Saturday, April 29, 2006

Quick Thoughts On The NFL Draft

A few quick thoughts on day one:

Mocking the Mock Drafts
I'm pretty certain that everyone's mock draft was way off this year. I don't remember a year where so many teams went off the board. This is either means that the depth in this year's draft was so strong that there were a lot of players deserving of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd round grades who got pushed down the charts because of the depth, or it means that most General Managers in the league don't know what they're doing. Hey! Speaking of...

Marv Levy Has Lost His Mind
Right around the time that the words Donte Whitner came out of Paul Tagliabue's mouth, Mike Shanahan must have thought "they refused to trade down so they could take this guy? You have to be f'n kidding me!" Word has it that the Bills refused to trade down because they couldn't receive fair value in return. Word has it that the Broncos and Vikings were the most aggressive pursuers; while there was a chance that Miami would have taken Whitner at 16, he would have likely been there had they traded with Denver (15) or Minnesota (17). So it appears that in upstate New York, value only matters as far as trades go, because they had no qualms about drafting a player that was universally seen as being in the 15-20 range at best.

Amazingly, this is only the second most mind-boggling move of the day. The Bills actually traded up into the first round (26th pick, from Chicago) to select defensive tackle John McCargo, who almost certainly would have been available when they picked in round two, if not later.

While they did well to pick Ashton Youboty in round three, they managed to start the day with four picks and end it without adding a single offensive tackle, which is their greatest area of need. In this respect, we could call Levy and Houston's Charlie Casserly birds of the same feather.

Don't Mess With Texans
I've commented on the Texans already, but I am still in shock over their passing on the two best offensive tackles in the draft. Again, Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans are not bad players at all, in fact they'll probably be good pros. The problem is that offensive tackle - specifically left tackle, is their greatest area of need. They can have the best defense in the world, but if they can't keep David Carr off the turf, they're going to lose a lot of 17-3 games to Indianapolis and Jacksonville over the next few years. I also happen to think that they passed on a more talented player each time (though I do like DeMeco Ryans a lot), which makes it that much worse.

While it's worth noting that Winston Justice played right tackle in college, most scouts seemed confident that he could move to the left side and succeed. While Eric Winston played on the left side in college, a lot of people worry that he isn't mobile enough to stick there in the NFL.

The Anti-Texans
The New York Jets spent their two first rounders beefing up the o-line. They added left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson at #4, then center Nick Mangold at #29. Of course, unless second rounder Kellen Clemens was drafted with the intent of giving his right shoulder to Chad Pennington, then the Jets are still going to struggle this year. They're heading in the right direction, though.

Some Teams Really Do Take the Best Player Available
New England spent its first two picks on a running back and a wide receiver, which they also need, but spent their third rounder on a tight end. This is interesting, because they already have 2-3 productive tight ends on the roster.

In a similar vein, the St. Louis Rams spent two first day picks on tight ends, ostensibly to create a three horse race with incumbent Brandon Manamaleuna. These rookies better hope that the contest is decided on the field, and not by who has the coolest name.

The NFL's Three Least Favorite Letters? USC
With the exception of Taitusi "Deuce" Lutui, every highly touted Trojan went later on day one than was expected. Reggie Bush, once a lock to go first overall, was passed over and fell to the two-spot. Matt Leinart, who would have been first overall had he entered the draft last year, and was until recently seen as the second or third best player in the draft, fell all the way to #10. Winston Justice and LenDale White, once seen as possible top ten picks, tumbled all the way out of the first round. Tight End Dominique Byrd lasted until the late third, and defensive back Darnell Bing was not picked at all. Just a rough day for all of the prospects from SoCal, except for the aforementioned Lutui. He gets to continue blocking for Leinart in the pros.

San Francisco Disappoints Me Again
Vernon Davis. Ugh. This hurts all the more now with the knowledge in hindsight that they could have had Santonio Holmes with the 22nd overall pick. Drafting my boy Michael Huff, then either Holmes or DeAngelo Williams would have made my day. Instead, they go with Davis, who is not worth the 6th overall pick, and Manny Lawson, who I happen to like. My concern about him is how effective he will be when he doesn't have Mario Williams on his defense commanding the opposing side's attention.

The Niners ended the day by spending their third rounder on a wide receiver that I have never even heard of. His profile tells me that his upside is as a third receiver/return man, which the Niners need. This would be a great pick if there weren't a dozen other third receivers/return men that could be picked in the later rounds. It would be better to spend their first day selections on players with a little more upside than that.

Look for full evaluations and grades in the next couple of days.


At 8:41 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Welcome home, Abboud!

At 1:32 AM, Blogger David Arnott said...

I'm absolutely with you on the Niners' awful draft. Huff was clearly the pick to make at number 6, or even trading down with Denver, who really wanted Leinart. With the 15 and 22 and another third rounder, they'd still be in great position to take Lawson (whom very few people thought would be around at 22) and Justice with those two picks. I was floored that they used a pick on Davis (who they have to be thinking of using as a wideout with Eric Johnson at TE). Additionally, how many QB/RB/WR types do the Niners really need? I mean, it's nice to have one around so you can run trick plays and mess with the defense a little, but now they have THREE, in Cody Pickett, Rasheed Marshall, and Michael Robinson. What the hell? I would have MUCH preferred Jeremy Bloom over Robinson. At least Bloom is a proven return man, big play receiver that was going to be Colorado's #1 wideout before the NCAA took away his eligibility, and legitimate world class athlete. They now have three guys who are mediocre at a wide variety of skills (probably, in Robinson's case). Good God.


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