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Ear to the Ground

"The cosmos speaks in patterns" - Roger von Oech (paraphrase of Heraclitus)

"You can't block what you can't catch" - Montae Reagor (Colts DT)

"Winning is our business" - Bill Parcells (motto for Cowboys 2005 season)

The subject matter of ETTG is IDP with an emphasis on Dynasty leagues. Ear To The Ground was chosen for this column's title to convey a sense of detecting rumblings in the distance... an ability essential to project a prospect from college to pro and rookie to veteran. It will consist of four sections : Team Reports, a Defensive Rookie of the Year Meter, an In-Depth Profile and a strategy section called Cracking the Code. The team reports will be covered on a rotation (ARI - KC, MIA - WAS) every other week. The events that wash over the IDP Dynasty world and alter its landscape move at a slower rhythm and tempo and according to longer cycles than redraft leagues, making weekly coverage superfluous. IDP focus will be on the impact positions of LB, DE and S... exceptional DTs and CBs will be noted for leagues that differentiate DE/DT and S/CB. Dynasty content is geared towards youth. Like most successful working rosters that employ a blend of production and potential, there will be a balance of rookie and veteran coverage in the mix. FBG IDP content is complementary and interlocking. Upgrades/Downgrades and Strong/Weak Plays articles will by their nature see new names bubble up to the surface from week to week. Ear to the Ground will identify key players early on and can be thought of as a watch list for the whole season as it unfolds.

Team Reports

MINNESOTA - The Vikings have ridden improved play on defense (as well as offense) to a six game winning streak. DT Kevin Williams has been one of the biggest disappointments in the IDP world this season. Don't forget about DE Kenechi Udeze (on IR), who looked like he was making strides over his sub-par rookie season... he was only a junior when he came out in 2004. Shoulder and knee injuries in consecutive seasons could be a red flag and raise legitimate concerns about his durability, so don't blow up your team if you decide to try and acquire him based on his top two DE (with Will Smith) pedigree from last season's draft class. USC highlights revealed a big man with rare athleticism and feet quickness who moved like a much smaller player, threw his body around and wreaked havoc behind the LOS... he had among the best sack and FF numbers in the nation in 2003. WLBs E.J. Henderson and Dontarrious Thomas may be the most promising young MIN LBs for dynasty purposes, but they have not exactly been on the developmental fast track... their owners can only hope they are late bloomers in the NFL and at some point, once again flash the potential they routinely showed in college which made them such highly regarded prospects (both second rounders and among highest graded LBs in their respective classes). Will incumbent MLB Sam Cowart (not a geezer but not a pup either at 30) be back? If not, Henderson could become entrenched there, providing a starting opportunity for Thomas at WLB if the former Auburn star's (teammate of Karlos Dansby) football smarts and instincts catch up with his formidable, eye-popping measuarables. His size, 40 time and vertical jump were comparable to consensus top two LB from the class of 2004, D.J. Williams (along with Miami teammate Jonathan Vilma). FS Darren Sharper is not an ideal long-term dynasty candidate given his age, but he is having a monster rebound season after being unceremoniously dumped by the Packers after last season. He should be one of the leading candidates for Comeback Player of the Year... and is playing well enough, in fact, that he has been touted in some circles as deserving of Defensive Player of the Year consideration. For IDP purposes, however, despite leading all safeties in INTs (8), being second in PD (15) and tied for the lead among defenders at any position in TDs (2), he is so far down the list in tackles that he is just #44 in DB scoring. CB Antoine Winfield has surged to #9 among DBs. After only getting more than 7 tackles once in the first seven games, he has only had less than 8 in two of the last six games... with 10 tackles last week the former Ohio State and Bills star overtook Charles Tillman for the league lead in tackles (77) at his position... and is second among all DBs after SS Adrian Wilson (83). His 4 INTs are as many in his previous three seasons COMBINED. The game against the Steelers Sunday should provide a stiff test by which to guage if MINs recent roll means they are for real... only one time during the current win streak have the Vikings defeated a team with a winning record (Giants). A key to their success of late is the blistering clip at which they are accumulating INTs. Their 23 pass thefts is second only to the Bengals 27 (no other team has more than the Bears and Broncos 18)... of course, getting 5 INTs against Rams rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gave their stats in the INT column a nice boost.

NEW ORLEANS - (OWNER) PENALTY BOX

NEW YORK GIANTS - The lethal edge rushing tandem of serial Pro Bowler Michael Strahan (11 1/2 sacks are fouth in the NFL) and emergent superstar Osi Umenyiora (leads NFC with 12 1/2 sacks... second only to 13 by Derrick Burgess of Raiders) are giving opposing QBs and ball carriers bruises that match the color of their dark blue uniforms. The powerhouse DE bookends aren't just sack specialists, either, but take run support seriously. Strahan is first among DEs in tackles (53) and second among DL to Orpheus Roye, and his supremely gifted counterpart from pass rush phenom factory Troy State (DeMarcus Ware another multi-talented alumni) is tied for seventh with 41 solos. They have 4 combined FFs, with none as big as the one in OT Sunday that dislodged the ball from Eagles QB Mike McMahon and basically won the game. They are currently first and second among DL in FBG scoring. Bad news for stud MLB Antonio Pierce who proved that he wasn't just a system guy in WAS by thriving for the NYG... he suffered a severe high ankle sprain that may put an end to his season even if the team makes it to the post season as expected. Pierce is the holy grail for IDPs... a three down LB with the strength and toughness to be stout at the POA, get off blocks and be an effective stopper in run support coupled with the speed and athleticism to cover and stay on the field in passing downs. The impressive versatility of this UFA (undrafted free agent) success story is in evidence by his well rounded box score... eleventh in tackles (80) and first in PD (11) among LBs, also chipping in 2 1/2 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 FF and 1 TD... he also has an exceptional football IQ and is known as a coach-on-the-field caliber leader. SS Gibril Wilson is proving that last season wasn't a fluke. The fifth round revelation from Tennessee is not suffering the sophomore slump, and is in fact a rock solid #5 among DBs. Wilson is third among safeties (fifth among DBs) in tackles with 73, and true to the form of his improbably sensational rookie debut, has been a big play machine... his 3 sacks (all falling within the last six games... perhaps turned loose more?) and 2 FFs are also tied for third at his position.

NEW YORK JETS - Shaun Ellis has been one of the bigger DE disappointments (after the Saints brilliant Charles Grant's inexplicable collapse that seemingly mirrored the team's implosion) from 2005. Running mate John Abraham is #10 among DL, but his production has been the definition of streaky. After 3 sacks and 2 FFs in the first three games he had a three game lull, followed by 2 1/2 sacks and 1 FF in the next two games, after which he had (you guessed it) ANOTHER three game lull, punctuated by two games comprising his latest 3 sack, 2 FF outburst. The former South Carolina star and first rounder is eleventh in the league in sacks (8 1/2... within one of elite sack artists Dwight Freeney, Simeon Rice and Adewale Ogunleye) and tied for third with Freeney in FFs (5), and he wants either a long-term extension committment from the Jets or to be traded. Abraham just might get his wish this offseason, one way or the other. Reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, MLB Jonathan Vilma is an ascendant superstar who in just his second year looks ready to inherit the mantle from the likes of Ray Lewis and Zach Thomas as the league's next DOMINANT MLB. He is replicating his success as the former top collegiate LB in the nation at MLB factory Miami (stellar lineage includes Michael Barrow, Lewis and Dan Morgan). The #1 LB sports a box score that is large and in charge. The ultra-productive prodigy with the telepathic instincts gets off blocks, sifts through traffic and finds the ball carrier like a guided missile (first in the NFL at any position in solos with 105 and combined tackles with 143) and is also a vicious hitter (tied for second among LBs in FFs with 4, behind only Odell Thurman). SS Kerry Rhodes has had an exceptional inaugural rookie campaign for a fouth rounder, and may have more staying power than last season's day two safety sensation and revelation, FS Erik Coleman. They have similar stats... they are #23 and #24 among DBs, and are #4 (68) and #8 (63) in tackles, respectively. Coleman is actually second among DBs in combined tackles (LB-like 93) and pacing DBs in assists (a whopping 30). He has fallen out of the defensive coaching staff's good graces at times during the season (typically replaced by rookie Oliver Celestin), possibly due to bungled coverages.

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagle's DC Jim Johnson runs a bend but don't break defense that for years have given up yards but been among the league leaders in fewest points allowed. This season their 25th in total defense (combined pass/rush yards allowed) is matched by an uncharacteristically mediocre 25th in scoring defense (they were second last season), giving up 24.2 PPG. Jeremiah Trotter has been a stalwart and is currently at #10 among LBs, and is tied for fifth in the NFL in tackles (85 - with soon to be Pro Bowler Mike Peterson, London Fletcher and Donnie Edwards), also flashing some playmaking skills with 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 FFs and 10 PD (tied for second at his position with Will Witherspoon). He is the downhill, run stuffing MLB equivalent of a nuclear weapon, yet was inexplicably allowed to languish on the bench for the first half of 2004 (behind Marc Simoneau!). Trotter did so well in the second half of the season, breaking down the game logs and extrapolating his partial season starting stats on a prorated basis (a handy tool, the benefits which are frequently recommended in this column) would have projected him to... just about exactly where he has tracked this season... a top 10 LB. Though he looks like he is about 50, he won't turn 29 until just before the Super Bowl... which he will be watching from home (or the stands), as have so many other Super Bowl loser hangover sufferers in recent years. Stud safety tandem Brian "B-Dawk" Dawkins and Michael Lewis are #4 and #6 among DBs. Lewis is second among safeties and tied for third among DBs in tackles (76), plus 1 sack, 2 INTs and 1 FF. Dawkins has 22 less solo tackles, but has been a big play engine. He has 3 1/2 sacks (tied for second among DBs with Adam Archuleta... behind only ascendant superstar Adrian Wilson's DE-like 6), 2 INTs, 4 FFs (tied for first among DBs with Charles Tillman and only one off the pace of top LB Odell Thurman... only 5 DEFENSIVE ENDS have more!) and 20 PD (first among safeties and second among DBs only to teammate Sheldon Brown's 23). Rookie first rounder Mike Patterson got off to a hot start (for a DT) with 13 tackles, 2 sacks and 1 FF in the first month, after which he hit the wall... albeit a bit prematurely. The USC All American has gotten back on tack with 11 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in the past month. He has similar measurables, strength, agility and skills to interior pass rushing monster Rod Coleman, and in leagues which have a mandatory start DT, his owners would be ecstatic if his career unfolds in a parallel manner.

PITTSBURGH - Three Steelers DBs (Ike Taylor - #12, Chris Hope - #13 and Troy Polamalu - #16) are within striking range of the top 10. First year starting CB Taylor was a small school prospect and lesser known teammate of Charles Tillman (the celebrated Louisiana-Lafayette alumni are making their school proud... #2 and #3 among CBs in tackles with 76 and 70). He is a phenomenal athlete who was a RB until very late in his collegiate career... Ike hits like an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) and had a reputation while in school for putting more ball carriers to sleep than an anesthesiologist on OT. FS Hope is #9 among safeties in solos (62), #6 in combined tackles (86) and #3 in assists (24), chipping in 3 INTs and 1 FF. Third year star (no need to say ascendant or emergent anymore as he has already arrived) SS Polamalu should make the Pro Bowl for the second year in a row. The former USC All American is #15 among safeties in tackles (58), tied for fourth in sacks (3), adding 2 INTs and 1 TD. He is probably the most high profile NFL player that is an advocate and proponent of the futuristic and cutting edge training methods of Southern California-based trainer Marv Marinovich (father of former Raiders QB bust Todd Marijuanavich). He uses medicine balls and balance boards to train for explosion. To paraphrase Troy to convey the gist... you have to train fast to play fast. Based on the early arc and trajectory of his career, in which opponents often look like they are moving in slo-mo and he is strapped to a rocket sled... it would appear that the unorthodox methods work and hold a lot of promise to other athletes and teams still waiting to discover them.

SAN DIEGO - OLB Shawne Merriman has decelerated somewhat from his rocket-like ascent through the IDP rookie stratosphere. He may be hitting the proverbial "wall", maybe teams are starting to figure him out after seeing him play for enough games to compile a "book" on him, or perhaps a combination of these factors. When it is all said and done, he could emerge as the most dangerous and explosive pass rushing weapon among the class of 2005. He is a freakish combination of size, power, toughness, speed and agility. A not-so-hidden secret to his success is that he already has one of the best bull rushes in the league for a LB. SS Terrence Kiel has fallen off the pace in tackles after a strong start, not entirely explained by some missed games. It would certainly be far too hasty to give up on him at this point, but it can't be counted as a promising development in his career arc thus far. CB Quentin Jammer, on the other hand, has been a massive underachiever given his former elite, blue chip top 5 pedigree. In a non-descript, underwhelming career to date, the former Texas star has no sacks, only 5 INTs and just 1 FF in four seasons COMBINED.

SAN FRANCISCO - PENALTY BOX

SEATTLE - The Seahawks improbable 83-3 dismantling of the Eagles and 49ers in the past two weeks has vaulted the team all the way from 26th to 11th in total defense (combined rush/pass yards) and fourth in scoring defense (16.2)... behind only the Bears, Colts and Bucs... and ahead of other top 10 defenses such as the Panthers, Jaguars, Broncos, Cowboys, Steelers and Browns. This fairly recent development is still gradually dawning on the rest of the league and seeping into the collective consciousness of the public (where there is usually some form of inertia and "lag effect"). Much like the Colts and Bengals, formidable offenses that were once held back by mediocre defenses are experiencing surging confidence due to their vastly superior overall team balance... infused and transformed from within by a more competitive and dangerous defense. Enough has been said in this column already about brilliant rookie MLB Lofa Tatupu (#14 among LBs in FBG scoring). Suffice it to say he has nosed out kindred rookie MLB prodigy Odell Thurman (#6) for #1 in the ETTG Defensive Rookie of the Year Meter (who had a stranglehold on the top spot from the first ETTG installment until this week) after a string of recent incendiary performances. While Thurman is a Frankenstein monster with a mutant skill set that combines the ability to play the ball in the air and hands of a skill position player (a freakish 5 INTs is a surreal number for a MLB... or ANY LB for that matter, tying him for first at his position... 8 PD also places him in the top 10 among LBs) with the explosive striking power of an elite DE (5 FFs leads all LBs... he also has 1 1/2 sacks and 1 TD), he is #30 in tackles. Tatupu is #15 in tackles at his position, has 4 sacks, 3 INTs, 7 PD and 1 TD. This race looks like it will be neck-and-neck and go right down to the wire. Fellow rookie LB, WLB Leroy Hill has also made a late season push into the top 10 DROY list. The relatively unheralded Clemson third rounder is tied with the far more highly touted Shawne Merriman (1.12) for the sack lead among rookies (7)... only one off the pace of leading LB Clark Haggans. Emerging star SS Michael Boulware is tied for third among safeties with 4 INTs, has 2 sacks (just missing a few others this season), 1 FF and 7 PD. The Seahawks look to be on the rise and in good hands with a very promising youth movement (including DT Marcus Tubbs and CB Marcus Trufant), which bodes well for the future and is an ominous development for the rest of the NFC West.

ST. LOUIS - The best hope Rams fans have is that DC Larry Marmie is fired immediately upon the conclusion of the 2005 season and that his scheme (and much of the personnel from a litany of botched defensive picks and busts from recent drafts in the Martz era) is also jettisoned like an unwanted passenger in a James Bond vehicle... where is that ejector seat button when you need it?

TAMPA BAY - Is prized second round MLB Barrett Ruud's taking over in the middle imminent? Incumbent Shelton Quarles (#8 among LBs) has been one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the NFL... he is third in the league in tackles (89), has 1 sack and is tied for second among LBs with 4 FFs (with Vilma, Zach Thomas and Ian Gold), but will turn 35 to begin the 2006 season. HC Gruden and DC Kiffin will have a dilemna leading in to training camp next year. WLB Derrick Brooks is one of the best pure 4-3 WLBs in the history of the NFL and continues to chug along at the ripe old age of 32. He is #18 among LBs, right after serial Pro Bowl MLB Brian Uhrlacher. Gruden and Kiffin may also have to make some hard decisions and cold equations when it comes to Pro Bowl DE Simeon Rice, who embodies an unfortunate conjunction of negatives... such as being on the wrong side of thirty, gradually eroding skills and a sizable cap hit. It wouldn't come as a huge surprise if he were cast adrift by the Bucs in the off-season (he doesn't seem like the type that would be amenable to renegotiating a more cap friendly contract). DE DeWayne White's owners have been extrememly patient, though it is beginning to wear thin. Will 2006 be the year he finally gets his long awaited opportunity to emerge as a star in TBs vaunted defense? Props to CB Ronde Barber (#3 among DBs) for becoming the first CB in league history to amass 20 sacks and INTs.


TENNESSEE - WLB Keith Bullock (#7) has been one of the lone bright spots in a dismal rebuilding season for the Titans and should be a mortal lock for one of the two starting AFC OLB positions. He is #10 among LBs in tackles (81), has 4 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 FF and 9 PD (tied for third at his position). SS Tank Williams is one of the most impressive physical specimens in the NFL, but his production has not reflected his immense athletic gifts and his career has thus far been in limbo due to a checkered medical history. He had his best game of the season Sunday (10 combo tackles), but is still way back of the league leaders at his position and he hasn't made enough impact, game-altering plays (no sacks or FFs this season, just 1 INT and only 3 PD... in fact, he only has 3 1/2 sacks, 5 INTs, 3 FFs and 17 PD in his four year career COMBINED) that his ability suggests he should. Reports have surfaced that HC Jeff Fisher may just blow up his deep patrol in the off season (including FS Lamont Thompson) and start over. High first round rookie CB Adam "Pacman" Jones got a special teams TD in week 12, though his pure defensive-related stats leave something to be desired. This was anticipated in the FBG pre-season IDP rookie article (DB), as his physical traits and skill set most resemble a prototypical pure cover CB (not typically deployed as ace run support weapons)... also for system reasons... an otherwise elite, blue chip CB like Samari Rolle did not fluorish in terms of IDP production under Fisher's scheme.

Defensive Rookie of the Year Meter

  1. Lofa Tatupu, MLB, SEA, 2.13, USC (6'0" 240)
  2. Odell Thurman, MLB, CIN, 2.16, Georgia (6'1" 230)
  3. Kirk Morrison, OLB/ILB, OAK, 3.14, San Diego State (6'2" 240)
  4. Shawne Merriman, OLB/DE, SD, 1.12, Maryland (6'4" 245)
  5. Derrick Johnson, SLB, KC, 1.15, Texas (6'4" 235)
  6. Leroy Hill, WLB, SEA, 3.35, Clemson (6'1" 225)
  7. Darrent Williams, CB, DEN, 2.24, Oklahoma State (5'8" 188)
  8. Kerry Rhodes, SS, NYJ, 4.22, Louisville (6'3" 210)
  9. Carlos Rogers, CB, WAS, 1.9, Auburn (6'1" 194)
  10. DeMarcus Ware, OLB/DE, DAL, 1.11, Troy State (6'4" 232)

    Standin On The Verge Of Gettin It...

  • Antrel Rolle, CB, ARI, 1.8, Miami (6'1" 202)
  • Thomas Davis, SS/OLB, CAR, 1.14, Georgia (6'3" 230)
  • Marlin Jackson, CB, IND, 1.29, Michigan (6'1" 200)
  • Nick Collins, FS, GB, 2.19, Bethune Cookman (5'11" 193)
  • Mike Patterson, DT, PHI, 1.31, USC (6'0" 285)
  • David Pollack, SLB, CIN, 1.17, Georgia (6'2" 260)
  • Channing Crowder, ILB/OLB, MIA, 3.6, Florida (6'2" 240)
  • Barrett Ruud, MLB, TB, 2.4, Nebraska (6'2" 240)
  • Josh Bullocks, SS/FS, NO, 2.8, Nebraska (6'0" 205)
  • Eric Green, CB, ARI, 3.11, Virginia Tech (6'0" 197)
  • Justin Miller, CB, NYJ, 2.25, Clemson (5'11" 200)
  • Adam "Pacman" Jones, CB, TEN, 1.6, West Virginia (5'11" 185)
  • C.C. Brown, SS, HOU, 6.14, LA-Lafayette, (6'0" 200)
  • Jerome Carter, SS, STL, 4.16, Florida State (5'11" 220)
  • Chris Harris, FS, CHI, 6.7, Louisiana-Monroe (6'0" 205)
  • Dominique Foxworth, CB, DEN, 3.33, Maryland (5'11" 180)
  • Chris Canty, DE, DAL, 4.31, Virginia (6'7" 290)
  • Erasmus James, DE, MIN, 1.18, Wisconsin (6'4" 270)
  • Justin Tuck, DE, NYG, 3.10, Notre Dame (6'5" 261)
  • Marcus Spears, DE, DAL, 1.20, LSU (6.4 295)
  • Shaun Cody, DT/DE, DET, 2.5, USC (6'3" 290)
  • Fabian Washington, CB, OAK, 1.23, Nebraska (5'11 180)
  • Brodney Pool, FS/SS, CLE, 2.2, Oklahoma (6'3" 208)
  • Kevin Burnett, OLB, DAL, 2.10, Tennessee (6'3" 235)
  • Alfred Fincher, MLB, NO, 3.18, Connecticut (6'1" 240)
  • Justin Tuck, DE, NYG, 3.10, Notre Dame (6'5" 261)
  • Matt Roth, DE, MIA, 2.14, Iowa (6'4" 270)
  • Bryant McFadden, CB, PIT, 2.30, Florida State (6'0" 180)
  • Corey Webster, CB, NYG, 2.11, LSU (6'0" 197)
  • Oshiomogho Atogwe, FS, STL, 3.2, Stanford (5'11" 220)
  • Ron Bartell, CB/FS, STL, 2.18, Howard (6'1" 213)
  • Jonathan Babineaux, DT, ATL, 2.27, Iowa (6'2" 280)
  • Stanford Routt, CB, OAK, 2.6, Houston (6'1" 195)
  • Lance Mitchell, MLB, 5.32, Oklahoma (6'3" 245)
  • Luis Castillo, NT, SD, 1.28, Northwestern (6'5" 305)
  • Travis Johnson, DE, HOU, 1.16, Florida State (6'5" 285)
  • Donte Nicholson, SS, TB, 5.5, Oklahoma (6'2" 216)
  • Daryl Blackstock, SLB, ARI, 3.32, Virginia, (6'4" 240)
  • Travis Daniels, CB, MIA, 4.3, LSU (6'1" 184)
  • Kelvin Hayden, CB, IND, 2.28, Illinois (6'0" 198)
  • Stanley Wilson, CB, DET, 3.8, Stanford (6'0" 190)
  • James Butler, S, NYG, UFA (only undrafted free agent on this list), Georgia Tech (6'3" 210)

Injured Reserve

  • Jordan Beck, MLB, ATL, 3.26, Cal Poly (6'2" 230)
  • Dan Cody, OLB/DE, BAL, 2.21, Oklahoma (6'5" 265)

In-depth Profile

This section will draw from and point back to pre-season work, such as the IDP Rookie and Sleepers articles, as well as include new profiles in-season as events dictate.

Adewale Ogunleye, DE, Chicago Bears

Just two seasons removed from an AFC-leading 15 sacks. Before a forgettable, injury-marred 2004 season, he had 27 sacks in the prior two seasons. He admittedly doesn't get the benefit of working across from Jason Taylor anymore. Nevertheless, the Bears scouts, after much breaking down of film, answered questions along these lines to their satisfaction that they were comfortable dealing a two-time Pro Bowl WR (Marty Booker), a third rounder plus upping the ante from an initial $4 million signing bonus, to close to $15 million... making him one of the highest paid DL in NFL history (along with Freak II... Jevon Kearse, who also signed a record breaking contract for DL in the 2004 pre-season). Lovie Smith is recognized as a defensive guru, and the Bears could have one of the most formidable D-Lines in the league in a season or two... bringing back echoes of the Monsters of the Midway. O-Gun could be a key piece to the puzzle for them. Chicago certainly opened up their wallet for him like they believe he is capable of being a huge difference maker. We can expect he will be put in the best possible position to succeed. Up and coming DT Tommie Harris could be a future Pro Bowler, a one-gap slasher who gives the Windy City two highly disruptive playmakers behind the LOS. If his ankle problems are behind him, has the goods to be a perennial DD sack artist. If things break right for the Bears and Ogunleye, he has a legit chance of surpassing the phenomenally gifted trio of young DEs Dwight Freeney, Julius Peppers and Charles Grant for the NFL sack title. Has more in common with two-way threats Peppers and Grant (actually Peppers is like a ten-way threat) than the one-dimensional Freeney, in that he has a complete game and defends the run with the same intensity as he attacks the passer. In his last healthy season (2003), he finished third in the league at his position in tackles (64, with 45 solos)... behind only the Giants Michael Strahan and the Jets Shaun Ellis. Potentially great value in that his ADP is probably not commensurate with his ability and opportunity. This is a typical scenario when a potentially dominant defensive player is coming off an injury, an edge and a gift that the savvy IDP player will exploit.

Cracking the Code - INTANGIBLES OFTEN HAVE TANGIBLE CONSEQUENCES

Do your homework... there were question marks about Sean Taylor's character in 2004 if you dug deep enough. Conversely, Miami teammate Jonathan Vilma was the polar opposite. With any semblance of even cursory background research, the same attributes roared off the page... fantastic work ethic, team player, obssessive film study and preparation, off-the-charts football IQ and playing smarts, hardnosed and tough as nails with a warrior mentality... the superlatives kept coming. Sometimes, taking the extra few minutes to Google a few articles about the leading prospects at a given position (especially if you know what to look for AND HAVE THE EYES TO SEE... not in an elitist sense, but that of an acquired skill which can be bettered with practice) can help uncover and place in context and perspective this critically important "higher level" kind of information... than merely triangle numbers and other "quant"-friendly measures.

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