Saturday, April 29, 2006

First and 10: NFL Draft

First and 10 while wondering how I'm going to get my Kiper fix while attending my cousin's wedding today . . .

1. Be very afraid, Texans fans (all three of y'all): Reggie Bush, whose skill-set makes him an amalgam of Terry Metcalf, Joe Washington, LaDainian Tomlinson and maybe even some old-school cat named Sayers, will have his vengeance on the pea-brained bleep-ups running your football team. Good lord, I hope the J-E-T-S don't get Bush, because this is a pick even they can't screw up.

2. His performance in the Rose Bowl will be an ESPN Classic staple for years to come (at least when they're not showing the 1997 World Series of Poker for the 23d time that week), he's a phenomenal athlete and, Wonderlic disaster aside, is by all accounts a good kid. But I can't help but think that unless he gets in the ideal situation - namely, interning for Steve McNair in Tennessee for at least two years - Vince Young is going to be a bust in the NFL. I simply can't imagine that any quarterback, no matter how talented, will be able to adjust to the NFL quickly after having never taken a snap over the center in college. Young might eventually become a more powerful version of Randall Cunningham, but for now his shotgun-only experience coupled with his funky throwing motion make him more of a project than the hype would lead you to believe.

3. Javon Walker? Yes, please, assuming the price is right. I'd be jacked and pumped if the Pats could acquire the Packers' disgruntled but well-regarded receiver for, say, a second-round pick. Walker is a truly elite pass catcher when healthy, and while Joe Theismann, Peter King and the rest of the Brett Favre Is Just Having Fun Out There He Would Play The Game For Free Butt-Kissing Brigade will never admit it, Walker bailed out that ball-heaving fraud time and again. Besides, the Pats have to replace David Givens at some point, and this is a thin draft for receivers, especially after the Lions inevitably take one in the first round.

4. He's a talent to be sure, but if LenDale White can't keep himself from stuffing his face with Funyons, Ding Dongs, Nutty Bars and anything else his plump little fingers can pluck out of the snack machine now, during the most crucial time of his football life, what makes any team think he's going to get his butt into shape after he gets paid?

5. Matt Leinart strikes me a lefthanded version of a healthy Chad Pennington - a dependable passer with a soft touch and all the so-called intangibles, but lacking the ideal arm strength to ever become anything better than pretty good. (And before you say it, Tom Brady has outstanding arm strength. Why he doesn't get more credit for that I have no idea.)

6. Last year in this space I pleaded with the Patriots to select Lofa Tatupu in the first round, and we all know how that turned out . . . for the Seahawks. So when I say the one player I really wish the Patriots could get is Michael Huff, the lightning-legged, Riddell-crackin' defensive back from Texas, I have some credibility, right? What's that . . . I don't? Because I was adamant that they take David Terrell or Koren Robinson over Tomlinson and Richard Seymour, both of whom I guaranteed couldn't play? Damn, it was five years ago. Let it go already, will ya? Sheesh.

7. Jay Cutler looks like the lost Manning brother, right down to the haircut-via-toenail clippers. Archie Manning must be fighting off a confusing but overwhelming urge to commandeer the kid's life.

8. Mrs. TATB is due to give birth to Baby TATB No. 2 in mid-August. We've got a few names on the short list, boy or girl, but I haven't dropped my trump card on her yet. Check it out: D'Brickashaw Finn. Huh? Sweet ring to it or what? I think she's going to love it the way I do. (By the way, you have to like D'Brickashaw Ferguson for this reason alone. In a Q&A in the Sporting News NFL Draft Guide, the Virginia tackle and several other top prospects are asked what their first purchase will be after signing a pro deal. While most players listed a home or a luxury item - Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech plans on buying a Lamborghini, which suggests to me that he's not on the Patriots' draft board - Ferguson kept it simple, and for an offensive lineman, appropriate. His answer: "I'll probably get something to eat.")

9. All right, presuming you have the common sense to realize that no one outside of the Gillette Stadium draft bunker really has any idea what the Patriots are thinking - don't even try to tell me you heard of Logan Mankins before last April - here is my bold prediction. When today's festivities are concluded, the Patriots will come away with two of these five players: 1) Richard Marshall, CB, Fresno State. 2) Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State. 3) Maurice Stovall, WR, Notre Dame. 4) Manny Lawson, DE, North Carolina St. 5) Abdul Hodge, LB, Iowa. That said, I fully expect them to pick a defensive tackle from some Div. I-AA college I've never heard of in Rd. 1, prompting Kiper to mutter, "that's not good value there . . . he has a poor bubble and his hips aren't loose . . . I had him pegged for Round 4 . . . dammit . . . (bleepin') Patriots, I hate them . . . YOU'RE MAKING A MOCKERY OF MY MOCK DRAFT, SCOTT PIOLI!!!" Then he'll storm off the set, leaving Chris Berman to call behind him, "Why are you rumblin', bumblin', stumblin' away? . . . c'mon, don't go, "Rowdy Roddy" Kiper . . . you're with me, leather." Hey, it could happen.

10. As for today's Completely Random Football Card:

If the Patriots do select Bobby Carpenter with the No. 21 pick, let's just say I hope he's better at making tackles than his old man was at breaking them.