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In a Sports World Full of Egos, Aaron Curry Gets It

Published: April 20, 2009

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In this year’s NFL Draft, we have heard the stories of Percy Harvin’s positive drug test, alleged steroid use, Andre Smith’s questionable work habits, and countless other negative headlines.
Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry has sifted through it all and become my personal favorite player in this year’s draft, and I will cheer for him every Sunday as long as he is putting on a uniform.
Sure, the 6’2”, 254 pound body of solid linebacker muscle that can run 40 yards in 4.52 seconds helps my man-crush for Curry. His ability to play from anywhere at the linebacker position, regardless of scheme, is amazing, and his versatility makes him highly coveted and an almost-certain top five pick come Saturday.

He did nothing but produce like crazy for the Demon Deacons and has scouts raving about his potential. Think about it: Have you heard any negatives on Curry?

But that is hardly the reason why Curry has quickly become my favorite player in this year’s draft. In fact, it has nothing to do with what he has done on the field.

Today, I was sent an article on Aaron Curry and the special opportunity that he is giving a child who suffered from cancer. 12-year-old Bryce is currently a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and he is in remission after defeating his eight-month battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

On April 13, Curry visited Bryce in the hospital and was given a special tour of the hospital where Bryce stayed. Bryce showed him around many parts of the hospital, including where he was given chemotherapy, and also introduced him to many of the nurses and doctors that had helped Bryce during his battle.

Curry described the tour as powerful and a movie experience.

Wait just a second. A 12-year-old giving you a tour of a hospital was moving, says the future NFL linebacker?

That’s right everyone, Aaron Curry gets what this is all about. After the tour was over, Curry asked Byrce if he would join him at his table at the NFL Draft, something Bryce was clearly not expecting.

When asked why Curry had been so gracious towards Bryce, he talked about how important family has been to him throughout his life and success and how, when he was given his tour from Bryce, the doctors and nurses all seemed like family to Bryce.

I can personally relate to exactly what Curry is talking about. My brother, currently 14 years young, is a two-time cancer survivor and is currently getting ready to start high school.

He was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was four and given a 30 percent chance of survival, and last summer was diagnosed with leukemia and given a 25 percent chance of living.

Luke defied the odds, had the doctors calling his situation a “miracle”, and has inspired thousands of people all over the country that know of Luke’s situation, from cousins in California, to family friends in Iowa, and to uncles in Florida.

I can tell you from my own personal experience that Luke’s success in the hospital would not have been possible without two things—family and sports.

Just as Curry explained, the most important thing in the hospital is an upbeat spirit and a solid foundation of family backing the patient and always being there for them.

Luke was NEVER by himself, and every time I think about what my own mother and father went through, I get the chills thinking about how strong of people they are.

Luke knew multiple doctors and nurses by name and vice versa, and everyone who met Luke was touched and inspired.

Doctors became brothers when myself and my two other brothers could not be there, and nurses became sisters that seemingly could always put a smile on Luke’s face. We are still close with a good amount of the medical staff at the hospital.

The second, sports, was just about equally important. Being a Milwaukee sports fan, the rivalries that ensue between myself and my Cubs fan brother are conversations I would not change for the world.

Over the summer, when Luke was battling his second cancer stint, the Cubs and Brewers were deadlocked in a race for the National League Central Division crown, and every time I would visit Luke in the hospital, he would be sporting his customized “Lukudome” jersey (a spin on Fukudome) and watching the Cubs game, going nuts every time his hero Alfonso Soriano would do something to help out his beloved Cubbies.

His little jabs of asking how the Packers did last year would irritate me if it were anyone else, but the fact that I am able to have these conversations with my brother is something I will never take for granted, because I know how lucky I am to have him still here with me.

Now that my official tangent is over, I will get back to Curry and what he is doing with 12-year-old Bryce, who is also a huge football fan.

Bryce has never been to New York, and seemed in absolute shock when Curry asked him to sit at his table on Saturday. Curry understands what it means to be a superstar and to give back to the community.

His stardom and future successes will most likely be used on defense and shutting down running backs, but the way he sees it is that his ability to give back “is more gratifying than any touchdown or sack,” Curry said. “Being here helps me realize the role I play in the community—how I can impact the community.”

Yeah, sounds like this guy was questionable on his drug test. I think not.

While Bryce will not get to sit at Curry’s table for very long once the draft starts, the experience that Curry is sharing with his new-found tour guide and buddy is unbelievable, and it hits home in such a good way that this Packers fan would cheer for him even if he went to the Vikings.

I am not going to sit here and say we need more of these players and that the game is being tarnished because of guys like Terrell Owens and Tank Johnson.

The list goes on and on, which is exactly why I will not preach that. The point is that you can not get more of the players like Aaron Curry, on or off the field.

 


Drafting Zack Follett Could Add To Pittsburgh Steelers’ Elite Linebacking Corps

Published: April 20, 2009

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Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers easily had the best linebacking core in the NFL. With Larry Foote, two Pro Bowlers in James Farrior and James Harrison, and then two future Pro Bowlers in Lawrence Timmons and Lamarr Woodley, the Steelers were loaded.

They basically had five starting linebackers. But could they add even more quality linebackers through the draft? I mean, we have Bruce Davis, who was our third-round pick from last season who really did nothing last season. Now, I am not saying he will not develop—after all, it was one year—but why not bring in even more competition?

The player I am talking about is Zack Follett out of California. This is a mean linebacker who loves rushing the quarterback and has all of the physical tools one would need to succeed in the NFL. 

Follett would obviously not start over any of these linebackers, but could allow for the starters to get extra rest without the defense dropping off. I believe after watching tape on Zack that he could be a backup in all four linebacking spots. 

Now I know he is not a complete linebacker, thus he is projected in the fourth round, but for what the Steelers need, he could help out. 

Another linebacker that is intriguing is James Laurinitus. I know the Steelers would have to use their first round pick, but he reminds me of a Steeler we have now who is getting up there in age; I am of course talking about Farrior. 

Although Farrior is on the books for four more years, we do not know how well he ages. He could very well drop off next season. So I say let us get someone who is a smaller version of Farrior. Laurinitus would benefit from being a backup, for he would have to learn to pass rush better, but I think that with Laurinitus and Timmons in the middle there can be something special.

The Laurinitus part is all hypothetical, but the Follett part is far from. The Raiders and Steelers worked him out, but if he lands in Pittsburgh, getting another mean linebacker in the fourth round may be a luxury that could continue to put the linebacking unit in elite company.


The Case For John Parker Wilson

Published: April 20, 2009

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The post-Cutler era in Denver has begun. With 5 days until the draft a quarterback must be on the mind of rookie head coach Josh McDaniels.

So much so that it must drive him crazy. Whispers around the NFL have the Broncos moving up to get the much hyped Mark Sanchez from USC who has become the poster child of this year’s draft class.

I take a different perspective; a more conservative approach.

The sacrifice of ousting Jay Cutler for draft pick must go to re-shaping the worst defense in Denver Broncos history. With five picks in the first three rounds of the draft the Broncos have the potential to change the entire landscape of the defense for the next five years. 

So why should anyone be talking about drafting a first-round QB?

Good question and it’s one I can’t answer. I hope McDaniels has his thinking cap on come draft time cause if he doesn’t he wont have a job next year.

Denver needs a QB but they don’t need to take one in the first three rounds. They don’t even need to take one in the fourth or fifth. In the ”projected” sixth round there lies a hidden gem by the name of John Parker Wilson hailing from the University of Alabama.

Some of you have a pre-concieved notion that Wilson is soft, un-athletic, and can’t take a hit. When you search John Parker Wilson on YouTube.com the first video that comes up is LaRon Landry’s monster hit on Wilson in 2006.

What they don’t show you is the 121.53 passer rating his senior year as well as leading his Alabama squad to a 12-2 record. Now his stats aren’t Heisman worthy but he was a great starter at Alabama for three years and set almost every significant pass record throughout his tenure there. Straight up, the kid is a winner. 

Most “experts” have him being a 3rd rate QB that doesn’t posses the adequate athleticism to play the part of a starting QB but the growing trend around the NFL is to conform the QB to fit the coaches system. This is a kid you could shape and mold to whatever you wanted him to be.

And you don’t have to move up to get him.

He will sit patiently amongst the sixth and seventh rounders waiting for his opportunity to be the next franchise QB taken late in the draft. If Matt Cassel could do it then you better believe John Parker-Wilson could as well.               


Sheldon Brown Has Asked for New Contract, May Ask for a Trade from Eagles

Published: April 20, 2009

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Sheldon Brown has asked for a new contract. If he doesn’t get a new contract, he’ll ask to be traded.

This is terrible news and a potential disaster for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Overall, they have been having a successful offseason with key additions like Sean Jones, Leonard Weaver, and of course, the newest Eagle in Jason Peters.

Brown is scheduled to make $3.25 million this year, with his signing bonus from 2004. Only $2 million of that is base salary.

This is almost exactly like the situation the Eagles found themselves in with Lito Sheppard, and we all saw how that turned out. There are some key differences, however.

Brown has never missed a game; Sheppard was almost constantly injured.

Sheppard went to the Pro Bowl twice; Brown has never been to the Pro Bowl.

Sheppard could make the key interception when needed, Brown has one interception in the past 21 games.

Sheppard was a finesse player, a cover corner; Brown is more of a contact guy who’s really better suited as FS.

The Eagles have a difficult decision to make on Brown.

Personally, I’m not sure that he’s worth a new contract. Yes, he’s been extremely consistent over his career, but he does not produce many turnovers, and as said before, he’s never been to a Pro Bowl. His 2008 stats were 51 tackles, one forced fumble, and one interception.

The other issue is that Brown’s salary will go up over the next few years, with 2010 excluded. In 2010 he is scheduled to make $2.75 million, $4 million in 2011, and $5.25 million in 2012.

That’s not a bad salary for a guy who has never gone to the Pro Bowl. But again, the problem arises in that, yes, he’s never been to a Pro Bowl, but he also has never missed a game and is consistently a Pro Bowl-caliber player, even though he’s yet to cross that threshold.

Overall, I think it may just be worth it to give him a couple more million dollars in guaranteed money just to keep him happy for now. Then perhaps you promise him that if he goes to the Pro Bowl, or picks it up in the interception department, that he’ll have his contract restructured.

Either way the Eagles decide to go, this is a story that should garner some attention and must be watched very closely. Also, Philly, don’t worry about him sulking like Sheppard did to the point where he hurts the team. I believe Brown is much tougher, mentally and physically, than Sheppard. In fact, he’s proven that.

One last thought: Could we maybe be seeing Sheldon Brown in desert red in exchange for someone all Philly fans covet? Food for thought.


Ted Thompson Needs Miracle Draft

Published: April 20, 2009

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Here we go again in Wisconsin. JJ Hardy can’t hit a slow-pitch softball, the Milwaukee Bucks are hoping for another number one pick and Ted Thompson has so far failed to address any of the needs of a team that just limped through a six and ten season.

Ted doesn’t believe his six win team, two of those wins coming against the Detroit Lions, needs much in terms of roster improvement.

He will build through the draft. He will draft a team. He believes in the draft. He has all the talent he needs. He has the youngest team in football. He needs another year.

Well, he does seem to like the draft. Of course, everyone is building through the draft. This does not seem to be some brilliant philosophy this quirky leader has plucked out of the sky. Every GM will be making draft choices on draft day.

So the question is no longer about philosophy. It can’t be about philosophy because the only thing we have seen from Ted Thompson is that he drafts and doesn’t take a lot of chances in free agency. This is pretty basic if not entirely unspectacular, and building a team by drafting is not a philosophy so much as it is the way the NFL has been set up since its inception.

Is this guy an effective GM? I hate to say it Packer fans but the answer is quickly becoming a resounding “no.”

Ted Thompson’s draft choices have yet to perform at a level that would put any of them into the “that was a genius pick” category. Greg Jennings was his best pick but Thompson has had so many picks he is bound to hit on one or two. But so far, no player Thompson has drafted has turned out to be a superstar.

Ted Thompson’s coaching hires have performed between average and poor. The entire defensive staff was fired and the offensive coordinator and the head coach do not seem to know how to put a game away. The special teams are terrible.

No matter what side you come down on, Ted Thompson totally bombed the Brett Favre retirement. I know a lot of people believe Favre caused a lot of the problem but Favre is not the GM and the GM needs to take full responsibility for how personnel deals go down. This was one of the biggest retirements in NFL history and TED Thompson botched it.

Ted Thompson’s Packers don’t seem to be winning. Yes, there was that season two years ago but let’s face it, a great last stand by a superhero combined with an easy schedule was more responsible for those thirteen wins than anything Ted Thompson was doing.

Finally, the injuries and the inability of this organization to overcome them seems to have become a glaring weakness. Say what you will Thompson backers but in sports and excuse is the admittance of failure.

Now the NFL draft is here and Ted Thompson needs to draft a starting defensive lineman, a starting linebacker, a corner back, an offensive lineman, a tight end and a punter. He needs to get all of this and somehow find the impact players a solid but so far unspectacular roster is lacking.

This is it folks. Thompson needs to have one of the greatest drafts in the history of the NFL if the Packers are going to compete for a championship this year. I for one think this is impossible but if he does it, I will become a believer. If my fears are true and the Packers miss the playoffs again, Ted Thompson needs to get on the first train to Cleveland.


Black and Gold X’s and O’s| What Kind Of Player Are The Saints Targeting?

Published: April 20, 2009

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As I wrote in Friday’s column, the Saints main emphasis this offseason has to be on finishing. Finishing plays, finishing drives, finishing drives, finishing on third-and-short situations.

They’ve brought in some players in free agency who fit this bill. Now they need to bring in these same kind of players through the draft, and let’s not forget rookie free agency, which begins literally the second “Mr. Irrelevant” is selected.

With only four picks in the 2009 draft (as of Monday at 9:38 AM PT), the Saints will likely be active searching for talent once the draft is completed.

This is an area the team has had success with in recent years. Most notably, Pierre Thomas was acquired after the draft. He is now the presumed starting tailback going into training camp.

So without further ado, here are a list of players the Saints should be targeting by round, or after the draft.

(Note:  This is also a little bit of a preview of my 2009 Draft Board which I will publish on Friday.)

 

First Round

Malcolm Jenkins DB Ohio State

He fits what the Saints want to do defensively, as he is able to pressure the QB on blitzes, can hold up in coverage, and provides the versatility to play either corner or safety.

He has good ball skills and rarely gets beat deep. Finally, his ceiling may not be high, but the likelihood of him being a bust is also not very high.

Alex Mack C California

Mack could very easily be the long-term solution at the center position, while he also provides the versatility to play either guard position. Mack has great initial quickness at the snap of the ball. He moves well in space, and he is physical.

As I mentioned, the team needs to improve in short-yardage situations. Mack can help with that because of his ability to quickly get off the ball and get lower than the defender he is blocking.

 

Second Round

Two things. I know the Saints do not currently have a second round pick. However, I do think if Moore or one of the other two are available (and they haven’t picked someone else at the position already), that the Saints would try to get these guys. I also see a trade out of the First Round as a possibility.

D.J. Moore CB Vanderbilt

I have Moore as a first rounder. His size and somewhat poor offseason workouts have this gem falling quickly. Whoever picks him in the second round, is getting an absolute bargain. It would be like stealing candy from a baby.

Shonn Greene RB Iowa

Another player I have as a first rounder, who is falling because of academic concerns and only one year of game film. Greene is powerful and more quick than fast.

His conversion percentage (essentially gaining the amount of yards expected based on down and distance) is one of the best among all running backs in this draft. That’s the kind of Running Back the Saints should want, if they really are looking.

Paul Kruger DE Utah

Kruger was just a red shirt sophomore this past season. But he is a little older and more mature, since he went on a two-year Mormon mission.

More than that though, he plays with a high-motor, and intensity. He could potentially play as an outside linebacker. Either way, he would give the Saint some versatility and the ability to rush the passer or drop into coverage on some zone blitzes.

 

Third Round

Again, I understand the Saints do not have a third round pick as of right now, but here are some players they may try to get if at all possible.

Gartrell Johnson RB Colorado State

Gartrell stood 5102 (5’10” and 2/8) and 218 pounds at the combine. This is a little smaller than most would have expected. Nonetheless, it is nearly impossible to disregard Johnson’s power. Here are the strengths he shows, which I wrote on his report:

Gartrell is a big, tough, and physical running back who excels after contact and in space. He is quick and agile and can make the one-cut and excel through the hole.

He is tough and versatile and an every down player, who does just about everything fundamentally correct and responded well to coaching in his senior season.

 

Possible good news for the Saints. He could fall past the third round and could be sitting there in the fourth round. If he is, I’d love to have him in black and gold.

 

Jasper Brinkley LB South Carolina

 

Jasper is one of the most physical football players in the entire draft. He isn’t the smoothest athlete ever, but when he has a chance to make a tackle, he won’t just make the tackle. He will knock that player out. He reminds me a little bit of a young Ray Lewis.

I’m not sure how he would fit as an outside linebacker, but with his talent and ability to finish plays, it may be worth taking a chance.

 

Antoine Caldwell C Alabama

 

Here are some of the things the Saints would like about the former Tide center:

 

Antoine is very quick off the ball. He has good size for the center position, and moves well enough he could easily play one of the guard positions. He gets his hands on defenders quickly and is able to re-direct them whichever direction he chooses.

He is intelligent and makes most of the line calls. He also is a very good student and citizen.

 

The center position is a strong one this year, and Caldwell is among the five best. He would be a very good value late in the third or early in the fourth.

 

 

Fourth Round

 

William Moore S/OLB Missouri

 

While I certainly am not in love with Moore as a player, I think if he is available in the fourth round, and some of the other players listed are not, he would be a steal.

While as a safety he would be mostly an in-the-box player, as an OLB he could provide tremendous versatility to play near the line of scrimmage as well as drop into coverage.

 

Kaluka Maiava LB Southern California

 

Maiava may actually be my favorite of all the ‘SC linebackers this season. He has a nose for the football and makes a lot of plays. I think he could fall this far, but would be an absolute steal in the fourth round.

 

Korey Sperry TE Colorado State

 

I don’t know if he could go this early or not, but I like his abilities both as an in-line blocker and as a stretch-the-field tight end. I think he could be one of the better tight ends in this draft when all is said and done. And I really like this group of tight ends.

 

A.Q. Shipley C Penn State

 

Obviously I think the Saints need an upgrade at the center position. Shipley is a guy who is fat, but he is physical and strong and can move his guy off the ball. He won’t knock a lot of guys down, but will get the job done. He’s limited in his ability to play other positions, but if you can get a starting center in the fourth round, Shipley would be a good value.

 

Derek Pegues S Mississippi State

 

This is mere speculation that Pegues would be available here, but if he is, he should be the pick. Pegues is a key reason that the Bulldogs defense excelled the past few years. He is good in deep coverage. He is a little small but the guy can play.

 

If Darcell McBath from Texas Tech is available here, he is a pretty comparable player with better size. He would also be a nice option.

 

 

Fifth Round

 

For the record, I know the Saints do not have a fifth round pick as of now. But I’m going to tell you of some players who are expected to be drafted in that round who may be of interest to New Orleans.

 

Kevin Ellison S Southern California

 

Before Taylor Mays shocked the draft world and stayed for his senior season at USC, he was believed to be the top safety in the draft. And New Orleans was a rumored destination for him to begin his NFL career.

 

Now his teammate, and partner in crime in the secondary, could be headed for The Big Easy. Like Moore, he is better around the LOS, but in time could excel in coverage with coaching and learning from Darren Sharper.

 

Ian Johnson RB Boise State

 

Most people remember him for his Fiesta Bowl theatrics. But Johnson has done more than that in his career in Idaho. He has been one of the most productive players in the entire country for three seasons.

 

His combine and Pro Day workouts only reinforced that this is a talented player, and a winner. I predict he will be successful at the NFL level.

 

 

Sixth Round

 

Again, the Saints do not currently possess a sixth round pick. But here are some guys they may like, which could cause them to trade into the round.

 

Arian Foster RB Tennessee

 

Foster had a poor senior season, but so did the Volunteers. Foster is a powerful, yet quick back. His body and running style are similar to Chris “Beanie” Wells, but he plays with more passion and would be a steal in this round.

 

Emanuel Cook S South Carolina

 

Cook led a Gamecocks secondary (along with Captain Munnerlyn) to being one of the better passing defenses in the SEC. He probably will not last to this point, but if he did, he could easily be a guy worth taking a risk on.

 

Mitch King DT Iowa

 

King is a high-motor guy which helped him be a productive DT at Iowa. He is not incredibly powerful, but is very quick which could make him a good pass rusher. The Saints need a guy like that.

 

 

Seventh Round

 

Chase Daniel QB/Athlete Missouri

 

Daniel is a guy I love, but will fall terribly because of a lack of accuracy, arm strength, and height. He is a winner, and will likely find some way to play and stick in the NFL.

 

John Parker Wilson, from Alabama, could be picked up a round or two earlier and is probably a better fit for the NFL as a QB.

 

Terrill Byrd DT/DE Cincinnati

 

Byrd was a highly productive player at Cincinnati, whose stock falls mostly because of some character issues. However, the seventh round is where you draft guys like him. I think if he can stay out of trouble, he could be a gem for whichever team picks him up.

 

Corey Smith OLB/S Cincinnati

 

So I love Cincinnati guys. It’s true, I do. Smith is small for an OLB, but could possibly move to safety, a la Adam Archuleta. I think he is better in coverage than Archuleta was, but not as physical. Once again, though, he was a productive player on a good Bearcat defense.

 

 

Free Agency

 

Kahlil Bell RB UCLA

 

Bell had some injury issues in college, but was productive when healthy. He’s never had the burst necessary to be an every-down back. But he is big and powerful and could be the solution as the short-yardage back.

 

Rusty Smith QB Florida Atlantic

 

I haven’t seen a lot of Smith, but what I did see, I really liked. He throws the football with conviction. He makes good decisions. And Sean Payton did develop Tony Romo, another small school QB…I’m just saying.

 

I could be totally wrong on any or all of these guys. Most of these are guys I really like per round. There are other players I really like too, but most of them are unrealistic for the Saints.

 

Finally, this is not comprehensive. I still have about 20 players I want to grade by Friday, when I will present to you my Finalized 2009 Draft Board.


Don’t You Forget About Me: 2009 NFL Draft Sleepers

Published: April 20, 2009

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We know about all the big names: Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, Aaron Curry, Mark Sanchez, Jason Smith, etc. However, the draft holds a number of quality guys who could become the next Antonio Pierce or Tom Brady.

The guy that doesn’t have the appeal of being a first-rounder, but has the skill-set that could make him a candidate for being one that will, eventually, make the biggest impact.

The guys that follow are my picks.

(pictured here: Donald Brown, RB)


Denver Broncos: Ryan’s 2009 Mock Draft 1.1

Published: April 20, 2009

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For My new draft I’m going to explore other trade avenues the Broncos could follow.  To assess the value of draft picks, I will use Profootballtalk.com’s value chart (found here).

I will be using Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft, from espn.com, to predict possible draft spots for the first 20 prospects. 

My Mock draft will be focusing on the possibility of Denver moving up, from the No. 12 or No. 18 picks, to grab a lineman in the top 10 picks. 

If Denver tries to trade the No. 12 pick, then they would target picks three through five for Aaron Curry or Michael Crabtree—no QBs! 

This is highly unexpected, but still would be fine for Denver, due to having two first-round picks. 

To fully ensure that the Broncos have the chance to choose between the 2, they will need to trade for the No. 3 pick currently being held by Kansas City, which won’t happen.  But stay with me on this one—the Broncos would then need to trade for the No. 2 choice and either jump on Curry, or try to offer the pick to the top three to five teams. 

The No. 2 pick is worth a whopping 2,600 points.  After trading their No. 12 pick, this leaves 1,400 points of value for the Broncos to come up with.  It would take all of the Bronco’s first-day draft picks to compensate for 1,400 points.  There is no value in this trade.

According to Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft, Denver can only find value in rounds 8-11 for top D-line prospects—again, no QBs!  The teams holding picks eight through eleven would be looking to move out of the top 10, because they don’t foresee a good value for these picks. 

The Broncos’s 18th pick is worth 900 points and would end up being the choice that the teams with picks eight through eleven would want to move too.

The players Denver would target in these picks would be (in this order) Brian Orakpo, BJ Raji, Aaron Maybin, and Robert Ayers.  Orakpo and Raji are the only players I would feel happy with Denver moving up to get. 

To fully ensure that the Broncos have the chance to choose between the two, they will need to trade for the No. 8 pick currently being held by Jacksonville. 

After trading the No. 18 pick to the Jags for the No. 8 pick, the Broncos will have to find 500 points to compensate the Jags for the trade.  The Broncos would trade their No. 48 and No. 114 round choices and swap their No. 84 pick with the Jags No. 72 pick.  Denver loses their second and fifth round choices, but moves up 12 spots in the third round and 10 spots in the first round.

Now Denver would have the following draft picks:

No. 8, No. 12, No. 72, No. 79, No. 149, No. 185, and No. 225.

 

Round One

No. 8 Orakpo or Raji. 

I believe that Raji is the most-needed pick here, but both would contribute as starters their rookie season.

No. 12  Tyson Jackson – DE, LSU

I’m sticking with this pick from my previous draft.  He will be an awesome DE in the 3-4.

 

Round Three

72.  Jasper Brinkley – ILB, South Carolina

My pick didn’t change.  Freaky run stuffer.  Jasper is by far the coolest name for a defensive player.

79.  Terrance Taylor – DT Michigan

My pick didn’t change. Can hold his ground and stuff the gaps.  Will work well as a defensive end in the second rotation with Marcus Thomas.

 

Round Five

149.  Rhett Bomar – QB, Sam Houston State

Joe Flacco-type QB.  Played in the spread offense his entire career.  6’2″, 225 lbs. is average size.  Played at OU, but got kicked off the team for off-field issues.  Will have something to prove in the NFL.

 

Round Six

185.  Vaughn Martin – DT, Western Ontario

Freaky size.  He would be a big NT prospect behind Raji and Fields.

 

Round Seven

225.  Arian Foster – RB, Tennessee

Once was a top draft prospect, now he may have something to prove.  Good blocker and receiver.

235.  Pierre Walters – LB, Eastern Illinois

Lance Briggs-esque size.  Could be a freak.  Could be a bust.

 

All in all, this could happen—and Denver would have blue-chip talent on their D-line.


Larry Johnson: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Published: April 20, 2009

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The Zach Thomas signing adds to a list of subtle moves made by the Chiefs this offseason.

We have quietly collected veterans on offense, defense, and special teams. Mike Vrabel, Bobby Engram, and Zach Thomas are the well known ones. Monty Beisel, Terrance Copper, Corey Mays, C.J. Jones, Rodney Wright, and the resigning of Jon McGraw are overlooked as roster fillers.

However, these may be the some of the smartest moves.

Last year, we saw what a group of rookies and second year players could really do. We saw little (if any) leadership on the defense and a disgruntled running back who was allowed to dictate our offense for a couple weeks.

This year we’re going to see if two very smart men will be able to resurrect a program. The writing is on the wall for this regime. We win and we win smart. Two rules seem to have been applied:

1. Shut up and play hard.

2. Talk loud and sit down.

Brian Waters, Tony Gonzalez, and Larry Johnson haven’t said much besides quietly dispelling rumors of trades they demanded a couple of months ago.

Larry, in particular, has told the team he doesn’t want to be traded and would like to stay with the Chiefs. So far, all Larry has done is go to all the voluntary practices and keep his mouth buttoned.

Will this be enough to keep him in town?

Will he have a breakout season?

My opinion: Yes.

Larry is in a similar situation as he was at the beginning of his career. Larry is uncertain of his future, disliked by most and is playing under a hard nosed coach that wants to win now.

Dick Vermeil effectively silenced Larry’s complaints by telling him to “take the diapers off” and Larry turned that into 1750 yards and 21 TD in 10 games.

We can look forward to that same kind of production if he stays healthy and stays out of the nightclubs.

Under Herm’s “talk-a-lot-lose-a-lot” regime, we saw what happens to Larry when no one is willing to be a mentor and instructor over LJ.

However, all this amounts to nothing if we trade him, to a team like Arizona for Boldin (package LJ with our first and third and ask for a second and Boldin in return). As we all know, speculation is cheap and as of right now, Larry is a Chief.

Some of us may believe that Larry is Kansas City’s version of T.O./Pacman. With a little luck, Larry could resurrect the Chief’s rushing attack and make Matt Cassel’s world that much easier.

Without Larry, we have a “results may vary” prospect in Jamal Charles and a banged up Kolby Smith. Charles could play well next year, but time will have to tell. Smith shows flashes of talent, but he doesn’t seem to have the stamina to be an every down back.


The Beer Thinker Waits Five Days To The Detroit Lions Future

Published: April 20, 2009

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Five days and counting and the Lions Nation will find out just which road will be taken.

Will it be the consensus choice among NFL draft predictors in Matt Stafford?  He does have a strong arm and of course the eerie connection to Bobby Layne. 

Both he and Layne attend the same high school, Higland Park, in Dallas.  Perhaps taking Stafford will break the 50 year curse Layne put on the Lions when traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958.

Or could the Lions draft the fans popular choice in LB Aaron Curry?  He would be the best pick for a defense that has ranked no higher than 20th over the past six years, including the last two years ranked dead last. 

Or will they decide to bolster the offensive line by drafting OT Jason Smith?  Or the defensive line by drafting, in a surprise move, DT B.J. Raji?

Despite what my main protagonist C DeGetmon feels about my opinions, writing style and me being a Mayhew plant, I am not a seer that can predict the future.  In fact, it would be safe to say that no NFL draft predictor knows what is going to happen.

What I would like to see is a different story.  Here are the players I would like the Lions to draft:  (If anyone has read my last article, http://bleacherreport.com/articles/151098-cutler-to-bears-not-a-big-deal-for-detroit-lions-firms-up-draft/show_full, please don’t be confused.  The mock in the Cutler to Bears article is based on a gut feeling that Stafford is the number one pick.  This mock is the direction I would like the Lions to take.)

 

First Round

1.  Aaron Curry, MLB Wake Forest 

With Ernie Sims on one side and Julian Peterson on the other, Curry would make this trio potentially one of the best in football.  Get some defensive line help and we can do way better against the run and get some pressure on the opposing QB.


20.  Duke Robinson, OG Oklahoma 

If Jeff Backus is going to stay at left tackle, then he and the rest of the line needs a lot of help.  And what would be better than a 6-5, 329 lb. left guard that was part of the best offenses in Oklahoma history.  Good at opening holes in the middle for Kevin Smith and has the tools for pass protection.

 

Second Round

33.  Connor Barwin, DE Cincinnati

He may be better suited as a rushing linebacker but I think he could do well with the Lions.  6-4″ and 256 lbs, he would have the speed and quickness to get around most tackles in the league.  And with a 41.5″ vertical leap, he could knock down a lot of passes. 

Last year, he finished with 15 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, broke up seven passes and blocked three kicks in 14 games.  If this kind of production can translate to the NFL, he can be a game changer.


Third Round

65.  Ramses Barden, WR Cal-Poly-SLO 

Yeah, I know, the Lions have signed Ronald Curry and Bryant Johnson both of whom should be OK in between the 20′s. 

However, the Lions have been miserable in the red zone for who knows how long.  Imagine defenses coming up to the line and seeing two 6-5″ receivers (Calvin Johnson and Barden) line up. Who would you double team? 

Barden helped himself a lot running a 4.4 40 in his Pro Day.  His last year, he produced 67 catches for 1,257 yards and 18 touchdowns.


82.  Lawrence Sidbury, DE Richmond 

A player that should be able to play in any defensive scheme, he had 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. 

 

I’ll stop here since these first five picks are going to be the most important for the Lions to get right.

While no draft is going to get the Lions into the playoffs this year, I believe taking this approach builds a solid foundation and sets up the Lions to make a strong run in 2011 and/or 2012.  But this is only one draft…and one draft does not a playoff contender make. 

It’s going to take a GM that can trade players and picks to position the Lions to succeed.


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