Wednesday, May 03, 2006

NFL Draft Recap II

Earlier this week, I took a look at Notre Dame players who were drafted or signed as free agents. Now we're going to look at it from a different angle: how team's draft picks affect Notre Dame alumni already in the NFL. This list doesn't include all Irish in the NFL, just those possibly affected by their teams picks.

Arizona Cardinals

Alumnus: Carlyle Holiday, WR
Competition: Todd Watkins, WR, 7th round, BYU
Like Carlyle, Watkins has all of the talent to be a professional receiver, but not all of the polish. Unlike Carlyle, Watkins isn't a returner.

Atlanta Falcons

Alumnus: Allen Rossum, CB/PR
Competition: Jimmy Willams, CB, 2nd round, Va Tech
Adam Jennings, WR/KR, 6th round, Fresno State
Rossum fought injuries and inconsistent play in 2005. He isn't one of Atlanta's primary corners, so losing playing time there probably won't be a concern for him.
Jennings is basically a returner masquerading as a wide receiver. He will likely be Rossum's replacement, but will that change be made immediately or eventually?

Baltimore Ravens

Alumnus: Ced Hilliard, DT
Competition: Haloti Ngata, NT, 1st round, Oregon
Now that he's a veteran, Ray Lewis' weaknesses have been exposed. One of his biggest weaknesses is... drumroll please... being blocked. Well, duh. To pacify their star, the Ravens traded up to draft Ngata. Baltimore's defensive borrows from baseball philosophy - strong up the middle - with Ngata, Lewis, and Ed Reed. Hilliard, meanwhile, isn't currently listed on the Ravens website.

Buffalo Bills

Alumnus: Mike Gandy, G/T
Competition: Brad Butler, T, 5th round, Virginia
Terrance Pennington, T, 7th round, New Mexico
Aaron Merz, G, 7th round, Cal
After being released from the Bears before the 2005 season, Gandy was picked up by the Bills. He started in all 16 games last year. Some argue was was too good to have been released in the first place. If Buffalo was looking to replace its versatile starter, they would have done it sooner than the 5th round.

Cleveland Browns

Alumnus: Darrell Campbell, DL
Competition: Kamerion Wimbley, DE/OLB, 1st round, Florida
Babatunde Oshinowo, DT, 6th round, Stanford
Wimbley will play a Willie McGinest-style role: lining up primarily at outside linebacker, and only occassionally dropping down into a three-point stance.
Darrell is listed as a tackle, but many have said he would be a good fit as an end in a 3-4 defense. If he can play both, he can be a valuable member of this team. Oshinowo is said to be only a tackle, and perhaps the nose tackle of the future, but is at most 10 pounds heavier than Campbell. Therefore, Darrell will definitely need to be versatile to make an impact.

Dallas Cowboys

Alumnus: Rocky Boiman, LB
Competition: Bobby Carpenter, OLB, 1st round, Ohio State
Boiman has primarily played inside linebacker in the NFL, while Carpenter is listed as an outside linebacker. The Cowboys official website is already selling Carpenter jerseys, so there's little chance of Boiman unseating him. However, he can once again serve as a valuable backup.

Houston Texans

Alumnus: Tony Weaver, DL
Competition: Mario Williams, DE, 1st round, NC State
Houston's big free agent pickup this offseason was defensive end Anthony Weaver. So, with their first pick overall, they passed up Reggie Bush for... a defensive end. But wait, Houston has 8 defensive ends and only 1 defensive tackle listed on the roster. Is a position change perhaps in order?

Indianapolis Colts

Alumnus: Gerome Sapp, S
Competition: Tim Jennings, CB, 2nd round, Georgia
Antoine Bethea, FS, 6th round, Howard
TJ Rushing, CB, 7th round, Stanford
Sapp is primarily a safety, and has already proven himself as a valuable special teams player. Rushing is mainly a returner, and it would be unusual for a 6th rounder to unseat a veteran. It will be interesting, however, to see how Jennings is used this year.

Alumnus: Kurt Vollers, T
Competition: Michael Toudouze, G, 5th round, TCU
Charlie Johnson, T, 6th round, OK State
Vollers, who came to the Colts as a free agent, has some starting experience under his belt from his time with the Cowboys. It's doubtful he would be replaced by a late round pick.

Kansas City Chiefs

Alumnus: Jordan Black, T
Competition: Tre Stallings, G, 7th round, Mississippi
Black played all 16 games for the Chiefs last year, starting 10. He won't be replaced by a 7th round pick playing out of his natural positionn.

Miami Dolphins

Alumnus: Deke Cooper, S
Competition: Jason Allen, CB, 1st round, Tennessee
Cooper can play both safety positions, and it looks like he may have a chance to crack the starting lineup. He's not an NFL corner, though, so if he is made a backup it won't be because of Allen.

New Orleans Saints

Alumnus: Jeff Faine, C
This offseason, the Browns signed G/C LeCharles Bentley, who had been a Pro Bowler for the Saints. This made Faine expendable. So, Jeff was traded to New Orleans for their second round pick.

New York Giants

Alumnus: Luke Pettitgout, T
Competition: Guy Whimper, T, 4th round, East Carolina
Pettitgout has been entrenched at starting tackle since the 2000 season. As a 4th round pick, Whimper is more likely his future replacement than his current one. Oh, I also hear Pettitgout likes football or something.

Alumnus: Justin Tuck, DE
Competition: Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, 1st round, BC
Things were looking good for Tuck. Even despite the emergence of Osi Umenyiora, Tuck looked to be Michael Strahan's successor. And he was playing well enough to earn it. Now, despite having the best defensive end combination in the league, the Giants used their first round pick on another end. It will be interesting to see how Tuck is used in this coming season.

Oakland Raiders

Alumnus: Grant Irons, DE/OLB
Competition: Thomas Howard, OLB, 2nd round, UTEP
Irons finished his Notre Dame career and started his NFL career as a defensive end. When Oakland switched to the 3-4 last year, the man with biceps the size of my head (and I do have a big head) was named starting outside linebacker, a position he played earlier in his Irish career. That experiment only lasted one game. Irons did play in 15 games last year as a Raider, but only made 4 tackles. It looks like he's back to defensive end now, so Howard may not cut into his playing time.

Philadelphia Eagles

Alumnus: Paul Grasmanis, DL
Competition: Brodrick Bunkley, DT, 1st round, FSU
LaJuan Ramsey, DT, 6th round, USC
Grasmanis has played a combined 8 games over the past three seasons. It looks like Bunkley may be more replacement than insurance policy.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Alumnus: Ron Israel, DB
Competition: Anthony Smith, FS, 3rd round, Syracuse
Isreal didn't play in any games for Pittsburgh last year, and he isn't listed on their website either. Things don't look good for him.

San Francisco 49ers

Alumnus: Arnaz Battle, WR/PR
Competition: Brandon Williams, WR, 3rd round, Wisconsin
Michael Robinson, QB/WR/RB, 4th round, Penn St
Delanie Walker, WR, 6th round, Cental Missouri St
Battle and new acquisition Antonio Bryant are San Francisco's two top receivers. If the 49ers were looking for a new starter, they would have picked someone up before the third round. It looks like these picks were more for depth. It also looks like Robinson will see more time at running back than receiver. All three picks are capable returners, so it will be interesting to see how they and Battle will be used.

St. Louis Rams

Alumnus: Jerome Collins, TE
Competition: Joe Klopfenstein, TE, 2nd round, Colorado
Dominique Byrd, TE, 3rd round, USC
Well, it looks like the Jerome Collins experiment is over. Collins was taken in the 4th round last year, based mostly on his potential and raw talent. He then spent most of the year on the practice squad. With new coach Scott Linehan comes two new tight ends, so it looks like Collins' time may be up in St. Louis.

Alumnus: Mike Goolsby, LB
Competition: Tim McGarigle, ILB, 7th round, Northwestern
Goolsby was an undrafted free agent last year, and did see action in two games. These two could dogfight for a roster spot.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Alumnus: Carlos Campbell and Dwick Ellick, CB
Competition: Alan Zemaitis, CB, 4th round, Penn St
Justin Phinisee, CB, 7th round, Oregon
Neither of these former Irish players got any playing time last year. Zemaitis presumably has a better chance of making the team than these two, but they should have a fair fight against Phinisee.

Alumnus: Sean Mahan, G
Competition: Davin Joseph, G, 1st round, Oklahoma
Mahan started every game for the Bucs last year. Glancing at Tampa Bay's roster, Joseph will likely be playing across from Mahan.

Tennessee Titans

Alumnus: David Givens, WR
Competition: Jonathan Orr, WR, 6th round, Wisconsin
Givens was one of the top free agent receivers this year. After shelling out the cash, the Titans won't bench him for a 6th rounder.