Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Draft Recap
By Ben Valentine

One of the reason people love sports is because it’s unpredictable by its nature.

At 5:30 PM Friday night, Zach, Bryan and I ran down numerous draft possibilities for a bunch of teams in the top ten. We thought we had a pretty good grasp on what was going on. Zach even mentioned he wasn’t going to watch the draft on Saturday, figuring nothing of note with happen.

Then by 9:30 PM, we realized we knew a little less then we thought we did.

But to be fair, it turns out most people did. Everyone in America had assumed Reggie Bush would be the number one pick, so when the Texans went with NC State defensive end Mario Williams, there wasn’t one mock draft in the country that had a shot at being right. It changed everything and suddenly, the top ten and the rest of the draft got a lot more interesting. See what happens when you assume?

Meanwhile, the other big surprise, at least around here, was the support from Jets fans over the club’s first two selections; Virginia tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Ohio State center Nick Mangold. Most expected a chorus of boos to rain down when the Jets passed on Leinart and later LenDale White, but instead, the majority of fans applauded the moves to solidify the line.

The Jets front office made the right decision with their first two selections. A solid offensive line can cover up a lot of ills. Even Patrick Ramsey can be an effective starter if he has all day to look over a defense. And look what having a great offensive line has done for the no name running backs that make their residence in Denver. It would be foolish to think this will happen right away, but when the Jets hope to compete again in 2007 or 2008, the success of their offense will largely have to do with the play of Ferguson and Mangold.

As for the rest of the draft, I’m not sure what there is to say. I mentioned Kellen Clemens as a potential value pick, but I’m not sure if that tag fits considering the Jets used a second rounder on him. It’s hard to project what he’ll do at the pro level, though many seem to be high on him. At least he’ll have time to sit and learn the pro offense this season. With Chad Pennington and Ramsey both on roster it’s likely Clemens will not see any action under center this season. In fact, there’s probably a better chance that fourth round selection Brad Smith throws a pass before Clemens does in an actual NFL game.

Of course, I say that after a season where the Jets were on to their third starting quarterback by Week four, so one never knows.

I’ve seen mixed reviews on Anthony Schlegel, the linebacker from Ohio State, and the day two picks are always crap shoots just to make the team out of camp. That being said, the first round alone makes it a good draft for the Jets as it stands now and with an added bonus of getting the Redskins’ second rounder for next year, all and all it looks like the first Tannenbaum/Mangini draft was a success.

Other draft thoughts:

-The Texans are idiots; not because they passed on Reggie Bush, but because they took Mario Williams and not Ferguson. Williams is one of those players who entices people because of his raw ability but has never been able to put it together to dominate on the field. Could he be a great player? Sure, but it’s no certainty. Ferguson, is no means a sure thing, but he was a safer pick in a position of greater need. I do happen to like Eric Winston, their third round selection at tackle from Miami, but he fell into the third round for a reason. Expect David Carr to spend a lot more time on his back next season.

-I don’t care what reviewers are saying about Vernon Davis; David is 100% right. A tight end isn’t worth spending a high draft pick on when you’re as inept on offense as the Niners are. I can’t think of a tight end in the last ten years that was the focal point or main weapon of his team on offense. Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and even going back seven years with Shannon Sharpe all had arguably the best back in the league on their team. The Niners needed someone to block for Alex Smith and Frank Gore. They could have used an actual wide receiver to go with the QB/WR hybrids they seem intent on using now. But they didn’t so expect the Niners to be one of the worst teams in the NFL again.

-As a gimmick, the Niners should consider lining up former college QBs Cody Pickett, Arnaz Battle, Rasheed Marshall and Michael Robinson on the field at the same time. Put two in the backfield with Alex Smith and spread the other two out wide. Seriously, the number of trick plays that could be run is absolutely endless.

- Matt Leinart may have cost himself some money in the immediate future by choosing to remain in school for another year, but he’s going to clean up down the road. With Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin along with Edgerrin James in Dennis Green’s pass happy offense, Leinart will probably be among the league leaders in yards passing and passing TDs for years to come when he finally gets the job from Kurt Warner. Plus, while the Cards might be the worst franchise in sports historically, even they’ve got more of an upside nowadays than the Niners, who would have made Leinart their number one pick last year.

-1st round Pick that I liked: Leinart to the Cardinals- I know I said they needed to address the line, but Leinart is the perfect fit for that offense; an efficient QB with a good enough arm to get the ball to those talented receivers. The Cardinals really had a great draft. They won’t challenge the Seahawks next year, but they should be respectable and might just be able to sneak into the back door of the NFC’s playoffs.

-1st round Pick that made me scratch my head: Donte Whitner, SS, Buffalo Bills- Everyone knew the Bills needed a defensive tackle, and they got one; by trading up a bunch of spots to get John McCargo at the end of the first round. (As Zach pointed out, the third player off the dominating 6-5 NC State D-line to go in the first round) However the Bills could have drafted a DT like Haloti Ngata or Brodrick Bunkley at #8 and then gone defensive back later. Or they could have traded down with a team like Denver that wanted a QB like Culter or Leinart and probably still gotten Whitner (or one of the DTs if Whitner was gone)The defensive backfield was a lot deeper in this draft than defensive tackle but the Bills drafted as if the situation was reversed.

So that’s the short recap. We’ll see in a few years whether our initial thoughts were right or whether this draft really was one from start to finish where we didn’t know as much as we thought we did. And as this draft weekend fades into the history books, one question has now jumped into the minds of dedicated football fans everywhere.

If Marcus Vick and Ricky Williams both end up playing for the Montreal Alouettes, does that guarantee a CFL championship for them next year?


Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said...

I think your Denver anology is spot on. Offensive line has been a priority for them and it has helped turn good running backs into great ones and a poor to fair quarterback (Plummer) into an above average QB. The Jets made the right decision by going O-line in the draft.

11:47 AM  

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