stats).

34
by kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 11:09pm

Re #8: 7. Well, Cutler was in a really good QB class. He had a good rookie year (he was a better passer than Plummer, even.) It just happened that Leinart and Young had great rookie years.

He’ll be just fine this coming year. Usually QBs who start their rookie year make a huge jump between years one and two. Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Kyle Boller, David Carr, Peyton Manning, and Donovan McNabb all fit that pattern.

Cutler got unexpectedly thrown into the starting job mid-season and he still played decently. With a whole offseason’s practice as the starter, and the typical 2nd year jump, he should be good next year. He’s clearly not the best quarterback of his draft class, but that’s just because he was in a really good draft class.

Did Cutler do the least with the most? Is it clear that he's not the best QB of his draft class? I'm not sure that Cutler had "the most" at his disposal (personally, I'd call Larry Fitzgerald + Anquan Boldin "the most"), but DVOA-wise, he ranked higher than Young, and he was the only one of the three to finish with a positive TD:INT ratio (and had the best TD:turnover ratio, if you want to include VY's rushing numbers). He had a better ypa average than Leinart and Young (7.3 to 6.8 to 6.2, respectively), he had a better completion% (59.1 to 56.8 to 51.5), and he did all of this despite having the least in-game experience of the three... and it's not like his surrounding talent was all that much better. Like I said, Leinart had Boldin/Fitzgerald, and both Leinart and Young had better passblocking offensive lines (Denver finished with the worst adjusted sack rate of the three, and Cutler played all of his games after Lepsis was lost for the season).

I'm not saying that Cutler is clearly the best QB in his draft class (I think a very rational, reasonable arguement could be made for any of the three at this point), I'm just saying that he's also not the worst- clearly or otherwise.

Re #10: In yet another sign of how bad the Browns are, the Broncos replace their old defensive line with a college line-and the college line is expected to be better.
In fairness, UF is looking like a D-Lineman factory. They also produced names like Gerard Warren, Javon Kearse, Alex Brown, Bobby McCray (10 sacks last year for Jax), Kevin Carter (almost 100 career sacks), and Ian Scott. I doubt any other college in the nation can lay claim to a more impressive lineup than that. Heck, a Kearse/Warren/Scott/Brown DL with McCray, Jarvis Moss, Marcus Thomas, Ray McDonald, and Kevin Carter coming off the bench would probably be the best and deepest DLine in the entire league, and that's leaving off Mincey, Cohen, and Harris, who all made teams this offseason.

Re #15: Not too bad a review, but I’m very confused by the reference to Denver’s new rookie DEs as “undersized�. From a cursory review of their physical specs and a quick look at a 100 DEs in the NFL it demonstrates that the “average� sized DE in the NFL is 6′4″ tall and weighs 275 pounds. How is Crowder “undersized� at almost exactly that size? Also, Moss is listed as 6′6″ and 250 pounds. He could/will gain a few pounds, but how can 6′6″ be “undersized?� I thought you guys were into math and stats???
Cohen isn't undersized, but Jarvis Moss is a reed (relatively speaking, of course) who will probably only play in obvious passing situations.

Of course, the reason he's so thin is that until about 12 months ago he had a lingering undiagnosed staph infection that resulted in him losing huge amounts of weight, so I suspect that Jarvis Moss won't be "undersized" forever. Still, I agree with MDS that adding Moss was a little puzzling with the presence of Dumerville, already. I would have been much happier if Denver had stayed put and if Moss hadn't fallen, grabbed Reggie Nelson (the safety from Florida) instead. Then they could have used that third rounder on Marcus Thomas (and therefore not needed to trade for a fourth rounder later on), resulting in pretty much the exact same draft without all the spent picks from next year's draft.

Not that I'm too worried. I'm sure we'll manage to acquire some of Washington's draft picks between now and then.

Re #28: I don’t know about these new stats but if they say Cutler isn’t that great, then I agree. Cutler is not Russell,. That’s for sure. Jamarcus Russell=black John Elway. Jay Cutler white Jeff Hostetler.
Speaking as someone who has seen a lot of John Elway and JaMarcus Russell, I'm going to have to disagree there. All Russell has in common with Elway is that they both have great measurables. Elway wasn't the #1 prospect in the history of the NFL entirely because of his measurables, though- he set the NCAA record for lowest INT%, and he virtually willed his college team from brutal to mediocre (two traits he shares far more with Cutler than Russell). Russell, on the other hand, disappeared during big games (other than his shellacking of Notre Dame... but on the other hand, that was Notre Dame, which holds the record for most consecutive bowl losses- he was facing the only QB in all of college football who was more mediocre in big games than he was). Also, he didn't QB a team that far outplayed its talent potential- quite the contrary! LSU was clearly the most talented team in the entire SEC last year, and despite that, Russell still QB'd them to a two-loss season. Some people have already begun calling them the best two-loss team in history. In my mind, that's not the mark of a great QB- the mark of a great QB is that you're the "worst __-loss team in history", not the best- because that means you overachieved something fierce, instead of underachieved something fierce.

Remember, too, that, before the 2006 season, Russell wasn't even projected as the starting QB on his own team!

Also, I could call Russell a "half-hearted" runner, but that would be too kind. He also doesn't have great pocket awareness (something else Elway was famous for), and really only put up such great numbers because his OL and WRs were unreal (something Elway never had in college).

I suspect that if every QB who came out in the last 5 years were all just coming out for the first time (and we don't know now what we didn't know then), then there's no way in hell that Russell would be the first QB off the board (heck, he might not even be the third QB off the board). On the other hand, if every player in the history of the NFL who ever declared for the draft was all made eligible right now (and we didn't know now what we didn't know then), then John Elway would still probably go #1 overall. That's why it's essentially so silly to compare Russell (who isn't the most highly regarded player at his own position in the past 5 years, and who wasn't even the most highly regarded player in his own draft class!) with Elway (who is without question the most highly regarded prospect in NFL history).

35
by Bronco Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 05/07/2007 - 11:56pm

Re:19 Thanks for the laugh.

As for the Broncos, I feel very good about the next decade or so with the talent that Shanahan has assembled on both sides of the ball. With all the talk about the Patriots being the team to beat...don't forget the AFC West tandem of San Diego and Denver. Either one of them has the ability to beat New England any place, any time.

The winner of the AFC West will be the winner of the Super Bowl. Mark my words.

36
by are-tee (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 12:15am

"That’s why Baylor cornerback Anthony Airline is a logical fit"

I'm disappointed that there's a player named Airline, and he didn't sign with the Jets.

37
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 12:30am

*chuckle* I guess it is almost irrational optimism time again (offseason).

Evaluating last year's QB class is purely hypothetical at this time; give it 3 more years. At this time last year, I felt that Leinart would be the best of the lot but after watching Cutler and reading about his work ethic, I'm not so sure any more. With the kind of offense Shanahan has demonstrated that he can build, and considering how he is clearly tailoring this offense to his new QB's skillset, I think Cutler has the edge now.

I too, would have liked the Broncos to have picked a safety, but Shanahan seems quite pleased with what he has there. The "other" starting safety, Nick Ferguson, was undrafted; the primary backup, Sam Brandon, who sees the field a lot in the big nickel package, was a 4th round pick. Curome Cox, Steve Cargile and Hamza Abdullah may not be household names, but they are on the roster and have been for two or more years. And the Broncos have added another college free agent safety.

Speaking of college free agents, one of the shortest signings ever? The Broncos signed Tim Duckworth, offensive guard, on May 1st and cut him on May 6th. I wonder what he did/said...

kibbles: I don't agree about Jarvis Moss. Just going by the highlight video, that guy is something special. We'll see though...

38
by pharmboyrick (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 2:39am

The main reason why Cutler WILL have a MUCH better career than Leinert is that Cutler will be playing for one of the two best coaches in the NFL and for an owner committed to winning, while Leinert will have a new coach every 3 years accompianied by the NFLs worst ownership. Vince Young is a winner, but I question how long he will be able to play the run/pass style as it often leads to injuries along with a rapid decline in skills when the hits catch up with you.

Raiderjoe... Russell to the Raiders does not worry me, as Russell= (WHite) Bledsoe. Dude is a huge statue with a cannon that will take a ton of hits behind that Raider o-line, (Think Bledsoe in Buffalo).

39
by kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 3:07am

Re #37: kibbles: I don’t agree about Jarvis Moss. Just going by the highlight video, that guy is something special. We’ll see though…

I don't know what you don't agree with. I said that Jarvis Moss was a reed (he's one of the lightest DEs in the entire league- especially when you take into account how tall he is!), and that he suffered from a staph infection in his hip until last season so he hasn't had much chance to bulk up yet (which is true).

I've seen the highlights, too- not on video, in person. I was actually at the Swamp, sitting in the North End Zone, when Jarvis Moss leapt up and blocked the kick to win the South Carolina game. I think he's a real player, and I think he has a chance to become a Dwight Freeney/Robert Mathis type (people compare him to Jason Taylor, but I question whether he'll ever be that good in run support). The reason I wish Denver had stayed put wasn't because I don't think Moss will be a player- it's because we already have an undersized pass-rush specialist on the roster (Dumerville) who looks like he'll be pretty good, and also because Reggie Nelson is unbelievable (far and away the best player on the entire Florida defense, no question, no hesitation). Nelson was just as good (if not better) at a position that was (in my mind) of equal need (although I suppose the Broncos didn't know at the time that they'd wind up with 2 other DLinemen). He was also as accomplished of a kick-blocker (he blocked more kicks than Moss did), and he was also a very talented returner (another area of need with the passing of Darrent Williams, R.I.P.)

As good as Jarvis Moss was last year, you saw how good the rest of the line was (Thomas, McDonald, Mincey, and Joe Cohen all got drafted from the unit, Steven Harris signed as an UFA, and Derrick Harvey might be considered the best prospect of the bunch when he comes out next season)- he didn't face very many double teams. I think he'll be very good, but I'm also very worried about how he'll make the transition, and think there's a high bust potential there. Reggie Nelson, on the other hand, just played centerfield all last season as the only man deep and literally covered the field from sideline to sideline. He got a ton of turnovers and a ton of big returns, and he also had some massive hits that would make Roy Williams jealous (there's a famous clip where a WR saw Nelson coming after him and just fell to the ground and covered himself, dropping the football, while Nelson stood over him shaking his head in disgust).

I'm happy with Moss, Crowder, Harris, and Thomas. I just would have been happier with Nelson, Crowder, Harris, Thomas, and all of the other picks we had to trade up to get Thomas and Moss.

40
by pharmboyrick (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 3:14am

Marcus Thomas should end up being a week 1 starter with Moss and Crowder being strong contributors. WHile I wish Denver would have looked at getting both a safety and a RB, I lke how Denver focused on the teams glaring need. This worked for them when they had the same priority fo DBs a few years ago as they all contributed to a team that made the AFC CHampionship game.

My preliminary predictions for the AFC West...the Chiefs are headed for a huge decline this year as the foundation of their team was their OL which is now aged and/or retired and I wonder how long LJ will be able to run that often with his style (esp. w/ no line). The Raiders should be better (6 to 7 wins), and I think Michael Bush will be one of the steals of the draft, but at this point Al Davis is a hinderance to the team. While the Pats are the favorites for the AFC & the SB, both SD and Den will have something to say about it. Even the most optimistic of Pats fans would have to admit that Denver owns them.

41
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 7:12am

17: "As for Thomas being a “risk� it doesn’t look like it. He seems truly repentent (and well he should be after watching his buddies play the national championship on TV). If he stays away from drugs he will be the steal of the entire draft."

This guy got thrown off the team for smoking dope a few games after getting suspended for it. Of course he says he's going to quit but it's probably only a matter of time. I'm not saying the guy's Pacman Jones but he's a pretty major risk to get a lengthy ban,

42
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 7:21am

32: "it boils down to making an evaluation of QB play based on 36 plays (11 TD and 11 INT for Leinart plus 9 TD and 5 INT for Cutler) or on 507" -This isn't true and you know it, how can you separate the number of interceptions from the total number of throws?

I don't really like any of the stats for measuring QBs, II like Cutler over Leinart because when I watch them both play I think Cutler will be the better player. I just see a guy that is quite accurate and can run an offense in Leinart and while that will be productive in Arizona, I think Cutler has more in him. As for what I meant by a 'special' arm, I most certainly don't mean Culpepper, I think you need to be accurate. Similarly for Vick, who has no touch. If I had to pick one player that Cutler reminded me of it would be Favre.

43
by kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 7:33am

Re #41: This guy got thrown off the team for smoking dope a few games after getting suspended for it. Of course he says he’s going to quit but it’s probably only a matter of time. I’m not saying the guy’s Pacman Jones but he’s a pretty major risk to get a lengthy ban,

Actually, Thomas failed two drug tests, but he argued (successfully, I might add), that the second drug test was merely a second positive from the first incident, and that the two drug tests had been taken too soon after each other (not giving the marijuana enough time to leave his system). Do I buy it? Not really, but like I said, it was enough to get him unsuspended. He got the final, year-long suspension because he failed to meet the conditions of his reinstatement- notably, he missed a couple 12-step classes, and he left town after agreeing that he wouldn't (either to go home to Jacksonville or to go to Halloween Horror Nights with some teammates in Orlando- sources disagree). There were also rumors that he tested positive for steroids and that's why he got the final suspension, but that all stems from a single story by a mediocre reporter with no major contacts to the team, citing a single "anonymous source", and has not been verified anywhere else (in fact, it even contradicts Urban Meyer's stated explanation of the situation, which was that Thomas failed to meet the terms he agreed to in order to get reinstated).

Anyway, the whole point of this is that Thomas is a character risk, definitely... but far less of one than Travis Henry (who already has two strikes in the league's substance abuse policy). He's also going to make way less money than Henry, and he's way more talented than Henry, but not many people are panning the Henry signing.

I'd say that there is a greater chance of Marcus Thomas making the team and becoming a starter than anyone else who was available in the 4th round. Sure, there's a chance he gets suspended... but with a different, less talented player, there's a chance that he just isn't good enough to make the team. In the end, I think Thomas's risks are more than balanced out by the potential rewards, and that he was a great value pick in the 4th round. In the 1st round, he'd be a reach, but in the 4th round, he was a steal.

Plus, it's like getting two draft picks at once. Marcus Thomas got quite the belly after adding a lot of weight (at Meyer's request) before the 2005 season. He named his belly "Scoop", and Scoop gets half-credit for all of Thomas's sacks.

44
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 9:20am

Kibbles, I'm pretty sure the Jags would have taken Nelson even if they'd stayed put. What I found hardest to understand was trading up to take Moss: who did the Broncos think was going to get him between them and JAX?

As for the Raiders O-line, I think the offensive coaching on that team was so bad you just have to discount 2006 entirely for evaluative purposes. In 2005, their line was below average (17th in ALY, 22nd in ASR), but not horrible. I could be wrong, but I didn't think there had been massive personnel overhaul on the unit over that period. I think it's entirely possible Oakland will have an ok O-line next year. They may even be an above average team (and I certainly expect them to be better than the Chiefs, who are primed for collapse) but in a division with Denver and SD, in the AFC, they have very little chance of making the playoffs.

45
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:22am

Interesting takes on Leinart and Cutler. It's too early to grade them, but Leinart seems to have skills more suited to a west coast offense ( strong arm, decison making), while Cutlers strong arm would better fit a more vertical passing game.

I'd agree with Kibbles, comparing Jemarcus to Elway is a complete joke. He's more like a giant Drew Bledsoe.

Random thought, if you mixed the QB prospects of the past 2 years, how would the draft shake out? Young, Leinart, Russell, Cutler then Quinn? I'm not saying that is the correct or best order, but what would happen?

46
by noone (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:43am

#43 Marcus Thomas did not fail two drug tests for smoking pot. One of the test failures was for ghb, commonly known as the "date rape" drug. A quick google of marcus thomas and ghb will provide plenty of information on the subject.

47
by shutup (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:48am

#44 Cincy was rumored to have a strong interest in Moss.
Anyone making the argument that Leinart is a better quarterback than Cutler this early in their careers is an idiot. I personally believe Cutler to be both the better quarterback now and to have more potential for the future, but I would not make that argument at this time, b/c there simply is not enough to support it one way or the other. So shut up.

48
by Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:18am

I believe Denver picked up players that could improve their defense. However, I think they gave up more than necessary for the trades, especially the one in the first round.

Moss (or Nelson) likely would have been available when their pick came along. Moss is a very good player who has not played much due to medical history. I doubt he will be as good as Javon "The Freak" Kersey in his prime, but Moss has a lot of potential and could easily gain a little weight/strength.

Thomas seems like a very good pick for Denver in the 4th round. If he does not burn the bottle (fail drug tests) and stays motivated (biggest risk of marijuana use) and does not leave town (poor judgment shown at Florida) I think this pickup could be a steel. If Denver needed LBs I think Florida had a couple of those available, too, in the 5th/6th.

Oakland needs to let Russell grow. I am a firm believer that Rookie QBs should not start, but I doubt Russell will have that benefit. Starting a QB too early places undue pressure on the QB and tends to harm his learning curve (can anyone say, "happy feet?"). Other than Peyton Manning, most of the best QBs did not even start (m)any games their Rookie season: Drew Brees, Rivers, Brady, Hasselback, Pennington (barring injuries), Culpepper (barring injurries and interceptions), etc. Now think of all of the high pick QBs (Carr, Ryan Leaf, etc.) who were never (better than/even) average: almost all of them had unreasonable expectations and were forced to play too soon.

I think San Diego's AJ Smith thrives on conflict and San Diego could have had a better draft if he had a coach (Schottenheimer) willing and able to stand up to AJ Smith. I think San Diego has the players to compete for the Super Bowl, but they don't have the coach and coordinators to do it. They will probably be forced to learn new systems rather than on perfecting the ones that got them the best record in the AFC.

49
by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:31am

1. I think Mike Shanahan is an excellent coach and GM. But the only time he's won a SB is with John Elway (admittedly past his peak) and Terrell Davis. Are Cutler/Henry that good? I don't think so. Although Griese and Plummer had their moments, they never were great and they were hand-picked by Shanahan. So the fact that Shanahan has now annointed Cutler is not conclusive proof to me that he'll be great.

2. Denver IMO did very well in the off-season and should be improved. But remeber this was a team that did not make the playoffs, and finished with a negative DVOA (18th) - worse than Miami, for example. Last year's Broncos were mediocre. Two presumptive 2007 favorites in the AFC, NE and SD, were 5th and 2nd respectively. They weren't even the best teams in the conference last year - BAL was by DVOA, IND was by the measurement on the field. If you want to argue that Denver is likely to bounce back to 2005 levels, well, PIT can make the same argument - and finished higher in DVOA in 2006. So did JAC and CIN, two other 2005 playoff teams that slipped in 2006. I expect Denver to be a very good team in 2007 but the AFC is a very tough conference and I don't expect them to win it.

As for my Chiefs, well, I have to agree with the consensus that they will decline. I don't think they are going to be as bad as everyone thinks, but that's not the same as being good.

50
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 12:06pm

48- Good post. There is so much to be said about teams trying to build and perfect on current schemes, as opposed to starting over and learning new stuff ( or the same stuff with new termonology).

49- Shanny shouldn't get credit because he only won 2 super bowls ( without a QB he picked)? So Tony Dungy shouldn't get credit because Manning was an incumbent?

Chiefs: What happens if Herm wants to run the boring conservative offense, but the running game isn't nearly as good as it used to be?

51
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 12:58pm

#49: Shanahan's a great coach because he's had 1 losing season in 11 years, not because he won two Super Bowls. Winning a Super Bowl is all about being consistently good and getting lucky. Griese and Plummer kept the Broncos competitive and good. Cutler will likely do the same. Good enough.

52
by DWL (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 1:31pm

I agree w/ shutup (#47). It's too early to "[argue]that Leinart is a better quarterback than Cutler this early in their careers...."

Moreover, it's definitely too early to argue or even discuss the most recent draft choices, so everybody just log off and get back to work. You can discuss this draft in five years.

53
by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 2:14pm

#51 - while I tend to agree with you, I believe that for the media and general fans, Shanahan is seen as a HoF coach because of those two SBs. Without them, he's Marty Schottenheimer or Andy Reid or Dan Reeves. Without them, he's probably fired after 2001 or 2002, or possibly 2006. But Bowlen has faith in him because the SBs have been backed up by a period of solid performance - but if Shanahan hadn't delivered both, he would not still be the coach. If Shanahan had lost those two SBs, his record in 12 years (not 11) in Denver would look remarkably like Reeves': mostly winning seasons, a couple of SB losses, an AFC championship game loss in year 11 followed by a disappointing finish in year 12.

54
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 2:25pm

#39: I'll take your word for Nelson's skills (don't watch college football myself) although draft analysts (nfl.com and ESPN) appear to concur on his weaknesses--that he's not too bright, struggles against the run, and pursues the big play at the cost of sure tackling. Presumably Shanahan and Bates know more about these things though.

#46: That's exactly the dubious report kibbles was talking about. Outside of that one "anonymous" source, there is no corroboration.

#49: Shanahan's choice of Cutler doesn't prove that Cutler will be a great QB, of course. However, Shanahan has demonstrated the ability to mutate his offense to suit his QB's skills while sustaining excellent production. As Pat points out in #51, even adequate to good QBs have had success in Denver and many people believe that Cutler can be much better than good.

It is somewhat startling that DVOA believes that BUF, GB and MIA all outperformed the Broncos, but I wouldn't count on that remaining true this year.

55
by Tim R (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 3:58pm

I like my draft for the Broncos in the FO mock draft better than their real one:

Managed to pick up Patrick Willis to succeed Wilson, Arizona's 4th next year, Cullen Jenkins and Daryn Colledge in a trade to the Packers, Kris Jenkins from the Panthers and drafted Piscitelli. This did involve losing Lepsis but's he old and coming off an injury. I think that would give the Broncos a pretty damn good defense.

56
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 4:10pm

re: 53

Superficially, Reeves' tenure might have looked like Shanahan's without the Superbowl wins, but you have to remember that Reeves achieved his results while squandering John Elway in his prime.

57
by shutup (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 4:27pm

Hey 55 TimR
Shut up..noone gives a sh*t what you did or didnt do in some dumb sh*t mock draft.

58
by diarmuid (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 5:50pm

54: If you didn't watch Reggie Nelson play in college then you missed something special. He had a Brian Dawkins-like gamechanging effect on that Florida defense, where he was as previously noted without a doubt the best player. I never saw him struggle against the run but the 'big play at cost of sure tackling' might have some validity although it seems like that would be correctable. I never listen to draft analysts when they deride a player's intelligence (b/c after all who the hell are they to judge that particular quality?) and I don't know what teams thought of that. What I do know is that if you ask any Florida fan what player will be most sorely missed from the national championship team they would definitely say Reggie. Clearly none of that ensures his success as a pro but I think that he will become a Pro Bowl caliber safety; of course I think he's a top 10 talent in this yr's draft. Note that this is not at all a knock on the Broncos for passing him up.

shutup: Is a troll. I know most people know this but everyone should just ignore this dude.

59
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 7:21pm

re:34
Your not serious are you. You just not old enough to have seen John elway play. Lets see John elway took Denver three years to superbowl without a defense.(loses) Do you know how many come from behind victorys, he had in his career. How many superbowls have Denver made since Elway retired. J Elway one of the greatest Qb to ever play the game.

60
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 7:48pm

#51 - while I tend to agree with you, I believe that for the media and general fans, Shanahan is seen as a HoF coach because of those two SBs.

Of course! That's because the media and general fans are stupid. My point's this: Shanahan's shown that he knows what it takes to make a good team - like I said, he's only had 1 losing season his entire time as a head coach! If he thinks Cutler can lead the team, that's a good enough endorsement, in my view. Cutler might not be amazing, but he'll be good enough such that Denver won't be a losing team, and they'll reach the playoffs and contend.

61
by Bronco Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 7:55pm

Re: 59

Um...what are you disagreeing with? Kibbles said nothing about John Elway as a bad quarterback. I don't see your argument.

As for Cutler/Leinart, I feel much better having Cutler as QB than I would Leinart. That's just a feeling that I have...I think Leinart will be good, not great.

62
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 8:09pm

sorry, read post wrong

63
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 8:53pm

#58: I dare not get into college football; the NFL consumes too much time by itself. :-p

On Reggie: the analysts did compare him to Dawkins, with the caveat that Reggie is smaller. And the positives listed were glowing... I only mentioned the negatives. On the intelligence thing, he had a pathetic Wonderlic score which is at least objective, if not necessarily meaningful.

Still, as I've said, I would in fact have liked Denver to draft a safety; I'm just not convinced that Jarvis Moss won't be more of a game-changer.

64
by Kuato (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 2:48am

RE: 45

Chris had and interesting thought about looking at the QB prospects from the last few years and how they would stack up. I think taking it back to 1999 would be cool thought.

Here are the QBs drafted in the top 11 since 1999.

07-J Russell
06-Young, Leinart, Cutler
05-Smith
04-Manning, Rivers, Rothlisberger
03-Palmer, Leftwich
02-Carr, Harrington
01-Vick
00-None (Pennington at 18)
99-Couch, McNabb, Smith, Culpepper

Knowing what we know now, I think it would be close between Palmer or McNabb going 1st overall.

Just thinking about them as prospects (without future knowledge), I think the top 5 would look something like this: Vick, Manning, Palmer, Couch, Young.

What do other people think?

65
by urbanguerilla (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 4:52am

re: #48 On the Chargers "They will probably be forced to learn new systems rather than on perfecting the ones that got them the best record in the AFC."
Norv Turner and Ted Cottrell were brought in by AJ Smith for this very reason. Turner installed the Charger offense when he was their OC in 2001. Cam Cameron did not install a new offense, he merely tweaked Turner's. Ted Cottrell was the DC under Wade Phillips when Phillips was the Bills Head Coach. Thus the offense and defense the Chargers run next year will be the same as this past one, using the same terminology, by coaches who understand these systems, because they've already coached them. As for Marty standing up to AJ Smith over personnel, Marty had no say in personnel. It was one of the reasons for their poor working relationship.

66
by shutup (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 11:22am

58 diarmuid
go back to mommys basement you troll licking b*tch

67
by kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 11:35am

Re #53: #51 - while I tend to agree with you, I believe that for the media and general fans, Shanahan is seen as a HoF coach because of those two SBs. Without them, he’s Marty Schottenheimer or Andy Reid or Dan Reeves. Without them, he’s probably fired after 2001 or 2002, or possibly 2006. But Bowlen has faith in him because the SBs have been backed up by a period of solid performance - but if Shanahan hadn’t delivered both, he would not still be the coach. If Shanahan had lost those two SBs, his record in 12 years (not 11) in Denver would look remarkably like Reeves’: mostly winning seasons, a couple of SB losses, an AFC championship game loss in year 11 followed by a disappointing finish in year 12.

Bowlen wouldn't have fired Shanahan, even without the Superbowls. Bowlen has said repeatedly that he models his franchise after the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that he values stability over everything else. Even without the SBs, 1 losing season in 11 years would be good enough to keep Shanahan in town (just like the Rooney's kept extending Cowher despite the lack of superbowls, and even after he was coming off of back-to-back losing seasons).

The only reason Bowlen fired Reeves is because Elway refused to play for him any longer, and when facing a choice between potentially the best QB to ever play in the NFL and unequivocably the best-loved player in franchise history (who had single-handedly willed Denver to 3 superbowls) and a top-10 coach, Bowlen chose the QB. And rightly so.

Re #55: I like my draft for the Broncos in the FO mock draft better than their real one:

Managed to pick up Patrick Willis to succeed Wilson, Arizona’s 4th next year, Cullen Jenkins and Daryn Colledge in a trade to the Packers, Kris Jenkins from the Panthers and drafted Piscitelli. This did involve losing Lepsis but’s he old and coming off an injury. I think that would give the Broncos a pretty damn good defense.

Yikes, I really don't like that draft at all. LB is hardly a need with two quality guys already competing for SLB (and remember, whoever the 3rd LB is will only be on the field for 50% of the snaps, since Williams/Gold will be in the nickle package). Also, that doesn't adequately address their needs on the D-Line, and I cannot so blithely pass off the loss of one of the top 3 LTs in the entire NFL (especially with no real depth behind him- remember, OLs in Denver don't start as rookies, and they very, very rarely start as sophomores).

Re #59: Your not serious are you. You just not old enough to have seen John elway play. Lets see John elway took Denver three years to superbowl without a defense.(loses) Do you know how many come from behind victorys, he had in his career. How many superbowls have Denver made since Elway retired. J Elway one of the greatest Qb to ever play the game.

To address your concerns in order... yes, I was serious. Yes, I am old enough to have seen John Elway play. No, he didn't take the Broncos to the SB without a defense three times- while their defense was brutal in '86, it was solid in '87 (7th in points, 9th in yards), and was phenominal in '89 (1st in points, 3rd in yards). He also got the AFC Championship game in '91 with a defense ranked 3rd in points and 7th in yards. The main deficiencies on those teams were actually offensive- it's not widely known, but if you take out Elway's rushing numbers, Denver averaged as many yards rushing during Elway's first decade as Dan Marino's "if he only had an RB" Dolphins, and unlike Marino, Elway didn't play with a pro bowl WR until Anthony Miller in '95, and Elway also had about half as many pro bowl OLs. Elway had 47 career 4th-quarter comebacks, starting his rookie season with a comeback against the Baltimore Colts team that he had just shunned where he lead the Broncos back from 19 down in the 4th with three straight TD drives (further cementing his legacy as the most hated man in all of Baltimore, not too many years before he became the most hated man in Cleveland).

Also, Denver has not made any SBs since Elway retired, and I personally believe that Elway was *THE* greatest QB to ever play the game (put Montana on the Broncos and I doubt he makes it to 5 superbowls). Most telling, in my mind, is that prior to '95/'96/'97/'98 (the Shanny years), Elway averaged about half as many pro bowl teammates on offense as any other "HoF-caliber QB" (about a third as many as Jim Kelly), meaning he really did do the most with the least. Any other questions while we're at it?

68
by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg aka Lord J Rocka (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 6:25pm

kibbs tore Raiderjoe a new one.
Also, shutup gave it to diamond.
I also see Chris getting pounded on a regular basis.
Mulgrew likey! I'm no longer the FO punching bag.

69
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 7:36pm

I haven't heard anyone mention how the Quinn free-fall makes last year's draft look, particularly the Bronco's.

Last year Denver traded up in the first round to nab Cutler. We know the problems that caused with Jake the Snake, but everyone was thinking, the Broncos had to take their chance to get a top-10-quality quarterback, because they might not get the chance again.

Turns out, they could have waited a year and gotten Brady Quinn for a lot less than it took for them to get Jay Cutler. Also, they might have had another year of "good" Jake, with his record-low interception % and etc., which might have put them in prime position to challenge in the playoffs in 2006, instead of flaming out at the end of the year they way they did.

Of course, there's no way they could have known that last year, when it was a foregone conclusion that Quinn would go #1 overall, to the point that they were calling the race for worst record in the league "the Brady Quinn sweepstakes." Ah, well.

70
by Hooper (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 11:04pm

re: Denver moving up in the draft for Moss

I don't think I saw this mentioned in the threads, but it seems to me that Shanahan is less concerned about paying too much for the first round draft pick and more concerned about making sure that nobody else gets the guy he wants. Of the three guys they targeted in the first round, two had already been taken. I don't think he was necessarily worried about Jax, Cincy, Tenn, or NYGiants taking Moss; I think he was more worried about somebody else trading up and getting him. The worst thing that could have happened to Denver would have been to be stuck at #21 with nobody on the board that they wanted to pay 1st-round money to, and nobody behind them who was willing to trade down. (Though, in hindsight, there might have been a chance of trading out of the 1st entirely with Cleveland and picking up a 1st in next year's draft. After all, it couldn't be much weaker than this year.)

I kinda had the same feeling about the Cutler move last year, though I really didn't have the opportunity to follow the draft back then, and I didn't know if Cutler was at risk of being taken before Denver's natural slot. Either way, I believe Shanny prefers paying a lot for something he likes than getting something he doesn't want at a bargain.

71
by pharmboyrick (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 11:36pm

TO pile on Kibbles point of Elway as the greatest QB ever...

How many HOFers were on the VIking teams that lost 4 SBs in the 70s? Tarkenton, Yary, Eller, Paige and Krouse with Tinglehoff and Marshall getting serious consideration.

How many likely HOFers from the Bills of the 90s? Jim Kelly and probably Thomas, Reed, B. Smith and maybe Hull.

And HOFers from Denver's teams of the 80's that went to three SBs? John Elway with Mecklenberg being the only other consideration and that is a HUGE stretch.

No one player ever came as close as him to willing his team to a championship level. The closest I can think of is Earl Casmpbell and he had the unfortunate circumstances of being in his prime during the prime of the super-talented and super-roided Steelers.

72
by kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 05/10/2007 - 9:10pm

Re #69: Last year Denver traded up in the first round to nab Cutler. We know the problems that caused with Jake the Snake, but everyone was thinking, the Broncos had to take their chance to get a top-10-quality quarterback, because they might not get the chance again.

Turns out, they could have waited a year and gotten Brady Quinn for a lot less than it took for them to get Jay Cutler. Also, they might have had another year of “good� Jake, with his record-low interception % and etc., which might have put them in prime position to challenge in the playoffs in 2006, instead of flaming out at the end of the year they way they did.

Of course, there’s no way they could have known that last year, when it was a foregone conclusion that Quinn would go #1 overall, to the point that they were calling the race for worst record in the league “the Brady Quinn sweepstakes.� Ah, well.

Thing is, Brady's not a top-10 QB. If he was, he would have gone in the top-10. I mean, does everyone think that Aaron Rogers was a top-10 QB, too?

Players fall for a reason. If Quinn were really that good, he wouldn't have fallen that far.

Re #70: I kinda had the same feeling about the Cutler move last year, though I really didn’t have the opportunity to follow the draft back then, and I didn’t know if Cutler was at risk of being taken before Denver’s natural slot. Either way, I believe Shanny prefers paying a lot for something he likes than getting something he doesn’t want at a bargain.

Cutler would definitely have been gone. In fact, I hear St. Louis was thinking of taking him and only traded down because they thought there was no way Denver was after Cutler, since they hadn't even contacted him. Really, the whole Cutler sequence was masterfully orchestrated. Whether it pans out or not, it was masterfully orchestrated.

73
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 05/11/2007 - 10:30am

Pete (#48) - "Oakland needs to let Russell grow. I am a firm believer that Rookie QBs should not start, but I doubt Russell will have that benefit."

Count me firmly in the "Al Davis is a senile clown" camp, but the Raiders have acquired Josh McCown precisely to start for a year while Russell learns. That trade, which I have heard people rip on the Raiders for, strikes me as a win-win even if Williams is cut before camp.

74
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Fri, 05/11/2007 - 2:29pm

re: 72

Well, Cutler wasn't top-10, either, but I think it's clear that either Cutler or Quinn could have been taken in the top 10 if the cards had fallen differently. There's all this talk, for instance, that Quinn's agent should have been on the phone with the Raiders, low-balling a contract offer, once he found out that he wasn't going to the Browns at #3.

Sure, players fall out of the top 10 for a reason, but it isn't always a reason that reflects on their play.

75
by kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 05/11/2007 - 7:18pm

Re #74: re: 72

Well, Cutler wasn’t top-10, either, but I think it’s clear that either Cutler or Quinn could have been taken in the top 10 if the cards had fallen differently. There’s all this talk, for instance, that Quinn’s agent should have been on the phone with the Raiders, low-balling a contract offer, once he found out that he wasn’t going to the Browns at #3.

Sure, players fall out of the top 10 for a reason, but it isn’t always a reason that reflects on their play.

There's a difference between "falling" to 11 and "falling" to 22. The last "sure-fire top-10 QB" who "plummeted" down to the 20s was Aaron Rogers... who, in retrospect, isn't nearly as highly regarded as he was prior to the draft.

I understand that players will fall for reasons outside of their control, but if they ever fall far enough to represent outstanding value, someone will trade up and grab them. From reports I've heard, the Browns could have traded up for him at #19, but they decided he wasn't worth it yet. Does that sound like the description of a top-10 QB? Someone who wasn't worth it at #19 overall?

I think it was Peter King who wrote last week that, in hindsight, Quinn wasn't nearly as highly-regarded among scouts as the media made him out to be. The media felt a need to create a "race" between the top QBs, which made for great press even if it didn't reflect reality, because the gap between Russell and Quinn was, among scouts, supposedly as large as the gap between Quinn and the next tier.

Again, to reference Aaron Rogers again because I think it's a very comparable situation... the media did the same thing that year. They portrayed the competition between Rogers and Smith as a "race" for the #1 overall pick, when in reality Alex Smith was so far ahead of Rogers that it was no contest at all.

I think a large part of the reason why Quinn is considered a steal whereas Rogers is just another guy is the name-recognition thing. Brady Quinn played for Notre Dame, for Charlie Weis. Everyone in the nation knows who he is, even if they don't follow a bit of college football. As a result, since they recognize his name, they think he's great, top-10 talent. It's the same reason why everyone thinks that Troy Smith was an absolute steal who's really going to prove people wrong at the NFL level. No matter how recognizable his name, Troy Smith was a 4th rounder (or a 5th rounder? I forget exactly), and Brady Quinn was "just" the #22 pick.

76
by Hooper (not verified) :: Fri, 05/11/2007 - 11:50pm

Kibbles,

Thanks for the clarification in #72 re: #70. I didn't have the time to follow the rumors last year, and the first day of that draft was my wife's birthday. Needless to say, I didn't have the facts.

77
by owen (not verified) :: Sun, 05/20/2007 - 10:05pm

I think people should consider the fact that quarterbacks take three years to reach their potential in Shanny's offense. That was true of Plummer. So before we compare the three quarterbacks drafted last year we should give them a chance to really understand their offenses.

78
by kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 12:16am

Re #77: I think people should consider the fact that quarterbacks take three years to reach their potential in Shanny’s offense. That was true of Plummer. So before we compare the three quarterbacks drafted last year we should give them a chance to really understand their offenses.

Actually, it took Plummer three games to reach his potential, not three years. His year-by-year DVOA was 25%, 11.5%, 30.2%. I strongly suspect that if we just discounted his first game in his first season (a 3-int monstrosity against Cincy), his first year would have wound up being his best.

79
by TheDrive (not verified) :: Mon, 05/21/2007 - 5:52pm

kibbles doesn't know enough to tear ANYONE a new one; kibbles is more opinionated than football knowledgeable.

80
by kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 05/22/2007 - 7:51am

Hey, if that's your opinion, you're entitled to it, and I'm sure there's nothing I could say to change your mind, anyway. I am curious where this "tearing someone a new one" stuff came from, though. As far as I can tell, nobody in this entire thread has said anything about anyone tearing anyone else a new one until you came in out of nowhere.