04-23-2009, 06:29 PM
IRONMAN a.k.a. Tony Stark
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Draft buzz: Sanchez rising, receivers falling and Curry to Lions?
NEW YORK -- The top players are already gathering in New York, draft boards are completed by about half of the NFL teams, things are getting real quiet, and that means there are some serious conversations going on behind the scenes to establish trade scenarios.
On my Sirius radio show this week, I have had an opportunity to talk with Texas Tech wideout Michael Crabtree, Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry and a few general managers who hinted at their intentions.
As the hours are being counted down to Saturday's first round, here is the latest buzz and what I am hearing:
Curry to Lions?
Curry told me he would do a pre-draft deal with the Lions for less than the $57.5 million ($30 million guaranteed) that Jake Long received from the Dolphins as the No. 1 overall draft pick last year.
Alright, Detroit, you want a pre-draft deal? You got one!
Curry told me he could visualize himself lining up with Julian Peterson and Ernie Sims and getting after opposing teams. He said he would feel very comfortable in the middle running that defense.
"After my visit to Detroit, I felt very comfortable with the coaching staff and the management," Curry said. "And, you know, they made the new changes to the logo, which I fell in love with. And they brought in Julian Peterson, who I’ve always been a big fan of. I see myself in that uniform, and I could also see myself playing beside Ernie Sims and Julian Peterson."
As Curry was describing how he exchanges text messages with Lions GM Martin Mayhew, all I kept thinking about was how the Bears built their team around Brian Urlacher.
I still think the Lions will take Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, but there will be pressure to get a pre-draft deal done now that there's one top-three pick on record saying he'll do it.
How low will Harvin go?
Ask NFL people about Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin and you get a range of answers from just outside the top 10 to the second round because of a reported failed drug test at the combine in February. From what I hear, however, Harvin will agree to any drug-testing structure in his contract and the club protection in the contract should drive him back into the first round.
The Sanchez Factor
Mark Sanchez has turned the top five picks upside down. I had a GM tell me he wouldn't be surprised if Sanchez went in the top three spots. That's a big climb in the last two weeks for the quarterback who started only 16 games at USC.
There will be action in the top three spots involving Sanchez if the conversations I had this week hold up. Will it be the Rams at No. 2? Will the Chiefs or the Rams trade out of the No. 2 or 3 spots and sell to a team trying to get Sanchez?
LSU's Jackson on the rise
If Sanchez is the hottest name this week, then the second-hottest name has to be LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson.
He has always been a first-round candidate but two weeks ago he solidified a spot in the top 10 and now it is conceivable he is a rock-solid top-five pick, as reported by my NFL.com colleague Gil Brandt days ago.
I asked two head coaches and a GM about Jackson, and they all said they could see him off the board by the fourth or fifth pick. Is he headed to Kansas City at No. 3 if the the Chiefs stay put? Remember, Scott Pioli was part of a New England organization that has three first-round picks on its defensive line and he is trying to construct a 3-4 package in K.C.
The best compliment Jackson received was from a coach who said Jackson was the most like the Patriots' Richard Seymour in this draft.
Crabtree is already in New York with his entire family and made the rounds over to my radio show. He says he could run right now if he had to, but also said he has no recent recorded 40-yard dash times.
"Not since ninth grade in tennis shoes," he said.
He also told me Bobby Knight offered him a basketball scholarship after his junior year in high school. He is a big-play guy waiting to happen, and I wonder if the Bengals take him and part ways with Chad Ochocinco.
» The biggest beneficiary of the Eagles trade for Jason Peters might be Ole Miss OT Michael Oher. As one offensive line coach said, "How can the Bills pass on Oher at No. 11?"
» As for long shots entering the draft picture, keep an eye on the Rutgers QB Mike Teel. He has visited with 10 teams, and when you look at the dropoff in quarterbacks after the top three (Stafford, Sanchez and Josh Freeman) he could slide into a number of team's plans in a later round. My friend Phil Simms, who knows a few things about quarterbacks, has studied the tapes and feels Teel has a chance and is worth giving a shot in Day 2 of the draft.
» There are a number of teams looking for a wide receiver and hoping to get one in the second round. Many mock drafts have four to five wide receivers going in the first round. They all seem to be counting on Braylon Edwards and Anquan Boldin being traded by Saturday and pushing at least two receivers into the second round. The signing of Torry Holt could also help push the receiver class down. If at least two of this group -- Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks, Darrius Heyward-Bey or Harvin -- slide it will be a best-case scenario for teams in search of a pass catcher in Round 2.