2009 NFL Draft First Rounders Starting to Sign

After a rather slow first couple of weeks where many first round draft selections from the 2009 NFL Draft were not in camp, this week has been a different story.  As of August 4th, 23 of the 32 first round picks have signed.  The latest player was Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin who agreed to a 5-year deal for $15.5 Million with $9.5 Million guaranteed.  Maclin’s signing is good news to Eagles fans as everyone knows the explosive receiver is making a big adjustment going from a spread-option offense to a professional West Coast system.

 Overall there are only 13 total players, including surprisingly a couple of later round picks, from the 256 players selected in the 2009 NFL Draft that remain unsigned.  Hopefully none of the rookies will throw away their first season by holding out like Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell in 2007.  But my guess is that Chiefs DE Tyson Jackson (3rd overall and Bengals OT Andre Smith (5th overall) will be the last first rounders in the door.

2009 NFL Draft – First Round Picks Status (23 out of 32)

1. Detroit – QB Matthew Stafford, Georgia – Signed (6-years, $72 million; $41.7 million guaranteed)
2. St. Louis – OT Jason Smith, Baylor – Signed (5-years, $62M max; $33M guaranteed)
3. Kansas City – DE Tyson Jackson, LSU (Unsigned)
4. Seattle – LB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest (Unsigned)
5. NY Jets  – QB Mark Sanchez, USC – Signed (5-years; $50.5M real/$60M max; $28M guaranteed)
6. Cincinnati – OT Andre Smith, Alabama (Unsigned)
7. Oakland – WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland – Signed (5-years, $38.25M real/$54M max; $23.5M guaranteed)
8. Jacksonville – OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia (Unsigned)
9. Green Bay – DT B.J. Raji, Boston College (Unsigned)
10. San Francisco WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech (Unsigned)
11. Buffalo – DE Aaron Maybin, Penn State (Unsigned)
12. Denver – RB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia (Unsigned)
13. Washington – DE Brian Orakpo, Texas – Signed (5-years, $20M; $12.1M guaranteed)
14. New Orleans – CB Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State (Unsigned)
15. Houston – LB Brian Cushing, USC – Signed (Terms undisclosed)
16. San Diego – LB Larry English, Northern Illinois – Signed (5-years, $13.4M; $9.9M guaranteed)
17. Tampa Bay – QB Josh Freeman, Kansas State – Signed (5-years, $36M; $10.245M guaranteed)
18. Denver – DE Robert Ayers, Tennessee – Agreed to terms (5-years, terms undisclosed; $9.7M guaranteed)
19. Philadelphia  – WR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri – Agreed to terms (5-years, $15.5M; $9.5M guaranteed)
20. Detroit – TE Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State – Signed (5-years, $14.6M max; $9.4M guaranteed)
21. Cleveland – OC Alex Mack, California – Signed (5-years, $11.3M; $8.9M guaranteed)
22. Minnesota – WR Percy Harvin, Florida – Signed (5-years, $14.28M max; $8.5M guaranteed)
23. Baltimore – OT Michael Oher, Mississippi – Signed (5-years, $13.795M max; $7.8M guaranteed)
24. Atlanta – DT, Peria Jerry, Mississippi – Signed (5-years, $13.25M max; $7.55M guaranteed)
25. Miami – CB Vontae Davis, Illinois – Agreed to terms (5-years, terms undisclosed)
26. Green Bay – LB Clay Matthews, USC – Signed (5-years, $13.25M max)
27. Indianapolis – RB Donald Brown, UCONN – Signed (5-years, terms undisclosed)
28. Buffalo – OC Eric Wood, Louisville – Signed (5-years, $13M max.)
29. NY Giants – WR Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina – Signed (5-years, $12.5M; $6.5M guaranteed)
30. Tennessee – WR Kenny Britt, Rutgers – Signed (5-years, $12.25M; $6.5M guaranteed)
31. Arizona – RB Chris Wells, Ohio State – Agreed to terms (5-years, $11.8M max.; $6.345M guaranteed)
32. Pittsburgh – DE Ziggy Hood, Missouri – Signed (5-years, $11.3M max.; $6.1M guaranteed)

Other Unsigned Rookies

75. Dallas – OT Robert Brewster, Ball State

97. New England (comp) – LB Tyrone McKenzie, South Florida

118. New Orleans  – LB Stanley Arnoux, Wake Forest

224. San Diego – WR Demetrius Byrd, LSU 

 

 

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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2009 NFL Draft Class May Have a First Rounder Holdout Problem

The other day someone asked me around the start of training, “How many first rounders have signed already?”  Immediately I thought there had to be at least half of the 32 picks, but I was totally taken aback when I realized the number was a whopping 4 players.  As of July 27th, only top quarterbacks Matthew Stafford (1st overall pick by the Lions) and Mark Sanchez (6th overall pick by the NY Jets) plus Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack (No. 21 pick) and Steelers DT Evander “Ziggy” Hood (No. 32 pick) are the only first rounders acclimating themselves to NFL training camps rather than being stuck at the negotiating table.

I don’t know if it is the threat of an uncapped year in 2010, impending CBA talks including a possible rookie wage scale, rookies and their agents showing their greedy ways, the “domino” effect where rookies are waiting for the guy in front of them to sign or first-year guys having jitter about singing their college fight song in the players cafeteria.  But for the first time since rookie holdout heydays in the early ‘90s there are more stuck on the sidelines than ever.  Of course team management and players’ agents will say the current rookie holdout trend that we are experiencing has everything to do with the current adherence to the rookie “slotting” system.  The system that is in place today causes both the teams and agents to rely heavily on the deals of the players selected the previous year in the same slot plus agents also have to wait to see the deal of the player taken before their client in the current draft class.

But something else is going on with the 2009 NFL Draft class’ first-round players and it has a lot more to do with than teams and agents getting stuck on voidable years in a contract.  The odd thing is every team is given a “rookie pool” to operate within their own salary cap, so you would think the process of signing your first rounder would not be so difficult.  Here is how the rookie salary cap works, on a league-wide basis the rookie pool — created within Article XVII of the CBA — is the total amount of money that can be spent on rookies, except for the minimum base salaries given to undrafted rookies. Each team’s rookie pool is its portion of the league-wide total and is determined by the number, round and position of the draft choices it uses.

See the league-wide allocations for the 2009 NFL Draft Class on the ESPN website. The total rookie pool league-wide for the 2009 NFL Draft class was $150.755 million, which represented an increase of about 7 percent over the 2008 rookie pool.  A record 12 teams each earned rookie pools of $5 million or more.  So as each team’s rookies sign from lower rounds, teams should know exactly how much is left for year one of the rest of the team’s drafted rookie class.  For example, the Lions signed Stafford to a six-year, $78 million contract with guarantees of $41.7 million. Stafford’s deal will count $3.1 million against the Lions rookie cap, leaving $4,974,992 million leftover for the team’s other nine draft picks.

Unfortunately the NFL’s rookie system is flawed in that the pool is restrictive often causing rookies’ agents to try inventive ways to dictate their price, terms, and incentives before even negotiating.  There have been rumors that the NFL in the next version of the CBA will adopt a strict NBA-like rookie pay scale, where given a player’s draft spot, the rookie will make a set amount for a set number of years.  The possible addition of a hard rookie cap in the next CBA would be welcome news to NFL veterans where current system allows a rookie like Matthew Stafford can make more than 3-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning before he has even stepped on the field.  Most veteran agents know that they are usually only hurting their rookie clients by allowing them to holdout.  NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt, a long-time personnel director for the Cowboys, said of rookie holdouts, “Any player who misses more than three days of camp is taking a serious risk”. 

Brandt added, “What rookies see at OTAs and minicamps doesn’t compare to what they see at training camp. Everything is accelerated 100 percent”.  Often rookie holdouts have proven Brandt’s words correct as injuries (hamstrings especially) and missed time often spell disaster to a rookie’s chances of making an impact in year one.  A rookie holdout can also sometimes derail their entire NFL career before it even begins.  This unfortunate fact was shown by the classic case of former Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Tony Mandarich, who held out for 43 days entering the 1990 NFL season and never really got the traction or learning needed to be a quality offensive lineman in the NFL. Mandarich was dominated from the start of his rookie year to the finish – only played in 9 offensive series — and was eventually released by the Packers after several disappointing seasons.

Last year Jaguars defensive end Derrick Harvey held out for the majority of training camp and when he did arrive, the Jags got a different player than they thought was select in the draft.  Harvey was out of football shape and never really caught up from missed training camp time, producing only 3.5 sacks for the season.  Of course Harvey’s holdout did not make him beloved with his teammates, who were already sweating in training camp and many of whom were going to make less than the unproven first rounder.  Former Jaguars linebacker Mike Peterson said at the time, “He’s slotted. I have a hard time understanding what is the problem…To me, basically it’s how bad a guy wants to be in camp to take the high end of the slot or the low end or meet in the middle.”

 The one rookie that I am most interest in following at the negotiations table is former Texas Tech star receiver and San Franciso 49ers draftee Michael Crabtree — quickly looking like a prima donna after missing work in OTAs and being yelled at this offseason by head coach Mike Singletary for his attitude.  The 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft is reportedly seeking a contract worth much more than the usual salary slot for a No. 10 pick. 

Hopefully Crabtree and the other 28 remaining unsigned 2009 first rounders will come to terms soon.  It would be a shame if players miss too much time and basically throwaway their first seasons – See the aforementioned case of Tony Mandarich in 1990, former Bengals quarterback Akilli Smith in 1999, and Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell in 2007.

Current signing status of 2009 first-round picks including their agent(s) and signing terms, if applicable

 1.  Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford — Tom Condon — signed April 25th with the terms: 6-year, $78 million contract with guarantees of $41.7 million.

2.  St. Louis Rams OT Jason Smith — Ben Dogra/Michael Lartigue — currently unsigned

 3.  Kansas City Chiefs DE Tyson Jackson — Eugene Parker — currently unsigned

 4.  Seattle Seahawks LB Aaron Curry — Andy Ross/Mike Sullivan — currently unsigned

 5.  New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez — David Dunn/Andrew Kessler — signed June 11 with the terms: 56-year, $60 million contract with guarantees of $28 million.

 6.  Cincinnati Bengals OT Andre Smith — Alvin Keels — currently unsigned

 7.  Oakland Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey — Tom Condon/Ben Dogra — currently unsigned

 8.  Jacksonville Jaguars OT Eugene Monroe — Sanat Shah – currently unsigned

 9.  Green Bay Packers DL B.J. Raji — David Dunn — currently unsigned

 10.  San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree — Eugene Parker — currently unsigned

 11.  Buffalo Bills DE Aaron Maybin — Joel Segal/Chafie Fields — currently unsigned

 12.  Denver Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno — Tom Condon/Ben Dogra — currently unsigned

 13.  Washington Redskins LB Brian Orakpo — Ben Dogra/Michael Lartigue — currently unsigned

 14.  New Orleans Saints CB Malcolm Jenkins — Ben Dogra/Tom Condon — currently unsigned

 15.  Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing — Tom Condon/Ben Dogra — currently unsigned

 16.  San Diego Chargers LB/DE Larry English — Todd France — currently unsigned

 17.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  QB Josh Freeman — Ken Kremer/Ron Freeman — currently unsigned

 18.  Denver Broncos DE Robert Ayers –Tony Agnone/Edward Johnson/Richard Rosa/Noel LaMontagne — currently unsigned

 19.  Philadelphia Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin — Jim Steiner — currently unsigned.

20.  Detroit Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew — Sean Howard, currently unsigned.

21.  Cleveland Browns C Alex Mack — Tim Younger/Marvin Demoff — signed July 25 with terms not disclosed other than the contract was a five-year deal with an over 10% jump from 2008’s No. 21 pick (Atlanta offensive lineman Sam Baker).

22.  Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin — Joel Segal –currently unsigned

23.  Baltimore Ravens OT Michael Oher — Jimmy Sexton, currently unsigned.

24.  Atlanta Falcons DT Peria Jerry — Bus Cook  — currently unsigned

25.  Miami Dolphins CB Vontae Davis — Todd France — currently unsigned

26.  Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews — David Dunn/Mark Humenik/Joby Branion/Justin Schulman — currently unsigned.

27.  Indianapolis Colts RB Donald Brown — David Dunn/Mark Humenik/Joby Branion/Justin Schulman — currently unsigned

28.  Buffalo Bills C Eric Wood — David Dunn/Mark Humenik/Joby Branion/Justin Schulman — currently unsigned

29.  New York Giants WR Hakeem Nicks — Peter Schaffer — currently unsigned

30.  Tennessee Titans WR Kenny Britt — Todd France — currently unsigned

31.  Arizona Cardinals — RB Chris Wells — Adam Heller/Brian Kopp — currently unsigned

32.  Pittsburgh Steelers DL Evander “Ziggy” Hood — Andy Ross/Mike Sullivan — signed July 25 with terms: five years with $6.1 million guarantee and a base salary of 8.7 million dollars, which could raise to 11.3 million dollars based on incentives, according to sources 

 

 

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)

Rookies Learn Lessons at the 2009 NFL Rookie Symposium

From June 28 – July 1 over 250 players selected in the 2009 NFL Draft attended the league’s Rookie Symposium in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The symposium is the yearly NFL freshman orientation basic skills seminar that tells the players all of the Do’s and Don’ts associated to being an NFL player.

Though some younger players may “think” they already know or can learn the ropes from veterans, there is nothing wrong with getting a concentrated dose of learning from the four-day session. Many of the rookies have come into money for the first time in their lives and sure enough like Notorious B.I.G once said, “More Money, More Problems” including family, investments, friends, girlfriends, cars, etc.  Hopefully the players were all ears and took advantage of the many speakers taking time out of their valuable schedules to “school” them on life in America’s #1 sports league. 

Some of the highlights from the Rookie Symposium included:

2008 Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talking in a very frank manner about developing the proper work ethic to stay in the NFL.   Tomlin, who I am a huge fan of, told the rookies in his no-nonsense manner that the “NFL is a Job” that they have to take seriously.

Second year pros New York Jet tight end Dustin Keeler and Atlanta Falcons receiver Harry Douglass, who both attended the 2008 Symposium, talked about dealing with family and close friends.  As we all know some family members want to treat players like ATM’s and then there are the many ticket requests.  Fellow 2nd year player Rams DE Chris Long, son of Hall of Famer Howie Long, talked about being frugal with your money and not treating your salary like a bottomless pit.

Life Coach Zach Minor had some great real life scenario skits making players act-out probable situations for NFL players.  Minor also dealt with the important topic of “frienemies”, which stands for friends who really your enemies by dragging you down.  I thought Minor’s discussion topic was right on point as every NFL player that has gone through the league’s disciplinary process from Tank Johnson to Michael Vick have all said they needed to surround themselves with “better” people.

The star of the whole symposium was saved for the last day as future Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter talked openly and honestly about his 16 years as an NFL player including his early career struggles.  Carter came into the in the NFL through the 1987 Supplemental Draft after being kicked out of college for dealings with an agent and quickly developed some bad habits –alcoholism and addiction — that almost ended his career.  Luckily Carter was able to learn after being released by his former head coach Buddy Ryan in Philadelphia that playing in the NFL is a privelege and soon turned himself around on and off the field with the Vikings.  Carter left the game in 2002 with 1101 catches, 13899 yards, and 130 TDs in a career and now has forged a career as an analyst for ESPN.

The 8-time Pro Bowler lectured players about the dangers of making poor life decisions.  “I was here when Ryan Leaf was here. But also I was here when Michael Vick was here. And I sat up here and talked with Plaxico Burress. And Pacman was sitting right there, too. I seen all these kids come through the National Football League and every one of them—I tried to tell them the truth—and every one of them looked at me and said, ‘You know, Cris. It ain’t gonna be me. It ain’t gonna happen to me.’”  Carter even laid the smackdown on a dozing player, reportedly telling the unnamed rookie, “if you don’t want to listen to people who know more than you and who can help you navigate through what lies ahead, odds are you won’t be in the league for long.” It’ll be interesting to see if the player is exposed later on. We’re betting he will be.

 

 

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)

Eagles agree to terms with RB McCoy

The Eagles agreed to terms with RB LeSean McCoy, the No. 53 overall pick, on a four-year contract.

Though the actual dollar amounts and terms were not released, McCoy’s deal will be paying him a little of above last year’s 53rd pick, Pittsburgh Steelers WR Limas Sweed ($3.27Million for 4 years). The move by the Eagles to get their highly regarded runner into the fold showed their continued commitment to not having rookie holdouts.  McCoy became the first second-rounder taken in the 2009 NFL Draft to sign and he is expected to report to training camp at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA) on Sunday July 26th along with the seven other members of the Birds’ 2009 Draft Class.  McCoy’s signing leaves only first round selection WR Jeremy Maclin (19th overall) left to sign with the Eagles.

With starting running back Brian Westbrook coming off knee and ankle surgeries this offseason, veteran Correll Buckhalter long gone to the Broncos, and disappointing holdover Lorenzo Booker not looking like the answer, the Eagles will be counting on McCoy (5-11, 210) to hit the ground running at training camp.  Look for McCoy, who is supposed to be the smaller half of the Eagles new two-headed monster, to get plenty of touches in the Eagles four preseason games.  The versatile underclassman from the University of Pittsburgh does have some skill as an elusive runner with great lateral moves – college career rushing totals 2,816 yards and 35 touchdowns.  Plus McCoy is a very good receiver known for running great routes and having soft hands — 65 catches for 549 yards.  But in the NFL all running backs must show an ability to pickup a blitz and block, which are both skills that McCoy must improve upon. 

Watch for the Eagles to give McCoy, combo back Kyle Eckel, and Booker first cracks at picking-up the slack for Westbrook until he is totally healthy.  If Westbrook is slow to comeback and/or one of the existing running backs on the roster is not the answer there is always the possibility of bringing in a veteran back (Ahmad Green, Warrick Dunn, Deuce McAllister, Edgerrin James, DeShaun Foster, Rudi Johnson).

2009 NFL Draft Review

By Lloyd Vance, Taking It to the House “Draft Guru” / Sr. NFL Writer

(Philadelphia, Pa) – Now that the biggest “non on the field” NFL event is done for this year and 256 players know their destinations, it is time for myself and other talent evaluators to recap the action and then take a well deserved rest.

The 2009 NFL Draft definitely had a ton of buzz, hype, and excitement as Radio City Music Hall was electric when the event kicked off at 4 PM on Saturday.  NFL evaluators continued to keep with a fast pace in trading and picking as there were not many countdowns/waiting for selection.  On Day 1 the first round took only 3 hours, 23 Minutes, which broke the previous record for time from the 1990 draft (3 hours, 24 minutes).  The impressive thing is that the draft moved swiftly despite there being 28 trades on Saturday and Sunday.

The NFL had nine players in the “Green Room”  (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) with only OT Michael Oher enduring the “Aaron Rodgers”  treatment.  Oher was rescued by the Baltimore Ravens at the 23rd spot.  Of his wait Oher said, “”It could have been shorter, but it doesn’t matter. I got drafted and that’s the most important thing…I was excited because I knew I was going to get drafted. Don’t feel sorry for me”.

Tidbits from this year’s draft included:

Sanchez steals the show – You knew it was going to be a long day for first overall pick quarterback Matthew Stafford when he was booed and razzed with chants of “Over-rated” after he was announced to the Radio City crowd as #1 pick.  The boisterous crowd and everyone else was abuzz about where USC quarterback Mark Sanchez was going to end up.  Everyone was talking possible landing spots (Washington, Seattle, Denver, Jacksonville, New York and others), but it was the New York Jets who made the trade of the 2009 NFL Draft.  The Cleveland Browns traded their first-round pick (5th Overall) to the Jets for the Jets’ first (No. 17) and second-round (No. 52) picks, plus DE Kenyon Coleman, QB Brett Ratliff and DB Abram Elam. The pick netted Sanchez and the place went nuts when he was announced.  Unfortunately he was not there in person to receive the love, but you could tell everyone including the J-E-T-S fans were much more pumped about Sanchez.

Big Conferences Reign Supreme – NFL teams are looking for successful players from big conferences in the draft, because players are being taught pro techniques at these college and universities. A little over 72% of the players selected were from the 6 BCS Conferences. The SEC had the most players drafted overall with 37, followed by the ACC (33), PAC 10 (32), Big 12 (28), Big Ten (28), Big East (27), Mountain West (16), Conference USA (10), Mid-American (10), and Western Athletic (10).

USC had too much talent not to win it all in ’08, right?? – For the second consecutive draft, Southern California had the most first-round draft choices with three – LB Brian Cushing, LB Clay Matthews and quarterback Mark Sanchez.  USC now has 63 first-round selections since the inception of the common draft in 1967 – the most of any school.  USC had the most players selected with 11 Trojans having their name called on Saturday or Sunday.  The rest of the schools with the most players were South Carolina (7), Oregon State (7), LSU (6), Missouri (6), Cincinnati (6), Georgia (6), TCU (5), Penn State (5), and Maryland (5)

Players selected for the ‘Wildcat’– It is hard to believe, but it has been over 14 years since Steelers drafted QB Kordell Stewart to be a multi-purpose threat. But with the emergence of the Wildcat formation in the 2008 NFL season, teams were looking for multi-purpose players.  The Eagles traded up to select speedy WR Jeremy Maclin who took snaps out of the Wildcat at Mizzou, the Vikings selected WR Percy Harvin in the first round, the Texans grabbed former Rice TE James Casey in the 5th and the Lions selected WR Derrick Williams also in the 5th Rd.  But it was the Miami Dolphins, whe selected the player made to run the Wildcat formation, West Virginia Quarterback Pat White.  The Dolphins grabbed the NCAA’s all-time leading rushing quarterback with the 44th overall pick and the possibilities are unimaginable with him in the line-up.

The “U” loses their first round streak – The University of Miami (Fla.) for the first time in 15 years did not have a first round pick.  So the “U’s” miraculous streak that started with All-American defensive tackle Warren Sapp being selected No. 12 overall by Tampa Bay in 1995 is over. In fact the only Hurrican drafted was linebacker Spencer Adkins in the 6th round by the Falcons.  The formerly mighty Notre Dame football team also had only one player selected (Safety David Burton – 4th Rd by Denver) as did Florida State.  If you can believe it, Western Michigan beat the three former powerhouses with 2 players selected.

Rookies Better Watch Their Pockets – With rookie guaranteed money reaching $40 Million dollars (QB Matthew Stafford got from the Lions a 6-year, 72 Million Deal w/ 41 Million guaranteed), a rookie salary cap is in the NFL’s future in the next CBA.  Can you believe Stafford got more up front money than Colts future hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning (Signed a seven-year, $99.2 million contract. The deal included a $34.5 million signing bonus).  Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a recent interview about a possible rookie cap, “I’m a big fan of the rookie salary cap… I think that it is very much in the best interest of our veteran players, being able to be rewarded for what they achieve on the NFL field, and to the kind of money that’s being guaranteed for rookies that have not played – there’s still a question of whether they can play at the NFL level. That’s something that I don’t think is appropriate, and I think it’s one of the things that we’ve already outlined with the union that we want to discuss and reevaluate it.”

Receivers Make a Comeback – After not having a receiver selected in the first round in 2008, this group proved it had good depth in 2009 starting with a positional high six receivers going in the first round (Oakland (7th) Darrius Heyward-Bey, San Francisco 49ers (10th) Michael Crabtree, Eagles (19th) Jeremy Maclin, Vikings (21) Percy Harvin, Giants (28th) Hakeem Nicks, and Titans (29) Kenny Britt).  The NFL is a passing league for sure as almost every team took a developmental receiver in the draft with a total of 34 receivers being drafted. Here is the breakdown by position:  Defensive Backs (55, but half were Safeties and the other half CB’s),  Linebackers (31), Running Backs (23), Defensive End (20), Tight Ends (20), Offensive Tackles (18), Defensive Tackle (17), Guards (13), Quarterbacks (11), Centers (8), Punter (3), Kicker (2), and Long Snapper (1),

Draft Report Card

I don’t like to give “Letter Grades”, because as I always like to say, “It takes 2 to 3 years to evaluate a draft”. That being said, some teams definitely did seem to strengthen their teams and others seemed to be using darts to pick players in the 2009 Draft.

WINNERS

Philadelphia Eagles – After the Broncos jumped on RB Knowshon Moreno ahead of them, the Birds didn’t panic as they took the best player available.  The Eagles made the first of three draft trades to move up and select explosive Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin in the first round.  The move to add one of the fastest players in the draft should have brought a smile to QB Donovan McNabb’s face.  In the second round the pick of versatile RB LeSean McCoy will help keep Brian Westbrook healthier.  On Day 2 the Eagles stayed aggressive on the offensive side by adding field-stretching tight end Cornelius Ingram (5th).  The defense and special teams finally got their guy with the addition of DB Victor “Macho” Harris (5th).  Add in trades for veterans CB Ellis Hobbs and OT Jason Peters, making this a very good April haul for the Eagles.

Miami Dolphins – The fingerprints of Bill Parcels continue to be on this franchise.  The Dolphins brougt in Big Conference players  Illinios CB Vontae Davis (1st), West Virginia QB/Wildcat specialty player Pat White (2nd), Utah CB Steve Smith (2nd), big USC WR Patrick Turner (3rd), and Ohio State WR Brian Hartline (4th).  Parcels even got a small-school “Jersey Guy” in Monmouth TE John Nalbone (5th).

New England Patriots – You have to like the Patriots haul just based on sheer volume as head coach Bill Belichick brought in 12 new players through the draft.  The Patriots were involved in 7 draft trades, their biggest decision was trading out of the first round.  But the process gained them four second round picks grabbing tough Oregon SS Patrick Chung, big Boston College DT Ron Brace, smooth corner from UConn and Prime U Darius Bulter along with Houston OT/OG Sebastian Vollmer.  Also selected emerging South Florida linebacker Tyrone McKenzie in the 3rd and tough Penn State O-lineman Rich Ohrnberger in the fourth round.

Houston Texans –  Texans GM Rick Smith needed a good haul in the 2009 NFL Draft and he seemed to have gotten it.  He was able to fill needs on defense and give a nice infusion of talent to an 8-8 team on the cusp of the playoffs.  The Texans went heavy with defense early by selecting USC LB Brian Cushing (1st), Cincinnati versatile DE Connor Barwin (2nd), and New Mexico DB Glover Quin in the first four rounds.  Smith didn’t forget about his offense though as he added Alabama scrappy center Antoine Caldwell in the 3rd round and tight ends North Carolina State’s Anthony Hill (4th Rd) and Rice’s James Casey (5th – Wildcat Candidate)

Others I thought did a nice job on Saturday and Sunday were Jets (only three playes, but a huge impact), Colts, Bears, Packers, and Seahawks

HEAD SCRATCHERS, BUT I WOULDN’T CALL THEM “LOSERS”

New Orleans Saints – This team needed more especially on defense than CB Malcolm Jenkins (1st).  We will have to see if Jenkins is fast enough to play corner or stout enough to play safety in the NFL.  Overall only three selections is not a good thing for a team that missed the playoffs in 2008.

Denver Broncos – Did they really need RB Knowshon Moreno in the first round when they already had Lamont Jordan, Correl Buckhalter, and Selvin Young on their roster at running back.  I like the picks of Tennessee DE Robert Ayers, Wake Forest playmaking CB Alphonso Smith, and Notre Dame special teams ace David Bruton.  However they gave up too much to trade up to select Smith early in the second round — Broncos’ traded their 2010 first-round pick to Seattle for pick 37 in the second round.

Dallas Cowboys – Another wild and crazy draft for the Jerry Jones’ team.  The Cowboys had a bad Day 1 where they didn’t have a first round and then passed on their 2nd round selection then traded it away.  After having no picks on Day 1, the Cowboys reached for Western Illinois LB Jason Williams (3rd), Ball State OT Robert Brewster (3rd), and USC kicker David Buehler (5th). Brought in 12 players, but the only ones I really liked were Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee (4th) and Cincinnati CB Mike Mickens (7th).

Tennessee Titans – Might have had the biggest panic move/selection of the first round when they picked Rutgers WR Kenny Britt with the 30th pick.  Then added underachiever Auburn DT Sen’Derrick Marks (2nd) and can you believe it another player from “Football Factory” Rutgers in Jason McCourty (6th).

Oakland Raiders – They passed on Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin to select Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey!  To make matters worse they really reached for Ohio Safety Michael Mitchell, in the second round.  We will see if Al Davis found a player in Missouri defensive end with a great name, Stryker Sulak.

Others I thought would have gotten low grades if I believed in grades were Redskins, Vikings, and Chiefs,

The 8th Round Begins for Some Players

Every year thousands of players are left heartbroken as “Mr. Irrelevant” (2009’s version was South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop picked 256th by the Kansas City Chiefs) is selected thus ending their dreams of being selected in the NFL Draft.  Sure being drafted is an honor, but there have been many outstanding undrafted players including: Broncos great receiver Rod Smith, former Eagles tough strong safety the late Andre Waters, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, and many others.  The great thing for undrafted players is that they can now choose their landing spot in the NFL and possibly enhance their chances by finding a good roster situation before signing.

Some 2009 undrafted players to keep an eye on in training camp are

LSU LB Darry Beckwith

Mississippi State DB Derek Pegues

Oregon RB Jeremiah Johnson

Boise State RB Ian Johnson

Hampton DT Chris Baker

Alabama QB John Parker Wilson

Jackson State CB Domonique Johnson

Wisconsin RB P.J. Hill

Tennessee OG Anthony Parker

Central Washington TE Jared Bronson                         

Tennessee State Center Cecil Newton (Signed by Jaguars)

Tennessee State OG Cornelius Lewis

Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell 

Texas WR Quan Cosby (Signed by Bengals)

West Virginia OG Greg Isdaner 

Penn State DE Maurice Evans

Ohio State OT Alex Boone

Hartwick QB Jason Boltus

Tuskegee QB Jacary Atkinson

Purdue LB Anthony Heygood

Lloyd’s Leftovers:

Untagged – With the Seattle Seahawks selection fo LB Aaron Curry in the first round, they apparently have no need for LB Leroy Hill.  On Sunday, the Seahawks announced that they would be removing the franchise tag from Hill, making him a free agent immediately.  I guess Hill should have signed his franchise deal or the $36 million offer (rejected last year) when they were offered to him.

Disgruntled Veterans Stay Put – For all the talk that veteran players, especially disgruntled pass catchers Bengals Chad Johnson, Browns Braylon Edwards, and Cardinals Anquan Boldin would be moved this weekend there were only two minor deals involving veterans.  Quarterback Brett Raitliff was part of the deal that netted the Jets first round pick Mark Sanchez and the New England Patriots traded DB Ellis Hobbs to the Philadelphia Eagles for two fifth-rounder (No. 137 and No. 141).  So I guess Panthers DE Julius Peppers, Eagles CB Sheldon Brown, and the aforementioned pass catchers better report to post draft mini-camps… My guess is more than a few of them will continue to draw lines in the sand and not be in attendance.

What No Quarterback?? – Incredibly quarterback strapped teams the Panthers, Bills, Vikings, and Redskins did not select a quarterback of the future.  Overall there were 10 quarterbacks taken with three in the first round.  Maybe a team looking for a quarterback can call the Buccaneers who traded up to select Kansas State’s Josh Freeman in the 1st Rd to go with quarterbacks Byron Leftwich, Brian Griese, Luke McCown, and Josh Johnson who were already on their roster.

LSU Pipeline — For the third consecutive draft, the Kansas City Chiefs chose a Louisiana State player with their first-round pick.  Defensive end Tyson Jackson (No. 3 overall) joins defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey (No. 5 overall, 2007) and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (No. 23, 2006) as LSU first-rounders chosen by the Chiefs in the past three drafts.  Jackson’s selection marked the sixth year in a row that LSU had a player taken in the first round – tied for the longest such active streak by any school (Texas, since 2004).

Stay in School – The NFL is making a concerted effort to draft seniors in the draft and it shows.  There were only 41 underclassmen drafted compared to 215 seniors.  Some say older players need less coaching, but yet 15 underclassmen went in the first round including first overall pick Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford.

Two pivots taken in the first — Alex Mack of California (No. 21 overall by Cleveland) and Eric Wood of Louisville (No. 28 overall by Buffalo) were selected in Round 1.  Their selection tied the record for most first-round centers in one draft.  This is the only fourth time two centers have been picked in the first round and first time since 1968.   There were eight centers selected unfortunately one of them was not Tennessee State center Cecil Newton.

A Brief Look at the ’10 Draft – It is never to early for some research for the 2010 NFL Draft including:  Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, USC Safety Taylor Mays, Tennessee Safety Eric Berry, Florida QB Tim Tebow, Florida DE Carlos Dunlap and many others.  But we have 11+ months to bring you information and draft news about these guys.

That is it for 2009 Draft and may all the teams be enriched going into the 2009 season.

   

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)

2009 NFL Draft Day 1 Review

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Players like 17th overall pick QB Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay Bucs) were all smiles as Day 1 of the NFL Draft took center stage

(New York, NY) — The 74th rendition of the NFL Draft, titled “Own the Moment” took center stage of the sports world on April 25th.  Hope sprung eternal from Oakland to New England as the NFL’s annual “Christmas in April” event arrived.  The crowd made up of fans from every team imaginable with a large group of Jets fans packed venerable Radio City Music Hall to cheer or second-guess their teams.  As in years past the anticipation of the moment was not totally as everyone already knew that Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford was the inevitable first overall pick.  Stafford, the NFL’s newest million dollar quarterback, was all smiles as he and his family strolled to center stage greeted by Commissioner Goodell.  Who could blame the Stafford contingent for not letting the derisive chants of “Over-rated” rain on their moment.  The Lions wanted to make a big splash and they sure did as Stafford took home a 6-year, $72 Million dollar contract with $41 Million guaranteed.  In case you were checking, that is more than Peyton Manning and practically every other passer in the NFL.

The pace of the first round of the NFL Draft was brisk taking 3 hours, 23 Minutes which was 7 minutes faster than last year’s almost record 3 hours, 30 minutes mark.

Some tidbits from Day 1 included:

Receiver crazy in the first round – After zero receivers were selected in the first round in 2008, this year’s draft class was full of pass catchers with talent.  The first round had six receivers taken, which was the most of any position.  Here were how the receivers were selected: Oakland (7th) Darrius Heyward-Bey, San Francisco 49ers (10th) Michael Crabtree, Eagles (19th) Jeremy Maclin, Vikings (21) Percy Harvin, Giants (28th) Hakeem Nicks, and Titans (29) Kenny Britt.  Here is the positional breakdown: 6 WR’s, 5 LB’s, 4 OT’s, 3 RB’s, 3 QB’s, 3 DT’s, 3 DE’s, 2 CB’s, 2 Centers, 1 TE, no Safeties and no Guards.

USC in the House – Led by New Jersey native Brian Cushing, the Trojans garnered two first round picks.  Cushing went to the Texans at the 15th pick and Clay Matthew went 26th to the Packers.  Missouri also had two players selected in the first round with Maclin and DT Evander Hood (#32 to Pittsburgh). 

Huskies have a first rounder – After only moving to 1-A football in the last decade, UConn finally had their first round pick.  The Colts grabbed RB Donald Brown with the 27th Pick.

First Surprise – Kansas City Chiefs passing on LB Aaron Curry and others to take LSU DE Tyson Jackson.  The former Tiger is a little inconsistent, so I thought it was a little early for him.  At least Jackson can play next to his old pal Glenn Dorsey

Biggest Reach – It had to be the Oakland Raiders at the 7th pick going for speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey over Crabtree and Maclin.  Heyward-Bey was the fastest player at the combine running a 4.31, but the other two receivers were more polished.  Second place has to go to the Bills for trading up to take center Eric Wood at the 28th pick.

Best Value Pick – Texas DE Brian Orakpo sat patiently in the Green Room until Redskins grabbed him at the 13th spot.  Orakpo will bring a much needed speed rusher to a defense whose best pass rusher, Phillip Daniels, is a little long in the tooth.

Panic Move – This has to go to the Titans, who missed out on Hakeem Nicks one pick earlier and decided to “reach” for Rutgers WR Kenny Britt  in the first round

Picks Ready to Play Day 1 – St. Louis Rams OT Jason Smith and Seattle Seahawks LB Aaron Curry

Last in the Green Room – QB Josh Freeman, who was rescued by the Bucs at the 17th pick.  The Bucs had to trade up with the Browns to get in position for the former Kansas State star.  Freeman joins a crowded passing group of Byron Leftwich, Brian Griese, Luke McCown, and Josh Johnson.

Largest contingent – Originally this award was going to Jason Smith, who had 15+ peeps in the house. But Brian Cushing from nearby Bergen, NJ had at least 30 people on stage with him including family, friends, former teammates and coaches.

Plenty of Trades – Teams were aggressive as they moved quickly to grab their guy.  There were nine trades in the first round including the Browns (traded back twice) pulling the big one at #5 with the Jets.  The best trade was a tie between the Jets (traded up to grab Sanchez) and the Eagles (traded up a few spots with the Browns to surprisingly grab Maclin).

Potential 1st round Boom Player – Green Bay taking NT B.J Raji at the 9th spot

Potential 1st round Bust Player – Bengals taking OT Andre Smith at the 6th spot

Best 2nd round pick – The Dolphins, the originator of the Wildcat formation in NFL, taking WVU multi-purpose quarterback Pat White with the 44th pick.

Worst 2nd round pick – The Panthers taking Troy State S Sherrod Martin at the 59thth pick.  This is a down year for safeties overall, so you have to think the Panthers wanted Missouri’s William Moore (Falcons – 55) or Oregon’s Patrick Chung (Patriots – 34)

Best Players still available after the first two rounds

QB Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State

QB Nate Davis, Ball State

RB Shonn Greene, Iowa

RB Ian Johnson, Boise State

TE Cornelius Ingram, Florida

TE James Casey, Rice

OG Duke Robinson, Oklahoma

OG Herman Johnson, LSU

C Antoine Caldwell, Alabama

DE Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech

DT Vance Walker, Georgia Tech

LB Darry Beckwith, LSU

LB Marcus Freeman, Ohio State

S Rashad Johnson, Alabama

S Michael Hamlin, Clemson

CB  D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt

CB Mike Mickens, Cincinnati

CB Victor “Macho” Harris, Virginia Tech

CB Domonique Johnson, Jackson State 

Day 1 Winners — Eagles, Niners, Dolphins, and Seahawks

Day 1 Head Scratchers – Bills, Bears (no picks), Panthers, and Cowboys (passed on their 2nd round selection then traded it away, leaving no picks for the day)

That’s a Wrap, see you tomorrow at Radio City for rounds 3 -7

 

 

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)

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)