Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Days Are Closing In (Draft Buzz)...

"But the stone that the builder refuse
Shall be the head cornerstone."

So it's Thursday, and we're two days away from the commencement of the 2009 NFL Draft. Of course the good people of the NFL decided to schedule the draft at 4:00 this year, meaning that I will see approximately one half hour of the first round before I have to go to work. If we were on the old schedule (when it started at 12), I could have seen the whole first Basically the point of that was just saying that there won't be a draft diary...again. This is what happens when you are in need of money. In any event, I'm taking my practice test for the MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure) tomorrow, so my thinking is that I would at least fill you in on some of the draft buzz going arounf, and with some luck, hopefully I'll be able to put up a final mock before the draft starts on Saturday...

Here is what is going on:

1. Detroit:
  • Carlos Monarrez of The Detroit Free Press wrote a column about how teams are better served in signing the #1 overall pick before the draft. This, of course, is relevant due to the latest news regarding the Lions trying to have a contract in place with Matthew Stafford before the draft begins.
2. St. Louis:
  • Bernie Miklasz of wrote an interesting piece about how the Rams last year, when they picked #2 overall, actually had Matt Ryan and Glenn Dorsey ranked higher than their eventual pick, Chris Long, and that the Rams' management switched up their board at the last moment to take the "safe" pick. If the Rams subscribe to this theory again, expect Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe to be off the board at #2.
  • Jim Thomas of shared parts of an interview he conducted with Jason Smith, and talked about how the Rams have not yet tipped their hand, at least to Smith, about which way they are leaning to at #2, whether it be Smith or Monroe.
3. Kansas City:
  • Kent Babb of The Kansas City Star brought up an interesting point about Aaron Curry, which was along the lines of the fact that despite everyone believing that Curry is the #1 guy in the draft, and the two teams ahead of KC, who also need help at linebacker, are likely not to go with Curry. My counterpoint to this would be that Babb says that the linebacker need is not glaring because of the additions of Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas, to which I would reply "really?" Despite the Chiefs getting those two guys, they can still draft Curry and feel good about it because they are filling a need.
  • Babb also did a piece about what it will be like for Scott Pioli and Todd Haley in their first draft together. This draft is definitely going to fall squarely on shoulders of Pioli with Haley not having as much "war room" experience as Pioli. They did work together with the Jets way back when, but both were not at very high levels at that time.
4. Seattle:
  • Danny O'Neil of The Seattle Times wrote about the on-going draft buzz of the Seahawks taking Mark Sanchez at #4. O'Neil also brings up the possibility that Denver (picks #12 & #19) and Washington (pick #13) could be in the mix to trade up into #4 to take Sanchez.
  • Steve Kelly of the Times wrote a piece about Tim Ruskell, Seattle's GM, and about how this draft "will define him" as a GM. Kelly applauds Ruskell's ability to find talent deep in the draft (Ronde Barber in Tampa most notably)
5. Cleveland:
  • The Cleveland Plain-Dealer cites an article by Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News which all but kills the rumored Braylon Edwards trade to New York. This is a big story because it could greatly alter what the Browns could be thinking about at #5 considering a lot of recent mocks have Michael Crabtree going here.
  • Adding to the movement of Crabtree perhaps not going at #5 is Tony Grossi's article about how the Browns scheduled workouts with Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, and Mohamed Massaquoi in the last week, meaning that they could be opting to take a receiver in the beginning part of the second round instead of taking Crabtree, who Grossi writes as having a "world-revolves-around-me attitude."
6. Cincinnati:
  • Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports on Marvin Lewis' pre-draft press conference, where he made it clear that Chad Johnson, or I guess it's Chad Ochocinco now, will not be moved. The Bengals, even if they don't move Chad, could be in the market for Michael Crabtree after the loss of T.J. Houshmandzadeh to Seattle.
7. Oakland:
8. Jacksonville:
9. Green Bay:
  • Pete Dougherty of The Green Bay Press-Gazette writes about how it seems fairly unlikely that the Pack would draft Crabtree at #9. The reason I put this in there is that there seems to be an alarmingly high number of articles coming out right before the draft about teams who will not take this guy. Not only is there the injury concerns, but now there apparently is a knock on his character.
  • Rob Demovsky writes about the tight-lipped Ted Thompson, who is entering his fifth season as the Packers' GM. Thompson won't tip his hand as to where he's leaning, but the article did make a note about how the Pack have traded down 13 times and traded up only once in the four drafts Thompson has been a part of.
10. San Francisco:
11. Buffalo:
12. Denver:
13. Washington:
14. New Orleans:
15. Houston:
  • John McClain of The Houston Chronicle talks about what the Texans are in need of, which includes a runner to compliment, a hybrid O-Lineman who can play center and guard, outside linebacker, defensive end, and a safety. Also, McClain believes that at some point in the draft, the Texans will draft a cornerback in order to perhaps find a replacement for the University of South Carolina's own Dunta Robinson, who was less than thrilled to be franchised for this season.
16. San Diego:
  • Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune writes about the Chargers' team needs, which includes defensive end, offensive tackle, running back, safety, receiver, and inside linebacker. It's funny how Acee kicks off the column with "this is no longer seen as the loaded roster it was accepted to be for a few years," and then GM A.J. Smith is quoted as saying the Chargers "don't have a lot of starting positions open" This coming from the GM of a team that nearly missed the playoffs had it not been for a monumental Denver collapse.
17. New York Jets:
18. Denver:
19. Tampa Bay:
20. Detroit:
  • Nicholas Cotsonika of The Detroit Free Press filed a report on how the Lions could use both of their first round picks on offense.
21. Philadelphia:
22. Minnesota:
23. New England:
  • Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe takes a look at the "hybrid" type of linemen appearing in this year's group of prospects. What's fascinating is that there are more higher-ranked potential draftees that can play D-Line and linebacker (Orakpo, Ayers, Maybin, Matthews, English, Sintim, Barwin) than guys who are just traditional linebackers (Cushing, Maualuga, Laurinaitis).
24. Atlanta:
  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes about the Falcons' new tight end, Tony Gonzalez. Obviously, this totally flips the Falcons' needs. I had them taking Brandon Pettigrew, and now with him out of the picture, Bradley mentions two defensive tackles: Peria Jerry and Evander "Ziggy" Hood.
25. Miami:
26. Baltimore:
27. Indianapolis:
  • Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star writes about how Indy's preference when using a late first-rounder, which has happened quite frequently in the last decade, has been to take the best player available. Chappell also lists the Colts' biggest needs, which are D-Tackle, receiver, running back, O-Tackle, and punter.
28. Buffalo:
29. New York Giants:
  • Paul Schwartz of The New York Post submits an interesting piece about Hakeem Nicks' ongoing weight issue (he gained fourteen pounds since the combine...which was two months ago). Nicks could potentially be falling, which would work out nicely for the Giants, who desperately need a big receiver to replace Plaxico Burress.
30. Tennessee:
31. Arizona:
32. Pittsburgh:
So, that is what is going on right now. Really, the draft may not start until we hit pick #4, and then the drama may unfold. Basically all of the GMs are pretty much tight-lipped at this point, but all you really have to do is take a look at team rosters, look at a team's draft history (or better yet, the history of the guy "running the draft," and yes, I am talking about you, Al Davis), and find out where the personnel guys are going to see prospects. When I say "going," that means going to pro days or just visiting players. I wouldn't read so much into prospects going to a team's HQs. Trust me, I have seen enough Patriots drafts to basically start crossing off guys who make a pre-draft visit to New England (which, unfortunately, probably rules out Connor Barwin becoming a Patriot). So, hopefully, I will get a mock draft going right before the draft on Saturday. It will be interesting to see the kind of buzz the first round will generate given its later start time. I think it definitely helps out the west coast markets because their fans don't have to get up at 9 AM to see who the first pick is. Now, it's at a moderate 1:00 start. I think there will be a ton of action in the late rounds and, outside of Mark Sanchez, not a whole lot in the top 10. The end of the first round is where the fireworks will start happening though. For those of you who are able to watch it on Saturday, 1) I hate you in a somewhat-jokingly manner, and 2) Have fun, bring some cocktails, and wear a jersey, because not too often is it acceptable to be wearing a jersey out around the town in April (actually, it's probably not acceptable at all, but with my rather loose dress code, I say go for it).

Celts are on tonight. It will be very interesting to see how they react to Leon Powe going down. It's bad enough to play without KG, but now Powe is out too? I am not liking the situation right now. In any event, it should be fun, and at the least bit filled with incredibly anxious moments. I still think the Celts eventually will find that gear that the Bulls don't necessarily have right now (but very well could obtain as this series progresses), and I still see the C's winning in 6.

The Bruins finished off the Canadiens last night in surprisingly easy fashion, coasting to a 4-1 victory. If it's any consolation to Canada, they still do have the Canucks, who also won in four straight games, knocking the Blues out on Tuesday night. I'm telling you, you have to go back at least 15 or so years, basically whenever the B's played the Gretzky-led Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals, or when the B's took on Pittsburgh in those epic series of the early 90s, to find a team that had this good of a chance to win the Cup as the B's have right now. They are banging on all cylinders, and hopefully, the Penguins and Flyers will beat each other up a bunch before making their way to Boston for round two. Remember, and this is especially true if San Jose gets bounced by Anaheim (Ducks are up 2-1 in that series), the road to the Stanley Cup is most likely going through Boston. Having home ice advantage is a huge deal for the B's. This town is so starved for a Bruins playoff run that the amplitude of the crowd noise is only going to become more deafening with each round. Boston is officially back to being a hockey town, and it sure does feel good.

Okay, that's about all that I have for you. Be sure to check in right before the draft when I throw up my final mock draft. Until then, take care everyone. Peace.


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