Kenny from Worcester, MA: You've got to love what the Patriots are doing on the field
this season, and I know everyone hates the fact that we stole the 49ers' first-round pick next year. I saw your
latest mock draft where the Pats are currently
selecting fourth overall and you have us taking Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis. Is this really the year we add some youth to our linebacking core?
Chris Steuber: For everyone who's wondering how the Patriots got the 49ers' first-round pick
next season, here's the breakdown: The Niners traded a 2007 fourth-round pick
(110th overall) and their 2008 first-round pick in exchange for the Patriots'
2007 first-round pick (28th overall). This has a chance to be one of the worst
trades in draft history if the Patriots are able to draft a player such as
Darren McFadden, Glenn Dorsey, James Laurinaitis or Jake Long. When I look at
the Patriots, there are very few flaws on their team. Their offense is
incredible, but they may look to upgrade their offensive line. The defense is
solid, but aging in certain areas, especially at linebacker. Amazingly, after
last weekend's game results, the Patriots now hold the third pick overall. When I
conducted my mock draft last week, Laurinaitis fit a need, but possessing the third pick changes
things in the respect
that McFadden may be available. Drafting a linebacker makes sense, but the last
first-round linebacker the Patriots selected was another Buckeye, Andy
Katzenmoyer, who flamed-out due to a neck injury. Let's not confuse Laurinaitis
for Katzenmoyer, but when you play a physical position such as linebacker, the
risk of injury is much greater. With that being said, I believe drafting
Laurinaitis, if he declares, is still the best move for the Patriots if McFadden is
off the board.
Will from Nashville: Can we please get Vince Young some receivers who can
catch the ball? He can only do so much for the Titans, and we have to surround
him with some quality receivers that are reliable. What receivers will be
available in the mid-to-late first round, and who's the best option?
Steuber: Since 2000, the Titans have drafted 12 wide receivers, but
none of them were selected in the first round and only one was selected in the second
round. I think
not using a high draft choice on a receiver has been the biggest problem with the Titans' front
office. Granted, drafting a wide receiver
in the first round doesn't always work out, but you have a better chance of
success with a highly-touted receiver than a lower-rated receiver you're taking a chance on.
The 2008 draft has the potential to be loaded with quality receivers who can
make an immediate impact. A lot of the skilled receivers are underclassmen, so until they declare it's hard to judge how good the class will be. But
out of the senior receivers, Texas' Limas Sweed, LSU's Early Doucet, and Oklahoma State's
Adarius Bowman are possibilities between picks 15–31. Of those three, I think
Doucet or Sweed are the best options for the Titans. Sweed and Young were
teammates at Texas and are familiar with each other's game, while Doucet
provides the Titans offense with a sure-handed receiver with a reliable nature
who gives a quarterback confidence.
Andy from Terre Haute, IN: I love Peyton Manning, and there are very few
quarterbacks in the
league I'd rather have running my team. But he's been a little inconsistent this
season and seems to have lost some confidence. I know he's only 31 years old,
but considering Jim Sorgi is our backup and the Colts don't have a first-round
pick next year, do you think the Colts will draft a quarterback somewhere
between rounds two through four?
Steuber: Since 1998, the year Manning was drafted, the Colts have only selected one
quarterback: Wisconsin's Jim Sorgi. Sorgi was a sixth-round pick, and from the
moment he was drafted, I don't think anyone thought he'd ever become a starting
quarterback in Indianapolis. He's done a decent job as a backup, but an upgrade
is necessary. Manning is the starter and will be until he retires. But
selecting a quarterback high in the draft next April is a proposition the Colts
should welcome. There will be a lot of talented quarterbacks available in the
second- and third-rounds next year. Some of the senior quarterbacks who should be
available in that range include Chad Henne, Erik Ainge, and John David Booty. But the player the Colts should select is
Hawaii's Colt Brennan. Brennan plays in a shotgun, spread formation at Hawaii
and will fit nicely in the Colts offense. The Colts like to spread the ball
around to their receivers on quick reads and that's what Brennan does best —
deliver the ball quickly with great accuracy. At the very least, Brennan
provides Indianapolis with a great insurance policy in case Manning ever suffers
You mentioned that the Colts don't have a first-round pick next year, and that's
correct. They traded that selection to the 49ers, along with their 2007 fourth-round pick, in exchange for the Niners' 2007 second-round pick that
was used to select offensive tackle Tony Ugoh.
John from Cincinnati, OH: It's obvious that my Bengals have to upgrade their
defense in the draft next year. Let's just say that they hold a top-ten pick in
the draft. What players do you feel are strong possibilities for Cincy?
Steuber: Head coach Marvin Lewis is supposed to be a defensive-minded coach
able to get the most out of his players on defense. But that hasn't happened
during his tenure in Cincinnati. The front office has tried to fix the problems by using their last three first-round selections on defensive players:
linebacker David Pollack (2005), cornerback Johnathan Joseph (2006), and
cornerback Leon Hall (2007).
As for next year's draft, the Bengals are currently picking sixth, so if the season ended
today, they would have a great chance to land a
quality defensive star. I think the biggest hole on the defense is at
linebacker, but at number six the Bengals
may look at defensive linemen as well. If Ohio State's Laurinaitis declares for
the draft following his junior campaign and he's still on the board at that
point, they grab him to immediately upgrade their linebacker corps. Others that
should get consideration are defensive end Chris Long (Virginia), defensive
tackle Sedrick Ellis (USC), and defensive end Calais Campbell (junior from Miami).
Lou from Louisville, KY: I know that Louisville has struggled this season
and they've been a major disappointment, but we still have some great players
who'll be considered first-day picks. What are your thoughts on two of those
players, quarterback Brian Brohm and wide receiver Harry Douglas?
Steuber: Even though the Cardinals have a 5–6 record this season, Brohm is still a
top-ten pick and Douglas will be selected on Day One. Brohm hasn't had the kind
of success he envisioned when he decided to return to Louisville for his senior
season, but he hasn't been as bad as their record indicates. He's still managed
to throw 29 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions while completing over 65
percent of his passes for 3,787 yards. The most important fact for Brohm is
that he's stayed healthy, and that's answered a lot of questions scouts have had
regarding his professional future. Douglas, on the other hand, has been plagued
by injuries this year. That said, he has posted outstanding numbers —
70 receptions for 1,113 yards and
seven touchdowns — despite missing
two games due to an ankle injury. Last year, Douglas had 70 catches for 1,265 yards and six
touchdowns. He's a small receiver at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds who's highly
productive and will receive plenty of attention on draft day.
If you have a question that you want answered in the next edition of
"Shooting the Breeze," email Chris Steuber
through this link. Be sure to include your first name, city and state in