Sunday, April 29, 2007

Crazy Whacky NFL Draft Weekend [J. Mark English]

Its been said that aside from the Super Bowl, the most exciting weekend in the NFL is the draft itself. Sure has been shaping out that way this weekend.

Who would have thought that Randy Moss could be heading to the...Patriots? A team not known for going after self serving megalomaniacs. The New England Patriots are full of surprises so far in this off season. The loss to the Colts in last years AFC Championship game seems to have really gotten under their skin, and they are doing everything to make sure that a loss like that doesn't happen again.

Len Pasquarelli from ESPN tells us:

The New England Patriots have reached a trade agreement in principle to acquire wide receiver Randy Moss from the Oakland Raiders for a fourth-round round choice in Sunday's second day of the NFL draft.

There are still details to be completed, including Moss passing a physical examination by the Patriots' medical staff, but league sources said they expect the deal to be competed. As part of a trade, Moss would restructure and perhaps even extend his current contract, which calls for base salaries of $9.75 million in 2007 and $11.25 million in 2008.

Oakland and New England officials conducted on and off negotiations for the last several days. The Raiders, who acquired Moss from Minnesota in 2005, have been shopping the wide receiver much of the offseason.

What is strange about this trade from my perspective is that the Patriots never seem to need a star receiver, so why Moss? Last year they get rid of Deion Branch, and hardly miss a beat. Tom Brady seems to make anyone who can catch the ball a great wide receiver. So why go after Moss? But its hard to question a team that has won three Super Bowls over the past six years.

The New York Jets exhibited creativity, and ingenuity in the draft yesterday. Without losing much in the way of draft picks they moved up the latter and got themselves one heck of a defensive back in Darrelle Revis. Karen Crouse of the New York Times sorts out the confusion:

Looking to improve a defense that ranked 20th last season, the Jets traded up in order to select both players. They orchestrated the first trade of a long day when they swapped first-round picks with the Carolina Panthers, moving up 11 spots and making Revis the first cornerback chosen, at No. 14.

Revis, 21, who bypassed his senior year at Pittsburgh to enter the draft, is expected to compete immediately for a starting spot at the right corner, which was in flux last year. The Jets tried three starters at the position before settling on a fourth, Hank Poteat, whom they had cut earlier in the season.

In addition to giving the Panthers their first-round pick (25th over all), the Jets parted with picks in the second (59th) and fifth round (164th). They received a sixth-round pick (191st), which they later packaged with their second-round pick (63rd) and a third-round pick (89th) to consummate the trade with the Green Bay Packers that enabled them to select (David) Harris.

As for my New York Giants, they had a solid draft day as well under the leadership of rookie General Manager, Jerry Reese. John Branch, of the New York Times delves into the Giants day one of drafting:

The draft needs of the Giants were obvious, but their first choice was not. In recent weeks, they brought in about two dozen players for visits at Giants Stadium, many of them linebackers and cornerbacks. When it came time for their pick at No. 20 on Saturday, they drafted none of them.

While the Giants were making their selection, Texas cornerback Aaron Ross was outside his mother’s home in San Antonio tossing a football with a nephew. He did not know that the Giants had spent the past couple of hours trying, unsuccessfully, to trade up to nab one of two cornerbacks they had ranked higher. Ross did not know that the Giants had him ranked third, worthy of the 20th pick, and were bent on filling a need at the position...

...The Giants addressed another hole in their roster in the second round, drafting Southern California receiver Steve Smith. In the third round, they chose Penn State defensive tackle Jay Alford, who had eight and a half sacks in 2005 and eight in 2006.

Other shockers of the draft were the Cleveland Browns not taking Brady Quinn at the third spot. Instead they went for offensive lineman Joe Thomas. Brady Quinn, had all but openly stated that he wanted to play for Cleveland, since they are close to home for him. But who would have thought after the third pick of the draft he would have survived all the way down to the 22nd pick for the Browns to pluck him? There he was on the board for the Browns, and they scored big. Joe Thomas will not nearly cost as much Quinn would have if they took him with the 3rd pick. Instead they get a highly rated quarterback at a reduced cost, and will have a great lineman to plug in and help protect Quinn, as well help enhance their much maligned ground game.

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