Friday, April 25, 2008

2008 NFL Draft Preview

If the sundresses are out and the Orioles have yet to be mathematically eliminated then it must be April and NFL draft season!!!

My take on this year’s draft class is that it’s well below average at the top, but somewhat underrated thereafter. While most skill positions appear to be a crapshoot, there looks to be some real value late in round one and throughout round two. Some teams are going to “guess” right and walk away with great players, late. As you’ll see I think the QB and Tackle positions offers some incredible upside with less than typical risk.

Amazingly, the top picks are inhabited by a new flock of teams. St. Louis picks in the top five for the first time since Walt Pace, Atlanta since the dude that killed dogs but not people and was therefore incarcerated (oh, so NOT Leonard Little), and the Chiefs for the first time since botching the Ryan Sims pick (Thomas’s boy). Per the NBA Super Draft, I’ll be gratuitously adding fake nicknames throughout.

Top Offensive Players

1) Surely Long Jake Long – yup, one player in and I’ve already made a dong joke. Let me get this out there: it’s uncomfortable how much I like Jake Long. His fake offensive line stats: he allowed two sacks his entire Michigan CAREER (one this season to Vernon Gholston), he committed two penalties in his Michigan CAREER (43 games- one false start, one hold). Jake Long is Joe Thomas Part Two, Look who’s Joe Thomas too. The general plotline goes: fan base clamoring for a sexy offensive skill player, team does the smart thing and takes bookend tackle, previously unheralded QB all the sudden starts to play pretty durn good, the running game improves immensely, and the team improves 4 to 6 games. Great left tackles are never on horrible teams. If you’re gonna pay an unknown a kagillion dollars why not pick a player who starts from day one and makes every other offensive player on your team more valuable? I’m not happy the Dolphins took the fun out of the speculation, but it’s tough to fault them.

2) (Tie) Darren Xzibit McFadden/ Jonathan Kordell’s Cousin Stewart (no, seriously) - Let’s gets this straight Xzibit is Not Adrian Peterson. Yes he’s better in space than Rocky’s wife, but he doesn’t get those hidden yards. You know, those yards when the back gets hit at the line but somehow it’s second and six or seven? Here’s the thing, I’m sold on McFadden as a good back, but I am most certainly not sold on him as a game changing superstar. To draft a back this high he needs to be special, like once or twice in a generation special. Looking back ten or so years, the only backs picked in the top 10 that fit that description are Tomlinson, Peterson, and Curtis Enis. Just fooling, Tomlinson ain’t all that. As for Kordell’s Cousin I honestly think he’s nearly as good of a back and possibly more complete in terms of his catching ability than McFadden—provided he doesn't get caught crying on the sidelines or end up with crazy shit growing on his face like his cuzzin'. I also think he represents a lot more value in the late teens or early twenties versus D-Mac’s $20M+ guaranteed. Unless the guy is a surefire super, duper star, don’t take a back in the Top 5, and even if he is a can’t miss, still don’t take him.

Speaking of not losing yards… what’s with this thingy???

3) Brian Brohm-icide- Reason 6 million I’ll never get the draft? Brohm was supposed to be a top 10 pick last year. He decides to come back and in doing so he answers questions about his durability. He throws for 30 TDs, completes 65% of his passes (which is his four year average) and throws for 4,000 yards. So now he’s a second rounder? Whaaaa? I think Brohm is a top shelf NFL starter, who could be Carson Palmer good. Teams like the Dolphins, Falcons, or Chiefs should all be looking Brohm’s way at the top of round 2, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see another team trade into the bottom of round 1 to get him. Dude is gonna be good, like Qdoba good.

4) Jeff Sub Shack Otah- To me Otah is the only other obvious bookend, probably at right tackle. The kid is raw, but just massive, like Good Burger fat. You don’t play with Jeff Otah, you play among him. Plus he’s one of these born in Africa didn’t play till he was a senior year type of guys. I’m always partial to those guys. There are too many successes to ignore. Plus, worst case scenario you fucked up the pick but drafted a 350 pound Nigerian.

5) (Tie) John David Booty Call (too obvious? John David Black Tail? JD Treasure?) and Sam Baker. I once read an article by Malcolm Gladwell about how he would draft if he knew very little about sports (this was in reference to the NBA). Essentially he said he’d pick the best players on the elite teams. He then went through a hypothetical draft over the last several years and showed how he could assemble a fantastic team by just picking in the middle of the first round from college basketball’s elite programs. Now this may seem obvious, but look at the projected top picks: there are players like McFadden whose team had 5 losses and other players like Otah or Chris Williams from Vandy who missed a bowl game altogether. This is a long-winded way of saying: pick the quarterback and left tackle from USC. They’ve been a borderline dynasty for going on five years now and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that their QB and the man that’s protecting said QB have to be pretty good. Baker and JDB have been tested in pressure situations, have been practicing with NFL-caliber teammates, and have run an NFL-style offense for four years. This is an extremely bold call, but John David Booty could be a poor man’s Tom Brady (by that I mean a pro-bowl QB). And Sam Baker has started since he was a freshman, first protecting Leinart then Booty. I’ve seen Baker projected in the second round and Booty in the third and wonder if the last several years of USC dominance meant nothing? I love these two guys and think they’ll make outstanding pros.

Top Defensive Players

1) Glenn “The Astronaut” Dorsey- Glenn Dorsey just sounds like an old white engineer at NASA to me. Either that or some lame-ass jazz musician who played the cornet and got laughed at because he declined the invitation to shoot heroin with Charlie Parker. The Astronaut was the best player on the best defense in the country. It’s funny because I loved him last year and wanted the Skins to take him at six but playing all year with that injury scares me a bit. That being said, he’s probably the most talented player in the draft and is the type of guy who will hide a defense’s shortcomings.

2) Chris Firestorm Long- Chris Long has A.D.D., hypertension, and probably lupus. I’ve seen most of his games, including several in person, and this is the only explanation for how insane he is on the field. The best pro comparison I can come up with is fellow Wahoo and current Seahawk Pat Kearney, only Kearney’s best game is Firestorm’s every game. I’m not sure he’ll have sack totals equal to a player like Gholston or even Derrick Harvey, but his impact on every aspect of the game will be noticeable. Watching Chris Long in person will his defense and even his offense to win this year at Maryland was one of the most memorable things I’ve ever witnessed on a football field. With a gun to my head I’d probably even take him before Dorsey.

3) Sedrick The Bus-Drivin’ Murderer Ellis- so every year a player emerges who is thought to be a first/second round fringe player goes to the Senior Bowl and dominates. Last year it was Dwayne Bowe, which worked out OK, and this year it was Sed. The dude was unblockable. I love Ellis and think he’s gonna be uber productive. The main concern is that he’s undersized at 6’1” but his motor erases those concerns. Unless we're talking about the motor of the bus he drives when he murders people.

4) Dan Spoony Love Connor- Before getting hurt Connor’s teammate Paul Posluszny was off to a great NFL start. Here’s the thing: Connor was the better of the two and the most deceptively athletic player I’ve ever seen. Dan Connor could be Zach Thomas good and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. Linebackers tend to be lower risk picks and Connor is going to anchor the middle for a lot of years for whoever picks him.

5) Vernon Appendages Gholston- Black Mamula? Or a dominant edge pass rusher? The Good: He had 14 sacks this year, including 4 in a game. The Bad: He had just 25 solo tackles. The Good: ridiculously athletic. The Bad: can disappear from games. I think Gholston’s career will be a series of contradictions. Essentially he’s Ryan Howard. 50 home runs and 200 strikeouts. Gholston will have just monster games, and then just shit the bed in others. That being said, dude is enormous and named Vernon so he can’t be that bad.

Other Notables:

Matt Ryan- I actually like Matt Ryan. He’d be the next one on the offensive list above, but I have no clue how he became a top 10 pick? He does certain things better than Booty or Brohm, and certainly things not as well. I think he’ll be an NFL starter, but is he a sure thing? Hardly. His combination of intelligence, leadership, and size make him an intriguing pick, but I don’t see him as that much better than the other top QBs. Ryan could, and to be honest, should be the best of this bunch, but I’d rather take a player like Chris Long and get Brohm or Henne in Round 2 than reach on Ryan.

Chad Old Speckled Henne- four year starter at Michigan, won a lot of games, but unlike that other Michigan QB, he didn’t win the big one (0 for 4 versus Mo Clarett’s alum). That being said, I think Henne belongs with the Ryan, Brohm, Booty crowd as a future NFL starter. He has some physical limitations that the others don’t have, but he’s run Michigan’s offense for four years and I think he’ll be a quick learn in the NFL. Again, Michigan alum, future starter, not Tom Brady, but maybe Jim Harbaugh.

Branden Morbidly Obese Albert- As detailed last year with Ben Grubbs, I’m a huge fan of taking the best guard, but not if you expect him to play tackle. Albert played two games at tackle and apparently that’s gonna make him a ton of money. I read an article that Albert is blown away by this first round talk and really thought he’d be a third or fourth rounder. Should this concern teams? Yo dog, I appreciate it or whatever, but I’m really not all that. As my buddy Thomas points out: if he’s good enough to be a left tackle in the NFL then why wasn’t he a left tackle at UVa? Picking Albert as the first guard in the 20s: Yes! Picking him in the top 10 at a position he’s never played: Um.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie-Deion-Darrell Green-Rod Woodson-Ripken-Jr. All I know is DRC had a great Senior Bowl and at some point added Cromartie to his last name to highlight the fact that he and Antonio are cousins. I love this concept. I wonder if Obama will campaign as Barack Obama-Cheney to win the key angry, white, get the hell off my lawn vote?

Aqib Talib- will be a Mike Rumph Roast type bust playing for the Quad City Spungoes in three years or will be an Asante Samuel type ball-hawking corner. There’s literally no in-between. I suppose if football doesn’t work out he can always go back to The Roots Crew.

James Hardy- The wideouts this year scare the hell out of me and I wouldn’t touch any until late round one. The nearly 6’6” Hardy would be the first one I’d take. After watching him abuse Justin King this year, I was sold. I’m not sure he’s a true number 1, but I see flashes of Plaxico in this kid, right down to the character concerns.

Joe Flacco- So let me get this straight, I’m supposed to use a late first rounder on a kid that couldn’t win the starter job at Pitt and had to transfer to Maryland’s Canada to play? He’s no Rich Gannon, especially when Henne, Booty, and Brohm are in the same range. Doesn’t “Joe Flacco” just sound like a bust? Mark my words: in three years, you'll find him permanently glued to a bar stool in Dewey Beach with Gino Carmazzi, hitting on a couple of leathery skanks who still remember him from his days as a Blue Hen.

Antoine Sausage Cason- very underrated corner. I think he belongs with the first round crop, especially with his special team ability.

Devin Thomas- Just one year of major college football mean that as a top 15 pick he scares the shit out of me. Plus Devin Thomas sounds like a below average NBA 12th man.

Derrick Harvey- love this kid like I loved Jarvis Moss last year. I think he’ll be a pro-bowler.

Rashard Kids in the Mendenhall- I can't in good conscience endorse a Big Ten runningback… but once again, I love this kid. He’s slippery and put up FU numbers all year including against a great SC team that was keying on him during the Rose Bowl.

Frank Okam- An underrated great sleeper. Like he literally goes into a state of inactivity and metabolic depression every winter. I hope the Skins grab him late.

OK, this is taking forever, lightening round:

Ryan Clady- pro: baby fat, con: baby strength. Bust.

Brandon Flowers - Underrated, should be a good pro.

Leodis McKelvin from Troy- Sylvester Morris on line one.

UTEP's Oniel Cousins? Naa, close friends.

Phil Merling- not a real person, no one, I mean NO ONE, had heard of him before the draft process started.

Limas Sweed- belongs in last year's all-name draft. Great upside, love him as a second rounder. Poor Man's Roy Williams. Dude's named Limas.

Fred Davis- Decent actual tight end, underrated fantasy tight end.

Mario Enron Manningham- costing himself more money than Gilbert Arenas.

Pat Sims- big man, big fan.

Xavier Adibi- sounds like someone I'd like.

Erin Henderson- when healthy he or she is fantastic.

Chris Johnson- Trung Candidate, but awesome to watch:

Anyway, that's all for 2008. Sorry for the belatedness. As always, in Kiper we trust...


Wilson said...

OK I had to stop halfway through because I had never heard that prank call before. ASTOUNDING.

Srikant Narasimhan said...

Chris Johnson video song lyrics...

"My heart is purple and gold, I am a Pirate down to my soul. I dont back down, not at all...find out when the cannons explode."

These people are singing about being from ECU

That slays me.

Ryan Smith said...

That Spoony video is indeed amazing.

Did anyone else catch homeless Sonny Vaccaro sitting behind Keith Davis during the draft? He was the guy who handed Davis a Chiefs hat AFTER KC picked someone not named Keith Davis? I wish I could find a picture of this guy. He looked a little too happy when Keith got picked, like "Alright! We made it!"

I also enjoyed learning that Matt Ryan's nickname in college was "Matty Ice."

Mike LeGower said...

Pick the tackle from USC, eh? Yeah. Let's just forget that Winston Justice gave up about 700 sacks to Osi Umenyiora in one game this season.

Seriously though, if you can tell me how to forget that, I will pay you.

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