If the US Congress could figure out a way to collect one penny for every word written about the upcoming NFL Draft and about the myriad mock drafts
and about players moving up on draft boards and about other players sliding down to lower rounds, they would resolve the Social Security liquidity
problem overnight. After all, the Congress only needs to come up with a couple of trillion dollars to solve that mess. Notwithstanding the glut of
words here, I will add to the cacophony but with a small difference.
I will not do a mock draft. I won't pretend to have interviewed NFL GMs or coaches or "unidentified league sources". I won't tell you that I went to
the combine in Indianapolis or to any private workouts around the country. And most of all, I won't tell you that I have these mysterious and shadowy
friends and colleagues around the country who have done all those things and funneled the information back to me. I don't; and so, they didn't.
Here's the deal. I watch a lot of college football games because I like college football despite the NCAA and the BCS contrivance to frustrate the way
I think they should crown a national champion. And what I do is to keep a notepad by my side as I watch so that I can make notes on players I see who
impress me with their play. Now that the 2005 NFL Draft is about to happen, I have scooped up those notes and I'm trying to read my handwriting to
decipher what they say.
There are obviously several biases built into the background here. Only major colleges tend to be on TV. There may indeed be a fabulous punter at the
Colorado School of Mines; I would never see him. There may be someone on my list who played the single best game of his life on the day I caught his
act on TV so I wrote down the name of a guy who really has no shot at the NFL. Conversely, I may miss first round picks even when I saw them play
because they had an off day.
So, if you are in an NFL Draft Pool, do not use this information as the basis for your picks. I have no idea how the draft order will go. Neither do
lots of other writers, only they won't admit it. In fact, sometimes the teams have no idea what they are doing either. A long-term reader sent me this
item without a citation so I don't know if he got it somewhere or did the research himself.
"In the first NFL draft, there were nine teams and nine rounds in the draft. The Chicago Bears had two draft picks who wound up in the pro football
Hall of Fame. The Philadelphia Eagles took nine players who never played in a single NFL game."
This "factoid" is important for you to remember as you are watching the draft on TV this weekend. No matter what team drafts which player, the coach
or the GM or the owner will go on TV with one of the talking hair-dos and say that they just drafted the guy they had rated the highest all along in
this position. So, the teams never make any selection mistakes and no other team ever outmaneuvered them in getting key players. Yet we know that
there will be first round picks who "underachieve" and others who just plain stink out the joint. But according to the coaches/GMs that's who they
wanted from the outset.
I saw and I liked both Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers. I think Smith played - and excelled - in a "quirky" offensive system and so he might need a bit
more time to learn the NFL game because I doubt that the Utah "spread 'em out and run around offense" is about to become an NFL staple. On the other
hand, if intelligence is really valuable for a QB, I wrote down something from a graphic they had on the screen relative to Alex Smith; he graduated
in 2.5 years with a 3.7 GPA and a major in economics. Hello? That is a scholar athlete.
I also made a note about Kyle Orton who was touted as a potential Heisman Trophy winner.
Here's what I wrote:
"Overrated. Overhyped. Cannot possibly be the best college football player in the country. Looks like somebody to have on speed dial to sign as an
undrafted free agent when the last pick is made."
I did make a positive note about one QB who seems not to have gotten much ink in recent weeks. I liked Charlie Frye from Akron University based on his
play in one of the myriad All-Star Games [I didn't write down which one.]. This kid can throw a football and he looked plenty agile back there in the
pocket. I am often leery of QBs who don't get to play much against big time defenses but this kid has good physical tools. I'd take him long before I
took Kyle Orton. And wouldn't the headline writers in local papers in NFL cities love to say that a Charlie Frye led team "Fryed" their opponent some
time in the future?
I liked Cedric Benson from Texas last year but he decided to stay in school. He is big and strong and runs over people. He's fast enough to find a
hole and make a nice gain, but I don't see him breaking off many 75-yard runs in the NFL. If the Miami Dolphins are really nostalgic for a Ricky
Williams type runner, here is Benson who went to Texas and has dreadlocks and...
I think KJ Harris from West Virginia is worth taking in the middle rounds of the draft. My notes here say that he plays hard and finishes off runs
Of course, I liked the tandem of Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown from Auburn. If you saw Auburn play and didn't like these two guys, that means you
went to Alabama. I prefer Brown as an NFL prospect because he runs faster and he caught a couple of nice passes in whatever game I saw while making
Two other running backs of less notoriety that made their way to my notepad were Clatrick Fason (Florida) and Eric Shelton (Louisville). My notes say
that Fason is "workmanlike" and "doesn't seem to be doing much out there but he always gains yardage". Shelton simply got this note, "looks awfully
good to me".
I have only two players noted here and I have no idea if either of them has come to the attention of any NFL teams because these guys got my attention
mainly for their blocking. Paul Jefferson (Penn State) "knocks people down" and Keith Joseph (Texas A&M) is "a battering ram who looks like he weighs
as much as a Budweiser Clydesdale". I can't believe either of these guys will go early in the draft, but teams looking for blockers in the backfield
might think about either of them.
Of course Braylon Edwards (Michigan) and Mike Williams (USC) will be guys taken early in this year's draft. Here's a note on Edwards I took from a
screen graphic during a Michigan game. Edwards had a 3.3GPA with a major in African American Studies. That's impressive because most players don't get
their GPA flashed on the screen and most of them are in majors whose titles announce very boldly that they have been concocted solely for the purpose
of keeping athletes eligible.
I did see South Carolina play last year but I made no notes about Troy Williamson who is getting a lot of attention about now. Hi Ho!
I made this note about Fred Gibson (Georgia), "Tall, long strides, fast, good hands. But a BAD blocker". Maybe that's why he isn't being mentioned as
an early pick as a WR?
I have two guys listed here. One is named Alex Smith but he is not the quarterback from Utah so let me call him "The Other Alex Smith". He is from
Stanford and he is big but he is still fast for a TE. He catches the ball well and is a good enough blocker who can probably be taught to be
The other guy is Bill Bajema (Oklahoma State). They had a graphic on him that said he carried a 3.7 GPA as a Pre-Med student so I started to watch him
more closely than I had before. He is big; he is a good run blocker and he can catch. But he is not - repeat not - a deep threat in the NFL. So if a
team is looking for a TE that will "stretch the defense" they need to look elsewhere. If they are looking for a guy to help in the running game and
someone who can catch short passes to maintain possession and maybe score in the short red-zone passing game, maybe he is a guy to take later in the
Let me be sure you understand that I do not try to project where a player in college on the offensive line might make a career in the NFL. There are
too many examples of college tackles who became guards and vice versa for me to worry about that. I know that offensive linemen need to be big and
strong and agile and that is what I look for. So, let me begin by saying that several folks say that Alex Barron (Florida State) is the best OL in the
draft this year. I saw FSU play at least twice and probably four times last year and I do not have his name anywhere in my notes. So, basically, I
don't know Alex Barron from Alec Baldwin - except to say that I am 100% certain that Alec Baldwin would be a disaster as an offensive lineman in the
I was watching a Washington State football game last year and noticed an OL who was huge. He looked as if he was 7 feet tall weighed 400 lbs and had
arms long enough to scratch his ankles without bending at the waist. So I looked carefully and his name is - honest, I'm not making this up - Sam
Lightbody. [According to the WSU website, he is 6'9" tall and weighs 355 lbs.] I started watching him and he is a decent blocker with one major
problem. In a footrace with a glacier, the glacier would be a 2-5 favorite. But he is big and he is strong and you can't teach those things; so maybe
he's a guy for a team to look at in the late rounds of the draft.
I have a note here from the Senior Bowl that Khalif Barnes (University of Washington) is very strong and has good blocking technique. The announcers
said he was coming back from an injury and I don't know what that meant. If he injured his knee or something like that, then I'd wait a long time to
take him in the draft; if he had a hamstring pull, then I'd assume that could be healed by the time next football season rolled around.
I have a note here that Scott Murczkowski (Bowling Green) is a really good blocker for running plays as a center and that he seems to help out well on
pass blocking. I don't know if he is even eligible for this year's NFL draft, but my notes here say "mid-round pick".
My note regarding Evan Mathis (Alabama) is "big, quick, strong blocker". At some other time I wrote down, "pulls to lead sweeps to his side and the
other side well". How do I know that was written at some other time? It is written in a different color of ink.
I saw Oklahoma play a couple of times last year and I was impressed with Jammal Brown more than once. He is a good drive blocker who pulls well to
lead sweeps to either side of the field. And he's a good pass blocker too.
I just want to put down my comments here with regard to defensive linemen that I saw last season. None of them made me write anything down to make it
look like this would be a graduating class full of star defensive linemen. And come to think of it, there isn't a lot of "buzz" among the draft-geeks
about defensive linemen this year.
Matt Roth (Iowa): "very active and aggressive in pass situations". That surely has to beat "passive" or "corpse-like", no?
Jon Babineaux (Iowa): "great hustle and desire, never quits on a play". How did someone with that kind of name end up in Iowa instead of at LSU?
Dan Cody (Oklahoma): "very quick and very fast, might be OK as an inside pass rusher". Shouldn't the Buffalo Bills be very interested in anyone named
Marcus Spears (LSU): "very big, very strong, very slow" "use him to plug the middle against the run". In a 100-meter race between him and Sam
Lightbody (see above), there might never be a winner.
Darryl Shropshire (So. Carolina): "low center of gravity, good against the run". I may have been in my "polite mode" when I wrote that because "low
center of gravity" could be a euphemism for "very huge ass". I just don't remember...
Tom Bulman (Boston College): "VERY strong and aggressive with blockers but slower than Gilbert Brown on a bum leg".
Normally, I have a bunch of entries in this category; but this year, I have only two. And one of them is a lukewarm recommendation.
Derrick Johnson (Texas) is a fumble causing machine having set the NCAA record for forced fumbles in a season. He is "very fast" and "big enough to
take on blockers". He sometimes misses plays because he overruns them or tries for the spectacular hit. That's not good to be sure, but it beats
missing the play because there was no way on this - or any other - planet that he could have gotten there in time to make the play.
Channing Crowder (Florida) is big and can rush the passer as well as he plays the run. He is also fast enough to do some pass coverage too. The
problem here is that the announcers kept referring to his "off-field issues" and that always makes me stop and think because some really talented
players [Lawrence Phillips just to name one] have been useless at the pro level because of "off-field issues".
Antrell Rolle (Miami) is big and fast and very physical. He played CB at Miami but might be a better safety in the NFL. Given that his older brother,
Samari Rolle, has been a solid NFL player for a while now, that's a good sign because you might assume that Antrell has learned something about what
it means to play at that level from his brother.
Carlos Rogers (Auburn) is very athletic and very fast. He's not very big and does not play a physical game but has really good "closing speed" to the
ball once it is in the air. He is a prototype cornerback in the NFL.
Justin Fraley (Minnesota) was very impressive in the Hula Bowl. He is a big hitter who covers well.
Erik Green (VA Tech) is also a physical back who hits well and could be a good safety prospect in the NFL.
I have exactly zero kickers or punters on my notepad for last year. Obviously, some teams will take some players in that category, but nothing moved
me to pick up my pen and write down any notes.
OK, there it is. These are the collected impressions of a sports fan who watches a whole lot of college football. Now when you watch the NFL Draft
coverage on ESPN this weekend you may see some of these guys mentioned by people who actually get paid to form opinions on these kinds of things. But
don't focus on that. Try to focus on the answer to the following question:
Whose hairline looks more like Eddie Munster's? Billy Donovan or Mel Kiper, Jr.?
But don't get me wrong, I love sports........
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon