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 round...so...yeah. 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:
- 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.
- Bernie Miklasz of stltoday.com 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 stltoday.com 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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."
- 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.
- Steve Corkran of The Oakland Tribune chimes in about how Oakland could potentially use the #7 pick to draft one of the four top tackles (the Smiths, Monroe, Oher) despite having signed Khalif Barnes, Erik Pears, and Marcus Johnson in the offseason.
- Corkran also breaks down the three biggest needs for the Raiders, which boils down to offensive tackle, wide receiver, and defensive tackle.
- Vito Stellino of jacksonville.com talks about the potential of teams attempting to trade up into the #8 pick if Mark Sanchez falls to that pick. I thought it was interesting that David Garrard, the team's incumbent QB (also a man who possesses a $60 million deal with $18 million of that guaranteed), was told that the Jags would not pick a QB at pick #8, while Gene Smith, the Jags' new GM, says he never told Garrard that.
- Gene Frenette argues that the Jags need to draft for value this year. The names he mentions are Crabtree, Sanchez, Andre Smith, and Chris "Beanie" Wells.
- 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.
- John Crumpacker of The San Francisco Chronicle comments about how the Niners could potentially take a QB, but that if they did go with Sanchez, if for whatever reason he's still available, or Josh Freeman, they would likely be riding the bench in favor of Shaun Hill, or perhaps Alex Smith, who San Fran chose #1 overall three years ago.
- Crumpacker also comments on the status of the Niners' backfield and that San Fran should consider getting someone to help Frank Gore, who could be wearing down a la LaDanian Tomlinson. Crumpacker says the Niners may not go RB at #10, but that in the second round, they could be looking at UConn's Donald Brown.
- In terms of positions the Niners will probably be heading towards at #10, Crumpacker highlights offensive tackles, defensive ends, and outside linebackers.
- Allen Wilson of The Buffalo News analyzes the recent trade of Jason Peters to the Eagles, and how, with either the #11 or #28 pick, the Bills need to address their offensive line, and more specifically, left tackle.
- Mike Klis of The Denver Post writes about how the Broncos need defensive help, and that with the transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4, Denver will be looking for a nose tackle or a "five-technique" defensive end. Kils poses the question of whether the Broncos will go with B.J. Raji or Tyson Jackson.
- Jason Reid of The Washington Post offers up the possibility of the 'Skins trading up in the draft and taking Mark Sanchez despite the fact that Washington has just one pick in the first 79 selections.
- Jason La Canfora wrote a piece about Texas DE Brian Orakpo, who recently visited the Redskins' personnel last week for a two day visit. Remember, with the release of Jason Taylor, Washington is definitely going to be in the market for an outside pass-rusher. Not sure if Orakpo will be around at #13, but if he does slip, I don't think he gets any further than this.
- John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune writes about Pierre Thomas, and that with all the speculation of Chris "Beanie" Wells going to the Saints at #14, New Orleans may be overlooking Thomas, who DeShazier argues could potentially be a featured back along with Reggie Bush.
- Mike Triplett was chosen as the Saints' representative in the Sporting News' "beat writers' mock draft." Triplett chose Malcolm Jenkins, corner from Ohio State.
- 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.
- 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.
- Gary Myers of The Daily News writes about how the Jets are yet another team who will be looking to move up to get Mark Sanchez. If Sanchez falls past Seattle at #4, it could turn into an all-out bidding war to move up. If you're a team like Cleveland or Jacksonville, you have to be loving all of this.
- Outside of the ongoing talks about Sanchez, Rich Cimni writes about how Brandon Pettigrew, the tight end for Oklahoma State, could end up being on the Jets' radar at #17 if Rex Ryan and Co. opt to stay put.
- Lindsay Jones of The Denver Post highlights the three Southern Cal linebackers who are likely to all go in the first round, with the Broncos potentially taking one of the three at pick #18.
- Joe Henderson of The Tampa Tribune writes about why the Bucs should not take wide receiver Percy Harvin from Florida, citing Harvin's positive test at the combine, his poor wonderlic score (12 out of 50), and his inability to stay healthy.
- Nicholas Cotsonika of The Detroit Free Press filed a report on how the Lions could use both of their first round picks on offense.
- Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer wonders about the possibility of the Eagles perhaps trading the 21st pick in a deal involving Braylon Edwards, Anquan Boldin, or Chad Ochocinco. I'm not sure if this is entirely accurate, but this could be the first time in draft history where a team went into the offseason with two first round picks, and then proceeded to trade them both away before the draft even started.
- While folks in Tampa may not be very high on Percy Harvin, a report from Judd Zulgad of The Star Tribune has head coach Brad Childress down in Gainesville meeting with the former Gator receiver, and says the Vikings "are extremely serious" about taking Harvin at 22.
- 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).
- 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.
- Jeff Darlington of The Miami Herald suggests that Jason Taylor's potential return could hinge on what the Dolphins do at pick #25. If they pass on an outside linebacker (Clay Matthews was mentioned), and go with a defensive back, it may speak volumes as to what the level of interest is to bring Taylor back. Darlington also mentions Matthews' pedigree and special teams abilities.
- Jamison Hensley of The Baltimore Sun writes about how the Ravens should strongly consider taking a defensive back in the first round, and mentions Vontae Davis, corner from Illinois. Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' director of player personnel, is quoted as saying "I think corners are like pitchers in baseball - you can never have enough."
- 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.
- Chris Brown, who is the lead writer for the Buffalo Bills' website, says that it is entirely possible that the Bills go for a D-Tackle at 11, which would be B.J. Raji, or at 28, which would likely be Peria Jerry or Ziggy Hood.
- 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.
- Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean writes about how the Titans could very well be in the Braylon/Anquan/Ochocinco derby, potentially dangling the #30 pick out there. Drew Bennett, a former Titan who now plays in St. Louis, could be a potential post-draft move. In an earlier column, Wyatt writes about how Kerry Collins has been somewhat vocal about his interest in the Titans getting another receiver via the draft or trade.
- Another interesting bit was what players on the team think about what their team could do. Michael Griffin likes Alphonso Smith, corner from Wake Forest. Vincent Fuller likes Percy Harvin, and Chris Sanders likes Harvin and Darrius Hayward-Bey, receiver from Maryland.
- Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic thinks the Cardinals should think about a linebacker or a tight end at pick #31. Given the latest news about the Falcons getting Tony Gonzalez, there remains a possibility that Pettigrew slips to the bottom of the first round.
- Ed Bouchette of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks over the history of Steelers drafts, and is under the impression that there is no way the Steelers will go with a defensive lineman at #32.
- The Gazette also compiled a list of needs for all of the teams in the league. For the Steelers, they list offensive line, defensive line, and cornerback.
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.