The 2009 NFL Draft Preview

By Lloyd Vance, Taking It to the House, Sr. NFL Writer

(New York, NY) – It will be Christmas in April as optimism and hope abound for all 32 NFL franchises as the 74th NFL Draft takes center stage on the sports calendar.  Sure the NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, first month of baseball, and any number of sporting events are also occurring, but fans around the globe are most interested in the NFL Draft.  The event is so grandiose that it will take place in the largest city in the United States and at the venerable showbiz palace Radio City Music Hall.  The NFL Draft is now a primetime event that will start at 4 PM, so NFL fans everywhere better get their chores done early enough on Saturday to plop themselves in front of the television for a minimum of 4 hours – I am not even going to mention the die-hards that stick around intensely watching the second day on Sunday too.

With all the hoopla around the NFL Draft, one has to wonder was there this much fanfare on February 8th, 1936.  That was the date the brainchild of league legend Bert Bell took flight as the first NFL Draft was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia – A much quieter event where players like Tuffy Leemans were selected and didn’t know about it until receiving correspondence from the league.  The 1936 NFL draft was only been a tiny ripple compared to the ocean’s worth of hype and expectation surrounding the 2009 NFL Draft.  The whole thing is a “can’t miss event” causing jersey-clad fans to line the streets of Manhattan in the middle of the night with millions more watching on television.   There is no need to worry about the NFL Draft television viewers as their extended couch time will include quality time with their favorite “draft guy” (NFL Network’s Mike Mayock or ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr).   As the seconds tick down on the clock, households in every NFL city will ponder questions like “Is my team trading up”, “Will they go for a need pick or the proverbial best player on the board”, “What are the stats on my team’s first round pick”, “Is that linebacker from my alma mater still available”, and many others.

For the most part all of the hoopla is just part of the show and 256 players will have new addresses after Saturday and Sunday.  One word of caution for all fans and media, please take it easy on your rants and raves for a particular player or team, because as I always say, “It takes 2 to 3 years to evaluate a draft”.  I know fans everywhere can remember the names of former “can’t miss players” that turned into just plain “missed picks” (Audbrey Bruce, Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, Andre Wadsworth, Kijana Carter, Ryan Leaf and many others). 

Remember the only thing that is certain on draft day is that Jets fans in attendance will “boo” their first pick.

2009 NFL Draft Facts

Where: Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas, New York City (Between 50th and 51st Streets).

When:   4:00 PM ET, Saturday, April 25 (Rounds 1-2) 

              10:00 AM ET, Sunday, April 26 (Rounds 3-7)

Television:   NFL Network (4th year) and ESPN / ESPN2 (30th consecutive year)

The number of players attending the draft: The number of players attending the draft has increased this year to nine players, which is the largest number since the late 1980’s.  The potential stars include: Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry, USC LB Brian Cushing, Kansas State QB Josh Freeman, Virginia OT Eugene Monroe, Mississippi OT Michael Oher, Texas DE Brian Orakpo, Baylor OT Jason Smith, and Georgia QB Matthew Stafford

On the Clock: 

NFL trying for speed again – Last year the NFL’s new time format netted an almost record time of 3 hours, 30 minutes for the first round.  We will see if this year’s event can be just as speedy.

Hurry up with your picks – Clubs will be allowed 10 minutes to make their selection in Round 1.  Each pick in Round 2 will be allocated 7 minutes, rather than 10.  On Sunday, Rounds 3-7 will be conducted, with each selection allocated 5 minutes.

Number of Picks:  There will be 256 selections with the Detroit Lions holding the first selection and the Kansas City Chiefs holding the pick that is “Mr. Irrelevant” (Rd 7, 256)

Compensatory Picks – There will be a total of 32 compensatory choices in the 2009 NFL Draft from 16 teams. Cincinnati and Tennessee received the most compensatory picks with four apiece. Here is how the 32 compensatory picks are broken down by team: Cincinnati 4, Tennessee 4, Chicago 3, New England 3, Seattle 3, Dallas 2, Jacksonville 2, San Diego 2, San Francisco 2, Arizona 1, Detroit 1, Indianapolis 1, Kansas City 1, New York Giants 1, Pittsburgh 1, Washington 1.

Teams with multiple selections in first round: Detroit Lions (Picks 1 and 20); Denver Broncos (Picks 12 and 18); Buffalo Bills (Picks 11 and 28).

Teams without a pick a first rounder: Dallas (Traded it to Detroit for WR Roy Williams, Chicago (Traded it to Denver for QB Jay Cutler), and Carolina (Traded it to Philadelphia at the ’08 Draft to select OT Jeff Otah – Philly has since sent the pick to the Bills).

Teams rumored trying to trade up: Washington Redskins (want a shot at USC QB Mark Sanchez), Philadelphia Eagles (might have to move-up to get a shot at Knowshon Moreno), New England Patriots (want a front-line LB), Denver Broncos (with 2 picks in the 1st may try to build a package to get Mark Sanchez)

Players Moving Up Draft Boards: USC QB Mark Sanchez, Kansas State QB Josh Freeman, LSU DE Tyson Jackson, Ohio State WR Terry Robiske, West Virginia QB/WR Pat White, Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee, Cincinnati DE/TE Connor Barwin, and UConn DB Darius Butler.

Veteran Players rumored to be on the trading block:

Anquan Boldin, Cardinals WR: Boldin and his agent Drew Rosenhaus have never stopped complaining about his contract since Larry Fitzgerald got his deal.  The Cardinals seem on the fence on whether to move on from a player they have under contract for two more years.  But that could all change if a team comes up with the Cardinals asking price (1st and 3rd round selections.  The teams that are considered to be in the Boldin sweepstakes are the Ravens, Titans, Eagles, Giants and Jets. 

Braylon Edwards, Browns WR: Edwards is due to be a free agent after next season and so the rebuilding Browns are looking to move him. This is another case where his current team may want too much in return.  The Giants seem very interest in having the inconsistent Edwards replace Plaxico Burress.  But they are asking for a package including Mathias Kiwanuka and the Giants are balking.  It will be interesting if the Browns will settle for just the Giants’ first round pick (29) in return for Edwards.  Another team to watch is the New York Jets.

Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson, Bengals WR: Ocho Cinco hasn’t reported to any of the Bengals’ off-season workouts, so you know he and his agent Drew Rosenhaus want out of Cincy.  However Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has made it clear that Johnson is not going anywhere.  Johnson’s production dropped last year to 53 receptions for 540 yards and 4 TDs, so his trade value is not as high as in the past.  . The Eagles and Cowboys have been brought up in conversations regarding Johnson, but the Bengals are not willing to let him go for less than a 2nd rounder.

Julius Peppers, Panthers DE: After Carolina placed the franchise tag on Peppers, he fumed.  Peppers has yet to sign the franchise deal that will pay him over $16 million in salary next year.  The Pro Bowl defensive end, who had 14.5 sacks in 2008 wants to be treated like Vikings DE Jarred Allen.  Allen worked out a trade from the Chiefs and received a nice lucrative deal from the Vikes.  If Peppers really wants to go to the Patriots or any other team, he will first have to sign his franchise deal.  I think the Panthers will continue to hold on to the four-time Pro Bowler until training camp to see if Peppers finally wants to play ball.

Brady Quinn, Browns QB: Maybe the odd man out of Cleveland, if the team drafts a quarterback to develop.  The Broncos and Vikings are said to be high on Quinn, so maybe a trade can be worked out.  My feeling is Quinn and Derek Anderson will fight it out and before the 2010 Draft one of them will have a new address.

Jason Campbell, Redskins QB: The Redskins already tried to unsuccessfully to trade for Jay Cutler, so Campbell is on notice.  The efficient passer is said to be miffed at his current treatment and if Daniel Snyder can somehow trade up for Mark Sanchez look for Campbell to be elsewhere.  I believe the Redskins with their small number of draft picks (five) will go defense in the draft and keep Campbell another year.

Michael Vick, Falcons QB: Atlanta just like earlier this season will see it is impossible to trade the suspended and imprisoned quarterback.  Vick first must be reinstated after his expected release in May or July and then there is the matter of his huge contract.  Expect the Falcons to quietly release him after the draft allowing the former Pro Bowler to find a team will to take a PR hit by signing him (SF 49ers, Cowboys, Raiders???)

Lloyd’s Leftovers

Georgia on my mind – If the Lions select Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick, he will be the first University of Georgia player selected first in the draft since 1957 when it was WR Harry Babcock from San Francisco.

Players being selected with the ‘Wildcat’ solely in mind – We all know the NFL is a copycat league so a lot teams will be trying to find versatile players who could run the “Wildcat” formation.  Teams on Saturday and Sunday will be looking to draft mobile throwers like WVU’s Pat White and Texas A&M’s Stephen McGee plus former high school quarterbacks (ex. Penn State WR Derrick Williams and TCU’s TE James Casey) with the Wildcat in mind. 

Smart College Graduate Players Wanted – With teams like the Colts, Patriots, and Giants placing an emphasis on getting older high football IQ players, draftees are making a point to graduate before leaving school.  This year there should be a high number of graduates entering the league with their degrees including Penn State WR Deon Butler (BS Criminal Justice).

The “U” will lose it’s first round streak this year – The University of Miami (Fla.) has a had a first round selection for the past 14 years, but recently their program has fallen on hard times.  Without a player graded higher than the second or third round, the “U’s” miraculous streak that started with All-American defensive tackle Warren Sapp being selected No. 12 overall by Tampa Bay in 1995 will be over.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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