The NFL Draft

The NFL Draft

Two days….two days…dos dias…that is all the time that remains between now and one of the most highly anticipated and hyped professional drafts of all time. This is the one time in the year that EVERY fan of EVERY team has hope. After the draft, they will know one of four things: that their franchise either will be a) able to turn it around b) keep winning c) just plain continue to suck d) nothing more than they knew before. A fan may think that a good draft equals a good season, but that isn’t necessarily true. A bad draft can you set you back years (Bengals, Cardinals are a few examples) and a good draft can deliver success quickly (Big Ben is the best example). There are no guarantees and that is the reason the intrigue for this years draft is so high. There are so many athletic players here that show great potential, moreso than in previous years’ drafts, especially at the quarterback position, but you just never really know until a few years down the road whether this year’s draft was a productive crop of young men or not. I’m just like you, growing real weary of the redundant focus on the top three quarterbacks and where they should go in the draft and to what team, and also of the overdone topic of who the Texans will select with the first overall pick. There are a thousand scenarios of things that can happen (99% of which will probably NOT happen) and a stadium full of storylines that are floating around to increase the intrigue and interest in this year’s draft. Even with all this, I am excited to find out exactly what will happen. I can’t remember a recent draft that has been this muddled with indecision, indecision which is especially prevalent in the top 10.

It seems like no team is sure of what they want to do with their pick, although this could all just be a huge facade thrown by GMs everywhere just to mislead the media and other GMs. This could be one of those drafts that people look back on and deem special, it has that much potential. The talent in the top 10 is there to possibly give it that distinction in years to come. This draft can be special if Reggie Bush resembles anything close to the jawdropping athletic excellence he exhibited at USC and if the top three quarterbacks (Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, and Vince Young) prove to be good, if not great, pros. These are all big if’s, and knowing me, I have to explore them. As far as Reggie Bush, I really do believe he will be a great pro and that he will go No. 1 overall. I don’t know if all the comparisons being made to Gale Sayers and Barry Sanders are fair, but the kid definitely has got the speed and break-your-ankles, And1 type ability to make people not only miss, but embarass themselves. He has shown up huge in every big game they have had. Even against Texas, he averaged 6 yards a carry and performed well against a pro-style defense in Texas. There is no reason to believe he cannot duplicate at least some of those results against NFL defenses, he will just need a little time and adjustment, but he will be just fine.

Now the real hot topic, the burning question: Who is the best quarterback of this year’s class and who should go where? Now mind you this, I’m from the A (Atlanta), where we know a little something, where we have just a little, just a small bit of firsthand knowledge about a mobile quarterback (sense the sarcasm?). Not only does our professional football team have a mobile quarterback, so did our two major collegiate programs (DJ Shockley of UGA and Reggie Ball of GT). I do not see how you can pass up a talent like Vince Young. He is simply put, the truth. You CANNOT underestimate his athletic prowess and ability to do things that leave you scratching your head as if you have just seen the athletic reincarnation of Houdini. You wonder, how can a guy his size and height be able to do the things he does? Just like the LeBron ad says that we are all witnesses, so to are we witnesses of Michael Vick, the visionary of mobile quarterbacks, he has redefined the position and proven that a mobile quarterback can win, and win often. Vince Young is a more accomplished passer than Michael Vick was coming out of college (Cmon’, he was fourth in the nation in accuracy, pretty impressive for a “running” quarterback, huh?). He does not have the breathtaking explosiveness that Vick has, but he has the same ability to change a game with his legs and arm, whether it be buying time in the pocket or scrambling. He is taller than Vick (almost 6-5), so he will have no problem seeing over the defense and his delivery should not be a problem, especially considering that many quarterbacks have succeeded with awkward throwing motions. Take Bernie Kosar for example, and even Randall Cunningham, who used to have a slingshot motion when throwing.

Vince may be more susceptible to fumbles because of his lower motion, but I will put my money on the fact that he won’t fumble when someone sneezes like Duante Culpepper has done throughout his career. It seems like a small breeze could knock the ball out of Duante’s hands. I mean, cmon, how often do you think he’ll fumble with that ocean breeze blowing into that stadium down in Miami? I can give you a thousand reasons as to why Vince Young is the best quarterback prospect out of the top three, but how many can you give me as to why he isn’t? And please, no one start with the wonderlic test, that has nothing to do with what is relevant to the NFL, and winning football games and championships is all that is relevant in the NFL. He led his team to a comeback victory on the largest, grandest, and most important stage of his football career. He didn’t even flinch in the face of adversity and pressure, in the face of critics who didn’t believe his style could ever lead the Longhorns to the promised land. I couldn’t pass on Vince, couldn’t do it, especially after not seeing what Michael Vick has done for the A. People can criticize Vick all they want, but they can’t deny his success, and honestly, how many other guys besides Vick would you rather have leading your two minute drill in the fourth quarter? What maybe Brady? Manning? McNabb? Maybe, but besides them, who else would you rather have? Vince will bring that same dimension and realm of possiblities to any team that drafts him. As far as Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler, I have to go with the proven winner in Matt Leinart, say what you want about the talent around him and program he played for, but Matt Leinart has maximized the results he has gotten out of his team and himself. How can you knock a guy for having talented guys around him to work with?

Honestly, What has Cutler done? In terms of victories, he can’t even hold Vince’s or Matt’s jock. Maybe he will prove to the best of the three, but what has led anyone to even think that? I mean, he can throw the ball really hard and he put up good numbers for a bad team, but what does that really say about him as a quarterback? I will give it to him because he played in arguably the toughest football conference in the nation, the SEC, but the fact is that he didn’t win much as a quarterback. Cutler is an impressive physical specimen, but he just doesn’t have the victories to impress me. He has dealt with more pressure in the pocket than either Leinart or Vince, but in terms of overall pressure (from the Media, fans, alumni, expectations), there is no way that he has had to deal with as much as Vince or Matt. I do not think that you can underestimate the pressure that Matt and Vince have faced. Remember, Leinart had to fill Carson Palmer’s golden, Heisman shoes, and Vince wasn’t an outright starter until his sophomore year, remember the debate between him and Chance Mock? Cutler has been the golden boy at Vanderbilt from day one and hasn’t had to deal with any added pressure. Vince and Matt are more ready to deal with the media and the highs and lows of an NFL season than Cutler is. With all that being said (and yeah, there was a lot said), here is my mock NFL draft of the first 10 picks (subject to change):

1. Houston Texans – Reggie Bush
No, they’re not trading down or selecting Mario Williams, they need a playmaker on offense. They were the
3rd worst offense in the NFL last year, even with weapons like David Carr, Domanick Davis, and Andre
Johnson.

2. New Orleans Saints – Mario Williams
They have weapons on offense (Brees, McCallister, Horn, Stallworth), now they need to improve that
defense and nobody would be a better fit than Williams who played ball in the South and will get to stay there (they could go for an offensive lineman ala “The Brick House” (D’Brickashaw Ferguson) to compensate for the loss of LeCharles Bentley, but I Williams knows how to get to the quarterback, and that can’t be understated)

3. Tennessee Titans – Matt Leinart
How can they refuse to draft Norm Chow’s protege? I wonder how his other protege is doing (Carson
Palmer)…hmmm…from Hollywood to Dollywood…

4. New York Jets – Vince Young
A little surprise here, but can’t you just see Vince draped on one of those Times Squares Billboards wearing
Sean John? This is more wishful thinking on my part than anything, but wouldn’t it be great? After playing under the pressure of football crazy Texas, the NY pressure shouldn’t be too difficult to deal with…plus, NY hasn’t had a playmaker like this since LT, and he will open up the running game for Curtis Martin, just look at what Vick has done for Warrick Dunn in Atlanta…is there enough room for two Vince’s (Carter and Young) in the tri-state area? We’ll find out…

5. Green Bay Packers – Jay Cutler…kidding….AJ Hawk
They want to keep Brett Favre happy and desperately need to improve that maligned defense, so Hawk, the
ball-hawking linebacker ( pun intended) from Ohio State will fill the hole and provide immediate help and
results

6. San Francisco 49ers – D’Brickashaw Ferguson
A little surprise that he fell into their hands this low, but they’ll take it, the #1 rated offensive tackle will help
Alex Smith stop sucking face with the grass about 70 times a year, and plus, the guy has an apostrophe in his name…I mean, how many football players can say that? Dre’ Bly? There aren’t too many more after that)

7. Oakland Raiders – MIchael Huff
They want to replace the void left by the departure of Charles Woodson to Green Bay and of Philip
Buchanon a few years ago, so they have to find a playmaker in the seconday and Texas’ Michael Huff fills
that void (if only Vince was still available….Can you imagine Vince scrambling around the pocket and finding Randy Moss deep? Ooooohhh Weeeee!!! Maybe Vince will fall to them?)

8. Buffalo Bills – Vernon Davis
I guess Cutler wouldn’t be a bad pick here, but I’m guessing that they’re willing to try the JP Losman
experiment for just a little while longer, and give him another target to speed along his development and Davis is a tight end with WR 40 time and self proclaimed “best tight end in the NFL”…he will improve passing game and open up running game for Bill’s best offensive player, Willis McGahee.

9. Detroit Lions – Winston Justice
What did Winston do to deserve this? To go from the sunny beaches and beautiful women of Southern Cal
to Detroit? From success to the complete opposite of it? Anyways, they need to be able to protect their
quarterback better so he can get the ball to those highly touted first round receivers and to open up lanes for
Kevin Jones (A defensive player could be an option, maybe Michael Huff of Texas if he falls or Ernie Sims of Florida State).

10. Arizona Cardinals – Jay Cutler
Denny Green is great and developing quarterbacks, although Vince would have made Denny Green
absolutely salivate, especially with those receivers. Can you imagine, Vince, Edge, Anquain, and Fitz? Man
o man, that would be fun to watch. Nevertheless, they will go with the overrated Jay Cutler who will give them
an heir apparent to Kurt Warner (not a bad insurance policy either, just in case Warner goes down).

And yes, I have Leinart going before Vince, even though I believe Vince is better, but this is more about what I feel WILL Happen, rather than what I feel SHOULD happen, and a lot of it has to do with a team’s need and comfortability level rather than the over best athlete…too bad my Atlanta Falcons do not have a pick until the second round…maybe they can trade Matt Schaub and get a first round pick? And maybe compensate that by drafting a quarterback in the later rounds? Homegrown DJ Shockley wouldn’t be a bad option, a poor man’s Vick who is a more accomplished passer coming out of college, but that’s a story for another day……

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