Wednesday, April 26, 2006

2006 NFL Draft Preview
Featuring Notre Dame's Draft Prospects

With help from's draft list (misspellings and all) and one guy's draft projections (form your own opinions about its accuracy), here's a look at how each Notre Dame graduate-to-be will fare in this weekend's draft. (Yes, I do realize that in the one draft projection, Fasano is taken in the second round, then is picked as a "sleeper" in the 5th round.)

Anthony Fasano

Projection: Late second round.
Browns: Even after losing Aaron Shea, the Browns are pretty much set at tight end. If anything, they need a solid #2, and Fasano is likely good enough to be a starter. I'd take Fasano over Kellen Winslow any day, but I know that's not happening.
Bears: Rumor has it that the Bears are looking for an offensive tight end. A reliable go-to option would definitely help in Rex Grossman's development. Fasano would definitely be a good choice, but the Bears may instead go with an offense-only "tight end" like Mercedes Lewis.
Colts: The Colts already have Dallas Clark, and '04 draft pick Ben Hartsock is backing him up. Fasano may be better than both, but I don't know if Indianapolis would move towards another tight end.
Giants: Fasano has long been compared to Mark Bavaro; why not put him on Bavaro's old team? Oh yeah, they do have that Jeremy Shockey guy.
Jets: I don't know about you, but I'd take Fasano over Doug Jolley any day. The Jets probably have too many needs to take Fasano in the second round. But, if he's still around in the 3rd or 4th, I'd definitely snatch him up.
Packers: The Packers already have a starter in Bubba Franks. Fasano may be too good to come in as a backup.
Seahawks: Seattle already has two good tight ends in Jerramy Stevens and Itula Mili.
Steelers: Fasano's a year too late. Pittsburgh got their tight end in Heath Miller in last year's draft.
Titans: Ben Troupe is one of the best tight ends in the league. I'm not sure Fasano would be a good fit here.

DJ "Dan" Fitzpatrick

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: If the Browns did sign DJ, they'd only be wasting his time. In Phil Dawson, Cleveland is set at kicker. After inconsistent play at punter over the past few years, the Browns signed free agent David Zastudil to a 5-year deal, a good sign that he's going to be their guy.
Bears: The Bears are set at punter, but it looks like they may need a kicker. Can DJ hack it as a placekicker in the NFL?
Colts: Set at kicker, set at punter. Next?
Giants: PK Jay Feeley didn't win any fans in Seattle last year. Would Ellen's mommy be willing to cook for DJ, too?
Jets: They may be young players, but the Jets are nonetheless set at punter and kicker.
Packers: Ryan Longwell is out at kicker, and Billy Cundiff is in as his replacement. Training camp may still see the formality of a "competition" for the kicker spot nonetheless.
Seahawks: Seattle is basically set with Josh Brown and Tom Rouen.
Steelers: In Jeff Reed and Chris Gardocki, the World Champs are set at punter and kicker.
Titans: The Titans do need a kicker in some sense. They do however have ND grad Craig Hentrich, who like DJ played both punter and placekicker for the Irish.

Brandon Hoyte

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: Right now, Hoyte would be a role player at linebacker. Cleveland has enough role players at linebacker right now. What they need is stars at that position, especially at the inside linebacker spot.
Bears: Sure, why not. Let Hoyte back up Brian Urlacher for a while, then take over for him one day.
Colts: The Colts are obsessed with speed on defense, but they were in the middle of the pack against the run. Hoyte may not be a bad pickup.
Giants: Other than LaVar Arrington, the Giants don't have much at linebacker. Hoyte is a New Jersey native. Like Ryan Grant, he could end up with his hometown team.
Jets: Jonathan Vilma is the new centerpiece of the Jets defense, and he's in Hoyte's spot. Unless Hoyte can find a way to play along side him, this may not be a good pick.
Packers: Quick. Name one linebacker on the Packers.
Seahawks: The Hawks are young and talented at linebacker.
Steelers: Linebacker is a source of pride in Pittsburgh. A few years under the tutiledge of the current Steelers may work for Hoyte.
Titans: The Titans are rather thin at linebacker. Can Hoyte pull a Courtney Watson and step in at starting linebacker for a rebuilding team?

Mark LeVoir

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: This is a possibility, I suppose. The Browns have two veterans at tackle. If they chose, the Browns could take LeVoir and groom him for a few years until he's ready to take over.
Bears: The Bears are two-deep at tackle, but three of those players are veterans. If the Bears want to go with youth, LeVoir is an option.
Colts: Starter Tarik Glenn is going into his 11th season. Kurt Vollers was picked up last year as a backup. Who would you rather have?
Giants: Sure, why not. That way he can hang out with Luke Petitgout and Klondike in the South Bend BW3's.
Jets: On one hand, the Jets are thin at tackle. On the other hand, they're young at that position, so they're probably looking for a veteran backup if anything.
Packers: The Packers are relatively thin at tackle. They are, however, rather young at that position.
Seahawks: It's a good veteran line with solid young backups. Nope.
Steelers: The Steelers are three deep at each tackle position.
Titans: Tennessee lists three tackles on the roster, all rookies last year. The Titans will need to go big at this position.

Corey "Dorey" Mays

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: Again, the Browns need stars at linebacker. As a plus, Mays has proven to be a team player who can contribute on special teams, but that may not be enough.
Bears: The Chicago native could pull a Darrell Campbell and sign with his hometown team.
Colts: Mays was an unheralded role player at ND, and he did his job very well. Did he do enough to show he can be a role player alongside the likes of passrushers Dwight Freeney and Cato June?
Giants: The Giants just signed LaVar Arringon to play Hoyte's position. So, maybe not.
Jets: Again, if he can bide his time as a backup, he may have a chance.
Packers: Were you able to name a Packers linebacker? OK, name a second one.
Seahawks: Any chances Mays had of making this team went out the window with the signing of Julian Peterson.
Steelers: Mays is a rather underrated player. Serving as a backup behind some perennial pro bowlers may do good things for his career.
Titans: Rocky Boiman is gone, so there is a spot open for a backup outside linebacker.

Rashon Powers-Neal

Projection: Mid 7th round.
Browns: The Browns are set at fullback with the veteran Terrelle Smith. He doesn't touch the ball too much, though. Starting halfback Reuben Droughns is a power back. If the Browns featured a slashing speed back, RPN would be a good compement. With the same running style as Droughns, he wouldn't be as needed in the Browns offense.
Bears: The Bears' crowded backfield likely doesn't need a fullback who can carry the ball.
Colts: The Colts really didn't use a fullback in front of Edgerrin James. For the most part, they called Dallas Clark a fullback while lining him up at tight end, or stuck a halfback at fullback. If the Colts want to go in a slightly different direction, a converted halfback like Powers-Neal would be a good pick for their new fullback.
Giants: The Giants have more than their share of capable halfbacks, so they probably aren't looking for a short yardage ball carrier like RPN.
Jets: BJ Askew is a decent option at fullpack, and probably comparable to Powers-Neal.
Packers: Well, health is not something the Packers had at running back last year. William Henderson is entrenched at fullback, but this will be his 13th season. The Pack already has a power back in Najeh Davenport, but are they in the market for another one?
Seahawks: The fullback does get carries in Seattle's offense. With Mack Strong entering his 14th season, RPN would be a good pick as his future replacement.
Steelers: Well, everyone believes the Steelers need a power back to replace Jerome Bettis. The Steelers don't get many touches out of the fullback position, but coach Bill Cowher does love versatility.
Titans: The Titans have three capable halfbacks in Chris Brown, Jarrett Payton, and Travis Henry. Their lone fullback is Troy Fleming, and he proved to be a versatile offensive weapon. RPN would fit into the system, but the Titans have too many other needs to worry about a backup to their talented fullback.

Mike Richardson

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: Richardson may actually be better at safety than corner. The Browns are set at safety. If they did need another corner, it would be a starter to play along side Gary Baxter.
Bears: Free agent signing Ricky Manning, Jr. was recently charged with assult with a deadly weapon - for attacking a guy with his bare hands! That's setting the bar pretty high.
Colts: The Colts have already signed three defensive backs this offseason. Chances are they're not looking for any more.
Giants: The Giants already have 12 cornerbacks on the roster, including current Hamburg Sea Devil Vontez Duff.
Jets: Well, in Richardson's favor, the Jets are thin at the CB position.
Packers: If Richardson wants to play DB for the Packers, he had better start growing dreads now. Even if he does, they still may not be long enough by the regular season.
Seahawks: Your guess is as good as mine here.
Steelers: A few years ago, the secondary was by far the weak point of this team. If they do improve here, they'll go big.
Titans: Tennessee filled the cornerback position last year, adding three rookies.

Matt Shelton

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: To make the Browns as an undrafted wide receiver, a player will need to have another skill. For example, converted QB Joshua Cribbs returned kicks this year. A few years ago, CJ Jones was taken as a return man, and even tried some snaps at cornerback in training camp.
Bears: The Bears already carry 8 receivers, and they'll only keep about five.
Colts: Shelton has the speed to play in Indianapolis, but the health of his leg may be a concern on the artificial turf. That, and the Colts have already picked up four new free agent wide receivers, including old foe John Standeford of Purdue.
Giants: The Giants seem to already have a decent mix of size and speed at receiver.
Jets: If Jets fans miss Wayne Chrebet that much, maybe the team can stick Shelton in a #80 jersey and no one will notice a difference.
Packers: You may not have been able to tell by last year, but the Packers are pretty much set at receiver.
Seahawks: Speaking of CJ Jones, Seattle just signed him. Other than the return thing, Jones and Shelton are rather similar size-wise and speed-wise.
Steelers: Even without Antwaan Randle-El, the Steelers seem to have their fill of small, fast receivers.
Titans: Tennesee is already carrying 8 receivers, including Notre Dame product David Givens.

Dan Stevenson

Projection: Undrafted.
Browns: The guard position hasn't been a strong point for the Browns lately, so it's not a position they'll take lightly. Young free agent LeCharles Bentley was just signed to play guard and/or center, so the interior of the line is set.
Bears: The Bears only list two players as true guards. One, Rueben Brown, is entering his 13th season. Illinois native Stevenson make be able to catch on as a backup.
Colts: All of the Colts guards are young, so I don't see them going with youth for their backups.
Giants: Why would they need more guards when they already have the best one in the world: Chris Snee?
Jets: Again, in Stevenson's favor, the Jets look to be a little thin at guard.
Packers: Green Bay is extrememly thin at guard, so it's a possibility.
Seahawks: Again, this is a good, balanced line.
Steelers: Well, the Steelers are a little thin at guard. I do use "thin" loosely, though.
Titans: The Titans have two veteran starters at guard. They are rather thin there, though, so Stevenson would fit in as a backup.

Maurice Stovall

Projection: Early second round.
Browns: The Browns are full of young talent at wide receiver. What they need is veterans who won't drop easy third down passes. They got that, and some size, in local product Joe Jurevicius. Still, GM Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel do believe in taking the best player available. There is a possiblity that Stovall will be the best player left when it comes time for the 12th pick in the 2nd round. If Stovall doesn't go to the Browns, Emily will have to hope for an invitation to Jhonny Peralta's wedding if she wants to rub elbows with Cleveland athletes.
Bears: Notre Dame fans who follow the Bears are hoping Stovall is picked up to complement Muhsin Muhammad.
Colts: Had the Colts not resigned Reggie Wayne, I would have considered Stovall an option. Mo is a possession guy, and the Colts are probably looking for speed, speed, speed. And yet, Wayne, Marvin Harrison, and Reggie Wayne are all 6'0 or shorter. If the Colts are looking for height (and they may be with three of their four new receivers standing 6'2 or taller), Stovall is the best option in the draft.
Giants: With 6'5 Plaxico Burress and 6'3 Amani Toomer, the Giants appear set in the tall receiver category.
Jets: The Jets have been looking for a tall receiver for a while. They thought Justin McCareins was the answer. I don't think Stovall is a bad selection with their second round pick.
Packers: When healthy, Green Bay is already tall and talented at receiver.
Seahawks: Seattle is similar to the Browns when it comes to receivers: they're chock full of young talent, they just need a reliable veteran with good hands. (Coincidentally, Jurvicius did play for the Seahawks last year.)
Steelers: With the loss of Plaxico Burress (and now Antwaan Randle-El), the Steelers will need someone to play across from Hines Ward. Like Ward, Stovall is an excellent blocker, a good posession receiver, and a team player. Playing along with Ward and under his tutiledge could do wonders for Stovall's career. However, to get Stovall, the Steelers may have to trade for an early second round pick.
Titans: Two of Tennessee's top receivers, Drew Bennett and Tyrone Calico, stand 6'5 and 6'4 respectively. Receiver is one of the Titans' top positions. There probably isn't any room for Stovall.

Thank you Mr. Gore. You're super awesome. The end.