This was the idea: draft two football teams using only players who will be on Mississippi State's 2011 football team. With Paul Jones, our recruiting expert and senior writer, as my opposition, we did just that. The objective was to learn more about the roster, see who we like and understand the depth chart.
Before we get into lessons learned, I'll give you the guidelines. We drafted for a 9 vs 9 game, because going through 22 rounds each would have been a little much both for us to do and you to read. On offense, we were allowed three offensive linemen, one quarterback and any combination of five receivers, running backs and tight ends. On defense, we were allowed three defensive linemen, two linebackers, three defensive backs and one wild card.
Because of roster regulations there was some strategy involved. For instance, after I picked Chris Relf No. 1 overall, Paul was able to wait until his final pick to grab a quarterback.
You can find some info and opinion as you read through, but a few things stood out as Paul and I went back and forth. The depth at defensive line runs out very quickly, and the same can be said for the offensive line. While the top-end talent may not be there, the linebacking crew runs deep. The secondary and the receivers are, easily, the deepest spots on the team. You will notice we both seem to have faith in the youth on this team, as we selected a large number of underclassmen.
Also, you'll find one walk-on who was drafted as a prominent member of one of our teams.
Now, without further ado, here is the draft. At the end, you can find our full rosters.
1. Bob: Chris Relf, QB It was hard not to pick Fletcher Cox No. 1 overall, and he may be the best player on the team, but you have to have a quarterback and Relf is the guy.
2. Paul: Vick Ballard, RB In this offense, I gotta take a workhorse running back and none better than Vick Ballard, who could get even more carries this fall than last fall.
3. Bob: Fletcher Cox, DT Man, I can't believe you skipped over Cox. I understand why, but I may have already won the draft and our imaginary season. Cox is a fantastic value for me here at three.
4. Paul: Josh Boyd, DT While Cox is definitely worth the hype, I take Josh Boyd who is just as productive. He just gets less of the hype but that doesn't figure into fantasy points.
5. Bob: Quentin Saulsberry, OL You've got a fair point, and a solid draft strategy, so far. Sticking with the lines, I'll take Saulsberry. Other linemen may have higher ceilings, but he's the one I trust the most to block your newly acquired d-tackle and he is the best offensive lineman right now.
6. Paul: Gabe Jackson, OL With inexperience at some spots up front, I better go ahead and take offensive guard Gabe Jackson, although I was torn between him, Tobias Smith and Addison Lawrence.
7. Bob: Brandon Maye, LB There is significant depth at the other positions I haven't addressed yet, but I'm expecting Maye to be the best linebacker on MSU's team next year, and I'd be surprised if he doesn't lead the team in tackles. I haven't seen much of him, but I feel like I'm taking the best linebacker on the board.
8. Paul: Cameron Lawrence, LB Nice pick, but I will take the linebacker I think will have the best numbers at linebacker, and that being Cam Lawrence.
9. Bob: Charles Mitchell, S I really considered Nickoe Whitley here, who I think is going to have a breakout season and will be a game-changer, but I just couldn't ignore the leadership and production of Mitchell.
10. Paul: LaDarius Perkins, RB While there are several proven playmakers in the secondary, the same can't be said for the offensive backfield. Thus, I take LaDarius Perkins and leave that position nearly bare for you.
11. Bob: Tobias Smith, OL @#@&! You sniffed out my plan, Paul. I was hoping I could wait (much like you're doing at quarterback). I'll have to catch up at RB later, and for now I'll take who I think to be the best offensive lineman left on the board.
12. Paul: Addison Lawrence, OL Yeah, I can save my QB pick since you already have one of those. But O-linemen are getting scarce now, so I take Addison Lawrence to give me a brother duo.
13. Bob: Michael Carr, WR No receivers have been selected, so I decided to take the first one. I couldn't decide which, so I asked myself who impressed me the most in the spring, and it was Carr. He looked like a new man and he easily has the highest ceiling, though this is admittedly a bit of a gamble.
14. Paul: Chad Bumphis, WR And having a reputation for being 'safe', I will take the safe pick at WR with Chad Bumphis, who has led the team in catches the past two seasons.
15. Bob: Marcus Green, TE I'm not sure if this qualifies as one of your 'safe' picks, given injury concerns, but if he's healthy, he's one of the most important and underrated cogs in MSU's offense.
16. Paul: Chris Hughes, LB Good pick if Green is healthy. But I will finish out my linebacker selections with Chris Hughes, the most athletic LB of the bunch.
17. Bob: Corey Broomfield, CB Assuming you eventually pick Tyler Russell, I'm going to need some cornerbacks. I'll start that off with Broomfield, who may be the best cover man on the team and is great at baiting quarterbacks into bad decisions.
18. Paul: Johnthan Banks, CB/S Which means I better pick another proven playmaker in the secondary, and that would be Johnthan Banks.
19. Bob: Kaleb Eulls, DL I'm projecting a bit on this one, but in our 9vs9 format, a guy who is big enough stop the run and fast enough to chase down QBs should be pretty valuable.
20. Paul: Devin Jones, DL You actually read my mind on my next pick, so I stay with the D-line and take Devin Jones.
21. Bob: Nick Griffin, RB That may be the first time we were on the same page. I'm finally taking a running back, and it's the one who may very well be the best one on the team, though I'll have to find someone else to do work early on in our hypothetical season.
22. Paul: Sean Ferguson, DL Good deal, and gamble, and that allows me to knock out my D-line guys with Sean Ferguson.
23. Bob: Nickoe Whitley, S I think we're learning a lesson here: there's a decent amount of uncertainty on the defensive line. I'll add Whitley to my stable with Mitchell and Broomfield, giving me a potent and turnover-friendly secondary.
24. Paul: Wade Bonner, S And with that counter jab, I will take another experienced safety with Wade Bonner, who made huge strides late last season.
25. Bob: Ferlando Bohanna, LB We're stacking up on defense here. This is another gamble, but Bohanna has a world of violent potential, and on my team he will have the older, wiser Maye to help him hone his athleticism.
26. Paul: Arceto Clark, WR And I will move back to the receiver group and take Arceto Clark, yet another proven playmaker.
27. Bob: Jameon Lewis, WR You stole my next pick! In that case, I'll take the receiver who I think may actually have the best hands on the team, and he will pair nicely with Carr and Green. I'll be very surprised if Lewis doesn't challenge Bumphis and Brandon Heavens for significant playing time. I also considered one of the Johnson boys here.
28. Paul: Chris Smith, WR And you just returned the favor by taking Lewis. So, I will stay at that position and go with Chris Smith to round out my skill players on offense.
29. Bob: Shane McCardell, DE I wanted to go with Curtis Virges here, but I've yet to get a true defensive end, and McCardell is the best one left. I don't love this pick, but I do expect him to take a significant step forward next season as a junior.
30. Paul: Damein Anderson, CB And I will close out my defensive backs group (unless I go with a wildcard there) and select Damein Anderson. I almost went with Darius Slay, but it's hard to pick a guy that isn't here yet.
31. Bob: Damien Robinson, OL Well, if you won't take Slay, I certainly will. But not yet. I'm drafting on potential here, but I think Robinson will make tremendous strides between now and the end of the season, and he's a good choice to fill out my O-line.
32. Paul: Darius Slay, CB Well, since you twisted my arm, I will take Darius Slay as my wildcard defensive pick. After all, he should be here for second term and the dude is an unreal athlete.
33. Bob: Matthew Wells, LB/S Drat! Foiled again. I thought I could steal Slay late, and I have high expectations for him. In that case, I think Wells fills out my defense nicely, as a guy who can play either linebacker or safety depending on my need. Tough to project huge stats for him, but I think Wells will see the field a fair amount this season.
34. Paul: James Carmon, OL Nice pick. I will round out my O-line with James Carmon, which is risky because Blaine Clausell could just as easily be the starting left tackle, but both will play.
35. Bob: Adrian Marcus, RB I thought about both of those guys a couple picks back, but I couldn't sell myself on either and just went with Robinson. As for Marcus, this is a guy who really showed out in the spring. He can be my main back while Griffin recovers and gets acclimated to the SEC. I honestly believe Marcus could be a feature back at more than a few D-I schools. Dude will do work at fullback this year. And now, of course, I know who you're final pick is.
36. Paul; Tyler Russell, QB Very interesting pick, and not a bad one, I might add. And yes, I will take Tyler Russell. While I could just as easily go with Dylan Favre, I will take Russell's experience because he has been in hostile SEC environments already.
Paul's full roster: QB: Tyler Russell. OL: Gabe Jackson, Addison Lawrence, James Carmon. RB: Vick Ballard, LaDarius Perkins. WR/TE: Chad Bumphis, Arceto Clark, Chris Smith. DL: Josh Boyd, Devin Jones, Sean Ferguson. LB: Cam Lawrence, Chris Hughes. DB: Johnthan Banks, Wade Bonner, Damein Anderson, Darius Slay.
Bob's full roster: QB: Chris Relf. OL: Quentin Saulsberry, Tobias Smith, Damien Robinson. RB: Nick Griffin, Adrian Marcus. WR/TE: Michael Carr, Marcus Green, Jameon Lewis. DL: Fletcher Cox, Kaleb Eulls, Shane McCardell. LB: Brandon Maye, Ferlando Bohanna, Matthew Wells. DB: Charles Mitchell, Corey Broomfield, Nickoe Whitley.