Sunday, April 30, 2006

A few draft thoughts

Last year I live blogged most of the first round, and it was excruciating. This year it seemed to move faster, but that might be just because I wasn't watching the whole time.

So now a few short thoughts...

1) Texans passing on Bush: My take on this is not as biting as others might think. First off, there's a lot of unknowns here. We don't know what Bush's salary demands were. We don't know how Kubiak would have used Bush. Second, I think Bush is a spectacular talent, but he also has the problem of square peg/round hole for the NFL offenses. Bush might be the guy to change the game entirely, and the kind of talent that forces an OC to completely alter a gameplan. But I don't think he's an every-down workhorse back, or at least he isn't if he wants to stay the same weight and avoid injury. Kubiak and the Texans may have looked at their existing personnel and the planned offense and thought that Bush just isn't a perfect fit, but that it's close because he's that good. Now, if he asked for a salary that would throw everything askew (and I think the Williams contract looks more than reasonable for a first pick, a steal if he's a Julius Peppers-type), then I definitely don't blame the Texans for passing on him. A guy who affects 15-20 plays a game just isn't worth 10-15% of the salary cap. And while I hope this isn't the case, for some reason Bush looks like a huge injury risk to me, because of his size and his reliance on cutbacks (often blind cutbacks - with faster pursuers). Now, you can't predict that, and you can't draft scared of that, but it's just a gut feeling. And a sure way to cripple a season is to commit 10% of the cap to a guy who can't play. We've seen it in Atlanta twice recently (Jamal Anderson in '99, Vick in '03). So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that Williams is a safer pick, maybe, in that he fits an existing system probably better, meshes with existing personnel better, and comes at a much more palatable price.

2) A differing view on Bush... I guess I have differing views on how the draft should work. The paragraph above is I suppose my realistic viewpoint. But then I'll also have an idealistic viewpoint. If there were no existing systems, rosters or anything else, and you're simply drafting the best player available and then you'll work your system around him, then I'd have a very different view of passing on Bush. In fact, under the idealist analysis, I'd say the draft should've gone Bush first, Vince Young second, and then a huge mix of people. And I understand the people saying that Bush is good enough to change your game. And my final take on this is that I'm glad and not glad that Bush was drafted by the Saints - glad in that I'll get to see him play the Falcons twice this year, not glad because he'll play the Falsons twice this year.

Now faster...

3) I love Tennessee's first two picks. I think LenDale White puts Chris Brown on the bench by the third game.

4) The Arizona Cardinals have actually drafted pretty well the last few years, and this year looks awesome. Seriously, their offense is getting scary. Leinart, Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and now Leonard Pope (HUGE steal)? Targets and weapons. Add Duece Lutui (who I think will be a Pro Bowler someday) and risk-with-big-reward Gabe Watson and you've got what looks like a great draft.

5) The Bills are going to take some lumps from their first two rounds, but their later picks kind of make up for it. Youboty and Simpson are good mid-rounders.

6) The Eagles probably are right behind the Cardinals in terms of great drafting. I think Bunkley was good value at the top, Justice and Jean-Gilles were hilariously good steals. Those two could be 10 year starters in the NFL. Jason Avant could be a starter too. Great value here.

7) I kind of like the Lions' picks. Calhoun should press Jones, believe it or not.

8) How many damn picks do the Packers have? I like the Will Blackmon pick and the Abdul Hodge pick late though. I'm not as crazy about Hawk as most, though.

9) Aside from the Mario Williams pick, which will be the only thing anyone considers in rating this draft, the Texans look like big winners. DeMeco Ryans I think was one of the best LBs in the draft, seriously. Eric Winston was a steal where they got him.

10) I like Addai, and I'll always be a fan of Dawgs, but I shake my head at the Colts' picks. Jennings just won't be able to cover the tall receivers. And I think LenDale White should've been the pick at RB. I also don't understand the Dolphins', Jags', Bucs' and Chargers' (aside from McNeil - who is a stud).

11) The Falcons: I think this is a pretty good draft for them, even though they have limited picks. I think they got a top-20 talent deep in the second round in Jimmy Williams, and I'm certain he'll play a lot this coming year. Norwood will make an impact this year too, on special teams. Throw in two other starters that they got out of trading picks, one of whom is a Pro Bowler, and you've got a spectacular draft for this year, and a good one for the next few. It shows that the Falcons know that a window for making the jump is pretty small, and you have to take advantage of the opportunities when you can. I'm not sure there's another team in the NFC that should be considered a favorite (maybe Carolina). Should be a very exciting year in Atlanta (and deserved, compared to this last year).