Tuesday, May 01, 2007

2007 NFL Draft Moves that Didn't Make Sense

The top of the first round didn’ t live up to the hype. The swirling rumors of multiple team trades and top three upheaval never happened. The first eight picks went by and the only eyebrow raisers were Brady Quinn’s notable descent, and Adrian Peterson falling out of the top five. But, even those weren’t too crazy. Peterson was still taken in the top ten and surely the Dolphins, with huge questions at quarterback would take the highly touted Notre Dame quarterback off of the board.

Then, with the ninth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. My jaw hit the floor. Is Cam Cameron much more comfortable with Daunte Culpepper or Cleo Lemon than ANYONE could possibly believe?

I have said in the past that if anyone can bring Culpepper back to top form, a guru like Cameron can. But Cameron likes his quarterback to be quick, confident, decision makers. Culpepper hasn’t made a quick decision since Randy Moss exited Minnesota. However, talk of Cameron being disenchanted with Culpepper had to be premature. Given the status of Culpepper’s rehab, Cameron has yet to see Culpepper in action - at least from the perspective as Culpepper’s head coach.

And what of Cleo Lemon? Sure, Cameron made no secret that he liked the kid when the two were in San Diego. But does he have enough confidence in a kid who’s yet to prove anything on the field that he would pass up a top prospect like Quinn?

The passing up of Brady Quinn aside, why Ginn, Jr.? Forget for the moment that the Dolphins have issues at quarterback. Forget the question of drafting a receiver when you have no one to deliver the football. Look at the Ginn selection in its own right. The Dolphins selected a receiver who shows inconsistency catching the football and will likely be nothing more than a replacement for Wes Welker in the return game. Sure the return game is important and Ginn Jr. has the potential to be an even better returner than Welker but do you address the return game with a TOP TEN PICK? The Dolphins weren’t so stacked that they had no other needs that could have been addressed here. I certainly can't believe that they passed up a player who would touch the ball on every offensive down for one that would probably only touch the ball around 7 times a game.

Thirteen picks later, the Dallas Cowboys take advantage of how the Mighty Quinn hath fallen and engineer a trade with Cleveland. The Cowboys take the #36 overall (4th pick of round 2) in this year’s draft and Cleveland’s first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft to allow the Browns to grab Quinn at 22 before the Kansas City Chiefs have a chance to take the clock at 23. Dallas appears to have made off like bandits with no immediately pressing needs. But then the Cowboys negate the move by handing the #36 overall pick they wrangled from Cleveland to division rival Philadelphia along with their 3rd and 5th round picks to move back into the first round and take Perdue defensive end Anthony Spencer.

Now, Anthony Spencer is a great player who is NFL-ready. He’s got the tools and the ability to make an immediate impact at outside linebacker in Dallas’ 3-4 defense or at defensive end in their 4-3 nickel set. I recognize this. But did Dallas really need to trade away THREE picks for a player at a position where they are already very strong? With DeMarcus Ware, Greg Ellis, Kevin Burnette and Bobby Carpenter all playing well at outside linebacker and Ellis, Ware, and Burnette already great options in nickel, why did Dallas give up so much? If Dallas had an absolute NEED to get back into the first round, you’d think they would at least address positions where they had questions or lack of reliable depth. Auburn guard Ben Grubbs, Central Michigan tackle Joe Staley, Texas tackle Justin Blalock and Arkansas Guard Tony Ugoh all come to mind. Blalock and Ugoh were all available when Dallas would have picked at #36.

Dallas got a great player in Spencer. Dallas did a pretty good job with the picks they had left overall. But that trade back into the first round to take a player in a position that they did not have need surprised me.

Speaking of the #36 overall pick … Kevin Kolb? Kolb was a four-year starter at the University of Houston. He has a strong arm and is very intelligent. I don’t know that he was the best value for the Eagles who have Donovan McNabb and just resigned back up AJ Feely. Even if they wanted to start grooming a player for life after McNabb, Michigan State’s Drew Stanton, Stanford’s Trent Edwards, even BYU’s John Beck and Ohio State’s Troy Smith were still available.

But the Eagles overall draft - as always with Andy Reid at the helm - was very good. Taking Penn State running back Tony Hunt in the third round was an absolute steal. Hunt will be a perfect compliment to Westbrook. I just thought the selection of Kolb - not because he is not good - that high was perplexing.

Quite possibly the second biggest reach, right behind the Dolphins taking Ginn Jr., was the selection of Arizona running back Chris Henry by the Tennessee Titans in the second round. Obviously banking on Henry’s smokin’ time in the 40 yard dash at the combine, the Titans grabbed him to give underachieving LenDale White a run for his money. The Titans allowed Travis Henry and Chris Brown to exit via free agency.

The problem I had with this pick in the second round wasn’t because the Titans didn’t need a running back. But with Tony Hunt and even Rutger’s Brian Leonard still on the board, they had guys they could have picked who had actually carried the load at running back. Henry didn’t get much playing time at all his first three season. His senior year, off-the field issues resulted in a suspension. He didn’t actually start a game his entire NCAA career until the final four games of his senior season. Hunt carried the load at Penn State showing he could move the pile, had excellent hands, and while he didn’t exhibit Henry’s blazing speed, his 4.57 40 time is good enough. Leonard has sub 4.5 speed and has shown the ability to be a tailback and fullback. Henry was a risk in the second round that I did not expect any team to undertake. I am especially surprised that the Titans overlooked his off the field issues given recent events surrounding Titans CB Adam "Pacman" Jones.

Gator LB Brandon Siler, Auburn CB David Irons Among 2007 NFL Draft Late Round Steals.

Anyone can say Louisville RB Michael Bush and Ohio State QB Troy Smith were second day steals. Let’s take a look at some of the prospects that dropped to the final two rounds, and one that went undrafted.

Brandon Siler, a 6′2″, 238 pound linebacker from the NCAA National Champion University of Florida was easily the steal of round seven by the San Diego Chargers. Siler is fast and agile with 4.59 speed. He has fluid hips, flows to the ball well, can knife through gaps to stop the run and drop into coverage. The only knock on Siler is that he sometimes has trouble shedding blocks. He will sometimes try to avoid bigger blockers instead of taking them on and shedding them. With his speed and tremendous work ethic, Siler’s fall to the seventh round is more incredible than Brady Quinn’s drop to the 22nd overall. Siler was picked 240th overall (30th pick of round seven).

Auburn CB David Irons got much less hype than his brother, Auburn running back Kenny Irons. But at the senior bowl, David Irons’ nose for the ball and flat out speed popped a lot of eyes. He showed that he could excel against very good receivers in bump and run and zone coverage. He picked up schemes well and had a knack for finding the ball. At 194th (29th pick of round 6) overall to Atlanta, Irons is a great deal.

Oklahoma linebacker Rufus Alexander was taken by Minnesota 174th (2nd in the 6th round). Alexander is agile and rangy. Possessing 4.62 speed at 6′1″, 227 pounds, Alexander has a knack for being in the right place on the field to make plays. He plays hard against the run but is a bit undersized. He is a bullying pass defender with game speed that surpasses his 40 time.

Undrafted Notre Dame running back Darrius Walker should make a roster somewhere. at 5′10″ 212 Walker isn’t quite big enough to be a mauler but lacks the elite burst and break away speed that would make him a feature back. However, in today’s era of the short yardage specialist, Walker will make a perfect compliment to a team like Tampa Bay who will lose Mike Alstott to retirement sometime soon.