Draft 2001 Update #1:
With the underclass declarations in, prospects have shifted from those that I set out earlier. Bowls and the all-star tilts have had some effect too. No doubt, there will be considerably more movement from here to the April draft date. Be that as it might, following is an outline of things as they stand now.
There are no truly elite prospects in this draft. QB Vick and WR Terrell and Robinson are the top ranked players but, at least for now, none of these men carry a rating which would have placed them ahead of last year�s elite prospects: Brown, Arrington, Samuels, Warrick, Simon or Urlacher.
Underclassmen on the offensive side have pushed all defenders down the board. Here is a list of D-side prospects as I�d rank them now, together with statistics from their final college season. For Front 7 players, the key (x,y,z) is (tackles, TFL, sacks). There may be additional information on these players in my earlier articles.
With John Henderson and Wendell Bryant returning to campus, run-stuffer Gerard Warren (76, 12, 5) has emerged as the #1 DT. Warren has a top 5-10 ranking and will almost certainly gone when the Stillers make their selection. Too bad, this man is a natural NT who could play over center in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.
DE Justin Smith (81, 24, 11) of Missouri has declared. Smith is 6-4, 275. He started as a true freshman and is described as consistent, productive and competitive. Ideal 4-3 RDE who could factor here, in the short term, as a situational rusher. J. Smith may be a future value type pick. The days of the 3-4 are numbered, if they don�t end with a Gildon to Bears type deal, they will end when Kirkland and/or Gildon depart, whether by retirement or FA. Smith dominated in the Big 12, which (arguably) was the best conference in the nation last season.
OLB Jamal Reynolds (58, 15, 12) is slipping. Still considered a top 10 prospect but that is a long way from #1 overall. Mel Kiper, syndicated genius, has the Stillers passing on Reynolds for Drew Brees. That would push Jamal even deeper than Kearse, circa �99. It is idiocy to think of Reynolds as a DE; he is speed freak type LB who I�d like to see on the field with Joey and Earl.
DE/DT Richard Seymour (63, 10, 2) is slipping too and now seems to be about 10-12 overall. Seymour has ideal size for a 3-4 DE and could play inside in the 4-3. As a prospect, he is rated about on par with Shaun Ellis (#12 overall last spring who had 8 sacks for the Jets). Seymour has the tools and works hard but has not been especially productive.
DE Andre Carter (59, 19, 13). A highly productive college player who may be a �tweener in the NFL. Unlike the (4) players listed above, Carter has no position in the 3-4. He is too small to play down and too slow to play in space. Projects as a 4-3 rush end but is smaller and slower than J. Smith.Those (5) players are top 10 value; unless the Stillers move up, they may not have the chance to select any of them. There is value on the D-side in the 16th spot but that appears to be either at CB or with DT of the run-stuffing variety. Smith, Carter and Reynolds are the best of the pass rushers and, as things stand, they will probably be gone. Turning to more likely prospects:
DT Shaun Rogers (35, 12, 4) ranks consistently, but not universally, in the top 20. Has great size but hasn�t produced to his ability. Compare his numbers to those Casey Hampton and Mario Fatafehi achieved in the same conference.
DT Casey Hampton (70, 16, 4) Hampton had the best numbers and has great intangibles but gets ranked anywhere from a mid-first to an early third round prospect. I can�t imagine why.
DT Marcus Stroud (51,5,1) ranks anywhere from a mid-first to late second round prospect. Like Rogers, a man who has underachieved, to some degree.
DT Daimone Lewis (41, 7, 3) is consistently rated in the top 20 but remains on my DND list.
At the moment, it seems certain that a run-stopper will be available here but there is no unanimity as to the value of any of these players. Considering that the Stillers are a leadership-challenged group, I like Hampton. However, I don�t love him as a 1st round selection, at least not yet.
It is worth noting that this year�s Super Bowl teams finished 1, 2 in run defense. Stopping the run is job #1 for any D-unit but, for at least three seasons, the Stillers have had difficulty doing so. Their #12 rank last year was respectable but much more a product of scheme than personnel. Usually, the Stiller Front 7 played to contain the run rather than to attack. Lacking size and depth up front, Coach Lewis had little choice.
The NT-types listed above will not pressure the QB but may allow other Fr.7 players to play more aggressively. Drafting a run-stuffer early would allow KVO to move outside. Not a bad idea; lacking any dominator at the position, the Stillers need to establish a DE rotation that goes deeper than three. In sum, if any of the NT listed above are the real deal, the Stillers could help themselves all along the D-line with just one selection.
If they get shut out in the pass rush department and don�t like the NT, the Stillers still could have their pick at DB. While Quentin Jammer is not coming out, most publications do have CB Jamar Fletcher and Nate Clements as good values at this spot with Fred Smoots and Gary Baxter close behind. If the Stillers sign both Scott and Washington (moving one to FS), a CB pick here could settle the secondary for several years. If not, a CB here would be a hedge against losing one, or both, of the incumbents. (x,y,z) here lists (tackles, INT, PD). There may be more information on these men in my earlier secondary article.
Jamar Fletcher (27, 6, 19). Small but considered a great cover corner. Played Terrell very well but Fred Mitchell beat his ass up. Tackle numbers suggest he went to the Deion Sanders School of Run Defense.
Nate Clements (68, 4, 16). Stiller type CB, can return kicks. Refer to Steel Hammer article on OSU prospects.
Fred Smoot (55, 5, 19). A cover type with size similar to Starks or Rolle. Highly confident, I like this player.
Turning to the second round, another player I like is DT Mario Fatafehi (73, 14, 9). His numbers are better than either Hampton or Rogers and they all played in the same conference. The Fat Man projects to be available in the 2nd round. Hampton, Stroud and Rogers may be too. This suggests that the best value for the Stillers may be at CB in round one and DT in round two.If the Stillers do for CB in the second round, Lucas and Allen project as available. CB Willie Middlebrooks, who I had described as a sleeper, appears to have a solid 3rd round ranking along with Jennings and Tay Cady.
Ken Lucas (42, 5, 25). Big CB with incredible PD numbers. Took a beating in his bowl game and stock is slipping.
Will Allen (41, 2, 17). Great speed, modest production.
The Steel Phantom