Trades, Drama & Risk Embody '09 NFL Draft

Mike Florio lists the 10 most intriguing story lines of the 2009 NFL draft:

1. Buyer beware on Heyward-Bey?

DART.init( { "site_key_name":"", "zone":"article", "pos":"right1", "sz":"300x250", "team":"dallascowboys", "team":"carolinapanthers", "team":"newenglandpatriots", "team":"washingtonredskins", "tile":"2" }); Four years ago, a receiver whose stats raised no eyebrows became a hot draft prospect because he could run 40 yards quickly while wearing underwear.

He became the seventh overall pick, and his NFL career has been forgettable.

And so it's Troy Williamson's name that comes to mind when considering Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Maryland receiver who has a chance of being the seventh overall selection, too.

It's the perfect case study in the placement of physical measurements over production. If Heyward-Bey were a truly great receiver, he would have done great things at Maryland.

'09 NFL Draft (April 25-26) Florio: Trades, drama and risk embody draft Iyer: Champs build through draft Team-by-team needs: AFC: East | North | South | West NFC reports: East | North | South | West Mock drafts: Scouts | Correspondents Breer: Risk assessment of elite prospects On the move: 10 teams looking to deal Trader Joes: 5 busiest GMs on draft day Lande's best: T | ILB | OLB | DE Super 99: Rankings by position Reports: J. Smith | Maualuga | E. Brown C. Wells | M. Sanchez | M. Crabtree War Room: SN's complete draft coverage Cosell: Stafford translates best to NFL

And please spare me the explanation that the Maryland offense didn't utilize his skills. If he were a truly great player, coach Ralph Friedgen would have found a way to get the ball in Heyward-Bey's hands as often as possible.

So buyer beware. Heyward-Bey might run really fast and get wide open ... just in time for the ball to bounce off his face mask.

2. Could a team draft and trade Sanchez?

At a time when there is much speculation regarding whether a team like the Redskins or the Jets will trade into the top 10 in order to land USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, there's an interesting possibility brewing.

A team (such as, say, the Chiefs) could draft Sanchez with the intention of trading him to the Redskins, Jets, or someone other team.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello recently told me that there are no restrictions on trading a player after he has been drafted. (There's a point later in the year where the window for trading a rookie is closed.) The kicker, however, is that the rookie pool allocation for the player stays with his original team.

So when the Giants picked Philip Rivers with the fourth overall selection five years ago and sent him to the Chargers for Eli Manning, the fact that the selection was only three spaces apart made it relatively easy for the Giants to do a deal with Manning in light of the non-transfer of the rookie pool number.

But the bigger the gap between the players who are swapped, the more difficult it will be for the team picking up the player picked higher in the draft to fit him under the rookie pool.

3. Dorsey on the block?

Now that the Chiefs have traded their first-round pick from the 1997 draft, they could also trade one of their first-round picks from the 2008 draft.

With Kansas City converting from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 alignment, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey doesn't fit.

Regarded as one of the top players in last year's draft pool, the Chiefs could dangle Dorsey to a 4-3 team -- and they could add a nice haul of picks and/or players in exchange for him.

4. NFL manufacturing some drama?

In the past year, the NFL would bring only a handful of first-round picks to the draft. From time to time, one of them experience an unexpected slide.

It's embarrassing for the kid, but it makes for compelling television.

This year, a whopping nine players will be in Manhattan: receiver Michael Crabtree, linebacker Aaron Curry, linebacker Brian Cushing, quarterback Josh Freeman, tackle Eugene Monroe, tackle Michael Oher, defensive end Brian Orakpo, tackle Jason Smith, and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

While all likely will be taken in round one, Freeman and Oher could languish deep into the first wave of selections.

The league surely knows this, and thus it can be inferred that maybe the league likes the drama that having so many guys in New York could create.

5. Harvin tries to get back into round one

After testing positive for marijuana at the Scouting Combine, Florida receiver Percy Harvin is getting desperate. According to Pat Kirwan of, Harvin is willing to agree to drug testing obligations in his rookie contract.

This creates two problems.

First, it's not necessary. The positive result at the Combine means he'll enter the NFL at stage one of the substance abuse program, making him subject to multiple unannounced tests per month.

Second, it's not permissible. The league administers the drug-testing program under the substance abuse policy. Teams have no jurisdiction to conduct their own tests, and thus no contractual provision in this regard would be approved by the league.

6. Andre Smith still riding high?

Before Alabama suspended him for the Sugar Bowl, tackle Andre Smith was viewed in some circles as a candidate to be the first overall pick.

After a series of embarrassments and other complications, including that ill-fated 40-yard dash with his bare chest moving like a large flag in a crosswind, Smith's stock remains high.

The reality? On tape, he's dominant. And dominance by left tackles at the college level often translates nicely into dominance at the pro level.

So the Bengals could take him at No. 6 or the Packers at No. 9 -- or the Bills could use the 28th overall pick they acquired in last week's trade of Jason Peters as ammunition to climb into the top 10 to snag him.

7. Wait to get a receiver

There's a fundamental problem with wide receivers. The position attracts divas, and thus when it's time to consider them for employment, they often have red flags (due to the whole diva thing).

Last year, no receiver was deemed worthy of a first-round pick, possibly because some of them (DeSean Jackson and Devin Thomas, for example) were viewed as the typical high-maintenance pass-catchers.

This year, there could be as few as two and as many as six receivers taken in round one. But it's almost as if being taken in the first round makes a rookie receiver even more of a prancing and preening pain in the posterior.

The smart thing to do is wait until round two or later; that's where a team can get a guy like Brian Robiskie, who might end up being better than any of the guys who are expected to be picked in round one.

8. Quinn could be a hot commodity

As the draft approaches, not much is being said about Browns quarterback Brady Quinn. Though he's believed to be available in trade, there seems to be no takers.

But if one or more of the teams who are hoping to land Mark Sanchez don't get him, a market could emerge for Quinn.

Look for the Jets and possibly the 49ers, Vikings, or Bucs to sniff around the 2007 first-rounder, based on the manner in which round one shakes out in 2009.

9. The importance of three-down defenders

When looking at the pool of potential draft picks who play defense, there's a very important question to keep in mind: Will the guy be on the field on every down?

If not, he might not be worth a first-round pick.

The biggest name in this regard is USC linebacker Rey Maualuga, a player who might not have the speed and the range to contribute to pass defense.

The other side of the coin is versatility. Linemen who can bounce around to different positions, for example playing end on rushing downs and moving inside on passing downs, have extra value, and thus could move higher.

10. Steelers need linemen

The Pittsburgh Steelers could have the worst offensive line of any defending Super Bowl champion. And so they need to find a way to improve before quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gets busted into a few hundred small pieces.

At No. 32, the Steelers likely are too low to get a solid tackle. Unless they trade up, they might have to settle for a center/guard combination.

Pittsburgh also needs more defensive linemen, because its starters are all over 30. The time is now to infuse youth into this unheralded -- but critical -- component of the 3-4 front. Without solid linemen to tie up blockers, the linebackers can move to the ball freely.

Mike Florio writes and edits and is a regular contributor to Sporting News. Check out PFT for up-to-the minute NFL news. adsonar_placementId=1275509;adsonar_pid=682767;adsonar_ps=-1;adsonar_zw=420;adsonar_zh=300;adsonar_jv='';Read Full Article »

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