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Draft King Analysis

April 26, 2008
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

Reader feedback is always welcomed here at DraftKing.com. Send your thoughts to me at LouPickney@gmail.com.


Lou: (1:38 ET) I've flipped back and forth on the draft coverage on both the NFL Network and ESPN in the past few minutes, and both are doing the best they can to fill the vacuum of time until the draft officially begins at 3 p.m. ET. On NFLN, Deion Sanders did an interesting evaluation of where players who will be in attendance will go (walking along the almost-vacant table area), and he had me until he pronounced anxiety as "an-ix-iety". He's still a smooth talker, though.

Over to ESPN, it was Mel Kiper vs. Todd McShay. There are pros and cons to having two draft analysts in the mix. Having two outlooks is better than one, at least in theory, though ESPN also undercuts Kiper's credibility by having someone to challenge (and at times in recent weeks actually argue against) Kiper's projections. I think there's someone in power at ESPN who enjoys having talking heads yell at each other.

In a valuable segment, it was interesting to see Kiper break down why he felt that Joe Flacco (QB, Delaware) should be the second QB to go. Meanwhile, McShea made the case for why he felt Brian Brohm (QB, Louisville) is the #2 QB prospect. I've stuck with Brohm as a mid-first rounder in my projections, as I suspect there are teams that may be waiting to take him as a moderate surprise in that spot. But, even if that does happen, Kiper's prediction of a team trading into the late first round to take Flacco could *also* happen. Or we might see only one QB taken in the first round -- we shall see.

ESPN lost me when they brought in a physical therapist to take about soft tissue. I had flashbacks to my freshman year at the University of Evansville and being stuck in Chemistry 111 (as opposed to the much easier Chemistry 101) with a bunch of hyper-competitive physical therapy majors, so that's enough of that for now.

Nothing is settled yet as far as the draft goes beyond #1 -- rumors continue to fly about several players, but the validity of many of these rumors, many of which are contradictory to one another, has to be questioned. Between agents wanting to pump up players and teams wanting to deflate them with red herrings (in the hopes of a player falling to them), the spin is going strong.

Lou: (1:52 ET) ESPN is talking basketball right now, which I'll take over soft tissue. I never get to write about Stephen A. Smith on here, since this is a football website, but I'm a fan of his. His articulation and vocabulary might make his points go over the heads of some fans, and it has created a backlash from some, but I'll that over dumbed-down and simplified anytime. Believe me, I know about writing for TV after spending five years in the television news business, but if nothing else SAS stands out among the world of talking heads.

Still no word on teams trading up or down, but that likely won't happen until the draft begins. Ditto for any word on Jeremy Shockey going to the Saints. If it happens, it might not be until mid-draft. Or the Giants might be holding out hope that Seattle (or another club) will cough up more for him than the Saints.

Lou: (2:00 ET) According to ProFootballTalk.com, Adam Schefter of the NFL Network is reporting that the Atlanta Falcons will take Matt Ryan at the #3 spot if he's there. As always, treat everything you hear on draft day with skepticism, but that's a rumor I can believe -- even if I ultimately projected DT Glenn Dorsey going to the Falcons over Ryan, a decision that I went back and forth on going down to my own self-imposed deadline last night.

Lou: (2:25 ET) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was on NFLN a few minutes ago, and he came across very well. His interaction with Steve Mariucci was great -- the Commish showed good personality while also being intelligent and articulate. He had a very difficult task in replacing the great Paul Tagliabue, who himself had the challenge of replacing the late Pete Rozelle in 1989. So far Goodell has proven to be a solid boss for the league, one who has taken a no-nonsense attitude (for better or worse) toward off-the-field incidents. He is both liked and respected from all indications I've had, both internally and externally with the league, which is a very difficult combo to pull off.

Lou: (2:41 ET) I heard ESPN's Steve Young reiterate a point that I heard him make earlier in the week in saying that Matt Ryan is the only "franchise" quarterback that will be in this draft -- or the next. I respectfully disagree with him; consider that, this time last year, Ryan didn't look like a first round QB, let alone a top five prospect.

Lou: (2:54 ET) The first laugh out loud moment of the day (besides an-ix-iety) was seeing the Mike Mayock list of players by position on NFLN and seeing his #1 TE, Purdue's Dustin Keller and the negative being: Won't Block. Maybe we're slap-happy here at the house waiting for the draft to start, but that was funny. Also, I think Mayock is way off on Darren McFadden (#12 overall, #2 RB behind Rashard Mendenhall), but as always, time will tell how accurate of an assessment that was.

Also, I really like the ESPN HD presentation with extra stats in the space that regular ESPN viewers can't see. That's a nice touch that matches how they've approached their ESPN News HD display.

Lou: (3:04 ET) The Dolphins didn't waste any time in putting in the pick for Jake Long. It was a smart move by NFLN to go commercial-free for the first three picks (and to promote it ahead of time), whereas ESPN ducked into commercials soon after the first pick was made.

Lou: (3:06 ET) Note that the new NFL logo has debuted at this draft, with fewer stars on it than the old one. Why? Because it makes it easier to reproduce for officially licensed merchandise. Seriously, that's what I've been told is the reason. The new logo looks good; they didn't stray far from the old one. They could have pulled a WCW circa 1999 and ruined their logo, but they had enough sense to keep it looking good.

Lou: (3:12 ET) Chris Long has gone at #2 to the Rams. NFLN had a split-screen with Long and the Commish when the pick was made, which could have created an awkward moment had Glenn Dorsey gone in that spot.

Lou: (3:18 ET) The Falcons snagged Boston College QB Matt Ryan. It's not what I projected with my final mock, but it makes a great deal of sense for the team.

Now here comes a very interesting decision: will it be LSU DT Glenn Dorsey or Arkansas RB Darren McFadden at #4 for the Raiders? Or will it be another player?

NFLN is having audio problems -- time to flip to ESPN.

Lou: (3:27 ET) Darren McFadden goes to Oakland! My roommate Dustin, who is a Broncos fan, is not happy. My friend Scott (of 2004 commentary fame) is a Jets fan and not happy that McFadden won't be going there. Fun times at the 2008 Draft! The speed of this is making my head spin.

Lou: (3:32 ET) The Jeremy Shockey to New Orleans deal may be dead, with the talk being that the Saints are offering multiple picks (including their 2008 second rounder) to the Chiefs to move up from #10 to #5 to get Dorsey. If they pull it off, it's a great move for the Saints. It would also be good for the Jets potentially to get Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston at #6 if it plays out like that.

Lou: (3:35 ET) The Chiefs take Glenn Dorsey! Interesting move considering that the Chiefs drafted defensive linemen Turk McBride and Tank Tyler on day one last year, but perhaps they plan to move McBride to DE, where he played sometimes at the University of Tennessee?

Also, is it just my Comcast cable's connection, or is NFLN having continuing audio problems, particularly from the desk?

Lou: (3:44 ET) It was a logical move for the Jets to take Vernon Gholston at #6 with him still on the board. Nothing too crazy has happened... at least not yet.

I finally heard from my friend Gary, who is my go-to Raiders fan, and he is thrilled about Oakland drafting McFadden. Apparently lots of people were blowing up his phone with calls/texts (myself included) to either congratulate him or to get his take. He also concurs with my projection of the Patriots taking USC OLB Keith Rivers at #7, though this is the point in the draft where things could really start to become unpredictable.

Lou: (3:51 ET) Leapfrog! As I suspected might happen, the Patriots have traded down with New Orleans. I presume that the Saints will take USC DT Sedrick Ellis at the spot. If that holds true, it will be a blow to the Cincinnati Bengals, who many presumed would take Ellis at #9 if he was on the board at that spot.

Lou: (3:52 ET) No Dorsey for New Orleans, but the Saints filled their defensive tackle need with Sedrick Ellis. It was a nice move by both teams, in my opinion. The Pats should be able to still select from among most (if not all of the) CBs at #10.

News just broke of the Jags trading with Baltimore for the #8 spot. The NFLN guys think it's to take Florida DE Derrick Harvey, which is possible but not a lock. It also puts the Ravens in a position to take a QB at a much later spot in round one (#26), should they opt to go in that direction. I could only imagine what the Jags had to give up to Baltimore to move up.

Lou: (4:04 ET) And it is Harvey going to Jacksonville at #8. It appears (via the "ESPN Exclusive" video of Keith Rivers) that he'll be going to Cincinnati at the #9 spot. Meanwhile, my buddy Adam, who is a Panthers fan, is unhappy about Harvey going to Jacksonville, as he hoped Carolina would be able to take him (as I projected) at #13.

Lou: (4:14 ET) The lustful booing of the Patriots' pick at #10 by Jets fans was amusing. New England taking Jerod Mayo at #10 surprised me, though he shot up late in the process and probably should have been someone I made room for in my first round mock. But the Pats needed help at ILB, and Mayo was arguably the best option at that position in the draft.

Lou: (4:20 ET) Lucky Buffalo had their choice of the CB crop, and they picked Troy CB Leodis McKelvin. That was a need spot for the Bills dating back to the loss of Nate Clements to free agency last year, and it was a strong pickup.

Lou: (4:23 ET) As I predicted, Denver traded Boise State OT Ryan Clady. Between trades and varying evaluations, it becomes tougher and tougher to make accurate projections the further you get from the #1 spot. Clady will be a great addition to the Broncos.

Lou: (4:28 ET) The selection of Jonathan Stewart by Carolina is somewhat surprising, but I like it. Even if Stewart isn't 100% healthy by training camp (recovering from surgery on his turf toe injury), the Panthers have DeAngelo Williams there to carry the load. Two RB systems remain en vogue in the NFL, and for Carolina they should have a nice boost added to their offense in the form of the large but very fast Stewart.

Lou: (4:37 ET) Chicago made a smart move by landing Vanderbilt OT Chris Williams. Offensive tackle was a need spot for the Bears, and Williams is a player who could find himself in the mix right away.

Lou: (4:41 ET) NFL.com is experiencing slowdown. That, combined with the crash earlier today of ProFootballTalk.com, is a strong indication to me of how much the draft is being followed online this year.

Lou: (4:44 ET) Detroit has traded down with Kansas City, which made its move to fill an offensive line need with Virginia OG Branden Albert. The Chiefs had better hope that Albert will be able to be as successful making a transition to offensive tackle as many have projected he will.

Lou: (4:49 ET) Marshall Faulk on NFLN just used the term "runability" - is that a real word?

Lou: (4:53 ET) The Cardinals selected Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie of Tennessee State, which I suspect disappointed many in the Houston Texans war room. DRC would have been a major steal at #18, but instead he becomes an excellent pickup by Arizona.

Lou: (4:58 ET) Detroit still has taken only one defensive player this decade (Ernie Sims in 2006), as the Lions made a bit of a stretch in taking Boston College OT Gosder Cherilus. ESPN was in commercial when that happened; I've found myself sticking with NFLN more than ESPN to this point, which has surprised me considering that I expected it to go the other way as far as which network I watched more.

Lou: (5:06 ET) It's no surprise to me that Baltimore moved back up in the draft, jumping to #18 and selecting Delaware QB Joe Flacco. I still think Brian Brohm is vastly underrated, but there is no denying Flacco's size and strong arm. But he has been a shotgun QB, and adjusting to a three-or-five step drop and the speed of NFL defensive ends will be a challenge.

Lou: (5:11 ET) The Panthers trade with Philly to get the Eagles' #19 pick and take... Pitt OT Jeff Otah. That makes five offensive linemen taken with the first 19 picks in the draft. I don't understand Carolina's obsession with adding another tackle from an outsider's perspective, but Otah represented the last player at the spot before a bit of a drop-off.

Sam Baker
USC OT Sam Baker (Icon SMI)

Lou: (5:22 ET) ESPN had dueling "exclusive" coverage of Devin Thomas and DeSean Jackson up, but the Bucs selected Kansas CB Aqib Talib. The marijuana issue with him allegedly kept him off of some teams' draft boards altogether, but his talent helped him earn a top twenty spot regardless. Ronde Barber can't play forever, and while the Cover 2 emphasizes safety over corner, you still need to have skilled players at corner for it to work. It's notable that no wideouts have been drafted yet, which doesn't particularly surprise me.

Will this be a repeat of 1990, where the first wide receiver wasn't taken until the 26th pick overall? Doubtful, but it is worth noting. There should be a run on wideouts that starts either late in round one or somewhere in the second round.

Lou: (5:30 ET) So much for Washington having their pick of the litter at WR at #21. Instead, they dealt the pick to Atlanta, who continued the run on offensive lineman by stretching to take USC OT Sam Baker. There was a time when Baker looked like a first round pick, and though his stock slipped down the stretch and in the off-season, he ended up going in the top 21. Very interesting.

Lou: (5:38 ET) I nailed my projection for #22, as the Dallas Cowboys selected Arkansas RB Felix Jones. You want a great complimentary RB to go with Marion Barber? Cowboys fans, you have him.

Lou: (5:45 ET) It back-to-back RBs, as Pittsburgh selected Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall. Great value there, and his size mixed with Willie Parker's speed makes that Pittsburgh offense even more dangerous. The way it worked out I think is a win/win for both Cowboys and Steelers fans.

The Titans are on the clock. They can have any WR they want; perhaps I'll regret my last-minute decision to project them taking Auburn DE/OLB Quentin Groves instead of a wide receiver. Vince Young needs a star talent; this should be fun to see play out.

Lou: (5:51 ET) Arrrrrgh. The Titans, who used a pick *last year* on a speed RB (Univ. of Arizona Chris Henry), stretched to take East Carolina RB Chris Johnson. On the upside, Johnson can return kicks well, but that shocked me. I'm hypersensitive to the Titans living in the suburbs of Nashville, but that one took me by surprise. Is there something wrong with Chris Henry?

Meanwhile, Seattle is sitting pretty with the chance to take a WR of their choice.

Lou: (6:04 ET) Forget Seattle for now; Dallas moves up and selects USF CB Mike Jenkins. The Cowboys, with Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins, are arguably on pace to have the best draft of them all. Well done by Jerry Jones and company.

Lou: (6:08 ET) The Texans select... Virginia Tech OT Duane Brown. WHAT?!? I know there was a run on offensive tackles, but that really surprised me. As I predicted from the outset, there will be a run on WRs... but when?

Lou: (6:10 ET) Great selection by San Diego in taking Arizona CB Antoine Cason. I thought they might take Miami, FL FS Kenny Phillips, but Cason is a solid player who is a strong selection for a team that won't pick again (barring a trade) until the fifth round.

Meanwhile, Seattle is on the board, and they have another chance to take any WR of their liking. Advantage: Seahawks.

We have company here at the house, so I'm going to wrap this up once round one ends. I wasn't sure how I'd like the shorter first round, but it has moved faster and been more exciting than I expected. Well done, NFL.

Lou: (6:17 ET) It's fun having several people over here to either praise or pan the picks. Lawrence Jackson (DE from USC) going to the Seahawks received jeers, particularly with Seattle having such a strong need at WR.

Will the 49ers finally end the dry spell for wideouts in this draft?

Lou: (6:19 ET) Wow. San Fran took Kentwan Balmer, a boom-or-bust DT from North Carolina. Is he really a good choice for a 3-4 defense? I have my doubts. And, now, we have a very good chance of seeing the entire first round go without a wide receiver being taken.

Lou: (6:22 ET) The Jets have moved up to #30, with Green Bay wisely sliding down, as is the norm for them. Will the Jets end the wideout drought?

Lou: (6:29 ET) The Jets selected Purdue TE Dustin Keller. That's right, a tight end went before a wide receiver. This is surprising to me, but clearly the Jets saw tight end as a need, particularly a receiving tight end. See 2:54 ET on the "Won't Block" negative on him.

By the way, I've been sticking with ESPN as of late. Not a knock on NFLN, just mixing it up a bit. Naturally, I finished that sentence and ESPN went to commercial. But such is life in the NFL Draft.

One thing I haven't missed this year are those filler interviews with coaches via videophone that they used to use when the first round had 15 minutes per pick. Less fluff, more substance works for me.

Lou: (6:37 ET) With the final pick of round one, the Super Bowl champion New York Giants select... Miami FS Kenny Phillips. A great pick by a team that needed help in the secondary. Well done, Super Bowl Champs.

And, with that, I'm done with the running commentary for the 2008 Draft. I hope your favorite team ended up with a player (or players) that satisfied you.


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