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Draft King Analysis

January 13, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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Just a few minutes ago I posted a new mock draft. It will likely change here soon when the remaining juniors on the fence about the NFL makes their decisions about staying or going, but I wanted to remove Malcolm Jenkins from the one I had (which had him at #10 overall) and also update it to reflect Indianapolis and Dallas losing, which impacted the order toward the end of the draft.

Ryan Clady
Will OT Ryan Clady end up in Kansas City? (Stanley Brewster/Icon SMI)

In my latest mock, I have Boise State offensive tackle Ryan Clady going at the #5 spot. That may seem surprising for a redshirt junior offensive lineman from the WAC, but Clady is an impressive player who has great size at 6'6" 315-320. Kansas City, which will draft at either #4 or #5, is in a tough spot in that they desperately need a top-tier offensive lineman, they likely won't have a chance to draft Michigan OT Jake Long unless they trade up, and because trading into (and out of) the top five is very difficult due to the rookie salary cap, dealing down isn't a particularly viable option.

So what is a team to do? In that case we may end up seeing if history repeats, as this mirrors the need of Arizona in the 2007 Draft at #5, and under similar circumstances the Cardinals "stretched" to draft Penn State OT Levi Brown.

If there's one potential huge problem for Clady, it's that people are going to look at his performance at Washington where he committed four false start penalties in a noisy environment and wonder if he can handle the noise of pressure NFL situations on the road. One game does not make a player, but that is going to be something that Clady will have to prove was an aberration and not an indication of any difficulty he has performing in a loud stadium.

If Clady fades, there's a chance that Pittsburgh offensive tackle Jeff Otah might move into contention for the second OT spot (with Sam Baker's stock dropping as of late); Otah is also huge at 6'6" 340, though he may not have the experience that the Chiefs would be looking for with an offensive tackle at the #4 or #5 spot. Though, as of the last update, I don't have Otah even going in round one, though he will likely be in the mix in there with a number of teams.

CB Malcolm Jenkins has decided to return to Ohio State, instantly making himself one of the top prospects for 2009. But the move also moves everyone up one slot, and if fellow corner Reggie Smith of Oklahoma opts to return to school (which could easily happen as Smith is still recovering from a break to the big toe on his right foot that he suffered in the Big XII Title game), the supply for the cornerback position will dwindle even further.

Tomorrow should provide information on not only Smith, but also James Laurinaitis, Felix Jones, and perhaps even DeSean Jackson as to what they will choose to do for the draft.

Ryan Grant
Ryan Grant has been a nice surprise for Green Bay. (Allen Fredrickson/Icon SMI)

This past weekend's NFL action was thrilling, and even a game that ended in a blowout like Seattle/Green Bay had the switch of the Seahawks going up 14-0 early and then the Packers rallying back in impressive fashion. While I've had the Packers lined up with a running back in the mock on here for quite some time now, the emergence of Ryan Grant had me questioning the decision. After the second Grant fumble, it looked bad for him... but then, in truly impressive fashion, Grant put that out of his mind. Despite very slick field conditions, Grant managed to run for 201 yards. Not too shabby.

As it was, I was never entirely comfortable with the RB-to-Packers first round idea since Green Bay used a second round pick on Brandon Jackson last year, but especially in the past week with so many RBs entering the draft, it seems more likely that the Packers would wait to draft another RB.

The NFL is interesting like that: every now and then, a running back gains an unexpected opportunity, and he parlays that into a breakout. Sometimes it is fleeting (Timmy Smith in the Super Bowl for the Redskins), but other times it lasts longer, such as Willie Parker becoming such a great player for the Steelers after toiling in obscurity at North Carolina. To what degree Grant, a Notre Dame grad, is able to take advantage of this opportunity long-term remains to be seen.

At the moment I don't have any tight ends in the first round, but if one ends up there, all signs point to USC senior tight end Fred Davis being the best of the bunch. His timed speed at the combine (should he decide to run there) will be most interesting to see, since his listed times range from 4.65 to 4.85. In a league where *everyone* is fast, those two tenths of a second could make a huge difference for him.

As far as how the NFL conference championship games will impact the draft order, the Giants would skyrocket from #25 to #31/32 with a win in Green Bay next week. They meet in the late game, for the record, which likely means it's going to extra cold for the battle of two teams with starting QBs who played their college ball in the state of Mississippi. For San Diego, the leap would be from #26 to #31/32, but I imagine that the Chargers (and Giants for that matter) would gladly lose a few spots for a chance to play in the Super Bowl.

One more thing with the Chargers: remember that they will lose RB Michael Turner to unrestricted free agency this off-season. Rather than try to trade him last summer to get something for him before it was too late, San Diego opted to keep him for this year, a move which paid off in spades with LaDainian Tomlinson missing most of the Colts game with a bruised knee. But keep that in the back of your mind; I'd suggest that, besides Patriots CB Asante Samuel, RB Michael Turner may be the most sought-after player in free agency. Where Turner goes could (and probably will) have a direct impact on the draft.


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