Thursday, April 26, 2007

2007 NFL Draft Preview: The Big Questions/Storylines

NFL Draft: T-minus 48 hours. Here is the storyline I personally find most intriguing:

Every year I find a player to be obsessed about. (Most notably, there was the Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who reportedly scored a 100* on his Wonderlic, with enough time to spare that he could leave the testing room and tutor a couple other players, too. * - Hyperbole.)

Though I tend to favor late-round/UFA candidates from small Northeast schools (like New Hampshire WR David Ball), there's room for one more budding obsession: Amobi Okoye, the 19-year-old D-lineman from Louisville who will not just be a first-round pick, but will be unlikely to slip out of the top half of the first round.

Now, consider the implications: Forget his eligibility; the fact that he is rated as first-round material as a 19-year-old completely shatters the myth of an NFL age limit as anything more than arbitrary bullshit meant to stifle natural market forces and prop up the free talent pipeline.

Why aren't more people talking about this particular angle of the amazing (and hyper-covered) Okoye story? Sure, his age is a novelty. Sure, the kid is an academic genius and appears to be a genuinely nice guy.

But, more than any of those other things, he single-handedly obliterates the argument that age is a precondition for NFL draft-worthiness. Remember: We're not talking about him being drafted AT ALL; we're talking about him being a Top 10-15 pick.

(Most amazingly, his uniquely young age has come up again and again as a draft PLUS. Because it is! Scouts can tout that factor because he's draft-eligible; god forbid they make a similar case about a draft-worthy college player who isn't age-eligible yet.)

Meanwhile, beyond that, let me throw a couple of broad discussion topics on the table:

(1) BEST: Who is your favorite prospect, regardless of position or team fit?

(2) IMPACT: Who is most likely to have the biggest impact in his rookie year, regardless of team fit?

(3) UNDERRATED: Who is the non-first-round pick in 10 years we'll be saying, "I can't believe he was passed up by so many teams?"

(4) OVERRATED: Who is the first-round pick in 3 years we'll be saying, "I can't believe he was drafted that high?"

(5) CLICHE: What is your favorite NFL Draft cliche?

See last year's Quickie the day before the Draft for my annual NFL Draft drinking game. For those too lazy to click, here's the list:

Cliche (number of sips)
"Upside" (1)
"The next..." (1)
"Best player available" (1)
"Intangibles" (1)
"Value pick" (-1)
"Big Board" (2)
"Great hips" (-2)
"Character guy" (3)
"Physicality" (4)
Anything about Mel's hair (5)
"But what do I know?" (10)

BONUS QUESTION: Which cliches am I missing and should be added to the game?

Also, if you're planning to live-blog the draft, drop me an email today or tomorrow with a link to your blog, and I'll list them all on Friday.

(To be honest, I'd just as soon follow the live-blogs via RSS feed reader than watch on TV. I'm just saying...)

Oh, and I'll also have an open post for your live-comments throughout the Draft weekend.

-- D.S.

Update: Cold Hard Football Facts has a must-read AFC and NFC breakdown. Block your afternoon.

Update 2: How did I miss this morning that Michael Vick is being investigated for hosting dog- and cockfighting in an abandoned Virginia house? Herpes and hemp have nothing on this.

36 comments:

Natsfan74 said...

This is 2 days in a row that you have brought up age in pro sports as such a big issue. I think that Okoye may be a good pro, and will certainly be a very high draft pick. But, let's wait a year or two before we talk about him shattering any kind of glass ceiling. First, he may be a once in a generation type of player. He has the intelligence and maturity to match his physical ability, which makes him draft worthy. Second, there have been as many top 10 draft picks that are busts as are pro stars, so where he is drafted doesn't determine the age limit worthiness, how he plays does. Third, the two players who made the most serious run at challenging the age restrictions didn't even turn out to be good once they got to the NFL. One is in jail, after getting cut, after being a very shocking 4th round choice. The other is a total bust, even with first round draft status.

Best - Calvin Johnson
Impact - PSU Linebacker Paul Posluzny
Underrated - Troy Smith (he's the next Drew Brees who also wasn't a first rounder)
Overrated - JaMarcus Russell (the next Akili Smith)
Cliche - "This is just an honor to be here and to be drafted"

Big D said...

Sadly, my first (and probably last) round of golf of 2007 is already scheduled for 9AM Saturday, so by the time I finish hacking we should be well in to Round 2 of the NFL Draft. I would like nothing more than to cackle endlessly when the fans begin the "Fire Millen" chant.


Actually, thought of something that I can absolutely see happening (well, I can only see it happening if Millen isn't involved). There's a lot of talk about the Lions trading out of the #2 spot, and even more talk about the Falcons being infatuated with CJ.

So, how's this for a scenario that benefits all teams involved:

The Lions deal their #2 overall to Atlanta for the #9 and the Falcons' 3rd and 6th rounds.

New England (hot for LaRon Landry and/or Reggie Nelson) moves some combination of their two first rounders or the late first rounder and a 4th rounder to Detroit for the #9 pick to grab Landry (and if they get lucky, they still have the earlier of the first round choices to try for Nelson).

Essentially, the Lions pick up four picks for the #2 overall spot - a pick that they don't want to waste anyway - even if they move way down in the first round, they still are in prime position to get some good help on both lines. Atlanta gets the reciever they are desperate for, and New England parlays Deion Branch and a middle-round pick into the big-time, #1 safety they will need once Rodney Harrison hangs 'em up.

Any shot of this happening? Or am I just rambling on like a lunatic (what's new?)...

Big D said...
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Big D said...

Oh yeah, the categories:

Underrated: Drew Stanton, MSU. Give him a competant coach, and he'll learn the system

OverRated: Joe Thomas, Wisc. Early selection lineman always stay healthy and have a monster impact for long, productive careers. Right "Big Daddy" Wilkinson... Mike Mamula... etc.?

Next year's ROY: Adrian Peterson, OK. Big time running back that could have gone #1 overall in ust about any season if he'd been able to declare. Naturally, the scouts are dropping him like a Seahawks' receiver going over the middle.

Biggest cliche: "First, I'd just like to thank God/Jesus/Allah/Buddah/Moses/Nobody at all because I'm an Athiest/My Hands (a la FredEx)..."

Richard K. said...

Best - Calvin Johnson (partially because of my GT connection, but mainly due to just watching the guy and having my jaw drop on every other play)

Impact - A few names: Marshawn Lynch, Laron Landry, Patrick Willis

Underrated - Steve Smith

Overrated - Jamarcus Russell (Consider that if he came out last year he wouldn't even be a first round pick. His #1 status is based solely on the Sugar Bowl this year. I'm not saying he's a bad player but he's in no way worth the #1 pick.)

Cliche - "Upside" (that word is just another way of saying they haven't done anything yet)

Guy we'll be talking about in 5 years - Jared Zabransky (Call me crazy, but the guy only wins every game. There's gotta be something there. If he played at a BCS school we would probobly be talking about him as a 2nd round pick)

Natsfan74 said...

I guess no one wants to comment on the draft.

Underrated - all of the ND players. Even if Quinn goes #1 overall, that's too low. He's a certain ROY, MVP, 1st ballot HoF.

Overrated - all of the Florida players. Landry will get arrested in an elaborate drug bust. Chris Leak will go surprisingly high (in the 4th round), and will subsequently sit the bench behind Brett Farve and Aaron Rodgers, having the career equivalent of Koy Detmer.

Cliche - and that kid is only xxx years old.

Terry said...

How about this for the biggest impact player: Colorado kicker Mason Crosby. Sure he doesn't play a skill position, but special teams always play an important role (just ask Vanderjagt). He has made a 60 yarder in his career (albeit at home in the thin air), but also holds the record for longest kick at sea level without a tee (a 58 yarder at Miami). In the same game that he kicked the 60 yarder in 2004, he had to kickoff from the 20 due to a penalty. All he did was send the kickoff EIGHT YARDS DEEP into the end zone. That's 88 yards. I don't care if it WAS at home, that's a monster leg. ALso, 127 of his career 184 kickoffs (69%) went for touchbacks. He only made 19-28 field goals last year, but his average MISS was from over 49 yards (including 3 from beyond 60 where most teams send in the punt team). I'm privileged enough to have been at CU for all four of his years, and at every game we would call for Crosby as soon as we passed midfield. We honestly would have been happier with Crosby attempting 60+ yard field goals than touchdowns. Now we all learned from the Janikowski incident that no kicker is worther taking in the first round, but some team will be extremely happy when they draft Crosby later on the first day.

Mikepcfl said...

This is going back a few drafts, but I was thinking about Tim Couch and Cade McNown. Remember how McNown stole Couch's playboy centerfold girlfriend by buying her a car?

Right then, we should have known Couch would be a bust if he could lose his girl like that! Also, how quickly do you think she dumped McNown after he washed out of the league? :-)

tahvi said...

Cliche: "The guy is a football player."

@ Natsfan74
Overrated - all of the Florida players. Landry will get arrested in an elaborate drug bust. Chris Leak will go surprisingly high (in the 4th round), and will subsequently sit the bench behind Brett Farve and Aaron Rodgers, having the career equivalent of Koy Detmer.


I have to agree with you about Chris Leak. I think he'll have a sub-Danny Wuerffel (who didn't deserve the Heisman) career.

I'm still undecided about the merits of UF's other draft prospects, though I was always impressed by Reggie "The Eraser" Nelson.

(Disclaimer: I am a UF alumn and homer)

RexyBack said...

Dan- I just realized I miss The Big 5

Any chance it's coming back?

starkweather said...

Best overall - Joe Thomas
Best this year - Adam Carriker
Underrated - Jared Zabransky
Overrated - JaMarcus Russell (he reminds me of Daunte Culpepper but not the UCF/Vikings Daunte) - he'll still be better than Brady Quinn (Aaron Rodgers soulmate), for what that's worth
Cliche - I hate them all so much...

jhawkjjm said...

big d- The first round takes at least 6 hours, 8 if every team uses the entire 15 mins. If your still golfing for that long make sure you pack the sunscreen.

Best- Calvin Johnson
Impact- Adrian Peterson or Willis. I think a RB will always have a greater impact than a WR. Easier for a LB to have a larger impact.
Underrated- Steve Smith USC. Better than Jarrett.
Overrate- Jamarcus Russell.
Cliche- "great motor" is the worst. "Temendous upside" is another bad one.

starkweather said...

Sorry to post twice, but I didn't read the other comments before I posted. Richard K. - funny how we have the same Overrated and expectations for Zabransky but I have to point out, in JaMarcus' defense - Carson Palmer was projected as a 3rd Rounder before his senior year. I doubt anyone in the Bengals organization has any regrets about him at #1.

Benny said...
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Benny said...

(1) BEST: Calvin Johnson, a fast TO without the drama(yet)

(2) IMPACT: depending on where he goes Adrian Peterson will break 1000yards

(3) UNDERRATED: Ted Ginn, i hate to admit it being a Michigan fan, but the guys great and should go top 10 but probably wont

also Michael Bush from Louisville, amazing before he broke his leg, once he gets that all settled he'll be great


(4) OVERRATED: Brady Quinn, yuck, benefitted from the system, can you say Tim Couch?

(5) CLICHE: Mel's hair is always a laugh, someone needs to break in to his hotel room and pull a Jackass and just shave down the middle :p

Michael said...

Going back to your age issue, this is a man that went through college. He has done what it takes most people into their twenties to do. If I had a choice between someone with a bit more seasoning and a kid out of high school with lots of potential I take the seasoning. It gives me more of a view of what he might do as a player. There will always be people who may be ready, but they are the exceptions. It's a good rule making you wait it till your junior year. Without it in a few years the NFL would be a different, and less enjoyable product.

ryan from boston,ma said...

(1) BEST: Calvin Johnson

(2) IMPACT: Joe Thomas

(3) UNDERRATED: Patrick Willis

(4) OVERRATED: JaMarcus Russell,Ted Ginn.Jr,Marshawn Lynch and D.Jarrett(USC)

ndyanksfan05 said...

benefited from the system of not having an o-line or a defense and a very mediocre running back? or from the system where the defense basically planned on pass D the entire game...that system

talk about tired cliches "only good because of the system"

thenatural said...

best - Calvin Johnson
impact - Marshawn Lynch
underrated - you're mom
overrated - JaMarcus Russell
cliche' - "This guy will be a definite playmaker."

Richard K. said...

Starkwhether,

Good point about Carson Palmer. My point about Russell is that he's not nearly as good a prospect as Young, Leinart, or Cutler were last year. Logic would then dictate that he shouldn't go higher than #12 overall right?

I just hope for Al Davis's sake that there's a reason to draft him other than being able to throw 85 yards. We will NEVER see a receiver that can run 85 yards before the QB is leveled. It's also necessary to remember that there have been great QB's (like Brady, Peyton, and that Montana guy) that couldnt throw 50 yards if their life depended on it.

ryan from boston,ma said...
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Brendan said...

I can't wait to hear about their incredible athletism, wingspan and upside. Oh wait, that is the other draft where ESPN reporters repeat the same cliches. My bad.

Matt T said...

Big D,
The word going around Atlanta is that Arthur Blank wants to do everything he can to move up to get Calvin Johnson. I'm not sure about the rest of the scenario, but the first part is probable.

My favorite part of the draft is seeing where all the UGA players are drafted.

Best - Calvin Johnson
Impact - Patrick Willis - LBs and ends usually have an easier time as rookies
Underrated - Charles Johnson - fast DE with a nose for the QB
Overrated - first round QB this year. Russell and Quinn.
Cliche - anything Berman says.

Richard K. said...

Matt T,

Personally, I'm not buying into the whole Calvin Johnson to Atlanta bullshit. It would most likely cost Atlanta a #1, both #2's from the Shaub trade and a #3. It's not a good idea to invest all those picks when the Falcons have so many holes on both lines and the secondary. Especially since a WR isn't a big need (QB is a much bigger need).

There are 2 teams I think should trade up to get Calvin: San Francisco and Minnessota. Both teams have an abundance of picks and both have a glaring WR need. Problem is it would prorobly cost them too much. Tampa shouldn't move up because there's a decent chance they could stay put and get him anyway (its not a stretch to think that the GM's of the Raiders, Lions and Browns are going to do something stupid on draft day like picking a QB at #1 that has the proven ability to overthrow receivers).

If you want a better move for Atlanta, it would be to trade those Shaub picks to get into the mid to late first round and grab either Joe Staley, Cedric Griffin or Jamall Anderson depending on what happens with the #8 pick.

Richard K. said...

By the way, there are rumors of the Broncos pulling trades to move all the way up to the #2 spot to grab CJ. Do I think they can pull it off? Of course not. However, Shanahan manipulates the draft like his own personal bitch. He's like the Pat Riley of the NFL when it comes to trades (he gets everything and everyone else seems to get nothing). Once again, I don't think they can do it, but I wouldn't be that shocked if Denver managed to make it happen.

Matt T said...

Richard K,
I don't think it would be a smart move either. I think they could be well served sticking at 8 and taking Landry from LSU or a stud DE if available.

The D is what let them down last year. I do hope they take Michael Bush in the third round, Dunn only has a year or two left.

Gangsta D said...

Dan, I made the same point about Okoye today at TBL. I don't think every player deserves to be drafted, but I do think they should be given the opportunity to prove themselves.

Brendan said...
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ryan from boston,ma said...

Also,

Why don't GM's realize that next year's Draft will have that franchise quarterback there.I'd take Colt Brennan or Brian Brohm over Russell and Quinn any day of the week.

Jingoist said...

(1) BEST: Calvin Johnson. He's just too damn good to pass on.

(2) IMPACT: Ted Ginn. He'll be a very good #2 quickly, but more importantly he'll be the next Devin Hester- instantly turning around his team's return game.

(3) UNDERRATED: Zak DeOssie- sure, he "only" played at an Ivy League school (Brown), but the kid is perfect LB/DE hybrid size 6'4", 240lbs. and has the pedigree (dad is former Giant/Patriot LB Steve DeOssie).

(4) OVERRATED: Adrian Peterson. Yes he's good... damaged good(s). Re-injuring his collarbone (and his history of injuries) has me worried.

(5) CLICHE: "He has more quickness than he does speed."

Johnathan said...

I just wanted to say that Paul Posluszny is one of the more underrated players. Everybody finds other linebackers to talk about (A.J. Hawk last year for example) and they forget that Poslusnzy usually out plays them. He has a nose for the ball and is a very intelligent and instinctive player. He's also a stand up guy and a hell of a leader. He was the unquestioned leader of a very good Penn State defense the past two years. Whomever drafts him in the latter half of the first round is going to get a hell of a player

Christopher said...

I'll be live-blogging from a Jaguars perspective at http://www.bigcatcountry.com

Big D said...

@ jhawkjim:

"The first round takes at least 6 hours, 8 if every team uses the entire 15 mins. If your still golfing for that long make sure you pack the sunscreen"


Clearly, you've never had the pleasure of seeing me golf.

DrDoom said...

best: calvin
impact: calvin (if he goes to a team with a qb)
u: troy smith
o: brady quinn
most overused draft cliche that I wish would go away: Hi Im chris berman

Jim B. said...

If anyone started drinking when the term "step up" is used, there would be a huge outbreak of alcohol poisoning. I defy anyone to watch a sports broadcast and not here that term.

Hank said...

Reach