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Draft King Analysis

October 16, 2008
Lou Pickney,

Reader feedback is always welcomed here. Send your thoughts to Draft King at

Before I get to the mailbag, a few notes:

John McCargo
John McCargo has a herniated disc in his back. (Icon SMI)
-The trade that Indianapolis made with Buffalo to acquire DT John McCargo has been nullified due to McCargo failing his physical due to a bulging disc in his back. The 2008 fourth-round pick that Indy sent to Buffalo in exchange for McCargo returns to the Colts.

-Larry Johnson won't play in Sunday's home game against the unbeaten Titans. In the NFL, as we witnessed last weekend with the Rams win at the Redskins, most any team can beat another on any given Sunday. I know that's a cliché, but it's true. But with an unsteady QB situation, a miffed Tony Gonzalez still on the roster, and now Larry Johnson out, Kansas City faces a yeoman's chore (as my high school football coach used to say) on Sunday. Then again, this is a chance for rookie RB Jamaal Charles to show his skills off for the Chiefs, so we shall see.

-Pete Prisco wrote an interesting article today about who he believes are the top 32 prospects for the NFL Draft. Perhaps most interesting was Prisco's inclusion of Oklahoma redshirt sophomore Sam Bradford as the #3 overall prospect. I'm glad that most everyone who covers the draft has come around to including underclassmen in their projections, since that is the most realistic way to project the draft from this point in the cycle.

Bradford at #3 is very interesting; in many ways I agree with Prisco about that, as Bradford looks as comfortable in the pocket as any college sophomore QB I've seen in recent years. At the same time, would Bradford really be a first-round selection if he came out for the 2009 Draft? Possibly. The odds of him coming out after just two years would seem unlikely, but the presumption of this site is that all players who can come out will do so -- and so Bradford deserves full consideration. And anyone who could throw five TDs against Texas' stout defense and who has NFL quality size (6'4" 220) should draw strong attention of NFL scouts.

Now: onto the mailbag.

From: Robert Sawicki
Date: Sat, Oct 11, 2008 at 5:11 PM
Subject: 2009 NFL Draft and possible future

It's been awhile since i've wrote but the way the Lions season has gone I have no choice but to start thinking about the 09 draft already. So far the only good thing for us Lions fans from this season is that Matt Millen is finally gone. First question is who do you like as a possible new GM? I like Floyd Reese, because he has experience and he built a pretty good Titans teams, what do think?

It's pretty safe to say the Lions will have a top 3 to 5 pick in the draft, with that said we will have many options to help rebuild this horrible team. We need a QB, O-linemen, D-linemen, linebackers and secondary help. I like Matt Stafford, what do you think of him and who would you compare him to who currently plays in the NFL? Also i've read alot about the DE from GT, Michael Johnson but I haven't really seen him play, how good could he be and who would you compare him to? The Linebacker from USC Rey Maualuga looks like a stud as well, what do think of him? The safest way to go is maybe build up our o-line by drafting Michael Oher to play LT then we could move Jeff Backus inside and then we could draft Herman Johnson from LSU in the second round. There are tons of options let me know what you think and maybe you could tell me what you would do if you were the Lions GM. Thanks Lou, you the man!

Lou: Detroit needs to add help on defense in a major way, and if I was named the new GM of the Lions, I would do everything I could to add young defensive talent. But there are many, many more qualified people out there for the spot than I would be, starting with the interim general manager Martin Mayhew, who is off to a strong start in that role in my opinion.

I give a major thumbs up for the trade of Roy Williams to Dallas. Had the Lions decided to sit on Williams, they would have either lost him to free agency or used the franchise tag on him and tied up huge money in doing so. With Calvin Johnson already on board, Detroit made a very wise move to ship Williams to Dallas along with a seventh round pick in exchange for Dallas' first, third, and sixth picks in the 2009 Draft. So far, so good for the Lions in the post-Millen era.

As for Floyd Reese, Titans fans that I have talked with were generally happy with his performance, and I personally didn't have any major complaints with his work. I suspect that Reese will land another GM job before too long if he's looking to get back into that field of work.

The offensive tackle position will be a consideration for the Lions in the draft, I'd think, though again defense has to be a top priority. Detroit might consider going with a franchise quarterback, particularly if Matthew Stafford comes out early and is on the board when they pick, but an elite defensive end would be the first piece of the puzzle of building that defense.

Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford has a very strong throwing arm. (Icon SMI)

As far as comparing Stafford to someone in the pros, physically he is similar to Denver's Jay Cutler as far as height/weight go (6'3" 235 or so). Stafford has a cannon arm, though there have been concerns about his completion percentage -- though that has improved this season, above the 60% mark compared with past seasons with sub-60% completion marks.

George Selvie may be a consideration if he comes out, though at this point I consider Georgia Tech DE Michael Johnson to be the best defensive end of the bunch. At 6'7" 260, Johnson has near-freakish size for the position and great athleticism to match. He can bring the heat from the corner, yet Johnson can also cause problems for QBs with pass deflections at the line or by dropping back into pass coverage.

If there's a knock on Johnson, it's his relative inexperience as a defensive end. But, as far as being a prospect who could make a near-immediate impact with his sheer athletic ability, Johnson is about as strong as it gets.

I'm very high on USC ILB Rey Maualuga, and he would also be a strong consideration for the Lions, particularly if they end up in that 5-9 overall pick range. Ole Miss OT Michael Oher is a fantastic talent, particularly as a pass rush blocker, and picking him up wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for Detroit.

LSU offensive guard Herman Johnson is huge at 6'7" 360 pounds. He might be slightly overrated due to playing right next to star offensive tackle Ciron Black, but the Lions snagging Johnson in the late first (the Dallas pick) or early second round would be logical.

Detroit could finish day one of the 2009 NFL Draft with an elite DE, a blue chip linebacker or defensive back, and then perhaps Herman Johnson as the huge offensive guard with the team's early second round selection.

From: Charles Caswell
Date: Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 3:21 PM
Subject: Atlanta Falcons

Great site been going to it for about 2 years now. The Atlanta Falcons who have really seem to come out of nowhere this year to be a respectable team, but what do you think that their needs would be going into the draft not really particular players. They seem to have a solid offense and are pretty set at QB RB and maybe WR if they can add a one maybe through free agency I do not think that it would be smart to draft another one. They have spent high round picks on the Offensive line lately and I do not think that they would go high with another pick there. They have a solid defensive line maybe they could add a DT. They seem to be set at LB and are doing a good job of picking later and getting good use. The question I guess is do you see them using a High pickon a DB even though they have not really done a good job of picking players (Deangelo Hall and Jimmy Williams). Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Lou: You make a fair point about the Falcons having used high picks on offensive linemen (such as Sam Baker in round one of the 2008 Draft), and since you wrote I've updated the Draft King 2009 NFL Mock to reflect the new projection of the Falcons taking a cornerback in round one.

DeAngelo Hall had a tumultuous tenure in Atlanta, but he made two Pro Bowls as a member of the Falcons, so I don't know if I'd write him off as a poor selection. Ultimately he didn't fit, but he was productive in his time with the team. Fellow Virginia Tech alum Jimmy Williams had less success in his relatively brief time with the team, and when he was arrested for possession of marijuana, the NFL smacked him down with a five-game suspension and he was promptly cut by Atlanta.

Life after Hall has been challenging at times for the Falcons. To point, Kyle Orton's late drive against them last week exposed the team's secondary. And, yes, Atlanta rallied in amazing fashion to win the game, but ultimately it must improve its secondary to become a bona fide contender. Just because things didn't work out long-term with Hall or Williams is not a reason to pass up using another day one pick on a corner.

It's possible that the Falcons would opt to take a defensive tackle in round one if the right player for their system is on the board when they pick. Atlanta, through six games, is 24th against the pass and 20th against the run, so a defensive pick makes sense outside of the defensive end position. Don't discount the possibility of the Falcons making a run at Albert Haynesworth when/if he hits unrestricted free agency in March 2009. Haynesworth will likely receive megabucks on the open market, and it's possible that the Falcons could get into the mix to attempt to sign him.

Atlanta is pretty well set on offense, with Matt Ryan looking golden so far (he is on pace for offensive rookie of the year honors), two great running backs in Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood, and multiple receivers who were first round picks (Michael Jenkins and Roddy White) on the squad.

Between Michael Vick, Bobby Petrino, and DeAngelo Hall, times were tough for Falcons fans not too long ago. But it appears that the team is on the upswing, and by adding a piece or two on defense, there could be exciting things ahead for Atlanta.


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