The 2004 NFL Draft: No Guarantees

The biggest "off-season" event in sports is gearing up to kick-off in less than three weeks as the NFL Draft draws near. As teams ready their war rooms, slowly putting the names of players on their draft board and ironing out final strategies for April 24, fans and the media are debating which prospects their hometown team should be focusing on.

There are no guarantees as we move towards the big weekend except this; there will be plenty of talent to choose from on draft weekend. Though not top-heavy, it is a deep draft class with quality players available through the initial three rounds.

It is a good year for drafting quarterbacks as four may be selected during the initial 40-selections this April. All of the top passers are proven winners with good records of accomplishment throughout college. The middle rounds will offer solid developmental prospects that could be starting in the NFL three years down the road.

The stable of running backs is solid and runs deep into the second round. The first pair of ball carriers off the board will be juniors followed by a trio of upperclassmen. The class is characterized by powerful interior runners best between tackles.

The talent at wide receiver in April's draft could be characterized in a single word; immense. Fast game breaking wide outs that control the game will be available through the third round. Added into this equation are a large number of big bodied pass catchers the dominate as possession receivers. Factor in a trio of top-shelf tight ends and a large number of pass catchers will be selected during the draft's first day.

Unlike the outlook at other positions on the offensive side of the ball, the pickings are slim on the offensive line. After a few talented tackles are selected early in round one the rest of the prospects have major question marks as which positions they project at the next level and will need time before they crack a starting line-up.

The defensive line is one area NFL scouts and coaches want to see filled with talent and April will offer just that. The defensive end position is characterized by speed while big, bulky prospects fill the top slots at the tackle position. There are a lot of solid prospects to be had in the first two rounds at each position so expect a lot of linemen to be selected during the draft's first day.

After a void of talent the past several years, 2004 could be one of the better linebacker drafts in a decade. Talented at outside linebacker who could start as rookies will be available through the third round while the players in the middle will also offer impact during the early frames.

Yet another position that offers solid pro-prospects will be cornerback as strong candidates will be available from the middle of round one through the third round. The same cannot be said for the safeties as the position leaves a lot to be desired. There are plenty of questions still to be answered on all but one of the prospects that will be drafted come April 24.

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