Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Futures: Ronnie Harrison

Though teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick gets more headlines, the other Alabama safety prospect in this year's draft deserves plenty of attention too.

17 Apr 2008

Four Downs: NFC East

by Mike McGibbon

Dallas Cowboys

The Pacman Cometh?

Over the past month or so, much media attention has been focused upon the seemingly imminent arrival of Adam "Pacman" Jones, the currently-suspended, possibly-soon-to-be-reinstated Tennessee Titans cornerback. The Titans don't want him. The Cowboys do. And Pacman loves Dallas. So why hasn't the deal been done? Mostly because Tennessee feels that the compensation the Cowboys have offered (a late second-day draft pick) isn't enough.

The Tennessee front office may be fearing the Randy Moss/Oakland Raiders situation of last year. Once upon a time, they had sent the seventh overall pick in the draft and former first-round pick Napoleon Harris to Minnesota for Moss. Then Al Davis and the Raiders were forced to get rid of Moss at a bargain-basement price (a fourth-round pick), after which Moss proceeded to have one of the best seasons in the history of wide receivers. Like Oakland, Tennessee stands to lose a sizable investment, having spent the sixth overall pick on Jones and given him a multi-million dollar signing bonus. And, like Moss, Pacman Jones likely won't play another game with the team that gave up so much to get him, even though he could be great once he gets another shot with a different team.

However, in many ways the situations are quite different. Oakland's coaches claimed that Randy Moss was "becoming an old man fast," but Moss was not prohibited from playing. Worst-case, a team risked trading a fourth-round pick for a mediocre No. 2 receiver. The worst-case scenario with Pacman Jones is that he never plays another down in the NFL. He hasn't been reinstated yet, and once he is, it will only take one indiscretion to get him suspended for a very long time. Throw in the fact that no other teams appear to be interested in offering more than a seventh-rounder for Jones, and you have the Tennessee Titans in a very poor bargaining position. The Cowboys have built one of the best rosters in football, and they will be content to play chicken with the Titans, knowing that they can always draft a cornerback with one of their two first-round picks.

Free Agency

Dallas may not be willing to fork over a high draft choice for Pacman Jones, but they do need a cornerback. Starting corner Anthony Henry was injured for part of last year, and two backup cornerbacks (Jacques Reeves and Nathan Jones) left during free agency. Interestingly, the Cowboys did not make a serious effort to acquire DeAngelo Hall. Dallas was rumored to have been interested, but Oakland ended up getting Hall for a high second-rounder this year and next year's fifth-rounder. Dallas might have been able to give Atlanta their lower first round-pick (the 28th pick overall) and a sixth- or seventh-round pick, which seems like a bargain for a 24-year-old two-time Pro Bowler. However, Dallas was likely leery of paying Hall $70 million over the course of seven years (as Oakland did), knowing that current ace cornerback Terrence Newman's contract year is rapidly approaching and that they might soon have to pay for two No. 1 corners. Thus, the opportunity passed.

Special teams ace Keith Davis also left during free agency (going to the Dolphins). Special teams was the one phase of the game in which the Cowboys were below average, ranking 18th in DVOA. Not having Davis next year won't help.

Draft Needs

Another popular Cowboys-related rumor is that Jerry Jones is itching to trade his two first-round picks for the right to draft running back Darren McFadden, a fellow Arkansas Razorbacks alum. The idea is that Jerry Jones can't resist a Razorback ... yet according to the NFL Draft History page on nfl.com, the Cowboys haven't drafted an Arkansas Razorback since 1970, when they took Jerry Dossey in the eighth round. In fairness to the rumormongers, the Cowboys could use another running back, now that Julius Jones is gone. Marion Barber is a great back, but his ferocious style leaves him open to injury. A smaller back who is more comfortable catching the ball, like Chris Johnson from East Carolina, would complement Barber nicely. Of course, McFadden would complement Barber too, but those two picks would be better spent elsewhere.

If the Cowboys don't pick up Pacman Jones, they will have to draft a highly-rated cornerback, such as Kansas' Aqib Talib or Virginia Tech's Brandon Flowers, someone who can compete for the third cornerback spot right away. The Cowboys also need to pick up another wide receiver. Terrell Owens is 33, which isn't terribly old for a wide receiver, but his presumptive fellow starter, Terry Glenn, was injured for most of last season, and may never come back if he has microfracture surgery on his knee. Former seventh-round pick Patrick Crayton has exceeded expectations, but his play has been inconsistent (recall his devastating third-down drop at the end of the third quarter in the divisional playoff). DeSean Jackson (Cal) and Devin Thomas (Michigan State) would be nice additions if they're still available at the 28th spot in the draft.

As the Cowboys have eight draft choices this year, they will also have the luxury of pursuing depth along the offensive line and at the safety and defensive end positions; Tom Zbikowski, a safety from Notre Dame, would be an interesting choice later in the draft.

New York Giants

Great Draft, Jerry

The post-Super Bowl celebration in New York has included a warm appreciation of Jerry Reese's work in his first year as general manager of the club. All eight of his 2007 draft selections made the team, and every player but one (right tackle Adam Koets) made a significant contribution down the stretch. It's a good thing for Jerry Reese that there was a "stretch," though, because as of the end of 2007, his draft didn't look like such a home run. Wide receiver Steve Smith had been injured for most of the year, and had only eight receptions for 63 yards. Jay Alford, the defensive tackle who sacked Tom Brady to seal the Super Bowl victory, had exactly one tackle at the end of the season. And Ahmad Bradshaw, who inspired Tiki Barber comparisons during the playoffs, only had 23 regular-season carries.

In fact, when Rick Gosselin, draft expert/sportswriter for the Dallas Morning News and a member of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee, graded each team's crop of rookies on January 24, 2008, he gave the New York Giants a D, mentioning that cornerback Aaron Ross and safety Michael Johnson were to be commended for breaking into the starting lineup, and that tight end Kevin Boss was reasonable "insurance" for Jeremy Shockey.

The truth is, the Giants have drafted very well for the past three years. Out of their last 19 picks, 16 are still on the team, and ten have contributed quality time as starters. Nonetheless, very few have established themselves as elite players. Justin Tuck was excellent last year, and Brandon Jacobs was an essential component of the Giants' seventh-ranked rushing attack, but Aaron Ross is still developing, Mathias Kiwanuka has struggled with injuries and position changes, and some fear that former second-rounder Corey Webster may never develop into an elite cornerback. If the Giants are to contend for the Super Bowl again in 2008, a few of these now-average starters will have to step up.

Free Agency Recap

The Giants courted a number of reliable, if unspectacular, veteran free agents during the off-season. Journeyman linebacker Danny Clark was brought in to offset the loss of Reggie Torbor and Kawika Mitchell, safety Sammy Knight was acquired to fill the void left by new Raider Gibril Wilson, and former first overall pick David Carr signed on to be Eli Manning's backup. The surprisingly effective starting guard from last year, Rich Seubert, was also re-signed, to a three year contract.

The combination of average veterans and unproven youngsters promises to present Tom Coughlin with some interesting dilemmas when it comes time to choose starters in the fall. Take the linebacker corps, for example. Gerris Wilkinson and Zak DeOssie showed promise last year, but neither is anywhere near the skill level of Antonio Pierce. Danny Clark is a solid option, and could start next to Pierce and Mathius Kiwanuka (assuming Kiwanuka doesn't move back to the defensive line), but he isn't likely to improve as much as Wilkinson or DeOssie might over the next few years. They have a similar problem at wide receiver -- Amani Toomer's career is winding down, but are Sinorice Moss and Steve Smith any better, at this point? Now that he's won a Super Bowl and has some measure of security with his new four-year contract, head coach Tom Coughlin may decide that this is a good year to give his younger players a shot.

Draft Needs

Although Seubert has just signed a new contract, the Giants may not be satisfied with the combination of Dave Diehl (a former guard turned left tackle) and Seubert on the left side of the offensive line. If so, left tackle Chris Williams (Vanderbilt) is a solid option. The Giants could also use a playmaker at safety, where the likely starters are currently Sammy Knight and either James Butler or Michael Johnson. This looks to be a weak safety class, but the Giants might be tempted to draft Kenny Phillips if he's still on the board at the end of the first round. Later in the draft, Chris Ellis, a defensive end from Virginia Tech, would be a good choice to replace Michael Strahan, should he finally decide to retire.

Philadelphia Eagles

Birds Without Wings

After reeling in Asante Samuel and Chris Clemons, the Philadelphia Eagles' off-season became more about what they weren't doing than what they had done. After Samuel signed his new contract, many began to speculate that former No. 1 cornerback Lito Sheppard was on his way out, just as soon as the Eagles could get adequate compensation. The rumors were implicitly supported by the team's Web site, which listed Sheppard as a backup behind Samuel and Sheldon Brown.

However, weeks have now passed since the Samuel signing, and Sheppard remains on the team. If money and egos weren't important, there would be no reason to jettison Sheppard. The Eagles may not want to pay Lito Sheppard and Asante Samuel top dollar, but Sheppard is a bona fide No. 1 cornerback, and the formidable combination of Sheppard and Samuel would allow defensive coordinator Jim Johnson great flexibility in designing his famous blitz packages. Sheppard hasn't demanded a trade, and Philadelphia hasn't publicly stated a desire to trade him, so it is still possible that the 2008 Eagles will end up with one of the strongest cornerback tandems in the league.

More eagerly anticipated than Sheppard's departure has been the arrival of a big-time wide receiver. McNabb has publicly declared a need for more playmakers on his offense, and the Eagles' front office seemed to agree, chasing after Randy Moss to no avail in the opening days of free agency. (Moss is reported to have turned down an offer from Philadelphia that was larger than the one he eventually signed in New England.) Since then, nothing much has happened. Javon Walker was snapped up by the Raiders. Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson has been begging Cincinnati to trade him, but they won't budge. The Lions are rumored to be interested in shopping Roy Williams, but they haven't made a move. In short, there are no big-time wide receivers to be had.

These developments leave the Eagles in an unenviable position: Do they draft a wide receiver in the first round of what is widely regarded as a weak class (and pray that they don't repeat the disastrous Freddie Mitchell experiment), develop a wide receiver from a later round (like Earl Bennett from Vanderbilt, whom they invited to a private workout), or stick with what they've got? Kevin Curtis, Greg Lewis and Reggie Brown aren't top-flight wide receivers, but they may still be the best options Donovan McNabb has come September.

Free Agency

The Eagles continued to address their biggest weakness when they signed linebacker and special teams player Rocky Boiman. The Eagles ranked 31st in the league in Special Teams DVOA last year, and were repeatedly punished with poor field position, ranking 25th in average starting field position. Boiman won't fix all of their problems, but his signing shows a commitment on their part to upgrade this unit, as do the signings of now-fullback Dan Klecko and tight end Kris Wilson, who are expected to contribute on special teams. Boiman also provides much-needed depth at the linebacker position. Having released Takeo Spikes, whose injuries and salary became too much to bear, the Eagles are left with a very young group of starting linebackers; Chris Gocong, Omar Gaither, and Stewart Bradley were all drafted within the last two years.

Draft Needs

Philadelphia must draft a safety. Free safety Brian Dawkins is still playing at a high level, but he was out for six games last year, and his age (34) is a concern. Furthermore, starting strong safety Sean Considine was also hurt last year, and didn't excel when he did play. Unfortunately, the two areas where Philadelphia most needs an immediate starter are two of the weakest at the top of the draft. There are no Calvin Johnsons at wide receiver this year. Kenny Phillips (Miami) is the top-rated safety, but is considered a reach at pick 19, given his lackluster junior season. If the Eagles don't like Phillips, Cal safety Thomas DeCoud might be a better value later in the draft.

Safety and wide receiver aren't the Eagles' only needs, of course. Both of their offensive tackles (William Thomas and Jon Runyan) are closer to 35 than 30, and Philadelphia loves to have depth on the offensive line. If any of the top three tackles -- Jake Long, Ryan Clady, or Jeff Otah -- is still around, Philadelphia will likely snap him up.

Finding a better backup for Brian Westbrook would also be a good idea. Use in the passing game keeps Westbrook away from the Curse of 370, but it doesn't take a lot of fancy math to figure out that Westbrook is the heart of Philadelphia's offense, and that the Eagles would be totally screwed if he were injured (the contributions of Tony Hunt and Correll Buckhalter notwithstanding). The Eagles also need a quality return man, now that they've given up on former Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom and have let Reno Mahe roam around as a free agent. Jamaal Charles from Texas might be the answer for the Eagles in the second round, filling their need for a more productive backup running back and an exciting return man.

Washington Redskins

That Wasn't So Bad, Was It?

For once, the Washington Redskins actually gained draft picks during the off-season. The league awarded the Redskins three compensatory picks in the 2008 draft, including the 96th overall selection and two seventh-rounders, leaving them with a total of nine draft choices in April. You get those extra picks when you lose more free agents than you sign, something which owner Daniel Snyder has been loathe to endure.

In fact, this is only the second time during Daniel Snyder's reign that the Redskins have had at least nine picks heading into the draft. The first time may have left a bad taste in his mouth. In 2002, the Redskins' ten selections produced Patrick Ramsey, Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright, and little else. Since that draft, free agency has been the focus of the Redskins' off-season efforts, and the draft has been an afterthought, producing just 24 new players for the Redskins during that time period, while division rivals like the Philadelphia Eagles were drafting 43 new players.

Free Agency

Of course, the Redskins couldn't let the whole off-season go by without picking up a shifty speedster. Former Pro Bowl kick returner Jerome Mathis was just sitting there for the taking, and Daniel Snyder couldn't resist the temptation, despite having already re-signed Rock Cartwright (who is also a kick returner). Mathis was electrifying in his rookie season of 2005, returning two kicks for touchdowns, but he has been injured off and on for the past two years and was recently charged with assaulting his girlfriend (a charge that was later dropped). He never did much as a wide receiver for the Texans, and may not make the team as a kick returner if he has more legal troubles, but the Redskins are not risking much by signing him on for the league-minimum salary.

Draft Needs

Now that they have nine picks, the Redskins can finally use the draft to add depth to their roster, which is full of talented starters who are either old or injured (or both). Every projected starter on the offensive line is more than 30 years old, and two of them, Jansen and Thomas, were injured last year. London Fletcher played well at middle linebacker last year, but he is 32 years old and is flanked by Rocky McIntosh and Marcus Washington, both of whom were hurt last season. Cornerback Shawn Springs was healthy all year, but he is 33, and his fellow cornerback, Carlos Rogers, only played in seven games. And while Andre Carter had a great year at defensive end, registering 10.5 sacks, the aged Phillip Daniels (35) was less effective in rushing the quarterback from the other side of the line, producing only 2.5 sacks. The Redskins defense as a whole posted an Adjusted Sack Rate of 5.7 percent, which ranked 26th in the league.

While the Redskins could very well spend their first-round draft choice on a pass-rusher like Derrick Harvey, an offensive lineman for the right side would be the more prudent choice. The aforementioned injured linemen (Jansen and Thomas) happened to both play on the right side of the line, and their absence crippled the Redskins' running attack, forcing them to run in the general direction of Chris Samuels (towards the left end or left tackle) 46 percent of the time, a higher percentage of left-side runs than any other team. Gosder Cherilus, a mammoth raw talent who is best suited for the right tackle position, would be a good pick for them.

However, given that new head coach Jim Zorn has publicly declared a desire to find a big wide receiver for his West-Coast offensive scheme, Devin Thomas (Michigan) and Malcolm Kelly (Oklahoma) might be hard to pass up if they are still available after the first 20 picks. The good news is that the Redskins' draft won't be made or broken by a few picks; they'll have plenty of draft choices to spend on their needs at linebacker, cornerback, defensive end, wide receiver and the offensive line.

Mike McGibbon is a musician and private tutor in New York City; his mind turns to football when students make homework excuses and when horn players start their twentieth chorus of "Blue Bossa." FO thanks Mike for helping out with this edition of Four Downs.

Posted by: Guest on 17 Apr 2008

44 comments, Last at 23 Apr 2008, 6:19pm by justme


by Joe T. (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 12:22pm

I really wanted Washington to grab Okoye last season as they needed help putting pressure on the QB more than they needed help in the secondary (at the time). They have needed some DT's and DE's for several seasons now, and now have a need for depth at safety (or a starter).

Their O-line is aged, but they are in a decent position that they can draft lineman on the second day and develop them. They have two young linemen that look like they can play anywhere along the line at replacement level (Alexander and Heyer). There is no urgent desire to find the next Joe Thomas, although a new Hog would certainly be useful. Joe Bugel knows what he's doing.

I would go Rd 1 - DE, Rd 2 - WR and DB's and OL on the second day. Linebacker corps seems a good mix of young and old, they could probably stand 1 more OLB in the rotation.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 12:22pm

So if Justin Tuck manages another 10+ sacks this year will you stop calling him Jason?

I think Ross was easily the Giants most consistent CB last year. He's not elite (though he may be eventually) but he's a step up from Madison and McQuarters at this point in their careers.

by dork matter (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 12:26pm

Great article! One note: in the Giants section, Jason Tuck should be Justin Tuck.

You assume Cherilus would be available for the 'Skins, and if he is, that would be a good pick. For several years, the O-line would look great on paper going into the pre-season, then crumble with injuries that revealed their lack of depth.

I'd rather see them stay away from Kelly with the first pick and use the BWRA (best wide receiver available)strategy in the second round with the 51st pick. Kelly's got huge character questions based on how he's handled the reaction to his slow 40-yd times.

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 1:16pm

#3 - Good point, but the Skins don't need just the best WR, they need the best WR at least 6'2". I don't know about the WR draft class, but that little caveat might make the remaining WRs a reach in Rd 2. But I'll defer to someone who knows more about the draft class.

I'm beginning to think that it would be in their interest to trade their #2 (and maybe #3) pick for Chad Johnson, and then pick a big receiver in the late rounds (maybe somebody from a small school, since small school receivers seem to have a good track record of late).

by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 1:21pm

Felix Jones' name has been whispered about in Philadelphia. He'd be an interesting pick at #19, but I can't imagine the Eagles would pass on Phillips or a top OL to take Jones. I'll be happy if they snag somebody like Eddie Royal or Dexter Jackson from Appy State later in the draft. They may never contribute on offense, but their dynamism in the return game would make up for it.

by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 2:05pm

Jason changed to Justin. Sorry we Tucked up.

by Jon (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 2:10pm

Gerris Wilkinson is the probable starter at WLB for the Giants. He's a lot faster than Kawika Mitchell (a MLB playing out of position), and probably a better fit for the scheme. Clark is just depth.

Giant fans seem happy with our left side. Maybe they can upgrade, but Seubert is a solid starter. If they're going to make any changes, it might be to put Guy Whimper at LT and Diehl at LG.

re: Ross, he was consistent, but I don't know about his ceiling. He's a #2 CB, with good ball skills, but questionable coverage. Madison actually played quite well last year, but was frequently injured. Dockery is a decent nickel CB. Webster was terrible early in the year, but was very good in the playoffs.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 2:15pm

redskins getting chad johnson wont happen. they are already in cap hell.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 2:16pm

lol, post 6 wins.

by dork matter (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 2:50pm

Re #4:

There are draftable WRs over 6'2" after the first round...James Hardy, for example. That's a possibility if they choose a non-WR with the first-round pick.

However, if the 'Skins go WR in the first round, I really hope they take Limas Sweed. 6'5" and gets compared to Andre Johnson (yes, please!). Can't find any information on where Sweed lined up in college, but I'll assume based on his size that he'd be just fine at split end. Which would be a relief...Santana Moss has taken so much punishment catching swing passes over the past few years, they need to get him lined up at flanker if they want to keep him around.

by bubqr (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 4:03pm

The Phillips frenzy has to stop at some point. Look at his stats, and measurables, and now tell me why you think he should be picked at #19, apart from coming out of Miami. Really. I think J.Johnson will be picked before him(and deserve to).

You can make a point for PHI drafting a WR, OL, RB, WR or CB with #19, so it's quite tricky to know in advance what they are going to do.

My take ? Stay put at #19, draft C.Williams, Clady, Otah or D.Thomas(One should be there) then trade up in the 2nd(Or trade Lito) and take a WR(If you missed on D.Thomas) or a S.

by Kevin from Philly (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 4:37pm

Re: 11 - Agreed! Remember last year when the Eagles were supposed to draft another safety out of Mia (Fla)? He got snapped up by NE and never played, to my knowlege.

The only constant from Eagles drafts is that they always seem to use the first pick on a position that NOBODY thinks they need help at. That means you can count on a RB, DT or MLB at #19. Sigh.

by Dantheman (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 5:09pm


"That means you can count on a RB, DT or MLB at #19"

A couple of Iggles blogs have suggested Felix Jones, including this analysis.

by Daddy Baker (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 7:09pm

This article was well written and made it easy for me to break everything down. I really enjoyed the detailed analysis of everything so far in the game. I'd really like to see the Redskins do something this year, but what will they do to complete their roster? Thanks for the education Mike McGibbon.

by John Doe (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 7:44pm

7: I'm not sure if he's the next Champ Bailey but his 6.37 yards per attempt, 9 passes defensed, and 3 interceptions in his rookies year is pretty impressive. I'm not sure but I don't think any other rookie CB had numbers that good (YPA wise) in 2007.

I was going to look up Madison and McQuarters YPA but couldn't find it. Does anyone know a reliable place to get that information?

by Pete (not verified) :: Thu, 04/17/2008 - 10:36pm

Can't Tennessee trade Pacman for a 2nd day pick and a conditional pick? If Pacman plays 25%, 50%, 60%, or 70% of defensive plays then the Titans could get an additional 7th, 6th, 5th, or 4th rounder the following year. If the Cowboys play Pacman on 70% of the defensive plays (including special teams towards the percentage, but not the defensive plays?) then they probably will be very happy.

I think 3 CB of that level could work out well for the Eagles (injuries or facing 3-4 quality WR). The big question is $, of course.

by Dave (not verified) :: Fri, 04/18/2008 - 12:18am

I disagree with the idea that the Eagles need to draft a safety (especially in the first round). I thought that Quintin Mikell and J.R. Reed both played well last year, and there has been talk of moving Sheldon Brown to safety if we hang onto Lito.

by C (not verified) :: Fri, 04/18/2008 - 9:29am

The best move for the Eagles is to keep Lito, have Sheldon play Free Safety, move the slowing-down Brian Dawkins to Strong Safety and draft the best PR/KR in the draft, and maybe pick up a tackle prospect or a safety prospect in the second and third rounds.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 04/18/2008 - 9:37am

Nice article, although I'm surprised that the Giants section didn't mention the ongoing "trade Jeremy Shockey" rumors. (I've linked the latest from the Daily News on my name.) Shockey is reportedly "telling friends he is upset with everything from his role in the offense to his contract to the perception that the Giants' season turned around when he went down. And he is worried that if he returns and things go wrong for the team next season, he will get most of the blame."

According to "team sources," the Saints offered their #2 (which seems like a pretty fair price to me) a month ago, but the Giants wanted more. And there is/was at least one other club who has shown interest. If statements such as the above continue to circulate, I would not be at all surprised to see him moved. His history with Sean Payton makes the Saints a nice match, although given Shockey's history of lower-leg injuries, I don't think that the carpet in the Superdome would be the best thing for his career.

The Giants have shown that they can get by without him, but their running game suffered greatly when he left the lineup. Kevin Boss isn't (yet) half the blocker Shockey is (although he might be more explosive in the passing game-- the 45-yarder he had in the Super Bowl was almost 20 yards longer than any catch Jeremy's had in 2 seasons).

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 04/18/2008 - 11:45am

Finally, a sensible Cowboys analysis that doesn't make it seem that the writer is just reading off the latest rumor mill pages of the sports pages. Great work overall.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 04/18/2008 - 2:59pm

Is assuming Barber will get hurt because he runs "ferociously" a valid assumption?

by Independent George (not verified) :: Fri, 04/18/2008 - 3:32pm

#6 - I believe the technical term is 'To Gumbel'.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Fri, 04/18/2008 - 4:51pm


Yeah I agree. The article was very well written.

by Paralis (not verified) :: Fri, 04/18/2008 - 5:48pm

The problem with the Redskins' offensive line is very real and very obvious, but it's not the right side--it's the middle. The Redskins currently have exactly three players with a full season's experience at G/C, plus two projects: perennial retread Jason Fabini and second-year undrafted defensive lineman Lorenzo Alexander. The only player on the roster with game experience at center behind Casey Rabach is 35 year old starting left guard Pete Kendall. And if the words "35 year old starting left guard" aren't scary enough when talking about your backup center, let's not forget Kendall's been pretty reluctant (to say the least) about a position change.

The Skins desperately need one interior lineman who can, if needed, step in and start immediately. The problem is that there isn't one in this draft, unless the Branden Albert hype somehow leaves Chris Williams around at 16 or 17 for a trade-up. They also, despite the positive buzz about Alexander's lateral mobility and general potential as a pulling guard, desperately need another depth project on the inside.

Beyond that, the other big need on offense is a reevaluation of their approach to pass protection coaching. Clinton Portis has always been a willing blocker who plays bigger than his body, but his eagerness to leave his feet makes him a liability in pass protection (his dive-and-miss approach in the Dolphins game last year was at least partly responsible for Jansen's injury, iirc), and Mike Sellers and Chris Cooley are frequently helpless in protection. Portis is the only one with an obvious technique flaw, but there's no reason somebody of Sellers' size and speed should be so ineffective in pass blocking. Fix that, and the passing attack will be fine.

by Bill Barnwell :: Sat, 04/19/2008 - 1:02am

I want to add as an addendum to the "Will the Eagles take an LB in the first round?" discussion from a few weeks ago:

"I do think the positions we have drafted (in the first round) are the positions we feel are really tough to find, especially the offensive tackles and defensive ends and even the defensive tackles," general manager Tom Heckert says. "But it still comes down to if we have a guy graded that high as a first-round player, I don't think we wouldn't take a guy just because he's a linebacker."

by Xeynon (not verified) :: Sat, 04/19/2008 - 4:27am


It's not a valid assumption that he's GOING to suffer a catastrophic injury, but is he more likely to? Probably. I'm guessing ankle or knee injuries really aren't any more likely for a power back since they mostly result from being tackled while cutting or running in the open field, but other serious injuries caused by direct collisons (broken collarbones etc.) seem more likely with a guy who gets hit a lot.

Is he going to wear down faster and have a shorter career than a finesse back? Almost certainly. The roster of power RB's who remained top-flight players after 5 or 6 years in the league is pretty short (Bettis is the only one I can think of off the top of my head). Even guys who did last longer, like Eddie George and Earl Campbell, slowed down pretty significantly later on in their careers.

by Rick (not verified) :: Sat, 04/19/2008 - 10:12am

I've always felt the key to the draft is to pick the absolute BEST available talent, regardless of need. That way, if the pick pays off (I think the risk/reward ratio in the first 2 rounds is not good, though I'd like to see FO do an analysis of it...using price paid as a factor), then you have the option to play/trade and meet your needs.

The Eagles recent philosophy of filling roles for longer term needs rather than immediate needs is somewhat smart if you think of it in those terms. If you've got players who have 3-4 years left at a good level of performance, then you can prepare their successors at a fraction of the cost by drafting in those positions.

Immediate needs can be met in free agency, or via trade.

Though it baffles me to no end why they have such problems filling the glaring hole at WR that they've had in 8 of the last 9 seasons. Having one top flight WR makes the others that much better.

There's no reason why they shouldn't be dealing with Detroit to get one of their WRs. If anything, Detroit has proven that while drafting the best available talent is smart, you can't build a team that is WR heavy.

by Rocky the Philly Eagle (not verified) :: Sat, 04/19/2008 - 11:36am

As intriguing as taking a RB in the first is. I sure hope the Eagles don't. I'm hoping they take Ray Rice in Second or Third, and get BPA in the first.

If Otah or Alberts I'd definitely go with them. Phillip Merling could also be interesting, he is not an edge rusher, but he is big enough to hold the point and let LB's make tackles.

by Dice (not verified) :: Sat, 04/19/2008 - 8:08pm

I'd like to see an OT for the 'Skins in the first, maybe Jordy Nelson(he'd be good in the slot and won't complain about going over the middle) in the second, and Tommy Z in the third(I believe they have two third rounders). A developmental/nickel CB with the other third rounder and some interior lineman with their lower picks. I think the D-line would be fine if they'd allow Demetric Evans to start over Daniels; he produces when he plays. Have Buzbee from the practice squad come on to spell him. Alexander also needs to get more time at DT; he's not a full-time starter yet, but he can produce on O or D along the line.

Cooley isn't a great blocker by any stretch, but a lot of his pass pro blocks are just so his man commits, and he breaks off. Sellers, OTOH, needs to improve desperately and probably needs to be replaced...I thought he was retiring after the '05 season.

by Steve (not verified) :: Sat, 04/19/2008 - 9:57pm

Mike McGibbon, I wouldn't put any stock in Rick Gosselin giving the Giants draft a D. After the Super Bowl win, he wrote how amazing the Giants draft class was and how Reese should be NFL Executive of the Year.

So he basically admits he was braindead and wrong giving the Giants a D a week before. Obviously you're wrong when those rookies help the Giants win playoff games and the Super Bowl. A few more flubs like that and Mr. Gosselin may have not made the HOF.

by Xeynon (not verified) :: Sat, 04/19/2008 - 10:01pm

If Otah or Alberts I’d definitely go with them. Phillip Merling could also be interesting, he is not an edge rusher, but he is big enough to hold the point and let LB’s make tackles.

Isn't that Abiamiri's job?

by John Doe (not verified) :: Sat, 04/19/2008 - 10:21pm

I would like the Giants to go linebacker and safety in rounds 1 and 2. I don't care in which order but if the could land Dan Connor and the safety FO recently did an article on (Tyrell something?) I'd be a very happy man. Connor would have to move outside by he has played there before.

by Penrose 10,000 (not verified) :: Sun, 04/20/2008 - 5:11am

Chris Cooley isn't a good blocker? I remember differently. For example, didn't he shut down Jason Taylor 1 on 1 several plays this year? I think of him as a solid blocker.

Mike Sellers, on the other hand, can only block when someone is coming right at him. I don't recall much in terms of good positioning or quick movement on his part.

by Dice (not verified) :: Sun, 04/20/2008 - 10:29am

33: He was getting schooled by the horrific Joey Porter in that game. Cooley isn't a liability as a blocker, but he could stand to improve a bit, esp as they seem intent on keeping Jansen, who's going to need the help.

by PaulH (not verified) :: Sun, 04/20/2008 - 3:40pm

How is Chris Samuels looking?

I followed him at Alabama, and also during the early part of his NFL career, but we don't get too many 'Skins games down here, it's mainly all Saints and Texans.

How does he look?

by Paralis (not verified) :: Sun, 04/20/2008 - 4:01pm

I think the nicest thing that anybody's said about Chris Samuels in the last 5 years was when Michael Lewis wrote in The Blind Side that Samuels was the only other tackle in the NFL built like Jones/Pace.

That said, he's still an above-average left tackle, and because Randy Thomas is so often hurt, easily the most complete OL on the roster. Prior to the explosion in OL salaries, the Redskins' penchant for impossibly backloaded contracts meant that Samuels was probably overpaid, but now somebody else would probably give him as much/more.

by Dice (not verified) :: Sun, 04/20/2008 - 4:51pm

Samuels had a damn good season this past year, but too often seems beaten if his man goes outside. This past year, his motivation was much higher, tho.

by Todd (not verified) :: Sun, 04/20/2008 - 10:58pm

Why would the Cowboys even want Deangelo Hall? For that matter, why would anyone want him, especially at that price. OVERRATED.

by langsty (not verified) :: Mon, 04/21/2008 - 3:50am

my most recent memory of chris samuels is of julian peterson & daryl tapp having their way with him in the wild card round of this year's playoffs. it was pretty ugly.

by bubqr (not verified) :: Mon, 04/21/2008 - 8:05am

#31 No one seems to understand that we already have a big DE who play the run well on the roster, and who is a 2007 2nd round pick. The Merling pick would make absolutely no sense at all.

by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 04/21/2008 - 3:03pm

Chris Samuels continues to be very, very good. All last season he played almost entirely without any double team help, b/c the rest of the line was so injured / inexperienced / bad. He's not a HOF'er, but he has been and continues to be an excellent lineman.

As for the Redskins needs, well, I think they really need a couple of great football players at just about any position. The OL is ancient, but they plugged the injuries with freely available talent last year (Heyer and Alexander) plus a cheap trade (Kendall), and while the unit was far from dominant, it did okay.

Basically the whole team is solid (and depth is much better than 2 years ago), but there isn't a single player, much less 2 or 3, that opposing teams need to gameplan around. DL? Not great, not bad, but no dominant player. LB? Same. DB? Same (Taylor had the best shot at developing into that guy. Oh, well.). WR? Same. RB? Same.

How many teams have won it all, or even made the SB recently, without that kind of dominant talent somewhere on their squad?

Btw, this line was hilarious:

Portis is the only one with an obvious technique flaw

Maybe you're on to something that everyone else misses, but the general consensus out there is that Portis is the best blocking tailback in the league.

by Paralis (not verified) :: Mon, 04/21/2008 - 5:47pm

Maybe you’re on to something that everyone else misses, but the general consensus out there is that Portis is the best blocking tailback in the league.

I don't want to sound snarky, but if I hadn't watched every Redskins game last year (and the year before, etc), I might buy into the consensus thinking. And I don't watch enough of anybody else to say that he's *not* the best blocking back in the league. But he's not perfect, and he's not perfect in a pretty obvious way that an untrained eye (such as mine are) can pick up--he leaves his feet when he blocks.

Regarding the Jansen injury: postgameheroes
breakdown of the play he was hurt on

But this isn't specifically meant to be a knock on Portis. The effort and ability is obviously there, and I don't think you'll find anybody to say that he's not willing to block. I think it's more a complete breakdown in management between coaching and personnel that's resulted in a pretty total failure to develop talent beyond the three very good starters Gibbs/Bugel inherited in 2004. Two playoff games were lost in no small part because of the use of retreads like Cory Raymer and Ray Brown and Jason Fabini on our offensive lines, and I think that failure to develop players trickles down into the way the Skins' backs and TEs are taught to block.

by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Mon, 04/21/2008 - 8:46pm

(Taylor had the best shot at developing into that guy. Oh, well.)

That's terrible, just terrible.

by justme (not verified) :: Wed, 04/23/2008 - 6:19pm

pacman to cowboys just happened evidently