Trenches and Character
I think that these will be the twin themes of our draft this year. McKay has always been keen on drafting Dline, and Petrino is definitely eager to strengthen the Oline. On account of the new player code, character is play an even more important part than ever in drafting - and McKay's system gives players a grade on character as well as physical abilities. On that basis, the Atlanta Falcons draft:
#8: Amobi Okoye: Don't tell me we don't have a need at DT. Grady's status is very much up in the air, as (unfortunately) is Babineaux's. In a worst case scenario, we could be left with just Coleman as an established starting calibre DT. Okoye has the bulk to play at NT, and the speed to play at UT. He's only 19, has all the physical potential in the world, and has an A+ character. In the future, he and Babs could be one of the best tandems in the league.
#39: Tony Ugoh: Has a great combination of power and athleticism. He's raw technique-wise, and I wouldn't want him at LT just yet, but he definitely has LT potential. I'd plug him in at LG this year, which is less pressurised than LT. Then he either proves that he can handle LT in 2008, or, as a worst case scenario, remains a very good LG, or possibly even RT.
#44: Eric Weddle: A++ character, and as reliable a player as you could want on your team. He's got the athleticism to play CB, and with his mid-4.4 time in the 40 suggests that he has the range to play a CF-type FS. His instincts and work ethic are second to none. For comparison, he's behind Meriweather in terms of pure athleticism, but miles ahead in terms of character. He won't be getting suspended, you can be sure of that.
#75: Dan Bazuin: Time to address LDE. Chauncey Davis is no pass rusher, but he's a very capable run defender. Davis can be our 1st and 2nd down LDE, with Bazuin taking over on pass-rushing situations. Bazuin may not have elite measurables, but he's just a natural pass-rusher. Add to that his excellent character, and he's the guy to provide the pass rush opposite Abraham.
#109: Jonathon Wade: We have a severe lack of depth at CB, and this guy has the physical tools and talent to be an excellent NB in a year or so. Something of a boom or bust, but well worth a gamble.
#121: Michael Bush: Without being able to run at all before the draft, I can't see him being taken before here. But Petrino will be desperate to take a gamble on his guy, and I'd be amazed if McKay didn't oblige in the mid-4th.
#133: Jacob Bender: A small school guy with immense potential at OT. Great size and athleticism. He's really been making a name for himself in the months leading up to the draft, and would be an ideal guy to develop for the future. Could even be ready sooner than anyone might expect.
#149: Tim Shaw: We're lacking in depth at LB, and Shaw has solid athleticism, great versatility and superb character.
#185: Kyle Young: Has the elite size Petrino is looking for, and would have an excellent mentor in McClure.
#244: Jacob Ford: Raw, but a guy with good athleticism who is worth a gamble as a situational passrusher.
TD 2011 catch-phrase: "explosive"