On the newsstands, you can't escape the NFL draft Old favorites are joined by some new offerings as the market for stats, comparisons and predictions continues to grow.

Posted: April 16, 2006

The market for magazines previewing the April 29-30 NFL draft is growing faster than the list of teams Terrell Owens can never again report to. ESPN has published its first-ever standalone draft guide, and the newsstand even includes a draft primer for kids.

All the magazines glorify Reggie Bush, and any of them will help fans distinguish a D'Brickashaw from a Kiwanuka. But how do they grade out head-to-head? Here's our pre-draft scouting report:

Top pick: Sporting News Pro Football Draft Guide 2006

The Sporting News has published a no-frills draft guide since 1999 with an emphasis on how talent may translate to the NFL rather than on gaudy college statistics. Prospects are scrutinized and rated on critical skills required for their position and ranked on an overall score.

Insights are relevant and enlightening. For example, Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinart "reads coverages better than several current NFL quarterbacks."

No other magazine has the knack for accurately comparing prospects with current NFL players. Memphis running back DeAngelo Williams is projected as the next Brian Westbrook - likely as much for his lengthy injury history as his tremendous skill.

Projected Eagles pick: Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College defensive end.

All-pro potential: ESPN NFL Draft Guide 2006

ESPN's entry into the draft magazine market is a slick, well-executed offering sprinkled with commentary from ESPN analysts including Mel Kiper, Mike Golic and Rece Davis.

Several pages are devoted to Kiper's examination of the draft needs for all 32 teams, and those short on time will enjoy the handy two-page ranking of more than 300 prospects. (ESPN proclaims Bush as "maybe the best prospect ever.")

But where is Chris Berman? Neglecting to include the Swami's nicknames for the next crop of NFL studs is a missed opportunity.

Projected Eagles pick: Winston Justice, Southern Cal offensive tackle.

Sleeper pick: Pro Football Weekly 2006 Draft Guide

Possibly the most enjoyable of the draft guides, Pro Football Weekly strikes a balance between dense prospect thumbnails and lively stories.

The abundance of articles comes at the expense of prospect analysis with some second-day selections receiving only one-sentence mentions.

Bold prospect reviews are the highlight. Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson, surprisingly listed as a top five receiving prospect, "could be a great fit for a team like the Steelers, which has a successful track record with converting quarterbacks to the slot."

Projected Eagles pick: Chad Greenway, Iowa linebacker.

Underperformer: Street & Smith's 2006 Pro Football Draft Guide

Street & Smith's is the boom-or-bust entrant of the bunch. The emphasis on team reports and recent draft history will appeal to some but not all.

With analysis highlighting prep and college achievements, prospect thumbnails read like press releases. Even draft-crazy fans don't need to know that Ohio State star Santonio Holmes majored in family resource management.

But quotes from NFL scouts on each prospect add a nice touch.

Projected Eagles pick: Tamba Hali, Penn State defensive end.

Top underclassman: Sports Illustrated for Kids NFL Draft Preview

Apparently it's never too soon to imbue young people with the springtime tradition of staying indoors all weekend watching names read from index cards once every 30 minutes.

While not a comprehensive draft guide, the SI for Kids NFL draft preview is the Nerf football equivalent. Several pages are devoted to the projected top offensive prospects and a prediction of the first round.

The highlight may be the magazine's three alternative covers, each artfully depicting a top draft pick in an NFL uniform (Bush on the Texans, Leinart on the Jets, Vince Young on the Titans).

Projected Eagles pick: LenDale White, Southern Cal running back.

Contact staff writer Dylan Purcell at 215-854-4915 or dpurcell@phillynews.com.

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