2004 NFL Draft: the final chapter

An unusually large crowd was on hand for the draft's second day, as teams conducted the final four rounds of the NFL Draft before saying goodbye to Madison Square Garden. As is the case every year, there were value players remaining on the draft-board in the late rounds as several organizations added talent and depth to their rosters.

Capitalizing on a first day of impact selections in the draft, the Lions continued to secure the rights to solid prospects in the later rounds. Offensive tackle Kelly Butler from Purdue, was ranked by evaluators to be selected as early as the second round, inexplicably fell into the sixth round and was scooped up by the Lions. Butler, a terrific athlete with a large amount of upside potential, is a fine developmental prospect for Detroit. Prior to Butler the Lions chose Wisconsin linebacker Alex Lewis, once again getting good value. When all is said and done it looks as though Detroit had the strongest draft on paper.

With several needs on the defensive side of the ball, the Green Bay Packers filled several holes on the draft's second-day. Defensive tackle Corey Williams of Arkansas State was a highly rated prospect coming into the 2003 season but struggled through an injury-riddled senior campaign. At the top of his game Williams will offer the Packers a wide-bodied defender that will excel as a rotational lineman up front.

The Vikings added depth Sunday on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Offensive tackle Nat Dorsey of Georgia Tech needs to physically mature as he's played only three seasons of college football but the fourth round pick has the skills to develop into a starter in the NFL. Also taken in the same frame was Mewelde Moore, a record-breaking running back at Tulane that nicely fits in as a third down ball handler.

Selecting prospects on the offensive side of the ball, the New York Jets came away with several bargains during the late rounds. Receiver Jerricho Cotchery was selected in the fourth round and offers the Jets a big receiver who will see plenty of action as a rookie. Offensive tackles Adrian Jones and Marko Cavka both have excellent long term potential.

The San Diego Chargers, part of yesterday's blockbuster trade in the first round, put the extra picks they acquired to good use. Defensive ends Shaun Phillips and Dave Ball along with running back Michael Turner all have a realistic shot of contributing to the team as rookies.

Finally, the Tennessee Titans used the final few rounds of the draft to fill depth issues on both sides of the ball. Defensive end Bo Schobel has a large upside and the team hopes he can be part of the solution as they look to fill the big shoes of Jevon Kearse, who left via free agency. Troy Fleming is a running back in the mold of Eddie George as the team prepares for the All Pro's departure, and was good value in round six.

So ends the 69th Annual NFL Draft, a two-day event that this year set records for trades as well as receivers and underclassmen selected in the first round. Over the next several weeks there will be plenty of discussion and debate over how each of the thirty-two teams in the league fared. The ultimate test starts in barely three months as franchises take the field and prepare for the 2004 season and many of these draft picks will compete for playing time.

And while many will forget about the draft after a few weeks the scouting process begins anew next week as NFL teams try and get an early jump for April 2005!

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