NFL 2008-2009 Off-Season Pre-Draft Catch-All

Jayhawker wrote:

Now, what will Pioli do wit the first pick? OLB Curry, one of the OTs, a QB, or reaching and find themselves lining Michael Crabtree up opposite of Dwayne Bowe. If the OL gets shored up, and LJ comes back ready to play, that will be a pretty nice set of offensive weapons, adding Crabtree to the mix. But they really do need to get another OL that can start.

I see KC's draft options like this:

Option A - Aaron Curry. Perhaps the best prospect in the draft, but the teams ahead of KC will be looking to grab prospects at the premium positions of QB and OLT, most likely. Curry is a swiss army knife linebacker - you can play him at any LB spot, in a 3-4 or 4-3. A great building block for a team who isn't exactly set in stone scheme-wise. A textbook Scott Pioli pick, who is more than willing to invest in less-premium positions to get solid building blocks (Logan Mankins as a 1st round OG, Jerod Mayo at ILB last year).

Option B - Eugene Monroe, Andre Smith, or Jason Smith. The top 3 offensive tackles, who are pretty clearly a cut above the rest, but can be seen arranged in every possible order depending on which "expert" you're reading. Monroe and Jason Smith are pass-blocking technicians. Andre Smith is a brutal road grader who is also agile enough to defend speed rushers. Monroe's the most polished, but the weakest physically. Andre Smith is the strongest but the least agile of the three. Jason Smith is more quick and agile (being a former TE) but needs the most work on technique.

Option C - Mark Sanchez. Tyler Thigpen had a good season, but the team had to bend quite a bit to accommodate him, switching to a spread offense partway through the season to put Thigpen (another in a maddening long line of spread/spread option college QBs) in a scheme more comfortable to him. The spread may fit Thigpen but it sure doesn't fit Larry Johnson, which explains why Larry Johnson went from three 20+ carry games in the first 4 weeks, to only 1 such game for the rest of the season, and why his yards-per-carry dropped off hard. The team has offensive identity questions to answer. Are the Chiefs going to be a spread team? Can Thigpen become a pro-style offense QB? How important is making the offense work for LJ? The success of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco will have teams feeling like they can draft a QB and not have to wait years for him to come around (especially since the flops of Vince Young and Matt Leinart and the successes of Jay Cutler and last year's two rookies have teams paying less attention to big college performances on stacked teams, and more attention to NFL level physical tools).

Option D - Michael Crabtree. Teams can rarely keep two #1 WRs. As soon as one guy's contract is up, he's usually off to another team. Keeping them does happen sometimes, if your team is pass-heavy enough to justify the investment (Bruce/Holt in Martz's Ram offense, Harrison/Wayne in Tom Moore's Colt offense). If you take a WR at that pick, you have to be absolutely convinced that you're getting Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson. And if you're taking that guy when you already have Dwayne Bowe, then you must be making a commitment to a spread offense, because that's the way you're allocating your limited resources. Maybe if they think Thigpen and the spread are the way to go, then they go this way.

I think Sanchez going to KC is very likely. If not, I have the sneaking suspicion that the Niners may go the OT route with their pick instead of picking a QB. First off, their last top ten quarterback draft pick crashed and burned. Second, it wouldn't matter who's lined up under center, San Francisco needs O-line help to make sure their quarterback spends more time in the pocket rather than staring up at the sky.

Rat Boy wrote:

First off, their last top ten quarterback draft pick crashed and burned.

Very true. But picking a QB at pick #10 is a lot easier pill to swallow, money-wise, than at #1. And you can't let your David Klinglers and Ryan Leafs stop you from taking your Carson Palmers and Philip Riverses (ignoring the Eli part of that last one).

Second, it wouldn't matter who's lined up under center, San Francisco needs O-line help to make sure their quarterback spends more time in the pocket rather than staring up at the sky.

Also true, but if you believe Sanchez is a franchise QB, you don't take a second-tier OT instead. Where would Indy be if they passed on Peyton Manning because their offensive line was garbage at that time? You can get good interior offensive linemen in rounds 2-4, and the rebuilding process won't begin and end in one offseason. Plus, the team has a left tackle in their only keeper on the offensive line: their 2007 1st rounder, Joe Staley. You don't have to spend pick #10 to get a right tackle. Now, it might not be a bad idea to draft a top-tier left tackle and move Staley back to the right side, but that assumes one of the three top-tier tackles is sitting there at pick #10. I'm worried about them lasting to pick #8. It is easily possible that St. Louis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and/or Oakland gobble all three up between their spots at picks 2, 3, 6, and 7, and if they don't, you can probably scratch the very next one off the list at #8. And Staley's perfectly competent in the LT spot, and maybe more than that if he gets some decent guard play in the slot next to him.

Now, I haven't reviewed enough Mark Sanchez video to decide if I think he's a top-10 pick or not. So I make no recommendation about whether he's worth going for with that pick. But if the 49ers believe he is, reaching for a second-tier OT prospect instead of taking him isn't the smart move. The drop-off after Monroe and the two Smiths is too much to use the #10 pick on what's left, and there's certainly no need to spend it on guards or a center - there'll be plenty of them to choose from at their spots in the first halves of rounds 2 and 3. And there's plenty of free agents out there to at least help bring the line up to average.

(All that said, I'm reading some conflicting reports on Michael Oher. Didn't get a chance to watch the Senior Bowl last weekend, but I'll definitely have to take a look. But even if he is up to a top 10 pick, even he could get wiped out before the 49ers pick if the first three get taken before Oakland and/or Jacksonville's pick).

*Legion* wrote:

stuff

I can't disagree with your logic, but I don't see the Niners' leaning towards a QB with their first round pick, unless the new GM (who's younger than both of us, by the by) has a bit of the crazies in him.

In other news, apparently Brett Favre told the Jets he's retiring, but considering how two of the sources in this are Chris Mort-is-wrong and...Brett Favre, I think I'll wait until the first kickoff of Week One to believe if he's retired or not.

Vic Ketchman's column at jaguars.com (as I always say, a must-read for football fans, not just Jag fans) made an observation about the Pro Bowl:

Q: I don't understand why the Pro Bowl game is even played. No one takes it serious.

Vic: It’s played because it got a 5.8 TV rating nationally, which means it was the highest-rated sporting event on TV last weekend. The NBA gave us Lebron James vs. Kobe Bryant, basketball’s two top stars in a head-to-head clash in a real game, and it scored a 5.0 rating, which was up 72 percent over the NBA game in that slot a year ago. This year’s Pro Bowl was down 16 percent from the 2008 version. The NFL is king. Anything it offers, we watch. That’s why the Pro Bowl is played.

We always think of the Pro Bowl in terms like, "nobody cares, nobody watches", but "nobody" in NFL terms apparently is still a lot of people.

Rat Boy wrote:

In other news, apparently Brett Favre told the Jets he's retiring, but considering how two of the sources in this are Chris Mort-is-wrong and...Brett Favre, I think I'll wait until the first kickoff of Week One to believe if he's retired or not.

Well, apparently Schefter and Peter King have talked with Favre and Bus Cook, and both are saying it's final. Though, wisely, King expresses skepticism.

Look forward to the following future news stories:

* Favre changes mind, decides to have bicep surgery (or, Favre stlll not having surgery)
* Favre's bicep recovery good (whether post-surgery or not)
* Favre seen throwing balls at local high school - offers no comment
* Minnesota finishes spring minicamps, looking for nearby ditch the size of Tarvaris Jackson
* Favre asked if he wants to return, doesn't immediately scream "no" and run away
* Favre seen leaving house in car, driving north - the direction of Minneapolis

I think he's actually going to stay away, but being the boy who cried "wolf", no one will believe it.

Ambassador Kosh wrote:

And so it begins...

Edit: Like this.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback's annual Bad Predictions story:

Worst Prediction of the Year: Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, who predicted Pittsburgh would be the season's "most overrated" team while Detroit would be "most underrated." Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl; Detroit went 0-16.

You know, Kurt Warner might have said something about retirement, he might not have, but I got too distracted by Anne Hathaway.

Jaguars release Fred Taylor.

He was due $5 million this year, and $6 million next year. Obviously, that wasn't going to happen. Wonder if he'll sign on as a role player elsewhere, or just retire. Not a big market for 33 year old backs.

*Legion* wrote:

Jaguars release Fred Taylor.

He was due $5 million this year, and $6 million next year. Obviously, that wasn't going to happen. Wonder if he'll sign on as a role player elsewhere, or just retire. Not a big market for 33 year old backs.

I think he definitely has a couple more years as a role player in him.

It's not personal, *Legion*. It's strictly business.

$5 million is too much to pay for a backup running back - and it was already expressed to MJD in this offseason that he was to be the starter in 2009 on (and a new contract extension is coming along with that).

30+ year old running backs tend to drop off suddenly. I might be in favor of bringing back Taylor for $1 million a year or something, but I'm quite all right with not keeping him on board at $5 mil/year.

From the sounds of things, though, it appears that the Jaguars plan on skewing young with the RB position moving forward. Taylor's resurgence kinda delayed what looked to be a good post-Taylor RB setup with MJD and Greg Jones. I'm extremely comfortable with the team going ahead with those guys as the primary ballcarriers, and probably drafting another back in April.

Ravens cut Chris McAlister.

I remember when Duane Starks and Chris McAlister were a stud pairing of CBs. It's tough for corners to stay at a high level. They're so reliant on those delicate "twitch" reflexes that are just one joint injury away from being hampered.

Another 30+ year old running back has been cut. And so has another "McAllister".

And it's the same guy: Deuce McAllister.

Last year was the first year in which McAllister failed to reach 1000 yards without either tearing his ACL or being a rookie stuck behind Ricky Williams.

The Saints are moving forward with a Pierre Thomas / Reggie Bush committee.

Chiefs keep Chan Gailey for OC, and hire Gary Gibbs for DC.

They also hired a slew of other coaches. I think it is interesting that instead of a series of announcements, they lump everyone, including the offensive and defensive coordinators, into one press release.

I'm happy Gailey is staying. I don't know what to think of Gary Gibbs. He has some experience under his belt, which was a requirement with Haley running the show. Mostly, the moves feel right, and they don't seem to be making any big stretches.

I'm pretty happy with the new leadership for the Chiefs, and I'm pretty anxious to see what comes of it. they have a great opportunity with some young talent, another great draft pick, and a ton of money under the cap. What happens over the next three seasons can definitely be hung on Pioli and Haley, as they should be able to build whatever their vision is.

Ha, Dedric Ward. It was only a few years ago when he was still playing receiver in the league.

Didn't realize that he was an assistant coach on the Cardinals' staff this past season.

Those who can't coach.

Rat Boy wrote:

Those who can't coach.

Mike Singletary would like to have some words with you.

Jayhawker wrote:

I don't know what to think of Gary Gibbs.

Does this help?: Chiefs moving to 3-4

This looks like it has all the makings of a "coach brings in his scheme, regardless of the personnel" move. Schefter's article points out how Glenn Dorsey appears to have no place in a 3-4 scheme. But it doesn't end with him:

* Tamba Hali is not a 3-4 end. So do they envision him as a stand-up 3-4 OLB? He's 6-3, 275 pounds, not 6-0, 240 like a James Harrison. But he's not 6-5 and 285-295 pounds like the Steelers' 3-4 ends, Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. Hali's build is prototypical 4-3 defensive end. Is he quick enough despite his size to drop back into coverage like a 3-4 OLB will? Or does he bulk up and play as a shorter-than-you'd-like 3-4 end, and essentially stop being a pass rusher?

* Tank Tyler doesn't have that 6-5, 6-6 height you'd like to see in a 3-4 DE either. You like those tall DEs in the 3-4 to help clog up those passing lanes. So, does Tyler have what it takes to play the nose tackle spot? Nose tackles are usually a bit heavier than Tyler, and they have to be supremely tough and disciplined. It's the most important spot on a 3-4 defense, and for all the chatter the Steelers linebackers get, it's Casey Hampton who is more valuable than all of those other guys.

* Turk McBride is about the same size as Tamba Hali. Same questions abound, except 3-4 OLB seems like even less of a possibility in his case.

* How does Derrick Johnson fit? Plenty of 4-3 middle linebackers have found themselves out of place in a 3-4 ILB spot, where they have to take on linemen a lot more often, helping to fill the role that the missing 4th defensive linemen would. Is Johnson a guy who can take that beating? Jonathan Vilma is a guy who stood out in the 4-3 and fell off hard when moved to a 3-4. Maybe Johnson is an OLB in the 3-4?

* Even if less than ideal, Derrick Johnson will have a place somewhere in the linebacker grouping in the 3-4. But what about the rest of the guys? One of the points in switching to a 3-4 is to take advantage of having lots of good linebackers, and compensating for the relative rarity of good defensive linemen (you just need a good TOUGH guy to play NT; after that, a couple of tall DE/DT tweeners can play the 3-4 DE spots). Who else on the Chiefs linebackers corps is there to get excited about to convert to a LB-heavy scheme? (This makes drafting Aaron Curry look like a foregone conclusion)

I don't know what the front 7 will look like for the Chiefs in a 3-4 scheme. But just looking at the roster as is now, it doesn't look like personnel that screams to move to a 3-4 to me.

I guess it could be something like:

DE: Glenn Dorsey
NT: Tank Tyler
DE: Turk McBride

OLB: Tamba Hali
ILB: Derrick Johnson
ILB: Demorrio Williams
OLB: Aaron Curry

That's a mess. Everyone is a fish-out-of-water there. Maybe Dorsey plays the nose instead of Tyler. Williams probably belongs on the outside instead of the inside, but what do you do with Hali? Sit him? Play him at the DE and hope he doesn't just get trampled, and doesn't mind not being a pass rusher anymore?

Nothing like a *Legion* post to extinguish pre-season hope. Maybe the Chiefs have a true long-term plan and are thinking their 3-4 guys are still in college?

Minase wrote:

Nothing like a *Legion* post to extinguish pre-season hope. Maybe the Chiefs have a true long-term plan and are thinking their 3-4 guys are still in college?

You've got to do well enough to keep the job in order to pull off that strategy.

All evidence seems to indicate that coaches are very short-term focused. They really can't afford to be otherwise.

Maybe they intend to "clean house" on defense and bring in a lot of free agents that fit the new system. But it really doesn't seem to be the best scheme for the players that the team has invested high draft picks in.

Maybe they're just going to write Hali off, and believe either Dorsey or Tyler can handle the nose duties, and then between drafting Curry and getting some more rookies and free agents, they can put some decent pieces together. We'll see.

Free agency should explain a lot.

[quote=*Legion*]

Minase wrote:

Maybe they intend to "clean house" on defense and bring in a lot of free agents that fit the new system. But it really doesn't seem to be the best scheme for the players that the team has invested high draft picks in.

How does Julius Peppers fit for a 3-4, since that is at least one FA I've heard that the Chiefs will go after? Because I think you are right. But maybe that's where Pioli is going to use the cap space they do have. I agree that it means Aaron Curry is their pick, which is not a bad thing at all. Also, I think Derrick Johnson has been playing OLB on the weakside. I think he and Curry would make interesting bookends.

But I do remember that when the Chiefs ran a really good 3-4, they had Neil Smith at DE, and there is no one that matches his description on the Chiefs radar as far as I can tell.

Jayhawker wrote:

How does Julius Peppers fit for a 3-4, since that is at least one FA I've heard that the Chiefs will go after?

Peppers wants to go to a 3-4 team. He feels like he is a better fit for a 3-4 OLB than a 4-3 DE. He's fast, but he'll probably have to slim down a bit for the role. Which is certainly in the realm of possibility.

At 6-7, he's unusually tall for the position. But if he still has all his speed, he could be a nice fit as a stand-up rusher.

Because I think you are right. But maybe that's where Pioli is going to use the cap space they do have. I agree that it means Aaron Curry is their pick, which is not a bad thing at all. Also, I think Derrick Johnson has been playing OLB on the weakside. I think he and Curry would make interesting bookends.

Johnson moved from the weakside backer position to middle linebacker late in the season. Certainly he could move back outside under the new regime. I put him on the inside on my little lineup mainly because I don't see a lot of other options for interior 'backers currently on the roster. Maybe I shortchange Pat Thomas, the old Jaguar backup.

But I do remember that when the Chiefs ran a really good 3-4, they had Neil Smith at DE, and there is no one that matches his description on the Chiefs radar as far as I can tell.

Neil Smith was one of those rare 3-4 DEs that pulled down some good sack totals. Of course, having offenses sliding protection to the other side towards Derrick Thomas helped. But he still had to blast through double-teams to get back there. You don't *have* to have a guy like that to run the 3-4 well (though it certainly helps), but you want guys with some height and some beef. 3-4 DEs that can hold the point of attack as well as penetrate in the pass rush are rare gems. They often get overlooked because they don't pull down the annual 15+ sack totals that guys who line up in the 4-3 and get to take OLTs 1-on-1 all day pull down, but they're probably even more valuable.

I thought they franchised Peppers?

SpyNavy wrote:

I thought they franchised Peppers?

The Panthers have not franchised anyone.

They will likely franchise either Peppers or Jordan Gross.

Franchising Peppers, however, would most likely not be a maneuver to keep him, but rather one to net the team some compensation in the form of a trade, instead of letting him slip away in free agency. It's the same thing Kansas City did just last year with Jared Allen - they franchised him, and then traded him to Minnesota for a 1st and two 3rds.

(It'd be ironic, would it not, if KC went from trading away a pass rusher one year just to trade for a replacement in the exact same fashion the following offseason? And an older one at that - though one with 3 fewer DUIs )

The franchise tag deadline is 4:00pm Eastern tomorrow (Thursday). Common belief is that the team will franchise Peppers if they can work out a deal with Jordan Gross before the deadline. Otherwise, they'd franchise Gross rather than risk losing the player they need to keep.

Panthers signed Gross. So, Peppers tagging will come any moment.

Texans tagged Dunta Robinson. Sehawks supposedly tagging Leroy Hill. Titans tagging Bo Scaife.

Raiders working hard to close a deal with Nnamdi Asomugha before tag deadline, so that they don't have to tag him.

Marvin Harrison soon to be cut.

*Legion* wrote:

Marvin Harrison soon to be cut.

That's still up for debate, actually. Signing Kelvin Hayden for a couple mil less than a franchise tag has recovered some cap space, and if Marvin's willing to re-structure, then maybe we'll see him again next year.
If it comes down to either 88 or Jeff Saturday, then I'm hoping they hold onto Saturday. But if we can keep both and still be able to sign our picks, then I'm all for it.

Bucs tag A. Bryant.

Also I didn't mention this a week ago but Luke McCown signed a 2 year 7.5 million deal which means he is heading toward the starting role for the new coaching staff while Garcia is not expected to be back. The new OC is not a big guy on stats when it comes to QBs. He feels a QB's job is to win and put the ball in the end zone.

Haakon7 wrote:

That's still up for debate, actually. Signing Kelvin Hayden for a couple mil less than a franchise tag has recovered some cap space, and if Marvin's willing to re-structure, then maybe we'll see him again next year.

Marvin Harrison currently takes up $13.4 million in cap space ($9 mil salary + $4.4 mil bonus money)

If released, he could take up $6.4 million ($4.4 mil bonus money for 2009 + $2 mil bonus money for 2010-2011 accelerated to this year)

He can be kept for the same cap space as cutting him by taking a salary cut down to $2 million. (But the 2010-2011 $2 mil of bonus money is still on the books for those years - assuming a cap still exists, which is a wrinkle).

But there's cap money and then there's real payroll money, and the question is, does it make sense to pay $2 million out of pocket for Marvin Harrison in 2009? And will he even accept going that low? And if he feels like he can play more than just next year (he's 36, Jerry Rice hit his final 1000 yard season at the age of 40), agreeing to the pay cut to stay in Indy means agreeing to stay in a contract that runs through 2011 - meaning, if he does rebound this year, he's still locked into a contract with slashed salaries. (I doubt he'll have this "resurgence" problem, but it has to be part of his thinking)

And do you really want to spend a roster spot on him to hang on for one more year, instead of putting a player on the roster that could have a future?

The smart answer, IMO, is "no way in hell". You've got Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez. The last thing in the world you need is to spend $2 mil of IrsayBucks on an old receiver with bad knees and Belgian guns that magically appear at his places of business.

Marvin Harrison is done in Indy. besides being injury prone - he irritated management by getting involved in that shooting incident. I expect/would like to see the Colts to take Percy Harvin out of Florida to replace Harrison. I'd also like to see a nice Defensive Tackle picked up and perhaps some O-line prospects in the later rounds. I'd like to see some Run Defense this year - of course I'd also like to see Tony Dungy as the coach, but you cant always get what you want.