These days, the air is full of draft talk: guesses, speculations, rumors, projections, scouting reports, player strengths and weaknesses, red flags relative to character questions, deals up, deals down, wishful thinking, regional biases---the whole tiresome ball of wax.
As eager as many are to have the actual Draft Day arrive, the processes leading up to it can be exhausting, exasperating, tedious and fatiguing. The desire is to put the day behind us as soon as possible, to move from anticipation to analysis, from forecasting to evaluating.
Yet there can room for the original thought, the storyline which has heretofore escaped examination.
Such an example might be the case of Alabama LB DeMeco Ryans, a finalist for college football's premier LB award, an Academic and consensus All-American, an intelligent and instinctive playmaker and a possibility for the Cleveland Browns' linebacking corps, though not likely at choice 12.
It is remotely possible Ryans will remain available for selection at choice 43, the location of Cleveland's second-round pick. Much could be determined by what New Orleans does at choice 34, the second of Round Two.
At that point, the Saints may be deciding between Iowa's Abdul Hodge, considered by many to be the top-rated ILB and a target for many Cleveland fans concerned about who might start next to Andra Davis in 2006, and Ryans, possibly the regional preference down on the Delta.
Ryans is projected as an OLB, however, who some feel could factor inside in the right system. He is slightly larger (6-1 240) than the 5-11 233-pound Hodge and the next-highest-ranked ILB, Maryland's 6-0 228 D'Qwell Jackson, neither of whom is considered first-round material. Ryans, once been thought viable for the Browns at 12 and originally a top-15 candidate, now is often excluded from Round One in the many circulated mocks.
Particularly inasmuch as the Browns themselves have been vague about whether Chaun Thompson is being forecast inside or out, another able to factor at either slot invites someone such as Ryans.
Bear in mind Savage is an Alabama native, served as a Crimson Tide assistant and likely has numerous friends and contacts in Tuscaloosa testifying to what a gem DeMeco might be for a club in need of fortification amid the second-line of defense.
Technique, quickness, anticipation, lateral movement, hand usage, coverage skills, discipline and the abilities to attack the line of scrimmage and play with consistent leverage are among Ryans' listed strengths. His relatively modest size and bulk and struggles to hold the point are among his reputed deficiencies.
Protected---as he can expect to be by vet NT Ted Washington---Ryans may be able to transition smoothly to ILB at the pro level, at least as well as either Hodge or Jackson, neither of whom would arrive with DeMeco's pedigree.
That all being true, it is difficult to argue DeMeco Ryans will be there for the Browns at 43, but he does represent one of the as-yet undiscussed scenarios at a position the club seems certain to address early on Day One of the 2006 NFL draft process.
Organizations possibly looking for LB help late in Round One are TB, Chicago, Carolina, Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, with the Jets and Raiders joining the Saints as those inclined between 33 and 43. OSU's Bobby Carpenter, UTEP's Thomas Howard, Iowa's Chad Greenway, Hodge and Jackson, with Ryans, comprise the expected draft class at that point.
Saturday will have to be soon enough to discover which, if any, is called to address what appears to be a gaping vacancy in Savage's front seven. Until then, such thoughts simply add to the plethora of pre-draft babble. Pardon me, please.