In the Trenches: Vick, McAllister headline NFC South
The NFL offseason has seen several important transactions that will affect player values and draft strategies across the board. Here's our seventh in a series of eight columns that focus on individual divisions and teams.
Notable additions: DT Jonathan Babineaux, LB Jordan Beck, LB Edgerton Hartwell, K Todd Peterson, LB Ike Reese, WR Sharod "Roddy" White
QB Michael Vick has one season of experience in the West Coast offense under his belt and is worth a fourth- to sixth-round choice, but the Falcons did little to improve his arsenal of offensive weapons. TE Alge Crumpler remains the first option in the pass attack and will be one of the first players selected at his position, but the team's wide receivers are questionable at best.
1. Michael Vick
2. Warrick Dunn
3. Alge Crumpler
4. T.J. Duckett
5. Falcons DST
Veteran WR Peerless Price has failed to produce since his move from Buffalo to Atlanta, and both Dez White and Brian Finneran are inconsistent. The team's best receiver might be Michael Jenkins, who should emerge as a starter and is a nice late-round sleeper candidate. Rookie Sharod White has earned mixed reviews in the offseason and is worth no more than a flier in most drafts.
RB Warrick Dunn is an underrated and versatile athlete who will serve owners well as a No. 3 back or flex starter, while RB T.J. Duckett is worth a middle-round selection as a reserve. The Falcons DST added Hartwell and Reese to a unit that includes incumbent starters LB Keith Brooking, DT Rod Coleman and DE Patrick Kearney and should be considered a top-10 unit.
Notable additions: FS Thomas Davis, TE Freddie Jones, RB Eric Shelton, CB Ken Lucas, OG Mike Wahle
The Panthers plan to base their offense on the run, so QB Jake Delhomme shouldn't be expected to improve on the 3,886 yards and 30 total touchdowns he recorded last season. RB DeShaun Foster is 100 percent recovered from an injured shoulder and the favorite to serve as the team's No. 1 back, but his proneness to injuries and the presence of RBs Stephen Davis and Shelton are a concern. Still, Foster has great potential and will warrant consideration in the third to fifth rounds.
1. DeShaun Foster
2. Steve Smith
3. Jake Delhomme
4. Panthers DST
5. Keary Colbert
Davis' status for training camp remains uncertain as he recovers from an injured knee, which makes him no better than a middle- to late-round choice. Shelton, who has immense sleeper potential behind his less-than-durable counterparts, will warrant late-round attention in all formats.
WR Steve Smith has looked fantastic in his return from a serious leg injury and takes over as the team's first option in the pass attack after the departure of WR Muhsin Muhammad. Barring setbacks, Smith will be worth an early- to middle-round selection. Fellow WR Keary Colbert will move up the depth chart and start opposite Smith, so owners should consider him a nice sleeper option. Jones will be utilized more as a blocker than as a threat when the Panthers throw the ball, so his value is on the decline.
The addition of Lucas and the rookie Davis, who could be used in the defensive backfield in a similar role to Baltimore's Ed Reed, makes the Panthers DST an attractive option in all drafts. DE Julius Peppers should continue to dominate on the line and remains a valuable starter in leagues that use individual defenders.
New Orleans Saints
Notable additions: OT Jammal Brown, WR Az-Zahir Hakim, QB Adrian McPherson, TE Shad Meier, WR Nate Poole, RB Antowain Smith, FS Dwight Smith
QB Aaron Brooks had an incredible offseason and looks set to have his best season as a pro, but his past inconsistencies will limit his value to the middle rounds. The addition of McPherson, who some scouts compared to Hall-of-Fame QB John Elway at the NFL combines, is one to watch for owners in keeper leagues. A troubled field general from Florida State who possesses great potential, McPherson could emerge as the team's quarterback of the future.
1. Deuce McAllister
2. Joe Horn
3. Aaron Brooks
4. DontÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â© Stallworth
5. John Carney
The Saints will focus their offensive attack on the run, so expect RB Deuce McAllister to have a monster season. Barring injuries, the versatile back should record around 2,000 all-purpose yards and eight-to-10 total touchdowns. The pass attack will continue to feature WR Joe Horn, who remains one of the league's most reliable wide receivers. DontÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â© Stallworth has been a disappointment as a pro but is still worth a middle- to late-round selection. Hakim will serve as the No. 3 receiver but is no better than a late-round flier in drafts.
TE Boo Williams will have to battle for a roster spot after the addition of Meier, and the presence of Ernie Conwell makes this entire trio unattractive in most formats. The Saint DST has some talent in the form of DEs Charles Grant and Darren Howard, CB Mike McKenzie and Smith, but overall it has no real value in drafts.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Notable additions: TE Anthony Becht, K Matt Bryant, WR Ike Hilliard, DT Chris Hovan, QB Luke McCown, LB Barrett Ruud, TE Alex Smith, RB Carnell "Cadillac" Williams
The biggest move of the offseason was the selection of Carnell Williams in the draft. The versatile athlete from Auburn should emerge as the Buccaneers' starter early in the season, but the presence of veteran RB Michael Pittman could hinder his chances of becoming a true featured back. In any event, owners should look for head coach Jon Gruden to utilize Williams both in the backfield and as a wide receiver in certain sets, which gives him added value in leagues that reward points for receptions.
1. Carnell Williams
2. Michael Clayton
3. Michael Pittman
4. Buccaneers DST
5. Brian Griese
WR Michael Clayton will continue to be the first option in the pass attack and is a surefire top-15 wide receiver. Veteran Joey Galloway, who has battled injuries in recent seasons, will be worth a late-round flier. Hilliard will serve as the team's third receiver and has little value in drafts. QB Brian Griese threw for 19 touchdowns in 10 starts last season (that projects to an impressive 30 scores over a full 16 starts), so owners should consider him a nice late-round sleeper candidate.
The addition of Becht has little relevance in drafts as tight ends have averaged a mere 31 receptions, 313 yards and three touchdowns in the past five seasons under Gruden. The Buccaneers DST isn't the same unit it was three seasons ago but still boasts productive defenders like CB Ronde Barber, LB Derrick Brooks and DE Simeon Rice. Owners should expect it to be one of the first 10 units selected in most formats.
The Seattle Times reports Mike Reinfeldt, the Seahawks' vice president of administration, has spoken with one of Shaun Alexander's agents, Jim Steiner. It appears the team still wants to talk to the veteran about a long-term contract. Alexander won't sign the team's franchise tender offer, so it appears he won't be present to start training camp. However, this news about a possible long-term deal is a real positive in terms of his draft value.
Browns RB William Green continues to impress his coaches and appears to be a lock to win a roster spot. The controversial back has been a regular participant in offseason workouts and is in great condition. The problem for Green is that Lee Suggs and Reuben Droughns remain ahead of him on the depth chart, so he'll need to have an incredible preseason to warrant more than a late-round flier in drafts.
RE: In the Trenches: Vick, McAllister headline NFC South
ELWAY!!! oh brother hype we don't need.
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