Wednesday, August 09, 2006

2006 NFL draft diary

I don’t know why I decided to keep a draft diary. The idea only occurred to me only shortly before the draft. Its not nostalgia for my two trips there (write up of 2003 adventure available). Anyway I tuned in on ESPN. I’m not a big fan of Mel Kiper, while he admits he makes mistakes (although the only one he brings up is Andre Ware) no one ever goes back and checks his predictions. Mel does put a lot of time, but he is only one who does this so we have no idea if he is actually good – maybe someone else would be better. I do know when he breaks down NFL team needs for the draft I tend to disagree as much as I agree (admittedly that is not his bread and butter).

ESPN starts with some stupid music video type intro. They’ve been annoying me lately, the need to remember they are a sports network (more news, less entertainment). And Sportscenter broadcasters are not celebrities. That said they now keep their little scroll going throughout the commercials so if a pick comes you will know instantly. The network remains the only reason to get cable.




I would have gone with Bush, but Williams is not a blunder the way some have represented. While I had them 1 and 1A, I don’t think Bush will be as great as so many expect. He beat up on crappy Pac-10 defenses and didn’t look spectacular against a real defense in UT. I also wonder about his intelligence not only because of that insane lateral in the Rose Bowl, but also because he handled that whole his parents free house issue terribly (you can blame the agents for not telling him what to say, but a smart guy can handle himself). Furthermore he wasn’t so great to be a multiple year starter and had LenDale White taking a bunch of carries and yards, especially inside. Makes one wonder how complete of a back he can be. Williams also has some issues, heart questions related to the fact that he got most of his sacks in bunches against crappy teams. That said I do tend to value a good defensive lineman more than a running back, although a once in a generation explosive talent that can totally change a team is tough to pass up. To win a game you have to take risks, and you have to in order to build a great team as well.


ESPN just mentioned that the 49ers had spoken the Saints about trading up to get Bush. My first reaction was negative as running back is one of the few positions we are not thin at and the roster need lots of depth so giving up two first-rounders will hurt that. However San Fran needs some type of playmaker on offense and had the made that move I would have supported it. As for the Saints, Bush was no brainer pick, anyone else would be a huge mistake. The question now is what to do with Deuce McAllister (ironically picked while they still had Ricky Williams), trade seems obvious. The first team that leaps to mind is Indy. Saints could get the 30th overall pick and possibly a late rounder, not bad for a guy with injury issues coming of knee surgery. He has a long-term deal so the Colts could get him under the cap (as the signing bonus cap space would stay in New Orleans).


Mistake!! Vince is going to be bust. Bad throwing motion and more importantly he was a guy won with his feet in college, not his arm. I never saw a quarterback who could read NFL defenses. For the record I think Cutler is going to be the best QB to come out of this draft (Leinart is next of the big three. Weak arm or not he is smart, and that matters more in the end.), but you knew no one would take him here. No NFL GM would have the balls (I would) as that is a move that could end you career. Smart move would have been to trade down a little ways because no one is going to take Cutler anytime soon. I don’t like getting rid McNair (who supposed the Ravens are desperate to get) either. I feel he is a future Hall of Famer who still has plenty of ability. The best case scenario for Tennessee would to be renegotiate with McNair and let him play for a couple more years (as Young will need at least that long to be ready to start in the NFL). McNair does have injury issues which would be the only justification for cutting him (he did play 14 games last year). Volek can hold down the fort admirably for a few seasons and could be a long-term starter for some team if they trade him if Vince is ever ready.


Kiper just compared Leinart to Joe Montana. I don’t like comparing rookies to Hall of Farmers, but especially not comparing them to the best QB ever (that’s not bias, Joe was the best – although my defensiveness about it may be). I don’t know what I would do here. I think a healthy Pennington is a great NFL quarterback, although I know we may never see that again. Moving down the chart I think Ramsey can be pretty good once he mentally recovers from the Washington madhouse. Jets have lots of holes and won’t be playing for the playoffs this year so they should be collecting talent. Either Ferguson or Leinart would have made sense here. I’ve heard Ferguson is not that nasty, but a great tackle is irreplaceable. Still probably should gone with Leinart, no position is more valuable.


They should have taken Leinart, Rodgers is not an NFL starter. Hawk will be a good linebacker, but not someone who make a team.


At first I was hoping the Niners would get Williams, and once it became clear there was no chance he would fall I was hoping for Hawk. I kept imagining how the draft could break down so he would slip past Green Bay (we need defensive help everywhere – corner most of all, but there are not any worth the sixth). When I first started seeing mock drafts with San Fran taking that fast TE Vernon Davis I was sick to my stomach. A TE at 6?! However as I started to think about it more (I could not come up with a scenario that Hawk would fall so I had to consider it) and reflected on the fact that this is the least talented team in the league (yes, 32nd overall for both offence and defense) and have no playmakers on offense, at this point they should just be taking best talent available regardless of position. You can have a good offense with a TE as your best receiver (see KC or San Diego) and Antonio Bryant is not a #1, but could be a good second option. I’m not sold on Smith at all yet, but he may work out, so passing on Leinart was for the better. Hopefully Davis can serve as a security blanket for the young QB.


In some ways this is a good pick, to me Huff is the most likely Hall of Famer in the draft, I would have lived with the 49ers taking him very easily. I would have taken Leinart though, he shouldn’t be falling this far and the Raiders are not going to win many games with Aaron Brooks, unless he suddenly regains the form he had early in his career (which made me think he could be a multiple pro-bowler) – possible if he had more talent around him than he did with the perpetually floundering Saints (not that he will in Oakland).


Whoa!!! Not only this is a huge reach it makes no sense as the secondary is probably the deepest spot on the defense (and possibly the team). This guy better work out.


Leinart’s agent was just interviewed and tried to shovel the manure back into the horse. Detroit should have taken a quarterback because it will only take about half the season for them to realize that Kitna and McNown are not the future. Furthermore if you are going to take a defender Bunkley is the best one out there. I know they need help at linebacker, but defensive linemen are more valuable and he could team up with the talent they already have there

Plus Sims has a tendency to overpurse. I don’t like this pick.


Makes sense as Kurt Warner can’t last possibly last sixteen games. I would have thought of anyone that Denny Green would have had the intelligence and guts to take Cutler before Leinart. So the golden boy falls to ten when he would have been #1 overall last year (and would have made me feel better than Alex Smith). That’s a lot of money and he will be bashed for the decision. Matt’s been taking a lot of heat lately for supposedly being a cool LA guy who does not love the game. That I don’t buy, he went back into college to win, that says a lot to me. Still he left a bunch of money on the table, a least he did not plummet the way Aaron Rodgers did last year. That was painful even for me. Kiper says Matt was #3 on his overall list (#1 QB), odd he never mentioned that while the guy was falling isn’t it? He again compares him to Montana. Bah.


Shannan figured it out, trading to get up. Steve Young some on the air to declare he liked Cutler the best too: “he’s a football player.” Jaws also likes him best of the big three. I liked him because I tend to value QBs not from big programs more because if the get a good rep while surrounded with no talent it means more. Cutler is a classic pocket quarterback, he has a good arm and is smart in reading defenses. Plus he is going to be able to ride the bench for a season to learn the NFL game, which is what every team should do. Plummer can play for another year just to confirm he will never win a Super Bowl. Plummer is getting older too, the whole team is – Rod Smith is 36, so this is the first step to building the next generation (Lelie will be gone and Bell is injury prone). Michael Irvin and Tom Jackson liked Young best (I rest my case with Irvin, he’s an idiot, entertaining, but little more).


My buddy from Cleveland just called me to celebrate the Browns taking Bunkley. Then they made a good move trading down and picking up an extra sixth rounder. Let Baltimore take the run stuffer (Ngata) and hopefully that will shut up “Slash” Lewis complaining about not being protected by the DL.


Wow I am surprised they passed on Bunkley, to me the most complete lineman in the draft. I guess they felt ancient Ted Washington (38) will last a while and they could focus on getting a pass rusher.


Winner winner we have winner. Add bonus it was rumored Philly was thinking about trading up to eight with the Bills for Bunkley. The Freak, Darren Howard (underrated – one of the best DEs in the league), Cole, Grasmanis, Jasper, Rayburn, Walker, Patterson, and now Bunkley (Thomas is on his way out and McDougle is a bust). That is a hell of a DL – pretty much any of them are better what the Niners have. ESPN points out three FSU defenders have now gone. Surprisingly given that their defense was not outstanding last year, although that mainly due to an awful secondary.


Rams needed a corner, makes sense. Mel chimes in with that the everyone thought the Rams would have good corners going into last year but it turned out to not be that way. What was I saying about him not really know much about the NFL? In August of 2005 were you thinking the Rams had good corners? Was your dad? Your brother? Your friends? Your girlfriend? Do you even know the names Jerametrius Butler or Travis Fisher?


Weird: Chris Berman points out that now we are to teams with winning records. No teams finished 7-9 and only one (Atlanta) was 8-8. Hill, the guy the Rams took, is 5-9, this guy Allen is one of those taller CBs. Everyone wants one, but I think a lot of guys thinking they are drafting a corner will even up with a safety (my guy Huff included). You would rather have someone tall out there, nothing is more annoying then seeing a ball fly over your guy’s head when he in position, but a team is better off drafting some you know can cover. College safety to NFL corner is a tough transition, and a lot of these long legged guys just don’t let you change directions that quickly. Irvin actually just said Allen is a NFL safety. Looks as though the DB run as started.


ESPN replays Vikings botching the seventh pick in 2003. I was there for that and it brings back memories everyone there looked around at each other, no one had ever seen this before; nobody had any explanation: we were all laughing (save those fans of the franchise in Minnesota). And memories of greeting one of the two Vikings fans in my department (in Washington DC – who knew Vikings traveled) with “Hey Jason…how many Vikings executives does it take to make a pick? Evidently one more.” As for the pick it is not bad, although I would have thought they would maybe go for a RB (I’m not a Chester Taylor fan and after next season neither you won’t be either) rather than a LB as their defense is better than their offense. They need a QB of the future because Brad Johnson isn’t bad, but is old and has always been injury prone or some WR depth because they are banking on Koren Robinson, but there is no one at that position worth this spot.


Makes sense to get another linebacker as they run the 3-4, although given their thin secondary they might have taken a DB. I’m happy they passed on that position as the 49ers pick in four spots and I don’t want a run on them.


Four Seminole defenders now. Ironically after my last comment it is a corner, but this dude didn’t play a game last year (knee injury). I don’t remember thinking he was all that great. The Chargers have spent a bunch picks on DB the last few years (one they just traded to San Fran for one of our busts), maybe this one will work out. Or maybe not as the talking heads are bashing the pick saying he was playing against crappy QBs in his highlights.


I expected the Chiefs to take a DB, but there is no spot on defense Kansas City doesn’t need an upgrade (although they need an end a lot less then a corner). Hey, more options for San Fran. Just as a note: when they played the guy’s highlight reel as they do after every pick on of his highlights was getting a sack when no one touched him – what a stud.


At this point my friend called from Italy, so I was on the phone as I watched for the next 6-7 picks. Anyway Dillon is getting old as evidenced by all the time he missed last season, so taking a back makes sense (other options would be corner, linebacker, or receiver, but there was less talent at those positions). However of the four big name RBs after Bush I rank them in this order: Williams, Addai, Maroney, and White. Williams is the best pure runner, Addai is the most versatile, White looked to be a good power back but has had a bunch of issues since the season ended.


Well so much for hoping the DBs would last. I admit this was unexpected, but as I said earlier they need help everywhere and that certainly includes passrush as Peterson and Carter left as free agents. Manny Lawson was a DE at NC State, but at 240 he will hop to outside linebacker to replace Julian Peterson in our 3-4. San Fran will be thin at CB again, they don’t pick again until midway in the third rounder (they traded their second and first third for this pick) and you just don’t get an instant starter there.


First offensive lineman since Ferguson at four, and that is an unusually long wait. Also surprisingly it is not Winston Justice the tackle from USC projected to go 10-15 (but he is a pothead with an attitude). Bucs get a blocker for Cadillac and Simms Jr., call it a need pick.


At some point in every draft the names stop to have meaning to fans. When I was at the draft and went the second day there were a few “experts” who knew these guys, but most of us were mainly just judging if the position of the pick filled a perceived need. I’m not a big college football guy (besides UF) and it as reached this point for me. I don’t know Jonathan Joseph, but I do know the Bungles defense is not that great. The main problem is they are soft in the middle against the run, but credit to Marvin Lewis for recognize his corners are not that good despite the fact he has been able to get by with James and O’Neal (O’Neal is the weak link – gambles too much).


Everyone said it was a weak WR draft, but I did not expect it would take this long for the first to go. The Steelers just traded up to take Santino Holmes. Smart move to avoid the Gator Chad Jackson, who most had as the best of a sorry bunch. As I said before (check my blog) I don’t think Jackson is a first rounder. This was guy who, despite leading the SEC in catches, the other coaches did not respect enough to vote him to 1st team All-SEC. Again I don’t want to bash Chad too much, he can be an NFL starter, but just not a #1 option (and thus not a first round pick) – put him opposite some and he will work out quite well. Anyway Pittsburgh has someone to put opposite Ward and with Miller (the TE) is his second year Holmes should not have too much pressure, which is good because rookie receivers rarely do much. Just as a note in 2003 (the first draft I went to) it wasn’t until the 23rd pick that the first RB was taken, which is also a long wait. It was Willis McGahee. Larry Johnson went to KC four picks later.


Good move by Buffalo. After botching the 8th pick by not strengthening the center of their DL with Bunkley, they trade with the Bears and get a DT, although the experts say he is a reach. Rarely do I knock a team for trading down, but Chicago, despite their record last year, are not so good they can afford to be sitting on their roster (not many free agent moves either). I bet they take a step back and don’t make the playoffs this season.


Happy trails Stephen Davis, you were an underappreciated, borderline great back, but now you are old and gone. In an example when a need and a talent match DeAngelo Williams steps into a great situation. Panthers know what the are doing: Foster will probably sign his one year tender and be change of pace guy (a good way to try to keep his injury prone self on the field for 16 games) for a year until the know Williams can handle the job full time. With Williams and Meshawn to take pressure off Steve Smith this will be a much better offense next year. The defense did lose Ricky Manning and downgraded at linebacker (Diggs and Adams for Witherspoon), but if Kris Jenkins comes back and teams with running stuffing FA signee Maake Kemoeatu the defense will still be solid. I think I am picking Carolina as my Super Bowl winner again this year.


At this point in the draft good teams are just filling out their rosters. Jax doesn’t necessarily need a TE, but they have no enormous holes (12-4 remember). They could use someone to eventually replace Fragile Fred and a second corner, but getting a quality TE makes as much sense as anything else – after their starter is Kyle Brady who has never been mentioned as one of the league’s best.


Jets take another offensive lineman. With better blocking maybe they can squeeze another year out of Curtis Martin.


Addai is the most complete back of the four after Bush. He is the one who makes the most sense to replace James as he easily is the best receiver.


Definitely a need pick as they let two starters go and Hamlin is coming back from getting his head broken in a bar fight. Mel Kiper informs us he is a safe pick.


DE is not really a need spot for the Gaints, they need a WR far more as Toomer doesn’t have much left. Gaints have a number of places were they have okay, not great, starters – DT leaps to mind. Strahan is getting up there so if this guy can eventually replace him it is a good pick, which must be the rational. They just took a DE in the third round last year.

Okay the first round is over. I’m surprised Winston Justice and Chad Jackson (a surprise given all the buzz he had) are still on the board (and to a lesser extent LenDale White). Only one receiver in the first round and not many trades (and none involving players or first rounders next year).

I’m still watching, but I know no one cares about the second round (if they did about the first) and I have a boring paper about politics in Poland and Italy to write (oh that’s right I’m supposed to be doing something with my life – stupid grad school). Also as an aside have you ever you heard the phrase “politics in Poland and Italy?” Me neither.

I want to close with another prediction – Charlie Whitehurst from Clemson will be a very talented NFL quarterback. I would say Brodie Croyle, but I don’t trust his health.


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