Five NFL draft questions

Time for our weekly Q&A with Scott Wright of

As always, if you have specific draft questions you want answered, let me know.

We'll have more on T.O. and free agency later today.

Q: There was talk that the Patriots did not want a high first-round pick for Matt Cassel because it would cost them more. Please explain how the pay scale works for draft picks.

A: Unfortunately most teams don’t want Top 5 overall picks anymore because of the ridiculous amount of guaranteed money involved.  Back when Charley Casserly was the general manager of the Houston Texans, he had the No. 1 overall pick, and when he called another team to ask if they were interested in trading for it, the other team replied, “Sure, how much will you give us to take it?”. Any prospect taken in the Top 5 will become one of the highest-paid players at his position, and if he doesn’t work out, it sets the franchise back years.   That is why there needs to be a rookie salary cap.  However, that only holds true for the Top 5-10 picks because after that, the contracts are actually very reasonable.  For example, the Denver Broncos drafted left tackle Ryan Clady, who had a fantastic rookie season, 12th overall last year and were able to lock him up with a six-year, $17.5 million contract ($11.5 million guaranteed).  If Clady were on the open market, he’d easily command four times that much.  And those second- and third-rounders are even better bargains.

The Patriots are a smart franchise, and rather than devote $30 million to the No. 3 overall pick, they can get four high-quality contributors and potential starters with their first rounder and three second rounders for less than half that much.

Q: What defensive player is most ready to step in and make an impact right away?

A: Well, linebackers tend to make an instant impact (DeMeco Ryans, Patrick Willis, Jerod Mayo, etc.)  so I will say Aaron Curry of Wake Forest.  He can play inside or outside in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, and that versatility should help make him an impact player right away as a rookie.

Q: What offensive player is most ready to step in and make an impact right away?

A: A lot depends on the situation, but I will say either Jason Smith of Baylor or Eugene Monroe of Virginia.  Granted, they are offensive tackles, so that isn’t a flashy choice, but both can be immediately penciled in as starters at a crucial position.

Q: Eagles fans are debating which of three running backs – Beanie Wells, LeSean McCoy, Knowshon Moreno – would be the best fit in Philadelphia. How do those three backs compare?

A: Well, the big difference between those three is size.  Chris “Beanie” Wells is 6-1, 235 lbs. while Knowshon Moreno is 5-10, 217 and LeSean “Shady” McCoy is 5-10, 198.  Personally I like Wells the best, and while he isn’t in the same class as Adrian Peterson or Darren McFadden, he is a powerful runner, and I believe he can be a workhorse at the next level as long as he can stay healthy.  There are some who prefer Moreno, and while I agree that he is a first-round talent, I just don’t see anything special about him, and after running a 4.6 at the Scouting Combine, I’d have a hard time taking him in the top half of Round 1.  Moreno is probably the most well-rounded player of the group though when it comes to running, catching and blocking.  Think of him as a poor-man’s Cadillac Williams.  McCoy is still a bit of a mystery, and after losing a lot of weight due to the flu, he opted not to work out at the Scouting Combine last month.  He is kind of on that late first / early second-round fringe right now.  You could also throw UConn’s Donald Brown into the mix with that top tier of running backs as well, and he too has a shot at sneaking into the first round.

As far as the Eagles go, I think Wells would be a perfect fit.  He and Brian Westbrook would give Philly that “Thunder & Lightning” attack that is becoming so popular in the NFL these days, and he’d also help solve their short-yardage issues.

Q: Is Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins the clear-cut No. 1 cornerback available?

A: Clear-cut?  Definitely not.  However, even though he didn’t have a great showing at the Scouting Combine, it wasn’t as bad as some made it out to be.  Still, there are many who feel Jenkins is best suited to play free safety at the next level, and as a prospect I think he is very similar to former No. 8 overall pick Antrel Rolle coming out of college.  With all that said, Jenkins is either the No. 1 or No. 2 cornerback prospect in this draft (with Vontae Davis of Illinois being the other), or the No. 1 safety prospect, and in my opinion he is still a Top 10 talent.  Look for him to come off the board in the Top 10-15 overall.

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