Draft Day Wish List.
Christmas, NFL-style, is just a few days away.� Here is an outline of what I�d to like to see, and why.� Beginning with the Stiller�s immediate needs:
- Defensive Line:� The weakest unit on the team last year has actually gotten worse.� At present, there are only (5) DL on the roster.� Of those, none are two-gap players and only one, KVO, exceeds 300#.� Last year, the starters wore down because there was little depth; there is less now.� Beyond that, this unit has neither any premium pass rusher nor a jumbo run-stuffer.� The LB and DB corps would look better if the DL improved; the reverse is not true.� The Stillers are at least 2 DL short.
- MLB:� As long as the Stillers insist on the 3-4, they�ll need two capable MLB.� Arguably, they are one short.� Cutting Kirkland elevated Fiala; maybe this man can play as well as Jerry O. once did but neither the DL nor DB units today match up with the groups from Jerry�s era.� The Stillers of 2001 will need more from this position.� There are only (3) MLB on the current roster; none are capable of stepping in if Holmes goes down.� The Stillers may need both a coverage ace and a back-up run-stuffer.� Possibly, the latter requirement goes away if the glacially slow Clark Haggans moves inside.� However, since Haggans is the 1st backup at OLB, there is no net gain attending this move.
- Interior OL:� There are no developmental prospects on the roster; there is a screaming need for some G/T prospect but this could be addressed on the 2nd day.
- Speed:� The D-side back 8 is not real fast but the reserves are much slower. Speed at LB and DB is required; if this is not addressed on the 1st day, it must be on day 2.� There is essentially no speed at WR.� On the 2nd day last year, the Stillers had every opportunity to deal with this but, instead selected a slow WR, a slow OLB, a 3rd string QB, a slight DE and a pass-catching TE.�
Looking at the need list above, I count a lot of bulk players.� 2 DL, 1 OL, 1 back-up run-crushing MLB.� This leaves just two speed picks and that is not enough.� This strongly suggests that the Stillers trade down, if possible.� If not, FA run-stuffer takes a high priority.� There is talk about FA Mike Jones but that should be squelched.� Jones is a slow player who will be asked to play a fast man�s role; we saw that last year.�
Beyond those immediate issues, looms the post-2001 D-side exodus.� This weekend some consideration should attend:
- Gildon, Washington, Holmes and Scott could be done following this season.� Of those, I�d make Holmes and Scott high priority re-signs (along with Joey Porter who will be an RFA following 2001).� In 2001, Washington will be entering his 8th season; his next contract would take him through his 11th or 12th.�� Dwayne has been great but, without a very short-term, cap-friendly deal, 2001 should be his last in B&G.� The Mill has covered Gildon; suffice to say that the Stillers have some reason to try and get ahead of the curve both at CB and LOLB.
- Maybe someday, the Stillers will abandon the 3-4.� If that is any part of a long-term strategy, then the D-side class of 2001 should not be selected simply because they fit the current (hopeless and archaic) defensive system.
Turning to draft day, as I�d like it to be.
First Round, by preference:
1.1 Trade with the Rams.� I don�t care who is on the board at #16; the fact is that there are no elite prospects this year.� The Rams have 20,29, 42 and 54 overall.� If, as I believe is true, value is located at the bottom of the 1st and top of the 2nd, then I�d be glad to trade 16 for, say, 29 and 40.� I doubt the Rams would make this deal; they�d have to believe that there was no other way to get their preferred speed rusher.� Though probably not doable, the best option is to swap 1st round picks and get a high 2nd. �This trade is posted at the top to distinguish it from the set of other trades to follow.�
1.2 DE/DT Richard Seymour:� At the top of my list of players who may be available at 16.� Morgan might help more next year but Seymour is an equivalent prospect who plays a position of greater need and has more upside.� Seymour has the ideal size to play 3-4 DE; could be either a LDE or DT in the 4-3.
1.3 MLB Dan Morgan:� Has great leadership ability and will contribute immediately.� Morgan is an ideal 3-4 coverage MLB who could play on the weakside in the 4-3.� However, he does not project as a strong side player and, if the Stillers ever go 4-3, that will be the need spot in the LB corp.
1.4 OLB Andre Carter:� Like Morgan has great leadership ability.� PFW suggests that his ideal position may be at 3-4 OLB.� As such, could function as a 3rd down edge rusher this season and replace Gildon in 2002.� If the Stillers go 4-3 in 2002, they will have acquired a top RDE this year.
1.5 Trade with any team willing to give a 3rd to swap 1st round picks.�� The Eagles, Bucs, Fins and Lions are, more or less, remote possibilities.
1.6 CB Nate Clements: �Best upside of all CB; would be slatted to replace DW in 2002.� Carter is about ready now; Clements is not.� If not Clements, Will Allen.
1.7 Offensive players:� Jeff Backus, Steve Hutchinson or Drew Brees come to mind.� Excluding Hutchinson who could start at RG, none of these players meet immediate needs.� However, their selection now could free up cap room for post-2001 moves.� Backus would function as an G/T this year and could move out to ROT in 2002.� This would push Smith to LOT and allow the Stillers to clear additional cap space by cutting Wayne Gandy.� I like Gandy but he will have completed his 9th year in 2002.� That is John Jackson territory; Gandy will not be a Stiller after 2002 and his cap space could come in handy next off-season.� Then too, taking Backus could allow the Stillers to dictate terms to the Bucs.� If Kordell does not progress in 2001, Brees�s presence could give the Stillers an alternative.� Hutchinson and Brees are players both Seattle and Detroit may covet but a swap of 16 for 17 or 18 would bring little.
2.1 Casey Hampton:� High effort run-stuffer; selecting Seymour/Hampton would upgrade the weakest link; selecting Morgan/Hampton would both address immediate need and provide D-side leadership through 2009 or so.
2.2 Torrance Marshall:� Could play inside in the 3-4 or on the strong side in the 4-3.
2.3 Sedrick Hodge: If Seymour is the 1st pick, there is a premium on speed in the 2nd round.� Bell or Hodge may be available; I like Hodge on the basis that he has the frame to move to LOLB when Big Sack leaves town.�
2.4 Willie Middlebrooks:� Has impact potential.
2.5 Kendrell Bell:� Meets the need at coverage MLB; does not project as a future strong side OLB.
2.6 Kris Jenkins:� Has everything you want in a 3-4 DL except instinct and consistency.
Second day, prospects that may fall thru:
2.1 Eric Westmoreland:� Very good player whose size may keep him out of the first three rounds.� Could be a coverage MLB.
2.2 Mario Fatafehi:� Tested poorly at the Combine but was more productive than either Rogers or Hampton in the same conference.� College teammates Darrin Howard and Mark Simoneau both played above expectations last year.
2.3 Brian Allen: As Westmoreland above.
I�ll file a last Mock Draft, version 3.0 midnight Friday and follow up with a set of second day possibilities early Sunday.