2001 Draft Assessment:
Uncharacteristically, the Stiller FO moved aggressively on day one to secure the players they wanted.� This draft lacked elite prospects; value was located in the bottom of the 1st and top of the 2nd.� By trading down with the Jets in the 1st, the FO got the ammo required to move up in the 2nd.� As a result, their day one picks addressed two primary areas of need with players who appear to combine outstanding football character with (roughly) state of the art physical traits.
Since the Mill has posted PFW scouting reports on all these men, I�ll limit my discussion to a more subjective assessment based on the set of Outlook articles that were posted last winter.� Turning to the picks:
- Casey Hampton:� In my opinion, a great selection.� Hampton fits as a jumbo run-stuffer and, as suggested in my D-line Outlook, that is the axis around which any D-Head�s world does turn.� Hampton may not have been the best prospect (regardless of position) at #19 but this selection does project as an upgrade at two positions, NT and RDE.� The Stillers still lack any dominant DE and so will go with a DE-by-committee approach; with Hampton in the fold, their rotation at that position should be 4 deep.� More important, Hampton is a leader; he will bring an attitude not seen here since Greg Lloyd left the scene.
- Kendrell Bell:� The 2nd LB taken in 2001, Bell is not as big as Dan Morgan but is faster and, in my opinion, has more upside.� Will be a Special Teams beast in the 1st half of the season and, by say game 9, may displace Mike Jones in the staring line-up.� Like Hampton, is said to love the game and so brings everything he has to offer.� I believe Bell could move outside in the 4-3, but not the 3-4. When they �show the 4-3� the Stiller OLB are faux-DE.� Bell is 6�-1� and while he has the speed and explosiveness to play in space probably lacks the wingspan to stand up on the LOS.� If the Stillers stay with the 3-4, Bell is Kirkland�s heir apparent, not Gildon�s.� If they revert to the 4-3, Bell may well move to LOLB in 2002.
Day One Summary:� Moving down was 1.5 on my Wish List; if a 3rd was not available, then a 4th and 6th had to do.� Rumor has it that the FO refused an Eagles offer, fearing that Hampton would be off the board at #25.� Could be; similarly, while Bell would almost certainly have been gone at #50, I do wonder whether the Stillers would have been better served with Marshall or Hodge in the 2nd and an additional 4th rounder, say Polk or Fatafehi.� Be that as it might, I think the FO moved decisively and did come away with (2) quality players who should be core types for the next 6-8 years.� �����������������������������������������������������������
1st day Grade: A
Day two was disappointing.� I don�t have any quarrel with the 4th and 5th round selections; OT/G is an immediate need and, after 2002, the contract situation in the interior OL will be the same as at CB, post-2001.� The 4th and 5th rounds are ideal spots for intelligent, tough players and that does describe OL types.� The Stillers need to get younger, and bigger, inside and moved to do so.�
However, the 6th and 7th round picks were worthless.� Players on the board then are there for one of two reasons; either they have limited ability or they are players with 1st day talent and bad brains.� We can make inferences about character and maturity but remember, all of these players are 21-24 years old; if they are immature, well who could be surprised?� Risking a 1st round pick on a player with character issues is one thing; risking a 6th or 7th is no risk at all.� Turning to the second day selections:
- �Mathias Nkwenti:� A player with great upside and character who, to me, projects as an OT/G in the Stryzczek mode.� Soccer-trained feet and did 29 reps at the Combine.� A good value at the spot, generally, regarded as somewhere between 78-95 (regardless of position).� Reportedly, the Stillers will try him at LOT; I�d be surprised if he remains there.� However, I could see him as a starter somewhere along the line by 2003.
- Chukky Okobi:� I like Big Ten linemen; Chukky was part of the Brees Security Force.� The Stillers do have (4) OC/G types on the roster now; they are Hartings, Tylski, Duffy and Mylinski.� I imagine Okobi�s arrival signals Pierogi Tom�s departure and that�s okay with me.�� I don�t see Okobi as a starter but he could be a valuable 6th or 7th OL.�
- Rodney Bailey:� Was selected OSU defensive player of the year over 1st round Buckeyes Nate Clements and Ryan Pickett.� Seems to be a high try, character guy but lacks the physical characteristics required to succeed in the NFL.� .� At 6�-3� 280#, is too small to play the 3-4; has marginal speed and, if he packs on weight, won�t get faster.� In short, has no upside.�
Roger Knight:� CBS Sportsline had him rated #42 of more than 70 OLB.� Like Bailey, Knight is small and slow. �Maybe Bailey was draftable; Knight certainly was not.� This player would surely have been available as an FA.� If not, so what?� May compete with college teammate Donnel Thompson for a roster spot; more likely, will struggle this summer to survive the first cut.
- Chris Taylor:� Has great speed but runs bad routes and has tiny hands of stone.�
WR John Capel:� World class speed and, as an Olympic sprinter, knows what it takes to succeed.� In sum, does combine competitive character with state of the art physical skills.
DT Mario Monds: Faster than Bailey even when 60# heavier.� Unlike Bailey, was invited to various post-season showcase games.� Does have state of the art size/speed for the 3-4.� Is said to have concentration lapses and may take plays off.� Frankly, I�d see Hampton correcting this problem, if it exists.� Hampton might have made Monds better; by the same token, if Kendrick Clancy fits best as a 3rd down inside rusher when paired with a power player, then, as Hampton might have improved Mario, so could this man have increased Clancy�s productivity.
����������� DE/OLB Roland Seymour:� As a sophomore, was considered a bookend with Jamal Reynolds (#10 overall).� Has been hurt for the better
part of two seasons but, at least at one time, was a projected 1st round selection.� An Anthony Poindexter/Terrell Davis type future-value pick.� In fairness though, both AP and TD did get drafted; Seymour did not.� There may be some serious issue with this player.
����������� LB Justin Kurpeikis:� Very tough, heady player who I think will make the team backing up Holmes inside.� Has a better shot than Knight.
Day Two Summary:� Fairly good early but, as was my opinion in 2000, the FO whiffed on some late opportunities.� It is pointless to draft the #27 DE with the hope that he could, one day, rise to #4 on the depth chart.� It is pointless to draft the #42 OLB.�
2nd day Grade: C- with Kupeikis; D+ on the draft picks.
Overall Grade: B