Mike Tanier is a writer for FootballOutsiders.com, a leading football analysis Web site affiliated with Baseball Prospectus. He's also co-author of the forthcoming Pro Football Prospectus 2006 annual book. He'll be taking your questions about this week's NFL Draft.
Mike Tanier: Click. Clack. Hear footsteps? The Football Outsiders are in the house. It takes six years to evaluate a draft. It takes three years to even make an educated guess. But that won't stop me from making fun of the Bills today.
tschiera (Brooklyn): I hate the Bills at QB...if you had Marv Levy's job, what would you do?
Mike Tanier: If I were Marv Levy, I would take a long nap on a chair while listening to Paul Harvey. I would then take this season to give Craig Nall and J.P. Losman a fair evaluation, and I would keep my options open for 2007. I don't think Losman's worth a pound of potato salad, but he deserves a chance to work with the new coaches. Nall is an unknown commodity who can't be counted out yet.
zawk53 (Berkeley, CA): Where do you think Matt Leinart goes, Top five or does he fall somehow?
Mike Tanier: Some folks popped on and left questions yesterday. I like Lienert in Arizona. Kurt Warner is a great guy to learn from. Just ask Eli.
rpry17a (Boca Raton): How do you see Craig Hansen ending up? I've heard nothing but good things so far. Could I get a high-low on his potential? Thanks.
Mike Tanier: The kid kicked butt in Single-A ball, and now he is in Pawtucket. He's got big league stuff and he hasn't had any problems in the low minors. I like him. Did I miss something? Did the Bills trade up to draft him as a QB?
TGisriel (Baltimore): Did the Browns simply pick the Ravens' pocket for that 6th round pick? It seems to me that they wouldn't have made the trade if they had any intention of taking Ngata. What are your thoughts on the Ravens' pick of Ngata?
Mike Tanier: The Browns would have taken Ngata but also liked Wembley. It's a case of liking two players equally and getting to extort the team one space above you. Ngata isn't just an olive leaf to Ray Lewis:he's a good system player at a position the Ravens haven't been able to fill in the past few years. A sixth round pick isn't a huge price to pay to get the player you want.
Justin Singer (Miami, FL): I feel the common consensus is that no matter how good a career Mario Williams has, if Reggie Bush does what everyone thinks he is capable of doing then it was a mistake by the Texans. I just do not understand why they didnt take Bush. There are only a limited number of opportunities for a franchise to take a player like Reggie Bush, so why not take him?
Mike Tanier: I think an inexperienced coaching staff outsmarted themselves and talked themselves into something that will slow their rebuilding plan. I think Charley Casserly has one foot out the door and doesn't have a lot of lost love for the organization, so he went along with it. I would hate to be the guy at the Sports Authority in Houston who cleared room for 5,000 Reggie Bush jerseys and now has to hope that Mario Williams jerseys will be hot sellers
Cowboys Fan (Dallas): OK, we just picked Fasano with our 2nd pick. Can I be pissed we didnt grab a OT or a FS yet?
Mike Tanier: The Cowboys improved their line in free agency with Jason Fabini and Kyle Kosier. Free safety is a concern, though Marcus Coleman might be able to squeeze another year out. Fasano is a good all purpose tight end, and the Cowboys use a lot of two-TE sets. He will probably spend a lot of time blocking for Bledsoe while Jason Witten works underneath TO and Glenn.
Derek (Brooklyn): Do you think there is any chance 3rd round pick Chris Gocong might eventually end up at MLB for the Eagles (after starting his career on special teams)?
Jeremiah Trotter, 6′1″, 261, 4.71 in the 40
Chris Gocong, 6′2″, 263, 4.70 in the 40
Both were stars at the small college level and Trotter is 29 years old.
Mike Tanier: I don't think you can project an I-AA lineman to an MLB in the pros. The Eagles see Gocong as a developmental player at defensive end or outside linebacker. They often pick players like him in the middle rounds. Jammal Green never worked out, but Derrick Burgess blossomed, andTrent Cole gave them a fine season last year. I don't know if the team is concerned about replacing Trotter yet.
Matt (NYC): The Eagles are claiming they got two guys they thought would be gone by the 14th pick. Was that really the expected draft position of Bunkley and Justice? Were these great value picks for the Eagles, or are they just trying to make them sound better than they were?
Mike Tanier: Bunkley: yes. Justice: not sure. The Eagles probably expected the Bills to take Ngata and the Browns or Ravens to take Bunkley. He's a true high first-round talent. I think Justice was slipping on some draft boards because he's a developmental player who may not move easily to left tackle. The Eagles are a good fit for him, assuming that Tra Thomas makes a full recovery.
Mike Nolan (SF War Room): Why did I take Williams in round 3 when I could have had him in day 2? Then, instead of Watson, Wright, Simpson, or Bing, I took Michal Robinson? Did I see something special in him I saw in the Senior Bowl? After my two great picks in round 1, I feel like I was overruled and made some questionable decisions, to say the least.
Mike Tanier: This could be a matter of Norv Turner wanting a certain type of receiver. Robinson fits because the Niners are always trying to convert QBs to WRs: it worked to a degree with Arnaz Battle and the jury is out with Wallace from last year. The Niners do seem to have too many developmental/third receiver types and not enough bodies in the secondary right now.
phil44 (Boston): The Patriots already have Ben Watson and Daniel Graham in tow at tight end, 13th and 9th in DVOA respectively. So what is the explanation for drafting David Thomas and Garrett Mills (granted an H-back) in rounds three and four?
Mike Tanier: I see Mills as a talent somewhere between Chris Cooley on the upside and Jim Kleinsasser on the downside, so he can play FB and fill a variety of roles. In answer to your question, the Patriots use double-TE sets a lot, both as a power running formation and in their empty backfield sets, so they need depth. Graham's contract is up next year, so he may be punching a ticket out of town at the end of the year.
Devin McCullen (Green Brook, NJ): Hey, the Patriots just drafted a kicker in the 4th round. Can we now offically revoke the "Genius pass" and treat Belicheck/Pioli like everybody else?
Mike Tanier: they took him in the 4th round, not the 2nd, like the Jets did last year with Hugent.I am not against drafting a kicker on day 2 if a) You are a veteran team with few other holes, b) You obviously need a kicker, and c) The kid is that good. Gratkowski was very accurate at Memphis, and the Patriots fit the bill as a team that can afford to buy luxuries in the draft.
FST (Washington, DC): What do you think of the Broncos' first-day moves (namely trading for Javon Walker, drafting Jay Cutler)? I think they were great decisions, you?
Mike Tanier: Love 'em both. It's an ideal situation for Cutler, who won't know what to do with himself behind the Broncos offensive line when he eventually takes over (2007 or 2008). Walker gives them flexibility they haven't had at WR since McCaffrey got hurt. They will now be able to use Lelie more exclusively as a deep threat. And don't forget that they picked up a pretty good tight end to replace Putzier
Art Vandelay (New York): Did you like the Broncos' decision to trade up for Cutler?
Mike Tanier: Like I said, I like Cutler, but I think he needs time. He'll have time in Denver. The Broncos are in a unique situation in that they always seem to be 11-5 and rarely have a chance to draft early. Under the circumstances, with few needs to fill, trading up to take a potential franchise player makes sense.
LionsFan (USA): What is your opinion of the future of the Detroit franchise? Do you think it's wise to pass on Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler? I wasn't aware that Josch McCown and Jon Kitna are such incredible talents that they preclude a team from picking a QB.
Mike Tanier: Oh yeah, McCown and Kitna are awesome! Maybe the Lions can find a gem late in this draft. Omar Jacobs is still out there I think.
McCown may have some starting potential. Maybe Martz can make something of him. The one pick I really like of theirs was Calhoun, who should complement Kevin Jones at running back if the team gets all of its other problems straightened out.
Gopher Boy (Minnesota): How angry are the Colts that the Pats took Maroney before them? Is Addai really good enough to go in the first round?
Mike Tanier: I think the Colts had to take a chance and trade up if they really wanted Maroney. I didn't have Addai as a first round pick, but I saw sources that did. He is an all-purpose back, and they needed that, but we may see a lot of Dominick Rhodes at the start of the year.
Jim T (Cleveland): Which names still out there have the biggest chance of meaning something down the line?
Mike Tanier: I'm a teeny bit behind right now, so I don't know exactly who is left on the board. The Bucs just took Zemitis from Penn State, a good cornerback for a Cover-2 system who I thought would leave in the 2nd round. That indicates that there are still some potential starters out there. Omar Jacobs, I just mentioned, is still out there I believe, as is Gradowski, 2 guys who could develop into starters in a few years.
Steven Cummings (Columbia, MO): While I love the pick of Brodie in the 3rd, the Chiefs' 1st- and 2nd-rounds seem a little off from their needs. Am I mistaken or should they have gone for Lawson as a DE or CB Jimmy Williams at #20?
Mike Tanier: I don't like Lawson. Williams would have been a logical pick, but it seems that Edwards really believes in Julian Battle. Better play from the front four can really help that secondary. Pollard looks like Sammy Knight Jr. Let's see if Edwards reaches for a project at CB in the late rounds
Tom Moore (Indianapolis): Do you think Joseph Addai is the right fit in the Colts' offense? Why don't the Colts just make three wides their base set, since Stokley is probably more valuable to the offense than Rhodes.
Mike Tanier: The Colts practically use a 3-wide set now, and they often go 2-WR, 2-TE, single setback. Remember the run-heavy Colts you saw last year? I think they are gone. I think they will be wide open this year, and they are counting on 50-60 catches from Addai.
Godot (Stage): To make an argument for drafting Super Mario over Bush, couldn't you say that the added value of a potentially amazing running back (Bush) over a known above average one (D. Davis) is less than that of a potentially great defensive end over a poor one? Especially considering the relative importance of having a good running back versus D-end?
Mike Tanier: Been waitin' for ya, Godot.
There are several arguments to select Williams. For the record, I don't see Reggie White or Bruce Smith in him. I see Julius Peppers, but possibly Mike Rucker. So if he becomes Mike Rucker, and plays very well and gives you 10-sacks per year, are you happy you took him #1?
There's also something to be said for putting a team on the map, in terms of the perceptions of fans and potential free agents. I think Bush improves the Texans substantially and makes them look more attractive to free agents in 2007. I don't know if Mario dies that.
Smithy (Denver): Which of the skill players would you say is the best fantasy bet next year? (Other than Vernon Davis)
Mike Tanier: Mr. Bush looks like a sure thing, particularly in yardage leagues. I think LenDale White will be the featured back if healthy in Tennessee. Addai will get a lot of touches but few touchdowns. I don't like any of the quarterbacks, and I see a lot of 1-catch, 30-yard games from guys like Santonio Holmes.
Ilanin (Cambridge, UK): Has Matt Millen sneakily infiltrated the Steelers War Room? Two wide recievers in the first three rounds when you've already got a pro-bowl caliber #1?
Also, what do you make of the Jets and the Cardinals on the first day? I think between the Jets line and the Cardinals backfield/wideouts you have a very scary offense, but unfortunately...
Mike Tanier: Well, Anthony Smith is like a junior Chris Hope clone, and I like that pick. Holmes didn't cost much and fits the system as a fire-and-forget weapon on bombs, so I like that pick. Don't know about Reid, but the Steelers aren't full of holes so they can create some competition.
I like what the Cardinals have done. I even like Gabe Watson in the 4th round. The Jets are building well for the future, and I see Brick and Mangold blocking for Clemens in a playoff caliber offense in a year or two. Okay, two.
Matthew Furtek (California): Are draft picks overrated? Some of these pre-draft trades look very lopsided. I'm a Redskin fan, so you can guess what may answer is.
How do you think Dante Culpepper feels about getting traded for Ryan Cook?
Javon Walker for Jimmy Williams?
John Abraham for Nick Mangold?
Mike Tanier: I think Dan Snyder feels draft picks are overrated. So far, he has milked one pretty good year from his strategy.
Walker for Jimmy Williams doesn't sound bad right now. Both Culpepper for Cook and Abraham for Mangold are examples of getting rid of unhappy veterans. You see trades like that in every sport.
The reason we say that you have to wait 6 years to evaluate drafts is that teams see drafts differently from the way fans and veteran sportswriters do. Teams really reach for potential difference makers, which is why you see guys with 80 receptions in their college seasons still out there in day two. Some guys we hate as early picks now will pan out down the road. Others won't, but they won't be worse than the "productive" veteran on the downside who was offered in a trade.
LenDale (Denver): Is it true that SEC running backs are better than Big Ten running backs? And even if that has been true in the past, does that mean it will continue to be true in the future?
Mike Tanier: In the past, SEC RBs have outperformed Big-10 RBs in agrregate, in part because of so many Big-10 busts like Enis and Biakabatuka. Big-10 offenses often run the ball 40 times per game and ask little from the RBs in terms of receiving and pass blocking, so the Big-10 backs often aren't ready for the pros.
That trend may change. Big-10 offenses are becoming more diverse. A guy named Larry Johnson has shattered the so-called Penn State curse.
James Thrash (DC): This isn't a question Mike, but you guys at FO do a fantastic job, keep it up.
Mike Tanier: Are you really James Thrash, or the guy who imperonated Thrash on a cell phone to extort money from Donovan McNabb last year?
Thanks for the complement, brother. We do our level best.
G (Chicago): What do you think of the way we talk about 40 times? Mel Kiper just referred to a player as "in the 4.58-4.62 range." Isn't that overly precise? Why not just say "the 4.6 range."
Mike Tanier: We all know that 65-year old scouts with stopwatches are accurate to at least 4 significant digits, and that the hundredth place isn't affected at all by playing surface, wind, and what the player had for breakfast.
40-time is relevant when a WR runs a really slow one, because it does limit his overall potential. I hate hearing about Manny Lawson's 40-time. It won't help him get past a good offensive tackle in the NFL.
Titans (Tennessee): Why would LenDale White be the featured back instead of Chris Brown?
Mike Tanier: I like Chris Brown a lot. White is similar to Brown but will be better if he isn't hurt and the drug rumors are indeed false. The perception of White is that he's a big bowling ball, but he is quick and has good vision. Norm Chow runs a lot of counters and traps, and White (who ran for Chow) can succeed on those types of plays. I wouldn't complain if the Eagles traded for Brown to complement Westbrook. Can we make that happen?
Drew Henson (Europ): Do you watch much NFL Europe football? Do you think it's worthwhile, or are we just watching a bunch of cast-offs who will never amount to anything in the NFL?
Mike Tanier: I watch the line play. I don't think I can evaluate a QB or WR or RB in that league, with the vanilla offenses and the short camps. If I see a defensive tackle kicking butt regularly, I jot his name down.
Vanilla Ice (Hollywood): Have you been watching NFL Network? What did you think of how they're using "Ice, Ice, Baby" as the bumper music?
Mike Tanier: I missed that. I am more of a Ton Loc guy and would rather hear Funky Cold Medina worked into the program somehow.
Mike Tanier: That's a cue to say Goodbye. Gotta run and start writing updates for FoxSports.com. Enjoy the rest of the draft, and save your pennies and nickels for Pro Football Prospectus in July!