Posted by Walter
11. Buffalo Bills
Everyone thinks the pick will be……..Malcolm Kelly
Again, it’s not hard to see why the Bills would be interested in Kelly. Trent Edwards was a nice surprise in 2007, and he’s a big downfield pocket passer who needs reliable targets on both sides to be effective. The Bills believe 2007 was an anomaly for deep threat Lee Evans, so Kelly, at 6’4’’ and nearly 230 lbs., would seem to be the perfect compliment. Or does he? I have been a staunch Malcolm Kelly supporter, but even I think he’s being a bit overrated heading into the draft. Kelly has all the physical tools you look for, but he also has the knack for disappearing for long stretches during important games. Anyone who watched Oklahoma football this past season saw that the offense ran smoothest when Bradford was able to distribute the ball to all his weapons (Kelly, Iglesias, and Gresham). Despite his size and speed (honestly, Kelly should have been a man among boys in the Big 12) Kelly inexplicably was unable to take over games. Look, do I think Malcolm Kelly could turn into a big time NFL receiver? I sure do. But, he has not come close t showing the consistency or work ethic to warrant the number 11 overall selection….of course that will all change if he blazes a sub 4.5 forty time.
The pick will actually be…….Aqib Talib
This is just a gut feeling. Really, after Mike Jenkins all the other defensive backs are lumped together. Some teams will prefer McKelvin, others Talib, and still others Cromartie. My gut tells me that the CB desperate Bills will fall in love with one of those guys, and that guy will be Talib. Frankly, it’s the right choice. McKelvin and Cromartie may someday be good players, but they are still very raw and have a lot of development ahead of them. Talib, on the other hand, is a polished corner who already plays an NFL style game. More importantly, though, and the thing that the Bills will lust for, is that Talib has the uncanny ability to get his hands on the football and make big plays when he does. Defensive backs who bat down passes are a dime a dozen. The true value lies in the guys who are ballhawks. NFL quarterbacks don’t make many mistakes, so you need to have guys in your defensive backfield who can capitalize when they do. Unlike any other corner in the draft, Talib has the ability to channel his inner Ty Law and come up with the big play, as evidenced by his numerous interceptions and touchdowns at Kansas. I’m telling you, some team is going to sit down and watch film on this kid and just fall in love. Buffalo will be happy if its them.
12. Denver Broncos
Everyone thinks the pick will be……..Ryan Clady
Ryan Clady will be LONG gone by the time the Broncos draft, but really you could put any tackle’s name in. The Broncos’ offensive line has gotten old in a hurry, and to keep up their tradition of dominant running games they are going to need to reload. That said, unless the nimble footed Clady falls all the way to 12 (unlikely), I don’t see any lineman being available that fits into what the Broncos try to do on offense. As we all know, the Broncos’ zone blocking scheme prefers lighter, quicker lineman, especially on the interior. Their entire running game is predicated on their lineman having the athletic ability to get to the 2nd level and get a “hat on a hat” with the opposing linebackers. While Clady is athletic enough to fit that bill, Sam Baker, Chris Williams, and Jeff Otah (the tackles likely to be available in this spot) are simply too upright and plodding to execute that scheme. It’s an interesting dilemma because if Denver were to draft based solely on need, they could reach for Virginia guard Brandon Albert who’d be a perfect fit for them. However, it’s doubtful that they’d use a high first round pick on a guard, especially when they’ve had so much success drafting lineman in the late rounds.
The pick will actually be…….Jonathan Stewart
Hmmmmm, a phrase about how many ways there are to skin a cat comes to mind. Yes the Broncos’ offensive line is getting old and may not be as dominant as they used to be. And yes that may have an adverse affect on the running game. And yes the Broncos need to do something in this draft to upgrade the running game to meet the lofty standards they’ve consistently set for themselves. But NO, reaching for an offensive lineman is not the only way to do it. Drafting the electrifying Jonathan Stewart would do just fine. Think about it. Since Clinton Portis left the Broncos have always had A+ offensive lines, blocking for B- backs, which was enough to make their running game a B+. If you no longer have that A+ line, you’d better have an A+ back. Enter Jonathan Stewart. The Travis Henry experiment has been, shall we say interesting, but even notwithstanding his paternity issues Henry is getting old. And nothing against Selvin Young who did a nice job last year, but he is simply not going to strike fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators the way Stewart will. Stewart is the classic Bronco one-cut back. In the Broncos scheme it is imperative that the running back do two things simultaneously. First, he must attack the hole where the play is called. Second, he must sense, not see but sense, the cutback lane. Stewart is a perfect one-cut back, because he has the “vision” to feel cutback lanes, but at 230 pounds he has the strength to square his shoulder pads and power through the hole should a lane not present itself. Stewart actually reminds me quite a bit of Terrell Davis, only with breakaway speed. This may not be a glaring need pick for the Broncos, but Jonathan Stewart would be a consistent 1600 yard back for Denver.
13. Carolina Panthers
Everyone thinks the pick will be……..Jeff Otah
The Panthers do have some holes on the offensive line, but drafting a stud tackle before getting the necessary skill players would be putting the cart before the horse so to speak. This assessment rings especially true when one considers the fact that the Panthers already have a capable left tackle in Jordan Gross, and they drafted a future starting center last year in Ryan Kalil. Otah is a very solid offensive line prospect, but he is still extremely raw and there are questions about whether he has the feet to play left tackle in the pros. More of a mauler than a technician, Otah is actually very similar to Gross. To think that the Panthers are going to draft another tackle who may or may not be able to play on the left side (Gross has always been a stud RT and only an adequate LT) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. If Jake Long or Ryan Clady, or some other sure fire stud left tackle were available then the Panthers would be smart to jump. But they have enough holes that they shouldn’t reach for a tackle project this early in round 1.
The pick will actually be…….Brian Brohm
I think I’ve been a bit unfair to Brian Brohm recently. While I am not enamored with his physical tools, I do think he has a chance to be a very solid NFL quarterback if he is drafted into the right system. There is a lot to like about Brohm. He is accurate, intelligent, throws well on the move, and has a great football pedigree. But there is also a lot to dislike. He is injury prone, he played in a QB friendly college system, and he has an alarming lack of pure arm strength. In reality I believe Brohm projects as a rich man’s Chad Pennington, who, lest we forget, was a pro bowl caliber QB for several years. All that said, I simply do not think the Panthers can afford to pass on him in this spot. Jake Delhomme has been playing on borrowed time for almost 2 years now and is no longer an adequate NFL passer. He got lucky one year and led his team to the Super Bowl, and for some reason that lightning-in-a-bottle run convinced the Panthers to overlook all his obvious shortcomings for the next 4 seasons. Moreover, the David Carr experiment has been a complete disaster, and while Matt Moore may have shown the ability to be a backup I seriously doubt the Panthers want to hitch their franchise to him for the next decade. No, Brian Brohm is a nice, safe pick. He may never be Joe Montana, but he probably won’t be Heath Shuler either. Sure Carolina could pass on Brohm and roll the dice with Andre Woodson or Chad Henne in round 2, but this is a franchise that has to realize they’ve always come up a bit short in the QB department. Drafting a second tier prospect and crossing your fingers isn’t the way to reverse that trend.
14. Chicago Bears
Everyone thinks the pick will be……..Rashard Mendenhall
If everyone doesn’t think it will be Mendenhall then they definitely think it will be some other skill position player on offense, right? RIGHT? Well, not exactly. The Bears are a team in absolute disarray. Their once vaunted defense has been decimated by injuries and defections, and you can count the number of NFL caliber offensive players on one hand. Cedric Benson has been an absolute bust, with Muhammad and possibly Berrian gone the receiving corpse lacks any type of threat, the offensive line is in shambles, and the quarterback situation is still manned by the Grossman/Orton two headed monster. In short, the Bears are in big trouble no matter which way they go because they can only plug one hole with this pick. It seems clear that the fan base would be placated most by a franchise QB, but while this class has depth, the only two 1st round caliber signal callers are probably going to be off the board by the 14th pick. That leaves the RB position to draw the ire of the fans. With Cedric Benson giving the Bears absolutely nothing in three seasons, conventional wisdom says its time to cut bait. Rashard Mendenhall is a local kid (having played at Illinois), who would instantly upgrade the running game with his toughness and game breaking ability. Still, for a team that has had an offense as bad as the Bears have, for as long as the Bears have, it seems unlikely that they will give up on a former top 5 pick just like that. I think we can all agree that Mendenhall is, right now, a better back than Benson, but to spend another first round pick on a RB when the team needs a talent upgrade at so many other positions would be a very tough pill for the Bears front office to swallow.
The pick will actually be…….Jeff Otah
I can almost hear the boos raining down already. Actually, this is the pick the Bears should make. It is clear to everyone that the Bears are currently going in the wrong direction. Their decline from the Super Bowl should continue for at least another couple years, meaning they have plenty of time (not to mention some more high draft picks) to retool and rebuild. The best way to start that process, though, is to solidify the lines of scrimmage. Now, the Bears are actually OK along the defensive line with Tommie Harris, Mark Anderson and Co. However, they need some serious help along the offensive front. Otah, the massive tackle from Pitt, may be just what the doctor ordered. Otah is incredibly raw, but a gifted football player. He is big, tough, mean, and derives great pleasure from knocking heads with defensive players. That said, he needs a lot of work as a pass protector so he’ll probably have to start his career as a right tackle. Previously I compared him to Jordan Gross which I don’t think is so far off. However, Otah is more physically imposing than Gross and has the potential to develop into a top flight left tackle (something Gross never did). Of course, that is only potential right now. At this point in the draft Otah offers the Bears the best value because, although it may take a year or two, he has the ability to develop into an all-pro left tackle.
15. Detroit Lions
Everyone thinks the pick will be……..Leodis McKelvin
The pick will actually be…….Leodis McKelvin
Another pretty easy call. The Lions simply have to (HAVE TO!) take the best available defensive back in this spot. In an era where the passing game is having such a renaissance that slot receivers (a.k.a. third receivers) are getting multimillion dollar contracts, teams must stock their defensive backfield with a number of guys who can cover. It’s just not enough to have two anymore. Of course that doesn’t really matter for the Lions since they don’t have anyone who can cover. McKelvin, as I’ve stated, is somewhat of a project. However, his physical tools are undeniable. I think the Lions would rather have the more polished Aqib Talib in this spot, but it seems unlikely he will fall this far. Still, McKelvin is not a bad consolation prize. The Lions need to understand that they are still a few years away from competing, so they will have time to let McKelvin develop (he won’t be an immediate impact player). Plus, Lions’ coach Rod Marinelli is from the Tampa 2 school of defense, which prefers corners who are tough and physical. McKelvin fits both descriptions and should immediately upgrade the talent level in the Lions’ defensive backfield. The only other guy I could see the Lions jumping at in this spot is Miami’s Kenny Phillips. He probably can’t play corner in the NFL, but he is the classic impact Miami safety who would be more an immediate player than McKelvin, but doesn’t have the same long term potential.