SI.com At The Draft Blog (cont.)
Chicago 6:54 p.m.
The Bears filled one of their big needs already with the selection of offensive tackle Chris Williams at No. 14. It looks as if they might be able to fill another at WR with the No. 44 pick. Several receivers projected to go in the first round have slipped into the second, meaning a value pick should be available when Chicago gets to select again.
Malcolm Kelly (Oklahoma), DeSean Jackson (Cal), Limas Sweed (Texas), James Hardy (Indiana), Dexter Jackson (Appalachian St.) and Arman Shields (Richmond) are all still on the board. The Bears have to be leaning in that direction right now. --Marty Burns
Long Island, N.Y. 6:50 p.m.
Vernon Gholston just graced us with a five-minute conference call. We graced him with some serious digital tape recorder-induced feedback. I'm talking Freddy Kreuger on a chalkboard shrill.
Gholston's a smart guy, so we got all the canned answers we expected: "I'm happy to be a Jet." "I didn't know where I'd go." Etc., etc... He did share this little tidbit, however, which Mangini and Co. reiterated. Gholston attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit, which pretty much serves as a University Michigan feeder. Instead of Ann Arbor, though, he landed in Columbus. A sin, of course. One guy who was in Michigan at the time, and who remembers scouting Gholston, is Jim Herrmann. Now Herrmann's the Jets' linebackers coach, and he had a lot to do with drafting Gholston.
Meanwhile, the Jets just traded up to No. 30 right in the middle of our dinner. We're officially in Freak Out mode. Purdue tight end Dustin Keller is the pick, and the reaction here isn't much different than at Radio City Music Hall: Kyle Brady-level hysteria. Someone's going to break something.
My favorite observation from the NFL Network's Keller bio: "Doesn't block." Not "can't block." Not "struggles at blocking." Just "doesn't block," as if he often thinks about blocking but simply chooses not to. That makes sense for New York. Bubba Franks, the tight end they acquired from Green Bay this offseason, is a better blocker. Keller, who had 142 career grabs at Purdue, will be more of a receiving threat. And Chris Baker, who's unhappy making less than Franks, will likely get dealt, perhaps for a pick tomorrow. --Adam Duerson
East Rutherford, N.J. 6:46 p.m.
There were a lot of "I-told-you-so's" in the Giants media room when Roger Goodell announced Kenny Phillips as the 31st pick. Phillips was the fifth defensive back taken in the first round, and for the second year in a row, the Giants selected a DB with their first pick. New York took Texas cornerback Aaron Ross last year with the 20th pick, and he made an immediate impact, starting nine games, playing in 15 and making 42 tackles.
The Giants still have James Butler at safety, but with Gibril Wilson gone to the Raiders, Phillips could also see immediate playing time depending on how things go during training camp with newly acquired safety Sammy Knight, who'll enter his 12th NFL season. --Elizabeth McGarr
New York City 6:42 p.m.
Roger Goodell was beaming at the podium when he announced that this was the shortest first round since 1990. The fans seem happy too, especially since two New York picks rounded out the round. The only people who don't seem happy are the TV people scurrying all over the place looking very stressed. --Andrew Perloff
Tampa Bay 6:40 p.m.
With every receiver still on the board and quarterbacks Chad Henne and Brian Brohm still out there, the Bucs picked ... a cornerback who admitted to testing positive three times for marijuana while in college?
Jon Gruden said he loved the selection of Kansas corner Aqib Talib, who likely will compete for the starting spot opposite Ronde Barber that came open when Brian Kelly signed with Detroit. Gruden downplayed a Pro Football Weekly report earlier this month that revealed Talib, who deflected 35 passes and intercepted 11 in the past two seasons, had admitted to failing the tests early in his career at Kansas.
"I'm not going to live in the past," Gruden said. "I'm going to live in the future. I trust this kid, and we're going to give him the opportunity to prove it. He understands exactly what we expect of him."
Talib said he made some bad choices after leaving Richardson, Texas, for Lawrence, Kan., but he said he has cleaned up his act. Talib was suspended for the first two games of the 2006 season, meaning his most recent transgression probably took place during the offseason between the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
"I went through a little phase in college," he said. "That stuff happened two and a half years ago."
A little wacky tobaccy use wasn't enough to scare off Gruden, who said Talib reminds him of Charles Woodson, who played for Gruden in Oakland. Like Woodson, Talib returned kicks and occasionally played offense in college. Last year, Talib caught eight passes for 182 yards and four touchdowns for the Jayhawks. Gruden smiled Saturday when someone asked whether Talib might moonlight on offense as a Buc.
"We'll use offense as motivation," Gruden said. "Cover that guy, and we'll let you play offense. Cover that guy, we might get you a reverse." --Andy Staples
Kansas City 6:35 p.m.
It appears as if there will not be a wide receiver taken in the first round of a draft for the first time since 1990. The first wideout taken that year was Alexander Wright by the Cowboys in the second round.
Only twice since 1990 has fewer than three wide receivers been taken in the first round: 2006 (Steelers took Santonio Holmes at No. 25) and 1992 (Redskins took Desmond Howard at No. 4). --Jim Trotter
New York City 6:30 p.m.
As a former I-AA player I am thrilled by the Baltimore Ravens draft selection of former Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco. For those of you keeping track at home, that is two I-AA (now FCS) players (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is the other one) selected in the first 18 picks, not bad for a "lower level" of football.
These two selections, along with impressive victories like Appalachian State over Michigan and Delaware over Navy are the latest indication of the closing gap between BCS and FCS competition. The chances of a team like Appalachian State beating Michigan 10 years ago would have been infinitesimal. The proliferation of the spread offense and the lower scholarship limits for the big boys have been a boon to football at the non I-A level.
Flacco is known for his big arm and he now has an excellent opportunity to carry the lower level flag that Steve McNair recently surrendered. If Flacco is even close to as successful as former I-AA player Tony Romo, the Ravens will be thrilled with their selection. --Ross Tucker
New York City 6:25 p.m.
While Jets fans in Radio City seem pleased with the selection of Vernon Gholston at No. 6 overall, questions remain about how exactly Vernon Gholston will fit in to Eric Mangini's 3-4 system. The Jets also acquired Calvin Pace, another DE-LB hybrid, this offseason and have Bryan Thomas at OLB.
Gholston didn't even want to guess at his press conference. "That's for the coaches to decide," Gholston said about how often he will line up with his hand on the ground with the intent of rushing the QB.
Gholston said he has confidence in his coverage abilities and everyone knows he can get after the quarterback. For a defensive chess player like Mangini, Gholston is an intriguing weapon. For a team that had just 29 sacks last season, he better help improve the pass rush. The Jets are going to have to create a lot of turnovers and get that offense good field position, because they might not be able to do much to improve at skill positions on offense today. --Andrew Perloff
Los Angeles 6:10 p.m.
Tim of Boston writes in to ask if Jerod Mayo was a reach at No. 10. I say no, not at all. It's exactly like the Dwight Freeney scenario I talked about in my mock draft review. Mayo went to the perfect team -- he is very smart, can play all the linebacker positions and he gives the Pats front seven more team speed.
Mark my words: In two years, Mayo will be a star. --Michael Lombardi
Alameda, Calif. 6:03 p.m.
McFaddenmania continues as the press here was given a quick eight-minute phone call with the Raiders' No. 4 pick. The Arkansas stud is in for an interesting awakening out on the West Coast, far away from his family. "It's going to be a good thing for me being away from home," he admitted.
He also says he's psyched to play for Lane Kiffin, who presided over Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Matt Leinart and Steve Smith during his two years as offensive coordinator at USC. Kiffin admitted he envisions a do-it-all role for McFadden, similar to how he molded 2005 Heisman winner Bush.
But going at No. 4? "It surprised me," McFadden said, "but coach said they were missing [a guy with] big-play ability and that's something I can help with." (For the record, McFadden sees himself as an upfield runner, a little different than Bush.)
When asked about the fan culture of the infamous Black Hole, McFadden said, "It's going to be very important to carry on a tradition because you never want to ruin a tradition." Recent Raiders tradition is all about losing, Darren. Ruin away. --Jonah Freedman
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