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Snap Judgments (cont'd)

Posted: Sunday April 24, 2005 3:58PM; Updated: Sunday April 24, 2005 4:13PM
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• And while we're at it, the Broncos might be a little over-stocked at cornerback as well. True, they lost Kelly Herndon to Seattle in free agency. But they still have Champ Bailey and Lenny Walls, and on the draft's first day Denver took three -- count 'em, three -- cornerbacks in rounds two and three: Oklahoma State's Darrent Williams, Washington State's Karl Paymah and Maryland's Domonique Foxworth. That's a lot of competition for the nickelback spot.

• The more things change in Washington, the more they ... change in Washington. And by that I mean a state of flux has become the status quo. I don't care what Joe Gibbs and Daniel Snyder say regarding Patrick Ramsey still being the Redskins' starting quarterback, Washington didn't pay the price to draft Auburn's Jason Campbell in the first round in order to give backup Mark Brunell someone to talk to on the sideline.

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Ramsey asked for a trade when Brunell was acquired last offseason, and I'm guessing he and agent Jimmy Sexton aren't doing handstands over this development either. But this much we know now more than ever: Ramsey is not really Gibbs' guy and that won't change any time soon.

• After another day to consider all the ramifications of his public humiliation, I'm even more convinced Aaron Rodgers just might have "fallen'' into the perfect situation in Green Bay. If he can get over the pride factor -- and the likelihood that he lost about $15 million of signing bonus by going 24th rather than first overall -- Rodgers could go from day one's big loser to the big winner in the long run.

Where do you think his chances for long-term success are greater? In San Francisco, where he's going to be expected to play and produce immediately for a team in the throes of a major rebuilding project, or in Green Bay, where he'll get to sit, watch and learn under Brett Favre on a team that has made the playoffs the past three seasons?

This weekend, the advantage went to Alex Smith -- in the most clear-cut fashion. But by 2007, or maybe sooner, the tale of the top two quarterbacks in the 2005 NFL draft might have a very different ending. Didn't Ben Roethlisberger teach us all last year?

• With Chicago picking Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton in the fourth round, Rex Grossman is now officially on the clock. Smart selection for the Bears, who aren't wavering on Grossman, their 2003 first-round pick. But he has only three NFL starts to his credit, and Chicago unwisely failed to lock up a veteran backup earlier this offseason. In that light, spending a second-day pick on Orton made sense.

• Grossman wasn't the only veteran quarterback put on notice. I guess I'm a bigger Adrian McPherson fan than most, but if I were inconsistent Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks, I'd make sure I come to camp playing my best football. New Orleans spent a fifth-round pick on McPherson, the former Florida State/Arena Football League standout, and that's a steal in my book.

McPherson is gifted athletically and although he's still raw by NFL standards, there are those who believe if you prosper in the fast-paced and condensed arena game, your reaction time will be that much better on a full-sized field. Like Brooks, McPherson is often at his best when a play breaks down and he's forced to improvise and make plays on the run.

I know some of us have knocked the Saints in the past for taking chances on too many character-issue players. They have, but I get the feeling McPherson has learned from his off-field mistakes and doesn't pose the risk his résumé appears to present.

I'm making an early call here, but I believe at some point in 2005 McPherson will win a game or two for the Saints, and just maybe pass Brooks on the depth chart in the process.

• You know it's spring when Bucs head coach Jon Gruden begins his annual quarterback collection drive. Tampa Bay already has Brian Griese, Chris Simms and, yep, the long-forgotten Akili Smith on its roster. But on Sunday it shipped a sixth-round pick to Cleveland for reserve quarterback Luke McCown, who was a Browns fourth-round pick in 2004.

In past years with the Bucs, Gruden has signed the likes of Rob Johnson, Ryan Leaf and even Griese around this time of the offseason. Having passed on Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers at No. 5 in the first round on Saturday, Gruden had to give himself at least one more weapon in the arms race this weekend. Especially if the rapidly falling-out-of-favor Simms goes on the trading block in the future.

Shoot, Gruden likes acquiring quarterbacks so much he even drafted Alex Smith in the third round. It was the Stanford tight end rather than the Utah quarterback, but we're not sure Gruden knows that.

Second-day picks we really liked

• The Bucs taking fifth-round receiver Larry Brackins, from that perennial football powerhouse, Pearl River Community College in Mississippi. Brackins is raw in spots, but he's a 6-4, 205-pounder who can go up and get the ball in the mold of Randy Moss.

• The Lions' fifth-round selection of Connecticut quarterback Dan Orlovsky. He has great size and a strong arm. With a little coaching, he might develop into more than just backup material.

• Oakland landing Wisconsin defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne -- who was once projected to go in the first round -- in the sixth round. Hawthorne has major issues with giving consistent effort and taking plays off, but he was a heist in the sixth round.

• My favorite moment of draft weekend? It came on Friday at the luncheon/media availability the NFL threw in New York City for six of the draft's top-rated players. Stepping outside the Lighthouse at the Chelsea Piers complex to view the Hudson River and Jersey City across the way, Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards spotted one of those view-finder machines that are in essence binoculars on a stand.

"Hey, anybody got a quarter?'' asked Edwards, who reportedly has already purchased a Bentley, and was a day shy of becoming a millionaire-to-be as the draft's third overall pick.


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