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Local knowledge on the 2009 draft

Local knowledge is important in golf, and it can help in understanding the draft. I’ve already shared a lot of my local-knowledge thoughts on Aaron Curry, whom I saw a lot of because he played at Wake Forest. Here are some thoughts on other guys I’ve watched closely over the years and their new teams…

*My buddy Brandon lives in Denver and asked what I thought about the Broncos drafting Wake Forest corner Alphonso Smith in the second round. (The Broncos traded their 2010 first-rounder to Seattle for the 37th pick to select Smith.) Here was my reply:
He’s a really good player who’s good playing the ball and isn’t afraid to hit. He’s just short. That probably makes him more of a nickel back inside than an outside corner like Champ Bailey. I just hate for them that they traded a first-rounder next year for him. But if smith ever gets the ball in his hands, look out, because he’s electric. I hope he has a good career out there but can’t help but wonder if he’s worth a ’10 first.

*The other two Wake Forest guys who got drafted, LB Stanley Arnoux and S Chip Vaughn, both went to New Orleans in the fourth round. I think Vaughn is the better prospect. Vaughn is a big hitter who made a bunch of plays at safety, and he has the physical tools. Consistency is what he needs to take the next step. Arnoux is more of a clean-up tackler than a playmaker, but he’s smart and can probably be a solid backup and special teamer. And as Carl pointed out, Arnoux’s name will fit perfectly in New Orleans. (That was too good of an observation not to, um, appropriate for myself.)

*CB D.J. Moore, one of the Bears’ fourth-round picks, dropped from a second-round grade because of his height and his slow 40 speed. But don’t overlook him. I remember watching him as a do-everything player in high school (quarterback, receiver, corner, returner, and maybe some things I’m forgetting), and he made plays all over the field. Because he played at a small school and didn’t have the right measurables, he didn’t get a top rating from the recruiting gurus, and he ended up at Vanderbilt. He started there within a year and became an all-SEC player. And the Bears have a track record of taking advantage of mid-round corners; their best player at that position, Nathan Vasher, as a fourth-rounder. Moore has the talent to have a similar career path, and he’ll get the opportunity there.

*I also saw Brooks Foster as a high school player. He went to North Carolina to play basketball and was actually on the 2005 national championship team there. But his best play was as a receiver. He doesn’t have the sudden speed that his college teammates Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate had, but he’s got good size and can make the catches. It’ll be interesting to see whether he can use that size to advantage and stick with the Rams, who picked him in the fifth round.

*Joel Bell signed as an undrafted free agent. He’s a former missionary kid who grew up in Croatia and didn’t really get his first taste of football until the 11th grade. He played one year of high school ball, and that got him a scholarship at Furman, a I-AA (or FCS now, I guess) school. He started four years there and was named the top blocker in the Southern Conference this year. He’s 6-foot-8, 310 pounds and had among the best agility and speed numbers of all the offensive line prospects at the combine. He has some ability and is worth a shot as a project. Of course, the Bills were the team that developed Jason Peters from an undrafted tight end into a Pro Bowl tackle, so that team may be a really good fit for him.

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