Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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07 Apr 2008

The FO Mock Draft

"Audibles at the Draft?" In a manner of speaking, yes. For FO's first mock, we wanted to adopt the roundtable style that makes Audibles enjoyable. To that end, six staffers were recruited -- Doug Farrar, Mike Tanier, Bill Barnwell, Sean McCormick, Ben Riley and Patrick Laverty -- and the round robin began. The first mock is standard format with commentary, though we may be looking to shake things up with different mocks in the future. We went two rounds this time, no trades. We generally went more for Team Needs than Best Player Available, though there were exceptions.

(Note: We lost Dr. Tanier halfway through the second round to more pressing matters. As a result, Doug and Sean doubled up on picks once each to keep things moving along.)


1-1-1 Miami Dolphins -- Chris Long, DE, Virginia

The Dolphins recently sent emissaries to Long's Pro Day at Virginia, where he did nothing but linebacker drills for 15 minutes. Long was down to 267 pounds, five pounds lighter than his Combine weight. He played end in Al Groh's 3-4 system at Virginia, and Groh and Dolphins czar Bill Parcells go way back. Parcells has a great history with hybrid edge-rushers, and Long is the best this year. There are no questions whatsoever as to Long's work ethic or intensity (the Dolphins' new boss loves relentless players), and though either Long would greatly benefit Miami's rebuild, it'll be Chris over Jake as Parcells constructs the defensive side first. Bonus: He may show up in a few pickup truck commercials with dad Howie, but this is not a guy who's interested in Dancing with the Stars.
-- Doug Farrar

1-2-2 St. Louis Rams -- Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU

I had Jake Long in this position initially, then I broke out in those hives I get whenever I think about drafting one of those hulking in-line Big-10 run blockers in the first round. I had an image of Marc Bulger getting flattened because Long just wasn't quick enough to beat a speed rusher (Alex Barron was flagged for a false start in the image, so the play didn't even count). Dorsey's health is a question, but the health of a 320-pound man will always be in question. I see Dorsey at the 3-technique on rushing downs, then moving over center on passing downs while Adam Carriker moves inside. That's a deadly interior rush that should make Matt Hasselbeck shudder and keep Mike Martz from instituting many 60-pass game plans.
-- Mike Tanier

1-3-3 Atlanta Falcons -- Jake Long, OT, Michigan

One of Dave Lewin's tenets in the Lewin Career Forecast is how games started become an indicator because of the effect more intensive scouting and available film has on a player's stock. Each year, we see guys like Quentin Moses, Matt Leinart, or Brian Brohm morph from a preseason top-five lock to a post-college question mark. Unlike those guys and many others, Long was a projected top-five pick before the season, and his stock is just as high now. That indicates consistent, effective performance to me. And as for those hulking Big-Ten offensive linemen, Long's 6-foot-7, 317 pounds. Joe Thomas is 6-6, 316, and he sure turned out alright. Thomas has a rep of having better footwork than Long, which I can't speak to one way or another, but Long's 20-yard shuttle (4.73 to Thomas' 4.88) and his three-cone (7.44 to Thomas' 7.95) were superior, which means if he isn't as deft on his feet as Thomas, he sure ain't no slouch.
-- Bill Barnwell

1-4-4 Oakland Raiders -- Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC

If Darren McFadden and Vernon Gholston are both on the board, Al Davis' head might explode as he's forced to choose between them. But we've locked Al in the closet for the weekend, which allows us to ignore the 40 times and the bench presses and go with the player who is the best fit, and that's Ellis. The USC product followed up an excellent senior season by absolutely dominating at the Senior Bowl, and we put more stock in that than in his disappointing combine numbers. The Raiders were the worst run-stopping unit in football last year, and all they've really done to address it is re-sign Tommy Kelly and trade for a corner who wouldn't come up to play the run if his life depended on it. Ellis is a good fit, and he has a higher floor than some of the other top prospects, which is an important consideration when you're picking in the top five in consecutive years.
-- Sean McCormick

1-5-5 Kansas City Chiefs -- Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State

From Herm Edwards' post-draft press conference:

"We play the game of football. We play to win the game of football. And to win the game of football, you need to run the football. You also need to pass the football.

"You need to both run and pass the football.

"And score.

"And to do that, you need to block for the guys who run and pass the football. It's no secret that we lost 12 games last year. We ranked dead last in rushing yards per game -- 78 yards. That's not good. That's not good. But you need to get over it. It's called life.

"So, we drafted a guy who we think will help us be in a position to run and throw the football a little bit better. Some people are going to say we reached. OK, we reached. If getting a 6-6, 310-pound pure left tackle is a reach, then we reached. Were there some other guys we liked? We liked a lot of guys. It's easy to like guys. We liked Jeff Otah. He's a guy. Will he be as good as our guy? Uh, HELLO? We took our guy because he's our guy. And we like him, and he's going to help us where we need to be helped.

"That's what football is."
-- Ben Riley

1-6-6 New York Jets -- Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas

J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS select with the sixth pick in the draft ... sorry, hold on, Jerry Jones is on the phone ... "Hi, Jerry. Be right with you, Commissioner Goodell..."

OK, sorry, Jerry was only offering a first and a third, so we're going to take his man anyway. The Jets select with the sixth pick from the University or Arkansas, running back Darren McFadden. While it would be easy to go in any number of directions on defense, with the Jets players looking like tourists in Times Square at any given moment, this could be a once-in-a-decade opportunity to get a gamebreaker. People raved about Adrian Peterson's size as a back this year and McFadden is also a speedy 6-2, 205-pound home run threat on every touch. The Jets just revamped their offensive line with Alan Faneca and Damian Woody to go along with young stars Erik Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and now they can get the running back that they were hoping Thomas Jones to be.
-- Patrick Laverty

1-7-7 New England Patriots from San Francisco 49ers -- Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State

The Patriots fielded two defenses in 2007: the one with linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, and the one without. The Colvin version stomped every opponent into submission, while the version without Colvin, lost for the season in a close contest against the Eagles, was all too vulnerable down the stretch. With the 30-year-old linebacker ostensibly out of the picture, and several questions raised about New England's linebacker corps going forward, Bill Belichick and friends will be grinning from ear to ear as they send the seventh card up to the podium with Gholston's name on it.

The freakishly athletic "endbacker" from Ohio State may not be the finished product that Chris Long is, but could prove to be the better player in the long run. All he needs is time for his experience to match his physical ability. The few questions about Gholston's game –- most notably how he squares up against the run -– can be answered and corrected over time. This is a lead-pipe lock for a team whose mid-zone defense was open for business in the postseason.
-- Doug Farrar

1-8-8 Baltimore Ravens -- Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

John Harbaugh + Cam Cameron + Matt Ryan = A clean break from the Brian Billick era. Alleluia. Billick was running out of people to blame. Ryan's a great build-around prospect, the kind of guy who can be the face of the organization as Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome sweep away the last remains of the Super Bowl team. Really, how long has it been since we got excited about a young offensive star in Baltimore (no one really got excited about Kyle Boller, did they?). Get your season tickets now, Ravens fans: New offense, new quarterback, new optimism.
-- Mike Tanier

1-9-9 Cincinnati Bengals -- Philip Merling, DE, Clemson

This would be an ugly scenario for the Bengals to be in; the top two guys on the board are corners, and the Bengals have spent consecutive first-round picks on defensive backs. That lets them go in one of two directions. They could draft Malcolm Kelly, who would be their Chad Johnson replacement. That move would also, though, eliminate a good portion of the leverage the Bengals have in being able to deal Johnson -- since everyone, their mom, and Matt Millen would know that the Bengals had to deal him.

Alternately, they could choose to address issues in their front seven, and Merling's a better fit for them than Keith Rivers. The Clemson junior is a workhorse defensive end who basically slots in as Justin Smith's replacement. Smith was never a great pass-rusher, and Merling might not be either, but he's going to be stout against the run and is versatile enough to play any spot on the line in the 4-3 and still play end in a 3-4. With a team that could very well be undergoing a schematic change this time next year if things don't go well, that could come in handy.
-- Bill Barnwell

1-10-10 New Orleans Saints -- Keith Rivers, LB, USC

"And with the tenth pick, the New Orleans Saints select cornerback -- whaaat? How could you not take a cornerback?!?!" Look, we all know that the Saints have a wee problem covering receivers, and that they need to add at least one corner if not two. But it doesn't automatically follow that they need to use the tenth pick overall on one. This is a deep corner class, but there isn't much separating the top corner from the fourth or fifth corner in terms of ability. In fact, no one seems certain who the top corner is. Is it Leodis McKelvin? He's a good prospect, but he's on the small side, and hands of stone aren't generally seen as a desirable quality for a corner. Is it Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? He was terrific at the Senior Bowl and his athletic numbers are off the chart, but he was a mediocre player at Tennessee State and it's hard to believe that he'd be flying up the boards if "Cromartie" didn't figure prominently in his name. So New Orleans decides to wait until the second round for their corner and fills another need with Rivers, who is the only franchise weakside linebacker in the draft.
-- Sean McCormick

1-11-11 Buffalo Bills -- Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina

"And with the eleventh pick, the Buffalo Bills select wide receiver -- whaaat? How could you not take a wide receiver?!?" The Bills are in a very similar spot to the Saints: They need help at wide receiver (and cornerback, for that matter), but there just isn't all that much daylight between Limas Sweed, Malcom Kelly, DeSean Jackson, and Mario Manningham. It's even possible that Early Doucet will be there for them in the second round, so why would the Bills want to play Ted Ginn Roulette in the first? Hence, if the Bills are smart, they'll take a page from the "best available" playbook and select Balmer instead. He's a versatile guy who can played both tackle and end, much like Clemson's Philip Merling, and dominant defensive tackles are in short supply in the NFL.
-- Ben Riley

1-12-12 Denver Broncos -- Chris Williams, LT, Vanderbilt

Vertical leap, 40 times, shuttle run, bench press. All those things and more are measured at the combine. And that's all great. But those skills aren't the most important to a Denver offensive lineman. Intelligence? Yeah, he went to Vanderbilt, so we know he's not your typical player from "The U" or any other school that needs to abbreviate to just one letter so the players don't forget where they played in college. Size? Yeah, Williams has that. He's already 6-6 and 315 pounds, and he's a growing boy. A need? Yes, with the retirement of Matt Lepsis, there is an opening. But what is the most important thing to a Denver offensive linemen? There is a secret drill linemen go through at the combine,
and clearly Williams was the best of the bunch. Yes, the leg whip. Congratulations, Mr. Williams.
-- Patrick Laverty

1-13-13 Carolina Panthers -- Branden Albert, OG/OT, Virginia

The Panthers took a serious look at Pitt's Jeff Otah here, but Otah's more of a road grader and Carolina needs agility on the left side with Mike Wahle departing for Seattle and Travelle Wharton possibly moving inside to guard. Albert is by far the best guard prospect in this draft -- so athletic, he's seen by some as a future left tackle. It's because of this versatility, and how it can benefit a line in flux, that the underclassman will be the right choice for the Panthers. He'll learn the NFL from the inside to start and keep the line solid as the one constant while an anemic offense rebuilds around him.
-- Doug Farrar

1-14-14 Chicago Bears -- Kenny Phillips, S, Miami

If I really controlled the Bears, I would have sent Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton to a nice island somewhere, retained Brian Griese, traded down a few slots here, and taken Joe Flacco or Brian Brohm. But the Bears have decided to give Grossman one last look and are keeping Orton around for some reason. I don't want to add a first-round pick to the mix. That would make three youngish quarterbacks clamoring for reps with the first team, which is rarely a good situation, especially when you factor in the weaponless state of the offense.

So with several good tackles off the board and no receiver in this draft who can help right away, we're going to improve the secondary. Mike Brown is always hurt and may be finished and Brandon McGowan is a stopgap. Phillips can play strong safety with Danieal Manning at free safety, though Philips looks more like a deep player in the long run. With Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman at the corners and guys like Aaron Rodgers and Tarvaris Jackson playing quarterback in the division, the Bears could lead the league in interceptions.
-- Mike Tanier

1-15-15 Detroit Lions -- Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy

My conversation with Matt Millen:

B: "Wow Matt, this is a dream scenario for us. We had one of the worst secondaries in football last year and the top two cornerbacks are still on the board!"
M: [playing with G.I. Joe's] "No, Rusty. _I'm_ the manliest man in our squadron!"
B: "Um, Matt, it's our turn to pick."
M: "What?" [glances back at G.I. Joes and makes squashing noises]
B: "Matt, it's our turn to pick in the NFL Draft."
M: "Oh! OK! We pick Darren McFadden." [points to picture of Darren McFadden on the cover of The Sporting News] "Our scouts said he's the best player out there." [goes back to G.I. Joes] "Just like our scouts saw Charlie hanging out in the ditches over by the popcorn machine!"
B: [grabs Matt's arm and sits him back down] "Matt, we can't pick Darren McFadden. We won too many games to be able to pick whoever we want. He's already been selected by the Jets."
M: "We'll send fighter je-"
B: [looks at Matt sternly]
M: "...OK. Let's trade Roy Williams for Darren McDonald's."
B: "Matt, it's McFadden, and we can't trade Roy Williams for McFadden. He's our best player and, besides, the Jets don't want to deal McFadden."
M: [is across the room shoving G.I. Joe's into the microwave, screaming] "Go! Go! Go Rusty, go!"
B: "NOT AGAIN MATT!" [unplugs microwave] "Last time you did that, this place smelled like rubber for weeks."
M: [obliviously shoves army men into microwave and hits "go" button and jumps around gleefully yelling] "CHAR-LIE! CHAR-LIE!"
B: [checks clock - three minutes]
M: "Can we take Darren Whopper now?"
B: [sighs] "Oh, you want a whopper?!"
M: "Whopper with royale!"
B: "We shouldn't have shown you Pulp Fiction. You were too young."
M: "Mother****** mother****** Jesus!"
B: "OK Matt. How about this. I do a little business here and then we'll go to Burger Ki-"
B: [can't believe he's going to have to go to McDonald's, take burgers out of their wrappers, go to Burger King, take burgers out of their wrappers, and stick the Burger King burgers in the McDonald's wrappers again] "OK, fine. McFadden's it is. You just keep sticking G.I. Joes in the microwave."
M: "They're the Two Hundred and Seventy-Fourteenth Fighter Squadron!"
B: "OK, Matt. Gimme a second here."

I'll take McKelvin because his name sounds like McDonald's, and that will make Matt happy. Also, although the Lions signed Brian Kelly and traded for Leigh Bodden, Kelly's 32 and Bodden has alternately been healthy and mediocre the last two years.
-- Bill Barnwell

1-16-16 Arizona Cardinals -- Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois

Derrick Harvey was a serious consideration as a replacement for Calvin Pace in Arizona's new 3-4 scheme, but he's ultimately not the same caliber of prospect as Mendenhall. The Illinois star averaged 6.2 yards per carry this season, and he proved himself to be a weapon in the passing game as well. Mendenhall didn't get a lot of carries his first two seasons, so he should have a lot of tread on his tires. We know that offensive production carries over from year to year more than defensive production, and the Cardinals have a lot of the pieces in place to experience some sustained success. They spent a lot of money unwisely on Edgerrin James, but they can make up for it by adding a stud young back.
-- Sean McCormick

1-17-17 Minnesota Vikings -- Brian "I'm finally out of the closet!" Brohm, QB, Louisville

Poor Bernard Berrian. First Rex Grossman, now Tarvaris Jackson. He must be wondering if it's his destiny to play with young, mediocre-to-awful quarterbacks who really should be benched but for the inexplicable refusal of the Bears' and Vikings' respective coaching staffs to give up on their failed projects. Well Bernard, I've got good news for you: I'm running the mock Minnesota franchise right now, and I say Tarvaris Jackson is barely worthy of being a backup in the NFL. And like the Lewin Career Forecast, I'm eyeing Brohm's career completion rate of 66 percent like a juicy steak. So we'll take Brohm, hope that he brings Brady Quinn's girlfriend with him to provide "comfort" during the draft-day free fall, and worry about who's going to play defensive end about, oh, 31 picks from now."
-- Ben Riley

1-18-18 Houston Texans -- Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas

(Sit down, Mr. Millen, we know McFadden has already been taken. Go finish your Happy Meal.)

In 2006, there was an uproar in Houston when General Manager Charley Casserly did not select Reggie Bush with the first overall pick. Now the Texans have their Reggie Bush. Jones, who is also a junior, shared the backfield with McFadden and rushed for more than 1,100 yards in both 2006 and 2007. Training camp competition will not be a foreign concept to Jones as he handled his position just outside the spotlight flawlessly.

There may have been even further uproar if the team had to go another year with Ron "not so great anymore" Dayne as their featured back.

Jones will also be able to provide an extra spark with his ability to return kickoffs, as he took it to the house four times in college, including two 100-yard returns. He has that ability to stop and change directions on a dime, leaving defenders with a handful of air.

Many were upset at the time with the non-Bush pick, but with Jones and Williams, the combined gain may be great enough to cause the Texans to be drafting even later next year.
-- Patrick Laverty

1-19-19 Philadelphia Eagles -- Dan Connor, MLB, Penn State

The Bednarik Award is coming home. The Iggles need a new man in the middle, and they won't have to go far to find their next defensive cornerstone along with Asante Samuel -- all they'll need to do is to head over to Linebacker U. Connor, like his Nittany Lions predecessor Paul Posluszny, is a versatile and relentless defender with surprising speed and agility. He ran a 4.67 40 at his Pro Day, and some teams have talked to him about playing outside (which he has done), but he's engineered to run a defense from the middle. That's what he'll do for Jim Johnson's blitz-happy crew.
-- Doug Farrar

1-20-20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Early Doucet, WR, LSU

What, an offensive skill position player under 32? Perish the thought. It takes 12 years for a receiver to master Jon Gruden's system, but the Bucs can't wait around for Maurice Stovall to go gray and replace Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard, and Kevin House at receiver. I really think Malcolm Kelly would be a better fit in the offense because he's a big possession receiver who loves to block, but do we really want to see another Michael Clayton situation? Heck no. Doucet's an all-purpose receiver who can grow into a No. 1 if he can download Gruden's playbook straight into his brain.
-- Mike Tanier

1-21-21 Washington Redskins -- Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma

Washington hasn't used a draft pick on a wideout since Taylor Jacobs in 2003, and the Brandon Lloyd experiment has now officially failed (shock!). The talk of mock drafts has them leaning towards defensive end, but they're somewhat underrated as far as depth along the defensive line goes. At wideout, Santana Moss had an incredibly disappointing year, and although Antwaan Randle El played well, he's a No. 3 wideout stretched as a No. 2. Kelly has the ideal size you look for in a wideout, he's a very good blocker (a huge part of the Redskins system, at least under Al Saunders), and he functions perfectly as a possession receiver that opens up space for the deeper threats of Randle El and Moss. Jason Campbell, welcome your new best friend.
-- Bill Barnwell

1-22-22 Dallas Cowboys from Cleveland Browns -- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State

With a roster stocked with quality players at nearly every position, Dallas can let the draft come to them. San Diego was in much the same position two years ago when they took a flier on Antonio Cromartie and that pick paid off in spades, as Cromartie is the most dominant young corner in the league. Rodgers-Cromartie doesn't have the Florida State pedigree, but he has the same combination of size, speed and athleticism. He was a man among boys at the Senior Bowl, and he followed that up with a stellar combine that cemented him as a first-round prospect and arguably the best cornerback in the draft. Rodgers-Cromartie won't be ready to start right away, but with Terrence Newman and Anthony Henry on board, the Cowboys don't need him to. This is a bit of a boom-or-bust pick, but it's one Dallas can afford to make with another first rounder in their pocket.
-- Sean McCormick

1-23-23 Pittsburgh Steelers -- Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon

With the loss of Alan Faneca, the real-life Steelers are praying for Branden Albert to be available in the first round. But here in FOmockdraftistan, Doug Farrar was all over Albert like white on rice, so the mock Steelers draft for value here by taking Jonathan Stewart, who is a steal this late in the first round. Stewart is an elite talent who might turn out to be the best running back in this year's class. He can move the pile, and he'll help prevent Mike "Omar Epps" Tomlin from making Willie Parker the next victim of the Curse of 370.
-- Ben Riley

1-24-24 Tennessee Titans -- Limas Sweed, WR, Texas

Maybe this is the "Peaches and Herb" draft for me as we can sing "Reunited" here again. New offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger wants a big wide receiver for his offense and that's what he gets in reuniting Sweed with college teammate Vince Young. Sweed is a big receiver at 6-5, 215, who can give most NFL corners a match-up problem. Just two issues with picking him this early though: He doesn't have blistering speed as he ran a 4.46 at the combine, and probably even more concerning is that he only played six games in 2007 because of a wrist injury that required season-ending surgery and was still giving him problems at the Senior Bowl. If everything checks out medically, Sweed could be a great fit for the Titans.
-- Patrick Laverty

1-25-25 Seattle Seahawks -- Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida

The Seahawks took a hard look at USF cornerback Mike Jenkins, and there's little doubt that Cal's DeSean Jackson and Michigan State's Devin Thomas would be on the board of a team whose receiver depth has taken some serious hits in the last year. But having re-signed Marcus Trufant, with great faith in a trio of young receivers and with all the truly elite tackle prospects off the board, Seattle sticks to its BPA modus operandi and takes the dominant Gators defensive end.

This may piss off every draft observer in the Emerald City from a positional standpoint, but it's a better pick than many may realize. First of all, you take a player this good when he falls this far and there are no red flags. Second, there isn't a lot of defensive end depth behind Patrick Kerney and Darryl Tapp, and Kerney will be 32 on December 30. Talk to the SEC's left tackles and they'll tell you what the 6-5, 271-pound Harvey can do to an opposing offense. His eight sacks and 17 tackles for loss in his senior season alone show that while he's a versatile player, Harvey does most of his damage behind the opponent's line of scrimmage. Seattle's defense is predicated on a consistent pass rush above all else. The best way to accomplish that is to avoid overtaxing the elite players you already have, and to set your personnel to bring an overwhelming show of force when necessary. Just ask the New York Giants.
-- Doug Farrar

1-26-26 Jacksonville Jaguars -- Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida

The Jaguars' biggest need is probably at defensive end or wide receiver, but while there are some very good ends on the board, none seems like a perfect fit in Jacksonville. I don't want to saddle this team with another first-round developmental wideout; let them sift through the free agents they picked up instead. No, the Jags need to be able to beat the Patriots and Colts in the playoffs, and that means they need to be able to cover all of those receivers (or rush the passer, but this works too). Jenkins may be the best corner in the draft. As an added bonus, he is well built and has a good rep as a run support corner, so he'll do a good job against all those Joseph Addai draw plays and against the Titans and Texans' ball control tactics. Thanks for leaving him on the board! Sincerely, Jack Del Rio.
-- Mike Tanier

1-27-27 San Diego Chargers -- Curtis Lofton, ILB, Oklahoma

The Chargers would have loved to see Dan Connor or Kenny Phillips fall here, but with the Bolts set at the deeper positions in the draft (cornerback and defensive line) and with no halfback with a first-round grade left on the board, the Chargers would likely trade out of this pick. If forced to select at gunpoint, I think they take Lofton, whose strengths (stout run defense, versatility, huge motor) are a good fit for this defense while his weaknesses (not a pass rusher) aren't a big concern. I don't buy the Chargers drafting a tackle in the first round since A.J. Smith has built the offensive line around Marcus McNeill (a second-round pick) and multiple late-round selections.
-- Bill Barnwell

1-28-28 Dallas Cowboys -- Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State

While Terrell Owens is still performing at a high level, he's no spring chicken anymore, and Dallas would do well by adding a potential No. 1 receiver to groom behind him. Thomas, at 6-2 and 225, compares favorably to Dwayne Bowe, who went right around this spot last year and turned in the top performance of any a rookie receiver. The risk is that Thomas only played one season of Division I-A ball and that he is an unpolished route runner, but he displayed terrific hands at Michigan State, as well as a rare ability to pick up yardage after the catch. Thomas is also an excellent return man, and he'll immediately upgrade Dallas' special teams. DeSean Jackson was also a consideration in this spot, but ultimately size won out.
-- Sean McCormick

1-29-29 San Francisco 49ers from Indianapolis Colts -- Sam Baker, OT, USC

What a crappy off-season the 49ers are having. They just lost a fifth-round draft pick for tampering with the contract of a guy they didn't even manage to sign (Lance Briggs), added a 36-year-old receiver who is supposedly going to be their No. 1 wideout (Isaac Bruce), and signed DPAR Public Enemy No. 1 to back up Frank Gore (DeShaun Foster). Yikes. They need help virtually everywhere, but with the loss of Justin Smiley and Larry Allen, the offensive line is the most immediate concern. Baker's a four-year starter who has won just about every accolade imaginable while playing against top-flight competition, so I'm at a bit of a loss to explain why the punditocracy has turned against him. Who cares about a tackle's "demeanor?" Walter Jones is a big pussycat and he seems to have turned out OK.
-- Ben Riley

1-30-30 Green Bay Packers -- Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas

Picking this late, it's hard to really get the franchise corner that the Packers need. Their current studs are bit long in the tooth. Talib is a high bang or bust pick. For his style of play, think Asante Samuel, someone who likes to jump routes and gamble on the big INT. He's got good size for a defensive back at 6-1, but shows just good not great speed. He's no Pacman Jones, but there are concerns about off-field activities.
-- Patrick Laverty

1-31 New England Forfeited

1-32-31 New York Giants -- DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal

There's an outstanding need at free safety, but the dropoff after Kenny Phillips means that Jerry Reese can go with a second-day pick there, and who better to do so? Jackson the speedburner is a smaller target than Eli Manning's used to, but we've seemingly passed the era in which the only completions possible for the Super Bowl MVP are dumpoffs to running backs and tight ends and jumpballs to Plaxico Burress. Sinorice Moss hasn't exactly set the world afire, while Burress and Amami Toomer present their own injury and age concerns, respectively. The (Carolina) Steve Smith comparisons are legitimate with Jackson -- he might be the only waterbug receiver out of this class with the toughness to survive the slot at the NFL level -– and the threat level from a speed perspective is undeniable. He'll bring a special element to New York's offense.
-- Doug Farrar


2-1-32 Miami Dolphins -- Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware

Representing the 8-5-6. And giving the Tuna a Bledsoe-like talent to build around.
-- Mike Tanier

2-2-33 St. Louis Rams -- Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan

Taking Glenn Dorsey with their first pick means that Calais Campbell would be a luxury here, and for a team with such significant needs, there is no such time for luxury. St. Louis has a need at wideout with Torry Holt aging, Isaac Bruce gone, and Drew Bennett having never-really-been, and while Manningham's stock has tumbled some this year, watching the guy play shows the sheer talent he has. He's an intelligent route-runner, has excellent hands, and by all accounts, plays faster than his 40 times. In addition, initial research we've done has suggested that wide receivers in rushing-heavy conferences like the Big Ten are underrated as compared to wideouts in pass-friendly conferences like the Pac-10.
-- Bill Barnwell

2-3-34 Atlanta Falcons from Oakland Raiders -- Quentin Groves, DE, Auburn

With three second-round picks and no other teams likely to reach for Chad Henne at this point, the Falcons are willing to take their time before addressing their need at quarterback. Instead, they go with the best pass rusher on the board in Groves. Atlanta was 26th against the pass last year, and John Abraham is too injury-prone to be relied on. Groves can play outside linebacker and can rush from a down position in passing situations.
-- Sean McCormick

2-4-35 Kansas City Chiefs -- Patrick Lee, CB, Auburn

Herm: "You draft to fill your needs. HELLO! You DRAFT to FILL your NEEDS! So we took a kid who we think will help fill one of our needs. He's fast and he's big and we like him, so that's why we picked him. People on the Internet might criticize the pick. That's fine. I don't own the Internet. My job is to be a football coach. I coach the game of football."
-- Ben Riley

2-5-36 New York Jets -- Cliff Avril, LB, Purdue

The Jets need help on defense and Avril is very athletic, loves being around the ball, has good size at 6-3, 250. Avril can also rush the passer from the outside. Great fit for Mangini's 3-4 defense.
-- Patrick Laverty

2-6-37 Atlanta Falcons -- Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona

The need is obvious after the DeAngelo Hall trade, and in more ways than one. Cason will be, as Ocho Cinco would say, "a fresh of breath air" after Hall's diva act rubbed just about everyone the wrong way. Cason doesn't have Hall's raw talent, but he does have great potential and he fits the Falcons' new "Character first, because we can't afford anything else at this point!" motto to a T.
-- Doug Farrar

2-7-38 Baltimore Ravens -- Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech

Good tackler, good interceptor, fills a need. Wish I could keep revamping the Ravens offense but I don't like what's on the board right now, so let the cornerback run continue.
-- Mike Tanier

2-8-39 San Francisco 49ers -- Oniel Cousins, OG, UTEP

Cousins is a tackle with brilliant raw skills, but needs more polish to start in the NFL at tackle. Put him on the interior, let him refine his technique, and then bring him outside when you get rid of Jonas Jennings.
-- Bill Barnwell

2-9-40 New Orleans Saints -- Reggie Smith, CB, Oklahoma

The hope was for Brandon Flowers or Antoine Cason to fall here, but it didn't work out that way. Still, several quality cornerback options are left on the board, and Smith is one of them. With his size and physicality, he resembles a young Mike McKenzie, which is good, because the current version is still recovering from a torn ACL and may be finished as a starting-caliber corner.
-- Sean McCormick

2-10-41 Buffalo Bills -- John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame

Many denizens of the mock draft punditocracy have USC's Fred Davis or Purdue's Dustin Keller ranked higher, but Carlson is a better pass-catching tight end than either of them, and the Bills desperately need some weapons on offense. A high-character guy who will be easy to market to Buffalo's new Canadian fanbase.
-- Ben Riley

2-11-42 Denver Broncos -- Calais Campbell, DE, Miami

Local kid comes home. Denver native Campbell could be a steal at this position. Size is not a problem at 6-7 and almost 300 pounds. Speed is not stunning, but the upside is his 2006 season, as he looked like an early first-round pick, but then disappointed in '07.
-- Patrick Laverty

2-12-43 Carolina Panthers -- Trevor Laws, DT, Notre Dame

Laws won't replace the departed Kris Jenkins from a size perspective -- he'd have to resemble a midrise apartment building to pull that off. But he's the gap-shooting weapon needed for this formerly great defensive line to get back on its collective feet.
-- Doug Farrar

2-13-44 Chicago Bears -- Jeff Otah, OT, Pitt

Great value at this point and fills a need in Chicago. Otah is probably a right tackle in the pros, but the Bears have needs on both sides.
-- Mike Tanier (at this point, Mr. Tanier departs)

2-14-45 Detroit Lions -- Pat Sims, DT, Auburn

Matt's busy eating his hamburger. The Lions lost Damien Woody and ditched Shaun Rogers, so an interior lineman would work. Sims is a better prospect than any of the guards available, so he's the pick here.
-- Bill Barnwell

2-15-46 Cincinnati Bengals -- Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers

One of the most underrated players in the draft. One of the things that keeps the Bengals offense from reaching the rarified Indianapolis air is the lack of a dual-threat back who can have a major impact in the passing game. Enter Rice, who looks and plays like a young Tiki Barber. He has some wear on his tires, but that is a second-contract consideration.
-- Sean McCormick

2-16-47 Minnesota Vikings -- Andre "Bubba" Caldwell, WR, Florida

We need to add some guys for Brohm to throw to, and Caldwell is a big receiver with great hands who isn't afraid to go over the middle, just the type of security blanket this team needs. Plus he's Reche Caldwell's brother and I want to see if the eyeball-bulge thing is genetic or what.
-- Ben Riley

2-17-48 Atlanta Falcons from Houston Texans -- Chad Henne, QB, Michigan

He passes the most important test for Arthur Blank. Henne's allergic to dogs. The 6-3 Wolverine could jump right in and start for the Falcons in '08
-- Patrick Laverty

2-18-49 Philadelphia Eagles -- Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College

Cherilus doesn't get the warm fuzzies that the first-round tackles get because his technique is still under development. He would, however, be an intriguing replacement for right tackle Jon Runyan down the road. Cherilus is a prototypical mauler who can do some real damage, especially on running plays. Where he'll struggle a bit early on is in consistency and discipline, especially from a penalty perspective.
-- Doug Farrar

2-19-50 Arizona Cardinals -- Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana

Speaking of penalties, Antrell Rolle's move to free safety leaves a void at the cornerback position. Porter needs some finishing work and he'll never blow anyone away as a tackler, but he's an incredibly quick cornerback who will outrun many of his mistakes until he figures it out.
-- Doug Farrar

2-20-51 Washington Redskins -- Carl Nicks, OT, Nebraska

It makes no sense for the Redskins to depend on Jon Jansen being healthy for an entire season when the guy simply can't do it. Relying on Jason Fabini and his ilk isn't smart, either, so Nicks comes in here as a potential long-term and/or injury replacement for Jansen and depth on the line in the meanwhile.
-- Bill Barnwell

2-21-52 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee

Strictly a case of BPA, as Mayo has risen to the point where he is arguably a late first-round pick. Tampa is always in the market for linebackers.
-- Sean McCormick

2-22-53 Pittsburgh Steelers -- Chilo Rachal, OG, USC

Rachal would benefit from another year in college, but he entered the draft early in part to help pay for his mother's stomach surgery. He still should be able to start right away and help Steelers fans forget about that one guy who plays for the Jets now.
-- Ben Riley

2-23-54 Tennessee Titans -- Marcus Harrison, DE, Arkansas

I must have something for Razorbacks as he's the third one I've chosen. The Titans have a need at both tackle and end, and Harrison can fit either role. Good size at 6-2 and 320 pounds, good speed for a big man as he's run sub-5 40s.
-- Patrick Laverty

2-24-55 Seattle Seahawks -- Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M

Given their need at tight end, the Seahawks' representatives would have to be forgiven for tripping all over themselves in getting the card with Bennett's name on it up to the podium -- the paucity of tight ends selected earlier plays right into their hands. While Purdue's Dustin Keller and USC's Fred Davis intrigue for different reasons, Bennett's size, athleticism, blocking ability and basketball background make him the surest prospect in this class of tight ends.
-- Doug Farrar

2-25-56 Green Bay Packers from Cleveland Browns -- Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue

Keller represents a great fit for the Packers, who can use him as an H-back in their Full House formation or as a receiving tight end on passing downs.
-- Bill Barnwell

2-26-57 Miami Dolphins from San Diego Chargers-- Ahtyba Rubin, DT, Iowa State

Bill Parcells has already traded for his binky Jason Ferguson to man the nose, but the Dolphins will need a younger player to rotate in/take over when Ferguson suffers his inevitable injury. Rubin is no threat as a pass rusher, but he can tie up blockers and make tackles on inside runs, which is all the defense will ask him to do.
-- Sean McCormick

2-27-58 Jacksonville Jaguars -- James Hardy, WR, Indiana

Jacksonville takes a page from the Matt Millen playbook and keeps drafting receivers until they get it right. With Ernest Wilford gone and Matt Jones on his way out the door, Hardy can step in and provide another big target in the red zone.
-- Sean McCormick

2-28-59 Indianapolis -- Xavier Adibi, LB, Virginia Tech

Last year, the Colts traded their first-round pick to the 49ers in order to grab Tony Ugoh. The move obviously worked out well for them but now Indy feels the sting of having to make their first selection deep into the second round. The Colts have no glaring needs, but they could use some depth at linebacker, and Adibi is a good situational player, even if he is a bit undersized. Maybe he and Bob Sanders can share a locker or something.
-- Ben Riley

2-29-60 Green Bay -- Roy Schuening, OG, Oregon State

Looking to get the offensive line younger as players like Chad Clifton may be looking at the end of the road again. (As an aside, isn't it a bit ironic that Warren Sapp is retired before Chad Clifton?) Reports are that Schuening is big and mean, but not overly athletic at this point. You can get someone in better shape, you can't teach a mean streak.
-- Patrick Laverty

2-30-61 Dallas Cowboys -- Chris Jackson, RB, East Carolina

4.24 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. Will he play that fast? Probably not, but he deserves credit for coming to the draft process prepared. As a player, he complements Marion Barber as a guy who can return kicks, catch the ball out of the backfield (he was a wide receiver off-and-on in college), and serve as a scatback. If he could become a better blocker, he'd be a real terror.
-- Bill Barnwell

2-31-62 New England -- Terrell Thomas, CB, USC

Thomas is less a burner on long routes and more a solid player who tackles very well, doesn't get out-thought and has shown toughness on the field. Could be a safety at the next level.
-- Doug Farrar

2-32-63 New York Giants -- DaJuan Morgan, S, NC State
The Giants like to stick to their board and take the best available player, and they've lucked out as one of the best guys on the board also happens to play safety, a position where the team has a huge, crater-sized hole now that Gibril Wilson is in Oakland. Morgan has the size and speed to fit at either safety spot.
-- Sean McCormick

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 07 Apr 2008

127 comments, Last at 26 Apr 2008, 3:39pm by Theo, Netherlands


by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:16am

Not likely Raiders draft Sedrick Ellis. Raiders likely to sign Grady Jackson.

Raiders are going to be a hybrid defense next year.(4-3 and 3-4) They have the personel to play both defenses very well. Friends of Grady Jackson say hes coming back to the Raiders(probably after the draft so not to tip off there intentions+ has to clear up some legal issues) Raiders could use another pass rusher (who can't) Lets see why Raiders are not really in bad shape rushing the QB. LEts see you have D Burgess , K Edwards( K Milliard Raiders Dline coach has made a living at bringing out the best in these guys) Thomas Howard -would be a beast coming off the corner. (would easily give what clemons gave and probably surpass them)

Lets see Raiders will probably keep at ther most 9 DLIneman(eight More realistic)
1. DT /DE Tom Kelly 2. D Burgess DE/OLB 3. Gerard Warren DT/DE /NT 4. Terdel Sands DT/NT 5 Jay Richardson De 6. William Joseph DE/DT 7 Kalimba Edwards 8. Grady Jackson(if true will be their Dline rotation DT and NT.

Only DE I think they don't pass on is Chris long. IF Long gone I think they might go for LB over the Dlineman.

Lets see Dominating defense plus a consistant running game(they proved that by being sixth leading rushing team) = a potential playoff team.

How do Raiders further upgrade that defense
Im say by taking USC OLB Keith Rivers. Raiders are going to be playing hybrid 3-4/ 4-3 defense next year. Keith Rivers just might be better fit than Gholston. Would give the Raiders three coverage LBS . (Rivers, Thomas howard and Morrison) To go with Two Passrushers DE/Olbs roatating (Burgess and Edwards) You throw that LB corp with the Raiders secondary and the defensive motto would be - Thou shall not pass.

How does this improve the run defense easily. Thomas HOward can play anywhere. You can put him at safety ( 240 pounds) . Beauty of it all is you lose nothing in coverage with him at safety. Also you can be alot more agressive - as you have alot of interchangeable parts) You can blitz from anywhere and lose nothing in coverage.

Get rrady people because Raiders defense is going to be demonic in 2008. If offense is not grat team still make oplayoffs. If offense is good, Raiders will at least make it to AFc Championship game maybe against Colts.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:34am

Can Chris Long throw a pass or is Parcells planning to win every game 3-0. With huge holes at QB and offensive line (where the Dolphins have 1 NFL tackle) I simply can't see them going defense with this pick.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:38am

All signs out of Foxboro are that Belichick and co are very interested in Gholston.

That alone makes me doubt that they'll draft him. Still, they need SOMEONE at LB... I like this choice better than most draftniks that have them taking a CB. It seems to me that Gholston is a better option at OLB than any of the CB propsects are at CB...

by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:40am

Ben never did answer who is going to play defensive end for the vikings... while I'd love to see them get Brohm, just feel that if they don't move up someone else will trade up to nab him before they pick.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:51am

If the 49ers take offensive linemen with their first two picks I will eat my hat. I will then create a page on Myspace in which I offer to eat (and record and post the video) any other unwanted hats from around the globe. They have five veteran offensive linemen who they quite like and zero pass rush. They will take at least one defensive front seven player with their first two picks and probably two. The only other position they will be looking at will depend on what kind of value they can get at receiver.

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:52am

I will be the first to admit that ripping mock drafts is pointless and stupid. That said, the Eagles taking a LB at #19?! While leaving Jenkins, Harvey, DRC, Sweed, Hardy, Baker and Jackson on the board? A team that never drafts LBs in the first round? A team that's in love with its young LBs and has much more pressing needs elsewhere? I'm utterly speechless.

by shake n bake (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:55am

The Colts are drafting for depth and Adibi is a great fit for the Colts, but a pass rusher (Freeney and Mathis are their only DEs that can get pressure) or a runningback to replace Kenton Keith (he ran great, but is hands are awful) is more of a need than LB (They have 3 good starters in place and Clint Sessions is a great backup/future starter.)

I'd take the subject of my gigantic man-crush, Chris Johnson. He can backup Addai, return kicks and split out in the slot. The Colts defense was 3rd in total DVOA and return all their starters, so passing on defense for a great offensive player makes more sense than usual.

by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:57am

" A team that never drafts LBs in the first round? A team that’s in love with its young LBs and has much more pressing needs elsewhere? I’m utterly speechless"

Maybe that is why Eagles never win Suprbowl. Maybe Eagles should rethinkg how they do everything. Maybe Eagles drafting LB in 21st round shows that they are changing the way they think.
Lets see lets just look at the Raiders. They had some problems in recent years so they changed the way they do things. They draft a great Qb (J Russell next J Eway), they sign big name free agents (D Hall, G Wilson, J Walker all great), and they have a very good young head coach who will be with the team for maybe 10 to 15 years.

Raiders are changing and will win a SupreBowl in a few years. Eagels are staying same and will continue to fall short.

by elisha (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 12:24pm

The Giants are set at safety with james butler and michael johnson. knight is a placeholder. They may still draft a safety based on best player available but it is not a pressing need.

by andro (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 12:27pm

#8 - by changing you mean destroying any hope of having capspace in the future?

I echo #6 - I would be shocked if the eagles took conner. Their history suggests they may move up or down for a player - and with lito sheppard still in the mix it's hard to predict where they will end up.

by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 12:30pm

Al Davis say cap space not going to be a problem. Might even be no salary cap in 2011. Raiders willbe fine. Nothing to worry about.

by Dean (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 12:31pm

Harris makes the same point I did when this was posted and taken down last week (what happened there, anyway?).

If Doug is suggesting what the Iggles SHOULD do, then taking a LB isn't a bad idea - except, of course, for the fact that it's almost impossible for a LB to outperform his contract when you draft him in the first round. Yes, it's an area of need. I'd still like to see a WR or a S - either of whom better be able to return a kick better then Reno @#$%^ Mahe.

On the other hand, if Doug is trying to predict what the Iggles WILL do, then there's no chance - NONE - that it will happen.

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 12:38pm

I don't even think LB is an area of need, certainly not compared to (in no particular order) WR, S, OL, KR/PR, or DT. I'd rather see the Eagles take a CB at that point than a LB.

by andro (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 12:45pm

#12 - dean, I agree. For the purposes of the list - it makes sense. And drafting a WR or S that can return kicks would be an ideal situation. I'd suspect that they grab someone like that in the 2nd or 3rd round. There seems to be little separation on how the teams are evaluation both of these positions in the top of the draft.

And Re #11 - I agree that the Raiders may be improving in some areas. Certainly an improved Jamarcus Russel can expedite that.

by Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabbadu (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 12:47pm

It would certainly be interesting to see what the 2007 University of Michigan offense could do down in Atlanta with a competent offensive coordinator. Now if the Falcons just take Mike Hart with their 3rd round pick...

Speaking of Hart, does anybody have a good read on where he'll go in the draft? I've watched every U of M game that he played in, and while the kid has minimal top-end "speed", he'll turn more 1 yard gains into 8 yard gains than any back I've seen. A good comparison could be Joe Washington - for anybody familiar with Hart's style, check out this uncanny resemblance:

by Dean (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 12:51pm

Is it an area of need? I think so. They have a lot of young guys and they are making the usual offseason noises about how much they like them - but that doesn't necessarily translate into reality.

They claimed they were happy with Takeo Spikes right up until the day they cut him. They claimed they loved Tank Daniels - right up until the day they cut him. They loved the practice squad guy a few years back (not Greg Richmond, the other one) until he had to play in a game, then they cut him, too.

Right now, Chris Gocong's claim to fame is that he's better then Dhani Jones, and Gaither can proudly claim he's better then Mark Simineau. Yay. Bradley backed up a couple rookies last year, and now he's supposed to be The Man in the middle?

Depth? A journeyman free agent in Boiman, a practice-squad guy in Akeem Jordan, and Some Guy Named Pago. Pedigree doesn't automatically equate to performance, but I'd call this cause for concern.

Yeah, the starters are all young, and yeah, they've all shown flashes, and yeah, they all have that ubiquitous "upside," but I'd still say that it's an area of need.

by Dean (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 12:52pm

Sorry - #16 was about the Iggles LB and was in response to Harris @ #13.

by Dylan (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 1:02pm

"Thomas Howard -would be a beast coming off the corner." -- "raiderjoe"

A beast? "A" beast? Raiderjoe doesn't use articles! It's an imposter!

by andro (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 1:07pm

#16 - I agree with your assessment of the Eagles' LB's. If they do pass on LB's during this draft and then in week 1 or 2 the current young guys get beat up - the fan reaction should be nothing less than rediculous.

Do you think there is any chance they would take a Felix Jones or Jonathan Stewart if they were on the board at their current position? Using the above order - those are the two guys within reach at that pick that I would be most excited about.

by Bazooka Joe (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 1:15pm

#5 - I'm all for taking an O-lineman with one of those two picks, but I agree with your general sentiment. If Quentin Groves is available at #29 and we pass on him, we're absolutely crazy.

by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 1:18pm

Two terrible selections for the Bengals. Cincinnati was decimated by injuries last season. The last thing they need to do is to use their first pick on a guy coming off sports hernia surgery and is a question mark to even play. Rivers, Balmer, Albert, Mendenhall, basically anyone would be a better choice. As for Ray Rice in the second, I like Rice, but with the loss of Chris Henry I can't see them passing on WRs Caldwell or Hardy.

by craig (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 1:22pm

If I'm the Raiders (or KC) I'm probably at least thinking about trying to convince NE that they want to trade up 'just so you can take whoever Mangini's drooling over and watch him cry'. Or alternately convincing the Jets that NE put a good deal on the table for that reason.

by Andy (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 1:22pm

There's no way Miami's getting out of the first two rounds without drafting an O-Lineman.

I can see Miami picking Jake Long #1 overall and then just grabbing the defensive BPA at #32 & #57.

Yes, I am assuming that John Beck will pan out. And if he doesn't, I guess Miami will be picking in the top 5 next year! At least we'll have Jake Long to protect the next guy.

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 1:26pm

#16 By your definition, every position in the league not occupied by an entrenched starter between 24 and 29 is "an area of need." Are there questions with the Eagles' LBs? Yes. Are they so serious that they require a first-round pick? Hell no. Especially not when compared to real areas of need at safety (Dawk will eventually retire), WR (Brown and Curtis frighten no one) and DT (no depth).

by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 1:44pm

#7 Shake, Agreed on the DL more than RB, though just because it finally makes sense to draft for the O means Polian will do the opposite! Like drafting Clark and Wayne years ago and everyone said "Hunh? Is he nuts? They need D!"

In addition to a pass rusher (from the interior?) I'd look at contracts--like Indy did a year before Pollard and Glenn's contracts were up, and they drafted Clark and Ugoh to replace them; I'd look for a key player who is nearing the end of his useful financial life for them, and assume they'll draft a replacement as high as they can. That Manning guy's getting a little old, isn't he?

by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 1:50pm

I came to mention that the pick at #4 makes way too much sense for the Raiders to follow through on it.

But I'm more interested in hearing what Ravens and Vikings fans think about drafting yet another franchise quarterback and if they think things will really change this time.

by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 2:03pm

The Lions picks I just don't agree with.

They currently have 5 corners on the roster and they plan on using one of Alexander or Dwight Smith as a corner as well. The Tampa 2 does not really need 1st round corners either to work well (see Super Bowl winner with Jason David and Nick Harper at corner).

And then DT. Yes they lost Rogers, but they signed Darby (who is yes 33 and coming off a major injury)-but they also like Langston Moore and they have last year's 2nd round pick who was a 3-4 DE in college (let me say this if the Lions do not put Francis at DT at some point they are incredibly stupid).

The Lions are not going to let Harvey or Mendenhall get past them. RB is a huge need (they can go it in the 3rd round as well, but they have no RB under contract after 2008 and I am not sure Shaun Alexander is not the answer).

DE is a need, the Tampa 2 thrives on it, the hope is either that Francis becomes a great pass rusher or the Lions draft one early and let Francis play the Justin Tuck role.

Woody is not a lost for the Lions. dude was benched at guard early and only started the last 4 games at RT (where he played well)-RT is possibly a need as well.

LB is a huge need as well.

Judging by who was on the board still
I think the Lions would go either Mendenhall/Harvey in the 1st round
Mayo in the 2nd round.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 2:06pm

If you guys do this again, you should really consider letting raiderjoe do Oakland's picks. How better to simulate Al Davis' bizarre and erratic decision-making process?

Anyhow, all my knowledge about college football is second-hand, so I won't presume to comment on the picks. As for my team (the Giants), I disagree with #9 that safety isn't a concern-- Butler & Johnson might be serviceable, but I am by no means confident that such will be the case. They don't need to use pick #31 on a safety, but they do need to get one somewhere.

The linked article on the Giants draft needs explains things better than I could. Reese will use their first-rounder on the non-QB, non-RB who is rated most highly in their system.

by brasilbear (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 2:10pm

Griese DVOA -15.4%, DPAR -2.6
Grossman DVOA -16.1%, DPAR -3.1
Orton DVOA -16.5, DPAR -1.2

As someone who watches every Bears game, every year, I'd send them all to the same island and start over with a first rounder. Griese is not a savior by any means, he may be the best of three bad options, but....

by shake n bake (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 2:16pm

The upcoming FAs don't tell a whole lot for the Colts. They've got just about everyone signed past next season. Jeff Saturday, Tyjuan Hagler and Kelvin Hayden are the starters who's contracts are up. Dylan Gandy too if he wins the empty guard spot over Charlie Johnson.
Saturday is getting up there, but I expect them to extend him out for a bit longer. Hagler is solid, but can be replaced by Sessions if they can't afford to bring him back, which they probably can since he's not a high profile guy and they already got a 1 year extension done with him last season. Hayden is the only one that worries me, but hopefully Jason David has scared teams out of overpaying cover 2 corners. Also Dante Hughes is exactly the kind of guy that could be great at CB for the Colts. Hopefully he'll be the nickelback this year instead of Tim "I'm the fast corner on the team by far, but it doesn't matter because I'm always out of position" Jennings.

by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 2:25pm

and the Titans picked Marcus Harrison? Are they going to miss Pacman Jones that much? I don't see the Titans going to that well again (Harrison was suspended for a felony drug charge).

by R. Magill (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 2:28pm

I don't see the Steelers passing on Otah or Cherilous to take a running back. Yes, Stewart would be a great value, but if they want a back there's Mike Hart and Kevin Smith from UCF still available. Great running backs seem to slip and the Steelers are good at finding RB production without drafting in the first round for them. If Otah is still available I see the Steelers taking him, especially since he went to Pitt. Hopefully Albert is still there, but if he isn't Otah or Cherilous and Rachal would not be a bad top 2 selections for them.

by Dean (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 2:31pm

Harris, don't get me wrong - I do not advocate using the first round pick on a linebacker. I do see it as our biggest area of need. But taking a linebacker with a first round pick, in principal, is a bad idea. Last year, Leon Hall, picked 18th signed a 5 year deal worth $13.6 Million, with $8.2 Million guaranteed. That would be chump change for a QB, a WR, an OT, a DL, or a DB. But for a linebacker, that's a sizeable part of the teams budget. Sizeable enough that I would look elsewhere with that pick - which was my original point that got lost in the shuffle.

We actually agree that the 3 spots I'd most like to see us address with that pick are S, WR, and DL. DL is a distant 3rd on the list because we have already devoted a healthy chunk of money to the position, and because if we have a DL returning kicks, we have bigger problems. Once we get into rounds 2-4, though, THAT is where I'd like to see us add another linebacker. Yeah, that means Dan Connor doesn't get to stay home, but I think it would be the best use of our picks.

(Oh, and Labinjo was the other LB I was trying to remember in the post above that they raved about up to the day they cut him.)

Andro - Felix Jones or Jonathan Stewart? If you'd asked me that last week, I'd have simply answered "no," and given you the same explanation as above. I do want to see us add another back - and preferably one that can return kicks. But if you draft a RB in the first round - ESPECIALLY with a franchise like Philly where the backs (ideally) share the workload - your best hope is for Maurice Jones-Drew caliber production, but at Adrian Petersons price. Even if the guy isn't a total bust, you still could find yourself paying Shaun Alexander money for the 2007 version of Alexander. What's interesting is that I read somewhere last week (the Inquirer? Daily News? I forget.) that Cap'n Andy was talking about the draft and said the usual vanilla about being interested in trading and being interested in taking the best player available if we stayed at #19. But then he added an interesting twist and said "even if that means taking a running back."

It's a LOT harder to pick a RB or a LB and get value in round 1 then it is to pick some of the other positions. And I think, philosophically, there's no way they're taking a linebacker. But because of that little quote, I'm going to waffle a little. I think theres a chance that a RB really is a possibility. I'd STILL like to see us land Kenny Phillips or the little gnat from Cal.

Side note to Ben Riley: I can't really critique the picks, as I don't claim to be fully versed in KCs roster. But that's some d@mn funny stuff. Well done, sir.

by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 2:32pm

Two terrible selections for the Bengals. Cincinnati was decimated by injuries last season. The last thing they need to do is to use their first pick on a guy coming off sports hernia surgery and is a question mark to even play.

Because god knows dozens of NFL players see their careers ended because of a sports hernia.

by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 2:35pm

As for the Eagles discussion, the team does need a middle linebacker. They've chosen two linebackers in the second round before (albeit at the end of the second round with both picks, and one was Matt McCoy), and although they usually lean towards drafting a lineman in the first round, it's not as if they haven't gone out of the blue before -- Freddie Mitchell comes to mind. OK, so that didn't work, either, but it's not unreasonable to think the Eagles would take Connor in that spot.

by Jasonomics (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 2:55pm

Is it possible to see one Titans mock that doesn't have them taking Limas Sweed? I know they've had a thing for UT Austin the past two years but sheesh.

The Titans are not going wideout in round 1. I'm thinking RB, Felix Jones if he's still there (doubtful) and Ray Rice if Jones is gone (likely). Lendale White proved he can be the between the tackles workhorse with happy feet and Chris Henry proved why he never started at Arizona. Jones or Rice will fill perfectly a gaping hole in our backfield.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 3:06pm

re: 26

Ravens fan response: I'd be thrilled with Ryan at 8. The Ravens have only once drafted a "franchise QB" in Boller, and that was obviously a huge mistake. But that was Billick's mistake, and Cam Cameron did a very good job working with Rivers in SD (he regressed considerably under "offensive genius" Norv Turner). I don't think Ryan will be another Manning or elite QB that can carry a team, but rather a good efficient QB in a quality offense, like Rivers.

Considering Ozzie Newsome has a great track record drafting defense and a good track record with OL and RB, I hope Cam's input can help solve the problems we have in the passing game. Lord knows Billick couldn't develop or properly evaluate QBs, although maybe he was skilled at designing an offense for an already established QB. Cam built one of the best offenses in the league from scratch (along with Marty, of course), in Baltimore he really only needs to get production from the QB position.

In short, new regime = possibility of success.

by bubqr (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 3:09pm

If Harvey drops to #25, i'll eat my balls, mark my words.

Connor isn't a top15 prospect too. Great college player, too much of a limited athlete.

F.Jones before Stewart ? Not even with an injury toe. Stewart is a great prospect, while F.Jones has question marks(Strenght, big one, and playing behind D.McFadden)

DRC ddropping that far ? Why ? Playing in a small school ? He was great at the Senior Bowl. Lack of athleticism ? Great workout. I don't understand.

Sam Baker 20 picks before Otah, while rumours are he might be selected at #5 ? Really ???

I really don't see Hardy dropping that far, but that might be possible.

And Chris Johnson, not Chris Jackson.

I know it's just an opinion, but I'm really shocked by some of your analysis, coming from the best football related website.

I guess we'll see coming draft day, but I'm really surprised !

by Ryan Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 3:10pm

That cant really be RaiderJoe right?? I mean he was attempting to use proper grammar; he still didnt but the fact that he tried makes me suspicous. Also his point about the number of linemen was completely rational, very odd to see that.

If it is really you, I like it better when you are drunk.

by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 3:13pm


DRC is dropping because despite being awesome in post-season camps and the combine he was not that good at Tennessee State.

That and he only has one kidney (yes he had this problem for a while, had it removed when he was 8) but NFL teams might not be willing to pay a dude top money if one hit can end his career.

by Dean (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 3:16pm

Bill, I expected Harris to beat me to this, but I guess not. "but it’s not unreasonable to think the Eagles would take Connor in that spot." Actually, it is. And using what they've done in previous second rounds as evidence isn't really accurate, either. Why? Capanomics. It's not how every organization operates, but it is how Philly operates. In rounds 2 and 3 of the Reid era, they've drafted Matt McCoy, Quentin Caver, Barry Gardener, Stewart Bradley, and Chris Gocong. Those second and third round picks have MUCH smaller salaries then first rounders. Last year, for example, Bradley got less then a million dollars in salary and bonus combined (using Ian Whetstones site for the numbers). The late second rounder, Abiamiri, got $1.085 million combined. That's peanuts compared to what a first rounder gets paid. So to suggest that drafting a position in the second round equates to drafting a position in the first, well, it simply doesn't.

Getting away from the draft (where they've never spent big money on a LB) for a moment, Philly has shown a willingness to acquire LBs via trade, where there is no signing bonus (Simineau, Spikes), and have looked at low budget free agents (Boiman, Fowler, Dhani Jones) - but have never gone out and spent money to get, or keep, linebackers. Trotter and Barber were allowed to leave and be overpaid elsewhere.

And using Freddie Mitchell as an example of why they might take a linebacker is equally absurd. Reid has shown that he IS willing to spend at the WR position. The results haven't been there, but the effort has. They tried a first round pick (Fred-Ex). They traded for, and gave a big contract to T-O. They went out and got Kevin Curtis, who was expensive, and more productive then people realize, even if he's not a star. This offseason they have unsuccessfully gone after Randy Moss, Tory Holt, Roy Williams, and Larry Fitzgerald. Clearly there IS a willingness to spend money on WRs.

But at the end of the day, as long as Reid is running the show, it's ludicrous to think they would spend a first round pick on a linebacker, when there is nothing in a decade of organizational philosophy to suggest that they are willing to spend money at the position.

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 3:27pm

I don't see why the Giants would take Jackson in the first round. He's not the WR I think they would be looking for. I believe they would prefer a bigger target to eventually replace Plaxico.

Based on the draft to that point, I think Jeff Otah, Gosder Cherilus, and Jerod Mayo are much more likely possibilities. The Giants would like to move Diehl back to guard soon and get a pure LT. OLB becomes a pressing need if Strahan retires. Considering where they drafted Michael Johnson, I doubt Reese would go that early for a safety. However, he does need to look for Butler's 2009 replacement now.

by MR_TIGGUMS (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 3:30pm

Shouldn't the Jaguars be looking into a running back? Fred Taylor is 34, and Maurice Jones-Drew, while very talented and productive, is too small to carry the load by himself. And i recall the Jaguars trading Labrandon Toefield, a very capable 3rd string back, to the Panthers. It looks to me like the backfield should be addressed after defensive end. Leave wide reciever until later, this is a running football team.

by The Hypno-Toad (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 3:42pm

Grr. The Broncos are much more concerned with the ability to cut and chop block than the ability to leg whip. And unfortunately, the combine hasn't instituted a "head level to knee level dash" test. And if the Broncos pick a DE in the second with good value at DT available, I will be very, very sad.

by Tom D (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 4:08pm

The Bear's finished 7th in defensive DVOA, and 2nd in WDVOA, if they draft a safety in the first round to say I'll be shocked would be an understatement. Also, Jerry Angelo called this class of safeties "anemic."

I really hope that the run on offensive lineman doesn't happen as early as FO would have it.

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 4:19pm

What Dean said.

Also, the Eagles don't exactly NEED to draft a MLB as they cut Spikes expecting to move Gaither to the WIL and start Bradley the MIKE. There is no reason to believe that Conner will be better at that spot than Bradley, who is 20 pounds heavier and played well in a limited role last year.

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 4:24pm

...but NFL teams might not be willing to pay a dude top money if one hit can end his career.

Guess they're not willing to pay anyone top money then.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 4:26pm

#42: Considering where they drafted Michael Johnson, I doubt Reese would go that early for a safety.

Because you don't invest the huge sunk cost that is the 14th pick of the 7th round on a guy only to have him to sit on the bench in his second season...

(I'm kidding-- I know you meant that to mean that Reese has shown that he can get decent Safety prospects in the later rounds. On a first reading, though, the way you phrased it threw me a bit.)

On your other points, OT is a possibility in the unlikely event that a great prospect drops, but from what I've read, there isn't a guy outside the likely-top-20 who would be a clear upgrade on Diehl at OLT. The Giants already have developmental OTs up the wazoo (Whimper, Koets, Goddard), so I doubt it'll be a major priority.

Strahan leaving would create a hole at DE, not at OLB. Kiwanuka will remain a SLB in the base defense and will play DE in the nickel. There are no plans to move him back to a full-time DE. Tuck will start at Stray's old LDE spot, and move to DT when Kiwanuka steps up to the line. In that scenario, they need a new #3 DE in the base set, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them draft one early.

With Safety as the biggest need on the team (which can often be filled with a later pick), I see the Giants' early selections as pure value/luxury picks. Anything short of a QB, RB, TE (unless Shockey is traded), P, or K wouldn't shock me.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 4:28pm

If you guys do this again, you should really consider letting raiderjoe do Oakland’s picks. How better to simulate Al Davis’ bizarre and erratic decision-making process? Posted by #28


by youppitime (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 4:29pm

I'm not a big fan of college football and I ignore the smaller programs, but in looking at the QBs in this draft I hadn't heard anything about Joe Flacco of Delaware except that he exists and plays QB. What's so special about him for him to deserve being the 3rd QB taken?

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 4:29pm

re: 41

Each NFL team has the same positions to choose from in the later half of round 1: OT, G/C, TE, RB, WR, QB, DT, DE, LB, S, CB. Do you really think the Eagles haven't spend a first round pick on a LB because of a organizational philosophy? Or is it possible, considering there are 11 main positions to fill, they haven't picked a first round LB because there hasn't been great value at LB when they've picked?

It seems kind of absurd to suggest that the Eagles won't draft a LB because they are opposed to paying a LB $2mil a year. If a very good LB is available for $2mil per year, thats great value for any team. Mid-late 1st round picks don't take up much cap room at all.

by John (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 4:29pm

DeSean Jackson? Toughness of Steve Smith? Really? Really?!? Have you guys ever watched him play? Think he is a great talent and has amazing speed but have definitely seen him shy away from contact (not blaming him as he is undersized and I'd do the same). I don't know if toughness is what he is known for.

Also, don't know how seriously, I can take analysis here given that they mentioned Carolina Steve Smith and not the former USC WR Steve Smith in the analysis. Pretty big oversight of an up and ocming receiver who played very well and beyond that expected of a rookie in the post season.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 4:35pm

"If Harvey drops to #25, i’ll eat my balls, mark my words."

I for one am hoping he drops to #25.

by Dean (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 4:58pm

"Do you really think the Eagles haven’t spend a first round pick on a LB because of a organizational philosophy?"

Yes. I do think that.

by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 5:52pm

Am I the only one who thinks that the Eagles staff just isn't very good at coaching up certain positions (LB and WR come to mind), and therefore should trade for those players rather than burn high draft picks on them?

by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 5:55pm

I don't know squat about college 'ball, but that was an entertaining read. Kudos Ben "Herm" Riley in particular.

And who is this Raiderjoe who writes in (almost) complete sentences, makes good points about the Raider roster on the defensive side of the ball, and quotes Marshal Petain?

Bring back real Raiderjoe!

by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 5:56pm

Re #34: "Because god knows dozens of NFL players see their careers ended because of a sports hernia."

Unfortunately, Bill, us long-suffering Bengals fans have been forced to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous sports hernias, which have helped derail the Cincy careers of both RB Chris Perry and LB Ahmad Brooks. It's not an injury to be trifled with -- Perry took forever to recover and there are whispers that Brooks' actually involved muscle tearing off bone, which has slowed his recovery to a crawl. Sorry, but the idea that any team is going to use a top 10 pick on a pre-injured player strikes me as fundamentally nuts. And given recent Bengals history, I would expect them to flee at top speed at the mere mention of the word "hernia."

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 6:22pm

#55 I think it's more a function of poor talent evaluation -- no amount of coaching was going to make anything of Freddie Mitchell. They said last year that they changed the way they evaluate LBs and it APPEARS to have paid off as Gaither, Gocong and Bradley SEEM to be pretty good. Whether they've figured out the problems with selecting WRs remains to be seen, though Reggie Brown looks like a solid pro if not a Pro Bowler. Now, if they'd stop using 6-foot-4, 220lb Hank Baskett as a skinny TE, I'd be really pleased.

by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 6:40pm

I thought Brooks tore his groin.

by Peder (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 8:20pm

As a Vikings fan, I'd love to see them pick up Brohm.

by Sociojoe (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 8:52pm

If the Bears actually DO have a chance to get both Brohm and Otah like this mock draft suggests, I think I'll have to buy some "depends" cause I'd pretty much piss myself.

There's so much secondary depth in this draft I really hope chicago waits till the third round too. Brian plays a position much like a deep safety on 1/2 the plays I watched anyways. We don't even a safety as much as we need another decent coverage guy. With all the depth in teh draft, a guy without top line speed but good instincts has a good chance to fall till the early third which would pretty mcuh make my year as a bears fan.

Here's to hoping Jerry doesn't do anythign stupid like draft a running back with our 1st.

Fat chace of that fat head doing somethign that reasonable though

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 9:34pm

"ugh" on Chris Johnson, but I would love those two first round picks.

If Dallas gets DRC and Devin Thomas there will be a lot of happy yelling in my house on draft day. Unfortunately, I think DRC will be gone by 22 and Thomas gone by 28.

Chris Johnson = Reggie Rush / J.J. Arrington

Besides, we're going to take Cory Boyd, aka mimi-Barbarian, in round 4.

by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 9:37pm

made earlier posts today while not drunk. I did realize I have mostly posted here at nigt while druinking. Will hit bottle again later. If thats what you guys want.
I can write better when I am in earlier part of day.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 10:37pm

I'd be astonished if Gholston was still there at #7. He's just too good a prospect - I think arguably the best in the class, though not quite as safe a pick as Chris Long.

#11 is way too high for Kentwan Balmer. I'm not tremendously keen on him as a prospect period, but he's not going to go that early and his build is more what you'd expect for a 3-4 DE than any kind of 4-3 lineman. I'd look for him to go to the Cowboys at #28, the 49ers at #29 or the Dolphins at #32 if they opt to go for a 3-4 (last I heard they were still undecided).

I don't see the cornerbacks dropping the way they do here. It's a crucial position at which many teams have a need.

As for the Texans' pick, I see Stewart as both a better player and a much better fit for the system than Jones. I'm not convinced they would use a first round pick on a running back anyway, but if they did it would be Stewart or Mendenhall. In this case it's moot, because I don't think there's any way they go for a running back with Rogers-Cromartie and Jenkins still on the board. The guy they really want (unless some powerful smokescreening is going on) is Chris Williams, but he went at #12 here to another team with the same system, so fair enough.

by shake n bake (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 10:47pm

RE: Chris Johnson
He's going to be a great return man, a big play threat every time he carries the ball and a receiving threat from the backfield or slot, but never a every-down back. I think you can spend a late second round pick on that kind of player. I hope the Colts get the chance and do.

by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 10:53pm

re56 who is masrhall petrain?

by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:14pm

Davis doesn't have amy erratic decison making. All his decisions this year have been great . So what if some other free agency dignings and trades didn't work out? That is all a thing of the past. What is imposrtant is Raiders history and all the good things he did. TeM won Three Seperbowls and will win 4th before he dies (very good chance it come in February 2009 or 2010).
Lets see Walker, Wilson, Kelly, Walker, Harris, Hall- all great moves

by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 12:06am

Do you really think the Eagles haven’t spend a first round pick on a LB because of a organizational philosophy?

To be fair, you're talking about a team that has, for virtually the entire Andy Reid era, had a good/great defensive line and secondary, and mediocre/bad linebackers. Andy Reid likes it that way. You can't be really strong at every position, so Reid has shown a remarkably consistent desire for LB to be the position that isn't. It isn't just a coincidence that none of the LBs that were available when they made 1st round picks were good enough. It's just a low priority for the Eagles. They spent about $6.4 million of their salary cap on LBs in 2007. The only teams to spend less than that on their LBs were the Bengals and the Colts, and we all know how defensively minded those two teams are. Over the last 8 years, the most they've spent on their linebacking corps was $9.2 million in 2004. Just for some perspective, Ray Lewis' cap hit was $9.4 million last year.

That said, I think they might (maybe, just maybe) do the unthinkable, mostly because they usually do have at least 1 LB with a ~$2 million cap hit, and sometimes even 2 such LBs. And since they got rid of Takeo Spikes, and (as far as I know) haven't replaced him with any highly paid FA, none of their current LBs are likely to count for much in the way of cap space, so they'd have room for one mid 1st round pick and still be able to keep the total amount of cap space dedicated to LBs at between 7%-10% of the salary cap for the next few years.

Personally, I'd rather they take a WR that can beat press corners, because our current receivers seem to be able to beat everyone else. Good LBs can be found in later rounds fairly easily, so WR is more of a pressing need in the first round. DL would also be a good place to spend a first round pick if they didn't already have one of the best defensive lines in the league. Still, can't say I'd be unhappy if they took Dan Connor. Surprised, yes, but not unhappy.

by Jon (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 12:14am

Having seen a ton of both, I don't think Rice plays like a young Tiki Barber at all. He doesn't have that home run speed if he can break free. He has a lot more power though. He'll consistently get yards, and punish defenders with his physical running style.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 12:44am

off-topic, but I think we've all just seen a pretty strong argument against the vice drunkenness. Now I am no teatotaler, but the delta from sober Raiderjoe to the Raiderjoe we all know and love is a little like the chasm between Laurence Olivier and Pauly Shore. Or... maybe it's just the pint of Mac & Jack's talking.

by Andy (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 1:04am

I'm telling you boys, do not try to analyze Raiderjoe. Just let him be and enjoy.

by Ryan Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 1:12am


Please please please let RaiderJoe do a rant every sunday night. We know he will watch the games and be drunk, and we know it will be hilarious.


by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 5:07am

Regarding the Eagles:

They won't pick a linebacker in the first round, because they don't have the space. Do they need a middle linebacker? "Somewhat." They've got one they hope will work (Bradley), one they're sure will be 'good enough' if not (Gaither). But, again, they don't have the space.

They've got Gocong, Bradley, and Gaither as locks. They just signed Rocky Boiman as well, who has more experience than any of the other starters by far (so obviously he can't be replaced by a rookie). They're 'excited' about Akeem Jordan, but that's "happy media talk" - Jordan could be replaced, but a first rounder? Too high for a position that might not actually be a starter. Third or fourth round, maybe.

What will the Eagles pick in the first round? Assuming Sheppard is traded, you can pretty much pencil in "cornerback" right now. Actually, skip that - just pencil in "defensive back" right now. The Eagles have no other needs really significant enough to warrant a first-round pick on.

As for their needs...

Especially not when compared to real areas of need at safety (Dawk will eventually retire), WR (Brown and Curtis frighten no one) and DT (no depth).

Safety: Yes, see above, although safeties aren't worth a first round pick. They'll almost certainly draft a defensive back, though. It's the only clear area of need.

WR: A rookie is not going to improve the current receiving corps, and the majority of the WRs (Baskett, Avant, and Brown) are still young. Going with a first round pick there would push a WR off the roster before that WR has had time to develop, and would not significantly improve this year's performance.

DT: You don't draft a first-round DT for a backup. DT is a third, fourth round need at most. You're talking about a backup. You can afford to take a guy who's disruptive but inconsistent, for instance. You find those all over the latter part of the draft.

There's no way they'll draft a linebacker in the first round, but in the second or third? Maaybe, although I'd lean more towards the 5th or 6th.

It'll probably go CB, RB, DB, DT, OL, LB, maybe switching RB/DB. Almost certainly the early types will have return skills as well.

And then the Eagles talk radio will explode in collective apoplexy regarding the lack of a wide receiver, because, of course there were just dozens available out there, and the current receiving corps is just terrible.

Hint to Eagles fans: Curtis was 19th in DPAR last year. Five teams had multiple receivers above 19th. Therefore, taking the top receiver in DPAR for each team, the Eagles ranked slightly above average in terms of the production of their top WR. And that's with an injured McNabb last year.

They can certainly upgrade at WR, but there's no great reason to do so in the draft this year.

by Dean (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 7:46am


First, I want to say that I hope you're posting in a different time zone then I am!

Second, the only disagreement I have with your post is that I do think that for the right player, a Safety can be worth a first round pick. The only guy this year who I would draft in round one is Kenny Phillips. I have no idea what the organization thinks of him, but I think he'll be a beast. They've never drafted a safety in the first round in the Reid era, but it was let out last year that they would have drafted Brandon Merriweather had New England not gotten him first, so in this case, I think it's more coincidence then specific philosophy. Either that, or bad reporting, and we know that never happens!

by Bassett (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 8:04am

Erik Mangold? I think you mean Nick ...

by Sebastian the Ibis (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 8:59am

1. No way Eagles draft a LB

2. This Mock draft is way too focused on need- did someone at SI secretly write this?

3. The Detroit entry is fantastic!

by Dylan (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 10:07am

Can't we get an investigation into how many raiderjoes there are? Like maybe check the IP addresses or something?

Or maybe raiderjoe is really Al Davis ...

by chip (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 10:55am

#73 "safeties aren’t worth a first round pick"

Pat, I have to disagree with you. This is one of the safest picks in the draft. I'm not a big fan of ESPN, but attached is a nice study on 1st round draft risk by Ted Kluck. He looked at 15 years of first-round picks -- 1989 through 2003 -- and analyzed the success (or failure) of each player, ultimately determining a "bust and probowl percentage" for each position. Despite the subjective exercise, he's fairly objective throughout.

Here's the takeway - Safeties are 5x more likely to make the PB vs. busting out. Defense is fairly safe across the board: LB (2.4x), DT (1.2x) and DE (1.1x). Offense is a crap shoot: OL (0.8x), RB (0.7x), WR (0.7x) and QB (0.6x).

Needless to say, given the salary inflation in the first round, it's obviously become more costly busting on first round picks. Thus if you have to positions of equal need, take the safe pick. It's precisely because the NFL front offices deem "safeties aren't worth a first round pick", that they become super safe locks and thus worthy of a first round pick.

by BDC (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 11:05am

77: I seem to recall someone from the site stating that there was in fact only one RaiderJoe. And this was pretty recent that they said this. Of course, I might be wrong, or even if not, it might have changed since then....

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 11:09am

"Jones will also be able to provide an extra spark with his ability to return kickoffs"

But the Texans already have excellent return men in Andre Davis and Jacoby Jones. Only Cleveland had better kickoff returns last season.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 11:13am

I'm still not buying the whole "eagles front office will never draft a LB in the first round". This is what the logic sounds like to me:

Coming into the 2006 draft, it is clear the Ravens will not draft a defensive lineman. Given Ozzie Newsome's history of drafting DL in the later rounds, it is clearly an organization philosophy not to spend first round $ on that particular position.


Coming into the 2007 draft, it is clear the Ravens will not draft an interior offensive lineman. Given...

There are too many positions and too few first round draft picks to find with any certainty that an organization will refuse to draft a certain position.

by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 12:37pm

I think that the people who have made the point that the Eagles won't draft a linebacker are pretty reasonable and have some logic behind them. I guess I'm just down on Gaither more than they are, because Connor makes sense to them for me.

I think the other issue coming into play is that, well, the salary cap isn't as big of a concern as it was several years ago. Connor's contract isn't going to be as unwieldy as a first-round pick's was a few years ago, since I don't believe the rookie salary pool has caught up with the rate of inflation for the cap as a whole.

by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 1:49pm

Bradley has already been named the starter at MLB. Moreover, as there is no guarantee the Eagles would be able to draft Connor OR that any LB drafted in 2008 would be ready to start this year, I have to believe they'd decided to enter the season with Gaither, Bradley and Gocong as the starters before cutting Spikes. All of which makes it extremely unlikely that the Eagles want to, or feel they need to, draft a LB in the first round.

by elisha (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 3:18pm

Giants safeties: as soon as they released pettigout I posted here saying it was a good move and that they would be fine with diehl and seubert on the left side. I was right. Gibril was nice, but again, the Giants D will be fine with Butler and Johnson playing safety.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 5:04pm

re: 83

McNair has already been named the starter for the Ravens, so I guess they won't be drafting a QB. Because everyone knows whoever is named a starter in February is a lock to start in September.

by Luz (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 5:41pm

TeM won Three Seperbowls and will win 4th before he dies (very good chance it come in February 2009 or 2010).

- RaiderJoe

Wait, wait, wait. Does RaiderJoe have some inside information on when Al Davis is going to die?

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 9:38pm

I think Raiderjoe works for the bookies rigging dead pools. His prints were found at the scene of a stingray robbery in Cairns in September 2006 - just days before Steve Irwin met with his "accident". In March 1993, he was working as a runner on the Crow, and he was the man sent to buy more blank cartridges after an especially long shoot had exhausted the on-set supply. You know that bit at the end of The Rock where Nick Cage asks his wife if she wants to know who shot JFK? Well, my cousin's housemate's sister is a friend of Cage's barber, and the word is it was Raiderjoe.

Back on-topic, I actually think it would have been more indicative that the Ravens did not plan to draft a quarterback if they had named Troy Smith the starter and cut McNair. They've effectively given Smith and Boller a vote of no confidence. Even if Ryan's gone - and he might not be - I could see them taking Brohm. Failing that, they might make like Cleveland a year ago and trade back into the first for him.

by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 9:52pm

#85 If Steve McNair was going into his second year after having performed well in limited duty as a rookie, then yeah, I'd be pretty confident that the Ravens wouldn't draft a QB.

by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 04/08/2008 - 11:59pm

Assuming Sheppard is traded, you can pretty much pencil in “cornerback” right now. Actually, skip that - just pencil in “defensive back” right now. The Eagles have no other needs really significant enough to warrant a first-round pick on.

Not that I disagree with you, but when a team has 3 defensive backs who have been All-Pros in the last two years, and defensive back is still their most significant need in the first round, that's one seriously deep and talented team.

“safeties aren’t worth a first round pick”

Pat, I have to disagree with you. This is one of the safest picks in the draft. I’m not a big fan of ESPN, but attached is a nice study on 1st round draft risk by Ted Kluck. He looked at 15 years of first-round picks — 1989 through 2003 — and analyzed the success (or failure) of each player, ultimately determining a “bust and probowl percentage” for each position. Despite the subjective exercise, he’s fairly objective throughout.

...It’s precisely because the NFL front offices deem “safeties aren’t worth a first round pick”, that they become super safe locks and thus worthy of a first round pick.

Selection bias. You're forgetting about selection bias, and it's crucial here. Safeties aren't a super safe lock, in general, because most years, there aren't many safeties good enough and proven enough to warrant first round selections, so the only ones that do get selected are the outliers, the ones who are so good that teams draft them at a position they would normally wait until later rounds to select. If teams were drafting as many safeties in the first round as they are, say, WRs, then the "bust vs. probowl" percentages would look very different.

Also, good safeties are available throughout the draft, so even if you are getting a good chance at a probowl player with a first round safety, if you can get a player with almost as much chance of being successful in a later round, and use your first round pick on a position where talented players aren't available in later rounds, you're much better off.

I mean, yeah, if you pick a safety in the first round, he'll probably be good. But if you pick a safety in the third round, he'll probably be pretty good, too. That's not the case with QBs, DEs, WRs, and CBs, where the talent drop between the first round and the rest of the draft is much greater. That's why those positions usually take priority over safety in the first round.

by J (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 12:28am

I don't think Matt Ryan will be there at #8 when the Ravens pick. I'd rather see the Ravens select a CB or BPA (Ellis?) with their first round pick. Then, I'd like to see them take Brohm or Henne in the second round.

Henne, with his 47 starts and 59% completions, has a similar projection to Brady Quinn. He doesn't have that many attempts, but Michigan QBs haven't been productive (only Navre (sp?), Henne's predecessor, has thrown for more than 3,000yrds in a season). They haven't had high completion percentages, either. Tom Brady had a 62% and Navre (sp?) had 55%. From looking at Michigan starting QBs who've started a decent number of games, Brady appears to have the highest completion percentage. So, I think Henne's 59% understates his value.

Brohm's completion percentage, almost 66%, may be a bit overstated. Steph LeFlors, Brohm's predecessor, has Louisville's highest competion percentage at 66%. He's now in the Canadian league, I believe. Chris Redman was also successful in terms of production (throwing more than 3,000 yrds in his sophmore, jr., and sr. seasons) and accuracy 61% (above 65% when Petrino took over). Brohm's made-of-glass factor scares me a bit, too. With all that knocking, I'd still say Brohm is an above average QB who will probably have a better career (assuming he stays somewhat healthy) than Matt Ryan.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 1:45am

Pat, I have to disagree with you. This is one of the safest picks in the draft

No, no, you're misunderstanding me. It's a ROBO-PUNTER argument, not a "bust likelihood" argument. A Pro Bowl safety does not have the same impact on a team as a Pro Bowl cornerback, pass rusher, wide receiver, offensive lineman, or quarterback.

If you have a need for a cornerback and a safety, you take the corner first. Best would be a safety who can handle playing nickel corner, obviously.

If the Eagles do keep Sheppard, though, they should do whatever they can to get a safety in round 1 or 2. That's the biggest hole on the team, by far.

Of course, all of this could've been avoided by drafting a safety early last year, in one of the best drafts for safety, but noo, they waited until round 4 and drafted someone who didn't even make the team.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 9:37am

I actually think this is a very deep draft for coverage type safeties and safety-corner tweeners who can indeed handle playing nickel corner. Terrell Thomas of USC is one I particularly like in that role, who should be available in the third round. Meanwhile there is every indication that a quality SS in Jamie Silva will still be on the board well into day two, because he has lousy timed speed. Some idiot is going to draft Zbikowski ahead of him, and they are going to regret it. This safety class may not have last year's top end talent, but it does include a good number of useful mid-late round prospects.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 9:55am


Where are you finding draft information (you seem pretty clued up this year), I am assuming you are still resident in the UK. Most of the stuff I can find on the internet is drivel or costs money to access and is probably drivel anyway.

by smashmouth football (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 10:46am

Re: 90
What is a "BPA"?
Otherwise I agree the Ravens would probably be making a BIG mistake selecting a QB with the 8th overall pick. In the absence of a stud like Carson Palmer or Ben Roethlisberger, I see the risk of bust for top-rated QB's this draft as HUGE. Especially for a team like the Ravens, whose GM and scouting (still unchanged after the sacking of Brian Billick, and strangely unaccountable for their total failure to select QB talent) have demonstrated a total inability to draft a decent QB in 10 full years.
Even though selecting an obvious need like CB would do nothing to solve the Ravens' woeful QB situation, at least it would maximize the probability of getting value from a pick that is certain to carry a BIG cap number the next 4 or 5 seasons (barring, of course, strike or lock-out, in which case we face nuclear winter--no football, so who cares about anything in that event). The downside, of course, is that we're relegated to a grim future of unwatchable offense. For most of the last decade, it's been more interesting and enjoyable to watch the Ravens defense instead of its offense--that seems perverse; at times it's even seemed true that the Ravens stood a better chance of scoring when their defense was on the field. That cannot be the way God intended football to be played...

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 11:17am

I sincerely hope the Bears don't draft Kenny Phillips in the first round with Otah, Mendenhall, and Brohm still on the board. Luckily, Jerry Angelo doesn't believe in taking safeties in the first round and has called this class of safeties "anemic."

I suspect that if the board shook out this way in real life, the Bears would trade down.

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 11:52am

Selection bias. You’re forgetting about selection bias, and it’s crucial here.

Chip is completely factoring in selection bias, and in fact relying on it. When you say:

If teams were drafting as many safeties in the first round as they are, say, WRs, then the “bust vs. probowl” percentages would look very different.

You're saying the same thing chip is saying with:

It’s precisely because the NFL front offices deem “safeties aren’t worth a first round pick”, that they become super safe locks and thus worthy of a first round pick.

You're agreeing with each other. Given that first-round safeties rarely get a first-round grade because of teams' selection bias, they're a safe pick.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 11:56am


My money is on the Bears sending their top third round pick to the Bills to move up and grab a tackle. Thanks to the tampering verdict the pick now has enough value to allow the Bears to make the move. The Bears have no realistic candidates to play RT next year and no playoff hopes without one, they absolutely positively must get a top tackle prospect in this draft.

The move makes sense for the Bills too, they desperately need a WR opposite Evans and probably aren't keen on using the 11th pick to reach for one. If they move down to 14 they would get the player cheaper and still in all likelihood have the first pick of the WRs. Or they could trade down again.

It all makes too much sense to happen though.

by chip (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 12:30pm

# 91 "A Pro Bowl safety does not have the same impact on a team as a Pro Bowl cornerback, pass rusher, wide receiver, offensive lineman, or quarterback. "

Of course a Pro Bowl safety doesn't have the same impact as other positions. But you still take the safety because the expected "surplus value" of drafting a S is higher than that of a CB given the likelihood of either player becoming a Pro Bowler versus busting. Here's a simple example.

Assume you are drafting in the middle of round 1. The Packers signed Harrell to a 5-yr. $15M deal with $8M guaranteed. The $8M is a sunk cost. That is if the player is a bust and is cut in training camp, the player receives the full $8M. This is an extreme example of course, but the penalties are actually worse (assuming they're on the roster for a few years and getting paid, taking reps from other players, etc.). If the player is a PB or non-PB / non-bust, the total cost of the rookie contract is $15M.

The current market value for a PB corner is about $10M / yr. [Hall $70M over 7 yrs.; Clements $80 / 8yrs.; Samuel $57 / 6 yrs.; Trufant $50 / 5 yrs.] The current market value for a PB safety is about $7.5M / yr. [Sanders $37.5 / 5yrs.; Polamalu $30M / 4 yrs.] (If focusing on guaranteed money, the contracts are much closer in value with the safeties actually averaging more per year in guaranteed money ($4M) vs. close to $3M for the CBs.)

If the S drafted in the first round becomes a PB, the "surplus value" is $22.5M ($7.5M market value * 5 yrs - $15M rookie contract). A ProBowl CB generates $35M of surplus value ($10M * 5 yrs - $15M). For simplicity, assume that if the S or CB becomes neither a PB nor a bust, they perform at their rookie contact value generating $0 surplus value. If they are a bust, they generate -$8M of surplus loss. Recall from the Kluck study, the PB / bust percentages for S are 53% / 11% and for CB are 23% / 29%. Computing through, the PB safety generates $11M of expected "surplus value" ($22.5M * 53% + 11% * -$8M). The PB corner generates $5.7M of expected surplus value ($50M * 23% + $-8M * 29%).

This is a simple example and likely holds true for all other positions except QB. It is certainly sensitive to basic assumptions, yet illustrates the need to balance upside and impact with the cost and risk of acquiring that player. The two dimensions are simpley inseparable.

by Sociojoe (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 1:44pm


With so many needs to fill, I'm of two minds in regards to trading up in this year's draft. Although the idea makes sense from a trading partner perspective, I'm hoping it comes at the expense of a pick from next year's draft to be honest.

Even it would cost more in the long run, the Bears are going nowhere fast next season if they don't get two solid starters with their first and second and third round picks. Trading a third to get their man in the first makes hoping for a faller that they have rated as a firt rounder in the second round a practical nescessity.

Hopefully the drain on linemen doesn't happen as early as on some mock drafts.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 4:38pm


I see your point regarding the Bears multiple needs. The biggest has to be offensive tackle and if the Bears have the chance to add a player who can play RT next year and then move to LT in the future they need to pull the trigger on it. If the guy can play LT he upgrades two spots on the line by allowing Tait to move to RT. Probably more than the player taken at 7 in the third would anyway.

I would agree that the alternative to trading up is to trade down rather than try to find value by taking the BPA at a position of marginal need for the Bears.

Of course were one of messrs Dorsey, Ellis, Ryan or McFadden were to fall it might be worth taking a dip.

by Staubach12 (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 7:24pm

I would be thrilled if the Cowboys got the 3 players given to them in this mock.

by Craig (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 9:04pm

As for the Bengals selecting Ray Rice in the second round, what's the status of Kenny Irons? The Bengals selected him in the second round last year. Ever since he had knee surgery before last season, I haven't heard anything.

by J (not verified) :: Wed, 04/09/2008 - 9:50pm

Re# 94:

BPA = best player available

by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 1:41am

You’re agreeing with each other. Given that first-round safeties rarely get a first-round grade because of teams’ selection bias, they’re a safe pick.

Yes, but only the safeties that are good enough that teams take them in the first round, and most safeties aren't that good. Most safeties are not safe picks in the first round. The only reason to take a safety in the first round is if your scouts tell you he's really, really great, and worth a first rounder. But some years there aren't any safeties like that in the draft, so drafting a safety in the first round in that case would get rid of the only thing that made safety a safe pick in the first place.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 3:58am

But you still take the safety because the expected “surplus value” of drafting a S is higher than that of a CB given the likelihood of either player becoming a Pro Bowler versus busting.

Surplus value, the way you're calculating it, is meaningless. Sure, it's nice, but teams are not limited because of the salary cap. They never have been.

They're limited by the availability of great players. You take a corner in the top half of Round 1 because you can almost never get a top-flight corner in free agency and you rarely pick in the top-half of round 1.

The cost is immaterial. Teams don't win because they manage to pay players less than they're worth and have enough money to sign better players than other teams. They win when they manage to find more great players at important positions than other teams, plain and simple.

If enough great players came available in free agency, you could do it that way. But they don't, so you can't.

If you have an opportunity to get a top-flight corner you can put on the field, you do it.

by lobolafcadio (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 4:05am

re #94

PSS : position specific selection

I'm sold on BPA. Except maybe at the QB position, you can't have enough good players at one position, there is always a way to play them and you're always one play to have to force your second-string on the field.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 10:05am

Anyone interested in participating in this year's unofficial FO Reader Participation Mock Draft should contact me at tomrichards8464 at gmail dot com. Most teams are currently still available.

"For simplicity, assume that if the S or CB becomes neither a PB nor a bust, they perform at their rookie contact value generating $0 surplus value."

This may not be as important as Pat's scarcity point, but I think that's a crucially mistaken assumption. A non-pro bowl, non-bust corner almost certainly has far more value (actual and surplus) than a non-pro bowl, non-bust safety.

#93 - Mixture of nfldraftscout.com, nfl.com, scout.com, various mocks on mainstream sites and the Mock Draft Muncher (linked on my name). Mayock is the best source in the mainstream media on draft matters, though Rick Gosselin's pretty good too. The thing with the draft is that while everyone who writes about it gets some things badly wrong, if you aggregate their opinions you get a pretty good estimate of how things are actually likely to go. And as an out-of-work actor, I have plenty of time to trawl the internet . . .

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by crack (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 1:51pm

I had Jake Long in this position initially, then I broke out in those hives I get whenever I think about drafting one of those hulking in-line Big-10 run blockers in the first round.

Yeah, if St. Louis didn't learn their lesson by drafting Orlando Pace they probably never will.

by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 3:29pm

Re: Bears picking a safety. In every analysis that I see for the bears, everyone keeps forgetting they also have Kevin Payne at safety. He was injured last year but should be good to go for the season, so it is not that big of an issue.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 8:41pm

"You take a corner in the top half of Round 1 because you can almost never get a top-flight corner in free agency and you rarely pick in the top-half of round 1."

There have been top flight corners available in free agency every year for the last 3 or 4 years.

I'm also not convinced (after watching Asante repeatedly get burned) that a top flight corner is worth nearly what people think it is.

by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 04/10/2008 - 9:50pm

Of course a Pro Bowl safety doesn’t have the same impact as other positions. But you still take the safety because the expected “surplus value” of drafting a S is higher than that of a CB given the likelihood of either player becoming a Pro Bowler versus busting.

No. Surplus value comes from backups, not starters. You can pay your entire starting offense salaries that are about the 5th highest in the NFL for their position (counting WR1 and WR2 as different positions) and your defense 16th highest (i.e. average) and then have enough left over to pay late-round picks/UFAs as your backups. Assuming you do a decent job of drafting in later rounds, your backups will be ok. And if all the starters are as good as they're getting paid (i.e. if they're paid as much as the 5th best QB in the league, they really are about the 5th best QB), you'll have an unbelievably good offense and an average defense. You can do the same thing with defense, if you prefer, and have an unbelievably great defense and an average offense.

The only thing that prevents you from doing this is that you can't usually get the 5th best player at every position, no matter what you might be willing to pay them, because the team that has them now will go to great lengths to keep them. The easiest way to get the 5th best CB, DE, LT, or QB is to draft them in the first round. That's why it's so good to have a high 1st round pick when you don't already have great players at those positions. You take the CB first.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 2:26am

There have been top flight corners available in free agency every year for the last 3 or 4 years.

Yeah. One. Or two.

There are 32 teams in the NFL. That's 64 starting corners. With an average lifespan of ~8 years, you would need eight every year for there to be sufficient supply to meet the demand.

One or two teams manage to catch a corner in free agency. The other 6-7 (on average) better not pass by the two or three ones that are worth a first-round pick.

by smashmouth football (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 8:58am

Re: 111
I’m also not convinced (after watching Asante repeatedly get burned) that a top flight corner is worth nearly what people think it is.

Beg to differ. After watching the Ravens defense get roached last year when their top two CB's (McAllister and Rolle) went down with injuries, count me as a believer in the value of good CB's. Obviously, though, it helps if you can rush the passer, but not every team has the front four of the NY Giants.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 9:05am

And generally speaking, the top flight corners that come available in free agency are older guys, with at best a couple of years of high end production remaining (Woodson, Law, Samari Rolle). Samuel and Clements are the exception, not the rule. As for whether they're worth it, I think most people here would agree that the Patriots and Eagles are two of the more competently run franchises in the NFL. If the Patriots thought Samuel was worth franchising, and the Eagles thought he was worth a colossal long-term contract, he's probably worth paying.

On a side note, my God was 2003 ever a good draft for DBs: Terence Newman (5), Marcus Trufant (11), Troy Polamalu (16), Nnamdi Asomugha (31), Charles Tillman (35), Eugene Wilson (36), Rashean Mathis (39), Ken Hamlin (42), Ricky Manning (82), Terence McGee (111), Asante Samuel (120), Torrie Cox (205), Yeremiah Bell (213). That's five corners and a safety who are now seen as elite, and a bunch of other useful ones.

by chip (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 10:49am

#105 "Surplus value, the way you’re calculating it, is meaningless"

You must by Marxist if you believe that the market clearing price is not the best indicator of intrinsic value. They best proxy for the instrinsic value is the the contract value when they either hit FA or resign with their current team. What do you propose ProBowl appearances, jersey sales, word count on the players wiki page, linked in myspace friends?

"The cost is immaterial. Teams don’t win because they manage to pay players less than they’re worth and have enough money to sign better players than other teams"

If this statement were true, teams would be clarmouring to trade into the top spots in the draft to select the next Hall of Famer. Parcells would have to turn his cell phone off for the next two weeks. And this is obviously not the case. Each year, teams in the top 5 are anxious to bail out and can not due to the Jimmy Johnsons' distorted draft trade chart and the high financial cost of missing on a top 5 pick. The frequency of trade in the top spots has declined as the cost of 1st round rookies continues to inflate.

"You can almost never get a top-flight corner in free agency"

Dude, two probowler corners hit the FA market this year - Hall (2007 PB) and Samuel (2008 PB). There were 12 individual corners selected for the probowl over the last 2 years. Assuming an avg. NFL contract length of 5 yrs, you'd expect about 2-3 hit the market each year. And two were not reupped by their team. That's a surprisingly high percentage considering "You can almost never get a top-flight corner in free agency".

#107 "A non-pro bowl, non-bust corner almost certainly has far more value (actual and surplus) than a non-pro bowl, non-bust safety"

Sure that's reasonable. Assume that non-pro bowl, non-bust safeties and corners have 40% the market value of a probowl players - I tried to select the most avg. secondary according to FO, which seemed to be CAR (23rd/16th/10th against the 1/2/3 #WR). Ken Lucas ($~6M) and Chris Gamble ($1.5M) avg. about $3-4M or 40% of a PB corner. Corners would be worth $20M and safeties $15M. Your statement is true. However, the surplus value in these situations still favors taking the safety ($11M vs. $8M).

I'd also add that when a player is a bust, they're still on the roster for a few years being cut. In that case, add another 2 yrs. of non-guaranteeed comp to the sunk cost. You're sunk financial cost becomes even higher, not mention the reps that are taken away from other players. It's the relatively high number of corner busts that inflict too much pain.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 4:23pm

You must by Marxist if you believe that the market clearing price is not the best indicator of intrinsic value.

No, I just don't believe that the NFL is a stable economy. It has extremely scarce supply and a spending cap. The spending cap, while not limiting teams in putting together a complete team, limits them in how much they can afford to put into a single player.

If a draft of a bunch of Hall-of-Fame level quarterbacks suddenly showed up (say, 7-8), for instance, the draft would go absolutely crazy with teams trying to get into the top of the draft. That's what I mean by 'not stable.'

If this statement were true, teams would be clarmouring to trade into the top spots in the draft to select the next Hall of Famer.

Teams can't trade money for draft spots. If they could, they almost certainly would (especially the Redskins). Pretty much all you can use are players and draft picks.

And the cost for getting up to the top of the draft either exceed the benefit of getting up there or roughly equal it (well, it should, right, if you've got a fair economy - a team has to be enticed to trade down) and you trade distributed risk for single-point risk.

To put it another way: a team like the Giants could offer their entire draft in exchange, and all they would probably move up is about 4 or 5 spots in the first round. Value falls off that steeply (which is actually confirmed by the Massey & Thaler study).

In order to move up to the top of the draft, they would need to offer future first round picks as well (which, y'know, they did previously, for Eli Manning) and that limits your flexibility in future years.

In one case, it might be worth it - trading for a franchise QB, because there's only one QB on the field and he touches the ball on (virtually) every important play, so it's a make-or-break position for the team. With the other positions you can kind of jerry-rig around the problem usually using platoons of above-average players.

Dude, two probowler corners hit the FA market this year

No - one hit free agency. Hall was traded for. And given that there was more than 1 team bidding for him, that pretty much indicates that supply is overly scarce, wouldn't you say?

In addition, it's questionable whether or not Samuel or Hall is actually a Pro Bowl level player. Samuel was let go by the Patriots, who aren't exactly known for poor player evaluation, so they clearly don't think he's worth the huge money.

The best corners in the league never hit free agency (see Asomugha, Bailey). The only way they switch teams is by

How many teams need corners this year? Clearly the Eagles did. Obviously the Saints do, for instance. The Packers clearly do, giving the age of their starters. Oh, and the Falcons do, now that they've traded DeAngelo Hall. And that's just the teams I can think of off the top of my head - it's safe to say most of the poor teams in the league probably need them. One is clearly not sufficient supply.

Now, to get back on topic, the Eagles (who actually did get the one CB) if they trade Sheppard, will need another CB. If they have an opportunity to draft one in the first round, they shouldn't pass it by for the opportunity to draft a safety. They may not be in a position to draft high again for a while.

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Fri, 04/11/2008 - 8:04pm

Yes, but only the safeties that are good enough that teams take them in the first round, and most safeties aren’t that good.

Exactly. I'm glad we're all agreeing, then.

Most safeties are not safe picks in the first round.

Am I missing something?

Is there any position where "most" people would be safe first-round picks?

by Alex (not verified) :: Sat, 04/12/2008 - 2:50pm

Am I missing something?

Is there any position where “most” people would be safe first-round picks?

Sorry, I said that wrong. What I meant to say was that, in most years, the best safety prospect available in the draft won't be a safe first round pick. In other words, the safety that's highest on your team's draft board probably isn't a safe first round pick. The CB that's highest on your team's draft board probably is. So, unless your scouts tell you that there's a safety out there that's a first round talent, you take a CB, because there's always at least one CB that's a first round talent available in the draft.

by Alex (not verified) :: Sat, 04/12/2008 - 3:10pm

If this statement were true, teams would be clarmouring to trade into the top spots in the draft to select the next Hall of Famer. Parcells would have to turn his cell phone off for the next two weeks.

Not if they knew they'd have to offer Parcells tons of other draft picks just to get the top pick.

Each year, teams in the top 5 are anxious to bail out and can not due to the Jimmy Johnsons’ distorted draft trade chart

Jimmy Johnson's "distorted" draft trade chart doesn't stop them from trading their top 5 picks. Teams can, and sometimes do, make trades that are not "Jimmy Johnson draft trade chart" equal.

Teams in the top 5 aren't that anxious to bail out. If they were, they'd just accept lower offers from other teams until their offer was accepted. If Miami offered the first overall pick to, say, the Vikings, in exchange for their first round pick and a fourth rounder, the Vikings would take that deal in a heartbeat, because then they could use the first overall pick to finally get a franchise QB. But Miami doesn't want to give up the first overall pick without getting a lot in return. That shows that Miami values the first overall pick very highly.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 04/12/2008 - 4:18pm

"What I meant to say was that, in most years, the best safety prospect available in the draft won’t be a safe first round pick."

I'm not sure that's true. There has been at least one safety taken in the top ten four years out of the last six. In a fifth, Troy Polamalu went at #16. Only in 2005 was no safety drafted in the first round (except Thomas Davis, who was drafted to play linebacker). But I think if you were to say that in some years, there is no safety prospect worth a first round pick, that would be true, and if you were to posit that this might be such a year, that would be plausible. Is Kenny Phillips really a first round talent? I'm inclined to think not, but the Dallas front office (for one) certainly disagree.

by Alex (not verified) :: Sat, 04/12/2008 - 8:43pm

But I think if you were to say that in some years, there is no safety prospect worth a first round pick, that would be true, and if you were to posit that this might be such a year, that would be plausible.

Thanks, that better gets at what I'm trying to say. Also, if you're drafting in the middle of the first round, and a safety has already been taken, you have to choose between the second best safety (according to your scouts) or the best CB not already taken. My point is that in the middle of the first round, the best CB not already taken is usually a better player than the second best safety on your team's draft board.

by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Sun, 04/13/2008 - 6:10pm

#117, Actually, if the Giants traded all their picks, according to the trade value chart, they'd have 1,086.1 points. That could get them as high as the 15th pick. a 16 pick jump, not 4 or 5.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/14/2008 - 12:16am

#123: Yeah, I realized that after I posted. It doesn't really change the point, though - it's much harder to move from 16 to 1 than it is to move from 32 to 16, and that costs you your entire draft. The team drafting 16th can move up to 5th with their entire draft. The team drafting 5th, with their entire draft, could not move up to 1st.

(And that's assuming that another team would take that offer, which I really doubt they would. Fitting 6 more draft picks in your roster is unlikely.)

The reason teams like Miami don't accept less-than-'chart value' offers for trades is because the top pick really is worth that much.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 04/14/2008 - 8:59am

I dunno Pat - I reckon a team that sucks hard enough to go 1-15 probably has a lot of highly cuttable players on the roster. And it's not as if they have to keep the extra picks: a team that made that 1 for the whole of team 5's draft trade would probably then use the surfeit of day two picks to move up a little from their rounds two and three slots to be sure of getting guys they liked who were there a few picks in front of them. And if I'm Rick Smith, with no second round pick and holes primarily at positions that are available later in the draft - SS, FS, OLB, NT, pass rush specialist - I trade #18 for the Giants' 1,2,3,4 in a heartbeat (and still would even if the pick I held was #16).

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Tue, 04/15/2008 - 11:23am

Isn't Ditka's decision to trade his entire draft for the #2 pick notorious? How many people think he got value for that?

by Theo, Netherlands (not verified) :: Sat, 04/26/2008 - 3:39pm

Ouch. You missed so far. :D