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Draft King Analysis

April 23, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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

From: Mike Allison
Date: Fri, Apr 18, 2008 at 7:51 AM
Subject: Running back value

Love the site and I'm glad you've been able to update it recently. I hope you're well enough to answer some questions again :)

I was wondering if you think the value of taking a RB very early in the draft is diminished these days. With the breakout season we saw from Ryan Grant (acquired for a low-round pick from NYG) in Green Bay and the poor output from a few recent first round RB's (Cedric Benson and Reggie Bush to name just two) it seems to me that a team would be much better off drafting a RB in rounds two or below to avoid the massive salary first rounders are currently getting. I know Adrian Peterson had an amazing rookie season, but it seems to me that he is the exception rather than the rule.

Also I see a lot of mock drafts (including your latest) have the Bears picking an OT with their first round pick. Whilst the Bears definitely have a need at T, I worry that none of the tackles available when the Bears pick will be worth the 14th pick in the draft. Would the Bears be getting value with a Williams or Otah, or will they simply be filling a need (of which there are many)?

Is there likely to be anybody interested in trading up with the Bears so that the Bears can drop down and pick a tackle later in round one? I can't see any hot prospects lasting until then, so the Bears may be stuck where they are.

Lou: Thanks for the well-wishes -- I have to thank my physician for prescribing me the nortriptyline that has taken me from being bedridden with horrible cluster headaches to back to good. How does it work? I have no idea. But it does, and that's good enough for me.

The breakout of Ryan Grant in 2007 was one of the great stories of the past season. And it's not an isolated incident; from Willie Parker to Priest Holmes, there have been overlooked running backs who have turned into NFL stars.

But, by the same token, most of the all-time great running backs in the NFL have been high draft picks. The following were all first round picks: Jim Brown (#6 overall in 1957), O.J. Simpson (#1 overall in 1969), Walter Payton (#4 overall in 1975), Earl Campbell (#1 overall in 1978), Eric Dickerson (#2 overall in 1983), Barry Sanders (#3 overall in 1989), and Emmitt Smith (#17 overall in 1990). This is not an accident -- the vast majority of the truly great running backs are identified on the college level well ahead of entering the pro game.

To be sure, there are many first round running backs who have turned into busts in the NFL. But it could be argued that running back is the position that best avails itself to the transition to the pro game, though not so much as to create a skewed situation in the draft.

As for the Bears, just today I changed their projected pick to Brian Brohm, though it wouldn't surprise me in the least for them to trade down (perhaps with a DE hungry team) and then either go offensive tackle or with Brohm if he's still on the board. I've been higher on Brohm than most people making projections, with the suspicion that there are a few teams that are quietly hoping he drops to them. But being a highly-touted QB can be a slippery slope, as Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn found out in recent years.

Keith Rivers
The Patriots may select Keith Rivers with the #7 pick in the first round. (Icon SMI)

From: "TheRevSWT"
Date: Tue, Apr 22, 2008 at 1:10 PM
Subject: 2008 NFL Draft (in regards to the Texans)

I generally really like your mock drafts and think you provide good insight into teams (for example, the Rams with McFadden at the top of their board), but I think you really missed the mark on a couple of picks, namely New England, Chicago, & Houston's (at 7, 14, & 18 respectively).

New England hasn't invested big in the secondary since Bellicheck has been running the show. He let Law & Milloy walk when he had several more good years left in his tank (though one could argue that it was a judgment call). He's also let Samuels walk when the guy was in his prime. And why? basically because he knows that the system doesn't require top notch corners, and that these players can be replaced. Given that, and the age of his LB corps, I'd have to say that LB is a more likely selection (Keith Rivers, namely). Now, that isn't even getting into the issue of the DL, with Seymour and Wilfork's contracts coming up at the end of the season. If looking at that, then Derrick Harvey makes a load more sense than a CB.

With Chicago, they are trying to keep going with their "smash mouth" offense, which Chris Williams absolutely does not fit. Williams has been described as "soft" and "a finesse" blocker. Otah, though projected to be a better right tackle in the pro's than a left, is a much better fit for what they are wanting to do with their scheme.

Finally, with "my" team, the Texans, I can't imagine them taking Otah at all. He's stiff in the legs, and more of a mauler (i.e., right tackle). That doesn't fit Gibbs' run scheme at all. Eric Winston, while not a superstar, is a really solid Right Tackle and his arms are far too short for left tackle in the pros, meaning they have a need at left tackle, not right. Otah, besides not being a good fit for the system, is not a fit for their needs either. It just wouldn't make sense to take a tackle that doesn't really improve them very much, particularly if the draft plays out as you have it and Brenden Albert is still on the board (I think he'll be long gone by then, but that's not the crux of this absurdly long diatribe).

Basically, if Clady, Williams, & Albert are gone from the boards, I believe the Texans will look at CB. If in this same scenario, McKelvin & DRC are off the boards, they'll look to trade down (which is going to be tough, unless someone REALLY falls in love with Brohm, or possibly Henne) or try to shore up the defensive line (even though they have spent 1st round picks thrice on that position since their inception). If ALL of those options are evaporated (which is unlikely, but possible), I think they'll take either Mendenhall or Stewart because if all of the above came to play, then odds are good both RB's will be available still.

In any event, I really enjoy your mock drafts, and like I said earlier, I believe you offer some good perspective on things. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to seeing how my mock draft stands up to yours when the real deal happens.

Jeff Otah
Can Jeff Otah perform well as a left offensive tackle in the NFL? (Icon SMI)

Lou: You make some valid points with this e-mail. And in redoing the mock since you wrote, I've shifted the Patriots away from taking a CB at #7 to taking USC OLB Keith Rivers. What's more, news came out today that New England may be bringing free agent Ty Law back to the team, which would seem to solidify that idea.

Vandy OT Chris Williams is tougher than many might think. He wasn't afraid to throw down with notoriously ill-tempered Texas A&M NT Red Bryant during the Senior Bowl. Perhaps he wouldn't be the best fit in Chicago, though that point is relatively moot given that I now have Louisivlle QB Brian Brohm as a semi-surprise pick to the Bears at #14.

As for Jeff Otah, I've read plenty of projections that have him at left tackle. Perhaps late-rising OG Branden Albert would be an option for Houston at #18 as well. Ultimately it will depend on the talent on the board and how the Houston braintrust thinks the available players would best fit with their team. As of the most recent mock on here, Williams isn't on the board at #18 (with Kansas City swooping in at #17 with the newly acquired pick via Minnesota), so that would be a non-factor.

Of course, Houston isn't required to pick an offensive lineman, and they may very well go with a cornerback at #18. It will be an intriguing ten minutes when the Texans come up on the board.

From: Paul Evans
Date: Tue, Apr 22, 2008 at 8:09 PM
Subject: Cowboys Draft...

Hi Lou!

Great work as usual! I'm always glad to see your updates and read your well thought out opinions.

The Cowboys website posted an article today about Jerry Jones and his thoughts on the draft. After reading that, it seems that Jerry thinks there are no Round 1 wideouts that can really help the Cowboys right away. It seems unlikely that the Cowboys will go WR in round 1.

It is possible of course that this is just a smokescreen. However, Jones has never been one to hide his thoughts on the draft. He has been fairly predicatable these last few years.

It would appear that he'll go RB and CB. However, if the RB or CB he covets is gone by the time he picks, then I think he'll trade down into the 2nd round to take a lesser RB/CB. He'll still be able to land a 2nd round WR late in that round. Of course that is impossible for you to project (since you don't predict trades), but it is looking very plausible and possible.

Just wanted to drop you a line and bring that article to your attention!

Thanks again for the great work!

Lou: I've come around on the Cowboys not taking a receiver in round one. And if there's anyone I believe when it comes to pre-draft comments, it's Jerry Jones. Perhaps Jones will make a run at Lions WR Roy Williams when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in February 2009, a strategy that he used to land Terrell Owens.

Even with the Cowboys reaching a deal in principle to acquire suspended Titans CB/KR Adam "Pacman" Jones (who was electrifying to see play in person in the second half of the 2006 season, when he began to really break out), my understanding is that Dallas is proceeding as if they won't have Pacman available in 2008. With the deep talent at CB in this draft, it would make sense for Dallas to use a first rounder on one, though I don't know that it's a lock. It certainly makes sense both from a need and a talent standpoint.

Of course, Jerry Jones might be tempted to try and work a blockbuster deal with the St. Louis Rams for the #2 overall pick, but my guess is that the Rams will be content to stand pat and take Virginia DE Chris Long at that spot.

From: Charles Lane, Jr.
Date: Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 7:37 AM
Subject: Jerry Jones on drating a WR in 1st round "no"

I enjoy your draftking page and like to contribute when I hear something worth contributing. Jerry Jones just had a pre draft conference and it sounds like Dallas isn't interested in a 1st rd WR. I'm thinking CB & RB in first rd for Dallas if they actually draft 2 players.

Lou: Again, I've come around on that line of thinking, and the new mock draft reflects that. Don't discount the possibility of Dallas holding off until round two for a running back, since this draft is very deep at the position, and the Cowboys might have a surprise guy or two in mind that they see as a strong value at either #22 or #28.


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