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    First Round Talent Lacking - Peter King

    From Peter King...CNNSI

    Teams concerned about lack of talent in first round

    I've spent the last few days asking several NFL personnel people and scouts what kind of draft this is, and this is the conclusion I've drawn: This league is scared witless about the money it's about to pay this class of rookies, because there aren't enough first-round-caliber players who deserve it.

    One executive I spoke with -- a smart football man whom I trust very much -- said his team gave only 18 players first-round grades in its recently concluded draft meetings. That means, as he said, a bunch of second-round-quality players (at least, in this team's view) will be drafted between the middle and end of the first round, and they will make more money than players with holes deserve to make. "I bet you'll see plenty of teams in the mid- to low-first-round trying to trade down, and I bet they'll have a lot of trouble finding trading partners,'' this personnel guy said.

    And I don't recall hearing this many questions about top picks in a while. Does Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas look so good mostly because the crop of offensive linemen is so weak this year? Will LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell stay unspoiled and focused with $25 million in the bank? Is Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn -- the player who scares the teams at the top of this draft the most -- a product of the Charlie Weis system or a bona fide blue chip prospect? The only player question-free is Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson, who runs like a cornerback (4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and who has tight end size (6-foot-5, 239 pounds).

    "The top of this draft board is so weak,'' one top scout said. "Guys will be handed money who haven't done nearly enough to deserve it.''

    Ten quick observations I've gleaned over the past few days:

    1. The upset special of the first round? I say it's the ascension of Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson into the top 10. After a mediocre pro-day workout (4.75-second 40, 22 reps of the 225-pound bench press) the knocking of Anderson began. But there are many teams that view Anderson as the surest thing among defensive ends and outside linebackers; I've talked to three that like Anderson over top-five lock Gaines Adams, the Clemson defensive end. Anderson weighs 284 pounds, and he should be able to adapt to an end spot in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.

    2. Running back Adrian Peterson wants to be a Brown. So does Quinn. I met both of them the other day in New York, where they were promoting the Sprint draft phone. (How bizarre. You can get a cellular telephone and watch the draft on it.) Anyway, I asked Peterson: Got a gut feeling where you're going to get picked? Now, when you ask most guys this question, they've been well-schooled in not favoring one team over another. Said Peterson: "My gut feeling? Cleveland at three. Sitting down with them , I get the feeling they're very, very interested. I would love it there. The fans in Cleveland are the closest to college fans in the NFL. I love the Dawg Pound. I think I can be a franchise back and really help the Browns turn it around.''

    3. Regarding Quinn, he seemed to make a believer out of Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden during a Saturday morning workout in South Bend. "This is a very physical guy who can make all the plays," Gruden said. "I was very impressed. All I can say is he is a tremendous young prospect. He really blew me away with his workout."

    Quinn is having a good time with the process and seems, at least outwardly, to now take the pre-draft criticisms of his game (not accurate enough, can't win the big one, system quarterback, etc.) better than he did at the combine. "As far as draft analysis,'' he said, "I don't pay much attention to it. The only thing that matters is where you get picked, and learning everything you can about that offense once you get picked.''

    I asked one personnel man last week where he placed Quinn on his board. "Middle of the first round,'' he said. "When I watch him on tape, I come up with more questions than answers. I really don't like how he played against an athletic team like LSU in the bowl game this year, and you know he's going to face a lot of defenses like that in the NFL.''

    4. Everyone thinks the Raiders should pick JaMarcus Russell. I mean, everybody.

    5. At receiver, Dwayne Jarrett seems to be sinking like a stone. Ted Ginn Jr. is rising, bad foot and all. There are teams -- plural -- that, if they resolve all their medical questions about Ginn in the next week or so, will have him as the No. 2 receiver on their boards, just ahead of Robert Meachem of Tennessee and Dwayne Bowe of LSU. Jarrett? Smells like a second-rounder to me.

    6. Darrelle Revis, Leon Hall. Leon Hall, Darrelle Revis. Pick a corner, any corner. I bet NFL teams would be 17-15 in some order or 16-16 if you asked which corner they had rated higher, Pitts' Revis or Michigan's Hall. Opening-day 2007: Hall's your man. Reliable, big-game-tested. Opening-day 2009: Maybe Revis, who's slightly bigger with a little more potential. They are so similar, in fact, that Hall was .01 faster in dashing 10 yards (1.45 to 1.46) and Revis .01 faster in the 40- (4.38 to 4.39).

    7. More people like Joe Thomas than don't, but there is some question about his ability to overpower defensive ends. No question, though, he's one of the quickest left tackle prospects to come out in years, and he and Calvin Johnson are by far the top prospects with the fewest questions. "He's got no holes,'' Tampa Bay GM Bruce Allen told Thomas' agent, Peter Schaffer, after Thomas visited the Bucs last week.

    8. In the eyes of most teams, there seems to be a group of seven players who belong as high-first-round picks: Russell, Johnson, Adams, Peterson, Thomas, Quinn (despite the questions, because he's a quarterback) and safety LaRon Landry of LSU. After that, the questions start. "It's why I'd almost rather be 19 than nine in the first round,'' one GM said. "Because you get to nine, and there's a good chance the guy you have next on your board won't be the guy picked at eight, nine, 10, and the team at nine won't be able to trade back because the value just won't be there.''

    9. No one knows what Al Davis or Matt Millen are going to do at 1-2. This will make for an entertaining run-up to the draft.

    10. For a long time, defensive tackle Alan Branch looked like a sure-fire top-five pick. But most teams don't see the motor they'd like to see on a very high pick, and some see him only as a 3-4 nose man. So to invest the fourth, fifth or sixth pick on him ... dicey. Very dicey. And expensive.

    More to come next Monday. I'm not the world's biggest draftnik, and I think too many people go too nuts over this stuff and begin to project too much that can't be projected about 21-year-old kids (and, in the case of Amobi Okoye of Louisville, 19-year-old kids) until they get to a training camp. But the top of this draft is going to fascinating. It's Russian roulette, particularly for the Raiders and the Lions.


    Well heck, if the talent is that bad in the first round........nevermind.


  2. #2
    keith m. klink Guest

    Re: First Round Talent Lacking - Peter King

    very interesting point of view , which i'm sure will have a lot of us starting to question the talent. and the #13 pick.

  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: First Round Talent Lacking - Peter King

    Basically, King stated that he's not a draftnick, and that he's basing his comments on one scout's opinion. I suspect other scouts see it differently.

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    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: First Round Talent Lacking - Peter King

    That's why I don't go nuts about the draft. Lots of stuff can go wrong with kids 19-25.

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