Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2008 – Round 3

NFL Draft 2008 Logo I’ll limit my coverage of the second day of the 2008 NFL draft to summaries from ESPN and Scouts, Inc. and separate analysis of the picks made by the Dallas Cowboys and any particularly newsworthy picks by other teams.

64. Detroit Lions

The pick: Kevin Smith, RB, Central Florida

What he brings: Smith can dance in the backfield too much and he’s a little bit of an upright runner, so he takes some big hits. However, he does an excellent job of reading his blocks and shows good burst in the hole. He also has good vision and enough lateral mobility to make defenses pay when they overpursue.

How he fits: This is a good move to trade up and get Smith. With guys like Tatum Bell, Aveion Cason and Brian Calhoun, Smith will be able to come in right away and compete to be a feature back. The Lions have put a heavy emphasis on running the football and Smith can be a two-down back in this offense. The league has become a two-back league and Smith can fit as part of a 1-2 punch.

65. St. Louis Rams

The pick: John Greco, OT, Toledo

What he brings: Greco lined up at left tackle for Toledo, but chances are he’s going to have to play right tackle in the NFL. Although he has good initial quickness, he lacks ideal agility and has some problems redirecting in pass protection. Also, he’s going to have to learn to play with better leverage if he’s going to develop into a dominate drive-blocker.

How he fits: This pick makes sense because the Rams had to address the line on Day 2. Greco can hopefully be the heir apparent at right tackle once Orlando Pace retires and Alex Barron moves to left tackle. The Rams were hit hard with injuries on the offensive line last season and depth at the tackle position is key for this team. The Rams have enough players on offense, but the offensive line struggled last year.

66. Miami Dolphins

The pick: Kendall Langford, DE, Hampton

What he brings: Langford’s never going to be an elite pass-rusher. He simply doesn’t have the explosiveness or agility to get to the quarterback off the edge on a consistent basis. On the other hand, he has the makings of an excellent 3-4 end. He has good size and the frame to get even bigger, show good lower-body strength and has the upper-body strength to control blockers.

How he fits: It’s obvious the Dolphins are building the trenches on both sides of the ball. Langford is a perfect fit as 3-4 defensive end. Along with second-rounder Phillip Merling, the Dolphins are preparing for the eventual departure of Jason Taylor.

67. Carolina Panthers

The pick: Charles Godfrey, CB, Iowa

What he brings: He has limitations in man coverage because he takes too long to open his hips when he’s forced to turn and run downfield. However, he shows good burst coming out of his backpedal and is a playmaker. He can line-up at safety and is an outstanding special teams player.

How he fits: He is a versatile player who can come in and contribute at safety or corner. Both Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas have struggled at times to meet expectations and the Panthers still have some holes at free safety. Also, don’t be surprised if Richard Marshall works out at safety as well during the offseason.

68. Atlanta Falcons

The pick: Chevis Jackson, CB, LSU

What he brings: Jackson doesn’t have great speed or hip fluidity, so you’re taking a risk if you put him on an island. On the plus side, he has excellent college experience at the highest level and simply doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s physical in both coverage and run support.

How he fits: With the trade of DeAngelo Hall to the Raiders and the signing of Von Hutchins, the Falcons had to address needs at cornerback due to the lack of depth. He will fit in well with defensive coordinator Bryan VanGorder’s zone schemes. He is a smart and instinctive player.

69. San Diego Chargers

The pick: Jacob Hester, RB, LSU

What he brings: Hester is a bit of a reach because he doesn’t have elite skills. He lacks ideal size, speed and athleticism. Hester, however, is a far better football player than athlete. He runs very hard between the tackles, does a good job getting in position as a blocker and is a reliable receiver out of the backfield.

How he fits: This is another solid pick by A.J. Smith. Since FB Lorenzo Neal is no longer there, he can fill their need along with Andrew Pinnock. Hester is a very good football player, but he is not going to be a pounder like Neal or Pinnock. Still, he understands angles and can adjust to moving targets as a fullback out of the backfield. He is also a good receiver out of the backfield and a short-yardage runner.

70. Chicago Bears

The pick: Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt

What he brings: Bennett doesn’t have the explosiveness to consistently separate from man coverage and isn’t a big-play threat after the catch. But he reads defenses pretty well, can make catches in traffic and is a crisp route runner. He’s a tough player and has no qualms about going over the middle.

How he fits: The Bears had a big-time questions at WR and Bennett is a very good pick with decent speed who can contribute right away. He is a good football player who can become a No. 3 or No. 4 WR based upon the development of Devin Hester.

71. Baltimore Ravens

The pick: Tavares Gooden, ILB, Miami (Fla.)

What he brings: Gooden isn’t as physical against the run as you would like. He doesn’t show great instincts in coverage, either. However, he clearly has the athletic ability and speed to develop excellent man-to-man cover skills. He also is versatile enough to line up on the inside or the outside and is a sideline-to-sideline run defender.

How he fits: The Ravens finally addressed the defense. Even though Ray Lewis is very productive, he is getting up there in years. Gooden is a versatile player who can fit in Rex Ryan’s defensive schemes. He will be developed slowly behind two great players and contribute on special teams right away.

72. Buffalo Bills

The pick: Chris Ellis, DE, Virginia Tech

What he brings: Teams are going to have success running at Ellis — he’s undersized and doesn’t have great lower-body strength. In fact, he may never develop into an every-down player. But there’s a lot to like about his potential as a situational pass-rusher. He’s quick, relentless and has the foot speed to develop an arsenal of pass-rush moves.

How he fits: The Bills spent the offseason upgrading the interior of their defense and now they have a guy to work in the rotation in sub as a pass-rusher. They need to create pressure on the opposite of Aaron Schobel. They still have Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney, but adding Ellis helps.

73. Kansas City Chiefs

The pick: Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas

What he brings: Teams are going to have success running at Ellis — he’s undersized and doesn’t have great lower-body strength. In fact, he may never develop into an every-down player. But there’s a lot to like about his potential as a situational pass-rusher. He’s quick, relentless and has the foot speed to develop an arsenal of pass-rush moves.

How he fits: This is a great pick by the Chiefs. Larry Johnson had some injury concerns last year and Charles can come in and spell him. The league has become two-back reliant and Charles will be a good complement to Johnson.

74. Carolina Panthers

The pick: Dan Connor, LB, Penn State

What he brings: Connor doesn’t have elite athletic ability and has problems matching up in man coverage, so he’s probably a better fit on the inside. He also has to get stronger at the point of attack. On the other hand, he has excellent instincts, takes great pursuit angles and is a reliable open-field tackler.

How he fits: He is a tough, smart and physical inside linebacker. Once he develops, the Panthers could move Jon Beason back outside. Connor is a very instinctive player who has flexibility and will contribute right away in the kicking game.

75. San Francisco 49ers

The pick: Reggie Smith, CB, Oklahoma

What he brings: Smith doesn’t have great speed and can be beaten deep when left on an island. But he’s a versatile playmaker who can line up at corner or safety and contribute to the return game. He’s also strong in run support and capable of limiting a receiver’s production after the catch.

How he fits: He is a versatile player and can give them a boost on special teams. With the age of Walt Harris and the lack of development of Shawntae Spencer, Smith can come in and contribute in 49ers’ sub defensive packages.

76. Kansas City Chiefs

The pick: Brad Cottam, TE, Tennessee

What he brings: Cotam needs to learn to play with better leverage, which comes as no shock considering he’s 6-foot-7. He doesn’t show great athletic ability as a pass-catcher. However, he has the size to develop into an excellent inline blocker and has the strong hands to develop into a reliable possession receiver.

How he fits: He has a tremendous upside, but injuries have hindered his career. He will contribut right away as the No. 2 tight end. He replaces Jason Dunn, who was released in the offseason. He is also a big target in the passing game and will be used a lot in the Chiefs’ two-tight end sets.

77. Cincinnati Bengals

The pick: Pat Sims, DT, Auburn

What he brings: The biggest knock on Sims is he tends to ware down too quickly. He has tendency to come out of his stance too high when he gets tired. He also has some problems locating the ball. However, Sims is quick for his size when fresh and flashes the ability to shed blocks quickly.

How he fits: Under Marvin Lewis the Bengals have struggled stopping the run. Sims gives them a big body inside who will strengthen the interior of their run defense. He will immediately work in the rotation at DT with Domata Peko and John Thornton. This team needs to stop the run and Sims should help them do this.

78. New England Patriots

The pick: Shawn Crable, OLB, Michigan

What he brings: Crable needs to do a better job reading his keys and can be a step late getting to the football. Additionally, he takes too many false steps in coverage. On the plus side, he has the size and speed to develop into a starting outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and should make early contributions in special teams.

How he fits: The Pats’ biggest needs are being addressed. They continue to add youth to an aging defense. Crable has an outstanding combination of size and speed with great straight-line speed. However, he is somewhat of a project learning the proper technique and the Pats’ complex defensive schemes.

79. Houston Texans

The pick: Antwaun Molden, CB, Eastern Kentucky

What he brings: Molden played at a small school and in a simple scheme, which didn’t allow him to showcase his abilities. As a result, there are some concerns about his ability to make the jump to the NFL. However, he made this less of a concern with a strong showing at the combine and the Texas vs. the nation all-star game. He clearly has the size, athletic ability and speed to develop into a starting corner down the road. He should also make an impacting in the return game.

How he fits: He is strictly a potential player. Molden has good athletic skills and size, but will only make an impact in sub defensive packages and special teams. He fits better in the Texans’ zone schemes rather than being on an island. He has good intangibles teams look for in young corners.

80. Philadelphia Eagles

The pick: Bryan Smith, DE, McNeese State

What he brings: Smith is vastly undersized for a defensive end, so teams will look to run at him and exploit that weakness when he’s on the field. As a result, he’s probably never going to be an every-down player. However, he has the instincts, initial quickness and athletic ability to develop into a solid situational pass-rusher.

How he fits: With the departure of Jevon Kearse in the offseason, Smith fills a need. The Eagles believe they can never have enough depth on the defensive line. He is a pass-rusher first, but will have to add bulk and strength to be an every-down player.

81. Arizona Cardinals

The pick: Early Doucet, WR, LSU

What he brings: Doucet had problems staying healthy and doesn’t have the speed to run away from defenders after the catch. However, he is quicker than fast and shows good awareness, allowing him to get open underneath. In addition, he shows good vision and enough elusiveness to make the first defender miss after the catch.

How he fits: This is a good pick and should replace Bryant Johnson as the No. 3 WR. He will have a lot of one-on-one matchups. He should play immediately and get a chance to make plays based on defenses scheming to stop Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. He is a proven big-time performer in college.

82. Kansas City Chiefs

The pick: DeJuan Morgan, S, North Carolina State

What he brings: Morgan doesn’t have prototypical range, so he can’t play a centerfielder-type role. He also has limitations in man coverage. However, he has great instincts, rarely gets caught out of position and plays the ball well. He should also make an immediate impact on special teams covering kicks.

How he fits: With the development of Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page, Morgan can come in and work in the rotation as a third or fourth safety. He will also contribute in the kicking game and eventually take over for Greg Wesley. He is a smart, instinctive player who could eventually contribute in Gunther Cunningham’s defensive packages.

83. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The pick: Jeremy Zuttah, G, Rutgers

What he brings: Zuttah is versatile enough to line up at guard or tackle. We feel he’s a better fit at guard as he has some problems preventing edge-rushers from turning the corner. However, he has the size, range and upper-body strength to develop into an excellent starting guard.

How he fits: He will play better as a guard at the next level. The Bucs have a young offensive line and Zuttah can contribute as a backup as he develops. He can eventually develop as a starter and has is versate to play several positions on the offensive line, which is becoming a common trend in the NFL. The Bucs may be trying to move Dan Buenning.

84. Atlanta Falcons

The pick: Harry Douglas, WR, Louisville

What he brings: Douglass shows good quickness and has the agility to develop into a crisp route-runner. However, he doesn’t have elite speed and isn’t going to be as effective stretching the field at the NFL level. More importantly, he’s very lean, so teams are going to be able to push him around.

How he fits: He is an undersized WR who will work in the Falcons rotation. Due to the aging concerns of Joe Horn and durability concerns for Brian Finneran, he will play as a No. 4 or No. 5 WR.

85. Tennessee Titans

The pick: Craig Stevens, TE, Cal

What he brings: Stevens doesn’t stretch the field as well as you would think for a player with his speed and he lacks elite size for a tight end. However, he is fast enough and tall enough to improve in both areas. He also is a relentless run-blocker who plays with a mean streak.

How he fits: He is an excellent run blocker who can contribute right away. The Titans love to run two-tight end packages and even though they added Alge Crumpler and Dwayne Blakley, there are concerns about Crumpler’s knee. Stevens can contribute as the Y and allow Bo Scaife to be in the H position.

86. Baltimore Ravens

The pick: Tom Zbikowski, S, Notre Dame

What he brings: Zbikowski is overaggressive at times and lacks the hip fluidity to recover when he gets caught too close to the line of scrimmage. However, he has great toughness and is a sound open-field tackler who fills hard in run support. He also is a fearless punt returner.

How he fits: He will immediately help on special teams and instant depth at safety. He is smart player who will play close to the line while he develops in his nickel package. A golden gloves champion boxer, Zbikowski is a tough player.

87. Detroit Lions

The pick: Andre Fluellen, DT, Florida State
What he brings: Detroit is very happy to get Fluellen at this point; the Lions fell in love with him after seeing him work out. He doesn’t have great size or the frame to get substantially bigger. He also has to learn to shed blocks quicker. However, he locates the ball quickly and has the burst to get into the backfield. He also is a good motor guy who works from the snap to the whistle.

How he fits: With the trade of Shaun Rogers, Fluellen will help bolster the depth on the interior line. He is an undersized DT who will fit well in their upfield one-gap schemes. He is a typical Rod Marinelli guy, who is relentless. He will be a backup under tackle who will in the rotation as a three-down player, while playing in regular and sub.

88. Pittsburgh Steelers

The pick: Bruce Davis, OLB, UCLA

What he brings: Pittsburgh gets another rush outside linebacker in Davis. Although he isn’t a powerful bull-rusher and needs to do a better job of anchoring against the run, he has the initial burst to turn the corner and big enough to become an adequate run-stopper at outside linebacker.

How he fits: The Steelers addressed the offense on Saturday and then get a typical Steelers linebacker on Sunday. He will play OLB in the Steelers 3-4 scheme. He provides them depth behind LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison.

89. Houston Texans

The pick: Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia

What he brings: Slaton is undersized and goes down far too easily. In addition, he’s struggled to stay healthy during his career. However, he’s quick enough to turn the corner and show good elusiveness in the open field.

How he fits: He is a very good change-of-pace player opposite Ahman Green and Chris Brown. He will be used a lot of ways in Houston’s offense to create mistmatches. He is quick and elusive, especially in space.

90. Chicago Bears

The pick: Marcus Harrison, DT, Arkansas

What he brings: Harrison is a bit of an enigma. Although he weighs 317 pounds, he doesn’t have great lower-body strength and takes too long to shed blocks, so he isn’t a great interior run-stuffer. However, he has good quickness for his size and shows good lateral ability scraping down the line of scrimmage.

How he fits: Tommie Harris is in a contract year and Harrison can play as an undertackle in the Bears’ 3-4 scheme. With the uncertainty of Dusty Dvoracek’s durability, Harrison brings instant depth in the rotation. He will fit in well in the Bears’ upfield attacking schemes.

91. Green Bay Packers

The pick: Jermichael Finley, TE, Texas

What he brings: Although he plays with a mean streak, Finley’s undersized and lacks great lower-body strength. He isn’t going to drive defenders off the ball. However, he has very good athletic ability for his size and the potential to develop into a crisp route-runner. In addition, he plays faster than his timed-speed suggests and can work the seam.

How he fits: The Packers play a lot of two-tight end sets and lack depth after moving Bubba Franks. Finley has a lot of versatility and once he learns the system, he will complement Donald Lee. But he is a raw player who will have to develop quickly in order to contribute in his first year.

92. Detroit Lions

The pick: Cliff Avril, DE, Purdue

What he brings: Avril doesn’t have great size and plays with a narrow base, so he has problems holding his ground when teams run at him. However, there’s a lot to like about his ability to get to the quarterback. He has very good initial quickness and great closing speed. We thought he would come off the board in the second round, so the Lions did well to get him here.

How he fits: He is a typical Marinelli guy — a tough and blue-collared player. He is a relentless pass-rusher who finds a way to get to the QB, which will help the Lions’ backend. He will work well in the rotation, especially on third down.

93. Indianapolis Colts

The pick: Philip Wheeler, ILB, Georgia Tech

What he brings: Wheeler doesn’t have the speed to match-up with backs in man coverage, and has a tendency to overpursue on the run. However, he shows good athletic ability for his size and is a sound open-field tackler.

How he fits: The Colts lost some depth at LB with Rocky Boiman and Rob Morris, so this pick makes sense. He provides instant depth behind Gary Brackett, while contributing in the kicking game. He is a better run player than coverage player at this stage of his development.

94. New England Patriots

The pick: Kevin O’Connell, QB, San Diego State

What he brings: He has prototypical size and is an above-average athlete. O’Connell has excellent and efficient feet with his drops and the arm strength to make all the throws. He has shown the ability to buy time with his feet and does a nice job keeping his eyes down the field when flushed out of the pocket. However, he is still very raw and needs a couple to develop.

How he fits: Obviously the Patriots don’t have a need this position, but he will add depth at the position. Nobody does a better job than Bill Belichick at finding value in the draft. O’Connell is a sleeper who a lot of teams are high on.

95. New York Giants

The pick: Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan

What he brings: Concerns about character caused Manningham’s stock to drop. In addition, he lacks ideal size. However, Manningham simply knows how to get open; he’s a smooth route-runner and does a good job reading defenses. He also has the ability to make spectacular catches.

How he fits: Amani Toomer is aging and Steve Smith is at his best in the slot. Manningham will eventually become a No. 2 opposite Plaxico Burress. He will immediately provide another weapon for Eli Manning.

96. Washington Redskins

The pick: Chad Rinehart, G, Northern Iowa

What he brings: He needs to work on his technique, especially his ability to get his hands inside the defender’s frame, which would allow him to control his blocks. Obviously there are concerns about the level of competition he faced at Northern Iowa. However, he has excellent size, he’s quick and has the upper-body strength to jar defenders with his punch.

How he fits: Obviously the interior of the offensive line is getting up in age and the Redskins found value here. He will be brought along slowly with the intent of taking over next year. He plays with a mean streak and should be a good fit in the Redskins’ zone-blocking schemes.

97. Cincinnati Bengals

The pick: Andre Caldwell, WR, Florida

What he brings: Caldwell had problems staying healthy and you would’ve liked to see him make more plays downfield considering his excellent speed. However, he’s quick enough to get open underneath and catches the ball fairly well. He also runs hard after the catch.

How he fits: This is a good pick and provides insurance in the receiving corps. The release of Chris Henry and the uncertainty of Chad Johnson obviously influenced this pick. He is the second WR the Bengals selected in the draft and will be another option for Carson Palmer.

98. Atlanta Falcons

The pick: Thomas DeCoud, S, Cal

What he brings: DeCoud doesn’t have the burst or top-end speed to match up with slot receivers in man coverage. He’s also an inconsistent open-field tackler. But he’s fast enough to cover the deep half of the field and fills hard in run support. He has shown a knack for blocking kicks and is solid in kick coverage.

How he fits: Lawyer Milloy is aging and his career is winding down, so DeCoud will provide depth. He can also come in and contribute as a No. 3 or No. 4 safety and on special teams.

99. Baltimore Ravens

The pick: Oniel Cousins, G, UTEP

What he brings: Cousins moved from defensive tackle to offensive tackle in 2005. In addition he’s going to have to move inside to guard as he simply doesn’t have the balance to hold up in pass protection on the edge. On the other hand, he has the range, toughness and size to develop into a starting guard.

How he fits: He will switch to guard at the NFL level. He is a good value pick at the end of Round 3 as hehas position versatility. This will provide good depth on Ravens’ offensive line, something they needed.

FEATURED POSTS: NFL Draft 2008 – Round 3 – Cowboys Trade 3rd to Detroit

(Okay, so not much there. Blame Jerry Jones.)

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