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The six toughest decisions of 2009

The Patriots staff will likely give you little information about Tom Brady before opening day.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's easy to pick Adrian Peterson with the first pick in the draft (should you be lucky enough to have the top pick), but what of the tough decisions, the ones which will make or break a draft?

Below you will find six of the most important decisions you will have to make this year. It will behoove you to think about these well before the commissioner tells you "you're up."

Tom Brady, New England - As noted in a previous article, "The Brady Quandary" knowing whether Tom Brady is at his 2007 best (50 TDs, 4,807 yards) or is still working his way back from knee surgery will not only determine his draft position, but that of Randy Moss as well. Unfortunately, the Patriots staff will likely give you little information to help make this decision before opening day.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville - On paper it looks like a great opportunity for Jones-Drew to become a top-five running back. He's no longer in a shared backfield with Fred Taylor. But Jones-Drew has never rushed for more than 941 yards in a season or combined for more than 1,389 from scrimmage. We thought Marion Barber would have a super year in 2008 when Julius Jones left for Seattle, but that didn't work out as planned. This might not either.

DeAngelo Williams, Carolina - The amazing thing about Williams' 2008 season was that his 1,515 rushing yards and 18 TDs came on just 273 carries. Only three times did he get more than 20 carries in a game. It's hard to imagine him improving or even equaling 2008 as 2008 No.1 draft choice Jonathan Stewart gets more work (184 carries last year).

Chris Johnson, Tennessee - Johnson got 22 fewer carries than Williams and put up 1,228 yards and nine scores. He'll again share the backfield with LenDale White. If you look deeper into Johnson's numbers, you will see he had his huge games against weak defenses (109 vs. Cin, 168 vs. KC, 125 vs. Det, 136 vs, Cle). This year's schedule looks a lot tougher.

Steve Slaton, Houston - The 5'9" 197-pound running back from Levittown, PA showed everyone he could play last year, posting 1,282 yards on the ground and 377 receiving. Now he's in every owner's top-15 and a lot will be expected of him. Can he take the pounding of a 16-game schedule?

Steven Jackson, St. Louis - Jackson has top-three talent, but can't complete a 16-game schedule. He's played in just 12-games in each of the last two years. When healthy, as he was in 2006, he put up amazing numbers - 1,528 rushing yards, 806 receiving yards, 16 TDs. He'll be the focal point of a suspect Rams offense and the opposing team's defense so you have to question whether he will play 16 games this season too.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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