Idle thoughts on the NFL draft from an idle mind, while wondering whatever happened to Tim Couch:
•Toledoan Fred Davis was not the first tight end to go in the draft because he wasn't considered the tight end with the greatest ability to stretch the field. While the Southern Cal standout had to wait 48 picks to hear his name called, the team on the other end of the call, the Washington Redskins, might prove to be the perfect place for him.
The Redskins already have Chris Cooley, a quick tight end with the ability to get up into seams. New coach Jim Zorn likes two-tight sets in the west coast offense and Davis' presence will allow the 'Skins to be more versatile with Cooley on deeper routes while using Davis' long arms and big, soft hands in possession situations.
Washington reportedly made a bid for Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson, but neither side could pull the trigger. Using their first three picks on Michigan State receiver Devin Thomas (No. 34), Davis and Oklahoma wideout Malcolm Kelly (No. 51) shows to what extent the Redskins were committed to improving their offense.
•John Greco came to the University of Toledo in 2003, just as Kory Lichtensteiger was arriving at Bowling Green. Both were red-shirted that season. And both started in every game during the remainder of their college careers to give northwest Ohio two of the best offensive linemen in the Midwest.
Now, both will get chances at the next level. Greco was the 65th player taken overall, going early in the third round to St. Louis. Lichtensteiger waited until the fourth round to be tabbed at No. 108 by Denver. Both are sound, mean-streak blockers who drive defenders and both have the ability to develop into quality NFL starters.
Jalen Parmele lacks the overall power and speed, perhaps, to carry the same promise, but the UT running back will get a chance to be a No. 3 back and a special teams contributor with Miami, which made him the 176th overall pick during the sixth round. A chance, sometimes, is all a hard-working player needs.
•There was not a better moment in the draft than late yesterday afternoon when the Lions took Army safety Caleb Campbell in the seventh round. Under a new Army regulation, he can be dismissed from his military commitment to represent the service through a pro playing career and as a recruiter during the offseason. First, though, he had to be drafted. ESPN covered the story thoroughly and the Lions and coach Rod Marinelli, himself an ex-military man, surely made a lot of fans with this pick.
Earlier, after a ho-hum first day, the Lions put a little splash into their draft by using the first pick of Day 2 to snag Central Florida running back Kevin Smith, the nation's leading rusher last season. He came up 61 yards short of Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season record 2,628 yards in 1988. If memory serves, Sanders had a pretty decent career with the Lions. Whoa, we're not comparing Smith to a hall-of-famer. But Smith can start right away in the NFL and, if so, would justify the Lions passing on Rashard Mendenhall in the first round.
•Speaking of Mendenhall, he dipped all the way to No. 23, where he was a steal for the Steelers, who should have a pretty nice 1-2 rushing punch with the Illini star and returnee Fast Willie Parker. Then Pittsburgh got a big-body receiver, Limas Sweed of Texas, in the second round. A team that almost always focuses on defense in the draft finally gave quarterback Ben Roethlisberger some weapons.
•So, did the Steelers have the best draft? No way would I go that far.
The Chiefs saw the best defensive player in the draft, LSU's Glenn Dorsey, fall into their laps at No. 5, added one of the most versatile offensive linemen in Branden Albert of Virginia, and got a cornerback, Brandon Flowers of Virginia Tech, who was projected by some to be a first-rounder. A team that is basically starting from scratch and absolutely had to have a good draft appeared to do just that.
The Dolphins also scored, getting both premier offensive tackle Jake Long and quarterback Chad Henne from Michigan. Henne was the 57th overall pick, exactly 142 spots higher than Tom Brady went to New England in the 2000 draft. Think about that. Henne is a tough guy with a big arm and should be a very productive NFL quarterback.
And don't forget Carolina, which had two first-round selections. The Panthers got a top running back in Oregon's Jonathan Stewart and highly touted tackle Jeff Otah of Pitt. Later, they took Iowa corner Charles Godfrey, blessed with size and speed, and strong Penn State linebacker Dan Connor. Those are four quality players for four positions of need.
• The Browns, without a pick until the fourth round, weren't expected to realize much from this draft and there were no surprises, only shots at down-the-line help. Cleveland's first two selections were oft-injured UNLV linebacker Beau Bell and Missouri tight end Martin Rucker, who one scout called "an overgrown wide receiver" going against slower linebackers in Mizzou's spread offense. He isn't about to unseat Kellen Winslow.
• The final word: I wrote a year ago that Michigan running back Mike Hart might regret returning for his senior year. He was projected as a second-round pick, third round at worst, in '07 but joined Jake Long and Chad Henne in returning for one more shot at Ohio State, a Big Ten title and a bowl win. Hart got the latter and, perhaps, has no regrets, but somewhere along the way scouts soured on his size, lower-body strength, 40 speed, blocking skills and his ability to push the pile.
Hart was the 202nd player taken, going in the sixth round yesterday to Indianapolis, where he'll be penciled in as a backup to Joseph Addai and as a third-down back in the spread. He can still make it, and has the burst and instinct to even make it big, but one year's time had a major impact on his draft stock and on his ability to negotiate a contract.
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