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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

ESPN's Experts' Mock First Round in the NFL Draft

Click here and read it for yourself.

I'll admit I'm a draft junkie, I read stuff on ESPN's "Insider" and I bought a magazine about draft prospects. Suffice it to say that the information in that publication, while helpful, is almost out of date when you buy it. Why? Because the market for players changes from day to day.

The only team I've followed closely is the Philadelphia Eagles. My guess, right now, is that they'll take one of two safeties in the first round, either Reggie Nelson of Florida or Michael Griffin of Texas, both of whom should challenge Sean Considine for the starting strong safety role and probably would beat him out. The ESPN experts, save one, all have the Birds picking a linebacker, somewhat forgetting that they did trade for Takeo Spikes and have promising second-year player Omar Gaither returning (yes, Matt McCoy was a disappointment, Jeremiah Trotter has perhaps one season left, Shawn Barber has moved on and Dhani Jones drives us all nuts). I don't think that Lawrence Timmons of FSU will be available when they select (he had a bad combine and measured much shorter than people thought), and I'm not sure that Florida LB Jon Beason will be available, either (he has risen in recent weeks, even though many publications written several weeks ago had him going in the second round). Michigan LB David Harris isn't a first-rounder, and I'm not sure that Texas CB Aaron Ross will be available when the Eagles pick at #26 either. I also don't think that the Eagles really will draft a CB this early, as it's not as much of a position of need as safety or linebacker. I also think that the Eagles, with their second-round pick, might nab a linebacker such as Harris or Florida's Brandon Siler, a tough hitter. But what do I know?

Football's the one sport that the average fan knows much less about than, say, basketball or baseball. It's more complicated, some players can't pick up schemes, others have a flaw -- speed, the ability to go backward, the ability to catch the ball -- that could be fatal to their team. Still, the way the market values players -- how some slip and some rise -- has always fascinated me. As have the fifth-rounders who become Pro Bowl players.

I'll just issue one word of caution -- teams that take physical specimens who really haven't performed up to their ability might be making a big mistake. Who's to say that the first-round talent who didn't produce well in college all of a sudden will turn it around against much tougher competition in the pros? And who fits that bill? (There's a defensive player who is projected to go in the first round who has fallen off Mel Kiper's Top 25 list).

Watch ESPN on draft day and find out.


Blogger Profane said...

The whole 'physical specimen' issue illustrates one of the principle differences between drafting in football and basketball. There are many players in basketball who are drafted, even in the first round, as conscious 'project players' who will not see front line duty for a year or two.

In the NFL, the inevitable injuries now neccessitate that even the practice squad players can expect to be called up, and contribute, on short notice. Drafted players are now expected to contribute immediately in multiple roles, meaning that the 'intangibles' that the vast majority of fans are not aware of become quite crucial.

I remember a couple years ago when the Patriots chose guard Logan Mankins in the first round. It came as a bit of a shock to the commentators, as he had been projected to go around 50th in the draft, as he was not the strongest, or quickest, or largest offensive lineman available at that point. He could, however, player at EITHER guard position, which made him gold.

9:04 PM  

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