Crabtree could land in Green Bay; Dorsey trade rumors.
PFW draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki recently answered readers’ draft-related questions. This is the final draft Q&A before this weekend's draft.
Question: You have stated in your mock draft that the Green Bay Packers will take Michael Crabtree as their first pick. That is ... to say the least ... a rather odd conclusion considering that WR is the Packers’ strongest position and that if Ted Thompson took a WR, he would probably be run out of Green Bay. I’m guessing that you were just trying to be a tad controversial. However, if you are serious, I have a proposition for you. I would be willing to make a wager that the Green Bay Packers do NOT take a wide receiver with their first choice ... Crabtree or anyone else. Not a large amount, something under 4 figures would be okay. That would allow you to back up with some cash your (supposed) opinion. We can make the arrangements through a third party and use PayPal to deposit the bet. Please advise.
— Ed C.
Nawrocki: Ed, I’m not a betting man and was not trying to be controversial at all — just trusting my sources. If you look at Ted Thompson’s history, he is not afraid to go against the grain to select the best available player. You may argue, but there were more pressing needs when Aaron Rodgers and Justin Harrell were selected. Thompson is one of the few GMs who truly operate by the principle of selecting the best available talent. And if Michael Crabtree happens to be the top-rated player on their board when their pick arrives, expect his card to be submitted in New York.
The Packers have a much more pressing need at offensive tackle and on a defensive front seven transitioning to Dom Capers' odd front than they do at receiver. However, Donald Driver is 34 and does not have the same rapport with Aaron Rodgers that he had with Brett Favre; Greg Jennings is entering a contract season and may not be easy to re-sign with an agent (Eugene Parker) known for hardball negotiations and holdouts; James Jones came back down to earth with an injury-plagued sophomore season; and Jordy Nelson may be the future. From Ted Thompson's perspective, drafting a receiver early may not be nearly as crazy as you think it is. Crabtree would be an excellent fit in a West Coast offense with his superb run-after-the-catch ability.
Question: I have four questions for you: (1) Given that Daunte Culpepper was a Pro Bowl QB only a few short years ago, do you think he is recovered from his injuries and can be capable of returning to being an efficient QB for the Lions in 2009? (2) Do you think Torry Holt has enough left to give Jacksonville a decent passing attack? (3) Do you think either of the Redskins’ second-year WRs are capable of having a breakout season in 2009? (4) Is B.J. Raji a top 5 pick in Saturday’s draft? Can you see him going to Kansas City with the 3rd pick, or do you think K.C. is more apt to draft a DE or OLB such as Brian Orakpo? Love all your evaluations, draft guides, comments, etc. I’ve been a PFW subscriber for a looong time, since I was a young kid. (I’m 65 now). LONG LIVE PFW!!
— Gordon Craig, Crown Point, Ind.
Nawrocki: Gordon, thanks for your patronage. Culpepper is in the best playing shape of his life, close to 260 pounds, and reunited with the offensive coordinator (Scott Linehan) under whom he had the most success in Minnesota. I fully expect that he will get an opportunity to show what he can do for a season while Matt Stafford is groomed. Having too many quarterbacks is never a problem.
Even though Torry Holt seems like he has been around forever, he is relatively young in football years for a receiver and could easily have another five years left to play. The key is being able to stay healthy. But even on injured reserve, he should bring the veteran presence that the Jaguars have lacked for too long at the position.
I do not have high expectations for Devin Thomas, who alligator-armed too many balls last season, or Malcolm Kelly, whose immaturity could continue to be a hindrance. I expect Kelly could have a better season, but I’m not convinced either will be great this year.
B.J. Raji, to me, is an overrated, two-down run stuffer and not anywhere near worth a top-five pick. He does not possess the violent football disposition that has made so many defensive tackles great. I don’t see any chance Kansas City considers him with the third pick, but a prototype five-technique such as Tyson Jackson or rush linebacker such as Brian Orakpo would fit the Chiefs’ preferred 3-4 front very well if the Chiefs cannot trade down.
Question: I love the play of Mitch King, but he is too small for DT, and not quick enough for DE. He was an all-state linebacker in high school, and he looks to be a linebacker playing DT in college to me. What is the chance some team will draft him, have him drop 10-15 pounds to gain some speed and have a great 2-down inside linebacker and special-teams demon for a mid-round pick?
— Keith S., Falls Church, Va.
Nawrocki: Keith, excellent question. King’s motor, intensity and passion for the game consistently stood out for the Hawkeyes, and he has the type of playing demeanor that will make old-school coaches and GMs want to find a way to get him on the field. He could be an ideal fit inside for a “30” front, where size, toughness and take-on ability are difficult to find.
Question: How does this draft class compare to 2005? No standout elite players. Junior QB at top, deep with pass rushers (Justin Tuck, Shawne Merriman, DeMarcus Ware), character concerns seemingly aplenty (Pacman Jones, Odell Thurman, Chris Henry)? Any way the Bengals go pass rusher at No. 6? Marvin Lewis missed on Derrick Harvey last year. Thanks, you do great work and are a fine writer!
— John, Tempe, Ariz.
Nawrocki: Thanks, John. There are a lot of similarities in this draft to what may go down in history as one of the worst top 10s of all time in that 2005 draft. To add a little perspective, consider that at this same time four years ago, the Buccaneers were having internal conversation about whether to draft DeMarcus Ware or Cadillac Williams but sided with offense, in part because Jon Gruden was infatuated with the competitive back and in part because the Buccaneers thought Ware was too one-dimensional, much as Aaron Maybin has been criticized this year.
In retrospect, I think it’s safe to say the Buccaneers would prefer to have the NFL’s top pass rusher, and arguably the best defensive player in football, over a china-doll back. Scouts were also calling Shawne Merriman too stiff, the same way they have been banging Brian Orakpo. There’s a good chance that Maybin and Orakpo will slip outside the top 10 as Ware and Merriman did, but in three years, I think the pass rushers in this class will stand out in much the same way.
I suspect the teams that roll the dice early on players with questionable character will live to regret it as the Bears have with Cedric Benson, Tennessee with Pacman Jones and Detroit with Mike Williams. If there is a single decision that may have cost Floyd Reese his job in Tennessee, the selection of Pacman may have been it. The same could be argued with Millen’s selection of Williams.
As for the Bengals, they could still use more heat off the edges after free-agent acquisition Antwan Odom brought little last season, but with glaring holes on the offensive line and athletic big men so difficult to find in later rounds, it’s difficult to believe they would not go big with their first pick. They could find a screaming edge rusher to fit their scheme in the middle rounds, with Lawrence Sidbury and Connor Barwin being ideally suited for Mike Zimmer’s defense.
Question: Have you heard anything about this wacky rumor that the Chiefs may be shopping Glenn Dorsey this weekend?
Nawrocki: Steven, I’m not sure where the rumor started, but it is not as far-fetched as some might think. Glenn Dorsey does not fit a 3-4 front nearly as well as he fit the Chiefs’ previous 4-3 scheme. It would be bold of new GM Scott Pioli, given that the organization would bite a big bullet with the money already paid to Dorsey, but the Chiefs have plenty of cap room to absorb a big hit, and if they were able to reap a return on the investment Carl Peterson made last season in the form of players who better fit their scheme or more draft picks, it is conceivable.
Question: I am a big 49ers fan. Do you see the 49ers trying to trade up in the draft to get Mark Sanchez?
— Phil from California
Nawrocki: Phil, one GM I spoke with late last week believed the Niners were more interested in Josh Freeman than Sanchez, and given their many needs, especially on their defensive front, it’s difficult to believe GM Scot McCloughan would not place a higher premium on first giving defensive coordinator Greg Manusky more to work with. Rumors are flying, after the Niners lost Ronnie Fields to new Denver defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in free agency, that the Niners are considering B.J. Raji, who visited the facility last week, to anchor the middle of the defense. DE Tyson Jackson and OLB Brian Orakpo would make even more sense schematically. Even more pressing than defense or a quarterback, however, may be a playmaker who can make an average quarterback look good. The Niners’ front office may not have the luxury of developing a young quarterback, and trading up for Sanchez is highly unlikely.
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