Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Strong safety Donovin Darius is expected to be traded from Jacksonville for a two fourth round picks (one in 2004 and one in 2005) on the second day of the NFL draft according to Darius could step right and be the starting strong safety for the Packers. Darius's play is similar to Marques Anderson (good run support, but questionable pass coverage), however, his play appears to be more consistant, and he appears to have the reputation as a ferocious hitter and a veteran leader, which are the sort of qualities that make some coaches weak in the knees. Apparently Jack Del Rio is not that type of coach. Darius is still playing at a high level and a scout speaking to thinks Darius is a steal for 2 fourth round draft choices. Darius is signed for the 2004 season, he signed the one year $4.113 million qualifing offer he received for being given the franchise label by Jacksonville, so Jacksonville isn't trading him because they can't agree to contract terms. Apparently Jacksonville is just trying to save some money and get value for the 28 year old safety before he reaches the wrong side of 30.

Darius is unlikely to be traded to the Packers, because the Packers do not have enough room under the salary cap to afford his $4.113 million 2004 contract and they recently signed Mark Roman and project him as their 2004 strong safety.

The most likely location is Detroit. Detroit cut 2003 starting safety Corey Harris and they are $9.36 million under the cap, plenty of room to trade for Darius and sign their draft choices. Further, reported that the trade would happen only if the other unnamed team doesn't acquire a safety in the first two rounds. Detroit has a high draft choice, 6th overall, which would be the spot some mock drafts believe safety Sean Taylor of Miami (FL) will be drafted. If Detroit misses out on Taylor at 6th overall, then Detroit would end up with a great player at that pick anyway, maybe defensive end Kenechi Udeze from USC, and a new pro bowl safety in Darius. With Udeze and Darius, Detroit's defense could be greatly improved in 2004. Detroit would be even better off drafting a defensive tackle after releasing veteran Luther Elliss, but there doesn't appear to be a concensus top 10 defensive tackle in this year's draft. The only other obvious team with salary cap room, a need at strong safety, and a top 10 pick to possibly select Taylor is Houston. Hopefully, Darius remains in the AFC with Houston and doesn't help Detroit's defense take a huge step forward in 2004.

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