Thursday, February 14, 2008

PHN Draft Preview: The Top 5

The big Tuna, now fishing for talent as as head of the Dolphins.

1) Miami Dophins

The War Room: The NFL's only one-win team comes in with a new GM (Parcells) and newly hired head coach Tony Sparano. Hoping to use multiple picks to fill their many holes and compete with the Patriots is the East, rebuilding this fanchise will be a tough task. The Dolphins do have two additional second round selections from trading away Wes Welker and Chris Chambers, so it's also possible that they go ahead a pick a franchise cornerstone type of player, and beef up on other positions in later rounds.

The Pick: Unless the rumored trade with the Cowboys involving Marion Barber and two first-rounders goes down, look for The Tuna to take 3-4 defensive end Chris Long out of the University of Virginia. With a his father Howie's work ethic and his "high motor" on the field, Chris has all the markings of a Bill Parecells type of player. But is drafting a rich man's Patrick Kerney/Grant Wistrom really worth the number one overall price tag that he will come with? Considering great pass rushers such as Michael Strahan, DeMarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman were drafted nowhere near the top five (Merriman and Ware were top 15 players, Strahan a second round pick), Parcells may have to question the value that he is getting with this pick. That being said, it seems that Long has very little potential to be a complete bust. And from a marketing standpoint he will take over recently released Zach Thomas' role as the "Belovedly-Scrappy-White-Guy on Defense."

The Potential Sleeper: If there's any other player the Phins will look at here, it's a potential long-term answer at left tackle in the form of Michigan's Jake Long.

2) St. Louis Rams

The War Room: What is head coach Scott Linehan REALLY trying to do here? He ostensibly brought the successful Vikings run-heavy, deep-passing offense in which Randy Moss and Duante Culpepper flourished, but he's only succeeded in compiling a losing record and more mileage on running back Stephen Jackson. American football is won on the front line, down in the trenches, and that's where the Rams need to start. It was the first overall selsection of Orlando Pace in 1997 that jumpstarted Dick Vermeil's juggernaut Rams that won a Super Bowl.

The Pick: Former first-round draft pick Alex Barron may still have potential to start at left tackle, at least for the 2008 season. But look for St. Louis to go defense and draft off-the-charts stud Sedrick Ellis, defensive tackle out of USC. With a pick this high, teams are looking to minimize risk, which is why they may avoid oft-injured LSU tackle Glenn Dorsey. Ellis will be able to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, but is more suited to a 4-3, which is something to consider once La'Roi Glover and Leonard Little eventually move on. It will also give them the flexibility to move Adam Carriker back outside if they so choose.

The Sleeper: Jake Long is again a possibility here, but a sleeper could be ouside linebacker and pass-rush specialist Vernon Gholston out of Ohio State.

The order of the following three teams will be selected by a coin toss, but we'll just go ahead and preview their selections anyways. The teams all have different needs, so it may pan out this way regardless of selection order.

3) Oakland Raiders

The War Room: With Al Davis still running the show, is there any reason to believe that the Radiers won't take the most hyped, athletically gifted, super-freak with their first pick?

The Pick: Darren McFadden, running back from Arkansas. This seems like the biggest no-brainer of the top five, as D-Mac has shown the ability to be explosive and tough in his college career.

The Sleeper: If the Raiders decide they are set at tailback with Justin Fargas and Dominic Rhodes, it wouldn't be a shock for WR Desean Jackson to be picked here. No doubt Davis took notice of his standout career at Cal, and he is the kind of speedy playmaker on the outside that Davis covets.

4) Atlanta Falcons

The War Room: With a new head coach and a recent barrage of roster cuts, the Falcons are in need of talent at just about every position on the football field. Mike Vick's incarceration leaves a gaping hole at quarterback.

The Pick: Seemingly another no brainer, as Boston College QB Matt Ryan has established himself as the top player at the position going into the Combine. Smart, accurate and relatively mobile, he should help to at least stabalize the position so the franchise can start filling their other needs.

The Sleeper: Brian Brohm from Louisville put up better numbers during his college career, but there are lingering questions reagarding offseason ACL surgery and whether or not his success in a pass-heavy offense will translate to the pros. But there's a chance Atlanta decides to pick the regional prospect with a slightly higher upside.

5) Kansas City Chiefs

The War Room: The Chiefs weren't the biggest disaster in the NFL last year, but they weren't all that far off either. The re-vamped offensive line couldn't block, the quarterback position was inconsistent at best and aging veterans with declining skills were plentiful on both sides of the ball. GM Carl Peterson is paying the price for not developing young players and infusing them into the roster, and Willie Roaf's retirement during the offseason was a huge blow.

The Pick: If Jake Long is available here, it would be a huge shock for the Chiefs to pass him up, even if they pick at #3 overall. By all accounts Long is a relentless run-blocker, something Kansas City needs to get Larry Johnson and their off-tackle running game untracked.

The Sleeper: With Ty Law and Patrick Surtain aging and mere shells of their former Pro-Bowl selves, the Chiefs will need to start loading up at conerback soon. Like, now. Leodis McKelvin out of Troy State dominated at a lower level of competition, but appears to have the physical tools to be the number one corner selected in the draft. His ability to double as a return man may make the Chiefs think twice about passing him up, since Dante Hall has moved on.

Hope everyone enjoys, and please let me know if there are any errors or idiotic statements here.

Coming up next, spotlight on quarterbacks...


Red said...

Wow Dave. Nice in depth analysis.

Dave H said...

"Hi, my name is Dave, and I'm a Draft-a-holic."