ARI | ATL
| BAL | BUF | CAR
| CHI | CIN | CLE
| DAL | DEN | DET
| GB | HOU | IND
| JAX | KC
| NE | NO | NYG
| NYJ | OAK | PHI
| PIT | SD | SEA
| SF | STL | TB
| TEN | WAS
Nothing like being asked to kick off the 2006 fantasy season by
being asked to play the fool. So here are my initial impressions
of each team’s draft class before most of the rookies enter
the doors of their respective facility. If you want an extensive
analysis of most of the skill players your team drafted, or players
you’re considering for your dynasty drafts, check out The
2006 Rookie Scouting Portfolio.
The best time to analyze a draft is 3-5 years from now, but the
fun about fantasy football is trying to predict the future. So
instead of trying to give a grade like everyone else (especially
when everyone uses the let’s wait 3-5 year caveat and then
give no one under a C-, or over a B+), I’ll give you my
take on the team’s impact player, project, sleeper, and
my two cents on their overall draft. I view myself more as an
observer/analyst of football talent rather than some sort of expert
on the machinations of draft day, so don’t expect me to
do too much second-guessing of trading picks or how teams understood
the draft board.
- Best Drafts: Philadelphia, St. Louis, NY Jets, and Cleveland
- Safest Drafts: Dallas, New England, and Tampa Bay
- Riskiest Drafts: Tennessee, Denver, and Houston
- Worst Drafts: Minnesota, Seattle, and San Diego
Impact Player: TE Leonard Pope,
Leinart will have the greatest long-term impact—good or
bad—on the status of this draft class, but the 6-7 Pope
has excellent receiving skills and will have an immediate mark
on this team in several ways. First, he has the size and speed
to stretch the seam, which only makes it more difficult for opposing
defenses to focus solely on Boldin and Fitzgerald. Second, despite
the fact he’ll need fine-tuning as a run blocker, his receiving
skills will take pressure off the run game, and open some plays
for Edgerrin James that Shipp and Arrington didn’t have
in 2005. But the greatest impact will be in the red zone, where
the Cardinals most dangerous scorer last season was their kicker.
Pope’s size is a huge match-up problem, and coupling his
presence with the addition of Edgerrin James gives Dennis Green
a real run-pass option inside the 20-yard line that they’ve
lacked for several years. These two players will be the reason
why the Cardinals should score 3-4 touchdowns per game rather
than 5-6 field goals.
Project: WR Todd Watkins, BYU.
This kid has a lot of natural talent as a downfield threat that
can make some huge plays. First he needs to learn how to approach
the game. If he succeeds there, he’ll then have to learn
how to beat the jam, run better routes, and consistently make
the reception on balls he’s expected to catch. Watkins comes
to a team with two excellent role models at the position. If he’s
serious about learning, he has a chance to develop into situational
player with enough future value to trade, if Arizona still has
their dynamic duo.
Sleeper: DT Jon Lewis, VaTech.
Lewis fell because of his height and the fact he had some great
games early in his career, but never took the next step to be
dominant. Virginia Tech has a good pipeline of defensive players
that make a good transition to the NFL. Paired or rotating with
Darnell Dockett, the Cardinals should see in upgrade on the line.
At the very least, Lewis’ high motor should push more-heralded,
Gabe Watson in training camp.
My Two Cents: I don’t
think they helped themselves on the offensive line—a guy
like Max Jean-Gilles is better value that Lutui. Lewis or Watson
are capable of contributing on some level right away, but the
Cardinals have a history of pick great athletes on the defensive
line that don’t show up every Sunday. I graded Matt Leinart
as the 3rd quarterback behind Cutler and Young because I feel
he can’t make the last second, high-velocity throws under
pressure that are necessary for several NFL routes. Despite this
observation, I think Leinart is correct about his assessment that
Arizona is the perfect fit for him. Neither the Titans nor Jets
have the skill players the Cardinals do. As I have mentioned before,
Leinart, more so than Young and Cutler, will need stronger skill
players around him to be as effective. He’s teamed with
a great runner, two of the best receivers in the game, and an
offensive-minded coach. I like this pick, and Leinart should live
up to the billing as the QB that will make the quickest transition.
Impact Player: CB Jimmy Williams,
Williams has an equal number of fans and detractors, but I think
he has a good chance to succeed with the Falcons where he will
be reunited with DeAngelo Hall. They should form a promising,
aggressive tandem that will get to make a lot of high-profile
plays due to the Faclons strong pass rush. I like this pick, and
in a couple of years, we should be hearing about Atlanta having
one of the better pass defenses in the NFL.
Project: QB D.J. Shockley,
I think this is a good pick. Living in Athens, Georgia, I was
more of a David Greene fan, but Shockley proved he has the skills
and maturity to develop into an NFL-caliber player. His biggest
problem is his footwork to set up and deliver the football. With
a few years of NFL coaching, I believe he’ll be ready to
at least be an effective #2 QB.
Sleeper: RB Jerrious Norwood,
He couldn’t have gone to a better place than Atlanta because
he is a one-cut, slashing runner that should naturally thrive
in the Falcons zone blocking run game. Duckett’s status
as the future has come and gone, and Atlanta needs a successor
to Warrick Dunn within the next 2-3 years. Norwood has dynamic
open-field skills and he’s proven his talent as a runner
on a team frequently overmatched in the SEC division. In this
respect Norwood is almost comparable to QB Jay Cutler—a
quality player on a bad team.
My Two Cents: Williams and Norwood will at least contribute immediately
as situational players. Shockley, in my opinion, is an astute
selection. Let’s face it, in 2-3 years one of two things
will happen with the Falcons quarterback position: Vick will finally
become the passer the organization needs him to become, and Matt
Schaub becomes expendable as their 1A backup or the Falcons give
up on Vick, and go with Schaub before the Virginia product forces
his way out of Atlanta in order to get his shot to start elsewhere.
Shockley has a first-day arm, first-day athleticism, and first-day
character. He just needs time, and more coaching. I think at least
4 out of their 5 picks will be of value to the team within 2-3
years. Jennings out of Fresno State is my only question mark here.
Impact Player: NG Haloti Ngata,
This is the guy Ray Lewis needs to run free and disrupt offenses.
I liked ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth’s take on Ngata, which
was fairly critical of his quickness and effort. Still, I pick
him as an impact player, because Lewis should benefit from the
switch back to the 4-3 defense the Ravens will make due to the
money they spent on this guy. Even if Ngata is less than stellar,
or even a bit disappointing, I think the defense benefits overall.
Project: WR Demetrius Williams,
I like Williams’ athleticism but he’s still a bit
raw as a route runner and blocker. He’s a hard worker, and
should develop in a couple of years if he continues to display
this tendency (and models himself after Derrick Mason).
Sleeper: C Chris Chester, Oklahoma.
The former tight end did a good job making the transition to center
for the Sooners. This pick is an example of good scouting because
he’s an athlete that displays a strong mental approach to
the game. He’s not a brand name guy, but his skills earned
him a second round selection.
My Two Cents: The Ravens have to be waiting for Steve McNair,
because they didn’t pick a quarterback, and they don’t
have one on the roster that is ready to step into the fray after
Kyle Boller. Even if they acquire the soon-to-be-departed, Titans
stalwart, I think they should have considered a signal caller
in the later rounds like an Omar Jacobs, Bruce Gradkowski, or
D.J. Shockley. To their defense, there are some decent long-term
prospects they’ll acquire as undrafted free agents. Baltimore
acquired a lot of quality depth with potential to grow into contributors
within a short-term period. RB P.J. Daniels is one of my sleepers
in this draft class, and reminds me a bit of Mike Anderson. TE
Quinn Sypniewski is an interesting player that should be able
to spell Todd Heap and contribute on special teams. Not a glamorous
draft and I don’t see players that will contribute right
away, but I think it will turn out to be better than average with
Daniels, Chester, Ngata, and possibly Williams.
Impact Player: S Donte Whitner
and CB Ashton Youboty (both from Ohio State).
The timing and value of both selections was suspect, especially
Whitner with the 8th pick. Still, Whitner is a safe pick and a
good player. One of the things I’m beginning to question
about draft analysts is their criticism of how to play the draft
board. When one considers how many of these first round picks
often fail to live up to expectations, trying to get cute with
wheeling and dealing a pick seems pretty dangerous to me. It’s
not like these draft analysts are playing with the team’s
money. Whitner may not be a pro bowl player, but he should be
a valued starter for years to come. Youboty is another junior
that was highly regarded, but drew the ire of draft analysts as
the selection period approached. Personally, I like Youboty and
believe he’ll turn into fine corner sooner than most think.
Project: OT Brad Butler, Virginia.
He’s not a great athlete, but he plays smart and has enough
skills to grow into a starter.
Sleeper: FS Ko Simpson, South
Simpson has the athleticism to be an all-pro defensive back. He
has decent instincts, but needs more coaching on positioning and
footwork. He and Whitner should make a fine tandem sooner than
My Two Cents: This was a very unglamorous draft, but as fun as
it would be to make fun of the too senior citizens in this process,
I’m not ready to conclude the game has passed by Marv Levy
and Ralph Wilson. If anything, they are displaying patience with
their offensive talent—something most media types say no
one in the NFL does, but readily bash teams when they actually
do it. This wasn’t a great draft for them, but not as bad
as its press. The media is stuck on the timing of the picks, but
on the whole, the players are pretty solid. I really like the
Kyle Williams pick in round five. The LSU DT reminds me of Kelly
Gregg of the Ravens, he grows on you.
Impact Player: RB DeAngelo
Williams is the best pure runner in the draft not named Reggie
Bush. I hear people questioning why Willams would be selected
in a power running system when he’s not a power runner.
I’m not going to question John Fox for two reasons. First,
Williams is more Tony Dorsett than Barry Sanders. He’s a
compact runner with deceptive strength and excellent stamina.
I read Gil Brandt make a comment about Williams not playing in
the Tennessee game due to a suspect injury. This is an uncharacteristic
swipe at a player’s of Williams’ reputation. I watched
this runner stay in the game after a 4th quarter run of more than
40-yards—after he carried the rock more than 20 times in
the game—and stay in the contest to score on the next play.
And the play in question involved Williams carrying about 500
pounds of linemen on his back for nearly two yards.
Williams isn’t going to punish people in the 4th quarter
at 5-9, 214-lb, frame, but he’s definitely not a situational
runner, either. He has excellent hands, so the combo of Williams
and Foster should be fun for Carolina to spring on opposing defenses
this fall. Either player should be able to line up in the slot,
so both could be on the field at the same time. Foster is a great
talent, but he runs a bit upright. I wouldn’t be surprised
if Williams eventually earns at least half the carries within
a season or two.
Project: DE Stanley McClover,
The athletic talent is there, and he shows some skills as an edge
rusher. He’ll need some time, but could become a starter
in a few years if he demonstrates the effort scouts say he lacks
on a consistent basis.
Sleeper: TE Jeff King, VA Tech.
This is the best blocking tight end in the draft. He’s going
to see the field sooner than his draft status indicates because
he’s a very strong run blocker and good pass protector.
King has good hands, but he’s not a great open field athlete.
He’s not going to be much of a fantasy sleeper, but he’s
underrated from an NFL standpoint.
My Two Cents: Marshall, Anderson, and Salley are all prospects
capable of being solid starters in a couple of years and at worst,
productive depth. Williams should become a franchise back.
Impact Player: DT Dusty Dvorcek,
The rich get richer with Dvorcek, a prospect that should be able
to at least rotate on the Bears already great unit. His character
was a question mark, but bar fights and drinking wasn’t
much of a character issue 20-30 years ago. Not that it’s
okay to throw down while in a drunken stupor, but the point is
Dvorcek should continue to mature and he’s a pretty good
Project: WR/KR/CB Devin Hester,
Hester and Ohio State’s Tedd Ginn, Jr. were touted as the
NCAA’s designated playmakers to begin 2005. Ginn fulfilled
this promise more than Hester, but the University of Miami playmaker
should become the Bears’ kick returner as rookie because
of his speed and open field vision. Hester was an unsuccessful
corner at Miami. He’ll stick as a special teams guy and
hope to develop as a receiver. Hester will need a lot of work
to even approach the skill of promising pass catchers Mark Bradley
and Bernard Berrian.
Sleeper: DE Mark Anderson,
I think Chicago got excellent value for Anderson in round five.
He should be able to rotate with Brown and Ogunleye or develop
into a possible outside linebacker. He’s a smart player
with a nose for the ball and good pass rushing skills. I thought
he was good enough to go earlier than the fifth round.
My Two Cents: I honestly don’t know much about Danieal
Manning, a pick many deemed questionable in round two but I think
Dvorcek, Anderson, and FB J.D. Runnels should develop into quality
depth. I like Runnels as a receiver out of the backfield and a
guy that should be able to lead for Benson and Jones. I don’t
think they came out with any short-term impact players.
Impact Player: CB, Jonathan
Joseph, South Carolina.
He’s not quite ready for greatness, but he has outstanding
physical skills. He needs to refine his game, but in the meantime
he could see the field as the nickel back. The draft-eligible
junior should develop into a quality starter within a couple of
Project: DT Domata Peko, Michigan
Another guy strong on the physical skills, but short on productive
play. He needs work to become a starter.
Sleeper: LB A.J. Nicholson,
Nicholson is kind of like David Pollack—not physically gifted,
but has a high football IQ. Look for Nicholson to find his way
onto the field and become a solid contributor.
My Two Cents: I’m not too impressed with this draft. There
is a lot of raw talent in this class, but no one that will step
right in and help this team become a Super Bowl caliber franchise
in the next year or two. Joseph and Nicholson have the most promise.
I wonder what they are going to do with QB Reggie McNeal, who
turned off scouts with his stubborn desire to remain a quarterback.
Personally, I think he could develop into a decent back up over
the long haul but for most NFL teams, a guy with his athleticism
would be a waste as a backup QB. I’m a bit under-whelmed
with the Bengals draft for the first time in 5-6 years.
Player: ILB D’Qwell Jackson, Maryland.
Jackson is undersized, but an excellent tackler. He went as expected
in the early second round. I think Jackson will make the biggest
impact because he plays smart and aggressive.
Project: OLB Kamerion Wimbley,
Willie McGinest will serve as the perfect mentor for Wimbley,
a player Romeo Crennel projects as a 3-4 pass rusher at the linebacker
position. The FSU DE needs some work and isn’t that instinctive
a player, but he has the smarts and attitude to succeed.
Sleepers: CB DeMario Minter,
Georgia and RB Jerome Harrison, Washington State.
Minter is an aggressive cover corner that plays with savvy. Harrison
is undersized, but possesses good vision and uncommon stamina.
Both should eventually be solid role players within 2-3 seasons
and possibly more.
My Two Cents: The Browns had a strong draft. There are several
players I didn’t mention that I could have plugged into
the other categories. Vickers was the best fullback in the draft
and should be a great addition to their power running game. Oshinowo
in the 7th round will be the future NT they need for the 3-4 defense,
and Travis Wilson was a possible first day prospect before injuries
and freshman quarterback play derailed his senior year at Oklahoma.
If Cleveland keeps up this rate of success with drafts, they will
contend for the division within five years.
Impact Player: LB Bobby Carpenter,
Carpenter is the type of player that should be in the league for
8-10 years as a starter. He’s the kind of player you expect
to get in the middle of the first round. Parcells has to love
Project: DE Jason Hatcher,
He has the physical skills (6-6, 283 lbs.) and promise to start
on the strong side, but will likely need a year. He’ll eventually
rotate with Canty.
Sleeper: WR/KR Skyler Green,
Green should become a quality kick returner immediately, but has
potential to make plays out of the slot like an Az-Hakim or Dante
Hall. Parcells will probably find a way to use him in advantageous
situations for his open field running.
My Two Cents: I think Dallas had the kind of draft that has small
chance to disappoint, but isn’t going to wow you either.
Impact Player: QB Jay Cutler,
I have him graded in the 2006 Rookie Scouting Portfolio as the
best quarterback in this class. The fact Denver traded up to get
him is a nice endorsement of Cutler’s skills. I think he’ll
play much sooner than expected (late 2007), and play pretty well.
Project: WR Brandon Marshall,
Marshall was a DB as a junior. He’s a player with Terrell
Owen’s size, but not his speed. He manhandles defensive
backs at the line of scrimmage and has good hands. He should develop
into a fine possession receiver with occasional big play ability
due to his size.
Sleeper: C Greg Eslinger, Minnesota.
He’s a very mobile, athletic center that will fit in perfectly
with this Denver line. He’s a refined, technician at his
position—something the Broncos value.
My Two Cents: Cutler, Scheffler, Marshall, and Eslinger could
all become productive starters. Scheffler and Eslinger sooner
than later. This was a good draft, and a very good one if you
throw in the addition of WR Javon Walker. Dumervil was a kid I
loved early in the season, but after his second half I think the
jury is out. He might be a one-dimensional player. Still it’s
a good gamble for this team and shouldn’t cost them big
for considering him.
Impact Player: LB Ernie Sims,
He’s a playmaker at LB, but like Ray Lewis, he’s going
to need some big guys upfront to free him up. He’s a guy
that excels when he plays in space. Rogers and Wilkinson should
fit the bill here. I don’t see him as defensive rookie of
the year material, but he will have some nice games right away.
Project: CB Dalton McCann,
He has the aggressiveness and physical skill to eventually become
a starter, but it may take a while.
Sleeper: RB Brian Calhoun,
I didn’t have Calhoun rated as a top tier back in this draft,
but I think Detroit got a fair value for him in round three. He
is a good receiver with a good burst, and is elusive. He’s
a character player, and he should push Kevin Jones and Shawn Bryson
for playing time due to the fact he’ll outwork them. I see
Calhoun as initially a 3rd down back, but he could develop into
more. He’s faster than credited…
My Two Cents: Sims, Bullocks, and Calhoun should make strong
contributions to this team. Scott and Matua don’t impress
me as offensive line prospects but they should eventually be serviceable.
Impact Player: LB A.J. Hawk,
OSU and Abdul Hodge, Iowa.
Not sure he warrants Ray Lewis consideration, but he’s going
to be a serious upgrade for Green Bay. Hodge is a fine player
in his own right, and I believe he, and Hawk will greatly improve
the quality of tackling on the Packers defense.
Project: WR Will Blackmon,
He’s a terrific leaper with decent hands. He needs to refine
his receiving technique and learn to run routes. Blackmon is the
type of player former WR coach Ray Sherman could have turned into
a good player—ala Donald Driver. We’ll see what the
current staff can do.
Sleeper: WR Greg Jennings,
He reminds me of Derrick Mason: fast enough, good hands, and a
savvy guy with or without the ball in his hands. He’ll contribute
in the slot this year and surprise some people with the rapport
he’ll establish with Favre.
My Two Cents: Green Bay got some guys that could tackle and an
underrated receiver that I think makes a quicker impact that most
will expect. The offensive line choices don’t look good
right now. If they pan out, the long-term grade has potential
to be significantly higher.
Impact Player: DE Mario Williams,
He better be an impact player. Houston gave up the highest rated
prospect among 20 teams to get Williams. Frankly, I don’t
care how much they can explain how he’ll alter formations,
disrupt passing plays, and make the occasional sack or game changing
tackle. Williams will not have the same impact as Reggie Bush.
I keep hearing him compared to Dwight Freeney or Julius Peppers
in terms of the expected impact. All I know is Houston better
hope he’ll compare to Reggie White. That’s the value
they’ll need to get from Williams that will be commensurate
to what Bush is going to give New Orleans. Ryans
Project: OT Charles Spencer,
He has the physical skills to be a quality starter, but needs
Sleeper: RB Wali Lundy, Virginia.
I think he’s a good fit for the offense Kubiak will be bringing
to Houston. Lundy was stuck in the scat back role for the last
two years because Marques Hagans was the QB. When Matt Schaub
was the starter, Lundy thrived and looked like a big-time prospect.
I think he’s a quality player that should challenge for
the #2 spot this year. He’s a downhill runner and good in
short yardage. He doesn’t have Vernand Morency’s athleticism,
but he might be a better all around player.
My Two Cents: Houston will get bashed for this draft all year
long, but they made some decent picks. Winston and Spencer could
develop into quality starters on the offensive line because they
are athletic players in the Denver-mode. DeMeco Ryans is a good
player, and David Anderson and Owen Daniels are good role players.
If they chose Bush the grades would have been a half grade higher.
Impact Player: RB Joseph Addai,
He’s a perfect fit for this offense and my runner up-rookie
of the year candidate (no need to guess the favorite). Addai does
everything well. Critics say Addai split time and wasn’t
good enough to be the starter at LSU. I remember the same thing
said about a back at Miami that split time with Najeh Davenport,
James Jackson, and Clinton Portis. Bill Polian was smart enough
to draft him, too…
Project: S Antoine Bethea,
He needs to learn the finer points of reacting to what is in front
of him. He’s a potential starter with coaching.
Sleeper: ILB Freddie Kieho,
San Diego State.
He plays well in space and is known as a hard hitter. Dungy’s
defense is well suited for him but he needs to learn to temper
My Two Cents: This team doesn’t need much other than a
running back and they succeeded there. The rest of the picks are
Impact Player: TE Marcedes
I’m not a big fan of Lewis’ game, but he is a fine
receiver—something the Jags have lacked at the tight end
position. He’ll get every opportunity to start right away
and open up the middle of the field for the Jaguars. He’s
just not as dynamic a player as his billing.
Project: Pick any of the three defensive linemen. Not sold on
any of them.
Sleeper: RB Maurice Drew, UCLA.
Fred Taylor is getting old, Greg Jones is slow, and Toefield and
Pearman are role players. Drew is a dynamic open field runner
with excellent receiving skills. He’ll be a great 3rd down
back, but I also think he has potential to be the next Warrick
Dunn. He’ll make an early impact as a return specialist,
but they didn’t draft him in round two just for that role.
Even with my high hopes for Drew, I’m concerned about this
committee of RBs Jacksonville has collected, because none of made
an impact the running game and it’s slowing Leftwich’s
My Two Cents: I would have rather seen the Jaguars get Leonard
Pope if they were going for the giant-sized, athletic tight end.
I like Maurice Drew a lot, but the backfield in North Florida
is officially a mess. Ingram is an aggressive LB but I don’t
see him developing into a consistent starter. The rest of the
players are projects that will need to pan out to save this class
and I doubt it happens.
Impact Player: DE Tamba Hali,
I think this is a step in the right direction for Kansas City,
but they need more a lot more help before Hali grows into the
play he’s capable of being 2-3 years from now.
Project: WR Jeff Webb, San
Webb has the athleticism and hands to develop into a quality receiver.
He won’t be pushed into to duty right away.
Sleeper: QB Brodie Croyle,
Croyle, Cutler, and Jackson have the best arm strength of the
quarterbacks in this draft. I’m a fan of Croyle’s
overall game, but he needs to bulk up. He reminds me of Marc Bulger
in terms of his style of play and body type. If the Chiefs can
maintain the quality of their offensive line as its players’
age and leave, Croyle could have landed in one of the best situations
of all the signal callers.
My Two Cents: SS Bernard Pollard is a nice choice for the future
and Marcus Maxey could surprise. Overall this is a solid class
with 2-3 potential impact players.
Impact Player: S Jason Allen,
Allen is an excellent pick and another great cog in a promising
defense that Nick Saban is rebuilding fast.
Project: WR Devin Aromashodu,
This guy is one of the better run-blocking receivers in the draft
class. He has to improve his consistency with receiving technique,
but with good coaching he could become a quality #3-#4 receiver
Sleeper: WR Derek Hagan, Arizona
I loved watching Hagan and believe he could become the complement
to Chambers by 2007. Critics say he’s inconsistent catching
the football. Based on the film study I’ve done, I’m
not too concerned—he’s a good route runner with excellent
concentration on difficult throws. He’s a mix between Herman
Moore and Rod Smith in terms of his positive traits. He’s
going to become Daunte Culpepper’s safety net Miami.
My Two Cents: The Dolphins only had two first day picks this
year, but they will likely become impact players. Three of the
four, second day selections (Toledo, Wright, and Aromashodu) should
make the team and eventually contribute. Wright is one of those
“could be a better pro than collegian,” types that
are often labeled this way but rarely accomplish it. The offensive
line needs to get better and the lack of picks here could be a
concern. Although this is the case, line play often improves with
coaching more than any position. Its possible the same lackluster
line could continue to move in the right direction without adding
youth. We’ll see…
Impact Player: LB Chad Greenway,
Iowa and Cedric Griffin, Texas.
Greenway should become a consummate professional as the Vikings’
new WLB, and a pretty good fantasy IDP prospect. Unlike Thomas
and Henderson, the Vikings finally have an LB prospect that will
play to his potential in Minnesota. Griffin is another solid player
that tackles well for a corner. Both are solid starters and should
see time early in their careers.
Project: QB Tarvaris Jackson,
I thought Minnesota selected Jackson way too high. Sometimes you
have to wonder if a new coach that was considered a big-time offensive
coordinator tries to hard to show they can develop a raw player
into a starter. We’ll see with Jackson, I thought there
were at least 7-10 better prospects at the position.
Sleeper: I don’t see any with this team. Edwards has great
physical potential, but didn’t work hard enough. Greg Blue
is a great hitter at the safety position, but can’t play
the pass. And Ryan Cook, and Cedric Griffin are expected to be
impact players soon.
My Two Cents: With three second round picks, I expected a bit
more from Minnesota. I think this was a disappointing draft overall.
Impact Players: RB Laurence
Maroney, Minnesota. WR Chad Jackson, Florida.
Maroney has the all-around skills to be a franchise back, but
he needs to improve his skills as a blocker and route runner.
He also needs to give full effort. He’s a smart football
player, but turned it on and off in college. New England does
not have a good track record with starting RBs from the draft
under Pioli and Belicheck. While Maroney has some question marks,
ability-wise he’s by far the best runner they have drafted
in their tenure. Jackson should make Brady a very happy man. This
is the closest thing New England has to a potential franchise
receiver. Physically he can take it the distance with his running
skills or run by you.
Project: DE Jeremy Mincey,
He should become a decent backup with potential for more as he
receives more coaching. He’s the typical, athletic SEC defensive
end that needs to learn the finer points of line play.
Sleeper: FB/TE Garrett Mills.
Mills is just a good football player—the epitome of a Belicheck
guy. I foresee Mills becoming one of the more statistically productive
fullbacks in the passing game since the days of Larry Centers.
He’s going to give Tom Brady a different dimension as receiver.
My Two Cents: This was another good draft for the Patriots. I
wonder why Dave Thomas was selected when they have Graham and
Watson, but he’s a fine all-around football player. The
Memphis kicker Gostkowski was a high pick, but he fills a definite
need and can make the distance kicks. The four linemen on both
sides of the ball chosen in rounds 5 and 6 have are the type that
should develop into quality players for this squad. The Patriots
evaluate talent well, and it shows once again this year.
Impact Player: Who else? If you don’t know what I’m
talking about, just ask anyone that says they casually follow
Project: WR Marques Colston,
Colston has the height, hands, YAC skills, and leaping ability
to be an outstanding receiver. What he needs is coaching to learn
the position. Some teams considered him as a 2-3 year project
at tight end that could pay dividends. Speaking of tight ends,
I’m a little surprised the Saints didn’t draft one
Sleeper: WR Mike Hass, Oregon
This guy is the Drew Brees of receivers: No respect initially
at any level but proves people wrong. I promise you he is not
Ricky Proehl! He’s about 20 pounds heavier and is a much
more physical player. Hass is going prove a lot of people wrong
about him. I love this pick for the Saints. Randy Meuller, the
Saints GM was quoted saying Reggie Bush was extremely excited
about the pick and he told one of the scouts how glad this guy
would be on the team. Drew Brees is going to take to Hass very
quickly because the receiver is willing to do the dirty work over
the middle—after Joe Horn, the Saints don’t have a
receiver that does this very well.
My Two Cents: Reggie Bush makes this draft, but the Saints did
pretty well after landing the prize of the year. Alabama’s
Roman Harper, little known Jahari Evans, and Rob Ninkovich all
have the talent to start in 2-3 years—Harper much sooner.
Hass and Colston could develop also. Why didn’t New Orleans
draft a tight end? With McAllister and Bush, the play action game
to the TE should one of the first things Payton installs. I’m
puzzled about this one.
New York Giants
Impact Player: WR Sinorice
Moss disappeared in games, but this can be attributed to Miami’s
quarterback play and rotation of receiving talent to get them
time. This is a tough football player, that has the skills to
make an impact but I believe he’ll need a year or two in
order to make the physical adjustment to the NFL—especially
to get his body at a place to prevent injury. I’m not expecting
much from him right now except as a return specialist and occasional
Project: OT Guy Whimper.
He’s an athletic lineman that converted from TE position.
He’ll need time, but should find a position on the line
and within a season or two, play it pretty well.
Sleeper: SS Charlie Peprah,
He’s over aggressive and likely miscast as one of those
SEC safeties in the mold of Greg Blue, and Thomas Davis—hard
hitters that can’t play the pass. I think Peprah’s
issues are correctable and once he learns, he’ll be a one
of those players every acts as if he always belonged despite initially
My Two Cents: A lot of people don’t like this draft because
Kiwanuka seemed like a wasted pick when they have such good ends
in Strahan, Umenyiora, and the promising converted LB Justin Tuck.
I think people are being a little too critical here. Strahan isn’t
getting any younger, and Tuck is no guarantee to step in and become
an all-pro. Kiwanuka has that type of promise and will get pushed
in this unit. Plus, a rotation prolongs Strahan’s career.
It also gives the Giants the opportunity to put Strahan at DT
on some plays. The acquisition of Arrington provides a major boost
to the linebacker corps. Ask me what I think about the rest of
these picks in 2-3 years because that’s what it’s
going to take for them to make a significant contribution if at
all. This is why I don’t like the Giants draft.
New York Jets
Impact Players: OT D’Brickshaw
Ferguson, Virginia and C Nick Mangold, Ohio State.
A lot of people wanted Leinart, but Ferguson is the best choice
for this team. If the QB situation doesn’t look better this
year, they might have a shot at Brady Quinn in 2007. Ferguson
will play immediately, and play well enough to help the offense.
The key is his athleticism. Jets fans should be happy for once.
Mangold was the best C on the board. The Jets just went a long
way towards rebuilding their offensive line.
Project: Brad Smith, Missouri.
Note the lack of position listed here. Will he be a QB, RB, or
WR? The initial thought of the Jets is WR. Smith is the closest
thing to Kordell Stewart that’s come along in the draft.
I’m skeptical he makes the transition.
Sleeper: LB Anthony Schlegel,
He’s kind of the forgotten man of the great Buckeye linebacker
My Two Cents: The Jets had a good draft. QB Kellen Clemens is
someone I didn’t evaluate, but he has been a fast riser.
Maybe a little too fast a riser for my taste. He’s not very
mobile, and his short time span where he improved doesn’t
make me as excited as so many others. I feel the same about Leon
Washington. He’ll be a valuable contributor, but don’t
expect him to be more than a valuable change of pace back that
can be an effective starter for 2-3 games if needed. Despite my
slight misgivings about these two players as future stars, they
are solid selections and fit with the theme New York had with
most of their picks—football players with a good on-field
Impact Player: SS Michael Huff,
I love this pick. I know Leinart was there for the taking, but
please remember something about Oakland—the stink at tackling.
The Chiefs may have been worse last year, but over the span of
the past five years, the Raiders have everyone beat. Huff can
play any position in the secondary and he’s both a hitter
and a tackler. I’m telling you right now, Al Davis stumbled
into picking the best coach he could find. Art Shell is going
to rebuild this team and in 2-3 years, we’re going to be
hearing about how great Shell and Romeo Crennel are as coaches.
In Oakland, Huff will be a big reason why.
Project: LB Darnell Bing, USC.
Yep, you heard right—linebacker, Darnell Bing. He’s
converting to a more natural spot. He’ll need another 15
pounds to look the part, but that’s not all he’ll
require to make it. Bing is an undisciplined player that doesn’t
have good tackling technique—he’s more of a hitter
than a guy that wraps up. Shell better call up Ted Hendricks,
because Bing is going to need some lessons.
Sleeper: LB Thomas Howard, UTEP.
The guy is a natural linebacker with speed to burn. He needs to
refine his game, but this is the kind of athlete at LB the Raiders
have lacked for years.
My Two Cents: I like this draft, because they resisted the temptation
to pick a quarterback. Stick with Brooks, develop Andrew Walter
another year, and allow one of the best guards to ever play the
game team with one of the best tackles to strap on a helmet (co-offensive
line coach Jackie Slater) to teach this line how to dominate.
With Shell and Slater in the draft room, I’m not going to
question the linemen they picked—at least 2 of the 3 will
probably wind up very useful to the team. Ainsley (from the FF
Today message boards) hipped me to Mr. Irrelevant, Maine WR Kevin
McMahan. He’s an interesting, small-school prospect. People
love bashing the Raiders, but something tells me Art Shell is
going to shut everyone up sooner than people could ever realize.
Impact Players: OT Winston
Justice, USC. G Max Jean-Gilles, Georgia.
Wow…people talk about Tennesee stealing Vince Young and
Lendale White, but as a Titans fan I have to admit what Philly
got away with was on the level of Spike Lee’s Inside Man.
The Eagles just reloaded on the offensive line in a way that should
create another window of opportunity to contend in 2-3 years.
You may think I’m nuts with Dallas, Washington, and New
York all head of them but consider the Eagles are the only team
with a franchise quarterback than can carry this team. Dallas’
window is now and maybe next year. Jason Campbell is still 3-4
years away in Washington. And Eli Manning will be the Eagles best
competition—that is if the Giants can find a runner to replace
Barber once he retires, which will be sooner than later. McNabb
is a franchise quarterback, and this team is going to regroup.
These two linemen just set the foundation for eventually another
3-4 year run starting in 2007.
Project: WR Jeremy Bloom, Colorado.
Bloom will become a terrific slot receiver in the NFL. He’s
rusty from pursuing his other career, but prior to the ultimatum
the NCAA made to him, Bloom displayed some promising skills as
a pass catcher. He’s also much faster than he timed at the
combine. Remember, he wasn’t in football shape. When he
was in football shape, I watched Bloom win sprint during an off-season
competition that included an impressive list of NFL player. Among
them was Ahman Green, one of the fastest backs in the NFL.
Sleeper: WR Jason Avant, Michigan.
Everyone is down on this class of receivers. Avant’s stock
slipped because he had a disappointing time. I’m telling
you now—it doesn’t matter with this guy. He has body
control that might rival WR Brandon Lloyd, and quality hands.
He is not afraid to go across the middle. He’ll be reliable
and fearless—Todd Pinkston will soon be a distant memory.
I truly believe between Reggie Brown, Avant, and Bloom, McNabb
will have a better receiving corps than he ever imagined with
Owens in the fold. They will all complement each other extremely
My Two Cents: I thought this was one of the top drafts. There
wasn’t a single pick I disliked here, and that’s rare.
Not much else to say here. I think Philly regroups after the Owens
debacle and by next year is right back in the thick of it.
Impact Player: WR Santonio
Holmes, Ohio State.
Holmes is the perfect Steeler: he’s a very good return specialist;
blocks aggressively on run plays; and can make plays all over
the field. I think Holmes has a shot to make an impact in the
second half of 2006 as a receiver. He’ll be better than
Randle El. Anthony Smith
Project: QB Omar Jacobs, Bowling
Jacobs is one of my favorite quarterbacks in this draft. This
is the kind of player Pittsburgh couldn’t pass up because
he’s accurate, intelligent, and has a big-time arm. Jacobs
will eventually develop into a player that Pittsburgh can trade
for a first day pick—especially if he gets a chance to replace
Roethlisberger for a game or two and displays what I’m talking
Sleeper: WR Willie Reid, FSU.
Some people commented this was a high pick for Reid, but I disagree.
This guy will develop into a fearless slot receiver and he should
step right in as their return specialist. He has excellent concentration
in traffic, and he gave teams fits at FSU.
My Two Cents: Not as good of a draft as their cross-state counterpart,
but not bad. Charles Davis and Cedric Humes are two players that
could develop into quality depth. They aren’t stopwatch/combine
kind of guys, but they are good football players—something
Pittsburgh values. The picks in the top half are pretty strong.
Impact Player: OT Marcus McNeill,
This was their best pick of the draft if Cromartie doesn’t
Project: CB Antonio Cromartie,
He needs to the finer points of his position he would have gained
with another year of college, but now he’s going to have
to do it while adjusting to the NFL. I don’t know if this
was an A.J. Smith or Schottenheimer-initiated pick. He sure does
remind me of former Chief and Seminole WR/KR Tamarick Vanover.
Hopefully Cromartie has more success beyond special teams.
Sleeper: MLB Tim Dobbins, Iowa
This is smart football player that I believe will develop into
a starter for the Chargers. Schottenheimer generally does well
with linebackers—he was one himself for the Browns back
in the 70’s. Dobbins is a bit small, but he’s a savvy
My Two Cents: I didn’t like this draft. Whitehurst will
be a solid back up, but he’s a dangerous player because
he looks better than he plays. If Rivers doesn’t develop
as expected, Whitehurst will be just good enough for the Chargers
to give too many chances as their window of opportunity passes
by them. Dobbins and McNeil are solid picks. If Cromartie plays
to the Chargers rating, I’ll stand corrected…
Impact Player: None this year. I’m not sold on Jennings
as a starting CB and Tapp is not ready for prime time.
Project: WR Ben Obomanu, Auburn.
This receiver can block and demonstrates skills as a deep threat.
He’s a long shot, but could develop into a decent situational
Sleeper: FB David Kirtman,
Kirtman stood out on film as a receiver. He’s a very underrated
player and I believe Mack Strong’s heir-apparent.
My Two Cents: I’m surprised the Seahawks didn’t have
much of a draft. Other than Kirtman and the kicker, I don’t
think a single player from this class will make a lasting positive
impact for at least two years.
Impact Player: TE Vernon Davis,
Maryland and LB Manny Lawson, NC State.
The guy is simply a physical stud that catches the ball like a
receiver—think a heavier Terrell Owens with the same amount
of speed. If Alex Smith can’t improve his game with Davis
in the fold, something will be really wrong. I think the Niners
found their eventual replacement to Julian Peterson with Manny
Project: Michael Robinson,
I don’t know exactly what position he’ll be playing
in San Francisco, but it won’t be QB. Wait three years and
see what happens. Remember Arnaz Battle was a QB and 3 years later,
he’s just beginning to show flashes of skill at WR.
Sleeper: WR Brandon Williams,
I loved watching this guy play. I think he’ll be a better
fit for this team than Brandon Lloyd. He’ll just need a
bit of time. A very tough player in the Mike Nolan mold of players
he likes—think Frank Gore, a player that looked good despite
running with two injured shoulders. Williams is one of those pound
for pound tough guys.
My Two Cents: Mike Nolan is a good head coach and he is really
putting a stamp on this team with smart, tough, athletic players.
Eventually, San Francisco will become a very physical, football
team. I like the direction they are heading and the draft. Parys
Haralson is another find in round five. While I’m not sure
I’d say this draft was as good as the Eagles effort, it’s
Impact Player: CB Tye Hill,
Clemson and DT Claude Wroten, LSU.
I think this guy is the best CB in the draft. He has great recovery
speed and just shuts people down with tight coverage. The Rams
desperately need a shutdown corner, and this is as close to it
as they are going to get. Wroten failed a drug test, but he’s
a terrific talent. I think he’ll be able to start right
away in St. Louis.
Project: WR Marques Hagans,
Despite Hagans lacking great speed, he’s a savvy football
player that runs well with the ball in his hands. I thought there
were better choices available.
Sleepers: TE Joe Klopfenstein,
Colorado. TE Dominique Byrd, USC.
These were two of my favorite players at this position. Both are
underrated, but clearly Linehan thought enough about them to trade
away the Rams 2005 starter! Both catch the ball very well. I think
Klopfenstein is the better intermediate and redzone target while
Byrd is a good blocker and runs surprisingly well after the catch.
A nice, 1-2 combination that should help the run game and take
some pressure off Bulger in the pocket.
My Two Cents: An underrated draft for the Rams and one of the
best this year. I think they came away with at least five solid
starters within 2 years. Wroten, Alston, and Hill are players
that should make this defense a lot better very soon. The more
I watch Scott Linehan, the more I’m impressed with him.
Impact Player: CB Alan Zemaitis,
Tampa found a terrific defensive back in the 4th round, and I
believe he’ll surprise early. This was a great pick.
Project: WR Maurice Stovall,
He’s not near the receiver as his former teammate coming
out next year, but he has the physical skills and intelligence
to develop into a decent possession guy.
Sleeper: QB Bruce Gradkowski.
I said on the FFToday Forums thread that the Toledo signal caller
reminded me of Rich Gannon. Apparently, Jon Gruden thought so
too. He implied as much in this post-draft interview. This may
seem strange to you, but I had Gradkowski rated only behind the
big three prospects at the position. Chris Simms looked like he
turned the corner last year, but so did Brian Griese in his second
year in Denver.
My Two Cents: The Bucs had a good draft. Guard Davin Joseph is
going to help out Cadillac immediately. Trueblood may need a bit
more time, but Tampa went in the right direction here. I’m
not a huge fan of Maurice Stovall, but Zemaitis, Gradkowski, and
T.J. Williams are second-day finds. Let everyone else talk about
Kellen Clemens as that steal of a QB, all I know is Bulger and
Brady came from the sixth round and Gradkowski, like the both
of them is much better than a 6th round pick.
Impact Player: RB Lendale White,
I have been vocal about White being overrated in this class, but
I have been equally vocal about him being a talented runner. I
felt his effort was questionable on film. He didn’t always
run as hard in plays where he should have made holes. It appeared
he expected the USC line to open up huge holes, and he didn’t
consistently get the yards available to him in tight spots. When
he doesn’t take anything for granted, he’s a load.
The Titans got him very close to the spot I rated him among his
peers. I don’t think he’ll be an 1100-yard rookie,
but a 700-900-yard effort with 7+ scores isn’t out of the
realm of possibility for this rookie.
Project: QB Vince Young, Texas.
He’s not ready to start, but in 2-3 years he’ll be
what Falcons fans hoped they get from Michael Vick by now—a
more athletic version of Steve McNair. I think Tennessee hopes
White will be able to generate enough offense to keep the pressure
off Young, once they get him onto the field. I think the Titans
develop Young in a similar way they did McNair. Remember, McNair
was supposed to get some mentoring from Chris Chandler but Chandler
wanted to move on. The point is not to worry about Young lacking
a quality QB ahead of him.
Sleeper: DT Jesse Mahelona,
This is the kind of player that the Titans line coach Jim Washburn
will develop into starter. He’s quick and a good tackler
in pursuit. At worst, he’ll be quality depth for this team.
My Two Cents: The first two picks could make this draft special.
WR Jonathan Orr should develop into a solid contributor—he’s
a fine blocker in the run game, too. The depth of this draft doesn’t
seem quite as good as previous years, but there are 4-5 picks
that could hit big.
Impact Player: LB Rocky McIntosh,
Defensive coordinator Greg Williams has a knack with linebackers.
Despite the issues with Lavar Arrington, Williams landed a guy
that should be better for his system. A nice, 2nd round pick here.
Apparently Santana Moss, Shaun Taylor, and Clinton Portis lobbied
for this pick, too.
Project: DT Kendrick Golston,
With coaching and improved health, this is the kind of player
that can become a solid sarter. He’s a good athlete and
potential contributor available in the late rounds.
Sleeper: DT Anthony Montgomery,
He’s a disruptive player that shot up draft boards. He could
My Two Cents: Washington went offense in free agency, so it makes
sense they drafted at the other size of the ball. No outstanding
picks after McIntosh, but the class is filled with players that
should become valued depth down the line. Overall, an average
draft at best.