Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Week 2 DVOA Ratings

Stomping the Jags leaves Washington No. 2 behind only Denver. But what can we really learn from one big win early in the season, before we are applying opponent adjustments?

08 May 2008

Four Downs: AFC East

by Sean McCormick

Buffalo Bills

Draft Review

Everybody and their grandmother knew that the Bills were coming out of this draft with a corner and a wide receiver in their first two picks; the only question was which would come first. Most predraft speculation had the top one or two corners already off the board by the time Buffalo picked, leaving them to reach for a receiver like Devin Thomas, even though many analysts didn't think there was a single receiver worthy of a first-round pick. Well, it turns out that no NFL team thought there was a receiver worthy of a first-round pick, but a run on defensive ends and linebackers pushed the corners down, giving Buffalo their pick of the litter in Troy's Leodis McKelvin. McKelvin had been bunched in with three or four other corners, but he separated himself late to become the consensus top cover man. The Bills were 30th in the league defending against No. 2 receivers, and that number should come down with McKelvin in the starting lineup. He was also one of the premiere return men in the country, and he could team with Terrence McGee to form one of the best kickoff return units in the league. On the other hand, McKelvin shows a positively Antoine Winfield-esque aversion to catching footballs -- he only intercepted four passes in his four seasons at Troy -- so he's not going to do much to boost the team's turnover differential.

With the Bills second pick, they addressed their need for a big receiver by taking the biggest one in the draft, 6-foot-6 James Hardy. A former basketball player, Hardy scored 36 touchdowns in just 26 starts at Indiana, and he represents an insoluble problem for any corner trying to cover him in a jump-ball situation. The Bills had all kinds of problems scoring through the air last year, and you can bet that Dick Jauron is going to rip out the red zone package and replace it with a steady diet of fades to Hardy in the corner of the end zone. It may take Hardy longer to make an impact between the 20s, however, as jumbo-sized receivers often taken time learning how to get separation at the NFL level. Hardy is an imprecise route runner, and he lacks breakaway speed when he has the ball in his hands, so he's likely to be a package player as a rookie.

Buffalo spent the second day of the draft quietly addressing needs with each of their eight picks. Anyone watching tape of Matt Ryan in the Virginia Tech games couldn't help but notice Chris Ellis driving him into the turf over and over, and Ellis should step in immediately as a third-down pass rusher. The team added additional secondary depth with the aptly named Reggie Corner from Akron in the fourth round and Pitt's Kennard Cox in the seventh. Kentucky's Steve Johnson was terrific this season hauling in passes from Andre' Woodson, and there's a chance he will prove to be a better pro than Hardy. Kansas tight end Derek Fine, Iowa State linebacker Alvin Bowden, Northwest Missouri State running back Xavier Omon and Northwestern State tackle Demetrius Bell won't light up the scorecards of many draftniks, but each has a chance of sticking in a reserve role.

Remaining Needs

Between the 1-2 punch of McKelvin and Hardy and the offseason trade for defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, the Bills have effectively addressed most of their glaring weaknesses. Still, the offensive line has to be a concern after ranking 25th in Adjusted Line Yards, and with last year's top pick Marshawn Lynch on the roster, a blocking fullback and a big guard or center to open running lanes for him would have been nice. While it looks J.P. Losman will be back for one more season, it would have made sense to take a developmental quarterback prospect with one of those eight picks so that the team isn't scrambling next year to find a quality backup to Trent Edwards.

Undrafted Free Agents

Iowa State linebacker Jonathan Banks caught the team's attention playing on the same unit as fifth-rounder Alvin Bowden, and has been invited to camp. Banks is a converted safety who is undersized but rangy. Vanderbilt's Marcus Buggs is another safety convert, and he was productive on both the strong and weak sides while playing in the SEC. Notre Dame linebacker Joe Brockington breaks the mold, as he has good size but ran only a 4.91, so he's strictly an inside linebacker prospect. Wide receiver Jason Jones averaged more than 20 yards per reception at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Bills scout Shawn Heinlein worked Jones out in Arkansas and was impressed by his soft hands and the way he got in and out of his breaks. The team also signed Illinois State quarterback Luke Drone, who struggled last year but had a big junior season throwing to Laurent Robinson, now an Atlanta Falcon. Drone is only 6-1, but he has the athleticism and arm strength to operate in the West Coast Offense.

Miami Dolphins

Draft Review

Depending on whom you asked, the best player in the draft was either Louisiana State defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey or Virginia defensive end Chris Long. You might have gotten a few votes for Boston College's Matt Ryan (we're looking at you, Mike Mayock), or even Ohio State's Vernon Gholston. Just about nobody would have said that Jake Long was the best player in the draft. And yet there was surprisingly little criticism when the Dolphins took themselves off the clock by signing the big Michigan tackle nearly a full week before the start of the draft. For that, Long should probably send a big bouquet of flowers to fellow Big Ten alum Joe Thomas, whose Pro Bowl-caliber rookie season paved the way for Jake Long to go No. 1 overall. Long isn't considered to be as talented a pass blocker as Thomas, but he is a superior drive blocker who proved his strength at the combine by doing 37 reps at the bench, a tremendous number for a guy with his wingspan. Even if Long struggles on the left side, he projects as a dominant right tackle, so there's a built-in safety net for the pick. When you're talking about committing No. 1 overall money to a player who isn't Peyton Manning, it's more important to know you're going to get at least a partial return on your investment, and Long figures to play every game of his five-year deal, whether at left tackle or right. The fact that Long was willing to sign for less than what last year's top pick JaMarcus Russell signed for was simply icing on the cake.

With the offensive line solidified, Bill Parcells and general manager Jeff Ireland were able to let the draft come to them. Philip Merling represented terrific value with the 32nd pick; he might have been a top-15 pick had he not suffered a sports hernia that prevented him from working out for teams prior to the draft. A few years ago, Heath Miller slipped due to a similar injury, and the Dolphins hope that Merling will prove to be the same kind of bargain. He's not an edge rusher, and he's a little small for a pure 3-4 defensive end, but Merling has such a nice combination of run-stopping and pass-rushing ability that he should be a three-down player for Miami. With the last pick in the second round, the Dolphins were able to grab Chad Henne, who could well have been the pick at the top of the second had Merling not been available. Henne started 47 games at Michigan and completed 58 percent of his passes, so he's a very safe projection to the pro level. He compares closely to Brady Quinn, who the Dolphins passed on for Ted Ginn, Jr., last year, much to their fans' dismay.

In contrast to Merling, Hampton's Kendall Langford is the prototype five-technique in a 3-4. At 6-6 and 294 pounds, he has both the weight to hold up at the point of attack and the reach to be effective in a two-gap scheme. Just to be sure they had enough defensive linemen, the team added Arizona's Lionel Dotson in the seventh round. The rest of the draft was devoted to combing through college backwaters to improve the inside run game, as the team doubled up on guards -- Utah State's Shawn Murphy and Uconn's Donald Thomas -- and running backs, selecting Toledo's Jalen Parmele and Montana's Lex Hilliard.

Remaining Needs

You can only do so much in one draft, and the emphasis on building up the lines meant that other problem areas -- like the offensive skill positions and the defensive secondary -- will have to wait until next year. The only moves Miami made to bolster the 28th ranked pass defense were to sign Nathan Jones and to re-sign safety Jeremiah Bell, who is 30 and is coming off a torn Achilles tendon. For all the defensive end picks, there are still question marks in the middle of the line. Parcells takes Jason Ferguson everywhere he goes, but the returns are diminishing with each new stop, and it would have been nice to add a younger player to groom at nose tackle earlier than the seventh round.

Undrafted Free Agents

Unsurprisingly, the Dolphins went whole hog after undrafted players, ending up with 14 in all, seven on each side of the ball. Parcells personally scouted Georgia Southern quarterback Jayson Foster, who won the Walter Payton Award after ringing up 1,844 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns in the Football Championship Subdivision. Foster will likely follow in the footsteps of former quarterbacks like Antwaan Randle El and Brad Smith and become a receiver who can also run specially designed plays. Davone Bess spent last season catching passes from Colt Brennan for Hawaii, and he has a chance to catch on as a slot receiver. Both Foster and Bess will compete for kick returner duties. BYU linebacker Kelly Poppinga is the younger brother of Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga.

New England Patriots

Draft Review

Following a season of firsts, it was only fitting that the Patriots would have a draft of firsts as well. For the first time since 2001, New England had a pick in the top ten. For the first time ever, Bill Belichick used a first-round pick on a linebacker. For the first time in a while, the Pats didn't seem to be a step ahead of the rest of the league. It started before the Pats were even on the clock. There were multiple rumors that the team was interested in moving ahead of the Jets to secure Ohio State pass rusher Vernon Gholston, but when Glenn Dorsey unexpectedly became available, the Chiefs proved unwilling trade partners. Unhappy to be picking seventh in what was generally perceived to be a six-player draft, the Pats traded down with New Orleans, then stayed put at ten and selected Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo. Mayo, a first-team All-SEC performer, was making a late move up the boards, but not many people would have guessed he would end up in the top ten. He played outside for three years before moving inside his senior season, so he has the kind of versatility Belichick prefers, but he's undersized for any of the 3-4 linebacker spots.

Cornerback was a screaming need, and general manager Scott Pioli addressed it in the second round by selecting Colorado's Terrence Wheatley, an Ellis Hobbs clone who had a lot of trouble staying healthy, and then again in the fourth round with the selection of Auburn's Jonathan Wilhite. There were higher rated corners available, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder in the middle rounds, as the question of how a player fits a system generally trumps raw ability. Continuing with the overhaul of the back seven, Pioli selected Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable in the third round and Nebraska's Bo Ruud in the seventh. Crable has ideal size to play on the outside, and nearly a third of his recorded tackles went for losses, so he's comfortable playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Rudd is the brother of Tampa's Barrett Ruud, but if he's going to stick on an NFL roster, it will be for his special teams ability.

The two offensive selections were both head-scratchers. Kevin O'Connell is an intriguing quarterback prospect with some upside; the Patriots do have the reigning NFL MVP lining up under center, however, so there's not much chance that this third-round pick will see the field in the next few seasons. It's the kind of pick that could pay off big down the road, but O'Connell will need to demonstrate that he is significantly better than players like Erik Ainge or Andre' Woodson, who were taken in the fifth and sixth rounds, if he is to justify the use of such a high pick. New England traded up in the fifth to make sure they got UCLA receiver Matthew Slater. Slater is the son of Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, so clearly the Patriots were banking on bloodlines with their later round picks, but it was still surprising to see them trade up for a receiver who has spent most of his college career playing on the defensive side of the ball and who didn't seem to be a guy that other teams were targeting at that point in the draft. Slater's primary value is as a kick return man, and the pick was probably made with that in mind.

Remaining Needs

While the two corners should help restore some depth, the lack of size at the position could end up being a real problem. Young blood at strong safety is also a must, as Rodney Harrison is getting old enough to require carbon dating. After the Giants soundly whipped the New England offensive line in the Super Bowl, there was some thinking that the team might add a lineman or two to compete on the right side, but it would have been more luxury than necessity. More young bodies at receiver, at running back and at linebacker would be welcome, but again, there's no reason to feel uncomfortable with what is on the roster now. (The team did go 18-1, after all.)

Undrafted Free Agents

Center Ryan Wendell is the latest product of the pipeline from Pat Hill and Fresno State to New England. Wendell was a four-year starter at both center and guard, so if he sticks he could provide depth at two positions. Chris Gould, the younger brother of Bears kicker Robbie Gould, was signed to give Stephen Gotkowski some competition in camp (and so the Patriots could cover all their bases in the acquisition of relatives of current or former NFL players). Linebacker Vincent Redd started off playing for Al Groh at Virginia before being dismissed from the team for undisclosed reasons, so he transferred to Liberty College. At 6-5, 263 pounds, he's got terrific size to go along with 4.6 speed, so whatever bad things Groh had to say about Redd weren't likely to dissuade the Patriots from having a look-see.

New York Jets

Draft Review

Nothing says "draft day" like a shot of agonized Jets fans moments after the team has announced their first-round pick. It's a rite of passage, but in reality it's a little outdated, as the franchise has come a long way since the days of drafting fullbacks in the first round. They haven't hit many home runs, but few teams have hit as steady a succession of doubles as the Jets from 2000-2007.

Well, the fans cheered this year, but Vernon Gholston is the definition of a boom-or-bust prospect, so we'll see if they're still cheering three years from now. No player split opinion like the Ohio State pass rushing terror. Several analysts, including our own Michael David Smith, considered Gholston the best prospect in the draft. Others looked at his 37 tackles on the season and his tendency to disappear not just from play-to-play but from game-to-game and labeled Gholston another Mike Mamula, an undeserving player translating a huge combine performance into a big payday. Ohio State's scheme is built around freeing up the linebackers at the expense of the defensive line (which is why James Laurinaitas will be joining A.J. Hawk as a top five selection next year), and the Jets think that Gholston will have more consistent impact in a scheme that lets him pin his ears back and chase the quarterback.

Fortunately, the Jets fans got their chance to boo when the team traded back into the first round to take a tight end they'd never heard of, Dustin Keller of Purdue. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock likens Keller to Dallas Clark: "He is an explosive vertical threat, gets up the field, catches the football. He's not a good blocker. He's kind of a move guy, you have to move him a little bit, play him in the slot like Indianapolis does, for instance." The Jets were in dire need of a third option in the passing game beyond Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery, and while most people expected them to address it with one of the receivers, Keller should fit the bill. In the fourth round, the Jets took San Jose State cornerback Dwight Lowery, who was considered a top prospect after his junior season but then regressed his senior year and followed it up with bad 40 times, never a good combination for a defensive back. At the very least, Lowery gives the Jets a bigger player to work into the mix opposite Darrelle Revis. Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge is built like Peyton Manning but throws like Chad Pennington. The rumors that the team wanted Matt Ryan were more smoke than fire, but Ainge provides a low-cost alternative who can be developed behind Pennington and Kellen Clemens. In a twist on the AFC East's predilection for the younger relatives of NFL players, Ainge is the nephew of ex-Boston Celtic Danny Ainge. Kansas receiver Marcus Henry and Arkansas tackle Nate Garner round out the class.

Remaining Needs

For a team coming off a 4-12 season, the Jets have surprisingly few needs thanks to their free agent splurge. The biggest hole is at cornerback, where there is no clear No. 2 starter. Justin Miller, Hank Poteat, Manny Collins and Lowery will all get a look, but the team may need to address this area with a veteran camp cut. A young running back capable of working in behind Thomas Jones and Leon Washington would be nice, as would a traditional slot receiver.

Undrafted Free Agents

Chadron State's Danny Woodhead is the NCAA's all-time leading rusher. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry in each of his four seasons and scored more than 100 touchdowns, but the only numbers that NFL scouts paid attention to were his height (5-7) and weight (197). Woodhead has terrific speed and clearly has some wiggle to him -- however much you need at Chadron State, at any rate -- so he has a chance to stick as a return man. The team had good success with N.C. State receiver Jerricho Cotchery, so they took a shot on another one by inviting John Dunlap to camp.

Posted by: Sean McCormick on 08 May 2008

73 comments, Last at 26 Mar 2013, 3:47am by Demaemiain

Comments

1
by Topas (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 10:31am

Go Bills!

2
by Ben (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 11:02am

I think Dustin Keller is closer to Brandon Marshall than Dallas Clark. I would be surprised if their intentions are not to move him outside

3
by Mikey (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 11:05am

I hate to ask more from undrafted free agent coverage (because really, it's already going above any beyond!) but the Bills seem excited about UDFA FB Mike Viti, from Army. Any thoughts? He doesn't have to go to Iraq if he makes the team.

4
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 11:29am

2: Dallas Clark moves outside all the time, so it's a perfectly apt comparison.

5
by J (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 11:42am

The Pats' selection of Kevin O'Connell is easily the biggest head-scratcher of the draft.

6
by Joseph (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 11:47am

Question for AFC East followers: Peter King had the Bills and Jets as his 11th and 12th best teams (iirc). Anybody see any reasons for his enthusiasm (other than east-coast bias)? I see both teams in the 7-9 to 9-7 range, fighting for a playoff berth in Dec, but falling just short.
[Let's face it--they will be fighting for a WC with either Indy or the Jags, Titans, Texans, either the Steelers or Browns, Ravens, and Broncos. Will either team beat out the # 2 team for the AFC North & South?--I just don't see it.]

7
by Money (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 11:52am

Also, Demetrius Bell is the son of Karl Malone, furthering the AFC East bias towards athletic offspring.

8
by Drunkmonkey (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:14pm

I think the McConnell selection makes sense, if only because I really like the whole 'take a QB late and develop him into a future high pick' a la A.J. Feeley and Matt Schaub. Then again, other than those two, I really can't remember any other time it really worked.

Anderson could fall into that category, depending on what the Browns depend on doing with him.

9
by Chad (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:16pm

#6 - I don't know about the Bills, but the enthusiasm for the Jets is likely due to their free agency binge. They spent a lot of money and picked up a lot of players, some of whom are big name guys. I think those in the media are quick to assume big money free agents will come in and solve all of a team's problems (and in the case of the Jets, I hope PK is right!!! I won't hold my breath, though).

10
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:22pm

8: I think it makes sense because QB is one of the few positions where a 3rd round pick is pretty certain to make the roster without displacing anyone worthwhile. New England has spent basically nothing on backup QBs for ages, so they have very marginal talents there.

If they spent that 3rd rounder on, say, defensive line, then they might have to cut a decent veteran to make room.

11
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:23pm

6

I don't think the AFCN will send a WC team. Their schedule is so brutal, and while the teams might be talented, their records will probably reflect the harder schedule.

Meanwhile, the Bills and Jets really don't have tough schedules. They play the NFCW and the AFCW, who only have two proven good teams between them.

The Bills get the Browns and the Jags, the Jets get the Titans and the Bengals.

It's not inconceivable that one of those two teams makes the playoffs, even if talent wise they are around 8-8 teams.

12
by Andy (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:24pm

#7:

Karl Malone impreganted Demetrius Bell's mother when she was 13. Click my name for details.

13
by Daniel (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:28pm

Re: 8
Scott Mitchell, Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, Doug Johnson, Aaron Brooks.

14
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:35pm

re:8

Matt Hasselbeck was drafted by the Packers, in the 6th round, and was traded for a 1st and 7th.

The packers also drafted Mark Brunnel in the 5th round and traded him for a 3rd and 5th.

The packers drafted Aaron Brooks in the 4th, and traded him to the Saints for a 3rd....

so yeah, it gets done.

15
by JoRo (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 12:40pm

I know it is unrealistic but I almost wish I could get these NFC and AFC things every day. Other than that this part of the offseason really stinks. Then again if we got those every day they'd be over quite soon after. The one thing basically to give me my football fix as of right now is the site I got linked in my name. If you want to check it out just give it a click and try it out! You can be a player, or an owner or a GM even. Costs nothing to sign up and play!

16
by rich (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 1:10pm

Chris Gould is not on the Patriots roster, so he must have been brought in on a tryout contact and not signed (yet?)

17
by Reference Spam Is Bad (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 1:32pm

JoRo: Please cut it out with the reference links to that site. The spamming ruins an otherwise insightful discussion of the AFC East.

18
by fogarty (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 1:34pm

Re 7, 12: Not only did Karl Malone get Demetrius Bell's mother pregnant when she was 13, but Malone was already a college sophomore, and he refuses to have anything to do with his son (link in my name).

19
by jetsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 1:36pm

why is Gholston perceived to be either boom or bust? Why is it so unlikely that he winds up as a "decent" DE? Maybe he'll become better against the run as time goes on, or maybe he will be a consistent threat, without ever leading the league in sacks. Just maybe -- he will become "moderately competitive", or "pretty good"... why is this not a possibility?

20
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 1:46pm

18

When they say boom or bust, they're not quite saying that he'll either be amazing or awful. They're saying he has a high ceiling, but a low floor. If he becomes everything Scouts think he can become, they feel he has the potential to be one of the best DEs/OLBs in the league.

It's because he has the size, speed, and build to be a dominant DE and he looks like a superb athlete, but his college production doesn't match that.

21
by Jeff Jewell (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 1:50pm

The Dolphins' safety is actually named Yeremiah Bell.

When you say the Dolphins couldn't address offensive skill positions, I guess you just mean receivers? Considering that Ryan and Flacco were arguably taken way too high, it seems to me that Henne addressed the QB need without mortgaging the future, and Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown should be able to muddle through in the backfield, yes?

22
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 1:53pm

Re: 13

Hasselbeck belongs on that list but I'm not sure about the other guys. I think Mitchell left Miami as a free agent (not trade). I don't think teams gave up much to get Johnson or Brooks. Brunell is arguable as he did net a third round pick, but that seems like a poor return on two years of coaching.

23
by Joe T. (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 1:55pm

#13 - 3 of whom were drafted in later rounds to develop behind Brett Favre.

24
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 2:04pm

"The fact that Long was willing to sign for less than what last year’s top pick JaMarcus Russell signed for was simply icing on the cake."

Based on the reports so far, hard to see this as a bonus for the Dolphins. They may have slightly less guaranteed money at risk, but they have a shorter contract and appear to be paying Long 15% more/year than what Russell got. And if Sean is right about the pick being much safer, it would seem the Dolphins would have been better served with a different approach.

25
by Kevin from Philly (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 2:06pm

Best line ever about NYJ drafts:

Way back when, the Jets were (again) drafting first overall. Almost ten minutes are gone and they still haven't picked yet. ESPN starts asking what's going on. The guy hosting our draft day party turns around and says "Kotie is trying to move up".

Classic!

26
by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 2:21pm

Re 6, 11:

Actually, 11-12 sounds about right for "just miss the playoffs" caliber. The AFC was more top- and bottom-heavy last year, while the NFC held the middle spots. (They averaged to equal to each other, despite the Patriots.) So I figure six AFC teams make the playoffs, and four NFC teams are good enough to make the playoffs even had they been in the AFC, and two AFC teams that miss about as good as the last two NFC teams that make. Depending on how you reckon it, those two AFC teams could be eleventh and twelfth in a power ranking despite missing the playoffs.

I don't know that I think the Bills and Jets are those two teams, but the spots are right for near-miss teams to go there.

27
by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 2:27pm

8,13 - Also Rob Johnson.

28
by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 2:34pm

21 - Brunell was traded for a third and fifth round pick. Ron Wolf used those picks for William Henderson and Travis Jersey. Not bad for a player who rarely played and never started.

29
by Flounder (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 2:40pm

Re: 22 exactly. which is a similar situation as NE is in. I thought the pick was logical enough. Seemed a bit high perhaps, but I'm not going to question it.

Re: 21 Brooks was the 131st pick in the 99 draft and traded for the 82nd pick in the 2001 draft.
Brunnel was the 6th pick in the fifth round of the 93 draft and traded for two picks, third rounder plus a fifth rounder in the 95 draft.

Seems like GB made out pretty well to me.

Hassellback was traded to move up from the 17th to the 10th spot in the 2001 draft, which became the infamous Jamal "too small" Reynolds pick.

30
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 2:46pm

Re: 27

Yeah, but Brunell himself was a 5th round pick two years (I think) before he was traded. When you consider the typical NFL 'future exchange rate' on draft picks (a 5th rounder this year nets a 4th next year) the Pack could have turned that 5th into a 3rd in two years without ever having to draft Brunell. Given all the orgazational resources that went into coaching and developing him over two years the extra 5th rounder seems like a poor return. Granted, if they hadn't drafted Brunell the Pack wouldn't have had him on the roster for those two years, but as you point out he didn't really contribute much for them anyway.

31
by starzero (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 3:10pm

the packers could have saved a lot of time, energy, and money if they'd know favre was going to play for ever. it makes me wonder how sorgi in indy would do somewhere else.

32
by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 3:40pm

20-agree isn't QB an offensive skill position. They drafted a RB and a FB too. They also picked up Fasano a TE in a draft trade and signed Wilford and Perry to team with last years #1 pick Ginn. That's pretty much every skilled position on offensive that was addressed in the last 2 drafts and the last free agency period. It seems to me the Dolphins need is for any of these skilled position people to step up.

33
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 3:55pm

I really thought the Pats were trying to move up to grab Dorsey, not Gholston.

I think Gholston is too one-dimensional for the Pats 3-4. Can he hold the edge against the run (Colvin had some difficulty there)? Can he cover, at least a little? For the Pats, it really seems that the inside LB's are the harder ones to find. They have to be able to take on guards against the run and cover as well. While I don't thinnk Mayo is as talented as Gholston, I think his flexibility is more important to the Pats. And they don't necessarily have to be giant sized, just sufficiently sized (Zach Thomas was one rumor).

As for Dorsey, I think his talent would have been worth it if they could have swung the deal. While I think Seymour is still an excellent player, he's become a little more injury prone and I'd bet he's going to want one more big contract at the end of '09, which I suspect the Pats won't want to pay him.

34
by Sean McCormick :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 4:01pm

Gholston holds the edge very well. If anything, he tends to overplay the run, as he tends to hesitate to read the play before heading upfield unless it's an obvious passing situation. He also drops smoothly into coverage, though obviously he's not going to be asked to do a ton of that at the next level. From what I've seen of Gholston, he's really more effective standing up than lining up with his hand on the ground.

35
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 4:37pm

Regarding the Jets and the Bills:

I think the Bills have a real chance to excel and be a top 10 team this year. They were pretty much the definition of "average team" last year--some real strengths, some real, but not crippling, weaknesses. From what I've read, they've gotten better this offseason. Plus I think (just a gut feeling from watching about four Bills games last year) that Edwards is, or at least will be, a much better QB than Losman. I think he makes some strides this year.

I'm less confident about the Jets. I'm not impressed with Clemens, and Pennington is done. I haven't been wowed by their offseason, although I will defer to bigger Jets fans than I am, since they probably follow the team more.

36
by Daniel (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 4:48pm

Buffalo gave up 1st and 4th round picks for Rob Johnson.

37
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 4:55pm

Thoughts on the Patriots (the team I follow most):

A lot of rumbling went around that the Pats wanted Gholston and the Jets took him, not only because he's good, but to spite the Pats. I wonder how much of this is media-generated... I read a lot of pre-draft articles projecting the Patriots taking Gholston, and talking about what a great fit he would be for the Pats, but I don't remember seeing anything from the actual Pats organization indicating that. The rumors I heard out of Foxboro were there they were interested in Dorsey, and in Mayo and in Rivers about equally, next. If I had to wager on it, I would bet that the trade-up rumors were about the Pats wanting Dorsey, but when they couldn't get him, they figured that they could trade down to 10 and either Mayo or Rivers would still be on the board then.

Regarding CB's, a lot of people call Wheatley a Hobbs clone, but I suspect that is just because of his height--they're both 5'11 and are fast enough to play special teams. Granted, I haven't seen Wheatley play at all, but from what I've read he actually may have quite different skills from Hobbs. Belichick is on record saying that he thinks CB height is overrated...or rather, not that it's overrated, but that it's less important than speed, agility, and ball skills, and finding a tall guy that has speed, agility, and ball skills as well is really hard. Question (because I'm too lazy to look it up for myself)--how many truly elite CB's are over 6 feet? How tall is Champ Bailey, Ty Law, Charles Woodson?

I'm surprised that Sean didn't mention the most interesting of the Pats' rookie FA signings. There is Mike Dragosovich, a punter with an awesome name and allegedly a huge leg. This is important given that (1) it's not uncommon for an UFA to become a starting punter or kicker so he has a better shot than most URFA's of making the roster, (2) the Pats really, really need a good young punter, given that their current options are Scott "I'm so old I only have one bar on my helmet" Player, and Chris "I'm so dumb I have a FO award named after me" Hanson.

The other two spots that they really needed to address for depth that they didn't address in the draft or in FA (I don't count Marcus Pollard) so far are TE (where they lost Kyle Brady and now only really have two injury-prone pass catchers who don't block well), and a "scat back" to compete with Heath Evans and eventually be groomed as a replacement for the aging Kevin Faulk. They signed URFA's at both these positions, and the most intriguing is probably RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis.

38
by billvv (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 5:03pm

And I think the Jets know that. They have plenty of time to refine what they saw from college. He'll be much better in the fall. He was BPA and a good choice given the Jets D.

39
by dwrett (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 5:08pm

The Jets for some odd reason do badly in odd number years like 2003, 2005, and 2007. They also tend to do well in even number years like 2002, 2004, 2006. So clearly the Jets are going to go 10-6 and make the playoffs because 2008 is an even numbered year.

40
by masocc (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 5:16pm

Re #3:
Wow! Talk about incentive for making the team. Good luck to him!

41
by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 6:29pm

The point of the Packers selecting Hasselback, Brooks, and Brunell is that they had good backup QBs for several years, and then traded them for more than they cost in draft picks. You have a guy who is better than your average Jim Sorgi or Matt Cassel to step in if your QB gets hurt. If the current star QB stays healthy and good, you trade the backup for several picks. It is a good idea for the present and the future. It is how good teams stay good.

42
by Biebs (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 6:37pm

I don't really get the comparison of Gholston to Mamula. I was look at mock drafts from before the Combine and many of them (including Don Banks having him go to the Pats at 7). I think his workouts cemented him as a top 10 pick, but he did have the most sacks over the last 2 seasons at a Big 10 school.

Sadly, the Jets season simply comes down to QB. Can Clemens make the leap from bad QB to average QB or better or if Pennington wins the job (which would speak volumes about Clemens IMO - and something I've been disagreeing with Sean in various forums for a while now).

43
by Quentin (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 8:22pm

A sampling of the height of some of the league's cornerbacks, according to FoxSports. Arranged by height. These are just a few names that jump out at me when I scroll down the list.

Nnamdi Asomugha: 6'2"
Antonio Cromartie: 6'2"
Leigh Bodden: 6'1"
Charles Woodson: 6'1"
Al Harris: 6'1"
Rashean Mathis: 6'1"
Champ Bailey: 6'0"
Nate Clements: 6'0"
Mike McKenzie: 6'0"
Shawn Springs: 6'0"
Marcus Trufant: 5'11"
Terence Newman: 5'11"
Brian Kelly: 5'11"
Asante Samuel: 5'10"
Dre' Bly: 5'10"
DeAngelo Hall: 5'10"
Sheldon Brown: 5'10"
Lito Sheppard: 5'10"
Ronde Barber: 5'10"
Pacman Jones: 5'10"

I'm sure there's a bunch that I left out. Also, before anyone points out the players like Harris and Springs are no longer considered good corners, the question was how important is height to the position. As long as someone was relevant at some time during the modern era, they ought to be included in a study on height affecting coverage. Apparently 5'10" is the shortest you can be and still be an effective NFL cornerback.

44
by Dice (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 9:54pm

How tall is Deion? I know Darrell Green was only 5'8" or 5'9".

45
by Sean McCormick :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 10:06pm

MJK- One of the tricky things about the draft is figuring out exactly what height and weight players are, as they tend to get listed in a variety of shapes and sizes. Best bet is to go with the combine numbers, and Wheatley measured in under 5'9".

46
by Bob in Jax (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 10:18pm

Re: #36, the 1st round pick that Buffalo gave Jacksonville for Rob Johnson became Fred Taylor :)

It never hurts to take a developmental QB with a late round pick. You never know. David Garrard is finally paying dividends and he was a 4th rounder. There are too many other examples for me to list (sorry, lazy), so I will let others do so if they wish.

47
by the K (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 2:02am

Great 4 downs as always, but a minor nit: The Bills drafted Alvin Bowen, not Bowden.

48
by Topas (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 2:37am

The Bills had a ton of injuries last year. And a tough schedule. And still they managed a 7-9 record (if I remember correctly).

The wild card, of course , is Trent Edwards. If he pans out as at least mediocre this team can be dangerous.

They got Stroud, McKelvin, Hardy and basically Poluszny (sp?). McCargo, Lynch and Edwards have one season experionce.

They still have holes at FB and TE, but then again who hasn't holes.

Here is hope that Edwards is the real deal. I hope this Bill Walsh guy understands a thing or two about Qbs. (he said last year that Edwards is the best QB of the draft.)

49
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 6:58am

Is Gholston going to be an NFL DE? I thought he was projected more as a 3-4 OLB.

Wouldnt that fit his (apparent) skill set better?

50
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 9:05am

Any thoughts on whether or not Jason Taylor is going to get traded from Miami? I reckon that if anything is going to happen then it'll happen very soon after JT is done with his dancing show but any move is very unlikely till then.

Then there's the question of where he'd go, most of the teams that would have seemed like ideal locations have acquired similar players ie, Jacksonville, Minnesota, NYJ. I'd love to see the niners get him to play ROLB but would he want to move cross country and then play for a team that probably won't be in championship contention.

And what is he worth? He's still an amazing talent,only a year away from being the NFL defensive MVP and looks like he'd have at least three or four quality years left. However, he might only play one or two years so there's a 'buyer beware' on him. If I was Scott McCloughan, I'd try to come to an arangement where you 'rented' Taylor. You'd send the dolphins a 3rd plus a fourth for every year he's still on the roster. That way the Dolphins get to bag a big pile of picks if he plays for a while but the other team is insured against his retirement to do bad TV

51
by billvv (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 10:02am

The Jets mix up fronts, so VG will probably play DE and OLB.

52
by are-tee (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 10:59am

"steady diet of fades to Hardy in the corner of the end zone."

The NFL has effectively killed the fade pass. A well-timed push out is all a defender needs to do now to cause an incompletion.

53
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 12:04pm

Sean,

Really? under 5'9"? Ummm...OK, maybe height isn't of paramount importance (Quentin, thanks for the list...), but that seems really, really short. Kevin Faulk looks like a hobbit next to the rest of his teammates, and he's a hair OVER 5'9". I hope Wheatley doesn't try to cover Harvey...

Nevertheless, I'm still not overly concerned by the Pats CB's. They've done more with less (remember them starting Hank Poteat and Earthwind Moreland?) and that was when they didn't have as good an offense. The LB additions should allow their pass rush to get better, which means they only need adequate play from the DB's. With the plethora of CB's they've acquired, they ought to be able to get at least average play back there.

54
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 12:11pm

The NFL has effectively killed the fade pass. A well-timed push out is all a defender needs to do now to cause an incompletion.

And I, for one, say thank goodness for that.

I always hated the fade pass with a passion. It requires no strategy, no finesse, no deception, and pretty much puts the entire play on just three players--the QB, the WR, and the CB, taking the other nineteen players completely out of the play. Protection and pass rush mean nothing because the QB throws immediately after getting the snap. The other recievers and DB's mean nothing as long as there are enough recievers on the field to prevent every reciever from being bracketed by double coverage. The LB's are irrelevant because they don't have time to get into the play.

And it doesn't really even require any special flash from the three involved players. The QB just throws a high parabola to the back corner of the endzone. No fancy reads, etc. The WR doesn't run any special routes or make any fancy moves. The QB just throws the ball, and then it's just who times their jump better. I always thought that if a team is going to call a fade in the endzone, why don't they just forgo the play to spare the risk of injury and instead roll some dice?

Yes, I'm oversimplifying a bit, but this is the internet. It's my perogative. :-) Oh, and yes, I held this opinion long before the Giant's penultimate offensive play of the last SB... :-)

55
by Sean McCormick :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 12:53pm

Topas,

There's always hope. Of course, Bill Walsh was also on record before the 1998 draft saying he would pass on Peyton Manning and draft Brian Griese later on. But that's not to say an endorsement from him doesn't mean something.

56
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 1:24pm

Re 55: Remember the amazing season Griese had before he tore up his shoulder. I think it was something like 20 TDs with 4 INTs. And you could have auctioned off Manning for a fortune in picks. I'm still not saying Walsh was 100% right but if Manning had hurt his shoulder instead of Griese then Walsh would look like a genius.

57
by gmc (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 2:02pm

55:

Of course you realize, that means he was passing on Ryan Leaf too. So maybe he was right...

58
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 2:21pm

Topas,

Hold out your hope. I personally think there's a far greater chance that Edwards is the real deal than Clemens is.

59
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 2:26pm

#55, Sean

To be fair to Walsh Griese was a lot more productive before he tore his rotator cuff. Didn't he once have over 20 TDs and five or so picks? If he had avoided injury could he have gone on to be one of the top passers in the league?

I think people have a tendency to think of Manning as though he has played his whole career at the level he has played over the last two or three. While Manning has always looked like he was likely to become a franchise passer, in his early seasons he wasn't the all conquering hero he has become. He has also always had a very good caste of top players around him.

60
by osoviejo (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 2:52pm

14: "Matt Hasselbeck was drafted by the Packers, in the 6th round, and was traded for a 1st and 7th."

The Packers and Seahawks swapped 1st-round picks (10 and 17)--the Packers didn't pick up an extra first-rounder in this deal. The other draft choice acquired by the Packers was the Seahawks' third-rounder, not seventh.

Either way, a nice haul for a practice-squad player. Of course, being "Mr. August" didn't hurt Matt's buzz factor.

Green Bay did turn down an offer from the Dolphins that would have netted an extra first-round pick (26th overall), and included a swap of second- and third-round picks, but they wanted that top-10 overall pick where they could get a sure thing. Oops.

61
by Tom D (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 5:48pm

According to the draft trade chart, difference between the 10th and 17th picks in 350 points, the same as the 55th pick. So they got the equivalent of a late second round pick.

62
by osoviejo (not verified) :: Fri, 05/09/2008 - 6:36pm

I like the draft trade chart approach, but don't forget the third-round pick. It was 72 overall, for 230 points. Together with the first-round swap that's a total of 580 points--equivalent to the top pick in the second round.

63
by andrew (not verified) :: Sat, 05/10/2008 - 7:36pm

"There were multiple rumors that the team was interested in moving ahead of the Jets to secure Ohio State pass rusher Vernon Gholston, but when Glenn Dorsey unexpectedly became available, the Chiefs proved unwilling trade partners."

Not sure where you got your info from, but this statement is false. In fact, the complete opposite is true. The Chiefs called the Patriots about making a deal and the Pats were the ones saying no. This was reported by Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss and was also shown during a local Boston channel TV special that had footage from inside the Pats war room.

This is only my opinion, but I don't believe the Pats had any serious interest in either Gholston or Dorsey. I just don't think they wanted to pay that steep a price, with picks and the contract they would have to offer. I think trading down to draft Mayo was their target all along.

64
by Quentin (not verified) :: Sun, 05/11/2008 - 8:03am

Deion is listed by wikipedia as 6'1".
Also, Dunta Robinson is 5'10".

And then there's Jason David. 5'8". Hmmm.

65
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Sun, 05/11/2008 - 10:13pm

The Chiefs called the Patriots about making a deal and the Pats were the ones saying no. This was reported by Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss

Do you by any chance have a link to that Reiss article?

66
by Noah of Arkadia (not verified) :: Sun, 05/11/2008 - 11:25pm

Griese has always had talent, but he's had a hard time earning the respect of his teammates. He's got the vibe of a guy you just want to punch in the face. Not good.

As for the Kevin O'Connell pick, I think most posters are missing the point. Picking a QB with a 3rd, a 4th, a 5th, a 6th or a 7th is cool. Good idea. IF it's the right QB -you know, the one that'll pan out? Most folks didn't exactly feel, before the draft, that O'Connell was the right guy. But, sure, you're Pats fans, so stay positive. There's no telling who'll pan out and who won't at this point. But at this point, I'd think Brohm and Henne's chances are way better than O'Connell's. Many folks would add Woodson to the list, too.

67
by Quentin (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 7:10am

He doesn't have to be better than Brohm or Henne. He just has to be better than Matt Cassel. If you are gonna track his career and compare him to players from his class, the more realistic comparison is between him and the guys drafted after him.

68
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 12:17pm

CaffeineMan,

I don't know about the specific article that andrew was talking about, but most of Reiss's articles are either directly in, or linked from, his "Reiss's Pieces" blog. I forget the URL, but I just Google "Reiss" and "Patriots" and it always pops up first or second link.

69
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 3:41pm

CaffeineMan,

I don’t know about the specific article that andrew was talking about, but most of Reiss’s articles are either directly in, or linked from, his “Reiss’s Pieces” blog. I forget the URL, but I just Google “Reiss” and “Patriots” and it always pops up first or second link.

MJK, yeah, that's why I asked. I searched all of Reiss' Pieces back to before the draft, and as many articles as I could find and couldn't find a reference to any trade discussions with the Chiefs. I know I heard about it somewhere, but my memory was that it was about the Pats initiating the talks. Reiss is pretty careful, so if he said the Chiefs were the initiators, then I believe it. I just wanted to know what I missed, since I try to read all Reiss' stuff.

70
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 7:01pm

I can't find it either, and I just read back through all of Reiss's pieces since the draft. However, I do have a distinct memory of reading that somewhere. Maybe Reiss didn't report it, and andrew was doing the same thing that I was--misattributing it to Reiss.

Maybe it was just a rumor.

Since teams don't make their draft boards public, I guess we'll never know.

71
by andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 6:40pm

On the Reiss thing, it was in an article he wrote for The Boston Globe, it wasn't in his blog. The direct quote is this:

"A few leftover nuggets from the Patriots' draft room, as seen in television footage on Patriots All-Access: 1. The Chiefs called to shop the No. 5 pick, apparently trying to play the Patriots (No. 7) against the Jets (No. 6), but New England didn't take the bait."

Here is the URL: http://www.boston.com/sports/articles/2008/05/04/nance_back_in_the_runni...

It's in the 2nd paragraph.

72
by t.d. (not verified) :: Fri, 05/16/2008 - 4:30am

Buffalo looked a lot like the 49ers from 2006 in going 7-9. People expected them to take the next step, too. It all comes down to whether Edwards is any good, and in my book that's still very much an open question

73
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