With the 2011 draft officially in the books, it's time to look to the future (sort of). I say "sort of" because, let's face it, the immediate future is decidedly uncertain.
The current lockout will undoubtedly affect how teams operate for the next season.
Yet when the dispute is resolved and both sides are (hopefully) reconciled, then there should be some serious shakeups on a number of depth charts.
Without further ado, a look at some of the unlucky NFL veterans who will be out of luck (and their starting jobs)...
(Keep in mind they're not ranked in any particular order.)
Corey Williams, DT, Lions
His domination of the SEC last year makes him an early candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Plus, he’ll have an easier time settling in thanks to the equally monstrous Ndamukong Suh lining up next to him.
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Panthers
Let’s face it; Clausen was out of a job as soon as Roger Goodell got to the “New” in saying Cam Newton at the beginning of the draft.
There’s a better chance of Obama losing the Democratic nomination than there is of Newton not being handed the starting spot. The only question is when.
And that’s where it gets interesting. With a new coach, will he simply embrace Newton immediately as “his guy”? Or will he let Newton develop?
Michael Jenkins, WR, Falcons
This is another case of a team being pot-committed (as they say in poker). In other words, Atlanta spent too much to acquire Alabama rookie receiver Julio Jones to now simply let him ride the bench.
And yeah I know they’ll probably trot out the classic line “he’s a rookie like all the rest.” But we know that simply isn’t true. They paid a king’s ransom for Jones that would make even the Saudi royal family blush.
He will see the field. And early.
Ralph Brown, CB, Cardinals
I’m not entirely sure if it’s Brown whose technically their second cornerback (never a good sign), but regardless, Arizona’s benching someone. And it won’t be Dominick Rodgers-Cromartie, because he covers receivers like the Secret Service sticks to the Prez.
With Peterson and Rodgers-Cromartie, the Cardinals suddenly have the best combination of cornerbacks in the league. I’m that confident about Patrick Peterson.
Like the Fairley/Suh pairing in Detroit, this stockpile of talent at one position will create scary problems for quarterbacks in the NFC West.
Can I just take this moment to examine the 2006 draft for a second? Can we retroactively give Charlie Casserly the Nobel Prize for the way he deftly plucked Mario Williams, despite all of the crap he got from everyone (myself included)?
It’s clear that Bush has not become the dominant player many thought he would. Unfortunately for the Saints, his salary doesn’t reflect that (more than $10 million a year).
His role gets diminished, or he moves teams now that Mark Ingram Jr. is on the roster.
James Hall, DE, Rams
As a Giants fan, I vividly remember Steve Spagnuola’s defensive mentality: get the quarterback. And he does that threw wild blitzes and having a relentless front four.
So Hall might not get cut, but he definitely loses his job to Robert Quinn (St Louis’ first-round defensive end from UNC).
Charlie Johnson, Ryan Diem, OTs, Colts
Not sure which Colts tackle loses his job. They both weren’t great last year.
But I do know one thing for sure: Anthony Costanzo will get someone’s place. His versatility, always a strength, will propel him into any number of important situations.
And the critical objective for the Colts, beyond the obvious job of protecting the FRANCHISE in Peyton Manning, will be to reestablish a running game on life support.
J'Marcus Webb, RT, Bears
Another lineman who may or may not be the guy who loses his job. Either way, rookie first rounder Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin will displace somebody.
Protecting Jay Cutler is the make or break for da Bears next season. Carimi could go along way to reducing some of the highlight hits Chicago QBs took last season.
Corey Webster, CB, Giants
I’m torn on this one. The more likely outcome is Aaron Ross (the current nickel corner) will lose his job to Prince Amukamara, the Giants first rounder from Nebraska.
Still, there’s a chance that Webster could be displaced. He’s been absolutely awesome at points (his run in the 2007 playoffs will live on forever), but people forget that earlier in that season he had lost his job altogether.
It’s not inconceivable that, should he slump again, the Prince could be wedded to a starting job (too late for a Royal wedding joke?).
Brian Dawkins, FS, Broncos
People might hate on this. But understand that Dawkins, along with the rest of the Bronco secondary, didn’t exactly light the world on fire last year.
I realize that many of Denver’s problems stemmed from a lack of a pass rush (courtesy of the Elvis Dumervil injury), but Dawkins is getting a little long in the tooth.
Diminished range is a particularly difficult thing for a free safety (who so often is playing a centerfield role). Dawkins can still contribute, but the drafting of UCLA safety Rahim Moore in the second round will put him on the hot seat.
Joe Webb, QB, Vikings
Not that he’s a veteran or anything, but Webb will be sacrificed at the altar of the Viking hierarchy, determined to justify their selection of Florida State QB Christian Ponder so much earlier than he had been projected to go (aka, the first round).
Faulk may have already lost his job when Danny Woodhead emerged last year (in fact, I'm pretty sure he did). But as one of the longest tenured Patriots and a Tom Brady favorite, he'll be given at least a chance to stick around.
Yet after drafting two running backs, I don't think even Faulk can withstand such a barrage of competition.
Kendricks will probably become the starter, displacing Bejema.
Billy Bejema, TE, Rams
This one's a given, in my opinion. After drafting a much more natural pass-catcher in Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks, Bejema (or whoever occupies the initial starting spot), will be displaced by a man second-year quarterback Sam Bradford will be able to use as a safety valve.
The Rams offense (like the Rams in general) doesn't need to be '72 Dolphins-esque to win the NFC West, so any little improvement could go along way.
The curious decision to draft Blaine Gabbert in the first round may not initially have consequences for Jaguar starting QB David Gerrard, but his backup will be in trouble.
This is for the simple reason that should Gerrard go down, fans (and more importantly Jags executives) will most definitely not be chanting for Trent Edwards. They'll want to see what they've invested millions in and how good Gabbert can be.
Mario Haggan, LB, Broncos
Like with Williams, Haggan will see a diminished role as he competes with a top five draft pick (Von Miller).
It doesn't help Haggan's case that Denver's defense was absolutely horrible last year...
Alex Brown, DE, Saints
Cameron Jordan is big and, by all accounts, really strong. He's also really good at football, incidentally.
As a result, the Saints saw fit to take him in the first round.
...And that's bad news for Alex Brown of the Saints. Because Jordan is coming for his starting job, trying to inject some pass-rushing ability back into the Saints defense.
Chris Carr, CB, Ravens
Everyone was so concerned about the character issues of Jimmy Smith (rookie cornerback), that they forgot how good he could be.
Not the Ravens though, who were victimized too often late in games for their liking. Carr will be the fall guy for the rookie, who should see the field early.
Darius Butler, CB, Patriots
Butler has been a disappointing pick for the Patriots so far. Taken in the second round, he's failed to live up to expectations and probably could've seen the Patriots adding some help in their secondary a mile away.
Ras-I-Dowling, taken as the first pick in the second round, will probably usurp Butler as the nickel-corner and could eventually earn a starting role. Either way, not what Butler was hoping to hear...