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Draft Report Card (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday April 26, 2005 12:27PM; Updated: Wednesday April 27, 2005 3:35PM
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A-

p1_clayton.jpg
A two-time All-American, the 5-10 Clayton holds virtually every receiving record in Oklahoma's record book.
AP

RAVENS -- They wanted a quality tackle. They might have gotten one on their second pick in the second round, Adam Terry. While they were waiting for him to come walking into their parlor, they picked up a very classy receiver Mark Clayton, and added a pick that warmed my sentimental old heart, DE Dan Cody. A super-intense guy ... too intense, some scouts said. Ripe for emotional burnout. Nonsense, said the Ravens. Let's let him do his burning in our uniform.

DOLPHINS -- While I had my mock draft jumping through all kinds of hoops, setting up a trade so that Miami could get Rodgers, the QB, I neglected one factor. The club just wasn't thrilled by him. But Ronnie Brown is the class runner of this draft. DE Matt Roth was a projected first rounder whom the Dolphins got in the second. LB Channing Crowder was projected to round No. 2 and Miami got him a round lower. So the Dolphins' modest little six-pick of a draft turned into a magnum of Champagne.

B+/A- (Conditional)

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BROWNS -- OK, Braylon Edwards was the best wideout on the board. It's a nice pick for them. And Brodney Pool is, arguably, the best free safety, and it's a bullseye in round two. But the third-round guy, QB Charlie Frye could really put them over the top. Trent Dilfer is a sturdy old pro, but is he really their future? They say Frye is accurate. Very heady. It's gonna take a while, but if, eventually, he becomes the man, then this will be evaluated as a very solid draft. Thus, the "conditional" notation up on top.

B+/A-

CHARGERS -- They wanted the good outside rusher, Shawne Merriman, and they got him. They figured a decent wideout would be waiting for them on their second pick of the first round, but -- hello there -- the steroid-type substance (I keep forgetting the name of whatever it was he got nailed for) that cost DT Luis Castillo a spot in mid-first round also dropped him into the Chargers' lap, and they weren't afraid to take a chance. Then they got a huge, 6-4 1/2, 229-pound wideout, Vincent Jackson, lower down, and spee ... uh, no, I promised not to say it ... and the exciting little RB Darren Sproles, a round later. I read this as a reincarnation of ex-Chargers Mikhael Ricks, who didn't really work out, and Lionel (Little Train) James, who hit it big.

B+

CARDINALS -- Remember the Vikings' terrific and highly productive little runner, Darren Nelson? That's how I see the Cards' second-round choice, J.J. Arrington. A little dynamo who averaged seven yards a pop while leading the country in rushing yards last year. Why all the concentration on the second round? Because everyone figured the club would fill its need for a runner in the first round, but instead the Cards got Antrel Rolle, one of the top two corners in the draft, and picked up their runner anyway.

49ers -- Nobody can complain about the way they styled the top of their draft. First they get the QB they want (Alex Smith), and then build the cast around him on their next three picks -- and a good cast it is: two solid linemen, David Baas and Adam Snyder; and a runner, Frank Gore, who's a gamble, coming back from an injury, but has a big upside.

B

TITANS -- The war in the sky dominated their draft, which is logical after they lost both starting corners and two of their top four wideouts. It's the gnat attack ... little guys flying all over their draft board, three wideouts, two corners and a free safety. That's what I like, logically addressing a problem, just as the Cowboys did. Adam (Pac Man) Jones ranked as the draft's best corner, and I think the Titans found a good guy in fourth-round WR Roydell Williams, one of the Senior Bowl stickouts.

PANTHERS -- An intriguing draft. Thomas Davis, a 230-pound safety converted to LB , at the top. Eric Shelton, the 247-pound RB, in round No. 2. Farther down, QB Stefan LeFors, a courageous chap who grew up in a family plagued by deafness, is a precision passer who completed 73.7 percent last year and threw only three picks. But the guy who really intrigues me and I'd most like to interview is fifth-round center Geoff Hangartner. Unless I saw a typo, he scored 47 out of 50 on his Wonderlic, the NFL's IQ test. I haven't seen that high a scorer since the Yalie QB Brian Dowling in the late 1960s. Dowling was the character upon whom the comic strip Doonesbury is based. Yet Hangartner comes into the league with a record that includes a suspension from spring practice, 24 hours of community service and enrollment in an alcohol awareness program. My first question to him would be, "Shouldn't you know better?"

RAIDERS -- A capsule of more than 40 years of Raiders philosophy -- breathtaking speed (corners Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt, both in the high 4.2s, at the top of the draft); big arm (long range but erratic QB Andrew Walter); some kind of violation (DT Anttaj Hawthorne, marijuana at the Combine). Some gambles there, sure, but in their heyday the Raiders never chose the safe route.

BUCCANEERS -- I have to admit, I'm seduced by sheer weight of numbers (12 picks) here. There isn't much to dislike. Cadillac Williams is one of the big-three runners. The next five picks on the board are all people you've heard of, from major programs. Oddly enough, not one of them is a D-lineman, and that position used to be the heart of the old Bucs teams.

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