Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2008 – Round 6

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The 6th round of the 2008 NFL Draft is underway.

1(167) Dallas (From Miami) Erik Walden DE MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
Walden excels at getting to the quarterback and has experience lining up at linebacker and end. This is the second pick in a row on which we feel Dallas has reached; Walden isn’t big enough to hold his ground at defensive end position and his speed will make it difficult for him to be effective in coverage as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

2(168) Washington (From St Louis) Durant Brooks PT GEORGIA TECH
He was the best punter at the college level last year, winning the Ray Guy award. This was a major need for the Redskins and they took the best punter available.

3(169) Oakland Trevor Scott DE BUFFALO
Scott lined up at tight end for his first three seasons at Buffalo, but he was moved to defensive end because of the lack of depth there. The fact that he played one season at defensive end means he has a lot of work to do in terms of technique, but he did a good job getting to the quarterback and is showing potential to develop into a productive pass-rusher.

4(170) Kansas City Barry Richardson OT CLEMSON
His lack of a mean streak is a concern. He should be a better drive blocker for a player with his size. That being said, he moves well for his size and has long arms to ride edge rushers past the pocket.

5(171) NY Jets Marcus Henry WR KANSAS
He’s a smooth route-runner with good size and he’s not afraid to go over the middle. However, his lack of ideal upper-body strength is a concern because physical corners can muscle him off routes. In addition, he drops some catchable balls.

6(172) Atlanta Thomas Brown RB GEORGIA
There are concerns about his ability to stay healthy and he doesn’t have breakaway speed. He reads his blocks well, though, and his small stature means linebackers have trouble finding hem. He fits as a between-the-tackles runner and has good hands out of the backfield.

7(173) Houston (From Baltimore) Dominique Barber S MINNESOTA
He plays a lot like his older brother — Dallas RB Marion Barber: aggressive and physical. Dominique fills hard in run support and fights off blocks, though he has limitations in coverage because he doesn?t have great speed or ideal athletic ability.

8(174) San Francisco Josh Morgan WR VIRGINIA TECH
Morgan isn’t much of a threat after the catch and he takes far too many plays off. On the other hand, he has good quickness and changes directions well for his size, so he can get open underneath. He can also contribute on special teams.

9(175) Tampa Bay (From Chicago) Geno Hayes OLB FLORIDA STATE
Hayes is an excellent value at this pick, especially for a Cover 2 team like the Bucs. Although he has problems anchoring against the run, he has good instincts and sideline-to-sideline range as a run defender. He can also cover a lot of ground in zone coverage.

10(176) Miami (From Detroit) Jalen Parmele RB TOLEDO
He’s a big back who runs hard between the tackles and catches the ball well. He also has good top-end speed, but he takes too long to reach it. As a result, he’s going to have a hard time turning the corner at the NFL level.

11(177) Cincinnati Corey Lynch S APPALACHIAN ST
He isn’t big enough to line up in the box and he doesn’t have great man-to-man coverage skills. However, he is a sound tackler who fills hard in run support, makes the occasional big play on defense and will contribute on special teams.

12(178) New Orleans Taylor Mehlhaff PK WISCONSIN
We are surprised to see Mehlhaff as the first place kicker to come off the board because his mechanics are inconsistent. However, he has excellent range, so he can kick on deep field goal attempts and get touchbacks on kickoffs.

13(179) Buffalo Xavier Omon RB NW MISSOURI ST
He is a big back who makes a crisp first cut and gets upfield in a hurry. However, he isn’t quick enough to turn the corner at the NFL level and he doesn’t have breakaway speed.

14(180) Washington (From Denver through St Louis) Kareem Moore S NICHOLLS STATE
Moore is a playmaker both in coverage and as a return man. He also has good size and the potential to develop into an in-the-box safety, but he faces a steep learning curve.

15(181) Carolina Nick Hayden DT WISCONSIN
He has good size with the ability to put weight on and not lose quickness. He is a very active player with a high motor. He shows the ability to collapse the pocket with power moves, but is not a great athlete and he lacks some explosiveness. He needs to locate the ball better.

16(182) Kansas City (From Minnesota) Kevin Robinson WR UTAH STATE
Robinson isn’t fast enough to stretch the field and he’s going to get pushed around by physical corners. However, he shows good body control and he isn’t afraid to go over the middle. He’s also an effective return man who should make immediate contributions on special teams.

17(183) Denver (From Houston) Spencer Larsen ILB ARIZONA
He is a tough and instinctive inside linebacker with good awareness in pass coverage. He plays with a mean streak and he is not the type of guy you want to meet in a dark alley. He plays too high at times and has trouble shedding blocks. He is overaggressive at times and finds himself out of position.

18(184) Philadelphia Michael Gibson OG CALIFORNIA
Gibson has a quick first step and he sustains his blocks once he’s in position. Although he plays with a mean streak he doesn?t appear to have great lower-body strength, so he isn’t going to drive defenders off the ball. He’s also had problems staying healthy.

19(185) Arizona Christopher Harrington DE TEXAS A&M
He is a high-motor player who has good athletic ability, but he might never develop into an every-down player. He lacks the speed to consistently get to the quarterback off the edge and struggles to hold his own when teams run at him.

20(186) Washington Colt Brennan QB HAWAII
Brennan put up outstanding numbers at Hawaii. He’s quick enough to buy time in the pocket and accurate enough to lead receivers when throwing underneath. However, there are substantial concerns about the Hawaii spread scheme inflating his numbers and he doesn’t have great arm strength, either. His recent hip surgery raises concerns about Brennan’s ability to stay healthy.

21(187) Minnesota (From Tampa Bay through Kansas City) John Sullivan OC NOTRE DAME
He is an excellent value at this point in the draft. While he doesn’t have great lateral mobility, he masks this weakness by locking out his arms and riding pass rushers down the line. He is also a physical drive-blocker. Vikings now have an heir apparent for an aging Matt Birk.

22(188) Pittsburgh Mike Humpal OLB IOWA
Humpal is an instinctive linebacker; he reads his keys very well and is able to locate the ball carrier quickly. He also plays with sound leverage and does a good job of wading through traffic. He is a solid open-field tackler. However, he’s a bit stiff in the hips and might struggle to run with tight ends, and Humpal needs to work on utilizing his hands better.

23(189) Seattle (From Tennessee) Tyler Schmitt LS SAN DIEGO STATE
He is a four-year long snapper who is accurate and puts good zip on the ball. He is also an adequate open-field tackler.

24(190) Cleveland (From Seattle) Ahtyba Rubin DT IOWA STATE
At this point, Rubin plays with too narrow of a base and not enough leverage. In addition, he’s never going to be a great pass-rusher. But he has the size and quickness to develop into an effective nose tackle once his technique improves.

25(191) Cleveland (From Philadelphia) Paul Hubbard WR WISCONSIN
He has the athletic ability and size to make plays in the red zone. He also has the speed and body control to make plays downfield, but he needs to improve his route-running and become more consistent catching the ball.

26(192) San Diego DeJuan Tribble CB BOSTON COLLEGE
Tribble has good short-area cover skills; he quick and athletic. He can also contribute in the return game. However, he gets pushed around by bigger receivers and he isn’t fast enough to run with receivers down field.

27(193) Minnesota (From Jacksonville) Jaymar Johnson WR JACKSON STATE
He is a big-play threat both as a receiver and a punt-retuner, but he’s also undersized and lacks ideal upper-body strength. He is going to have problems beating press coverage and he will get muscled out of some routes.

28(194) Pittsburgh (From Green Bay through NY Giants) Ryan Mundy S WEST VIRGINIA
Mundy has had some problems staying healthy, and he doesn’t have great top-end speed or the ability to change directions quickly. On the plus side, he hass experience lining up at both corner and safety.

29(195) Miami (From Dallas) Donald Thomas OG CONNECTICUT
He displays adequate feet, bends naturally in the knees, displays brute strength and does a good job rooting defenders off the ball. Does not possess elite lower-body strength and struggles to adjust on the fly while trying to hit moving targets.

30(196) Indianapolis Michael Santi TE VIRGINIA
Santi isn’t going to knock defenders off the ball or burn defenses deep. But he is a better football player than athlete. He gets into position as a blocker, runs good routes and can contribute as a blocker in the return game.

31(197) New England Bo Ruud OLB NEBRASKA
He has good straight-line speed and also takes sound angles in pursuit. He is a solid open-field tackler, shows good instincts in zone coverage and good quickness when closing in coverage. He lacks ideal athleticism, though, and is stiff in the hips.

32(198) NY Giants Andre Woodson QB KENTUCKY
The hitch in Woodson’s release played a big role in his poor showing at the Senior Bowl and caused his stock to plummet. In addition, he makes questionable decisions and telegraphs some of his throws. He does, however, have great size, excellent arm strength and he shows toughness in the pocket.

33(199) NY Giants Robert Henderson DE SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI
He is big enough to hold his own against the run and can collapse the pocket as a pass rusher, but he doesn’t have great speed and is going to have a harder time at the NFL level.

34(200) Philadelphia Joe Mays ILB NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Mays has adequate size, good instincts and plays with a great motor. He’s also a sound tackler and flashes the ability to make the big hit, but he isn?t a sideline-to-sideline run defender and he has limitations in coverage.

35(201) Indianapolis Steven Justice OC WAKE FOREST
He shows great initial quickness. He is able to snap the ball and gets into position very quickly. He moves well laterally and can cut off defenders down the line, but he needs to work on overall strength, especially in his lower body.

36(202) Indianapolis Mike Hart RB MICHIGAN
At one time he was a first-round prospect, but he dropped due to pre-draft workouts. He is a natural runner who displays great patience setting up his blocks. He is very slippery and is able to break arm tackles. But he is very undersized, lacks top-end speed and shows an inability to be very helpful in pass-protection.

37(203) Philadelphia Andrew Studebaker DE WHEATON
Studebaker is a ‘tweener; he’s not big enough to holdup against the run as an end and might not have enough athletic ability to develop into an every-down outside linebacker. Also, he doesn’t show great instincts. However, he has good quickness and he closes well, so he can get to the quarterback.

38(204) Miami Lex Hilliard RB MONTANA
Hilliard lined up at running back at Montana and should be a productive short-yardage runner at the NFL level. However, he’s probably going to fit better at fullback in the NFL; he doesn’t have great speed or elusiveness. It will also take some time for him to develop as a blocker.

39(205) Indianapolis Pierre Garcon WR MT UNION
He shows solid quickness off the ball and possesses a good burst in and out of breaks. He adjusts well to poorly thrown balls and he’s not afraid to go over the middle and shows solid strength after the catch. He lacks top-end speed and elusiveness in the open field.

40(206) Baltimore Haruki Nakamura S CINCINNATI
He was a tackling machine in college with good instincts, but he is a strong safety in a free safety’s body.

41(207) Cincinnati Matt Sherry TE VILLANOVA
His size causes matchup problems for safeties. He can make plays downfield and has good hands, but he offers little as a blocker at this point.

FEATURED POST: NFL Draft 2008 – Round 6- Dallas Cowboys – DE Erik Walden


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 5 – Dallas Cowboys – CB Orlando Scandrick

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Dallas Cowboys traded for Adam Pacman Jones in the week before the draft, took CB Mike Jenkins in the 1st round, and have now added yet another corner, Orlando Scandrick of Boise State, in the 5th round.

He didn’t make the top 150 at Scouts, Inc. or Mel Kiper‘s Big Board. Rick Gosselin, though, had him ranked as the 83rd best player in the draft.

Not bad for the 143rd player taken.

Albert Breer reports,

To get in position to take Boise State CB Orlando Scandrick, the Cowboys dealt their fifth- and seventh-round picks (155 and 213 overall), which moved them up 12 spots to 143rd overall.

I’ve been hearing whispers about the Cowboys’ interest in Scandrick going all the way back to the combine. And it’s been quiet of late — which can be a sign that a club genuinely wants a guy. The Cowboys obviously did.

That seems like a lot to move up 12 spots in the 5th round but nothing else the Cowboys have done today has made any sense, either.

Orlando Scandrick Dallas Cowboys Photo


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 5

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft is underway. Here are the results, as reported by ESPN:

1(136) Detroit (From Miami through Kansas City) Kenneth Moore WR WAKE FOREST
He is an undersized receiver who doesn’t have great top-end speed, but he is a fluid route-runner who catches the ball well. He is sub-package receiver who fits in as a No. 4 wide receiver.

2(137) Minnesota (From St Louis through Green Bay) John David Booty QB USC
Booty doesn’t have elite arm strength or size, but he moves his feet well and is accurate, making him a perfect fit for a West Coast offense.

3(138) Atlanta Robert James OLB ARIZONA STATE
He is an undersized guy who struggles when teams run at him because he isn’t big or strong enough to anchor. But he is quick enough to make plays in the backfield and has the ability to develop and play in man-to-man coverage.

4(139) Denver (From Oakland) Ryan Torain RB ARIZONA STATE
Torain was slowed by ankle, knee and foot injuries last year. To make matters worse, he isn’t very elusive and he runs high, so he takes big hits. On the flip side, he’s a no-nonsense, north-south runner who excels at getting yards after contact.

5(140) Kansas City Brandon Carr CB GRAND VALLEY ST
He has good size for a cornerback with good athletic ability and decent speed, but he will struggle against quicker receivers.

6(141) Carolina (From N.Y. Jets) Gary Barnidge TE LOUISVILLE
Barnidge adjusts well to passes thrown outside his frame and is big enough to develop into a productive red zone target. Although he has the frame to get bigger, he’s undersized and can get driven back when lined up at the traditional tight end spot.

7(142) Chicago (From Carolina) Zack Bowman CB NEBRASKA
He missed all of 2006 and started just four games last year, which makes him difficult to evaluate. He is a developmental prospect who has to work on his footwork, but there is a lot to like about his blend of size and speed.

8(143) Dallas (From Chicago through Buffalo and Jacksonville) Orlando Scandrick CB BOISE STATE
Scandrick probably would’ve been better off returning for his senior year to work on his footwork and add some weight to his frame. On the other hand, he’s fast enough to run with receivers downfield and he opens his hips quickly. He also has shown a knack for blocking kicks and he can make an impact in the return game.

9(144) New Orleans (From Detroit) DeMario Pressley DT NORTH CAROLINA ST
He has had problems staying healthy, and he plays with a narrow base and gets driven off the ball at times. But Pressley has a strong upper body that allows him to shed blocks and the closing speed to get to the quarterback.

10(145) Cincinnati Jason Shirley DT FRESNO STATE
This is a surprising pick because Shirley comes with serious character issues. In addition, he is raw and tends to wear down quickly. Although we see this as a reach, he does possess good size and is very quick when he’s fresh.

11(146) Detroit (From New Orleans) Jerome Felton FB FURMAN
He isn?t a dominant lead blocker and will not put linebackers on their backs. He isn’t an explosive open-field runner either, but he’s adequate in both areas. Felton can reach linebackers at the second level and he is an effective short-yardage runner.

12(147) Buffalo Alvin Bowen OLB IOWA STATE
He isn’t fast enough to move to safety and might lack the size to become an every-down linebacker. His instincts, motor and open-field tackling should make him a valuable reserve and special teams contributor.

13(148) Denver Carlton Powell DT VIRGINIA TECH
He lacks the closing speed to develop into an effective pass rusher. He misses the occasional open-field tackle, but he plays with good leverage and has the upper-body strength to shed blocks. He is a better run-stopper than his size would suggest.

14(149) Arizona Timothy Hightower RB RICHMOND
Hightower is elusive and doesn’t show a second gear in the open field, so he won’t break many long runs. On the plus side, he’s a tough between-the-tackles runner who shows good vision and almost always falls forward. He also catches the ball well.

15(150) Green Bay (From Minnesota) Breno Giacomini OT LOUISVILLE
He is a developmental prospect who needs to learn how to control his emotions. He needs to improve his punch, but he has an excellent frame with long arms to ride edge rushers past the pocket.

16(151) Houston Frank Okam DT TEXAS
He’s a classic underachiever. Although he has outstanding size and flashes great lateral mobility, he’s extremely inconsistent. He takes far too many plays off and he appears to wear down. There are also questions about his work ethic and love for the game.

17(152) Minnesota (From Philadelphia) Letroy Guion DT FLORIDA STATE
He is a one-gap defensive tackle with an explosive first step who can make plays in the backfield. He plays to the whistle and flashes the ability to shed blocks quickly, but doesn’t have great size. He struggles to anchor when teams run at him.

18(153) New England (From Tampa Bay) Matt Slater WR UCLA
He went to UCLA as a wideout, got injured then moved to corner. As a result, he’s raw and needs some time to work on his technique. Still, the Patriots do a great job of finding special teams players in the middle rounds, and Slater is excellent in that phase.

19(154) Atlanta (From Washington) Kroy Biermann OLB MONTANA
He played defensive end in college but i?s not big enough to play there in the NFL. As a result, he will move to outside linebacker. He doesn’t have great speed but shows good instincts in coverage and doesn’t get caught out position.

20(155) Jacksonville (From Cleveland through Dallas) Thomas Williams OLB USC
He’s a very instinctive, smart player who plays physically and with a mean streak. He also shows good versatility; he’s able to play all three linebacker positions. He displays excellent awareness in coverage and breaks on the ball well. He also should be able to contribute on special teams immediately. On the down side, he doesn’t have great top-end speed or sideline-to-sideline range.

21(156) Pittsburgh Dennis Dixon QB OREGON
His stock dropped after he tore his ACL during his senior year, but he made great strides as a passer last season. He has great speed to develop into a reserve receiver. He could be the heir to Charlie Batch, and in the meantime he could see some time as a receiver. His ability to throw the ball allows the Steelers to work in some gadget plays.

22(157) St. Louis (From Tennessee through Washington) Roy Schuening OG OREGON STATE
He doesn’t have elite size, doesn’t change directions well in pass protection and he occasionally loses his balance. It’s also worth pointing out that he’s a relentless drive-blocker who plays with a mean streak and works to the whistle on every play.

23(158) Chicago (From Seattle through Jacksonville and Tampa Bay) Kellen Davis TE MICHIGAN STATE
He should be a better blocker for his size and he isn’t a crisp route-runner. There is no doubt he has awesome potential, though, as he is fast enough to chase balls down, has the wide frame to develop into a red zone target and is big enough to emerge as a quality blocker.

24(159) Jacksonville Trae Williams CB SOUTH FLORIDA
The biggest concern about Williams is his size. He gets pushed around by bigger wideouts and he doesn’t offer much in run support. On the other hand, he has the fluid hips, enough top-end speed and the ball skills to develop into a quality nickelback.

25(160) Tampa Bay (From San Diego through New England) Josh Johnson QB SAN DIEGO
The learning curve is higher for Johnson after playing at a small school. He is going to have to learn how to read the more complicated defenses in the NFL but has tremendous potential. He has quick feet and is dangerous as a scrambler, and he rarely tucks and runs too soon. He also has a strong arm.

26(161) Indianapolis Marcus Howard OLB GEORGIA
We thought Howard would land on a 3-4 team willing to move him to outside linebacker. That said, he’s also a good fit for a Cover 2 scheme like that of the Colts. Although he lacks ideal size and needs to improve his ability to defend the run, he has very good quickness and shows good closing speed when he gets a clear path to the quarterback.

27(162) NY Jets (From Green Bay) Erik Ainge QB TENNESSEE
He doesn’t have great mobility and he has only adequate arm strength, but has the potential to develop into an excellent game manager. He makes good decisions, reads defenses well and is a leader on the field.

28(163) Seattle (From Dallas) Owen Schmitt FB WEST VIRGINIA
Although Schmitt doesn’t always play with great leverage, he’s tough, has good size and possesses the lower-body strength to drive linebackers back once he gets in position. He doesn’t have great speed but he is an effective short-yardage runner.

29(164) New Orleans (From New England) Carl Nicks OT NEBRASKA
He plays far too high and doesn’t slide well in pass-protection. He is a developmental prospect who will have to develop his technique before pushing for significant playing time. However, he has outstanding size and the quickness to develop into a starting right tackle.

30(165) NY Giants Jonathan Goff ILB VANDERBILT
Goff lined up at middle linebacker last year but is arguably a better fit on the outside. He doesn?t have great lower-body strength and takes too long to disengage from blockers. On the other hand, he has good size, shows great range and is a strong open-field tackler.

31(166) San Diego Marcus Thomas RB UTEP
He has good size with adequate top-end speed, but this is a serious reach in our opinion. He dances far too much in the backfield and has a tendency to carry the ball away from his frame, which makes him vulnerable to fumbling

FEATURED POST: NFL Draft 2008 – Round 5 – Dallas Cowboys – CB Orlando Scandrick


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 4 – Dallas Cowboys – RB Tashard Choice

NFL Draft 2008 Logo After five trades down the Dallas Cowboys take . . . another running back. Georgia Tech’s Tashard Choice seems an odd, er, choice, given that the Cowboys drafted a back in the 1st round and have a young Pro Bowler, Marion Barber, on the roster. Still, this is a good value this deep in the draft (the 122nd pick).

Scouts, Inc.: 101st

Strengths: A workhorse back with natural running skills and excellent competitiveness. Reads blocks well, doesn’t waste motion and gets through holes quicker than people seem to think. Patient, does a nice job of locating cutback lanes and makes sharp cuts behind the line if scrimmage. Displays great stop-and-start skills. Runs hard, bounces off arm tackles and picks up many yards after contact. Consistently makes the first defender miss. Shows effective use of stiff arm. Runs adequate routes and has the burst to separate from man coverage. Catches the ball with hands away from frame and doesn’t drop many passes should catch. Is smooth turning upfield and shows good vision setting up blocks in space. Does an excellent job of selling playfakes.

Dallas Cowboys  RB Tashard Choice Photo Weaknesses: Lacks any elite physical qualities. Is quicker than fast. Lacks breakaway speed and isn’t much of a threat to go the distance when gets a seam. Gets tracked down from behind too often. Lacks ideal size for his tough running style. Keeps ball tight to frame most of the time but doesn’t always cover up when gets into traffic and can put the ball on the ground. Though he flashes a mean streak and a powerful punch when asked to help out in pass protection, he also takes poor angles to assignments and dives at defenders’ feet as a last ditch effort. Lacks ideal lower body strength and struggles to anchor when picking up blitz.

Overall: Choice spent the 2004 season backing up Adrian Peterson at Oklahoma. He enrolled at Georgia Tech in 2005 and was immediately eligible to play after the NCAA granted a waiver of the residency requirement. During his next two seasons with the Yellow Jackets, Choice appeared in 26 games (15 starts) and ran for 1,986 yards and 18 touchdowns on 414 carries (4.8 average). In 12 games (all starts) in 2007, Choice turned in 1,412 yards and 10 touchdowns on 261 carries (5.3 average); 14 receptions for 107 yards (7.6 average); and even an 11-yard touchdown pass. He had midseason knee surgery and also was bothered by a hamstring injury, but Choice missed just one game last year. Choice was tremendously productive at the collegiate level when healthy. He is a proven workhorse with very good vision, toughness and power for his size. He displays good patience setting up blocks and he also is quicker to and through the hole than some think. Unfortunately, Choice doesn’t have the frame to match his hard-charging running style, which has led to several injuries throughout his career. In addition to concerns regarding his durability, Choice lacks ideal top-end speed and will never be a homerun threat as a runner, pass-catcher or kick returner in the NFL. With all that in mind, Choice projects as a solid backup in the NFL and should come off the board in the mid-round range of the 2008 draft.

Rick Gosselin: 94

Albert Breer thinks this was forced by the Felix Jones pick:

And it’s Tashard Choice from Georgia Tech. So the Cowboys take a second back, which makes my point that the choice of Choice (sorry) was necessitated by the drafting of Felix Jones.

Rashard Mendenhall would’ve allowed the Cowboys to go in another direction here. But with Jones on board, they still needed insurance, since if Marion Barber goes down, there’s not enough of it with the Arkansas product.

Calvin Watkins agrees, twisting the knife a bit.

Cowboys got another backup running back in the draft. See Felix Jones. Anyway Choice rushed for 1,412 yards and 10 touchdowns on 261 carries for Georiga Tech last season. Choice battled a hamstring last season and missed one game due to knee surgery.

The ESPN gang seems pleased with the pick. And, certainly, this is a good value for the slot.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 4 – Dallas Trades Down Again – And Again!- And Again!

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Cowboys traded their 3rd rounder to the Detroit Lions for two 4ths (one in next year’s draft) and now have turned around and traded the opening pick in the 4th round, acquired from the Miami Dolphins for Akin Ayodele and Anthony Fasano, to the Oakland Raiders. This one makes sense:

The Cowboys got a fourth rounder (104) and a seven (213) from Oakland for their fourth rounder, 100th overall, which came from Miami.

The Raiders just grabbed UConn’s Tyvon Branch at 100th, which denied the Cowboys a chance to get Deon Anderson’s buddy in town. There’s a run on corners, too, with the Rams following up to take Penn State’s Justin King at 101.

Why not, really? Then again, Cowboys head coach Wade “Phillips pointed out that stockpiling picks was swell and all, but only if you occasionally used one.” Indeed.

UPDATE: They’ve done it again! They traded the 104th pick to Cleveland! Unless they got Chad Johnson (highly doubtful) this is starting to become a joke. And not a funny one if you’re a Cowboys fan.

UPDATE: The Cowboys’ spot, via Detroit, came up again. You guessed it: They traded down again. To Cleveland, again.

I’ve got no idea what the Cowboys are doing. Sadly, I don’t think they do, either.

Albert Breer: “The Cowboys just traded the 111th pick to the Browns. Which means they’ve now traded down five times today, and don’t have a player yet. Cleveland’s next pick is 190th overall.”

No word on what the Cowboys are getting in return. My guess is not all that much. Are they just stockpiling for next year? If so, that’s a bizarre strategy for a team expected to contend for a championship this season.

UPDATE: So, here’s the upshot of all these trades:

The Cowboys got a 2009 third-round pick, as Cleveland drafted Missouri TE Martin Rucker 111th overall.

So we’re clear here, this is what the Cowboys have left:

Fourth round pick — 122nd overall (from Cleveland)
Fifth round pick — 155th overall (from Cleveland)
Sixth round pick — 167th overall (from Miami)
Seventh round pick — 213rd overall (from Oakland)

But we had a 3rd rounder this draft and didn’t use it. It’s hard to see how this makes any sense.

Several people are speculating that we’ll somehow use all these picks to get a “Wow” wide receiver from another team. But why would someone give up a stud for a 3rd rounder next year? Wouldn’t they have rather had a 3rd this year, anyway,if that’s what they wanted?

Another way of looking at the moves:

They started the day with …

2008 Third round pick — 92nd overall
2008 Fourth round pick — 100th overall (from Miami)
2008 Sixth round pick — 167th overall (from Miami)

They now have …

2008 Fourth round pick — 122nd overall (from Cleveland)
2008 Fifth round pick — 155th overall (from Cleveland)
2008 Sixth round pick — 167th overall (from Miami)
2008 Seventh round pick — 213rd overall (from Oakland)
2009 Third round pick (from Cleveland)
2009 Fourth round pick (from Detroit)

So, we’ve basically traded out of Day 2 today, giving up a 3rd and 4th to get . . . 3rd and 4ths next year. Not smart, Jerry. Not smart.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 4

NFL Draft 2008 Logo

The 4th round of the 2008 NFL Draft is now underway. Some analysis from Scouts, Inc.:

1(100) Oakland (From Miami through Dallas) Tyvon Branch CB CONNECTICUT
Branch has good speed for the position and good short-area man skills. He can also contribute in the return game, but he isn’t very explosive. He will provide depth behind DeAngelo Hall and will also play on special teams.

2(101) St. Louis Justin King CB PENN STATE
King is the ultimate tease. He’s talented but just doesn’t finish plays. He doesn’t get his head turned around in time when running with receivers down the field and doesn’t time jumps very well either.

3(102) Green Bay (From NY Jets) Jeremy Thompson DE WAKE FOREST
Thompson is not a great run-stopper due to a lack of size. He has the frame to get bigger, though, and he is relentless. He will improve as he gets bigger. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is getting up there in years, and the Packers are obviously building depth along the defensive line.

4(103) Tennessee (From Atlanta through Washington) William Hayes DE WINSTON SALEM
At 6-foot-2, 258 pounds, Hayes is an undersized defensive end who may be a better fit at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. This pick seems like a huge reach.

5(104) Cleveland (From Oakland through Dallas) Beau Bell ILB NEVADA LAS VEGAS
Bell is a big, instinctive tackling machine who fits best as a two-down inside linebacker in a 3-4. The Browns needed to move up to get a position of need, and with Andre Davis coming off a down year in 2007, Bell looks like his eventual replacement.

6(105) Kansas City William Franklin WR MISSOURI
Franklin has had some problems staying healthy and occasionally drops passes he should catch, but he does have a good combination of size and speed.

7(106) Baltimore Marcus Smith WR NEW MEXICO
Smith has good size and enough speed to stretch the field, but he isn’t a great route runner and drops some passes. Still, he will provide depth in the receiving corps, as the Ravens are trying to find playmakers and Derrick Mason is getting older.

8(107) San Francisco Cody Wallace OC TEXAS A&M
Wallace is a technician who gets into position well and sustains his blocks, but he isn’t an overpowering run-blocker and has problems redirecting in pass protection.

9(108) Denver Kory Lichtensteiger OC BOWLING GREEN
Lichtensteiger can play center or guard and plays with a mean streak, but he lacks athletic ability and struggles in pass protection. He will provide depth on the offensive line, however.

10(109) Philadelphia (From Carolina) Michael McGlynn OG PITTSBURGH
McGlynn could be the heir apparent to the Eagles’ aging tackles. He might be a better fit at guard, but he has experience at right tackle and is an excellent drive-blocker.

11(110) Miami (From Chicago) Shawn Murphy OG UTAH STATE
Murphy is a small-school prospect with good quickness for his size, but he needs to develop a mean streak. With this pick the Dolphins are continuing to build depth on the offensive line.

12(111) Cleveland (From Detroit through Dallas) Martin Rucker TE MISSOURI
Rucker shows good athletic ability for his size and is a fluid route-runner, but he isn’t a great drive-blocker and isn’t fast enough to stretch the field at the NFL level.

13(112) Cincinnati Anthony Collins OT KANSAS
Collins has good size with the frame to get bigger. He is a developmental prospect who will have to learn to play on the right side. The Bengals add depth to the offensive line with this pick, as there are concerns about Willie Andrews and Levi Brown, who didn’t play up to speed last year

14(113) NY Jets (From New Orleans through Green Bay) Dwight Lowery CB SAN JOSE STATE
Lowery is a playmaker who changes directions well and shows good burst out of his backpedal. He gets pushed around too much, though, and is going to struggle to run with pro wideouts.

15(114) Buffalo Reggie Corner CB AKRON
Corner has good athletic ability and top-end speed but can be pushed around by physical receivers. Buffalo continues to address its need in the secondary with this pick, adding depth to an area that was a weakness last year largely because of a lack of pressure on the quarterback.

16(115) Tampa Bay (From Philadelphia though Miami and Chicago) Dre Moore DT MARYLAND
Moore is a one-gap, athletic defensive tackle with great upside. But he’s one of the most consistent players in this year’s draft on film.

17(116) Arizona Kenny Iwebema DE IOWA
He’s athletic and has the frame to develop into an effective run stopper, but doesn’t have great closing speed off the edge. This is the second DE the Cardinals selected in the draft and Iwebema will provide depth at this position.

18(117) Philadelphia (From Minnesota) Quintin Demps S UTEP
Demps isn’t great in run support and his footwork is a little inconsistent. But he has great speed and can play a centerfielder-type role.

19(118) Houston Xavier Adibi OLB VIRGINIA TECH
Adibi will struggle in run support, but is a good value here. He has good sideline-to-sideline speed and can run with backs in coverage.

20(119) Denver (From Washington) Jack Williams CB KENT
Williams has the instincts and athletic ability to become an effective No. 2 corner. He’s also an excellent player on special teams. Still, he doesn’t have great size, so he’s going to have problems slowing receivers down at the line of scrimmage.

21(120) Chicago (From Tampa Bay) Craig Steltz S LSU
Does not have great speed, but he is a playmaker who jumps underneath routes. He is very good in run support and a good blitzer when called upon.

22(121) Seattle Red Bryant DT TEXAS A&M
Bryant has excellent size and is quick enough to disrupt running plays in the backfield. However, he’s a one-dimensional run-stopper; he doesn’t have great closing speed and isn’t an effective bull-rusher.

23(122) Dallas (From Cleveland) Tashard Choice RB GEORGIA TECH
He doesn’t have breakaway speed and can put the ball on the ground, but Choice reads his blocks well and is a north-south runner who falls forward. This is the second RB the Cowboys drafted and he will provide depth. Also, there may be concern about getting Marion Barber signed long term.

24(123) NY Giants (From Pittsburgh) Bryan Kehl OLB BYU
Kehl plays too high, so he has problems anchoring against the run and lacks ideal man-to-man cover skills. However, there’s a lot to like about his upside. He has good speed, is athletic and has the frame to get bigger.

25(124) Washington (From Tennessee) Justin Tryon CB ARIZONA STATE
He plays bigger than his size suggests and opens his hips well. Tryon is comfortable in press coverage, but bigger receivers can shield him from the ball and struggles tackling bigger ball carriers.

26(125) Oakland (From Jacksonville through Baltimore) Arman Shields WR RICHMOND
Shields sustained a season-ending knee injury early in the 2007 season. He doesn’t have great size, but played very well against Vanderbilt in the 2007 season-opener, quieting concerns about his ability to make the jump to the NFL. He’s fearless going over the middle and fast enough to stretch the field.

27(126) Tennessee (From Dallas) Lavelle Hawkins WR CALIFORNIA
He is another receiver who will get pushed around at times and doesn’t have great top-end speed. But he runs good routes. Even though this was the first WR the Titans drafted, this is a good value pick.

28(127) Indianapolis Jacob Tamme TE KENTUCKY
Tamme is a wideout trapped in a tight end’s body. Although he may never become an effective in-line blocker, he has excellent speed and catches the ball in stride.

29(128) St. Louis (From Green Bay) Keenan Burton WR KENTUCKY
He is quicker than fast and isn’t a great vertical threat. He does show excellent body control and flashes the ability to make spectacular catches. This is the second WR taken by the Rams. They had a need with the loss of Isaac Bruce and the underwhelming production of Drew Bennett. He fits better as a No. 2, rather than Donnie Avery, who was the first receiver taken off the board.

30(129) New England Jonathan Wilhite CB AUBURN
Although Wilhite is susceptible to getting flagged for pass interference and defensive holding, there’s a lot to like about his physical style of play. If he learns to play with better discipline, he could develop into an effective press corner for his size. In addition, he has very good speed.

31(130) Pittsburgh (From NY Giants) Tony Hills OT TEXAS
He is coming off a season-ending leg injury and needs to work on using his hands to control defenders. But he has the size and mobility to develop into an excellent right tackle or adequate left tackle.

32(131) Philadelphia Jack Ikegwuonu CB WISCONSIN
Unfortunately, Ikegwuonu sustained a serious knee injury while preparing for the combine. He’s not expected to play this season, making his selection by Philadelphia puzzling. Before the injury he was a physical corner who used his hands well and could slow down wideouts at the line of scrimmage. However, he’s never had great speed and the injury makes that more of a concern. In fact, he may have to move to safety.

33(132) Buffalo Derek Fine TE KANSAS
He lacks ideal size and isn’t ever going to be an in-line blocker. But he’s versatile enough to line up at fullback and is a smooth route runner who reads defenses well.

34(133) Baltimore David Hale OT WEBER STATE
Hale has adequate feet and uses his hands well. He also sustains his blocks and plays with a mean streak. At times will play too high and hasn’t shown good lower-body strength.

35(134) Tennessee Stanford Keglar OLB PURDUE
He is a sideline-to-sideline run defender with good size. But he has problems running with backs and tight ends in man-to-man coverage.

36(135) Green Bay Josh Sitton OT CENTRAL FLORIDA
Sitton has excellent size, but lacks ideal explosiveness and range. He might be a better fit at guard.



NFL Draft 2008 – Round 3 – Cowboys Trade 3rd to Detroit

NFL Draft 2008 Logo After seeing a run on wide receivers, the Dallas Cowboys traded their 3rd round pick, #92 overall, to the Detroit Lions.

Nick Eatman doesn’t yet have details but reports,

The Cowboys obviously didn’t see anything that impressed them too much here in the third round as they traded away the pick to Detroit. Don’t get too excited, I doubt it’s for wide receiver Roy Williams. We’re still waiting on the full details of the trade. The Cowboys still have their 100th overall pick, the one they obtained from Miami.

That’s the top pick in the fourth round, which they obtained on the eve of the draft in trade for Anthony Fasano and Akin Ayodele. I still don’t understand that trade, by the way.

UPDATE: Albert Breer reports that, “For the Cowboys’ third-rounder, 92nd overall, the Lions sent their fourth rounders this year (111th overall) and next year to Dallas.” That doesn’t strike me as particularly good value. But it may just be that the Cowboys don’t think there was anyone worth spending a 3rd on left on the board.

Here’s the problem, though: Three picks later, the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, a division rival who we play twice a year, picked Michigan WR Mario Manningham, a first round talent who has dropped because of character issues. The Cowboys need a WR. Hmm.

UPDATE: The ESPN gang, Ron Jaworski in particular, don’t think Manningham has the size or speed to dominate in the NFL. Let us hope.


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.)


Dallas Cowboys 2008 Draft – Day 1 Grades

Dallas Cowboys Picks Felix Jones, Mike Jenkins, and Martellus Bennett The Dallas Cowboys addressed their top two needs in the 1st round, getting Arkansas running back Felix Jones with their 22nd pick and then trading up from the 28th spot to number 25 to grab South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins. They stayed put in the 2nd round, taking Martellus Bennett out of Texas A&M, the consensus best tight end in the draft class, addressing a need they’d created the night before when they traded away Anthony Fasano.

I would be pleased, if not genuinely excited, about the two first round picks if they hadn’t left Rashard Mendenhall, a much higher graded running back, on the board to take Jones. And the Bennett pick was a great value; my objection there is that we wouldn’t have needed to make that move aside from the foolish giving away of Fasano (along with starting linebacker Akin Ayodele) for a 4th rounder.

I’d give them a B+ for the picks themselves but downgrade them to a C+ considering what might have been.

Mickey Spagnola is much more thrilled than I am.

You can have your running back, and your cornerback, too. That is, if you do your homework and play your cards right, and that’s just what happened to allow the Dallas Cowboys to select Arkansas niche running back Felix Jones with their first of two first-round picks and yet still claim the cornerback they absolutely needed with the second of those picks, South Florida’s Mike Jenkins, who, depending on who you talked to, was either the team’s top-rated cornerback or second to only Leodis McKelvin, the first corner taken in this draft. Give them a hand.

Then again, we expected that they’d get a running back and a corner with those picks. And they reached for Jones. That Jenkins was still available was mostly luck — teams reaching to take linemen, mostly — but that they aggressively moved up three spots to make sure they got him was not. And he wouldn’t have been there are 28, so kudos on that.

Jennifer Floyd Engel is thinking more like me:

The Cowboys had a good draft Saturday, landing two players many had penciled in for them beforehand and happily so. The problem is they were sitting on the makings of a great draft.

Possibly as karmic restitution for participating in “Save a Thug” month, draft day had dropped a projected mid-teen player, the second-best running back in the draft in Illinois’ Rashard Mendenhall, into their laps at No. 22. And they passed on him because, and I am not making this up, they believe he is not as good of a backup as Felix Jones.

Owner Jerry Jones actually launched into a long explainer of his logic that, quite frankly, made me crazy. It went something like this: Felix is a better complement to Marion Barber and has experience being a No. 2 and, unfortunately for Mendenhall, his potential to be an every-down back also hurt him. “The reason there was a distinction is because one could be a full-time, 25-carry back, if you wanted him to,” Owner Jones said. “We don’t see Felix that way.” This, I think, was meant as a compliment.

It definitely was the deciding factor. And, really, why would the Cowboys want a potential 25-touch back with speed and power and wiggle when a part-time “wow” was available?

Indeed. I don’t get it.

Randy Galloway is just happy Jerry didn’t do anything crazy.

And what the Cowboys came away with in the first round Saturday — running back Felix Jones of Arkansas and cornerback Mike Jenkins of South Florida — were exactly the two positions Jerry had circled in early March. “Need” positions, by the way, but neither Felix Jones nor Jenkins was a reach, based on every mock draft in the country. Plus, going back seven weeks, Jerry indicated Felix was the Cowboys’ top RB choice at that time, based on the 22nd pick.


For mild controversy, the Cowboys found the right kind when it came time to pull the trigger on the 22nd pick. Felix Jones was there, as expected, but due to slippage, so was Rashard Mendenhall out of Illinois, who outranked Felix Jones on most draft boards. Two totally different RBs, for sure, with Felix the breakaway, speed threat and Mendenhall the Marion Barber type of bruiser. “Felix Jones gave us dimensions we didn’t have,” said coach Wade Phillips, who shared the draft-day podium with Jerry.

That’s more sellable than the backup mentality argument. Still, this reminds me too much of the days when the Cowboys were intentionally drafting backups in the mid-1990s. That just doesn’t make sense.

Clarence Hill agrees with Galloway, though, praising the Cowboys for sticking by their draft board.

Felix Jones was chosen over a generally higher-rated Rashard Mendenhall because he was the best fit for Dallas. The speedy Jones, who specializes in the big play and is an excellent kickoff returner, is considered the perfect complement to Pro Bowl running back Marion Barber.

Jerry Jones said Barber and Mendenhall are similar-styled backs while Felix Jones’ quickness gave the Cowboys a chance to add another dimension to the offense. “They were both right there on our draft board,” Jerry Jones said. “Barber allowed me to think about Felix and the advantages of his exceptional running ability, making-them-miss, open-field type running. That was influential to me.”

Said coach Wade Phillips: “Felix Jones gives you that dimension of an open-field, Marshall Faulk-type. He gave us that dimension we didn’t have. We had the same thing with both Mendenhall and Barber. This way you’ve got a little more versatility in your offense.”

It didn’t hurt that Felix Jones is used to sharing the load. He rushed for 1,162 yards last season, averaging 7.66 yards per carry while splitting time with Darren McFadden.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is in my corner, though.

You don’t draft a complementary player in the first round when you have an opportunity to select a franchise back. Ever. But that’s what the Cowboys did Saturday. It’s a decision Jerry Jones, Wade Phillips and whoever else helped make it will regret.

By drafting Felix Jones instead of Rashard Mendenhall, the Cowboys finished Day 1 of the NFL draft with a good haul instead of a phenomenal one after also selecting South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins and Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett.

Picking Jones over Mendenhall reminded me of the Cowboys’ ill-fated 1995 draft decision to pick a bunch of backups because their roster was so talented. As you would expect, Jerry vehemently disagrees with that notion.

In terms of Day 1 talent, this draft bares no comparison to the raggedy 1995 draft. It’s the approach I hate.

Exactly right. And there’s this:

If Barber gets hurt, the Cowboys still don’t have a runner capable of carrying the ball 20 to 25 times until he returns. Or if the Cowboys can’t get a long-term contract done with Barber – the sides are nowhere close in contract negotiations – he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Now, Jerry has no leverage in those contract negotiations.

Jerry doesn’t care about any of that. Jerry said the Cowboys had Jones and Mendenhall rated virtually even. “I don’t want to get into which was the highest rated,” Jerry said. “I don’t want to do that.” Trust me, that means Mendenhall was rated higher, which is one more reason Jerry should’ve trusted the draft board and taken Mendenhall.

“We did not look at our decision to get a running back as a backup decision,” Jerry said. “We looked at the position as though we needed two backs to do the job at running back. We don’t view that as getting a backup.”

You’re the only one, Jerry. And JJT’s right: There’s no guarantee Barber will be around forever.

ESPN’s John Clayton declares the Cowboys among the day’s five Winners:

5. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys wanted a running back and a cornerback at the top of the draft. They ended up getting more than that. Felix Jones is a perfect back to augment Marion Barber, a physical back who tends to wear down. Jones can be physical, but he’s also a receiving threat out of the backfield. Cornerback Mike Jenkins was a bonus. Most teams expected Jenkins to go in the top 20, but the Cowboys were able to trade up to get him at No. 25. Now they have Terence Newman, Anthony Henry, Jenkins and Pacman Jones, if he’s reinstated. A once-thin position is now deep.

There’s no doubt that the two first round picks improved the team. Hell, they should. The question is whether they could have improved it more given the players who fell to them. I’d argue they could.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 2 #54 – Miami Dolphins – QB Chad Henne

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Miami Dolphins gambled that they’d be able to find a quality quarterback late in the 2nd round. It appears to have paid off, as they got the last of the top rated QBs in the class, Michigan‘s Chad Henne, who some think is the best of the bunch.

Scouts, Inc.: 27

Strengths: A thickly built, strong and tough QB. He can be very effective when he has time to throw. Shows the ability to lead his receivers and also knows when to change up velocity. Shows outstanding touch, timing and accuracy on vertical throws. Throws a very catchable ball but also has good overall arm strength. Arm is not elite, but he certainly can make all the necessary throws. Shows good zip on deep out and can fit the ball into some tight windows on intermediate throws between the hashes. Does a good job of reading coverage while dropping back. Keeps the ball high and generally displays good footwork. Not a great athlete but he does get set quickly and has adequate straight-line speed. He is at his best when given time to set up, make reads and step into his throws. Does a great job of selling fakes and is very comfortable working the play-action game. Excellent experience as a four-year starter at highest level. One of the most intelligent prospects in his class. Very hard worker; a film rat. Understands defenses and has made sound decisions throughout his career. Displayed great toughness senior year. Has a warriors’ mentality as he played through a popped out shoulder on multiple occasions during senior season.

Weaknesses: Overall mobility and athleticism are poor. His production is severely hindered when you flush him out of the pocket and force him to make plays on the move. He will never be a running threat. Height is adequate but not ideal. Has some trouble finding passing windows at times. Still improving in terms of overall decision making. Has cut down on key errors but still too streaky in that department. Pressure brings out the worst in him. While he does have good footwork when set, he needs to avoid getting sloppy when on the move. He has a tendency to throw off his back foot when rolling out or when coming off the play-fake, which takes away from his accuracy and velocity. He still needs to learn when to throw the ball away or take the sack rather than throwing the ball up for grabs (see: 1st quarter INT vs. ND in 2006). Release could be more compact, as he tends to drop down and wind-up a bit on longer throws. Durability only became an issue as a senior in 2007.

Overall: In four years at Michigan (2004-’07), Henne started every game in which he played (47). He set school career marks in completions (828), attempts (1,387), passing yards (9,715) and passing touchdowns (87). He has also rushed for three career touchdowns. Despite missing three games as a senior (leg and shoulder injuries), Henne passed for 1,938 yards and 17 touchdowns in just 10 games. In addition to good size and arm strength, Henne brings to the table rare experience as a four-year starting quarterback at Michigan. He’s not the type of quarterback that can carry a team but he does an excellent job of managing games and distributing the ball to his playmakers. He was considered the most durable quarterback in the senior class prior to the 2007 season. However, knee and shoulder injuries have caused him to miss significant time. Henne is the type of quarterback that will shine in pre-draft workouts because he is such a gifted natural passer when he can set his feet and throw unhurried. However, his lack of mobility and erratic decision-making skills when under pressure are legitimate concerns in our opinion. Henne should come off the board in the second round of the upcoming draft. His intangibles, toughness and work ethic will allow him to overcome some physical limitations but his NFL career could be defined by how much he can improve his feet over the next few years.

Rick Gosselin: 25

So, the Dolphins got a quarterback with a 1st round value deep in the 2nd. Bill Parcells is having an amazing offseason thus far, at least on paper. Then again, as a Cowboys fan who watched him take first day bust after first day bust, I’ll wait and see whether these guys pan out.


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