For purposes of clarity, Aaron’s ramblings will be in regular font, while Brian’s commentary will be in a bold font.
The fearless nine (in alphabetical order):
Jamal Burke, Senior, Wide Receiver: The local Brockton, Massachusetts, product served his team well for four seasons, but I do not expect to hear his named called this weekend. A serviceable pass-catcher, Burke surprised some people last season with his break-away speed in returning a punt for a touchdown. He also demonstrated the desire to be “the man” and had several games of five-plus catches in which he looked nearly unstoppable. However, Burke had more games when he simply disappeared. His disappearing act will likely cost him a draft selection, but he should find himself in some NFL camp battling for a job come the summer.
Vinny Ciurciu, Senior, Linebacker: The heart and soul of a tough BC defense, Vinny has the toughness and the desire to make it at the next level, possibly even as a fullback where he played at Clemson before transferring to the Heights. However, his smaller stature may make it such that he will have to do so as a special-teamer. I would be very surprised if Vinny’s name is called on Sunday, but, like Burke, I believe that he should be in some camp this summer to demonstrate his work ethic, toughness, and leadership abilities with hopes of earning an NFL contract.
J.P. Comella, Junior, Fullback: The only early entrant among BC’s nine may be the most intriguing player in the group. The incumbent starter entering 2002, Comella quickly lost his job to fellow-junior Greg Toal. Despite not starting for the majority of the season, he declared for the draft, hoping to find a better situation. To me, J.P. should not be drafted this weekend, but I think that there is a definite possibly of hearing his name on Sunday. His brother, Greg, is a solid, five-year veteran and NFL teams are always looking for a serviceable fullback. J.P. Comella can be a decent fullback, so he could hear his name in the sixth or seventh round on Sunday, though I wouldn’t count on it.
Antonio Garay, Senior, Defensive End: A mid-year season-ending injury hurt his draft status, but Garay still has a good chance of being selected on the first day. At the very least, Garay will be the first of BC’s nine that I have looked at who will be drafted this weekend. A very active end, Garay can create havoc in the backfield and disrupt the quarterback. He also has the size to stop the run successfully. He will need to work hard to be successful at the next level, but I expect him to make one team very happy in a couple of years.
Keith Hemmings, Senior, Wide Receiver: Much like Burke, Hemmings is a quality receiver with good hands and nice moves in the open field. He will have to work for a place in the NFL and will most likely not hear his name this weekend. However, I think he should be able to sign on with a team for training camp and could possibly turn some heads if given the opportunity.
Dan Koppen, Senior, Center: The third-ranked center according to TFY Draft Preview, Koppen should hear his name on Saturday, most likely in the third round. He could slip to early day-two, however. A solid center, he will be given the opportunity to earn early playing time and will continue the tradition of Boston College offensive linemen succeeding in the NFL.
Ralph Parent, Senior, Safety: A tough, hard-hitting defensive back with good size, Parent has the tools to make it in the NFL. However, he will most likely have to make it the hard way: accepting an invitation to a camp and working his tail off to earn a contract. He will also likely have to begin his career as a special-teamer, but he should be able to catch on somewhere if he works hard enough.
Mark Parenteau, Senior, Offensive Guard: Not quite as hyped as Dan Koppen, Parenteau is an excellent offensive lineman. We may not hear his name called this weekend, but I think he would make an exceptional second-day selection. With the immense success of Boston College linemen in the NFL, Parenteau should receive plenty of attention from teams around the league. Whether or not he is selected this weekend, I fully expect Mark Parenteau to make an impact protecting quarterbacks in the National Football League.
Brian St. Pierre, Senior, Quarterback: Everyone’s favorite villain, TFY Draft Preview ranks St. Pierre as the seventh-best quarterback in this weekend’s draft. Though many people disagree with that ranking and insist that he is a marginal prospect at best, I must say that he has a future in the NFL. I reported last week that Len Pasquarelli wrote for ESPN.com that St. Pierre has an average arm at best and tends to disappear in big games, but that his leadership abilities should make him a middle-round selection. I believe that Brian St. Pierre will be a quality backup in the NFL. He will never be a star, or even a consistent starter, but he will make a career in the NFL as a successful backup.
I’ve been asked to take over the seemingly insurmountable task of collaborating with Aaron Rose for one week and helping to write the legendary Thursday Evening Ramblings. I’ll do my best to take the reins and hold the fort, so bear with me…
On a side note, it’s good to get back to writing something for the Insiders; I apologize for the lack of columns lately, but following the Eagles’ ignominious end to the basketball season, there hasn’t been much to say. I love the Big East sweep of the three major basketball titles though. Perhaps it would be a fond farewell to the conference if these ACC rumors pan out and Miami, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, or BC jump ship? Who knows.
I thought I’d throw out my own mini-mock NFL draft here, seeing as every other sports writer on the planet seems to have done the same. My vision of the first fifteen picks goes something like this:
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer, QB, USC
-Not much of a surprise here, as of Wednesday night, Palmer and the Bengals had reportedly reached a contract agreement. Will Palmer be enough to overcome the woes of the past Bengals’ signal-callers?
2. Detroit Lions: Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State
-Another fairly certain pick, despite the recent drug test controversy. I suspect it’s nothing to worry about and Rogers is too talented for even crazy GM Matt Millen to pass up for his future star QB Joey Harrington.
3. Houston Texans: Andre Johnson, WR, Miami (FL)
-This seems likely, as the Texans’ management would like to get Carr a star receiver to go along with last year’s pick of Jabar Gaffney, but they could also take Terrell Suggs or trade down here.
4. Chicago Bears: Dewayne Robertson, DT, Kentucky
-My hometown team. It seems like they have a new pick every week, from Leftwich, to Suggs, to Kennedy, and now to Robertson. I hate to see them pass on someone with Leftwich’s talent, but the signing of Kordell Stewart makes this less likely. They were high on Suggs until his recent bad workouts with slow 40 times. So I guess his NCAA record 24 sacks don’t matter…Jerry Angelo will find a way to screw this up.
5. Dallas Cowboys: Terrence Newman, CB, Kansas State
-Jerry Jones wants to rebuild his defense and combining the shutdown speed of Newman with the nastiness of safety/linebacker hybrid Roy Williams will make Dallas’ D one of the league’s most promising.
6. Arizona Cardinals: Terrell Suggs, DE, Arizona State
-The Cardinals may find it hard to pass on the hometown kid, despite the poor workouts and the recent violence incident in Phoenix with the police claiming Suggs is not cooperating. He could be the steal of the draft at #6.
7. Minnesota Vikings: Jimmy Kennedy, DT, Penn State
-The Vikings will almost assuredly use this pick on defense and have to choose between Kennedy and Trufant. Kennedy seems to be a logical choice, as he would free up Chris Hovan because of his massive (6’4, 322) size by taking up two blockers.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall
-The Jags can’t pass on Leftwich this late. Mark Brunell is getting old and has knee problems, and David Garrard is quick, but he’s not the long-term answer.
9. Carolina Panthers: Marcus Trufant, CB, Washington State
-The Panthers want to continue to build their defense, which improved by leaps and bounds last year. Trufant could be the shutdown corner they’re looking for, as Terry Cousin doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of many defenders.
10. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Gross, OT, Utah
-While Coach Brian Billick would like Kyle Boller at this spot, it’s a bit too early for a QB who had only one good collegiate season. Boller would be a good pick at 17-20, so there is a possibility the Ravens could trade down and take him there, as teams 11-25 don’t need quarterbacks.
11. Seattle Seahawks: Kevin Williams, DT, Oklahoma State
-The Seahawks need defensive help as well, and Williams has the speed to be a solid defensive tackle for years.
12. St. Louis Rams: Boss Bailey, LB, Georgia
-The Rams need a few replacements on defense, especially in the secondary, but if Newman and Trufant are gone at this spot, they won’t reach and take someone they don’t rate this high. Bailey has speed and strength that could even allow him to play safety so this could be a great pick for the Rams because of his skill and versatility.
13. N.Y. Jets: Taylor Jacobs, WR, Florida
-This should be an easy pick for the Jets, as they were robbed of their best receiver by Dan “Black Beard” Synder in the off-season and desperately need someone other than Wayne Chrebet to be their #1 receiver. Jacobs is the highest rated receiver on the board at this point, although Kelley Washington of Tennessee could work here, despite concerns over his neck injury, which limited him last season. Jacobs is a more precise, polished receiver, but Washington showed so much raw talent his freshman year at UT that he could have more upside. And we all know teams love the upside, tremendous upside (yes, I’m gonna miss Hubie Brown doing the NBA Draft this summer).
14. New England Patriots: Jonathan Sullivan, DT, Georgia
-The Pats want a defensive player at this spot, and have several to choose from. Joseph from Miami would be hard to pass up, simply because of the program he plays for, but he also has a reputation for not going hard all of the time. Either a defensive end or tackle is likely here, to team with emerging star Richard Seymour and dastardly free-agent acquisition Roosevelt Colvin (no, I’m not bitter about the Bears letting him go, not at all).
15. San Diego Chargers: William Joseph, DT, Miami
-The Chargers could take a linebacker here, to replace Junior Seau, but someone as big and talented as Joseph is hard to avoid. If Bailey falls to this spot, the Bolts could take him as well.
Steals for later in the first round:
Miami’s Willis McGahee is the big mystery at this point. He would have been a top 3-5 pick in this draft had his knee not exploded in the National Championship game. His rehab has gone incredibly well though and he has been able to run in workouts and do squats for scouts. His bench is very impressive for a running back and he seems like he could even get to play this season. A team such as the Raiders, with a pick at the bottom of the first round who can afford to let him continue rehab this season and get back to full speed by 2004, could get the best pick of the entire draft in the long run.
Quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Kyle Boller will most likely go in the later first round, with Boller having been projected as high as #10 to the Ravens. Both have powerful arms, only second to Leftwich, and are tough players who’ve been through difficult situations in college. The Packers reportedly like both players, and with the 29th pick, might get lucky and have a choice between to two. Either one could become the heir apparent to Brett Favre and could learn behind one of the best QBs in NFL history for a year or two, as Favre isn’t going to be around much longer. It is possible that both will be gone though, with the 49ers picking at 26 and the Steelers at 27. Chris Simms and Dave Ragone have projected to fall to the early to mid-second round, but neither is rated that far behind Grossman and Boller.
2,000-yard rusher Larry Johnson from Penn State, safety Troy Polamalu from USC, and DE Kenny Peterson of Ohio State could also slip to late first or early second round and become great acquisitions for the teams that draft them.
That’s about all for now folks, keep a look out for a new column this summer by yours truly, as there isn’t nearly as much basketball news to report during those months.
So, there you have it for this week’s edition of Thursday Evening Ramblings. We hope you enjoyed the special tag-team format. Aaron will return next week with his usual, solo performance, so tune in then.
Aaron Rose can be reached at InsideTheEagles@yahoo.com.
Brian Smith can be reached at EagleScribe3@yahoo.com.
Both are staff writers for EagleInsider.com.