Thanks to its wheeling and dealing ways, Cleveland essentially won't have a draft this year. San Diego's roster is so well stocked it doesn't really need one. But those are the exceptions, not the rule.
Here's my quick take on the five teams that have the most riding on the 2008 NFL draft. These are teams that absolutely have to get it right two weekends from now when the league commences its annual version of high-stakes poker:
Denver's recent track record is spotty at best when it comes to identifying talent and building a roster. All those swings and misses on the defensive line. All those chances taken on players who came with some baggage in tow. The Broncos have nine overall picks, including two in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds, but how they use their first two selections (No. 12 and 42 overall) will be huge.
They have to replace retired offensive tackle
With the talent gap only widening between two-time defending division champion San Diego and the rest of the AFC West, the Broncos and Shanahan don't have any margin for error.
Reid and quarterback
The Eagles are getting old in some key spots such as offensive tackle, where
For inspiration, the Eagles need only look at the Giants, who rebounded from an 8-8 finish with an embattled coach in 2006 to win it all last season. But the impetus for New York's success was that spectacular 2007 draft class. If Philadelphia wants to copy the Giants, the imitation best start in late April.
With so many needs to fill, look for Dimitroff and new head coach
For the Falcons, the ignominious year that 2007 was has to represent rock bottom. The climb back to respectability starts with the possibility of this draft, and all the fresh faces who will hopefully help the franchise finally turn the page on its darkest chapter yet.
The Cowboys own eight overall picks and while they don't have a litany of needs, they best address two of their three big needs with their pair of first-rounders. Dallas could use another running back to compliment
At the moment, Miami has more needs than picks, but nine selections may have to be enough for Parcells' first draft in South Florida. It seems pretty clear the Dolphins will wind up taking a lineman named
After that, Miami is probably going to go for defense heavily, trying to shore up the unit that will be asked to keep the Dolphins in games while things build on the offensive side. Linebackers, always a Parcells' forte, should be at the top of the need list. This is clearly a stepping-stone draft for Miami, designed to set the stage for 2009 and beyond. But it's a big first step, with all the hype and white-hot lights that go with the No. 1 slot.
• Another week, another
It's mind-boggling to me that after Favre bowed out of the game with grace and a sense of good timing that we're already at the point where a sense of clarity about his status has been sacrificed in order for him to keep the slightest comeback option open in his mind. And we're not even to tax day yet.
I understand that Favre was likely just talking off the top of his head to the Biloxi, Miss., newspaper that he has often made news in, but when he starts saying "right now, no'' to the question of whether he's considering a return to the game, it's pretty easy to guess that later could mean yes.
First there was the obsessive Favre retirement watch. And now, and this is even worse, comes the obsessive Favre un-retirement watch. Can't anybody just say goodbye and mean it any more?
• Speaking of legendary ex-quarterbacks with a Super Bowl ring, I loved the
Elway said he would have handled the matter of Marshall seriously injuring his arm due to horse play (they are Broncos, after all) in a private, face-to-face meeting with the receiver. Cutler instead chose to voice his displeasure with his top receiver's immaturity in some on-the-record quotes to reporters.
Oh, and did we mention how Elway chose to let Cutler know how he felt about the issue? It was in some on-the-record quotes to reporters. And I bet Elway never even realized how rich that sounded.
• And while we're talking about guys who just don't get it, I wish I could tell Oklahoma receiver
After struggling with a quad injury, Kelly finally worked out for pro scouts on Wednesday at OU, but when he didn't run as fast as he thought he should (4.68), he lashed out at the school for having him run on the softer artificial surface of the Sooners' practice facility rather than the firmer Astroturf infield of the school's indoor track. This despite the fact the scouts present asked Kelly to run on the softer surface because it's what he'll play on in the NFL.
"Just a little bit of time could mean a whole lot of draft money,'' bemoaned Kelly, thereby revealing his first priority. "This is my life. You know what I'm saying? This ain't no school. This ain't no classroom. This ain't got nothing to do with that. This has to do with me, my family. This is what I do. I play football. And I'm supposed to come out here and run as fast as I can.''
You can bet plenty of teams heard Kelly's message loud and clear. Especially the parts about the money and the me.
Know this: Stover's not a lone wolf on this issue. It's not just him and Vikings center
As for Upshaw, he responded in the somewhat typical Mean Gene fashion that has become his favored MO in recent years: "Matt Stover has no clue. Whoever is pulling his chain is doing a disservice to the union. I could understand the idea that they need to get rid of me if I wasn't doing a good job, but shoot, the owners are mad because they think I've done too good a job.''
Any criticism or mention of a post-Upshaw era players' union has tended to send the Hall of Fame ex-Raiders lineman into a defensive tizzy for a while now. But last I checked, he's not either a Supreme Court justice or
• I guess we should have seen the
• Now that
Momma, don't let you babies grow up to be Cowboys (coaches, or with any other team for that matter).