Saturday, April 23, 2005

Feeling the draft

Some quick late-night notes on that tribute to hype, excess and the Man-Bouffant . . .

. . . yep, Melvin, you can come out now. We're on the clock with the NFL Draft . . .

- A would-be linebacker from a Pac-10 school who is intelligent, fiery and always seems to be around the ball despite supposedly being too small? Funny, but the description of USC's Lofa Tatupi (top) sounds a lot like the description of a kid from Arizona named Tedy Bruschi 10 drafts ago. The Pats snatched Bruschi in the third round of the 1996 draft. Getting Tatupu in the same slot nearly a decade later seems somehow appropriate. I'll consider it a good day if the Pats end up with Mosi's kid.

- Now that I mention it, the desciption of Brusch and Tatupu also applies to another Patriot. Tully Banta-Cain is going to make that jackpot Warren-Wilson-Johnson-Klecko-Samuel-Koppen 2003 draft look even better, isn't he?

- What would the equivalent of Mosi's Mooses be? Lofa's Loofahs? (Man, that joke is so lame, I think Bill Scheft might have written it for me.)

- Probably won't happen, but it would only be appropriate if Oklahoma receiver Mark Clayton ended up with the Dolphins. If Dan Marino ever had to interview him, he might have a flashback to 1984 and start screaming at him for running the wrong route.

(No relation to the incoming Mark Clayton. But Marino doesn't know that.)

- If Randy Moss is Example 1A of the ideal Oakland Raider, then Maurice Clarett is Example 1B. They'll take him three rounds too soon, and he'll be a hell-raising bust. It's one of those things that simply has to happen.

- Whenever Mel Kiper Jr. starts yammering about a prospect's "loose hips," I feel vaguely uncomfortable.

- Words to mark: This time next year, the teams who pass on USC's Mike Williams will be lamenting their colossal mistake. He's Keyshawn Johnson with speed.

- None of us ever really know what the Pioli/Belichick braintrust is going to do in Rd. 1. (See: Ben Watson, tight end, 2004.) For what it's worth, the Globe's Ron Borges has them taking Michigan defensive back Marlin Jackson, whose profile sounds a lot like Eugene Wilson's two seasons ago: covers like a corner, hits like a safety, may have some character questions. If the comparison is legitimate, I'm all for it. Can't have enough Eugene The Hittin' Machine clones.

- Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers have a certain Trent Dilfer/Heath Shuler '94 vibe about them, don't they? Rather than taking one of these two future Arena Leaguers with the No. 1 pick, the Niners might be better off taking a flyer on this mysterious Ron Mexico character.

- The Vikings are looking to move near the top of the draft so they can select Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards. Word is Mike Tice is even willing to throw in a couple choice Super Bowl tickets to make it happen.

- Not only was Tom Brady a sixth-round pick in the 2001 draft, but he wasn't even the Patriots' first sixth-round pick. Knowing now what we didn't know then, it's hard to believe they chose to secure the immortal Antwan Harris first before taking the skinny kid from Michigan. Hell, it's hard to believe anyone went ahead of him, let alone 197 other players, plus Spergon Wynn.

- No matter whom they draft today, the Patriots are already assured of adding a couple talented young players into the mix next season. First-rounder Watson and safety Guss Scott (the 2004 third-round pick) looked like keepers, but both players suffered season-ending knee injuries, Watson in Week 1 and Scott in the preseason. After a season of watching and learning and getting acclimated to NFL life, both should make a more immediate impact than any hot-shot rookie.

- One Workout Warrior shoots up the draft board every year - remember Mike Mamula, Eagles fans? - and this year it's Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound athletic freak who supposedly ran a sub-4.4 40-yard dash. Jones projects as a wide receiver or a tight end, and has shot up from a third-round prospect to an almost certain first-rounder in a matter of weeks despite never having played either position. It will be interesting to see where he winds up. One report had the Eagles, who pick 31st, sending six scouts to watch a recent workout. But I can't imagine he gets past Pittsburgh at No. 30. They've had great success converting college quarterbacks to different positions (Antwaan Randle-El, Hines Ward, even Kordell Stewart for a while) and with their deep roster, they can afford to take a flyer on such a high-risk, high-reward player.

- Anyone who gives your team a draft grade other than "incomplete" in the coming days is feeding you a line of b.s. You want a grade? Check back in three years, when these guys have actually set foot on an NFL for something other than a shuttle run.

- Virginia defensive end Chris Canty, a projected second-round pick today, stands 6-foot-7, weighs 290 pounds, and ran the 40 in 5 seconds. And every Patriots fan walking the earth has no doubt he would make a better NFL cornerback than his chain-smoking, dancing fool of a namesake.

- Do you think Mel Kiper Sr. has ever considered changing his name?