Saturday, April 30, 2005

2005 NFL Draft's First Round Round-!p

Damn- Sorry it's been so long since I've put up... anything! I WILL be posting prescient sports pieces along with Fantasy Baseball and Football articles with regularity again. Here, though, is a break down of the NFL Draft's first round. Fantasy value? Look for guys like Braylon Edwards, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, Ronnie Brown and Troy Wiiliamson to be fantasy's biggest contributors.

"Breaking Down the First Round of the ‘05 Draft”
By Jamey Feuer

Draft Round-Up:
Each April, hope springs eternal for football fans. Favorite teams are undefeated, almost all the players are healthy, and most needs have been answered, and the draft provides teams with immediate injections of youth, talent, and excitement. And correlational with each draft are reach picks, outrageous picks, foolish picks, genius picks... and so on. Some teams, the Patriots, Ravens and Eagles for instance, draft well with regularity. Let’s break down the players taken in the first round of this year’s draft.
*Note: Some years, there seems to be a remarkable confluence of talent at a given position; ‘99 was renowned for it’s quarterback class, ‘03 and ‘04 were good years for wide receivers, and this draft might offer the most running back talent since the draft of ‘86. And, if there’s one position that allows a rookie to make a fantasy contribution... it’s running back. Last season, Cowboy back Julius Jones and Lion back Kevin Jones were both solid fantasy options. And, without further ado, the 1st round class of 2005!

#1 San Francisco 49’ers: QB Alex Smith: There was a great deal of discussion as to precisely whom San Francisco would take with their #1 overall pick. Smith’s exceptional athleticism (and possibly his perceived signability) gave him the edge over draft mate Aaron Rodgers, and he gives the 49’ers the franchise QB they’ve lacked since Jeff Garcia was sent packing. He’s been touted as the smartest QB to ever come out college, led Utah to it’s first ever undefeated season, and offers the 49’er coaching staff exceptional mobility, an adequate arm, excellent touch, and sound decision making. Fantasy value? Don’t even think about it. Even Big Ben Roethlisberger, the most productive rookie QB of last season’s draft, was only marginally productive on a winning team.

#2 Miami Dolphins: RB Ronnie Brown: The Dolphins would have liked have traded out of this spot in order to increase their number of picks, but the first round talent was so tightly grouped... there were no takers. In fact, there was surprisingly little movement in this year’s draft.
A big back, Ronnie Brown’s a North/South runner who eschews “shake n’ bake” and wastes little time getting through the hole. He possesses excellent hands (some say the best hands of ANY player in the draft), 4.4 speed, and should get 20-25 touches per game. Brown accumulated only light mileage as Auburn teammate Carnell Williams received the majority of the touches, and his fantasy value should be appreciable as the Dolphin offense will be improved, perhaps dramatically. He should receive ample goal line carries in new ‘Phin offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s system, will rack up good yardage, and should serve as a very solid fantasy “Flex” option.

#3 Cleveland Browns: WR Braylon Edwards: Here’s another team that would have been delighted to trade out of their high 1st round draft position. Edwards was the ‘04 “Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year” and “Biletnikoff Award Winner.” As the Browns’ top rated player in the draft, Braylon Edwards was a “need pick for Cleveland.” And, with such limited talent at the wide receiver position, he should make an immediate impact in Cleveland and will catch a lot of balls. A big, physical receiver who can make the “circus catch” and out jump most cornerbacks, Edwards struggled a bit in college, dropping a number of catchable balls. Cleveland’s new head coach, Romeo Crennel, will ensure that Edwards’ concentration issues become a thing of the past and that he becomes a focused NFL pass catcher. With a healthy TE Kellen Winslow Jr. joining Edwards, fellow Cleveland pass catcher Andre Davis, and RB Lee Suggs, the Brown offense should be much improved... and maybe, dare I say it? “explosive.”

#4 Chicago Bears: RB Cedric Benson: A heavy (1,100 carries), heavy college workload makes Benson a somewhat suspect pick. That being said, the ‘04 “Doak Walker Award Winner” is a powerful runner who runs with great pad level, has tremendous leg strength, and can move the pile with bulldozer efficiency. At 5’10” 220 Lbs, Benson’s an excellent red zone weapon, was the best goal line runner in the draft, and the Bears will be able to pound the ball with him. Remember how the Bears rammed ‘99 draft pick, RB Anthony “A-Train” Thomas down opponent’s throats? Benson will provide the team with the same type of sledgehammer running style. With WRs Muhsin “Moose” Muhammed and Marty Booker playing alongside Cedric Benson, opposing Ds will be unable to stack the box.
**Note: Benson’s selection minimizes current Bear RB Thomas Jones’ fantasy value. Look for Jones, a good pass catching back who’s more of a slasher, to serve as a “change of pace” and 3rd down back.

#5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carnell “Cadillac Williams: The 3rd back taken in the ‘05 draft, Williams played at Auburn alongside draft mate RB Ronnie Brown. Interestingly, this was the 1st draft that saw 3 running backs taken in the top 5 picks. With an awesome 45 college TDs and respectable 4.51 speed, Williams attacks defenders, is a dangerous open field runner, and can catch the ball coming out of the backfield. However, at 5’ 10” and 217 Lbs, there are valid questions about his durability. Though he never suffered a serious college injury, the pounding an athlete endures during the longer NFL season is far more punishing. A lot of pre-draft chatter had the Bucs’ snatching everyone from WR Mike Williams to CB Carlos Rogers to QB Aaron Rodgers. Ultimately, the Bucs’, and head coach Jon Gruden, felt comfortable with their current QBs, Brian Griese and young Chris Simms. Williams will have solid fantasy value, as the Buccaneers passing game sets up the running game. Gruden, who has never had a running game ranked higher than 24th, fell in love with Cadillac while coaching him at the Senior Bowl.

#6 Tennessee Titans: CB Adam “PacMan" Jones: Another “need” pick. The Titan roster, particularly the secondary, was absolutely decimated by free agent defections and salary cap casualties during the off-season. Although some expected Arizona CB Antrel Rolle to be the first corner to come off the board, Jones blends top coverage skills with electrifying return (almost a 15 yard punt return average) skills. At 5 9” 186, Jones is shorter and lighter than many CBs, but he’s strong, fast, and “sticky.” Possessing great ball skills and 4.3 speed, “PacMan” also has excellent recovery speed. Thus, even on those rare occasions when he gets beaten, Jones can make up the lost ground in a flash. In addition, he’s surprisingly solid in run support. The Titans will plug him into the return game immediately, and he will likely start opposite current Titan CB Andre Woolfolk from day one as well. Playing in the same division as the Indianapolis Colts, PacMan will have his hands full, covering some of the swiftest, most talented receivers in the game.

#7 Minnesota Vikings: WR Troy Williamson: With the off-season trade of stud receiver and “legend in his own mind and time” Randy Moss to the Raiders, came the #7 pick and the serviceable, if unspectacular, MLB Napolean Harris. No team did a better, more impressive job during free agency than the Vikings who added, amongst others, S Darren Sharper (Packers), DT Pat Williams (Bills), WR Travis Taylor (Ravens), and CB Fred Smoot (Washington). The Vikings have a draft day philosophy of taking “the best player available,” and their savvy off-season acquisitions permitted them to stick to that game plan. At 6’ 2” 202 Lbs, and with 4.3-ish speed, Williamson will allow the Vikes to replace Moss’ speed (4.31 40), "jump ball," and down field ability. Williamson will also, most importantly, give Culpepper the vertical threat the team lost. The Vikings may have just assembled the best WR corps in the NFC; with WR Nate Burleson capable of serving as the slot receiver, Travis Taylor as the possession guy (he can also come out of the slot), and Marcus Robinson and Troy Williamson the long threats. Head coach Mike Tice, who claims to have had a “great relationship” with former purple and black... now silver and black receiver Moss, calls Williamson a “faster Nate Burleson.”

#8 Arizona Cardinals: CB Antrel Rolle: Rolle’s a big corner (6’, 201 Lbs) from a top Miami program. With an impressive suite of skills, he’s capable of stepping in and playing immediately, filling a huge void for the Cards who lacked credible cornerback play last season. A 1st team “All Conference” defender each of his 3 college seasons, Antrel Rolle fits ‘Zona’s blitz-happy defensive scheme perfectly, as he can play “man-to-man” or drop into zone coverage with equal aplomb. Possessing the speed to penetrate the backfield (17 1/2 college career tackles for loss) on blitzes, and with solid run support ability, Rolle is Cardinal head coach Denny Green’s idea of a “real football player.”

#9 Washington Redskins: CB Carlos Rogers: A big (6’), physical athlete who was the top ranked corner on some teams draft boards. Rogers, arguably the last of the draft’s “elite” corners, was a 4 year college starter who can be plugged in alongside ‘Skin CB Shawn Springs, and fill the vacuum left by the departed Fred Smoot. An extraordinary athlete with above average closing speed, Rogers can bring the wood in run support, an important skill in the NFC East, and is physical enough to line up opposite Eagle wide receiver Terrell Owens. Nevertheless, Rogers is prone to the double move, lacks ideal ball skills, and has iffy man-to-man skills. Given Washington’s lack of offensive play makers, particularly at the wide receiver position, the team might’ve been better served taking either WR Mike Williams or Roddy White with this pick, and a corner with their 25th overall pick.

#10 Detroit Lions: WR Mike Williams: Given the fact that the Lions have now used 1st round picks on pass catchers in each of the last 3 drafts (‘03 Charles Rogers and ‘04 Roy Williams), and with the understanding that the Lions have profound defensive needs (ranking 22nd defensively overall) and play in the NFC North... a conference renowned for offensive fireworks (the Packers and Vikings are twice per year foes), the Javits Center echoed with boos when this curious pick was announced by Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Nevertheless, the Lions, and GM (although some league observers would say “part-time GM) Matt Millen, feel that a team can never have enough offensive play makers. Few teams have the cornerback depth capable of containing a pass catching corps of Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams, and with promising young running back Kevin Jones also in the fold, QB Joey Harrington has run out of excuses. Although many teams project Williams as a tight end due to his questionable speed, his size and physical nature will make him a nightmare to cover in the red zone. Assuming Harrington displays confidence in him, Williams is one of the few draft picks who possess better than average fantasy value.

#11 Dallas Cowboys: DE Demarcus Ware: Ware has nice size, offers great speed off the edge, and fits snugly into ‘Pokes head coach Bill Parcells’ defensive philosophy. A powerful man who can play with a hand on the ground or out of an upright stance (linebacker), Ware will prove to be the disruptive pass rushing force that was absent from the D last season. The Cowboys feel this pick netted them the best pass rusher in the draft.

#12 San Diego Chargers: OLB Shawne Merriman: At 6’4 270 Lbs, most teams had Merriman projected as an end. A large ‘backer who’ll probably have to read up on the Atkins Diet if he hopes to enjoy success at the LB position in the NFL, Merriman was a very productive college player who ranks 2nd in Sacks in Maryland University history. Merriman will take some of the considerable pressure off of Charger defenders, and will afford the Chargers the flexibility to play a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme.

#13 New Orleans Saints (Up from #16 from the Houston Texans for a 3rd round ‘06 pick): OT Jammal Brown: The “Outland Trophy” award winner, Brown will be plugged in as the Saints new Right Tackle. One massive man at 6’6” and 350 Lbs, Brown didn’t allow a Sack OR hurry last season, and will help keep QB Aaron Brooks upright and grass-stain free. Still, the Saints who have earned a reputation for making curious draft day selections, further bolstered that rep by taking Brown when talents such as LB Derrick Johnson, QB Aaron Rodgers (since Saint QB Aaron Brooks has been mercurial at best, Rodgers might’ve been a far headier pick), and the top ranked OT, Florida State’s Alex Barron, were still up on the board.

#14 Carolina Panthers: OLB/S Thomas Davis: A “First Team All-SEC” defender, Davis finished his career at Georgia with 219 tackles. At 6’ 1” and 230 Lbs, the dude’s got a linebacker’s size and thickness, but also has the speed to get after the QB. And, as the Panthers must face the Atlanta Falcons and their QB... what’s his name, ahh yes, Mike Vick! twice a season, Davis, who’s best suited to be a weakside linebacker, has his work cut out for him. An impact player with solid coverage skills, Davis will bring some swagger to the unit, and permit the team a great deal of defensive flexibility. As sound as this selection was, however, the Panthers may well regret passing on gifted ‘backer, Derrick Johnson.

#15 Kansas City Chiefs: OLB Derrick Johnson: The “Bronco Nagurski” and “Ditka Award” winner has very good 4.6 speed, and the defensively challenged Chiefs (#31 overall), a team that had the #1 ranked offense but permitted opponents to ring up 400+ total yards and hang 30+ points with nauseating regularity (at least... for Chiefs fans) last season, were positively tickled to have him drop into their laps. At 6’ 3”, 242 Lbs, Johnson possesses prototypical size and speed, was ranked as one of the draft’s top 10 talents, and is a swifter defender than current Chief LBs, Scott Fujita or Shawn Barber. The Chiefs, quite understandably, were awfully busy in the weeks and days leading up to the draft, acquiring pass rush specialists, DE Carlos Hall from the Titans and LB Kendrell Bell from the Steelers, and CBs Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight from Miami. Johnson, who has great coverage ability and sideline to sideline range, will further bolster a D that should be vastly improved over last year’s model. The sole knock on Johnson is that, for such a big, physical linebacker, he has a hard time shedding blockers.

#16 Houston Texans: DT Travis Johnson: A team that desperately needs speed on the line, Johnson can penetrate the backfield and disrupt plays before they develop. A good run defender as well as pass rusher, Johnson dropped on many team’s draft boards due to medical and character concerns. Still, at best Johnson will contribute as a rook’, and at worst should add depth a defense that has playoff aspirations.

#17 Cincinnati Bengals: DE David Pollack: This guy’s got more hardware than a NASCAR garage! The ‘02 and ‘04 “SEC Defender of the Year,” and winner of the “‘04 Lombardi” and “Bednarik” awards, Pollack has a nonstop motor and is a self-made football player. Although he lacks size, is “short-armed,” doesn’t have great quickness, and in short, is not considered an “elite” defensive prospect, Pollack is a high character guy capable of playing OLB in the team’s base D, and rush end on passing downs. Rest assured, Bengal head coach Marvin Lewis will extract every ounce of ability out of Pollack... and then, maybe a bit more.

#18 Minnesota Vikings: DE Erasmus James: A number of teams were crushed to have missed out on the “Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year.” The addition of DT Pat Williams allows James, a raw player, some time to develop. A sound technician and pass rush specialist, James should mesh well with massive DT Kevin Williams and speedy DE Kenechi Udeze, and provide the team with a relentless pass rush. For the 2nd year in a row, the Vikings made the defensive line a first round priority. Props' to the Vikings who have added 7 new starters and have finally come to the conclusion that defense IS part of the game.

#19 St. Louis Rams: OT Alex Barron: The heir apparent to Orlando Pace’s enormous and pricey throne, Barron, who is a physical specimen (6’ 8” 320 Lbs, 90” wingspan) is curiously more of a “technique” player than “power” player. A “boom or bust” pick, it will be up to the Ram coaching staff to both coach him up, and motivate him to realize his considerable potential. Ram OT Kyle Turley is recovering from injury and hasn’t exactly ingratiated himself to the coaching staff, and there’s league chatter that the team will cut him loose after June 1st. That may add a degree of immediacy to Barron’s development. A huge yet agile man with the largest wing span in the draft, Barron should have been a top 5 pick based solely on measureables. An iffy work ethic caused him to drop as far as he did.

#20 Dallas Cowboys: DE Marcus Spears: The Cowboys couldn’t have drawn up a more favorable first round, and are now well on their way towards transitioning to the 3-4 defensive scheme Parcells desires. However, while the ‘Boys would like to switch to a 3-4 scheme, ideally they would like to have the capability of running either (or the 4-3) defensive front, and Spears offers them such flexibility. Marcus Spears, all 300 plus pounds of him, has the size and strength needed to push and collapse the pocket, can occupy blockers and hold up against the run, and has been compared to Patriots Pro Bowl Defensive Lineman Richard Seymour. High praise indeed, no?

#21 Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Matt Jones: Here’s one of those draft day selections that had NFL observers and Jag fans alike scratching their heads. The Jaguars have numerous holes to fill and generally, with few exceptions (the Bills’ first round selection of RB Willis McGahee last year, for instance), first round picks are expected to be either immediate contributors or franchise QBs in need of grooming. Matt “The Matthlete” Jones was a college QB who demonstrated eye-popping attributes at the Combine, but has never played the wide receiver position. By far the biggest draft day reach, Jones is a rare athlete who offers a tight end’s size (6’6” 242 Lbs) and wide receiver’s sub 4.4 speed. Jones will serve as the 3rd string QB (saving his team considerable shekels there), can play from day one on Special Teams, and rumor has it he can long snap. Nevertheless, even with his impressive array of skills and ability to multitask, the general consensus is that the Jaguars took a big risk using the 21st overall pick on such a raw athlete. Time will tell.

#22 Baltimore Ravens: WR Mark Clayton: The Ravens, brilliant talent assessors that they are, eagerly snatched the most NFL ready pass catcher off the draft board and are positively giddy at the thought of trotting him out onto the field alongside free agent acquisition WR Derrick Mason and Pro Bowlers tight end Todd Heap and RB Jamal Lewis (still recovering from off-season surgery). Clayton left college as Oklahoma's career record holder in receptions (221), TD receptions (31), receiving yards (3,241), and 100 yard games (15), and brings everything but size (5’10” 193) to the table. He’s "thisquick" (4.4 speed), has a knack for finding the soft spots in coverage, and is a better than average down field blocker; a crucial skill given the Ravens offensive philosophy. Had he been a six footer, Clayton would have been a top 10 pick. Raven QB Kyle Boller now has a stocked offensive larder... let's see what he does with all those groceries.

#23 (From Seattle) Oakland Raiders: CB Fabian Washington: If there’s one thing that team owner AL Davis prizes more than his curiously unfashionable spectacles, it’s speed. And the Raiders, whose defense was largely fictitious and finished 30th overall in passing yards allowed last season, received a big injection of speed in the secondary. The first of 2 corners the Raiders drafted with sub 4.4 speed, Washington (who was timed at an eyebrow singing 4.29) has good instincts and gets a good break on the ball. And although he’s raw and not as physical as other DBs, Washington is certainly an upgrade over the disappointing and departed CB Philip Buchanon.

#24 Green Bay Packers: QB Aaron Rodgers: It was hard to watch the draft and not feel badly for Aaron Rogers. The 49’ers, with the first overall pick, compared and contrasted the talents of Rogers to the upside of draft mate, QB Alex Smith. After months of agonizing, the Niner’s decided on Smith. Several of the draft’s pundits and wags (what the heck IS a wag anyway?) had speculated that Rodgers might plummet if San Fran' passed on him, and indeed that’s just what happened. Still, given the millions upon millions of of dollars Rodgers will be pocketing, my pity is not without limits. The tiring pre-draft hubbub over which QB would be taken first; “Rodgers or Smith? Smith or Rodgers?” was similar to the seemingly endless yammering that went on in ‘98, when some speculated that a knuckle headed signal caller named Ryan Leaf possessed a greater upside than the son of a brilliant former NFL QB; Peyton Manning. And what does hindsight show us? Well, we discovered that Leaf blew... and Indianapolis has become Peyton’s place. And, while Rodgers is no Manning and Smith no Leaf, both youngsters seem to have their heads screwed on straight and are eager to learn the nuances of the position. Rodgers will certainly have his chance to learn what it takes to be an NFL field general. The former Cali’ QB will clutch a clipboard, wear a soft cap, stalk the sidelines, and observe Packer legend Brett Favre direct an offense. Boasting a strong arm, impressive accuracy (career 63.8%) and a fluid release, the Packers nabbed the steal of the draft, and at long last Favre’s replacement. Think ‘07.

#25 Washington Redskins: QB Jason Campbell: Although he’s made several statements to the contrary, head coach Joe Gibbs just doesn’t believe QB Patrick Ramsey is the Redskin’s future signal caller. If his inking of an over-the-hill Mark Brunell to a big money contract wasn’t evidence enough, than overlooking the profound need for a play making wideout and drafting a QB should be. Campbell, who recorded an undefeated senior season, is an intriguing selection who some believe could turn out to be the best QB of the class. The ‘Skins jumped the Browns on this pick as Cleveland had targeted the Auburn QB in the 2nd round. Still, by the time Campbell’s ready to guide the offense... Gibbs will more than likely out of football and back to motor sports.

#26 Seattle Seahawks: C Chris Spencer: What’s so exciting about a Center? Seattle fans are asking the very same question. However, football games are won and lost in the trenches, and the powerful, athletic Spencer is believed to be the best Center to come out in several years. Able to play Guard as well as well as Center, Spencer has the potential to mean as much to Seattle (and RB Shaun Alexander) as C Kevin Mawae means to the NY Jets. A potential Pro Bowl talent, Spencer will have the opportunity to learn behind current C Robbie Tobeck, and when ready... should anchor the ‘Hawk O-line for a decade or so.

#27 Atlanta Falcons: WR Roddy White: So, the team awarded Peerless his price to come to “hot-lanta” and be their #1 wideout a couple of years ago. And... that hasn’t worked out so well So, the team drafted WR Michael Jenkins in the 1st round of last year’s draft. And... while it’s a bit premature to pass judgment, Jenkins hasn’t knocked anyone’s socks off, so that hasn't worked out so well. So, the Falc’s overlooked some marked defensive needs (safety and tackle come to mind) in order to pull the best player available off the draft board. And accordingly, QB Mike Vick should finally have a true vertical receiving threat at his disposal. Sharod “Roddy” White is a tall (6’ 1”) receiver who brings tantalizing speed to Atlanta’s pass catching corps. A tremendously productive college career that saw White start 43 of 45 games and haul in 163 passes for 3,112 yards culminated in a brilliant senior season in which he led the nation with 1,452 receiving yards. White will get his feet wet on Special Teams and be a fantasy non-factor, unless injuries strike.

#28 San Diego Chargers: DT Luis Castillo: Castillo tested positive at the Combine for Androstenedione, the drug that made retired Cardinal slugger Mark McGwire a household name. That house being, of course, Congress. Castillo, laudably, sent a letter to every team prior to the draft in which he promised to return any signing bonus awarded him if he tested positive for “juice” again. Although he’s obviously a high character player, and his size (6’3” 305), instincts, and nonstop motor make him a worthy 1st round gamble, he’s really a nose tackle and San Diego already enjoys good depth at that position.

#29 Indianapolis Colts: CB Marlin Jackson: Too often last season, QB Peyton Manning guided his team downfield to a score, headed to the sideline in search of a breather and cup o’ Gatorade, and due to the porous nature of the D... was forced to hop back into his helmet within minutes. Defensive stops became a luxury. So, as expected, a priority was placed upon defense. The coaching staff coveted Jackson, who at 6’1”, 198 is big and physical enough to jam the new breed of wideout such as Houston’s Andre Johnson, and fits into the Colts cover-2 defensive scheme. The guy can support the run and is expected to start from day one.

#30 Pittsburgh Steelers: TE Heath Miller: As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait, and the Steelers were on pins and needles awaiting their turn, all too aware that several teams were interested in the gigantic tight end nicknamed “Big Money.” At 6’5” 256 Lbs, Miller’s certainly a chunk of change. The draft’s hands-down best tight end prospect, Miller snagged 144 passes and racked up over 1,700 yards in only 3 years at Virginia. Recovering from surgery to repair a sports hernia that prohibited him from running for scouts prior to draft day, look for Miller to replace departed Steeler WR Plaxico Burress’ red zone skills.

#31 Philadelphia Eagles: DT Mike Patterson: The Eagles are another team that consistently drafts well. In particular, and much like the Patriots, the Eagles place great stock in “tough guy” lineman. This pick however, has been met with some derision. Due to the state of incumbent Eagle Hollis Thomas’ contract negotiations, head coach Andy Reid stretched to answer a need. Alas, Reid might've stretched far enough to have tweaked a groin. For a Nose Tackle, Patterson is light at 290 or so, and short at 6’. He was also ranked behind Southern Cal teammate, Shaun Cody. Patterson may lack great height, but he’s a fireplug and is tough for an offensive lineman to dislodge due to his low center of gravity. He’s also powerful, athletic, and plays whistle to whistle football. This pick does have the potential to be a swing and miss, however.

#32 New England Patriots: T Logan Mankins: As peculiar as the 31st pick of the 1st round was, pick #32 really caused eyebrows to crawl up foreheads. Most teams had Mankin ranked as a low 2nd rounder, and some not until the 3rd. Who the heck are we mere mortals to question Patriot coach Bill Belichik’s football decisions though. A self-made player who plays as if every down might be his last, Mankins can be plugged in at either Guard or Tackle, and will provide the team with great depth and flexibility.