National Football League
December 29, 2008
Draft King Analysis
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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Congrats to Missouri for sending out Chase Daniel and the senior class as winners in the Alamo Bowl tonight against a very capable Northwestern team. Jeremy Maclin has been on the Draft King radar for some time now, and yet again he showed what a difference maker he is with his game-changing punt return for a touchdown. Maclin appears to be a borderline first-round pick if he comes out early, mostly because of his great kick-return skills, though some people are very high on him. Another year at Missouri could help Maclin become a better wide receiver (which will make him REALLY valuable), but look at what Ted Ginn's kick return skills did for his draft position in 2007 (where Miami took him at #9 overall).
Is all the endorsement for Kyle Orton being Chicago's 2009 opening day starter code from Lovie Smith and company for "We're not going to pursue a free agent QB, but we'll find our man in the draft"? I've kept thinking that the Bears would use a high pick on a QB and they have kept proving me wrong, so we'll see. Perhaps this is the year.
The 2008 NFL regular season has come and gone. NFL Sunday Ticket, despite the high price tag, was worth every penny. But now the post-season is here, and in a very interesting turn of events, the experts in Vegas have deemed all four road teams as the favorites for Wild Card weekend, and that's with two rookie QBs playing on the road.
There is some speculation out there (and, at this point, it's mere speculation) that Detroit might make a play for Patriots QB Matt Cassel, who is entering unrestricted free agency at a most opportune time. Cassel made $520,000 this season; his signing bonus on the open market could be 10 times that, if not more. He certainly stepped up for his team in a time of need and did much more than expected. Plus, like Derek Anderson with the Browns last year, Cassel didn't have to face the pressure of a playoff game, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view.
Of course, Detroit won't be the only team looking to sign Cassel. Tarvaris Jackson will have a chance to prove himself on Sunday at home against the Eagles. He has looked good in recent weeks, perhaps finally getting over the learning curve that so many QBs struggle with (and which some never overcome). But if Jackson bombs and the Vikings fall to Philadelphia, the Vikings might also be in the mix for Cassel. Add in the Bears, 49ers, and Chiefs, and perhaps in an interesting twist the Jets if Brett Favre retires, and Cassel could be in line for some megabucks.
Looking at the top of the draft, it would seem that the Lions would take either a franchise QB or (despite taking Gosder Cherilus in the first round last year) a bookend offensive tackle. Trading down might also be an option, particularly if Detroit likes a player like Texas DE Brian Orakpo.
At #2, the Rams would seem like a very likely spot for one of the many offensive tackles to go. They might shock the world and take Michael Crabtree, but stabilizing the offensive line seems like a high priority for that team. Andre Smith is a junior, but he has been suspended from the Sugar Bowl by Alabama because of alleged contact made with an agent. I'd take that as a strong sign that Smith will be heading to the NFL, in which case he'd be a great pick for the Rams at #2. He is a dominant offensive tackle, and his downfield blocking is impressive.
The Chiefs at #3 could look to the free agent market for a QB, but with a new GM coming in I would think that they'd be more likely to look to the draft for a franchise QB. One unfortunate thing that rookie QBs in 2009 will face is the inevitable comparison to Matt Ryan, who would probably be a contender for league MVP if he wasn't a rookie -- I'd be surprised if that award doesn't go to either Peyton Manning or possibly Adrian Peterson.
Is there any way that Seattle would pass on Michael Crabtree if he's on the board when the Seahawks pick at #4? There are some solid defensive players in this draft, but Crabtree is a special player and the Seahawks could really use him.
This scenario would work out quite nicely for the Cleveland Browns at #5, who would have their pick of literally every defensive player in the draft in this scenario. USC ILB Rey Maualuga would be a great pickup for them, but a huge player like North Carolina DE Michael Johnson could prove tempting as well if the Browns retain the 3-4 defense in 2009.