Monday, April 26, 2004

Draft Review

Ravens pick BG's Harris
Steel City a fit for 'Big Ben'
Anderson Buffalo-bound

The draft has been hashed and re-hashed endlessly for the past week (including by yours truly), so I just want to hit some highlights and then be done with it. Until next year.

I'm glad this whole mess with Eli Manning was finally resolved. I couldn't believe the Chargers went ahead and drafted him, but it made sense when they traded him to the Giants for Philip Rivers and some other draft picks. I continue to think that both teams got hosed on this deal. Manning may turn out to be a decent quarterback, but I don't think he'll ever reach the level of his brother Peyton. As for San Diego, they already have a weak-armed quarterback in Drew Brees. With so many other needs, I don't think they needed to get another in Philip Rivers. I don't see him as that great of an upgrade over Brees, and they're going to be paying him a lot more money as a high draft pick. I think Robert Gallery (who went to the Raiders) would have been a better selection. At least by going this way they got some extra draft picks to address some of their other needs.

I have to give major props to the Detroit Lions, who had a great draft and addressed some major needs for their team. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that much of the credit for this draft should go to head coach Steve Mariucci. General manager Matt Millen hasn't been too impressive in the realm of talent evaluation, nor too savvy in general, and I don't know why that would have changed just in time for this draft. Not only did they do a great job of addressing needs, they also managed to fleece the hapless Browns out of their second-round pick, which Detroit then used to trade up and get another first-round pick, which they used on halfback Kevin Jones. Personally, I think Jones will turn out to be the class of this draft when it comes to running backs.

Head coach Butch Davis was in charge of the draft for the Browns, and Butch is a moron. This makes me chuckle gleefully, as he continues to run that hated franchise into the ground. It'll take the Browns years to recover once they discover their mistake and attempt to replace him.

Ben Roethlisberger rightfully should have gone higher in the draft, and was somewhat screwed over by the Manning situation. However, I think he fell into a great situation in Pittsburgh. He can play behind Tommie Maddox and learn for a year and then step into the starting role. The Steelers have got some great receivers to throw to, and they always have a good offensive line. Also, Bill Cowher is a very good NFL coach.

I wasn't thrilled with Cincinnati's selection of Chris Perry in the first round. I'm going to give Coach Lewis the benefit of the doubt on this one and see how it plays out, but I'm a little concerned. I'm not sold on Chris Perry's pro potential, nor on the Bengals' need for a running back. If they were intent on taking one, I think Kevin Jones would have been a better choice. At least he would have been a contrast to incumbent starter Rudi Johnson. Johnson is a power back, as is Perry. Jones is more of a speedster. This raises questions about Johnson's future in Cincy, even though he showed last year that he can be a good one.

The real winners of the draft were the Baltimore Ravens, who picked up BGSU quarterback Josh Harris in the sixth round. I still think Josh is going to be a very good NFL QB in a few years. I don't know if Baltimore is the ideal situation for him to grow in, but it could be. They don't have a veteran quarterback for him to learn from. They do have two quarterbacks on their roster who are very much unproven, one of which could easily be labeled a "journeyman." That might give Josh a chance to play earlier than anticipated, but I'm not sure that would be the best thing for his growth and long-term potential.

As a sidenote, I give a big thumbs-down to Ohio State's Craig Krenzel getting drafted, especially in the fifth round. Have these folks ever seen Krenzel play? He's a heck of a leader, but otherwise not that great as a quarterback, and he doesn't strike me as someone who's going to get much better with coaching. You can feed me a Wilson if he ends up having a better pro career than Josh Harris.

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