by Scott Benson
It’s Draft Eve, and I’ve come to hang my stocking by the chimney with care.
But first…..do you think Roger Goodell will one day be the worst commissioner in the history of professional sports, or do you think he already is? I don’t want to go off on a rant here, but come on, this week they reach a deal with G. Gordon Walsh? Like the draft would have been ruined by a supposed dark cloud hovering over the league? Come on. That’s only if you give quarter to the Peter King Family, aka the mainstream NFL media, the fussbudget bastards. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the dark cloud hanging over the league, considering Walsh is most probably going to present them all with “not much” in a couple of weeks. Anyway, point is that once that first pick goes off on Saturday, nobody gives a squat about Walk Through-gate. Other than ESPN, I mean.
Goodell makes me very nervous, as someone who bought the NFL Films sales pitch a long time ago. I mean, Pete Rozelle would have handled that dust up over that camera with a couple of well placed phone calls on Monday morning. He wouldn’t even have been late for lunch. The current guy is still holding press briefings eight months later like he’s Chuck Heston at a NRA rally. When pick 31 comes up on the board on Saturday, is he going to walk up there and remind people he stripped it away? Maybe bump chests with Chris Mortensen? Criminy.
So, as I was about to say, I’ve got these draft boards.
I’ve mentioned before – something about the NFL Draft makes me want to make lists. So in the course of my extensive draft readings over the last two months (you know, in my study, fireplace going, brandy, ascot), I took note of the guys who seemed to have the characteristics the Patriots seem to value in their draft picks, seemingly. I guess what I’m saying is that I cannot emphasize the word ‘seem’ enough.
Between you and me, I’d prefer that you look at the chart horizontally before vertically. As you’ll see, the seven rounds are represented, and players are slotted in by round. If you look at the chart top down, you’ll see the players by position, by round. The first chart we’ll look at will be offense, and the defense will follow.
It’s a guess. The players picked were chosen as a matter of personal taste and my limited understanding of what the Pats may be trying to do. The rounds are an even looser guess, recognizing that many of the players will be choosen earlier than I have them here. The idea was to approximate where the Pats may be in the position to draft them, and even then, you have to account for possible trades.
Yeah, it’s futile. I know. But this is the way I look at it; so what?
Here’s my offensive guys. Don’t blame them.
If you’d rather look at the chart without scrolling, click here.
Summary: Why are all these offensive players on my draft board? I’m like Matt Millen over here. Generally, I looked for quarterbacks who were said to have good size, smarts, poise and the requisite physical tools. Still, aside from Henne, they’re all developmental guys. For runners, I looked for quick receiver types, but I’m also a sucker for a good running back story. Hence the mixture of bruisers like Mendenhall and Stewart, and productive all-around types like the mid-round group of Choice, Rice and Hart. At the receiver position, Sweed stuck out as a highly skilled worker with good makeup, and after that, it’s all quick waterbugs with good feel for the slot and kick returns, with Dexter Jackson rising to the top. At tight end, the thought was two-fold; potential starter-types early, and versatile do-everything guys with heft later on. As with all the linemen, we’re looking for brawn, brains, athleticism and toughness. It’s hard to resist the thought of tossing the sizable and athletic Albert in the Pats o-line mix, where he could compete for a starting job in a number of positions (how about right guard?). Cherilus could battle for the right tackle spot right away. One wag compared Greco (Nick Kaczur’s successor at Toledo) to Logan Mankins, and he’s been on the list ever since. Yes, this has been a very scientific process. The rest of the list is a mix of take-a-shot developmental types (Cousins and Dunlap – come on, you have to draft a guy who calls himself King) and the usual multi-position suspects that would add depth. As you can tell, in a draft that’s supposed to be loaded with tackles, I went heavy with the guards (not a strength, evidently). I prefer to think of myself as a bold visionary unafraid to buck the trend, you know, like when Bill Tobin drafted Trev Alberts.
And now the defense.
Once again, the non-scroll version.
Summary: I think we’re all hoping that the Patriots don’t end up using the 7th pick tomorrow, given the visions of draft bounties dancing in our heads. So this chart is heavier in the middle rounds, where we hope New England will exercise multiple picks. I probably should have put Long in with the OLB’s (Vrabel vibe) as the rest of the column is filled with guys that seemed to fit as 3-4 ends. I’d love to see the Pats come away with a legit backup to Vince Wilfork, so here’s a few that may fit that bill. At OLB, I focused on college ends that will transition to situational pass rushers off the edge, though I also looked for some coverage potential and versatility as well, particularly at the bottom of the board. On the inside, priority one was the strength to shed blocks and fill inside, but Mayo rose to the top by offering athleticism as well. Next are the cornerbacks, where I looked for quickness over speed (though there’s some wicked 40 times in there) and awareness, as Pats corners work as part of a unit instead of out on an island. I’ll say it now; nearly every one of these guys is slotted too late (Flowers, for example, could go in the first), and it’s because I didn’t have enough room to put them all at the top of the board. Keep an eye on Godfrey and Castille too; both are listed in some publications as safeties, but they may fit better as corners in New England. Last but not least, there’s a small handful of in-the-box safeties with enough athleticism to handle some coverage responsibilities too.
That’s it for today. Tomorrow morning, the Roundtable guys will be here with some pre-draft thoughts, and of course, I’ll be here throughout the day as the first two rounds unfold. Bottom line: it should be a hell of a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it.