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Some Thoughts, will finish in coming days

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  • Some Thoughts, will finish in coming days

    My Draft/Offseason Thoughts:

    I always find it best to do the wrap up a day or two after the draft. Often times, perspectives are warped immediately after the draft. This was a weak draft. Everyone knew it. Doesn’t mean there won’t be talented guys – just means the value of the draft wasn’t that good. I don’t do grades anymore, but I will loosely rank things below. The reason I don’t do grades anymore isn’t due to any “let’s wait and see how they perform” perspective, as that takes in the benefit of hindsight, but rather, more due to the fact that, every team added talent, so it’s hard to claim that someone was a clear cut loser. Thus, you end up with a lot of B+’s, B’s, B-‘s, which is just ridiculous. Now, you can’t discuss a draft without discussing the rest of the offseason for a team, so I will offer as complete a perspective as I can. That said, the loose rankings below are based moreso on the draft than anything else. In this day and age, a successful free agency foray is as much about adding impact talent as it is about providing draft flexibility. There is absolutely no way to determine how successful talent will be, so my perspectives are based on a variety of factors, all relatively subjective. Fit, need, value, upside, ability, character, bust potential, and so forth – you can’t separate things, as that leaves a flawed perspective. One last thing to keep in mind – asking a team to fill all their needs is almost impossible. No, wait, one more note – what we don’t know doesn’t mean it is bad. Too often, people take that perspective. Along those lines, what we know isn’t always good. Sounds easy, right?

    I was too busy this year to offer consistent comments about the draft, so my quick thoughts. This was a solid RB class, but RB’s tend to fall. Whereas last year saw a lot of athletes at the position, I thought that the RB class this year, a very diverse cast, was a better group of runners. Moreno, IMO, was the best, most complete runner in the draft, and I thought Donald Brown was the most complete running back, while Lesean McCoy might’ve been the most gifted runner (small distinctions for most, but they made a difference for me). There were big guys, explosive guys, good hands guys. It was a solid class. The TE class, on the other hand, was somewhat overrated, filled with a lot of one-dimensional vertical threats. I thought the top dog, Pettigrew, was overhyped, but not overrated. A soft hands, safety valve TE that is a good blocker doesn’t scream solid first round to me. The OT class was a bit overhyped early due to last year’s class and four top OT’s. The interior OL class was solid at the top, but like the OT class, it fell rapidly after that. The WR class was very boom or bust for me, starting at Crabtree, and working your way down. The DT class was perhaps a bit underrated, as there was some solid assets early on, with Peria Jerry underrated. The edge class was overrated. Now, there were some solid 4-3 end values, but the 3-4 rush backer values were iffy. There were only three guys I really , really liked – Aaron Maybin, Larry English, and Clint Sintim. The LB class was very iffy, contrary to early hype. The CB class was fairly weak, although some intriguing raw talent. The safety class was better than given credit for, but it was still weak. The class fit with the changing and opening up of the game. The QB class dropped in the draft, but overall, I thought the depth was better than people gave it credit for, but that the top of the draft was hit or miss.

    I’ll try and cover some UDFA signings, but seriously, much as I love the draft, we put way too much emphasis on 5th-7th round picks, along with the fervent desire to see which UDFA’s sign where. I tried my best to get the UDFA’s correct, but there will be many that likely are wrong or a lot missing.

    Offseason Excellence:

    Houston Texans: OLB Brian Cushing, DE Connor Barwin, C/G Antoine Caldwell, DB Glover Quin, TE Anthony Hill, TE/FB/H-back James Casey, CB Brice McCain, S Troy Nolan. UDFA signings: RB Jeremiah Johnson, RB Arian Foster, Mike Jones, Aubrey Bell, OT Jason Watkins, Doug Dedrick, Bill Rentmeester, DT Josh Leonard, Charles Helems, OL Brandon Walker, DE Tim Jamison, LB Toddrick Verdell, DT Jake Visser, WR Michael Jones.

    So … as I exclaimed on IRC draft weekend, I loved the Texans draft. To my surprise, a lot of prognosticators were lukewarm on it. Let me explain why I liked it, though. The team went into the offseason with a few key holes. There were some secondary concerns, but the big issues were at SAM backer, backup QB, and DE. To a lesser extent, they needed some more interior pass rush help. They addressed all three in FA, giving themselves a lot of flexibility. Antonio Smith looks to be a solid fit opposite Mario Williams. He can also kick inside to provide a push. I thought the Shaun Cody signing was a good small signing. At LB, they added a decent veteran in Cato June. This meant that they didn’t have to force picks. They had to make a decision at QB and move Rosenfels, and to nab a 4th was solid. Sure, I can think of many backup QB’s I would prefer to Dan Orlovsky, but he isn’ t horrible and gets bashed over one play, albeit on really bad play. A lot of flexibility entering the draft.

    Onto the draft. Without a need to force picks, I was very curious what the Texans would do in the first. Look, I can love a draft and wonder if a team should’ve pondered something else. I will always wonder if the Houston Texans shouldn’t have looked at Jeremy Maclin at 15. An explosive slot receiver added to that offense could really take that offense from good to great. I will also wonder if they should’ve taken Clay Matthews, who is more athletic. That said, Brian Cushing fits. Now, I’ve seen a lot of people bash Cushing for his coverage abilities. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit lukewarm on Cushing, as I’m not big on taking SAM backers early. Few things to keep in mind – Cushing wasn’t considered a horrible guy in coverage entering the draft, LB value dropped after the first round, and the Texans LB core was undersized. I love Demeco Ryans, but he’s undersized. They needed to get bigger and tougher. Look, Cushing isn’t going to be able to matchup against the Dallas Clark’s of the world and consistently win. I know that, and they probably know that. But this team had a plan to get bigger on defense (see Antonio Smith), and Cushing fit their plan. For example, it wouldn’t surprise me if they had their OLB be flexible. What do I mean by that? Well, if they face Indy, it wouldn’t surprise me if Dallas Clark motioned out that Xavier Adibi wouldn’t end up following, with Cushing essentially becoming the WILL in that situation.

    Another need they had to address was DPR. The Texans recognized that pass rushing value dipped badly after the 2nd round, so they took a guy that was solid value there in Connor Barwin. Yes, Barwin is raw, so there is some risk, but he was productive in one year, has ridiculous athleticism, and has shown a good character/work ethic. This was a good pick. In the third round, they took Antoine Caldwell, who I thought was underrated. With a strong C class, and Caldwell not being the best athlete out there, he sort of got lost in the mix. The Texans needed a C to challenge Chris Myers, someone a bit more physical. Caldwell has good feet and solid strength, and he should fit the system real well.

    They finished the draft off with a few DB’s and a couple TE’s. Saying a couple TE’s isn’t really fair, as they got two different guys. Anthony Hill was a bit overhyped in some quarters, IMO, but he is a solid blocker and they needed someone like that opposite Owen Daniels. James Casey is more in the Owen Daniels playmaking vein. Very raw, but loads of athleticism. I imagine he’ll be a FB/TE/H-back type of guy. I really liked all three DB picks, for a variety of reasons. I thought Glover Quin was underrated. A good athlete with solid size, Quin fits the mold of their recent DB selections. Early word suggests he’ll be worked at CB, but some have pointed out that he might be better suited at safety. Another possibility is to shift someone like Antwaun Molden to safety. For the round, McCain was a solid pick. You gamble on things late, and that type of speed, sure, why not. I really love the gamble on Troy Nolan late. He reminds me a bit of OJ Atogwe. Tough, physical, enough range. A pairingof Quin/Nolan back there, in time, could be an excellent safety combo.

    So, was there anything they missed? A slot WR would’ve been a thought, but they do have David Anderson around, and their TE’s can work the middle. A bigger issue is, well, a bigger RB. That looked to be a need, as Steve Slaton’s size is always going to concern. That said, this is a system that knows how to find solid backs that fit, and they had a couple decent options on hand in Ryan Moats and Chris Brown. Post-draft, they added two excellent UDFA options in Arian Foster and Jeremiah Johnson.

    At the end of the day, yes, if you had to ask me a favorite draft, I’d pick the Texans. Why? They had a plan, they executed it. They took value, added upside, filled needs, and upgraded positions. They didn’t force picks and thought about the future. This doesn’t mean all their guys are going to hit, let alone, all stick around this year. This was a very intriguing team on paper already, a team with an excellent running game, improving OL, and solid receiving options. This was a team with an excellent defensive personnel in place. With their offseason so far, their fans have every right to expect a playoff team in 2009-2010, and perhaps one of the better teams in the NFL, provided that Matt Schaub stays healthy. Cushing will start right away. I wouldn’t be surprised if Caldwell did as well.

    Seven That I Liked (Random Order):

    New England Patriots: Patrick Chung, Ron Brace, Darius Butler, Sebastian Vollmer, Brandon Tate, Tyrone McKenzie, Rich Ohrnberger, George Bussey, Jake Ingram, Myron Pryor, Julian Edelman, Darryl Richard. UDFA: OL Jermail Porter (Wrestler/Tryout), QB Brian Hoyer, LB Antonio Appleby, SS Marcus McClinton, CB Jamar Love, FB Eric Kettani, WR Tyree Barnes.

    Coming off an 11-5 season where Tom Brady was out, the Patriots were looking to reload this offseason. The biggest loss was Josh McDaniels moving on, as it forces Bill Belichick to take a more active role on the offense until he feels that Bill O’Brien is ready. That shouldn’t be a big issue, though, as Belichick went through this when McDaniels was promoted to the role. There weren’t many big personnel needs. They had to make a decision on Cassel, and they did by sending him for a 2nd. It’s fair to ask if they should’ve gotten more. In that process, they moved on from Mike Vrabel. Vrabel was showing some signs of age, and the Patriots have never been shy about cutting ties from veterans. Other than that, their only issues were really depth. In FA, they did an excellent job filling out the roster. With some WR depth issues, they went out and got Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis. It’s fair to ask how much Galloway has left, and how valuable Greg Lewis is, but for the 3rd/4th WR roles, they seem like solid options, particularly for the Pats offense. The consistency of a guy like Jabar Gaffney may be missed, though. They wanted a blocking TE and picked up the disgruntled Chris Baker. They added a bigger, more physical back in Fred Taylor. They needed some OLB depth and brought back Tully Banta-Cain, a guy that knows the system. They added some OL depth with Al Johnson and Damane Duckett, and picked up a LS in Nathan Hodel. The two biggest moves perhaps were the additions of Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs. They needed secondary depth, and both guys can fit within the Pats scheme. Thus, entering the draft, there were few areas of concern. At QB, Kevin O’Connell was “next”, so that position wasn’t an issue. The DB additions, along with youngsters Wilhite and Wheatley, made the secondary less of a concern. About the only areas of concern that the public thought needed to be addressed was at OLB, but there, they had been grooming former Wolverines Pierre Woods and Shawn Crable. With a plethora of picks and a big FA class after the 09-10 season, they had a lot of options.

    A lot of rumors swirled around the Pats pre-draft. At the end of the day, they decided to not deal up. A lot of rumors suggested they were looking at Percy Harvin. Whether or not that was the case, we will never know, as Minnesota grabbed him. The Pats decided to deal down, sliding down 3 spots and adding a 5th. At 26, the Packers then came calling, and the Patriots said okay, dropping 15 more slots and giving up a 5th, while adding an extra 2nd and 3rd. I have no issues with either moves – the Pats now had 8 picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and for a team with few holes, and a weak draft at the top? Excellent. The first pick was a mild surprise in Patrick Chung. Part of me wonders if they were looking at Louis Delmas, but we won’t know. Was Chung a bit high? Perhaps, but not that much, and Chung and Delmas were considered the top two safeties in the draft. He fits their system, with enough coverage ability at SS while adding some lumber. The most important thing for a Patriots DB is to have good instincts, and Chung has that, and he’s solid in zone awareness. He’s a fit. They then followed this up with an excellent selection of Ron Brace by dealing up from the 7 spots to get him at 40, giving up a 4th and a 6th to the Raiders. With all their picks, giving up two 2nd days picks to get a guy they want is a fine move. The hardest thing for 30 fronts to find is quality DL talent. Brace is a solid fit, giving depth at nose, and enough athleticism to kick out to the 5-technique, but more as depth. With Wilfork as a FA after next year, this was an excellent pickup.

    With the 41st pick, they added Darius Butler. Loved this. He was a first round talent for many. I thought he was the best pure cover CB (Jenkins was the most complete). A lot of people are focusing on Darius Butler’s lack of physicality. He does try, but he’s not a big guy. It’s not as if he was, well, Deion and avoiding tackles (nothing personal to Deion). What they should focus on is the superb awareness of this kid and his excellent hands. Loved this pick. If their draft ended right there, this would’ve been an excellent draft. They closed out day 1 with the pick of Sebastian Vollmer. It was mildly surprising at the time, as some bigger name OT’s were still on the board, but post-draft, we find out that Vollmer had been rising a lot. His rise reminds me a bit of Michael Roos’ rise a few years back. Vollmer fits for them as an intriguing tackle prospect with good length, athleticism, and size. I think he’s got a shot at LT, although most people are penciling him at RT. He’s raw, though.

    Day 2 started off a trade, as the Pats dealt away their 73rd for a 7th and a future 2010 2nd. For a team with a big FA class after next year, this was a smart move to stock up, and it’s not like they had the room for all these draft picks anyways. Then, they came with a surprising pick of Brandon Tate. The big issue here was the positive drug test. With other organizations (such as the one below), you have some apprehension. With the Pats, I’m not that worried because of their track record at making guys adjust to their standards, and Tate has to know he is on a fairly short leash. It’s a good gamble in the 3rd, as the Pats needed a young WR, and Tate offers explosiveness. He might not pay off for a year, but the Pats don’t really need him this year. They then dealt the 89th for a future 2010 2nd from Tennessee. Another solid move. 4 picks in the first two rounds of next year. They finished off the 3rd round by adding the big Tyrone McKenzie. This was an interesting selection in that, many thought McKenzie would go slightly later. They did need some LB depth, particularly a big, physical guy to groom inside with Mayo. With McKenzie’s background, he might adapt well. I’m fine with this pick.

    From the 4th-7th rounds, they picked up a lot of guys, although it’s fair to ask how many will stick. With 5 other CB’s on the roster, they dealt Ellis Hobbs away for 2 5th rounders. Doesn’t sound like much, but I like the move in that Hobbs was an impending FA after 09-10, and it thus clears away an issue. They spun those two 5th rounders for a 4th and a 6th in their 2nd trade with Baltimore. They took Rich Ohrnberger with the 4th. He’s a solid interior OL guy to groom, and with Mankins and Neal as impending FA’s, they needed that guy (and the selection of Vollmer, if he develops as a starting RT by 2010, could allow them to move Kaczur in as another option). Mildly high perhaps, but not that big an issue. I’ll be the first to say that I was very surprised with George Bussey in the 5th. I mean, sure, not many big needs, but seemed a bit of a reach to me. With the 6th from Baltimore, they picked up LS Jake Ingram, giving Hodel competition. I like that move a lot – with few needs, you should shore up all areas and bringing in LS competition had to be a concern. I actually am very intrigued with the last three picks of Myron Pryor, Darryl Richard, and Julian Edelman. Edelman offers a versatile talent that could fill the depth charts. Pryor and Richard give them DL depth. I think both guys fit alright, Pryor as a backup NT, Darryl Richard as a versatile backup. Pryor anchors real well, while Richard has enough athleticism to be an intriguing 5-technique guy to groom perhaps, and able to slide inside on occasion. The problem is, with their depth on the DL, along with Brace picked earlier, can they hide these guys on the practice squad? I’ve got to think that another team may come calling if either of these guys look good in camp. Haven’t seen a complete UDFA list yet, but of the ones known, I really with Appleby, Hoyer, and Porter. Hoyer has some tools to work and seems like the type of QB that may really fit the Patriots. He’ll have to fight Gutierrez for the 3rd spot. Reminds me a bit of Matt Cassel. Has good intermediate accuracy for the Patriots style. The Appleby signing offers another guy that could compete inside that knows the 3-4 ILB role. He’s physical, but his coverage issues probably hurt him. Porter, I’m just intrigued by another wrestler to OL move. I wouldn’t rule out McClinton and Love, but the depth charts make it awful hard for them to stick around.

    A couple surprising picks, but the Patriots didn’t like the talent in this draft and the most important thing was stocking up on the future with those 2 2nd’s. They filled their depth chart, added some intriguing talent at good values (Butler stands out), and most importantly, added guys that look to be excellent fits (Chung, Brace, Butler stand out). The one question is not addressing OLB. I know they like their 4 deep there (Thomas, TBC, Crable, Woods), but with so many 2nd day picks, I was surprised they didn’t add someone. That said, this rush backer class was overrated, and they have an intriguing guy like Vince Redd around as well. Whatever their original plan at 23 was, they executed a plan fairly well. Another excellent job from a team that has shown smarts in the offseason in their recent run. They keep extending their window, which few teams have been able to do. This team should be competing for the division and an AFC playoff spot, provided that Brady is healthy. In terms of immediate impact, the only possible starter might be Chung, but guys like Brace, Butler, Tate, McKenzie, Ingram could play key roles this year. One guess - don’t be stunned if the Patriots get ballsy and deal away Jarvis Green, a solid 5-technique to make room for some of their youngsters. He’s an impending FA as well, coming off a down year, and they have some depth, with a guy like Mike Wright, and clearing a guy might allow them to find a way to keep another DL guy from this year.

    Cincinnati Bengals: OT Andre Smith, MLB Rey Maualuga, DE Michael Johnson, TE Chase Coffman, C Jonathan Luigs, P Kevin Huber, DB Morgan Trent, RB Bernard Scott, Fui Vakapuna, Clinton McDonald, Freddie Brown. UDFA: QB Todd Boeckman, OC Colin Dow, DB Rico Murray, LB Dan Skuta, RB Marlon Lucky, FB Chris Pressley, FS Tom Nelson, WR Greg Orton, QB Billy Farris, DL Ty Steinkuhler, TE Darius Hill (Tryout),

    Marvin Lewis survived another year. Perhaps that’s due to the Browns’ not wanting to pay a guy to not work, or perhaps he simply got a mulligan for Carson Palmer being out. Either way, he’s back, and barring some odd stunner, he needs to come through with a big year this year to keep his job. The main issue entering this offseason was to make sure the OL was solid enough to keep Carson standing. Other than that, they needed to secure the run game, perhaps find an intermediate weapon alongside Caldwell, secure the middle of the DL, and improve their pass rush, amongst other things. Robert Geathers was returning, which should help with the pass rush. They also had to determine what to do at WR, with Ochocinco and Houshmandzadeh both wanting out. To replace TJ, they added Laveraneus Coles, and are hoping that their young WR’s from last year, Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, keep developing. After some time, they eventually brought back Cedric Benson to anchor the run game. With last year’s backup, Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick, moving on, they needed a backup QB, as counting on little Palmer wasn’t the best idea. JT O’Sullivan wasn’t a good starter, but he’s an okay option as a backup. They took a big gamble on Tank Johnson at DT, adding him as a likely third tackle to their two starters, Pat Sims and Domata Peko.

    As for the draft, well, we’ve been down this road with the Bengals before – drafting talented guys with character concerns. A case could be made for Andre Smith to be the top talent in the draft, but he had a bad postseason. I will be very curious what happens with Smith. If he’s at RT, that’s going to beg the question of whether or not the Bengals were right to feel comfortable about Andrew Whitworth or Anthony Collins at LT and pass on Eugene Monroe. If Andre Smith is at LT, I’ll be very curious how he performs. That said, I can’t complain about the pick. He was a solid pick, and a worthy gamble when you need to protect your franchise, Carson Palmer. In the 2nd round, they lucked into Rey Maualuga. Now, Rey has his issues off the field, and on the field, he’s somewhat limited and had the help of his supporting cast to cover up his mistakes. That said, what he does, he does well, and he’ll have his old babysitter, Keith Rivers, there with him. Maualuga will bring an intensity to the field, and he’ll hope shut down the middle. They needed that type of guy there, and I like the pick quite a bit. In the 3rd round, they took Michael Johnson. Yes, he’s a risk, but at this point, it’s a good gamble, considering the upside. Furthermore, if they limit Johnson’s responsibilities and just use him as a DPR early, they might get a solid return. Chase Coffman was a good receiving TE and should help open up the outsides for Coles and Ochocinco more. They needed a center, and they took a solid player in Luigs, although I wonder if he’s physical enough. Huber was a fine pick to upgrade the punting game. I’m not big on Morgan Trent, although as depth, he might be fine. Then, they gambled on Bernard Scott. A very intriguing talent, Scott could open the field up a bit more with his versatility and athleticism, Scott runs hard, despite his size, and has a solid “feel” as a runner. That said, big character risks. They finished up with Vakapuna, who might make the roster as a short yardage option, McDonald, who might stick around for his athletic potential (although practice squad seems more likely), and a big WR in Brown. I really doubt Brown is anything more than PS, with their 5 deep at WR and adding a receiving TE.

    If there’s any question I have, outside of character, it’s whether or not they should’ve gone RB earlier. Bernard Scott is an intriguing risk. With guys like Cedric Peerman and Andre Brown going in the 6th, would that have been better than say, Morgan Trent. I mean, DB wasn’t a huge need, and Benson as the main back isn’t something that should make anyone feel like the position is settled. I like this draft for addressing key needs (leadership/intensity on defense, keeping Carson standing on offense) while grabbing top value. The boom/bust nature of the first two picks certainly is concering, but the Johnson/Coffman/Luigs picks are all real solid. I see 4-5 starters this year (Smith, Maualuga, Luigs, Huber, and maybe Coffman) with several other guys contributing in key roles, like Michael Johnson as a DPR, Vakapuna and/or Scott in key running back depth roles. In a best case scenario, the run game is settled, the offensive line is healthy and stout, and Carson is standing and picking apart defenses with his bevy of receiving options. Pat Sims, Domata Peko, and Rey Maualuga form a dominating trio inside, Michael Johnson and Robert Geathers add rush off the edges, Keith Rivers cleans things up, and their young DB’s continue to grow. The team gels and propels themselves into the playoffs. Of course, the OL could be inconsistent in pass pro, the run game may be spotty, and maybe the DL isn’t strong enough in the run game and good enough at getting pressure. If that happens, see ya, Marvin Lewis. One interesting post-draft storyline is what happens to Levi Jones. I can see a lot of teams have intrigue, like the Skins and Bills. Will the Bengals be able to get something for Jones?

    Chicago Bears: DT Jarron Gilbert, WR Juaquin Iglesias, DE Henry Melton, CB DJ Moore, WR Johnny Knox, LB Marcus Freeman, S Al Afalava, TE/OL Lance Louis, WR Derek Kinder. UDFA: LB Kevin Malast, LB Mike Rivera, OG Johan Asiata, OL Dennis Conley, S Dahna Deleston, RB Tyrell Fenroy, WR Eric Peterman, FB Will Ta’ufo’ou, DB Woodny Turenne, DB Darrell Lloyd (tryout with Minnesota and Chicago), QB Chase Patton (Tryout), Pat Maynor (Tryout), DB Daniel Charbonnet (Tryout), WR Eric Morris (Tryout), WR Maurice Covington (Tryout).

    A littler homerism? I’ll be the first to admit that might be the case. The Bears entered the offseason at a crossroad. The core of the team was aging, and Lovie Smith was clearly on the hot seat, enough to force him to take back Defensive Coordinator duties. Jerry Angelo was probably on the hot seat as well. Entering the offseason, positionally, they had concerns almost everywhere. In one fell swoop, the entire complexion of the team was changed. I loved the Jay Cutler trade, and I would do it any day of the week. In no way am I saying we “won” the deal or got a “steal”, but to get a franchise QB, a guy I consider to be a top 10 QB in the league right now, a guy in his prime – well, you gotta give up something. Angelo has not only extended this current window, but he’s provided an opening towards the next window, and here’s hoping there’s no gap between the two. Now, the Bears did other stuff as well. Perhaps the most critical move was a non-personnel related move. Rod Marinelli will get a lot of grief for the rest of his life over the 0-16 season, but there has never been any denying that he was an excellent DL coach. The Bears DL didn’t perform to standard last year, and Rod could change that. Besides that, they also kept Kevin Jones around, who hopefully will be a good number 2 to Matt Forte. They also shored up the OL, by bringing in Frank Omiyale, Kevin Shaffer, and Orlando Pace.

    So, what were the concerns entering the draft? On offense, WR was the big question. On defense, the main issue was safety. Overall, they needed to add depth on defense, though. Without a first round pick, things would be tougher. I am fine with the Bears dealing out. The middle of the draft offered good value. It’s interesting to find out, post-draft, that the Bears were targeting Mike Mitchell and maybe Darcel McBath. With those guys off, the only guy that really stood out as an option was Mohamed Massaquoi. Post-draft, we found out that the Bears had some concerns about his hands being consistent enough. Only time will tell if this was the right move, but I thought trading out was fine, as I didn’t think Massaquoi was anything that special, and I thought number 2/3 type WR’s could be found later.

    With their first pick, the Bears took Jarron Gilbert. Some post-draft suggestions were that the Bears were targeting Bradley Fletcher and Alex Magee, along with Gilbert. Gilbert gets more acknowledgment for his pool work, but he’s a solid talent for the scheme, and adding depth in the trenches is never bad. He has some quickness and power, and could be a nice UT type fit. They followed that up with Juaquin Iglesias. I’m not huge on Iglesias overall, but I think he was a similar talent to some of the 2nd round WR’s. Adding to the DL depth, the Bears popped Henry Melton, who has excellent athleticism but is really raw. Melton and Gilbert are Rod Marinelli’s pet projects. He has a year to prepare them, as both guys could be in line for bigger roles next year. Then, they got perhaps a steal n DJ Moore. He’s a smart CB, an excellent fit for the system, very reminiscent to Nathan Vasher. Say what you want about Vasher, but for where he was drafted, he’s had a solid career. Moore isn’t going to run with the Johnny Knox’s of the world, but he’s a smart corner who can fit within the scheme. The Bears needed some secondary depth, as after Graham, things are a bit iffy. I like the gamble on Johnny Knox, although I’m not too sure what to make of him. I imagine this may be a move to replace Hester’s home run speed on the return units. Marcus Freeman took a tumble, and I love the pick. Excellent athletic fit for the system, and the Bears needed a young LB to groom (although Jamar Williams really deserves a chance). The Bears then took Al Afalava. He is a safety, but the Bears needed a rangier guy, so I’m not too sure on that pick. Their late gambles on Derek Kinder and Lance Louis seem worth it. I’m very curious about the big Louis as an OG. Certainly, a developmental talent worth following, due to the athleticism. If there’s one question about this draft, it is not landing a FS while there was a chance. It certainly wasn’t a lack of interest, as we saw post-draft that they had interest in several DB’s. The one place where I wonder is in the 5th round. With two picks, they took Freeman for value, which I can understand. Did we really need that Johnny Knox pick when 2 solid guys in Chris Clemons and Michael Hamlin were on the board?

    Jay Cutler has to be pondered when considering this draft. They got as solid a WR as they could get, and they added superb defensive depth. All in all, a solid job for Jerry Angelo and Greg Gabriel’s people. So, why do I like the draft itself? With the picks they had, the Bears, based upon the reports, had a plan, and they executed it. They knew what areas they wanted to try and address, if possible, and they got solid players. For the most part, they got some good values, with Gilbert/Moore/Freeman standing out. No, there won’t be many guys that help immediately (at best, Iglesias is the only guy with a chance to start this year). The team does have some more work to do – they need to find out if Josh Bullocks is solid enough at FS, and if not, if they can find talent to compete. They could also use a veteran QB to backup, and they need to continue searching for options at WR. As a side note, Chase Patton is coming in for a tryout at QB (more to throw to guys), and I hope they give him a long look. A lot can go wrong – the defensive line isn’t able to respond to coaching, the Urlacher starts aging a lot faster, the secondary is inconsistent, the OL is inconsistent and has durability issues. In a positive scenario, the deeper OL creates holes for a 2-headed running attack. Cutler makes his receiving targets better, taking advantage of his two excellent TE’s and RB’s in the passing game, finding his old collegiate buddy Earl Bennett and Juaquin Iglesias, and going long to Hester. This creates a dynamic offense that can challenge any point of the field from any position of the field. The defensive line steps up under Rod Marinelli, getting more pressure, which has a trickle down effect, protecting the defensive back 7. As a result, the Bears go into the postseason as one of the favorites in the NFC. A lot of work to do.

    Solid (random order):

    Green Bay Packers: NT BJ Raji, OLB Clay Matthews, OL TJ Lang, FB Quinn Johnson, OL Jamon Meredith, DE Jairus Wynn, DB Brandon Underwood, OLB Brad Jones. UDFA/Tryouts: QB Brian Johnson, LB Cyril Obiozor, QB David Johnson, OL Evan Dietrich-Smith, WR Patrick Williams, OT Andy Hartline, DE Ronald Talley, WR Andy Brodell, TE Travis Dekker, WR Kole Heckendorf, WR Jamarko Simmons, WR JaRon Harris, RB Tyrell Sutton, TE Carson Butler, LB Jon Copper (Tryout), OC Ryan Shuman (Tryout), LB Maurice Davis (tryout?), LB Michael Bibbs?.

    There were a lot of reasons the Packers didn’t make the playoffs last year. Aaron Rodgers was not one of them – and that may be the most important thing to resonate from their 2008 season. All those years of waiting and being patient, of retooling the kid, paid off. Now, there definitely is work for Aaron Rodgers to do (6 straight games in the 2nd half with at least on pick, irrespective of the circumstances, is never good). This offseason, though, was as much about setting the stage for this window, and with Ted Thompson having stocked the roster fairly well through drafts (as their website so helpfully shows us with their how built section), a window that looks to have the potential to be open for awhile.

    The biggest move this offseason was the hiring of Dom Capers to fix the D, and with it, a shift to the 3-4. Early indications have suggested a 1-gap 3-4 scheme for now, due to the personnel on hand. They, though, were going to need to get more guys to work within the 3-4 front 7. The secondary could use some more pieces, more for competition (particularly at safety). Offensively, they had to look at the OL. There were some inconsistency there last year, but more importantly, the edges were getting old. The cupboard had some talent, but change was going to happen. The run game needed more explosiveness. IIRC, they have indicated that some of the blocking schemes will be changed to suit Ryan Grant’s skillset a bit more. Oh, they need to make sure the punting game is there. In FA, they lost Colin Cole. He was a guy that could’ve been a fit at the nose, so it was something that they would have to address at some point. They added Duke Preston and Anthony Smith. The former provides interior competition. I really wonder if Anthony Smith might have a shot at SS. I liked him a bit out of college, but he was miscast next to Troy Polamalu as a fit. I want to focus on what they didn’t do. Some indications pointed to the fact that Chris Canty was high on their docket and that they would’ve been willing to spend to nab him. Look, I understand that you can’t get your targets, but IIRC, indications were that their slow decision making process hampered this. Furthermore, let’s face it – FA contact is made. I understand Canty’s side getting scared after losing the Skins contract, but the Packers should’ve been more aggressive in making clear that they wanted him and were willing to pay. He was the ideal fit for them, a guy who not only fit the 3-4, but played in it. Certainly, I can’t judge an offseason by that, but it seems clear that they understood the 3-4 DE role (3-tech or 5-tech) was a concern.

    Let’s look at the draft. The top 3 OT’s came off the board before them. They sat still and picked up BJ Raji. No complaints there – good value, possible fit. I think BJ Raji can work as a 3-4 NT. It is worth pointing out, though, that late in the process, there were more people voicing concerns about Raji as being, in a way, soft and not physical enough for the nose spot. Personally, I think that, with 330 pound guys, there’s going to be plays where they struggle, and the draft process is so long that it gets ridiculous. It is something worth keeping in the back of the mind, though. Ideally, he has a good partner to rotate with and good DE’s to take some pressure off. In an odd way, Raji being out of shape wouldn’t be the worst thing out there. If there’s one position that can handle being out of shape a bit (not a lot, though), it’s the 3-4 nose spot. Casey Hampton hasn’t been the most in shape guy.

    Then, the Packers got aggressive. For a guy that typically isn’t aggressive (there’s a reason for Trader Ted), the rumors of the willingness to spend on Canty and the aggressive move to get Clay Matthews were interesting. Value wise, Matthews is fine here. They gave up a lot in the trade, but I never fault a team for aggressiveness unless it’s just really weird, and this isn’t that weird. He also, on paper, looks like a fit, but I am lukewarm on the pick. It has nothing to do with White Nation (the most overblown and idiotic pre-draft thing I’ve ever heard of in a long time) or the false rumors. I just don’t love him as a 3-4 rush backer. There’s this idea that, since Matthews played DE and LB, he’ll be an excellent 3-4 rush backer. He may be, but I am far from sold. I talked about “edge recklessness” with David Veikune. With the 3-4 rush backer, you want a guy that engages and attacks, with DE’s and in space. Matthews has shown recklessness on the football field before, particularly in special teams. Too often, though, when he was lined up on defense, IMO, he didn’t show that “edge recklessness”. With his athletic skill, sometimes he tries to take advantage of them and avoid engaging. I’ve talked to some people about this, and this was a concern. Add in that his frame is maxed basically, and there is some concern on how his body will handle the abuse that the position, in the NFL, will entail. Now, one counter is simple – top athletes, in college, often will try and take advantage of their athleticism/skills. In some respects, it’s the same issue with say, Matt Stafford and his arm. Another is that the Packers will likely put him on the weak-side (although part of me thinks he might be better off on the strongside, matching up with the TE in space). That said, if they are 1-gapping up front on the edges, that somewhat negates the weak-side benefit to a certain extent. Look, I want to end this long commentary on Clay Matthews with a few comments. He’s a solid talent, and he may very well excel in this role. Love the bloodlines, love the work ethic. I’m also not saying he’s a bad fit. I’m saying I thought he was a great 4-3 LB fit (any spot), and in the 3-4 OLB role, I think his fit was a tad overstated, but that’s me.

    The 4th round pick of TJ Lang was quality. Here’s a guy athletic enough to fit a zone scheme, but aggressive enough to work in other areas. It’ll be interesting how he gets worked. I see that he is listed as a G/T as of now. I really love the Quinn Johnson pick. Fabulous, love it to death. They need to get more physical, because that’s the best way to take advantage of Ryan Grant. Hall and Kuhn were nice, but Johnson is a much better lead blocker. I don’t care that they took him early 5th – we’re talking day 2 picks folks. You pick guys that you think fit, fill needs. Johnson does. Jamon Meredith was a solid value pick. A guy who was projected to go much higher (there were rumors in the last week that he had an outside shot at late round 1 – the Duane Brown effect on speculation/rumors), he offers depth on that OL. I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I know better than full-time scouts, so clearly, there are some concerns that they had (someone on IRC said he had some character questions – I don’t remember anything glaring as of writing this). If I had to guess at concerns, it would be that, for all his athleticism, his footwork needs, well, work, and he doesn’t provide that nastiness you might like inside. I think some things get overstated, though (I think he was effective enough in the run game) and that, good coaching can improve footwork. I also am really intrigued with the Wynn pick. Here’s a raw kid, but he has the frame to get near the 290+ range, and has shown an intriguing quickness/power match. Not a great fit in the 4-3, but a guy that could potentially be a solid fit in the 3-4 DE role, 1 or 2 gap. It’ll likely take some time, though. They finished with Underwood, who was a good late pick, but who I was lukewarm on (I don’t see starting potential at safety or CB, to be honest, as I don’t like his feet at corner, and I don’t like his instincts at safety, but if you get a useful DB depth pick this late, then you clap) and Brad Jones. Jones is a nice developmental talent that, if he shows well, can probably stick on the practice squad. What I like is he has shown some “edge recklessness” but isn’t strong enough to succeed. It’s hard to imagine a 4-3 team taking such a developmental SAM backer off a PS, and it’s hard to imagine a 3-4 team taking a raw edge guy, so if he shows well, he’s got a shot to stick around on the PS. Now, I don’t want to make too much of this pick – it’s an intriguing pick, that’s all.

    Before I go any further, I want to first say, this was a solid draft. To fit into the upper 2 categories, I have to personally like it, but I’m a guy writing on the internet. So please keep that in mind. I’m just not sure it was this home run draft that a lot of people are suggesting. The first factor is the fit of Clay Matthews, and the cost of Clay Matthews. The cost in moving up really limited what they could do. They could’ve snapped a Clint Sintim in the 2nd and added depth. Now, a lot of Packers fans have long wanted Ted Thompson to get aggressive, to target impact talent. Again, I think Clay Matthews is solid, but I’m hard pressed to buy the idea that Clay is a guy that will be much better than Clint as a 3-4 OLB (I preferred Clint, but obviously, in New York, we won’t know). The 2nd factor ties in with this – do they have enough on the trenches, both sides? Lang, Meredith, and Wynn are solid picks, but it’s hard to buy them as impact guys in the near future. The cost of Clay limited their ability, and I wonder if they wouldn’t have been better off sitting pat and making a small move up for Eben Britton in the 2nd and selecting a rush backer later. Or making a move up for a DE in the 3rd like Gilbert or Magee. For all the talk about the NT, the DE in the 30 front is just as important. Furthermore, with the Canty talk, they clearly placed some value in that and weren’t able to address it (which makes me wonder why they didn’t push on Igor Olshansky). The last thing is a look at organizational philosophy. When philosophies change, as they did this offseason with the Packers willingness to be more aggressive, it always begs the question of why, and were they effective in doing it. Clearly, Ted Thompson recognized that the huge defensive switch required him to be different. Was there too much focus on certain areas and not enough focus elsewhere? Their year 1 LB depth for the 3-4 isn’t that bad (to assume that Clay will be a star right away is iffy – few rookies are studs right away). 3/4th of the LB core was set (Kampmann/Hawk/Barnett – granted, long run, I question the fit of Barnett inside for the 3-4 and have small concerns on Hawk as well) and they had options and could’ve added competitors later. One counter is that, they have options on the OL and DL. I like Giacomini. I like Moll. Maybe the intent is to start Preston inside and kick Colledge outside (haven’t followed enough). Does this reshape their OL to take advantage of Ryan Grant? To that extent, should they have pondered adding a RB somewhere? Aaron Rodgers is the franchise, and he needed more from the run game. Have they done enough? I also like some of their DL pieces. Here, though, I have some philosophical concerns. They pursued Canty. Canty’s a 5-tech, 2 gapping DE. Now, they are, based on what I’ve read, going to mix it up a bit, and 1-gap some. Okay, why not pursue Olshansky for that role? Leaving all that aside for a moment, do they have the pieces? Harrell is an intriguing fit, but with Harrell, it’s prove it first. I like Pickett inside as a complement to Raji, so that should help in year 1 for BJ (as Ryan will likely move on after the year). I’m iffy on Jenkins/Jolly on the edge, I question the depth (Malone? Wynn?).

    Again, let me take one moment to note again, I thought the draft was solid. I see 2/3 starters (Raji may start off on the bench behind Pickett; I think Quinn Johnson and Clay Matthews will start). I also want to note again, I am but a guy writing on a website. They also made some intriguing UDFA pickups. Can’t help but be curious about someone that is Jerry Rice’s cousin The bigger pickups might be guys like Cyril Obiozor (good size/athleticism mix and has shown some edge instincts – to be honest, I like him better than Brad Jones), Ronald Talley (intriguing guy to challenge for DL depth), Jamarko Simmons (can he stick around with that depth chart? Good size/speed ratio), Tyrell Sutton (good instincts and quickness, poor straight line speed, but the quickness may help, reminds me of a poor man’s Ray Rice). A tryout guy is Jon Copper, and here’s a baller’s baller, a work hard guy who played in the 3-4 at UVA, is a bit undersized, but a guy who I could see sticking around in various roles, filling depth (this may be a case of UVA bias, and I clearly recognize his chances are slim). Travis Dekker is an intriguing, workmanlike TE that might find a way to stick around (although they have some solid depth). Carson Butler Jr. is an intriguing guy to bring in, a guy who does have athletic tools, but has some character concerns and consistency. I am a Brian Johnson fan and think that he can find a role in the NFL. A couple other intriguing guys, but we’re talking UDFA too much.

    So, what’s my outlook on 2009? In a positive scenario, the run game shows more pop, helping Aaron Rodgers out. James Jones comes back healthy, and Jermichael Finley develops, giving Aaron Rodgers loads of passing options. Someone steps up at OT, whether it be Colledge, Giacomini or someone else (there is talent), keep Aaron safe. Defensively, Capers is able to rotate guys enough that, even if there are some scheme adjustment issues, he keeps them fresh. Someone emerges on the DL (easy target would be Justin Harrell) and another edge presence steps up. Patrick Lee grows, Atari Bigby is back, and this is one of the more surprising defenses, making a rapid adjustment to be a solid unit. The talent is there. This leads to a surprisingly strong season and they are back in the playoffs, perhaps as a favorite. Gut feeling says that there are scheme adjustment concerns on defense and that the run game isn’t going to provide enough pop, making the NFC North a muddied, dogfight of a division. Some things to watch – it wouldn’t surprise me if they kept an eye on the waiver wire for trench talent in the upcoming months, or checked to see if a guy is slipping on another team. Another thing to ponder – can Brian Brohm (or Matt Flynn) develop enough in preseason. Good showings by those two may increase their value enough to allow Thompson to shop one of them next year in an effort to add picks for 2010.

    Pittsburgh Steelers: DL Evander Hood, OL Kraig Urbik, WR Mike Wallace, CB Keenan Lewis, CB Joe Burnett, RB Frank Summers, DL Ra’Shon Harris, C AQ Shipley, TE David Johnson. UDFA: QB Mike Reilly, OT Ramon Foster, FS Derrick Richardson, LS Mark Estermyer, WR Tyler Grisham, LB Tom Korte, QB Kevin McCabe, WR Demiko Goodman, LB Andy Schwartz, RB Issac Redman, DL Jeff Bradley, WR Steven Black, DT Steve McClendon.

    Certainly, coming off a title, everyone is riding high in the Steel City. This is an organization that largely builds from within. They’ve been effective with their system, transitioning coaches in and out, which is a testament to those in charge being able to recognize leadership. They entered the offseason needing to upgrade the OL, find a vertical WR, address the secondary, and add DL youth. No real FA signings of note, but again, no real big holes.

    They started off the draft with Evander Hood. I can’t help but wonder if they were looking at Eric Wood, who popped off the board before them. I like Evander Hood, I believe he can be a solid 5-tech candidate, and they were getting really old up front. They then traded out of the 2nd by picking up 2 3rd’s (and giving up their 4th). Can’t really complain about that. With those two 3rd’s, they picked up the workmanlike Kraig Urbik, who should be a solid interior player at the next level, along with a vertical threat in Mike Wallace, who, along with Limas Sweed and Martin Nance, should be able to find a way to help the Steelers attack downfield, whether by speed or jump ball to the big guys. I really like their next two picks, with 3rd rounder Keenan Lewis and 5th rounder Joe Burnett. I particularly like Burnett, who I this has solid instincts and can find himself a role. May never start, but a useful guy to have. Keenan Lewis is a talented corner who could be molded into starting potential. Frank Summers seems like he’s there to replace Gary Russell’s role. I also really like the Ra’Shon Harris pick as a sleeper 5-tech to mold. Again, youth was needed there. I’ve just got a hard time buying AQ Shipley succeeding in the pros. David Johnson is an interesting pick, but with their depth chart at TE, not sure if he can stick. I really like the signings of Ramon Foster and Mike Reilly. I wonder, if Dixon wins the 2nd QB job, if Reilly sticks around, although PS is more likely. Also mildly intrigued with the Kevin McCabe pickup, although I would place Reilly ahead.

    So … a team that filled needs, added youth, and grabbed value, while working the draft. I should like it, shouldn’t I? It isn’t that I don’t like this draft, it’s that I wonder about their OL, and at the end of the day, Ben Rothlisberger is the franchise. Color me not the most excited about Willie Colon and Max Starks as tackles, although I do think a guy like Tony Hills is someone to watch. Another concern would be NT depth (Hampton is getting up there and he wasn’t in the best condition, granted, he still dominated). This team should compete for the playoffs in the AFC again, provided Big Ben is standing, with a power run game and a solid passing game. The defense should again be quality.

    Cleveland Browns: C Alex Mack, WR Brian Robiskie, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, OLB David Veikune, ILB Kaluka Maiava, CB Don Carey, DB Coye Francies, RB James Davis. UDFA: OL Marlon Davis, LB Jason Venson, WR Jordan Norwood, WR Brent Casteel, P Chris Lynch, DB Bryan Williams, DB Bret Lockett, DB Nate Ness, TE Steve Brouse (Tryout), QB Graham Harrell (Tryout), WR Tre'dale Tolver (Try out) .

    It certainly was a shock when Eric Mangini bounced right back and landed not only the gig in Cleveland, but basically the whole show there, as they brought in a guy in Kokinis that would work well with Mangini. They’ve subsequently had a fascinating offseason, one that was easy to bash them on as it seemed like they were shopping the whole show. Certainly, a new regime has every right and opportunity to bring in their guys. Lost amidst everything was the fact that, well, they didn’t make many bad moves pre-draft. A lot of talk led to one quality trade (a 2nd for K2 is just fine), but the Rogers thing went away, and as the draft has now shown, Braylon Edwards and Brady Quinn will be there.

    The Browns had an active offseason before the draft. They wanted to restock their team with their guys (I wonder how Mangini mentor Romeo Crennel feels about Mangini doing this, although it’s more an indictment of Phil Savage). A lot of former Gang Green guys joined up with their old headman. Eric Barton and David Bowens offered them linebacker versatility. Neither guy is an impact player, but they are guys you can live with for a year and get decent performance from. They also added a decent 30 front DL talent. Certainly, Mangini walked into a situation where he had some pieces up there, so adding depth like CJ Mosley is solid. Hank Poteat has followed Mangini around. They also filled some other holes with guys like John St. Clair, David Patten, Robert Royal, Corey Ivy. An average offseason, as the offense and defensive secondary weren’t really addressed, so it was up to the draft.

    It seems like a lot of Browns fans are aghast at the results of the draft. I’m here to say it was fine. Not great, not bad, but fine. They made a decision at 5 to deal out. I don’t fault them for that. There wasn’t the edge value there, Aaron Curry was off the board, and if they didn’t deal Edwards, there was no real need to force a Crabtree pick, particularly if Crabtree was the diva that he was portrayed to be. I think if Tyson Jackson was there, they would’ve had to stop and think, as Corey Williams is coming off an injury and ineffective year, while Robaire Smith was coming off an injured season. BJ Raji was the only person to debate seriously. I like him, but there were plenty of people that questioned whether or not he was stout and consistent enough to man the nose in the 3-4 at a high level. I don’t have a problem with them dealing out, and the return was solid. A mid-first and 2nd was a solid return by itself, as the value was there in this draft, and the money was much better. Add in a potential starting safety (filling a hole) in Abram Elam, more DL depth with the capable Kenyon Coleman (another hole), and a young QB that the HC liked in Brett Ratliff, and the deal was fine. They dropped down to 17, and this is where I am going to start wondering. Look, swapping to the 19th spot for a 6th rounder is fine. Okay, you would hope for more, but in this draft, and with two pick swaps, the chart goes out the window. What I am wondering, though, is if they were targeting Larry English, but San Diego took him. Anyhow, swapping down isn’t that bad, but they did it again, picking up another 6th to let the Eagles move up. I have some questions on this move as well, as Jeremy Maclin would’ve filled a hole and offered upside. The pick of Alex Mack wasn’t a bad one. Maybe a small reach, but they got a solid center, and with Fraley last year being spotty, they were going to bring in someone. Mack is a solid, tough player that should be able to handle the physical AFC North defenses and lead that OL. They followed that up with an excellent 2nd round. Massaquoi and Robiskie are solid, tough receivers. Yes, there was some question on Massaquoi’s consistency, but he reminds me of a poor man’s Dwayne Bowe. Robiskie is a ready WR, someone they can stick opposite Braylon. As a WR trio, this is a suddenly very interesting group for their iffy QB trio. I like the Veikune pick a lot. I thought he was an excellent rush backer option, with the motor and toughness that was bound to intrigue a coach for the 3-4, and enough agility to drop. Solid move their. I’m lukewarm on the Maiava pick. Is he a 3-4 ILB? Don’t see it … and if not, they are drafting a backup/ST that high? If there’s a pick I don’t like, that’s the one. At that point, there were several intriguing CB’s, some TE’s that could’ve helped, and a couple intriguing RB’s, three areas of concern. I love their final three picks relative to where they were drafted. I really liked Don Carey, a smart, tough, but raw corner that fits the system. Coye Francies is similar, although I’m not as high on him and wonder if he is, in the long run, a FS. I wasn’t that high on James Davis as he’s a “soft” runner, but he has some physical tools that made him a good pick there. Haven’t seen any UDFA signings that really stand out to me.

    There are some questions that could be asked of the Browns, but this isn’t as bad as their fans are making it out to be. They filled holes with their moves, with the only question I have being whether or not their secondary got upgraded enough. I think there’s a good shot that Brett Ratliff ends up as the starting QB, which is alright as he offers a skillset that may be the best. They now have a very deep DL, and the LB depth is better. I think Wimbley will be better now that the DL is better, but only time will tell. Clearly, they need Wimbley and Jackson to be the studs, as I’ll be the first to say that it’s debatable whether or not they got impact guys. That said, it’s easy to forget that, typically, 3-4 rush backers are developed, and it’s just that, the proliferation of the 3-4 in recent years has changed that perception. So, I would watch Veikune. Overall, the defense should be solid, but this is an offense that’s depending on the old legs of Jamal Lewis, and this is an offense whose RT last year was one of the worst LT’s to run behind (in terms of YPC). Certainly, fair questions can be asked on how quick any of these WR’s can be expected to help. I don’t hold many expectations this upcoming year for them. If things break right (a CB or two step up, the run game is solid), then there is an outside chance at a wildcard berth. Very slim, though. In all honesty, this is a rebuilding year to allow Mangini/Kokinis time to see what they have, in the hopes of making a push in 2010-2011. Best case scenario, they picked up 4 immediate starters (1 CB, Veikune, a WR, Mack), although 3 is more likely.

    Arizona Cardinals: RB Chris Wells, OLB Cody Brown, FS Rashad Johnson, CB Greg Toler, OL Herman Johnson, DE Will Davis, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, OG Trevor Canfield. UDFA: WR Justin Brown, LB Chase Bullock, DB Tony Davis, CB Jameel Dowling, OL Khalil El-Amin, CB/KR Michael Ray Garvin, WR Shane Morales, OT Brandon Pearce, LB Reggie Walker.

    The breakthrough. Finally, the Cardinals put things together, got hot at the right time, had players step up. It came after what was an up and down year, where defensive and running game inconsistencies would’ve doomed them if it’s wasn’t for the horrible NFC West. The biggest moves this offseason had to do with the coaches. The defensive change that should garner attention wasn’t necessarily the release of Clancy Pendergast, but rather, the formal move to a fulltime 3-4. They had been shifting that way, but were in the process of gathering personnel. Is Billy Davis the right guy for the job? He certainly didn’t impress in his first go-around (San Francisco), although that wasn’t exactly a great situation. There were those Keith Butler rumors, along with potential Billy Davis to Kansas City rumors. Offensively, after putting things together, and with his ties to the Parcells coaching tree, Todd Haley was picked by Parcells son-in-law to head the Chiefs. Subsequently, Russ Grimm, who seems to have fallen back a bit in terms of HC prospects, was made into run-game coordinator (along with OL coach and AHC duties), and Mike Miller was made passing-game coordinator. To be frank, I’m not huge on the idea of split duties, but it has worked before, and Whisenhunt will take an active role.

    Personnel wise, the biggest question was at QB and WR, where Warner and Boldin’s future there were uncertain entering the offseason. Both are back (barring a surprising late Boldin trade, which I don’t anticipate) and both positions, QB and WR, had deep depth charts. Elsewhere, a running back was needed, with Edgerrin’s age and complaints needing to go, and Hightower looking like a short-yardage option only. JJ Arrington moved on, but that was fine. They did pick up Jason Wright, but that’s a depth move at best. Never panned out to be worth what they spent (a 2nd). TE likely wasn’t high on the docket, but they picked up Anthony Becht, and OL was probably depth at best (was surprised they were able to keep Elton Brown). At LB, they kept Dansby, but they did need a young edge guy (age there, and Travis LaBoy was cut post-draft). DL talent could be pondered, as Antonio Smith moved on. Adding a CB could be looked at, as Eric Green moved on (post-draft, Rod Hood was cut), and they accomplished this by signing the solid Bryant McFadden to go opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They also picked up Keith Lewis and lost Terrelle Smith and Monty Beisel.

    The main need entering the draft was at RB and they accomplished this with Beanie Wells, who was an excellent value pick and a guy who is a solid Grimm/Whisenhunt type RB. He’ll add more pop to the run game. Now, how much more? I’m not certain if Wells will break off those huge runs with consistency in the NFL, but he’ll be better than Hightower. To be safe, they’ll probably want a multi-back attack to protect Wells health early on. They followed this up with the excellent selection of Cody Brown. Brown was good value there, and a solid developmental 3-4 rush backer. He has some footwork issues, particularly in coverage, but he’s a guy that attacks, has “edge recklessness”, and has some explosion in him. Very solid prospect for the rush backer role, and he’ll have some time to develop. At this point, at the end of day 1, it was clear that Boldin was staying put, removing any WR concerns (not that there really should’ve been any, even if Boldin moved on, as they still had Breaston/Doucet and others).

    Day 2 started with Rashad Johnson, who they pondered in the 2nd. Excellent pick, and a good drafting decision, showing the organization is paying attention to more than 2009-2010, as Antrel Rolle’s contract takes a huge spike after this year, so Rashad may be groomed for the role. They followed this up with the fast-rising Greg Toler, who showcased excellent athletic ability in his workouts and had been steadily rising. The next DRC stuff is a tad ridiculous – I don’t equate them as similar talents, unless you simply want to say elite physical specimen. If so, I can find a lot of guys that I think comparing Toler to would be more appropriate. CB depth was something that needed to be pursued in some fashion. Both these picks shored up small areas of concern (CB depth and S future). They followed this up with Herman Johnson, a massive OL that was overhyped, but in the 5th, is a very solid pick, and with Russ Grimm there, I feel better about Herman’s chances. They added a solid DL talent in Will Davis … but how does he fit? Don’t think he has the athleticism for a rush backer role as anything more than a backup, but that is where they are listing him. I did think Will Davis was underrated, though, and in the late 6th, why not. They had as good a 7th round as you could get. The last pick was Trevor Canfield, a tough, nasty OL guy, a good gamble there. The pick I loved was LaRod Stephens-Howling. Leave aside the team guy stuff for a moment, and focus on the fact that the Cardinals need more explosion from the run game. He really could offer some of that. Who else on the roster offers that? The team proudly notes that it carried 26 former UDFA’s on their roster, so it is worth following the limited number of guys that they picked up afterwards perhaps. Brandon Pearce seems like a possible developmental/PS type talent for Russ Grimm to work with. Michael Ray Garvin’s athleticism could help in the return game.

    This was a solid draft. They’ve had a lot of solid drafts lately. I see one starter early (Beanie), and perhaps 1 starter late (Cody Brown), with some key depth pitces. They filled some key needs, added more OL depth (to go with Brandon Keith from last year). Drafts can’t fill every need, but I can’t help but be concerned about something, which is why this barely, just barely missed my “Drafts I really like category”. For all the talk about the 3-4, do they have the DL talent? Alan Branch hasn’t really panned out. I don’t love the idea of Calais Campbell as a 3-4 DE. Don’t buy him as that edge anchor. If they go 1-gap (I might’ve missed stuff), then depth is a concern (as Dockett/Campbell could be alright). That bothers me a bit, that they didn’t look towards the DL. It wouldn’t surprise me if Davis uses a multi-front, “hybrid”, base at some point (maybe he already has, haven’t been following enough) and thus, offered a defense closer to Clancy’s. For all his faults, Pendergast didn’t exactly have a consistently full deck, IMO, to do what was asked of him. I’m not saying they should’ve spent high picks on DL, but I wonder about the DL. Now, one thing I do like, though, is the team stayed focused on itself. It waited until after the draft, after they had added Beanie Wells/Cody Brown/Greg Toler to cut James/LaBoy/Hood. You want to see the team maximize their power, as long as they aren’t abusing it, and they had every reason to hang onto those guys until post-draft.

    Again, the offseason was solid. This team should be competing for the playoffs in 2009. No one should anticipate that they will run away with the NFC West. There is talent, but this team caught fire at the right time. Much as I haven’t pointed out negatives, one still has to question the OL, wonder if the run game can offer more pop, and as noted, I have some concerns on the DL. I think, in a positive scenario, they keep Warner standing, and Wells is a force. LSH perhaps adds some pop, Warner spreads the ball around, and the offense continues to churn. Defensively, I’m not sold the DL can dominate, but maybe enough rotation keeps guys fresh and more effective. They’ll look for the secondary, and in particular, DRC/McFadden/Rolle, to step up and offer protection, giving Davis the freedom to be more aggressive with his front 7. Cody Brown develops as the season progresses, perhaps taking a starting job late in the year, and the team wins 8-11 games and is in the playoffs again. I don’t see this team bottoming out in any way, but if some of the above concerns materialize, then they may struggle a bit more and miss the playoffs.

    It's not that these are losers, but I have some questions (random order):

    Washington Redskins: DE Brian Orakpo, CB Kevin Barnes, LB Cody Glenn, LB Robert Henson, TE Eddie Williams., Marko Mitchell. UDFA: TE Robbie Agnone, QB Chase Daniel, John Halman, OL Scott Burley, TE Devin Frischknecht, CB Doug Dutch, DL Antonio Dixon, C Edwin Williams, DE Derek Walker, WR Josh Briscoe, LB Robbie Palmer, John Halman, DL Brigham Harwell, S Lendy Holmes, WR Jaison Williams, CB Corey Small.

    After the splashy signings of Albert Haynesworth, and to a lesser extent, Derrick Dockery, along with the resigning of DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins decided, hey, let’s look at the quarterback situation. Look, if you truly believe that there’s another QB out there, a guy with star potential, then go for it, if you don’t believe your QB can get any better. Personally, I thought Jason Campbell deserved the job. Sure, he struggled down the stretch, when the Redskins OL fell apart and the run game sputtered. Sure, that seems to give the signal that, for all his tools, Jason Campbell is more of a game manager than he is a star QB. That said, they needed to give that a spin, and to stop the bleeding of picks. They missed on Cutler, and they missed on Sanchez, so let’s see how Campbell reacts, but I think he’ll be motivated (contract year and anger). They are really, by most accounts, banking on the uncapped season clearing up some of their financial issues.

    This wasn’t a bad team in 2008-2009. It just wasn’t a good team. The expectations got out of control after the hot start. If someone had said this record before the year, most would’ve nodded and said, okay, rookie Head Coach, not bad. This, though, was a crucial offseason, as the Redskins love drama. Already, there are rumors that Zorn has to get to the playoffs to keep his job, or some other guys will come walking on down (and perhaps taking full control, kicking Vinny Cerrato to the side). The Redskins had a solid defense, but they needed to improve the DL and get more impact. They needed some youth at secondary, and a rangier safety would be nice. Clearly, the OL needed a fresh infusion. The Redskins needed some more receivers, but made their bed at WR/TE last year with the drafting of Devin Thomas/Malcolm Kelly/Fred Davis, and they were going to have to live with it for the upcoming year. They also had limited picks, with the Jason Taylor trade really hurting, particularly since Taylor provided little and was let go. The Haynesworth/Dockery/Hall moves were critical, but a lot was missing. Mike Williams, who was supposedly 410 pounds, does not inspire confidence, to say the least, as an OT challenger.

    Orakpo was a guy they lusted after, and they ran that pick up there. He fills a big hole, as they needed some pass rushing help. The Redskins have one of the best DT depth charts (Griffin, Montgomery, Golston, Alexander), but they needed help on the edges where graybeards Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn were lined up at LE, with Andre Carter at RE. Chris Wilson showed some promise last year, but he doesn’t seem like an everydown guy. I preferred Brian Orakpo for the 4-3, and I think he could be a solid fit for Greg Blache, but he has to get more physical. I don’t see him as an elite pass rusher, but rather a solid guy with the potential to be a solid 2-way end. That said, he got manhandled at the POA too much, which may explain why they are debating him as a SAM backer. Kevin Barnes was a solid pick in the 3rd. The local kid has a lot of raw ability, but needs some pro coaching to work on technique. The Skins needed CB depth, and he will push Justin Tryon for the dime back slot. The Redskins executed a deal with the Vikings, letting the Vikings grab Jasper Brinkley, while the Skins dropped 8 spots to pick up an extra 7th rounder. I thought Cody Glenn was an excellent gamble. The raw LB has a lot of athletic ability and has shown the potential to perhaps be a solid SAM backer fit. He reminds me of guys like Antonio Pierce and Lance Briggs a tiny bit. Of course, Glenn has to go make a bigger issue out of the suspension thing. Now, one fair question to ask is this – if they are trying Orakpo as a SAM in year 1, why not grab an OT there like Tupou or Meredith. Heck, the big guards (Robinson and Johnson) are available. You aren’t finding your LT of the future that late, barring some luck, but a RT can be found there. I’m not sure what to make of Henson, but they certainly could use more LB depth, where Robert Thomas was potentially challenging for a starting job. Look, too much is made of late picks. If they really liked Henson, fine. Mitchell and Williams seem like depth/fodder. Not sure either guy makes it on the 53, although PS is possible. In terms of UDFA signings, they brought in two local OL guys in Edwin Williams and Scott Burley. Williams was the center they had targeted, and he’s a smart, tough interior guy who will be groomed behind Rabach, while Burley does offer a decent OL talent. I’ll be surprised if Williams doesn’t stick around – reports indicated they were superbly high on him, and they need depth inside. I am also intrigued with Jaison Williams and Derek Walker. Walker feels like a possible Blache end that is stout against the run, and Williams offers a talent to mold if the WR picks from last year bust.

    So, they picked up good talent, added depth, and filled needs. Orakpo should be a starter, with Barnes in sub sets. Not addressing OL until UDFA’s is a big concern, though. With Orakpo being looked at as a possible SAM, did they need those LB’s? I can’t help wondering if they’ll regret passing on Michael Oher. Heyer/Jansen/Mike Williams don’t exactly inspire confidence. A guy to watch may be Devin Clark. They could’ve use depth outside and inside (although Rinehart will likely get a shot to stick around as inside depth). If the OL falls apart, and Jason Campbell struggles, they’ll go into next season needing to find a QB of the future and a stud tackle. I also wonder why they didn’t look at adding a FS. In a best case scenario, a healthy Randy Thomas helps stabilize the right side of the OL. The run game is strong all year, Jason Campbell takes steps forward, and Thomas/Kelly fill roles (vertical WR, possession target). The depth at DT allows the Redskins to protect their LB’s and let their ends get to the QB more, thus protecting the secondary. All this adds up to an excellent squad … in a best case scenario. It’s also possible their RT hole becomes a big issue, the interior OL’s age catchs up to them. This would weaken the run game a bit, and put Jason Campbell under pressure. Gut says wildcard possibilities exist due to a strong defense and a potentially solid run game. I’d watch to see if any veteran OT’s get cut, if the Redskins jump in (a guy like Levi Jones comes to mind). I’ll always have some bias towards supporting the Skins, and I’d like to see the excitement in the DC area from a playoff run, but I’m not sure it is in the cards without a lot of luck.

    Oakland Raiders: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, S Michael Mitchell, DE Matt Shaughnessy, WR Louis Murphy, LB/DE Slade Norris, DE/LB Stryker Sulak, TE Brandon Myers. UDFA’s: LB Frantz Joseph, DE Desmond Bryant, LB David Nixon, WR Shawn Bayes, FB Joe Mortensen.

    Tom Cable took over last season, and the club showed improvement down the stretch. Entering this offseason, it seemed that there were some clear needs. A big play WR was needed. OL upgrades were needed. The defensive line could use some work, particularly off the edges. Safety upgrades could be sought, although Tyvon Branch should be given a shot to win a safety job, as he has the athletic tools to be intriguing there. They tried shopping some veterans to clear some room (Fargas/Huff). They retooled the roster’s depth, letting go of guys like Ronald Curry, Kalimba Edwards, Gibril Wilson, Kwame Harris, and Justin Griffith. They kept two key guys in Nnamdi Asomugha and Shane Lecher. They brought in Erik Pears, Marcus Johnson, and Khalif Barnes on the OL. For FA signings, they were a solid attempt at finding options up front. They brought in a veteran QB in Jeff Garcia, and a clipboard holder in Bruce Gradkowski. Ryan Boschetti and Jason Horton are depth options. I thought the Samson Satele deal was a solid gamble after Grove left.

    So … let’s get to this draft. A draft that will be bashed incessantly. Look, there’s not much more that can be said about DHB. The positional need was there … the value wasn’t. That said, let’s give a hat tip to the most underrated draft guy out there, Lance Zierlein, who called this months ago. Heyward-Bey has the potential to be a stud, and I think he’s more than strictly a fly route guy. The bigger concern are the hands consistency. I think he’s better than Troy Williamson and Devin Thomas. The Raiders then swung a trade with the Patriots, dropping 7 slots and picking up an extra 4th and 6th rounder. I thought the Mitchell pick was fine, and as we now know, the Bears were perhaps pondering him in the 3rd range. I trust Jerry Angelo and Greg Gabriel in figuring out defensive backs, so the fact that he was a relatively high grade for the Bears gives me confidence on Mitchell. Leaving aside the Bears interest in Mitchell, I will say that I liked him a lot myself. He brings the lumber and has shown decent-solid coverage capability. I have no problem with that pick at all. Felt that way on irc that day, and feel that way now. He’s an excellent guy to groom as a future strong safety, and perhaps has some potential to be a FS option as well. Then, we get to Shaughnessy. A solid, workmanlike player, he did fill a positional need, but I’m not a fan of this move. They needed pass rush help. I’m not sure Shaughnessy is it. Louis Murphy was a fine gamble at that point. In Norris and Sulak, whatever role they play on base downs is gravy, as their value will come from rushing the passer. I like both of those picks a bit. To close it out, they moved up 14 slots, giving up a 2010 6th rounder, and grabbed Brandon Myers, who looks like a solid 7th round gamble, but eh.

    This draft is going to be bashed repeatedly, and some of it is justifiable. I don’t think it’s that horrendous, although clearly, I have some questions. The first question that comes to mind is on the OL. That said, Cable is an OL guy and they did add 3 decent guys to challenge their. I don’t love it, but it could be alright. The 2nd question I have is DL, but they sort of made their bed at DT with Tommy Kelly and Terdell Sands. Did they get the right edge pressure guys, though? What Raiders fans have to like is that, the leadership did recognize the need for pass rushing help, and potentially added 3 options. Now, whether or not they were the best picks? That’s debatable, although I somewhat like the Norris/Sulak picks. Best case scenario, I think has this team pushing for .500 behind a strong run game. The OL protects Russell, allowing him to go downfield to some of his new weapons, opening things up underneath for Zach Miller. The defense, perhaps inconsistent, gets more pressure and protects the secondary. The brain says that the defense might be a bit too inconsistent, and that it is unlikely that their new WR toys will be of big impact this year. I do expect Russell to improve, but the question will be whether or not Al Davis has enough patience. If they let their kids develop with this coaching staff, there could be some hope come 2010-2011. Gut feeling is that there will be 3 starters, one SAM backer, along with DHB and Mitchell.

    Dallas Cowboys: LB Jason Williams, OL Robert Brewster, QB Stephen McGee, LB Victor Butler, LB Brandon Williams, FS DeAngelo Smith, S Michael Hamlin, K David Buehler, S/LB Stephen Hodge, TE John Phillips, CB Mike Mickens, WR Manuel Johnson. UDFA: QB Rudy Carpenter, WR Julian Hawkins, WR Kevin Ogletree, FB Jamar Hunt, FB Asaph Schwapp, G Travis Bright, G Greg Isdaner, G Michael Turkovich.

    It’s been the usual, intriguing offseason for the Cowboys. From the Dan Reeves issue to releasing Terrell Owens, there is always drama in Big D, even though they are attempting to find a more cohesive locker room. They jettisoned Brian Stewart as DC, but Wade is a capable DC, and let’s face it, the offense is Jason Garrett’s. This was a loaded Dallas Cowboys squad that failed to meet expectations. Almost everyone remembers how they were universally considered to be one of the preseason NFC favorites, if not the favorite. They swung that Roy Williams trade midseason, hampering this draft. Besides jettisoning TO and Pac-Man, they made some other moves. Chris Canty was up for FA and they let him walk and replaced him by signing Igor Olshansky, who Wade Phillips worked with before. That’s a fine swap, although it may point to a more active DL scheme. Kevin Burnett and Zach Thomas moved on but they signed Keith Brooking, who Wade has worked with before. Keith is a solid veteran. Brad Johnson was let go, but they dealt Anthony Henry for Jon Kitna. This is an upgrade. Tank Johnson was allowed to move on. They let Roy Williams (S) move on, and added Gerald Sensabaugh to replace him. They added Junior Siavii on the DL.

    Overall, the roster is still pretty loaded. Entering the draft, there weren’t any huge areas of concern. One area people pointed to was at WR. Some aren’t sold on Roy as the lead guy, and many aren’t sold on guys like Crayton/Austin/Hurd taking key roles. I don’t love the WR depth charts, but when you factor in Jason Witten, I think their passing game has more than enough weapons. If anything, the aging OL was an area that needed to be looked at. They did have some depth with a guy like Doug Free and Pat McQuistan, so it wasn’t a huge issue. More DL talent wouldn’t hurt. More safety depth would be nice. So, that needs to be kept in mind when addressing their draft. They had a load of picks to work with, but no 1/3/5 due to the Roy deal.

    As noted, no first round pick. They ended up dealing out of the 2nd. Based on the reports, it seems clear that their targets were off and they decided to deal back. They surprisingly passed on Phil Loadholt, although reports indicated they strongly pondered him. On the surface, I’m not against that idea, trading down, particularly for this draft … but with a loaded roster and too many picks, did they need more? Grabbing futures would be nice, but they got a 3rd/4th this year, solid value, but just adding to their number of picks. Thus, they waited until day 2, and the first pick was Jason Williams. Forgetting what they did in the 2nd, I like this pick. That said, they did miss on some DL talent that went right before. The athletic LB soared up the ladder with an insane pro day, but he’s a solid player who has shown good ability. I do wonder if he’s better off getting stronger and staying inside (to be honest, he reminds of Thomas Howard, and I thought Jason Williams ideal spot was in a 4-3). They followed it up with a pick of Robert Brewster for OL depth. I like that move as well. Brewster is raw, but he’s got an edge to him that should serve him well, provided the Cowboys develop him. I think he’s capable of staying outside, although perhaps more RT than LT. Only time will tell. It’s arguable that both these third rounders are mildly high, particularly Brewster, but it’s not huge.

    I love the Stephen McGee pick. Good value and an intriguing prospect. I swear, there were times that I looked at McGee and wondered if he wasn’t the better option, straight up, over Mark Sanchez (don’t get me wrong, Sanchez clearly had the better value, I’m just saying there were times McGee looked real intriguing for the next level). Drafting a young QB in the midrounds is ALWAYS a good idea, IMO. While Victor Butler may be a tad high, I liked the pick. Good locker room guy, Butler is a good developmental rush backer prospect. By itself, I like the pick. They then dropped down 3 spots, letting Tampa Bay moving up and snagging a 7th. Okay, loads of picks, but if they felt they could get the guy at 120, then why not? At 120, they took Brandon Williams, a guy who had pass rush instincts that a lot of scouts liked, but his average athletic ability makes his fit as a rush backer seem questionable. That said, solid value and not a bad pick … by itself. They then traded the 156th and 210th pick for the 143rd. Okay, I like it. They are getting aggressive, going after a guy. The pick? DeAngelo Smith. I really like Smith. He’s an aggressive DB that has shown solid instincts, overcoming his average athletic ability. He’ll be moving to FS full time, which I think he fits in at in this era of passing offenses.

    In Michael Hamlin, they got a guy that reminds me a bit of, well, Ken Hamlin. I think he’s a solid SS option, and reports indicate his frame can handle more weight. Tough, physical guy who, at SS, wouldn’t have any range concerns. I don’t mind the David Buehler pick. Seems a tad high and unnecessary, but the only concern is not adding a developmental player at another position. That said, it’s not a big deal and he adds competition. Too much discussion over a late 5th compensatory pick. They finished off the draft with Stephen Hodge, John Phillips, Mike Mickens, and Manuel Johnson. I really like Phillips, but can he force his way onto the depth chart? Solid blocker with soft hands, but average speed, he’ll be a nice safety valve. Sounds a bit like … Richard Quinn (I think Quinn was the better value, but where the Cowboys got Phillips, IMO, was a better value than where the Broncos picked up Quinn). I love the pick of Mike Mickens. Awesome selection. Just fricking awesome. Good enough to man on the edge, has good instincts, is willing to stick his head in there … but he is coming off that knee injury. That said, if the Cowboys can stash him away, this could be a “redshirt” year for Mickens and the Cowboys could have added to their excellent CB depth for 2010. Granted, the injury does bring in concerns about how that impacts his athleticism. I’m very curious about the Hodge pick. Solid team guy, and ST guy, so at that point, if you find a ST ace, solid. But I’m curious about the attempt to try him at LB. Didn’t love him as a SS, and not sure about him as a LB. Could he be destined for a Larry Izzo type career, a ST ace? I can see that. They finally add a WR in Manny Johnson and he is a decent 7th round pick, but to be honest, I find it highly unlikely that he’ll be anything more than PS (if at that). UDFA Kevin Ogletree is more intriguing than Manny Johnson to me. He’s the only UDFA that stands out so far. Maybe some OL guys stick, but eh, nothing too intriguing, IMO, on that front. Ogletree has some talent, some vertical speed, solid athleticism, decent height, solid hands. Rumors indicated that UVA coaches were glad he was gone, which might’ve hurt him a bit, along with his injury history. It’s fair to ask if UVA’s offensive schemes and UVA’s limited QB’s impacted his ability to produce more, but for him to go undrafted in this draft, there had to be some concerns that stood out to scouts. That said, it’s a solid gamble, a guy who was thought to be rising as a potential 3rd-5th rounder.

    The bashing of the “draft” is ridiculous. I liked it. I thought they got good talent, solid values for the picks they had and where they had them. People don’t “know” Jason Williams and Robert Brewster, so the immediate reaction is, eh. I’m not saying they’ll pan out, but what you don’t know isn’t necessarily bad. The Buehler pick gets bashed, but c’mon, all these picks, they might as well bring in kicking competition with an intriguing talent. People get too worked up over late picks. They picked up several “good” guys as well, which might’ve been a focus. Also, keep in mind their loaded roster. So … why is this in the “Not Losers” section for me? Namely, I question their execution, plan, strategy. A good draft should show that, and reports indicate that they missed several guys by a spot or two that they wanted. With all those picks, why not get aggressive? Detroit was shopping the first pick in the 3rd round – why not go after it and grab a DL guy? I also question the execution from the positions selected. In this case, the number of LB’s. I know, some have argued it’s protection against Ware issues, and to a lesser extent, perhaps looking for depth when Ellis gets moved. That’s all fine and dandy, but they have to be able to keep the guys around to have them as long run protection. If any of these guys look good, but the Cowboys aren’t able to hold onto them, then someone will snap them up, considering the number of 3-4 teams these days. I question some picks and fits as well (Hodge, Brandon Williams, Jason Williams, and maybe DeAngelo Smith) but that isn’t a huge issue. I also question why they didn’t try adding future assets with the number of picks. I didn’t like that they couldn’t find DL depth, particularly at the nose. Short of it is, I think the talent they got was fine for where they got them, but I question the overall strategy. Maybe they avoided some guys for character reasons (Loadholt), but the chances of these guys having impact this year, in a win-now time for the Cowboys, seems fairly questionable. There really shouldn’t be a starter from this bunch, and a lot of these guys likely won’t stick around. They are good pieces, so look for other teams to give them looks if the Cowboys can’t hold on. As a team for 2009, the Cowboys have all the talent to compete for the playoffs again. There should be a strong 3-headed running attack with enough passing options. I expect a more active DL, which could help potentially lead to more interceptions. If they miss the playoffs, the OL may be a culprit to look at, and maybe the young secondary (Jenkins/Scandrick) might be a concern, but the coaching staff will likely be dumped by Jerry Jones. I don’t think Wade is a bad coach (not saying he’s good either), as it is a rough situation for Wade to be in. I’m not sure if Wade is good enough as a motivator, at least, for this locker room.
    Last edited by toonsterwu; 05-02-2009, 06:11 AM. Reason: Louis is now listed as an OG. Small adjustment with Mitchell comment and Tyvon Branch comment added in.

  • #2
    Wow thats a lot of typing! Nice work homeboy


    • #3
      Awesome read.


      • #4

        The Brian Sabean sig is no more. I disagreed with you on so many levels. And then you went out and built a dynasty. I am lame.


        • #5
          Jerry Angelo said he was going to take Mitchell at 49?
          Originally posted by Scott Wright
          I honestly believe Reggie Bush has turned into exactly the type of player I envisioned.
          Originally posted by PossibleCabbage
          I would like it if there were more successful black Quarterbacks in the NFL...
          Originally posted by bearsfan_51
          iamcandian lives in a cabin in the Yukon Territory and writes letters to railroad barons about the price of hard tack.
          Originally posted by GatorsBullsFan
          I could possibly see Matthew Stafford Dropping out of the 1st round
          Originally posted by GoRavens
          Tahj Boyd has the best fundamentals of any QB in this class, I think his game translates great to the NFL.


          • #6
            Originally posted by BigBanger View Post
            Jerry Angelo said he was going to take Mitchell at 49?
            nah i think someone refuted that. they said they wanted him but 100% not in the 2nd


            • #7
              Originally posted by BigBanger View Post
              Jerry Angelo said he was going to take Mitchell at 49?
              What Angelo said was that the players he wanted fell off right before 49. He just didn't say who. I don't believe anyone ever refuted Mitchell's comments. There was a report that the Bears had Mitchell graded as a 3rd round talent and were willing to ponder him in the 2nd. The other person that was known to be a guy that the Bears were known to like a bit that came off right before was Darcel McBath.
              Last edited by toonsterwu; 04-29-2009, 04:17 PM.


              • #8
                awesome as always toon.

                are you adding in more teams when you get a chance or something? just wondering because you said 7 you liked and things like that.
                When I eat, it is the food that is scared.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by toonsterwu View Post
                  What Angelo said was that the players he wanted fell off right before 49. He just didn't say who. I don't believe anyone ever refuted Mitchell's comments. There was a report that the Bears had Mitchell graded as a 3rd round talent and were willing to ponder him in the 2nd. The other person that was known to be a guy that the Bears were known to like a bit that came off right before was Darcel McBath.
                  they posted that on the Larry Mayer blog:

                  I saw an interesting video on that said the Bears were going to draft safety Michael Mitchell with the 49th pick in the second round if the Raiders hadn’t taken him at No. 47. This was a pick that was highly criticized by all the experts as Mitchell was projected to be a late-round selection. Is there any validity to that assertion?

                  Ankur G.
                  Schaumburg, Illinois

                  Ohio safety Michael Mitchell was on the Bears’ “hot list” as one of nearly 125 players they were going to consider selecting in the draft. But I can tell you with 100 percent accuracy that there’s no way they would have chosen him as early as the second round.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Rob S View Post
                    awesome as always toon.

                    are you adding in more teams when you get a chance or something? just wondering because you said 7 you liked and things like that.
                    Yes, I am planning on doing all the teams. Best case is getting it down this weekend, although it'll likely drag over to next week.


                    • #11
                      AWESOME TOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! Imo ff to Vegas tomorrow wish me luck!
                      my scent? making love to a lumberjack
                      <TACKLE> i will ngata give you a bj raji
                      <+BOE> Scott, with Burfict's character concerns (whether legit or not) you think Pioli would draft him. :D
                      <+ScottWright> Why not. Baldwin does need a sparring partner...
                      Originally posted by Hermstheman83
                      What's with the hate on Ricky Stanzi? Those youtube clips of him with the hulk hogan theme music instantly make him better than Luck.


                      • #12
                        Toon, I will forever disagree with you on the Browns draft. I said it in the real IRC room, and I'll say it here too, we took solid players but they weren't needed.

                        We have an absolutely terrible linebacking corps and our avoidance of taking one angered me. Veikune is solid, however, contrary to what you said I can't live with Eric Barton and David Bowens, I'd rather see Alex Hall and Beau Bell play instead of them. So the Browns taking 2 WR's, passing on LB's like Maualuga and Barwin, as well as a CB like Butler infuriated me.

                        I was originally pissed about taking Mack instead of Clay Jr. because I am a long time diehard fan and Clay Sr. was a childhood favorite. However, farther removed from the draft I see Mack as a really good prospect. Granted, I do not see center as as big of a need as LB. I'd rather see Patten in the slot and Hank Fraley at Center than Eric Barton and David Bowens.

                        And don't get me started on that trade....



                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gay Ork Wang View Post
                          they posted that on the Larry Mayer blog:
                          okay ... I know that folks thought the Bears had him labeled as a 3rd round talent. It very well may be that Darcel McBath was the option that fell off right before, as that was another guy heavily rumored with the Bears. Anyhow, I've adjusted my comments on Bears/Mitchell.

                          Just to be clear, whether or not the Bears liked him had little to do with my perspective on that pick. I was fine with that pick anyways, a raw, but fairly solid 220 pound safety in coverage that brings the heat and has solid athletic potential is a very intriguing asset and I am fine with the Raiders taking him in the 2nd, particularly since this was such a bad draft at the top.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bored of education View Post
                            AWESOME TOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! Imo ff to Vegas tomorrow wish me luck!
                            good luck boe.


                            • #15
                              Excellent work. Looking forward to the rest of it.

                              sig by BK and avy by me
                              Originally posted by A Perfect Score
                              If a girl is sucking me off, and I look down and shes beating off a **** of her own, I am absolutely going to tell her to stop. 100% of the time. Explain that ****.



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