Archive for April 30, 2009

NFL Draft Review – Quarterbacks

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

The NFL Draft is behind us.  Let’s check out the players and where they landed.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Did the Lions select Stafford because they believe he is a franchise Quarterback or did they take him to justify the price tag that comes with the number one pick?  Probably a little bit of both.  The NFL is a copycat league and the Lions saw what Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco did for the Falcons and Ravens respectively.  Of course, Cleveland had success two years ago when they took Joe Thomas early and Miami did the same last year with Jake Long.  The Tackles in this draft weren’t rated as high as Thomas or Long though.  Aaron Curry, perhaps the best defensive player in the draft, ultimately wasn’t look at as a #1 type player.  Stafford does have some things going for him.  He has a big, strong arm and the Lions’ possess one of the game’s best WRs in Calvin Johnson.  He doesn’t have to come in and play right away either as Daunte Culpepper is the starter for the moment.  Will he eventually get some snaps?  No doubt.  Finally, the expectation level won’t be there.  Yeah, he’s the number one pick, but when your team fails to win a game the previous year, the burden to win is delayed a couple years.  If Stafford comes in late in the year and wins a couple games, the pressure will build for 2010, but that would be a good problem for Stafford and Lions’ fans. 

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
The Jets made a bunch of moves the past two offseasons to win now.  Ultimately it cost Eric Mangini his job.  The Jets pretty much abandoned the draft this year, but they did come away with a potential franchise Quarterback in Sanchez.  He has a great personality and the big stage of New York shouldn’t be a problem after playing “semi-pro” ball at USC.  I would have liked to see them add a WR, but Sanchez will have plenty of weapons in Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey, Dustin Keller, Thomas Jones, Leon Washington and the recently acquired Shonn Greene.  Sanchez should be given the opportunity to win the job right away as Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff, and Erik Ainge aren’t very seasoned. Read more

NFL Draft, A Brief Look Back

by Matt Soltysiak

The NFL draft never plays out exactly how most envision.  Last weekend, was no exception.  The Detroit Lions did sign Matthew Stafford the night before, making him the highest paid number one pick in the history of the draft.  Some don’t agree with this pick, but it was no real surprise. 

Offensive Tackle Jason Smith went second and Kansas City surprised a few by picking Defensive End Tyson Jackson third.  That allowed Seattle to replace linebacker Julian Peterson (they traded him to Detroit this off season) with Aaron Curry.  At number five New York made the biggest move of the draft.  Cleveland traded out and the Jets landed Quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Now I’m not one to pick which teams are the winners and losers of the draft because you really won’t have a good idea until a couple years from now.  Some individual players do come to mind as winners.  Darrius Heyward-Bey and Michael Mitchell both went much higher than expected, so each will likely get a bit more money than they were originally expecting.  So they both won.  Some might say Michael Crabtree was a loser because he fell to 10 and another receiver went in front of him, but he still went in the top 10!  So I don’t agree.  Another player that dropped is USC linebacker Rey Maualuga.  He fell from a mid-first round pick to the 2nd.

Without passing too much judgment, here are some other random observations from the draft:

  • Did Denver really take a running back at number 12 overall when they signed 3 free agent backs this offseason? Read more

NFL Draft Thoughts

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

1.  There will be more trades involving established players.  The sagging economy will rear its ugly head as less profitable teams will attempt to unload their undesirable contracts.  Look for teams like Jacksonville and Buffalo to try and trade down so they aren’t stuck with the burden of the #8 and #11 salary slots.  Denver, Washington, and the Jets are likely candidates to move up.  Seattle could slide down if they wanted to go Running Back.
2.  The Saints would be foolish to use their #14 pick on Beanie Wells or Knowshon Moreno.  I know Reggie Bush can’t handle the load by himself, but let’s not forget that Pierre Thomas had a solid season for the Saints.  Besides, it wasn’t the Offense that failed the team.  They would be remiss if they didn’t go Defense.
3.  Offensive Tackles will go early and often.  This isn’t news.  I just want to reiterate the importance of good Offensive Line play.  QB, RB, and WR are sexier picks, but games are won in the trenches.  Last year there were eight Tackles taken in the first round.  This year there will be five or six.  Economics factors in here as well.  With all the guaranteed money these unproven players make, Offensive Tackles are probably the safest picks. Read more

NFL Mock Draft – Version 2

by Matt Soltysiak & Eric Stashin

We are less than two days shy of the NFL draft and there are certainly plenty of rumors making the rounds, as well as a few transactions since our original mock draft.  Let’s take a look at how things have changed.

1. Detroit – QB, Matthew Stafford/Georgia. This is by far the most popular pick, unless you’re a Detroit Lions fan.  Fans were chanting “draft Curry” at the teams logo party and it seems an offensive line is needed to protect any QB they put back there.  Still, it seems the Lions are close to negotiating a deal with Mr. Stafford.

2. St. Louis – OT, Jason Smith/Baylor. The Rams find themselves with needs at left tackle and wide receiver.  While Crabtree could be tempting here, they need to replace Orlando Pace and protect their QB.  Smith is their man.

3. Kansas City – LB, Aaron Curry/Wake Forest. The Chiefs defense was near the bottom of the league last year, only one team gave up more yards.  Curry is possibly the most talented player in the draft.  He’ll make an immediate impact on the KC defense.

4. Seattle – OT, Eugene Monroe/Virginia. The addition of TJ Houshmandzadeh means the Seahawks can pass on a WR.  While some have Sanchez going here, Monroe improves an offensive line that needs some help.

5. Cleveland – WR, Michael Crabtree/Texas Tech. The Browns traded away Kellen Winslow Jr. and Donte Stallworth has legal issues.  Cleveland needs to add an offensive weapon and Michael Crabtree could make a great target for the Browns’ starting QB. Read more

Tony Gonzalez Lands in Atlanta

by Matt Soltysiak

Many draft experts expected the Falcons to select Brandon Pettigrew in the NFL draft, but that no longer appears to be necessary.  The Chiefs traded Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta for a 2010 second round pick.

A quick look at the team he is leaving show that this definitely hurts KC.  Dwayne Bowe put up some good number last year (86 catches, 1022 yards and 7 td’s), but those digits were all second on the team to Tony Gonazlez.  Bowe could face more coverage this year and Matt Cassell lost a prime target.  That isn’t going to help Cassell’s transition to his new team.  Kansas City is a work in progress and everyone on this team is a fantasy gamble. Read more

NFL Draft Preview – Percy Harvin

by Ryan Lester

Percy is perhaps the most versatile player available in the draft.  He caught 133 passes for 1929 yards and 13 TDs.  He ran for 1851 yards and 19 TDs on 194 carries.  I’m just a little skeptical that it can translate at the next level.  Sure, he’ll have his moments and be electric when he’s healthy, but I see him missing a couple games each year.  He has a knack for the big stage.  Check out his bowl game performances:

- 2006 BCS Championship vs. Ohio State:  9 catches, 60 yards, 5 rushes, 22 yards, TD
- 2007 Capital One vs. Michigan:  9 catches, 77 yards, TD, 13 carries, 165 yards, TD
- 2008 BCS Championship vs. Oklahoma:  5 catches, 49 yards, 9 carries, 121 yards, TDHe is a smaller WR at 5?11?, 195 Lbs, but he makes up for it with his speed (4.39 forty), quickness, and elusiveness.  His ability has never been the question though.  Besided durability concerns, Harvin comes with some baggage.  Accoring to ProFootball he failed a drug test.  There have also been character concerns.  Teams don’t want to deal with Wide Re-Divas and their “me first” mentality.  Not to mention the track record of Gator Receivers.  Ultimately his talent will be too much to resist, but his stock has definitely been dropping. Read more

Holt signs with Jacksonville

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

ESPN is reporting that Torry Holt has agreed to a three-year contract with the Jacksonville Jagaurs.  The contract has accelerators that will pay him more if he performs well. 

The move is great for Jacksonville and QB David Garrard.  His top target, Matt “Crackman” Jones was cut because he couldn’t stay clean and sober.  Reggie Williams also had run-ins with the law and won’t return.  Jacksonville will still have to address the position in the upcoming NFL Draft because the cupboard is pretty bare and Holt, at 32, is not a long-term answer.

Holt’s fantasy value takes a hit as he joins a team with a Run First mentality.  If his knee holds up though, they still can produce decent fantasy wideouts.  When he played last year, Crackman was solid.  Same with Reggie Williams a couple years ago.  Holt’s other primary choice was Tennessee, which is pretty much the same smell.  Heavy on the run, heavy on the D.

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NFL Draft Preview – Jeremy Maclin

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin followed up a terrific Freshman season (80 catches, 1055 yards, 9 TDs, 375 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs) with an even better Sophomore season (102 catches, 1260 yards, 13 TDs, 293 rushing yards, 2 TDs).  He was also an accomplished return man taking five returns (3 punt returns, 2 kickoff returns) to the house.  Maclin isn’t a big target (6?0?, 198 Lbs), but he does possess outstanding speed (4.43 forty) and versatility.  He should be able to make an immediate impact as a slot receiver before eventually becoming a primary threat at the next level.  The goal is to get him in space so he can use his speed and quickness to his advantage.  He will run some reverses and make his mark in the return game.  There is a pretty wide range of speculation as to where he’ll end up.  Jacksonville with the 8th pick seems to make a lot of sense to me. Read more

NFL Draft Preview – Michael Crabtree

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

Michael Crabtree put together one of the finest two-year stretches in NCAA history.  As a Freshman at Texas Tech he caught an amazing 134 passes for 1962 yards and 22 TDs.  Last year he grabbed 97 passes for 1165 yards and 19 TDs.  He caught at least a TD pass in 21 of 26 games with 13 multiple TD games.  He had 100+ yards in 15 games.  He is the only player to win the Fred Biletnikoff Award as a Freshman.  He actually won it both years.

Crabtree has good size at 6?2?, 215 Lbs.  A stress fracture in his foot kept him from showing his speed at the combine and his Pro Day, but he hasn’t slid down too many draft boards.  Speed isn’t everything.  Crabtree has displayed the necessary skills to be a successful receiver.’s Frank Cooney sums it up best by saying “Crabtree understands the nuances that most players take years to hone. His combination of abilities and instincts is shocking and reminiscent of Larry Fitzgerald – including start-stop, body control, hand-eye coordination, positioning, aggressive run-after-catch and some that defy description. And all this talent comes in a wide receiver who has a great team attitude. He may not impress with his clock time in 40 yards. But neither did Fitzgerald or Jerry Rice.”  Talk about high praise. If I had to guess where Crabtree would end up, I’d say Cleveland at this point.  Braylon Edwards appears to be on his way out and Donte Stallworth could miss time to suspenson/jail time. Read more

NFL Draft Preview – Shonn Greene

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

I continue my NFL Draft Previe with a look at Iowa RB Shonn Greene.  Shonn came out of nowhere after not playing in 2007 for academic reason and having 69 carries in 2005 & 2006.  He had 1850 yards and 20 TDs on 307 carries (6.0 ypg), and ran for over 100 yards every game this season and scored in all but one.  He was a beast down the stretch with 14 TDs in his last six games, including three in the Outback Bowl win over South Carolina.  

Greene is a thick back, measuring in at 5?11?, 235 Lbs.  His forty time at the Combine left plenty to be desired at 4.62, but he lowered it to 4.50 at his Pro Day.  He is pretty much a one-dimensional RB as he caught just eight passes last year.  He is capable of breaking tackles and is one of the better power runners in the draft.  He has good patience allowing the holes to develop.  I’m not sure he’s electric enough to be an every down back, but he should be good in short-yardage situations. Read more