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National Football League
Draft King Analysis

November 16, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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Deuce McAllister
Deuce McAllister could face a four game suspension. (Icon SMI)
There is a leak in the NFL, and I have heard first-hand that the league is none too pleased about it. Remember last month when news leaked out about the failed drug tests (for use of a weight-loss diuretic) of roughly a dozen players, including Deuce McAllister and Will Smith of the New Orleans Saints? That wasn't supposed to happen, particularly not with the Saints playing that week in London. Those failed drug tests, purportedly because of a substance in a supplement called StarCaps, are under appeal.

From my observations, there is some connection between the leaks and Denver's KDVR (Fox 31 Colorado). That station has been way ahead of the curve several times in breaking stories about players failing drug tests. It broke the diuretic story last month, and it also broke news in the past about Travis Henry and the failed marijuana test that he amazingly beat on appeal (with ultra-high stakes, since Henry was one strike away from a one-year ban).

As of this writing, the Detroit Lions are the only winless team in the NFL. Odds are that they'll win at least one of their six remaining games, but the chance exists that they will be the NFL's first winless team since the 1982 Baltimore Colts, who went 0-8-1 in a strike-shortened season.

Winless or not, the Lions will be drafting from a high position with their own pick and then selecting later in the first round with Dallas' first round selection (obtained via the Roy Williams trade). It will be interesting to see what approach the team takes with that high pick; will Detroit opt to go for a quarterback, or will the team go for an elite defensive talent? It's difficult to project what the Lions will do at this point since we don't even know how many of the top junior (or redshirt sophomore) quarterbacks will declare for early entry into the 2009 NFL Draft.

Looking at the other teams likely to be drafting toward the top, there are a variety of needs, as you might imagine.

Kansas City Chiefs (1-9): Drafting a quarterback is a possibility for them. The team has an elite wide receiver threat with Dwayne Bowe, who has had a productive season despite the revolving door at QB in Kansas City. The Chiefs used their own first round selection last year on LSU DT Glenn Dorsey (who some saw as the top prospect in the draft), then traded with the Lions to draft Virginia OG Branden Albert at #15 overall. The Chiefs then addressed their cornerback need by selecting Virginia Tech CB Brandon Flowers in round two, followed by selecting Texas RB Jamaal Charles and then Tennessee TE Brad Cottam high in the third round (and then taking NC State safety DaJuan Morgan later in that round).

With all that taken into consideration, it seems like the Chiefs would be likely to go with a quarterback if the right player is available in round one. And, particularly in the copycat NFL, the early success of 2008 first round QBs Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco should influence some on the fence about using a first round selection on a quarterback to re-think their position.

Even if the Chiefs were to look to a compliment to Dwayne Bowe at WR, they covered that with the selection of lightning-fast Missouri wideout Will Franklin in round four last year. Quarterback seems like the most likely move for the team, with defensive end being a possibility as well.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh
T.J. Houshmandzadeh is slated for free agency in 2009. (Icon SMI)
Cincinnati Bengals (1-8-1): With Carson Palmer on board, it would seem unlikely that the Bengals would look toward the QB spot in round one. Palmer hasn't been at the same level since his major knee injury in the playoffs against Pittsburgh in January 2006, and this season he has been plagued by injury problems. But the team using a high first rounder on a new QB would be unlikely.

The Bengals have a number of needs, with defensive end particularly standing out as a likely spot of interest. It will be interesting to see how Cincinnati handles the impending free agency for WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He has been a bright spot on an otherwise underwhelming Bengals squad this year. Late last month, the Cincinnati Enquirer quoted Houshmandzadeh as saying that he was "kind of embarrassed" to go out in public due to Cincinnati's poor performance. The Bengals could use the franchise tag on Houshmandzadeh, who at age 31 isn't necessarily someone they want to sign to a long-term contract.

Oakland Raiders (2-8): No QB needs here with JaMarcus Russell on board, though the Raiders have a wide variety of needs. Defensive end is a strong need (notice a trend here?), though overall Oakland's defense is underrated in my opinion, or at least as underrated as a defense on a 2-8 team can be.

A wide receiver like Michael Crabtree could be a nice addition to the team, as could one of the handful of top-flight offensive line prospects who will be in the 2009 draft. Alabama's Andre Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe or Ole Miss' Michael Oher are all viable possibilities; with Russell at QB and a superior talent in RB Darren McFadden in the backfield, a high-end offensive lineman would be a great addition to the team.

Seattle Seahawks (2-8): Wide receiver is a huge need for Seattle, and I'd think that the Seahawks would love to land Michael Crabtree. If he's not available, there might not be a wideout on the board when the Seahawks pick that is worthy of such a high spot. In that case, the Seahawks may look to a position like safety, where a player like Missouri FS William Moore might be an attractive choice.

Would Seattle go with a quarterback? I doubt it, but you never know. Matt Hasselbeck is 33, and he has two years remaining after this season under contract. But would Seattle be willing to pay him $5.75 million in 2010 when he's 35 years old? If not, the time might be now to start planning for his replacement.

St. Louis Rams (2-8): Offensive line should be a top consideration for the Rams, who could use a long-term replacement at left tackle for Orlando Pace. At 33, Pace is likely on the tail-end of his career with the Rams, particularly with base salaries of $5.975 million in 2009, $7.175 million in 2010, and $8.375 million in 2011.


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