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"Life in the UK"
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
NFC EAST 2009 DRAFT
Richard L Gale hands out some grades and opinion on the NFL's most competitive division
Adjusted Draft Grade C+
• The Cowboys traded out of day one, but loaded up in day two. There's talent here — LB Jason Williams will be a fit — and positionally Dallas gave their defense a lot of help, but there's inevitably a lot of maybes with this late a set of selections. There's no player who defines a position, and the coaches are going to have to work hard if any of these are going to put the Cowboys over the top in 2009. However, they should emerge from camps with some depth and rotation.
• The Cowboys lost DE Cris Canty and gained OLB Keith Brooking in free agency, but split three of their highest five picks between End and Linebacker with Williams, Williams and Butler. For a third round pick, Jason Williams was a nice acquisition, with a mixture of tackles, forced fumbles, pressures and sacks. Brandon Williams is a pass–rushing specialist who accounted for 17.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Butler tallied 22.5 sacks over the past two seasons. With Greg Ellis opposite Brooking at OLB, it must be p ed that all these pass rushing specialists are here to take time away from incumbent ends Marcus Spears and Igor Olshansky.
• The Cowboys left it late to address safety needs. Stephen Hodge is a tweener and may be a linebacker at the next level, if he can be converted. That leaves Michael Hamlin trying to fulfill needs at both strong and free safety, but Hamlin is also a player best suited to mauling those who have caught the ball rather than preventing them from doing so. The Cowboys selected two late picks at corner as well, and 5th round zoner DeAngelo Smith may have to be regarded as a free safety for this set of selections to work. 7th rounder Mike Mickens is also somebody who may suit short zone coverage, so this tangle of talent need to be stretched thin across any argument that the Cowboys matched the needs of their secondary. The Cowboys have now made seven picks for the secondary over the past two drafts.
• The Cowboys needed depth across the interior of their offensive line, so while college right tackle Robert Brewster isn't necessarily a future starter, he could be a valuable band aid across the line. A couple more guards were signed in time for mini–camp.
• The 3–QB theory of 'one starter, one mentor, one project' has a vacancy in that third position with Tony Romo and Jon Kitna taking the first two. Stephen McGee is a strong candidate, but must fend off undrafted free agent signing Rudy Carpenter from Arizona.
• WR Roy Williams didn't do a whole lot after the Cowboys spent a 1st and a 3rd and a 5th to acquire him from the Lions mid–2008. But they bet the house on his this draft, acquiring only three receivers including undrafted free agents. A 7th was used on Oklahoma's Manuel Johnson, who has speed and flashes of playmaking ability, but he's a small receiver and if the size of Terrell Owens is missed, undrafted Kevin Ogletree of Virginia may be a shot.
New York Giants
Adjusted Draft Grade C+
• Everybody expected the Giants to at least seek out a new Plaxico Burress, and the Giants set about infusing their offense with new names after the departures of the past two seasons. Hakeem Nicks looks like an NFL natural as a possession receiver, Ramses Barden is a large (6–6) small school target, and while Giants would love to combine those qualities into a Plaxico Burress replacement, the two picks address the problem now, and potentially in the future, respectively. Nicks particularly looked good on game film.
• Another target arrived in the form of Travis Beckum, who the Giants hope upgrades Kevin Boss as receiving tight end. He may only be a slight upgrade, and not immediately so, but the position was a need. Jared Cook and Chase Coffman had both come off the board a few picks ahead of the Giants (and Shawn Nelson was still on the board) suggesting the Giants didn't necessarily play their selection at TE as well as they could have. They also signed pure receiving tight end Darius Hill as an undrafted free agent.
• Other offensive notes: Will Beatty matched a need at offensive tackle, and continued to progress as a senior and get bigger (in a god way) for the combine. The Giants have room on the roster for a developmental quarterback such as Rhett Bomar, and Andre Brown is a solid back who looked good at the Senior bowl and could work in now that Derrick Ward has gone.
• They might have addressed LB once more than they did, but Sintim could be a knock–out pass rusher —he had 20.5 sacks the past two years — if he counts as a linebacker rather than a DE in the Giant's system. That's certainly an option after the first wave of undrafted free agent signings that included DEs Maurice Evans of Penn State, Alex Field of Virginia and Kenny Minor or Troy. Evans was at one time considered a high draft pick, but a marijuana–related suspension allowed Aaron Maybin to steal his Nittany Lions limelight.
Adjusted Draft Grade C+
• Early in free agency, it seemed the Eagles were ignoring Donovan McNabb's pleas for offensive linemen and receivers. Come April, Philadelphia made him a happy passer, trading for one of the NFL's best tackles, adding two more linemen in the draft, plus two receivers, a back with receiving skills, and the heir apparent to LJ Smith at tight end.
• Andy Reid had recently stated his belief that the Eagles could do fine with the receivers they had, but come the draft, Philly made a wise trade to leap over the Lions and snatch the sliding Jeremy Maclin. Far from being the big receiver some (probably including McNabb) feel the Eagles need, Maclin is a soft–handed quick–shifting target around six feet. The fact that he isn't a radically different physical target from existing Eagles DeSean Jackson or Kevin Curtis is a minor knock on his selection, but if Jackson builds on his debut season, Maclin could help the Eagles smurf opponents to death.
• There's no doubting Maclin was something of a steal at that point in the first round, and at pick 53, so was RB LeSean McCoy. As well as a being a runner who not only suits their system, but has been in a pro–style system across state at Pitt, he has the receiving skills to replace Correll Buckhalter as relief man for Brian Westbrook, and perhaps replace Westbrook eventually. Again the criticism is there — the Eagles didn't draft anything different from existing personnel — but again the easy defense: this team makes a habit of making it to the NFC championship game, so it's hard to mess with the formula.
• Nobody's really seen the best of TE Cornelius Ingram, except in patches. He started two games in 2006, five in 2007, and due to injury, none in 2008. When he was on the field, he looked like a phenomenal receiver, and if he can maintain fitness as a pro, he could be one of the best TEs in a pretty good class. As a fifth round pick, his upside makes him another steal.
• The Eagles helped their line by giving up one of their two first round picks for ex–Bill Jason Peters just a week before the draft. Peters is one of the best young tackles in the game, and that move allowed the Eagles to enter the draft with their biggest need satisfied. However, they also added line depth with Fenuki Tupou in the fifth round. Paul Fanaika (round 7) is probably a longer shot, and might be beaten out for a depth role by undrafted free agent Dallas Reynolds of BYU.
• The Eagles also made some defensive moves, trading two fifth rounders over the draft weekend to bring in cornerback Ellis Hobbs from New England. Hobbs could be a starter if he's fit, so that was a worthwhile trade, but they used another 5th to draft Victor Harris. Harris is the latest in a 'diminishing returns' line of corners from Virginia Tech, where character concerns are becoming too common a theme. Hobbs' veteran skills may be useful while Harris is broken in. In the meantime Harris should be a valuable special teamer.
• The value was good on the first three selections, the Eagles matches some needs and got a few extras. They didn't deal with a growing need at safety, but post–draft they invited undrafted free agent Reshard Langford, a four–year starter at Vanderbilt who will be another special teams bonus at the very least, tackles like a linebacker, and who has the character to apply himself.
Adjusted Draft Grade C+
• Some felt Orakpo would go earlier, and Washington lucked in at no.13 with this explosive outside pass–rusher. He could play OLB or DE, and Washington are fortunate to land him because their other outside acquisition, Cody Glenn, strikes me as having a high bust potential, with off–field issues mixing with injuries from 2006 through to the combine. The Redskins didn't pay the earth for him, but with such a short draft, every keeper counts. Round 6 LB Robert Henson has a short resumé —he started full time only as a senior — so beyond Orakpo, I'm not sure Washington helps themselves much on the front seven.
• Washington appeared to be on the look–out for an H–back. That tag could be applied to any one of three players arriving this week: Eddie Williams (who some believe may figure as a fullback because of soft hands and smooth moves), and free agents Robert Agnone of Delaware and Jaison Williams of Oregon. Both Williams and 7th round pick Marko Mitchell are tall receivers (6–3), but both are inconsistent catchers, so between the late draftees and undrafted free agents, those hands of Eddie Williams are going to look good. in camp.
• Washington also have issues at quarterback. They reportedly tried to make a move for Jay Cutler a few weeks ago, and again on draft day to get at Mark Sanchez. Jason Campbell, we may assume, is not their guy for the future. However, they didn't land a quarterback during the draft, so the sticky situation becomes stickier. Missouri's Chase Daniel was signed after the draft, but unless Campbell is shipped, he's be fighting Colt Brennan for the no.3 role, and Daniel strikes me as the sort of college hero who doesn't make a ripple as a pro anywhere south of the border.
• Offensive line needs were not addressed in the draft itself, but two Maryland players, tackle Scott Burley and center Edwin Williams were signed thereafter. Both are at least bodies for camp, although Williams was a run–proven and strong draftable talent who could hang on to a roster spot for September.
• Ex–Colt 'Hunter the Punter' Smith signed during draft week.
• A bigger move on the offensive line would have been good, and clearing up that quarterback situation was desirable, so this was something of a half–draft, with not a lot to show for Washington's efforts beyond the first three rounds. DB Kevin Barnes has great straight line speed and together with Orakpo, will figure in 2009. But in this of all divisions, this draft looks like baby steps.