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Rookie Report - Defensive Backs

  1. SS Thomas Davis, Carolina Panthers (Georgia), 1.14
    Overview: Some draft observers were stunned to see Georgia All American S/LB Thomas Davis taken while LB Derrick Johnson was still on the board. Perhaps they shouldn't have been. Pre-draft whispers that Johnson was a better athlete than football player underscored concerns that he preferred to run around traffic and had flaws as a tackler. Enter Davis, who scrapes off blocks downhill and viciously attacks ball carriers. The first Bulldog selected from an impressive trio that included blue chip defenders David Pollack (who called his burst "disgusting") and Odell Thurman, who are now Bengals teammates. Scary, intimidating presence in the deep patrol... a natural striker who rolls his hips and explodes through the ball carrier. Has an extra gear and the short area burst to be as fast as he needs to be... chased down "faster" athletes in the open field like Matt Jones. Looks like the fastest player on the field at times... blitzes off the edge like he was shot out of a cannon. Physical specimen looks like he is wearing shoulder pads in a t-shirt. Frankenstein monster combining MLB size, scorching CB-like 4.4 speed and the range of a safety. Brings a physical, hard hitting identity to his defense... Georgia coaches showed teammates his highlights to represent how they wanted the game to be played. Fox is creating a defense in his image.
    Fantasy Outlook: In many drafts, Davis will be the second IDP drafted, after only DJ and before MLBs Thurman and Barrett Ruud, but he is still a bargain at that price. Davis has the surreal juxtaposition of multidimensional skills to emerge as one of the top players from this class at any position, on either side of the ball. Frequently compared with Roy Williams, Sean Taylor and Derrick Brooks. In a few years, futuristic SS/WLB hybrids may be compared to Thomas Davis. While at Georgia, he started off at LB and ended up playing safety. Scouts were divided as to what was his most natural position projecting into the pros, though generally agreed that he was at his best going forward and attacking, and he would be a high impact player wherever he lined up. He was announced at the 2005 draft as a LB, was given reps at SS in training camp initially... with word that he would be playing a "Joker" LB expected to do a lot of blitzing in third down passing situations. Carolina was confident enough in his skills and pro-readiness that they moved long-time Panther veteran SS Mike Minter to FS to accommodate their prized first rounder. With SLB Mark Fields already unable to go, a recent injury to replacement Brandon Short had the team moving Davis to SLB, with talk that the safety "experiment" was officially over. Than with the news that starting safety Colin Branch will be lost for the season due to an ACL tear, the latest information at time of writing is that Davis is back at safety. He is an elite, blue chip player well worth the nuisance of the uncertainty shrouding his positional future. The Panthers have started their 1st rounders right away under Fox (DE Peppers '02, OT Gross '03 & CB Gamble '04). Still just scratching the surface of his enormous potential, Davis could be a top 30 DB as a rookie. Many scouts think Davis will emerge as the most dominant defensive presence from the class of '05. His upside is limited only by the Carolina Defensive Coordinator's imagination to design schemes around him.


  2. CB Antrel Rolle, Arizona Cardinals (Miami), 1.08
    Overview: Highly recruited prep and top college DB prospect. Wouldn't surprise if he continues trend and emerges as one of the best CBs in the NFL. Many teams graded him as the #1 CB in his class (Titans took Pac-man at 1.6), he is one of the most complete and best prospects in the draft at any position... some scouts think he has the athleticism to be an All Pro safety. No discernible chinks in his armor after posting a blazing 4.4 at his workout. Fluid in coverage, he can flip his hips with little wasted motion, has great change of direction and short area burst and is able to shadow top WRs (shut down Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald in college). Plays bigger than his 6'0" 202 size in run support. Larger ball carriers are thrown back as if he is made of steel. Superior blitz instincts and has the closing speed to finish the deal. More than a physical specimen... he is a FOOTBALL PLAYER. Very experienced (three year starter) and earned All-Big East and All-American honors during his Miami tenure. Arrest for battery (charges dropped) was out of character for him. He is driven to succeed (3.8 HS GPA), has an exemplary work ethic and is a natural leader. As good as HC Dennis Green's first two draft classes have been (netting Dansby, Dockett, Blackstock and Mitchell), Rolle has the pedigree, fully formed game and encompassing talent to quickly become the Cards' top young defender, and one of best overall along with DE Bertrand Berry (led NFC in sacks).
    Fantasy Outlook: Rare CB with run support prowess to put up tackle numbers bigger than many LBs. Why has Miami been so prolific in generating first round choices in recent years? A hidden factor is the combination of world class talent level and competitiveness it summons up. Rolle went up against future NFL stars on offense (Willis McGahee and Andre Johnson) and played with Jonathan Vilma, DJ Williams and Sean Taylor. His skills have been battle-tested in the most demanding conditions possible... the Miami practice field! By elevating Arizona's overall run and pass defense, he could have a synergistic effect that ripples through the whole defense, making everyone around him better by his presence... the definition of an IMPACT player. Could be a bigger version of 2004 Defensive ROY runner up Dunta Robinson (though slightly slower and not as much of a ballhawk... only 5 career INTs). Just as the brilliant Texans CB unexpectedly almost edged out Vilma for 2004 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Rolle is a legitimate DROY candidate with Odell Thurman, DeMarcus Ware, Thomas Davis and Derrick Johnson. Especially valuable in leagues that break out CBs separately from safeties, but even in undifferentiated DB scoring he has top 10-20 potential as soon as... immediately. Think of a voracious open field tackler like Antoine Winfield, only 20 lbs bigger and probably a superior athlete. Late to camp, but should start and dominate from week one. Future serial Pro Bowler.


  3. CB Marlin Jackson, Indianapolis Colts (Michigan), 1.29
    Overview: Sensational athlete won USA Today All-American and state Player of the Year awards as a PA prep (four year starter at RB, WR and DB and a three year starter in basketball). Garnered All-American recognition three of four seasons at Michigan and served as team captain his senior year. A DB with the multi-faceted physical traits and skill set to line up at CB or safety (played every secondary position for the Wolverines). Safety cross-training made him an outstanding open field tackler. A big, strong athlete (6'0" 196 and 23 reps) who will match up against some behemoths in the "Land of the Giants" (WRs that is, with Andre Johnson, Drew Bennett, Matt Jones and Reggie Williams)... otherwise known as the AFC South. With mighty-mite safeties Bob Sanders and Mike Doss in the Colts secondary, it makes sense to have a super-sized CB (6'0" 196). The Colts coveted first rounder employs textbook, picture-perfect form and is a solid, wrap up open field tackler (a unifying thread among the FBG Top 5 DBs). While some scouts think he's better suited to play safety in the NFL (a 4.5 at his workout may have dispelled that notion), he is most comfortable at CB and the Colts are expected to keep him there, at least initially. Outstanding football smarts and leadership; he made all the secondary calls and coverage adjustments based on shift matchups. The addition of stud Big Ten secondary aces in consecutive years (with Iowa SS/FS Bob Sanders and Jackson) could weaponize Dungy's defense, yielding hope that IND can finally field a stopping unit worthy of being coupled to the #1 offense in the NFL... instead of former year's instances of having a Ferrari body bolted on to a Pinto chassis.
    Fantasy Outlook: The Colts have been starting their recent high draft choices on defense almost immediately, as Freeney, Doss and Sanders all started right away. One layer with which to screen prospects and help with projections is at the system level. The Colts primarily use a scheme called the Cover Two (brought from Tampa Bay by HC Tony Dungy). It is a zone-based defense. The important thing to take away from this is that CBs in this scheme are positioned to rack up a lot of run support tackles because they don't turn and run with WRs... they hand them off to safeties instead (deployed in deep halves to keep action in front). Garo Yepremian could get 100 tackles in the Cover Two. It has made stars of Ronde Barber (TB), Jerametrius Butler (STL) and Harper in recent years, and is expected to do the same for Charles Tillman (Bears HC Lovie Smith from Dungy coaching tree) and Jackson. When evaluating IDPs, it's always important to consider the scheme a player plays in as well as his talent level. The former Wolverine All-American CB has safety size, a physical, aggressive, run stuffing mentality, and is embedded in a scheme conducive to maximizing CB tackles. Bonus plan could include a few INTs and RAC skills. Some scouts think he is better in zone, so the Cover Two aligns well with his strengths. Nearly as perfect a marriage of a prospects skill set meshing with his system and scheme as there was in the entire 2005 draft. One of the top two rookie CBs in redrafts with Rolle and among the three top dynasty prospects along with Carlos Rogers. Could surprise with a top 20 DB finish. Not as athletic as former Ohio State phenom Chris Gamble, but he is both more physical in run support and polished in coverage.


  4. FS Brodney Pool, Cleveland Browns (Oklahoma), 2.02
    Overview: For those personnel hondos who viewed Davis strictly as a LB (there were more than a few), Pool was the best pure safety prospect in the draft. Even for those who scouted the Panthers new SS/OLB tweener as a safety, he still would have graded out as the #1 free safety prospect in his class. Pool is young, having just turned 21 years old. Played better as a sophomore (seven INTs in 2003 down to two INTs in 2004), but he may have been covering for his Oklahoma teammates more as a junior. He must not have suffered too dramatic a dropoff as he earned some All-American recognition. Film highlights reveal a willing and active DB in run support, with the athleticism and almost unfair burst and explosiveness to run down ball carriers in the open field. Shows good instincts, takes excellent pursuit angles and has the ability to attack downhill. In some games, he looks like one of the best players on the field on either side of the ball. Pool has excellent size (6'1" 207) and speed (4.5) for a FS. Adept in coverage, he can cover WRs one-on-one, even leading some scouts to suggest he could play CB. Well rounded prospect with few weaknesses. With development, has the talent to emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player... big upside. Oklahoma's secondary getting burnt to a cinder by USC in the Orange Bowl (55-19) probably didn't do Pool's final draft grade any favors, but it might not have made the difference in his not being a first rounder (though staying in school for an additional year probably would have cemented first round status). Safeties are traditionally not viewed as high impact an athlete or as hard to replace than their secondary peers, CBs... only the top safeties in the past decade have been taken in the opening stanza (such as Roy Williams and Ed Reed). Pool was taken near the top of round two, making his slot a more premium pick than such highly regarded 2004 second round safeties Michael Boulware, Bob Sanders and Sean Jones.
    Fantasy Outlook: While it may have been a reflection of talent being more concentrated in the FS pool in 2005, there was a distinct sense that SSs were marginalized in this draft. The GMs have a good idea of what direction the league is heading in, and may have come to the conclusion that it is easier to coach a FS up to tackle rather than to teach a SS to cover. Some scouts say Pool reminds them of Ed Reed, and Browns GM Savage was with the Ravens when Reed was drafted. Rookie HC Romeo Crennel enjoyed one of the best safety tandems in the league in New England, conferring a decisive edge by having such a talented last line of defense during the Patriots last two Super Bowl runs. Pool's versatility is reminiscent of Eugene Wilson, a CB at Illinois who seamlessly morphed into a big time safety for NE. It has also been said that he is the Sooners best secondary product since Roy Williams. SS Sean Jones was a highly regarded second round prospect from the Browns 2004 draft before tearing an ACL in preseason that put him on IR, and Vikings FS Brian Russell was signed in free agency prior to the draft. Pool could be in a rotation or figure in a big nickel package with three safeties (he has the coverage ability to shadow stud TEs like Heap and Miller in the AFC North). This makes him a question mark in 2005 for redraft leagues but still an outstanding dynasty prospect. The latest... Pool missed the second pre-season game after suffering a concussion in the first game. So far, Jones and Russell have not lost any ground to the ultra-talented ex-Sooner in the battle for the Browns starting safeties. But the former MIN FA is not thought to be a special talent, a big reason he was allowed to walk despite 9 INTs in 2003. He is an erratic and unreliable open field tackler (a nasty combination for the "last line of defense" role), and doesn't have anywhere near the range Pool possesses. Teams don't typically stockpile high second round safeties to languish on the bench for years (and Russell came with a relatively cheap price tag, and is likely viewed internally as an interim, short term solution valued for his experience), so Pool should be in the saddle as soon as next season, if not sooner... for the multi-faceted Sooner.


  5. CB Carlos Rogers, Washington Redskins (Auburn), 1.09
    Overview: Third of three Top 10 CBs in the 2005 draft, he was the ninth pick overall. WAS reportedly would have still taken the All-American and Jim Thorpe Award winner (nation's top DB) even if Pacman had been on the board. Gifted athlete that ran a 10.7 100m as a prep. Might be better in coverage than Rolle and more physical in run support than Pacman. The Redskins had compelling needs at WR and DE, yet passed on Mike Williams and the surging DeMarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman, indicating how badly they wanted Rogers. He could turn out to have a far superior overall game in terms of run support and blitzing (in addition to coverage) than the CB he replaces, Fred Smoot. Rolle-like in that he plays about 20 lbs bigger than his listed weight. Hits like a fist loaded with a roll of quarters. Squares up and uses great leg drive to explode through ball carriers. When he hits them, they generally go down... hard. Great leadership skills (called a coach on the field), he is a four year starter in the consistently tough SEC. Outstanding maturity (Pac-man had character concerns and off-field issues... see below), work ethic and motor. Nice size (6'1" 196), speed (4.4), and hops (40"+ VJ... 40 career PD), he is a quick-twitch athlete with exceptional burst, suddenness and ability to close on the ball carrier. Plays hurt, and was deserving of being one of the biggest climbers during the scouting process leading up to the draft. Though the sleeper of this list, he was on the All-American radar as a prep and early on at Auburn as well.
    Fantasy Outlook: DC Gregg Williams likes to blitz from all directions... if turned loose, Rogers has the rare skills to be a difference maker from the CB position. Has the athleticism, complete game and multi-dimensional skills to be one of the top CBs from this class, justifying his blue chip status and premium draft slot. His college stats might have been more impressive, but scouts accounted for the fact that he was rarely tested by opposing QBs. Rogers could offer compelling value. Though drafted within a few slots of Pac-man and Rolle in the actual draft, he is often selected after them in IDP leagues, in some cases several rounds later. Often times a league's collective attention span extends no further than two deep at a given position, especially in the typically de-glamorized CB position. Rogers gets the nod over the player that generated the bigger draft buzz (Pac-man) because on film his rugged run support skills roar off the screen. CBs with the potential to be studs in the tackle column can be gold (and in exceptional cases as valuable as many safeties and some LBs)... he is also a big time playmaker with tremendous aerial skills. Rogers' progress was delayed when he wore a protective boot through the first few weeks of training camp, after aggravating a badly sprained ankle first injured during the Senior Bowl (he still managed to look like the best CB in drills during his short time there). The savvy vet Walt Harris was expected to at least begin the year starting opposite Shawn Springs, who had a Pro Bowl-type 2004. A Harris injury necessitated the insertion of Rogers into the starting lineup in the team's second pre-season game against the Bengals. It was a typically mixed bag for a rookie, including impressive tackling skills and an early INT with a nifty run back deep into CIN territory, followed up by getting beaten badly in coverage twice in a row late in the game. Should get tested a lot lining up across from the rejuvenated Springs, who was a revelation. A key will be how quickly he beats out Harris. Williams brought Sean Taylor along slowly and didn't start him right away last season. Rogers is much more valuable in dynasty leagues, where he may have future Top 10-20 DB potential.


  6. SS/FS Josh Bullocks, New Orleans Saints (Nebraska), 2.08
    Overview: Though he didn't play as well in 2004, garnered some All American recognition with 10 INTs in 2003 (intercepting a pass in nine of 13 games), setting the Nebraska and Big 12 Conference record in his first season as a starter. Bullocks was the third safety taken in the '05 draft (all juniors) within a handful of picks of highly regarded Oklahoma standout Brodney Pool... or the second pure safety prospect from his class, depending on if Thomas Davis is viewed as a safety or a more natural long-term LB, as he seems to be by his own coaches. Free lance scout Mel Kiper had Pool and Bullocks as the #1 and #2 ranked safeties, grading Davis as a LB. Played in the same secondary as his brother, starting Nebraska SS Daniel Bullocks, and part of a talented Cornhusker defense that sported fellow high day one 2005 draft picks Barrett Ruud at MLB and Fabian Washington at CB. He was a prep RB/sprinter and has exceptional bloodlines (cousin of Olympian Evelyn Ashford). Former Cornhusker and current Chicago Bear SS Mike Brown and Philadelphia Eagles star FS Brian Dawkins could be comp players in terms of athleticism and skill set. Scouts are somewhat divided about his open field tackling skills and run support prowess, but seem to be in agreement about his outstanding natural coverage ability. Based on what he accomplished two seasons ago, when he was among the most dangerous and prolific pass thiefs in the nation, Bullocks looks like a future playmaker. Could be the whole package... with decent size, hops, 4.4 speed and the ability to both mix it up against the run and contribute immediately in coverage with great instincts and advanced skills.
    Fantasy Outlook: In a similar situation to Brodney Pool in that he finds his path to becoming a starter temporarily blocked for the near future. High-priced free agent and ex-Buc FS Dwight Smith was a coveted playmaker handpicked to replace the disappointing Tebucky Jones. He signed a long-term contract with a lot of guaranteed, up front money and isn't going anywhere. The venerable Jay Bellamy is a grizzled (if not grizzly) veteran who is still solid and serviceable... what he gives up in speed and athleticism he makes up for in savviness and knowledge of the game. The latest camp reports have Bullocks getting reps at SS and the reviews have been positive. Even if he doesn't dislodge the incumbent Bellamy this season, he could soon be paired with FA Dwight Smith in a futuristic tandem... both can run, hit and cover. He will most likely figure nickel and dime packages right away. The Saints have been missing playmakers in the secondary for seemingly forever, but now may sport three... CB Mike McKenzie and FS Smith from the past two season's respective free agency periods, along with Bullocks via the draft. The sketchy stopping power of the young, largely unproven LB corps could lead to more tackle opportunities than there are bead necklaces during Mardi Gras. The tremendous pressure the Saints potentially league best three man DE rotation (led by ascendant super star Charles Grant, steady if unspectacular Darren Howard and last season's first round revelation Will Smith) will be able to bring to bear on opposing QBs aligns nicely with all the new playmaking additions in the secondary. Haslett had the horses up front to force hurried and errant passes by the opposition... now he also has the playmakers in the secondary to do convert the opportunities. Seemingly a more natural center fielder, if he eventually lands at SS as expected, could easily emerge as one of the top safeties and most productive fantasy DBs overall from this class. Some camp reports say the promising Bullocks is as good or better than advertised and already pressing the athletically limited Bellamy for time... it wouldn't be a huge surprise if he is inserted into the starting lineup at some point during the 2005 season.


  7. FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, St. Louis Rams (Stanford), 3.02
    Overview: The Rams most pressing needs leading up to the draft were thought to be in the secondary and on the OL. Indeed, by the end of the third round STL had taken three from each group... Atogwe was the second DB selected by the team with the second pick in the third round (CB/FS tweener and small school gem Ron Bartell of Howard was plucked off the board in round two... Florida State SS Jerome Carter in round four). HC Mike Martz claims to want to get away from old school SS/FS designations. The plan is to groom next-gen athletes capable of being the equivalent of ambidextrous, two way weapons in their system... safeties equally adept in run support and coverage. Atogwe fits the new profile. At near LB size (5'11 220), he can run (22.8 200 m), hit (led Cards in tackles last three seasons) and cover (nine career INTs). He is a superb athlete and physical specimen that competed in the triple jump for the Cardinals track team, as well as running the long sprints. Fluid in coverage and possessing above average aerial skills, Atogwe is a natural playmaker always looking to strip the ball (led the Pac 10 in 2003 with six FFs and FRs) who hits ballcarriers like an electric axe handle. He should emerge as one of the Rams top young DBs. Hopefully this isn't akin to calling Jethro one of the smartest Beverly Hillbillies.
    Fantasy Outlook: The Rams depth chart at safety has had more turnover this offseason than the graveyard shift at a fast food restaurant. First WLB/SLB Pisa Tinoisamoa was going to play SS, an experiment quickly aborted. Next Adam Archuleta was switched to FS, another experiment terminated about as quickly as the time it takes LT II to scamper 55 yards into the end zone after a whiffed tackle attempt. He just may not have the ideal instincts and lateral quickness to play in the FS, last line of defense role. While Arch has a reputation for being a thumper in run support, he is not the most reliable and consistent open field tackler... even when his back is right (which is not a given). Midway through the pre-season games, some reports are pointing to journeyman ex-Packer, FS/CB tweener and ST demon Michael Hawthorne as the early favorite for FS. Atogwe has superior pedigree, athleticism and talent and could find himself quickly ensconced at the position... if not immediately, possibly sometime in-season. He might be starting already if not forced to report to camp late (Stanford has a late graduating class), and the Rams hadn't been undergoing so much churning in the deep patrol. A big play machine who can not only score through tackles but with sacks, FFs and INTs. Could be a spark for a team desperately in need of a playmaker, after getting an appallingly low number of INTs, FFs and FRs last season... and with CB Jerametrius Butler already done for the season (who got five of their league low six INTs in 2005). A better dynasty prospect than redraft due to the extreme volatility and lack of clarity surrounding the Rams depth chart at safety in the near term.


  8. FS Nick Collins, Green Bay Packers (Bethune-Cookman), 2.19
    Overview: A small school tweener with great measurables and versatility (played SS, FS and than was switched back to SS in his last three seasons, before lining up at CB during the Senior Bowl)... he is raw but will most likely be pressed into service right away out of necessity. The Packers coaches think Collins may have a little bit of Darren Sharper in him, another small school find from William & Mary who went on to became a multi-Pro Bowler and one of the top FSs in the NFL when healthy (he was actually drafted later than Collins with the 2.30 pick in the 1997 draft). Bethune-Cookman is not exactly known as a football factory, but they also produced the outstanding fellow FS/CB Rashean Mathis, who parlayed an NCAA-leading INT total (he shattered the NCAA record for INTs and return yardage in a season) into a second round pick, as well. While his small school pedigree and lack f Div. I experience raises frightening level of competition concerns, he does have some upside if the team is patient with his development. A freakish physical specimen who was a prep LB, had the versatility to have played three secondary positions, has serious hops (40") and reportedly was clocked by some scouts at his workout in rare sub-4.4 time, exceptional for a safety... even a FS. One of the enigmas of this class that would probably have no business starting so early in his career for a great many teams, but he landed on a team that is among the neediest for secondary talent and playmakers
    Fantasy Outlook: With the Packers secondary in general and deep patrol specifically in disarray (the team reluctantly parted ways with face of the defense and local icon/institution Sharper and allowed him to leave for purpler pastures due to cap constraints... journeymen Mark Roman and Earl Little are scrapping over the SS position), most reports coming from Green Bay training camp and pre-season developments strongly suggest that Collins is close to securing the starting FS role, if he hasn't done so already. The Packers front seven is not the stoutest in the league, so he could rack up some decent tackle numbers long before the first winter storms descend on to the frozen Green Bay tundra. He caught an INT that was approximately the degree of difficulty of an underhand softball pitch in the first pre-season game against the Chargers on a badly overthrown ball by Brees. Still, it was nice to see the rookie capable of capitalizing on those opportunities he is afforded, as there should be plenty more where that came from during the course of the 2005 season. In the same division as the good looking passing attacks of the Vikings and Lions (on paper at least), expect Collins to get tested more often than Onterrio Smith after a whizzinator sting operation.


  9. CB Adam "Pacman" Jones, Tennessee Titans (West Virginia), 1.06
    Overview: In the dramatically altered landscape of the NFL, with the new emphasis on enforcing the five yard chuck rule, talented cover CBs are more at a premium than ever. This contradicts a popular school of thought that they would be marginalized... with the rationale being that if it isn't possible to cover WRs anymore, their impact would be severely lessened and they would be de-emphasized in the draft accordingly. It is impossible to discuss Pacman without getting into his seriously checkered past... especially his recent past, as that could have the most bearing on his future. But first the positives. While some pundits are already calling the Pacman selection over Antrel Rolle and Carlos Rogers an epic, collossal blunder, he was not completely devoid of proponents leading up to the draft. His skill set is reminiscent of former Virginia Tech phenom DeAngelo Hall (though he probably doesn't have the current Falcon's top end gear... Hall was a nationally ranked prep sprinter), who was taken at a similar point in the draft (1.8). They were both among the most dynamic and explosive return artists in their respective drafts, and due to their dangerous combo of elite speed, rare elusiveness and exceptional open field running skills, a threat to take it to the house every time they touch the ball... including INTs. Pacman is a sensational athlete who was not only a star two way football player as an Atlanta, GA prep (1,850 rushing yards, 120 tackles and 6 INTs), but also an All American and one of the top basketball players in the nation.
    Fantasy Outlook: Pacman was initially dropped from FBG Top Five Rookie DB final cut, despite being not only the first DB selected (1.06), but in fact the first defensive player overall (ahead of the likes of Thomas Davis, DeMarcus Ware and Derrick Johnson) not due just to his extensive character concerns and off-field question marks, as many would expect. It partly speaks to the talent of the Top Five. Also, his skill set makes him a better fit as the so-called "shut-down CB", which meshes with the man-on-man scheme and "out on an island" role HC Fisher favors for his CBs in the overall defensive scheme. Look to the modest tackle stats put up by Samari Rolle in recent seasons as a comp player/situation. Elite cover CBs often have muted stats as QBs tend to avoid them, though Pacman may be tested a lot this season until his play discourages QBs from doing so. The better he holds up in coverage, the worse dynasty prospect he becomes. At least he should play almost immediately for redraft purposes, as the Titans had to release both starting CBs Rolle and Andre Dyson as part of a cap-related purge. As to the question marks alluded to throughout this profile, his recent signing near the second pre-season game finally put an increasingly ugly holdout behind him. Potentially lingering locker room hostility from the veterans (he snapped that team leader Bullock couldn't advise Pacman as he wasn't drafted anywhere near him... OUCH!) could be the least of his worries. If convicted on charges stemming from an alleged melee in a Nashville nightclub recently, this could be in violation of probation from a barfight while a student at West Virginia in 2002... he was found guilty in that earlier incident and sentenced to two years probation in Oct. of 2003. If convicted in the most recent case, he may have to serve time for the former conviction. He was also reportedly investigated for possible involvement in another barfight, this time in his hometown of Atlanta, but no charges were ultimately filed. Another in a litany of recent examples of suspect judgment included his being present while some of his "friends" were cited by police for smoking the wacky tobacky. A recurring pattern seems to be a tendency to hang with the wrong crowd, as well as the unmistakable theme that bad things happen when his entourage is around. Looking at his dynasty value and risks in light of repeated character and maturity concerns, the phrase "where there is smoke there is usually fire" could have more than metaphorical meaning. Pacman insists he is a good guy, but how many other recent prospects have had so many chronic, habitual red flags... Onterrio Smith, Cecil Collins, Lawrence Phillips? We've already read that novel and know how it ends. In the final analysis, his limited upside (due to general, well established scoring precedents of cover CBs with similar skill set and comparable pedigree, as well as well as specific backtested data from recent Titans CBs) suggests Pacman is not worth the catastrophic downside... if the beginning of his already deeply troubled career is an indication of and foreshadows how it will end.


  10. SS Jerome Carter, St. Louis Rams (Florida State), 4.16
    Overview: In a 2005 draft class quirk, the highest graded safeties... first rounder Thomas Davis (Georgia), second rounders Brodney Pool (Oklahoma) and Josh Bullocks (Nebraska), and third rounder Oshiomogho Atogwe (Stanford)... were collegiate FSs. Though SSs were somewhat marginalized in this class, Carter was one of the top talents at his position. He looks the part and is well put together and powerful in a compact way (5'11" 220), plus reportedly clocked a 4.4 in his personal workout. Some scouts felt he held up very well in coverage at Florida State, the little he was asked to do so. Carter is a violent striker whose medieval approach to defense and tackling could be contagious and make STL tougher up the middle (along with a healthy Jimmy Kennedy at DT and the addition of MLB Chris Claiborne) and stronger against the run. He is a natural leader who spearheaded the Seminole defense (seventh in the nation in total defense and fourth in scoring defense). Carter was running with the first team at SS when Adam Archuleta was tried at FS in what now looks like a short lived experiment. The latest has Arch back at SS where he is best equipped (coverage has never been his strong suit). It is unclear if Archuleta is in the Rams long term plans. With seasoning and a chance to have the game slow down, Carter might be in position to fight for a starting job next season... and with Archuleta's balky disc, could be pressed into service much sooner.
    Fantasy Outlook: The Rams stable of safeties is not very stable. It is possible that Carter and Atogwe could be paired together as soon as later this season or in 2006. The common refrain about STL defense in recent seasons was that it lacks toughness and can't stop the run. The former Florida State Player of the Year could go a long way to remedying both these critical problem areas. Evidently he couldn't wait to start laying the wood on unsuspecting skill position players, as he wasted no time getting into camp by being the first rookie in the NFL to sign a contract. With STL sporting typically speedy but undersized edge defenders (DEs Little/Hargrove and OLBs Coakley/Tinoisamoa), whoever ultimately emerges at SS for the Rams could get dialed up early and often as one of the primary shock troopers designated for initial contact with the enemy. Carter takes bad angles on occasion and has been known to whiff on the ballcarrier entirely going for the kill shot, but improvement should come with reps, technique work and experience. His long term prospects for becoming entrenched as the SS will be helped if he doesn't get beaten in coverage like Sly Stallone in the opening rounds of a Rocky movie. The upside if he ascends to the starting role in 2006 or sooner... Archuleta rocked the tackle stats from the SS position in two of the last three seasons. He was second and eighth among NFL safeties with 102 and 79 solos in the 2002 and 2004 seasons, respectively. Like Atogwe (and most of the DBs outside of the Top Five), he is a far better dynasty prospect until the dust settles on the Rams deep patrol battle.


Others

  • CB Corey Webster, NY Giants (LSU), 2.11 - Former WR has great ball skills and could replace Will Allen in 2006.


  • FS Kerry Rhodes, NY Jets (Louisville), 4.22 - Good size and speed, but lacks toughness. Strong camp has put him in the mix for starting SS job.


  • CB Fabian Washington, Oakland Raiders (Nebraska), 1.23 - Typical Raiders pick - rising prospect and one of fastest in class.


  • CB/S Ron Bartell, St. Louis Rams (Howard), 2.18 - Small school tweener, one of biggest and fastest CBs in draft.


  • CB Bryant McFadden, Pittsburgh Steelers, (Florida St), 2.30 -Underrated talent who could push for time right away.


  • CB Justin Miller, NY Jets (Clemson), 2.25 - Top return artist a year or two away from starting. Pre-draft arrest may have cost 1st round bonus.


  • CB Eric Green, Arizona Cardinals (Virginia Tech), 3.11 - Nice bookend with Rolle, could play nickel early and be future starter.


  • CB Kelvin Hayden, Indianapolis Colts (Illinois), 2.28 - WR conversion a great athlete who led Fighting Illini in receiving as junior.


  • SS Donte Nicholson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Oklahoma), 5.05 - Many scouts graded him #2 SS in draft after Davis.


  • SS Gerald Sensabaugh, Jacksonville Jaguars (North Carolina), 5.21 - Launched highest VJ (46") for safety in combine history.


  • CB/S Travis Daniels, Miami Dolphins (LSU), 4.03 - Tweener who might be better safety as pro is reunited with former LSU HC Saban.


  • FS Sean Considine, Philadelphia Eagles (Iowa), 4.01 - Brian Dawkins' heir apparent.


  • CB/S Dustin Fox, Minnesota Vikings (Ohio St), 3.16 - Tweener who has drawn comparisons to Jason Sehorn should help in dime packages.


  • SS James Sanders, New England Patriots (Fresno St), 4.32 - Explosive hitter who will learn behind Rodney Harrison.


  • CB Darrent Williams, Denver Broncos (Oklahoma St), 2.24 - First of three DEN CBs is great return man and one of fastest CBs in draft.


  • CB Stanley Wilson, Detroit Lions (Stanford), 3.08 - Infamous father went AWOL during Super Bowl...is one of many speed merchants in this class.


  • FS Vince Fuller, Tennessee Titans (Virginia Tech), 4.07 - Another tweener could figure in nickel right away and be FS of future


  • CB Stanford Routt, Oakland Raiders (Houston), 2.06 - Has good size and 4.3 speed, but is very raw.


  • FS Marvel Underwood, Green Bay Packers (San Diego St), 4.14 - Day two sleeper could start given Packers ravaged secondary.


  • CB Scott Starks, Jacksonville Jaguars (Wisconsin), 3.23 - Experienced CB with great speed, but lacks size.


  • CB Karl Paymah, Denver Broncos (Washington St), 3.12 - Great size/speed combo to match up with bigger WRs.


  • CB Ellis Hobbs, New England Patriots (Iowa St), 3.20 - Aggressive nickel CB with great character.


  • CB Antonio Perkins, Cleveland Browns (Oklahoma), 4.02 - Return specialist once returned 3 punts for scores in the same game.


  • CB Domonique Foxworth, Denver Broncos (Maryland), 3.33 - Strong combine performance elevated his draft stock.


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