Five Fearless Predictions - NFL Draft  

Posted by Walter

1. The New England Patriots will NOT make picks at both #24 and #28.

As things stand at the moment, the Patriots have a whopping 10 total picks, including 5 in the last two rounds. There is zero chance that the Pats add 10 rookies to their roster, especially after they added so many players via free agency. With so many teams desperate to trade down in round 1, I would not be shocked to see the Pats package both picks to move way up in round 1, and possibly pick up a 2nd round pick in the process.

2. Adrian Peterson will be the Aaron Rodgers of 2007.

New NFL Commish Roger Goodell has invited Jamarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Calvin Johnson, Gaines Adams, and Peterson to the draft in NY. Among those five players, only Peterson and Quinn have a realistic chance of free falling, and even Quinn will undoubtedly be gone by #9 (to the Dolphins) at the very latest. Peterson, on the other hand, already had major durability questions, and his continuing clavicle problems have no make teams wary. I wouldn't be shocked if Peterson fell all the way to the late first round.

3. Calvin Johnson will be taken second overall.

But it won't be by the Detroit Lions. Assuming the Raiders take Jamarcus Russell, that #2 overall pick becomes extremely valuable because of Johnson. Detroit wants to trade down, and they will be inundated with offers to do so if Johnson is available. The usual suspects will all make inquiries (Atlanta, Denver, Minnesota), but the dark horse in the Calvin Johnson sweepstakes will be the New England Patriots. They are the only team that can offer Detroit 2 first round picks.

4. The Washington Redskins will do something stupid.

Now this takes talent. The Skins were one of the worst teams in the league last year, YET somehow they only have 1 first day draft pick. It boggles the mind. It is common knowledge that 2007 will be Joe Gibbs last season in Washington, so look for the Skins, and owner Dan Snyder, to once again go for the quick fix. They currently have the #6 overall pick, but I wouldn't be shocked if they traded that pick away in a stupid deal for a veteran player like Asante Samuel or Lance Briggs.

5. There will be three quarterbacks taken in round 1.

Jamarcus Russell and Brady Quinn are locks, but there will be another. Not unlike what Baltimore did years ago when they traded their first round pick for the following year to New England so they could grab Kyle Boller, some team will trade back into the end of the first round to snag the third best signal caller on their board. Hard to say right now who that player will be, but I could definitely see teams falling in love with Troy Smith, Trent Edwards or Drew Stanton. The possible dark horse is BYU product John Beck, who'd look great in a Bears uniform at #31.

2007 Final Mock Draft Part 2  

Posted by Walter

17. Jacksonville Jaguars - Reggie Nelson, S Florida

Although there has been some talk of Nelson sliding down draft boards I simply cannot fathom the Jags passing on the dynamic Gator safety. At this point in the draft Nelson is one of the only, if not the only, player who can come in and make an immediate impact. And while the Jags may have more of a need for offensive playmakers, they have too many good, young players to go in that direction with this pick. Nelson projects as a safety and would be actually be an uprgrade of the departed Deon Grant, and would compliment incumbent, yet oft injured, Donovan Darius nicely.

FF- I can get on board with this. We have a young offense, although two mediocre quarterbacks. But we could use some more help in the secondary, and the rest of our defense has been pretty solid. Also, I'll take the local hero.

18. Cincinnati Bengals - Lawrence Timmons, LB Florida State

Traditional thinking tells you that this simply HAS to be a defensive pick. Although there were some reports yesterday saying that Marvin Lewis was nothing short of enamored with Ted Ginn, I simply cannot see the Bengals using this pick to strengthen their already stacked receiving corpse. With several solid defensive back prospects still on the board I could see Cinci going in that direction, but they had a ton of bad luck with linebackers in the past year and need help there. Timmons gets the nod over Beason because he is a true outside prospect, whereas Beason projects as more of an inside player where the Bengals have already invested a first day pick when they took Ahmad Brooks in the supplemental draft.

FF - Does he play defense? Yes. Does he have an extensive rap sheet? No. Well, those are pretty much my two criteria. Our defense was deficient against both the run and pass, so a linebacker should help in both respects. Although, I don't remember Timmons from that defense, the guy I recall is Buster Davis, so that makes me nervous.

The Cincinnati Kid - Cincinnati needs to take the best available player from one of three positions: cornerback, linebacker, and defensive tackle (in order of need). The Bengals had the worst-ranked passing defense in the league, and they allowed the most first downs, so I don't know as much about Timmons as I do about Alan Branch, who would probably be a more popular pick here. If Leon Hall could fall here, that would be fantastic. I've never been a huge fan of guys who move up from combine results, so I have that reservation about Timmons, as well as another possibility, Darrelle Revis. All in all, I'm happy with this pick.

19. Tennessee Titans - Ted Ginn, WR Ohio State

If the Titans look up at #18 and still see Ted Ginn on the board they might start doing backflips. Ginn fills two major needs for the Titans: a playmaking wideout for Vince Young, and a dynamic kick returner to fill in for the dismissed Pacman Jones. Furthermore, the Titans are able to fill these needs without looking desperate, which is what they'd be if they reached for either Revis or Houston at this pick. Ginn represents tremendous value, and while Tennessee still has a gaping hole in the defensive backfield, Ginn solves at least two other problems for the team.

FF - Maybe? I mean, we do need a wide receiver. And we do need a good kick returner with Pacman on the wrong side of the law. On the other hand, I think Ginn is a bust in the making. So we just spent a first round choice on a kick returner. I think I just threw up in my mouth.

20. New York Giants - Chris Houston, CB Arkansas

Speaking of doing backflips, the Giants know Leon Hall will be gone by their pick, but with the next two corners available to them this late they could not ask for better options. The Giants pass defense was abysmal last season, and they badly need an infusion of young talent. Houston gets the nod because of his unreal triangle numbers, but also because he is a much better man to man coverage guy that Darrel Revis. Revis is a bit more physical, but the G-Men love to play man coverage when they can and Houston simply fits their scheme better.

FF - YES YES YES! We are fucking desperate for help in the secondary. We were pathetic back there last year, and it cost us again and again. Getting the second CB off the board at #20 is a huge bonus. Couldn't be happier.

21. Denver Broncos - Darrel Revis, CB Pittsburgh

Ever since the tragic death of Darrent Williams, the Broncos have been telling everyone who will listen that they have had sufficient depth at the position to fill his spot without spending their first pick on a DB. Well, whether that is the case or not I simply do not believe Shanahan will pass on Revis this late in the first round. Revis is a physical corner, who is best in zone coverage and is a real asset in the run defense. In other words, if you were to create a perfect corner to play opposite Champ Bailey you'd end up with someone who looked a lot like Revis. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if Revis was the top corner on the Broncos draft board. There is no way they'd pass him up at this point.

FF - Ugh. This pick depresses me. It's a good selection, but the situation surrounding it is just plain sad. RIP Darrent.

22. Dallas Cowboys - Anthony Spencer, DE/OLB Purdue

Word is that the 'Boys want to trade out of this spot. And they might just do that. But if not, Purdue's Spencer would be an ideal fit. The Cowboys actually do not have many immediate needs. In fact, in my view the only players left on the board who could come in and start right away are Spencer, Joe Staley and possibly Justin Blalock. From his days in San Diego we know that Wade Phillips loves to pressure the passer from the edge. He has Demarcus Ware already doing a decent Shawne Merrimen impression, but he still needs to find someone to fill the Shaun Phillips role. Spencer, a fellow Boilermaker, reminds me a lot of Phillips and can definitely fill that role in Phillips' scheme.

FF - Really? I feel like we've been drafting small DE/LB's for a couple years now (Canty, Ware) and I'm just not sure when it's all going to stop. Maybe this year our defense will decide to show up for a full season.

23. Kansas City Chiefs - Joe Staley, OT Central Michigan

This would be an outstanding pickup for the Chiefs who have gone from having the top offensive line in all of football, to one of the worst in a mere two years. Well that will happen when you lose two of the best to ever play their position in consecutive seasons (first Willie Roaf and then Wil Shields). Staley is clearly the third best tackle prospect in this draft, and he could end up being the best player in a few years. Staley is a tremendous athlete, and while he lacks polish, he has more raw potential than any tackle since John Ogden. He will need some seasoning, but the Chiefs desire to trade star back Larry Johnson seems to indicate that they may not be expecting to compete right away.

FF - Well, we lost a pair of Hall-of-Famers, so taking the OL with the best upside in the draft makes a ton of sense. Our team went totally in the wrong direction last year, but if we can continue to block for Johnson, it's probably our best shot at doing anything.

24. New England Patriots - Aaron Ross, CB Texas

Classic New Englad pick. Ross is a heady but talented player, who is very polished and ready to play right away. In my opinion Ross has the best footwork of any defensive back in this draft. The only reason he will last this long is that he really does not have tremendous timed speed. The Patriots have never shied away from a player for that reason and I see no reason for them to start now. Seeing as they play primarily zone, Ross's skills are a perfect match for the Patriots, and he could develop similarly to Ty Law and end up being that type of player. Plus, Belichick has to know that if he passes on Ross he may end up with former assistant Eric Mangini on the division rival Jets.

FF - Take the best player available, as always. Look, if Asante wants to be a bitch and threaten a hold out, we can, and will replace his ungrateful ass.

25. New York Jets - Alan Branch, DT Michigan

The disappointment of missing out of Ross will sting, but not for too long. Alan Branch is a tremendous consolation prize for Mangini and Co. Despite his draft board freefall, Branch brings a physical presence to the interior of a defensive line like no other player in this draft. I should say, however, that Branch doesn't really strike me as a nose tackle. He is at his best when he has one gap to play and can take on two blockers in protecting that gap. He may struggle initially on the nose. Of course, this pick wreaks of Vince Wilfork slipping to New England a few years ago, and that has worked out great for everyone involved.

FF - Do I love Branch? Maybe not. Do I love getting a top ten guy who slipped all the way to 25? You bet I do. He fills a need on our team, and he fills it with some serious mass. Great pick!

26. Philadelphia Eagles - Jarvis Moss, DE Florida

Another perfect fit. Moss is a super athlete, and the comparisons to former Gator and current Eagle Jevon Kears are not all that far off. Andy Reid has done a great job drafting in recent years, but the one area he has struggled with has been the defensive front. Brod Bunkley has shown very little, and developmental end picks like Jerome McDougle and Trent Cole have not established themselves. Moss is the type of athlete that can step in right away as a situational pass rusher while he learns the ropes from Kearse. As an added bonus, Moss is athletic enough to be able to drop into coverage, something that is often asked of Eagles ends in Jim Johnson's heavy zone blitzing scheme.

FF - GO GET 'EM! Johnson is going to let this kid loose like a whirlwind on opposing quarterbacks. Let's blitz them back to the stone age. Maybe this is the year where we actually draft a useful DL!

27. New Orleans Saints - Jon Beason, LB Miami

It seems like every year the Saints try and draft and linebacker, and every year they fail. Well you know what they say, fall down seven times, get up eight. Beason is a nice prospect who projects best in the middle, an area of heavy need for the Saints. While his triangle numbers are not outstanding, it's nearly impossible to ignore the success of University of Miami linebackers in the NFL, making this the safest pick for a team desperate for linebacking help.

FF - Our linebackers are an uninspiring lot, so I really love the addition of Beason to anchor things over there. Now all we have to do is avoid the endless succession of shootouts. This year, let's try to win whenever we score 30.

28. New England Patriots - David Harris, LB Michigan

A major reach here, but a guy that the Patriots have to be enamored with. Harris is a classic thumper at inside backer, and projects beautifully next to Teddy Bruschi as a two down inside backer (not unlike Ted Johnson). Moreoever, to a man every Wolverine this past year credited Harris play and his leadership as the reason for the team's turnaround. Harris is exactly the type of hard working, self made player that the Patriots love. That he fills a major need at inside backer makes this a very solid pick, even for a reach talent wise.

FF - With an aging LB corps, this makes a ton of sense. We just turned a weakness into a strength, and having a plug in the middle will really help the run defense.

29. Baltimore Ravens - Justin Blalock, OL Texas

Blalock is a big, strong, mauling offensive lineman, exactly the type that the Ravens love. Best of all, while Blalock projects best as a guard in the NFL, he could actually step in and play right tackle, where the Ravens have a major need after losing Tony Pashos to free agency. While many pundits project USC center Ryan Kalil here, the Ravens have Mike Flynn entrenched as the starter, and Blalock's versatility makes him a much more interesting prospect. This would be outstanding value this late in round 1.

FF - Ugh. The offensive line was the problem last year? Really? We are the least explosive team in history, and we're blaming the line? This is some kind of sick joke.

30. San Diego Chargers - Mike Griffin, S Texas

Griffin is a great fit for the Chargers already loaded defense. With the departure of Terrence Kiel the Bolts really need to add a safety and Griffin is by far the best on the board. As a bonus he is a very smart player, something that was missing from the Chargers last season (especially in their playoff loss to the Pats) and probably cost them a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Griffin is a seasoned player who can come in and start right away.

FF - There are a boatload of talented WR, which would have been the difference for us between a win and a loss against New England, and we take a safety? This just isn't where we fell short. We fell short because no single WR could catch a ball to save our lives. Actually, our defensive backs catching balls is exactly what ended up costing us.

31. Chicago Bears - Ben Grubbs, OG Auburn

If the Bears knew that Grubbs would be available at this pick, they may not be so eager to move up in the draft. Grubbs is the best true guard prospect in the draft, and his athleticism is off the charts for the position. Grubbs would step in and start immediately for a Bears offensive line that could really use some youth inside. With a lot of the wide receivers still available taking one might be tempting, but the Bears actually have a bevy of talent at that position already. Grubbs is not a sexy pick, but he would be outstanding value for the Bears this late.

FF - If we'd had Grubbs would we have won the Super Bowl? No? Then why take him here?! We're so fucking close, and we choose to get better in an area where we don't need as much help. I feel like we're just desperate to cover our ass in the Benson situation.

32. Indianapolis Colts - Dwayne Bowe, WR LSU

After winning the Super Bowl the Colts have the luxury of taking the best player available. Bowe fits that bill, and would team with Harrison and Wayne to form the best wideout trio int he league. With Harrison getting up there in age, and Brandon Stokely departing via free agency the Colts actually have something of a need for a young wide receiver at this spot. Bowe is a physical player who could step in and play the slot right away, and eventually replace Harrison on the outside. An added bonus is that Bowe is tough as nails going over the middle, which would prevent teams like New England from using gameplans centering around bullying the soft Indy wideouts.

FF - Wait, we won the Super Bowl and added a guy with a mid-round grade with the last pick? Yeah, you all are suckers. Can you say "repeat"?

2007 Final Mock Draft Part 1  

Posted by Walter

1. Oakland Raiders - Jamarcus Russell, QB LSU

At this point it looks to be a two horse race between Russell and Calvin Johnson (I am definitely NOT buying Brady Quinn as any sort of serious candidate). If the Raiders are able to find a taker for Randy Moss some time in the next few days, I might reconsider this pick. Still, picking a wideout before the person who is going to throw him the ball is, metaphorically speaking, putting the cart before the horse. Furthermore, if the Raiders were really serious about moving Moss and drafting Johnson, why didn't they make more of an effort to acquire David Carr when he was available? Carr is a young, former #1 overall pick, who would have been a major upgrade for the Raiders. They have too many holes in their roster to take Johnson after eschewing the opportunity to add Carr.

Frazier Fan - Please? He's big, he's strong, he's incredibly accurate (which everyone seems to forget) and we are desperate for a quarterback. This needs to happen. I just hope Al Davis is alive to make the pick.

2. Detroit Lions - Gaines Adams, DE Clemson

If I were a gambling man, and who's to say I'm not, I would put the odds of the Lions trading this pick at a little under 60%. Chances are that if Jamarcus Russell goes #1 overall, Calvin Johnson will go to some team, not the Lions, in this spot....problem is that right now it is just about impossible to say which team. If the Lions stick at this spot, which could happen if they aren't offered a fair deal, Adams seems the likely pick. While he is not the elite prospect that either Johnson or Joe Thomas is, Adams is the best player who fits an immediate need for the Lions. Really Adams selection is nothing more than a function of attrition. I don't think Matt Millen has the stones to pick another wideout in the top 10, so Johnson is out. Brady Quinn would be a nice fit, but Mike Martz isn't exactly known for developing young quarterbacks and the team could be targeting local product Drew Stanton at the top of round 2. Adrien Peterson would be a defensible pick based on value, but the Lions already have Kevin Jones, Tatum Bell, and Brian Calhoun on the roster. Bottom line is that the Lions better trade out of this spot.

FF - WHAT?! Fuck, this is a Mario Williams situation in the making. Whatever happened to "best available"?! Who the hell makes a "reach" pick with the second selection in the entire draft?! FIRE MILLEN!

3. Cleveland Browns - Brady Quinn, QB Notre Dame

News broke yesterday that the Browns had narrowed their choices down to two players: Adrien Peterson and Joe Thomas. Folks, this is what we call a smoke screen. Neither pick makes any sense given what the Browns have done this offseason. A month ago, Peterson would have been a mortal lock to go to the Browns. But then the team paid Jamal Lewis starter money, and the chances dropped. Sure they could pick Peterson and team him in the backfield with Lewis, but that doesn't make a ton of sense. If they were interested in running a two back system, with the lead back being Peterson, they had an adequate, and MUCH cheaper, compliment in Reuben Droughns. As for Thomas, the Browns have spent more money on their offensive line the past two offseasons (adding among others, Lecharles Bentley, Joe Andruzzi, and Eric Steinbach) than any other area.....and it's showed. The line has a ton of talent and should be solid, but it does you no good to have a top O-line if you don't have electric skill guys to make plays.

FF - Great, Crennel and company are so busy trying to save their asses that the pick this ridiculous Golden Domer so that if things don't go well, they can say they were "rebuilding" with a "talented" rookie signal caller. This kid is like a deer in headlights in a big game, fortunately for him, he won't play in any of those in Cleveland.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Calvin Johnson, WR Georgia Tech

Again, if I were a betting man I'd say the odds of Johnson falling all the way to #4 are about 50-50. If he does fall to #4, I'd bet that the odds of the Bucs actually drafting him are also 50-50 (the other 50% being a trade). It is very difficult for teams to offer enough value to get into the top 3, but there is somewhat of a dropoff at #4 overall. Teams like the Vikings and Falcons may be willing to offer Tampa a godfather type deal to get into position to draft Johnson at four because he is a top 2 caliber talent. Jon Gruden is an offensive guy no doubt, but given GM Bruce Allen's draft history, my bet is that Allen's top choice would be tackle Joe Thomas. The Bucs really could end up holding the key to the entire first round. If they hold serve and draft Johnson their may be minimal movement in the top 10. But if they are willing to trade down, they could really shake things up by squeezing a team aching to draft either Johnson or Joe Thomas.

FF - Woohoo! The best player in the draft at #4?! I don't care if we have other needs, this dude is a sure thing. Also, we can blaze together.

5. Arizona Cardinals - Joe Thomas, OT Wisconsin

If he is available, Thomas to Arizona is the lock of the first round. The Cardinals desperately need Joe Thomas to protect Matt Leinart's blind side, and give him time to find their superb wideout duo of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Really, there is no other possibility here. In fact, I believe the Cardinals want Thomas so badly that they may consider trading up with Detroit to ensure that he is available when they pick. The bottom line is that no other player in the draft will help solidify the Cardinals like Thomas will. Thomas is worth a lot more to them than he is to any other team in the draft. The Cardinals can sit tight and hope that Thomas falls, but I could see either Cleveland or Tampa taking Thomas, especially if the Raiders or the team drafting #2 selects Calvin Johnson. If I were them, I'd be proactive and do what I had to do to get into the top 2 to draft the big Wisconsin tackle.

FF - DEAR GOD YES! This is hands-down the best thing that could possibly, conceivably, ever happen to us. We get rid of a terrible OL to a massive contract, and we pick a stud in the first round?! Our running game just got better, our passing game just got better, and I'm thinking...... playoffs?

6. Atlanta Falcons - Laron Landry, S LSU (projected trade with Washington)

I expect Atlanta to make a major push to move up into the top 4 to draft Calvin Johnson. The Falcons acquired an extra 2nd round pick for Matt Schaub so they are one of the few teams that have the ammunition necessary to make such a move. As I posited yesterday, the Falcons are in somewhat of a precarious position. They have a great new coach, and actually have a ton of talent that is almost ready to win right now. Their two big holes are at wide receiver and safety, and Calvin Johnson and Laron Landry are the only elite prospects in the draft that can help them right now. If the top 5 plays out as I have it, Atlanta will be sitting at #8 with one guy on their draft board: Landry. Now it is possible that he could be available at 8, but both the Redskins and the Vikings need help at safety. It probably wouldn't cost the Falcons a lot to move up two spots, and it would ensure them that they get their man.

FF - Not crazy about trading up to get a safety. Especially seeing as it won't help Vick any, and that's really where we need to make strides. Landry is good, but I have to question the value for us in this position.

7. Minnesota Vikings - Adrien Peterson, RB Oklahoma

Look Chester Taylor is not the answer. He is a nice player, but passing on a talent like Adrien Peterson because you have Chester Taylor would be a monumental mistake. The Vikings are another team that could hold a key to how the first round plays out. They have a ton of needs, but they may also be in a position to snap up a superior talent like Peterson or Brady Quinn if either of them start sliding down the board. Head man Brad Childress tended to prefer smaller backs in Philly, but Peterson's skill set is unmatched, and he is strong enough to carry the load for a full 16 games (something guys like Duce Staley and Brian Westbrook) were never able to do. If the Vikings decide they like Chester Taylor, trading down is also an option.

FF - Get the orthopedics division at the Mayo clinic on the phone, NOW! I love Peterson, and lord knows that Tayler is not the answer. Especially seeing as how we have NO quarterbacks on the roster right now. So this may be an awesome pick, but I'm just afraid we drafted a porcelein running back.

8. Washington Redskins - Jamaal Anderson, DE Arkansas (projected trade)

This is why trading out of the 6 spot makes a lot of sense for the Skins. Anderson is the guy they need, and probably the guy they want all along. They need help on the defensive line and at least one of Anderson or Amobi Okoye will be available at this spot (most likely both will be here). Anderson is not as polished as Gaines Adams, but he has far more raw ability, and may even project better as an every down NFL lineman due to his ability to play the run. While I do believe the Redskins like Anderson, I wouldn't be shocked to see them trade down again to acquire more picks.

FF - Woohoo! I really like Anderson. He's big, and strong, and fast, and he's going to be very good for our defense. Put the quarterback on his ass!

9. Miami Dolphins - Amobi Okoye, DT Louisville

The Dolphins desperately need help on the interior defensive line. Their top three tackles from last year are all gone (not that any of them were any good) so at a minimum they need bodies who can play inside. Okoye is by far the best interior line prospect in this draft. At only 19 years old, Okoye has a lot of development left and it's anybody's guess how good he could be in 4 years if coached up properly. He projects as a classic 3 technique, pass rushing tackle, and would fit in perfectly in Miami. Jason Taylor is still dominant, but he is getting old. Okoye would be the perfect player to succeed Taylor as the Dolphins best pass rushing threat.

FF - Does the kid play quarterback? I'm not saying we're all-set defensively, but our offense was a problem last year. I like the potential here, but if we don't start scoring some points, our defense is going to calcify before it matters whether Okoye is doing anything or not.

10. Houston Texans - Levi Brown, OT Penn State

Many pundits and scouts feel that Brown has narrowed the gap between himself and Joe Thomas over the past few freakin way. Brown is a nice player, and should be a starting caliber NFL tackle, but he isn't nearly the athlete that Thomas is. Brown is more of a mauler, and is going to struggle with NFL speed rushers. Still, he is clearly the #2 tackle on the board, and no team, perhaps in the history of the NFL, needs a tackle more than the Texans. Houston's lack of pass protection submarined David Carr's career. They paid a dear price to acquire Matt Schaub, and they owe it to him to provide him with enough protection to give him a fighting chance.

FF - Pinch me. I must be dreaming. A reasonable pick at a position that has been the bane of our existence since our inception? No way. It's like the Bizarro-Texans or something.

11. San Francisco 49ers - Adam Carriker, DE Nebraska

The 49ers are a nice up and coming team. Their biggest need is at wide receiver, but this is probably a bit early for them to grab either Ginn or Meachem. But still it could happen. Carriker wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. He is a big, strong, NFL ready defensive lineman who most feel can play any position on a defensive line. San Francisco is in somewhat of a state of transition. They aren't sure whether they want to be a 4-3 team or a 3-4 team. Drafting Carriker gives them the option to play both, as he is the rare prospect who could play the end spot in either defense.

FF - Our offense is looking promising these days, and if we step up defensively we could really make some noise. Carriker does a lot of things I like, and I've got a feeling he's going to do some great things for us.

12. Buffalo Bills - Patrick Willis, LB Mississippi

Buffalo is another intriguing team. After dumping Willis McGahee, if Adrien Peterson starts to fall they'd be foolish not to try and move up a few spots to grab him. If they are unable to move up enough, they should have two players available at the #12 spot that fill immediate needs for them: Willis and Michigan corner Leon Hall. The Bills have lost two top corners via free agency in the past few offseasons, but they have young players in the defensive backfield who they like very much. The same cannot be said for the middle linebacker position, where London Fletcher's departure leaves a gaping hole. Willis is the best Mike prospect in the draft, and he would probably start from day one.

FF - Nothing better than losing a quality free agent and then having to spend your first-round pick replacing him with an unproven rookie. So, what you're saying is, best case scenario we are as good as we were last season? Um, we sucked, that's why we have this high draft choice in the first place. Ugh.

13. St. Louis Rams - Leon Hall, CB Michigan

The Rams have a lot of holes in their roster, so this pick could go a number of way. Chances are it is going to be a defensive pick, especially since they spent so much money on the offense during the offseason. Even after choosing Ty Hill last year, the Rams still need a ton of help in the defensive secondary. They'd be dumb to pass on the draft's top rated corner this late in the first round. Hall is a physical player, who reminds some of Ty Law (not me though, I consider that an insult to Law) and he'd fit in nicely in St. Louis. Alan Branch is another possibility here, as he'd solidify one of the worst run defenses in the league last season.

FF - Getting the top CB in the draft at #13? Yeah, that's a steal. Although I didn't love seeing him get destroyed by Jarrett, I am loving the upgrade at a marquee position!

14. Carolina Panthers - Greg Olsen, TE Miami

The Panthers have some needs, but unfortunately none of them mesh with where they are picking. The Panthers' biggest need is wideout. While I think Ted Ginn is an option here, my esteemed co-blogger has posited on many occasions that Ginn is basically the same type of player as Steve Smith, and therefore doesn't make a whole lot of sense for Carolina. This is true, but I still believe Ginn or one of the other wideouts is a possibility. Olsen, is a player who probably doesn't deserve to go this high, but definitely fits a needs for the Panthers. Since Wes Walls retired the Panthers haven't had a top pass catching TE, and they could even split Olsen out wide to compliment Steve Smith. Olsen is a logical pick, but the question remains how much Carolina wants to reach here to fill a need.

FF - Ok! Another option besides Smith? Yeah, I can get on board with this. I know our defense isn't what it was, but we're going to need more than a one-man offense, and Olsen should be a big target that can be an excellent compliment.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Paul Poszlusny, LB Penn State

OK several reasons why this just makes too much sense not to happen. (i) Puz is a local(ish) guy, and former Steeler great, and Penn State alum, Jack Hamm absolutely loves what Pu brings to the table. (ii) Pittsburgh needs a linebacker after letting Joey Porter go. And (iii) Mike Tomlin is a classic Tampa Cover 2 defensive guy. He isn't going to change his entire philosophy and run the 3-4, even though that's what Pittsburgh has been running for years. To install his defense he needs linebackers that can play the 4-3. Puz is the only backer in this draft who can ease the transition by playing in the 3-4 in 2007, and then moving either to the weak side or middle in a cover 2 4-3 scheme. Remember, you heard it here first. Paul Poszlusny will make his mark as a Tampa 2 middle linebacker, a la Brian Urlacher.

FF - ROCK ON! I couldn't be happier. I am downright giddy. Puz is a stud! He's is everything that Porter isn't, young, hard-working, doesn't run his mouth. This is the next great one from Linebacker U. Puz is just a guy who makes tackles, knows the game, and plays with tremendous heart.

The Girl of Steel - YES! WOOHOO!

16. Green Bay Packers - Marshawn Lynch, RB California

The Packers drafted AJ Hawk last year, so we're betting that this is going to be an offensive pick. Ted Ginn would make some sense, but again, choosing a wideout before you have a competent running back is putting the cart before the horse. Vernand Morency is not the option, and it won't matter how good the wideouts are if the Packers can't run the ball. For years Ahman Green carried this team. While I am not high on Marshawn Lynch, he is the consensus #2 running back in the entire draft and would infuse the Packers running game with some game breaking ability immediately.

FF - Ugh. This makes me ill. I know we need a running attack, so that Favre won't try to do everything himself. But Lynch just isn't good enough to be taken here. Isn't there a way we could trade up for Peterson? Or trade down and get Lynch later? Or, well, anything other than taking JJ Arrington Jr? I am going to throw up about six Schlitzes and a wheel of chedder.

Curse This Common Sense  

Posted by Walter

OK so Sports Illustrated's Don Banks stole my idea, well maybe he just thought of it independently, but the fact remains I've been trying to come up with a list of NFL draft things that simply make too much sense not to happen. While Banks' column today uses this same idea, sadly I don't find his list all that interesting. Inasmuch, here's my list of ten things that just make too much sense not to happen on draft day.

1. The Cleveland Browns draft Brady Quinn.

It should be clear by now that I am not a huge Brady Quinn supporter. That said, what is far more clear is that Charlie Frye is not exactly the second coming of Bernie Kosar. The Browns desperately need a franchise caliber signal caller, and somebody to step in and be the face of the franchise. Quinn fits the bill nicely, but more importantly he is definitely the most prepared college passer in the draft. Quinn can probably come in and start for at least the second half of his rookie season, and could show enough progress to buy GM Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel another season of employment. The Browns need a ton of help, and I am not certain there is another player in the draft who can provide the type of immediate relief and excitement that Savage and Crennel need to keep their jobs.

2. The Cardinals trade up to the Lions spot at #2 and select Joe Thomas.

It could not be more clear that the Lions absolutely NEED to trade down from the #2 spot. Matt Millen has dug his own grave, and it would take balls of absolute steel (something Millen does not have) to select Calvin Johnson with that pick. Word is that the Lions are looking to draft one of the top pass rushers, namely either Gaines Adams or Jamal Anderson. While Adams may be something special, he is certainly not worthy of the second overall selection when guys like Johnson and Joe Thomas are still available. The Cardinals desperately need to add Joe Thomas to their line. Thomas could step in and play the right tackle spot from day 1, automatically providing franchise QB Matt Leinart with protection on his blind side. The Cards have invested too much in their passing game between Leinart, Anquan Boldin, and Larry Fitzgerald not to give them all time to complete passes. The Cardinals will probably have to get all the way up to #2 or #3 to ensure that they get Thomas, or else they run the risk of the Buccaneers snagging him at four if the Raiders take Johnson or another team trades up for him. Remember, Tampa GM Bruce Allen loves taking offensive lineman in round 1.

3. The Falcons trade up to the Bucs at #4 and select Calvin Johnson.

The Falcons probably don't have the ammo to move up into the top 3 (despite picking up an extra 2nd round pick for Matt Schaub), but if Johnson slips to #4 they'd be crazy not to offer everything they have to Tampa. Calvin Johnson is a #1 overall talent, and even if he slips to #4 Atlanta should treat him as such. New coach Bobby Petrino loves the vertical passing game, and Johnson is the best vertical threat to come along in years. While I am squarely NOT on the Mike Vick bandwagon, I do believe he has taken way too much of the blame for his ineffectiveness given how poorly his recieving corpse has played during his career. All you need to know is that Vick's best and most consistent weapon over the past 4 years has been lifetime third WR Brian Finneran (who is a nice player in his own right, but hardly a #1 wideout). If the Bucs move down to #8 (and pick up extra picks in rd. 2 in the process) they will still be in line to get an impact defensive lineman like Amobi Okoye (who Gruden coached in the Senior Bowl) or Jamaal Anderson (who many feel is the next Richard Seymour).

4. If the Falcons can't move up to #4, they move up to #6 and select Laron Landry.

If the Falcons can't entice the Bucs not to draft Calvin Johnson, then they'd have to turn their sights to Laron Landry who is the only defensive player in the draft that really fits their immediate needs. The thing with the Falcons is that they need to win right now, because they have a lot of talent in place to do so. Unfortunately, unless they can get Johnson or Landry there aren't any other players worthy of such a high draft pick that can step in and play for them right away. I have long been saying that Landry is the most complete defensive player in the draft and now pundits are starting to catch on. While many mock drafts have him available for the Falcons at 8, they simply cannot take that risk with both the Skins and Vikings picking in front of them. Bottom line for the Falcons, they have to look at this draft as Calvin Johnson, Laron Landry or bust.

5. The Bills trade up into the 8-9 range and select Adrien Peterson.

Assuming Peterson gets by Minnesota at #7, which is no guarantee (Minnie is a major dark horse for AP), the Bills have to do everything to get in position to select him. When the Bills gave up on Willis McGahee they could never have envisioned a scenario where Peterson could be had to replace him. But with most of the top 10 set at the running back position, it could legitimately happen. If the Skins and Falcons pull off the trade I suggested in #4, the Redskins at #8 would be an ideal spot for the Bills to move up to. The Redskins could still afford to move down and get either Jamaal Anderson or Adam Carriker, and knowing that the Bills are targeting Peterson (a top 5 talent) they could ask for a boatload of picks. If the Skins were able to move down from #6 to #8, and then #8 to #12, they could potentially pick up 4 extra draft picks. With Peterson available to them, the Bills would be insane not to make a move to get him.

6. The Steelers select Paul Poszlusny.

Talk about an all time no brainer. Pittsburgh is in a transitional phase. They just let Joey Porter go, and many feel that they are going to transition to Mike Tomlin's preferred cover 2 defense sooner rather than later. In eschewing their traditional 3-4, the Steelers need to get the proper linebacking personnel on board, and Poszlusny would be an ideal fit. Puz is a classic Steelers type player: smart, tough, instinctive, but without great measurables. He is also somewhat of a local product, and a favorite of Steeler great Jack Hamm. Puz could come in and start right away as either an OLB in the 4-3, or an ILB in the 3-4, and, as I have posited many times on this blog, would be an excellent developmental MLB for a Tampa 2 scheme.

7. The Cowboys select Anthony Spencer.

Spencer is someone who not many people are talking about, and that is probably because he is not as versatile as most of the other defensive lineman in this draft. The bottom line is, however, in the right scheme he could turn out to be the cream of the crop. Spencer is a bit undersized to play the 4-3 end, but he is a perfect fit as a 3-4 OLB. Spencer led the nation in tackles for a loss in 2006, and really showed the type of explosion NFL teams lust for. New coach Wade Phillips built his defense in San Diego around his two OLB's: superfreak Shawne Merriman, and unheralded Shaun Phillips. The Cowboys already have Demarcus Ware doing a decent Merriman impression, and Spencer is basically a Shaun Phillips clone (he even attended Purdue, Phillips' alma mater).

8. The Eagles select Jarvis Moss.

Philadelphia is one of the best drafting teams in all of football, but they struggle somewhat trying to draft defensive ends (uninspiring picks like Jerome McDougle and Trent Cole come to mind). Moss is the exact opposite of those failures. He is a hybrid perimeter player, who is often compared to former Gator, and current Eagle, Jevon Kearse. Kearse was supposed to stabilize the Philly pass rush, but age and injuries have prevented him from doing so. Bringing in a guy like Moss who Kearse could mentor for a year would make a ton of sense for Andy Reid and Co. Plus, Moss is athletic enough to blitz and drop into coverage, something coordinator Jim Johnson's zone blitzing scheme requires.

9. The Patriots draft David Harris at #28.

Admittedly, a month ago this may have been a huge reach. But Harris is slowly climbing up draft boards, and I think the Patriots are too smart to think they can still get him in round 3 (they have no second round pick). Harris is a perfect fit for New England. He is a big, strong, thumping inside backer who reminds me a lot of former stalwart Ted Johnson. Plus Harris is a top character player and a locker room presence (to a man, the entire Wolverine defense credited Harris for their resurgence in 2006). While Harris may not ever be a star or anything more than a 2 down player, he is the type of linebacker that great teams have. He fits too perfectly in New England for this not to happen. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Pats try and trade out of this spot and into the early second round, with the hopes that Harris is still available. If I were them, I'd leave no doubt and just take him here.

10. The Chargers select Mike Griffin at #30.

Chargers GM A.J. Smith loves selecting defensive backs in round one (5 overall during his tenures with Buffalo and San Diego, by far the most of any position). With Terrence Kiel gone, the Bolts have a gaping hole in the defensive backfield. Griffin is a versatile player who would help solidify the Chargers secondary. Plus, Smith has a historical affinity for Longhorn defensive backs, having chosen Quentin Jammer with his top pick several years back. Because the Chargers are so talented and so deep already, I wouldn't be shocked to see them try and trade up earlier in round one to grab Reggie Nelson. Given that nobody really knows just how far Nelson may fall, it is hard to predict what they'd have to give up to get him, but the Bolts are one of the few teams who can afford to give up draft selections in order to nab an elite player. I think the Chargers are a definite dark horse in this draft, and could be a major mover towards the middle of round 1.

.........we will post the first part of our final mock draft tomorrow

The Rich...  

Posted by Frazier

Well, Mitch Mustain has finally decided to transfer from Arkansas. He'll be heading for USC next year. Now, Mustain may not have liked Nutt, but he had to believe that he'd win the quarterback duel with Casey Dick, and be the starting QB for a talented, and potentially dangerous, Razorbacks squad. Of course, he didn't seem to want the competition, and he didn't want to share the stage with the swiss army running back. Also, his high school coach didn't get enough love, so he bailed.

Well, now he gets to sit out a year. And he gets to battle another #1 quarterback recruit (Sanchez) for the right to start in 2 years. Since he has more eligibility than Sanchez, even if he loses that battle, he'll be in line for at least a season at the helm. So long as another top quarterback recruit (and there will be a couple, most likely, headed to USC) doesn't usurp him. Have him ask Matt Cassell how that feels.

Is it a bad move for Mustain? Time will tell. If he beats out Sanchez he'll have a chance to start for one of the top teams in the nation. Of course, he still might get overshadowed by a superior running back (USC will have a number of studs lining up to take that role). Keep in mind, Mustain was slated to start for a top team THIS year.

So maybe he hates Nutt, that seems obvious. But any kid who attends a school just because they hired his high school coach is probably not doing it for the right reasons. It was all about Mustain, and never his team and it still is. Maybe Mustain will dedicate himself to team ball. Maybe his relationship with Nutt was really the problem. But right now, if I'm playing for the Trojans, I'm not looking forward to having Mustain lead me into battle. I'd just what kind of leader he could be.

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice.........  

Posted by Walter

Winston Churchill famously once said, "All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes." While this adage is probably most relevant to the arena of world diplomacy, it is certainly relatable to the plight of NFL personnel directors when preparing for April's draft. All things considered, there must not be all that many wise men running NFL draft boards, since we seem to see the same stupid draft mistakes every year. Every year, it seems, NFL personnel people fall into the same trap of reaching too high for certain players, while letting others fall much further than they should. Why does this happen? You're guess is as good as mine, but sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, NFL personnel directors will make these same mistakes once again.......At least this year we are preparing you for it.

Players Who Will be Drafted Way too Early

Robert Meachem, WR Tennessee - While it's fashionable to bash Tedd Ginn Jr., the fact is that given his speed and ability to help in the return game there is very little chance that he will be a total NFL bust. The same cannot be said for Meachem who seems to be flying up NFL draft boards. Now don't get me wrong, Meachem does do certain things very well, and he could succeed in the right NFL system (namely one like New England's that wouldn't ask him to do things he can't), but anyone who is projected as a top 15 pick (as Meachem is) has to be able to make plays no matter what the situation. Meachem is almost a clone of former Vol wideout Donte Stallworth, who was drafted WAY too early (13th pick) in the 2002 draft. Like Stallworth, Meachem is a pure deep threat with no other skills that really translate into stardom in the NFL. If he is asked to be a #1 or even a #2 guy right away, he will struggle.

Greg Olsen, TE Miami - Olsen is by far the best tight end in the entire draft, there is no doubt about that. But is a college tight end who doesn't block and has gotten into the endzone exactly once in the past 12 months really worthy of a top 20 pick? Olsen has great athletic ability, but let's not go overboard here. It's not like he is Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates. Olsen is fast, but he isn't fast enough that a weak side LB couldn't hang with him. And frankly, Olsen isn't a very physical player, so why not stick a strong safety on him. The point is that Olsen just isn't the devastating matchup problem that some are making him out to be.

Mike Griffin, S Texas - Griffin has a ton of cache in this year's draft, mainly because there have been so many good Texas defensive backs in the last two drafts. In addition to Griffin, the 2007 edition will feature Longhorn corners Aaron Ross and Tarrell Brown, while both Mike Huff and Cedric Griffin were first day picks in 2006. While the dearth of talent in the Texas defensive backfield is undeniable, it would be wrong to lump Griffin in with those other players. Griffin simply isn't as physically gifted as guys like Aaron Ross or Mike Huff (who, by the way, struggled a bit for the Raiders in his rookie season). Griffin does everything well, but nothing great, and I wonder whether he will be able to hold up in coverage in the NFL. Safeties who can't cover are one of the all time classic NFL draft bust paradigms, and Griffin could be one of these guys who comes into the league and just kills his team by giving up big play after big play.

Marshawn Lynch, RB California - One of the draft's most prominent lessons is that unless you're getting Ladainian Tomlinson, you don't need to reach for a RB in the first round. Consider the following:

Player One - 565 rushing yards, 742 receiving yards, 8 total TD
Player Two - 745 rushing yards, 194 receiving yards, 7 total TD
Player Three - 501 rushing yards, 313 receiving yards, 2 total TD
Player Four - 1081 rushing yards, 325 receiving yards, 8 total TD

Player Five (2) - 941 rushing yards, 436 receiving yards, 15 total TD
Player Six (3) - 633 rushing yards, 102 receiving yards, 2 total TD
Player Seven (4) - 650 rushing yards, 270 receiving yards, 4 total TD

OK so which player was drafted in the first round #1 or #5? How about #3 and #6? You get the point. Players 1-4 were all first round RB (Bush, Maroney, Williams, Addai), while players 5-7 were drafted in later rounds (Jones-Drew 2nd, Norwood 3rd, Washington 4th). Marshawn Lynch is a running back who has some skill. But that cannot be the salient question when drafting running backs. You have to ask yourself whether he has enough skill to make him worthy of a first round pick, when players the caliber of Jones-Drew, Norwood, and Washington are available in the later rounds. And this is not a one year phenomenon. In addition to those three, the following running backs have been drafted after the first round in the past three seasons: Frank Gore (3rd), Marion Barber (4th), Brandon Jacobs (4th), Tatum Bell (2nd), Julius Jones (2nd), Michael Turner (5th). The bottom line is that these guys are there every year, so if you have confidence in your drafting ability, don't waste your first round pick.

Players Who Will be Drafted Way too Late

Paul Poszlusny, LB Penn State - While I don't think Patrick Willis will be a better NFL player than Puz, I at least understand why some teams have him rated higher. What I don't understand is why many of those same teams have both Lawrence Timmons and Jon Beason rated ahead of Puz. Poszlusny reminds me a lot of guys like Demeco Ryans and Lofa Tatupu, players who everybody with a brain new could play in the NFL, but for some reason just kept falling all the way to the 2nd round. Both Ryans and Tatupu were thought to be undersized, and too slow for the NFL, but both just made plays in college by knowing and understanding the game. The scary thing is that Poszulsny is probably a smarter football player than either of the aforementioned two. Puz can play inside and outside (and, as I have hypothesized, perhaps even the middle) and, more importantly, the man LOVES football. He is identical to both Ryans and Tatupu in the sense that they are all the type of players you win with. The term "winner" is a bit weird in football since it is such a team game, but winning does tend to follow around certain players.....Puz is one of those guys.

Justin Blalock, OL Texas - Here is something I don't understand, NFL teams clearly value interior line play enough to draft defensive tackles in the first round, yet they do not value it enough to draft offensive guards in the first round. Seems kind of odd that you'd admit the importance of the defensive player, yet still deny the importance of the guy blocking him. While offensive tackles have become somewhat of a glamour position, NFL games are won and lost just as much between those tackles. Yet teams still continue to undervalue guard play. Consider the case of Shaun Alexander. Yes he got hurt last season, but he simply was not the same running back without Steve Hutchinson paving the way for him. The 2007 draft has a ton of very good guards in it, but Blalock is clearly the best of the bunch. He is big and strong, and is a classic mauler who could even bump outside to tackle if needed. Guys like this just don't grow on trees. Teams need to understand that it doesn't matter how good your tackles are if you can't control the guys in the middle. Blalock looks like a long time pro bowl player, and if he is available at the back of round one he would represent outstanding value.

David Harris, LB Michigan - I have long been on the David Harris bandwagon. Although somewhat limited athletically, Harris is the best true "thumper" in the entire draft. The "thumper" is another position that has become devalued by NFL teams. With speed linebackers like Brian Urlacher getting all the attention, classic inside backers who take on guards and stuff the run have become almost extinct. I had the pleasure of watching one of the best "thumpers" of the past 10 years in the Patriots' Ted Johnson, and let me tell you that his presence was critical for the team's success. Harris is a big, strong linebacker who actually relishes his collisions with fullbacks and guards. While he will probably be a strictly 2 down linebacker during his career, Harris is a guy who could step in and help a 3-4 team on the inside right away.

Josh Wilson, CB Maryland - I love everything I have ever seen from Wilson, except his size. However, unfortunately for him, most NFL teams are only going to focus on one number: 5'9''. Wilson is small, there is no denying this, but he is also fast, smart, and fearless. Make no mistake about it, if Wilson was six feet, you'd not only know who he was but you'd be praying that he some how fell to your favorite team. Regardless of his size, there is no doubt in my mind that Wilson WILL be a very good NFL player. He may be limited to playing the slot, but you know what, in the new NFL passing games rule and the nickelback is almost as important as the other starting corners. Nearly every NFL team has 3 or 4 good wideouts, and on third down often the best matchup for the offense is their third WR against the defense's third DB. Wilson is a guy who can come in and play the nickelback spot right away, but who loves football enough to push to start soon thereafter.

Who are the top players in 2007? (defense)  

Posted by Walter

Onto the best of 2007 on the defensive side of the football........

Defensive Ends

1) Calais Campbell, Miami (Jr.) - While most people in the country don't yet know about Calais Campbell, we here at the 323 have been on board since day one. Campbell is everything you want in a defensive end. He is HUGE at 6'8'' and 280 lbs. so he is naturally stout against the run, but what is most impressive is how quickly he can penetrate and get to the QB or running back in the backfield. Campbell made a TON of plays in 2006 as his 10 sacks and ridiculous 20 (!!) tackles for a loss indicate. I saw Campbell absolutely dominate Boston College last season and tabbed him as a potential #1 overall I stand by that prediction.

2) Lawrence Jackson, USC - Jackson burst onto the scene as a sophomore but had a huge backslide in 2006 registering only 4 sacks and looking lethargic at times. Still Jackson's talent and physical abilities are undeniable. He has a great frame at 6'5'', but could stand to add a few more pounds so long as he doesn't lose any quickness. Jackson is not the overall prospect of Campbell, but he has the size and skill to dominate.

The best of the rest.........

3) Tommy Blake, TCU (Jr.) - Blake is an outstanding athlete with tons of potential, who is always in the backfield.
4) Bruce Davis, UCLA - Way too skinny at under 240 lbs., but the NFL loves speed rushers and Davis is amongst the best.
5) Chris Long, Virginia - Some think he is just a name, but Chris has his dad's size (6'4'' 284 lbs.) and nasty demeanor.

Keep an eye on.......

Quenton Groves, Auburn - Groves has had a lot of off field issues, but when he has played he has made his presence known. Groves is a freakish athlete at 6'4'' and over 250 lbs., and he is still very undeveloped with room to grow. Groves has the most potential of any of the senior defensive end prospects, as his 9.5 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss indicate. If Groves could ever get a full season under his belt he'd really be something.

Defensive Tackles

1) Glen Dorsey, LSU - Many NFL personnel directors were disappointed when Dorsey decided to stay in school....he's that good. Dorsey would have been a consensus top 10 pick in 2007 and should be a potential top 5 pick in 2008. At 6'2'' and 284 lbs. Dorsey may be viewed as a potential 3-4 end in the pros, but he is definitely good enough to be a dominant three technique tackle a la Warren Sapp.

2) Frank Okam, Texas - Okam is the next in the long, seemingly unending, line of great Longhorn defensive lineman. Like many who came before him, Okam is a physically dominant presence along the defensive front. At 6'5'' and 315 lbs. Okam is difficult to move, although he needs to maintain his leverage more consistently. He doesn't have the pure pass rushing potential of Dorsey, but Okam is a rock in the middle of a defense.

The best of the rest.......

3) Sedrick Ellis, USC - Solid prospect who has underachieved thus far in his career.
4) Andre Fluellen, Florida State - Constantly overshadowed by higher profile players on the Seminole defense, Fluellen has developed into a fine player himself.
5) Roy Miller, Texas (Jr.) - Overshadowed by Okam, but Miller is a solid prospect who may project better as a 3-4 end.

Keep an eye on.......

Marcus Harrison, Arkansas - The Razorbacks defense lost a lot of talent this offseason and they will need Harrison to step up physically and as a leader. Harrison has all the tools to succeed but will need to assert himself to live up to his potential. At 6'3'' and 310 lbs. Harrison has the size and strength to stay inside, so he needs a big senior campaign.


1) Dan Connor, Penn State - A pure outside backer, Connor is almost the prospect that Paul Poszusny was going into 2006. Blessed with great triangle numbers, Connor finally came into his own in 2006 by putting some off the field troubles behind him. How Connor plays in 2007, without Puz and Tim Shaw flanking him, will be the true test as to whether Connor has become the player we all thought he'd be when he arrived at Happy Valley.

2) Vince Hall, Virginia Tech - A bit shorter than you'd like at 6'0'', but Hall is a classic football player. As an inside backer he has the ability to make plays all over the field and never seems to be out of position. Hall is a smart and productive player, and reminds me a lot of HB Blades in this year's draft. If the Virginia Tech defense turns out to be everything we think it will be in 2007, Hall will slowly climb up draft boards, as well as become a household name.

The best of the rest......

3) Johnathan Goff, Vanderbilt - Rated as the top ILB by many pundits, Goff is a physical specimen.
4) Ali Highsmith, LSU - Highsmith is another supremely talented Tiger defensive player who should climb draft boards all season.
5) Brian Toal, Boston College - Toal has been somewhat of an underachiever, but he can put all that behind him with a huge senior season.

Keep an eye on......

Jolonn Dunbar, Boston College - Although very undersized for a Mike backer at 6'0'' 230 lbs., Dunbar has consistently outplayed Toal for three seasons. Dunbar isn't great taking on blocks, but he makes a ton of plays sideline to sideline and is a real factor in the Eagles' pass defense. With so many NFL teams playing the Tampa 2 defense, which requires an athletic Middle Backer who can drop into the deep middle, Dunbar could be a real surprise at the next level.

Defensive Backs

1) Antoine Cason, Arizona - There were some, myself included, who felt Cason was the best cornerback in America going into the 2006 season. Although Cason returned to school, it wasn't because he disappointed. He was dominant all season for the Wildcats, and his signature performance came when he shut down USC's Dwayne Jarrett (something only he and Arkansas' Chris Houston were able to do). Cason is equally adept at man and zone, and is a much surer tackler than he's given credit for. He projects as a great NFL player.

2) Zack Bowman, Nebraska - Bowman has a ton of talent, but he has a terrible injury history having several major surgeries while in college. In a way he is a lot like former Seminole corner Antonio Cromartie who was taken in the first round by San Diego. Bowman has a lot to prove as a Senior, but when he is healthy, there are few better than him in the nation.

The best of the rest......

3) Josh Pinkard, USC - The best of a weak safety group, Pinkard has great size and can cover but will need to prove he is all the way back from an ACL injury.
4) Simeon Castille, Alabama - Castille has outstanding size but his ball skills need work.
5) Kenny Phillips, Miami (Jr.) - A highly touted player, Phillips needs to show that he is more than just hype.

Keep an eye on......

Justin King, Penn State (Jr.) - King was one of the supremely talented Freshman JoePa brought in a few years ago in that heralded class. Since then, King has played offense (WR) and defense (S) and excelled at both. Finally able to focus solely on the defensive side of the ball, King is primed for a breakout season. He is a bit slight at 6'0'' 180 lbs. so his future is probably at corner, not safety.

Who are the top players in 2007?  

Posted by Walter

Wow, with the NFL Draft less than a month away I can hardly contain my excitement. So much so, that I've decided to look ahead to the 2008 NFL Draft and provide some ridiculously early pre draft rankings. Since the 2007 college football season hasn't been played yet, obviously, these rankings will look nothing like the final product we will provide next Spring. In essence these lists are just the top Sr. and Jr. (who may come out early) players in college football, and those who we should all be keeping an eye on come August.


1) Brian Brohm, Louisville - The cream of the crop. Many observers, myself included, have long believed Brohm to be a superior NFL prospect to Brady Quinn. Brohm has everything you look for in a franchise QB: size, strength, mobility, an NFL arm, deadly accuracy and a strong football pedigree. Brohm projects best as a hybrid West Coast QB because of his accuracy and athleticism. The ideal fit for Brohm would be a Jon Gruden type passing attack......think Rich Gannon with a stronger arm and the ability to stretch the field vertically.

Frazier's Option: Brohm is an absolute phenom. He was one of the most polished quarterbacks in the country last year, and will only be better playing fully healthy all season. He'd be giving Russell a run for his money if he'd opted to go pro.

2) Colt Brennan, Hawaii - Brennan made a wise decision to stay in college and polish his skills. Perhaps the most skilled QB to ever play at Hawaii, Brennan's best attribute is his insane accuracy, especially on deep balls. He doesn't have the protoype NFL arm of some of these other players, but he can make all the throws, and his accuracy on the deep seam routes makes up for any arm strength deficiencies. Brennan is a classic gunslinger with some mobility, and really reminds me of Jake Plummer.

FO: Brennan isn't just a Hawaii passing stat freak. He was supposed to be the next big thing at Colorado before some character issues sent him packing. Still, he's a legit talent, but he needs to make it clear that he's not just a system guy.

The best of the rest.......

3) Chad Henne, Michigan - Throws the best deep ball since Rex Grossman, but needs to work on moving the chains with shorter stuff.
FO: After seeing him in the Rose Bowl, I don't have a lot of faith in this guy. But he'll have weapons.
4) Erik Ainge, Tennessee - Has all the physical tools to be a top 10 pick, but needs to show marked improvement in the mental part of the game.
FO: Well, he has been backsliding since his promising freshman season, but has new coaching which may help.
5) Sam Keller, Nebraska - Even after starring at ASU, Keller needs to prove himself on a wildly talented Nebraska offense.
FO: Well, he'll probably out-play the kid who replaced him at ASU...

Keep an eye on.......

Andre Woodson, Kentucky - Just an absolute protoype. Strong, accurate, mobile, and still improving. Kentucky has tons of offensive talent and no defense so expect Woodson to put up other worldly numbers in 2007. He has perhaps the best skill set among all college QB's (yes, better than Brohm) and if he can improve on his breakout 2006 campaign, we could be looking at Woodson playing Jamarcus Russell to Brohm's Brady Quinn in 2007.

If this were the NBA, Woodson would have declared this year and been wildly overrated based on tremendous upside potential. But since it isn't, he'll actually have to prove himself on the gridiron.

Running Backs

1) Darren McFadden, Arkansas (Jr.) - If McFadden has the type of season we've grown accustomed to him having, I think he'd be hard pressed to stay in school and put more mileage on his body. McFadden is the new breed of RB in the mold of Ladainian Tomlinson: strong, compact, fast, quick, and deadly catching the football. McFadden is just such a great athlete that you get the feeling he could play any position on the field if he wanted to, and everything about him screams top 5 pick. McFadden is a COMPLETE running back.

I couldn't be higher on the swiss-army running back. If you have a top five pick, DRAFT HIM! It doesn't matter if you don't need a RB, because he'll fill that middle linebacker spot that has been plaguing you. Or he can be your backup QB, starting WR and nickel back. The sky is the limit.

2) Steve Slaton, West Virginia (Jr.) - Ditto for Slaton in terms of coming out as a Jr. Unlike McFadden, there are holes in Slaton's game. While he catches the ball very well, and, to his credit, is willing to run between the tackles, Slaton just isn't the same type of punishing runner McFadden is. However, what Slaton does bring to the table is big play ability, and a TD every time he touches the ball. Slaton is the type of player who has to be accounted for on every play, and with his speed and vision will be an outstanding NFL player.

If he could catch he'd be Reggie Bush Jr. But since he can't, well, he's still a major homerun threat, but not an every-down kind of guy.

The best of the rest.....

3) Mike Hart, Michigan - Small but tough, if only Hart's physical size matched his heart we'd be talking about the #1 overall pick.
FO: The kid has heart, but he'll probably peak in college.
4) Allen Patrick, Oklahoma - Needs to prove he can fill AP's shoes for a full season, but was impressive in limited duty in 2006.
FO: Seemed like he really could be something, but we only got a limited view.
5) Rafael Little, Kentucky - Big play ability will be on display every week while teaming with Woodson.
FO: He needs Kentucky to be better than they have been for a long time to get any love.

Keep an eye on.....

Jonathan Stewart, Oregon - Stewart showed his explosion on special teams as a true freshman in 2005, and had flashes of brilliance as a starter in 2006. However, nagging injuries hampered him for most of the season, and he was never able to live up to the expectations. Now he's flying under the radar for 2007, and, fully healthy, should be primed for a huge year. Stewart is a versatile back who, despite his tremendous size (5'11'' 230 lbs.) is extremely explosive.

This kid is legit. When he was on and healthy, the Ducks were very good. He's going to punish some of the softer Pac-10 fronts.

Wide Recievers

1) Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State - Bowman burst onto the scene with a monster season in 2006, and is primed to repeat those numbers in 2007. Bowman has tremendous size at 6'4'' and 220 lbs., but his big play ability is what separates him (his yards per reception average has increased from 18.1, to 18.3, to 19.7 in the last three seasons). Bowman will have to prove that last year was no fluke, but the Cowboys have enough offensive talent surrounding him that he could actually improve in 2007.

Every year Ok. State puts up some huge numbers on some unsuspecting big-name defense, and Bowman will be one of the reasons it continues in '07.

2) Limas Sweed, Texas - Since Sweed arrived in Austin he has been compared to Longhorns great Roy Williams. And while he has shown flashes of Williams, Sweed just hasn't ever lived up to those lofty comparisons. Still, it's not like Sweed has been a slough. He has improved his numbers each season, including an 800 yard season in 2006. With Colt McCoy back under center, Sweed could finally put up a 1000 yard season and live up to his potential.

Time for his production to meet his talent. There is no reason why Texas shouldn't put a hurting on the Big 12.

The best of the rest.......

3) Marcus Monk, Arkansas - Not very fast, but a HUGE target who is virtually uncoverable in the red zone.
FO: Hopefully it won't be another year where Monk has to battle for every pass thrown his way, and when his most reliable quarterback isn't an all-american RB.
4) Andre Caldwell, Florida - Not very big, not very fast, but like every Gator wideout he is smart and knows how to get open.
FO: Tebow will need Caldwell to step up and help the development.
5) Mario Manningham, Michigan (Jr.) - Big play threat finally broke out in 2006, and could be an all american if he can stay healthy in 2007.
FO: An astounding homerun hitter who will have highlight reel plays if he's on the field.

Keep an eye on.......

Harry Douglas, Louisville - In 2006 Douglas put up perhaps the quietest 1200 yard season in the history of college football. Deemed too slow and too small by many, at 5'11'' and 170 lbs. Douglas reminds me of a former Cardinal receiver who had the same knocks: Deion Branch. Douglas has the best QB in college football throwing the ball to him, and one of the best running mates in the nation as well (Mario Urrutia) flanking him. He should have a huge year in 2007.

With Brohm throwing the ball, Douglas couldn't be in better hands. He'll be part of an incredibly productive tandem.

Tight Ends

1) John Carlson, Notre Dame - A classic Notre Dame tight end, Carlson does nothing great but everything well.....and he always seems to make the big catch. Carlson is reliable in the passing game and is a willing blocker, and is a virtual clone of the man he replaced (current Cowboys TE Anthony Fasano).

He'll be an essential piece of getting a young QB's feet wet.

2) Martin Rucker, Missouri - Rucker is extremely talented, yet he may only be the second best TE on his own team's roster (see below). Either way, Rucker has outstanding size at over 6'6'', and is a good bet to reach 500 receiving yards for the third straight season.

Needs to continue his productivity, and show some fight for such a big man.

The best of the rest.....

3) Fred Davis, USC - Solid overall prospect, with good size, but who will always be overshadowed by the rest of USC's skill position talent.
FO: USC tight ends don't always get the hype, but the Trojans will spread the ball, and Davis is a good option on a stacked team.
4) Korey Sperry, Colorado State - Another massive prospect whose production dipped a bit in 2006 and will be looking to bounce back in 2007.
FO: Being an athlete isn't good enough, especially when you're being covered by guys who shouldn't be able to hang with you.
5) Cornelius Ingram, Florida - A TE/WR hybrid, who at 6'4'' has the frame for a TE but the hands of a wideout. The most intriguing prospect of the group.
FO: A potential security blanket for a young QB.

Keep an eye on......

Chase Coffman, Missouri (Jr.) - Not as polished as Rucker, but Coffman has far more natural ability. Coffman is huge at 6'6'' and nearly 250 lbs., yet he runs like a wideout and has arguably the softest hands of anyone in the nation. With over 600 yards and 9 TD in 2006, he actually outperformed Rucker on pure athleticism alone. Coffman is the type of athletic TE NFL teams covet, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him and Rucker get drafted on the first day in 2007.

It's tough to split time at the TE position, so he has to be able to do great things in the time he has.

Offensive Line

1) Jake Long, Michigan - Long is clearly the class of a very solid group of senior tackle prospects. Long is a classic LT. He is very tall at 6'7'' and has very long arms. However, unlike most prior Michigan lineman, Long separates himself with outstanding athleticism. Not a trule mauler like former Wolverine, and frequent comparison, Jon Runyan, Long is a true technician at left tackle and is particularly adept at pass blocking. Long looks like a sure fire top 10 pick.

An absolute stud. Michigan linemen are a tough, dependable breed, and Long is carrying on that proud tradition.

2) Will Arnold, LSU - Arnold is clearly the best guard in America and is a true mauler at the point of attack. It will be interesting to see how much LSU runs behind him to get their running game going, but if his performance against Notre Dame is any indication it should be a lot. Arnold is the rare guard who has the talent to go in the first round.

With a new quarterback, Arnold will get a chance to plow the road for the running game for awhile. I think he'll take to the task like a man on a serious mission.

The best of the rest......

3) Sam Baker, USC - Some consider him a better player than Long, but Long is battle tested and Baker needs to show more of a mean streak.
FO: USC produces pro-bowl linemen. Baker may be the next.
4) Kirk Barton, Ohio State - Will be overshadowed by super sophomore (and future top 5 selection) Alex Boone, but is a fantastic prospect in his own right.
FO: With a whole new offense Barton will get a chance to flash his stuff making holes for Beanie Wells.
5) Shannon Tevaga, UCLA - Not even in the same stratosphere as Arnold, but a solid player in and of himself.
FO: He'll be showing that UCLA is a nastier team than their powder blue would lead you to believe.

Keep an eye on......

King Dunlap, Auburn - At 6'8'' and 320 lbs. Dunlap has the size to absolutely demolish his opponents. Dunlap was a top recruit and was supposed to be the second coming of Marcus McNeil at Auburn. Well unlike McNeil, who started fast and slumped as a Sr., Dunlap has steadily improved each year. If Dunlap dominates as a Senior, he could vault himself into the discussion for first tackle off the board.

He's the King. No, seriously, get out of his fucking way.

I think it's time to Ramble On  

Posted by Walter

Random thoughts on the passing of a legend, the NFL draft, college coaches, and anything else my tangential mind feels like..........

I think that there is a bar in heaven where Bear Bryant and Bud Wilkinson gather every evening to sit at their own table in the back, to down a bottle of Wild Turkey and swap stories and strategy. I used to picture that table with three seats empty, and the two legends sitting there waiting for the rest of their party to arrive while nary a bar patron dare approach them and ask to borrow one of the seats (sitting down with them being completely out of the question for a mere mortal). Eddie Robinson's passing was sad news, but I take solace in knowing he has taken his rightful seat beside Bear and Bud, at that bar in heaven, sipping on Wild Turkey and sharing stories. I think they were all happy to see each other......

I think that Billy Donovan made a great decision to stay at Florida. All too often today college coaches leave a great situation that they built themselves, to take over a storied program built by someone else. I've always said that I'd rather coach in college than in the pro's because in college they name the stadium after you. With the current coaching landscape fraught with mercenary coaches, those stadium name-worthy coaches are few and far between. Billy Donovan is one of them, and I hope guys like Rich Rodriguez and Frank Beamer choose the same path.

I think I like BC over Michigan State in the Frozen Four finals. And I think BC captain, and leading goal scorer last season, Brian Boyle's unselfish decision to move to defense for the good of the team is one of the best stories of the year that nobody knows about. What Boyle has done would be the equivalent of Darren McFadden agreeing to play linebacker next season and leading the Razorback to the National Title Game.

I think the NFL Draft is less than a month away, but we are going to see a TON of movement of draft positions, including several moves in the top 10.

I think I have no idea whether the Raiders are going to draft Jamarcuss Russell or Calvin Johnson.....and neither do they.

I think the Lions almost have to trade the 2nd pick because they absolutely cannot draft Calvin Johnson if he is there, and his availability makes that pick too valuable to do anything else with.

I think with the release of next season's schedules it's about time for some ridiculously early preseason picks and projections.

I think these are my thoughts as individual workout numbers filter in:

  • With his 4.62 in the 40, I think Jon Beason is beginning to look more and more like John Vilma every day. Beason is instinctual and smart, but not overly athletic. He is another projected OLB who I'd bet fits a lot better on the inside in a 3-4 scheme.
  • By running about a 4.5 at his pro day, I think Sidney Rice may have snuck into the back end of the first round. He will invariably be compared to Dwayne Jarrett, and I think NFL teams are going to like Rice's production despite not having a top tier QB, running game, or wideouts opposite him (all things Jarrett had).
  • I've said it about a million times, but I think Paul Poszlusny is going to be an all-pro middle linebacker in a Tampa 2 scheme.
  • As much as I like Tony Hunt, NFL running backs cannot run the 40 as slowly as he did (4.71!).
  • I think I'd like to speak with anyone who bought Pat Willis' 4.37 40 time at his pro day.....I've got a bridge to sell you.
  • I think teams considering Alan Branch with one of the top 6 picks should remember that the last 7 defensive tackles picked in the top six were Johnathan Sullivan, Dewayne Robertson, Ryan Sims, Gerard Warren, Corey Simon, Darrell Russell, and Dan Wilkinson.
  • Despite his impressive 40 times, I think Darrelle Revis is a strict cover 2 corner.
  • I am still not sure how not a single draft pundit has jumped on my Dallas Sartz bandwagon yet. 6'5'' linebackers who run sub 4.6 40's (faster than Puz, Beason and Timmons) don't grow on trees. Sartz is a classic strong side OLB.
  • I think if you are looking for a non Division 1A draft sleeper you could do worse than Harvard's Clifton Dawson who, at 5'9'' and 212 lbs., just looks like an NFL running back.
  • I think OSU quarterback Justin Zwick may have a little Mass Cassell in him.

More Than A Coach...  

Posted by Frazier

Eddie Robinson will be remembered as a football coach. His 408 wins is an incredible achievement, and the important role he played in thousands of young men's lives will never be forgotten. His incredible record of achievements stands for itself.

However, with Eddie Robinson, it isn't enough to simply discuss how much he was able to accomplish, both on and off the field, but how he did it. He was a quiet, gentle, thoughtful man. He led his teams with dignity and respect, both for his players and opponents.

This was a man who started his coaching career at Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute in 1941. The name itself is enough to tell you that this was a different time, seemingly a different country. But that's not how Coach Robinson saw things. He believed that his story, as an African American in a deeply segregated South, was part of the American story. He could have remained bitter at memories of having to pack lunches for his team for their bus trips, because he could never rely on service stations in the south to agree to serve blacks. But he remained optimistic about his country, despite the fact that he had seen first-hand the worst that America had to offer: "The best way to enjoy life in America is to first be an American, and I don't think you have to be white to do so," Robinson said. "Blacks have had a hard time, but not many Americans haven't."

Eddie Robinson and his players may have had it harder than most, but he was too focused on finding unity and communion to dwell on those things that seperate us. This was a man gracious enough to keep a framed photograph of Bear Bryant in his office, and it was this grace that inspired the Bear to keep one of Robinson in his. It would have been easy for these men, eventually in competition for the same players, from such different backgrounds, and such divergent views to be natural enemies. Yet they were friends.

It would have been easy for Coach Robinson to be bitter about the discrimination he suffered. The abuses he had to sustain, and the marginalization that he and his program endured. But Coach Robinson kept doing the work he knew he was born to do: coach football, lead young men, mold lives. And people started to pay attention. Today it's a different world, where Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith coach against eachother in the Super Bowl. Coach Robinson has helped us get so far, and yet there is still so far left to go.

For all the accolades, the records and the success, he understood that leading a good life was more important than winning football games, and he often told people that more impressive than all his records was that he spent over fifty years at the same school, and with the same woman, his beloved wife Doris. He spent that time cultivating a family, of friends and admirers, of successful athletes and those inspired by his strength and courage, and of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Today we talk about football coaches who are so dedicated to winning. To ones who refuse to lose, and believe that the game is everything. Many of these coaches do win, but I believe Coach Robinson won so much because that wasn't the only thing he was focused on: "A young man may not make the team, but he might go on to be one of the guys that might change the course of the world. We have to give something back."

Coach Robinson understood that college football should give back to schools, to campus life, to alumni, to academics and scholarships for something other than being able to run fast or catch passes or tackle running backs. So as much as we love college football here at the 323, maybe we should all try a little harder to give something back. This is how we can best remember the legacy of Eddie Robinson.

Eddie Robinson (1919-2007)  

Posted by Walter

Although we rarely discuss Division 1AA football, we here a the323 would be remiss not to celebrate the life of Eddie Robinson after he passed away last night at the age of 88. We spend a lot of time talking about coaches, and their abilities as both a teacher of football but also their abilities to improve the lives of their players. We have lauded coaches like Joe Paterno, and demonized others like Bobby Bowden. Eddie Robinson not only falls into the category of coaches who, like Joe Paterno, any person would be lucky to have their son play for, but he rightfully deserves to be discussed in the same breath as JoePa.

Eddie Robinson accepted the head coaching position at Grambling in 1941. He stayed there until 1997. In that time he managed to amass 408 coaching victories (the most in Division 1 history), a .707 winning percentage, and 19 SWAC Conference titles. To say that Eddie Robinson's coaching record speaks for itself is an understatement, but what is often lost is the dedication the man had to the school that hired him. Eddie Robinson continuously spurned offers from Division 1A programs and even the NFL to remain at Grambling and build it into the power it became. Eddie Robinson sent over 200 players to the NFL during his career, including the first players to be drafted from a primarily African American institution. Bear Bryant, Robinson's longtime friend and compatriot, credited Eddie Robinson with helping him break the color barrier at Alabama. And, unsurprisingly, the first African American quarterback to win the Super Bowl, Doug Williams, credited Eddie Robinson, who coached Williams and Grambling and preceded him as head coach, in the postgame celebration.

Eddie Robinson will forever be inexorably linked to the number 408. Each of those wins was well deserved, but to confine Eddie Robinson's influence and career to that single number would not do justice to the man or the football coach. Eddie Robinson lived a full life and he will be missed by the Grambling community, but also by football fans across the nation.

Eddie Robinson (1919-2007)

Before his final home game.

The Team

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