Monday, January 31, 2005 Teams Should Take Note of the Starting Lineups of the Super Bowl Teams as They Plan for the Draft For 30 NFL teams the season is over. Each one of them should already be preparing for the Draft set for April 23rd and 24th. There may be no better way to begin their preparation than for them to study the starting lineups of this year's Super Bowl teams. There are many similarities as well as quite a few stark differences between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. Check out the starting offensive and defensive lineups below. You may notice that most of the 1st rounders that will start in the big game are linemen. Both the Patriots and the Eagles built there defenses around players selected early in the draft. The earliest of those tended to be used on defensive linemen. The Patriots have just one undrafted player starting on defensive while the Eagles will have none. The Patriots defense will consist of three 1st rounders (DE Ty Warren, NT Richard Seymour, SLB Willie McGinnest), two 2nd rounders (ILB Ted Johnson, FS Eugene Wilson), three 3rd rounders (DE Keith Traylor, ILB Tedy Bruschi, WLB Mike Vrabel), a 4th rounder (CB Asante Samuel), a 5th rounder (SS Rodney Harrison), and one undrafted player (CB Randall Gay). The Eagles starting defense is even more concentrated in the early rounds. On defense, the Eagles will start three 1st rounders (LE Jevon Kearse, LT Corey Simon, CB Lito Sheppard), three 2nd rounders (CB Sheldon Brown, SS Michael Lewis, FS Brian Dawkins), four 3rd rounders (RT Darwin Walker, RE Derrick Burgess, MLB Jeremiah Trotter, LB Mark Simoneau) and one 6th rounder (LB Dhani Jones). The Eagles will have only one defensive starter who was drafted after the 71st selection, which occurs early in round three, LB Dhani Jones who lasted until the 6th round, pick number 177. Note that of the six first round draftees that will start on defense, four are defensive linemen and another, SLB Willie McGinest, came out of college as a defensive end. The only first round defensive starter who does not play at or near the line will be Eagles Cornerback Lito Sheppard. Strong defenses are built with big, strong men manning the lines and both the Eagles and the Patriots drafted accordingly. In general, when it comes to drafting defensive backs and traditional linebackers, you can wait until round two. Get the good big men while they are available. The Patriots and the Eagles contrast markedly in how they built their offenses. The Patriots have an offense built primarily with low draft choices. The Eagles, on the other hand, have several high picks in their offensive lineup, but they will also start five undrafted players. Only one 1st rounder, TE Dan Graham, will start for New England in the Super Bowl. The Patriots will also start three 2nd rounders (RB Corey Dillon, WR Deion Branch, LT Matt Light), a 5th rounder (C Dan Koppen), a 6th rounder (QB Tom Brady), three 7th rounders (FB Patrick Pass, WR David Givens, RT Brandon Gorin) and two undrafted players (Guards Joe Andruzzi and Steve Neal). The Eagles will start at least three 1st rounders (QB Donovan McNabb, G Jermane Mayberry, T Tray Thomas) and perhaps a fourth, if WR Freddie Mitchell starts ahead of Terrell Owens, who is recovering from a broken ankle, or Todd Pinkston. If Mitchell begins the game on the bench, the Eagles will also start one 2nd rounder (WR Todd Pinkston), two 3rd rounders (RB Brian Westbrook, WR Terrell Owens) and five, count em five, undrafted players (FB Josh Parry, TE Chad Lewis, C Hank Fraley, G Artis Hicks, T Jon Runyan). As it was on defense, the high draft choices that will be in the starting offensive lineups tend to be players who man the lines. Of the four sure starters on offense who were first rounders, there is a guard, a tackle, a tight end and a quarterback. Each team is initially allotted seven draft picks. Trades and free agent compensation can raise or lower that number. Most teams have more holes in their lineups than draft picks to fill them. Thus they must use each pick wisely. Teams should take note of the lineups for this year's big game. The Eagles and Patriots built their teams around strong defenses anchored by defensive lines filled with round one caliber talent. With but one exception, neither team needed to use a first round pick to fill the eight defensive backfield positions. Neither team wasted a draft pick to select a punter or placekicker. On offensive, the first round picks in the starting lineup are again primarily big men playing on the line, including TE Dan Graham, who is used as much as a blocker as he is as a receiver. Only Quarterback Donovan McNabb and possible starting WR Freddie Mitchell break that trend. Teams that use high picks on small fleet receivers or swift defensive backs may be bucking a trend that will throw them for a loss.