We’re winding down. Only four more days until the NFL Draft and that mean’s TheBaker’s Draft Anthology is coming to close.
So far in this seven-part epic, detailing each and every round of the Draft since 1995:
You learned Stylez G. White came from Round Seven.
We taught you about one of Norway’s great modern heroes in Round Six.
Cecil Collins’ sleepwalking escapades made Round Five a must read.
A Unabomber suspect and a no good Canadian highlighted Round Four.
And in Round Three, we brought you the guy Packers’ fans consider a bigger bust than Tony Mandarich.
Now, onto Round Two:
1. P Todd Sauerbrun – Chicago, No. 56 (West Virginia)
2. TE Ken Dilger – Indianapolis, No. 48 (Illinois)
3. OL Matt O’Dwyer – New York Jets, No. 33 (Northwestern)
Summary: A three-time Pro Bowler, Sauerbrun was the first punter I remember with a pierced ear and a cocky attitude. He showcased a big, but inconsistent leg in Chicago, but away from the winds of Lake Michigan, Sauerbrun flourished. In Carolina, he led the league in average yards per punt in 2001 and 2002
(47.5 and 45.5 yards, respectively). He last kicked for Denver, where he averaged an altitude assisted 46.8 yards a punt. A 10-year NFL vet, Dilger caught 356 passes for 4,099 yards split between stints in Indianapolis and Tampa Bay. The University of Illinois product was named to the 2001 Pro Bowl, though his best season might have been his rookie year (42 catches for 635 yards and four scores). O’Dwyer hasn’t done anything terribly sexy in his 10-year career, in fact, I can guarantee it was the furthest thing from sexy, but he started in 105 of his 122 career games. He held down right guard for the Jets from 1996-1998 and left guard for the Bengals from 1999-2002.
Honorable Mention: QB/WR Kordell Stewart – Pittsburgh, No. 60 (Colorado); C Barret Robbins – Los Angeles Raiders, No. 49 (TCU); CB Bobby Taylor – Philadelphia, No. 50 (Notre Dame); C Cory Raymer – Washington, No. 37 (Wisconsin); TE Christian Fauria – Seattle, No. 39 (California); WR Frank Sanders – Arizona, No. 47 (Auburn); LB Ted Johnson – New England, No. 57 (Colorado).
I Can Watch This Guy Run Over Purdue All Day: FB Ray Zellars – Notre Dame, No. 44 (New Orleans). As an Indiana University grad, I’ve learned to despise the other two large universities in the state (and my apologies to Dave Letterman, but Ball State didn’t make the cut). And while I’m anti-Notre Dame, I can say I harbor much more disdain for Purdon’t. So when a fullback does this to them on national TV, well I just get all warm and fuzzy inside. Zellars played 48 games for the Saints, starting 29. He ran for 1,351 career yards and 11 touchdowns before retiring after the 1998 season. He now coaches the running backs at Duquesne University.
Thanks NFLPA: OL Brian DeMarco – Michigan State, No. 40 (Jacksonville). DeMarco last five years in the NFL before injuries forced him to retire at 27. He had 17 fractures in his spine, his elbows were both shattered and he had significant nerve damage, stemming from his more than 12 concussions. He and his wife and two children were homeless three times because of the high costs to pay DeMarco’s health bills. He applied to the NFLPA to get disability for four years to no avail. The Gridiron Greats, which clashed with former NFLPA head Gene Upshaw, helped pay some of DeMarco’s health bills and is currently taking donations for the DeMarco family.
Entrepreneurship 101: RB Sherman Williams – Alabama, No. 46 (Dallas). A five-year NFL veteran, Williams was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2000 on three counts of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and a separate plea for passing off counterfeit money. He told an interviewer, his time in the NFL toughened him up. “You know, I would think that things that would kills the average man wouldn’t even make me flinch.” He went onto explain his entrepreneurial traits. “I was always into some type of business. I would sell you the red off a brick…Whenever you’re a businessman, there’s always a risk. The most successful businessmen in the world are going to be high risk takers. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Me, I just was a risk taker.” Rumor has it, he’s out of prison and selling paint on the black market.
1. S Brian Dawkins – Phiadelphia, No. 61 (Clemson)
2. FB Mike Alstott – Tampa Bay, No. 35 (Purdue)
3. S Lawyer Milloy – New England, No. 36 (Washington)
Summary: About as intense as they come, Dawkins has been a tour de force for the Eagles in their secondary since Draft Day 1996. He started 182 of his 183 games in Philly and recorded 936 tackles, 21 sacks and 34 interceptions. A seven-time Pro Bowler, Dawkins is taking his intensity to Denver and breaking Eagles’ fans hearts everywhere. An Eagles employee angrily posted on his own Facebook page and then was fired by the team for criticizing the organization. The Broncos play the Eagles in Philadelphia and Dawkins is giving the fired employee tickets to the game. His six Pro Bowl appearances offer an inflated picture of Alstott. He was basically the lone fullback in the NFL who continued to get regular carries, hence becoming the de facto face of the position. That’s no to diminish Alstott’s achievements, all achieved during his 11 years with Tampa Bay. He finished his career with 5,088 yards and 58 touchdowns. He nearly ran for 1,000 yards in 1999 (he finished with 949) and reached double digits in touchdowns in 2001 (10). Not the most loved opponent in the game, Milloy was selected to the Pro Bowl four times and was a heat sinking missile at safety. A tackling machine, Milloy has 1,318 total tackles in his career and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots. After seven years in New England, he spent three season each with Buffalo and Atlanta, serving as their starter at strong safety. Last season with the Falcons, Milloy made 93 tackles, fourth best on the team.
Honorable Mention: WR Amani Toomer – New York Giants, No. 34 (Michigan); WR Muhsin Muhammad – Carolina, No. 43 (Michigan State); DE Tony Brackens – Jacksonville, No. 33 (Texas); WR Bobby Engram – Chicago, No. 52 (Penn State); DE Lance Johnstone – Oakland, No. 57 (Temple); LB Randall Godfrey – Dallas, No. 49 (Georgia); S Reggie Tongue – Kansas City, No. 58 (Oregon State).
I Remember You Kicked Ass In College But Blew In The Pros: RB Leeland McElroy – Texas A&M, No. 32 (Arizona). Despite missing two entire games and parts of others during the 1995 season, McElroy came just 30 yards short of setting a Texas A&M school record in all-purpose yards in a season with 1,709. But the preseason hype, which had McElroy as a Heisman hopeful and the Aggies as a national title contender, dissipated when “Lectric Leeland” and Co., couldn’t beat Colorado. McElroy started the season opener for the Cardinals, but was out of the starting lineup by Week Five. He spent another year with Arizona before they released him, and he spent preseasons with Tampa Bay, Denver and Indianapolis, but never played in an NFL game again.
So This Is What Happens When A Defensive Lineman Nails A Kicker: DE Tony Brackens – Texas, No. 33 (Jacksonville). Here’s just another example of why kickers shouldn’t be allowed to cross the line of scrimmage. This is basically what it would look like if I tried to scamper down the sideline and a large man wanted to stop me. When he wasn’t killing a kicker’s future family, he enjoyed a decent NFL career. A one-time Pro Bowler, Brackens is the Jaguars’ franchise leader in sacks (55), but was released in 2003 because of nagging injuries and a high price tag.
I Can Still See The Jets’ Fans Convulsing: WR Alex Van Dyke – Nevada, No. 31 (New York Jets). With the first pick of the second round, the Jets took a little known receiver from the football factory that is the University of Nevada. Never mind that the Jets already took Keyshawn Johnson first overall in the Draft. Van Dyke played three seasons in New York and caught 25 passes. Their co-tenants in the Meadowlands, drafted Amani Toomer three picks later. Toomer has played 13 seasons with the Giants and is still going strong (503 receiving yards shy of 10,000 for his career). Van Dyke is Going Vertical in Sacramento.
1. RB Tiki Barber – New York Giants, No. 36 (Virginia)
2. S Darren Sharper – Green Bay, No. 60 (William & Mary)
3. RB Corey Dillon – Cincinnati, No. 43 (Washington)
Summary: Rodney Hampton’s replacement, Barber struggled with injuries his rookie season and then was used as a bit time player before breaking out in 2000. He started 12 games and ran for 1,006 yards, helping the Giants reach the Super Bowl. Barber then signed a long-term deal as the Giants’ feature back and ran for 8,508 yards over the next six seasons. Also a threat as a receiver, Barber’s 15,632 total yards from scrimmage are 10th best in NFL history. A four-time Pro Bowler, Sharper is one of the best ball hawks in the league. His 54 career interceptions rank him 18th best in league history, but tops among active players. After eight seasons with the Packers, Sharper joined NFC North rival Minnesota and was named to two Pro Bowls as a Viking. This offseason, the college teammate of Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin chose to bring his 857 career tackles to the defensively challenged Saints. It wasn’t all bad in Cincinnati in the late ‘90s. Dillon was perhaps the lone bright spot for an overall shitty franchise. From 1997 to 2002, Dillon surpassed 1,000 rushing yards each year and he broke Walter Payton’s record for most yards in one game (278 vs. Denver). He escaped Cincy in 2004 and landed in New England, where he ran for 1,635 yards and was named to his fourth Pro Bowl. For his career, he ran for 11,241 yards (17th best in NFL history).
Honorable Mention: QB Jake Plummer – Arizona, No. 42 (Arizona State); LB Jamie Sharper – Baltimore, No. 34 (Virginia); CB Sam Madison – Miami, No. 44 (Louisville); DE Marcellus Wiley – Buffalo, No, 52 (Columbia); S Mike Minter – carolina, No. 56 (Nebraska).
I Remember You Kicked Ass In College But Blew In The Pros: RB Byron Hanspard – Texas Tech, No. 41 (Atlanta). Texas Tech’s all-time leading rusher, Hanspard ran for more than 2,000 yards his junior season before foregoing his senior season. An ordained Pentecostal minister, he claimed going to the NFL would help expand his ministry. Apparently, going to class wasn’t doing the trick. He stopped going to classes and posted a 0.00 GPA for the 1996 fall semester and forced Tech to withdraw from bowl consideration the following season. Primarily a kick returner, Hanspard’s career was marred by injuries and he played just two seasons in the NFL.
In The Near Future, My Brother-In-Law Is Going To Lay Me Out: TE John Allred – USC, No. 38 (Chicago). Yet another wasted Bears’ draft pick, Allred was an epic flop. He started just 12 games and caught 30 total passes in four years in Chicago. His time in the Windy City was highlighted when in 1997 his brother-in-law, Tampa Bay legend John Lynch, knocked him out. I wonder if it was for disclosing unnecessary details about he and his sister’s sex-life (which unfortunately I get from my brother-in-law). No hard feelings apparently as they co-host a celebrity golf tournament (Allred, the owner of “Toes on the Nose” surf shop in Laguna Beach, is a huge draw) and the former Trojan tight end serves on the Board of Directors of The John Lynch Foundation.
Don’t Get Snake Bit: QB Jake Plummer – Arizona State, No. 42 (Arizona). A Consensus All-American, Plummer nearly led the Sun Devils to a national title in 1996, then got drafted by the team that shared the stadium. Two years later, he led Arizona to the city’s first playoff win when the Cardinals beat the Cowboys 20-7 in the NFC Wild Card Game. After six seasons in the desert, he left for Denver, where he started for four seasons, compiling a 39-15 record, but always seemed to cost his team in the postseason. He was traded to Tampa Bay, but refused to show. Plummer was required to pay back $3.5 million to the Bucs. He and his cheerleader wife moved to Plummer’s native Idaho and Plummer became a professional Handball player. In 2008, he was beat by his brother, Eric, in the semifinals at the Idaho State Singles Championships. An interesting sidenote: Plummer was given the nickname “The Snake,” in reference to pro wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Funny thing though, is that Roberts actually adopted “The Snake” moniker in tribute to his favorite quarterback Kenny “The Snake” Stabler.
Rudy, Rudy, Rudy: FB Marc Edwards – Notre Dame, No. 55 (San Francisco). Against fifth-ranked USC in 1995, Edwards scored three touchdowns, threw for a two-point conversion and ran in another conversion in a 38-10 beatdown. He was carried off the field, becoming just the second player ever to be carried off Notre Dame’s field. The other is Daniel E. Ruettiger. Edwards spent nine seasons in the NFL, starting 82 games between the 49ers, Browns, Patriots, Jaguars and Bears.
1. T Flozell Adams – Dallas, No. 38 (Michigan State)
2. CB Patrick Surtain – Miami, No. 44 (Southern Miss)
3. CB Samari Rolle – Tennessee, No. 48 (Florida State)
Summary: Usually the league leader in false start penalties, Adams still manages to find his way to Hawaii each year (he’s been to five Pro Bowls since 2003). Known as “The Hotel,” Adams came into the league playing right guard for the Cowboys, starting 12 games there, before moving to his natural position, left tackle. He’s missed just 10 games in his career (all coming in 2005) and has played at a high level at a premium position for a decade. With Sam Madison at one corner spot and Surtain at the other, the Dolphins had one of the most underrated corner duos in the league. Surtain earned the starter’s job full-time in 2000 and garnered three straight trips to the Pro Bowl (2002-04). His 37 career interceptions are ninth most among active players. He played in eight games with Kansas City last season, but struggled with injuries and is now a free agent. A six-year starter for Tennessee and Pro Bowler in 2000, Rolle signed a lucrative deal with Baltimore where he spent four up and down seasons. Shoulder and neck pain as well as epilepsy has restricted Rolle to just 15 games the last two seasons.
Honorable Mention: DB Corey Chavous – Arizona, No. 33 (Vanderbilt); S Tony Parrish – Chicago, No. 35 (Washington); LB Sam Cowart – Buffalo, No. 39 (Florida State); TE Stephen Alexander – Washington, No. 48 (Oklahoma); C Jeremy Newberry – San Francisco, No. 58 (California); WR Joe Jurevicius – New York Giants, No. 55 (Penn State); T Anthony Clement – Arizona, No. 36 (Louisiana-Lafayette).
Hey Rook, Welcome To The NFL ‘Hard Knocks’ Style: TE Cam Cleeland – Washington, No. 40 (New Orleans). In just your typical rookie hazing ritual, Cleeland had his head bashed with a bag of coins, suffering an eye injury. That was getting off easy compared to fellow rookie Jeff Danish, who was sent through a window and hospitalized for stitches. He sued and settled. Cleeland played seven seasons in the NFL, last with the Rams in 2005. For his career, he had 131 receptions for 1,478 yards and 13 touchdowns.
That’s Some Good Ol’ Southern French: WR Jacquez Green – Florida, No. 34 (Tampa Bay). This is what happens when creative naming goes terribly wrong. Either give your kid a French name or don’t. Don’t do this. Don’t name him D’Tanyian Jacquez. I’m assuming, you meant D’Artagnan Jacques. You know, the main character of “Three Musketeers” paired with that dude who explored the ocean. An All-America at Florida, Green played parts of six seasons in the NFL, racked up 2,311 receiving yards and won the Madden Bowl.
Another Sun Devil Dog: DT Jeremy Staat – Arizona State, No. 41 (Pittsburgh). Pat Tillman’s college roommate, Staat played three seasons with the Steelers before the Sept. 11 attacks and expressed his desire to quit the NFL and join the Marines. But Tillman encouraged him to stay long enough to earn a league retirement plan. After Tillman’s death in 2004, Staat joined the Marines, and in 2007 he was deployed to Iraq for a seven-month mission.
Got A Soft Spot Saved For You Big Guy: FB Robert Holcombe – Illinois, No. 37 (St. Louis). Growing up a University of Illinois fan, I freaking loved this dude. The school’s all-time leader in every rushing category, Holcombe was deemed too slow to be a featured back in the NFL. The Rams took him and made him a fullback, a position he played admirably, winning himself a Super Bowl in 2000.
1. CB Dre Bly – St. Louis, No. 41 (North Carolina)
2. LB Mike Peterson – Indianapolis, No. 36 (Florida)
3. WR Peerless Price – Buffalo, No. 53 (Tennessee)
Summary: I’m not going to lie. Personally, I think Bly isn’t anything special. But 111 starts and 40 interceptions tells me otherwise. But I’m sure I’ve seen this guy toasted numerous times. Though, corners are judged by interceptions, and Bly makes them (he’s seventh among active players). Voted to consecutive Pro Bowls as a Lion (how does that happen?), Bly was traded to Denver to pair with Champ Bailey. Despite the corner duo, the Broncos finished 26th in pass defense last season. Told you he wasn’t that good. Peterson had his detractors too when the Colts decided to let him walk after the 2002 season. He had been the team’s most productive tackler on a team that struggled on defense, be the Colts decided not to pay him and saw him sign with division rival Jacksonville. The Jaguars’ starter at middle linebacker, Peterson was a key cog in one of the league’s best units. He struggled with injuries last season and was let go by Jacksonville. In the offseason, he decided to take his 998 career tackles to Atlanta. I’m probably giving this next guy too much credit just because of name recognition, but Price put up some decent numbers in his career (403 catches for 5,281 yards and 31 scores). His best season came in 2002 when he caught 94 passes for 1,252 yards and nine touchdowns. The Falcons broke the bank to give Michael Vick’s passing attack more bite. He lasted just two seasons in Atlanta and spent a year in Dallas before returning to Buffalo in 2006.
Honorable Mention: DE Mike Rucker – Carolina, No. 38 (Nebraska); DT John Thornton – Tennessee, No. 52 (West Virginia); G Randy Thomas – New York Jets, No. 57 (Mississippi State); T Chris Terry – Carolina, No. 34 (Georgia); TE Jim Kleinsasser – Minnesota, No. 44 (North Dakota); RB Kevin Faulk – New England, No. 46 (LSU);
I Remember You Kicked Ass In College But Blew In The Pros: RB Mike Cloud – Boston College, No. 54 (Kansas City). In 1998, Cloud set a Big East single-season record with 1,729 rushing yards as a senior. But Boston College’s all-time leading rusher never rushed for more than 200 yards in any of his seven pro seasons, which included a suspension for taking an over-the-counter supplement.
We Should Probably Stick To Banking…Wait A Second: G Lennie Friedman – Duke, No. 61 (Denver). Like Mike Rosenthal before him (see Round Five), Friedman was elected into the Jewish Hall of Fame in 2004. What did it take? Only 32 starts at the time. He played in an additional 32 games with the Browns from 2006-07, but only started two. What a schlub.
1. S Mike Brown – Chicago, No. 39 (Nebraska)
2. T Marvel Smith – Pittsburgh, No. 38 (Arizona State)
3. T Chad Clifton – Green Bay, No. 44 (Tennessee)
Summary: Maybe this is a sentimental pick, but for my money Brown was one of the best free safeties in the game when he was healthy. That was always the problem with Brown – health. He missed 45 games because of injury from 2004-2007. When he was healthy, he was starting (99 starts in 100 games) and producing big plays. I was present at Soldier Field for one personally on Oct. 28, 2001 when Brown intercepted Jeff Garcia in overtime and ran 33 yards toward the end zone I sat in. A week later, he intercepted Tim Couch in overtime and ran it back 16 yards for the game-winning score. The Bears finally decided to let him go this offseason, saying they simply couldn’t trust his body despite starting 15 games last season. The Steelers starting left tackle, Smith missed all but five games last season with a back injury. A two-time Super Bowl champion and 2004 Pro Bowler, Smith took his 108 career starts to San Francisco this offseason when the Steelers decided not to re-sign him. After claiming the starting left tackle position midway through his rookie season, Clifton has held onto it ever since. He’s made 126 starts since 2000 and was named to the 2007 Pro Bowl.
Honorable Mention: S Deon Grant – Carolina, No. 57 (Tennessee); DE Darren Howard – New Orleans, No. 33 (Kansas State); DT Fred Robbins – Minnesota, No. 55 (Wake Forest); LB Ian Gold – Denver, No. 40 (Michigan); LB Marcus Washington – Indianapolis, No. 59 (Auburn); WR Jerry Porter – Oakland, No. 47 (West Virginia); WR Dennis Northcutt – Cleveland, No. 32 (Arizona); G Cosey Coleman – Tampa Bay, No. 51 (Tennessee); C Brad Meester – Jacksonville, No. 32 (Northern Iowa).
I Knew This Before The ESPN Segment On Tuesday: CB Dwayne Goodrich – Tennessee, No. 49 (Dallas). After completing his third season with the Cowboys, Goodrich was involved in a deadly hit and run accident on Jan. 14, 2003, killing two people. Police believed that Goodrich was driving at 110 mph and struck and killed two motorists who were trying to rescue a man from a burning car on a North Dallas freeway. It’s a good thing Tony Romo didn’t pull over. He was convicted on two counts of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
Todd Stinkston: WR Todd Pinkston – Southern Miss, No. 36 (Philadelphia). Now, it’s understandable that this rail-thin 180-pounder wouldn’t want to get hit. But then don’t play football. “You’ve heard of alligator arms. This is alligator body.” Pinkston started four years for the Eagles, his best coming in 2002 when he caught 60 catches for 798 yards and seven scores, before tearing his Achilles tendon. The Vikings signed him in 2006, but cut him six days later.
1. QB Drew Brees – San Diego, No. 32 (Purdue)
2. WR Chad Ocho Cinco – Cincinnati. No. 36 (Oregon State)
3. DT Shaun Rogers – Detroit, No. 61 (Texas)
Summary: Last year’s Offensive Player of the Year, Brees led the league with 5,069 passing yards, 15 short of Dan Marino’s single season record, and touchdowns with 34. A less than prolific passer in his first three seasons, Brees broke out in 2004, the year the Chargers picked Philip Rivers. That year, Brees threw for 3,159 yards with 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. After another solid season, Brees left for New Orleans and led the league with 4,418 yards in 2006. A three-time Pro Bowler, Brees has the keys to one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL. Whether he’s crying or not to leave Cincinnati as T.J. Houshmandzadeh told the world this week, Ocho Cinco (formerly Chad Johnson) isn’t going anywhere according to Marvin Lewis. And it’s easy to see why they’re not all that excited about trying to move him. He put up at least 1,100 receiving yards in six straight seasons before injuries and awful quarterback play last season saw his numbers halved. Ocho Cinco is a sideshow. A glamour boy wideout. But there’s a reason for that – he’s good. We wouldn’t care about him if he wasn’t. He’s one good season shy of reaching 10,000 career rushing yards and who knows, maybe a healthy Carson Palmer can help him get there. It was a close call between Rogers and Kris Jenkins. Rogers has been to three Pro Bowls, Jenkins to four. But the former Texas Longhorn has more career starters (112 to Jenkins’ 95), more sacks (33.5 to 24) and more tackles (433 to 266). And to be honest, rooting for a team in the NFC North, I’ve seen Rogers more.
Honorable Mention: DT Kris Jenkins – Carolina, No. 44 (Maryland); DE Kyle Vanden Bosch – Arizona, No. 34 (Nebraska); DE Aaron Schobel – Buffalo, No. 46 (TCU); T Matt Light – New England, No. 48 (Purdue); TE Alge Crumpler – Atlanta, No. 35 (North Carolina); CB Ken Lucas – Seattle, No. 40 (Mississippi); WR Chris Chambers – Miami, No. 52 (Wisconsin); RB LaMont Jordan – New York Jets, No. 49 (Maryland).
A Man’s Got To Feed His Dysfunctional Family: RB Travis Henry – Tennessee, No. 58 (Denver). If Sherman Williams taught us anything, it’s that football players will get creative to try to make a buck and feed their families. And few have a family quite like Travis Henry, who has nine children by nine women. While rushing for more than 1,000 yards three times, Henry was dodging child support payments and smoking dope. After Henry was released by the Broncos for repeated failed drug tests, he was arrested by the DEA with cocaine. He is accused of being “the ruthless money guy” in a cocaine trafficking ring and faces 10 years to life on federal drug trafficking charges. As part of his plea agreement Henry will pay $4 million in fines. That should help with the child support.
Paging Captain Stubing: CB Fred Smoot – Mississippi State, No. 45 (Washington). Seen as the ringleader of the Vikings’ Love Boat Party, Smoot had prostitutes flown in from Atlanta and Florida for a two-boat, 90-person party. Hey, whatever floats your boat. Smoot plead guilty to disorderly conduct and being a public nuisance on a watercraft, paid a fine and performed 48 hours of community service. Smoot has 98 starts in his career, including nine last season with the Redskins. He has 21 career interceptions and 422 total tackles.
1. RB Clinton Portis – Denver, No. 51 (Miami)
2. WR Antonio Bryant – Dallas, No. 63 (Pittsburgh)
3. CB Sheldon Brown – Philadelphia, No. 59 (South Carolina)
Summary: After rushing for more than 1,500 yards in each of his first two seasons and racking up 34 touchdowns with Denver, Portis was traded to Washington for Champ Bailey. As a Redskin, Portis has kept up that blistering pace, rushing for at least 1,200 yards in four of his five seasons in Washington. An injury in 2006 cost Portis half the season and raised questions about his durability. Those have been answered – sort of. Over the last two seasons, Portis has rushed for 2,749 yards and 20 touchdowns. But he still struggled with some nagging injuries that led to rookie coach Jim Zorn limiting Portis’ snaps at times. He still made the Pro Bowl. OK, he’s a nomad (four teams in five years) and a headcase, but Bryant has proven he can play. If 3,802 yards in four seasons didn’t convince you, then his performance on Monday Night last year against Carolina should have. He caught nine passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. And did so in impressive fashion. While he may be mad with his employers now, Brown has been an Eagles’ starter for the last five seasons. Not one with gaudy numbers (14 career interceptions and 382 career tackles), Brown has been a consistent performer in Jim Johnson’s aggressive defense that relies so much on quality corner play.
Honorable Mention: S Michael Lewis – Philadelphia, No. 58 (Oregon); RB DeShaun Foster – Carolina, No. 34 (UCLA); OL Andre Gurode – Dallas, No. 37 (Colorado); C LeCharles Bentley – New Orleans, No. 44 (Ohio State); WR Antwaan Randle El – Pittsburgh, No. 62 (Indiana); WR Deion Branch – New England, No. 65 (Louisville); OL Langston Walker – Oakland, No. 53 (California).
There’s A Special Spot On My Shelf For You: WR Antwaan Randle El – Indiana, No. 62 (Pittsburgh). When I arrived at Indiana as a bushy tailed freshman, I hated the option. I associated it with Nebraska and the service academies and considered untalented. That soon changed thanks to one Antwaan Randle El, who was the first player in Division I to have 40 career passing and 40 career rushing touchdowns. He was also the first player in college football history to record 2,500 total yards for four consecutive years. In his home finale against Kentucky (a game rescheduled because of the Sept. 11 attacks), fans were given Randle El bobbleheads. Mine still sits on my shelf. I’m looking at it right now. Randle El led the Hoosiers to victory that day (and a 5-6 record – the best I would see at IU). We rushed the field. I helped carry the Big Ten Player of the Year off the field. My hand to his thigh. The other clutching my bobblehead. There’s a picture of it in the yearbook. An extraordinary athlete, Randle El also played in the Chicago Cubs organization and was on the varsity basketball team at IU under Bobby Knight. Switching to wide receiver didn’t pose a problem as Randle El found a niche as a return man and slot receiver. In Super Bowl XL, a kid they said didn’t have the arm to play quarterback in the league, threw a picture perfect 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward.
What In The Name Of Latter Day Saint: DE Ryan Denney – BYU, No. 61 (Buffalo). Denney served two years as a Morman missionary in Argentina before starring at defensive end in Provo. Buffalo drafted him and he’s got 270 career tackles and 21.5 sacks. He’s worth a note because on Sept. 7, 2008, Denney caught a touchdown and fake field goal pass. The man who threw the ball? That would be punter Brian Moorman. Score one for Joseph Smith.
1. WR Anquan Boldin – Arizona, No. 54 (Florida State)
2. DE Osi Umenyiora – New York Giants, No. 56 (Troy State)
3. CB Charles Tillman – Chicago, No. 35 (Louisiana-Lafayette)
Summary: Another malcontent, Boldin wants to get paid and Arizona can’t afford he and Larry Fitzgerald. A three-time Pro Bowler, Boldin is a physical specimen and is a downright scary athlete. He has four 1,000-yard seasons to his credit, including last year in which he returned just a few weeks removed from a broken jaw. His career numbers (502 catches for 6,496 yards and 40 touchdowns) are definitely nice and someone will pay handsomely for his services. And who that is just might be determined this weekend. With Michael Strahan getting double-teamed at one end of the line, Umenyiora took advantage of that freedom to notch 14.5 sacks in 2005 and earn a trip to the Pro Bowl. Injuries slowed him a year later, but he returned with a vengeance in 2007 with 13 sacks and a Super Bowl. However, he missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury during the preseason. This is totally a homer pick, but Tillman is a solid, underrated cornerback who has the complete package of physicality and cover skills. Peanut has 20 interceptions and 471 tackles in his six seasons as the Bears starting left cornerback.
Honorable Mention: CB Rashean Mathis – Jacksonville, No. 39 (Bethune-Cookman); LB Pisa Tinoisamoa – St. Louis, No. 43 (Hawaii); LB Boss Bailey – Detroit, No. 34 (Georgia); LB Kawika Mitchell – Kansas City, No. 47 (USF); S Kenny Hamlin – Seattle, No. 42 (Arkansas); G Eric Steinbach – Cincinnati, No. 33 (Iowa).
When Ace of Bace’s “The Sign” Plays, I Shudder: S Ken Hamlin – Arkansas, No. 42 (Seattle). The Seahawks starting safety was rushed to the hospital on Oct. 17, 2005 after he was beat down during an altercation outside a Seattle nightclub. He and his girlfriend were leaving the club when Hamlin placed his hand on another man’s shoulder and said, “Excuse me.” A shoving match ensued and Hamlin punched the man in the face. Another man knocked Hamlin down and then another hit him twice in the face with a street sign. He suffered a fractured skill, a small blood clot and bruising of the brain tissue. In 2007, he left Seattle for Dallas and made the Pro Bowl. He started all 16 games last for the Cowboys and finished the year with 74 tackles.
The Sad Tale of Terrence Kiel: CB Terrence Kiel – Texas A&M, No. 62 (San Diego). In July 2003, Kiel was shot three times during an alleged carjacking, though none of the injuries were serious. In Sept. 2006, he was arrested on drug charges including possession with the intent to sell and transportation of a controlled substance (codeine -based cough syrup). He was arrested at the Charges practice facility. The felony charge was dropped after he volunteered for 175 hours and underwent counseling for gambling. Kiel started 50 of his 59 games with the Chargers but was out of the league after 2006. On July 4, 2008, on his way home from a party thrown by former Chargers teammate Stephen Cooper, Kiel died in a car accident when his car hit a wall and he was thrown from it.
1. S Bob Sanders – Indianapolis, No. 44 (Iowa)
2. G Chris Snee – New York Giants, No. 34 (Boston College)
3. LB Karlos Dansby – Arizona, No. 33 (Auburn)
Summary: The 2007 Defensive Player of the Year, Sanders is a one-man wrecking crew for the usually defensively challenged Colts. With Sanders in the lineup, the Colts are a totally different team. Problem is, he’s not always on the field. He’s only two seasons in which he’s played more than six games, but he was first team All-Pro those years (2005 and 2007). He may be Tom Coughlin’s son-in-law, but Snee isn’t playing because he’s sticking it to the coach’s daughter. Snee has started each and every game for the Giants since 2005 and was named to the Pro Bowl last season. The Cardinals starter at left outside linebacker, Dansby has collected 444 total tackles, 24.5 sacks and nine interceptions in his five years in Arizona. Last year, Dansby led the team in tackles with 119 tackles, including 95 solo stops.
Honorable Mention: DT Igor Olshansky – San Diego, No. 35 (Oregon); RB Julius Jones – Dallas, No. 43 (Notre Dame); DE Travis LaBoy – Tennessee, No. 42 (Hawaii); LB Daryl Smith – Jacksonville, No. 39 (Georgia Tech); C Jake Grove – Oakland, No. 45 (Virginia Tech); WR Devery Henderson – New Orleans, No. 50 (LSU).
I’ve Got The Tank, Now It’s Time For An Arsenal: DT Tank Johnson – Washington, No. 47 (Chicago). Johnson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor firearm possession charge, but while on probation was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest. The charges however, were eventually dropped. But on Dec. 14, 2006, police searched his house and found six guns, including two assault rifles and some loaded, with Johnson’s kids and bodyguard (William Posey) in the house. Posey was arrested from the house and Johnson was charged with probation violation and possessing unlicensed weapons. Two days later, Posey was killed in a shooting at a Chicago bar. All the while Chicago was lenient with Johnson. But the straw that broke their back was a speeding ticket for going 40 mph in a 25 mph zone. At the time, he was suspected of driving while impaired to the slightest degree. The Bears cut him. A week later, the blood test came back that Johnson was under the league limit. The Cowboys picked him up and gave him two starts in two years. Now, he’s where else? Cincinnati.
Not What They Had In Mind With Bellhop: RB Tatum Bell – Oklahoma State, No. 41 (Denver). Bell was just the next in a long line of Broncos running backs to rush for 1,000 yards when did the trick in 2006. Denver traded him to Detroit as part of the Dre Bly deal, but Bell didn’t last long, becoming unhappy with a diminished role. The Lions brought in Rudi Johnson and released Bell, who then took Johnson’s luggage on his way out of town. Bell called it an honest mistake. Johnson called it theft after looking at the team’s surveillance tape. Apparently, all Bell got was $200 in cash and socks and boxers.
1. LB Lofa Tatupu – Seattle, No. 45 (USC)
2. WR Vincent Jackson – San Diego, No. 61 (Northern Colorado)
3. LB Barrett Ruud – Tampa Bay, No. 36 (Nebraska)
Summary: A Pro Bowler in each of his first three seasons, Tatupu has led the Seahawks in all four of his seasons. He has 429 career tackles, nine interceptions and 6.5 sacks. Last year, he signed a six-year contract extension worth $42 million. That meant he could of gotten rid of his 2006 Hyundai Accent, which he was driving when he was pulled over for drunk driving when he was pulled over two months later. Seriously a Hyundai Accent? They do have good warranties. Last season, Jackson fulfilled the big play potential he had flashed in his first three seasons. He caught 59 passes for 1,098 yards and seven touchdowns, and at 25-years old looks like one of the more promising young receivers in the league. Nebraska’s school record holder with 432 career tackles, Ruud has carried that production into the NFL. He won the starting middle linebacker’s job in 2007 and has led the Bucs in tackles each of the last two seasons. Last year, his 137 tackles were fourth best in the league.
Honorable Mention: T Michael Roos – Tennessee, No. 41 (Eastern Washington); DE Matt Roth – Miami, No. 46 (Iowa); S Nick Collins – Green Bay, No. 51 (Bethune-Cookman); CB Kelvin Hayden – Indianapolis, No. 60 (Illinois); CB/KR Justin Miller – New York Jets, No. 57 (Clemson); WR/KR Roscoe Parrish – Buffalo, No. 55 (Miami).
A Bengal Can’t Change His Stripes: LB Odell Thurman – Georgia, No. 48 (Cincinnati). After a rookie season that saw him start 15 games and record 104 tackles and five interceptions, Thurman was suspended for the first four games of the 2006 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Less than a week after Roger Goddell personally visited Cincinnati and reminded players of their responsibility to stay out of trouble, he was arrested on charges of driving drunk with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit. Goddell wasn’t too pleased and extended his suspension indefinitely. Last year, he missed his third straight season on suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
R.I.P.: CB Darrent Williams – Oklahoma State, No. 56 (Denver). A starter in 14 games in just his second season, Williams was killed hours after making three tackles in a Dec. 31 season-ending loss to the 49ers. After celebrating the New Year at Kenyon Martin’s party, his rented Hummer limo was littered with bullets in a drive-by shooting . The county coroner said Williams sustained a single gunshot wound to the neck, killing him instantly and that he died in the lap of Broncos teammate Javon Walker. On May 30, 2008, the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News published a story claiming a confession by a Crips gang member, Willie D. Clark. Six months later, Clark was indicted by a grand jury for Williams’ murder.
1. WR Greg Jennings – Green Bay, No. 52 (Western Michigan)
2. LB DeMeco Ryans – Houston, No. 33 (Alabama)
3. RB Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville, No. 60 (UCLA)
Summary: After leading the NFL in receiving yardage in the 2006 preseason, Jennings earned a starting job opposite of Donald Driver. He went onto to become a favorite target of Brett Favre’s catching 98 passes for 1,552 yards in his first two seasons. Last year, with Aaron Rodgers pulling the trigger Jennings posted career-highs in catches (80) and yards (1,292). The 2006 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Ryans recorded 156 tackles in his inaugural campaign. He earned a trip to the Pro Bowl a year later and was compiled 396 tackles in his first three seasons in the league. A bowling ball, and now a really highly paid bowling ball, Jones-Drew will finally get the lion’s share of the carries in Jacksonville with Fred Taylor gone. In his first three seasons, MJD has amassed 3,941 yards from scrimmage (2,533 of the rushing variety) and 38 total touchdowns while sharing the load. Not too shabby for someone who already owns the franchise record for most all-purpose yards in a single season.
Honorable Mention: T Marcus McNeill – San Diego, No. 50 (Auburn); WR/KR Devin Hester – Chicago, No. 57 (Miami); LB D’Qwell Jackson – Cleveland, No. 34 (Maryland); LB Thomas Howard – Oakland, No. 38 (UTEP); RB LenDale White – Tennessee, No. 45 (USC); LB Rocky McIntosh – Washington, No. 35 (Miami); S Bernard Pollard – Kansas City, No. 54 (Purdue); TE Tony Scheffler – Denver, No. 61 (Western Michigan); OT Jeremy Trueblood – Tampa Bay, No. 59 (Boston College).
Good Luck With That: QB Kellen Clemens – Oregon, No. 49 (New York Jets). So Brett Favre is gone and Jay Cutler landed in Chicago. That means the Jets are rolling with this guy at quarterback next season and those awful fans aren’t sure what to think about that. They pined for him when Chad Pennington’s water gun wasn’t getting the job done anymore, but then they saw that preseason is different than the real thing (five touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his eight starts in 2007). So in retrospect, it looks like this Favre-to-Broadway thing might have set back the Jets at least two years. As a lifelong Bears fan, finally something to like about Favre.
Thanks For The Chance, Bernard: S Bernard Pollard – Purdue, No. 54 (Kansas City). A ferocious hitter, Pollard made headlines in Week One last season when he went low on golden boy Tom Brady. The hit put Brady out for the season and led to the rise of a high school starting quarterback named Matt Cassel. New England franchised Cassel, extending him a one-year deal worth more than $14 million (the largest one-year contract for an offensive player in NFL history). Now, Cassel is Pollard’s starting quarterback in Kansas City after a trade. I wonder if Pollard’s looking for a little kickback. It’s not totally unwarranted.
1. LB LaMarr Woodley – Pittsburgh, No. 46 (Michigan)
2. LB Paul Posluszny – Buffalo, No. 34 (Penn State)
3. G Arron Sears – Tampa Bay, No. 35 (Tennessee)
Summary: Just the next in that assembly line of Steelers passing rushing linebackers, Woodley was an absolute terror last year registering 11.5 sacks for the Super Bowl champions. He notched four sacks in limited work as a rookie, but really broke out last season finishing ninth in the league in sacks. An injury prevented Posluszny from having the rookie year he hoped (he only played in three games), but last season the former Nittany Lion started every game in the middle for Buffalo and led the Bills with 110 tackles. A starter since Day One in the league, Sears has made all but one start at left guard for Tampa Bay. It’s ain’t glamourous, but this round is epically bad so far.
Honorable Mention: T Tony Ugoh – Indianapolis, No. 42 (Arkansas); LB David Harris – New York Jets, No. 47 (Michigan); S Eric Weddle – San Diego, No. 37 (Utah); Justin Durant – Jacksonville, No. 48 (Hampton).
The Round Of Flop Picks:
WR Dwayne Jarrett (Carolina, No. 45 – USC) was a two-time All-America with the Trojans and left USC as the school’s all-time leader with 216 catches. Comparisons to Trojans bust Mike Williams scared teams away, but Carolina took a chance. In two seasons, he has 16 catches for 192 yards. Verdict: Flop.
RB Chris Henry (Tennessee, No. 50 – Arizona) got a four-game suspension for a banned prescription drug and 119 yards in his rookie season. Last year, the Titans drafted Chris Johnson and Henry had just one carry for three yards. Verdict: Flop.
DE Dan Bazuin (Chicago, No. 62 – Central Michigan) was a sack machine in college. He was hurt during his first preseason and never played for the Bears. Chicago waived him after a second knee injury. He’s now on the Texans’ practice squad. Verdict: Flop.
RB Kenny Irons (Cincinnati, No. 49 – Auburn) tore his knee up in his first preseason game and was out for the entire year. He tried to come back last season, but was put on the physically unable to perform list and then waived on August 4. Verdict: Flop.
And that’s without mentioning the flawed quarterbacking skills of Philadelphia’s Kevin Kolb (No. 36/Houston), Detroit’s Drew Stanton (No. 43/Michigan State) and Miami’s John Beck (No. 40/BYU).
1. RB Matt Forte – Chicago, No. 44 (Tulane)
2. WR Eddie Royal – Denver, No. 42 (Virginia Tech)
3. WR DeSean Jackson – Phialdephia, No. 49 (California)
Summary: It didn’t take long for Forte to announce his presence in the league. He opened with a showcase on national television against the Colts with a 50-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He ran for 1,238 yards and caught 63 passes for 477 yards with 12 combined touchdowns, offering up Bears fans a glimpse of what an all-purpose back can do. Forte’s new teammate Jay Cutler will certainly miss Royal. With Brandon Marshall suspended for the season opener, Cutler and Royal established a nice rapport in Week One (nine catches for 146 yards) that carried over for the entire season. Royal finished the season with 91 catches for 980 yards and five scores. Another rookie wideout success, Jackson was a big play waiting to happen, whether as a receiver or return man. Now, he almost cost me a fantasy matchup by prematurely celebrating a touchdown, but Jackson was a nice option for Donovan McNabb catching 62 passes for 912 yards.
Honorable Mention: TE John Carlson – Seattle, No. 38 (Notre Dame); WR Donnie Avery – St. Louis, No. 33 (Houston); CB Tracy Porter – New Orleans, No. 40 (Indiana); RB Ray Rice – Baltimore, No. 55 (Rutgers); DL Jason Jones – Tennessee, No. 54 (Eastern Michigan); TE Martellus Bennett – Dallas, No. 61 (Texas A&M).
Now, I’m ready to tell you the top-five second round picks since 1995, and like always, it’s open to debate:
1. S Brian Dawkins – Phiadelphia, No. 61 (Clemson) 1996
2. RB Tiki Barber – New York Giants, No. 36 (Virginia) 1997
3. QB Drew Brees – San Diego, No. 32 (Purdue) 2001
4. RB Clinton Portis – Denver, No. 51 (Miami) 2002
5. WR Chad Ocho Cinco – Cincinnati. No. 36 (Oregon State) 2001