Draft Strategies are Changing

When the NFL decided last spring that defense would be under the microscope and the five yard chuck rule would be enforced to the letter, some GMs began planning a different draft day strategy. Several NFL brass have commented that they will not be looking to pick DBs early on day one.

In the first round of the 2002 draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected DB Roy Williams from Oklahoma with their eighth overall pick. In 2003, they went to the well again and drafted Terence Newman from K State with the fifth overall pick.

I'm not yet sure who will be fetching the Tunas water in this year's training camp but I do know it will not be a DB. With the league going to the "don't touch the wide-out" game, Bill has already made it clear the Boys will not be going that way this year.

For the last thirty years, the NFL has put nothing but obstacles in the way of defensive coordinators and every time they do, the coaches find ways to overcome them. An example that comes to mind is the Week 15 game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts. The Ravens frustrated Payton Manning and company by playing a 4-1-6. With this defense, mainly in the red zone, the Ravens held Indianapolis to just 20 points, their lowest scoring game of the year.

The Colts managed just 316 total yards, had a red zone efficiency of 20%, and goal-to-go efficiency of 33%. Manning came into this game on fire and only threw for 249 yards with 1 TD pass and the Marino TD record still intact. You may look at this and think your favorite team should go in this direction. Maybe, but this is not a cure all defense. There are other ways to go and besides, the Ravens are the only team that has the athletes to play the 4-1-6 this effectively, for now.

In my opinion, some defensively challenged teams will go the way of more DL pressure on the QB, with plenty of undersized DBs to help with pass coverage. This is just one thing to consider when watching the moves teams make in personnel in coming free agency hunt and the 2005 NFL Draft in April.

NFL Draft Notes: The deadline for underclassmen to apply to the NFL for early entry to the 2005 draft is Jaunary 15th. Players who do fill out the paperwork then have until the 19th to rescind their applications as long as they have not signed with an agent.


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