GB | HOU
| IND | JAX | KC
| MIA | MIN | NE
| NO | NYG | NYJ
Impact Player: RB Brandon Jackson,
Jackson will be battling Vernand Morency for time in the backfield
and I think the rookie out of Nebraska has a chance to be a chance
of pace back. He has a good burst of speed and deceptive power
for his height. Iím not as impressed with him as others, but I
do believe heís good enough to be productive if Morency doesnít
make the grade. I just donít think Jackson is the long-term answer.
Project: WR James
Jones, San Jose State
Jones was a fast-riser in the pre-draft horse and pony shows.
Heís projected as a possession receiver with good leaping
ability and toughness. He will need to refine his routes to compensate
for his lack of top-end speed. Once he does, look for Jones to
develop into possibly starter. Green Bayís personnel staff
seems to have a good track record with developing mid-and late-round
picks into good receiversói.e., Driver, Brooks, and Freeman.
Sleeper: TE Clark Harris, Rutgers/David
Clowney, Virginia Tech
I had a much better impression of Harris than most. I saw a fairly
quick player with good hands and skills after the catch. His blocking
is apparently suspect, but I saw decent technique and potential
to develop more consistency. I wouldnít be at all surprised
if Harris finds his way onto the field and becomes a Favre-favorite
by seasonís end. Heís one of those players you will
be able to spot on your waiver wire around mid-season and take
advantage of I turn out to be right. Clowney is undersized, but
very fast and has good hands and concentration. I think heís
a better receiver than many perceive. Heíll get a shot as
a return specialist but could see his way onto the field as a
slot receiver, too.
Notable Free Agents: QB Jerry
Babb is a strong-armed, small school passer that could make the
Impact Player: DT Amobi Okoye, Louisville
Okoye will likely start right away and has the versatility to
play inside or on the edge. Heís still a raw talent, which
is part of the appeal because heís the youngest player ever
drafted at age 19. Houstonís defensive front seven has some
young talent and Okoye see enough starting time early this season
to make an impactónot a great impact, but more likely than
any other Texan draft pick.
Project: QB Jared Zabransky, Boise State
This free agent QB is a tough, mobile signal caller that reminds
me a bit of Jeff Garcia. I would be surprised if he doesnít make
the team. But I would not expect him to do much for at least a
few yearsóhe can make some reckless decisions in the passing game.
Still, with some work the game may slow down for Zabransky.
Sleeper: WR Jacoby Jones, Lane
Jones has the physical tools to be a Reggie Wayne or Darrell
Jackson type receiver. Heís athletic and despite occasional lapses
of concentration and a small school background, he plays fast
and demonstrates good on-field awareness. He was often just shy
of making some catches with a high degree of difficulty in the
limited time I observed his performance. I think heís still a
bit too rough around the edges to be an impact player, but Marques
Colston proved to be an exception. Jones might have the chance,
Notable Free Agents: DE Victor DeGrate, Oklahoma State. Heís
a natural pass rusher, but his size makes it difficult to project
him either as a DE or OLB.
Impact Player: WR Tony Gonzalez, Ohio State.
I love how this receiver runs routes. Heís meticulous at
setting up his man with a variety of steps and body fakes and
he can catch the football in traffic. He will have some decent
games this year as a slot receiver if he performs well enough
to earn the slot position. I donít envision a Brandon Stokely-esque
season from the rookie, but heíll have Stokley-esque games.
Project: WR Roy Hall, Ohio State
A big, fast, raw receiver, Hall had very limited playing time
and spotty on-field productivity. Will he bulk up to TE or remain
a WR? Weíll see if Indy and Hall can work out an arrangement
that suits them both for the long haul.
Sleeper: CB Daymeion Hughes, Cal
The cover 2 is the best fit for this cornerback. He has with
natural cover skills and ball skills, but less than optimal speed.
I think Hughes could develop into a starter. Because he has a
reputation for being a bit on the slow side, heíll get tested
a lot early in his career. This could pay dividends for owners
that get points for passes defenses, interceptions, and tackles.
Think about some of those Pittsburgh Steelers corners early in
their careers that got thrown at early and often.
Notable Free Agents: TE Johnny
Harline, BYU. An excellent receiver, Harline is reminds me of
the Raidersí Todd Christensonóslow, undersized, and Steve Largent-wily.
If I can see Harline making the team as that second TE opposite
Dallas Clark if Bryan Fletcher doesnít continue his progression.
Impact Player: FS Reggie Nelson, Florida
The Jaguars strength only gets stronger with the addition of
this versatile DB that can cover the slot as well as he can play
centerfield. Nelson should make an immediate impact and has the
talent to remain a fixture for the Jaguars for the next decade.
Project: LB Justin Durant, Hampton
Durant is a small-school star with excellent instincts, but he
also has a small-school body. It might take him some time to acclimate
to the speed, size, and intensity of the pro game.
Sleeper: WR Mike Walker, UCF
The receiver can flat-out, play, but he had a quarterback that
hurt his draft stock. Walker might be the best all-around receiver
the Jaguars have drafted in several years. Matt Jones has more
potential, Reggie Williams had more accolades, and Charles Sharon
has an impending trial. Walker will have a good opportunity to
be the #3 WR on this team. The former corner has excellent hands
and good route running skills for a player of his experience level.
He also surprised with his speed. I donít believe Walker is as
much of a workout warrior as he is a collegiate player paired
with a quarterback that didnít anticipate throws with skill. This
will change at that pro level.
Notable Free Agents: WR DíJuan Woods, Oklahoma State. Woods
is a savvy receiver that likely got a bit of bad press due to
his elder brotherís disappointing performance as a 1st round
draft pick. He has enough skills to land a roster spot. TE Anthony
Pudewell, Nevada. Heís not very fast, but he can catch the
football extremely well.
Impact Player: WR Dwayne Bowe, LSU
Bowe is the kind of receiver the Chiefs havenít had in many yearsóan
imposing target with after-the-catch skills. I believe it likely
that Bowe will start the year as the #2 WR with Samie Parker relegated
to the slot. I wouldnít be at all surprised if you see Bowe busting
through the Chargers or Raiders secondary on one of his trademark
runs after the catch for a score or two. Iíd take Bowe as my second
receiver off the board in a rookie draftóhe has that much promiseóin
fact, I already have.
Project: DT/DE Turk McBride, Tennessee
McBride is a lesser-known commodity on the Vols defensive line
but he flashes skills that could translate to the pro level. This
is a hard-working lineman that should develop within a few years.
Itís hard to project McBride as the next Rod Colemanóthe Falconsí
pass-rushing DT extraordinaireóbut thatís the best-case scenario.
Sleeper: RB Kolby Smith, Louisville
Not that Smith is likely to get a ton of carries, but he is a
hard runner that does the little things well between the tackles.
Heís not a player to invest long term, but heís a cheap, potential
waiver pick up this season if Larry Johnson doesnít last in 2007.
Impact Player: RB Lorenzo Booker, FSU
True, Ted Ginn, Jr. seems like the obvious impact player, but
heís rehabbing from injury and would not have been picked so high
on his receiving skills alone. I saw the ESPN analysis of Ginnís
ability to adjust to the ball and take a hit. I thought they were
extremely selective of Ginnís film samples and even so, these
examples werenít convincing. Take Giants rookie Steve Smithís
samples of catching the ball in traffic and taking a hit and youíll
understand the difference.
But enough about Ginn, Booker is a quick, fast, tough runner
with vision and receiving skills. He lit up the Senior Bowl practices
and faced top-notch competition while looking like the better
of the two backs in the rotation in 2004-2005 (Leon Washington
was that other back). I think Booker will see the field as a situational
back and Cam Cameron will also find ways to get him the ball similar
to the way the Saints used Bush split wide.
Sleeper: QB John Beck, BYU
This was my best QB of the 2006 rookie class, folks. Yep, not
Russell or QuinnóJohn Beck, the BYU signal caller that throws
with the accuracy and release of Marc Bulger, but has an athleteís
body (Bulger is like a scarecrow) and good mobility. Although
itís likely Kansas City will give up Trent Green in June, itís
possible that Beck could find his way into the lineup if either
Green or the rehabbing Culpepper arenít ready to go or able to
continue a game.
I believe Beck will become Cameronís triggerman within
2-3 seasons, longest. This QB has excellent pocket presence and
understands how to manipulate coverage at a level beyond any of
the QBs from this rookie class. Pick Beck somewhere between rounds
2-4 in your rookie draft now, and thank me later.
Project: WR/KR/DB Ted
Ginn, Jr. Ohio State
I love watching Ron Jaworski analyze film, but every once in
a while he overanalyzes the tape (you have to wonder if heís digging
a little too deep to fulfill the requirement of a time-filler
segment for these inordinately long draft specialsóhey, I loved
watching the draft, but itís because I spent an ungodly amount
of hours writing a 400-page book on the players involvedóotherwise,
Iíd likely opt for the highlights). Like the way he looked too
hard to fault Vince Young last year, I think he looked too hard
to find a reason to praise Ginn as a receiver.
Donít get me wrong Ginn is a great, athletic talent and a true
football player. Heís just raw as a receiver. There were at least
6-7 receivers with better pass catching-route running skills than
the OSU star. Think about teams loading up to stop Reggie Bush
in New Orleans and now combine it with the fact that Ginn isnít
nearly as versatile offensively (or as good a receiver as Bush)
to be on the field every down. This means defenses will figure
out quickly when Ginn is or isnít a decoy. This is why I think
Booker has better chance to make an offensive impact this year.
Itís going to take Ginn at least a year or two to develop his
Notable Free Agents: G Tala Esera, Hawaiiósmart football
player with skills if he works at it. Out of any position, linemen
most frequently make it despite signing as undrafted free agents.
Impact Player: RB Adrian
On the basis of pure talent, Peterson is the only player capable
of overtaking Calvin Johnson as the rookie of the year. This is
a rare runner in terms of his aggressiveness, balance, and speed.
The issues I have with Peterson are correctable but it may take
some additional adjustment and coaching for him to avoid being
a liability on 3rd down or short yardage situations. But with
Minnesotaís offensive line and Chester Taylor to take the pressure
off Peterson, look for the rookie to have some big games and if
his collar bone is healthy enough for him to get acclimated with
this level of play during the preseason.
Project: WR Aundrae Allison, East Carolina
One of the biggest things I heard during the pre-draft bowl season
was about Allison looking good in practices and was a fast riser.
Well, he must have been rated an undrafted free agent before these
games because what I saw on film was a moderately talented player
that had significant lapses in concentration as a receiver, route
runner, and ball carrier after the catch. I think its highly possible
heíll develop into a decent receiver, but he has to mature
on the field. Although this isnít something I mentioned
in the 2007 RSP, I got the sense that Allison thought he was a
star and behaved like a prima donna on the field as a senior.
This needs to change for him not to be starring in the Arena League.
Sleeper: DE Brian
Robison, Texas and LB Rufus
All Robison does is make plays. He reminds me of Grant Wistrom
in that respect. Aexander is a bit undersized and didnít have
the senior year many expected. Both players have the skills to
make their mark early. I think Robison is the most likely to surprise
this summer. He is an aggressive gamer that will get better with
each passing year.
Notable Free Agents: DT Joe Anoai, Georgia Tech. Honestly Iím
just picking someone from the grab bag on this one. Since his
father and uncle were the Wild Samoans tag team from the 70ís
and 80ís, my sentiments lie here.
Impact Player: S Brandon Meriweather, Miami
The UM star is going to become a solid starter rather quick in
this league. Reggie Nelson may have had a bigger season this year,
but the only reason Meriweather got overshadowed was his behavior
during the FIU debacle. If you took away this indiscretion and
he was more consistent as a senior, he would have been the second
safety off the board. If youíre drafting defensive rookies,
Meriweather is a bargain in a deep class of DBs.
Project: DT Kareem Brown, Miami
He has prototypical measurements but split time with other players.
Brown has been productive in limited time, but heíll need
a season or two to develop. If he does, he could be a better pro
than collegiate player.
Sleeper: RB Justise
Hairston, Central Connecticut State
The former Rutgers back has very good instincts as a runner, but
lacks the top-notch athleticism that would have kept him ahead
of Ray Rice or Brian Leonard if he stayed. New England has a propensity
of drafting talented backs that donít live up to their college
hype with the hope of hitting on them (J.R. Redmond, Patrick Pass,
and Cedric Cobbs are three examples). Hairston will have the luxury
to sit behind two solid pros if he makes the team. Since Kevin
Faulk is getting up there in age. Hairston has a shot to stick
with the roster if he shows something.
Notable Free Agent: QB Matt Gutierrez, Idaho State. The former
Michigan QB that got beat out by Chad Henne has everything a coach
wants from a physical-passing fundamental standpoint. What he
needs is time to learn the nuances of the game and put it all
together. If so, he could surprise as a solid, back up.
Impact Player: WR Robert Meachem, Tennessee
Honestly, Iím not a Meachem fan but heís going to
get every opportunity to be the #3 WR right away. Heís big
and fast, but Iím one of the people in the minority that
believes his hands are suspect. That happens when you watch games
where he tries to catch the football with his hands and drops
everything in sight until he reverts back to body catching the
football. It doesnít help matters when he catches the ball
in workouts with his hands, but his method of doing so is analogous
to someone working out a math problem while walking. Thatís
not going to work with pads and a safety gunning for his chinstrap.
Still, Devery Henderson is no lock as the #2 despite showing
improvement and Terrance Copper is a journeyman. Heck, thereís
no guarantee Marques Colston avoids a Michael Clayton-esque sophomore
slump. So Meachem has a chance to show something in a good offensive
system. That alone makes him the most likely impact rookie on
Project: CB Usama Young, Kent State
Size, speed, and skills shot Young up the draft board and itís
not out of the question he sees time as a rookie. He should develop
into a solid corner within a year or two. Heís a natural
at the position, but needs more seasoning.
Sleeper: RB Antonio Pittman, Ohio State
Iím not a Pittman fan, either. Heís solid, but not spectacular.
This is what Iíll call a Chris Perry pick: a reasonably talented
player drafted as depth for a solid starter. Pittman is in my
opinion, the back the Saints hope will develop so they can ease
the transition of parting ways with Deuce McAllister in the next
season or two. Pittman is a straight-line runner with good, timed
speed. I just donít see a special burst or marked ability to create
yards by him self. The presence of Reggie Bush helps open some
big holes, which Pittman demonstrated he could gain yardage in
chunks with a big play threat distracting the defense (Ted Ginn).
So this team is a decent fit for his style. Of course, I think
any RB would feel that way right now in this offense.
Notable Free Agents: QB Tyler Palko, Pittsburgh. This kid is
going to stickóhe works hard and has the skills to actually
become a borderline starter one day. I think this is a great situation
for Palko. Donít be shocked if heís starting for someone
by 2010. Heíll at least be a solid back up in a couple of
years. WR Rhema McKnight, Notre Dame. Many people expected this
receiver to be drafted. He has the size. He just needs more consistency.
New York Giants
Impact Player: WR Steve Smith, USC
You know, I had this sick hope the Panthers would draft this
USC rookie instead of Jarrett just so we could hear announcers
act like idiots with two Steve Smiths on the field at the same
time. Honestly, I think this Steve Smith is one of the best receivers
in this draft. One of my litmus tests for a good wide out is the
skinny post in traffic. Smith almost seems to relish this route.
Iíve seen him blown up on receptions by linebackers and safeties
with kill shots and the receiver still holds onto the ball. You
donít see this from Meachem, Rice, and especially not Craig Davis
(this was a horrible pick, more on that later this week). I think
Smith is capable of starting and Iím confident heíll begin the
year as the #3 WR, but finish it with the productivity of the
#2 WR for Eli Manning. This is the savvy receiver with physical
ability that Eli Manning has lacked since he arrived in New York.
Project: RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshall
I love this runneróthen again, I loved Onterrio Smith, Cecil
Collins, and Ricky Williams. And what do they all have in common?
Yep, character issues. They all had ability, too. Bradshaw has
great visionópossibly the best of any back in this draft class.
He lacks long-range speed, but he has a heck of a burst and excellent
moves. I think if he stayed in school, kept his head on straight,
and played well for his senior year he would have been at least
a 2nd round pick. If he matures as a human being, the Giants stole
a starting-quality runner that will have Jints fans excited about
the future. Keep an eye on this guy and youíll be glad I brought
him to your attention one dayóif at the very least interesting
crime blotter reading. At best, heíll be the guy piling up the
stats on the box score.
Sleeper: CB Aaron Ross, Texas
The past 2-3 classes of Texas rookies seem to translate rather
well to the NFL, donít you say? Ross is a corner that should
continue this trend. Heíll at least help out as a nickel
back, but I think heíll catch on quickly.
Notable Free Agents: OT Gabe
Hall, Texas Tech. Funny that Tom Coughlin was a receiver coach
to begin his career. He has a good tendency for spotting mid-to-low-round
linemen. Hall just needs experience and coaching to become a heck
of a player. I think heíll get that chance here.
New York Jets
Impact Player: CB Darrell Revis, Pittsburgh
I think Revis is the best corner in this draft. Heís a
poor manís Adam Jones as both a cover corner and kick return
specialist, well maybe an upper-middle class Adam Jones. The Jets
sure seem to be making the most of their picks since Mangenius
took over. This is another good one.
Project: WR Chansi Stuckey, Clemson
This kid could have a little Troy Brown in him, but thereís no
guarantee heíll even make the roster. Then again, the Jets need
better depth so Stuckey just needs to show reliable hands, which
he has, to stick. At best, heíll develop into a solid slot receiver
in a year or two. Still, Iím not optimistic.
Sleeper: LB David Harris, Michigan
Itís hard to call this guy a sleeper, but heís got
the skills to stick him into the lineup and perform respectably
well. You need a good linebacker rotation for the 3-4 and Harris
will provide additional ammunition.
Notable Free Agents: WR Paul
Thompson, Oklahoma. This multi-dimensional player has the athleticism
to stick to a roster. Donít be surprised if he beats out Stuckey
for a depth chart position.