Schein 9: Let’s gear up for draft season

We are deprived a legit offseason. You can’t make trades. You cannot sign players. And the craziness has spiraled out of control.

I find myself shaking my head at certain NFL nuggets that have come our way over the last couple of weeks.

Top draft picks falling? The NFL ruins the most exciting play in the game? You truly cannot make this kind of stuff up.

We present a bevy of NFL head scratchers, SCHEIN 9 style.

1. Marcell Dareus’ stock is falling??

I think this is simply crazy talk. I picked up the phone on Monday night and called one of the NFL’s best talent evaluators to ask him his take. After he got done laughing, the executive called him “the single best player in the draft.” When I asked why, the unnamed general manager told me, “Dareus plays with an edge. He’s flat-out nasty. He can play in the 4-3, in the 3-4, he can play in any front with multiple alignments. He’s explosive, powerful, quick, a playmaker, and a flat-out athletic freak. Oh yeah, he’s been playing for Nick Saban at Alabama, which makes him ready to play right away.”

Dareus’ is a lock to be a top-five pick. I think he will be taken in the top three. Carolina, in desperate need of defensive help, should highly consider Dareus with the top overall pick. Dareus would be an ideal fit in Denver’s new defense under John Fox. I’d be floored if he got past Fox. And Buffalo coach Chan Gailey told me at the Scouting Combine that the Bills will play a hybrid defense this year. Dareus is a dream selection in lovely Western New York.

Talking to Dareus on Sirius NFL Radio last week, the kid is fueled by a tough childhood. Both of his parents have passed away. And he bounced around from home to home as a youngster. Dareus is mentally tough and an excellent player. And don’t minimize the Saban factor. Don’t let the recent chatter fool you. He’s going to be a star and will be a top pick.

2. The Broncos will/should draft a quarterback??

Stop the insanity. Repeat after me — Denver needs defense! When Josh McDaniels’ foolishly and selfishly decided he couldn’t work with Mike Nolan, the Denver defense fell apart last year. And thus, it became a main reason why McD was rightly canned. Defensive-minded John Fox takes over. Fox runs strictly a 4-3. McDaniels drafted solely for a 4-3. The best, safest picks in the draft are defensive players. This isn’t rocket science, folks. Don’t believe a John Elway smoke screen. Don’t buy into columns saying Cam Newton is the apple of Elway’s eye.

Plus, the longer the work stoppage goes on, the more likely it is that both Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow are both on the roster. It doesn’t make sense to be in the quarterback business this offseason, with the lack of time to work and prepare, if you don’t have to be.

3. Von Miller will fall because he’s part of the lawsuit vs. the league?

This is flat-out ridiculous. Miller, according to scouts I’ve talked to, has an upside of turning into Clay Matthews or DeMarcus Ware. He is a pass-rushing, instant-impact stud ball player. No general manager in need will be pressured to bypass him.

4. There’s a franchise quarterback in this draft??

Come on now, people. As I said in a FOXSports.com video rant, Cam Newton is a project with attitude questions. I think Blaine Gabbert is a nice player who can be a starter. But nobody, and I mean nobody, would be talking him up as a star if Andrew Luck came out for this draft. Ryan Mallett, with his attitude, equals Ryan Leaf. Jake Locker is a major work in progress. I think there is much better quarterback value in the second and third rounds. I like Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick as guys to develop. Teams like Tennessee, San Francisco, Arizona and Minnesota should eschew the first round quarterback and draft one of these cats later on.

5. Miami needs a first-round quarterback??

I thought Chad Henne was going to take a major step forward last year and I was dead wrong. But if you were going to rank the problems on offense for the Dolphins, you should’ve placed play selection, injuries on the line, and running back underachievement ahead of quarterback play. Miami should bring in veteran competition for Henne whenever we get a new CBA. But the Dolphins should draft Mark Ingram or an offensive lineman in the middle of the first round. Ryan Mallett? What is this, amateur hour?

6. We needed to change the kickoffs?

This has me chapped. I am livid that the NFL has moved kickoffs to the 35-yard line, creating the likelihood for more touchbacks. This was unnecessary, foolish and illogical. Are they trying to take away the single most breathtaking play in football, the kick return for a touchdown? Does the league want you to flip around on TV when a game goes to commercial after a score and not worry so much about getting back for a return? I’ve been writing for FOXSports.com since 2005. I’ve been hosting on Sirius NFL Radio since 2004. Not once have I heard from a reader, viewer or listener that we need a change. Not once have I heard from a coach, player or league official that something is wrong. Does the NFL just want to have something to tell the courts where they are stressing player safety? And please, don’t try to sell me on player safety when you are keeping the wedge. Are they trying to eliminate the kickoff specialist, who will all lose work? Are they trying to cut the pay of return specialists? In talking to both Joshua Cribbs and Leon Washington, two of the best return men in the business, both agreed that they wouldn’t have received the contracts they did over the last year if this rule was in effect in 2009. I feel terrible for free-agent returner Brad Smith. This will hurt his bank account. Even kicker Robbie Gould told me on Sirius NFL Radio that he dislikes it.

7. Chad Ochocinco doesn’t know why Marvin Lewis is knocking him?

Senor Clown seemed miffed that his head coach was wondering aloud at the owners meetings last week why he was trying out for a soccer team. Once again, it is all about the headlines for Chad. Wake me when Mike Brown does the right thing and axes this joker.

8. Really Dez Bryant?

It’s Dez Bryant vs. the jewelry store. It’s Dez Bryant vs. Deion Sanders. This is why I urged the Cowboys to pass on Dez Bryant. It is always something and it will always be something.

9. Drew Bledsoe not worthy of the Patriots Hall of Fame?

Some die-hard Patriots fans have been getting heated that Bledsoe isn’t worthy of such an honor. Look, his biggest crime is being the best quarterback of this generation to wear a Pats jersey behind Tom Brady. Bledsoe was a star and proud face of the franchise. He deserves to be recognized.