Some NFL Draft Thoughts

I’m not too sure just how detailed I will be able to make my mock draft this year. In last year’s mock draft, I was able to offer a good paragraph per pick, and I predicted it out to pick 40. I’ll be traveling this week, so I’m unsure as to how much time I’ll have to devote to the mock. I hope to at least publish the full first round with a good comment or so. Ideally I’m hoping to predict a full two rounds with a good paragraph of commentary for the first round and at least an insight or two for the second. I'll have to see just how much I can get to. In the mean time I have a few general thoughts to leave you with.

I just can’t recommend using a high first round draft pick on Adrian Peterson. The kid has talent, no denying that, but today’s NFL does not require a superstar at running back to win. Sure, every team wants a LaDainian Tomlinson, but Peterson as talented as he is, is no Tomlinson, even when healthy. And health is a very big issue. If I was a running back needy team with an early pick, I’d bypass Peterson and wait for a second rounder such as Antonio Pittman of Ohio State or Kenny Irons of Auburn. Michael Bush seems to be dropping down many team’s boards, and he could be a steal in the late second or third round.

I still don’t trust Jamarcus Russell. I think when all is said and done, Troy Smith will have a better NFL career. Too much is made of arm strength. Consider two other much-hyped first round quarterbacks with cannon arms, the just retired Drew Bledsoe and Vinny Testeverde. Both had nice careers, but not exactly championship caliber. Some of the rhetoric about his arm reminds me far too much of Kyle Boller. That didn’t work out so well for the Ravens. As long as my quarterback has a decent arm, I care far more about his understanding of the game and work ethic.

I’m starting to question Brady Quinn more and more as well. I’m certain he will be better in the short and long term than Russell, but I am not convinced that he will be special or worthy of a top five pick. I think he may be more of a Chad Pennington-type with a stronger arm, rather than the next coming of Peyton Manning or even Carson Palmer. He might have a chance to approximate Ben Roethlisberger, which would not be a bad thing at all if you surround him with talent. If he were to fall, as many predict, he would be perfect in St. Louis depending on if they were sold on Bulger long-term.

I’ll agree with most talking heads that there is only about twenty or so players with “first round talent” but there is also some great depth lasting until the middle of round three. If I were a team drafting at the end of round one I would look to trade down into round two and get another pick or two this year or a solid pick for next.

Right now there doesn’t appear to be many teams willing to trade up into the bottom of round one, but that will change once the draft is underway and teams see exactly who is available. There is always a player or two projected to go in the high teens or earlier who drops until the end of round one or even the top of round two. Some team will want to trade up to acquire him. There are also usually a team or two who falls in love with a player slated to go in round two or three, but who is willing to ensure their selection and draft them early at the back end of round one. Teams do crazy stuff when the draft clock is ticking.

I think there is a chance that Detroit will consider Calvin Johnson if the Raiders pass on him, and that may not be a bad move if they have any faith in Trent Edwards or Drew Stanton. They need to consider Mike Williams and Charles Rogers as sunk costs. Though of course the media and Detroit fans would be in an uproar if that pick did occur.

I’m interested to see where Rutgers’ Brian Leonard winds up and if he is utilized as a fullback, a running back or something of a hybrid. The teams most closely tied to him, and all somewhat local are the Jets, Eagles and Patriots. Any of those three teams are creative enough to maximize his skills and talents.

The Raiders picked a bad season to hire and fire Art Shell and earn the first pick of the draft. The consensus best player, Calvin Johnson, is at the one position they are adequately stocked (baring a trade), and their most glaring weakness, quarterback, does not feature a “sure thing” (not that any ever are). I would not put it past them to say “screw it all” pull a Texans and draft someone completely surprising like Gaines Adams, Joe Thomas or Adrian Peterson.

Nineteen year old Amobi Okoye is this year’s DeWayne Robertson, who was only twenty when he was drafted. No one was talking about him during the season. It is only post-combine that he gained steam thanks to media hype. At this point he is mainly potential. I can see a team like the Redskins being mesmerized by that potential and swiping him with the sixth overall pick.

In contrast, I can see Alan Branch become this year’s Vince Wilfolk and slip far too far, only to make the team that ends up drafting him really happy.

I think the biggest problem with some teams’ draft strategies is that they try to outsmart everyone. They over think the draft and think too much about the players “on paper” rather than on field. The best strategy is to figure out which players help your team the most for the next three to four seasons. Draft them. Don’t play games.