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Draft King Analysis

February 29, 2008
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

Reader feedback is always welcomed here at DraftKing.com. Send your thoughts to me at LouPickney@gmail.com.


The free agency bonanza of 2008 is underway. Some early thoughts:

-Cleveland lucked out by having QB Derek Anderson agree to a three-year, $24 million deal on the first day of free agency. It's bad news for Brady Quinn, who would have been all but guaranteed to be the Browns' opening day starter in 2008. It's good news for the QB prospects in the 2008 Draft, as Anderson going to a team like Minnesota or Chicago or Carolina could have potentially eaten up a day one slot that may end up filled by the likes of Delaware QB Joe Flacco, Kentucky QB Andre Woodson, etc.

-Philadelphia has won the sweepstakes for former Patriots CB Asante Samuel. According to reports (this is a breaking story as I prepare to publish this page), Samuel has been signed to a six-year, $57 million deal by the Eagles, $20 million of which is guaranteed. So much for $10-12 million per year, but it's still a great payday.

-It appears that the Bills won't be drafting an OLB in the first round. Today they signed former Giants OLB Kawika Mitchell to a five-year, $17.5 million dollar contract.

-The Raiders are being mocked and questioned about their move yesterday to sign DL Tommy Kelly to a seven-year, $50.5 million dollar deal. I happen to have several Mississippi State fans who I'm in close contact with, and as one of them told me, "Kelly was there during some bad times for Mississippi State at the end of the Jackie Sherrill era. Fans would get so mad at him, as he had great talent but rarely showed it."

Throw that in with Kelly's new mega contract, a move to a new position (from DE to DT), and the fact that he's coming off of a torn ACL in his right knee, and the pressure will be on him to become a solid run-stopper right away at DT. It was Kelly's versatility that helped drive his price so high, but it could complicate negotiations that other teams have with defensive tackles, such as Tennessee with franchised DT Albert Haynesworth.

-I'll be the first to admit that I was surprised that Green Bay used its franchise tag on DT Corey Williams, particularly with the Packers having drafted University of Tennessee DT Justin Harrell at #16 overall in last year's draft. But now it makes sense, as Green Bay dealt Williams to Cleveland today for a second round pick. The Browns haven't had a true elite DT since the franchise returned in 1999, and perhaps Williams will fill that role for them.

Williams signed a six-year contract worth $38 million with the Browns; $16.3 million of that money came in the form of guaranteed cash.

-The Jaguars shouldn't have any problems with wide receiver depth. One day after trading for Vikings WR Troy Williamson, Jacksonville signed former Oakland WR Jerry Porter to a six-year, $30 million dollar deal, $10 million of which is guaranteed.

-The Miami Dolphins are continuing with their wholesale changes, with Bill Parcells' crew cutting and signing left and right. It's not surprising considering that the Dolphins are coming off of a 1-15 season.

And, now, onto the mailbag.


From: Ken Duke
To: LouPickney@gmail.com
Date: Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 9:29 PM
Subject: Bears Draft

Well, I told you the Bears might re-sign Grossman. :) I'm glad that you now have given up on the Bears drafting a QB in the first round. But now I have to take issue with what you have them selecting currently.

Actually, your description of the situation seems most accurate to me--move down and take an OT. That's probably what I would do if I were running the Bears. But I don't think they would take a LB even if the draft went as you have it and they didn't trade down. I know Lance Briggs is likely leaving, and that will leave a hole in the lineup, but the Bears coaching staff believes they already have his replacement in Jamar Williams (who started the last game of the year when Briggs was injured). They also think they have a good replacement/back-up plan in Michael Okwo.

I know these aren't big name guys, and it might seem crazy to try and replace a Pro Bowler like Briggs with them, but keep in mind that Briggs himself was a third round pick. I think the Bears just think they have the ability to find quality linebackers later in the draft, and if they really need depth they'll go that way.

Love the site, keep up the good work.

Lou: With Brian Griese a likely cut casualty, I anticipate that the Bears will still be in the market for another QB. But it probably makes more sense for them to wait beyond the first round to go for a quarterback, as they should be able to land a quality prospect in round two or three if they want.

The question becomes: who will Chicago target with the #14 pick? If a talent like Boise State OT Ryan Clady slides, he might be a possibility, but beyond that it remains to be seen. Perhaps the Bears will be inclined to go with someone like free safety Kenny Phillips.


Trevor Laws
Trevor Laws is an underrated prospect. (Icon SMI)
From: Robert Bruce
To: LouPickney@gmail.com
Date: Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 8:01 AM
Subject: Updated Mock

Thanks for the coverage of the combine and for the updated mock. I do have a comment about the Redskins selecting DeSean Jackson at #21. I don't see it happening. Vinny Cerrato as well as Jim Zorn have both been quoted as saying they would like to add a big WR to compliment Moss and Randle El. With Kelly, Sweed, and Hardy on the board, I think it is much more logical to see the Redskins choosing one of them especially with Sweed and Hardy exceeding expectations with their 40 times. Just a thought. One quick question, where do you see Trevor Laws being drafted? Any chance he will be there in the 2nd round when the Redskins pick? Everything I have read about him has been great and it seems he compares size wise and strength reps to Dorsey and Ellis. Why isn't he getting more hype? Thanks Lou and keep up the great work.

Lou: Believe me, I concur that a big WR would make more sense for the Redskins. But as long as Dan Snyder owns the team, there will be an element of expecting the unexpected from Washington.

Notre Dame DT Trevor Laws is a strong prospect who looks to be a second round selection. With 112 tackles in 2007, he was clearly the best defensive player for the Fighting Irish, and he followed up on that with a great Senior Bowl. At 6'1" 305 pounds he should be able to handle DT on the NFL level, though he will likely be restricted to 4-3 defenses. There had been some concern about him having the strength to excel on the pro level, but he had 35 reps on the 225 pound bench press, one more than what USC DT Sedrick Ellis posted.

Will he be there when Washington drafts in round two? I have my doubts. It could be argued that Laws is actually a superior prospect over North Carolina DT Kentwan Balmer, particularly because Laws was a three year starter for the Fighting Irish whereas Balmer only exploded on the scene in the past season.

Laws is a player I anticipate will move up draft boards as we move closer to late April, and he could very well end up being a late first or early second round player. He definitely qualifies as a sleeper for this draft.


Aqib Talib
Aqib Talib is one of many talented corners in the 2008 Draft. (Icon SMI)
From: Gregory A. Bishop
To: LouPickney@gmail.com
Date: Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 11:09 AM
Subject: 2008 Draft

I enjoy your draftking site. The Lions need cornerbacks like no tomorrow. With your draft don't you think the top 3 corners are Leodis McKelvin, Mike Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and one will be there at #15. Not Talib or Flowers [slow 40's]

Lou: I think highly of all of the corners that you mentioned, but this draft is pretty wide open as far as corner prospects go and it could ultimately come down to what a given GM thinks of a given player.

While Brandon Flowers may not be a first rounder, I'm still very high on Aqib Talib. Talib impressed me all season long, and he showed at the Orange Bowl that he has game-changing instincts and abilities.

I suspect that, at least to some degree, the proliferation of great cornerbacks in the draft drove down the asking price for Patriots CB Asante Samuel, who fell short of the $10 million per year he hoped to land on the open market. Why break the bank for a 5'10" corner (albeit a very talented one) when there are talented players like McKelvin and DRC who, while not necessarily as well known to the general public, have tremendous potential? There is also the added benefit of having a young player who could play for a given team for the next ten years plus.

One thing about the 40 yard dash: it doesn't guarantee success in the NFL, even at a speed-critical position like corner. Ask Green Bay about Ahmad Carroll. Carroll ran a 4.34 40 at the combine in 2004, and now he's playing in the Arena Football League.


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