The NFL Draft, that holiest of holy days for obsessive-compulsive football fans*, is just two days away. The only way it could get better would be if special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald were to bring an indictment against Karl Rove at the same time that the draft unfolded and ESPN showed it in a split-screen format.
Actually, the best scenario would be if NFL draft guru Mel Kiper and Fitzgerald melded into one person and delivered all the information at once, as gurucutor Meltrik Fitzkiper:
"Chad Jackson, you look at his production last year at Florida. Didn't run a lot of deep routes as a junior, but he showed at the combine, running that 4.37, that he has the deep speed you want in a number one receiver... The evidence will show that defendant Rove committed the felony offense of perjury when he told investigators that he did not speak to reporter Miller about the covert status of Plame Wilson ... Laurence Maroney would be an excellent selection here for the Indianapolis Colts. He's a slashing, downhill-type runner and a polished receiver, showing the ability to snatch the ball away from his body. As a runner, he shows great body lean ...
Defendant Rove obstructed justice when he told the grand jury that he had not consulted with defendant Libby about Plame Wilson's covert status ... Gabe Watson gives you a lot of size at the defensive tackle position, but he has to improve his consistency to excel at the next level ... The evidence will show that the two defendants had multiple conservations about Plame Wilson's work with the CIA and discussed how to pass that information on to reporters ...
The Redskins' selection of Karl Rove in the third round was the most shocking pick I have ever seen in my career as a federal prosecutor who covers the NFL draft -- it is the highest that any team has ever drafted a punter, let alone a short, portly kicker from the single-bar face mask era who averaged just 15.7 yards per kick three decades ago in one season at the University of Utah. That season was marred by allegations that he secured his place on the team through his relationship with the head of the school's College Republicans. Several witnesses will testify that the College Republicans provided defendant Rove with incriminating photos of the Ute's head coach at a Queers for Steers cattle-rustling excursion. The Redskins' pick this year leads investigators to suspect collusion, especially given the close relationship between Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder and defendant Libby, who has hosted numerous parties in lobbyist Jack Abramoff's luxury box at FedEx Field, as multiple witnesses will corroborate ...
At any rate, here's how I think the Eagles should proceed. The Birds pick 14th in the first round. There's a chance they'll trade up as far as the seventh pick or so to grab the defensive player they want. Of the players who will be available from that point on, and given the Eagles' needs, here is the priority breakdown:
1) AJ Hawk, LB, Ohio State: It's doubtful the Packers or 49ers will let this guy out of their grasp, but since he's projected for about fifth, I'll include him in the mix. He is a scary behemoth with a long flowing mane. 2) Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon: The more likely selection if the Eagles trade up. A big heap o' football player to plug holes and strum the ukulele in the middle. 3) Broderick Bunkley, DT, Florida State: Fits the Eagles' style better, since they traditionally like smaller, quicker defensive tackles, but maybe they've figured out that style doesn't work. Plus his name, with the two Bs and the last name suggesting a bunker, gives the team nice onomatopoeia on the interior. 4) Winston Justice, OT, USC: I'd be "Just" fine with getting a tackle here, since LT Tra Thomas is getting older and coming off a back injury. 5) Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa: A good corn-fed, apple-pie lovin', ballcarrier-stuffin' American linebacker. 6) Chad Jackson, WR, Florida: Is this guy good or a bust waiting to happen? He will immediately be the man with the thinnest head in the NFL. 7) Ernie Sims, LB, Florida State: Quick linebacker, but perhaps too small. Sweet baby dreads.
If circumstances were different, I'd love for the Eagles to pursue Michael Huff, the safety from Texas, but it doesn't make a ton of sense for them to take him here, unless they plan to let Brian Dawkins go following the '06 season, which would be a mistake in my opinion.
Second round: There some linebackers here, as well as linemen, including OT Marcus McNeil of Auburn, C Nick Mangold of Ohio State and DT Claude Wroten of LSU. If RB LenDale White falls to them in the second, they have to take him.
If the Eagles come away with Bunkley or Ngata or Greenway in the first round and draft McNeil or another O-lineman in the second, I'll be happy. Likewise if they pick up Justice in the first and then add a linebacker like Demeco Ryans or a DT like Wroten in the second. A receiver like Maurice Stovall in the third wouldn't be bad.
The Eagles could also go against the conventional wisdom about what their needs are and get a defensive end/strongside linebacker like Kamerion Wimbley or Manny Lawson or a DE like Mathias Kiwanuka in the first round or get an eventual replacement for Jeremiah Trotter with Abdul Hodge from Iowa in the second round.
*Though it always winds up being at least mildly anti-climactic and disappointing for the same reason that it's so fascinating in the first place (I mean fascinating in the way Judge Wapner is fascinating to Raymond in "Rainman"): there are so many possible outcomes to consider. But then all those limitless possibilities congeal into the usually less-than-mind-blowing realities that your team took Todd McElroy and DeFinister Sackjaw in the first two rounds and there's still three months to go until training camp starts.