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Draft King Analysis

February 28, 2008
Lou Pickney,

Reader feedback is always welcomed here at Send your thoughts to me at

Before I get to the e-mails, a couple of things:

Tommy Kelly
Tommy Kelly is staying in Oakland. (Icon SMI)

-Oakland signing impending free agent DL Tommy Kelly to a new contract could have a huge impact on the draft. Kelly, 27, signed a seven-year, $50.5 million contract, $18.125 million of which is guaranteed, as per the San Jose Mercury News. He mostly played DE for the Raiders, but he's expected to replace Warren Sapp at DT in the "three technique" spot. Not bad for an undrafted free agent pickup out of Mississippi State!

When I redid the Draft King 2008 mock yesterday, I had the Raiders taking LSU DT Glenn Dorsey, but only reluctantly despite the retirement of Warren Sapp and what I expected to be the departure of Kelly. Now? With Kelly becoming the highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL, I think the pendulum has swung in the direction of Oakland taking Arkansas RB Darren McFadden.

-The Larry Fitzgerald "greedy" topic that I addressed yesterday makes me more and more angry the more I think about it. Greedy is holding out with multiple years left on your deal. But playing out a contract that was mutually decided upon, particularly in a situation where Fitzgerald was allowed to negotiate with just one team coming out of school, is the antithesis of greediness, in my estimation.

From: David Brown
Date: Sun, Feb 3, 2008 at 9:10 AM
Subject: 1st Round Trades and Salary Caps

In all the different mock drafts I seen, they all have Atlanta sitting pat with their 3- 5th pick and inevitably picking either Matt Ryan or Darren McFadden. Meanwhile, the Falcons are looking at only having $5.8 million avilable until they hit the salary cap.( A fifth round pick of a skill position player is going to chew up 60- 70% of that money. How then do they fix the rest of their problems?

Would you consider the possibility of Atlanta trading out of that pick to get to more picks and less expensive player? I.E. A trade with Buffalo who has, a) a big need in the middle of their D line, b) $32 million available, c) back to back picks in the third round.Picks 71 and 72.

Also, unlike the Draftek version of this trade, without involving Losman in the deal. I guess they think Gibran Hamden can carry the load.

Lou: This e-mail should have been addressed by me earlier, but it still holds up. Trading into and out of the top five is a very difficult thing due to rookie salary cap ramifications.

As for hitting the cap for 2008, it warrants remembering that it's a new fiscal year and a new cap for NFL teams as of March 1 (or, in leap years, February 29.) The Falcons should be able to take Matt Ryan at #3 (unless they surprise me and go with McFadden) and still be able to fill needs elsewhere, including defensive tackle. Plus there is the wild card of DeAngelo Hall, who is malcontent and who the Falcons might be able to get some value for if they can deal him prior to the draft. There are limits to the value that Hall will bring, since he has just one year remaining on his deal, but it's something to keep in mind both financially as well as from a projection standpoint of what Atlanta might do both in free agency and in the draft.

If Atlanta is going to trade down, it would almost for sure be with Oakland or Kansas City. It actually wouldn't be a bad ploy for the Falcons to move to #5 if Matt Ryan is their choice and if the Chiefs are interested, which they might be if Michigan OT Jake Long is on the board when Atlanta's spot comes up.

From: Eric Daniels-Howell
Date: Wed, Feb 20, 2008 at 5:12 AM
Subject: Broncos draft comment

Love your site, as always. However, I sincerely disagree with your slotting DeSean Jackson to Denver in the upcoming draft. Yes, I realize that an enigma in the Hester/Ginn mold is always going to be difficult to project. Yet at the same time, I think your supplied reasoning is faulty.

First of all, let me disclaim: If the Broncos manage to trade Javon Walker (unlikely - a team would surrender at LEAST a second round pick, plus bear the burden of Walker's contract, malfeasance in the locker room, and selfishness on the field) or cut him loose within the next month, then yes. I can see the Broncos being tempted by Jackson.

However, if Walker is retained for another season, there is no sense in bringing another receiver on board via the draft, especially when so many other areas of need exist. Already, the team has a talented, burgeoning superstar in Brandon Marshall. Yes, his attitude is a concern - but everything that I have heard revolves around egotistical issues, not disruptive defiance. Already, the team has a proven slot receiver (the area in which I see Jackson making the most impact on offense) in Brandon Stokley. Already, the team has a solid (if unspectacular) kick returner and fourth receiver in Glenn Martinez. Also, even if the team DOES decide to go WR, why not find a back-up to Walker? Grab Sweed, Kelly, someone BIG who fits Denver's offensive system!

Most importantly, though, is Denver's shocking need for help in other areas of the field. A game-breaking return man is a luxury, and with a depleted offensive line (where the Broncos lost LT Matt Lepsis to retirement and has a 36-year-old center who spent last year on IR [Tom Nalen]) and a concussion-prone, mid-30s FS in John Lynch, I just can't see Denver being able to afford the flash and dazzle of 'the next Devin Hester.' Also, in direct reference to your mock draft, Kenny Phillips (S) and Ryan Clady (OT) are still on the board. Denver could (and should) try to trade down.

Finally, the Browns snagged an undrafted free agent from Kent State in Joshua Cribbs in the '05 Draft. Chicago took a gamble on a Miami athlete in '06 in Devin Harris. The Ravens found Yamon Figurs in the third round last year. As for Ginn, Jr., drafted in the top 10 of 2007's Draft? He managed an average 22.7 yards returning kicks, with 0 TDs. Which is 0.7 yards more than Glenn Martinez, who - coincidentally - had the same number of trips to the end zone.

Again, no disrespect. I love your site, and it's the first thing I check when I get online. Just wanted to get some stuff off my chest.

I'm not a Broncos fan, by the way. Wrong kind of horse. I live in Indianapolis, and I bleed BLUE!

Lou: You make some valid points about the Broncos not going with DeSean Jackson at the #12 spot. As you'll see later in tomorrow's mailbag, there are some who think Jackson going to Washington at #21 (which the latest Draft King mock has) is unlikely as well. The best counter I can conjure is that Jackson has such huge potential in special teams that he'll end up going higher than many people think, probably to a team that no one anticipates taking him. It happened last year with Ted Ginn, Jr. going to Miami. As long as Devin Hester wows the league on a weekly basis with his return game, there will be GMs chasing the "next" Devin Hester. The NFL is a copycat league, to be sure.

One problem for Denver at #12 is that the top two offensive tackles (Jake Long and Ryan Clady) may be off the board when they pick, and it would be a stretch to take any other lineman at that spot. I suspect that going for a defensive front seven player, or FS Kenny Phillips, would be the best bet for the Broncos. But in the NFL draft, there are always surprises, and I strongly suspect that Jackson will end up being a surprise for one franchise out there.

From: Robert Bruce
Date: Wed, Feb 20, 2008 at 8:33 AM
Subject: Skins' Draft

I just had a quick question for you. I have been reading some scouting reports and there are a few people who are pretty high on Brandon Flowers out of VA Tech. What do you think the chances he will be on the board by the time the Redskins pick in the second round? Also, who are some OL who may be mid round gems for this years class? Thanks Lou. Keep up the great work.

Brandon Flowers
Brandon Flowers had a disappointing 40 yard dash at the 2008 NFL combine. (Icon SMI)
Lou: It was fun watching Virginia Tech's defense last year, particularly with Brandon Flowers and Macho Harris at corner providing strong competition for almost all opponents (save for LSU). Flowers had been on the rise, to the point where I projected him at #30 to Green Bay in the FinsRadio mock draft I participated in last Saturday night.

But Flowers had only a so-so run in the 40 at the combine (4.58) on Tuesday, which likely will keep him out of the first round. He is a talented player, but the slow speed and the relative lack of size should keep him from going in the top tier of corners.

As far as mid-round offensive linemen to watch out for, Heath Benedict from tiny Division II Newberry is someone with great speed (5.06) for the position that also has NFL level size at 6'5" 325. Another to watch out for is Northern Iowa's Brandon Keith. With the versatility to play right guard or right tackle in the NFL, the former Oklahoma Sooner (Keith started there and then transferred to Northern Iowa) is overlooked by some because of All-American teammate Chad Rinehart. But he looked great in the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game, and he could add great depth for whatever team drafts him.

From: Chris "jetsfn1028"
Date: Sat, Feb 23, 2008 at 11:05 AM
Subject: McFadden

If the Jets do end up getting McFadden, how much do you think they will get in return for him? We need a Defensive End. So do you think Quentin Groves will available or even Calais Campbell if we get another 2nd rd pick for McFadden (I'm assuming any deal involving McFadden will require a second rounder)?

Lou: If you believe the rumors about the Cowboys having interest in Darren McFadden, the Jets might be able to procure at least two 2008 first round picks *and* the rights to restricted free agent RB Marion Barber for McFadden.

With Dallas being poised to potentially make a mega-offer to obtain McFadden, they'd seem to be able to trump any other team, provided that they are still in that mindset when the draft arrives. Short of that, a team without multiple 2008 first rounders would likely need to include a 2008 second round pick as part of the package.

In my estimation, Quentin Groves is the most underrated player in the draft. I don't want to beat that point into the ground too much (since, ultimately, I don't make the picks), but whatever team lands him will be bringing in a great athlete. Obtaining Groves to play OLB for the Jets would be a strong move for the team.

Calais Campbell might be a tougher player to land in round two, since his massive size and ability to blitz the QB will likely help boost him late in the process as teams watch tape in the days before the draft. It's not impossible, and Campbell as a 3-4 DE would be interesting, so we'll see.


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