However, the prospect that has everyone talking is Ahmad Brooks, the talented but undisciplined linebacker from Virginia. Brooks took
the nation by storm during his Freshman season by posting 117 tackles, far and
away a record for a Freshman linebacker at Virginia. He added to his legend
during the 2004 season. Last year, he struggled with injuries and off-field
incidents. He has since been suspended by Virginia coach Al Groh and turned to
the Supplemental Draft out of desperation.
At 6’3”, 260 pounds, Brooks still posted exceptional times
in the 40 (4.65) and in the vertical leap (32 inches). He worked out for a
number of scouts on June 22nd and has apparently slimmed down
considerably since ballooning to nearly 300 pounds this off-season.
Now, the way the Supplemental Draft works is that there are
three groups of teams that are slotted according to record and whether or not
they made the playoffs. Teams that didn’t make the playoffs and won 6 or fewer
games last season (i.e. the Cardinals) are in the first group. They’re followed
by teams that won more than 6 games but didn’t make the playoffs and then by the
12 teams that did. Whichever round the prospect falls in, the team that takes
him loses that round’s pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. There are many out there
that believe Brooks is worth a second round pick. He has that much potential.
As far as the Cardinals are concerned, though, I would hope
that they don’t select Brooks tomorrow, and given their history, I doubt they
would. They’ve shied away from players with character issues in the past. The
last linebacker they drafted out of Virginia, Darryl Blackstock, had a great
deal of difficulty learning the Cardinals’ defense last season, since Virginia
is one of the few college teams that uses the 3-4 as their base defense. And,
with the number of teams that have switched to or are in the process of
switching to the 3-4 defense, he’s not likely to last long anyway.
All that having been said, if he’s still around when
Arizona picks in the 4th round, they should take him. They have a
very young defense, but if there’s one position where they’re showing their age
in the front seven, it’s at middle linebacker. If Brooks has a year to
contribute on special teams and learn the defense, he may turn out well. He
certainly has the physical attributes and athleticism that teams look for in the
position. He’s worth the risk in the 4th round (especially since the
Cardinals choose so early in round 4). Much before that, he’s really not worth
Draft Pick Signings:
The Cardinals have been exceptionally busy in locking up
the bulk of the prospects selected in the 2006 Draft. Already signed are 5th
rounder Brandon Johnson, 6th rounder Jonathan Lewis, 7th
rounder Todd Watkins, and, most surprisingly, 2nd rounder Deuce Lutui.
The only stragglers that remain are 3rd rounder
Leonard Pope, 4th rounder Gabe Watson… and Matt Leinart. While I
expect Watson and Pope to be signed relatively soon, I would not hold out any
hope for Leinart until at least the week before Training Camp starts. At least
the Cardinals have a late reporting date and there are likely to be a few first
round picks signed and in camp before the Cards even have to start thinking
about a holdout. As soon as former USC teammate Reggie Bush and the rest of the
top five sign on the dotted line, I expect Leinart to follow pretty quickly. He
seems intent on starting his NFL career and proving all the naysayers that
doubted him and passed on him wrong.
The bottom line is that everyone should be expected to be
at camp when it starts at the end of the month.