Saturday, April 26, 2008

Draft Day 1 Thoughts

When my family lived in Singapore, we once adopted a stray street cat named Wha Zhu. Wha Zhu was an adorable little black cat who had survived on scraps of leftovers from the restaurant that had became his namesake, and didn't adjust to domesticated living well. Whenever we would feed him, he would eat as much as he could (as fast as he could), and would eventually vomit it up. He would repeatedly do this because he had been conditioned to get as much food as he could while he knew it was available.

That's what I'm like with the NFL right now. I'm downright obsessed. I just hope I don't vomit.

Day 1, Team by Team thoughts:

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins look like a team run by Bill Parcells - nothing too flashy, good appraisal of value. Every winning team has a decent left tackle, and Jake Long is considered better than decent. Phillip Merling, their first second round pick, was projected at 17th overall and was a steal at 32. Chad Henne joins his teammate Jake in south Florida - not a bad pick. Considering that you really need two startable quarterbacks in the league, even if John Beck pans out for the Dolphins, Henne could be a need.

St. Louis Rams: The Rams started out well - taking Chris Long, who I felt was the best pick of the draft when considering talent versus risk - but completely threw me by taking Donnie Avery out of Houston with their second round pick. Avery was the first wide receiver taken overall. Does that make sense to you? Maybe St. Louis knows something we all don't. In the bigger scheme of things, they didn't screw up the number 2 overall pick - Long will be great pairing with Adam Carriker, the Ram's 2007 first round pick.

Atlanta Falcons: I really thought that the Falcons would pass up on Matt Ryan. From a PR perspective, Ryan was the guy, as they needed to change the face of the franchise as quickly as possible (sorry Joey Harrington, it's not your face they want), but quarterback is a risky pick unless you're sure the talent translates to the Pro Level. The Falcons made protecting their future a priority in trading up for USC's Sam Baker, and took Curtis Lofton, an Inside Linebacker from Oklahoma. Penn State homerism makes me frown on any linebacker taken before Dan Connor.

Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden. Everybody called it. Character issues aside, the guy is the best pure athlete in the draft, playing the position with the least steep learning curve. I can't fault Al Davis for that. The Raiders don't pick again until the fourth round, so I hope the Arkansas back gets a lot of opportunities to score points and compensate.

Kansas City Chiefs: The winner of the first day of the draft. They got the player that was ranked #1 on many team's draft boards (Glenn Dorsey), the top Guard in the draft, who could also play tackle if needed (Brandon Albert), and a top 5 corner (Brandon Flowers). All three of these prospects were considered first round commodities going into the draft. An aging and hapless team suddenly looks like it's got a shot at the playoffs.

New York Jets: The Jets took the player that they should have, making Vernon Gholston Tom Brady's new enemy. New York had a tough time getting in the backfield last year and had a no-brainer selection here. Unfortunately for gang green, the competency ended here, as they traded up into the first round to select TE Dustin Keller from Purdue - not only not the consensus top tight end, but widely considered to be second or third round talent. Color me flabbergasted.

New England Patriots: The rich get richer. The Saints trade spots in the first round with the Pats, and the evil empire picks up more selections. The Patriots, as usual, did a solid job drafting, taking Jerod Mayo (the top inside linebacker of the draft) and Terrence Wheatley, a project to replace Asante Samuel at corner. Nothing that would blow anyone away, but keep in mind that these guys can find talent in any round.

Baltimore Ravens: Traded around on a hyperactive level. At the end of their wheeling and dealing, they ended up only losing a sixth round pick and gaining a second and third, but the more important thing is a commitment made to the offense. Joe Flacco may be the future of the Ravens, handing off to Ray Rice. Could there be a Ravens team where the defense doesn't carry everyone else? Maybe...

Cincinnati Bengals: Keith Rivers is a needed addition and character guy, so you wonder why the Bengal fans weren't happier when his name was called. Jerome Simpson of Costal Carolina was another head-scratcher pick for wide receiver, as many more well known names, such as Limas Sweed and DeSean Jackson were still on the board at the time. The Bengals did OK, but not well.

New Orleans Saints: Traded up to get Sedrick Ellis, and rightly so. The Bengals would have loved to have had the punishing DT, and the Saints need a defense to go with their flashy offense. Tracy Porter from Indiana was a need pick in the second round, as Mike McKenzie and Jason David are embarrassing excuses at corner. The Saints are marching in on the right path.

Buffalo Bills: I thought the Bills had an excellent first day. They waited on wide receiver, taking top corner and kick returner Leodis McKelvin out of Troy, and were in turn rewarded with James Hardy, a monstrous 6'5" physical specimen at receiver. They now have a big man to complement Lee Evans, and someone who could potentially slow down Randy Moss.

Denver Broncos: Adequate Draft, taking need picks and not over-reaching. Ryan Clady was a good value at 12 and will be destroying defensive linemen's knees in no time, and Eddie Royal was another wide receiver surprise whose kick returning skills would be welcome in Colorado.

Carolina Panthers: Balls out approach, snatching two prospects that I thought may fall to the Steelers. Both Jonathan Stewart and Jeff Otah were taken higher than expected, but I considered both to be value picks at their projected destination. Carolina may get back to pounding the football with a massive new tackle and perhaps the best interior runner in this draft. Well done, but at a steep price to trade up into the first round to snag Otah.

Chicago Bears: Who's running the show in the windy city? The selection of Chris Williams isn't bad, as the offensive line in Chicago is getting up in age, but who takes Tulane's Matt Forte when you have a shot at replacing Rex Grossman? The Bear's backfield is garbage and their the only ones who don't seem to know it.

Detroit Lions: Continuing the tradition of crappy personnel decisions, they take Godser Cherilus far too early. Pittsburgh fans were pissed at the thought of him being taken at 23. Maybe Jordon Dizon is a great find at linebacker, but why not take the guy out of Linebacker U?

Arizona Cardinals: 'Zona was going through the bargain bin - in a good way. Both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Calais Campbell were slightly risky picks (as Rodgers-Cromartie has one kidney and Campbell's 6'8" frame makes him one slow DE), but thats what it takes to revamp a historically bad franchise. I like the looks of their first day.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aqib Talib was a terrible pick at 20. Mike Jenkins is arguably a better corner and didn't fail drug tests and was still on the board, not to mention that all receivers were still on the board. Dexter Jackson could be a project that pays dividends, but I didn't understand the Tampa mindset today.

Dallas Cowboys: Dallas did a good job of taking appropriate talent while filling needs, but that's significantly easier when you have Cleveland's first round pick. Mike Jenkins shouldn't have lasted till 25, and while I wondered why they took Felix Jones over Rashard Mendenhall, he was their new 'back from day one of the offseason. Martellus Bennett is a hometown hero from A&M, but with Witten in town, is another playmaking TE needed?

Pittsburgh Steelers: I didn't recognize my team anymore. TWO of the top playmaking names fell to the less than glitzy Steelers, and they took them both! Rashard Mendenhall will be a great compliment to Willie Parker, and if Limas Sweed can come back from his wrist injury, the Steelers will score 35 points per game. Offensive Line is still a worry, but as far as best player available goes, the steelers did well.

Tennessee Titans: Worst drafting team for the day. Chris Johnson is an incredibly fast running back, but was not a good pick in the first round when Vince Young has no receivers. To add insult to injury, DE was favored in the second round over WR once again.

Jacksonville Jaguars: They overpaid for Derrick Harvey and overpaid for Quinten Groves. They aren't a team with a lot of holes, so this shouldn't set them back. Not a bad job, but you have to wonder what they were thinking.

Houston Texans: The Texans did the responsible thing, addressing offensive line with Virginia Tech's Duane Brown. Unfortunately, given the run on linemen earlier in the round, it wasn't the best value. This was a need pick.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers know how to draft, filling one of their few holes in getting a third corner. Antoine Cason was drafted where he was appropriately projected, and will help the Chargers pick off quarterbacks more often than any other defense in the league.

Seattle Seahwaks: Puzzling to see a team take DE Lawrence Jackson when they could have easily had their pick of Wide Recievers or Tight Ends - two areas of need. John Carlson from Notre Dame was taken in the second round, but the Seahawks could have probably traded down and netted the same two players with a late 2nd round reciever.

San Francisco 49ers: The kind of draft you'd expect for a rebuilding team. They injected their O-line with another shot of youth in Chilo Rachal after drafting Joe Staley last year, but not before taking Kentwan Balmer, a slightly risky candidate, at DT. Winning less than six games makes you want to roll the dice a little now and then.

New York Giants: The Giants dedicated the first day's picks to their secondary, a conceived point of weakness during their super bowl run. Kenny Phillips is a start-right-away player and was a good call, and Terrell Thomas has the chance to grow into a starting cornerback. Good haul.

Green Bay Packers: Really solid draft for a team who didn't use a first round pick. Jordy Nelson is a beast at reciever and Brian Brohm should light a fire under Aaron Rodgers if Brett Farve's legacy isn't doing that already.

Philadelphia Eagles: Another year, another D-lineman taken. Trevor Laws was an OK pick, only because DeSean Jackson was available two picks later. Finally, a playmaker at receiver - not to mention his return skills. Also, Philly traded their first rounder to Carolina, so 2009 should be a bonanza for the Eagles.

And yes, I did have fun watching today's draft. It's like Christmas in April.

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