The draft is over but many personnel issues remain on the table for a number of teams and players. There are trades that didn't happen but still might. There may be some scary holes that still need to be repaired. Drafting decisions have shed some new light on just how some franchises view the players they have (or had) on their rosters. Of course, the work is not over.
There is anxiety among fans when their teams pass on players of need, don't trade for the guy they wanted to fill out the roster, or in some cases moved up for players that made them scratch their heads. The phone lines during my four-hour radio show the day after the draft were packed with callers wanting to know more about the decisions made over the weekend.
There is still time to get a number of things accomplished before training camp. Keep in mind that after every team has its post-draft minicamp, there will be another personnel evaluation of the roster and clubs could get proactive in the acquisition of more talent (as well as the dumping of some players).
With 2009 draft picks as chips, trades are still possible -- and in some cases probable, because of the flexibility of the trade language that could be used. Now a team can trade with conditions. For example, Jeremy Shockey could be traded for a third-round choice that becomes a second if he catches 60 passes -- or even a first if he makes the Pro Bowl.
Here are some issues yet to be resolved:
Trades that didn't happen (yet)
1. Lito Sheppard, CB, Eagles. Philadelphia took CB Jack Ikegwuono in the fourth round. He's a better player than his fourth-round status, but he may not be ready until 2009 due to medical issues. I'm not so sure the Eagles can afford to trade Sheppard this spring knowing they play nickel defense close to 50 percent of the plays.
2. Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants. The Saints used their third-round pick to advance in the first round for Sed Ellis and probably didn't want to surrender their second-round pick and be out of the draft until pick No. 144. The Saints did not draft a tight end and could have in the second round, with Fred Davis and Martellus Bennett still on the board. I think the Saints are capable of doubling back to the Giants this spring to still get Shockey.
3. Jason Taylor, DE, Dolphins. The Jaguars appeared to be interested before the draft but they took two solid pass rushers in the draft and it would surprise me if there was any remaining interest. I could see a team like the Panthers, that just lost Mike Rucker to retirement and didn't take an end until the seventh round, think about it -- even though they already surrendered their first-round pick in 2009. The only teams that really make sense for Taylor are teams that are one player away from a serious run (and the compensation has to come down a bit). Once again, a staggered deal based on production makes sense. Tampa Bay didn't take a DE and Taylor would be a great piece to put the Bucs over the top. A deal for a third-round pick that would go to a second if he has more than 10 sacks sounds reasonable to me at this point and maybe a young player to close the deal
4. Chris Simms, QB, Buccaneers. Drafting Josh Johnson in the fifth round and adding Brian Griese to the roster puts seven QBs on the team (if you count Jake Plummer). Tampa will receive calls on Simms and teams that didn't draft a QB -- such as Chicago, Kansas City, and Carolina -- have to consider this move.
5. Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals. Sure, Cincinnati took two good young receivers in the draft, but it lost Chris Henry and Tab Perry. Johnson can be shown the door for a first- and second-round pick a year from now, but not now. Of course, if he wants to pay back the $3.4 million of his bonus that still has to be charged to the cap and a team offers the right deal, the Bengals could do it. But I doubt any of that will happen.
Holes to fill (maybe)
1. Does Dallas still needs a receiver? The popular belief was that a big-name receiver was on the Cowboys' wish list, but they ignored it with two first-round picks, traded one pick away when every receiver was still on the board -- and by time they selected at no. 61, 10 receivers were off the boards. Jerry Jones is a dealmaker and at the end of the minicamps and OTA's, he could easily reach out to another club in hopes of making a trade. The addition of TE Martellus Bennett suggests more two tight end sets than ever before, and I don't think a big-name receiver like Chad Johnson or Roy Williams is in the plans for 2008. Maybe a lesser-known receiver like Michael Clayton in Tampa could be acquired, but it looks like Dallas will go with what it has at this point.
2. Carolina and Kansas City both passed on quarterbacks. Carolina fans are worried about Jake Delhomme recovering from Tommy John surgery and the Chiefs fans are worried about inexperienced Brodie Croyle. Both teams told me before the draft that they liked their backups -- Matt Moore in Carolina and Tyler Thigpen in K.C. Both teams proved they meant what they said when they passed on all 12 quarterbacks drafted. When Kansas City traded away its pick at no. 136 in the fifth round, it missed the opportunity to take John David Booty, who was the very next pick. Booty would have been a nice addition to either roster but both teams reiterated after the draft that they like their young backups. Time will tell if they have enough talent at QB.
3. Cleveland still in search of a cornerback?Browns fans walked away from the draft very excited -- not only about the veteran players added during the offseason for draft picks but also about Phil Savage's ability to get back into the draft to get solid players such as LB Beau Bell and TE Martin Rucker. With 12 corners gone on the first day and another six before Cleveland selected at no. 104, it was slim pickings at that point. Savage's aggressive style this offseason might suggest the Browns could still have interest in Lito Sheppard, which would complete a fantastic year of roster building.
4. Chicago's quarterback situation.Bears fans would have erupted if they heard the team select Brian Brohm or Chad Henne at the no. 44 spot, even though Matt Forte was an excellent pick for another critical situation. By the 70th pick or even the 90th pick, the QB board was down to John David Booty or Kevin O'Connell. Chicago passed at that point, which was understandable, but when they didn't grab Booty at no. 120, it raised some eyebrows. Tampa Bay and the Giants might be two rosters to look at, but I think Chicago goes with what it has, because there really may not be a player who can beat out Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton at this point.
Don't expect all the teams to close up shop and go with the rosters they have at this point. Expect a few trades between now and opening day of the 2008 season.