Rookie Report - Defensive Backs
Posted 8/29 by Bob Magaw, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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'
- 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.