Monday Morning QB (cont.)
Posted: Monday April 23, 2007 3:05AM; Updated: Monday April 23, 2007 3:38PM
2. I know it makes more sense for the Bucs to move down to No. 6 than it does for them to do anything else. If I'm Allen, this is what I'm thinking: My defense is older than Lauren Bacall. I've got a superb defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, trying to make chicken salad out of chicken feathers; and there are two players in this draft who are perfect for the defense we play, Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams and Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye. At least one of them will be available at No. 6, where Washington currently resides. So if the Redskins are hot-to-trot over Johnson, Allen would be smart to deal down two slots.
3. I know there's some intense anger over the leaking of marijuana admissions of top prospects last week. Pro Football Weekly reported that Johnson, Okoye and Adams admitted in interviews at the NFL Scouting Combine that they'd used marijuana.
At the combine, the NFL does boilerplate interviews, about 15 minutes in length, with every one of the 320 prospects on hand. The interviews are taped, filed and made available to any team that wants to watch them before the draft, in case they haven't had a chance to meet the players themselves. What angers many team officials is the league asks players to be open and honest in the interviews and tells the players they're for internal league use only. And then the info is splashed in headlines just before the draft, possibly endangering the high-draft status of the players who were honest during the interviews. If a player can't trust the information is going to be kept private, then why be honest?
"I'm incensed it was leaked,'' Indianapolis GM Bill Polian told me. "It's disgusting, it's unprofessional, it's amoral. It shouldn't happen. I am absolutely sickened by it. I can't tell you how sickened I am. This is confidential information and a violation of everything honorable that the league stands for.''
Polian, in fact, wants to see Commissioner Goodell investigate and discipline the leaker -- assuming, of course, he or she can be found. And judging by the negative firestorm around the league since this information was published, my guess is the source has gone so far underground the league will never find out who it was.
"I view the people who did this in the same vein as the people who violate the NFL's code of conduct,'' said Polian. "Because it's conduct that brings ill-repute on the league. It makes the NFL look terrible and dishonorable. I hope the commissioner suspends who did this, the same way he suspended those players [Pacman Jones, Chris Henry] last week.''
Few people in this league can rant like Polian. But I can tell you he's not alone on this one. There's going to be some pressure on Goodell to investigate this leak.
4. I know the Raiders, wisely, are zeroing in on JaMarcus Russell. Silence is golden, and no one around the Raiders is talking about their strategy. But let's try not to overthink this one. If the Raiders pass on the quarterback who makes scouts think of an Elway/Culpepper combo platter because of his arm strength and size, they'll be making a huge mistake. Don't discount the accuracy factor, either. Russell simply is a more on-target thrower, at all distances, than Brady Quinn.
5. I know the Lions will ignore the draft-trade value chart if they can find a suitor for their pick. I told a Cowboys official the other day: "That draft value chart you guys created is the dumbest thing I've ever seen, and it's got all the GMs in the league spooked.''
You probably have heard of this chart. A Cowboys front-office man named Mike McCoy invented it when Jimmy Johnson took over as coach in 1989. It assigns a point value to every slot in the draft. The first overall pick is worth 3,000 points, No. 10 is worth 1,300, No. 40 worth 500, No. 80 worth 190, etc.
The Lions, picking second, would be happy with a number of players, from what I hear, and are aggressively trying to trade down. I don't see it happening; but if Detroit does, I know Matt Millen won't be tied to getting the exact value the chart dictates. "The chart is a guideline,'' one draft-board setter told me the other day. "It shouldn't be gospel. When you trade, you have to look at the market and see what the market will bear.''
6. I know Eric Wright is the most seductive player in this draft. Wright is a corner from UNLV. He transferred from USC after being accused of rape (the charges were later dropped) and having 136 Ecstasy pills found in his on-campus dorm room. He played but 22 college games, starting 10. But then he went to the Combine, ran a 4.36 40-yard dash, and scouts started studying his six UNLV starts from 2006 like crazy. Interesting case.
USC doesn't hate the kid; in fact, one USC official told an NFL scout recently that Wright would have easily been the Trojans' best prospect in this draft had he not gotten into his trouble off the field. But he did, and now teams have to decide if he's worth the clean slate, particularly in light of the league's acute attention to player character. I'll say this: I wouldn't be surprised if he was drafted 15th or 50th.
"He's the best cover corner in the draft, though he takes a few too many chances,'' this scout told me. One problem: Scouts can't figure out why the Vegas coaches subbed for him on quite a few series last year. It wasn't an injury, I'm told.
7. I know the player who teams will be doing the most work on in the final pre-draft hours is Kent State cornerback Usama Young. It's a mediocre crop of corners this year, and interest was piqued when Young ran a 4.39 40 at his pro day. "We've got grades all over the board on him,'' one AFC scout told me. "He's probably more of a zone corner guy, and you don't see him play all that well on tape; but he's the kind of a guy a good defensive coach would think he could turn into a decent starter or a solid nickel. He'll probably be a first-day pick.''
Finally, one question for the NFL: Is the draft still working as the best tool to narrow the gap between good and mediocre teams in the sport? Seems to me the risk for being wrong in the top three is so great in salary cap and roster implications that we've totally gotten away from why the draft was set up, which was to make sure the teams on the bottom didn't stay there for long. I hope to address that issue in more depth after the draft.
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