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JetNation.com Chats With Draft Daddy

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JetNation.com recently sat down with Bitonti from Draft Daddy and asked him about the upcoming NFL draft.

Which player has made the biggest leap on most draft boards since the Combine?
Michigan’s Leon Hall was a player who had speed concerns before the combine, ran a 4.3 40 yard dash, now he’s a possible top 10 selection and first CB off the board. Not exactly a case of coming out of nowhere but his stock was falling before that run. Mississippi’s Patrick Willis also received a sizable boost in stock but it was his 4.39 at pro day, not his 4.49 at Indy that saw his stock rise among casual fans.

Out of the Top 10 players picked, who will be the most widely criticized?Â
Whoever the Lions pick will probably be questioned by the pitchfork waving mobs that gather in front of GM Matt Millen’s office every morning. If they stay at 2 and take a non-QB, such as Gaines Adams, Adrian Peterson, or even Calvin Johnson, it would probably be questioned by their fans and national media. If they trade down it could be a re-do of 1997 when Bill Parcells traded down, giving up the potential rights to Orlando Pace and Walter Jones for James Farrior, Jason Fergeson and 11 busts. Many recent mocks have them taking Gaines Adams at 2, if they can trade down and take the same player I believe it would be less questioned situation, but let’s be honest, betting on Millen to somehow screw this up seems relatively safe every year.

It the Jets were picking based on need what position would they target in the 1st round?Â
With the recent economic trends, CB or OG. They don’t have a-lot behind Dyson and these players are valuable on open market with Nate Clements becoming the highest paid defender in league history. As for guard, there are marginal starters like Derrick Dockery getting Steve Hutchinson money and the Jets need to replace both Kendall and Moore up front. The question really isn’t what the needs are so much as what position is easier to “find” quality guys off the street or in later rounds. You can’t really find pass rushers or defensive tackles so that’s always a well that they could go back to, despite the free agent additions.

Give us a 2nd day sleeper pick that you feel has a chance to make some noise next season?Â
RB Tyrone Moss out of Miami isn’t expected to go high but could make an instant impact if healthy. Note that this is a question more easily answered after the draft, as pre-draft second day sleepers become second round picks the day of the draft (such as the Giants’ DE Osi Umenyiora). Many of the less highly regarded players I like are small schoolers and will provide more names in that question to follow.

With the impact that Devon Hester had last year in Chicago do you think more teams will use first day picks on special team players?
Hard to say. Players who can run as fast as Hester did, coming from a football factory like Miami will always find a warm welcome to the NFL, even if they don’t have a traditional offensive or defensive position. Here’s a more general observation, true special teamers such as punters, long snappers and place kickers will get drafted higher this year as it seems these players are harder to find every year. A guy like LS Nick Leeson might end up a 6th or 7th rounder, whereas in years prior would have gone undrafted.

Who will have the better career in the NFL QB Russell or Quinn?Â
Gut instinct, Quinn might not be as physically talented but he is better at reading defenses, preparing and making the accurate throws. He was essentially tudored privately by Charlie Weiss for several years and that’s invaluable knowledge to gain. He also quietly exceeded Jay Cutler’s bench press combine performance, putting 225 up 24 times, the guy is in top shape.

As for Jamarcus Russell an anonymous student at LSU once wrote the site comparing Russell’s appearances in class to that of the Fonz; he’d show up, smile, say “eeeeyyyy” and coast by on natural personality. No one is going to doubt Russell’s physical talent, what some scouts question are intangibles like desire, preparation and commitment.

Jets fans are so happy that the Herman Edwards days are behind us. Is there any truth to the rumor that the Chiefs are not allowing Herm into their war room?Â
Unfortunately for Chiefs fans that is not a valid rumor. However GM Carl Peterson runs that show and he’s a pretty capable manager on draft day. I expect the Cheifs to take a player at 23 that some Jets fans were hoping drop a few spots more.

What will be the biggest draft day surprise?Â
There will likely be a trade up to either 2 or 6 spots, where Detroit or Washington are desperately trying to move down. One persistant rumor that makes sense to us is the Patriots putting together a package, possibly involving franchised CB Asante Samuel to the Redskins 6 pick to take LSU’s Laron Landry. QB Jamarcus Russell or QB Brady Quinn sitting in the green room longer than expected is also a possible ‘big’ draft day story. Neither would fall past Miami at 9 but teams are in general somewhat scared to take these players.

Calvin Johnson is widely considered to be the best player in this draft. Yet, by all accounts, he will not be drafted # 1 overall. The teams picking next have other needs. Where does Calvin end up?
Maybe it’s just stubborness but I personally have no plans of changing my projection of Calvin Johnson to 1 in Oakland. When Al Davis falls asleep at night, he dreams of players like Calvin Johnson. That’s why Randy Moss is there in the first place, CJ is basically a supersized Randy Moss with a better work ethic. Al Davis is rumored to be interviewing GM candidates to replace himself after this draft, Calvin Johnson could be his last hurrah.

Name a small college player school that the Jets might be interested in later rounds.Â
CB’s Usama Young from Kent State and Courtney Brown out of Cal Poly both fit the mold of workout warriors who could be molded by Mangini. OT Jacob Bender out of Nicholls State could be an interesting option for right tackle to replace Clement. The NT sleepers Walter Thomas and Laron Harris are interesting players, but probably not Mangini types as both are coming out of community colleges. Maybe the Jets are willing to overlook those concerns for the chance of bulking up the interior.

As a general comment remember that Mangini will not always take these high character captain types, once the program is established, he could lower the standards for one or two key contributors such as the Patriots did with Dillion. After a while the virtues of the program can build character where there was little prior.

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