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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jeremy Jarmon Supplemental Pick

Kentucky's junior defensive end Jeremy Jarmon was the only selection in the mid-July supplemental draft. He was taken in the third round by Washington. The Redskins now forfeit their 2010 third round pick. Jarmon declared for the draft after he was ruled ineligible for his senior year because of a failed drug test. He had a positive test for a banned diuretic dietary supplement he purchased at a health food store. Jarmon has graduated with a degree in political science. Prior to his suspension, he decided to return for his senior year after a mediocre grade report from the NFL evaluation committee. The athletic defensive end is a good fit for the 'Skins' 4-3 scheme as he played left end for the Wildcats and at times was reduced inside to play defensive tackle. Productive over his career, he had 17 1/2 sacks in three years. He was red-shirted his freshman year for development and started 31 of 38 career games. Jarmon has been timed under 4.80 seconds in forty yards and shows first step quickness with 1.64 seconds in the 10.

THE WAY WE SEE HIM: Has all the athletic numbers and production to succeed on the next level. Thick build and butt to stack double teams. Needs more upper body strength to lock out and separate from long-armed offensive tackles. Question his instincts. Loses ball on occasion. Can bend his knees and get push and play with leverage. Needs to be under control when stunting and twisting. Flashes production, but will run by ball carrier. Does an excellent job of getting his hands up when rushing the passer. Has batted down several passes over his career. In 2008 he was second on the team in pass deflections. Can improve his hand strength and his use of hands to disengage blocker. Flashes the tools to play on Sundays, but needs to be more consistent as a tackler, backside pursuit effort, and first step quickness. Solid third round pick.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009 NFC South Draft Review

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcon defense was the focal point of the draft with seven of
the eight picks selected to add a few starters and upgrade the
depth in the secondary. General Manager Tom Dimitroff and Head
Coach Mike Smith accomplished many things and overcame
adversity like many teams have never seen. Now the pair can do
what no GM and coach combination have done in Atlanta history
– produce back-to-back winning seasons and earn a place in the
playoffs two years in a row. Tony Gonzalez will be a major player
in accomplishing those goals. Linebackers Mike Peterson and
Spencer Adkins fit into the 4-3 scheme. Three defensive backs
headed by William Moore were another priority that was filled in
the second, third, and fifth rounds. The Falcons’ top choice,
Peria Jerry, is disruptive in his play and was a major need to
upgrade the defensive front as was lesser known Vance Walker.
Peria Jerry is a one gap explosive player that is intense and
plays with good leverage. He upgrades Grady Jackson who is
now in Detroit. He controls the line of scrimmage with good hand
use and lateral quickness. William Moore was drafted to replace
Lawyer Milloy who was not re-signed. He has all the skills and
range to be successful on Sunday. Moore is big, fast, and athletic
and can play the run in the box or play deep coverage. Chris
Owens will compete for the right cornerback position. A physical
player, he has good athletic ability. Despite his size he is a good
tackler in run support. He may start out as a nickel corner and
make his mark on special teams’ coverage. Lawrence Sidbury
has a chance to get on the field early in his career because of the
underachieving pass rush ability of Jamaal Anderson. He has
excellent first step quickness and some interesting tools, but is
raw in his overall game. Corner William Middleton is a sleeper
selection that was not invited to the Combine, but showed up
strong in pre-draft workouts. He is athletic with good straight
line speed (4.46/40). He’s a developmental prospect with kickoff
return ability. Garrett Reynolds is an angular developmental
tackle that is long and loses functional playing strength when he
plays high. He needs to add bulk and strength to have a future in
the league. Spencer Adkins is a developmental workout warrior
that started five games at Miami. He has questionable instincts
and struggles to shed blockers. He is likely a practice squad
candidate. Vance Walker adds depth to the defensive line. A
sleeper pick, he has good upper and lower body strength. He
should work into the front rotation with his functional strength
and the ability to fight double teams. GRADE: AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: The biggest off-season acquisition for the
Falcons was the trade of a 2010 second round pick for All-Pro
tight end Tony Gonzalez. Mike Peterson played for Mike Smith at
Jacksonville and will start at strongside linebacker. Brett Romberg
will back up Todd McClure at center.

Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers are talented and have the fire power to
make another Super Bowl run. However, they are in a very
competitive division with New Orleans and Atlanta. Tampa Bay
appears to be in a rebuilding mode. Long time Indianapolis
defensive coordinator, Ron Meeks, will tweak the defense. The
running game will remain strong with Jordan Gross up front and
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart hammering the ball
between the tackles. Steve Smith remains as a premier feature
receiver and Jake Delhomme’s first passing option. The Panthers
addressed its two top draft priorities in the defensive line by
drafting pass rusher Everette Brown and tabbing defensive tackle
Corvey Irvin. Secondary help was also added with utility corner/
safety Sherrod Martin. Everette Brown was drafted in the second
round, but Carolina gave up a 2010 first round pick to select him.
He slipped to the second round because of his fringe height, not
because of his ability. Some ball clubs were unsure if he was an
outside 3-4 linebacker or a four-man front end. It was undeniable
that he was blessed with excellent initial quickness and an
outstanding first step. The Panthers knew that his athletic ability,
productivity, and burst were too good to ignore, especially with
an uncertain Peppers’ situation. Sherrod Martin is a versatile
and athletic defensive back that can play press corner or safety.
He’s active and physical in run support and on special teams.
Corvey Irvin adds depth to the defensive line. He is strong enough
to get inside pressure. A knee bender that can push the pocket,
Irvin is a physical player with long arms. Mike Goodson is a
complementary back that can change up from the power running
of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. He is elusive with
good hands and flashes a burst to turn the corner. If he stays
healthy and competitive, his natural speed and talent will get him
on the field. Fullback Tony Fiammetta will be battling veteran
Brad Hoover for playing time. He is very similar to Hoover as a
hard-nosed lead blocker that has reliable and consistent hands
to catch the ball as needed. He will contribute on special teams.
Duke Robinson was a steal in the fifth round if he works and
plays to his ability. He is a good fit for the power running attack
with his long arms and big hands to engulf and maul a defender.
He has the talent to start as a rookie if he stays focused and will
compete. Captain Munnerlyn is a fringe athlete that has some
hip stiffness in his turns. A tough and aggressive corner, he will
add depth and contribute on special teams as a returner and
coverage player. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: The Panthers put the franchise tag on Julius
Peppers, but Peppers has not signed the tender at press time.
Jordan Gross did get his deal done with $54 million over six years.
He is Carolina’s best offensive lineman and the leader up front.
The losses were depth on both sides of the ball that were filled
with draft choices.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints filled two holes in the secondary with
draft selections Malcolm Jenkins and Chip Vaughn. Fourth round
pick, Stanley Arnoux’s pro career was put on hold after an injury
in rookie mini camp. Sean Payton set the bar unrealistically high
for the Saints’ faithful by making a run to the NFL Championship
in his rookie season as a head coach in 2006. The natives are
restless after two consecutive disappointing seasons and ache
to be a part of the Super Bowl experience. Payton’s offense is led
by Drew Brees, one of the leagues’ most competitive and
productive players. The running attack needs to be elevated to
more than an after thought. The defense has taken a big hit the
past two years and now aggressive minded Gregg Williams gets
his chance to stop the bleeding and help New Orleans win the
NFC South Division. Malcolm Jenkins was the best combination
corner/safety in the draft and he played right into the Saints’
wheelhouse. The big athletic corner will get a shot to start at
corner, mainly to match up with the big wide receivers in the
division. Tracy Porter played well before he was injured and lost
for the season. Jabari Greer played solid for Buffalo and will
compete with Jenkins. Chip Vaughn is another rookie defensive
back that will have the opportunity to compete for a starting
position at safety. He is big, athletic, can run, and is physical in
the run game. A tough and aggressive impact hitter, he is
disciplined in his play which will endear him to Williams, the
Saints’ defensive coordinator. Stanley Arnoux ran into some hard
luck in his first rookie mini camp practice by rupturing his left
Achilles tendon. He is expected to miss the 2009 season. Arnoux
had the athletic skills to play in the middle or on the weak side in
the Saints’ 4-3 scheme. A three down linebacker, he is instinctive
and aware in both the running game and in coverage. A playmaker,
he has quick feet and good lateral quickness. Thomas Morstead
will compete with Glenn Pakulak for the Saints’ punting job. He
has good leg strength, averaging over 44 yards as a junior. He
will also contribute as the backup place-kicker. Morstead was
coached at SMU by former NFL special teams’ coach Frank Gansz.

FREE AGENCY: Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma signed a fiveyear
$34-million dollar deal with seventeen million guaranteed.
Vilma is a smart three down linebacker that is key to Williams’s
defensive scheme. Darren Sharper was signed to give a veteran
presence and groom young ascending safeties. Heath Evans will
start at fullback. The remainder of free agency signings were
veterans to add depth; Dan Campbell (TE), Rod Coleman (DT),
Darnell Dinkins (TE), Jabari Greer (DC), Nick Leckey (OC), Paul
Spicer (DE), and Anthony Waters (OB).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay is in a head coaching, offensive and defensive scheme
transition. There will be some growing pains for Raheem Morris,
the Bucs’ new head coach. Compounding the numerous
organization changes, Tampa Bay plays in the tough NFC South
where the teams always compete like dogs in a meat house. There
was not much money spent in free agency, but Derrick Ward is a
solid NFL running back. Josh Freeman, the first pick for the new
regime, maybe the face of the franchise if he lives up to his midfirst
round selection. He was a reach as the 17th pick in the draft
mainly because of his decision making and his accuracy combined
with anticipation. Fundamentally, his footwork needs more balance
with crossover and rhythm steps. Also his playing instincts are
questionable. He has undeniable tools to play on Sunday, but is
years away in a complex offense. Roy Miller is a high effort, blue
collar athlete that works to finish plays. He will have a chance to
work into a front rotation with aging Ryan Sims and Chris Hovan.
Miller is intense and competitive. A good technique player, he is
always around the ball. Kyle Moore can play end, but is light in
the britches to play and anchor at defensive tackle. He has an
angular build with long arms and big hands and needs more
upper and lower body strength. A developmental project, he has
decent measurables. Xavier Fulton is the sleeper of the Bucs’
draft if he can overcome past shoulder problems. He possesses
outstanding athletic ability with long arms and big hands. He
has experience at both right and left tackle. He has left tackle foot
quickness. Fulton shows good use of hands to punch and control
defenders. He should eventually be the swing tackle. E.J. Biggers
is a speedy corner that runs in the 4.40 forty range. Competitive
and focused, he has good leaping ability when matched up
against big receivers. He has good upper body strength, putting
225 pounds up nineteen times. He will compete for a nickel corner
position and special teams coverage spot. Sammie Stroughter
is an undersized receiver with fringe speed. Quicker than fast, he
has been productive over his career. He has average athletic
ability, but plays better than he tests. Durability will always be a
question mark as he was injured most of his career. GRADE:

FREE AGENCY: The Bucs were not major players in the veteran
signing wars, but they feel Derrick Ward will team with Earnest
Graham and often injured Carnell Williams to help establish a ball
control running game. Ward signed a four year contract worth
$17 million dollars. Six million is guaranteed. Antonio Bryant
established himself as a number one receiver and received the
franchise tag for one year at $9.884 million dollars. Linebacker
Angelo Crowell, quarterback Byron Leftwich, and kicker Mike
Nugent will all compete for starting jobs. Major losses were aging
veterans Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, and Joey Galloway.

2009 AFC South Draft Review

Houston Texans

Houston is progressing nicely and added some needed personnel to
continue their quest to make the playoffs for the first time in team
history. Free agent Antonio Smith will strengthen a front line full of first
round draft choices. Brian Cushing, the Texans’ first round pick, is
talented and will contribute by stopping both the run and playing the
pass. The defense is the key to the playoff run as is the health of
quarterback Matt Schaub. Schaub’s durability will always be a question
because now the Texans don’t have underrated Sage Rosenfels to fall
back on. A major injury to Schaub could bring Houston crashing back to
the bottom of the AFC South. Brian Cushing was drafted to help
stabilize the linebacker position that has been racked with injuries for
the past several years. The sticky wicket is if he can stay healthy for a
whole season. If he does, he will team with DeMeco Ryans and give the
Texans a pair of impact linebackers. Connor Barwin is very versatile
and Houston sees him as a pass rushing defensive end that could get on
the field in pass downs with Mario Williams, Antonio Smith moving
down inside, and Barwin rushing off the left side. Antoine Caldwell is
a versatile center-guard combination that adds depth to an improving
offensive line. Durable and smart in his play, he has the ability to
recover in pass protection. He is athletic with a thick lower body.
Glover Quin is another two for one player that has experience at both
corner and safety. He has the strength and savvy to play press corner.
He is built like a safety with good overall body strength and will not shy
away from contact. He is a developmental player that averaged over 30
yards a kickoff return his senior year. Anthony Hill is a run blocking
tight end with better than average hands. He has experience at lining up
in the slot or wing position and sealing the end of the line of scrimmage.
He helps upgrade the edge running game. James Casey fits the theme
of the Texans’ draft of versatile athletes. The best thing he does is catch
the ball in his hands and should team with Owen Daniels in the red zone
to take pressure off Andre Johnson. Brice McCain is a speedy cover
corner that excels in man-to-man coverage. He is shorter than ideal, but
has good leaping ability. He will compete for the nickel/dime corner job
and special teams’ coverage. Troy Nolan will get a look at free safety
after a big play career at Arizona State. He scored five touchdowns in
two seasons. Four were on interceptions and one was a fumble recovery.
He is instinctive with good anticipation. His fringe athletic ability and
marginal speed for the position kept him from being drafted higher.

FREE AGENCY: Former Cardinal Antonio Smith was guaranteed $12.5
million dollars of a $35 million dollar contract over five years to play
opposite Mario Williams. Smith can constrict the running lanes and
rush the passer from an inside position. Shaun Cody will be in the
defensive line rotation and compete with Amobi Okoye for a starting
position. Cato June will back up at the Will linebacker spot. Dan
Orlovsky was signed as the backup quarterback.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have made several off-season dramatic changes in
their coaching staff. First and foremost, Head Coach Tony Dungy
retired. Dungy was the man that kept his head when everyone
around him was losing theirs. Classy and consistent were his
hallmarks. Offensive coordinator Tom Moore, offensive line
coach Howard Mudd, and defensive coordinator Ron Meeks
were three other major losses. In a quarterback driven league,
the Colts still have one of the best in Peyton Manning. For years,
great quarterbacks have covered up poor position play on both
sides of the ball, bad draft picks, and organizational shortcomings.
The league’s reigning MVP will carry the Colts to the playoffs
once again with his dedication and heady play. Donald Brown
will have every opportunity to work into the backfield rotation
with Joseph Addai. He combines a pick, slide, and glide running
style with bending and weaving when he breaks into the second
level. He’s a change of pace back with good hands to catch the
ball and get upfield. Fili Moala was the first of two three-hundred
pound run stuffers that the Colts drafted in 2009. To be effective
inside at tackle he must keep his knee bend to anchor and hold
his ground. His angular build is not ideal for an inside player.
Jerraud Powers fits the Colt profile at corner with his scrappy
press cover two play. He is a physical player that doesn’t shy
away from contact. He is willing to force and contain. He is a
competitor with quick feet and change of direction. Austin Collie,
just like all Colt receivers, has consistent hands to make the
catch. Additionally, he is a good route runner and will compete
for the ball in a crowd. He will have a major learning curve because
Indy requires the receivers to know all the receiving positions
before they get on the field. Terrance Taylor is perfect as an
inside leverage defensive tackle with his low center of gravity.
He comes off low and hits with an explosive force. Strong enough
to stack a double team, he will be very effective in a rotation.
Curtis Painter will compete with Jim Sorgi for the backup spot
behind Peyton Manning. He has always been productive and
accurate as a short and medium area passer. He is a rhythm and
timing passer that fits into the Colts’ scheme. Pat McAfee has
big shoes to fill when long-time punter Hunter Smith was not resigned.
McAfee averaged 44.7 yards on 62 punts and also has
experience on kickoffs and field goals. He consistently had hang
times in the 4.35 to 4.70 range. The Colts gained the pick in a
trade with Philadelphia. Jaimie Thomas is athletic for the guard
position and has a chance to make the team if he cleans up his
inconsistencies and breakdown of technique. He plays better in
a confined area than in space. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: As usual, the Colts sign their own free agents. This
year Matt Giordano, Tyjuan Hagler, Kelvin Hayden, Freddy Keiaho,
Jeff Saturday are all back in the fold. Adam Seward was signed to
compete for a linebacker position. In an unusual move, Ed Johnson
who was released after an off-field incident involving drugs in 2008
was re-signed. Johnson started 16 games his rookie year.

Jacksonville Jaguars

General Manager Gene Smith drafted a pair of the top offensive tackles
for the future and signed a veteran Pro Bowl tackle in free agency. That
should help insure David Garrard some needed protection that he didn’t
have in 2008. Pass catchers like free agent Torry Holt, a healthy Mike
Walker, and rookie Mike Thomas, along with an upgraded running game
will also help. Eugene Monroe fell to the Jaguars at number eight and
will compete with free agent pickup Tra Thomas for the left tackle
spot. The rangy, long-armed athlete is a pass protector first. He uses
his hands effectively in pass protection with good hand placement and
an explosive punch. He played upright in a two-point stance in both
the run and pass game in college but will need to learn to work from a
three-point stance. Eben Britton was a second round choice and will
compete with inconsistent Tony Pashos at right tackle. Another big
athletic offensive tackle, he will team with Monroe to be the future
cornerstones of the offensive line. He has all the physical tools,
toughness, technique, and competitiveness to start as a rookie. Terrance
Knighton is a long-armed run player that will compete for a position in
the front rotation. The wide-bodied developmental tackle is a
competitive and athletic bull rusher that needs technique work. Derek
Cox must have impressed the Jacksonville brass somewhere because
the team gave up a second round pick in the 2010 draft and a 7th round
pick in the 2009 draft to select him in the third round. He is a height,
weight, and speed prospect that flashes a closing burst on the ball. A
physical player, he will get a shot at corner and safety to make the
team. He ran a 4.45 at his pro day and will contribute on special teams’
coverage. Mike Thomas is the sleeper of the Jags’ draft. The explosive
hand catcher rarely drops a ball. Competitive and scrappy, he is quick
in and out of his cuts. He is a playmaker that gets open and makes
plays. Thomas can make a defender miss in the open field. He is a good
route runner that will compete as a special teams’ returner. Jarett
Dillard, like Thomas, is shorter than ideal but possesses outstanding
hands and eye-hand coordination. He runs precise routes with good
body control. Quick and sudden in his movements, he is a natural
receiver that can make the clutch catch and the off-target pass reception.
Zach Miller is an athletic small college quarterback that was drafted as
a tight end/H-back projection. He played in the Cactus Bowl as a tight
end and caught five passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. Rashad
Jennings fell to the seventh round but has a chance to make the team
as a between the tackles power runner. He is an outstanding athlete that
presses the hole when he runs the ball. He has good instincts and feel
for running the ball. Tiquan Underwood is an athletic receiver with
rare speed, a leggy vertical receiver with inconsistent hands. He is more
of a long strider that builds up speed as he goes down the field. He is a
developmental player with unique tools. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: Ten-year veteran Torry Holt brings a veteran presence
to an unstable receiving corps. Rookies Mike Thomas, Jarett Dillard,
and Tiquan Underwood will be given every opportunity to compete for
playing time after the purging of Matt Jones, Reggie Lewis, and Jerry
Porter. Offensive tackle Tra Thomas and strong safety Sean Considine,
both signed from the Eagles, are expected to start. Aging and injury
prone Fred Taylor signed with New England.

Tennessee Titans

Jeff Fisher’s teams are always in the Super Bowl hunt and this year is
no different. Jovan Haye was added in free agency and Sen’Derrick
Marks was drafted filling one of the Titans’ draft priorities. Three
defensive backs were also drafted to upgrade special teams’ coverage
and secondary weak spots. Kenny Britt is a possession type long
strider that builds up speed as he goes down the field. Although he was
productive over his career, he is not a natural hand catcher. He will
compete with Justin Gage at one wide receiver spot. He has the tools to
help the Titans improve their passing game, but he must improve in
every phase of his game. Sen’Derrick Marks played with ankle injuries
during his junior year, but was an underachiever in most phases of his
game. The Titans are going to need his best effort to work into the front
rotation of Jovan Haye, Jason Jones, and Tony Brown. He may be
more athlete than playmaker. Jared Cook is an athletic tight end that
needs to improve his blocking and receiving skills to make the team. He
may be more athlete than football player. Cook lacks playing consistency
and inline functional strength to block ends and linebackers. Ryan
Mouton is a good athlete that closes quickly on the ball. A tough and
competitive corner, he is a willing tackler and hitter. He will back up Pro
Bowler Cortland Finnegan and compete for a nickel or dime corner
position. Gerald McRath projects to be the backup to productive
Keith Bulluck. He is very athletic, active, and instinctive in his play. He
has excellent straight line speed, makes plays all over the field, and will
contribute on special teams. Troy Kropog will back up Pro Bowler
Michael Roos. He is more physical than athletic in his play. In college
he played left tackle. He plays with good technique and quick feet and
is crafty in his play. Javon Ringer is a smart and instinctive runner that
drives his legs on contact. Athletic with quickness and cutting ability,
he is a change of pace type back that has returned kickoffs in the past.
He has better running skills than Chris Henry. Jason McCourty is a
workout warrior that ran in the 4.35 range this spring. A developmental
project, he flashed kickoff return ability his senior year. Dominique
Edison adds more youth to the Titan receiving corps. A small college
athlete, he has size and speed. He is a developmental project that needs
work on his routes and the nuances of receiver play. Ryan Durand is a
developmental guard that is more tough and physical than athletic.
Nick Schommer has good size and speed for a free safety, plus good
tackling skills. He is a tough physical player that should contribute on
special teams’ coverage. He is a developmental player that is smart and
instinctive. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: Nate Washington helped upgrade a very mediocre
receiving corps. He received a $27 million dollar contract with $9 million
guaranteed over six years. The Titans also signed Kerry Collins to a
two year deal to throw to the new group of receivers. Rob Bironas, a
money kicker, was extended for four more years at $3 million a year, $5
million guaranteed. Jovan Haye was signed to help lessen the blow
from the Albert Haynesworth departure. Return specialist Mark Jones
replaces Chris Carr who departed for Baltimore. Patrick Ramsey will
compete with Vince Young for the backup spot behind Collins.

Monday, August 10, 2009

2009 NFC West Draft Review

Arizona Cardinals

The defending NFC champions should not lose focus on the job
at hand with Ken Whisenhunt’s and Kurt Warner’s previous
Super Bowl experience. Whisenhunt has added stability to the
coaching staff and Warner’s leadership in the locker-room can’t
be underestimated. The Cardinals addressed needs at running
back, outside linebacker, offensive line, and defensive end. Free
agency also filled a hole at corner with the signing of Bryant
McFadden. Chris Wells was a steal at the 31st pick in the draft
and will help upgrade one of the league’s worst running attacks.
He should shine in a one-back set with receivers spreading the
defense out. He is a power runner that is not easy to tackle in
space. Cody Brown will add youth to a veteran but aging group
of outside linebackers. He has the athletic ability to upgrade the
position, but has questionable instincts. He has good first step
quickness and a burst to the quarterback once he gets by the
blocker. Rashad Johnson is an instinctive safety with good ball
skills. He will try to unseat Matt Ware as a backup to Antrel Rolle
and be a force on special teams. Greg Toler is an athletic corner
that played semi pro football and eventually landed at St. Paul’s
College in Southern Virginia. A raw developmental talent, he has
speed, skills, and quickness. Herman Johnson is a huge mauler
with long arms and catcher’s mitt hands. He’s projected to back
up Reggie Wells at left guard but will also get a look at right
tackle. Athletic for his size, he has the ability to quick position a
defender and bury them in the run game. Will Davis will compete
for a backup spot at linebacker. He has a quick first step and a
burst to get up the field. To make the team he will need to improve
his hand strength and the ability to disengage. LaRod Stephens-
Howling is an explosive Darren Sproles’ type runner that rotated
with LeSean McCoy. He fits the third down role that JJ Arrington
shined in last fall and was drafted to be a change of pace back.
Trevor Canfield was a seventh round bargain and should develop
into a solid pro. He is competitive and physical in his play and could
play four positions as a backup. He is a good football player that is
not always pretty but gets the job done. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: Kurt Warner’s new contract and the franchise
tag placed on Karlos Dansby insures continuity on both sides of
the ball and another playoff run. Corner Bryant McFadden was
signed to upgrade size, coverage ability, and tackling opposite
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. McFadden fills a void that makes
the Cardinals’ secondary a team strength. Dan Kreider is a veteran
blocker that started his career with the Steelers and is penciled in
to start at fullback. Anthony Becht will compete at tight end with
Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick. Oliver Ross was also brought
back to add depth in the offensive line. Defensive end Antonio
Smith will be a major loss.

St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams added to their offensive line player pool in
free agency by signing center Jason Brown and drafting athletic
tackle Jason Smith. There is talent available, but it has not been
a cohesive unit to this point. Moving Jacob Bell back to guard
from right tackle should help. James Laurinaitis upgrades the
middle area of the run defense. He will have a lot to learn in Steve
Spagnuolo’s defense but he is a good fit. Pat Shurmer is installing
a run-oriented West Coast offense, featuring Steven Jackson
and that should take some pressure off the defense by controlling
the ball more. Jason Smith will start out at right tackle, however
the whole offensive line is a work in progress and may not be
solidified until September 13th on a trip to Seattle to open the
season. The physical long-armed athlete is an ascending player
that has all the tools to be a standout pass protector and run
blocker. Something that was just as important to the Rams as his
physical ability is his mental approach to being a pro; off-season
work habits, film study, coachability, and his desire to improve
his total game. James Laurinaitis is the starting middle
linebacker until he proves he can’t do the job. The instinctive
three down linebacker is technique conscious and smart. He
demonstrates all good middle linebacker traits: physical and
mental toughness, productivity, leadership, and is quick to read
and react. Bradley Fletcher is the sleeper of the Rams’ draft. A
big corner that is a good athlete, he can turn and run. He is
smooth in his transition and plays fast with a sudden drive on
the ball. He can match up with big receivers. An ascending player,
he may play best in man-to-man coverage. Defensive tackle Dorell
Scott has the size and the strength to win a spot in the front
rotation with Clifton Ryan and Adam Carriker. Scott is a good
athlete with a thick upper and lower body. He is a good effort
player that will finish long and short pursuit. He has the ability to
two gap. Brooks Foster is a raw athlete with an injury history
and limited starting experience. He is a hand catcher that has the
triangle height, weight, and speed numbers for the position. A
developmental receiver, he has a chance to make the club if he
stays healthy. Keith Null is a developmental quarterback that
was very productive at the Division II level. He played in a spread
offense and is a good size (6031, 222). Chris Ogbonnaya is a big
back (5116, 220) that was a part-time starter. He runs in the 4.60
forty range. The best thing he does is catch the football. Originally
he came to Texas as a receiver. He was a backup to Jamaal Charles

FREE AGENCY: The Rams stabilized their offensive line with the
signing of center Jason Brown. Brown was given a five-year deal
with twenty-million dollars in guaranteed money. Kyle Boller also
came over from the Ravens and will back up Marc Bulger who
struggled the past two years with poor offensive line play and
injuries. Strong safety James Butler started the past two years
with the Giants and knows Spagnuolo’s system. Mike Karney
was signed as a lead blocker for Steven Jackson after Dan
Kreider’s departure.

San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco stuck to their board selecting the highest rated player.
When receiver Michael Crabtree dropped to them at the tenth pick, the
card was ready to hand to the commissioner. Crabtree is a feature
receiver that will help the quarterback and keep Isaac Bruce from being
doubled. He will keep the opposing defense honest enough and take a
safety out of the box to help Frank Gore and the running game. The
49ers didn’t draft a needed pass rusher. Sacks will have to come from a
variety of blitzes and dogs. Jimmy Raye is the seventh offensive
coordinator in seven years and is more run and play pass oriented.
Michael Robinson will back up Gore, but third round pick Glen Coffee
will be in the mix. Mike Singletary has brought some physical and
mental toughness to a team that has had seven straight losing seasons.
Michael Crabtree has the talent to be the best wide receiver on the
team once he steps on the practice field. He doesn’t have the pelts on
the wall like veteran savvy Isaac Bruce does, but Crabtree’s talent level
is ascending. The red-shirt sophomore has outstanding hands and a
strong upper body. He gets open with his quickness and instincts. His
left foot fracture is still healing however. Glen Coffee was a major
reach in the third round. Not natural or instinctive, he is a leggy runner
that has problems with sharp cuts and change of direction. He lacks
long finish speed and has had ball security problems in the past. He’s a
north-south runner that is always going forward. He’s a third down
back. Scott McKillop has one critical factor that all middle linebackers
need – instincts. He has a nose for the ball and quick reactions. Tough
and physical attacking blockers, he has the ability to back up both
inside linebacker spots and compete on special teams. Nate Davis is a
developmental quarterback that has a strong arm. He played in a spread
offense where most of his receivers are running wide open. He flashes
a quick release once he makes his decision where to throw the ball.
Clearly a developmental project, he may be a practice squad player for
a time before he gets an opportunity to step on the field. He must
overcome a learning disability to absorb a complex NFL playbook.
Bear Pascoe is an inline blocking tight end with good hands. He will
make the team as the second or third blocker in sub packages. Physical
in his play, he works to finish his blocks. He is also a good downfield
blocker. Curtis Taylor is a free safety with good athletic ability. His
ticket to making the ball club is to clean up the inconsistencies in his
overall play and be able to contribute on special teams. Ricky Jean-
Francois started ten games in three years despite his explosiveness and
talent. Short on maturity, he gets lazy and plays high. A high maintenance
player, he has the ability to contribute; but as always – buyer beware.
Singletary may have to give him the Vernon Davis speech if he doesn’t
play up to his capabilities. GRADE: AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: Right tackle Marvel Smith has talent but has had back
problems for the past two years. He will compete with Adam Snyder
and Barry Sims. Fullback Moran Norris returns to the 49ers after a
stint in Detroit. Corner Dre’Bly, defensive end Demetric Evans,
linebacker Marques Harris, quarterback Damon Huard, and receiver
Brandon Jones are all reserves.

Seattle Seahawks

New Seahawks’ coach, Jim Mora, was weaned on a strong running
attack, complemented by the play action passing game and a
defense that is attacking with well disguised blitzes. Matt
Hasselbeck hopes to get back to his outstanding 2007 production
after working his way through a back injury last year. He will be
throwing to big ticket free agent T.J. Houshmandzadeh and a
healthy Nate Burleson and Deion Branch. Aaron Curry is a fast
twitched sideline to sideline linebacker that was taken in the first
round. Curry was recognized as the top defensive player in the
draft and his stock will soar if he can blitz as well as projected. He
essentially replaces aging former Pro Bowler Julian Peterson who
was traded to Detroit. The athletic linebacker joins Lofa Tatupu
and Leroy Hill to give the Seahawks a young group of impressive
tackling machines. Curry will fit in as a stack and shed linebacker
that is instinctive and aggressive. Max Unger may have been the
top utility offensive lineman in the draft. He will get every chance
to unseat Chris Spencer who has not developed as quickly at
center as projected. Right guard may also be an option if Rob
Sims doesn’t stay healthy. Unger is a strong drive blocker that
plays the game on his feet. Deon Butler is a small but speedy
receiver that catches the ball in his hands. He is elusive after
catch and can stop and start on a dime. He brings another
dimension to the Seattle receiving corps where most receivers
are tall. He does need route refinement however. Mike Teel is a
developmental quarterback that was productive in college. He
will compete with Jeff Rowe for the third position. Courtney
Greene is a free safety that is a rangy hitter. He’s a physical
tackler that is aggressive and competitive on special teams. He is
better as a box run player than playing off in coverage. Nick
Reed will line up at left end after a productive college career
where he recorded 29 ½ sacks and 51 ½ tackles for loss. A pass
rushing specialist, he lacks the bulk (6013, 245) to consistently
play the run as an end in a four man front. Cameron Morrah is a
good athlete that is an H-back type receiver that can adjust on
the move and in space. He has the ability to kick out an end
rusher in the power run game when in motion and on the move.
He lacks the bulk to be an inline blocker. Morrah is a hand catcher
that was particularly productive on the goal line. GRADE:

FREE AGENCY: Wide receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh was given a
five-year contract with fifteen-million in guaranteed money. The
2007 Pro Bowl selection strengthens a battered receiving corps
that was decimated by injuries in 2008. Colin Cole comes over
from Green Bay to fill Rocky Bernard’s spot at defensive tackle.
Cory Redding is versatile enough to rotate at defensive end and
defensive tackle. Major losses are Bernard, linebacker Julian
Peterson, and fullback Leonard Weaver.

2009 AFC West Draft Review

Denver Broncos

New Bronco coach Josh McDaniels rowed through rough waters after
his appointment, but Denver made some bold moves and upgraded the
roster with a dynamic running back, an anchor 3-4 end, and possibly
the best cover corner in the draft. A huge pocket pushing nose tackle,
the key to the 3-4 defense, is still needed. Knowshon Moreno is talented
enough to start on opening day because he is a three down back that has
been durable. He has a chance to be as effective for the Broncos as Matt
Forte, Steve Slaton, and Chris Johnson were for their teams. Robert
Ayers was drafted to anchor the right defensive end position. He has
good quickness and agility. He plays square to the line of scrimmage
and has long enough arms and big hands to keep the blockers off the
linebackers. Alphonso Smith will have every opportunity to win the
nickel corner position. Denver traded a 2010 first round draft choice to
draft him, so he won’t be sitting for long. He has special ball skills and
the innate ability to react to the ball. He is a versatile back that is
confident and poised. Darcel McBath is a free safety candidate that is
aggressive and competitive. He has been a consistent tackler over his
career and has more of a corner type build than a safety. He will compete
with Josh Barrett for a roster spot and a place on special teams. Richard
Quinn was a major reach in the second round. He is a run blocking tight
end that will team up with Daniel Graham in two tight end sets. A
developmental project, he may play early in his career because of Tony
Scheffler’s injury history. David Bruton has experience at both strong
and free safety. He has outstanding athletic ability, is strong and
physical, and has a good nose for the ball in run support. Seth Olsen
fits the McDaniel’s prototype of bigger offensive linemen. He will
compete with Chris Kuper at right guard. A smart and instinctive player,
he locks on his blocking target and runs his feet. Kenny McKinley may
follow in Eddie Royal’s footsteps and give the Broncos another young
ascending receiver. He is quick in and out of his breaks and possesses
foot agility and good field vision. Once the Broncos work their way
through the New England underachievers, McKinley should shine. Tom
Brandstater played in a pro style offense in college and played for
four different offensive coordinators. He’s a ball control passer that
will be given developmental time with Orton and Simms on the roster.
Blake Schlueter is an athletic center that will struggle to make the 53-man
roster with veteran Casey Wiegmann and Kory Lichtensteiger in front of
him. A good practice squad candidate, he has a chance to play in the league.

FREE AGENCY: Aging veteran Brian Dawkins was signed as much for
his leadership ability as he was for his football savvy. Dawkins, Andre
Goodman at corner, and Renaldo Hill at strong safety were all brought
in to team with Champ Bailey to upgrade a shaky secondary. Correll
Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan are journeymen running backs.
Linebacker Andra Davis knows the 3-4 defense. Darrell Reid was a
defensive utility player with the Colts. Ronnie Fields will work into
the defensive line rotation. Jabar Gaffney knows the New England
system at wide receiver. Kyle Orton has never seen so many good
receivers on his side of the field before being traded to Denver.

Kansas City Chiefs

Rushing the quarterback was the Chiefs’ number one team weakness in
2008 and the draft or free agency did not bring them any closer to
solving the problem. Tyson Jackson, as are most 3-4 ends, is a run
player not a pass rusher. Tamba Hali showed some pass rush ability as
a rookie, but that was from the down position. Defensive coordinator
Clancy Pendergast has his work cut out for him on the back end with
his secondary if he has no pass rush up front. With the exception of
Jackson and end Alex Magee, the draft did little to upgrade the roster
for the future. Tyson Jackson was the top 3-4 end in the draft and will
help anchor the Chiefs’ front. Glenn Dorsey, a natural 4-3 tackle, will
move to right end opposite Jackson. Jackson has run stuffing ability
and can hold his ground against double teams. He has the size, strength,
athletic ability, and arm length to be an effective two gap player. Alex
Magee is another versatile defensive lineman that projects to an end in
the 3-4. He has innate hand and foot quickness and is a good run player.
He has the strength to stack the run and keep blockers off the linebackers.
Donald Washington is an outstanding athlete with good ball skills and
leaping ability. Not a fundamentally sound player, he is undisciplined
in his overall play. He has the ability to be a cover corner despite hip
tightness in his turns. Colin Brown started two years at Missouri and
is considered a developmental project. Tall and rangy, he is a better pass
protector than a run blocker at this point. A fringe athlete, he has the
frame to carry more weight. He did not attend the Combine. Quinten
Lawrence is a speed wide receiver that missed seven games his senior
year and caught only twelve passes for 209 yards. He ran track at
McNeese where he had a best of 10.49 in the 100-meters. A
developmental prospect, he has a slender build. Due to ankle injuries he
did not work out at the Combine. Javarris Williams is a productive
back with more than 849 carries in college. An average athlete, he is
more of a power runner with good bulk than an elusive back. Jake
O’Connell is a developmental tight end that the Chiefs thought enough
of to trade their 2010 seventh round pick to draft him. Athletic with
good hands, he projects as an H-back, fullback, and tight end combination.
He has good hands but needs to get stronger as an inline blocker. Ryan
Succop has experience as a kicker, punter, and kickoff specialist. He
fell off the radar after straining an abdominal muscle in mid-October
through early November. He has good leg strength and has a career long
field goal of 55 yards. He has good accuracy on his field goal attempts,
hitting on 48 of 67 kicks. From the 40-yard line on in he has a 94
percent accuracy rate. He connected on 103 of 105 PATs. GRADE:

FREE AGENCY: Matt Cassel was Scott Pioli’s big ticket free agent
coming over from New England in a trade for a second round pick. Mike
Vrabel, an aging veteran, was brought in to bring leadership to a
rudderless defense ship. Mike Goff brings toughness and durability to
the right guard position. Zach Thomas and Corey Mays will rotate at
one inside linebacker spot and Monty Beisel will back up Derrick
Johnson. Pro Bowler Tony Gonzalez is a major loss. He was traded to
Atlanta for a second round draft pick.

Oakland Raiders

Verbal salvos have been fired at Al Davis for several years because of his
height, weight, and speed draft choices. This year was no different with
the drafting of Darrius Heyward-Bey and second round pick Michael
Mitchell. There is no question that both picks could have been drafted
later, but this draft was a potpourri of teams selecting height, weight,
and speed workout guys with little on the field production. Heyward-
Bey and Mitchell had some on the field credentials. Two of the Raiders’
top four draft choices addressed their biggest need which was wide
receiver. Only time will tell if the critics’ suspicions are confirmed.
Darrius Heyward-Bey is a vertical rare speed type receiver with
outstanding athletic ability. Not a natural hand catcher, but he has big
play ability and explosive speed to run away from defenders once he
catches the ball. He lacks elusiveness and moves in the open field. He is
a typical Raider draft choice. Michael Mitchell is an athletic height,
weight, and speed player that the Raiders consistently covet. He has
made several highlight film type hits. He has fringe instincts. Mitchell
makes the plays in front but struggles on deep plays. A developmental
project, he has raw skills. Matt Shaughnessy projects to a 4-3 defensive
end after playing a rush linebacker for four years. A productive high
motor player, he plays hard from snap to whistle. He has an injury
history and has never really improved his game from his sophomore
year forward. What you see may be what you get. Louis Murphy was
put in the Raiders’ crosshairs when he ran a 4.35 forty. This long
striding vertical receiver, like Heyward-Bey, is not a natural hand catcher.
A very good athlete, he lacks upper and lower body strength. He will
need developmental time but is a good sized target. Slade Norris started
his career as a safety, but after a stint at linebacker he became a pass
rushing defensive end. With his speed and athleticism, the Raiders will
move him back to linebacker and use him on pass rushing downs. Stryker
Sulak is an active edge pass rusher. He is athletic despite his hip
stiffness. He has been productive over his career with 115 tackles, 26 ½
tackles for loss, and 16 ½ sacks. He also forced 10 fumbles. Sulak has a
sudden first step when coming from the right edge. (Sulak has since been released by the Raiders.) Brandon Myers is a
consistent hand catcher and a good edge zone blocker. He must contribute
on special teams to make the roster. GRADE: BELOW AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: The Raiders’ two major free agent signings were already
in the house. Nnamdi Asomugha is now the highest paid defensive back
in NFL history. The Pro Bowl corner is big, smart, and athletic. Not to
be outdone at his position, Shane Lechler signed the highest contract
ever for a punter with nine-million dollars guaranteed. Cooper Carlisle
signed a contract to remain at right guard. Khalif Barnes gets new life at left
tackle, but has always struggled with injuries. Erik Pears will back up at
right tackle. Justin Miller has never lived up to his athletic ability to play
corner, but is special as a kickoff return specialist. Jeff Garcia is a winner
that has contributed to every team over his ten-year career.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers added two offensive linemen to provide depth to an
inconsistent position in 2008. A.J. Smith drafted Larry English in the
first round to give the team some insurance if Shawne Merriman or
Shaun Phillips is out for any length of time. Last year the secondary
play fell off with no pass rush after the Merriman surgery. Jamal Williams
has had an outstanding but sometimes underrated career and long shot
rookie Vaughn Martin may get a look at nose tackle in the future. Larry
English will line up at the left outside linebacker spot behind Shaun
Phillips. Productive over his four year career, English had 57 tackles for
loss and 31 ½ sacks. He beat the college competition with first step
quickness. To be an elite pass rusher in the NFL he will need to develop
a variety of pass rush moves. A fast twitch athlete, he plays with his
motor wide open and has a passion for the game. Louis Vasquez is a
huge wide bodied guard that majors in pass protection. He is an aggressive
pass protector and run blocker that will compete for playing time at left
guard, the position he played at Tech. He has talent, but has unique
scheme requirements to overcome. Vaughn Martin played his college
ball in Canada and is green as a gourd. He played in the defensive front,
but needs technique work in every phase of his game. A size/speed
project, he has inconsistent skills and production. Martin will start out
at right end. Tyronne Green is a physical offensive lineman with raw
skills. He is shorter than ideal, but he has long arms and big hands to
control the defender. He needs developmental time to refine his game.
The Chargers are going to start him out at center where he can quick
position a defender and run his feet on contact. He will be the sleeper of
the San Diego draft. Gartrell Johnson is a power back with good
lower body strength. He is a two, three, and four yard back that lacks
breakaway speed. He has good hands to catch check down routes and is
always going forward. He has good body lean. Johnson had a breakout
game against Fresno State rushing for 285 yards. Brandon Hughes is a
zone type press man corner with good speed and athletic ability. He
gets a good jump on the ball and closes quickly. He may have a tough
time making the Charger roster, but has skills to play in the league.
Kevin Ellison will compete at strong safety behind Clinton Hart. An
intelligent player, he has good instincts and awareness. He is physical
in run support. Ellison is a big downhill safety that can ward off blockers,
keep contain, and force the action. He is active and motivated in his
play. He lacks straight line speed, but makes up for it with smarts and
anticipation. Demetrius Byrd was injured in a one-car accident April
19th when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a pole. He was
treated for head injuries and minor cuts and bruises. He is expected to
make a full recovery. Unable to attend mini camps and organized team
activities, Byrd will be behind and may be headed to PUP or the practice
squad. A good athlete, he is a vertical receiver and has unrealized potential.
He is a boom or bust type athlete. GRADE: AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: The Chargers have a talented and deep roster that has
very little wiggle room for a free agent to make the team. Only one free
agent was signed and that was Kevin Burnett, a special team’s warrior
for the Cowboys that rarely saw the field from the first to the third
downs. Burnett was signed to compete with Tim Dobbins and Matt
Wilhelm at one of the inside linebacker spots. The losses were minimal
with long time starting right guard Mike Goff signing with the Chiefs.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

NFL Trades Through End of 2009 Draft

This list covers the beginning of the trading
period through the end of the 2009 NFL Draft.

No.1 (02/27/09)
Cleveland Trades:
Winslow, Kellen TE Miami
Tampa Bay Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 2, 2009 #50
No.2 (02/27/09)
Houston Trades:
Rosenfels, Sage QB Iowa St.
Minnesota Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 4, 2009 #122
No.3 (02/28/09)
Dallas Trades:
Henry, Anthony DB South Florida
Detroit Trades:
Kitna, Jon QB Central Washington
No.4 (02/28/09)
Kansas City Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 2, 2009 #34
New England Trades:
Cassel, Matt QB Southern California
Vrabel, Mike LB Ohio St.
No.5 (02/28/09)
New York Jets Trade:
Selection Choice: Round 5, 2009 #153
Philadelphia Trades:
Sheppard, Lito DB Florida
No.6 (03/05/09)
New England Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 5, 2009 #159
Philadelphia Trades:
Lewis, Greg WR Illinois
Selection Choice: Unannounced
No.7 (03/16/09)
Detroit Trades:
Redding, Cory DT Texas
Selection Choice: Round 5, 2009 #137
Seattle Trades:
Peterson, Julian LB Michigan St.
No.8 (04/09/09)
Jacksonville Trades:
McDaniel, Tony DT Tennessee
Miami Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 7, 2009 #232
No.9 (03/23/09)
Miami Trades:
Satele, Samson C Hawaii
Selection Choice: Round 4, 2009 #126
Oakland Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 4, 2009 #108
Round 6, 2009 #181
No. 10 (04/03/09)
Chicago Trades:
Orton, Kyle QB Purdue
Selection Choices: Round 1, 2009 #18
Round 3, 2009 #84
Denver Trades:
Cutler, Jay QB Vanderbilt
Selection Choice: Round 5, 2009 #140; f/Sea
No. 11 (04/09/09)
Atlanta Trades:
Robinson, Laurent WR Illinois St.
Selection Choices: Round 5, 2009 #160
Round 6, 2009 #196
St. Louis Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 5, 2009 #138
Round 6, 2009 #176
No. 12 (04/13/09)
Carolina Trades:
Selection Choice: Unannounced
Green Bay Trades:
Jansen, J.J. LS Notre Dame
No. 13 (04/20/09)
Buffalo Trades:
Peters, Jason T Arkansas
Philadelphia Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 1, 2009 #28
Round 1, 2009 #121
No. 14 (04/23/09)
Atlanta Trades:
Selection Choice: Unannounced
Kansas City Trades:
Gonzalez, Tony TE California
No. 15 (04/25/09)
Cleveland Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 1, 2009 # 5
New York Jets Trade:
Coleman, Kenyon DE UCLA
Elam, Abram DB Kent St.
Ratliff, Brett QB Utah
Selection Choices: Round 1, 2009 #17
Round 2, 2009 #52
No. 16 (04/25/09)
Cleveland Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 1, 2009 #17; f/NYJ
Tampa Bay Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 1, 2009 #19
Round 6, 2009 #191
No. 17 (04/25/09)
Cleveland Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 1, 2009 #19; f/TB
Philadelphia Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 1, 2009 #21
Round 6, 2009 #195; f/Min
No. 18 (04/25/09)
Baltimore Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 1, 2009 #26
Round 5, 2009 #162
New England Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 1, 2009 #23
No. 19 (04/25/09)
Green Bay Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 2, 2009 #41
Round 3, 2009 #73
Round 3, 2009 #83; f/NYJ
New England Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 1, 2009 #26; f/Bal
Round 5, 2009 #162; f/Bal
No. 20 (04/25/09)
Denver Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 1, 2010
Seattle Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 2, 2009 #37
No. 21 (04/25/09)
New England Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 2, 2009 #47; f/SD
Round 4, 2009 #124
Round 6, 2009 #199
Oakland Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 2, 2009 #40
No. 22 (O4/25/09)
Carolina Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 1, 2010
San Francisco Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 2, 2009 #43
Round 4, 2009 #111
No. 23 (O4/25/09)
Chicago Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 2, 2009 #49
Seattle Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 3, 2009 #68
Round 4, 2009 #105
No. 24 (O4/25/09)
Buffalo Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 3, 2009 #75
Round 4, 2009 #110
Dallas Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 2, 2009 #51
No. 25 (O4/25/09)
Indianapolis Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 2, 2009 #61
Round 5, 2009 #165
Miami Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 2, 2009 #56
No. 26 (O4/25/09)
Denver Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 3, 2009 #79
Round 3, 2009 #84; f/Chi
Pittsburgh Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 2, 2009 #64
Round 4, 2009 #132
No. 27 (O4/26/09)
Detroit Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 3, 2009 #65
New York Jets Trade:
Selection Choices: Round 3, 2009 #76; f/NO
Round 4, 2009 #115; f/Was
Round 7, 2009 #228
No. 28 (O4/26/09)
Jacksonville Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 7, 2009 #232; f/Mia
Round 2, 2010
New England Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 3, 2009 #73; f/GB
No. 29 (O4/26/09)
New York Giants Trade:
Selection Choices: Round 3, 2009 #91
Round 5, 2009 #164
Philadelphia Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 3, 2009 #85
No. 30 (04/26/09)
New England Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 3, 2009 #89
Tennessee Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 2, 2010
No. 31 (04/26/09)
Philadelphia Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 3, 2009 #91; f/NYG
Seattle Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 5, 2009 #137; f/Det
Round 7, 2009 #213
Round 3, 2010
No. 32 (04/26/09)
Dallas Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 4, 2009 #117
Tampa Bay Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 4, 2009 #120
Round 7, 2009 #229; f/Chi
No. 33 (04/26/09)
New England Trades:
Hobbs, Ellis DB Iowa St.
Philadelphia Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 5, 2009 #137; f/Det
Round 5, 2009 #141; f/Cle
No. 34 (04/26/09)
Baltimore Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 4, 2009 #123
Round 6, 2009 #198
New England Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 5, 2009 #137; f/Det
Round 5, 2009 #141; f/Cle
No. 35 (04/26/09)
Baltimore Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 5, 2009 #141; f/Cle
Denver Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 5, 2009 #149
Round 6, 2009 #185
No. 36 (04/26/09)
Atlanta Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 5, 2009 #143; f/Oak
Dallas Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 5, 2009 #156
Round 7, 2009 #210; f/Det
No. 37 (04/26/09)
Minnesota Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 5, 2009 #158
Round 7, 2009 #221; f/Was
Washington Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 5, 2009 #150
No. 38 (04/26/09)
New Orleans Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 7, 2009 #222
Round 5, 2010
Philadelphia Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 5, 2009 #164; f/NYG
No. 39 (04/26/09)
Denver Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 7, 2009 #235; f/Atl
Round 5, 2010
Detroit Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 6, 2009 #174
No. 40 (04/26/09)
Carolina Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 6, 2009 #202
Oakland Trades:
Selection Choices: Round 7, 2009 #216
Round 6, 2010
No. 41 (04/26/09)
Indianapolis Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 6, 2010
Philadelphia Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 7, 2009 #222; f/NO
No. 42 (04/26/09)
Kansas City Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 7, 2010
Miami Trades:
Selection Choice: Round 7, 2009 #237; f/Car

2009 AFC North Draft Review

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore addressed several need positions, drafting heir
apparents to offensive tackle, pass rusher, defensive back,
linebacker, tight end, and running back. Joe Flacco could have
used another feature pass catching wide receiver; however, one
may emerge from the depth and talent at the position. The
offensive line is in a minor state of flux with Jared Gaither taking
over at left tackle. He made numerous mental mistakes in 2008.
Ben Grubbs has the talent to be a future Pro Bowl player. Matt
Birk is new, but solid at center. Marshal Yanda is still recovering
from injury, so Chris Chester may start at right guard. Willie
Anderson is the right tackle for now. Michael Oher is the wild
card that may be used to plug the first leak. The Ravens look to
have a solid future with an ascending quarterback in Flacco, a
strong running attack that can finish a game, a top five defense,
and solid special teams. Michael Oher was important enough to
the Ravens’ future that they traded up to get him. He has the
ability to play either tackle, but will start out on the right side. He
plays with good knee bend and balance in his base. He is equally
as strong in the run game as he is as a pass protector. Oher has
some playing deficiencies, but nothing that can’t be overcome.
Paul Kruger will start out as an outside linebacker and put his
pass rush skills to the test opposite Terrell Suggs. Active and
relentless in his play, he can control an offensive tackle and will
beat a tight end one-on-one. Lardarius Webb was called a poor
man’s Ed Reed before the draft. Now he can learn to play in the
secondary from the real deal. Webb is tough and has good ball
skills. While learning the nuances of NFL secondary play he will
contribute on coverage and return special teams. Jason Phillips
is tough and instinctive and is a good fit to back up Ray Lewis.
He tore a meniscus in his left knee at the Combine that will keep
him out about twelve weeks, but he has the talent to make the
team and contribute on special teams. Davon Drew is more receiver
than blocker at tight end. He has experience playing several
receiving positions. He will add depth to the team with the injury
histories of Todd Heap and LJ Smith. Cedric Peerman was the
most athletic running back at the Combine and had the fastest
forty-time for the backs. If he stays healthy he has a chance to
make the team as a third down back. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: Veteran center Matt Birk comes over to the
Ravens from Minnesota to fill the loss of Jason Brown who signed
with St. Louis. Domonique Foxworth will replace long-time corner
Chris McAlister who was not offered a new contract. Chris Carr
is a dangerous kickoff and punt return specialist. Brown and
linebacker Bart Scott were two major losses.

Cincinnati Bengals

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but the Bengals had luck
and draft preparation on their side in this draft. Cincinnati drafted
perhaps the best offensive tackle, one of the top inside linebackers, a
multi-tooled pass rusher, and a big pass catching tight end. Quality and
depth were acquired throughout the eleven selections. Andre Smith is
going to start at right or left tackle; wherever line coach Paul Alexander
feels the talented blocker is more comfortable. If he demonstrates
consistency in his overall game, his future is unlimited. He was the most
naturally gifted offensive lineman in the draft. Rey Maualuga will give
veteran Dhani Jones a run for his money at the middle linebacker spot.
He is an explosive downhill player that will fill the running lanes with
an impact hit. The bottom line is that he is very powerful, quick, fast,
and can cover the pass. Michael Johnson has a chance to make a
statement and move ahead of Frostee Rucker and Antwan Odom. He is
more physically gifted than either end. If he plays to his athletic numbers,
he has a chance to be special. Chase Coffman was a steal in the third
round and gives Carson Palmer another medium to short area clutch
receiver. The high cut classic receiving tight end will give match-up
problems to defenders in the red zone and will snatch anything close to
him. Jonathan Luigs will battle Kyle Cook and Dan Santucci for the
center position. Another solid pick by the Bengals will help solidify the
offensive line for the future. Kevin Huber didn’t have to change
addresses after he was drafted by the Bengals. He led the country in net
punting both his junior and senior years in college. Morgan Trent fits
into Mike Zimmer’s defensive scheme as a cover-two press corner. The
big athletic three-year starter is active, smart, and plays with good
awareness. Bernard Scott is one player with a shady background that
the Bengals rolled the dice on in the 2009 draft. He is extremely talented
and athletic. If this leopard changes his spots, he can help win games as
a running back and a return specialist. Fui Vakapuna fills a void as a
true short-neck blocking fullback (5111, 244). If he can stay healthy, he
will contribute as a lead blocker and occasional pass catcher. Athletic
Clinton McDonald is an undersized defensive lineman (6016, 285) but
is very productive with seven sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. He must be
a slant and angle type player to be effective. He adds depth. Wide
receiver Freddie Brown is a possession type that has size and good
hands. He had twelve catches for 125 yards in the win over Alabama in
the Sugar Bowl. A developmental receiver, he had a strong senior year
and a good spring workout. GRADE: GOOD.

FREE AGENCY: Receiver Laveranues Coles was the big ticket free agent
signee after Houshmandzadeh left for Seattle. JT O’Sullivan will back up
Carson Palmer. Defensive tackle Tank Johnson will rotate at that position.
Big hitter Roy Williams knows coordinator Mike Zimmer’s scheme and
will be covered up in passing situations. Houshmandzadeh was a major loss.

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns’ best off season move may be one they didn’t
make, and that was to keep Brady Quinn instead of making a possible
trade to Denver. The winner of the Quinn, Derek Anderson quarterback
battle will benefit from the new bevy of wide receivers and upgraded
offensive line. The Browns hit a homerun with their selection of center
Alex Mack and a pair of ascending pass catchers in Brian Robiskie and
Mohamed Massaquoi in the draft. The Browns needed a productive
pass rusher, but Kamerion Wimbley is on board and has the talent to be
a ten sack a year player if defensive coordinator Rob Ryan can keep
offenses from sliding their protections his way. David Veikune is a try
hard pass rusher, but will get a look at inside linebacker first. Alex
Mack is an upgrade at center and is the total package of leadership,
athletic ability, toughness, and intelligence. He joins Joe Thomas where
the two young building blocks should anchor the Browns’ line for years
to come. Brian Robiskie strengthens the receiving corps opposite
Braylon Edwards. A consistent hand catcher, he will help both young
quarterbacks by snatching the ball and limiting route running mistakes.
He should be able to break into the receiver rotation with his skills and
polish. Mohamed Massaquoi had a strong senior year where he caught
NFL caliber passes from Matt Stafford. He’s a possession type receiver
that has ascending skills. David Veikune is a great effort player that is
quick off the ball and is disruptive in his play. He will get a shot at an
inside linebacker spot, but may be used as a third down pass rusher. A
work in progress, Veikune has special skills, work ethic, and intensity.
Kaluka Maiava has borderline measurables and physical pro skills. To
make his mark, he must excel on special teams and play in a covered up
scheme. Don Carey is an athletic corner that is physical and quick.
He’s a developmental project that needs technique work but has the
ability to turn and run. He shows good recovery quickness. Coye
Francies has natural man-to-man coverage skills. He can turn and run
with no wasted motion. He is better in coverage than run support but
must become more technique conscious if he is to make the team. James
Davis is an explosive north-south upright runner that is not real elusive,
but will compete for a roster spot as a third down back. GRADE:

FREE AGENCY: Floyd Womack and John St. Clair were brought in to
solidify the right side of the offensive line. Womack needs to stay
healthy if he is to beat out Rex Hadnot. Sure-handed Mike Furrey and
David Patten add veteran depth and an insurance policy if Braylon
Edwards leaves and Donte’ Stallworth is still working his way through
the legal system. Robert Royal will rotate with Steve Heiden at tight
end. Ten-year linebacker veterans Eric Barton and David Bowens know
Mangini’s defensive scheme. Hank Poteat and Corey Ivy are both
system cornerbacks.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers needed to add some much needed youth to the offensive
and defensive lines. Defensive end Evander Hood and offensive guard
Kraig Urbik fit the bill. A speed receiver was third on the Pittsburgh
wish list and Mike Wallace has the talent and speed to stretch a secondary.
Depth at cornerback was addressed next with Keenan Lewis and Joe
Burnett. The smart money is on the Steelers again in 2009 because of
the organization’s consistency in sticking to its long time model of
success. Evander Hood brings some needed youth to the defensive end
position. A good athlete that plays hard, he is strong enough to two gap
and absorb blockers to let the Steeler linebackers make plays. He has a
tendency to play high but is very technique conscious. Kraig Urbik
will have an opportunity to compete for a starting guard position with
Darnell Stapleton. The physical drive blocker uses his hands effectively
in the run game and can sit down and anchor a bull rush. Mike Wallace
fills the hole left by Nate Washington who left for the Titans in free
agency. He possesses rare speed and athletic ability. Raw in every
phase of his game, he has the speed and quickness to give him a chance
to play early in his career. He also has kickoff return skills. Keenan
Lewis is a tall and rangy corner with good athletic ability. He excels in
man-to-man coverage. He has long arms and quick feet. He was drafted
to eventually take over for aging veteran Deshea Townsend at right
corner. Joe Burnett is the sleeper of the Steelers’ draft. The corner/
return specialist brings playmaking ability to the table in his quest to
make the team. Quicker than fast, he’s a good athlete that has loose
hips. He can turn and run. Like most Steeler draft choices over the
years, he can multi-task, excelling as a return specialist as a punt and
kickoff returner. He was the only player in 2008 that was ranked in the
top ten in both kickoff and punt returns. He was consistently productive
as a corner and returner over his career. Frank Summers is a power
runner that will get a chance to be a goal line hammer. He is a poor man’s
Jerome Bettis. Summers has a low center of gravity and a strong lower
body to break tackles. Ra’Shon Harris is a developmental end or nose
tackle, depending on how the Steelers want to play him. He must play
lower and with more leverage to have an NFL future, but he has some
raw tools. A.Q. Shipley is a technique conscious center that must do
everything right to make the active roster. A good athlete that plays low
and with good knee bend, he is tough and intense but must overcome his
short arms to control defenders. David Johnson played tight end in
college but projects to a fullback or H-back type contributor. A good
blocker in space, he can read and adjust on the run. A developmental
project as a lead blocking I-formation fullback, he has the ability to play
on Sunday if he finds and excels in his role. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: The Steelers stuck with their prototype in free agency
and gave money to their own players and brought in a few cap friendly
free agents to add competition and depth. Keiwan Ratliff (DC), Shaun
McDonald (WR), and Dirk Johnson (PT) will all be hard pressed to
make one of the league’s strongest rosters.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

2009 NFC North Draft Review

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have drafted four Pro Bowl players the last five
years, more than any other team. Two draft choices that may be in the
mix from the class of 2009 are Jarron Gilbert and Marcus Freeman.
Gilbert has all the tools to be a defensive line standout. Freeman’s quest
for the Pro Bowl will be delayed with the signing of free agent Pisa
Tinoisamoa, however, the talent is there. Jerry Angelo drafted three
wide receivers and a tight end to add more depth and competition to the
star poor Bear pass catchers. Jarron Gilbert is a versatile athlete that
will get a chance at both defensive tackle and defensive end. He looks
the part and has a tremendous amount of God-given talent. If he plays
with mental and physical toughness, the Bears can hit big with his
ability. Juaquin Iglesias will get every chance to get into the receiver
rotation with his combination of outstanding hands and quick feet. He
is athletic after catch with his good faking and cutting ability. More of a
possession receiver than a deep threat, he also has kickoff return ability.
Henry Melton is a developmental defensive end that started one year
each at defensive end and fullback. He flashes first step quickness to
burst up the field. Melton is a raw project with interesting tools. Corner
D.J. Moore is an average athlete with rare leaping ability. He has fringe
size and speed for the position. He will struggle in match ups with big
slot receivers. What gives him a chance to play in the league are his
playmaking ability and his ball skills. He will battle for a dime corner
position. Johnny Knox is an explosive small college receiver that is a
smooth and fluid route runner. A developmental type receiver, he will
have a chance to make the team with his skills and measurables. Outside
linebacker Marcus Freeman is the sleeper of the Bears’ draft. He has
experience at both the strong and weak side linebacker positions. He is
buried on the depth chart with the addition of veteran Pisa Tinoisamoa.
A smooth and fluid athlete, he has range, speed, and tackling ability. For
Al Afalava to make the team he will need to continue to be a physical
player and a solid tackler. He has played both free and strong safety. He
is athletic enough to contribute on special teams’ coverage. Lance Louis
played right tackle and started eleven games, but the Bears may use him
as a run blocking tight end. He is athletic with straight line speed for the
guard, tackle, or tight end position. He is a developmental player as a
run blocker and pass protector. Louis was drafted off a good spring pro day.
Derek Kinder was the third of three receivers drafted by the Bears and is
probably headed to the practice squad. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: Bear fans hit a huge quinella by signing Pro Bowl
quarterback Jay Cutler and veteran offensive tackle Orlando Pace on
the same day. Cutler has all the physical tools to be the greatest Bear
quarterback ever. Pace is a seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle that, in his
prime, was one of the best offensive linemen in the league over the past
two decades. Josh Bullocks and Glenn Earl will compete with Steltz
and Payne at safety. Frank Omiyale was signed to start at left guard.
Kevin Shaffer will be the swing tackle behind Pace and Chris Williams.

Detroit Lions

New general manager Martin Mayhew got his quarterback of the future,
but surprised NFL insiders by pulling the trigger on Brandon Pettigrew,
the top tight end in the draft. Most experts had the Lions selecting a
middle linebacker at number twenty, but Pettigrew helps the team in a
multitude of ways, not the least by upgrading the edge and double team
blocking. Matthew Stafford has been getting equal repetitions with
Daunte Culpepper during organized team activities. The Lions liked
several things about their first pick in the draft, but his knowledge of
the offense and carryover from the first meetings prior to the draft
impressed the Detroit brass. His leadership ability and strong arm have
also been on display this spring. Brandon Pettigrew is talented enough
to be the first of the class of 2009 to make the Pro Bowl. He’s an
athletic big target that can seal the edge as a blocker. He will immediately
help upgrade the Lions’ running game and give the quarterbacks a viable
target. He catches the ball in his hands and has good run after catch
ability. Louis Delmas was the top free safety on many teams’ boards
and will immediately have a chance to move into a starting role. Strong
and active in his play, he takes good angles in run support and breaking
on a thrown ball. He is mentally and physically tough and will also help
upgrade the special teams. DeAndre Levy is an athletic linebacker that
can run. He will need more strength to take on blocks and must improve
his hand and arm use to separate from blockers. He has talent to
contribute early on special teams. Derrick Williams is a developmental
player with versatility. He is an explosive and elusive talent that will
contribute as a kick returner. He is quicker than fast and has a chance to
make the team as a fourth receiver and special teams’ player. Sammie
Lee Hill adds depth at nose tackle. The developmental project has
measurables and some pro physical skills. He will need technique work
in every phase of his game. Aaron Brown played running back at TCU
but has a special talent to return kickoffs. If he is to make the team,
special teams will be his ticket. Lydon Murtha is an angular offensive
tackle with outstanding athletic ability. He had the top athletic workout
at the Combine of all 47 linemen. He will need more bulk and strength
to make the team. Zack Follett is a high motor player with good
instincts and decent athletic ability. He is physical attacking blockers
and has good toughness at the point of attack. He will get a shot at Sam
linebacker. Dan Gronkowski is a competitive and smart tight end with
good athletic ability. He plays with determination and toughness. He
should have a shot to make the team as a run blocking tight end. GRADE:

FREE AGENCY: Outside linebacker Julian Peterson is the prize of the
free agency signees. The former Pro Bowler came in a trade for Cory
Redding with Seattle. Bryant Johnson was signed to give the Lions an
option opposite Calvin Johnson. Phillip Buchanon, Eric King, and
Anthony Henry shore up a non-productive secondary. Grady Jackson
will give Jim Schwartz a run stuffer that will play in a rotation. Running
back Maurice Morris will back up Kevin Smith. Athletic Ronald Curry
was added for receiver depth.

Green Bay Packers

With Green Bay’s move to the 3-4 defense, it was not unexpected to
draft a big nose tackle and an outside pass rushing linebacker. The
Packers attacked their top three position needs by drafting two players
at each position. Two offensive tackles were added to compete for
Mark Tauscher’s right tackle spot and prepare for Chad Clifton’s
unrestricted status in 2010. Competition for Mason Crosby in camp
may still be on the agenda with all the veteran kickers on the street.
Fullbacks Korey Hall and John Kuhn will be pushed by Quinn Johnson,
a fifth round pick. Free agency added depth at center and safety. B.J.
Raji was projected to be the Packers’ nose tackle, but is getting work at
left end as new defensive coordinator Dom Capers is sorting through
who does what best. The 3-4 defense is a lot different in regards to
responsibilities up front. Ryan Pickett is at nose tackle. Cullen Jenkins
is getting most of the reps at right end in the organized team activities.
Justin Harrell, Johnny Jolly, Mike Montgomery, and Jarius Wynn are
all battling for spots in the front rotation. Raji, if he stays at end, will be
a run stuffer first before rushing the passer. His job will be absorbing
blockers and stacking the running lanes. Clay Matthews will be
competing for an outside linebacker position opposite Aaron Kampman.
The transition to a 3-4 will require Matthews to drop into coverage and
rush the passer, depending on formations, motions, and shifting. The
quicker he learns and picks things up, the quicker he’ll get on the field.
T.J. Lang will be in the mix first at right tackle in the Packs’ search to
replace Mark Tauscher. He’s aggressive, competitive, and intense in his
play. As a mauler he is tough and smart and may eventually land at
guard. Quinn Johnson is a West Coast offensive type fullback that is
a blocker first and foremost. He delivers some hip snap when lead
blocking against the linebackers. He must compete on special teams if
he is to beat out incumbent Korey Hall who had a strong year in 2008.
Jamon Meredith has the talent to start at either guard or tackle on the
Packers’ offensive line. A steal in the fifth round, he’s a good athlete
with long arms and good hip flexibility. He is aggressive and finishes run
plays. Meredith has quick feet to shuffle in pass protection. He needs
some technique work but has raw tools. Jarius Wynn was a free agent
on most teams’ boards, but has some tools to develop on the practice
squad. He caught the Packers’ eye with two sacks in the Capital One
Bowl game against Michigan State. He started seven games in his two
year career at Georgia. Brandon Underwood is a big corner that also
played safety in college. He will get a good look as a press corner. He
has the ability to turn and run quickly in coverage. He has tools and
talent to make the team if he becomes more disciplined. Brad Jones
played outside linebacker in the Buffs’ 3-4 defense and is a natural fit
for the Packers’ transition to the 3-4. He was athletic and productive during
his career. He was not invited to the Combine, but his running a sub-4.55
forty in the spring got him drafted. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: Center Duke Preston was signed as an insurance policy
against Scott Wells’ injury history. Anthony Smith adds depth at safety.
Defensive tackle Colin Cole was the biggest loss, signing with the Seahawks.

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings will be the odds on favorite to win the
NFL North Division and advance to the Super Bowl tournament
in January. The biggest question mark currently surrounding the
Purple and Gold’s camp is who will be the man under center in
September. The Brett Favre rumors are falling faster in the Twin
Cities than snowflakes in a December snowstorm. If Favre’s
shoulder problems are behind him, he will be a welcomed addition
by some factions. If he doesn’t play, free agent Sage Rosenfels
will be the trigger man to lead the Vikes to the playoffs. Whoever
the quarterback is, he will line up with weapons like Adrian
Peterson, Chester Taylor, Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin, and one
of the best defenses in the NFL. Percy Harvin is a dynamic
playmaker with rare speed and run after catch ability. He
possesses natural receiving skills and is an open field threat as a
receiver, running back, or return specialist. He is a big play waiting
to happen every time he touches the ball. A future Pro Bowl
player, he is high maintenance with an injury history. Harvin,
Bernard Berrian, and Adrian Peterson will put a lot of pressure on
opponents in the fall. Phil Loadholt is the Vikings’ answer to the
gaping hole at right tackle. Good athletic ability for a huge man,
he’s a mauler that is strong on down blocks. He lacks a left tackle’s
foot quickness, but once he gets his hands on a defender, he can
dominate his opponent. He positions and walls off pass rushers.
Asher Allen is shorter than ideal, but will compete for the nickel
corner position. He has good hip flexibility with good tackling
and coverage skills. A smart and instinctive player, he will
contribute on special teams’ coverage. Jasper Brinkley is the
sleeper of the Vikings’ draft. He is playing in a 4-3 scheme unlike
the 3-4 he played in college, so he must make some adjustments.
However, he is a physical downhill athlete that can work upfield
and stack a play at the line of scrimmage. He fills the running
lanes with mass and explosiveness. He is strong in his arms and
shoulders to control a center’s block. Jamarca Sanford is an
active and productive tackler. He will compete for a backup position
behind Tyrell Johnson. Quick to read and react on balls in front
of him, he is physically tough and aggressive. He plays with
intensity and should contribute on all special teams’ coverage.
He plays with confidence and could become a major draft surprise.

FREE AGENCY: The Vikings’ biggest off-season move was the
trade for underrated quarterback Sage Rosenfels. Rosenfels is
big and athletic and has experience in the West Coast offense.
Two other moves include wide receiver/kick returner Glenn Holt
and corner Karl Paymah. Minnesota released two aging veterans,
Matt Birk and Darren Sharper.

Friday, August 7, 2009

2009 AFC East Draft Review

Buffalo Bills

Terrell Owens is getting most of the off-season and organized team
activity publicity, but the Bills added a pass rusher, a vertical
receiving tight end, two offensive linemen, and three defensive
backs all in need positions. Aaron Maybin was a high risk, high
reward selection. He has numerous factors going against him to
succeed in the league. First, he is junior. Unless you play running
back, the success rate for underclassmen is less than fifty percent.
He only started ten games in his career and didn’t even start at
the beginning of the 2008 season. Eleven is very high for a
situation pass rusher. Buffalo’s “other” first round pick, Eric
Wood, was high on most team’s draft boards. He was a four year
starter with a track record of consistency and a high level of play.
The Bills needed a pass rusher after only 24 sacks in 2008, but
Aaron Maybin was a surprise selection at the eleventh pick for a
variety of reasons. One, Chris Kelsay is undersized like Maybin
and has an injury history that keeps him off the field. Secondly,
he lacks the strength to play the run and the ability to separate
from huge linemen. That being said, he has an explosive first
step, is athletic, and plays with a lot of energy. Eric Wood is
penciled in as a starter at right guard. He is a mauler that is
competitive and physical. He plays with good leverage if he
bends his knees and stays low. Jairus Byrd may be the Bills’
draft sleeper with skills to play free safety or corner. Athletic and
instinctive he is also disciplined, versatile, and dependable in his
overall play. He has good ball anticipation and tackling ability.
Andy Levitre is another guard prospect that has experience at
tackle. He is similar to Wood in his physical demeanor and
aggressiveness. Explosive in pass protection to punch and finish,
he may eventually be the left guard. Tight end Shawn Nelson is
a more skilled receiver than Derek Fine and Derek Schouman. He
brings a vertical presence to the pass game down the middle of
the field with T.O. and Lee Evans on the outside. He needs more
bulk to be an effective blocker. Nic Harris is a conversion project
from safety. He is sudden getting downhill and aggressive in his
play. Harris will have a chance to unseat Keith Ellison and Pat
Thomas if he plays to his ability. Cary Harris has good man-toman
cover skills and has a chance to make the team with
developmental time. Ellis Lankster is a developmental corner
that is willing to support the run and contribute on special teams.

FREE AGENCY: Terrell Owens signed with the Bills for a
guaranteed $6.5 million dollars for one year and should open
things up for Lee Evans and give Trent Edwards another viable
weapon. Geoff Hangartner will start at center after Duke Preston’s
departure to Green Bay. Dominic Rhodes will split time with Fred
Jackson if Marshawn Lynch is suspended early in the season by
the league. Ryan Fitzpatrick will back up Edwards at quarterback,
but got valuable starting experience at Cincinnati last year. Drayton
Florence will back up second year corner Leodis McKelvin.

Miami Dolphins

After the Miami defections of Andre Goodman and Renaldo Hill to
Denver, the Dolphins needed to upgrade their secondary. Vontae Davis,
the athletic cover man from Illinois, was drafted to start at one corner
position. Sean Smith, the tall angular corner from Utah will also get a
chance to compete for a starting position. Linebacker was a need position
and wasn’t addressed until the seventh round. The Dolphins think free
agent Cameron Wake, after upgrading his game in Canada, will help as
an edge pass rusher. The draft didn’t do much to help Chad Pennington
to get any difference makers at receiver. Corner Vontae Davis has
outstanding athletic ability and closing quickness supporting the run.
He has the size and strength to reroute receivers, get position, and keep
it in man-to-man coverage. His ball reactions and timing are off. A high
maintenance player, he has all the tools to star on Sundays. Pat White
is a special talent that makes plays. Elusive and electric in his play, he
has top end speed and quickness to break contain or scramble for positive
yards. He will keep defensive coordinators up at night. Drafted as a
quarterback, he will bring a different dimension to the Wildcat offense.
Sean Smith is a big press corner with good athletic ability. He has long
arms to reroute receivers but lacks the quick movement out of transition
to break on the ball. He is not loose hipped, smooth, or fluid. He is a
developmental height, weight, and speed project. Patrick Turner is a
big slot type receiver with inconsistent hands. He struggles to get off of
press coverage. A long strider, he has some unique skills. The Dolphins
are looking for a big red zone receiver after Ernest Wilford did not play
up to expectations in 2008. Brian Hartline is a good sized
developmental receiver that has average athletic ability. He caught 21
passes in 2008 averaging 22.4 yards per catch. He needs to improve his
route running and contribute on special teams if he hopes to make the
final roster. John Nalbone is a developmental tight end that needs to
improve his blocking and strength. A competitive and athletic small
college player, he has good hands. He was not invited to the Combine
but had a good pre draft workout. He hails from Bill Parcell’s hometown.
Chris Clemons is the sleeper of the Dolphins’ draft. The rangy and
athletic safety has rare speed and a closing burst on the receiver or ball
carrier. He has good instincts and anticipation. He displays corner tools
and skills that will help him succeed at safety. Andrew Gardner is an
angular tackle with first step quickness. He’s a heady player that uses
his long arms to his advantage. He played left tackle in college, but
projects to the right side because of his marginal foot quickness. He is a
size prospect with fringe skills. J.D. Folsom is a developmental outside
linebacker with good straight line speed. He plays hard and with good
intensity. He will be 25 years old in August. Folsom did not attend the

FREE AGENCY: The Dolphins re-signed three starters in right tackle
Vernon Carey, strong safety Yeremiah Bell, and inside linebacker Channing
Crowder. Center Jake Grove was signed away from Oakland to battle the
AFC East’s nose tackles. Cameron Wake, an athletic pass rusher from Penn
State by the way of the Canadian League, is a sleeper free agent. Gibril
Wilson was signed to start at free safety after he was released from the
Raiders. Former Cardinal Eric Green will be the back up at corner.

New England Patriots

The Patriots needed to address the secondary shortcomings in 2008
and did that with the drafting of Patrick Chung and Darius Butler, two
second round selections. Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden were also
added in free agency. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork is a free agent in 2010
and New England responded by drafting three nose tackles. Patrick
Chung won’t stay down on the depth chart long once the bullets start
flying. He will push Brandon Meriweather for the starting position
once he learns the defensive schemes. Physically and mentally tough,
he will be productive on special teams’ coverage while learning the
defense. Ron Brace is a wide-bodied grass grabber that can gum up the
inside running lanes and occupy two blockers. Not a great athlete, but
he is a top effort try hard player. Naturally strong, he will battle to get
in the front line rotation. Darius Butler is another addition to the
secondary. The Patriots were torched for 27 touchdown passes in 2008.
Butler brings outstanding athletic ability as a cover corner with speed.
He will give Wilhite and Wheatley a run for their money. Sebastian
Vollmer was a reach in the second round, but fits into the Patriots’ line
prototype. He is a developmental prospect with measurables and some
pro physical skills. A major work in progress, he has an injury history.
Brandon Tate may be a PUP (physically unable to play) candidate
after tearing his ACL and MCL in his right knee in October of 2008. A
natural hand catcher, he has special receiving and kick return skills.
Tyrone McKenzie is a skilled linebacker that makes plays. He has
been productive over his career. A tackling machine, he has the talent to
make the New England team and be a major contributor on special
teams while he learns the defensive scheme. Rich Ohrnberger is a
prototype New England guard; smart, tough, and crafty. He is probably
headed to the practice squad. George Bussey has experience at both
guard and tackle, but projects to guard. He must do everything right to
make the team. A developmental player, he did not go to the Combine.
He was a three-year starter in college. Jake Ingram is a long snapper
that will compete with veteran Nathan Hodel. Myron Pryor is the
second of three nose tackles that the Pats drafted. He was impressive
with his athletic ability and short area quickness in the East-West
practices. He will also get a look at defensive end. Athletic Julian
Edelman is a former quarterback that projects to a wide receiver/Wildcat
quarterback. The Pats also think that he could be the next Josh Cribbs
as a return specialist. Darryl Richard is the third of three nose tackles
drafted, but may get a look at right end. He plays with smarts, leverage,
and strength. He is strong enough to absorb two blockers and has good
footwork and use of hands. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

FREE AGENCY: Traditionally the Patriots sign aging veterans that bring a
certain skill to the table to help upgrade a position. These veterans are
willing to sign a cap friendly contract for an opportunity to win a Super
Bowl ring. This year was no different. The collection of veterans includes
Fred Taylor (RB), Joey Galloway (WR), Shawn Springs (DC), and Chris
Baker (TE). Other veterans signed to compete for starting jobs are corner
Leigh Bodden, receiver Greg Lewis, and tight end Alex Smith.

New York Jets

The New York Jets drafted quality since they didn’t have a quantity of
selections. Three draft picks to be exact. No one can argue that General
Manager Mike Tannenbaum is not being aggressive in his approach to
getting the Jets back to their second Super Bowl, the first since the Joe
Namath guaranteed win over the Baltimore Colts. Last year Tannenbaum
made a bold move to bring in Brett Favre and it looked to be a winning
combination until late in the season when Favre injured his throwing
arm. A trade with ex-Jet coach Eric Mangini and Cleveland moved the
Jets up to the fifth spot so they could lock up Mark Sanchez, the
quarterback of the future. Head Coach Rex Ryan will get the defense
playing like a tribe of screaming banshees and will take the pressure off
the offense to win the games, since there are more ways to score on
defense than there are on offense. Mark Sanchez will be given every
opportunity to win the quarterback job over Kellen Clemens. The
rhythm type passer demonstrates the physical talent and ability to
succeed on the next level. Having played in a pro style offense should
help his adjustment to pro ball. He possesses a strong and accurate arm
to go with his natural feel for the passing game. Sanchez is the new face
of the franchise, but he does not have to go out and win the games with
his arm as he will have a great defense and running game to put pressure
on the opponent. Early reports out of the Jets’ camp are all positive
about his position progression. Shonn Greene has the talent to work
his way into the running back rotation with Thomas Jones and Leon
Washington. Jones led the AFC in rushing in 2008 and Washington was
a potential game breaker every time he touched the ball. Greene is a
tackle to tackle hammer that is a distinct contrast to the other pair’s
running styles. The former Hawkeye needs to improve his hands and
his pass protection skills, but he was drafted because of his one cut
zone running ability. He brings a battering ram mentality to the inside
running game and gets yards after first contact. His downhill running
ability will help wear down defenses late in the game. Matt Slauson
rejoins his Nebraska coach, Bill Callahan. The wide-bodied zone blocking
guard is a physical player that plays square. Fundamentally sound, he
has good lateral quickness. He has been versatile over his playing career
playing both tackle positions and right guard. He is an aggressive player
with a violent punch and good body control. He has a chance to be one of
the top eight offensive linemen if he can stay healthy. GRADE: GOOD.

FREE AGENCY: Make no mistake about it; the Jets are going to be all
about defense and a strong dominating running attack. Rex Ryan’s first
move was to sign defensive playmaker Bart Scott to a six-year $48
million dollar contract with $22.5 million guaranteed. All the other free
agent signings were also on the defensive side of the ball. Safety Jim
Leonhard is smart and instinctive. Lito Sheppard (DC), Marques Douglas
(DE), Howard Green (NT), Larry Izzo (IB), and Donald Strickland
(DC) all add competition and depth.